Category Archives: Ethics

>What’s the future for liberalism in speech?

>Etienne de Durand of the French Institute of International Relations said in this last week that cooperation between the UK and France in defence was about “being sex buddies rather than marriage.” I just picked this example because it was to hand, yet there’s a vast amount of modern literature that uses words like “fuck buddies” (the more common term).

My question to you is do you see this kind of liberalisation of speech continuing, and perhaps as something that people are more likely to read in even academic works in the future? Or does seeing such vocabulary on an academic site make you squirm? Is there a right and wrong to discuss here or not? Is it simply a product of the times?

>Can we place a price on life?

>Think about the situation where keeping a terminal patient alive costs more with each day. The last month some patients are alive costs millions and millions, which some people would argue would be better spent on people we know are going to live. Yet think from the other perspective; imagine that terminal patient was your spouse. Now I imagine the price you’d be willing to pay to keep them alive that little bit longer just went up a hell of a lot.

A book was recently published on the subject, in which a husband had to spend his life savings on keeping his wife alive as a terminal patient. In the end he went into masses of debt and had to stop paying.

What does this make you think? Can we put a price on life? Does a point come when you say you’d rather keep the money rather than keeping someone alive an extra day?

>Is it right to cut benefits?

>Mr Osborne (British Chancellor) said the welfare system had grown out of control and allowed some people to make the “lifestyle choice” of claiming benefits for their entire life instead of working. British welfare currently costs £192 bn a year, yet the cuts are planned to take millions off of Incapacity Benefits, many of whom really need the money. Is it right? Could it be right?

>Should all of us be active do-gooders?

>Marianne Williamson once wrote “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.”

Now I’m aware that Williamson’s argument was not exactly in line with the question but it raises some interesting points. Do we fear our strengths as much as, or perhaps even more than our weaknesses? Does “our playing small” not serve the world? Should we all be more active? Or is it acceptable for someone to turn down an evening of volunteering when they know they’d be doing nothing otherwise? Is it acceptable for someone to work their entire lives on the minimum wage when they have the potential to do so much more?

>How far should we push equality?

>Technological developers and workers are predicting machines will be as intellectually capable as apes by the end of the century, and also able to feel and empaphize as we do. Suppose a situation came to be where machines were more intelligent than us, and just as life like in that they felt emotions as we do. Would you accord them equal rights? If we accorded them equal rights based on our similarities then why do we have greater rights than apes? If not then how do we justify our ‘human rights’ being solely available to humans?

>Is charity worth our while?

>Have you ever heard anyone tell you that it’s a waste of your time and effort to give money to someone on the street, or even for us to give to charities at all? Right wing movements say that charity creates dependency. Does it? If so does that mean we’re better doing as African author Dambisa Moyo says and weaning countries off of aid? And is it right to talk about charity for individuals and countries in the same conversation? Or are they so different that such comparisons are a waste of time?

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