And what did you win with your death?

 There's a lot of interesting discussion happening in the comments of my post on More and martyrdom.  Yesterday, I highlighted a question Kewois asked about the moral choices that we don't notice,  and today I found another interesting question about More's act from Jubal DiGriz: Martyrdom in of itself is not a virtue. Moore’s unwillingness to bend and inability to transgress his own principles shouldn’t be what makes him a good man. What matters is what principles one is sacrificing fo … [Read more...]

More on accepting sacrifices

In re the discussion of accepting gifts, a recent post by Eve Tushnet seemed apropos.  (Note, she's discussing her experiences working with women at a crisis pregnancy center, and I would prefer any discussion not be derailed by an argument about crisis pregnancy centers, since that's not the part of the story I'm highlighting). I've been struck recently by how many of my clients are ashamed to go to their friends for help: both material or financial help, and emotional support, the love in ti … [Read more...]

Winning a Moral Arms Race?

The first person to comment on my post about The Hunger Games and not seeing gifts as debts had a pragmatic concern: I don’t see this as moral progress. If more people would see a sacrifice as a debt the world would be a better place. I've got a (richly deserved) reputation as a not-so-soft paternalist when it comes to social policy, so I'm sympathetic to this critique.  Isn't there a benefit to chafing under a debt insofar as it spurs us on to better acts?  How is this kind of inducement dif … [Read more...]

Beware of [YA Dystopias] Bearing Gifts?

This post contains vague spoilers for the Hunger Games trilogy.  I'm speaking in generalities about the moral development of some of the characters, but do not discuss any specific plot developments.  Consider yourselves warned.I really enjoyed the Hunger Games series (and had a great time dressing up for the movie) but I'm mainly pitched it to people in tragic terms.  Unlike many other YA dystopian hero/ines, Katniss is marked and warped by the cost of bringing down her society.  During par … [Read more...]

Greedy Self-Denial

  Sorry for the delay in Sunday's Good Book posts!  A Song of Ice and Fire is at least partly to blame, but, now that I'm done with A Dance with Dragons, presumably that particular distraction won't be a problem for--shall we guess--another eight years.  I know this is technically going up Monday, but I was gone this weekend seeing my brother at the conclusion of his Shakespeare intensive and it seemed silly to hold the post for a week now that it's written.A little while ago, Eve lent me a … [Read more...]

The Threat that Can’t be Beat

 In my "Pugilist in Good Faith" post, I explained why I didn't see a contradiction between aggressively going after other people's ideas and remaining open to revising my own opinions.  After reading it, commenter dbp had a question about whether this balance is possible when you're doing it in public, and his question deserves a longer response.  He wrote: The point isn't so much that you're out to persuade people of a position you're also (on this blog) publicly subjecting to int … [Read more...]

Update on Church Vandalism Fundraising

Hermant Mehta of Friendly Atheist has ended his atheist fundraiser to help two churches that were defaced by Flying Spaghetti Monster graffiti.  Both churches were able to do cleanup with their usual maintenance staffs, so Mehta donated the money raised, as promised, to the Foundation Beyond Belief.  I donated to his fund, and posted his fundraising widget on the blog, to allow other atheists to donate, but I was a little uncomfortable making a donation to a religious group; I never contribute to … [Read more...]