Is mindfulness just a fad?

What is mindfulness? Dr. Alex Snow, WVU Teaching Assistant Professor in Religious Studies, provides us with an understanding of mindfulness and its ancient roots in Buddhism.  

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What should be the point of criminal punishment?

This issue continues our collaboration with WVU's Campus Read, discussing issues raised in Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014, Random House). Professor Amy Cyphert, Director of WVU ASPIRE, and adjunct professor of law and philosophy, poses questions about the purpose of criminal punishment and who is supposed to benefit from such punishment. Please share your own ideas and questions in the blog below.  If you do not have a Disqus account, you can just post as "guest."  Please follow us on Facebook to stay up to date: https://www.facebook.com/wvuthequestion/

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What are the moral costs of the death penalty?

In several upcoming issues, we will focus on Bryan Stevenson's important book, Just Mercy.  (Stevenson will be speaking in the Mountainlair Ballrooms at 7:30pm on Monday, November 7th.)  We begin this series with Dr. Jessica Wolfendale, a professor in WVU's Philosophy Department.  She asks us to think carefully about some big questions connected to Just Mercy. Are modern methods of execution painless and humane, as purported, or are they cruel and violent?  What is the moral cost of creating institutions and training executioners to kill other human beings? Please respond to Dr. Wolfendale's ideas or pose your own ideas and questions in the blog.  (If you don't have a Disqus account, you can post as "Guest.")  You can follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wvuthequestion/

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Are you an immoral accomplice? Music Edition

When are we morally innocent bystanders and when are we immoral accomplices?  THE QUESTION is going to raise several scenarios to provoke your moral intuitions.  In this edition, we will focus on our behavior as mere listeners and consumers of music with degrading, violent, and hateful lyrics.  Many of us listen to such music, purchase such music, and even sing along.  Are we part of the problem or are we innocent bystanders?  Share your thoughts in this blog or on our Facebook page.

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Should College Be Free?

College is an expensive investment for many people. A democracy works best when its citizens are well educated. Should a college education be provided to all Americans, free of charge?  Who would/should pay for it? Is the current system broken?  What do you think? Please share your ideas in the comments section.  To add a comment, please click read full article, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and type in the designated area.

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Am I my brother's keeper?

We all want to live in a world in which we take good care of ourselves and others.  What gets in the way of that happening?  What stops us from asking for, giving, and receiving help?  What gets in the way of knowing what is the right thing to do?  Please scroll down and share some ideas in the blog. 

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What's the problem with so-called "Indian" mascots?

This academic year, THE QUESTION returns with interesting questions designed to spark respectful and enlightening discussion.  Even when our questions pose challenging and uncomfortable topics, as will happen with this issue and others, we hope you will enjoy the process of patiently thinking about some big ideas.  

We begin in collaboration with WVU's Native American Studies Program, offering some perspectives on the view that the use of caricatures and stereotypes of Native American people is unacceptable and needs to stop. Among other places, we see examples of these in sports mascots and logos. Honestly facing the history of genocidal acts carried out against Native Americans, including attempts at forced assimilation, is a helpful place to begin to understand the thinking behind opposition to so-called “Indian” mascots. Broadly speaking, Native languages, spiritual and cultural practices, and traditional stories were nearly wiped out in the process of European colonization and settlement of this country. Most Americans lack a serious understanding of Native history and culture.  All of us, especially those who are members of a university community, have an obligation to understand and preserve history, thus contributing to a contemporary society where people can interact with empathy and civility. When a group has been made to feel invisible, and then told they are being  "honored" with ridiculous, inaccurate, humiliating, or disrespectful representations, it is a violation of the basic duty to treat people with dignity and respect. Those who pretend to be Indians for entertainment and fun, revving up team spirit by playing around with objects, practices, dress, and traditions that have sacred meaning, offend and belittle (whether or not they intend to do so). This issue of THE QUESTION is devoted to opening up a discussion that helps to illuminate why so many people are in favor of ending the use of so-called "Indian" mascots, and to explaining why this debate is really not just a question about mascots.

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Who and what should we forgive?

THE QUESTION will wrap up the 2015-16 academic year focusing on the topic of forgiveness. WVU philosophers Matthew Talbert, Jessica Wolfendale and Sharon Ryan, along with Glen Pettigrove from the University of Auckland, share some insights to stimulate further thought and discussion.

What is forgiveness?  Must we always forgive?  Should forgiveness be conditional upon a sincere apology and genuine remorse?  Is it ever morally acceptable to not forgive?  Are some actions, or the people who perform them, fundamentally unforgivable?  What is the role of apology in forgiveness?  Is forgiveness a power we have over others?  If so, how does it work?  Are the guiding principles of self-forgiveness the same as the guiding principles of forgiving others?  What are the emotional costs and benefits of forgiving, failing to forgive, or mindfully choosing to not forgive?

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