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Everyday Ethics

Everyday Ethics

by staff May 06, 2016
Race and Beauty
In case you were starting to pine for another 'teachable moment' in racial politics, Psychology Today has obliged. Satoshi Kanazawa posted an article on the magazine's website purporting to show that black women are objectively less attractive than other women. I was preparing to discuss some of the many problems with this way of framing the issue, and perhaps, if I could bear it, to say something about the problems with the argument, but the good folks at ColorLines and ColorOfChange.Org are already on the case. There are other articles in other places (like TheRoot.com), but the ColorOfChange take is here, and the ColorLines piece is here. (PsychToday has removed Kanazawa's original piece from its site, in response to many, many public calls for them to do so.)
Free Markets, Externalities, and A Question of Integrity
One of the defining premises of any "free market" is that parties participate in transactions voluntarily. Shoving, imposing, and force--not allowed. Indeed, voluntary participation is a vital part of the justification--and defense--of free markets. Why are free markets supposedly "free"? Because people participate in transactions freely, voluntarily, as free human beings. Why are free markets considered beneficial? Because the outcomes are often beneficial to the participants and, often, to a broader community.
New York Times Krugman Claims That US Congressional Hearings Are A Moral Failure: The US Congress and The Ethics of Willful Ignorance.
In an April 4, 2011 New York Times op-ed entitled "The Truth, Still Inconvenient," Paul Krugman charged that Republican led climate change hearings that had just concluded were a deep moral failure. (Krugman, 2011) Krugman described the GOP US House of Representatives hearings at which of five invited witnesses on climate change, one was a lawyer, another an economist, and a third a professor of marketing---witnesses without any expertise in climate change science. One of the witnesses that was actually a scientist was expected to support the skeptical position but surprised everyone by supporting the mainstream scientific view on the amount of warming that the world has already experienced. Yet he was immediately attacked by climate skeptics.
Janet Swim on Consumer Ethics
In her talk at the recent Sustainability Ethics Conference at Penn State University Park, Janet Swim presented psychological research she conducted with Brittany Bloodhart on the attitudes of consumers regarding the impacts of consumption on human beings and the biosphere. They found that individuals tend to have greater ethical concern about their consumption after being exposed to films that detail the environmental impacts of consumption. For example, such increased concern might manifest itself upon seeing the adverse effects that the disposal of consumer products can have on human communities in other countries.
Questioning the Myth of Alzheimer's
I have spent my life within the scientific, political, economic, and social institutions of the AD field-universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies-studying and treating human aging and disease. Now I am ready to challenge the power that the mainstream "Alzheimer's disease" myth has over us, helping people see what I have seen and to think critically about the evolution in thought that has occurred over the past several decades, which has shaped the way we see our aging bodies and minds and the way we act towards them. I want to spread a story of brain aging that can be a starting point for helping us better cope with and prepare for the travails of cognitive decline.
Nigel Dower on Philosophical Ethics and Sustainability
The first to be presented at the recent Sustainability Ethics Conference at Penn State University Park, Dower's paper provided a clear outline of the key concepts and questions that are at work in discussions of sustainability. The paper began by situating the role of the philosopher as one who 1) analyzes concepts, 2) identifies ethical issues and any underlying theories that might already be in use regarding these issues, 3) offers normative arguments for preferring some theories over others, and 4) considers implications of the application of those theories. His paper followed suit by raising questions about concepts like "sustainability" and "development."
Christian Becker on Sustainability Ethics
In Environmental Ethics studies, scholars always talk about the importance of sustainable practices (in agriculture, energy, etc.), but what do they mean by sustainability? Christian Becker's talk in the recent Sustainability Ethics Conference at Penn State University Park focused on the ethical and philosophical meaning of the term 'sustainability'. Becker argues that sustainability has an inherently ethical dimension which is complex and requires a new approach to sustainability ethics that can address this complexity. The term 'sustainability' should be considered within the context of harmony between our contemporary fellow human beings, future generations, and nature. The term implies a certain type of continuance, orientation, and set of relations that lead us to pose the following philosophical question: What type of system do we want to maintain?
Robin Attfield on the Moral Consequences of Environmental Crisis
In his contribution to the Panel Discussion on Global Ethics, Dr. Attfield offered an analysis of how the environmental crisis has presented us with new moral consequences and implications for our moral thinking. The environmental crisis includes everything from climate change, to global warming, to the degradation of natural resources and environments. It has reached the level of a crisis thanks to its global extent, the fact that is stems from the accumulation of countless big and more trivial actions, and that it affects natural systems as well as current and future people and members of others species.In light of this environmental crisis, Attfield acknowledges that this means that more than happiness is at stake. We need a deeper value theory that extends beyond pleasure/happiness and pain/suffering. As part of the moral consequences, the environmental crisis also requires that we expand the range of those who bear moral standing to non-human creatures and future generations.
David Macauley on the Sustainable Practice of Walking
How can we begin to tackle the difficult and pressing problems raised by the discipline of Sustainability Ethics, which focuses on the moral issues resulting from the fact that we live in a threefold relation with contemporary others, future generations, and nature? Might the answer be as simple as putting one foot in front of the other?
Universities And The Need To Address Global Climate Change Across Disciplines and Programs
I have been living in Alaska the past few years, and in contrast to assumptions about faith in technology, some Inuit people tell me their foundations for government and education are based on traditional sets of relationships by which they have lived. Their fundamental belief is that the connections that individuals feel for each other and to their environment determine personal character and value to the community. Without using the word "sustainability," for Inuits this belief is the definition of "sustainability." Sustainability is a core value of Inuit life. Instead of having to be incorporated or infused into policies and programs, culturally embedded concepts of sustainability form a natural foundation from which all policies and practices are derived. This is an inversion of the usual approach to trying to incorporate sustainability in policies, laws, and practices of the Western world (IALEI 2009).