Category Archives: Ethics Essays

3 More Climate Concepts from Catholicism

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Energy

With the crucial UN Climate Conference taking place in Paris, 30 Nov–11 Dec 2015, it is fitting to look at some alternative ideas that have been published partly in an attempt to influence it. In a previous article I introduced Pope Francis’ environmentalist manifesto, Laudato si’, as a radical social justice document, and noted that recent papal writings have developed four concepts on debt, waste, ecology, and poverty. In that article I focused on Francis’ concept of ‘ecological debt’, so here I will overview the remaining three: ‘the culture of waste’, ‘integral ecology’, and ‘the earth as the poor’. Read the rest of this entry

Papal Environmentalism’s “Ecological Debt”

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This article of mine was originally published on The Partially Examined Life

That the Pope refers to experts rather than his own scientific research does not nullify Rick Santorum's embarrassment here.

That the Pope cites experts rather than scientific research of his own does not nullify Rick Santorum’s embarrassment.

If you needed proof that Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on care for the environment, Laudato si’, was not only seminal but radical, it would be that it is now being published by Verso, a leading publisher of leftist continental philosophy. It is sad then, that rather than focusing on the ideas themselves, all of the attention being given to this event is to sensationalist reactions to the Pope among conservatives- not least of all when he visited the USA. Even the respected philosopher Robert P. George tried to downplay Francis’ ability to know that climate change is anthropogenic, presenting the consensus on the matter by 97% of scientists as if it were of equal weight to the opposite opinion. But as Francis says in the document, this consensus means that the burden of proof is on the proponents of a business as usual approach to demonstrate that it will not cause serious harms. (§186) In this piece I will engage with just a little of the criticism of Francis, as an aid to clarify the ideas as well as to examine their limitations. Read the rest of this entry

Aristotle On Happiness In Plato’s State

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Aristotle

Aristotle

 

The following is a guest post from Toby Coe.

In Book Two of The Politics we witness the exciting clash of two conflicting political ideologies, Aristotle’s politics being primarily based on pragmatic concerns; whilst Plato’s state is founded on more idealised principles. In this essay we shall examine Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s utopia and whether these criticisms are valid, concluding that Aristotle’s criticisms of Plato are broadly successful, because they expose Plato’s conception of happiness as false.

Aristotle has two main complaints concerning Plato’s state:

1) The practice of wives and children being held in common is both impractical and wrong.

2) Communism among the guardians will be inimical to their happiness and bad for the state. Read the rest of this entry

The Problem With Little White Girls (and Boys)

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Perfect, succinct article about why people, young or otherwise, from the minority or ‘first’ world going on these feel good trips to the majority world in the name of ‘charity’ is a bad thing. This is partly because it is much more cost effective and environmentally friendly to send the funds directly to give the jobs to skilled natives, but do click through to read the article for more.

Pippa Biddle

White people aren’t told that the color of their skin is a problem very often. We sail through police check points, don’t garner sideways glances in affluent neighborhoods, and are generally understood to be predispositioned for success based on a physical characteristic (the color of our skin) we have little control over beyond sunscreen and tanning oil.

After six years of working in and traveling through a number of different countries where white people are in the numerical minority, I’ve come to realize that there is one place being white is not only a hindrance, but negative –  most of the developing world.

Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania. Removing rocks from buckets of beans in Tanzania.

In high school, I travelled to Tanzania as part of a school trip. There were 14 white girls, 1 black girl who, to her frustration, was called white by almost everyone we met in Tanzania, and a few teachers/chaperones…

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A Brief Analysis of Stoicism

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marcus_aurelius_bust2

This week ending 1 December is the second annual international Live Like A Stoic Week. When I began research a few days ago in order to rush out a quick post for the event I had forgotten how much I was inspired by Stoicism, and consequently I my essays are too involved to finish in time.

After some pestering, Toby Coe has kindly come to the rescue with this brief analysis. He said he read the Meditations, so I hope he didn’t mean Descartes’ or this is going to be a very short post indeed.

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The Roman Emperor and Stoic, Marcus Aurelius (pictured) writes:

…philosophy doth consist in this, for a man to preserve that spirit which is within him, from all manner of contumelies and injuries, and never do anything either rashly, or feignedly, or hypocritically…”1

This is a very elegant summary of one of the core features of Stoic philosophy, namely, a moral and spiritual view of the task of philosophy. Philosophy is to provide a man the ability to cope with misfortune and not to be dominated by the passions that often make us attached to things that are fragile: fame, wealth and security.

Read the rest of this entry

Poppies For Peace?

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The elusive peace poppy - but does it do justice to the fight against militarism?

The elusive peace poppy – does it do justice to the fight against militarism?

In 2011 Prince William called the (red) poppy “the universal symbol of remembrance”, and from my experience of England it would be near-impossible to disagree with him. In late October / early November, in every kind of workplace it is expected for people to wear them, in public most people are wearing them, and on television they are evidently compulsory. It is not just this social conformity that we must be suspicious of, but that this potent symbolism has permeated our daily lives to the point of ubiquity. Read the rest of this entry