June 14, 2012

Charles Ferguson

Green Army: Persons of Interest




Something Worth Fighting For


Inequality in wealth, in the United States, is now higher than in any other developed country. …

For the first time in history, average Americans have less education and are less prosperous than their parents. …

For decades, the American financial system was stable and safe.
But then something changed.
The financial industry turned it's back on society, corrupted our political system and plunged the world economy into crisis.
At enormous cost we've avoided disaster, and are recovering.

But the men and institutions that caused the crisis are still in power …
[They] tell us that we need them.
[That] what they do is too complicated for us to understand.
[That] it won't happen again.
They will spend billions fighting reform.

[That needs to change.]
It won't be easy.
But some things, are worth fighting for.


CONTENTS


The Road (to Ruin)

The Bubble

The Crash

Would you like to know more?

June 8, 2012

Philosophical Quibbles

Philosophy Now

Howard Darmstadter:
For the general public, [Singer] may be the most influential philosopher of the last half century. …

[Singer] is an excellent critic of prevailing moral orthodoxies. …
[When viewed] not as a philosopher dispensing theoretical arguments, but as a campaigner for the cause of animals and against suffering humanity … he can be quite convincing.
His arguments can make us see the errors in much moral posturing.
In questioning our assumptions, we may come to appreciate issues we would rather not confront.

[His] writings are full of touching examples of human and animal suffering that may move us to act, regardless of philosophical quibbles. …

We naturally feel compassion without needing a philosophical argument …

Arguments Against An Obligation to Assist


Howard Darmstadter

Suppose you see a child drowning in a pool.
You can rescue the child at no danger to yourself, but at the cost of ruining your new suit …
Clearly, you are morally obliged to wade in, suit be damned.
But … if you are a moderately well-off citizen of a first world nation, donating 10% of your income to CARE or Oxfam will similarly relieve much suffering, with only a modest impingement on your lifestyle.
As with the drowning child [you] have to grab your chequebook and wade on in. …

Moral rules can’t generally be applied in an unlimited accumulation …
[They] can be overwhelmed by numbers and by questions about the obligations of other people. …

Would your obligation be different if
  • there were hundreds of people observing the child [or]
  • you encountered a hundred such children every day? …
Perhaps [you'd] think
  • ‘Why does this all fall on me?’ and walk on by, pretending you don’t hear the child’s screams …
  • [Why] shouldn’t it be someone
    who knows the child, or
    who can get to the child fastest, or
    who’s wearing cheaper clothing? …
Alternatively you could] just spend more time away from pools. …


Peter Singer

How we deal with complete strangers on the other side of the world has become one of the most important moral issues of our times and we don't have the right evolved responses to it. …
[The drowning child scenario demonstrates that] our evolved responses are not good enough and we have to think about the situation intellectually …

(Religion and Science)


[We] have moral instincts.
[We] often make judgments … without reflection or reason, but I don't think they're very reliable …
[When] we try and do serious moral philosophy or ethics, we should try and move beyond those judgments.

(Utilitarianism)


CONTENTS


Agents versus Actions

Ethics as Abnegation

Massively Overdemanding

A Zero Tolerance for Lions

Inconvenient Truths

The Ethical Perspective: Ethics as Geometry

Proximity Bias

Description versus Prescription

The Boundaries of Compassion

An Argument from Ignorance

The Enslavement of Non-Human Animals