1. Michael Ignatieff on the range of moral responsibility

    Michael Ignatieff observes in The Warrior's Honor (1998) that we have a range of moral obligations. They're strongest to those closest to us.

    In practice, the claims of ethical universalism came to be strongly limited in Christian teaching and then in European natural law by the injunction that a rich …

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  2. George Washington on self-interest

    Hans Morgenthau quotes George Washington on the primacy of self-interest:

    A small knowledge of human nature will convince us, that, with far the greatest part of mankind, interest is the governing principle; and that, almost, every man is more or less, under its influence. Motives of public virtue may for …

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  3. The rogue in English literary tradition

    From the introduction to a 1968 edition of Thackeray's Vanity Fair (1848), by J. I. M. Stewart:

    It is not, of course, that [Becky Sharp] exists in a moral vacuum. We are moral beings as we regard her, and from the first we feel a play of sympathy and repulsion …

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  4. Emotion

    Saw "Mission Impossible: Fallout" recently. It was a good movie, but it reminded me of this quote from Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty (1990):

    "Anywhere along here's fine," Chili said, thinking of times he had been asked if he was guilty and not once ever having the urge to say he …

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  5. FDR's Four Freedoms speech

    Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech, from January 1941.

    In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

    The first is freedom of speech and expression - everywhere in the world.

    The second is freedom of every person to …

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  6. Ambition

    Jack Vance, Trullion: Alastor 2262:

    "... I've long felt a lack, or an emptiness. I want a weight to thrust my shoulder against; I want a challenge I can defy and conquer."

    "Brave words," said Shira dubiously. "But -"

    "But why should I so trouble myself? Because I have but one life …

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  7. Death

    Jack Vance, The Book of Dreams (1981):

    Navarth sat drinking wine with an aged acquaintance who bemoaned the brevity of existence. "I have left to me at the most ten years of life!"

    "That is sheer pessimism," declared Navarth. "Think optimistically, rather, of the ten hundred billion years of death …

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  8. Everyone wants peace, right?

    E. H. Carr, The 20 Years' Crisis, 1919-1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations (1939), on the mistaken belief that everyone wants peace:

    Politically, the [incorrect] doctrine of the identity of interests has commonly taken the form of an assumption that every nation has an identical interest in …

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  9. Imagination

    Imagination is the ability to see things that aren't there.

    An example from the classic cyberpunk novel Neuromancer (1984), by William Gibson:

    Two blocks west of the Chat, in a teashop called the Jarre de Thé, Case washed down the night's first pill with a double espresso. It was a …

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  10. What is a norm?

    A factual statement - "The earth is round" - is true or false.

    A normative statement - "You should not steal" - is different from a factual statement. A normative statement describes a rule for behavior: you should not do something (or more rarely, you should do something). This is the domain of ethics …

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