Wenn hinter Fliegen Fliegen fliegen…

September 20, 2010

Oh how I love the comments to this article by Jeff McMahan, an accomplished and well-respected ethicist at Rutgers. They remind me so how not atypical my undergraduates are. (Say what? Yes, you read that correctly.) Here are some gems. Maybe on Monday I’ll actually address the content of the article:

Joe: “this is incredibly flawed, the world of animals and all organisms are only able to survive because of such brutal competition, if there was nothing to fight for, what would it be worth?”

The other guy: “I came away with the same feeling as when I first read Zeno’s “dichotomy paradox” in college, That is, “What was he smoking?” That was also the time in my sophomore year where I swore the stuff off.”

Erika: “The argument you present is offensive.”

Socrates: “Horrifying article.”

into the fire: “Unbelievable, but alas not surprising, that this could be written by someone paid to profess at Rutgers or Princeton.”

Peter: “Mr. McMahan is right to expect to be vilified when intelligent people see his article. It is the height of ignorance.”

Vance: “The amount of large words does not counter the fact that these arguments are from a child’s mind.”

Linda: “This is an astounding example of ivory tower thinking that is totally out of touch with the real world.”

They go on, dear readers! I’m only on page two. Love, love the comments. So wonderful.

Philosophers are crrr-azy!


  1. I noticed this too! About halfway through the piece, my mind began to wander towards the comments. And they did not disappoint.

  2. McMahon appears to have fallen for the charismatic megafauna fallacy. The world is rotten down to the atomic level and it can’t be helped short of a restart. OTOH as the song goes

    They’re rioting in Africa, they’re starving in Spain
    There are hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain
    The whole world is festering with unhappy souls
    The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles
    Italians hate Yugoslavs, the Pielke’s hate the Hares
    And Eli don’t like anybody very much

    But we can be thankful and tranquil and proud
    Man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
    And we know that some lovely day
    Someone will push the button
    And we’ll all be blown away

    They are rioting in Africa, there’s strife in Iran
    What nature doesn’t do to us
    Will be done by our fellow man

    Optimism is also a philosophical position.

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