Category «Ethics»

Evil in All Its Forms

The U.S. Supreme Court expanded exemptions to a federal mandate that requires employer health plans to cover birth control. The mandate already exempts churches and lets other non-profits file for a “religious accommodation.” The Hobby Lobby decision lets for-profit employers file, too. The Wheaton College ruling lets Wheaton, a Christian non-profit, skip filing the accommodation form—EBSA …

Facebook’s Emotion Experiment & Informed Consent

For seven days in January 2012, roughly 689,000 Facebook users unknowingly took part in an “emotional contagion” study. Facebook reduced the percentage of positive posts, negative posts, or both in select news feeds. A comparison group had posts omitted from their feeds at random. Reducing negative posts led users to give status updates with fewer …

Podcast: Moral Philosophy & The Moral Landscape

Thomas Smith, host of the podcast Atheistically Speaking, had me on to talk about moral philosophy and Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape. Previous guests of the program include philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, a critic of Harris. Thomas is a supporter of Harris’s scientific theory of morality. He and I had a friendly and fruitful discussion that …

Treating Pets as Persons in Citizen Canine

David Grimm, journalist and editor at Science, has published a book about our increasingly personal connection to our pets. This worthwhile read is called Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs. A central theme is cats and dogs’ path to legal personhood. The book explores answers to two questions. Do cats and dogs …

The Worst Possible Misery for Everyone is Bad (Reasoning)? – Part 1

Sam Harris’s “worst possible misery for everyone” argument (WPME, for short) attempts to defend this conclusion: Increases/decreases in the well-being of conscious creatures fully determine which states of the world are morally better/worse. The argument is named for its key premise: “The worst possible misery for everyone is bad.” In this post, I’ll lay out …