14 thoughts on “Thursday update

    1. Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee… (Thankfully your legend predated the Scopes trial, too, otherwise we mightta found that you were on the side of Wm Jennings Bryan)

      Anyway, I wore my coonskin hat out! I was very proud of it, too, since it wasn’t one of the cheap ones with a plastic center, but only the tail was coon – the rest was rabbit. Memories of a 6y/o from ca. 54 yrs ago! Indeed RIP.

  1. Mr Blackfor flunked this quizz, rather miserably. It was an opportunity to move the discussion to more fertile grounds. The question was clear: the answer is straightforward, Mr Darwins’ work allows to build decent moral systems beyond cultural constraints. I find no fundament to launch any argumentation from e.g.:”….. some of the more extreme ambitions of both conservatives and liberals. It may not be realistic to expect each other to be either as self-denying as moral conservatives seem to want or as altruistic as some liberals seem to want” This paper flunks answering the question and evades how to build a “realistic”-often embedded in the text-scaffold of morality. What are “moral” conservatives? There are any “moral” liberals? Is Mr Blackford insinuating they are biological categories? aOnly liberals are altruistic? No altruistic conservatives? The thinker should have defined the boundaries of what is being called what. Why bring christian moralities up at all? Should have ignored them Characterizing human nature conservative or liberal is puzzling-to me. Christian sex guilt? Maybe in the 18 century, no need to abound.

        1. Mind you, there is a lot more to say, if that’s the complaint, but you can’t say much at all when given only 600 words to sketch a position on something complex. As Ophelia Benson pointed out in a similar situation recently, it would be nice if folks could bear this in mind. Note, too, that no one should ever take too much notice of titles and the sort of sub-title summary things that follow them. They are chosen by a sub-editor not by the writer. They provide one emphasis, but not necessarily what the writer actually thought was important.

          Leaving aside the application of these points to my particular piece, it would be good if this were more widely known. It should be taught in schools, because I see many discussions where people seem to be ignorant of it.

          1. By the way, “we” could use more comments on The Guardian site if you guys have anything to add to the topic. It’s been pretty quiet there so far.

  2. Fess was a lot of people’s hero. Not only that, he was a fine winemaker, and I will treasure the bottles I have in my cellar. RIP, Davy Crockett.

  3. Talk about speaking in tongues Mr Blackford.:-) Forgive me for the miserable remark(s)-no pun intended-. I read your ‘piece’ -why i visualized a smoking smith&wesson?-carefully , expecting a stypical blackford contribution-consistent with previous ones. But of course I know nothing about the cultural constraints of writing “pieces”-cant get over it- for british dailies. Hence, I was rather puzzled by the choices you made to argue for a Darwin-evolution based- “rational & realistic morality”. Maybe it isn just me, but I would like to suggest that the conservative vs liberal categories, dont cut it any longer. I ybderstand that you feel responsible extending useful knowledge beyond the pnewspaper, blogs and elsewhere, but mapping new courses for morality norms certainly goes beyond 600 words. Im afraid I wrote in tongues agai.

  4. So I don’t understand either of artikcat or Blackford, at least as far as the intended subject goes.

    As for artikcat’s comment, there is neither a question nor an answer here. The article series is, I believe, personal reflections on an observable phenomena (of morality).

    As for Blackford’s article, I believe that we nowadays need to approach the subject with some apprehension, the space requirements notwithstanding. If the latest research is correct, people will make moral decisions and act out on them regardless of the existence of “moral systems” as normally thought of.

    Don’t get me wrong, the idea of ethics were daft as soon as we discovered that parts of morality has evolved. Already Muller predicted that such systems results in interlocking complexity, where parts function without any other rationale whatsoever.

    But now we must question the idea of expressing and enforcing moral systems altogether. They would likely go against our nature, still pose unrealistic demands. Maybe I missed this, but I lack that perspective in the article.

    The best recourse is then likely given already. That of a legal system that frames peoples actions so they (ideally) can’t do harm, and of an educational system that presents and reflects on observed morality. These are the moral systems that work and can be expected to work.

    [They also punctuate the naturalistic mistake that just because (our) nature is given, our intentions and actions don’t need to be. Not that I would lie sleepless over such a vacuous point; a human got to do what a human got to do.]

    Anyway, that was my personal reflection.

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