A Natural History of Human Morality (2016) by Michael Tomasello

Categories: 2016, Books, and Non-Fiction.

For the vast majority of recorded human history, we humans have believed that morality comes from somewhere outside of us; from “above,” from the ether, from some kind of benevolent creator, etc. Even as we have learned more and more about how humans evolved from apes who evolved from “lower” animals who evolved from “lower” lifeforms who evolved from, essentially, “ooze” we have still maintained that human morality comes from outside of human beings. The idea is that morality has been bestowed on us by something, or existed before we did, and we access it. When I was growing up Read More

The belief in Justice is probably the breeding ground for injustice

Categories: Philosophy, Politics, Religion, and Society.

I have long identified myself as an atheist (even though I’m an agnostic) in religion, an existentialist in philosophy and “anti-apocalyptic” or “anti-ideological” person in politics (i.e. a pragmatist). I have long struggled with this last definition, not because I don’t know what I am – I know exactly what I am, politically – but rather because I have trouble encapsulating it in one word. Politically, I am a centrist or, as I used to jokingly describe myself: a libertarian social democrat with a conservative streak. But I’m not a centrist because of a lack of conviction; I cannot pick Read More

19 "Tough" Questions for Libertarians, Part 4

Categories: Philosophy, Politics, Religion, and Society.

This is part four in my series on the internet meme, “Jon Stewart’s 19 Tough Questions for Libertarians”. Please see part one here, part two here, and part three here. Today we deal with questions 10-19. You give money to the IRS because you think they’re gonna hire a bunch of people, that if your house catches on fire, will come there with water. This is obviously a very simplistic description of “your tax dollars at work” but it makes the point that many of us try to make when arguing with libertarians: are you really comfortable in a world Read More

19 "Tough" Questions for Libertarianism, Part 3

Categories: Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, and Religion.

In this post we look at questions 4-9. For the first part see here. For the second see here. Do we live in a society or don’t we? Are we a collective? Everybody’s success is predicated on the hard work of all of us; nobody gets there on their own. Why should it be that the people who lose are hung out to dry? For a group that doesn’t believe in evolution, it’s awfully Darwinian. Read More

19 "Tough" Questions for Libertarianism, part 2

Categories: Philosophy, Politics, Religion, and Society.

So, for part two, we deal with questions 2-3. You can see the previous post here. One of the things that enhances freedoms are roads. Infrastructure enhances freedom. A social safety net enhances freedom. So obviously this is not a question, but a statement. But it gets to an important point, depending of course on how we define freedom. Read More

19 "Tough" Questions for Libertarianism, Part 1

Categories: 2012, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, and Society.

About this time last year, Jon Stewart interviewed Andrew Napolitano, a prominent US “libertarian” on The Daily Show. At some point, some libertarians put Stewart’s interview questions into a meme sometimes called “Jon Stewart’s 19 tough questions for libertarians”. My understanding of this is that Napolitano did not acquit himself well enough in their eyes. This doesn’t exactly surprise me, as Stewart is fairly well prepared for people he does not see eye to eye with, and I think a lot of his interviewees – having apparently never watched The Daily Show – come somewhat unprepared for actual questions. They think Read More