In Dialectic Over Telescopic Morality

I’m currently working on another piece about telescopic morality. Before writing it, I thought it’d be a good idea to review what I’ve written previously and all the responses to them that I’m aware of. It’s been a very lively discussion, with many humbling critiques. Many of the conceptual problems that people pointed out nearly …

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Between Callousness and Telescopic Morality

Tonight I encountered another critique of my formulation of telescopic morality. The original piece I wrote at the Umlaut resonated with a surprising number of people, as did the subsequent followups.  They also have drawn a fair amount of criticism. I want to start by making sure I’ve given credit where it’s due—the formulation began …

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Looking the wrong way down the telescope

This is my first post here, so let me begin in the manner in which I hope to continue: with some backhanded praise. Adam Gurri’s concept and critique of “telescopic morality” is a fantastic rhetorical flourish. It evokes the idea of a moral trompe l’oeil, a trick in which we erroneously transmute distant moral concerns …

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Cowardice, Sausage-Making, and Public-Mindedness

The caller who sicced the cops on Sureshbhai Patel probably didn’t know what the result of his action was going to be. Cowards don’t usually think through the consequences of their chickenshit actions. Instead of taking the time to learn who his neighbors are, risking coming into contact with a stranger, the chickenshit coward decided …

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Community and Diffusion: Two Ways of Thinking About Influence

James Buchanan won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work on specifying models of good government. He was a relentless champion of the power of constitutions to constrain the ambitions of the sovereign. I would desperately like to agree with him, but I have a difficult time accepting the proposition that the US …

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