The (Super-)Power of Good and Evil Intentions

Science news website Livescience recently featured an article that may give hope to aspiring superheroes (and supervillains) everywhere. Recent research, the article reports, suggests that acts of kindness or malice – real or envisioned – can boost one’s willpower and even one’s physical strength. In other words: we can all be ‘super’ if we want to be!

The research, carried out by Kurt Gray from the Department of Psychology at the University of Havard, involved volunteers being asked to hold on to a 5lb weight for as long as they could, for which they would be paid a dollar. Half of the participants were asked if they would like to donate their dollar to charity (everyone did). It was found that the charitable folks held on to the weight for an average of 53 seconds, contrasted with 46 for those who did not donate. Continue reading “The (Super-)Power of Good and Evil Intentions”

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What is to be understood about war!?

In a times on- line article from today, General Sir Richard Dannat claims that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has not understood until fairly recently the significance of the war in Afghanistan. The article states that the General was critical of how the Government had handled war-related questions, like equipment-shortages and other failed forms of financial backing. As irritating as this criticism might seem, it is not as unflattering for Gordon Brown as it migth sound. I can understand that Gordon Brown cannot understand the war. Who ever really does? Theoretically, it is sensible to free Afghanistan of the Taliban. But for many people it is not really logical that so many soldiers are killed. And it is not clear why? For democracy? A greater good? A humanitarian ideal of freedom? Since the war started in 2001, the “why?” question has become manifold and more and more complicated to answer. The wikipedia definition of war is that it is a “reciprocated, armed conflict between two or more non-congruous entities, aimed at reorganizing a subjectively designed, geo-politically desired result.” A definition that probably helps neither Gordon  Brown nor us. War is not a logical behaviour. As much as war historians are trying to argue its logic. Plato’s ideal state was based on the Good. And the beautiful. Not on war and conflict. No wonder Gordon Brown does not understand the sense in war. Neither do most of us. In Antiquity or today.

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Virtual Conference Report: Day Six (26 Oct, 2009)

Snapshot1_003By Paula Bowles

Welcome to the second week of the Wiley-Blackwell Virtual Conference. The first day back has started with a keynote speech from Peter Ludlow (Northwestern University) entitled ‘Virtual Communities, Virtual Cultures, Virtual Governance.’ Conference delegates also had the opportunity to meet Peter at the Second Life Cocktail Bar.

There were two other papers on Monday’s session Adam Brown’s (Deakin University): ‘Beyond ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’: Breaking Down Binary Oppositions in Holocaust Representations of ‘Privileged’ Jews’ and ‘A Hybrid Model of Moral Panics: Synthesizing the Theory and Practice of Moral Panic Research’ presented by Brian V. Klocke (State University of New York, Plattsburgh) & Glenn Muschert (Miami University).

In addition Wiley-Blackwell’s Vanessa Lafaye held a publishing workshop entitled ‘The Secret to Online Publishing Success.’ As you can see, this week promises to be as exciting and innovative as the previous one. All of the papers and workshops from last week are still available to download from the conference site, and both the ‘battle of the bands’ and the opportunity to contribute a ‘winning comment’ remain.

Golf, Happiness, and Morality

Stuart Cink golf_2won the 2009 British Open at Turnberry last Sunday, his first major championship. However, the new highpoint in the 36 year-old Cink’s professional golf career came at the expense of Tom Watson’s happiness and the happiness of (nearly all) golf fans world-wide who desperately wanted to see Watson do the impossible: win golf’s most storied major at the not-so-tender age of 59, eleven years older than any previous major winner. Continue reading “Golf, Happiness, and Morality”

FREE Syllabus: Moral Realism and Moral Nonnaturalism

FREE PDFTeaching & Learning Guide for: Moral Realism and Moral Nonnaturalism
By Stephen Finlay and Terence Cuneo, University of Southern California Calvin College (April 2008)

Keywords:

Sections: Ethics
Subjects:
Theoretical Ethics, Philosophy, Ethics
Period:
2000 – present
Key Topics: normativity, naturalism, pragmatism, good, value, morality

(See all Philosophy Compass Teaching & Learning Guides‘)