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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.

Please post a response to the question: Do the Kanamits have a moral obligation to humans? Explain.

Take a short ethics quiz: Click here

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