Category Archives: Ethics

Why We Need Social Norms

David Brooks“The health of society,” writes New York Times columnist David Brooks, “is primarily determined by the habits and virtues of its citizens.” These, he says, are reinforced by social norms that have been “destroyed by a plague of nonjudgmentalism.” Society will not become stronger, he says, “unless we are more morally articulate, unless we have clearer definitions of how we should be behaving at all levels.”

“The Cost of Relativism,” by David Brooks. The New York Times, March 10, 2015.


German Ethics Council Calls Incest a “Fundamental Right”

German FlagThe German Ethics Council, a German government-backed body, is recommending that Germany rescind laws criminalizing sexual activity between siblings, arguing that such activity is a “fundamental right.”

“German Committee Says Incest is a ‘Fundamental Right,” by Jenny Kutner. Salon, September 26, 2014.

Just War Theory and ISIL

ISIL Flag“Let’s face it,” writes Eric Metaxas, “the U.S. is at war again in the Middle East.” Should we be? When is war just? The Just War Theory developed by Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas is generally accepted by most Christians today as a good guide for determining the morality of going to war. Still, many conscientious Christians oppose war on any grounds.

“Principles of Just-War Theory.” Mount Holyoke College.

“What Chuck Would Say About the US and ISIS: A Just War?” by Eric Metaxas. Breakpoint, September 24, 2014.

“A Declaration from the Harmless and Innocent People of God, Called Quakers to Charles II,” 1661. Religious Society of Friends.

Ginsburg, Eugenics, and Punk Rock

deadKennedys3National Review columnist Kevin Williamson sees a parallel between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s (actual) support for aborting the children of poor parents and the lyrics of ’70s punk band The Dead Kennedy’s (satirical) song “Kill the Poor.”

“We Only Whisper It:” Justice Ginsburg Sings Another Verse of “Kill the Poor,” by Kevin D. Williamson. National Review Online, September 24, 2014.

‘Obamacare’ and Abortion

doerflingerRichard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains in clear terms how the Affordable Care Act makes funds available for elective abortion and violates the consciences of Catholics and other people who hold traditional values.

“A Careful Reading,” by Richard M. Doerflinger. America, April 7, 2014.

Do Republicans Care?

bad-mathAEI President Arthur Brooks argues that while Republicans may have the right policy prescriptions, their moral arithmetic is so out of step with the mainstream that they are left incapable of persuading the public.

“Republicans and Their Faulty Moral Arithmetic,” by Arthur C. Brooks. The Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2013

More on Compassionate Conservatism

bush hug 1Some additional readings on compassionate conservatism.

“Where W. Got Compassion,” by David Grann. The New York Times Magazine. September 12, 1999.

“Compassionate Conservatism Redux,” by Jonah Goldberg.  National Review Online, November 16, 2012.

“The Worst Ideas of the Decade: Compassionate Conservatism,” by Reihan Salam.  The Washington Post, undated.

“Compassionate Conservatism: A Primer,” by Clifford Orwin.  Hoover Institution, March 1, 2011.

“Compassionate Conservatism: An Idea in Tension,” by Clifford Orwin.  Hoover Institution, Aprill 22, 2011.

“The Fall of Compassionate Conservatism,” by Clifford Orwin. Hoover Institution, September 29, 2011

Keeping it Real

As robots and drones do more of our hard work for us, they may also be insulating us from tough moral choices.  Drone strikes deliver lethal explosions in Pakistan and Yemen, but are directed by what looks like a video game in Langley.  Computer programs make investing decisions on Wall Street.  In the future, machines may make important medical decisions.  How and where do we set the boundaries?

“Morals and the Machine.” The Economist.  June 2, 2012.

“Barack Obama: Drone Warrior,” by Charles Krauthammer.  The Washington Post, May 31, 2012.

“Too Much Power for a President.” Editorial.  The New York Times, May 30, 2012.

Biblical Capitalism

Rabbi Aryeh Spero reminds us that envy–such as that represented by the campaign against 1-percenters–is a sin.  Furthermore, he argues that America’s unprecedented and broad-based prosperity is is a direct result of centuries lived by the free-market ethos embodied in the Judeo-Christian outlook.

“What the Bible Teaches About Capitalism,” by Aryeh Spero.  The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2012.

Gallup Data on Pro-Life Sentiment

Recent Gallup Data shows that Americans remain closely divided on the abortion issue.  However, for the first time, more Americans call themselves “pro-life” in many polls.  Furthermore, young people are significantly more pro-life than members of the Baby Boom.

(Follow-up to November 15 discussion on pro-life successes)