Effective Altruism & Ethically Questionable Cookies

(from Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier this week, I linked to the Yale Effective Altruists' writeup of my visit (my radio program on Effective Altruism and Christian Charity is here).  Today, Slate Star Codex has a post up that's a nice encapsulation of my discomfort with the more totalizing part of EA. Peter Singer talks about widening circles of concern. First you move from total selfishness to an understanding that your friends and family are people just like you and need to be treated with respect and understanding. Then … [Read more...]

Effective Altruism and Caritas [Radio Readings]


You can listen to “Fights in Good Faith,” my weekly radio program, streaming today at 5pm ET and tomorrow (Sun) at 1pm.  The audio is now available to stream and download. This week’s program is about the Effective Altruism movement ways to resolve tensions between its recommendations and the Christian aim of charity.  I gave a talk on this topic earlier this week as a guest of the Yale Effective Altruists.Every week, I put up a “Radio Readings” post, so you can track down the books, article … [Read more...]

Why Make People Derive the Rules for Sex Themselves?

( / Flickr)

I'll be sending the monthly update on my book Arriving At Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer next week, and if you get the email, you can enter a lottery to get an early copy.  After I wrote a post on practical questions to ask about consent and coercion (and the way making a habit of these questions can develop your care and compassion), one of my commenters was concerned that telling people how to have sex more ethically is unethical, if I wind up implicitly condoning pr … [Read more...]

Ethical Sex: Paying attention to the consequences of “No”

Traffic Light Tree, London (Martin/Flickr)

A friend of mine shared an excellent essay with me on ways to understand consent.  Everyone is pretty familiar with "No means no" (even if the applications of sometimes remind me of what law school friends have sometimes told me about police executing unwarranted searches -- in one case, asking if they could search, removing the resident from the premises when he said no and cuffing him, and then asking the open door of the house, not hearing an objection, and walking in).  Still, it feels like m … [Read more...]

A Fired-Up, Fusty Witness to Christian Faith [Saints Bookclub]

(Saint Cecilia in St Mary The Virgin in Little Wymondley cc Wikimedia Commons)

In 2015, I'm reading and blogging through Ronald Knox's collection of sermons on Christian exemplars, Captive Flames: On Selected Saints and Christian Heroes.  Every Monday, I'll be writing about the next portrait in the book, so you're welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.The first sermon in the book is on Saint Cecilia, who Knox sees as a model for ordinary Christians, who may feel they have no particularly saintly challenges to face.  He contrasts St. Cecilia with St. Cath … [Read more...]

Holy Fools Against the Mini-Maxers

"Matejko Stańczyk" by Jan Matejko - cyfrowe.mnw.art.pl. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My friend Ilana Yurkiewicz is an excellent doctoring blogger, and I particularly appreciated one of her recent essays, "What's so healthy about skepticism?"  Her post about being deceived by a patient and deciding what lessons to learn from the encounter is excellent.  I'll blockquote a small bit here, but you should pop over and read the whole thing: I had been deceived before, both in and out of the hospital walls. But it never bothered me as much as did then. There was something about how he … [Read more...]

Ethical Edge Cases So Sharp You’ll Cut Yourself


I've run into three considerations of hypotheticals (two of them in the last week) that all seem to fall into a pattern.  First up. there's this dialogue, related to me by a friend who teaches a second grade catechism class. (They were discussing how the disciples of Christ spread the gospel). Teacher: If you had to spread a message today, how would you do it? Second Grader: I'd capture a mountain lion and tame him and ride him so fast. Teacher: Hmmm... That might not work if the mountain … [Read more...]