The Passionate Skeptic
Introduction to The Passionate Skeptic

The Passionate Skeptic website is hosted by Thor May. The site contains many sections and hundreds of entries. The sections reflect Thor's wide interests in how the world works, as well as his professional training in teaching and linguistics. A few of the sections are active while some others date back to the 1990s. Thor hopes to gradually update the pages to be smart phone friendly, but many of the sections for a long while will be hard to read on small screens.
Features on this home page will usually reflect a changing selection of Thor's current activities.


Topic & Focus Questions from Thor's February 8, 2021 DX8 (Discussion x8 people) meetup

Topic: Life Is Unfair. So What?

Focus Questions

1. Children have an intense sense of what is fair and unfair to them personally. Why, for a large part of every population, does a commitment to fairness, never get much beyond the personal?

2. What is your personal response to being treated unfairly? Example? When does the price of a response (e.g. revenge) become too high?

3. Why is it often worthwhile to unfairly fix unfairness ? For example, with progressive taxation, richer people widely believe that it is unfair that they should pay a higher tax rate, while poorer people widely believe that their income is unfairly too small. Is this sort of thing a moral question, or a pragmatic problem?

4. Automation, robots, A.I, etc give jobs to some, but worldwide are already on the cusp of eliminating an employment future for tens of millions of people. From the perspective of losers this is intensely unfair, and will lead to societal breakdown (e.g. reference USA). Avoiding any moral argument (moral arguments are not winnable), what are some pragmatic solutions? Would a Universal Basic Income be a workable pragmatic solution?

5. Are various kinds of gender inequality unfair? Which ones? Why are they fair or not fair? When should you try to do something about it?

6. Should the 'best person' always get the job? Is meritocracy always a good idea?

7. Why do so many people desperately want to be unequal (superior .. ) with others? Are they being unfair? Examples?

8. In every society, some people are "more equal" than others (e.g. refer George Orwell's 'Animal Farm'). Does it matter? Does it matter how they got there? Should it be fixed? How?

9. Is it fair that 30% of Australian companies pay no tax, including most of the biggest ones? They operate "within the law" and it goes on year after year. Maybe you say 'the law should be changed', but it hasn't been and probably won't be. Why do unfair laws persist?

10. In strongly class based cultures, and for people with certain religious beliefs, there is often an idea that inequality of position and opportunity is both morally correct and necessary. Examples? Is there any justification for trying to change these ideas? If so, how? [Also, contrast with the self-evident lie in the American constitution that "all men are created equal"]

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author: Thor May PhD
location: Adelaide, Australia

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