Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Status of Newborn Babies

Do you believe that a newborn baby is fully human? Answer: Yes.

The answer depends on what you contextually mean by “human”. If by “fully human” you mean “member of the species Homo sapiens sapiens, with a full corresponding complement of chromosomal DNA” then the answer is “yes”.

But then you are limited only to the inferences you can draw from that definition. For instance, a corpse is fully human by that definition, so if you want to exclude corpses, you have to alter the definition, by specifying “a living organism” instead of just “a member.”

In what sense is a newborn baby not fully human? There is at least one general sense: newborn babies are not developed to full and normal human potential. So if by “fully human” you mean “fully developed human” then the answer to the question is “no.”

Do you believe that a newborn baby is a person? Answer: Yes.

I do not believe babies are fully developed persons, but I do believe they are persons. Babies become persons before birth, at the formation and activation of their cerebral cortex (around the start of the third trimester, although the exact timing differ in each individual case). Babies have all the attributed of personhood; they only possess them in lesser degree than older children, who in turn possess them in lesser degree than adults.


These answers are based on the answers given by historian and philosopher Richard Carrier to the same questions HERE.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Attachment and Romantic Relationships

Finding a partner should not be left to chance

Tamara started dating Greg:
I first noticed Greg at a cocktail party at a friend’s house. He was unbelievably good-looking. A few days later we went out for dinner with some other people, and I couldn’t resist the glimmer of excitement in his eyes when he looked at me. But what I found most exciting were his words and an implicit promise of togetherness that he conveyed. He said things like, “You can call me any time you like.” If I’d only listened carefully, I could have easily heard another message that was incongruent with this promise. Several times he’d mentioned that he’d never had a stable relationship – that for some reason he always grew tired of his girlfriends and felt the need to move on. I figured that Greg was just not ready for a relationship at the time and that he hadn’t met the right person for him. I believed that if he really fell in love with me, he’d want to stick around. But then the strangest thing happened – we did fall in love, but the closer we got, the more he pushed me away. I became so preoccupied with the relationship that I stopped seeing my friends and had a hard time functioning at work. Most of the time my thoughts were directed at him. I hated it, but I also couldn’t help it.

Although Tamara acknowledged that she would be happier without Greg, she could not muster enough strength to leave. An intelligent and sophisticated woman had become anxious and insecure. Why would somebody so adaptive with other life challenges become so powerless with this one? And why would Greg keep her at arm’s length, even though he loved her?

Evolution and Attachment

Throughout history, those who became attached to a partner got a survival advantage over those who did not. People who were in a relationship with someone who cared deeply about them had a greater chance of surviving and have kids, and they passed on to their offspring their preference to form intimate bonds.

Also, children who became attached to their caregivers got a survival advantage, and had a greater chance of surviving to maturity, have children of their own, and pass on to them their attachment style.

There are four distinct ways in which infants form attachments with caregivers: secure, anxious, avoidant and ambivalent. Infants with a secure attachment style use their mother as a secure base from which to explore the environment, learn and thrive, and derive comfort and reassurance when they are upset or tired. Infants who have an insecure attachment style are too preoccupied with their mother’s whereabouts to be easily soothed (anxious), or too seemingly indifferent toward her to use her as a secure base for comfort in times of need (avoidant), or a mixture of both (ambivalent).

Adults show patterns of attachment to romantic partners similar to the patterns of attachment that children have with their caregivers. Knowing these different attachment styles can help us understand and predict people’s behavior in romantic situations.


Generally, secure people have little difficulty expressing their needs and feelings. They are usually loving, giving and intimate. They create little drama. They are comfortable depending on their partner and having their partner depending on them. They seldom worry about being abandoned.


Generally, anxious people crave physical and emotional closeness. They want to merge completely with their partner, and that desire sometimes scares (prospective) partners away. They will sometimes feel that their partner is reluctant to get as close to them as they would like. They constantly think about the relationship, and often worry that their partner doesn’t really love them or will abandon them. They are oversensitive to everything their partner says or does. They get increasingly clingy and upset in the face of a partner who distances himself/herself. And, they have a hard time breaking from unsatisfying relationships.


Generally, avoidant people find it difficult to depend on their partner, and have difficulty in saying “I love you”. They equate intimacy with a loss of independence, and find that their partners often want them to be more intimate than they feel comfortable being. When their (prospective) partner gets too close, they get nervous, and push him/her away. They may be distant, often find faults in the partner, and initiate fights – and this set back any progress in the relationship.

Lessons to be learned

Effective communication – to state your feelings and needs in a simple, nonthreatening manner – is the quickest way to determine whether a (prospective) partner will be suitable for you. By spelling out your needs, you are making it a lot easier for your partner to meet them. S/he does not need to guess whether something is bothering you – or what that something is.

Most wo/men are only as needy as their unmet needs. When our needs are met, we usually turn our attention outwards. This is the dependency paradox: the more effectively dependent people are on one another, the more independent and creative they become. So, dependence is not a bad thing – unless it becomes extreme. The ability to step into the world on our own often stem from the knowledge that there is someone besides us on whom we can rely. So, if you want to take the road to independence and happiness, find the right person to depend on and then travel down it together.

If a prospective partner shows a sincere wish to understand your needs and put your well-being first, your future with him/her has promise. But, if a prospective partner brushes aside your concerns as insignificant or often make you feel inadequate, foolish and hurt, you will be better off with someone else. Mismatched attachment styles can lead to a great deal of unhappiness in a relationship, even for people who love each other greatly.


Levine, A. & Heller, R. S. F. (2011). Get Attached: The Surprising Secret to Finding the Right Partner for a Healthy Relationship. Scientific American Mind, January/February, p. 22-29.

On Race and Morality

There are perhaps not many different human races. Though there are obvious exterior differences between us, the genetic variation is very small. Even if the concept of race is valid, from a moral point of view we are one big family: we are all humans with hopes and dreams, capable of good or evil deeds. No matter what genes we have, or what the color of our skin is, we all have a right to a minimally decent life, in the pursuit of our own happiness.

Animal Masturbation

While scientists debate the evolutionary reason for masturbation, there's no doubt that humans are not alone in their self-pleasure from time to time.
Many animals that masturbate don't continue the deed until orgasm (humans seem to be rather goal-oriented on this point). That means that some of the best theories for why masturbation evolved in humans are off the table for other animals. For example, studies have found that masturbation can increase a man's sperm count by getting rid of old semen that's lost its vitality, and therefore boosting the chances that young, lively sperm will be ejaculated during intercourse. But since this discharge doesn't seem to occur as often in animals, then there must be some other benefits to the practice.

Dogs like to thrust and rub against objects and enjoy licking themselves. Male horses like to slide their penises against their underbellies. Moose can bring themselves to orgasm simply by rubbing their antlers on nearby trees. Male walruses can use their flippers for masturbation and their mouths for self-fellation. Male turtles will emit squeaks of pleasure while masturbating. Male squirrels masturbate to ejaculation and consume the ejaculate. Masturbation could function as a form of genital grooming, because saliva has anti-bacterial properties, and the act may also reduce risk of catching a sexually transmitted disease. Consuming the ejaculate may prevent moisture loss.

Moskowitz, C. (2011, 23. February). Why So Many Animals Evolved to Masturbate. Live Science.

A History of Christianity 1 of 6

Gunn Hild Lems appell mot pels

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why care about the world?

Watching and reading news from around the world can almost make me depressed. There is so much needless suffering, and far too much cruelty. Sometimes I wonder: “Where did all the heroes go?" and “Where is the compassion?”

I got much compassion for humanity. I want to make the world a better place. I think that is a reasonable expectation of my “self”. Why wouldn't I try to contribute? I could hardly complain about the state of affairs if I myself did nothing to make things better. And I would dislike myself, because I want to be a caring and altruistic person.

But, sometimes I think: "Why do I bother? Why am I fighting evil, when it does not seem to make a difference?" Sometimes you get little back for being kind and giving.

Then I remember the words of Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

The success of a life is not measured by a person’s income or status; but by his or her gifts of love to the world. The surest route to a happy life is one lived for the benefit of others.

I may not change the world, but I will try to spark the brain that will change the world. At least, I hope to lay on my deathbed with no regrets, knowing that I tried my best with what I had.

If you think there is to much suffering and cruelty in the world, do something about it. We must be the goodness. Be a light in the darkness!

Gullkorn fra Barnemunn :D

Hva sier de Ti Bud?:
"Du skal ikke stjele fra de fattige hvis de ser det" (Frida, 6 år)
"Du skal herde din farmor så hun kommer til himmelen" (Caroline, 7 år)
"Du skal ikke begjære din ektefelle eller andre arbeidsfolk" (Christian, 9 år)
"Du skal ikke slå i hjel tiden" (Karina, 6 år)
"Du skal ikke bakvaske noen bak deres ryggmarg" (Oscar, 7 år)
"Du skal oppbevare din neste som deg selv" (Runa, 8 år)
"Liten tue kan velte stor tass" (Christian, 8 år)
"Du skal høre på moren din samme hva hun sier, og hvilket tonefall hun bruker" (Thomas Andre, 7 år)

"Når man gifter seg, gir man hverandre et taushetsløfte Hvis man ikke holder det, blir man skilt, og da må man dele på lampene og knivene, og som regel blir man ikke enige om hvem som skal ha barna. De som ikke blir enige om det, må gå til en børsmegler. Han bestemmer at den ene skal ha barna, så får heller den andre et spisebord ekstra."

"Vi har hjerne for at håret skal ha noe å henge fast i" (Nina, 5 år)

"Skjelettet er et stativ som han kan henge fra seg kroppen på" (Sander, 7 år)

"Kua parer seg med oksen for å få kalver. Oksen gjør det fordi den har lyst" (Sverre, 6 år)

"Det kan hende at den man gifter seg med er feil person, at det bare var synsbedrag. Men da kan man bare skille seg og finne en ny og bedre" (Jonas, 8 år)

"Man kan være død når man blir født. Da er man dødfødt. Det er veldig dumt for jordmoren som går glipp av et poeng" (Anna, 6 år)

"Pappaen min er veldig glad i meg. Han er så glad i meg at han skriker til meg i butikken" (Stine Marie, 6 år)

"Utseende har ingenting å si. Se på meg - jeg er veldig kjekk, men har allikevel ingen å gifte meg med" (Brian, 7 år)

"For å få kjærligheten til å vare er det viktig å være en god kysser. Da kan det hende at kona di glemmer at du aldri tar ut søpla" (Erik, 8 år)

"I gamle dager sa man "Jeg elsker deg" til folk. Nå trenger man heldigvis ikke å anstrenge seg så forferdelig skrekkelig lenger. Jeg tror det holder at man sier: ’Kom hit!’" (Holger, 8 år)

"Arsenikk er et sterkt krydder som lett kan ødelegge hele middagen" (Jeanette, 10 år)

"Vann plystrer ved hundre grader." (Mons 9 år)

"Pappa sier mamma'n min er bevisstløs når hun kjøper klær." (Tor 6 år)

"Når jeg blir voksen vil jeg bli akkurat som pappa, bortsett fra at jeg ikke vil ha hår over hele meg." (Tony 8 år)

"En ektefelle er noe som er laget av jern og ofte henger ute i skogen." (Tobias 6 år)

"I en familie kan man si akkurat hva man mener uten å være redd for at noen andre skal mene det samme." (Haakon 6 år)

"Kineserne kommer nok ikke til den vanlige himmelen. Kanskje de kommer til den syvende himmel? Eller til den himmelske freds plass."

"Gud heter egentlig Den allmennpraktiserende hersker på himmelen og på jorden. Han bestemmer alt, hele tiden. I gamle dager het Gud 'mannen med ljåen'."

"Nå er det blitt ozonhull i himmelen. Det gjør gulvet til Gud ikke helt tett lenger. Det kan bli et problem."

"Det er mange i himmelen: Alle de som er døde er der, pluss Gud og Jesus og Den dårlige Ånde."

"Man kan kalle Gud for hva man vil. Man kan kalle ham Kristus, Festus eller Herre-Jesus."

"Den Hellige Ånd er Ånden som går."

"Å være engel er et typisk kvinne-yrke."

"Det er noen som har en hellig lama. Det er eg entlig en liten kamel. Den heter Dalai-Lama. Jeg tror det er en engel."

"Hvis Gud hadde holdt det han sa om å la alle barna komme til seg, så hadde vi ikke trengt barnehager."

"Det er ikke sikkert Gud har rett i alt han sier. Det kan være at Allah har rett, selv om han bor i Pakistan."

"En ektefelle er den fellen man går i når man gifter seg."

"Når man er sånn førti eller femti år, slutter damene å legge egg. Det vil si at de ikke lenger kan produsere folk. Hekkingen begynner sånn i fjortenårsalderen og varer helt til middelalderen"

"Gamle jomfruer vet ikke helt hvordan menn skal brukes"

"En gynekolog er en som titter inn i folks private eiendeler."

"Negre har sort hud, men det er ikke pent å si høyt."

"Lytt til hjernen din - den har mye informasjon." (Chelsey, 7 år)

Om Kroppen:

"Hjernen sitter i nøtta."

"Hjernen svømmer omkring inni hodet."

"Bak pannen ligger hjernen på lur."

"Ørene er to flak som er skrudd fast i hodet." (Frans, 5 år)

"Kroppen består av vann og brød."(Julian, 5 år)

"Julenissens kropp er rød og hvit fordi han er reklame for Coca-Cola..." (Julian, 5 år)

"Musklene er noen små ballonger som er fylt med spinat." (Lars Jøran, 6 år)

"Skjelettet er pakket inn i pølseskinn. På den måten holder innmaten seg innenfor kroppens fire vegger." (Thomas, 6 år)

"Spøkelser har ikke kropper av kjøtt, men av sengetøy." (Olav, 5 år)

"Skjelettet er et beinrangel som man drar rundt på så lenge man lever." (Henrik, 7 år)

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Etikk: En Innføring

1. Hva er Etikk og Moral?

2. Deskriptiv Etikk

3. Normativ Etikk

4. Verdier og normer

5. Etisk Argumentasjon

6. Moralsk Relevante Egenskaper

7. Moralske Konflikter

8. Normative Etiske Teorier

9. Konsekvensetikk

10. Dydsetikk

11. Deontologisk Etikk

12. Metaetikk