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Community highlights: morality and maths

Another week, another few hundred comments posted to The Conversation – and only 70% of them about Tony Abbott. I search through the other 30% to bring you some of the comment I enjoyed reading the most.

Patrick Stokes wrote a story about moral seriousness and how we talk about dangerous ideas. In the comments, he touched on moral scepticism and if we can ever deem something ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

Well, if we’re trying to determine what’s right and what’s wrong, which is what moral philosophy does, then at some point we have to say that some views aren’t right. (While acknowledging we could turn out to be mistaken of course). That is, unless we’re moral sceptics, as you would seem to be based on your comment about ‘social constructs’. And that’s fine: moral skepticism is itself a metaethical position with a long history. But like all philosophical positions it involves a degree of bullet-biting: are you prepared, for instance, to say that “slavery is morally wrong” just amounts to “slavery happens to be frowned upon in this society at this time” and nothing more?

You can read the full comment and ensuing discussion here.

You might have noticed we’ve been running a series called Another Country: Youth in Australia, detailing the challenges faced by young people today.

On one of the articles, Mike Jubow placed a call for his elder brethren to pay more attention to the political voices of the young.

Liam, I am a teenager heading for his 71st birhday. I have the notion, that for the betterment of this nation, we should be listening to the youth of this nation much more closely. After all, we are the ones who have stuffed up things environmentally, politically socially and economically.

I have worked with high school youth for the last two decades and am constantly impressed by their enthusiasm and application of new ideas. The hottest topic amongst them at the moment, is climate change and they are very firm in their attitudes that all efforts should be committed to NOW. They are unforgiving towards those who would leave them a bigger problem than what has to be.

To them, equality is a given and equal opportunity means equal opportunity to jobs, education, social security and most of all, the right to free speech.

The politicians looking for the youth vote have a lot of catching up to do.

Finally, in the “I never would’ve made that link” category, Alan W. Shorter talks about his brief experiences studying Latin and Ancient Greek:

I am no linguist, but took two semesters of Beginners Latin, and one of Ancient Greek in undergrad. I did very well in both, despite never being taught English grammar at school? Why? Because my strength was Pure Mathematics. I was entranced by how systematic and maths like these two languages were, in a way I never was with English.

There you go: anecdotal evidence that Ancient Languages and maths aren’t so different.

What have we missed? Share your favourite comments below.