Can Good Teaching Be Measured?

In recent posts I have been arguing that if only we interpret the word “good” to mean “effective” we can ground our discussions of values (moral and otherwise) in facts about effectivness. I argue that in that context we can have greater and lesser degrees of goodness, measurable in terms of greater or lesser degrees [Read More...]

Believing Too Little Is As Bad As Believing Too Much

When formulating principles and practices for forming good beliefs and avoiding bad beliefs, the first thing we must keep in mind is that consciously affirming a belief, consciously affirming a disbelief, deliberately avoiding believing or disbelieving are all actions. When we choose our standards for what propositions count as worthy of our belief, our disbelief, or [Read More...]

The Role Of Honor In Moral Revolutions

Kwame Anthony Appiah explores a thesis I’ve never heard before in his new book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen summarized by Matthew Pianalto: Judged by contemporary Western standards, honour has a mixed moral record. On the one hand, a sense of gentlemanly honour underwrote the practice of duelling, long after it had been [Read More...]

The Religious Conservative’s False Choice: “Big Brother” Or “Heavenly Father”

In an e-mail to me, Caroline proposes thought provoking reasons for non-believers to encourage (or at least to not actively discourage) religious beliefs: It would also be nice if people would carry out actions in good conscience of just being decent human beings rather than in fear of reprisal in the afterlife, but as there [Read More...]

What Can An Atheist Love In People’s Religiosity?

Earlier today, I argued that atheists can vigorously and outspokenly oppose bad faith-based ideas, values, and behaviors, but still love other aspects of the religiosity of their religious friends (and of religious people in general). I argued that religion can be as central to personal identity formation as sexuality is and that to indiscriminately hate [Read More...]

Can You Really Love Religious People If You Hate Their Religion?

Atheists do not exactly claim to “love sinners but hate sins” (if for no other reason than that most, if not all, of us reject the category of “sin” as a meaningful or valuable way to talk about ethical failure). Also, atheists may be more realistic than to think that we really do, or feasibly [Read More...]

What Is Love? Here’s My Theory.

This is a renamed repost of July 24, 2009 post called “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways”: In the first part of this series, I explored the reasons for rejecting “unconditional” love as a candidate for the ideal essence of love since as a concept it is riddled with numerous problems [Read More...]

Moral vs. Non-Moral Values

In a recent post I distinguished numerous times between moral and non-moral values and between different sorts of intrinsic and instrumental goods.  James Gray asks for clarifications about how I use these terms: First, I don’t know that it matters to call something a “moral value.” Of course, there are instrumental values concerning morally neutral [Read More...]

Pleasure And Pain As Intrinsic Instrumental Goods

In recent posts I have been arguing that there is one sense of the word “good” which can be analyzed in terms of facts and that this is the kind of “goodness” which we can consider a real part of the world.  This real, intrinsic, factual sense of goodness is its meaning as “effectiveness”. We [Read More...]


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