A woman sits, thinking, on a red couch which is shaped like a pair of lips. There is a neon sign behind her which says “feelings.”
Photo by Brock Wegner on Unsplash

Jesse Prinz’s “Moral Mary” is a thought experiment where he asks us to imagine a person who has had no inherent moral inclinations, but knows everything that there is to know about normative theories of ethics.

The point is to make the argument that emotions are inescapably tied to morality…

an orange circle of light illuminates the darkness
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The doctrine of “eternal recurrence” is Nietzsche’s idea that history repeats itself in the same series of patterns, forever. If the doctrine is true, then you and I will repeat the lives we are living now an infinite number of times, and we have done this already.

Scholars differ in…

An osprey soars across the sky
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Friedrich Nietzsche isn’t much of an ethical theorist, but he offers a great critique of morality. He is insistent that there are no normative moral facts, or totally universalizable moral theories. …

A woman in a nurse costume with two long braids in her hair presses her fingers to her lips, somewhat provocatively
Photo by Alireza Esmaeeli on Unsplash

Does more advanced technology lead to greater freedom? Michel Foucault characterizes the modern world as a decidedly less free place than in previous eras.

As evidence for his claim, he points to the rise of disciplinary technologies (collectively called “biopower”) which are designed to encourage subservience and conformity in the…

A woman looks at a wall upon which the word “freedom” is graffitied.
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In his Ethics, Baruch Spinoza explains that we are inextricably tied to our emotions. He teaches that we must learn to accommodate our bondage to our emotions in service of the good. We can overcome the emotions which assail us from the outside with the power of the emotions that…

A bespectacled man takes notes as he sits on a plush couch in front of a person in a hoodie.
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In his essay, “Therapy Not Punishment,” Karl Menninger makes a case for a therapy-based model of justice. …

barbed wire lines a prison fence
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In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham outlines his utilitarian system of ethics. He argues that a punishment should fit the crime and that punishment is, “in itself,” evil.

I agree that punishments should fit crimes, but I don’t think that punishment itself is inherently…

A woman lays on her back on the edge of a cliff, with her leg dangling into a gap between two large rock faces.
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The Equal Pay Act of 1963 mandated that men and women be paid equally for equal work. Nearly sixty years later, women still earn about 80% of what men do for the same kind of work. They make even less if they are Black, Indigenous, Asian, or Latinx.

There are…

A pair of hands are handcuffed behind the back of a man in orange pants.
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Mandatory arrest laws ostensibly exist to protect victims of violence. They are designed to send the message that domestic violence is intolerable and will result in immediate consequences. While mandatory arrest laws seem to have been born of good intentions, in practice, they often have negative results. …

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“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”

- Edward Morgan Forster

While we’re trying to decide what’s “right” or “wrong,” or learning how to be better people, we’re usually left with complicated questions.

Philosophers use thought experiments to communicate complicated questions in simple language…

Meredith Kirby

Learned Lady

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