Can I Oppose Waterboarding If I’ve Never Been Waterboarded?
June 30, 2020


I have never been waterboarded; yet, despite my undeniable lack of direct experience, I oppose it as a form of torture. The same can be said for Barack Obama, who issued an executive order banning waterboarding along with other coercive interrogation practices. The same can be said for the overwhelming majority of those who oppose …

The Democratic Left, Biden, and Rational Choices
April 13, 2020


Voting for a political candidate is not always the result of a careful, well-informed consideration of the various pros and cons of having this candidate hold elective office. (Yes, I’m known for my understatement.) Ignorance, bias, and emotion influence voter choice. The role of ignorance and bias is lamentable, but can’t do much about these …

Categories, Gender Identity, and Women’s Sports
September 4, 2019


We categorize things, using general terms to classify a group of objects. Some things are chairs, others tables, and still other things are fish, fruits, or flowers, and so on. We employ categories for a host of practical reasons, including, of course, to facilitate communication and accomplish various objectives efficiently. Categorizing things makes eminent good …

A Natural Mistake
July 10, 2019


“That some persons are free and others slaves by nature … and that for these slavery is both advantageous and just, is evident.” So said Aristotle, one of the first advocates of the “natural law” approach to ethics. (See his Politics, Book I, ch. 5.) The State Department has just established a Commission on Unalienable …

Just War Doctrine and Impeachment
June 4, 2019


I don’t typically refer to Catholic doctrine to support a point I want to make. However, even the Catholic Church can get things right occasionally—and, in this case, its doctrine aligns with common sense and political prudence. First formulated by Augustine, and subsequently reworked by Aquinas and recent Church councils, the Catholic Church’s just war …

Of Monuments, Christian and Confederate
March 11, 2019


At first glance, a 40-foot cross in a traffic circle may not have that much in common with an over 60-foot statue of Robert E. Lee in a traffic circle, but they do—I mean other than their obstructing the free flow of traffic. There are significant similarities between the recent arguments over the removal or …

Being a Burden: Improper Reason for Seeking Assisted Dying?
February 6, 2019


A common argument against legalizing assisted dying for the terminally ill is that most will seek it for the “wrong” reason; specifically, they will hasten their death to avoid becoming a burden to others. For example, a statement issued recently by opponents of a Maryland bill to legalize assisted dying argues that in states where …

Stop Misusing Science To Bolster Religious Fables
December 6, 2018


Christmas season is upon us. (I recognize I’m late in noting this. For retailers it started immediately after Halloween.) This season brings forth many familiar experiences—familiar because they recur every year: festive decorations, foraging for parking spots, Tom Flynn at work on Christmas Day, and an essay in a newspaper/on the internet attempting to explain …

Assisted Dying and Slippery Slopes: Where Do We Place the Guardrails?
May 15, 2018


The recent assisted suicide of David Goodall, the 104-year-old Australian ecologist, has brought into focus some key issues in the continuing debate over assisted suicide and euthanasia. One issue is whether we should legalize assisted suicide or euthanasia for those “tired of life.” A related issue is whether legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia for even a restricted class of individuals (such as the terminally ill) places us on a slippery slope to accepting euthanasia in cases that many of us—at least now—consider questionable or objectionable, for example, the nonvoluntary euthanasia of incompetent patients who physicians deem to have an unacceptable quality of life.

The Down Syndrome Gambit
March 9, 2018


In case you haven’t noticed, a few states (North Dakota, Indiana, Louisiana, and Ohio) have enacted laws that prohibit a physician from performing an abortion if the physician knows the woman is seeking an abortion because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Utah is considering a similar measure. Indications are this is the beginning of a major effort to curtail a woman’s right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy.