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

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

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:

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.