Archive for October, 2006

if a tree falls on campus, will you yell “Look out!”?

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Yesterday I saw a tree fall on some girl. It happened right in front of me. I saw the tree start tipping and it just kept going. This girl was on her cellphone and walking away from the tree, when my coworker yelled “Look out!” so of course she stopped and turned around just in time to see the leafy top of the tree land right on here. Luckily for her the only solid things that hit her were the little top branches (which hit her leg) but maybe if it wasn’t for that warning shout she’d have escaped contact entirely.

We decided, my coworker and I, that it was probably a message from God. We failed to agree on its meaning, however. He asserted that it was a commentary on our previous conversation, while I argued that if it was a message, it was sent to the girl upon whom it landed and that in any case we couldn’t know its meaning.

meta-ethics – a ramble

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

What does it mean to be a good person? Does it depend on the opinions of all the people around you, or is it something you can do by yourself? If you were alone on an island, would “being a good person” have any meaning? Is it a social or an absolute construct? This is the big question of meta-ethics.

I think it must be social because all of the examples I can think of involve other people, either directly or indirectly. This is ethical subjectivism. This is not to say that there is no universal way to be a good person and that all morality is relative. The fact is that we’re all human and within this common framework there could very well be a set of behaviors which are always good or always bad independent of the community. My tentative conclusion is that the question is irrelevant outside of the context of a community.

My coworker pointed out that the question of what makes a good person only matters to the person making the evaluation of whether or not you actually are a good person. People have mixed opinions on whether or not I am a good person, for example. And since you yourself are a person, you should behave in such a way as you see yourself as a good person.

This is the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It reduces in the individual case to “do unto yourself as you would have yourself do unto you” or “treat yourself however you would want yourself to treat you” or “do whatever you want yourself to do to yourself to yourself”.