Is Anything Intrinsically Good or Bad? An Interview with James Gray

James Gray blogs at Ethical Realism. He is passionate about advancing philosophy education and exploring moral realism both in ways accessible to beginners and engaging for advanced philosophy students. The interview below was done as part of a blogathon to support the Secular Student Alliance. Please donate to this worthy organization! And see more links [Read More...]

Meditations on How to Be Powerful, Fearsome, Empowering, and Loved

Yesterday I observed that sometimes an inaccurate sense of modesty can lead a powerful person to underestimate the extent to which he intimidates others. I focused particularly on the fact that moral and social conditioning trains us to downplay our accomplishments, the extent of our influence on others, and our fearsomeness in their eyes. It [Read More...]

On Unintentionally Intimidating People

While most of us rightly want to be exceptional in some way or another, we often feel a lot of social and moral pressure not to think of ourselves as generally better than others. And, even more urgently, we feel pressure not to convey to others that we think ourselves superior and not to be [Read More...]

Contra de Botton: Religions Are NOT To Credit With Universalistic Humanistic Values

Alain de Botton’s chapter on community in his book Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion is filled with half-baked thinking. After one-sidedly disparaging modern social life from numerous selective (and sometimes specious) angles, he goes on to model really effectively how not to try to learn from religion (Kindle Location 189): [Read more...]

The Dubious Value of Interpersonal Charity

I am reading Alain de Botton’s Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion chapter by chapter and blogging about it as I go. In the book he is trying to collect insights from religions that might inform the lives of convinced atheists. There are several points of contention I have about his analysis [Read More...]

No, Not Everyone Has A Moral Right To Feel Offended By Just Any Satire or Criticism

4 Misconceptions About the Nature of Offense Here are four common sense assumptions about giving and taking offense that I think are fundamentally mistaken and which atheists need to argue against: “You have every right to be offended, but you don’t have the right to censor others just because you’re offended.” “You cannot blame people [Read More...]

Can Utilitarians Properly Esteem The Intrinsic Value of Truth?

The Obvious Intrinsic and Instrumental Values of Truth It is prejudicial and fallacious to assume that the world is an inherently just place and that all the traits we idealize as virtues will always lead to the best possible outcomes. So if we are to be honest and realistic in assessing those traits which are [Read More...]

Podcast Series Covering The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps

Earlier today, I posted a link to an exceptional, accessible podcast introduction to the philosophies of the ancient cynics. The whole series that that podcast comes from is a marvelous idea and the few I’ve listened to are just great. It’s called “The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps” and it’s a must listen, basically a [Read More...]

If You Love South Park, Learn About the Originals–The Ancient Cynics

What kinds of philosophers choose the name for their school of philosophy from the word for dogs? The cynics, who were basically social-convention flouting performance artists and proto-south park scatalogical/philosophical satirists of their time. Learn plenty about them in a very accessible 22 minutes, filled with charming anecdotes. An ancient philosophy specialist and friend of mine recommended [Read More...]


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