All posts tagged: ethics

Week 27 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: AI & Tech Ethics

Who’s making up the ethical rules when it comes to AI and tech? Labs in America and China are racing to make AI ready for consumers, for economic growth, and for warfare. It’s clear that 21st century warfare will be fought with smart drones instead of humans.  In the economy, AI robots are being sent on suicide missions to do jobs that humans do not want to do. How does it feel to know that your next intelligent, self-driving car is programmed to either kill you or a pedestrian when it encounters an imminent collision situation? 

This is the mere tip of iceberg of ethical issues – issues that human beings have never had to think about before now.

Visit the post to get informed about the future. As usual, the daily journal prompts are here to help you mine your mind.

Week 26 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Moral Status of Fetuses

Let’s start by recognizing that we all care about fetuses and believe they have some moral status. Whether you’re discussing this issue with someone is pro-choice, pro-life, or declares undecided, take it for granted that s/he doesn’t wish harm on a fetus. I mean, it’s safe to say that protesters who are pro-choice aren’t pro-death; they’re protesting for what they believe are women’s rights. There’s a difference – like protesting in favor of job creation isn’t the same as protesting in favor of fossil fuel usage, even if increased workforce participation not-indirectly results in increase fossil fuels usage.  The point: we all recognize that fetuses have a moral status but can’t agree on three things: first, when that moral status comes about, second, what that moral status should be called, and third, what rights it earns the fetus.

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Week 25 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Personhood

Personhood is a topic that bears legal and moral consequences. You might have heard about it in discussions of immigration or abortion.  But even if those issues don’t relate to you personally, personhood is still an important topic for you.  Your security and status in society require an entrenched concept of personhood developed over hundreds of years.  Personhood relates to all rights, responsibilities, respect, citizenship, voting, and freedom.

The designation of personhood adds special significance to what would otherwise be regarded as a mere thing.  The personhood designation says: [pointing to someone] That thing is not merely an object, but is a person.  That means it requires special treatment and special ethical consideration – you can’t kill it and can’t treat it however you want, as you would a brick, or a computer, or a stuffed bear.

Week 22 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Meat Eating

(This post is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) Last week’s topic was fairly philosophical and abstract, so this week I’ll offer up something concrete and practical.   We make food choices and encounter other peoples’ fanaticism, so what could be more useful than discussing food and meat? Lifestyles of the Rich and the Blameless In third world countries, vegetarianism is widespread because meat is very expensive. As the world’s poor earn more money, they eat more meat. (Economist, May 4th 2019) Meanwhile in the first-world, meat is plentiful and inexpensive while whole foods and organic produce are expensive. As people become richer in the West, it becomes a badge of honor to eat less meat.  (Economist, October 13th 2018) (Nearly) Fifty Shades Vegetarianism – avoiding animal products except dairy and eggs Veganism – strictly avoiding all animal products (sometimes including honey) Meatatarianism – like Jordan Peterson’s daughter, who eats only beef! Pescatarianism – avoiding meats except fish Fruititarianism – eating only fruits   Animals: Meat? Or …

Understand Marx’s “Estranged Labor” to Create A Personal Revolution

Marx was a German philosopher of the 19th century who is most famous for his economic views.  Marx observed laborers and the economy and his observations led him to come to the conclusion that revolution was necessary and inevitable. Why would Marx write that revolution is necessary and inevitable? Many of us would look at the world, and upon viewing the many erroneous and bloody revolutions would take revolution to be abhorrent, unnecessary and to be avoided at all costs.  Marx disagreed, for he was a Hegelian in his reflections that history is a series of progressions that take the form of: Thesis – a particular state of order; a beginning proposition Out of which arises the: Antithesis – a radical move against that thesis; a contradiction arises And finally: Synthesis – a reconciliation that creates a brand new state; a progression of history For Marx, revolution was necessary and inevitable because the way that people lived under the current economic system had become a contradiction of what human beings ought to be. The Problem …

Week 12 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Nature

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This Week’s Journal Topic:  Nature Ever wonder why climate change and oil extraction/transport are such contentious topics?  Why do some people join eco-protests, while other worry about a healthy economy? Answer: moral attitudes, values and religious beliefs underlie these opinions about the treatment of the environment. Consider a breadth of attitudes towards nature: Science: Nature is something to be controlled.  Nature has power that we can and should get better at harnessing for our own purposes.  Nature is an indication of the “proper function” of organisms, except when it isn’t and when we prefer to do things another way.  In that case, we can and may alter nature’s course. Bible: God created all of nature; nature is evidence of God’s works.  Follow God’s laws and you will do right by the Earth. But humans should propagate and fill the Earth (Genesis 9:1), and man has “dominion over… every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26). …

Kant on Enlightenment & Ignorance as a Societal Sickness

Thoughts on Immanuel Kant’s discussion of self-imposed nonage in Answering the Question: “What is Enlightenment?” Ignorance is a Societal Sickness Kant writes that “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage.” You’ve likely never heard of the word nonage before.  It refers to a state of immaturity, youth, a time of life in which we rely on guardians to make decisions for us. During this period, we are directed by another person’s reasoning, rather than by our own.  In the natural age of youth, we require the assistance of guardians to think and speak for us, due to our undeveloped faculty of reason.  At such an age, we do not harm our soul, spirit, or personal humanity by deferring decision-making to those who care for us.  There is no feasible alternative, lest we be forced to prematurely raise ourselves and risk detriment. Sometimes, however, a human prolongs his nonage far into adulthood. In Kant’s essay, he distinguishes between nonage and self-imposed nonage. Kant names two essential features of self-imposed nonage, which act as internal barriers …

Week 9 Questions for Know Thyself 2019: Social Media Leadership

(This blog is part of a weekly series for Know Thyself 2019, a 365 day journal project. Start here!) This Week’s Journal Topic: Social Media Leadership This week, the topic is social media leadership because: Knowing if you want to be a leader or a follower will help you dispel mixed feelings and choose your social media identity. Recognizing good leadership will help you choose to follow the right people. Defining good leadership will help you create your vision, if you want to be a leader. Concepts of Social Media Leadership: Leaders and Followers Social media leadership implies that a person has followers; a social media leader needs people who obediently like, share, and support. Although we all participate in this following activity, many of us have mixed feelings about it, too. Bios boast of industry leaders with ridiculous numbers of followers, supposedly indicating worth, superiority, and success. Social media culture teaches us that it’s better to be followed, than to follow others. Perhaps the source of our mixed feelings is the pressure to be followed, …

Mating in the Modern Era: Attraction, Advantage & Lies

In part two of Mating in the Modern Era, I’m discussing the ethics of attracting a fit partner! In part one, I discussed choosing “fit” partners, meaning someone who is evolutionarily well-adapted for modern survival. Human beings use deceptive techniques to attract a mate.  This isn’t unique to our species; all animals do this.  It’s important to understand that evolution sanctions highlighting our best features and hiding our defects.  Evolution tells us: Each human being should maximize his evolutionary interests by attracting a “fit” partner.  But have human beings created game-changing circumstances that raise ethical issues about attraction and advantage? Is Attraction a Game of Deceit? The current concern is that body modification is unlimited.  Even brain chemistry and hormones can be modified, too. Plastic surgery can alter appearance beyond recognition to create a fresh identity.  The ethical issue of intentional deceit raises some questions:  1)      What do we alter in order to present a more attractive image? Are all these areas fair game? 2)      Even if intentional deceit is sanctioned by evolutionary needs, is body alteration …

Psychology of Competition: Why you don’t Value what will make you Happy

Our Inconsistent Set of Values As a society we say that “it’s what’s inside that counts.” However, the fact of our ultra-busy, career-chasing lives, and the billion-dollar beauty and med-spa industry reveals that we actually seem to think it’s the external things that give us value. Why is there this split between what we want to value, what we say we value, and what we actually seem to value? When theory is put into practice in the values we want for ourselves, why don’t we place inner beauty and a loving heart above an LV purse and a fit figure? The inconsistency in values is sadly apparent in the gender wage gap.  Traditionally, professions staffed by sincere, caring, and dedicated women such as nursing and teaching pay less than professions that focus on production of a specific good or multiply money. Now, I am in no way anti-capitalist (I’m rather a “status egalitarian”: human rights and esteem for all.  A discussion of its economic ramifications is for another day!).  But consider those things that truly …