Mass Surveillance and the Citizen Image

Mass Surveillance and the Citizen Image

Here I will offer a defense of the right to privacy in terms of a check on power. Mass surveillance, I contend, erodes the citizenry’s ability to maintain what I’ll call a citizen image with respect to the state, and that this is problematic even if the state is operating benevolently. When there is an asymmetry between how much the state knows about the citizenry and the citizenry about the state — such that the asymmetry is in the state’s favor — the citizenry loses the capacity to bluff the government. This allows for easier state-intervention in the citizen’s lives, which everyone ought to be concerned about. Continue reading Mass Surveillance and the Citizen Image

Authenticity, Fame, and Credentials

Authenticity, Fame, and Credentials

What I submit is that to be inauthentic is to say you care about those normatively closest to you but to act for the approval of those normatively distant. In this sense, it is to care about those furthest from you, instead of those closest. What results, I submit, is an individual who has a mismatch between his public and private images. The individual appears great to those furthest from him, but in his private image — e.g with his family — he appears poorly. Harold Langston had an excellent image with his customers, but not with Jamie. Continue reading Authenticity, Fame, and Credentials

God and Wonder

God and Wonder

If someone were to ask me why I believe in God, then, I could legitimately and confidently tell them that it is because I wonder when I look into the unknown of the cosmos, and I don’t know of any reasons they could provide me with that could override this wondrous confidence, so long as I have done my due diligence in understanding contemporary physics. I sense something majestic in the mysterious, and that is enough. Continue reading God and Wonder

Moral Saints

Moral Saints

Common sense dictates, then, that sainthood wouldn’t be a good thing. This suggests, for Wolf, that a constraint on morality is not that one be a moral saint. If the point of morality is to live an excellent life, and being a moral saint would make such a life impossible, then morality doesn’t dictate that one be a saint. There is just more to life than being moral, and Wolf’s essay reminds us that we would all be better off to ourselves remember that fact. Continue reading Moral Saints

A Thought on Thought Insertion

A Thought on Thought Insertion

What it is to be thought penetrated, I contend, is when you come to hate someone more than you love those close to you, and so you become receptive to their thoughts, and begin to express them. In this way, thought penetration is very much like rape, for the victim also feels they allowed it to happen. How could I let her take control of my emotions like that? How could I become receptive to her ugly thoughts about me? In this way, I believe thought penetration actually constitutes a form of rape, albeit of the mental, and not physical, kind. Continue reading A Thought on Thought Insertion

Virtue Ethics

Virtue Ethics

The virtue theorists holds that what matters for an individual, morally speaking, is manifesting a virtuous character, not maximizing consequences or acting from duty. A character trait is some disposition a person has to act in one way or another, independent of the situation they are involved in. For example, a courageous person will act in the face of fear in all situations where it is called for. If someone only acted in the face of fear in their class but never in sports games, it might be hard to call that person courageous — though you might say they are trying to be. Continue reading Virtue Ethics

Deontology

Deontology

In the Preamble to the Declaration of Human Rights it says, Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…” After the World Wars, the United Nations wrote this first line with the intent of preventing the sort of horrors that were endured during the global wars. But where did the idea of rights originate? What is their philosophical grounding? Continue reading Deontology

Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism

There is a strain of thought that is common to many: the right thing to do in any circumstance is to maximize utility for the greatest number of people. Of course, not many people use the umbrella term utility, but rather they tend to say “happiness” or “pleasures.” Utility is a placeholder for some good that one wants to maximize. The theory that the moral, or right, thing to do in any situation is to maximize utility for the greatest number of people is known as utilitarianism. Continue reading Utilitarianism