Posted in May 2012

Some things that lead to a happy life


1. Here are the things that lead to a happy life: Study someone whose life is happy. Find a teacher whose values you admire. Have a child in your life. Associate with people whose judgments you trust. Look to people whose lives serve as an inspiration. Make small the gap between what you say and … Continue reading

Facial expressions are the same everywhere—and so is morality


Chalres Darwin thought key facial expressions were innate and universal. Much evidence indicates that Darwin was right. Particular facial expressions are related to similar emotions in different cultures; these expressions aren’t socially conditioned but are innate. Psychologist Paul Ekman‘s finding about the universal nature of facial expressions is persuasive. Ekman showed photographs of faces to … Continue reading

3 ways of doing ethics


All of morality aims at the same thing but there are several basic ways to get there. If you prefer, each approach is like a different tool—a hammer, a nail, a level. Using the right tool for the right job makes it easier to do your work and increases the chances that you’ll wind up with a … Continue reading

Screw You, I Have Mine


An ad for the Audi A6 is more insightful than the company realizes. The copy says: “The roads are underfunded by $450 billion. With the right car, you may never notice.” The ad is a twist on the adage, Out of sight, out of mind. The idea is that if I don’t know about it, … Continue reading

Fair is Fair, Isn’t It?


Every parent has heard the howl: It’s not fair! And on the political level, Occupy Wall Street and the tea party make the same claim: It’s not fair. But what does it mean to be fair? What is fairness, after all?   Is it fair that all seniors, regardless of income, get senior discounts? Is … Continue reading

What Will Be Immoral in the Future


Looking backward we can wonder how anyone could have justified slavery or not granting equal rights to women, but plenty of smart and good people thought that these were justified. There are other examples where we scratch our heads and wonder at the moral opacity of our ancestors. But what about us? Where will the … Continue reading