The Missing Posts

I've made six trips since February to visit my father in Pennsylvania. This means my thoughts have been interrupted a lot.  I get on the plane, read a book about something I'm working on, keep the topic on my mind for several days, and by the time I'm on the return flight, I've lost the thread.  Blogging is further down the list of my priorities, so it's even more difficult to hang on to potential topics.

So here we go--a bunch of topics I started to think about in the last few months, but didn't get to pursue.  I'm giving myself just a few sentences for each topic!

Caregiving drones
Drones are useful for hunting and killing enemies, but why not use them peacefully?  When my father can't find his hearing aids, I'd love to be able to send in a little hornet-sized drone to have a look.

Must we be vegans?
I'm not sure about the idea that we must always justify harm by citing a more serious benefit.  In sports and business, competition doesn't work that way--you can cause a competitor harm without being able to cite a compensatory benefit.   Does this tell us anything about using animals for food? Is Finding Food competitive, like engaging in sports and business competition?

Must we be vegans?
In the debate about food ethics, people seem too puritanical about food enjoyment, making it seem trivial. For most people, oddly enough, food pleasure is one of the greatest pleasures. Does it make any sense to assert a right to nutritious and delicious food?

Latest atheist battle
I see nothing very wrong with Ron Lindsay's speech at the recent Women in Secularism conference.  It seems like a very, very bad sign that such an innocuous speech could generate so much controversy.

There's some fascinating research that seems to show we are affected unconsciously by tiny cues--if you see words like "old" and "geriatric" on a screen, you'll walk away more slowly than if you see words like "young" and "teenager".  This makes me wonder about the impact of spending many days in a row at a senior home  Is there a "dose-response" effect, so I should worry about being seriously infected with elderly attitudes and behaviors? (If not, why not?)

Where's the hot sauce?
It wouldn't be so bad to live in a senior home, if you could just hang onto your own lifestyle.  Why must the food be so bland?  How will I survive without hot-hot-hot Mexican and Indian food, if I ever wind up in such a place?

Stoicism can be useful
When dealing with stressful situations, do I get any use out of the Stoic philosophy I cover in my classes?  Well yes, a little. I like Epictetus's advice that you should remind yourself that you do possess the character traits that will be needed, come what may.

Stoicism isn't all that useful
Stoicism is all about mind-control--handling a situation by thinking about it the right way. Unfortunately, when you have dementia, you can wind up with lots of problems that you can't think your way out of.  Stoicism is for the intellectually advantaged.

When life begins
I almost have it figured out:-)  I am making progress on a book chapter (hurray!).

The Grim Reader
Everything I'm reading these days seems to be grotesquely depressing.  That's the topic of my next TPM column.


Alex Chernavsky said...

The priming research is controversial, and some psychologists have had trouble replicating the original findings. See, for example:

A failed replication draws a scathing personal attack from a psychology professor

Wayne said...

Must we be vegans? Maybe we should adopt Singer's "Comparable moral significance" standard from his poverty writings to veganism. Is giving up the deliciousness of food (assuming that only food that is derived from animals is delicious is a bit of a stretch though....) really of comparable moral significance to the pain experienced by the animal?

In some cases I'm pretty prepared to say yes (clams and oysters)... In others, no (chickens... but a conditional yes to fertilized eggs).

Charles Sullivan said...

I like the idea of care-giving drones. I found Lindsay's speech a bit patronizing given the context. It might have made more sense as an editorial in Free Inquiry.

Jean Kazez said...

Alex, Thanks for the link. Great stuff!

Wayne, I'm just pondering the fact that we don't have to follow Singer's comparative standard in every walk of life--we don't have to prevent a tragic loss that could be suffered by a sports competitor, business rival, or romantic rival. In some walks of life, it's each person for him/herself. You don't have to weigh your gains against other people's losses, etc. Does this have any application when the issue is what we eat? I'm thinking about it....

Charles, I'm coming around to thinking about it that way too--the talk would have made a perfectly appropriate Free Inquiry column. You could disagree, but not take offense. As a welcoming speech, it does come across as not so welcoming.