Ethical Realism

January 6, 2012

Top 10 Posts on Ethical Realism from 2011

Filed under: philosophy — JW Gray @ 12:25 am

Ethical Realism is my philosophy website where I post my philosophy notes. These notes are clarified in essay form in the hopes that other people will find them helpful. I do this to be critiqued, to help popularize philosophy, to help people learn why philosophy is important, and because I think these are topics worth discussing.

My Top 10 posts are on diverse topics that I think concern very important topics. I hope they are clear, coherent, and reasonable.

10. Considerations For & Against Capitalism

I spent a large part of this year learning about business ethics, and the ethical implications of capitalism was discussed in William Shaw’s business ethics book. Considering the unexpected economic recession, the ethical implications of capitalism are more important than ever. We need to know what our capitalistic system is doing wrong and if there is a better alternative.

9. Do We Experience That Pain is Intrinsically Bad?

I have been concerned with the question: Do intrinsic values exist? (Does anything really matter?) I think one of the most important reasons that many people believe in intrinsic values involves their experience of pain. I examine why pain could have such implications.

8. Four Argument Strategies

People are often concerned with the evidence used to support arguments, but just as important are the strategies we use when we engage in argument. I believe that understanding argument strategies can help us create arguments of our own and improve our philosophical thinking.

7. Is Knowledge Impossible?

The question, “Is knowledge impossible?” raises many important issues. For example—What does “knowledge” mean? In what sense must beliefs be justified to count as knowledge? How do we know that we know anything?

6. Why Theistic Religion Might Go Extinct

I go out on a limb and suggest that the success of religion relies on a factors that no longer seem to imply. The loss of this factor could be bad news for religion unless it is re-attained.

5. Review of The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail

I review an essay where Jonathan Haidt discusses his hypothesis concerning moral psychology. Haidt considers the implications of empirical research, and his primary concern is how we form our actual moral beliefs rather than how we ought to form moral beliefs.

4. Writing Philosophical Arguments

Knowing how to write philosophical arguments is relevant to how to think philosophically.

3. Five Meta-Ethical Theories

I discuss five meta-ethical theories, which are theories concerning the meaning of moral concepts. What does “good,” “bad,” “right,” “wrong,” and “ought” refer to? (As opposed to normative theories, which tell us what we ought to do.)

2. Five Tips For Better Debates

Knowing how to debate well is highly related to how to think well. However, I focus on what how good thinking relates to debates in particular.

1. How Philosophy Changed My Life

What it means to apply philosophy to your life can be multifaceted, and I discuss in mostly general terms how I believe it’s changed my life. There’s still a lot more that can be said on this topic and I might say more about it in the future.

Honorable mention

In addition to the top 10, I believe the following posts discuss particularly important topics and are worth a look:


  1. Sorry this is not a reply. I have a question. The founding fathers of this country set up a republic (representative democracy) as a consequentialistic or deontological system? What was their purpose and what is it now? Thanks,,, John

    Comment by John Paulson — January 10, 2012 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

    • This is my answer based on my limited understanding of the Founding Fathers: The founding fathers probably didn’t think in terms of consequentialism or deontology, but they were almost certainly interested in virtue ethics. The main supporters of deontology were probably not known by the founding fathers, but they were influenced by moral sentimentalists like David Hume and Adam Smith who both took consequences seriously. The constitution was mainly influenced by political philosophers like John Lock and Thomas Hobbes.

      There is no one moral theory that we now use to justify the constitution. The Supreme Court interprets the constitution usually along “party lines” rather than a philosophical theory.

      Comment by JW Gray — January 10, 2012 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

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