No Democrat Voted for What?

I just saw an internet meme that said, “Not a single Democrat voted to lower your taxes — let that sink in for a moment.”

I guess that’s another way of pointing out that not a single Democrat voted to raise the federal deficit by 1.4 trillion dollars in ten years.

Ethics of War Handout

These are some concepts and terms used in a presentation on the ethics of war, given at Oklahoma Baptist University on December 1, 2017.

Pacifism

Consequentialist Pacifism: Although war is not intrinsically wrong, the benefits of war are always outweighed by the costs.

Deontological Pacifism: War is always intrinsically wrong, regardless of its consequences.

Doctrine of Double Effect

War could be permissible, even if we know that innocent lives will be lost, if

  1. Taking innocent life is not the reason that we go to war,
  2. The lives that are saved are proportionally greater than the lives that will be lost,
  3. Taking innocent life is not the means to saving lives, and
  4. Saving lives is otherwise permissible.

Just War

Jus ad bellum: Conditions that determine when a state can justly go to war.

Jus in bello: Conditions that specify how a war must be fought

Jus post bellum: Conditions that determine when one can justly end hostilities.

Jus ad bellum Jus in bello Jus post bellum
Just cause Obey international law Just cause
Right intention Discrimination Right intention
Proper authority/declaration Proportionality Discrimination
Last resort Humane treatment of POW’s Proportionality
Probability of success No means mala in se
Proportionality No reprisals

Just Peacemaking

Ten principles of just peacemaking: 1

  1. Support nonviolent direct action.
  2. Take independent initiatives to reduce threat.
  3. Use cooperative conflict resolution.
  4. Acknowledge responsibility for conflict and injustice and seek repentance and forgiveness.
  5. Advance democracy, human rights, and religious liberty.
  6. Foster just and sustainable economic development.
  7. Work with emerging cooperative forces in the international system.
  8. Strengthen the United Nations and international efforts for cooperation and human rights.
  9. Reduce offensive weapons and weapons trade.
  10. Encourage grassroots peacemaking groups and voluntary associations.

  1. From Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War, 2d ed., edited by Glen Stassen (Pilgrim Press, 2004). [return]

Moltmann on Peace

Peace is not merely the absence of war; it is also the overcoming of injustice and oppression. In positive terms, it is life that is blessed, affirmed, loved and successful–life as shalom. Anyone who wants to serve peace must serve life. He must therefore resist war, because this is the deadliest form of discord. But this resistance against war is only one part of a much wider devotion to life. The service of peace is the whole task of life.

Jürgen Moltmann, The Power of the Powerless

Prayer for Times of Grief

God of compassion,

There are times when it
seems impossible to give thanks,
for the loss is too recent
and the pain is too great.

But in this, we have hope,
That even in the darkest valley,
we are not alone, for you are there

And our hope is not in vain,
for we see your presence in
the church, the body of Christ,
which walks beside us.

Give us the grace and love
to maintain this community,
so that our hope may be proclaimed,
again, and again, and again,
until that day when Christ himself
will wipe every tear from every eye.

Amen

When the Idols are Destroyed

Holy God,

We come to you bearing many things.
Some are burdens, but others are idols:

The idol of superiority,

The idol of certainty,

The idol of believing that
we are the gatekeepers to your kingdom,

The idol of making the gospel
an object of mere belief,
and not a way of life.

But when the burdens are lifted,
and the idols are destroyed,
What remains is truly precious:

Women and men in community,
Gifted people of all ages
working together so that
your kingdom may come,
and your will be done
even here, even now.

Amen

Study Guide for Exam 2

Here are some topics to study for the second exam in Introduction to Philosophy, Fall 2017. Students are responsible for knowing everything covered in lectures and readings, but the items on the following list will make up the bulk of the exam.

Material will be added to the list as it is discussed in class.

  1. Philosophical behaviorism
  2. The identity theory
  3. The multiple realizability thesis
  4. Functionalism
  5. Objections to functionalism (missing qualia and inverted spectrum)
  6. Computationalism
  7. Turing test
  8. The Chinese Room argument
  9. Problems for materialism
  10. Locke’s theory of personal identity
  11. Objections to Locke from Reid and Butler
  12. Problem with duplication and brain transplants
  13. Epicurean hedonism
  14. Act utilitarianism
  15. The utilitarian calculus
  16. Strengths of act utilitarianism
  17. Weaknesses of act utilitarianism
  18. Preference utilitarianism
  19. Ways of measuring preferences
  20. Rule utilitarianism
  21. General objections to utilitarianism
  22. Hume on morality
  23. Hypothetical vs. categorical imperatives
  24. Two formulations of the categorical imperative
  25. Perfect and imperfect duties
  26. Objections to deontology
  27. Aristotle’s analysis of the soul
  28. The ultimate good
  29. Four options for happiness
  30. The function argument
  31. Aristotle’s analysis of virtue
  32. Four types of moral personality
  33. Key concepts in virtue theory
    1. Imprecision
    2. Importance of experience
    3. Freedom
    4. Friendship
    5. Practical wisdom
    6. Virtue
    7. Eudaimonia
    8. Teleology
  34. Objections to virtue theory
  35. Nietzsche
    1. Meaning of “God is dead”
    2. Master and slave morality
    3. Ressentiment
    4. Will to Power
    5. Overman
  36. Argument for cultural relativism
  37. Consequences of relativism
  38. Punishment
    1. Utilitarian justifications
    2. Deontological justifications
    3. Virtue justifications
  39. Euthanasia
    1. Doctrine of Double Effect
    2. Involuntary, non-voluntary, voluntary
    3. Active and passive
  40. Abortion
    1. General attitudes of utilitarians, deontologists, and virtue ethicests

The Burden of Freedom

Hearing the sermon on Sunday, then reading Abraham Joshua Heschel on Monday and Flannery O’Connor on Tuesday – they all seemed to be speaking the same thing to me. This week’s prayer:

Lord,

I feel the weight of my choices,
bearing down upon my conscience,
each one a testimony to the truth
that those who do evil
have their greatest allies
in those who do nothing.

The burden of freedom is this,
though only some are guilty,
we are all surely responsible.

We ask not that this burden
be taken from us, but instead,
that we bear it with more
than the empty thoughts and prayers
of those who just pass by,
but with the grace and love
of the Samaritan
that leads to action.

Amen

Do Not Be Daunted

I bought an entire book for these two paragraphs, but they are worth much more than I paid:

“Rabbi Tarfon would say:

You are not obligated to complete the work,
but neither are you free to abandon it.

Do not be daunted
by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now,
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.”1


  1. Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, Wisdom of the Jewish Sages: A Modern Reading of Pirke Avot, p. 41. [return]

In Offense, Giving Thanks

Holy God,

Thank you
for the one
who offends me,
for in offense
my heart is laid bare
and my idols are revealed.

My anger declares
the object of my worship.

Is it myself,
the empire,
or you?

Lord, have mercy.

On Passing Judgment

One of last week’s lectionary texts was Romans 14:1-12.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. (Rom. 14:10, NRSV)

God of Grace,

In belittling others,
I am made small.

By doubting their faith,
I cheapen my own.

In my haste to judge,
I am the one condemned.

The day will come,
when my time on earth
is finally weighed.

If I am found wanting,
let it be for my
failure to judge,
and not for my
failure to love.

Amen