Thursday, February 27, 2014

Robert P. George's "Kind" Arguments

Robert P. George (Princeton)'s views about marriage have gotten a lot of attention lately. A simple statement of his view is that that marriage is the "kind" of relationship that results in children: since same-sex relationships cannot ("naturally") result in children, he claims they can't be, or shouldn't be considered, marriage. Of course, many opposite-sex marriages do not and cannot result in children, yet they are marriages, so this view seems to have a problem. See this informative and entertaining video by John Corvino that discusses these arguments.

George's views about embryo research (and abortion) appeal to the same kind of "kind" argument: embryos are the "kind" of being that has a "rational nature." Yet embryo's are not rational, or not yet rational, and so this view seems problematic also. Years ago I wrote this paper discussing George's arguments. I re-post it here in case reading it would improve discussion of each "kind" argument, about embryo research and marriage:

Critical Study of Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life
Abstract: In Embryo: A Defense of Human Life (Doubleday, 2008), Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen argue that human embryo-destructive experimentation is morally wrong and should not be supported with state funds. I argue that their arguments are unsuccessful.

I never really tried to publish this paper because I found this book a few years after it was published and so by that point I thought there wouldn't be much interest in a longer critical review anywhere.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bioethics and Cancer Biomarker Research

I currently am working on a chapter on "Bioethics and Cancer Biomarker Research." If you happen to know of any relevant resources on those specific issues, please contact me. Thank you!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Philosophy for Children
















Recently I led an impromptu philosophy discussion in a 2nd grade class. The focus of the discussion was on challenging or puzzling cases and questions, such as:
  • If everything stopped moving, would time stop? (For how long? Could you tell? If so, how?)
  • If you 'woke up' in your friends' body (and your friend woke up 'in' your body), where would you be? What is you anyway?
  • Can you know that you are not dreaming right now? If so, does that mean you don't know that you are in this class right now? 
Different students gave contrary answers to these questions, of course, and we had a good time exploring these answers and seeing where they might lead.

There is a movement in favor of for philosophy for children. If anyone has any recommended sources on philosophy for children, please share them. Here are some sources:


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Philosophical Ethics Handout

I recently made this one page handout of all the concepts that I use in my philosophical ethics course and philosophical ethics research. Is anything vitally important missing?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An Argument for Veganism

Here is the current final version of a chapter for a forthcoming collection of philosophical essays, written with Dan Hooley: An Argument for Veganism

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Considering Law School?

I recently read this excellent short book Don't Go To Law School (Unless): A Law Professor's Inside Guide to Maximizing Opportunity and Minimizing Risk by Paul Campos. The book is based on his blog, and I highly recommend it for anyone considering law school or, for whatever reason, is interested in the legal and legal education industry. For many people, there are few better ways they could invest $5! The book's contents are also freely available in this really cool flow chart format too. 


Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Video

Here is a video on arguments that I recently made, on the encouragement of our library. It came out longer than I expected, so I will soon be making a shorter version:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Textbook in Progress

Today I started a webpage for my introductory ethics / critical thinking / moral arguments alysis textbook in progress, likely entitled Making Moral Progress: An Ethical Arguments Workbook:  www.MakingMoralProgress.com

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Family Law and Shared Parenting Presumptions

This summer I've developed a scholarly interest in an area of family law known as "shared parenting presumptions." The issue is this: if parents* divorce and have children, what is the most fair and just custody arrangement for the children?

Advocates of shared parenting presumptions argue that we should presume from the outset that the child(ren) will share their time with each parent roughly equally: this is an initial position of fairness and justice, and respects parents' rights to their children and children's rights to their parents.

Of course, there might be, and often are, good reasons why equality this would not be the most fair and just (or desired, by all parties) arrangement, but a presumption can accommodate that: we can, and should, deviate from equality when there are good reasons to do so, when strong evidence has been presented that equality is not most fair and just, given the facts of the case.

In most states, there is at least an informal presumption against equality, and there are barriers to seeking it. The working presumption often is that the child(ren) will spend most of their time with one parent and so spend "every other weekend and one night a week" with the non-custodial parent. A parent who seeks equality typically has argue for equality, often at considerable costs, financial and emotional.

The issue can be seen in terms of a "burden of proof": should the burden of proof be on those who seek equality, or the burden of proof be on those who oppose equality? Since equality is, from a starting point, fair and just, we should start there, so argue advocates of shared parenting.

There are many issues here: legal issues, social science about child development, and concerns about gender stereotypes. And they are couched in basic moral or ethical about justice and fairness, and the goods of parent-child relationships, and mediating conflict.

If anyone, especially in Georgia (since these issues are state-specific) is interested in these issues, I'd appreciate hearing from you since there is a lot to learn here. I anticipate writing something on these issues soon enough. For more on the legal issues, see this post "Joint Legal Custody is Your Constitutional Right."

* My discussion above concerns a male-female married couple. These issues are likely more complicated if the couple is not married, the couple is of the same sex, the child is adopted, paternity is not established or is in dispute and so on. 

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Two Forthcoming Books


Philosophy, Counseling, and PsychotherapyEditors: Elliot D. Cohen and Samuel Zinaich, Jr.

Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry
Edited by KWM Fulford, Martin Davies, Richard Gipps, George Graham, John Sadler, Giovanni Stanghellini, and Tim Thornton

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Health Disparities and Bioethics

In response to a paper of mine, someone provided me with this very useful short bibliography on bioethics and health disparities:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Textbook Publishing Options

I am writing an introductory ethics / moral problems / 'thinking critically about ethics' textbook and am exploring various options for publishing. If you have informed, strong opinions about the various options (e.g., traditional models; 'open source' models; self-e-publish and print on demand, etc.) I'd love to hear what you think! Thank you!