Listing entries tagged with ethics

Values and Traditional Societies

posted on 11.25.2006 at 6:48 PM

Stumbled upon this testament to the superior wisdom and morality of traditional societies on the website of a Turkish newspaper. It concerns "a married woman who was raped by a man, also married":

The case was exposed when the rape victim spoke up.... The elders of her village aiming to avoid a blood feud found a "peaceful solution." The 16-year-old daughter of the rapist would be given to the husband of the rape victim. Since the men would have settled the issue, no blood feud would emerge.

posted by Mitchell Stephens at 6:48 PM | Comments (1)

Ann Coulter and Morality

posted on 08.30.2006 at 11:00 PM

Can't resist one more shot at (fish-in-a-barrel) Ann Coulter, borrowed from the review by Jerry Coyne. Here the issue is one that has been visited before on this blog: the relationship between disbelief and morality:

If Coulter were right, evolutionists would be the most beastly people on earth, not to be trusted in the vicinity of a goat. But I've been around biologists all of my adult life, and I can tell you that they're a lot more civil than, say, Coulter. It's a simple fact that you don't need the Bible -- or even religion -- to be moral. Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews, who don't follow the New Testament, usually behave responsibly despite this problem; and atheists and agnostics derive morality from non-biblical philosophy. In fact, one of the most ethical people I know is Coulter's version of the Antichrist: the atheistic biologist Richard Dawkins.... Dawkins would never say -- as Coulter does -- that Cindy Sheehan doesn't look good in shorts, that Al Franken resembles a monkey, or that 9/11 widows enjoyed the deaths of their husbands. Isn't there something in the Bible about doing unto others?

posted by Mitchell Stephens at 11:00 PM | Comments (6)

I May Be with Ann Coulter on This One

posted on 08.19.2006 at 12:32 PM

In his wise and clever dismemberment of Ann Coulter's Godless, biologist Jerry Coyne falls back at one point on the usual nice-nice argument that there's no conflict between evolution and religion:

The real reason Coulter goes after evolution is not because it's wrong, but because she doesn't like it -- it doesn't accord with how she thinks the world should be. That's because she feels, along with many Americans, that "Darwin's theory overturned every aspect of Biblical morality." What's so sad -- not so much for Coulter as for Americans as a whole -- is that this idea is simply wrong. Darwinism, after all, is just a body of thought about the origin and change of biological diversity, not a handbook of ethics. (I just consulted my copy of The Origin of Species, and I swear that there's nothing in there about abortion or eugenics, much less about shtupping one's secretary.)

Technically, of course, he's right: Darwin isn't challenging Biblical morality. But he is challenging many of the claims made in the Bible, as Darwin, himself, anxiously recognized -- even wondering, in his notebooks, how he might present his theory and still "avoid stating how far I believe in Materialism." And if the Bible ain't all true wouldn't the ethical system that rests (albeit precariously) upon it be expected to totter a bit?

(Sorry, I realize Jay Saul was kindly trying to pull me out of the Coulter quicksand, but this question continues to intrigue.)

posted by Mitchell Stephens at 12:32 PM | Comments (17)