Posted in April 2012


What often holds us back is lack of self-awareness. So we move from place to place, from person to person, from job to job, only to find ourselves with the same grievances. Jose Marti y Perez, a 19th century Cuban writer, philosopher and revolutionary, once noted, “To change masters is not to be free.” He … Continue reading

Right, Wrong: It’s Not All Relative

Broadly speaking, ethical relativism contends that ethical rules are drawn from human experience and that what is right or wrong is dependent upon particular times and places. There are cultural relativist or the individual relativist. The cultural relativist believes that whether something is right or wrong depends upon what our culture, religion or government tells … Continue reading

Campus police and conflicts of interest

The mayor of the small municipality of Norway, South Carolina, population 389, in Orangeburg County, (where I have been living for the spring semester, as a visiting professor at Claflin University) was arrested recently for impersonating a police officer. Jim Preacher is out on $15,000 bond and awaits trial in June. The story begins in … Continue reading

Killing elephants is murder

Spain is in the news a lot these days. And the news got worse this week, as their beloved 74 year-old King Juan Carlos is laid up with a broken hip, suffered while on a safari in Botswana. Many Spaniards are outraged that in the midst of their country’s severe economic crisis, where the unemployment … Continue reading

Learning to be good: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe

In studying rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe, Samuel and Pearl Oliner conclude that the rescuers were people who believed they could influence events. In psychological terms, they possessed an internal locus of control. They viewed themselves as people who had some influence over the course of their lives. While they couldn’t completely control their … Continue reading

Religion and Happiness

Religions perform many functions, amongst which is to make life more understandable, acceptable, meaningful, controllable and, not the least important, enjoyable, if not in this life, then at least in the hereafter or in a recycled life. Religion that rules out happiness debases the human spirit. Most religions, though, do make room for happiness. Indeed, … Continue reading

Travyon Martin Case: Wired for Bias

Each of us carries around a mental map of the world in our heads. Not a geographic map but a map of the social world. These maps are shortcuts that enable us to navigate life with the least amount of time and stress and we depend upon them to get us through successfully. We simply … Continue reading

Happiness Isn’t a Mood but a State of Being

William Blake wrote, “Fun I love, but too much fun is of all things the most loathsome. Mirth is better than fun, and happiness is better than mirth.” Today happiness is viewed as a mood, a feeling. This understanding isn’t wrong as much as it is shortsighted,as implied by Blake. Moods shift and feelings change. But … Continue reading

Where Morals Come From

Society has many rules about how to behave, but not all of the social expectations are in the realm of morality. We need an independent way of evaluating which conventions are ethical and which are not. Just as ethics is independent of religious rules, so it is independent of social convention. The work of Larry … Continue reading