Saturday, March 5, 2011

So Much to Talk About

This has been a very full week so I thought that I would take a shotgun approach to this blog post. Below is a wide survey of the topics I have been a part of lately.

1. Illegal immigration - Arizona Law 1070
At Ethics Bowl we had to prepare a case regarding the infamous illegal immigration law in Arizona. After my research I found this law to be unethical because it invites discrimination. Hence it is an unjust law. Discrimination is inherently unjust, the reason being, it is basing judgment of another off of something they can't change. (Note, I am talking about racial discrimination. I am uncomfortable saying that all forms of discrimination are wrong since we discriminate against federal offenders.) I don't think that the amendment changes the law given the social context of Arizona and the U.S. We have a terrible history when it comes to racial relations with Hispanics. For example, the Reparation Act during the Great Depression.

2. Gender Issues - Men
Why is it that men are passive? They hold a slight majority in the world population in comparison to women. Also, men in the United States hold more powerful positions then women. Why is it that men hold more power then women yet the majority of men are passive? Furthermore, why is it that men are often "attacked" for being passive? There seems to be more proactive dialogue regarding the empowerment of women yet the discussion of men is more often ignored or mis-understood. My thought is that whenever we talk about the empowerment of women, we must talk about the empowerment of men. Who causes all the world's problems? Who fights all the time, who doesn't support their wives, is addicted to pornography, rapes others, encourages women to get abortions and is in prison a lot? Men. The origin of many of the problems with women today are in men. We need to empower men in order to help women.

3. Alvin Plantinga - fear of ideas
Professor Plantinga spoke at Taylor this past week. He is a humble, kind and sharp philosopher. I could talk a lot about some of the things he spoke on. (For instance, he spoke on how naturalism can't explain how our cognitive faculties produce truth-oriented beliefs, why religious pluralism fails to be internally coherent and how miracles are compatible with science.) Something that fascinates me about Plantinga is that he is not scared of any idea. This was an observation by one of my professors. Many Christians do not share this trait. I hope that as I grow I can develop the ability to rationally consider an idea respectfully no matter how odd or strange it is. Why should we be afraid of ideas that are false or could be false? If all truth is God's truth, what do we have to fear?

4. Government Control and Information
At the conference for the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, I heard a discussion on a new book called, "Mass Surveillance and State Control: The Total Information Awareness Project." It was a very insightful and fun discussion regarding the overwhelming ability of the government to watch our lives through the internet. The author, Elliot Cohen, argues that we must push back before its too late. He was critiqued by three others. I am looking forward to cracking open this book in my spare time. I got it through interlibrary loan. I may dedicate a blog post to this subject once I finish the book.

5. Intellectual Open-mindedness - Dr. Jim Spiegel
My professor, Dr. Jim Spiegel, gave a paper at the same conference regarding intellectual open-mindedness. He attempted to show the connection between humility and open-mindedness, that open-mindedness and humility are closely connected. One thought I had is that because of the issue of "moral luck" we have more of a obligation to have humility and hence open mindedness since our situation in life is not wholly the result of our actions and choices, but other people and our environment.

6. We Lost - Ethics Bowl - Nationals
It was frustrating but we did not get beyond the first round. We beat Dartmouth which was a good feeling since we tied with them two years ago. This time we soundly defeated them. The two cases argued were whether "cybrids" (human embryos that are 99% human and 1% animal.) bring about more benefits then harms and whether it is ethical to debark. Debarking is cutting a dogs vocal cords so their ability to bark is greatly inhibited. On the former, we argued for the negative, that cybrids are unethical and man did sparks fly. All the judges disagreed with us, as well as Dartmouth, but in the end, they were fair judges. (I don't say they were fair because they gave us the win, but because everyone else in the room thought we had won.) On the issue of debarking, I believe we argued for the practice being unethical unless the alternative is killing the dog.

Something that took the bite off the loss was that Montana State, who we lost to, went on to go to the finals where they were controversially (they lost by three points0 beaten by the University of Central Florida.

In spite of losing and no longer being an ethics bowler, I am thankful for these past three years. I have learned so much through ethics bowl. By far, it has been one of the most important activities I have participated in at Taylor.

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