Is Poverty like a Pond?

New at, I take up Peter Singer's argument that we in affluent societies have far-reaching duties to aid the global poor, possibly to the extent of bringing ourselves down almost to their level. Excerpt: Instead of buying a Starbucks coffee once a week, you could save that money – about $200 over the course … Continue reading Is Poverty like a Pond?

Sen, Nozick, and “Breaking Bad”

A moral dilemma from the popular TV show "Breaking Bad" illustrates a critique Amartya Sen made of Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia and the reason why the refutation fails. In On Ethics and Economics, Sen makes the following critique of Nozick's libertarian philosophy (heavily paraphrased because the book has yet to be unpacked, and … Continue reading Sen, Nozick, and “Breaking Bad”

Interpersonal Comparisons of Dignity and Eleemosynary Duties

"Imagine that a Wall Street billionaire is passing a bag lady on the street. She begs for a dollar. Should the billionaire give it to her? It's just plain obvious that the bag lady would benefit more from the dollar than the billionaire. The donation would detract from his happiness less than it would add … Continue reading Interpersonal Comparisons of Dignity and Eleemosynary Duties

Moral Philosophy & Dogmatism

Political libertarians are a motley lot in terms of their moral philosophies. There are three dominant strands - utilitarians like Milton Friedman, deontologists like Robert Nozick, and teleologists like Ayn Rand - but I've also met egoists, postmodernists, and Rawls-style egalitarian consequentialists. In debates over moral foundations, Randians often ally themselves with the deontologists in … Continue reading Moral Philosophy & Dogmatism

Moral Philosophy and the World Cup

Query: If you are a utilitarian soccer player selected to the U.S. national team, do you have a duty to try to throw your World Cup match against England? Clearly, a U.S. victory would be a net psychic loss for the world. (Also, since English joy might be somewhat alloyed with pique should your actions … Continue reading Moral Philosophy and the World Cup

No mas

Rarely do you see a sports team so utterly demoralized and defeated as the Cleveland Cavaliers were last night.  By the last minute, the Cavs didn't even foul on defense (an admittedly low success strategy) or run the ball up court on offense.  Reminded me of Roberto Duran against Sugar Ray Leonard when Duran just … Continue reading No mas