On the Moral Value (and Dangers) of Dutifulness

What kinds of motives are morally relevant? Which are important? Why are they important? When are they important? How do they relate to one another? What are their respective places in the best overall moral framework? In a few posts I hope to answer such questions as these. I am going to distinguish various kinds [Read More...]

Forward Thinking: What is the Ethical Relevance of Pride?

“Forward Thinking” is a blog series in which Libby Anne and I prompt bloggers and other commenters to write about their views on values questions. Two weeks ago, Libby Anne prompted posts on our responsibilities to our parents (particularly when their effect on our lives has not been all positive). See what the bloggers had [Read More...]

How To Live Happily: Truthfully Understand Yourself and Your Constructive Potential

My thoughts on self-esteem, identity, objectification, Jean-Paul Sartre, and overcoming self-sabotaging narratives we tell ourselves. [Read more...]

In Which I Answer Leah Libresco's Moral Philosophy Concerns So You Don't Become A Catholic Too

Leah Libresco was an irreligious person with little interest in religious issues until as a Yale undergraduate she began dating a Catholic, reading Catholic theology and apologetics, and going to church with him. She wrote a blog about her process of weighing Catholicism against atheism. Recently, she converted to Catholicism. I have previously analyzed some of [Read More...]

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...]