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Is inter-country adoption immoral? (I'm a college senior doing an independent study on Korean transnational adoption and the Korean diaspora.)

I don't see why it should be. Like inter-ethnic adoption, it might be better for someone to be adopted by someone more like them, but then it might not be also. If there is no alternative, it seems to me to be often better than leaving the child where it is.Presumably the new parents would have to think about how far they want to involve the child in the original culture of the country they come from, but that is about it. One of the curious aspects of inter-country and inter-ethnic adoption is that it is often regarded with suspicion by people who have no problems with inter-racial dating, or marriage, and this seems strange. The difference of course is that in one case the child is not able to give consent, and in the other the potential partners can, but the child can always decide what attitude he or she is to take to their origins later on. If they are not adopted it may sadly be the case that often there is no later on at all.

Selfishness is considered bad in society, and my parents tell me to be as selfless as possible, but how can it be possible to be selfless? I think selfless can be traced back to our instincts. We had to work for ourselves in order to survive and reproduce so life can continue. Eating is selfish, because it's benefiting ourselves only. That food could feed other people. If I donate to charity, is that not also selfishness? I donate so I feel like I can contribute to the world, and so I can feel better as a person. That means that the donating was purely in my own interest. If a parent throws themselves in front of a car to save a child, I think the root of their action is actually selfish - they don't think they could live knowing that they could've saved the child but didn't. What's your view on this? Do you think there's such thing as being selfless? If so, how can I live selflessly? Am I just thinking about all of this completely wrong?

You are right in thinking that the urge to be selfless can have selfish aspects to it, but surely not to the extent you suggest. It is possible to carry out an action entirely out of the motives to help others, and not because it makes us feel better. We may hate the action especially if we are helping someone we dislike or who actually disgusts us but we do it nonetheless. We do it because we think we should, perhaps we regard it as our duty. It is possible of course that this gives us pleasure in the sense of overcoming a personal obstacle but you are suggesting that there can be no other possible motive, and that seems dubious to me. It is the possibility of making morality depend on our feelings that led Kant to insist that it never should. If it does, he argued, then that would make it arbitrary and subjective. Whatever we think of his approach we can grasp the main point here, which is that people are supposed to do the right thing out of a motive to do the right thing and not because it...

Greeting's oh wise one's, my question ... How is it morally correct to put a very sick animal" out of it's misery" yet not accord the same privilege to a Human who has no chance of recovery ? What baffle's me most is the thoughtfulness given to the dog ,but denied the human . Kind regard's Dermot

One difference I suppose is that someone is taken to own an animal, but only God owns human beings, according to many religions, and so only he can take the decision on life and death. We do often decide to allow a patient to die and in some places we can actively bring about that death, with their agreement and if we think there is no prospect of recovery.

Is there any difference between the images released by the fashion industry and softcore pornography?

There is generally a big difference. Soft core can involve nudity, fashion does not. After all, the point of the latter is to sell clothes and although models may not wear many clothes, they will wear something. It is a mistake to think that images which are capable of being sexually provocative are all the same.

I guess some people call almost everything "a language". Is music a language? Is mathematics a language? I really think they aren't, but have no idea on how to explain it. Thank you.

I wonder why you disapprove of the description, since they are clearly languages, it seems to me. They have a syntax and a semantics, a structure of meaning and rules that are meant to be followed but can be varied in particular instances. Just like a language.

Are there any secular arguments in favor of marriage as a moral good as compared to common law or cohabitation arrangements? If not, does that mean marriage is no more than a cultural tradition or something for tax purposes?

There are such arguments, and they tend to be that marriage is the best framework to raise children. No doubt there are arguments on both sides of this, but if it is best for children to be brought up by married parents, that is some sort of moral argument for the institution. On the other hand, marriage can also be an example of what is involved in keeping a promise, if that is the form of the marriage service, through thick and thin, as an ideal. When one sees a spouse looking after his or her partner even though Alzheimer's has taken the mind of the patient, one gets some idea of the nobility of the commitment which is supposed to last a lifetime of such a relationship.

How reliable are philosophical works written in Germany during the Nazi period in terms of genuine thought and feeling? Heidegger never admitted to hating the Jews as part of his Dasein, but is his later refusal to repudiate his Nazi membership indicative of the former?

We should not confuse a good philosopher with a good person. If we study someone's thought we have the right to expect them to have something interesting to say, but not to be nice. Plumbing is part of Dasein but we should not look to Heidegger for advice on how to unblock a toilet. Similarly, his views on politics and Jews were no doubt reprehensible, but that is not what we go to him for.

It's possible to define what art is?

The wider question is what is the point of defining anything. Definitions really do not help us know anything precise about anything, they just establish some rough and ready parameters around the meaning of the term. Provided we grasp that, then definitions do no harm, but their application to try to restrict what we can say and do with terms causes more harm than good. Often we can hit the term right out of the ballpark without losing it, and this is very much the case with attempted definitions of something as complex as art. A definition of art is useful to someone learning the language, but otherwise has no useful purpose.

Do professional philosophers have any influence on the daily life of people anywhere in the world? By daily life, I mean, even if indirectly, the general public, politicians, economists, therapists, bosses, novelists, and so on?

Perhaps not directly, but by affecting the general cultural climate of the time philosophers do have an impact. For example it may be that the prevalence of utilitarian thinking among moral philosophers has made possible the sorts of developments we often see in politics, economics, therapy and so on. Modern society is often more given to instrumental thinking about itself than was the case in the past, and that could well be linked with the sorts of moral philosophy which today tend to prevail.

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