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Philosophy for Real Life: Monday Discussion Group

This time we will continue the discussion of how best to think about ethics, in terms of Goodness or Rightness.  Please read "The Good and the Right" here:  Shall we do the right thing?  Or do the best thing?

This group typically reads a short article, often a blog post by Bill Meacham, ahead of time and discusses it at the meeting. We approach philosophy as free human beings engaged in the world. The discussion format is free-form, and it is always quite lively.

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  • James I D.

    A fun meeting Monday night, but I was disappointed with the outcome. Although I argued strongly against the hypothetical imperative as an ethical principle, I still hope that there are some fundamental ethical principles, although we may not yet have discerned them. My take away from Monday was that anybody searching for a natural (principle-based) ethical system is on a fool’s errand; and the only ethical system that exists, or ever will exist, in any era is the one sanctioned by an individual, group, community, state, or nation. There are no rules other than those authorized by the rulers at the time. The historical evidence certainly supports this pessimistic view; but if no objective interpretation of different cultures or ethical models is even feasible, we are headed down the road toward nihilism. The early Greeks traveled this road toward their decline, and that decline was facilitated by the rhetorician Protagoras (cf. new entry in Discussion Message “Science and Ethics”).

    May 8, 2013

  • Bill M.

    Very lively discussion. Lots of fun.

    May 6, 2013

  • Gene R.

    Howdy, philosophers. I won't be able to join you tonight. After reading Bill's paper here's a brief comment: I suspect that “good” and “right” (and their opposites) are difficult to keep completely apart. Sometimes they do interact rather fluidly. For example “Do no harm” is not a crazy moral rule. Doing harm means doing something that is bad for someone. Thus, would it be correct to say that the harmful act was wrong because it was bad?

    May 6, 2013

  • a.m.

    I'll be 15 minutes late.

    May 6, 2013

  • Phillip W.

    I wish I could join but I am working again and South Austin is difficult. But I will say this: I think the confict between "right" and "good" is extremely important. But the last time it devolved so badly into WHAT IS GOOD that the philosophical discussion was lost. My position is that "good" will win out over "right" always eventually, but sometimes it takes centuries or crises. "Right" is somewhat static and can be defined, "Good" is dynamic and difficult to define.

    May 5, 2013

  • Bill M.

    I have posted my presentation from last time here: Looking forward to the discussion this time.

    May 3, 2013

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