Thursday, 18 January 2018


Updated November 11, 2018

I've just published a new essay at Quillette: The Institutionalisation of Social Justice

If you enjoyed it, these are related articles of mine you might also like:

2. From Quillette, November 2017: Wilfrid Laurier and the Creep of Critical Theory

3. From Quillette, December 2017: In Defence of Jordan B. Peterson

5. From Quillette, December 2017: How Activists Took Control of a University: The Case Study of Evergreen State

6. From Quillette, January 2018: Jordan Peterson, Critical Theory, and the New Bourgeoisie

7. From Quillette, February 2018: A Deep Dive into Jordan Peterson's Channel 4 Interview

8. From Quillette, February 2018: Thinking Critically About Social Justice

9. From Quillette, May 2018: Can Liberalism Survive?

10. From Quillette, May 2018: The Munk Debate and the Perils of Tribalism

11. From Quillette, June 2018: The War on Normal People--A Review

12. From Quillette, August 2018: A Closer Look at Anti-White Rhetoric

13. From Quillette, October 2018: Do Advocacy Groups Belong in Academia?

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Why Insights in Evolutionary Moral Psychology Help Resolve Long-Standing Meta-Ethical Questions

Also uploaded in pdf at

See the first post in this series here: Why Massimo Pigliucci is Wrong About Moral Psychology, and the second post in this series here: What Does Normativity Add to Moral Discourse?

Normative statements are found in the earliest human literature, and they remain a central part of human discourse. Yet, pinning them down has proven remarkably difficult. When we say ‘killing is wrong’ or ‘you ought to help others in need’, we seem to be – as the label implies – comparing our behaviour to a set of norms. But what are these norms, and how do we know them?

Thursday, 2 November 2017

What Does Normativity Add to Moral Discourse?

In yesterday’s post, I attempted to defend moral psychology against criticism from philosopher Massimo Pigliucci. The crux of his criticism is that moral psychologists are using their scientific research to make normative moral statements, thus violating David Hume’s is-ought gap. As a consequence, they are encroaching on the field of moral philosophy. By way of analogy, Pigliucci compares the study of morality to the study of mathematics and natural science, implying that normative statements are theories of a moral realm, and that moral philosophers – unlike moral psychologists – study it directly.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Why Massimo Pigliucci is Wrong About Moral Psychology

It seems to me in hindsight that this post may give the impression that Pigliucci's views are more rigid than they really are. It doesn't affect any of the arguments in this post, but Pigliucci has in other contexts expressed a much more flexible view than the rigid moral realism I read out of his article. See for example this YouTube video on meta-ethics.

See also a second post in this series here: What Does Normativity Add to Moral Discourse? and a third post here: Why Insights in Evolutionary Moral Psychology Help Resolve Long-Standing Meta-Ethical Questions.

Early last year, Massimo Pigliucci posted a blog essay criticising aspects of cognitive and moral psychology, especially the latter. Pigliucci is a Professor of Philosophy at CUNY-City College and one of the most visible contemporary academic philosophers. He’s also a scientist, which is relevant to this particular issue. His post was inspired by an article by philosopher Tamsin Shaw. I’m writing this in response to Pigliucci’s post – rather than Shaw’s article – because I think he manages to condense the important criticisms, while also adding some useful analogies.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Rise of the Religious Left

A few months ago, a student protest at Claremont McKenna College in California got out of hand. The protestors shut down a scheduled lecture and question-and-answer session titled The War on Police by Heather Mac Donald, a prominent critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

According to journalists covering the event, protestors blocked the entrances, ordered white male students observing the protest to leave, threatened journalists, and yelled ‘fuck the police’ at campus security officers. To add to all of this, a group of white protestors were observed pushing an elderly white professor while screaming ‘fuck white supremacy’.

Immediately following the protest, College Vice President Peter Uvin issued a statement declaring its methods unacceptable. This was followed by a similar statement by College President Hiram Chodosh. Claremont McKenna later disciplined seven students for their actions.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Why I'm an Amoralist

This is my most recent attempt at an article on morality. My views are still developing.

Introduction: The Transition from Theism to Atheism Was a Framework Transition
Theism was central to human thought from the very beginning of recorded history. From our earliest texts, it’s evident that humans viewed the world through a framework of powerful persons shaping nature to their purposes and requesting specified behaviour in return. Not until the 18th century did this framework begin to come under serious challenge, as a mounting body of scientific evidence offered a plausible alternative for the first time. Since then, theism has gradually declined in popularity in favour of an atheistic framework where nature is described entirely through impersonal physical regularities.

Sunday, 26 March 2017


I realised I needed to clarify and substantiate my thoughts. I've been putting my energy into that, rather than writing blog posts.

I've also just started a twitter account:

Monday, 19 December 2016

Personal Story: How I Came to Have a Problem with Contemporary Morality

This is an article where I recall my experiences realising something was wrong with the culture.

By the time I realised something was wrong, it was clear to me that it had been building for a while. I had no recollection of feeling anything unusual as a teenager, or even as late as my mid-twenties, so it must have begun sometime after that. Probably soon after, as I had recently turned thirty and it had clearly been building for some time. That was as much as I could narrow it down.
But what was it? Looking back, I could roughly identify four stages of development.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Where Does Leftism Lead?

Leftism holds enormous influence over Western society. Most of our central institutions, from academia to the media to the entertainment industry, are dominated by people who identify as leftist (or an equivalent label such as liberal or progressive). To take one example, a recent US study shows that left-leaning academic psychologists outnumber their right-leaning colleagues by a ratio of 12:1, and that an explosion has occurred over the past 25 years which shows no sign of slowing down.

Given their influence, and since activism seems to be an integral part of leftism, meaning that leftists are typically interested in changing society, this raises an important question: what do they want to change society into?

Saturday, 3 December 2016

We Need to Change Social Science

Here’s a (spaced out for easier reading) passage from my article The Amoral Society, where I say something about how I believe leftism pervades the social sciences:

There are four basic ways in which this takes place.

Morality is neither an external object nor a personal preference, it’s a simplifying framework

I originally posted this on on 27 October. It provides a brief overview of my view on morality.

The central question in meta-ethics, and arguably all of ethics, is the question of what moral statements refer to. Several candidates have been proposed, including Platonic objects, natural objects, commands, and personal preferences. The answer, I suggest, is that it is none of these. Rather, morality is a framework. We see this by looking at common moral terms: ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘justice’, ‘guilt’, ‘responsibility’, ‘blame’, and ‘rights’. These terms all have something in common: they are legal terms. Since morality dates to prehistoric times, it’s easy to see where this could have come from: prehistoric societies observed nature acting in a ‘court-like’ way – for example punishing them for overhunting – and inferred that this was a larger version of their own tribunal processes. Thus, we can define morality as an anthropomorphic framework based on the analogy of a human court, applied to human behaviour and its relation to nature. The framework persisted through human religious history, with various gods being the lawmaker and judge.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Amoral Society

This is a long article I wrote on morality, also put up on My views have developed a bit since.

In the early 1990s a new cultural narrative emerged. It started out in cult movies such as Léon and Nikita, made its way into blockbusters like Kill Bill and Sin City, and then spread to television, music, and even advertising. What distinguishes this narrative is that it centres around men being physically harmed and humiliated by women. As the narrative has evolved, the depiction of physical harm and humiliation has become increasingly celebratory and graphically detailed. Typically, it occurs through the following plot device: The villains are men with well-defined masculine traits, both physical and behavioural, often exaggerated for effect. The heroes are women with well-defined feminine traits. The men start out by harming the women, brutally and unjustifiably, after which the women regroup and set out to revenge themselves, ending with the men being beaten up and humiliated in graphic detail. The plot is typically supported by overt symbolism, alongside music and imagery intended to provoke intense emotional reactions, bordering on overstimulation. The most interesting thing, though, is not the narrative itself, but its producers and viewers. They are almost exclusively men. Why?