August 2012

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Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. Send your comments to me at I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. If you want the letter published, but without your name attached, I will do so. I will not include your email address unless you ask me to. Flames are an exception. They will be published in full, with name and email address. I have actually had people follow up on a published flame by complaining that they thought they were insulting my ancestry privately. Nope, sorry.


Before my question, may I say that I have only just discovered your site and am LOVING it. I've only read a couple of papers so far - lots of fun in store...

If an article on Ethical Spectacle appears without a listed author, would that author be you?

If so, and given that Pinker hadn't published The Better Angels of Our Nature at the time, do you still support the following belief:

Humans knew as much about themselves, about morality, in Plato's time as today. All that has changed since then is our ability to engineer the world; our ability to engineer ourselves--a task for which there is no technique of mass production, but which each of us as artisan must perform upon ourselves--is as dim as it was then.

from A Poor Workman Blames His Tools (1996).

Thanks so much for your wonderful journal.


Dear Mr. Wallace,

In one of your past issues that I read a long time ago, you discussed a fiction book that sounded very interesting--but now I can't find the issue or remember the name. In your review, you said it is about a world in which various cities or zones exist, each having its own ethical ideals/rules, and people are free to choose which zone to live in.

Does this spark your memory enough to give me the title of the book?



Don't recognize the book but possibly you are remembering my thought experiment of the "Lab", spelled out here.