Ethics of Not Ruining Everything

Today I listened to the audio book of Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationship With Animals by Lori Gruen while reading the hardcopy of From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel Dennett. As a result I have been better able to empathize with Dennett’s obsession with the uniqueness of human consciousness, and I have been better able to marvel at the complex precision of Gruen’s theorizing. But I don’t seem to be any better read more

Against Simplicity: A Complexity Manifesto

In academia there is a general understanding that the sort of rules applied in (certain specific and limited) physical sciences don’t always work in the “human sciences” due to the complexity involved. Among the general public (and plenty of academia too), there is nonetheless a widespread tendency to impose radically over-simplistic rules on the observation of human behavior.

To my mind, once the earth’s temperature has been observed to set a new heat record year after read more

Hey Kids! Try Collateral Damage at Home

One day a couple of weeks ago I was reading Saint Augustine while driving to the local convenience store, and I accidentally drove right through the front glass wall of the store, smashing up some shelves of junk food. After I’d made my purchases, a police officer stopped me and asked if I’d intended to drive into the store. “Oh, not at all,” I replied. “I intended to get here as quickly as possible while also educating myself as quickly as possible. I knew I might read more

The Habit of Thought That Made U.S. #1 in Prisons and Wars

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune
Remarks prepared for April 12 event in Baltimore.

I’m going to start with a few brief opening remarks about what I think is the habit of thought that has made the United States #1 in the world in prisons and wars. And then I’ll be glad to try to answer as many questions as you think of. These remarks will be published online at American Herald Tribune.

No matter how long I debunk and refute and mock and condemn arguments for wars, I continue over read more

The Catholic Church is Now More Advanced Than U.S. Philosophy Departments

It ought to be with considerable embarrassment that I say this, as an atheist who thinks religion does far more harm than good, and that it does so not only through the pretense that death isn’t real but first and foremost through the promotion of blind obedience to supposedly infallible authority. Yet, I don’t feel any sort of group loyalty or opposition to the parties involved here, and I’m actually entirely thrilled to recognize the good news that the Catholic Church has now read more

Why Do Ethics Classes Fantasize About Murder So Much?

At a post-screening discussion where I questioned the director of Eye in the Sky about the disconnect between his drone-kill movie and reality, he launched into a bunch of thought-experiment stuff of the sort I’ve tried to avoid since finishing my master’s in philosophy. Mostly I’ve avoided hanging out with torture supporters.

If this were a philosophy paper I would now tell you that I am going to show that consequentialism is the most useful ethical framework. Then I would show read more

War Acceptance 101

Behind John Rawls’ veil of ignorance, an American ethics professor would imagine himself or herself choosing a society of wonderful economic and social justice, unheard of equality and liberty, and the “right” to “defend” itself through the counterproductive and self-destructive instrument of military empire and war. Peace isn’t permitted even in utopia, in U.S. academe. Why? Because John Rawls murdered Japanese people “in defense” and occupied their read more

The Three Laws of Pentagon Robotics

The three laws of robotics, according to science fiction author Isaac Asimov, are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

I would gladly have accepted a $20 million Pentagon contract for the job of pointing read more