Tag Archives: logic

“Preventive Medicine”

Passing judgment without the ability to review the context troubles me. Judging an act without seeing the evidence makes no basis for academic discussion regarding the motives or outcome. This exercise will have us judge the actions of a fictional surgeon, whose situations are probably based on facts, during the Korean conflict. Being that this surgeon is a character in a widely available syndicated television show, it surprises me that the particular episode is not available for review. I have taken the time to track down the episode and review it before making comment.

The text (Thiroux & Krasemann, 2009) does state that utilitarians believe that “everyone should perform that act or follow that moral rule that will bring about the greatest good (or happiness) for everyone concerned” (p. 42); however, this description fails to identify the scope and practice of such notions. Whom does this act or rule concern? When does this act or rule gain application? At what point does the actor have enough evidence to make the judgement?

With regards to the M*A*S*H episode[1] (Metcalfe, Reeder, & Mordente, 1979), who is to say that the actions of Col. Lacey did not ultimately save more lives through the heroism of those that he led? Was Lt. Col. Lacey on the verge of improving the tactics of the U. S. Army? Did the unnecessary surgery of Lt. Col. Lacey cost even more lives, then? Lt. Col. Lacey addresses his injured troops, “Your performance over the last few days has given me the confidence to submit a plan to ICOR, a plan for our BN to spearhead a counter-offensive up hill 403, and this time, men, we are going to take it.” This seems to suggest that Lt. Col. Lacey has developed and refined a tactical plan that he feels will prove successful.

In the next sequence, Capt. Pierce questions Col. Lacey’s motives but fails to allow him to answer, putting words in his mouth, and ascribing his own thoughts to Col. Lacey’s motives. After overhearing the Colonel speaking with his General, Capt. Pierce formulates his plan of removing, at least temporarily, Lt. Col. Lacey from his command, and after the successful harvest of a healthy appendix, more injured troops arrive at the 4077. Capt. Honeycut sums up his partner’s actions very simply, “You treated a symptom; the disease goes merrily on.”

After watching the episode and paying special attention to the premise, it seems, at least to me, that this episode deals more with the psychology of Capt. Pierce than with his ethics. It is the psychology of the situation that forces Pierce to act on the situation, in hopes that what he does has an overall positive effect. It does not. Separating ethics from psychology is a mistake, in my opinion. Our psychology changes our perspective and, therefore, should be considered when ethical questions arise.

Utilitarian? The motives of Capt. Pierce were of a self-interested nature. He wanted to feel that he did something instead of standing idle. In my opinion, Capt. Pierce did not have the requisite knowledge to make the utilitarian judgment. I would have done as Col. Potter did in this episode. He notified the upper command of his concerns so that they may be evaluated by people in the position to make a substantive evaluation of a battalion commander.


Metcalfe, B. [Producer], Reeder, T. [Writer], & Mordente, T. [Director]. (1979, February 19). “Preventive Medicine” [Television episode]. M*A*S*H. Los Angeles, CA: 20th Century Fox.

Thiroux, J. P., & Krasemann, K. W. (2009). Ethics: Theory and practice (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.


1. “Preventive Medicine” was the 22nd episode of the seventh season of M*A*S*H.

Ancient Suffragette City-State

I am a little disconcerted after reading Solomon and Higgins’ (2010, Chapter 10) discussion of sexual inequality throughout the ages. Though they are quick to point out many patriarchal societies and how they negatively effect the carriage of any woman’s philosophy through time, they fail to recognize societies that recognize the female and hold her in as high esteem as her male counterpart. Citing Aristotle, they are quick to point out the male-centric society of ancient Greece, but fail to educate us on the Spartan woman.

According to the historian Richard Monk (2006), “Sparta had an entirely different view of gender. Essentially, it ignored it” (para. 5). He continues to describe the Hellenistic age, post-Peloponnesian War, where the women of Sparta were on equal footing with men. This was also true, in fact, of Athens at the same time, though it is neglected by most historical scholars (Scott, 2009, p. 34). The fourth century (B.C.E.) was certainly a turning point for women’s rights in Greece (Scott, 2009, p. 39).

Two other key societies worth mentioning are the Norse and the Iriqouis (Vivante, 1999, p. xv; Ward, n.d., para. 9).

My thoughts on the importance of women in sociopolitical philosophy are the same as my thoughts for men. I do not distinguish between them. Any person with a stake in a society should be able to choose whether to have their voice heard or not. Sometimes, a message not spoken has the weight, if not more, than one that is. Speaking of women, specifically, I feel that they should be afforded the opportunity to enjoy the same rights, roles, and responsibilities of any person within their society. Unfortunately, societies throughout history seemed to not share my view.

Many early female philosophers have been lost to time and suppression by the patriarchal societies that failed to notice their worth. One stands out: Hypatia. Unfortunately, where she found freedom to express her views in public, she also found a horrible death in public.

“Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as  poetic fancies.  To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible  thing.  The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through  great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after years relieved of them.  In fact men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.” – Hypatia


Monk, R. (2006, April 19). Greek civilization – What about the women? Retrieved February 25, 2010, from http://ezinearticles.com/?Greek-­Civilization-­%96-­What-­About-­The-­Women?&id=181596

Scott, M. (2009, November). The rise of women in ancient Greece. History Today, 59(11), 34-40. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete.

Solomon, R.C., & Higgins, K.M. (2010). The big questions: A short introduction to philosophy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cenrage Learning.

Vivante, B. (Ed.). (1999). Women’s roles in ancient civilizations: A reference guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Ward, C. (n.d.). Sigríð stórráða Tóstadóttir: Queen Sigríð the Proud. The Viking Answer Lady. Retrieved from http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/SigridStorrada.shtml

The Social Contracts of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau

Social contract theory indicates that we acquiesce to the demands of a society in order to benefit from membership within that society (Chafee, 2009; Solomon & Higgins, 2010). Some of these demands allow the formation of a power structure to guide the formation and growth of the society, while other demands cause the individual to relent to the values stipulated by the society. These values make up the morality of the society. Social contract theory was influenced, particularly, by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau (Solomon & Higgins, 2010, p. 291). Their theories are telling of the individual’s motivation for creating and belonging to a society, but I will explore how these theories relate to some of the constructs of society, namely morality and the roles and responsibilities of citizens within a society.

Before discussing societal constructs, it might be best to consider the ultimate nature of society and the power it holds over its citizens. The arguments appear to be two-sided: a) social contract, and b) entitled sovereignty (Chafee, 2009, p. 567). I argue that society is truly a social contract and any authority within society stems directly from this contract. Considering that the alternative is a rule by force, fear, and intimidation, one can only conclude that such a society is passively agreed with until a revolution is possible, which undermines the overreaching authority and replaces it.

This conflict arises between the populace (society) and government (a construct of society). Where there is no society, there can be no government, but in every society, there is a government (even an anarchist society has a form of governance, natural law). Hence, government is a by-product of society, which, by definition, is solely reliant on the social agreements of individuals indicating an equality within the creation of the contract, but not necessarily the execution of the contract. This is ideal in that it not only explains why uprisings and revolts occur when governments fail to work for the people, but it also explains why they should occur in these cases.

Tyranny is the unilateral enforcement of values placed upon a society. Morality is the cumulative set of values of a society, and it adapts to the constant change in these societal values. Justice, the governmental means of regulating morality, must have the participation of the society, lest tyranny takes hold. It is the responsibility of the individuals within a society to participate in every process of government to ensure that morality is even and that justice prevails. This participation need not be direct. Voting, military service, holding public office, or simply criticizing governmental policy are all ways in which individuals can participate. Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau would agree that enforcing the social contract is the responsibility of every individual within a society, not only to ensure the status quo, but to ensure positive growth and continuity.

As a libertarian, I can appreciate the social contract theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. In my view, do what you will so long as you do not infringe on the rights of others. Though many aspects of this philosophy can be argued against, it remains as good as any starting point to maintain freedom and equality within a society while still demanding responsibility for the outcome.


Chafee, J. (2009). The philosopher’s way: Thinking critically about profound ideas (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Solomon, R. C., & Higgins, K. M. (2010). The big questions: A short introduction to philosophy (8th ed.). Belmont, C.A.: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

The Nature of Truth

Truth transcends knowledge, and knowledge transcends belief. Too many people invert these values to claim that their beliefs are true. In order to understand truth, it makes sense to first explore knowledge and belief and how, as humans, we use these constructs.

In the search for truth and knowledge, we as humans develop a belief structure based on observation over time. As this belief system develops, we start to draw correlations and presume conclusions based on the perceived degree of believability for each new belief, a system of fuzzy logic (Hajek, 2009), and how each relates to another. It is only when beliefs correlate well with other beliefs regarding the same subject do we get to claim knowledge.

I define knowledge as the agreement of beliefs within the study of interrelated subjects. Science is the process used to attain knowledge (“Science”, 2010). However, science can be wrong. This has been proven throughout history, time and time again. Science can only prove “provisional truths[, or] answers that are the best explanation for things at the present time” (Jackson, 2006, 1). It is these provisional truths that I regard as knowledge.

Truth, in the ultimate terms, cannot be false to any degree. It is easy to create truth from knowledge by applying conditions confining it. Ergo, the belief that dogs are dangerous is not true, nor is it knowledge, though there is truth in the statement that some dogs can be dangerous. Likewise, any other broad and sweeping generalization could create a false, but widely held belief. It is much more difficult to attain a universal, or absolute, truth, such as the God of Christianity is the architect and creator of the universe and all life within it, or that life is just a natural process and has no dependent relationship with any singular intelligent being.

Some absolute truths, however, can be attained. One such truth is that mortal existence ceases upon death. Death, in fact, is the definition of the end of mortal existence. This definition has been formed by observation, the creation of beliefs, and acceptance of these beliefs as knowledge. Though, if our beliefs and knowledge about death were different, as they once were, it would not negate the truth.

Another absolute truth is that life is revolutionary, or cyclical. Otherwise, what is the point of attaining knowledge and understanding truth if it cannot be used to our benefit?


Hajek, P. (2009). Fuzzy Logic. In Edward N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [Spring ed.]. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2009/entries/logic-fuzzy/

Jackson, J. (2006). Science has been wrong before. UK-Skeptics. Retrieved from http://www.skeptics.org.uk/article.php?dir=articles&article=science_has_been_wrong_ before.php

Science. (2010). Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/science

The Problem of Evil

There is a boding question about the “evils” of the world, and many people need to justify the necessity of evil through faith. I define faith as deduction, induction, or hope. With this definition, it only makes sense to me that so many people in the world, and throughout history, have faith in a supreme being and a just and rewarding afterlife. Solomon and Higgins (2010) present the discussion of evil in contrast to the goodness and how it relates to God. Chafee (2009), like Solomon and Higgins (2010), examines only the religious concepts of evil, but he does state one important truth, “the existence of evil in the world poses a serious threat to religion in general, and the concept of an all-loving, all-powerful God in particular” (p. 391). The argument that if evil exists then there can be no omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient God acknowledges the existence of evil and denies the existence of God. To me, the word evil seems to have too many religious connotations for academic consideration, as for those that do not believe in God, this contrast between good and bad loses meaning and application. For this same reason, it is difficult for me, I admit, to discuss evil in the context of God and religion. To do so would mean that I have suspended my faith and beliefs.

To discuss evil, I must remove the religious connotations and define it in acceptable terms. The word evil embodies all that is harmful, but what is harmful for one might be curative for another. For there to be good in the world, there must be equal bad to contrast, essentially giving the good its value in comparison to the bad. One might argue that good gives value to bad, also. This is commonly referred to as “the Contrast View” and is in direct disagreement with Martin Buber’s (1981) view of evil as inattention to moral ways. Things that have no morals (e.g. nature) can be perceived as evil, thereby providing an argument to Buber, though I believe that Buber’s views are that of some of the humanistic causes of evil.

Evil, or the bad in the world, is simply a lack of good, just as black is a lack of white, and cold, a lack of heat. Consider, though, that an unfortunate event can be viewed as evil to one person and can prove fortunate to another. Therefore, I consider evil to only be a perception of an individual grading fortune and misfortune on a scale of good and bad.


Buber, M. (1981). Good and evil. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Chafee, J. (2009). The philosopher’s way: Thinking critically about profound ideas (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Solomon, R. C., & Higgins, K. M. (2010). The big questions: A short introduction to philosophy (8th ed.). Belmont, C.A.: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Perception is Reality

For Peyton Farquhar, belief acquiesed to knowledge the moment that he felt his neck break, the last of his mortal feelings (Bierce, 1909/1966, Chapter 3). While reading “An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge”, I was taken in by the author’s use of the omniscient narrator’s descriptions of Farquhar’s perceptions. And, as I have stated before, perception is reality. In order to contrast what is real and what is not, we must acknowledge that there are separate realities for each perceiver, and each perception must be that of consequence. The old rhetoric asks, “If a tree falls in the wood and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?” My reply is, “How do you know that the tree fell?” This, however, does not answer the question, but it starts us on a journey to find the meaning of reality and which reality we are defining.

In the question about the tree in the wood, there is a consequence of the falling action, which is a transfer of energy to the vegetation and ground which it strikes. There is also the vibration of the air around the tree agitated by the sudden separation. The question here is if it made a sound. Very simply, these vibrations are perceived as sound by using the ear as an antenna, the ear drum as a modulator, and the brain as a filter and recorder. If there is neither any living thing in audible proximity to the fall, nor an analog recording device capable of reproducing the sound as testimony, then I argue that the tree did not make a sound. Further, one could argue that only the brain makes the sound by interpretting the vibrations; therefore, falling trees do not make any sound and any recording is only a recording of vibrations of air. Is this just semantics? Because this argument depends largely on how “sound” is defined, I believe it is. The same is true for color.

By my statement that perception is reality, I mean that our reality is defined by our perceptions, though it does not mean that what is real to me must be real to anyone else. One could also say that life is defined through experiences, but again, it is truly the individual perception of these experiences that matter, nothing else. “A philosophy is the expression of a man’s intimate character, and all definitions of the universe are but the deliberately adopted reactions of human characters upon it” (James, 1909, p. 20).

In Bierce (1909/1966), Peyton Farquhar perceived an ordeal where he was spared a hanging because of chance. Consider my theory, both metaphysically and astrophysically, that the Universe is infinite and, thereby, everything that can happen does happen. The term “Universe” here is a misnomer. I am actually describing a Multiverse with an infinite number of Universes, each a separate and distinct realm based on a choice, decision, and consequence. Picture an infinite number of Universes that are, initially, exactly the same, then there comes a choice to be made: option A or option B. Half of the Universes take on the consequences of option A while the remaining half take on option B, then there is another choice to be made, and the Multiverse splits infinitely in half based on the infinite choices that are made. This theory would promote realms where the choices not made in our Universe may or may not be consequent. Did Peyton Farquhar get a glimpse of an alternate reality in which the supply sergeant failed to care for the rope appropriately? Though it might be possible, it does not matter. Peyton Farquhar perceived his death immediately after, subsequently defining his reality, and for a split second, giving him knowledge. Though, if he continued the experience of escaping his death even after his death is witnessed by the executioner and his peers, one could argue that reality had split and though Peyton was dead, perhaps he lived on in another reality. This, I believe, is the basis of the religious context of Heaven and Hell. You can believe in Heaven, Hell, or nothing in particular; until you experience it, you have no knowledge of it.

If we can never glimpse the alternate realities, then we cannot perceive them; therefore, they are not real.


Bierce, A. (1966). An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. The collected works of Ambrose Bierce (Vol. 2, pp. 27-45). Retrieved from Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13334/13334-h/13334-h.htm (Original work published 1909)

James, W. (1909). A pluralistic universe. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books