How much should you trust your empathy?

There are too many people in this crowd to empathize with

Recently, in The New Yorker, psychologist Paul Bloom took a shot at the idea that empathy is a necessary component of moral judgement or behavior.  In fact, the stirrings of our conscience, he says, can often lead us astray.  We tend to be more moved by the small problems near us than big problems far away.  It's hard to fire off mirror neurons if other people's norms and culture are different enough from yours that you can't read their expressions or anticipate their reactions.  And we tend not … [Read more...]

God and the Moral Law in Mormonism

moses icon

After I wrote a review of The God Who Weeps, a book about Mormonism, I told Mormon readers to feel welcome to guest post to answer some of my questions or to add some clarifications.  (Oh, and meanwhile, Joanne McPortland has also written a review talking about the similarities between Mormonism and Gnosticism).   Over here chez moi, Carl Cranney has stepped up to the challenge. Here's how he introduces himself:Carl Cranney is a Mormon, yet is a PhD student in systematic theology at the C … [Read more...]

Bob, can I interest you in Transhumanism?

Bob Seidensticker has looked over my recent post on objective morality and hard to get at truths, and he's got some more questions.  Let me pull out a couple quotes from Bob's post: I'll agree that there’s nothing absolute for the consensus to be truth about. When we say, “Capital punishment is wrong,” there is no absolute truth (the yardstick) for us to compare our claim against. Is capital punishment wrong? We can wrestle with this issue the only way we ever have, by studying the issue and arg … [Read more...]

Objective Morality and Hard to Get at Truths

Bob Seidensticker has been checking out C.S. Lewis, and he's put up a post explaining why he still doesn't think it makes sense to talk about morality as objective.  I'm going to reply over here, but I'd love to have Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist step in and backstop me.You see, back when Hemant and I were scrapping on Justin Brierley's radio show, Hemant agreed with me that the Taliban are flat out wrong about the moral status of women, as wrong as people who think the earth is flat.  I w … [Read more...]

What are your utils denominated in?

harry potter catholicism

 In the comment threads for the "Hey! I didn't say Science Says!" post, there were a couple attempts to come up with metrics to check the impact of changes to marriage law.  Some of them are definitely quantifiable (suicide rate, reported domestic abuse) but don't do a good job capturing the impact of a given marriage schema on the whole population.  Those kinds of outcomes are only tracking couples who hit a certain threshhold of dysfunction.  It's like measuring the effectiveness of a … [Read more...]

Head to Head with Hemant Mehta

Last week, I got to do an interview/argument with fellow Patheos blogger and Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta on Justin Brierley's podcast Unbelieveable!   You can stream the podcast from Justin's website or you can download it from iTunes.  This is probably my favorite media thing I've done so far, since I find it easier to express myself in the context of an argument than I do in the scope of a conventional "How do you feel?" interview.  It's easier to realize when you're not being clear when you … [Read more...]

Doing Comment Triage [check back for updates]

putting on helmet

I really appreciate all the warm messages of support that I'm getting in the announcement post from this morning, but I'm concerned that the critical comments are going to get buried, so I'm using this post to highlight the ones I've responded to so far.  If I haven't gotten to yours yet, and still haven't in a few days, feel free to still ping and remind me.  I may be waiting because I've got a post lined up that responds to your comment or I may have just lost track of it.You know I'm a p … [Read more...]


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