Sago Boulevard

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Some Thoughts on State-Church Separation

The role of state-church separation in American law has been on my mind recently. ACSBlog has a good summary of a panel discussion on the subject from the ACS National Convention. Some excerpts:
Judge [Stephen] Reinhardt open panel saying that he had a simple answer--when it comes to public policy, there is not a false dichotomy between secularism and religion it is a constitutionally mandated one. He had added that this nation provides the highest respect for religion and religious beliefs, but the constitution is godless. It does not mention god, nor does it declare a national religion. “It was not an oversight that god is not in the Constitution,” Reinhardt argued. He explained that the founding fathers believed that, “religion had no place in government, and the government had no place in religion.”...
[Melissa] Rogers warns that we can no longer rely on the courts as a backstop to protect this separation. She claims that progressives need to develop a vision that advocates both the protection of liberty and religion. She added that progressives must work to ensure that the government does not place burdens on the practice of religion, and, at the same time, we must stop expecting the government to promote our faith and claiming discrimination when the government does not promote our faith...
Secularist and religionist do not need to be on opposing sides, according to [Samuel] Casey, and that the free exercise and separation clauses of the first amendment need not clash.

Here's what's bothering me: I have a vague understanding of what "religion" means, although I'm aware that my understanding of the term is heavily influenced by personal religious biases. But I'm really not sure what "secular" means. Everybody, religious or not, believes certain things about the world to be true and certain things to be false. From a constitutional perspective, what's the difference between a belief that happens to coincide with that of a major religious institution and one that doesn't? You might answer that so-called religious beliefs simply have a special legal protection. But that's not good enough! In order for certain kinds of beliefs to enjoy special protection, there must be some difference between those beliefs and others. Even if you make the silly distinction between "faith" and "reason", the same problem arises. What about entirely secular beliefs that make no sense? (I can think of a few). Or a secularist who expresses beliefs that are often associated with religion? Is it the belief that is either "religious" or "secular" or is the individual expressing that belief?

There's a real tension in the First Amendment. In two sentences, the Constitution mandates that we figure out a way to differentiate between (and then balance) "belief" and "religious belief", "custom" and "religious custom", "ideology" and "religious ideology". Yet, it provides no tools for defining "religion". To suggest that the Constitution is "godless" doesn't help. The government can't be religiously neutral for the same reason it can't be ideologically neutral.

I have no real solution; I'm using this space as a way of thinking out loud. But I think the courts, in navigating the First Amendment should focus on defining key terms. At least in discussions I've participated in, "religion" is taken to imply the stereotype of American Christianity and "secular", that of left-wing humanism - which does very little to illuminate the issues at hand. We have to think more deeply about what we call "religious" and "secular". We can't interpret the Constitution unless we understand the words it uses.

Friday, July 29, 2005

French Motto: Work Less and Have More Fun

I'm not an economist and I know very little about France. So those of you who know more about the subject, feel free to correct me if I'm way off. That said, Paul Krugman's comparison between American and French economic cultures seems to be missing something.
A head-to-head comparison between the economies of the United States and Europe - France, in particular - shows that the big difference is in priorities, not performance. We're talking about two highly productive societies that have made a different tradeoff between work and family time. And there's a lot to be said for the French choice.

Krugman's main point is that "to the extent that the French have less income than we do, it's mainly a matter of choice." While French workers have less "disposible income" than their American counterparts, they compensate by spending more time with family. This, argues Krugman, is a conscious descision on the part of French culture and one that should not be dismissed out-of-hand. Citing a "new study of international differences", Krugman writes that "government regulations actually allow people to make a desirable tradeoff - to modestly lower income in return for more time with friends and family."

It seems to me that an important issue is being ignored. America's capitalist culture is behind much of the technological and scientific advacements that we export to the world (there's a reason I don't own a French-made computer, a French-made television, or a French-made car). What does French reliance on technology developed in more capitalist-friendly countries (US, Japan, India) say about the viability of an economy that prides itself on working less and having more fun?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Summer Reading Update

After several interruptions, I finally finished reading R. Walter Wurzburger's God is Proof Enough - about the meaning and significance of "faith" in Judaism. Although I've seen many of his ideas and arguments elsewhere, R. Wurzburger's formulations are exceptionally enlightening. I found myself (mostly) nodding in agreement as I read. A typical reaction after finishing a chapter was something along the lines of, "I've heard that before but now I think I really get it." It's a relatively easy read, not overly technical. Clearly, R. Wurzburger is well-versed in philosophy but he doesn't expect you to have read every major work in the western philosophical tradtion (like, say, R. Soloveitchik).

And now back to Dworkin's Law's Empire (which I had paused from to read Wurzburger). MacIntyre's After Virture and C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves are on deck. Other suggestions are appreciated.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

C. S. Lewis on Truth and Comfort

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."

Monday, July 25, 2005


Is anyone else confused by (or interested in) what exactly "evangelical" means and how it's used? According to, it means both "of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels" and "protestant". adds "of or relating to the Lutheran churches in Germany and Switzerland," "of or relating to all Protestant churches in Germany," and "of or relating to the group in the Church of England that stresses personal conversion and salvation by faith." Anybody confused yet? Here's a website devoted to Evangelical Catholicism.

Wikipedia helps a little:
Evangelical has several distinct meanings:

* In its original sense, it means belonging or related to the Gospel (Greek: euangelion - good news) of the New Testament.

* In the United States and the UK, it usually refers to adherents of Evangelicalism.

* In mainland Europe, especially in the German speaking and nordic countries, Evangelical (evangelisch) is a general designation for churches adhering to beliefs of the Reformation, e.g. Evangelical Lutheran Church, Evangelical Reformed Church, or Evangelical Methodist Church, in contrast to Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches. In this sense, it comprises everything from a liberal state church to a conservative free church in the Baptist or Pietist tradition.

* However, in German there are now two words used which are commonly translated "Evangelical": "evangelisch" meaning Protestant, and more narrowly the Lutheran and Reformed churches, and "evangelikal", pertaining to Evangelicalism. In Austria, the United Lutheran and Reformed Church (Evangelische Kirche in Oesterreich) claims a monopoly on the former term and has in the past sued independent churches using the designation "evangelisch".

* Among those who do not adhere to Evangelicalism, it is sometimes confused with "Evangelist," especially when evangelism is practiced aggressively.

Yet, another Wikipedia entry declares: "In Western cultural usage, Evangelical has usually referred to Protestantism, in intended contrast to Roman Catholicism."

It's interesting (and somewhat amusing) that such buzzwords lack anything that resembles coherent definition.

Utilitarian Silliness

I've been following the parentalism-utilitarian debate with some interest that began with Julian Sanchez's Reason article. Even if one is simpathetic to some utilitarian arguments, Brad DeLong's response is less than convincing: "My mind explodes when I read Julian's command to "'take as least as much satisfaction in the feeling of responsibility for our choices, in knowing that we have shaped a life that is ours even when we have chosen badly.'" Will Wilkinson suggests that
Maybe it would be helpful for DeLong if he were not to think like this:
(1) X is valuable iff X is a pleasurable mental state. (Axiom!)
(2) Someone just said A is valuable.
(3) But A isn't a pleasurable mental state!
(4) Head explodes. Aghh!

What he means is, as he spells out in his next paragraph, that (1) isn't obviously true. It may in fact even be false! I think Wilkinson is right that "something like autonomy or self-governance, or maybe existential self-creation, is valuable for its own sake."

Friday, July 22, 2005

Halakhic Heavy Lifting

In the context of a on-going discussion about the believability (for lack of a better word) of Judaism, Orthoprax writes:
I see the world as it is today. I don't see water splitting into walls, I don't see chariots of fire in the sky, I don't see the sun stopping in its movement, I don't see giants or witches or angels anywhere (well, in movies I suppose). I don't see any miracles in life.

It's important to point out here a significant difference of perspective. I'm looking at the world through halakhic lenses so the miraculous means something very different to me. See, for instance, the blessings before and after Shema. In R. Wurzburger's words, "We must begin with refusing to let familiarity dull our sense of wonder." Of course, though, this only makes sense if you are looking for God. You won't find what you're not looking for. You won't see what you're not prepared to believe. Orthoprax paraphrases me as saying: "So, if you believe then you will believe. If you are skeptical then you will be skeptical. Wowzers." Well, no. If you open yourself up to the possiblity of God in a sincere and diligent way, then you may recognize Him the next time you see the sunrise. If you want a neat logical demonstration of why it is reasonable to believe in God before doing all of the heavy lifting that Halakhah requires, you won't get it. It is in this light that the rabbis advise: "Do not believe an individual who claims to have found [spiritual treasures] without having toiled for them" (BT Megilah 6b).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

More on Iraqis Hating Jews

Iraqis barring Israelis from citizenship can't simply be shrugged as "well, it's understandable". The normalization of antisemitism in the Arab world needs to stop if any semblance of peace is possible. Seth Chalmer, who has drawn attention to senseless Jew-hating more than once in the past, disagrees:
I mean, it had to happen. And even though (long before Saddam) a full third of Baghdad was Jewish, I can't imagine any modern-day Jews wanting to be citizens of Iraq. I hope in five years or so they change it, but I'll wait for a full Middle East peace agreement before I insist on that one. So no, the President shouldn't object... It might be nice if he said something about Iraqis ideally changing it in the future.

In a comment to Seth's post, Micah writes:
It is senseless antisemitism, but that doesn't mean that Bush should object. It's vitally important that Iraq's constitution be seen as coming from Iraqis, not the US government. If Bush were to shake his finger at Iraq and say "now now, don't be racist," it wouldn't do anything to change the well-entrenched fear and loathing of Jews that pervades their culture. It would just make it look we're trying to force Iraq's constitution to be just like America's. That's the last thing we need right now, and we'll have to put up with some senseless antisemitism to avoid it.

No, no, no! Antisemitism must not be politely excused as "well, it's understandable". Hate is not understandable. It's the primacy cause of the wars plaguing the Mideast for the last century. The Iraqi Constitution barring Israelis from citizenship makes a statement that has the effect of making Jew-hating fundamental to the newly formed government. That sounds like the beginning of a government willing to fund Hamas and Islamic Jihad. A government that will fight efforts to recognize Israel's right to exist. A government that will bring more instability to the already volatile Israeli-Palestinian mess. World leaders who don't object to this are part of the problem.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

I Wonder What Iraqis Think of Israel

The latest draft of the Iraqi Constitution bars Israelis from citizenship. (Hat tip: Seth Chalmer) This obviously isn't a practical issue since I doubt that many Israelis are trying to become citizens of Iraq. But I guess they just had to put that in. What's an Arab document without the standard we-hate-Israel clause:
Article 1
3. Any individual with another nationality (except for Israel) may obtain Iraqi nationality after a period of residency inside the borders of Iraq of not less than ten years for an Arab or twenty years for any other nationality, as long as he has good character and behavior, has no criminal judgment against him from the Iraqi authorities during the time of his residency on the territory of the Iraqi republic.
4. An Iraqi may have more than one nationality as long as the nationality is not Israeli.

Sounds promising.

Reproductive Rights and Congress

I find myself agreeing with Dean more and more:
Abortion will cease to dominate our national politics the day that it is addressable through the normal legislative process--something the Supreme Court took away from us 30 years ago. Once that court imposition is liften, pro-choice and pro-life extremists will have to face the reality that neither of them speaks for most American women or men. We'll then be able to arrive at a compromise that most people can live with, and the issue will recede to the background where it belongs.

I bring up this 2-week-old post of Dean's in light of this discussion on Feministe. In a comment, I wrote that "as a general rule, I think single-issue litmus tests distort the integrity of the high court. Abortion rights shouldn’t be an issue of constitutional interpretation. It’s an issue of law and belongs in Congress." Jill responded:
Isn’t the role of the Supreme Court to interpret U.S. law within the framework of the Constitution? The “it’s an isue of law” argument could be made (and has been made) for a whole lot of civil liberties issues, with “state’s rights” often being the call for discrimination — just look at slavery, school segregation and interracial marriage. And I don’t think that asking a potential Supreme Court justice if he believes in the basic concept of a Constitutionally-protected right to privacy — indeed, asking him if he believes in the law of the land — is a “single-issue litmus test.”

To which I respond that the association of right-to-privacy with reproductive rights is weak at best. The decision itself isn’t particularly rigorous. I think it would be a much better use of time, effort, and money to fight for legislation than trying to block court nominees. I feel like I need to add that I'm pro-choice because in today's discourse, it seems like anybody who as much as questions Roe is seen as a reactionary Christian conservative. I'm none of those. I do believe, though, that as a matter of both principle and strategy, reproductive rights belong in the legislature.

Torah's Explaining Power

Orthoprax expresses some genuine concerns about the so-called proofs for theism. If you're interested I recommend reading through my comments on his post. I've addressed similar issues before (here and here) but I want to share a way of thinking that I personally find helpful:

It's true that we can explain the complexity of nature without appealing to God. The same is true for moral intuitions, ontology, etc. But positing God's existence is helpful in understanding how all these things relate to each other. Scientists (generally) aren't interested in understanding the relationship between the origins of the universe and ethical dilemmas, even if they can explain each one individually. But the Torah is concerned with exactly those kind of issues; for example, "What does bad things happening to good people have to do with the creation of the world". The Torah answers by appealing to God. It's not deductive to be sure, but it's very useful. In terms of accounting for the entirety of existence, I think the Torah-theory has tremendous explaining power. You'll always be able to come up with a cogent naturalist explanation but it strikes me as much less compelling.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Not Quite Similar

Haaretz's Yoel Marcus makes the following ridiculous comparison:
This week it became clear that there is no essential difference between Islamic Jihad and Israel's nationalist rabbis. Both are out to destroy the State of Israel - one by terror attacks and the other by gnawing away at the democratic foundations of the state.
As I wrote in a comment to Seth's post on the subject "That's like saying there's no difference between Yigal Amir and anybody who voted against Rabin. Both wanted Rabin out of office, they just differed in tactics." Firstly, comparing "nationalist rabbis" with Muslim radicals strikes me as off the mark to begin with. More importantly though, it is absolutely absurd to equate to groups simply because they have a similar end in sight. For the record, I don't believe for a second that the rabbis Marcus refers to are really "out to destroy the State of Israel", at least not in the same way Hamas is. But even if I grant his point about the so-called ultra-nationalists, the comparison fails miserably.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

John Stossel on "Art"

This is really funny (via LFB):
In one of his many televised exposes of hype and baloney, LFB author John Stossel embarrassed a modern-art connoisseur who gushed about an allegedly magnificent instance of the genre that turned out to be the random scrawling of a couple novice little girls.

"This is fabulous. The way space is presented, the juxtaposition of line and form, the suggestion of a spirit...a brilliant artwork."

The bald man, in his sharp suit, is a studio artist and has become enamored with an abstract piece on public display. He explains his interpretation to John Stossel and a nearby TV crew.

Stossel grins from beneath his highly amusing moustache and tells the man, "Actually, this picture was made by two 4-year-old girls and some finger paints about an hour ago."

"Well...these are obviously very talented 4-year-olds we're talking about," the man sputtered...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

At Least They're Calm

Islamic Jihad takes responsibility for a terrorist attack "at the Hasharon mall, at the entrance to the coastal town of Netanya, on Tuesday evening killing two women and wounding 24 others." (Full Story). In a fairwell video, the suicide bomber declared "We reiterate our commitment to calm, but we have to retaliate for Israeli violations." Well, at least they're calm. How nice. (via Seth Chalmer)

Related issue: Abu Gingy's hypothetical dialogue with a BBC policymaker exposes its policy about the word "terrorist" for its idiocy.

Forests and Trees

Abu Gingy writes that "Orthodox Judaism only sustains itself by missing the forest for the trees". What he means, of course, is that Orthodox Judaism is so preoccupied with minutiae that it misses "the big picture". "One can easily spend his entire life marveling over the great edifice of Jewish law", says Gingy, "without ever having asked the tough questions on life."

I discussed some of these issues in a previous post. As I mentioned in my comment to Gingy's blog:
The Books of Job and Kohelet, as well as the countless midrashim on them, are filled with basic questions about the relationship between Man and God. A good part of Deuteronomy is devoted to providing a metaphysical context for the other four books.

I could go on and give example after example of biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and liturgical texts that either explicitly or implicitly struggle with fundamental issues of faith. Enough books have been written on the subject to cover almost anything I may write here. For now, I'll leave it at this: Those who are predisposed against Orthodox Judaism (or traditional religion, in general) are likely not to be satisfied with whatever they find in its sacred texts. If you want to see what's really there, on the other hand, go and look for it. "From there you will seek the Lord, your God, and you shall find Him, if you search after Him with all your heart and all your soul" (Deut. 4:29).

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Ten Commandments and Black History Month

William Raspberry quotes Kevin "Seamus" Hasson of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty as saying:
Religion has a natural role in culture -- almost like ethnicity. And both, being categories over which people have killed each other, require scrutiny. But isn't it interesting that our courts are never clogged with Anglophiles trying to enjoin St. Patrick's Day parades, or with whites and Asians trying to stop Black History Month? Mayors can -- and do -- wear green on March 17, while taking no position on the relative merits of being Irish. It should be the same with Christmas and Hanukah.

It's a serious misunderstanding of religion, Hasson argues, to suggest that it ought to remain private.
We believe, so we daub paint on prehistoric cave walls, spend generations building cathedrals, sculpt the David, compose the 'Messiah' and write 'The Brothers Karamazov.' The personal thing to do is, and always has been, not to keep our beliefs private but to express them in culture.

While I'm inclined to agree with both Hasson and Raspberry, I have some reservations. Black History Month isn't quite parallel to displaying a Ten-Commandments momument in front of a courthouse. The mayor wearing green on March 17th is appropriate because it makes no statement about the relationship between "being Irish" and the loyalties of the city. Similarly, there's nothing wrong with public officials decorating a Christmas Tree or publically wishing Jewish Americans "happy New Year" on Rosh Hashanah.

The Ten-Commandments monument is different, though. It's a clear statement that the Court sees itself in a judicial tradition aligned with biblical religion and thus, is unconstitutional. Arguments to the effect of, "well American law really derives from the Bible" miss the point. Even if it were true (and it probably isn't), the government is not allowed to show loyalty to any particular religion. The First Amendment doesn't add "except in cases where our law actually has religious origins." Assuming that the Founders weren't stupid and understood the religious connotations of many of their values, they still felt the need to prohibit State from meddling with Church.

Of course, the government isn't allowed to "prohibit the free exercise" of religion either but that's a subject for another post.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Idiot Award Goes To...

The Rev. Robert Johansson, pastor of the Evangel Church in Long Island City, who was asked "Should religion play any role in the courtroom?" as part of the "Asking The Clergy" section in Saturday's Newsday. He answered:

My answer is absolutely yes because in religion you get the moral absolutes to make decisions, and when you take religion out, it becomes the rule of the masses.... In a recent debate, someone was challenging the place of the Ten Commandments by saying that America was not founded on the Bible or Judeo-Christian values but on English civil law. To some extent, that's true. But where did the civil law come from? It is basically from biblical Judeo-Christian thought.

Yikes, that's a really bad answer. The problem with removing religion, according to the reverend, is that "it becomes the rule of the masses." And since democracy is so terrible, we must keep religion in the courtroom lest "the masses" come to rule themselves! The reverend admits that American law isn't based on the Bible but rather on English civil law. But of course, civil law "is basically from biblical Judeo-Christian thought." Just ridiculous.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tragedy in London

I thought it would be appropriate to post on yesterday's terrorist attacks in London. I don't have any particularly deep thoughts, though. My reaction was pretty much disbelief. May God comfort all those who lost friends and loved ones.

"Meta-Questions": Further Discussion

An interesting discussion on the topic of my previous post is transpiring on Jewish Atheist's blog. Take a look.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Jewish Atheist's rant against Orthodox Judaism is a familiar one:
But where are the meta-questions? Why don't yeshiva students study the arguments for and against God's existence? Why don't they study textual criticism? Why don't they study the great non-Jewish theologians? Why don't they read philosophy?

As an Orthodox Jew who prides himself on studying philosophy, I have to respond to this. Yeshivah students don't (usually) study what he call "meta-questions" because we don't believe them to be nearly as important. The arguments for and against God's existence almost always fail to be compelling. These arguments, in their traditional form, often fail to consider the dynamic nature of the Jewish God and the halakhic system. "The trouble will all rational demonstrations of the existence of God," argues R. Soloveitchik, "consists in their being exactly what they were meant to be by those who formulated them: abstrast logical demonstrations divorced from the living primal experiences in which these demonstrations are rooted." Soloveitchik, a card carrying member of the yeshivah world, certainly knew these arguments well. His wide-ranging references to the entire spectrum of western philosphy (and his Ph.D. in the field) certainly attests to his concern with so-called "meta-questions". But his focus was understanding the halakhic system and its implications.

Soloveitchik is not alone. Rabbis Abaraham Isaac Kook, Marvin Fox, A.J. Heschel, Walter Wurzburger, Aharon Lichtenstein, Shubert Spero, and Yeshiah Leibowitz (these are just a few off the top of my head) all summon the best of western philosophy into the world of traditional-halakhic Judaism.

It may be easy to make a case against Orthodoxy by tapping into the stereotype of the yeshivah bocher hunched over a gemara who is concerned only with minutiae of the laws of kashrut. But maybe there's an even deeper issue. The yeshivah bocher believes that the questions he's concerned with are the fundamental questions. The back-and-forth of halakhic discourse is Jewish way of delving into God's world. I obviously have more to say about this but I'll stop here for now.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Some Call Them "Insurgents"

Bill Quick notes the inadequacy of the term "insurgents" in describing brutal terrorist murders. As Linda points out, "the word 'insurgent' does meet at least one of the definitions provided at '2: a member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment'. Bill's right; we need a more accurate description. Brutal terrorist murders, homicidal maniacs, grim rippers, angels of death... (Your suggestions are welcome).

Monday, July 04, 2005

More Bad Utilitarianism

While I generally prefer deontological and virtue-based ethical theories, arguments for utilitarianism (and consequentialism in general) often have a certain common-sense appeal (that is, until you think through the issues). Yet, T-Steel continues to give it a bad name. In response to my previous post, an excerpt of which I posted as a comment on his blog, T-Steel writes:
My point is that we HAVE to make hard stances/choices for the betterment of us all. Nazi-style medical research? How about grabbing murderers with life sentences and doing experiments on them? What? Uh? Sounds unpleasant? Well we have no problem killing terrorists (which I agree with) so I see no problem with human experimentation on those that lost their humanity.

Firstly, the fact that we may be inconsistent about moral considerations doesn't exempt us from them. You hear arguments of this sort often: "How can you accuse me of x? You're guilty of y and z." There's at least one important difference between killing terrorists and human experimentation on prisoners. One is presumably in self-defense. A criminal locked up behind bars, on the other hand, is hardly a threat to society at all. And I'm pretty sure we don't have the right to determine if and when he has "lost his humanity".

T-Steel's reasoning, aside from being logically unsound, is outright dangerous. If experimentation on prisoners is justified on the same grounds as self-defense from terrorists, where do we stop? A police state will almost certainly decrease domestic crime and a dictatorship might make waging "the war on terrorism" more efficient. As I mentioned before, though, it's simply not worth it. I'd rather be free.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Worst Kind of Utilitarianism

The debate over embryonic stem cell research typically revolves around the moral status of this small collection of cells. Most supporters of government funding for research argue, often cogently, that an embryo is not a human life in the conventional sense. This implies, of course, that they believe that if an embryo were a full-fledged human life, there would be something wrong about destroying it in the name of science.

T-Steel, however, taking utilitarian ethics to its extreme, argues that we ought to be willing to sacrifice some lives in order to save others. Science will suffer, he argues, "because of our unwillingness to sacrifice for the many." He asks rhetorically, "Do some of us actually think medical research is going to be clean? Do some of us actually think there won't be life lost in the pursuit of better life?"

In short, yes. Killing a life to save a life is still murder. No, "the needs of the many" do not outweigh "the needs of the few". Our Bill of Rights is the most prominent of example of this. I'm not sure how far T-Steel is willing to take his own position. Should we kill an innocent person and harvest his organs in order to save five others? Should we be willing to sacrifice our lives (or the lives of our loved ones) in the name science? Should we encourage the practice of Nazi-style medical research? It may be true that science and medicine may advance further if we threw ethics out the window. Psychologists and neuroscientists, for example, may make important discoveries about the human mind if they weren't bound by moral considerations in experimenting. At a certain point, though, it's not worth it.