Human Rights, Virtue Ethics, and Tyranny

If there are no human rights a priori of government force, how can tyranny be avoided? In the absence of any deontological justification for normative ethics, there is only virtue ethics.

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More CRISPR Gene Editing Babies

Nature reported that Russian molecular biologist Denis Rebrikov is planning to perform CRISPR experiments on human embryos. He’s running the experiments on the same CCR5 gene as Chinese scientist He Jiankui in 2018. This is once again raising questions on the ethics of human genetic experimentation.

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Structure of the Mind

Consciousness and qualia are problems that are still unsolved by philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. My way of viewing consciousness and qualia is that consciousness is the process by which our brains organize the world into working models and qualia is the ‘stuff’ that consciousness uses to generate those models. For better or worse, both of these exist due to evolutionary forces. That means they’re fine tuned to a very specific sort of survival, not for any pure understanding of the world or ourselves. In order to understand the limitations of our own minds, we need to know the inner workings of how the world is organized in our minds on a fundamental level. That requires knowing the structure of our minds.

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Jordan Peterson and God: Truth, Myth, and the Bible

In this post, I am going to write a response/review of Jordan Peteron’s 2017 lecture titled Biblical Series I: Introduction to the Idea of God, which is available to watch on Youtube.

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Should LGBTQ+ Characters in Literature Always Make a Cultural Statement?

I am a heterosexual, cisgender, white male. A character in my novel “Incarnate: Existence” is a Japanese transgender woman. For some people this is probably already ‘problematic’ – I, of course, do not and cannot know the experiences of a non-white and transgender person. That could certainly be an article all in itself, whether someone like me should be “allowed” to write this kind of character, and I’ve tangentially written about this idea before. But that’s not what this article is about. I’m interested if, in general, a character in a creative work (book, movie, TV show, etc.) who is LGBTQ+ should always and necessarily be written to make a political or cultural statement, or can the character exist as they are without attempting to make a statement?

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How to Give People a Living Wage Without Raising the Minimum Wage

The current minimum wage is thought to be too low for someone to meet their basic needs. However, it’s also thought that increasing minimum wage will cause businesses to hire fewer people and invest more in automation. What if I were to tell you there is a way to pay a living wage without touching the minimum wage?

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What is the Meaning of Death?

I recently watched an episode of the Mind Field series by Vsauce titled “Should I Die?” In it, the host Michael Stevens talks to people from a cryonics firm and a mortician. He ultimately decides that he wants to die. The reasoning seems to be that our finite existence is what gives meaning to our lives. Death, in other words, has a meaning. But what is that meaning?

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Motivation

What drives people to do the things they do? I often wonder about this, because I have issues with motivation. I have a difficult time getting motivated to do things, even things I know I will enjoy one I begin them. Other people seem to have a much easier time getting motivated to do things. Some people are even so motivated that they can’t not be doing something. For me, I can waste days, even weeks, of time without ever feeling any strong impetus to be productive. Sure, I’ll internally chastise myself for having not done anything, but this rarely translates into future action. Thus, a spiral of depression begins, where I do nothing, feel bad about doing nothing, and that just makes me feel even less motivated. This is why my posts in this blog are so sporadic.

For the past few months, I have been in one of these spirals. I wasted a lot of time playing Diablo 3, attempting not to think about anything. It’s only been in the last week or so that I have begun peeking my head out of this mental-emotional trough, attempting to pump some motivation and inspiration back into myself. It has been difficult to do. I have the competing voices of depression and inspiration debating in my mind, the former telling me that it will be easier to continue doing nothing and that none of it matters anyway, the latter telling me that I will be happier in the long run if do those things that challenge me intellectually and creatively.

I’m hoping to make more blog posts – as well do the other things I enjoy – from now on. I hope that voice of depression doesn’t keep winning the debate.

My Hiatus

It’s been a while since I made a blog post, but there is good reason for that. Perhaps not good reason, but reason. Of course, the holidays keep a person busy, but it wasn’t only family functions that occupied my time. I made decent headway on the second installment of my Incarnate book series. I have 21 chapters of a rough draft for the second installment done, and as it’s looking right now, the second one might be quite long (I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes over a thousand pages). I’ve also started reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen epic fantasy series by Steven Erikson, which has been very good so far. At the same time, I’ve had to setup times to attend events at Purdue University and the University of Michigan where I’m being considered for graduate school in biochemistry. And then classes started up again on Monday, January 5, where I’m taking a full schedule and teaching a class. The cherry on top being that the heater fan in my car died just as temperatures plummeted to single digits, so I’ve had to mess with that all week, and it’s still not working. I can deal with the temperatures, but my breath condensing on the windshield and immediately turning to frost means I have to drive slippery roads while constantly scraping ice off the inside of my windshield (and knocking my review mirror off the windshield in the process). It’s like driving on hard mode.

Anyway, I wanted to assure anyone who actually reads my blog that I haven’t abandoned it. I’m hoping to do at least one post a week while classes are in session, probably sometime on the weekends, and try to maintain some semblance of regularity. But of course, there are other things that tend to take precedence. I’ll get back to more content-oriented posts and not make this a personal diary with my next post.