Do you think genetically stupid people should not have kids since the kids will also be like that and having a child would just be adding misery to it's life since it would never be able to be successful or achieve anything. S/he would spend all their life being inferior to other and it would just be a lifetime of pain.

When I was a young man, I knew someone who was, in the phrase that might have been used at that time, "mildly retarded." He was married. And he understood his condition. And he struck me as a happy man. He certainly wasn't leading a life of misery. In the neighborhood where I now live, there is a young man who is even more intellectually challenged. I doubt that he understands his condition. But he does not strike me as unhappy at all. To be sure, he lives a simple life. And no: he couldn't live on his own. And he also won't have "accomplishments" in the sense you have in mind. But near as I can tell, he's not miserable at all. He's happy. In his case, I don't think marriage is an issue. But the larger point is the important one: intellectual ability and happiness are quite different things. There are sad, miserable geniuses and thriving, happy people whose IQ scores are well below 100. So what I'm saying is that I don't accept the premise of your question.

What's wrong with eating animals? Animals eat animals, so it's natural.

The first point is that "Is it natural?" and "Is it wrong?" aren't the same question. We could spend a lot of time on what it means to call something "natural," but you seem to have something like this in mind: if there are species that do it routinely, then it's natural. If that made things acceptable, then the fact that in some species, the female kills the male after sex would mean that it would be okay for a woman to kill a man after having sex with him. Don't know about you, but I'd say that seems like a pretty good counterexample to the "It's natural, therefore it's okay" idea. As for why eating animals might be wrong, I dare say you've heard many of the reasons that some people find persuasive. Some have to do with the consequences for the animals. Others are of a quite different sort. For example: our meat-eating habits are a significant contributor to global warming. Raising animals for food accounts for just under 15% of greenhouse gases. See https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/30...

Is necrophilia morally objectionable? I was under the impression that it wouldn't be, insofar that bodies don't have legitimate interests (e.g., physical or psychological well-being) to be damaged, but a friend pointed out to me that people who are alive now still have wishes regarding what should be done once they are dead. For example, they leave money to their children in their wills, and are able to live contently knowing that this will be honored. If we lived in a society where people's wishes were routinely disregarded after death, then we would have no reason to think that our own wishes would be honored, and we would therefore be distressed by this. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Like my colleague, I agree that you've put your finger on a potential moral problem with necrophilia. However, I have a worry about the rest of his analysis. My colleague writes: "I think the more primordial objection to necrophilia is that most of us see the good of sexual intimacy as the loving union of two persons." I certainly don't disagree that this is a good of sexual intimacy, but aside from the question of whether it's the good, I have a different worry: even if the loving union of two people is the good of sexual intimacy, it wouldn't follow that other forms of sexual activity are morally suspect. The most obvious case is masturbation. I've never seen anything that struck me as a plausible argument that masturbation is wrong. A standard Catholic objection is that all sex acts should be "open to the possibility of procreation," as some Vatican documents put it. My own view is that this is bad as theology, and worse if one doesn't accept theological premises. Another objection is that it...

When a person asserts unequivocably and with strong conviction that it is simply wrong to kill animals for food, and you notice that they are wearing leather, how do you respond?

If you're asking whether there's a tension between what they say and the message implicit in what they wear, the answer, of course, is yes. If you're asking how I would actually respond, that's partly a question of social judgment. If it seemed appropriate in the circumstances, I would probably ask them about this very point: if eating animals is wrong, how can wearing their hides be right? Perhaps they'd have an answer that managed to thread the needle. If so, I'd be interested to hear it.

If we assume that relativism isn't true, how can we explain the fact that people behave differently?

First, let's ask what relativism means. The usual understanding is that it says what's right and wrong is not universal, but relative to some non-universal reference point—the predominant opinions in one's culture, typically. Your question appears to assume that relativism is the only good explanation for differences in behavior, but it's not clear why we should believe that. After all, many differences in behavior are matters of preference. I prefer to eat chocolate ice cream; you like rum and raisin. Neither of us is wrong, and relativism is neither relevant nor useful in explaining the difference between us. I like swing dancing; you don't. I don't like playing basketball; you do. We'll behave differently on that account. But neither of us is "right" or "wrong," and once again, relativism doesn't provide any additional insight. Wh do our taste in ice cream differ? Why do we prefer different leisure activities? Who knows? The answer is probably a complicated mixture of a lot of things,...

I believe having an evil thought such as killing your neighbor for no reason is morally wrong, but not legally wrong unless you act on it. Why aren't all immoral things also illegal?

Let's stick with criminal law here. One obvious reason why "immoral" doesn't entail "illegal" is that what's legal, what's not, and what the punishments are needs to be clear. In a functioning legal system, it's generally possible to determine in advance whether something is a crime, and in cases where it's not clear, there's a system for settling the matter, with various safeguards and forms of appeal built in. But there are plenty of moral loose ends — matters on which people disagree, sometimes vehemently, about whether something is immoral. We might try restricting things by saying that actions which are clearly immoral should be illegal. Unfortunately, however, that doesn't move the ball as far as it would need to go. When people disagree vehemently about moral matters, one side typically thinks something is clearly immoral and the other side that it clearly isn't. Few of us would want to live in a state where we might be subject to imprisonment because some judge judges that something we...

If my only two choices are to rob a bank or let my children starve, does robbing the bank makes it a right decision or just the better one of two wrong decisions? My wife says that robbing a bank is the correct/right decision given the alternative. I say that both decisions would be incorrect/wrong because they both have negative consequences. Please help us settle this!!! Thanks Victor and Nannette

Interesting. To make the case clear, let's assume that no matter which of your only two options you pick, there will be seriously bad consequences. And let's agree that this makes both choices bad choices. There's nothing odd to the ear about the phrase "My only options are bad ones." But now let's add another assumption: the consequences of robbing the bank, though genuinely bad, would not be nearly as bad as the consequences of letting your children starve. Though I can imagine certain sorts of objections about long-term consequences, set those aside. Surely it's possible for one thing to be less bad than another, even if both things are bad. Killing someone may be bad; killing them in their sleep is less bad (to put it mildly) than torturing them to death over a period of several days. I'd suggest that we can add another premise—a moral premise: if you have no alternative to doing either X or Y, and if X is clearly worse than Y, you should do Y. As we've set things up, it seems to follow that you...

I am personally a determinist but one thing that has confused me is how can determinism and morality co-exist? If determinism is true, then how can we possibly judge the morality of a choice that someone was destined to make?

When you say you are a determinist, that could mean various things. It might mean that the world is governed by deterministic laws, but by itself that doesn't answer the question of whether we are free or morally responsible. Incompatibilists say that determinism in this sense rules out freedom; compatibilists disagree. There are interesting arguments on both sides. I suspect that what you're actually saying is that you think determinism is true and you are an incompatibilist. You think that if determinism is true, we aren't free, and you worry that if we aren't free, we can't be responsible for what we do. But there's a lot packed in here. Though I'm not interested in making a fuss about it, I'm intrigued that you are "personally a determinist." There's a difficult and interesting debate about whether quantum mechanics is deterministic or indeterministic. Once again, there are interesting arguments on both sides. My own view is agnostic. If I had to pick, I'm inclined to the side that sees the quantum...

Are there many philosophers who seriously try to argue that there are no objective moral truths? If so, how would they refute the proposition that "it is always wrong to torture people purely for pleasure." ? Thank you for your consideration!

According to a recent survey of philosophers, a majority —but not a large majority—would tend to agree that there are objective moral truths. But the minority who don't is not small. So yes: there are "many" philosophers who don't believe in objective moral truths. Now these philosophers would say it's not true that it's always wrong to torture people purely for pleasure. Of course, this doesn't mean that they think it's okay to torture. They think that moral claims aren't the sorts of things that can be true. But why? The easiest way to get a feel for this is by appeal to the old chestnut that "is" doesn't imply "ought." No statement of non-moral facts ever entails a moral claim. We might be revolted by what torture amounts to, but "torturing people for pleasure revolts me" doesn't add up to "torturing people for pleasure is wrong"; there's a logical gap between "X revolts me" and "X is wrong." This isn't enough by itself. After all, there's a gap between biological truths and...

Is landlording—understood as “fulfilling on one’s own property the housing needs of, and receiving rent from, another person/party”—a fundamentally unethical practice? I ask because it seems to me, at this point, that a landlord puts at risk the most inelastic needs of human beings, placing them behind more-or-less arbitrary paywalls. Sure, there is no shortage of “ethical landlording” articles/podcasts, and I am willing to do research (look for disconfirmation of the above hunch) myself. But asking philosophers never hurts! Thank you.

If your question was whether there are some unethical landlords, the answer would surely be yes. But you asked if renting living space is a "fundamentally unethical practice." Your implicit argument that it might be is that "at this point" (at which point?) a landlord puts at risk the most inelastic needs of human beings, placing them behind more or less arbitrary paywalls." Let's agree: people need shelter. They also need food. And clothing. And in very many cases, transportation. And medical care. And many other things. And let's agree, at least for present purposes, that a society that doesn't have a reasonable way of providing such things isn't doing what it should. We can even put it more strongly: insofar as we can talk about obligations that a society has, let's agree, at least for present purposes, that societies are obliged to devise reasonable ways for providing these things. The word "reasonable" is covering a lot of territory, but I don't think that will affect the point I'd like to...

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