All entries by this author

The side-taking hypothesis

Aug 30th, 2014 11:25 am | By

Is morality not morality at all but just in-group solidarity? Peter DeScioli suggests it is.

Developmental evidence shows that children are nice to people before acquiring adult-like moral judgment. Moreover, when children develop moral judgment, it does not prevent them from taking actions they judge wrong such as lying or stealing. In adults, research shows that moral judgments differ from and can even oppose altruistic motives. Research on hypocrisy shows that people are mostly motivated to appear moral rather than to actually abide by their moral judgments.

Altruism can be in tension with morality – or at least with “morality”: reputation and appearance, as opposed to the real thing. Yes, that makes sense.

Here is a distinctive human problem

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



What we are used to isn’t automatically what’s right

Aug 30th, 2014 10:58 am | By

Some people on Fox News – to be more precise, four women and one man on Fox News – have a conversation about catcalling women in the street. Olivia Kittel at Media Matters comments.

On the August 28 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered, hosts highlighted a New York Post opinion article that suggested women “deal with” “flattering” catcalls. Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle defended street harassment saying, “let men be men,” and, “look, men are going to be that way. What can you do?”

She summed up with:

They mean it in a nice way, I think, like they find you attractive or they want to pay a compliment.

Which is a stupid and irresponsible thing to say. Some do, … Read the rest

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For offences including drug smuggling and sorcery

Aug 30th, 2014 10:08 am | By

Al Jazeera reports there has been a surge in beheadings in Saudi Arabia in August.

At least 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia this month for offences including drug smuggling and sorcery, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The dead include four Saudi men executed in Najran province on Monday for smuggling hashish, and two foreigners - a Syrian and a Pakistani, accused of the same crime.

Authorities beheaded Saudi national, Mohammed bin Bakr al-Alawi, on August 5 for allegedly practicing sorcery, the Saudi Gazette reported.

That’s a lot of beheading, for one trivial crime and one nothing. Saudi Arabia is even worse than Texas.

On Wednesday, Saudi authorities executed a Pakistani national for the murder of an

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We’re adept at masking inconsistencies from ourselves

Aug 29th, 2014 6:16 pm | By

In pleasanter news than most of what I’ve shared today, Rebecca Goldstein talks to The Humanist about Plato at the Googleplex.

The Humanist: Can you say more about how philosophy benefits humanity?

Goldstein: We’re adept at masking inconsistencies from ourselves, most especially moral inconsistencies, since they make it easier for us to act in ways that we want to. At its best, philosophy exposes presumptions that we’re not aware we harbor—presumptions that nonetheless influence our judgments and actions. It examines whether these presumptions are justifiable and consistent with other beliefs and attitudes we’ve committed ourselves to.

The Humanist: Unmasking moral inconsistencies: this is where your notion of “mattering” comes in, correct?

Goldstein: Yes. At the heart of

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Heaping unbound shame on her family

Aug 29th, 2014 5:08 pm | By

Ruzwana Bashir is upset about the media focus on the abuse of white girls while under-reporting the abuse of Asian girls by Asian adult men. She shares her story in hopes of tearing down the wall of silence and encouraging others to do the same.

She was abused by a neighbor in Skipton at the age of 10; she felt too much shame to say anything. Years later she went back to testify against him.

When I first told my mother about the abuse I’d suffered, she was absolutely devastated. The root of her anger was clear: I was heaping unbound shame on to my family by trying to bring the perpetrator to justice. In trying to stop him

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For a long and painful time

Aug 29th, 2014 4:17 pm | By

From last December, Huma Munshi talks to Lifting the Veil about the concepts of ‘honour’ and ‘shame’

Huma is a writer and poet who writes on many issues including feminism and tackling ‘honour’ based violence. She sees writing as a means to connect with others and healing. She tweets at @Huma101

She started #fuckhonour and #fuckshame hashtags on Twitter; here she explains her thinking.

Muslim Women’s Network launched a report, entitled Unheard Voices, in autumn of this year describing the prevalence of young Asian, Muslim girls being sexually abused. There were a number of things that made me extremely angry but what led me to start the “#fuckhonour” hashtag was the concept of ‘honour’ to victim blame[1] and

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One more horror

Aug 29th, 2014 3:32 pm | By

One more horror out of the many every hour of every day.

Dr. Rou’aa Diab was a dentist in the Deir ez-Zor Governate city of Al-Mayadeen, located on the border of Iraq.  Two days ago, she [was] arrested by the Islamic State, along with 4 others, and summarily executed. The reasoning for the execution was under the crime of “treating male patients” – a crime she was not tried for in a court room. Dr. Diab’s death has sparked anger in the historical city of Al-Mayadeen, an area where the Islamic State continues to assert its governance over.

A dentist – murdered for treating patients. You know what life would be like without dentists? Very nasty, that’s what.

 … Read the rest

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Police regarded the victims with contempt

Aug 29th, 2014 11:57 am | By

Shaheen Hashmat says the Rotherham report struck a note of personal horror for her.

I’m a Pakistani woman born and raised in Scotland, as part of a Muslim family. And, at the age of 12, I relied on the help of police and local authorities to help me escape from honour abuse and the threat of forced marriage. As a result of my experiences, I now dedicate most of my spare time to raising awareness of these issues. I’m currently working to establish a free mental health service for those who have suffered similar abuses.

Doing the work she does, she’s learned that rape victims get a terrible time if they report their rape.

While some may believe that the

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Machine guns and cat condos

Aug 29th, 2014 11:30 am | By

More Charles Vacca, because it’s…just…so…

Exciting life change. Didn’t work out all that well.

Caption: “Yes it is!!!!!”

Caption: “Yep”

Caption: “Lol”

But then, back in November…

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The weapon recoiled and she lost control

Aug 29th, 2014 10:20 am | By

There was that grotesque incident on Monday, at an “Outdoor Machine Gun Adventure” in the Mojave Desert not far from Las Vegas.

A 9-year-old girl at a shooting range outside Las Vegas accidentally killed an instructor on Monday morning when she lost control of the Uzi he was showing her how to use.

The girl, whose name wasn’t released, visited the outdoor shooting range while vacationing with her parents. She’d fired the 9mm weapon, designed for use by the Israeli defense forces in the 1940s, several times in single-shot mode. But when it was set to fully automatic, the weapon recoiled and she lost control.

In other words the girl’s parents visited the shooting range and allowed her (or … Read the rest

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The pursuit of the norm

Aug 29th, 2014 9:37 am | By

Republicans explain to non-Republican women how they are wrong to be non-Republican women. The tl;dr is that all such women are 35 and single and therefore in a deep funk of self-loathing because they know they should be married; if they were Republicans they would be married. It’s hard to see a flaw, isn’t it.

R.R. Reno, editor of First Things (a journal that promotes “economic freedom” and a “morally serious culture”), published a very helpful essay illustrating how this fresh new strategy might work in practice. Reno begins his piece with a richly-drawn portrait of a hypothetical female Democratic voter: She is a “single, 35-year-old McKinsey consultant living in suburban Chicago who thinks of herself as vulnerable and

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Five doctors, nurses, and hospital staffers

Aug 28th, 2014 6:24 pm | By

This is very sad, on many levels.

Five doctors, nurses, and hospital staffers who are co-credited as authors of a paper about Ebola published today in Science have already died of the disease, the publication says. All five worked at Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone, and all were “experienced members of the hospital’s Lassa fever team.” (Lassa fever is “a hemorrhagic illness with many symptoms similar to Ebola.”)

One of the victims was Sheik Umar Khan, the doctor supervising Sierra Leone’s Ebola response, whose death last month was widely reported.

Three of the victims were infected while caring for another colleague of theirs who contracted the virus while pregnant, Science says. One of those victims, Mbalu

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A win for polygyny

Aug 28th, 2014 6:02 pm | By

A federal judge in Utah struck down part of the state’s ban on polygamy as unconstitutional yesterday.

US district judge Clark Waddoups ruled in December that a section of Utah law that prohibits “cohabitation” violates the Constitution’s religious freedom and privacy protections. He reaffirmed this decision in his Wednesday ruling, in which he also provided attorney’s fees to the plaintiff, Kody Brown, a star of TLC reality show Sister Wives.

A law against cohabitation does sound very intrusive. On the other hand what if it’s just a euphemism for a certain kind of exploitation?

“The decision brings closure for our family and further reaffirms the right of all families to be free from government abuse,” Brown said in a statement

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How to demonstrate that Sarkeesian is right

Aug 28th, 2014 1:53 pm | By

Anita Sarkeesian released a new video the other day, so of course Anita Sarkeesian had to go stay with a friend the other night because she got such direct graphic threats complete with her actual address attached.

Since the project launched on Kickstarter way back in 2012, the gaming community has been treated to an incessant, deeply paranoid campaign against Tropes vs. Women generally and Sarkeesian personally. This includes a flood of violent comments and emails, videos documenting ways in which she’s not a “real gamer,” a game in which you can punch her in the face, and a proposed documentary devoted to exposing the “lies” and “campaign of misinformation” from what is, again, a collection of opinions about video

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Discomfort

Aug 28th, 2014 1:24 pm | By

Samira Ahmed notes the Talk to the (Male) Community Leaders approach to dealing with social tension and the dire consequences for non-leaders who have the bad luck to be also women.

Back in 2001, the London charity Southall Black Sisters, which has been campaigning against domestic violence since the 1970s, put me in touch with a social worker who had recently been transferred to Bradford. She told me how she had found herself the only woman at a post-riot “community relations” meeting where, she claimed, community leaders asked the police to pass any complaints of domestic violence from Pakistani women straight to them. They would “sort it” themselves. The worker said she challenged this, but felt that if she hadn’t

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Guest post: No malice was necessary but it set the stage

Aug 28th, 2014 12:58 pm | By

Originally a comment by Maureen Brian on Orwellian but unofficial.

Sociopolitical sensitivities are data! QFT!

And just as I was doing this another South Yorkshire story popped up, this one about the strange habit of the cops in treating information differently depending upon whether or not they can make it conform to their pre-conceptions.

It is interesting to observe all this “it must be racism” or “it must be because it’s the Labour Party” or “it’s not fair to pick on Rotherham” or “how were we supposed to know?” nonsense.

I have no academic study to quote figures from, so don’t ask, and what I say is based upon living in either West Yorkshire or inner city London … Read the rest

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How to argue about how to argue about how to argue

Aug 28th, 2014 12:10 pm | By

Today’s installment of Dawkins setting the world straight on everything.

(Have you noticed that he’s tweeting in this way more now that so many people have made it so clear to him that they think setting the world straight via Twitter is not part of his skill set? I’ve noticed that.)

Chastity deprives people of existence. It doesn’t kill people. Early abortion resembles abstinence not murder. Not everyone understands this

The reason is simple. An unconceived potential person is not a person. An undifferentiated embryo is not a person. Acorns are not oak trees.

“We get it”. Yes i know YOU get it, but you aren’t everybody. There are millions who don’t get it & think all abortion is absolutely

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Guest post: Or we can learn to understand sociopolitical sensitivities

Aug 28th, 2014 11:26 am | By

Originally a comment by Brony on Orwellian but unofficial.

As a pejorative, “Politically Correct” has lost its bite.

Good. Awareness of sociopolitical sensitivities is a good thing because it adds precision. It should be a neutral.

What we have is an Orwellian (but unofficial) “Thought Police”

Wait, what?

So the back and forth that society uses to come to decisions of current issues of importance is now the same as a government controlling expressions that implicitly support opponents or oppose the status quo? Maybe I’m missing some subtlety but this seems the literal opposite of the actual situation. Dawkins is receiving criticism, losing some supporters, and maybe even gaining some as a result of his actions (I would be … Read the rest

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“I notice you don’t pray with us in the morning.”

Aug 28th, 2014 10:46 am | By

A wonderful guest post at Pearl Osibu’s blog about no longer sharing your family’s religion and how painful it can be to try to negotiate that, by T I Ajibade.

Tears continued to stream down my mum’s face as she asked god why this had to happen to her.

I had to recant. My mum is hypertensive. I was afraid for her health. I had an ugly vision of waking up the next morning to find she’d died of a heart attack.

So I took my words back.

And burned with a thrumming sadness.

Burned that she thought I might be up to some suspicious activity simply because I wanted to leave religion; that she wouldn’t listen when I asked

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Orwellian but unofficial

Aug 27th, 2014 6:22 pm | By

Dawkins offers another installment of The Philosophy of Twitter today.

Today I posted a series of tweets, relevant to this discussion and designed to be read in order:-

As a pejorative, “Politically Correct” has lost its bite. It’s now a cliché. What we have is an Orwellian (but unofficial) “Thought Police”.

Rotherham Police & Council were fearful of the Thought Police:
Let’s learn to lose our fear of the Thought Police.

Academics fly kites, try ideas on colleagues & students, often rejecting them after discussion. “What if . ..?” “Could it be that . . .?”

It’s a pity if we have to look over shoulder for fear of PC Thought Police, Verbal Vigilantes, Feeding Frenzy of Political Piranhas.

Yesterday

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(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)