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“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”

Ethics via AVATAR

[screencast=http://www.screencast.com/t/uKREhzmgUn]

This presentation covers some background information and cocnepts relating to environmental ethics using the movie by James Cameron: Avatar.

The Philosophy of AI

Straw Dogs

This work by John Gray is exceptionally tantalizing in its approach to the “problem” of free will vs. determinism. The author makes a good case for the idea that we are largely determined by genetic and environmental factors about which we are completely unconscious. His treatement of morality reminds me of David Hume’s concept of empathy and clearly implies the continuity between animal and human-animal nature.

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Devaluing History

A central question in history (to me) is:  “Why science and technology and modern civilization developed in Europe rather than ancient Greece, Rome, China, etc.” One idea that has struck me recently is the Christian idea of forgiveness, which in a non-religious sense means that you don’t have to be tied to the past based on guilt or family association (or
caste)… Hence the idea of progress (which some in the middle east and elsewhere would deny.)

Since people always are asking philosophers to be more specific I think we can actually find
ways to measure/quantify how fast different societies devalue the past (e.g 5% per year).  Perhaps the beginnings of a real version of Isaac Asimov’s psycho-history as he wrote about in the Foundation series.

Richard 
http://dimension99.com

Please read this, first– from the Chronicle of Higher Ed

http://chronicle.com/free/v53/i07/07a01001.htm?cch

Ing—taking the teach out of teaching 

The question now becomes, “What subject are you ing?”  
Having read about the recent trends in community college education, it appears
that the forecast for the future is now exactly what I began to predict, based
upon my own experiences, several years ago.  Educational institutions will be
designed along the lines of a business model, stressing efficiency in product
delivery, maximization of expected utility, while also employing tried and true
methods for enhancing customer satisfaction.  The president becomes the CEO, the
school board becomes the board of directors, the shareholders are now…… 

But, wait, who are the shareholders?  Who stands to gain
and in what ways with this, now, not so new, configuration? Presumably education
is about teaching and learning and the generic mission of a higher education
institution will read something like: Our mission is to provide our students
with opportunities for academic advancement, personal enrichment, and the
furtherance of individual goals
.  I have never personally encountered a
mission statement that even hints that there is, lurking in the background, a
cadre of shareholders expecting to make some sort of monetary—or other-profit.

Somehow it seems we have almost collectively decided that
in education efficiency is an inherent value and, one might guess, measured in
ways not alien to the corporate world.  Product delivery, zero defect
production, customer/client satisfaction, and any other quantifiables that apply
can be incorporated into the equation. Perhaps even the proverbial Six Sigma
guru can find a niche supervising adjunct faculty members in an efficient online
program where, at the top of the pyramid, are the select few who govern the
masses of part-timers whose likelihood of tenureship is tenuous, if not an
outright non-option.  The latter’s perceived value would appear to be no better
than that of a factotum, laboring under the privileged oligarchy, diligently
disseminating the “product’ to an eager public ready to consume math and
humanities in packages functionally resembling the timely parcels distributed by
the book-of-the-month club. 

This is to take the “teach” out of “teaching.”  

 

In his social ecological response to the spiritually inspired platform of Deep Ecology, Murray Bookchin writes: “…it is absolutely inconceivable that present-day heirarchical and particularly capitalist society could establish a non-domineering and ethically symbiotic relationship bewteen itself and the natural world.”  Sometimes the patriarchal view that is intertwined with capitalistic environmental exploitation is traced to traditional Middle Eastern Religions  (i.e.the Trio). This is yet another unquestioned world view paradigm that has held so much sway over us that we fail to see that it is our fundamental attitude towards Nature that needs to be adjusted.