What’s the Difference between Forgiveness and Self-Deception?

repairing vase

An atheist friend of mine recently posted the following question to Facebook (and gave me permission to reprint it here):I don't think I grok forgiveness in the absence of Catholicism. I keep trying to imagine what I might mean if I asked someone to forgive me. I certainly wouldn't ask anybody that they purposefully have poorly calibrated beliefs about me, or that they have emotions poorly calibrated to their beliefs. The best I've got at the moment is "please keep in mind that decision … [Read more...]

The Ethicist Endorses Omertà


The NYT's Ethicist has taken a very strange approach to wrongdoing in this weekend's column.  A student wrote in to say that ze saw a friend take someone's car keys and throw them into a lake.  The friend offered the letterwriter $50 as an implicit bribe in order to stay quiet.  The bribe worked.  Later, someone came by looking for his keys, and the letterwriter kept mum.  But ze felt queasy about zer choice, and asked the Ethicist for his advice.  Here's an excerpt from his reply:It was wron … [Read more...]

Must We Reclaim Lydia Bennett?

Come with me if you want to live... autonomously

Greta Christina thinks Lydia Bennett has been given short shrift.  Although Lizzie Bennett has a certain amount of fire and spunk within the constraints of her life in Pride and Prejudice, Greta admires Lydia for daring to transgress completely and act autonomously, come what may.She is a woman who thinks of her body, and her life, as hers. She’s a woman who — in defiance of the powerful social pressures of 19th century England — decides that who she marries, and when, and when they do or do … [Read more...]

Compassion for Child Abandonment

subway baby

I've been rooting for the cops to not catch the mother who abandoned her baby in a NYC subway station.  Turns out they did, and she's facing a felony charge for abandonment of a child.The reason I'm feeling queasy about the trial is the poor incentives it creates for desperate parents.  Given her limited options, the woman picked a pretty good place to leave a child.  I can see the logic in picking a busily trafficked subway platform where there would be a slew of witnesses to see you push a … [Read more...]

Anti-Homeless Laws with Teeth


China has added a new, less subtle trick to the annals of anti-homeless architecture.  Park benches in Yantai Park in Shangdong province now work according to coin operated timers.  Stop feeding the meter, and little iron spikes pop out to prick the unwary sitter.  According to the article: Park bosses got the idea from an art installation in Germany where sculptor Fabian Brunsing created a similar bench as a protest against the commercialisation of modern life."He thought he was exa … [Read more...]

Selling Beauty Short


Nathan Biberdorf would like us all to stop affirming each other by asserting that everyone is beautiful.  It's doing more harm than good. There are plenty of people that are not physically appealing to look at, the primary and most widely used meaning of the word “beautiful”. So why do we use the word as a catch-all for any sort of positive attribute?Nobody says, “Everybody is a good listener.” Nobody says, “Everyone is athletic to somebody.” Nobody says, “You are an amazing writer, whether … [Read more...]

Who Watches the Executioners?


Yesterday, a federal judge rejected Marcus Wellons's plea for a stay of execution.  If no other intervention is forthcoming, Wellons will be executed this evening.  Wellons's argued that his death should be postponed until the state of Georgia was forced to disclose exactly which drugs they would be using to kill him.After the botched execution earlier this year in Ohio, courts have had to consider whether experimental executions constitute cruel and unusual punishment -- a sentence worse tha … [Read more...]