Eggs, Bugs and Joseph Conrad: An Anti-Ethicist Manifesto

The great thinkers of humanity’s past have devised many ethical systems, all purporting to tell conscientious citizens how to do the right thing.  From Islamic law and the Ten Commandments to the Golden Rule and the Yamas and Niyamas of yogic philosophy — from Utilitarianism to liberal humanism to the Categorical Imperative and even Objectivism — these codes seek to answer our deepest questions.  Is our greatest responsibility to ourselves, or others?  Individuals, or the community?  What about animals, and the environment?  Are corporations people?   Is it permissible to bring your own candy into the movie theater?  Is straying from the path of virtue the same as pigging out on pizza and fries?

Yes, the world’s tradition of moral reasoning is indeed diverse.  Put it all in a blender with some whimsical self-deprecation, add water, and you’ve got the New York Times Ethicist column.  Continue reading “Eggs, Bugs and Joseph Conrad: An Anti-Ethicist Manifesto”

Wrong: A Typology

Some of the problems with the New York Times are nebulous and diffuse.  The writers’ tone can seem kind of smug and suck-uppy.  They write about rich people too much.   They care way too much about iPhones and hipsters and artisanal axes and stuff.  Yet none of these things are wrong, exactly.  It’s not incorrect to write that a man in TriBeCa is crafting beautiful handmade “urban axes,” as indeed he is.  Yet some claims and ideas in the Times aren’t just annoying; they’re concretely, satisfyingly wrong.  That is what we’ll be looking at today.  How many kinds of wrongness are there in Times articles, and what form do they take?

Continue reading “Wrong: A Typology”