Ethics and Morality: External Law and Crooked Wood 29 October 2014

Ethics and Morality: External Law and Crooked Wood by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Ethics and Morality:
External Law and Crooked Wood

There is an important difference between socially constructed rules/laws and internally, self-legislated moral principles.[1]  The former, socially constructed rules, govern solely the external affairs of individuals and groups, and we can call that the concern of ethics.  The latter, internally, self-legislated moral principles, however, can trump external rules, and we can call that morality.

Mere Rules do not Morality Make 21 November 2014

Mere Rules do not Morality Make by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Mere Rules Do Not Morality Make

The flourishing field of the role of evolution in the development of humanity’s moral capacity maintains that morality is the consequence of adaptation to a social environment.  Whether or not its orientation is genetics (kin selection from Hawkins, Dawkins, and Dennett[1]  or euociality from Nowak, Tarnita, and Wilson[2]) or neuroscience, it takes as its definition of morality to be “right and wrong conduct,” and argues that such a capacity can be seen as emergent across social species in the struggle to survive as a group or, especially in the evolutionary advantage that is humanity, as the evolutionary advantages that emerged with frontal cortex development, the amygdala, as well as the hormones oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, and dopamine.[3]  Frequently, the view of sociobiology contrasts its notion of morality as a natural, emergent characteristic with the notion that morality is a social construct, that is, a product only of culture.  What follows proposes that there are serious grounds for questioning both options:   evolution of morality and the social construction of morality.

Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, Moral Autonomy, and Grace 12 November 2014

“Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, Moral Autonomy, and Grace” by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, Moral Autonomy, and Grace

It is to the advantage to the interests of those who have power to convince us all that moral principles are relative.  It also serves the interests of those who have power to keep us convinced that we cannot be virtuous without the aid of divine grace.

Religion and Morality: A Static fait accompli or a Dynamic Possibility? 13 January 2015

Religion and Morality: A Static fait accompli or a Dynamic Possibility? by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Religion and Morality:
A Static fait accompli or a Dynamic Possibility?

Religion is a conundrum. We all recognize religion when we see it, but we can’t define it. Rather than waste ink on a new attempt to define religion, these reflections examine the religious conundrum with respect to what it says about humanity. Without denying the importance of the empirical examination of the human species biologically and psychologically, these reflections engage the empirical phenomena of religion as a product of humanity, the only species as far as we know that generates these phenomena that we readily identify as religion. In other words, the religious conundrum will be approached not by an empirical analysis of particular religious traditions. Such an investigation primarily establishes differences among religions. In contrast, our question is: What do religious phenomena suggest about humanity’s capacities and role in the order of things? By shifting from the empirical phenomena themselves to focus on the capacities that humanity must possess in order to generate religion, we can learn something profoundly significant about religion as well as identify what is universal in religion.

A Non-Secular “Critique” of Things Secular and Sacred 8 October 2015

“A Non-Secular ‘Critique” of Things Secular and Sacred by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

A Non-Secular „Critique“ of Things Secular and Sacred

In one respect, John Lennon was right in 1966 when he observed that “The Beatles were more popular than Jesus.”  That he was very wrong in another respect illustrates the shallowness of social criticism, generally, and the depth of a corresponding social disorientation, as well.  The following proposes that more than ever our contemporary international situation calls for a new form of critique that profiles the necessity of religion, but not doctrinal or dogmatic religion, for the human species, universally.

Critical Thinking in Morality 4 January 2015

Critical Thinking in Morality by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Critical Thinking in Morality

When it comes to evaluating the virtue or lack of virtue of others, we are readily critical.  Yet, what “critical” means is by no means so obvious.  Our judgment of others can only be limited to how they appear to us.  Nonetheless, each of us is all too aware of the difference between our external appearance and our inner selves.  This difference is not only what ensures that each of us is a unique and unrepeatable individual in the cosmos but also what cautions us against all too readily judging the virtue or lack of virtue of others.

Thinking Critically about Science and Religion 18 November 2014

Thinking Critically about Science and Religion by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Thinking Critically in Science and Religion

Just what is critical thinking?  Of course, there’s no single, right answer to this question because we are dealing with metaphors.  However, gaining awareness of the options for what it means to think critically can provide us with insight into the place our species assumes in the order of things.

Creativity – Not Just for Geniuses 30 October 2014

Creativity — Not Just for Geniuses by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Creativity – Not Just for Geniuses

Paul Elie reports in his NY Times Magazine article of September 7, 2012, “30 Variations and a Microphone:”

“Glenn Gould was booked into 30th Street Studio for the two middle weeks of June in 1955. The weather in New York was sunny, the temperature in the 60s. He arrived at the studio by taxi from a hotel near Central Park, wearing an overcoat, a beret, a scarf and gloves, and carrying a leather suitcase and his folding chair. He stripped down to a dress shirt and a sleeveless V-neck sweater. Opening the suitcase, he set out pills, bottled water and towels. Rolling up his sleeves, he ran hot water in a sink, the sort of deep-basin porcelain sink that mops are wrung out in, and soaked his hands and forearms until they were red.

Earlier that year, he paid a visit to the Steinway & Sons showroom on 57th Street: in the basement, several dozen grand pianos stood side by side, and he had played them in succession, finally identifying one he liked.

Now the piano, known as No. 174, was in the studio, with microphones arrayed around it. He set up his chair and settled himself before the keyboard. He took off his shoes, so he could move his feet without making noises that would be picked up on tape.”

M-Word Introduction 26 October 2016

M-Blog Introduction by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

M-Word Blog

We need to discuss the M-Word!  Don’t misunderstand me.  A discussion of the M-Word is important not because we are going to Hell if we ignore it.  A discussion is important not because we are not going to survive the evolution struggle (less dramatically, will not get what we want) or because we are not going to experience “real” personal satisfaction if we ignore it.  Simply stated, morality is important because we want to be human rather than mere animals or mechanical toys.  It is at the pinnacle (actually, just below the pinnacle) of a set of astonishing, intangible (hence, immeasurable) and freely chosen (hence, ignorable) capacities that can make us human.