Monday, September 29, 2014

Animals and Ethics Course

For the past few years, I have periodically taught an ethics and animals course, online. Here are some of the files: the "lectures" files (the most interesting and important file), the "readings" file and the "syllabus" files. I'd appreciate any reactions to the course organization and content. Thanks!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Logic-Based Therapy Training Event

Any philosophers interested in psychotherapy and mental health issues, especially those near Chicago, should check out this upcoming event, which should be quite good:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Career Counseling Assignment

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman

A few years ago I developed an assignment called "Calling and Careers" that was intended to help students start to find their "calling." That assignment is posted here, although the formatting is a bit off. I'd be curious to learn of any other assignments like this that anyone else has incorporated into their courses.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Addendum to Tom Regan's "Ethical Perspectives on the Treatment and Status of Animals"

Nobis, Nathan. "I. Ethical Perspectives on the Treatment and Status of Animals [Addendum]." Bioethics. Ed. Bruce Jennings. 4th ed. Vol. 1. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2014. 252-254. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 26 June 2014.

This is an addendum to: Regan, Tom. "I. Ethical Perspectives on the Treatment and Status of Animals." Bioethics. Ed. Bruce Jennings. 4th ed. Vol. 1. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2014. 240-252. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 26 June 2014.

Monday, June 16, 2014

2nd Call for Abstracts: Philosophy of Race: Introductory Readings

2nd Call for Abstracts for Philosophy of Race: Introductory Readings

Due by July 15, 2014

A first call for abstracts yielded these abstract/outline submissions presented below in this draft table of contents. A second call for abstracts is now open, until July 15th, for contributors who would like to submit further abstracts & outlines for consideration. These submissions can be new issues and topics or augment, extend, contrast with or challenge or contrast with these submissions below. Abstract(s) should be sent and Please see for more information about the nature and plans for this collection of readings.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Philosophical Service Projects

This semester, I developed a "Philosophical Service Project" assignment that went really well:
For this assignment, you will, in a group, perform some "community service." The service you will provide is demonstrating to the community how to thinking critically about moral issues using the logical methods we've practiced in this class. So, you will model thinking in systematic ways about moral issues, engage some arguments from your audience and help them evaluate these arguments.
If anyone uses and develops this assignment, please let me know how it works out. 
For more ideas, typically with a more "hands on" component, see

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.

For discussion of similar arguments, see my "Abortion, Metaphysics and Morality: A Review of Francis Beckwith’s Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice."

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