Below the fold is an interesting graph I found on Kevin Drum’s Washington Monthly site. The graph plots out social and economic attitudes in the US, from liberal to conservative, and places each of the 48 continental states on the graph accordingly. It’s interesting to ask yourself whether you consider yourself a liberal or a conservative on these two subjects, and then look and see the states where you’d feel most at home.
Archive for June, 2008
Last night one of our old cats died (she was 14, and had been sick for a while). Today my wife buried her, and then we found ourselves stumped by that question: what do you tell your little 3 year old daughter?
Zagzebski makes an interesting claim in the “Goods and Virtues” chapter of Divine Motivation Theory (pg. 110, specifically). There, she argues that there is no direct relationship between X being an intrinsic good and X being good in the highest degree. She suggests that to think otherwise is a common mistake. In this case, I’ll have to count myself in the group of deluded individuals.
With respect to its status as a good, where does Aristotle’s eudaimonia belong? I have a question.
Gary Watson’s work on virtue ethics contains some of my favorite work in the field. I like Watson — he’s a clear writer, and I find his work on taxonomy interesting. Reading a bit more of Zagzebski’s book (Divine Motivation Theory) I see that she discusses Watson’s call for a “pure virtue ethics” (which I’ve always wondered — is this just a call for a form of Michael Slote’s “agent basing”?). Reading her chapter started me thinking again about some issues in Watson (I’m thinking here of his “On the Primacy of Character” from his Identity, Character, and Morality, MIT Press, 1990). Specifically, I’m thinking of Watson’s attempt to simultaneously juggle different notions of the “good” when trying to understand how a virtue theory could be evaluatively primary and basic.
My wife is having a baby in mid to late August. For those who are regular readers, you know we already have one child, Parker, who just turned three this week. Today on the way to the store and we starting talking about what we were expecting to experience when this new addition to the household arrived. It was odd, but it caught me just how quickly the conversation got framed in military terms. Lots of talk about “hunkering down” and “knowing what’s around the corner” and “having the right weapons to face the challenges” and so on. You’d think we were preparing to enter a battle arena, or were being dropped behind enemy lines in the middle of a hostile jungle.
I was doing a little research on narrative ethics and found a pretty cool anthology of essays that I was ready to buy. Well, that is until I got to Amazon and saw that the book cost $135.00! Time to turn to the used books! Oops. They are selling for $118.00 a copy at the cheapest. Next stop: university library. Bah. They don’t have it, nor is the book locatable through their system, so no inter-library loan on this one. Translation: no book for me.
In the “In Search of: Asian Films” thread I received a number of good suggestions about possible films to use in my new Asian Ethics course this fall. Although I’ve made a list of the films recommended to view, for now I’ve decided (partly due to time constraints between now and then) to go with an oldie but a goodie, Ikiru. This has long been one of my all-time favorite films. In discussion with Alexus in that thread, it occurred to me that I could use Ikiru to ask students to compare and contrast Confucian and Taoist perspectives on the theme of the movie. Originally I had thought of it only from a (admittedly obvious) Confucian point of view, but perhaps possible difference in ways of interpreting the movie might prove more interesting as the subject of a paper. I’m not sure — I’ll have to give it a shot and see how it turns out.
I’ve been reading parts of Linda Zagzebski’s Divine Motivation Theory and her discussion of exemplarism got me thinking on a slight tangent — the notion of narrative and its relationship to ethics (the tangent is also connected to a continuing discussion with Bill Haines in other threads on this subject). Yeah, I know — narrative ethics is an old idea — I’m late to this party, and most of the guests have already gone home. But I like the idea. Still, the notion of “narrative ethics” is itself a complex affair, and to be honest much of it I don’t have my head around at this point. One issue that has caused me to think a bit is the relationship between narratives and moral education. Is there a relationship? Is it a necessary one? If it is a necessary relationship, why is that? (Of course, as you might suspect, Confucius pops up in here).
Parker turned three yesterday, and boy was she not happy about it. Every time I would mention that she was no longer two, she’d go ballistic. Clearly getting old is already “getting old,” at three years of age. Other than realizing that she was one year closer to Geritol, though, she had a great time on her new pool slide and at the infamous Chucky Cheese. Pictures below. Happy Birthday, Parker!
I very rarely find myself in agreement with George Will on just about anything. What a surprise, then, when I read this column, where he defends the recent Supreme Court Boumediene decision on habeus corpus rights ad detainees, and found myself nodding in agreement all the way through. Frankly, I am stunned that there are people who seem to think it is acceptable to leave a person in a detention center indefinitely — perhaps for the rest of the person’s life — with no chance to protest their innocence whatsoever. I’m also not surprised that FOX news has not had Will on to talk about this (far as I know), as they typically do trot him out to do the rounds when he says something “they” agree with. I guess Will has been a bad boy.
In my usual Values Analysis course (core curriculum ethics course), I have students watch two films — one after reading Confucius, and one after reading Mill/Bentham. Students are expected to write a paper that answers a question about the film using the material just studied. So, for instance, we watch Groundhog Day and students are expected to use the Analects to answer the question: Is Phil a junzi at the end of the film? Similarly, students are expected to use consequentialism and answer the question “is (Ramon’s plea for) euthanasia acceptable?” after watching Mar Adentro (an excellent foreign film, by the way). In the fall, I’ll be teaching Asian Ethics, a course meant to fulfill the core requirement of Values Analysis (a course in ethics) but from an Asian perspective. So I need some Asian films!