Clean Smells Promote Moral Behavior, Study Suggests

Posted by Anti Citizen One on October 27th, 2009

People are unconsciously fairer and more generous when they are in clean-smelling environments, according to a soon-to-be published study led by a Brigham Young University professor. ScienceDaily

Faith School Admission

Posted by Anti Citizen One on October 26th, 2009

In interesting issue is being debated by the UK Supreme Court (yes there is a Supreme Court now): what rules can faith schools apply to school admission? It can be an interesting conflict in freedom of religion with freedom to attend competing with freedom to define a schools identity.

An article on the BBC outlines the Jewish school situation: can a convert to the religion attend an orthodox school that insists on Jewish decent on the mother’s side? Is this a case of freedom or of racial discrimination?

Other faith schools may be affected by the presidence in the above case. For example can a Catholic school insist on church attendance for admission? I am interested by the possibility that non-attendance might make a person more Christian based on the writings of Blake, Kierkegaard, etc. I was trying to recall the basis for church going on the Bible (within the New Testament) and I could not recall any; until I remembered I only have passing familiarity with the gospels and hardly anything in acts, etc. There does seem to be a contrast in institutional religion between the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. Every instance of Jesus going to the Temple seems to highlight the gulf between what he stood for and what organised religion represents… Not to mention: “Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts[…]” Luke 20:46

I was on a bit of a rant there after C S Lewis’s pro-institutional views….

Anti Citizen One

Not a Review of Mere Christianity

Posted by Anti Citizen One on October 23rd, 2009

I finished reading Mere Christianity by C S Lewis. Well written but the ideas are not worth analyzing on this blog. (“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” LW) But there are two points of interest that made reading it worth while. Kierkegaard fans might like to read the final chapter of “Christian Behaviour”. It is like a pro-institutional version of SK (yikes!) and he references the verse speaking of “fear and trembling”. Nietzsche fans might like to read the chapter “The New Men”, where he claims the “superman” is in fact a Christian. He uses one similar expression by likening Christianity to lightning, perhaps a distant echo of Nietzsche calling the superman “lightning out of the dark cloud”.

Anti Citizen One

PS Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion contains better arguments FOR god than this! (among other things…)

Freedom of Speech = Freedom To Be Wrong (BBC and the BNP)

Posted by Anti Citizen One on October 22nd, 2009

I wonder at the people who call for the BBC to un-invite the BNP from the radio. What basis have they which does not use intolerance, or is illiberal or arbitrary? Some have claimed that they are an “illegal party” but other parties occasionally break laws and are not banished in the same way. The most credible argument is that it might cause an increase in racially motivated attacks. This well meaning idea opens the door to political movements that are contrary to the current government be labeled a threat to public safety and therefore banned. The same logic was used to temporarily ban Geert Wilders from the UK. If the ends outweigh the means in terms of public safety (a very utilitarian idea), we may as well change a police state as soon as can be arranged.

So, well done BBC for resisting an appeal to consequences.


(And I don’t agree with the BNP, obviously. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”)

Meta-rebuttal of Objective Morality Argument

Posted by Anti Citizen One on October 18th, 2009

A first reaction on CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity: he really likes inductive arguments and arguments by analogy. He attempts to use these to argue for the existence of objective morality. But, given that both these forms of argument require some subjective value judgments, how is it possible to arrive at a non-subjective conclusion? Or to put it another way, if he needs to subjectively decide on what basis an analogy is valid, the conclusion must be equally subjective. Or to put it a third way, subjective axioms lead to subjective conclusions.

And don’t get me started with his comparisons of a-priori/tautological knowledge (e.g. mathematics) and a posteriori knowledge (morality in this case).

Anti Citizen One

PS Perhaps I should have followed Zarathustra’s advice (emphasis mine):

But Zarathustra came not to say unto all those liars and fools:
“What do ye know of virtue! What could ye know of virtue!”

Mini-review: 50 Philosophical Ideas

Posted by Anti Citizen One on October 17th, 2009

by Ben Dupre

It’s a good refresher for many key ideas in philosophy. He advances each theory with sincerity and also states the main objections to the idea. That most or all ideas in philosophy have very strong objections is itself revealing. Many of the ideas I had heard in far more depth – for example the design argument (for and against) is covered in 4 pages – after I have read Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. But many ideas I had not considered, such as the main themes in aesthetics and Nagel’s ideas on moral luck. I was again reminded of the total incoherance of morality in the section of supererogatory acts and various others. The clarity of presentation of each idea was surprising; I guess it was good he did not try to discuss Hegel! But, no discussion of existentialism… anyway, a good read in all!

Next to read, Mere Christianity. (Why do I think I will need some “fresh air” after reading that book?)

Anti Citizen One

In The South

Posted by Anti Citizen One on October 9th, 2009

Risk fear creating ‘scaredy cats’

Posted by Anti Citizen One on October 7th, 2009

A preoccupation with minimising risk at home and in the classroom could be creating a generation of “scaredy cats”, an author has warned. BBC