Blog Profile / Atheist Ethicist

Filed Under:Academics / Philosophy
Posts on Regator:669
Posts / Week:1.5
Archived Since:February 23, 2008

Blog Post Archive

"Trumpian" Ethics - Bigotry

People object to many of Donald Trump's policies, but seldom offer more than grunts of disapproval. This is an ethics blog, and I want to look at the reasons why Trump deserves these grunts of disapproval. Imagine that you are walking...Show More Summary

Conservatives, Libertarians, and Bigoted Values in the Market

Is "conservatism" compatible with civil rights? This question arises from an article I read that argued that, in 1964, a branch of the Republican party began to oppose civil rights legislation - not because they were racist, but because it was incompatible with their ideology. Show More Summary

Third Parties and Voting on Principle

Some people make the false claim that those who reject voting for third parties in a winner-take-all political system such as the United States are against voting on principle - or favor abandoning principle in order to obtain some non-moral...Show More Summary

Aristotle: Challenges in Interpretation

Aristotle's theory of well-being, as Richard Kraut presented it, is a tangled mess. I am reading through the Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Well-Bing, trying to prepare for graduate school. The second article in this anthology,...Show More Summary

States' Rights

I agree with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) on something. The issue I agree with him on is the issue of states' rights. This is the idea that certain policies should be decided on a state level rather than a federal level. Take, for example,...Show More Summary


What are imaginings? This blog posting is actually a description of my thinking as I came across what I found to be an interesting philosophical question. The story began yesterday, when I wrote on the difference between beliefs and desires. Beliefs, I said, had truth-makers but failed to motivate. Show More Summary

Motivational Beliefs

I got into a discussion recently that included the topic of beliefs that can motivate. I deny that such things exist. Or, if they do exist, it us because "beliefs that can motivate" is simply an alternative way of saying "desires", and desires do exist. Show More Summary

The Historical Significance and Practical Irrelevance of Plato

For the past week, I have been focusing on Plato – and, in particular, The Republic. Why? This is actually a question I ask myself. Plato’s Republic is of great historical significance. It is the first lengthy treatise on moral and political...Show More Summary

The Irrationality of Third Parties

If we lived in a community where a political party can get representation even though it gets only five percent of the vote, then it makes sense to vote for a candidate that will likely only get five percent of the vote. However, we, in the United States, do not live in that type of community. Show More Summary

Desirism Book - Part 0028 - Against Evolved Moral Sentiment Theories

The problem with moral theories that ground morality on sentiment that I discussed in my last posting also applies to theories that try to explain morality in terms of an evolved moral sense. Our proto-moral community is made up of individuals...Show More Summary

Desirism Book - Part 0027 - Against Moral Sentiment Theories

David Hume was mistaken to claim that moral facts depend on our moral sentiments. We have built a proto-moral community based substantially on David Hume's theory of action. It is a community built by agents where desires alone provide the ends or goals of intentional action, and where reason "is the slave of the passions". Show More Summary

Desirism Book - Part 0026 - Against Moral Absolutes

My previous post concerned a significant problem with utilitarianism. Actions do not come out of nowhere. They have causes - beliefs and desires. If an agent is supposed to always act so as to maximize utility, then an agent can only...Show More Summary

Desirism Book - Part 0025 - Insufficient Reasons for Act-Utilitarian Morality

In the previous post, I identified a significant difference between our proto-moral society and utilitarianism. Our proto-moral community has a number of people called Alphs, each with a desire to gather stones. It has other people, Betts, with a desire to scatter stones. Show More Summary

Desirism Book - Part 0024 - Against Act-Consequentialist Thoeries

The proto-moral community we have constructed has examples to fit within two moral categories - that which is prohibited (causing pain to others), and that which is permissible but not obligatory (gathering or scattering stones). This...Show More Summary

Desirism Book - Part 0023 - Moral Prohibitions and Non-Obligatory Permissions

Now that we have created our proto-moral society, I want to take some time to understand what it is true about it and what is not. Our society is made up of a number of people. Some of them are Alphs, each of which has a desire to gather stones. Show More Summary

Routledge Handbook on Well Being - Part 01 - Plato

I have a new project. Given my plans to return to graduate school in Boulder, and given the fact that Chris Heathwood - a professor who deals most closely with the types of issues I am interested in - is focused on the philosophy ofShow More Summary

"Choosing Wrong"

In my last post, I identified a couple of ways in which the belief-desire model for intentional behavior is inadequate. Beliefs and desires do not adequately account for habitual actions, nor for the phenomena of "forgetting" or "remembering" a relevant fact. However, these types of failures do not concern the subject of this blog - which is value. Show More Summary

Complicating the Belief-Desire Model of Intentional Action

A member of the studio audience directed me to a podcast on National Public Radio called "Choosing Wrong". The motivation behind this recommendation is grounded on the fact that much of what I write assumes a belief-desire model for intentional actions. Show More Summary

Redistributing Wealth Into the Top Quartile

I wrote something - as a Facebook comment - that was wrong. Worse, I think I wrote it because I wanted to write something that people would like. I wanted a conclusion that people would favor. However, I was wrong. I wrote the comment...Show More Summary

Desirism Book: Part I - Table of Contents

Well, here's a lists of posts for the first part of the Desirism Book series. If you are looking for a place to go (or to send people) to see at least the foundations of desirism, before we start adding flesh to the bones, this would be the place to go. Part 0001: Introduction. Show More Summary

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