Why Moral Philosophers Aren’t More Moral Than the Rest of Us (via Ockham’s Beard)


Courtesy of Wiki Commons

This is a fun article. Of course, as an ethics teacher I should probably worry, but I will continue to have faith that I will do okay.

I am still working my way through moral philosophy so this article had relevance for me. I hope you enjoy it as well. Read the comments, some of them are pretty fire breathing.

James Pilant

Brace yourself. Or sit down. Or both. Eric Schwitzgebel and compatriots have uncovered a startling revelation: professional ethicists don’t behave any more morally or courteously than non-ethicists. Full abstract of their paper: If philosophical moral reflection tends to promote moral behavior, one might think that professional ethicists would behave morally better than do socially comparable non-ethicists.  We examined three types of courteous a … Read More

via Ockham’s Beard

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Can We Engineer Students to Where They Learn Without Teachers?


I was reading Norman J. LaFave’s Web site, Alterworld: Norman LaFave’s Science Fiction Musings on Writing, Science, Technology, Education, Philosophy, Politics and Policy. 

His current article, The Future of Learning and Education…  tells of his thoughts on the future of education. He’s pretty imaginative, but I don’t think he’s wrong. I have been telling my Criminal Justice students that our ability to modify human genetics, alter human behavior with chemicals and change the structure of our bodies with implants is going to radically change the field. I think they only half believe me but the changes are coming anyway.

I am particularly interested in the experiments with brain chemicals that appear that appear to raise intelligence. The average intelligence in prison measured by IQ is about 70. That’s not much. What if we could raise that intelligence to that of an average citizen? Studies show that criminals suffer from poor judgment. One set of studies show that the process they use to make judgments is only partial the pattern used by law abiding citizens. Could we radically reduce crime by increasing inmate intelligence? We are likely to able to use this kind of technique not in some science fiction future, but probably in five or six years. It will be the first wave in new treatments for criminality not by prison but by altering the way their brains work.

The future may also hold direct transference of data from computers to the human brain. That might make much of college teaching obsolete. I can tell you I’m not looking forward to this, I’m a teacher and I enjoy it. However, I suspect the changes may be just far enough ahead for me to close out my teaching career with some dignity.

Both chemical treatment to raise offender IQ’s and direct transfer of information both present moral problems. However boosting intelligence in prison populations is hard to criticize ethically unless you can make a good case that an increased intelligence is a detriment some way. I think it is more akin to providing exercise facilities to build muscles than a punishment.

Direct transfer of information is going to be much more of an ethical dilemma. Will the machine evade the judgment centers of the forebrain and deliver the information without any moral screening? Will humans simply become skill bundles with only a limited humanity? What exactly are we putting in and how does it affect the whole system? As long as it is theory and their are no facts to work with, questions over what is right or wrong become more numerous the more you think about it.

I think raising intelligence by chemical means will be common in the next thirty years. I do not forsee direct knowledge transfer until minimally fifty or sixty years. But technology is not as predictable as when I was a child in the sixties, so we will have to see.

James Pilant

English: Computer tomography of human brain, f...
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Human Rights and the Endowment Effect (via P.a.p.-Blog | Human Rights Etc.)


This article refers and provides a link to the endowment effect. I had never heard of this economic theory. But now having read about it, I find it both fascinating and convincing. I appreciate the author bringing this idea to my attention.

I did not stop at reading this particular post, I explored the site reading a good number of posts. I very much enjoyed what I saw. I think you would profit by a similarly detailed look.

James Pilant

Human Rights and the Endowment Effect (source) Why do we say that people fighting for their rights are in fact fighting for the recognition of their rights? That people have rights even when the law doesn’t recognize these rights? That, in other words, people have moral rights that precede their legal rights? And that these moral rights can be used to evaluate and, if necessary, create their legal rights? At first sight, such statements imply the dubious ontological claim that moral … Read More

via P.a.p.-Blog | Human Rights Etc.

No One Killed Morality! (via Mythbroakia)


This is a well written, thoughtful article. (The title is great by itself.) Journalists are confronted by thorny ethical issues on a continuous basis. He discusses this in very much a reality based manner while still hanging on to virtue.

I liked it. By the way, the site is beautiful. A lot of thought went into the design and it’s visually stunning. So, go and read the article but if you don’t want to, click over just to have a look at the site.

James Pilant

No One Killed Morality! One practical concern in journalistic ethics is that of morality. What is the relation between morality and competence in journalism? Must a good journalist be really morally strong as well? What is meant by morality in the first instance? Is a journalist bound by the standards of ordinary morality? Is there a special journalistic morality that is se … Read More

via Mythbroakia

Why Moral Philosophers Aren’t More Moral Than the Rest of Us (via Ockham’s Beard)


Courtesy of Wiki Commons

This is a fun article. Of course, as an ethics teacher I should probably worry, but I will continue to have faith that I will do okay.

I am still working my way through moral philosophy so this article had relevance for me. I hope you enjoy it as well. Read the comments, some of them are pretty fire breathing.

James Pilant

Brace yourself. Or sit down. Or both. Eric Schwitzgebel and compatriots have uncovered a startling revelation: professional ethicists don’t behave any more morally or courteously than non-ethicists. Full abstract of their paper: If philosophical moral reflection tends to promote moral behavior, one might think that professional ethicists would behave morally better than do socially comparable non-ethicists.  We examined three types of courteous a … Read More

via Ockham’s Beard