World Views

Ethnic Thanksgiving: Cultural Appropriation?


On its surface it appears to be a simple decision: it can be dull serving the same stuffed Turkey with cranberries and potatoes every Thanksgiving. A modern home cook might be itching to surprise guests with some spices or out-of-the-box meats, sweets and starches. Why not make the turkey in curry paste or serve it with peanut sauce? While it's fun to try new ideas fro other cultures, when does borrowing ideas from ethnic cuisine cross the line and become cultural misappropiation? 

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Latest Posts in World Views

The “Right to Life”: It’s Much More Than You Think

The “right to life” is a venerable moral and legal principle that is regularly invoked in debates about abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, and more.   The philosopher John Locke in his Two Treatises of Government (1690) was the first “modern” theorist to assert the idea of self-evident human rights, including “life, liberty and estate” [i.e., property], while the first public/political assertion of a right to life was in the American Declaration of Independence (1776).

Ayn Rand Versus Plato

Plato’s great dialogue, the Republic, written more than 2000 years ago, remains one of the most influential works about social justice ever written.  The twentieth century novelist and social philosopher Ayn Rand, perhaps the most influential conservative/ libertarian voice of the present day, had a radically different vision.  So, it might be useful to do a brief comparison between Plato and Ayn Rand.

The Biosocial Contract, Part 2: Some Policy Implications

An ideology without a concrete, programmatic plan for how to realize its objectives is merely rhetoric, or fantasy, or perhaps even sophistry.  It’s only when you spell out the social, economic and political implications of your vision that you allow its merits, and practicality (and political viability) to be tested in the real world.  Marxism was extremely vague and permitted the likes of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao to fashion their own political agendas.  Modern libertarianism, likewise, comes in a bewildering array of sometimes contradictory views.  Some libertarians seem to take a piecemeal approach (in this country at least), focusing on such specific political issues as legalizing marijuana, gay/lesbian/transgender rights, Obamacare, etc.

The Biosocial Contract (Part 1): An Ideology for the Fair Society

It’s not what you think.  In the age of texting and tweets, our whole society seems to suffer from an attention deficit disorder.  So, let me begin with a disclaimer.  A Biosocial Contract (or Biosocialism for short) has nothing to do with socialism in any one of its many different forms.  If anything, its philosophical roots could be traced back to Plato’s Republic and The Laws (I’ll explain later on).  In fact, the theoretical foundation and basic assumptions of Biosocialism are rooted in evolutionary biology and the emerging science of human nature – quite unlike the other “isms” that are out there in our politics.

“Us” Versus “Them”: The Tribalism Trap

One of the great contradictions of human psychology is our notorious double-standard with respect to how we treat others, as a rule.  If a person is viewed as being one of “us” – a member of our group, or our religious faith, or our nation – we are predisposed to cooperate with them, to empathize with their hardships, come to their assistance if needed, and sometimes even sacrifice our lives for them.  Because they are members of our “tribe”, we view them as sharing a common fate.