Why students checking facebook on class are regarded disrespectful, while a professor who checks his facebook on a symposium as another professor is reading his paper is said to be cute and cool? Are there absolute boundaries between righteous and evil, right and wrong?

I wouldn't regard such a Facebook-checking colleague as "cute and cool". Besides the fact that wanting to check a Facebook page already disqualifies one from being cool, it is disrespectful. I don't allow my students to use computers, cell phones, etc. during class, and if I were organizing a conference I'd strongly discourage those in the audience from doing so as well.

Do moral philosophers work like this: 1. I have a Wish to see a certain form of society. 2. I must now think of a Reason why everybody should work to create this form of society. 3. Got it! 4. In order to make my Reason compelling, I will now claim that the Reason pre-dates my Wish. 5. My Wish is now the product of the pre-existing Reason. 6. All persons of Reason will share my Wish and work to create the form of society designed by my Wish.

Kalynne asks most pertinently, "Why would the moral philosopher have the Wish? If s/he's a philosopher at all, it will be for Reasons." But, will the philosopher have Reasons for taking these considerations, and not those others, to be Reasons? Will the philosopher have a Reason to be a philosopher (so understood)?

Mother Theresa accepted donations for her work from all sources - regardless of the background of the donors. She said that once the money was in her possession, she would put it to good use - its origin was irrelevant. The same argument has also been put forward by academic institutions who accept large sums of money for capital works from, e.g., donors with a known history of arms dealing. Was Mother Theresa wrong to accept this money? Should universities not accept such donations?

If you look through papers in linguistics from the 1960s and '70s, you'll find many that were supported by Defense Department grants -- these include many papers by Noam Chomsky, a formidable critic of much of U.S. foreign policy. (The military believed that this research might lead to breakthroughs in machine translation, something of great interest to them.) Was Chomsky bothered? Not in the least. He maintained that every dollar he took was one less dollar used to manufacture bombs.

When discussing whether Homosexuality is morally right or morally wrong, I've always argued that if we allow homosexuality then we would have to allow incest as well. Before arriving to this conclusion I first looked at the various arguments defending homosexuality which mainly consisted of the following: 1) It's consensual (with the exception of rape); 2) It doesn't harm anyone; and 3) It's a matter of love (i.e., we should have the right to be with whomever we love). Now my reasoning is this: All three of those arguments could be used to defend incest! Imagine a father who becomes sexually involved with his 20-year old daughter. Both would be consenting, they are not harming anyone, and they presumably have some type of attraction towards each other. My question is if my argument is a good one or am I missing something?

First, there's a difference between showing that an argument for permitting homosexuality is bad and showing that homosexuality shouldn't be permitted. To show the latter, you need an argument to that very conclusion; it won't do to show that some argument for permitting homosexuality is actually a bad argument. Refuting an argument in support of X is different from giving an argument for not-X. Second, I'm not sure you succeed in even showing that the argument you consider for permitting homosexuality is a bad one. You want to say that if the argument were correct then it would also permit incest; since the latter shouldn't be permitted, something must be wrong with the argument. But I'm not sure I agree that the argument you consider about homosexuality really would also apply to incest. That's because I think that incestuous relationships do often lead to psychic harm for one or both of the individuals involved (as opposed to homosexual relationship, which don't lead to such harm – at...

I really love my wife and of course I never want to hurt her, but is it moral to cheat on her if I'm 100% sure that she won't know (and therefore she won't be hurt)?

I'm not sure how one could be "100% sure". Perhaps (perhaps!) thereare some claims about the natural world of which one could beabsolutely certain, like the fact that I was born to parents and nothatched from an egg, but I don't think most claims about the future areones we can be so certain of, certainly not a claim like "My wife willnever discover that I cheated on her." But if you want to takea case where we can be confident that the person cheated on will neverdiscover, let's imagine that your wife has asked you to promise herthat you will never have sexual relations with another person evenafter she, your wife, has passed away. Now she passes away. Surely wecan be "100% sure" in this case that she will never be hurt by your"cheating" on her. (I'm obviously assuming here that she won't bepained in some afterlife.) Would it be immoral to? I know somepeople who say it wouldn't be; that thinking so is a habit-inducedillusion. I also know people who would insist that it would be wrong;that...

Do you think it is ethical to have romantic desires for people with good looks? I know the obvious (pop culture) answer is yes. One may even assert further that it is natural to do so. However, my point then is that some desires, albeit natural, are unethical. (If I don't have money on me and I am hungry, I may feel the urge to steal some food.) And even though most people may feel that it is okay, the general public may be very often wrong. My reasoning is: (1) We should evaluate people only on their choices and not on conditions they haven't achieved by making choices. (2) People don't choose to look good or bad. Conclusion: Therefore, it is unethical to grant people ANY advantage based on their looks. A friend of mine, against this argument, tells me that for instance, a mathematician has not chosen to be born with her talent, so we shouldn't also value her mathematical works. This seems like an inextricable tangle! Thanks.

Where "looks" aren't relevant, then it seems foolish or wrong to take them into account. Deciding to hire people on account of their attractiveness to you, rather than on account of their ability to satisfy the demands of the job, seems counter-productive at best, unethical at worst. But you began rather with a question about whether "looks" are relevant in a romantic context . And now why shouldn't they be? Deciding with whom to hang out romantically isn't the same as deciding who's going to get the job of washing your car; a date is not a job interview. Attraction (of all different kinds) is the name of the game in romance. A romance without attraction (to how a person looks, laughs, talks, thinks, etc. -- all features over which a person has little control) is like Hamlet without the Prince.

Why do vegetarians, vegans, etc. propose a different set of rules for animals? After all, humans are animals too. Why can a lion kill and eat an antelope wheras a human cannot? Why does it matter that we do not 'need too'?

It matters that we don't need to because that means that the harm that we cause by eating animals (perhaps, depriving them of their lives, subjecting them to torturous conditions) is avoidable. We are responsible for the avoidable harm that we cause. And what about the animals? Are they excused their eating of other animals because they can't help it? I think that's a weird thing to say. Animals can't be held morally accountable; they simply aren't the kinds of creatures that can be morally blamed for what they do. (Which doesn't mean that we can't be held accountable for what we do to them.) So, it's weird to talk about their being exculpated by the fact that, say, they are carnivores. For animals aren't in need of exculpation: they aren't the kind of creatures that could be blamed or praised in the first place.

Why is murder considered a crime when the person who was murdered was going to die whether or not that person killed him or her?

Just because something will inevitably happen to you doesn't meansomeone else has a right to decide when and how it's going to happen.Murder is a crime not because it brings about a state of affairs, someone'sdeath, he or she would otherwise have avoided but because the murderer has noauthority to bring about that state of affairs.