Monday, February 28, 2011

Blind Chickens

There is a natural genetic mutation that has been found in chickens that render them blind.  This mutation, can be bred so that offsprings of the blind chickens will be blind as well.  Now, fortunately enough, blind chickens are less stressed by overcrowded conditions, since they can't see.  So these blind chickens can be raised in normal factory farm conditions without experiencing the same anxiety as normally sighted chickens do.

Should we breed blind chickens so that we can raise them in closer quarters?

Note that these chickens are born blind.  They haven't been robbed of anything.... they never had it to begin with.  If we don't breed these chickens, the alternative is that some other chicken will exist, that can see, and suffer more, than the chicken that is blind.  And as much of an optimist as I am, I don't believe that factory farming will go away any time soon, so simply appealing to eliminate factory farms is naive at best.  It would not take much to replace the chickens we have, with blind chickens, but it would take much more effort to redesign the way we farm chickens.  So from a practical perspective, this is a way we can reduce the suffering of chickens immediately.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Breeding Smarter Babies

Do we have an obligation to breed smarter babies?  Julian Savulescu says yes!

I'm not sure he's entirely wrong.  Levy, argues that we need to concentrate on helping Africa out of poverty, but that seems to me to be a red herring.  That is a separate issue, and ideally, we should do both.  If we could only do one, then perhaps Africa would be more important, since the vast amount of human suffering there is important to eliminate, as opposed to the benefits of a moderately or even greatly more intelligent population.

Often our obligations will lead us to conflicting things, but if we could do both, we should.

I'm really beginning to like the things that Savulescu is saying.  He might be my second all-time favorite philosopher!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

CFP: The Walking Dead and Philosophy

Call For Papers
The Walking Dead and Philosophy
Currently we are accepting proposals for a volume to be published by Open Court press (currently under negotiation) on The Walking Dead and Philosophy.  Proposals can be on either the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, or the AMC television series.  Please send your 300-500 word length proposal and CV to Wayne Yuen via e-mail at: philosophyforthedeadATgmailDOTcom
The volume is planned to be released with the start of the next season of The Walking Dead on AMC, so authors will need to be able to quickly deliver their proposed chapter.    Deadline for proposals will be Jan 1, 2011. 
Possible topics chapter topics include:
“Maybe we’ll steal another one.” Should we still be ethical in a world ruled by the dead?;  Is it ever morally acceptable to engage in looting?;  Not so dead, Rick, Laurie, and Shane.;  Losing innocence: Why is it more tragic for Carl to wrong others?; Fear the Hunters:  The ethics of cannibalism; “He deserves better.” Do we have an obligation to kill zombies?; Why should we care? Ethics of care in a world of dead; Are Zombies animals? Are they morally valuable?; Is it wrong for Rick to value Carl more than others?;  Can we keep it? Please?  Pet zombies and the governor’s son.; Left for dead: Merle Dixon and our obligations; Should people have children in a world of the dead?; Justice and vengeance: Michonne and the Govenor. Zombies and sounds:  Do they know something?; Rick’s phone: Hallucination or self-conversation?; Zombies, P-zombies and Zimboes: philosophy for the dead; Kill the dead! What does it mean to be dead?; Personal identity and zombies; Is the Governor’s son his son?; Are zombies determined beings?; Which Shane is Shane? The identity of characters between the comic and the show.; “We are the walking dead!” Facing death and life after death.; Zombies and intentionality; Is Rick being authentic? Kinds of life and leadership.; Andrea and feminism: Is kicking ass enough to be a feminist?; Machiavelli and The Governor: Rule of justice or tyranny?; Gabriel and the place of religion.
Other topics will also be happily considered.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm too busy being distracted by papers..

But if you're interested, you can read this great little article on our attention span.
What was once normal, has become a problem....  Because we said so.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A couple of links

First a video about the Westboro Baptist Church protest being undermined.
For those of you who don't know about the WBC, they're a rather fanatical group that protests anything having to do with homosexuality....  They protest soldier funerals regularly, because they believe that the deaths of our soldiers is God's punishment for our acceptance of a homosexuality.

Next, a link to a recent headline...  A 10 year old girl in Spain recently gave birth to a baby.  She's not the youngest person to give to a baby.  She's almost twice as old as the youngest person to ever give birth...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Choosing a Disability

Sharon Duchesneau and Candace McCullough are a lesbian couple that also happen to be deaf.  In 2001, they decided that they wanted to have a baby.  Instead of going to a sperm bank, they approached a deaf friend for a donation of sperm.  What they were hoping was that their child would be deaf.  In December of that year, they had a baby boy, healthy in all respects, except that he had total hearing loss in one ear, and mostly deaf in the other ear.  The parents couldn't be more happy.

Sharon and Candace wanted their child to be deaf so that he could be part of the community/culture that they belong to, the deaf community.  Part of being fully accepted in the deaf community is being deaf.  This isn't to say that the hearing cannot participate in this community, but they would never really be apart of it in the same way that a deaf person is.

Did they do anything wrong?  It seems like that they brought into existence, purposely, a child that has a disability by most accounts.  However, the deaf community doesn't view deafness as a disability.  In fact, the very existence of the culture is under assault, or at least that's how many view it, because of cochlear implants that can help deaf children hear to a certain extent.  Usually these children are not allowed to learn sign language, so that they can more fully develop their hearing and speaking abilities.

Imagine that you had a child, but the child that you had was not a normal child. Your child gave off a strange pheromone that most people would find quite unattractive, with the exception of a few people who could not smell it.  The people who could not smell it also give off the same pheromone.  Your child finds solace and community within this subset of people, but you can't stand going to social gatherings with these people, because as much as you love your child, the aroma is overpowering.  You can tolerate your child's aroma, but only because there is one of her.  A group would simply be too much.  Would it sadden you to know that you will never be part of the community that your child finds significant solace in, that this community would be doing more to instill values and teaching her how to navigate through life than you as her parent would?  If so, then perhaps you have an understanding of why Candace and Sharon wanted a deaf child. 

This case has a lot of nuances to it.  Whats a disability?  Is designing a child like how Sharon and Candace did wrong?  Was there harm done to the child?

On the other hand, would there be any significant difference if Sharon and Candace, after their perfectly hearing baby was born, simply put the baby's crib next to the stereo and played incredibly loud music to ensure that it would lose their hearing?  (I think there would be.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A general message to Anonymous

So the last few days I've been getting comments on my blog that I've been deleting as trolling comments.  I've enabled registration, so you can't comment anonymously anymore.

But I just wanted to respond in general to some of the accusations that this person has been making about me.

1.  I'm a sad person.
True.  I am.  I've never admitted to being a very happy person.  Nor do I get a lot of traffic on my blog.  Most blogs in the world don't.  If yours gets a lot of traffic, consider yourself lucky.  But the traffic on my blog does not make me sad.  I'm generally indifferent to it.

2.  I have poor reasoning/ utilize naive reasoning.
Argue with me then!  Tell me where I'm wrong!  But Ad hominem attacks aren't exactly the hallmark of good reasoning either. 

And finally, if you don't like my blog, you're not compelled to read it.  I'm sure you can find plenty of other blogs out there that will suit your needs.