Tag Archives: ethics

Hume’s Combination of Atheism and Virtue

This essay on the 18th century philosopher David Hume illustrates the difficulty 18th century and later Christians had accepting his combination of atheism and virtue. They considered it an offense and challenge to their beliefs. Here in the US, we’re in the early 21st century and dealing with much the same religious fear and intolerance.

Sweden’s COVID Measures Have Been a Disaster

A colleague keeps posting (on the work messaging system) analysis and opinion on how well Sweden is doing on COVID without the lockdown imposed by other nations and notes that it’s unclear whether policy decisions make a difference. I find this annoying because the effect of policy decisions on COVID cases and deaths is very clear, as shown by Sweden’s numbers compared to those of other Nordic nations.

Denmark, Finland, and Norway each have a little more than half Sweden’s population (~5 million vs ~10 million for Sweden). Denmark has the second most cases and deaths, with Sweden most afflicted. Denmark has only ~11% the deaths and ~18% the cases of Sweden, with Finland and Norway faring even better.

As bad as the numbers are, a University of Virginia analysis indicates that Sweden implemented ICU bed triage/rationing that prevented some of the sickest from getting ICU treatment.

Fatality per capita, cases per capita, and Infection Fatality Rate are the major metrics I see tracked right now, but with this virus there are considerable long term health consequences for many people (I don’t see any good data on this, but assume people are working on it) so people not dying is a good but not great indicator of the pandemic’s impact.

Reasonable people can differ on the balance point between economic damage and human health damaged and lives lost, but those discussions should focus on the value of individual human life and health versus the economic health of a nation. The two are interdependent, but we need to be honest about what we’re discussing.

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1102257/cumulative-coronavirus-cases-in-the-nordics/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1113834/cumulative-coronavirus-deaths-in-the-nordics/

https://newsroom.uvahealth.com/2020/07/03/covid-19-deaths-in-sweden/

My Body Is a Confederate Monument

“I am a black, Southern woman, and of my immediate white male ancestors, all of them were rapists. My very existence is a relic of slavery and Jim Crow.”

brilliant and moving, an excellent response to those who want to preserve Confederate monuments out of some misplaced sense of honor and tradition.

 

America’s Long History of Anti-Immigrant Racism

‘The High Tide of Immigration—A National Menace’; cartoon by Louis Dalrymple from Judge magazine, August 1903

In her review of The Guarded Gate, Sarah Churchwell illustrates the long history of American racists fighting to exclude people of other races. The “undesirable” races have changed repeatedly over time, but the arguments for excluding them have been essentially the same.

On Tattoos

I gave the following advice to one of my children, who’s now 18 and itching to get a tattoo because some of his friends and others he admires have them and he attributes coolness and other intangible qualities to tattoos.

“Tattoos are a quick and effective means of changing your external appearance, decorating yourself with symbols to enhance your social standing or remind yourself of certain human/non-human relationships or ideas. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this and many people enjoy their tattoos with few or no regrets.

I have one major concern with the easy availability of tattoos – the widespread practice of young people, who often lack the life experience to understand the long term consequences of their actions and the patience to wait out their impulses, getting tattoos as a means of quickly changing who they are, making easy but long lasting changes to their external appearance rather than doing the long and difficult work of changing themselves.”

I’m not sure whether my thoughts helped my son think more deeply about why he wants a tattoo. So far, he hasn’t gotten one. I hope if/when he does, he does so after having reflected on what he hopes to gain by it.