Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baltimore Riots

I cannot comprehend why these people in Baltimore are rioting. There needs to be change, but how do you intend to build peace and equality with the same tools and methods that you feel oppressed by. The violence you are committing is adding to the destruction of your community. I agree with the voices of dissent, but there must be a change in your methods. Dr King did not take up the banner of equality under the guise of violence. He shunned it, even when the establishment used violence against him and his own. He abhorred it. His peaceful leadership during the Civil Rights movement created more equality for a group of people then all other methods. The intelligent voice raised in solidarity has more strength then the base tools of the mob. I understand that there is anger and frustration at the chronic injustice that is in this country, yet when you use destruction you justify it for those to use it against you. To those of you who support this movement of violent mobs throughout the country, your ignorance shames the cause in which you hope bolster. Instead of raising the cause to a point of effectiveness, you are demolishing the foundation in which the cause is built. Equality and peace cannot be built on the sands of violence, destruction, and ignorance.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Doctrine of the Mean: Not Likely

In this paper I will argue that the doctrine of the mean is too demanding, and not plausible. Using Wolf’s view on moral saints to demonstrate precision, I will demonstrate Curzer’s view of hitting the mean after which I will show that this way is too demanding and not plausible. This paper will then show an objection using phronesis as a plausible way to hit the mean without being too demanding. I will then respond by saying that phronesis requires impossible actions, and if this ideal is impossible then it is too demanding. This paper will then conclude with the results of the paper by accounting for all of the objections.

There is a dispute between Hursthouse and Curzer about the interpretation of Aristotle’s account of what a virtue is. Is it a quantifiable heuristic definition of a virtue or is it a metaphorical definition with many ways of getting at a virtue? Aristotle states, “Now virtue is concerned with passions and actions, in which excess is a form of failure, and so is defect, while the intermediate is praised and is a form of success; and being praised and being successful are both characteristics of virtue. Therefore virtue is a kind of mean, since, as we have seen, it aims at what is intermediate (1106b-25, Ross 1980)

Curzer argues that Aristotle’s account should be taken literally. “If a quantitative doctrine of the mean offers a plausible picture of the virtues rather than a silly picture, then a literal doctrine of the mean is preferable to a metaphorical, heuristic one.” (Curzer, 129) Curzer accepts that there are many parameters to hitting the mean. Courage is found exactly between fear and over confidence, but there are ways to find the mean by hitting it at the right time, with the right aim, with the right way, and the right thing. Just because there are multiple ways of being confident, it does not take away from the doctrine of mean. One must still hit the center of all the fore mentioned parameters. Curzer also references Aristotle’s view that temperance is a way to hit the mean. “Excess with regard to pleasures is self-indulgence and is culpable; with regards to pains one is not, as in the case of courage, called temperate for facing them or self-indulgent for not doing so, but the self-indulgent man is so called because he is pained more than he ought at not getting pleasant things… and the temperate man is so called because he is not pained at the absence of what is pleasant and his abstinence from it.” (118b-25, Ross) “These passages also indicate that temperance is medial, self-indulgence is excess, and insensibility is deficiency… With respect to courage and temperance, the two virtues Hursthouse discusses… Aristotle sometimes takes the doctrine of the mean heuristically or metaphorically, but he gives no indication of doing so in his accounts of courage and temperance. Here he takes the mean to be straightforwardly quantitative. (Curzer, 132) According to Curzer Aristotle accounts for a quantitative doctrine of the mean that is a plausible picture of the virtues. Therefore, a quantitative interpretation should be accepted over a metaphorical, heuristic one.

     I hold that if a doctrine of the mean is too demanding then it is not plausible. Wolf backs my argument with her picture of the moral saints.”By moral saint I mean a person whose every action is as morally good as possible, a person, that is, who is as morally worthy as can be.” (Wolf, 419) She believes that this moral saint is not an ideal person because this person must strive to be morally perfect by helping everyone around them to be happy. Whether that person does it out of a desire to be happy by making all others happy (loving saint) or the person attaches a higher importance on everyone’s welfare above their own (rational saint), this person loses out because they do not have time for non-moral goods. Non-moral goods include personal likes of cooking, watching basketball, or having a sarcastic sense of humor. “A moral theory that does not contain the seeds of an all-consuming ideal of moral sainthood thus seems to place false and unnatural limits on our opportunity to do some moral good and our potential to deserve moral praise.” (Wolf, 433) Not only must this person give up their own attachments to non-moral goods, but they also have to have a high level of rationality to make everyone’s welfare better. Moral saints must live like phronimos. They must hit the mean every time. Their reasoning has to be precise. This precision attaches a level that seems to be too demanding. Not everyone has the high intellectual level it would take to be a phronimos. “Brannmark: “… the only way in which the phronimoi are extreme is in their precision. Thus, while it might be difficult to live like a phronimos, it is not the kind of difficulty involved in running marathons every day but rather the kind of difficulty involved in hitting the bull’s eye all the time.” (Wolf handout, 2) This level of rationality is not plausible. According to Driver virtue must be accessible not to those that are wise, but to those that are kind. Greatness of soul is another virtue that makes the doctrine of the mean not plausible. The individual that is considered a great soul is compared to the moral saint. It is viewed that greatness of soul is the mean between vanity and smallness of soul. This virtue is a crown to all the other virtues and all the virtues cannot exist without it. Unless one has certain amount of external goods they cannot have greatness of soul. Not everyone has the resources to attain such a virtue. One cannot quantifiably attain the mean even though they meet the requirements of the other virtues. Lacking in one of virtues robs the individual of the capability to become greatness of soul. Individuals will therefore be restricted from attaining greatness of soul. The doctrine of the mean is not plausible due to the fore mentioned demandingness.  This argument directly attacks Curzer’s second premise that a quantitative doctrine of the mean offers a plausible picture of the virtues.

     Nussbaum brings up this idea of virtue as a sphere that represents the context of a people. Demandingness disappears due to people’s definition of what the virtues are, and some of the virtue spheres can be dropped according to the societal context. It is not necessary to hit the mean according to Aristotle’s definition based upon a ancient Greek society because the virtues have now become attainable through our society’s context. I am not convinced that this line of argument does away with the doctrine of the mean because one must meet the mean despite the context of a culture. Demandingness disappears in one aspect of attainable virtues, but resides because the virtues that are culturally acceptable still need a mean. Her argument only allows for the greatness of soul virtue to change in context but not in quantity. I have shown that the doctrine of the mean has such high level of demandingness that it cannot be plausible.

There are major problems with prior argument. First the account does not allow for a moral sainthood that could be attainable, secondly there are artificial limits on morality. The moral sainthood argument does not provide an answer; it provides only a criticism of Curzer’s argument. The argument also allows for the opportunity for one to choose non-moral goods over morality. How do we decide what is best? Since there is no other answer presented it does not discount the argument’s plausibility despite its demandingness. Aristotle seems to answer the question. “And, if, further, virtue is more exact and better than any art, as nature also is, then virtue must have the quality of aiming at the intermediate.” (1106b13-1106b15) The doctrine of the mean is demanding but still plausible because there is no solution to attaining virtue besides the mean of two related vices. This argument deals precisely with prior argument’s premise that if a doctrine is too demanding then it is not plausible.

     The prior argument seems to suggest that just because there is no other answer presented that the doctrine of the mean must be correct. This cannot be true because the answer to attaining virtues is an attainable. If something requires impossible actions then that action is too demanding. The doctrine of the mean requires impossible actions. The doctrine of the mean is too demanding. Through previous parts of this paper I have shown that attaining phronesis, greatness of soul, or moral sainthood requires impossible actions. Not everyone can have the right rationality all of the time, they cannot attain greatness of soul if they do not have certain amounts of external goods, nor can they attain moral sainthood without phronesis. Because of these impossible demands the doctrine of the mean is too demanding. This deals specifically with the premise that demandingness is not a strong enough reason to do away with a doctrine. The only answer known to a problem does not conclude that it is the correct or only answer knowable.

     The doctrine of the mean is too demanding despite Curzer’s attempt to show that the heuristic view of the Aristotle’s doctrine of the mean is silly and that the precise use of the doctrine of the mean is a plausible way to interpret Aristotle. I showed that demandingness puts virtue too far out of reach of the majority of humans. Then I demonstrated that the doctrine of the mean can still exist despite its demandingness. Then I responded by showing that impossible actions are enough to determine whether something is too demanding. The doctrine of the mean is too demanding.




1. Ross, David. The Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford University Press, 1980

2. Curzer, Howard. A Defense of Aristotle’s Doctrine that Virtue Is a Mean. Mathesis Publications, 1996

3. Wolf, Susan. Moral Saints. The Journal of Philosophy, 1982

4. Hursthouse, Rosalind. A False Doctrine of the Mean. Blackwell Publishing, 1980
5. Nussbaum, Martha. Non-relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach. Oxford University Press, 1993

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Religion and Feminism

A representation of religion biased against women would be the Catholic religion. Recently there has been controversy in the news about privately owned hospitals, Catholic owned, not accepting the ruling that they should pay and provide women with contraceptives. The Catholic Church believes that abstinence is commanded by the Bible, therefore it is an infringement of the government on their religious liberties to make something available for women to have access to sex outside of marriage more easily.

     The main argument I see for allowing religions to abstain from participating in providing contraceptives is two fold. First these religions own these hospitals outside of government funding. If the government has given no support to these people then they have no right to enforce practices within these institutions as long as they are safe practices. Secondly the idea of consent plays a large part in how people interact with their religion. In America people are allowed to choose what moral authority they adhere to. When one chooses to live by certain code in a certain society then they have opted to abide the privileges and the rules of that society. People who use Catholic Hospitals must submit to their code of living, if not choose a public institute. A government in America cannot infringe on a religious institute if they are not harming any one. Hence a religious organization, such as the Catholic Church, have the right not to provide a service that goes contrary to their beliefs.

     A contrary argument would be that if the Catholic Hospital is working within a country and a society than it should provide for the community in a way that best fits their needs. Women should have a choice whither or not they want to behave according to the Bible. The religious organization should not dictate the terms of the participants. The Catholic Church is consenting to operate within a certain field that the government has tight demands over to ensure the safety of those who use hospitals. Since the government has a strong presence within this business the government should be able to dictate that women have the choice to use contraceptives. In this instance the religious organization is abusing women’s right to choose whither or not they have the right to choose, therefore taking away people’s liberty of choice. The government should protect the rights of those women to choose.

     I personally agree with those who say that the freedom of religion should be protected. A larger group of people fall under the protection of religion then that of those individuals who wants the right to free contraceptive. People who want contraceptives have other choices besides that of the Catholic Church’s resources. Their rights of choice are not being affected because they can search else for it. Once you challenge one right of religion you open the door to challenge all of them. Therefore the opposing argument looses water due to the fact that there are other options and there is more at risk when challenging the rights of all those within religion.

This paper talks about racism in our culture not as an institutionalized idea but rather an undercurrent idea that drags society along with it.  We are not faced with open hate that those of the black community dealt with back in the early 1900’s. Now it is an accepted concept that floats below the surface. It’s almost as if racism has turned into a pacifist-aggressive form. We see in media how the white man is always exaggerated in his heroic qualities and when he is the villain, his evil traits are underplayed.  On the other side of the coin, we see that the minorities experience the opposite. Their good qualities apply to good home-keeping skills, and their evil sides are dramatized to a picture of a super deviant. These are something that we as a people don’t even second guess. We sit in front of our televisions and don’t even realize the stereotypes and innuendos coming across our eyes. Our subconscious is taking it in. We are so inundated with these ideologies that we begin to act out and live the parts without ever realizing that we have changed the perspective with which we see the world and people who live in it. We begin attaching the wrong meanings to the wrong symbols, for example: black man= gangster, Asian=electronically attuned, and white man=suppressor of all that he sees. We have to be careful that we give them their right meanings and their right places. If we don’t we are only adding to the disease that’s eating away our society.  We are mudding the water of our beliefs with falsities and there is going to come a time when our willful indifference will swallow us whole. We know that it is wrong to think that other races are meant for mean and debased positions in society. We wont say that an Asian woman is supposed to be serving us our tea or that a Mexican man should be out mowing our lawns. We wont say those things but we accept it as part of our ideologies. And these ideologies are bring us down and increasing the divide between us and our brothers and sisters. Racism is no longer supported on an open battle field. It is not coming out in a heated voice with screaming hatred. It is not rearing its ugly head with prevalent lynching. It is taking place in the privacy of our homes, it happens every time we laugh at a joke, accept that someone is abased to certain positions in society, and every time we sit back and allow it to pervade through society.  It is happening in the individual’s beliefs. It’s out of our laws now we most extract it from our hearts.

different statements

A patriot who loves his country must be prepared to defend his country from his government

Should a government exist when it lies to its people...the government is here to serve the people not deceive them.

Let justice be done, though the heavens fall

Power is a resource..you can't share it equally or it will lose its effect

dont ask for somthing you have not earned. do not defame those who have earned, do not call them the oppressor because they have more. you can have more if you stop complaining about it. this is not a communistic society, you can not have the equal amount as everyone else and work less.


Truth can not be changed by perspective, rather the perspective is changed by truth

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Post Racial?

Highline Community College is a very diverse school. We have many international students, diverse cultures, and an open-minded administration that works to create a campus safe and equal for all students. Despite the many culture awareness programs and events, there is still a divide in the student body. It takes one trip to the balcony above the cafeteria to see the seperation. Even though there is a seperation admist the students, it does not reflect an attitude of racism. If you have taken Dr. Baugher's Psychology: Human Relations class, you would know that one of the attributes for attraction is similarity. People tend to gravitate towards others with matching traits of their own. We went around HCC asking people how they felt about racism and if they felt that our campus was "Post-Racial". We asked Yoshiko Harden, Director of Multicultural Services, if she has experienced racism here at HCC. She said,"Yes". She said she was onced stopped when she parked in the faculty parking area. She felt that the security personnel stopped her because she was a woman of color and that the individual automatically assumed she wasnt a teacher. When confronted the member of security said that he hadnt recognized the car. When Yoshiko was asked if we had a "Post-Racial" campus, she said most emphatically, No. No because racism is to dynamic. It is overt and covert. Just because it is not blaring at us in hate, it still lurks under the surface affecting us. Ranging from black to white, hispanic to asian, the general concensus we got from students was that they have not experienced racism here on campus, but they feel that there is too much diversity for us to be "Post-Racial". In general the students said that they do not feel intimidated or afraid of other races. There were a couple students who said that when they saw black men with baggy clothes or were "thugged out", they were uncomfotrtable and sometimes fearful. There were some students who even felt that some of the teachers were biased on what students they liked based on their race. They felt that special leniency was given to students with the same ethnicity as the teachers. Our campus is a good example of where our country is. We are making the right steps towards a "Post-Racial" society but we're not there yet. The nation as a whole is going through turbulent times realating to race. On one hand we have our first black President, which shows that the majority of the country agreed upon this one man to lead us. On the other hand our imigration policies are in disarray. Arizona has new laws that discriminate against individuals of Hispanic descent. Americans can be carded if they look like an illegal immigrant. Although there are new laws and new programs that provide equal opportunities for all races there still remains racism in our society and our schools. Although racism is not as overt as it used to be, it still remains as lethal as ever.