Short essays
Online Courses
Professional Publications
Animal Ethics
Gerard Hoffnung
Dear Socrates
Rosamonde Safier
Other topics
Read some of my essays
Joel Marks  



Published short essays on ETHICS and PHILOSOPHY

by Joel Marks
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
University of New Haven

Bioethics Center Scholar
Yale University


The following appeared in Philosophy NOW magazine as "Ethical and other Episodes."

"That Was the Year that Was." Issue No. 99, November/December, 2013, p. 39.

"Nonsense on Stilts." Issue No. 98, September/October, 2013, p. 45.

"This One's for You." Issue No. 97, July/August, 2013, p. 52.

"Some Like It Hot." Issue No. 96, May/June, 2013, pp. 52-53.

"The Dancing Philosopher." Issue No. 95, March/April 2013, p. 52.

"Trade Secret." Issue No. 94, January/February 2013, p. 45.

"Desire: Thirty Years Later." Issue No. 93, November/December 2012, p. 44.

"Forbidden Fruit." Issue No. 92, September/October 2012, pp. 37

"Crazy." Issue No. 91, July/August 2012, p. 52.

"'A' is for 'Assumption'." Issue No. 90, May/June 2012, pp. 52-53.

"The Sleeper Wakes." Issue No. 89, March/April 2012, p. 52.

"Advance Directive." Issue No. 88, January/February 2012, p. 50.

"Moral Pornography." Issue No. 87, November/December 2011, p. 52.

"Absolute Vulnerability." Issue No. 86, September/October 2011, p. 52.

"Veterinarian, Heal Thy Profession." Issue No. 85, July/August 2011, p. 47.

"World without Anger." Issue No. 84, May/June 2011, p 53.

"The Heart Has its Reasons." Issue No. 83, March/April 2011, p. 39.

"Coulda Woulda Shoulda." Issue No. 82, January/February 2011, p. 47.

"An Amoral Manifesto (Part 2)." Issue No. 81, October/November 2010, pp. 23-26.

"An Amoral Manifesto (Part 1)." Issue No. 80, August/September 2010, pp. 30-33.


The following appeared in Philosophy NOW magazine as "Moral and other Moments."

"Not with a Whimper, but a Bang." Issue No. 79, June/July 2010.

"Am I a Plagiarist?" Issue No. 78, April/May 2010, p. 48.

"I Sink, Therefore I'm Not." Issue No. 77, February/March 2010, p. 39.

"Time Travel Made Easy." Issue No. 76, November/December 2009, p. 33.

"Taking Determinism Seriously." Issue No. 75, September/October 2009, p. 43.

"From Here to There." Issue No. 74, July/August 2009, pp. 30f.

"Kant by Default." Issue No. 73, May/June 2009, p. 41.

"Man in the Middle: Animals, Humans, and Robots -- Oh My!" Issue No. 72, March/April 2009, pp. 20f.

"Mysterious Loss, or Something about a Body." Issue No. 71, January/February 2009, pp. 45f.

"Belief." Issue No. 70, November/December 2008, p. 39.

"First Person, Second Person, Third Person." Issue No. 69, September/October 2008, p. 51.

"Iatrogenic Torture." Issue No. 68, July/August 2008, p. 48.

"Turning the Tables: We Matter Because We Are Animals." Issue No. 67, May/June 2008, p. 37.

"Whose Environment Is It?" Issue No. 66, March/April 2008, p. 33.

"Things Take Time: the Schedule." Issue No. 65, January/February 2008, p. 53.

"The Rationalist Dream Come True." Issue No. 64, November/December 2007, p. 49.

"Rematch." Issue No. 63, September/October 2007, p. 41.

"Thought for Food -- Re: Veal." Issue No. 62, July/August 2007, p. 48.

"Who Are You?" Issue No. 61, May/June 2007, p. 37.

"The Usefulness of Theory." Issue No. 60, March/April 2007, p. 50.

"Professional Disillusion." Issue No. 59, January/February 2007, p. 52.

"Philosophical Astronomy." Issue No. 58, November/December 2006, p 48.

"Unprincipled Principles." Issue No. 57, September/October 2006, p. 47.

"Luck and Punishment." Issue No. 56, July/August 2006.

"Stop Think." Issue No. 55, May/June 2006.

"Real Epistemology, or On Being Your Own Scientist." Issue No. 54, February/March 2006.

"Philosophical Prestidigitation." Issue No. 53, November/December 2005.

"Showdown." Issue No. 52, August/September 2005

"On the Other Hand." Issue No. 51, June/July 2005

“Calling a Spade a Shovel." Issue No. 50, March/April 2005.

"The Golden Rule Redux." Issue No. 49, January/February 2004.

"The History of the World, Part 2." Issue No. 48, October/November 2004.

"The Geography of Philosophy." Issue No. 47, August/September 2004.

"Eight Years Old and Counting." Issue No. 46, June/July 2004.

"Ignorance Is Bliss." Issue No. 45, March/April 2004.

"A Funny Thing About Consciousness." Issue No. 44, January/February 2004.

"We Hold These Truth to be Self-Evident." Issue No. 43, October/November 2003.

"An Immortal Pair Passes." Issue No. 42, July/August 2003.

"Forever Now." Issue No. 41, May/June 2003.

"The Beauty and Utility of Logic." Issue No. 40, March/April 2003.

"The Etiquette of Ethics." Issue No. 39, December 2002/January 2003.

"Car Seats and the Absurd." Issue No. 38, October/November 2002.

"Rightness and Rewards." Issue No. 37, August/September 2002.

"When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer." Issue No. 36, June/July 2002.

"Pons Asinorum." Issue No. 35, March/April 2002.

"The Mouse that Roared." Issue No. 34, December 2001/January 2002.

"Science and Philosophy: Vive la Différence!" Issue No. 33, September/October 2001.

"The Right Way to Make a Left Turn." Issue No. 32, June/July 2001.

"Right by Definition." Issue No. 31, March/April 2001.

"Apt Apologies." Issue No. 30, December 2000/January 2001.

"Testing Your Moral Metal." Issue No. 29, October/November 2000.

"Simon Says: Do the Right Thing!" Issue No. 28, August/September 2000.

"The Truth about Lying." Issue No. 27, June/July 2000.

The following appeared as op-ed ("Forum") columns in the New Haven Register.

"Why Is Animal Research OK for Mice but not Your Pet?" February 20, 2018.

"Witnessing The Witness." January 19, 2011.

"Kitten's Horrid Tale Contains Conundrum." November 2, 2010.

"Extending Life No Favor for Some." May 18, 2010.

"Suicide Should Be a Choice Available to All." July 21, 2009.

"Animal Law Is all about Pet Owners." May 12, 2009.

"Prostitution Crackdown Begs Question." August 21, 2008.

"The Push Mower Returns as Green Technology." June 12, 2008.

"What Is a Charity?" April 17, 2008.

"Reactions to Barbarity Not Rational." August 16, 2007.

"No Justification for Death Penalty." June 26, 2007.

"Book Makes Case for Thinking about What We Eat." May 16, 2007.

"Consider Daily Plight of Lab Mice." January 4, 2006.

Pro-reform Legislators Should Not Wait for Law.” June 29, 2005.

"Laws Aren’t a Good Substitute for Ethics." October 11, 2004.

"Business Professionals Should Have Ethics Added to Their Educations." July 14, 2002.

"There Are People Who Feel the Ends Justify the Means" (written on 9/11/01). September 16, 2001.

"Moral Values of Top Lawyer Stow Easily." January 23, 2001.

"Proof Lacking that Anybody Led Past Lives." August 29, 2000.

"Charity Group Offers Donors a Moral Choice." September 15, 1999.

"Hillary Becomes the Role Model for Commitment." October 22, 1998.

"8-year-old Has Right Idea on Gift-Giving." December 20, 1995.

"Selflessness Is Big Winner in World Games." July 6, 1995.

"Society Decides Which Disability Is Disabling." June 2, 1995.

“Those Without Finger Stains Have the Better Part of the Argument." June 26, 1994.

"Even the Ethics Class Has Its Cheaters." November 10, 1993.

"Preserving Jobs Isn't Valid Reason for Building Unnecessary Weapons." August 1, 1993.

"Honest Folks Should Hang Up on 'Gotta Go' Device." May 23, 1993.

The following appeared in other newspapers and media.

"The Price of All Those Medical Research Jobs." Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, Connecticut). October 9, 2011.

"Atheism, Amorality, and Animals." The New York Times Opinionator (blog), September 2, 2011.

"Confessions of an Ex-Moralist." The New York Times Opinionator (blog), August 21, 2011.

"A New Year's Resolution: One Year and Counting." Milford-Orange Bulletin (New Haven, Connecticut). January 7, 2010.

"Remember Where that Dinner Came From." Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, Connecticut). December 17, 2009.

"Give Your Support to Agencies Fighting for Gay Rights." Norwich Bulletin (Norwich, Connecticut). December 13, 2009.

"Care for Environment Must Include Empathy for Animals." Norwich Bulletin (Norwich, Connecticut). November 29, 2009.

"New Year's Resolution -- Go Vegan!" Vegging Out (New Haven Register blog). January 15, 2009.

"Argument Regarding Animals Specious." New Haven Register (letter). August 23, 2006.

Sacral Rites and Civil Rights.” Milford Weekly (Milford, Connecticut). March 11, 2005.

"Tolerance Debate Welcomed." Milford Weekly (Milford, Connecticut). April 16, 2004.

"The Moral of the Story..." New Haven Advocate (Letter to the editor). July 29, 1993.

"The American Dream Is More than Money and Power." Hartford Courant. July 14, 1993.

The following appeared as chapters in my book, Moral Moments: Very Short Essays on Ethics (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000).

Introductory essays:


This book seeks to demonstrate that ethics is not subjective, that ethics has relevance to business and the professions as well as to everyday life, and that no more practical question can be asked than, "What is ethics?"


Is it possible to philosophize in 700 words or less?

Dedication to a Colleague

Has deciding right from wrong become a technical question?

Dedication to My Students

What are the unexamined assumptions underlying my own presence at the university?

Essays from Part I, "Evasions":

Many social scientists maintain that their disciplines will tell us everything we could hope to know about how we should live our lives. I hold, to the contrary, that one's view of life is essentially incomplete if one does not recognize a distinct ethical dimension. In this part of the book, therefore, I highlight ethical features of everyday life, including the work place. I also consider some of the many strategies people employ, however unintentionally, to ignore the ethical dimension: hence the title, "Evasions."

Last Class

What does it mean to say, "I know this is wrong, but I must do it anyway"?

Ethics on the Scales

Is ethics just another consideration in decision-making, to be weighed in the balance along with economic and other factors?

"That's Just Your Opinion"

Is ethics subjective?

"Says Who?"

Who decides what is right?

It's Legal, But Is It Ethical?

Does the law tell us what it is right or wrong to do?

Privatizing Ethics

Should we keep our ethical beliefs to ourselves lest we infringe on the right of others to hold theirs?

"I Don't Want to Argue!"

Should we avoid arguing about right and wrong?

A Bump on the Head

Is suffering always deserved?

Moral Magic

Are good people always innocent?

The Eye of the Beholder

What makes something an ethical issue?

Ethicist, Heal Thyself

Do ethicists have a built-in excuse for not taking stands?

Essays from Part II, "Theories":

Having argued in Part I that right and wrong constitute a genuine subject matter, I proceed in Part II to consider some time-honored suggestions about what sorts of things, considered in the most general terms, actually are right or wrong. This group of essays is labeled "Theories" because these are the traditional media for deciding such questions.


Is unselfishness just a higher form of selfishness?

The Consequentialist Continuum, Part 1

Who matters?

Let Us Boldly Go: The Consequentialist Continuum, Part 2

Do Martians matter?

Moral Identity: The Consequentialist Continuum, Part 3

What's your theory?

Ersatz Ethics: The Consequentialist Continuum, Part 4

Is every "philosophy of life" an ethics?

"Ought" Implies Kant

Does the end justify the means?

"Heil Schicklgruber"?

Do we know what we're doing?

Zen Awareness

Does being more aware make one more moral?

The Kitchen Sink

Is there a right way to wash the dishes?

Essays from Part III, "Stands":

Illustrations of ethical analyses of practical issues.

Off the Hook?

Is it OK to deceive so long as you don't lie?

Guns and Jobs

Does saving jobs trump all other considerations?

A Cock and Bull Argument

Should we refrain from criticizing another culture's practices?

Why Cheating Is Wrong

Is it wrong to cheat in an ethics class?

Why Are We Here?

Do college students need to study ethics?

Essays from Part IV, "Hazards":

The essays in this part take a personal turn in response to the suspicion that ethics tells us more about ethicists than about any presumed real feature of the world.

Occupational Hazards of an Ethicist

Is being an ethicist a hopelessly compromising occupation?

Sitting While Standing

If a philosophy professor can't make up his mind about ethical issues, how can a business major be expected to make up hers?


Is self-interest my real motive for being kind to the neighbors?

Honest to a Fault

Is ethical-mindedness more a personality trait than a virtue?


What kind of an argument is "Feel her belly"?