Archives for category: ethics

Q1. Is languages more than words? Respond with reference to one of the activities completed in class in Week 1 or to AT LEAST two haiku.

Haiku can be found here (

Q2. Consider Mark Pagel’s argument about the evolution of language. Do you agree/disagree? Why?

Mark Pagel’s TED talk can be found here (

Q3. In your opinion, where does language come from? Is it innate or learned? Respond with reference to Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, and/or Daniel Everett.

Click through to find out more about Noam Chomsky (, Steven Pinker (, and Daniel Everett (

Q4. Evaluate the usefulness of Natural Semantic Metalanguage

Pages 464-469 in this resource will be helpful (

Q5. Does languages reflect or determine thought? Respond with reference to emotion or colour.

For more about colour, watch this documentary from 11:45 ( For more about emotion, read this journal article (

Q6. Does language express our identity or does it constitute it? Is our language just a reflection of who we are or does our language make us who we are? Respond with reference to endangered languages or translation.

Discover the magic of this website on endangered languages (

Q7. Edward Sapir said “Language is a symbolic guide to culture” and “Vocabulary is a very sensitive index of the culture of a people”. Do you agree/disagree? Why?

We’ve covered this pretty extensively in class, but consider all those words that are “not translatable”…

Q8. Should we fear or welcome netspeak? Why/why not?

For more information, click through to this article ( or this one (

Q9. Must language always change? Can we “protect” it? Keep it “pure”?

To find out more about L’Academie Francaise, read this article ( Alternatively, here’s a link through to an article about new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary (

Q10. Does censorship change thoughts? Why/why not? Respond with reference to scandals about censoring books that children read.

For more information, click through to this article ( or this one (

Q11. Can we “reclaim” words? Why/why not?

For more information, click through to this article ( or this one (


This morning a “colourless, pear-shaped diamond weighing 101.73 carats has sold for a record $23.8 million”. When found in Botswana, it was originally 236 carats (more than twice the size). We just decided to shave it down because we have a particular conception of what “a good diamond looks like”. Do you think this sort of arbitrary (random/without reason) decision of what is expensive and what isn’t should be allowed in the world?

Read more:

Thank you everyone who participated in class today. Thank you also to all of you playing at home, following Theory of LTC in your own time. Final thank you (starting to feel like this si an acceptance speech) to everyone who posted on last week’s question: “what is art & beauty?” 

This week, let’s try something crazy and try writing a full paragraph in response. From 3 sentences, to 4 sentences to 5. Soon we’ll have a full essay on our hands!

This week’s focus question is:

What does it mean to be good?

Please leave a comment below with your answer. Don’t be afraid to respond to other people’s answers in your own.

Remember the two rules: Use your initials instead of your real name and enjoy the ride!

Here are a couple of quotes from two of my many favourite writers to get you started.

Our feelings of benevolence and sympathy are more easily aroused by specific human beings than by a large group in which no individuals stand out… men who would never punch a child in the face can drop bombs on hundreds of children.

– Peter Singer 

So you want to live ‘according to nature?’ Oh, you noble Stoics, what a fraud is in this phrase! Imagine something like nature, profligate without measure, indifferent without measure, without purpose and regard, without mercy and justice, fertile and barren and uncertain at the same time, think of indifference itself as power — how could you live according to this indifference? Living — isn’t that wanting specifically to be something other than this nature? Isn’t living assessing, preferring, being unfair, being limited, wanting to be different? And assuming your imperative to ‘live according to nature’ basically amounts to ‘living according to life’ — well how could you not? Why make a principle out of what you yourselves are and must be?

– Friedrich Nietzsche

“Yet the way we talk about the use of steroids by athletes — for instance, calling players “clean” or “dirty” — points to a discomfort that goes deeper than mere legality. Steroids are dangerous. We don’t want our athletes to experience liver cancer, mood swings, drug dependence, high blood pressure, or infertility just to entertain us. Nor do we want these role models encouraging youth to risk the same side effects — a chief concern of the 2007 Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball. But even these important concerns do not get to the heart of the matter. Imagine that scientists discover pharmacological means that provide the advantages of steroids but carry none of the side effects. What if those who take such a pill could suddenly build more muscle more quickly than they ever had before? Would we have any objection to this?”

Read more:

Women charged with murder who plead self-defense are more likely to be perceived as guilty if they have straight blonde hair and “a slender and elegant appearance.”

Uh… What?

Read more:


Is it fair that sports stars and celebrities earn more than care workers, nurses and doctors? Harvard Professor, Michael Sandel explores our notion of fairness through our economic system.

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

For the full article: