Ireland’s Moral Crisis – Part 2

In part 1 of this essay, I briefly sketched out the traditional source of moral principles, which for the great majority of societies has been and continues to be religion. Ireland is, or was, no exception to this, having, up to recently, been a country known for taking religion seriously in public as well as in private. Beginning in the late 1950’s Ireland took steps that brought about the beginning of the end of this state of affairs. ...

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What does the word ‘phronesis’ mean?

The word phronesis is a Greek word that plays a central role in Greek philosophical ethics, notably in the works of Aristotle. The dictionary definition lists the primary senses as ‘purpose’ and ‘intention’, then ‘thought’, ‘judgement’ and ‘sense’, but it is with Aristotle that all these senses come together in the way he uses this word to name prudence in government or business affairs, in short, it becomes his technical term of art for practical wisdom, the virtue required of ...

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Philosophy and Popular Culture

Many people are surprised to learn that philosophy and popular culture are interested in each other. A familiar perspective is that philosophy is a very remote, abstract and “high brow” activity whereas popular culture is perceived as being “low brow”, lacking in serious content, commercially driven and designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. There is an element of truth in both these impressions, but as with so many things, an element of truth can exist side by side ...

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Ireland’s Moral Crisis – A Philosophical Perspective: Part 1

Ireland’s moral crisis – a philosophical perspective: part 1

Ireland is undergoing a profound moral crisis and has been since at least the late 1950’s, but it’s only in the last twenty years or so that its effects have become very palpable, and in the last ten, that its consequences are starting to significantly transform Irish society. The domestic pre-history of this crisis is a complicated issue which I will leave aside for the moment. What interests me here ...

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Philosophy and the Modern World – Introduction

Modern Society: the Context of Philosophical Counselling

One of the most important factors we need to keep uppermost in our minds when we engage in philosophical counselling – as counsellor or as client – is the larger social context which we inhabit but which to a great extent has also shaped us. We often hear about the nature/nurture debate in child development or discussions about cultural differences and multiculturalism. To what extent are we shaped by nature; our biological ...

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The Milgram Experiment: Obedience to Authority

The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram. They measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts conflicting with their personal conscience. Milgram first described his research in 1963 in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An ...

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The Five Monkeys

In Stephenson 1966 experiment “Cultural Acquisition of a Specific Learned Response Among Rhesus Monkeys”, we get a clear picture of how an idea can propagate itself even though those who are propagating the idea do not provide any justification for doing so.

Nietzsche speaks to this phenomenon in his essays in On The Genealogy of Morals. We are raised into a culture with a predetermined value system and few among us ever question why we conform to it. ...

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Mouse Utopia Experiment

In the 1950’s John Calhoun decided to set up the perfect environment for a colony of mice. Everything that the little rodents could possibly ever wish for was provided for. However, as the experiment progresses, things take a turn for the worst. The conclusion of this experiment is both somber as well as terrifying. Is there anything to learn from this experiment for us as human beings?

We would like to imagine that if us as a species, the human species, ...

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