Category Archives: applied ethics

social welfare, the handicapped, and special education

Common sense may suggest that increases in social welfare are more easily obtained by focusing resources on the mentally and/or physically handicapped, rather than using those resources instead to marginally improve non-handicapped individuals’ lives. The capabilities approach, as developed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, would also imply that resources are well-spent when devoted to […]

life, liberty, and bodily integrity: thoughts on routine infant circumcision

A while back, I shared this blog post on Twitter: the only necessary argument against routine infant circumcision Although I’ve lost track of the @replies, I recall that there was significant pushback from a couple of my followers, and so I wanted to say more about the issue. Basically the argument offered at L’Hôte is this: […]

I don’t care about the original intent of value-added models

I’m taking a break from end-of-semester madness to offer this mini-rant, inspired by a passage in this WP article, “Leading mathematician debunks value-added“: When value-added models were first conceived, even their most ardent supporters cautioned about their use [Sanders 1995, abstract]. They were a new tool that allowed us to make sense of mountains of […]

on the non-normativity of value-added analysis

As you are likely to have heard by now, the Los Angeles Times recently conducted and published a value-added analysis of some of the city’s elementary school teachers, using data that had been collected by the school district but never previously analyzed in this way. There was a nice summary of the value-added analysis and […]

plagiarism, etiquette, and morality

Plagiarism by college students has gotten some attention in the New York Times lately, and it occurs to me that I have dropped the ball on a series of posts about plagiarism that I started earlier this summer. Although I had planned to write other stuff next, I’m instead going to allow myself to be […]

plagiarism, ignorance and responsibility

Here’s the third post in a series on cheating/academic dishonesty in college (first post, second post). A year and a half ago, I taught an introduction to philosophy course independently. The lectures were in person, but the tests were online because the class only met once per week and I didn’t want to use up […]

prizes, payments, and donating blood

This old post, on the moral status of donating blood, still attracts a trickle of Google searches to this blog. I wonder who the searchers are – perhaps people trying to get motivated to donate, people trying to rationalize not donating, or biomedical ethics paper writers? Anyway, I hadn’t donated blood in over six months […]

book review: Lierre Keith's "The Vegetarian Myth"

Somewhere between my ex-vegan interview at Let Them Eat Meat, the blog Hunt.Gather.Love, and Paleohacks, it was at least once recommended to me that I read Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth.” So, I did. The author spent 20 years as a vegan. Understandably, veganism became ever nearer and dearer to her identity, but it also […]

the wrongness of cheating

Last time, I discussed some problems with the theory that, when you cheat, “you’re only cheating yourself.” Today, I have a few things to say on the wrongness of cheating. These are by no means comprehensive or ground breaking, just some food for thought. First, I’ll backtrack just a little and say that there is […]

“you’re only cheating yourself”

As a graduate teaching assistant and course instructor, I’ve encountered cheating and plagiarism a number of times. I know that many of my friends encounter similar issues as well. So, to mark the end of this semester, I thought I’d start a mini-series of posts on the subject. First up: the “you’re only cheating yourself” […]