Monthly Archive: July 2008

Jul 31 2008

The ethics of food-4: Are humans privileged in some way?

(For other posts in this series, see here.) Our current attitudes towards nonhuman animals seem to be based on two assumptions. The first is that all humans are believed to be equal in some sense and one person has no right to exploit another. The second is that nonhuman animals are somehow inferior to humans …

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Jul 30 2008

The ethics of food-3: Evolutionary implications

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) The theory of evolution has, of course, implications for the question of whether we should eat meat. One popular view of evolution lends support to the perceived superiority of humans over other species. This view sees evolution as a ladder-like hierarchy, rising ever upwards to higher and …

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Jul 29 2008

The ethics of food-2: Religious implications

(For previous posts in this series, see here.) The role of religious beliefs on the question of meat eating can take people in different directions. As far as I know, Hinduism is the only major religion that unequivocally advocates vegetarianism. Surely it is no coincidence that the tastiest vegetarian meals can be obtained in the …

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Jul 28 2008

The ethics of food-1: Confessions of a meat eater

I am an omnivore. I eat everything. Of course, ‘everything’ is not quite as inclusive as it sounds. Like all people, there are some foods that I dislike for their taste and there are others I avoid simply because I have not grown up with them and so they do not form a part of …

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Jul 25 2008

The puzzle of one god but many religions

There is a puzzle that arises from the idea of there being just one god and many religions for which religious people might be able to give an answer: Why do the people of one monotheistic religion fight with or try to convert people of another monotheistic religion? We know that there have always been …

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Jul 24 2008

Was Mother Theresa evil?

All of us get a little disconcerted when we discover that someone we like turns out to be an admirer of some public figure whom we think is awful. For example, take those well-known authoritarian rulers who unleashed immense cruelty on their own and other peoples, subjecting them to arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and death. Hitler, …

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Jul 23 2008

Are people in the US too sensitive?

British actor and writer Stephen Fry recently had an interesting take on the difference between arguments in social settings in England and the US. I was warned many, many years ago by the great Jonathan Lynn, co-creator of Yes Minister and director of the comic masterpiece My Cousin Vinnie, that Americans are not raised in …

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Jul 22 2008

Scientific consistency and Conservapedia loopiness

One of the drivers of scientific research is the desire to seeking a greater and greater synthesis, to seek to unify the knowledge and theories of many different areas. One of the most severe constraints that scientists face when developing a new theory is the need for consistency with other theories. It is very easy …

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Jul 21 2008

Seeing evolution in real time

Evolution opponents tend to try and dismiss the evidence in its favor, as a last resort often resorting to the argument that no one has actually seen evolution occurring and a new species emerging, with all the intermediate stages clearly identified. One reason for this is, of course, that evolutionary change occurs very slowly, not …

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Jul 18 2008

The propaganda machine and climate change

Some time ago, in one of my posts in my series on climate change, I pondered on why there seemed to be such a vehement opposition to the idea that human actions might be causing an irreversible and disastrous change to our planet. After all, this seems like largely a scientific question that, unlike (say) …

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