PHL 260 4 A Dignity of Persons

Dignity handout for 260

This is Part 1 of lecture 4 of PHL 260 Ethical Issues at Salve Regina University Spring 2016. In this lecture I explain the various sources of the dignity of persons. There is a handout here to download which I refer to in the lecture.

PHL 260 3 B Lecture on “Without Roots” by Marcelo Pera and Joseph Ratzinger


This is lecture 3 part 2 of PHL 260 Ethical Issues at Salve Regina University. In this lecture I discuss the book Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity and Islam (Basic books, 2007) by Marcelo Pera and Joseph Ratzinger. Pera is not a Christian, and Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) is. They wrote a book together because they have some common concerns about Europe. In this lecture/discussion we try to build a picture of the current state of culture in the West, offer some historical, philosophical and religious reasons for it and explore the question of the relation between faith, the history of Europe and current cultural and public policy questions. Pera and Ratzinger offer solutions, and we compare and contrast those.

PHL 260 Ethical Issues 3 A: relativism/objectivity and motives

This is part 1 of Lecture 3 of PHL 260 Ethical Issues Spring 2016. In this part I cover: a) a deepening of the critique of relativism by clearing up a common misunderstanding, namely, that people confuse lacking the inner resources to grasp some subject-independent reality with relativism. Then, following the work of Josef Seifert (and expanding on it in some ways), I define the nature of a motive and then outline a series of 7 motives of the moral actions we freely choose: objective value; moral obligation; the goodness of the moral act itself; the goodness/virtue of the one performing the act; happiness; the common good and God.

Ethical Issues 2 A: Foundational Metaphysical Distinctions

This is the first half of class 2 of Ethical Issues, Spring 2016 at Salve Regina University. In this half of the lecture I explain a series of distinctions within being for the purpose of preparing the way for more meaningful discussion of the ethical issues we will discuss in later weeks. Here is the list of items on the handout:
Distinctions within being:
1. material/immaterial
2. Ens/esse/essentia Being/existence (that)/essence (what how)
3. General essence/“concrete“ essence (instantiation)
4. personal/non-personal
5. conscious/non-conscious
6. potential/actual
7. substance/accident
8. mortal/immortal
9. absolute/contingent
In part 2 of the lecture, I cover part of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail and then we cover C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man in some detail. That is in the next post.

Ethical Issues 1 A (Jan. 21, 2016)

Lecture 1 of Ethical Issues, a course I am teaching at Salve Regina University Spring 2016. In this first half of the first lecture I introduce the course and begin the lecture on the morality of lying.


Plato Aristotle

Christian Personalism and Theology of the Body

In this lecture I express some of the insights from Christian Personalism/Realist Phenomenology about the spiritual and bodily unity that human persons are and how these insights inform John Paul II’s Theology of the body. In other words, this lecture attempts to show the mystery and beauty of the fact that human persons are spiritual and bodily. In the end I explain an argument to support the Church’s teaching forbidding contraception related to this bodily and spiritual unity of human persons and to spousal love.   This lecture, the full title of which is “The Christian Personalism of John Paul II as the Foundation of Theology of the Body”, was given at the National Theology of the Body Congress in the Philadelphia area, held July 28 – 30, 2010, and is posted here with permission.   Christian Personalism and Theology of the Body.