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Front Page » Table of Contents » Philosophy

By Jeff Mincey on January 23, 2010

Today I find myself thinking of all the division in the world. We humans have an inexhaustible capacity to focus on what separates us rather than on what brings us together. Whether it's over religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, or any of the innumerable other ways we classify each other, this feature of human nature breeds only fear, suspicion, discord, conflict, and war.

It's not that I would want to whitewash our differences. To the contrary, I actually see them as a source of richness. But even after many millennia, the echoes of our distant anthropology still by and large lead us to see our differences as a threat.

How can we can overcome this at long last?

When I raise this question with others, invariably they cite a particular belief system which they hold as right and true, a path we all would do well to follow. It's a sad irony that the very thing which gives rise to separation among people is what we prescribe most often as its solution.

After so many years of searching for the "right path," I have come to see the choice of a belief system itself as the problem — that is to say, any belief system.

Read more of this post here ...

By Richard Head on November 15, 2009

For a thought-provoking, multi-part series on justice, morality, and political and personal choice, take a look at a video course taught at Harvard University, which is free and open to the public.

Justice is one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history. Now it’s your turn to take the same journey in moral reflection that has captivated more than 14,000 students, as Harvard opens its classroom to the world.

In this twelve part series, Professor Michael Sandel challenges us with difficult moral dilemmas and asks our opinion about the right thing to do. He then asks us to examine our answers in the light of new scenarios. The results are often surprising, revealing that important moral questions are never black and white.

This course also addresses the hot topics of our day—affirmative action, same-sex marriage, patriotism and rights—and Sandel shows us that we can revisit familiar controversies with a fresh perspective.

Read more of this post here ...

By Weeden Nichols on October 11, 2009

The aspect of goodness that interests me is the quality of goodness in human persons as decision-makers and initiators of actions. I consulted my old philosophy texts (Ethics and Intro to Philosophy) and found no real help. I consulted my spouse’s old Metaphysics text, and found even less help. The Metaphysics text seemed to objectify the human person in its treatment of goodness in persons – the human person as object of love, desire, or enjoyment. I’m sure women, in particular, would react negatively to this sort of treatment. In any case, this would not do for my purposes. I wish to view the human person, in this discussion, as an active, not passive, entity.

Without slighting God in any way, or detracting from God as an idea or entity, I must say that the goodness of God is an entirely different matter from goodness in a human person (aside and apart from the matter of perfection). One would have to count the goodness of God as goodness-by-definition. If one is dealing with an entity that is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere-present, one would have to be intimidated enough to add “all-good” to the litany.

Read more of this post here ...

By Peter Herbert on March 16, 2009

Some of my favorite ideas about justice come from the American political philosopher, John Rawls (1921 – 2002). I am especially fond of Rawls’s position on the just distribution of resources:

Social and economic inequalities should be arranged so that they are both (a) to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged persons, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of equality of opportunity. (A Theory of Justice, Harvard: Belknap Press, 1971, p. 83)
There is a lot going on in this short quote. Below I discuss only part of it: its implications concerning the just distribution of fundamental economic goods.

Read more of this post here ...

By Larry James on August 27, 2008

Beginning assumptions often determine results and outcomes.

This is especially true when it comes to how we decide to regard people.

When I begin with a worldview defined and informed by the categories and parameters of judgment, I quickly head in a direction that expects very little of others in their current state and assumes the necessity of my presence to affect the much needed change that I find so obvious.

Such a perspective creates the illusion that occupy a position of superiority, power and dominance. While shrouded in the false nobility of moral obligation, a worldview dominated by judgment cuts me off from authentic relationships. Such a stance weakens and, ultimately, destroys community.

Read more of this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on July 14, 2008

A friend sent me this anecdote that really made me think about my life.

Why is it that we work so hard to have something that we could've had all along? Why do we feel the need to convince others that our long and frustrating days will lead us (and them) to something better? What if we listened to people like this man and learned from him?

Read more of this post here ...

By Corinne Blum on March 6, 2008

I was reflecting on life, how time passes and we feel we need to constantly be filling it with something because if we don’t, we’re “wasting” time. When I stop and really think about that theory it seems utterly absurd. If you look through the lens of quantum physics you could say time is unquantifiable, it can’t be compartmentalized, measured by any means, because essentially it is elusive. Really what is time? It isn’t dense, it isn’t matter, nor does it have form. It isn’t even really energy.

The sucker punch to the melon is that it’s totally and completely relative! I don’t believe that there is a steady measure of time. It travels at different speeds according to the environment and state you are in. An afternoon of boredom feels like eternity. But a week (or even a month) filled with work and to-do lists and social engagements, feels like it goes by as quickly as those bad infomercials preach “in juuuuust minutes!” And sometimes it’s even just the geographical location that carries different MPH (minutes per hour). Six months in San Francisco or New York is the equivalent to one month in Southeast Asia. Or is it the other way around? Oh no, I’m confused now. Time has me in a tizzy.

Read more of this post here ...

By Paul Faber on November 15, 2007

"Everybody has a right to his own opinion," one hears often enough, especially if one happens to be talking about Iraq, civil liberties or wind power.

But does everyone have such a right? At the risk of sounding like President Clinton trying to slither out of a tight ethical squeeze by saying "it depends on what you mean by 'is'," I have to say that it depends on what you mean by "right."

Although we talk about rights pretty easily, if one really tries to figure it out, you find that there are significantly different types of rights, that people can mean significantly different things when they talk about rights.

Read more of this post here ...

By Paul Faber on October 30, 2007

"So Kansans would have 15 percent of the energy and 100 percent of the pollution and environmental impact of 11 million new tons of CO2 each year," Gov. Kathleen Sebelius wrote in An open letter to the people of Kansas.

Society exists so that we can live better than we could live alone. We cooperate, but as soon as we do not all do exactly the same thing -- as soon, that is, as there is a division of labor -- we have to figure out who carries the heavier burdens.

And when we have divided up the tasks, when one person sows and another reaps, then we also have to figure out how we should divide up the benefits of the cooperation.

Read more of this post here ...

By Bob Hooper on October 8, 2007

people-on-steps-small.jpg

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and the government when it deserves it." - Mark Twain

In a newspaper column, Anti-Americanism in American Schools (here or here), Thomas Krannawitter says we the people are imminently threatened by teachers honoring multiculturalism who would destroy our democratic republic. FHSU philosophy prof Paul Faber then weighed in with great kindness, chiding his former student for painting with too broad a brush. Krannawitter responded here.

Krannawitter teaches at Hillsdale College, a school of some 1,500 in Hillsdale, Mich. Ostensibly nonsectarian, its Articles of Association declare, "It shall be a conspicuous aim to teach precept and example the essentials of the Christian faith and religion." I could be wrong but my best guess is that the likeness of David Horowitz, the tireless ultra-conservative anti-multiculturalist, is sculpted at campus center -- sword unsheathed for battle, astride a granite stallion out of the Book of Revelation. (I hope I jest.)

Read more of this post here ...

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