Rupert Murdoch is correct. Barack Obama is half black. His mother is as white as my mother. Obama's father is Kenyan. Obama, therefore, has no connection to American slavery, unless, of course, his mother descends from slaveowners.
Utilitarians—as well as moral philosophers who have not been utilitarians—have not always failed to notice the fact that we think actions are right if they are of a sort which would produce good consequences if generally practised, or are wrong if they are of a sort which would produce bad consequences if other people did the same. Mill, for example, remarked: "In the case of abstinences—indeed of things which people forbear to do from moral considerations, though the consequences in the particular case might be beneficial—it would be unworthy of an intelligent agent not to be consciously aware that the action is of a class which, if practised generally, would be generally injurious, and that this is the ground of the obligation to abstain from it." But utilitarians have not always realised that, in admitting that the performance of such actions is a duty, they are departing from, or, at least, modifying, utilitarianism as it is stated above. And that they are departing from, or modifying, utilitarianism, as it is usually thought of, is clear. For actions which are permissible, according to utilitarianism as I have defined it above, might well not be permissible, according to utilitarianism in this modified form. For it may very well be true of an action, both that there is no other action within the power of the agent that would produce better consequences than it, and that it is an instance of a class of actions which would produce harmful consequences if they were to be generally performed. In this case, I should, according to utilitarianism as it is normally thought of, be acting rightly if I performed it; whereas, according to this modified form of utilitarianism, I should be acting wrongly.
(J. Harrison, "Utilitarianism, Universalisation, and Our Duty to Be Just," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s., 53 [1952-1953]: 105-34, at 113 [footnote omitted])
Note from KBJ: Here is an example. Suppose I am shipwrecked with my grandfather on a deserted island. Before he dies, he asks me to promise him that I will bury his body. I make the promise. According to act utilitarianism, I should break the promise, since keeping it will (1) do no good and (2) do some bad. (It's hard work digging a grave.) According to rule utilitarianism, I should keep the promise, since breaking it "is an instance of a class of actions which would produce harmful consequences if they were to be generally performed." This example shows that act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism are distinct theories. It does not tell us which theory is best or preferable. Some people prefer act utilitarianism; some prefer rule utilitarianism. Some people reject both theories.
I watch both CNN and Fox News Channel during the evening hours. (I no longer watch Shepard Smith, The Five, Greta Van Susteren, or Megyn Kelly.) Night after night, CNN reports that Donald Trump said this or that Ben Carson did that. The tone of the reporter's voice indicates that he or she is appalled, and expects everyone else to be appalled as well. What the reporter doesn't realize is that the people who support Trump or Carson are not appalled. In fact, they like what was said or done. CNN is a joke. I tune in because I like to laugh.
Brittany Bronson is right that repetitive work, often wrongly defined as “unskilled,” is simply undervalued, as I know from personal experience.
In the 1990s, tasked by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union to improve the performance of our members and employers, I informed myself by taking a short course in sewing. My college degree notwithstanding, I was a miserable failure. I expect that many wealthy executives would have failed as well.
Authority and pay distinctions reflect supply, demand and power, not “skill,” as normally understood. We have long misused that term to give ourselves moral comfort. But in a time when pay scales of university presidents and highly educated adjunct faculty diverge as widely as those of casino owners and waiters, that pretense is increasingly unsustainable.
The skill, or good fortune, to work your way into a position of power is all that matters.
The writer retired as education director for the New England Joint Board of Unite Here!, the garment, textile and hospitality workers union.
I congratulate and thank The Times for the courage to expose the well-crafted scapegoat that people with mental illness are responsible for the American epidemic of large-scale gun carnage. It is a myth perpetuated by the National Rifle Association with the oft-parroted phrase, “It’s people, not guns.”
The prevalence of mental illness is essentially the same worldwide; the obscene scale of gun ownership is unique to the United States, including personal stockpiles of military-style weapons. During a 50-year career as a psychiatrist practicing in the inner city, I treated dozens of psychotic individuals with delusions that included plans to harm themselves or people known to them, but none fit the profile of the indiscriminate killers you describe.
The only sane cure for our nation’s malaise will be to rescind the Second Amendment and ban the personal possession of all guns not designed exclusively for the hunting of animals, not humans.
Note from KBJ: We're more likely to rescind Barry Blackwell than to rescind the Second Amendment. Do you have any other ideas, Barry?
The Texas Rangers had a magnificent final two months. During August, September, and the first four days of October, they went 38-22, which is a winning percentage of 63.3. That computes to 102.5 victories over the course of a 162-game season. If Prince Fielder comes out of his slump and if Josh Hamilton continues his fine hitting of the past few days, the Rangers will be hard to beat. They have three solid starting pitchers (Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, and Cole Hamels), excellent set-up men, and a top-notch closer (Shawn Tolleson). Their manager, Jeff Banister, is superb.
The era of conducting invasive experiments on chimpanzees confined in laboratories is ending, yet there are still some within the research camp resisting the inevitable transition toward more humane and cost-effective research strategies. Mr. Walsh argues that if we can help develop an Ebola vaccine to help chimps in the wild, then we should continue to keep them in labs here in the United States.
But many disease experts agree that there are alternative methods for developing a vaccine, such as studying apes in African sanctuaries. Indeed, apes in Africa have also received various vaccines without testing on apes in American laboratories first. Why should Ebola be different?
Let’s not backtrack on a decision that is right and good. Let’s use our creative genius to find the scientific answers we need without continuing to victimize these endangered, highly sociable creatures.
The writer is the president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States.