Monday, April 01, 2024

Monday, November 20, 2023

Teaching Vegetarian / Vegan Arguments

By good luck and timing, we were able to finish the vegan / vegetarian arguments in class today.

FYI, here's some of the materials used:

1. "Reasonable Humans and Animals," by me, written long ago, posted under a pseudo name.

2. The abstract of the position paper of the Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets.

3. "Our Friends at the Farm," an old video from Farm Sanctuary and Gene Baur, which I set up as a "college students versus elementary students debate; and:

4. some frequent references to Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat and their page.

5. some short video overviews of the main arguments by Singer and Regan, by me.

Maybe this will be of interest to some out there!

#vegan #vegetarian #teaching #teachingphilosophy #ethics #teachingethics

Update: here (again) are the materials I use:

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

On the Moral Status of Non-Human Animals and Vulnerable Human Beings

Many years ago I wrote this paper. It never went anywhere. Maybe I should try again. Thoughts? Link on the title here:

On the Moral Status of Non-Human Animals and Vulnerable Human Beings

Abstract: What do the reasons given for and against various moral views about many non-human animals imply or suggest for moral views about human beings in all their varieties, especially “vulnerable” human beings? And what do the reasons given for and against various moral views about the variety of human beings imply or suggest for our moral views about many animals? Some people are offended by some of these claims and arguments, but which are genuinely offensive? These and related questions are discussed and answered here.

1. Introduction 1

2. Moral Epistemologies for Animals 2

2.1. “Intuition” 2

2.2. Arguments from Non-Species-Specific Properties 3

2.2.1. The Argument for Animal Rights 4

2.2.2. The Argument against Animal Rights 5

2.3. Arguments from Animals’ Relations to Human Beings 6

2.3.1. Arguments from Human Beings “In General” 6

2.3.2. Arguments from All Human Beings 8 Is the Argument Offensive? 10 A Dangerous Argument? 10 An Unsound Argument? 14

3. Moral Epistemologies for Human Beings 18

3.1. “Intuition” 18

3.2. Arguments from Non-Species-Specific Principles 18

3.3. Rationality-Requiring Theories of Rights 18

3.4. Theories of Rights based on Relations to (Rational) Human Beings 18

3.5. From Animal Rights to Human Rights 19

3.6. Other Arguments 19

4. Conclusions: What Should We Think? What Should We Do? 19

4.1. Animal Advocates 20

4.2. Human-Rights Advocates 20

4.3. Foes of Human and Animal Rights 21

4.4. Advocacy 21

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Shortcast Club

 I was on the podcast again, this time with a writing tip ("Assume that your reader is about to die, so you tell them the most important stuff first, in case they don't make it!").

This is a neat podcast (meta-podcast? Podcast compiler?) with brief content from many contributors.
"This week on Shortcast Club - Volume 13
Best of Shortcast Club
Today's theme is G.S.D.: Get Stuff Done and moving forward with life. We'll hear from 7 creators who, in some way, touch on this theme, even tangentially. We'll here insights from Nathan Nobis, a philosopher, from Bill Harper, a marketing guru, Eden Gold, a guide for young adults, Silvia Pohrib, a life coach, Marcelle Iten, an author, Liz Jane, a young professional, and Joshua Terhune, a child therapist. First up, Nathan Nobis, a Philosophy professor at Morehouse College, in his shortcast, gives a writing tip: imagine your reader might die at any moment. . Nathan's Linktree and website. Next, an episode of Don’t Just Win. Dominate.™ with Bill Harper, a marketing and branding leader. He answers the question, does branding matter for B2B (business to business) companies? Bill's website. In this episode of Eden Gold's shortcast, "Life After High School, Your Ultimate Guide to Thriving in Adulthood!". she says, you are not lazy! Don't tell yourself that. Eden's website. Next is Silvia Pohrib with what it means to put someone on a pedestal. She talks very fast, so if your podcast player allows, you may want to play this one at a reduced speed. Silvia's Linktree. Marcelle Iten is an Author, Editor, and Writing Coach. In this episode from her shortcast, she shares a dilemma she is facing about a character in her book Marcelle Iten's Linktree. Let's hear from Liz Jane in her shortcast Working Girl Shortcast. Unfortunately, like many people recently, she has been laid off from her job. She shares a very personal, emotional update on how she's feeling. And a warning, there is one swear word in this next segment - jump forward 1 minute if you want to skip it. Liz Jane's Linktree. Finally, let's hear from Joshua Terhune, a child therapist, in this episode from his shortcast. With the conflict in Israel and Gaza, he has received many questions about how to talk to kids after they've been through a trauma. Joshua Terhune's linktree. I hope you enjoyed this taste of some of our favorite recent shortcasts. If you did, please subscribe, and consider writing a review on your podcast app. It helps surface our show to other potential listeners! We really appreciate your support as we grow our show. There are links for each of the creators you heard today in the show notes. We encourage you to find and follow them on Shortcast Club. They are all very binge-worthy!"

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Ethical relativism

An in-class reading comprehension quiz on cultural relativism: 

1.     Cultural relativism is the view that different cultures have some different moral viewsTrue or false? Explain your answer. 


2.     Cultural relativism is an ethical theory: it’s an explanation for what makes wrong actions wrong and what makes not-wrong actions not wrong. What’s cultural relativism’s explanation here of what makes wrong actions wrong and permissible actions permissible? 

3.     What argument pattern are the arguments against cultural relativism? 

4.     Are the arguments given for cultural relativism – that is, to think that it’s a true theory – sound or unsoundWhy? 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Following All The Facts About Abortion—Scientific, Ethical, And Logical—Wherever They Lead

 New at the American Journal of Bioethics blog!

Following All The Facts About Abortion—Scientific, Ethical, And Logical—Wherever They Lead,” a response to @CCamosy in @RNS (“Faith, science and the abortion debate”) and @americamag (“it’s the pro-lifers who have science on their side”) #abortion #prochoice #prolife #ethics

And here's a (funny?) video inspired by what's often said about these matters:

@nathan.nobis A conversation with a certain type of "pro-life" or anti-abortion advocate: does that sound familiar to you? If not, it should?! #abortion #prochoice #prolife #criticalthinking #logic #bioethics #philosophy #arguments #counterexamples ♬ original sound - Philosophy 101 - Prof. Nobis

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Talk for a Leadership class on ethics and animals

I gave a talk / led a class today at a class on Moral Leadership. The notes talk are here.

Here were the questions I addressed:

  • Would it be morally permissible for a “moral leader” to start and maintain a factory farm or a slaughterhouse? Or would that be morally wrong? WHY?

  • Would it be morally permissible for a “moral leader” to start and maintain a so-called “humane farm” or slaughterhouse? Or would that be morally wrong? WHY?

  • Would it be morally permissible for a “moral leader” to start and maintain a competitor to Elwood’s Dog Meat’s farm? Or would that be morally wrong? (If so, would it also be wrong to raise and kill cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals?). WHY?

  • Would a “moral leader” buy and eat meat, and other animal-based food products in most circumstances they are actually in? Would a moral leader be a vegetarian or a vegan? WHY?

In general, what would a moral leader do (actions; behaviors), and what kind of person would a moral leader be (character traits, virtues; “personal style” of engagement–how they interact with others and view them)?

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Penser l’avortement

Penser l’avortement

Thinking Critically About Abortion, in French!

Available from the publisher ÉLIOTT ÉDITIONS and from Amazon France!

This is not yet available in an open-access format, but this should happen eventually. Check back!

Tuesday, April 04, 2023


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Dear Friends and Supporters of 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology,
This week the Board of Directors of “1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology” met at a five-star resort in Costa Rica to discuss the future of 1000-Word Philosophy.
During the day, it was all play: snorkeling, yoga, and a private “Create Your Own Mocktail” class were some of the Board’s favorite activities.
The evenings, after dinner and before the late-night sailing, however, were ALL BUSINESS.
The board participated in a series of intense meetings, the focus of which was the financial future of "1000-Word Philosophy."
The issue is this: inflation has hit us all, and perhaps no sector of the economy has been hit harder than the freely available online philosophy and ethics educational materials sector, of which "1000-Word Philosophy" is a—perhaps the—industry leader.
Simply put, we can no longer afford to publish essays with 1000 words.
While talk is cheap, the price of printing words online has gone up exponentially: those little dots on our screens aren’t uncaused events: they cost money.
The board attempted to negotiate with our internet providers to get a lower per-word posting cost: those negotiations broke down in tears. And Internet hackers have disabled our computer systems so we can no longer save files in PDF, unless we pay a sizeable ransom, which we cannot afford, given the cost of our board retreat. There are more problems that we won't tell you about, but we will share that we feel great shame and embarrassment that each board member’s email password was the easily guessable “1000WordPhilosophyPassword,” given the problems that have resulted from those internet breaches.
All is not lost, however. The Board has secured funding to enable us to continue publishing essays, but with 732 words, no more and no less. We had hoped we would have been able to continue at 812 words, but our analysis proves that is unsustainable.
Fortunately, we will be able to retain our current essays, with modifications: the board applied for and received a special grant to hire editing consultants to swiftly cut all the currently available essays down to 732 words; unfortunately, though, no endnotes will be allowed to remain since we those are a luxury.
We feel great sadness in this turn of events and the end of this era, but we are proud that we will be able to continue as "732-WordPhilosophy: Short Thinkin' Stuff." Please check this space for the launch of our new webpage, which will soon be available at
We appreciate your understanding and support throughout these trying times, but we look forward to emerging even stronger. Please stick with us throughout this transition. You won’t regret it, and the best short philosophy and ethics readings are yet to come: this we promise you and know for sure.
The Board of Directors for the philosophical-educational project formerly known as "1000-Word Philosophy," soon to be known as "732-WordPhilosophy: Short Thinkin' Stuff."