Tag Archives | Ethics

Yes, A Monkey Head Transplant Experiment Occurred in the 1960s

This is one of those things that would be hard to say without the video evidence. As Cyriaque Lamar explains on io9.com:
We've been loving the Midnight Archive's series of macabre web shorts (previously: 1, 2). One of their more recent installments is a short documentary on the late Dr. Robert White, a neurosurgeon who successfully transplanted the head of one monkey onto the body of another ...
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Are You An Anarchist?

anarchRegardless of what your answer is, David Graeber’s classic essay “Are You An Anarchist? The Answer May Surprise You” is food for thought regarding what is possible. Via the Anarchist Library:

Many people seem to think that anarchists are proponents of violence, chaos, and destruction, that they are against all forms of order and organization, or that they are crazed nihilists who just want to blow everything up. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Anarchists are simply people who believe human beings are capable of behaving in a reasonable fashion without having to be forced to. It is really a very simple notion. But it’s one that the rich and powerful have always found extremely dangerous.

At their very simplest, anarchist beliefs turn on to two elementary assumptions. The first is that human beings are, under ordinary circumstances, about as reasonable and decent as they are allowed to be, and can organize themselves and their communities without needing to be told how.

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One Thing You Can’t Hide … Is the Authoritarian Inside

John LennonThomas S. Harrington asks “what does it really mean to be a liberal?” on CommonDreams:

The drive to achieve harmony — bring what is thought and felt inside into line with one’s daily praxis — has always been an issue of central importance to most cultures. Indeed, the term “integrity” comes from the idea of “being of one piece”, that is, having few if any fissures between the inner and the outer self.

Maybe it is just me, but I don’t hear much about people in public life or in positions of authority over our children talking much about the goal of achieving internal harmony anymore. And on the rare occasions when I do, it is usually with the purpose of mocking such seekers as superfluous or flaky.

My sense is that this failure to promote or celebrate the search for inner harmony may have lot to do with the presence of in our lives of massive, and therefore seemingly insurmountable, moral inconsistencies.

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Atheism, Christian Theism, and Rape

What Does God Need With A Starship?

Michael Martin makes a few good points regarding the claim that without religion there is no basis for morality:

Is Theistic Morality Necessarily Objectivist?:

Let us assume for the moment that the Biblical position on rape is clear: God condemns rape. But why? One possibility is that He condemns rape because it is wrong. Why is it wrong? It might be supposed that God has various reasons for thinking rape is wrong: it violates the victim’s rights, it traumatizes the victim, it undermines the fabric of society, and so on. All of these are bad making properties. However, if these reasons provide objective grounds for God thinking that rape is wrong, then they provide objective grounds for others as well. Moreover, these reasons would hold even if God did not exist. For example, rape would still traumatize the victim and rape would still undermine the fabric of society even. Thus, on this assumption, In this case, atheists could provide objective ground for condemning rape–the same grounds used by God.

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Vatican Calls for ‘Central World Bank’

Emblem of Vatican CityPhilip Pullella reports in Reuters:

The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a “global public authority” and a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises. The document from the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department should please the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators and similar movements around the world who have protested against the economic downturn.

“Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” was at times very specific, calling, for example, for taxation measures on financial transactions. “The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence,” it said.

It condemned what it called “the idolatry of the market” as well as a “neo-liberal thinking” that it said looked exclusively at technical solutions to economic problems.

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A Capitalist Against Corporate Greed

Lower ManhattanCritics of the Occupy Wall Street movement often point to activists’ use of iPhones and laptops in their fight against corporate greed and control of America. As Natalie W of Capricious Yet Constant points out, we sometimes must use the tools of the system to dismantle it. We recognize the irony of biting the hand that feeds, but the lifestyle choices anyone makes do not diminish their involvement in the movement, or the movement itself:

I own an Apple iPhone.

I have a MacBook that I take everywhere with me.

I drink Starbucks when my body needs a caffeine fix.

I eat McDonald’s but prefer Corner Bakery when I’m hungry and away from home.

I smoke Camel cigarettes.

I am a proud member of Occupy Chicago. I am protesting in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the 1000-plus occupied cities in the US for economic equality for all people, for an elimination of corporate influence over government regulation, and against corporate greed.… Read the rest

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Spanish Blood Test Can Tell When You’ll Die. Maybe.

Three-dimensional molecular structure of a telomere (G-quadruplex). Credit: Giac83 (CC)

Three-dimensional molecular structure of a telomere (G-quadruplex). Credit: Giac83 (CC)

But do you really want to know? Giles Tremlett reports on the small Spanish biological research company at the center of claims that its blood test can predict the age you will die, for the Guardian:

As a taxi takes me across Madrid to the laboratories of Spain’s National Cancer Research Centre, I am fretting about the future. I am one of the first people in the world to provide a blood sample for a new test, which has been variously described as a predictor of how long I will live, a waste of time or a handy indicator of how well (or badly) my body is ageing. Today I get the results.

Some newspapers, to the dismay of the scientists involved, have gleefully announced that the test – which measures the telomeres (the protective caps on the ends of my chromosomes) – can predict when I will die.

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Has Neuroscience Disproven Evil?

GreyMatterVia Modern Mythology:

In “Is Myth Dead?” in The Immanence of Myth, I talked about some of the misconceptions that exist between what falls under the purview of science, and what belongs instead to myth, or as it is more commonly known, narrative. And it is a direct result of misconceptions discussed there that we see a constant glut of so-called “science” articles making claims such as “neuro scientists say that evil no longer exists,” (Slate article) or “neuroscience versus philosophy, taking aim at free well.” (Nature.com article). Let me use these two articles as an example of what is actually an epidemic issue that needs immediate and complete overhaul.

The Slate article is considerably more egregious than the latter, as it presents a singular interpretation as the only possible answer to a very complicated question that has challenged the best humans minds throughout our sordid history.… Read the rest

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The Mythology of Business Part 2: The Dark Side

MythThis is Part 2 of an excerpted series for Reality Sandwich from the anthology The Immanence of Myth published by Weaponized. Read Part 1 here.

Despite the exciting creative possibilities posed by new media in regard to myth, they do not come without a price. The danger presented by the presence of myth in modern media is paramount, and must be considered outside the mythic framework of industry, for instance, which reduces the material world to a matrix of profit and risk.

Though the propaganda of fascist mythologies such as those of Nazis or the USSR serve as the clearest example of these dangers, they exist in only slightly more subtle forms in the media produced by modern capitalist states. (Subtlety in this case not being an indicator of benevolence, necessarily.) After all, it was Mussolini who declared fascism to be the merger of state and corporate power.

Though media is ostensibly the watchdog of the government, both the government and media agencies of the capitalist state are beholden to international corporations and their interests.… Read the rest

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