Archive for the ‘ Ethics ’ Category

Rationalism and Feminism, labels part 3

Ooops, I meant to keep writing some of the random things I think about down. Sorry for the delay, real life has been in the way a bit. I had a bit of a series going about the labels we do and should use, which I’d like to continue. In this instalment, I will talk a bit about how skepticism, the application of rigorous doubt and the desire for logic and evidence to support positions, fits with some forms of feminism. This is prompted in no small part by the fact that Ada Lovelace day is upon us.

Feminism is a very weighted term, one with a lot of history. Much of the history has been positive, with great steps, in the west particularly, toward the legal recognition that women should be treated as equals to men. Sadly, as with any movement I guess, there is also a set of negative connotations. Some feminists have made ludicrous claims and statements, and some have been openly hostile to men. Here I will explain why I think there is still a need for feminism, why I think that is the rational position, and what I hope a modern feminist to look like.
Continue reading


When I’m not bothered by prayer

In the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan, there was an overwhelmingly positive reaction, with a great many messages of support flooding twitter and facebook. Included in this was the hashtag #prayforjapan.

There was a bit of a reaction against this, including one of the most ardent atheists around, @pzmeyers of the excellent blog pharyngula. I’m sure I didn’t see all of the relevant conversations, but this got me thinking about when and how to challenge religion appropriately. Continue reading

Big ethics post

This was my dissertation. It goes over some of the same ground as the previous ethics posts, but expands somewhat too.


In this essay, I will give a review of normative ethical theories. Although this has been the subject of previous work of mine, I felt I had done insufficient justice to some of the arguments surrounding the general forms of the ethical theories. I also wish to use this opportunity to explore certain theories that I have not covered significantly in my time as a philosophy undergraduate. There will be a degree of overlap in what I take to be the spine of the assignment, namely in the discussions about the generalised forms of the ethical systems, although the focus here is in greater depth and more extended. There will also be a small amount of similarity when discussing the particular forms of consequentialism, as I find there to be only two major theories in the consequential framework. I will attempt, where it will not damage the overall structure of the work, to use different examples and theories as case studies. This explains the omission approaches such as the standard Kantian school and W. D. Ross’ view of prima facie duties among others. Continue reading

Ethical theories

This is yet another university essay, this time looking at normative ethical theories.

Outline the key features of the three main approaches to normative ethics (i.e., virtue ethics, deontological/duty/principle ethics, and consequentialism) and evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of these approaches.

In this essay I will outline the main differences between the various approaches to normative ethics. These are virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism. I will first discuss the main features of virtue ethics, then an argument against it that I find it unable to counter. I will then look at the deontological position, again presenting an argument I feel undermines it. I will then discuss my normative preference, consequentialism, defending it against three of the more common criticisms. First, however, I will show how the normative theories are related. Continue reading


This essay in meta-ethics discusses what is of value in the world, and forms the basis for most of the rest of my ethical thought.

What is valuable in the world, why and in what sense, and what follows from this?

In this essay I will discuss which things can be found valuable, outline some reasons why these things may be said to be valuable, and address some of the consequences of my favoured approach. I will do this by explaining and evaluating several common viewpoints. I will start with the holistic, deep ecological, approach of Arna Ness. We will then encounter the individualistic biocentric, or life based, approach as argued by Harley Cahen. Next I will review the pathocentric views of Peter Singer, centred on the capacity for subjective experience such as pain. Then I will discuss the forms of value implicit within Warwick Fox’s distinctions of types of harm. Finally I will look at the value Don Marquis’ puts on a ‘Future Like Ours’. I will then outline my own views. First I will define the sense in which I am using the term ‘value’. Continue reading