I can resist anything, except temptation! (Oscar Wilde)

Good will

in philosophy & ethics

“Kant argues that to act in the morally right way, people must act from duty (deon). Second, Kant argued that it was not the consequences of actions that make them right or wrong but the motives of the person who carries out the action.

Kant’s argument that to act in the morally right way one must act purely from duty begins with an argument that the highest good must be both good in itself and good without qualification. Something is “good in itself” when it is intrinsically good, and “good without qualification”, when the addition of that thing never makes a situation ethically worse. Kant then argues that those things that are usually thought to be good, such as intelligence, perseverance and pleasure, fail to be either intrinsically good or good without qualification. Pleasure, for example, appears not to be good without qualification, because when people take pleasure in watching someone suffering, this seems to make the situation ethically worse. He concludes that there is only one thing that is truly good:

Nothing in the world—indeed nothing even beyond the world—can possibly be conceived which could be called good without qualification except a good will.”[1]

  1. Deontological ethics, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 30-Mar-2014. 

Dolphins are non-human persons

in philosophy & ethics

“India has officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons, whose rights to life and liberty must be respected. … The movement to recognize whale and dolphins as individuals with self-awareness and a set of rights gained momentum three years ago in Helsinki, Finland when scientists and ethicists drafted a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans. ‘We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and well-being,’ they wrote.The signatories included leading marine scientist Lori Marino who produced evidence that cetaceans have large, complex brains especially in areas involved in communication and cognition. Her work has shown that dolphins have a level of self-awareness similar to that of human beings. Dolphins can recognize their own reflection, use tools and understand abstract concepts. They develop unique signature whistles allowing friends and family members to recognize them, similar to the way human beings use names. ‘They share intimate, close bonds with their family groups. They have their own culture, their own hunting practices – even variations in the way they communicate,’ said FIAPO’s Puja Mitra.”[1]

  1. “Dolphins gain unprecedented protection in India | Environment | DW.DE | 24.05.2013,” DW.DE. [Online]. Available: http://www.dw.de/dolphins-gain-unprecedented-protection-in-india/a-16834519. [Accessed: 23-Mar-2014]. 

China and Shale Gas

in status quo

“The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that China possesses by far the world’s largest reserves of technically recoverable shale gas. Although China’s shale gas industry is not as advanced as the United States’, it could be the most advanced outside of North America.”[1]

  1. “China’s Shale Gas Development Potential,” Stratfor, 2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.stratfor.com/sample/image/chinas-shale-gas-development-potential. [Accessed: 18-Mar-2014]. 

Gravity waves detected

in general

It’s an amazing achievement that we humans, doing science systematically for just a few hundred years, can extend our understanding that far.[1]

  1. “Big Bang breakthrough announced; gravity waves detected – CNN.com.” [Online]. Available: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/17/tech/innovation/big-bang-gravitational-waves/. [Accessed: 18-Mar-2014]. 

Is that so much to ask?

in education & literacy

“Every time I type a web address into my browser, I don’t need to be taken to a fully immersive, cross-platform, interactive viewing experience,” said San Diego office manager Keith Boscone. “I don’t want to take a moment to provide my feedback, open a free account, become part of a growing online community, or see what related links are available at various content partners.” “All I want is to go to a website, enjoy it for the time I’ve decided to spend there, and then move on with my life,” he continued. “Is that so much to ask?”[1]

  1. Internet Users Demand Less Interactivity, 16-Jan-2013. [Online]. Available: http://www.theonion.com/articles/internet-users-demand-less-interactivity,30920/. [Accessed: 11-Mar-2014]. 

The solar system’s edge

in general

“Cynics—as well as most astronomers, cosmologists and, indeed NASA itself—point out that the edge of the solar system is more properly defined as the point beyond which an object will not succumb to the sun’s gravity. Gravity is, after all, what defines the universe at the grandest scale. That, though, is roughly 50,000 times farther from the sun than Earth is. Voyager 1 has so far travelled 123 times Earth’s distance from the sun, or 18 billion km. It would need another 14,000 years, give or take, to escape the sun’s gravitational pull at its current speed.”[1]

  1. Postcards from the edge, The Economist, 07-Feb-2013. 

Removing Knowledge

in status quo

“About five times as many pages are being added to the classified universe than are being brought to the storehouses of human learning, including all the books and journals on any subject in any language collected in the largest repositories on the planet… Whether one figures by acquisition rate, by holding size, or by contributors, the classified universe is, as best I can estimate, on the order of five to ten times larger than the open literature that finds its way to our libraries. Our commonsense picture may well be far too sanguine, even inverted. The closed world is not a small strongbox in the corner of our collective house of codified and stored knowledge. It is we in the open world—we who study the world lodged in our libraries, from aardvarks to zymurgy,wewho are living in a modest information booth facing outwards, our unseeing backs to a vast and classified empire we barely know.”[1]

The author starts by estimating the extraordinary size of the classified knowledge, and uses the classified theory of knowledge to explain the concepts such as “subjective secrets”, which are compact, transparent, arbitrary, changeable, and perishable; and “objective secrets” which are diffuse, technical, determinable, eternal, and long lasting qua secrets. Objective secrets can create more difficult problems, while subjective ones can cause deadly harm. Therefore, the control over the transmission of knowledge, the extensive measures which are used, and its internal paradoxes and ironies are explored. In other words, the author gives an overview on the hidden side of knowledge, the secret world of anti-epistemology, and the monopolistic vision on knowledge transmission.

  1. Galison, P., 2004. Removing Knowledge. Critical Inquiry 31, 229–243. 

Good developments

in me

I have not written here for quite a while, but a lot has happened. I got my articles accepted for publication and now I am focusing on my mid-PhD defense. Here in Sweden, there is a tradition to break PhD into two steps. The Licentiate which is about middle way, and the PhD. I have not been quite happy with my productivity in 2013, specially due to lack of concentration and things like that, however, I think that time has been necessary, because I am starting to get some kind of perspective of my own. Although, admittedly, this is probably, and hopefully, a very long journey.

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