Ridiculously Over-Engineered Approaches To Empathy


When I was complaining about a plane delay on facebook, a friend of mine generously bought me a kindle copy of Margaret Drabble's The Millstone, and told me that I might particularly enjoy it as a recovering Stoic and Kantian.  She was right.I also liked how much it reminded me of Ben Hoffman's recent post on "Werewolf Feelings" but let's address Drabble first.  Here's a scene where the protagonist carefully doesn't overreach with a lover. And even then, at that moment, I did not have the co … [Read more...]

Gateway Drugs to More Ethical Lives

(roujo / flickr)

A while ago, I mentioned that I'd found [X]-adjacent to be a helpful category when the X in question was bad.  E.g. rape-adjacent sex (unclear consent) may not break any laws or result in anyone feeling violated, but it makes it harder to identify predators, and it's good to avoid sex that falls in this grey area.  Catherine Addington extended the idea to brutality-adjacent policing in an essay at AmCon.And I wondered whether there was a flip side of [Y]-adjacent actions, where Y was a good t … [Read more...]

Is “Kindness-Adjacent” A Useful Category?

(Wikimedia Commons)

Catherine Addington wrote a great piece on police brutality for AmCon (that happened to riff on one of my posts about unadvisable, rape-adjacent sex): Bland’s death remains under investigation, but the dashboard camera footage of her interaction with Encinia shows the escalation of a warning for the failure to signal into the forceful detention of an epileptic woman. Surprisingly, much of what occurred between Encinia and Bland appears to have been legal, if imprudent. Encinia’s tactics could be … [Read more...]

Positive Parenting and Pick Up Artistry

(Curtis Perry / Flickr)

Libby Anne of the Patheos Atheist channel is one of my favorite people to read on parenting, and I really enjoyed her recent post "When Positive Parenting Doesn't 'Work'"  I'm pulling a longer quote and I still feel bad about chopping up her story, so just pop over and read the whole thing.Simply put, here is a situation where I very badly wanted Bobby to sleep, and not a one of my positive parenting techniques was able to achieve that. And I thought about this, too, as I laid there trying to … [Read more...]

Does Effective Altruism Dehumanize People You Give To?


I'm discussing Effective Altruism and (possibly!) defusing some concerns about this growing, evidence-based movement in a conversation with Matt Gerken at Philanthropy Daily.  I really appreciation Matt raising some common qualms people have about Effective Altruism (What does this mean for local causes? What about goods that are hard to measure) and having me over to his site to engage them.I've posted one of our exchanges below, and you can see the rest at Philanthropy D … [Read more...]

Some Tools for Failing to Live Perfectly Well

(Lars Klintwall Malmqvist / Wikimedia Commons)

Richard Beck of Experimental Theology had an interesting post up recently about purity and anxiety in progressive Christian circles.  I've excerpted it below:  [T]his "will to purity" doesn't just manifest in protecting sacred beliefs, it manifests in behavior as well. Both evangelical and progressive Christians doggedly pursue a vision ofmoral purity.For evangelical Christians moral purity will fixate on hedonism (e.g., sex, drug use).For progressive Christians moral purity will fixate on comp … [Read more...]

Terry Pratchett’s Morals and Magic [Radio Readings]


You can listen to “Fights in Good Faith,” my weekly radio program, streaming today at 5pm ET and tomorrow (Sun) at 1pm  I'll update this post when the episode is available to stream and download on demand. After Terry Pratchett passed away this week, I wanted to take some time to talk about how his Discworld books shaped my conscience. Every week, I put up a “Radio Readings” post, so you can track down the books, articles, and (this week) non-violent resistance movements that I cite on the show. … [Read more...]