The Self and Being

Being Beyond Thinking

Abstract: In the below we query the place of contemplative and/or speculative thought from a viewpoint that centers “merely being” as focus (that is, in the human sense; but yet broadly considered), presenting an argument for the preferability of using this instrument of rational analysis for the purpose of moving beyond it and into a more profound existential stance. That is, we try to think a way (/perspective) by which to overcome “thinking,” such that an “earthier” being-hood might take root. We will frame this study by taking two of Martin Heidegger’s later works on the topic of thinking as our points for critique and departure: firstly his lecture series of 1951-1952 titled “What Calls for Thinking?” (or alternatively translated, “What is Called Thinking?”), and secondly his essay “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,” which was first published in a French version in 1966 and then appeared in German in 1969. We will find in Heidegger the affixation of a metaphysical ontology (an ascribed transcendence) placed onto “thinking” which appears very similar to many religious concepts of the numinous, and we will therefore have reason to fault this move as unhelpfully mystifying, however natural it may seem to position “thought” thusly. Finally, it will be offered that to close the gap betwixt self and world (i.e., one’s being and Being itself) opened by this (“excessive”) thinking, it is necessary to remove the mediating “trap” between.

Keywords: being; Continental philosophy; Heidegger; thinking

Being Beyond Thinking_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Humanismus, 35 (2024), 26-41.

Truth and Facts

Abstract: In the following short piece some general observations on the place, purpose, and qualities of “truth” and “facts” are discussed, firstly from the default vernacular position and thereafter from the perspective which would eventually come to be termed the postmodern point of view. In this process truth as correspondence or signification is considered, especially as when supported by facts claimed from empirical sources. Such a basis is, however, found to be too limiting for the human condition, and so we then turn to philosophical resources, especially with regards to phenomenological modes of thought that take internal experience as evidentiary. If truth is freed from representative constraints, and if one’s own inner life is allowed to present data personally accepted as facts, then what conclusions about these categories might be drawn? Some tentative responses are offered.

Keywords: Continental philosophy; facts; interpretation; phenomenology; truth

Truth and Facts_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Humanismus, 34 (2023), 33-41.

Souls and Selves: Querying an AI Self with a View to Human Selves and Consciousness

Abstract: The question of self-aware artificial intelligence may turn on the question of the human self. To explore some of the possibilities in play we start from an assumption that the self is often pre-analytically and by default conceptually viewed along lines which have likely been based on or from the kind of Abrahamic faith notion as expressed by a “true essence” (although not necessarily a static one), such as is given in the often vaguely used “soul.” Yet we contend that the self is separately definable, and in relatively narrow terms; if so, of what could the self be composed? We begin with a brief review of the descriptions of soul as expressed by some sample scriptural references taken from these religious lineages, and then transition to attempt a self-concept in psychological and cognitive terms that necessarily differentiates and delimits it from the ambiguous word “soul.” From these efforts too will emerge the type of elements that are needed for a self to be present, allowing us to think the self in an artificial intelligence (AI) context. If AI might have a self, could it be substantively close to a human’s? Would an “en-selved” AI be achievable? I will argue that there are reasons to think so, but that everything hinges on how we understand consciousness, and hence ruminating on that area – and the possibility or lack thereof in extension to non-organic devices – will comprise our summative consideration of the pertinent theoretical aspects. Finally, the practical will need to be briefly addressed, and for this some of the questions that would have to be asked regarding what it might mean ethically to relate to AI if an “artificial self” could indeed arise will be raised but not answered. To think fairly on artificial intelligence without anthropomorphizing it we need to better understand our own selves and our own minds. This paper will attempt to analyze the self within these bounds.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; consciousness; identity; mind; personhood; self; soul

Souls and Selves: Querying an AI Self_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Religions 14(1): 75, January 05, 2023. (DOI:; available here.

The Self as Source and Destination for Intuitive Interpretations of Religious or Spiritual Experiences

Abstract: Religious or spiritual experiences (RSE) are often difficult to fully express even if one might be able to describe particular aspects of them. Yet the influences that such carry in a person’s mode of being can be vast, and they are clearly a fundamental part of the human condition (whether accepted, denied, or dismissed, their occurrence appears universal). How then might these RSE – and the corresponding grounding implications – be better explained? This paper seeks to elucidate the problematic via an applied investigation of a self-theoretical framework which is composed of three interlaced “sets”: 1) Self-defining traits, 2) Self-directing traits, and 3) Self-evaluating traits. We will suggest that these elements (with consciousness and bodily presence) form a core self that is a separable facet from those of personal identity and whole person; and this finding will in turn require a brief look at consciousness and a two-tiered mental model. Taking the self-view into a phenomenological hermeneutical examination will illuminate the position at which RSE might reside within an individual’s cognition, and thence to exploring the pre-thought (the functionally pre-aware) foundations involved. Finally, some considerations will be given for how an understanding of the foregoing structure (if it be found valid) might contribute towards the purposive shifting of that self-basis from out of and towards which RSE are situated in a lifeworld.

Keywords: experience; interpretation; mental model; phenomenology; religious or spiritual experiences; self-theory; self-transformation

Self as Source and Destination: Intuitive Interpretations of RSE_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Religions 13(9): 798, August 29, 2022 (DOI:; available here.

Self-seeing and seeing-self through Kazimir Malevich’s “Epitaphios”

Abstract: Kazimir Malevich was a groundbreaking and visionary Russian artist of the early twentieth century. A man of his times, he shifted and studied through many of the major contemporary avant-garde movements prior to launching a new style, dubbed Suprematism. Before and after that feat, he demonstrated a creative and free use of humanoid figures in works marked by bold colors, firm lines, and unbounded concepts. The idea hangs heavily in Malevich’s frames, and it is this that concerns us here the most, particularly in regards to its entwinement with the self. In the below we will therefore attempt an examination of such through the use of one of Malevich’s earlier, figure centered, paintings. Towards this we will firstly seek to brush on the foundations of the self (psychologically and theoretically) before moving on to analyze the nature of pictorial interpretation as it arises from out of the self, and lastly to remark on some implications for self-expression based on the contours of the preceding. Our target will be a clearer understanding of the relationship between image, idea, and self; of how the first two are ever present in the third.

Keywords: art; expression; image; interpretation/hermeneutics; Kazimir Malevich; phenomenology; the self

Self-Seeing and Seeing-self through Malevich’s “Epitaphios”_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Humanismus, 32 (2021), 2-18.

Enervating the divine: Seeking new intuitions about God from a time of pandemic

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our planet in ways that could not have been foreseen. Yet even as the world has shifted, the “worlds” of our conceptual habitations have not, and this is particularly the case with regards to religious beliefs. It is from within this context that the present study seeks clarity. Beginning at the beginning, the paper sets out from a re-examination of the foundational creation myth of Western societies, and argues that a more careful reading of the actual presentation of that account, along with some situational explanations, results in an understanding of divinity that stresses neither omnipotence nor omniscience. The article then transitions to the importance of the notional in grounding and generating social behaviors, employing phenomenological and psychological research and analytical methods. Intuitions are seen to be central in the personally-based methodology undertaken, and the conceptual-perceptional brace of the notion/event is offered as a theoretical construct. Finally, an attempt at application is made through a return to the earlier explication of a reduced idea of divinity, and subtle gestures at possibly resulting ethical calls are given. Although the virus has taken charge of our lives, and although even God/“God” might not be in absolute control, the “world” is yet ours to (re)make.

Keywords: behavior; corona virus/COVID-19; creation myth; intuition; notion/event; religion; weak theology

Enervating the Divine_Andrew Oberg

This is a special paper written for the (Ir)Rationality and Religiosity During Pandemics: Phenomenological Criticism SOPHERE Supplemental Research Webinar hosted virtually by the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna, September 16-17, 2020. It was published in the journal Open Theology, 7:1 (2021), 140-149; available here.

Rereading the “Vineyard” parable: Squeezing the grapes of a fresh hermeneutic for a radical “kingdom” and a “weak” God

Abstract: One of history’s most singular figures is that of the first century Jewish teacher and (quite likely) unintentional founder of the Christian faith: Jesus of Nazareth. There is little that we can ascertain with absolute certainty about his life, and his teachings too remain somewhat opaque, a problem worsened by centuries of enforced understandings and a lack of access to originary documents. Both of those aspects have in recent decades considerably lessened, however, and the “kingdom” teachings that we come across today have a regained authenticity and sharpness to them that was perhaps unimaginable only a short while ago. In this piece we therefore attempt to re-read some of what we have received, set against a background of a more historically grounded Jesus, differing possibilities for what the “resurrection faith” may entail, and for what the crux of parables such as the famous “Laborers in the Vineyard” might be aiming at. We finally consider an alternate understanding of divine-human interaction that is based on a return to the earliest biblical texts and perspectives. There, buried beneath millennia of comprehending the ancient in terms of the modern, we may at last be able to recognize what has always been present – and find ourselves quite surprised.

Keywords: hermeneutics; historical Jesus; kingdom teachings; resurrection interpretations; theophany; vineyard laborers parable

Rereading the Vineyard_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Bulletin of the University of Kochi, 69 (2020), 17-35.

Approaches to finitude: Death, self, others

Abstract: The only real guarantee in life is that it will end, that each of us will die. We are of course aware of this, but we tend to be so in a superficial way, a knowledge of the type that is recognized but not felt. If we do think of death it is usually in regards to someone else’s, and how their passing affects us, not how one’s own passing might relate to others. In the below we seek to rectify these shortcomings and reflect on death with a bit more clarity, situating ourselves initially by a consideration of Heidegger’s being-toward-death and examining his ‘possibility’ with a view directed at authenticity and expectation. Dying and death are differentiated, and what death as annihilation implies is stressed – and this throughout. The framework we have thereby found then becomes an important element in our next effort to discover some approaches to death, to human finitude, that might prove more apposite than the default one. We finally apply our ideas and attempts to ethical concerns about the other, and to how dying – while strictly personal – is never singular.

Keywords: approaches to death; being-toward-death; dying; ethics; existentialism; finitude; meaning

Approaches to finitude_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of Applied Ethics and Philosophy, 10 (2019), 8-17.

Asymmetry, suffering, and coping: Running alongside Benatar

Abstract: David Benatar has presented and defended a powerful argument for adopting an anti-natalist stance, avoiding procreation, and embracing the extinction of humanity. His is work that deserves to be taken seriously and responded to with caution and care. In the below we will attempt such an undertaking, focusing on two aspects of Benatar’s thought in particular: asymmetry and suffering. Although we will find weaknesses in Benatar’s analyses on asymmetry and suffering, we will not thereby seek to reject the anti-natalist conclusions that Benatar draws from them, yet nor will we conversely seek to accept them. Instead we will leave the issue open and move into some parallel thoughts on the topic of coping, on the “Now what?” and the “…and so…” that each of us who find ourselves alive inevitably face. In the hard light of life as we come to know it, what are any of us to do?

Keywords: anti-natalism; asymmetry; coping; David Benatar; suffering

Asymmetry, suffering, and coping_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of the Philosophy of Life, 9:2 (2019), 1-21.

Prescience and an early death

Abstract: Death’s inevitability is not in doubt, but its mystery is one that is equally unavoidable and the questions we likely have about what then unanswerable. Traditionally we have tended to be concerned with what – if anything – might happen to us personally after we pass away, but that is not our quarry here. Rather we wish to contemplate what a knowledge of what will happen to the others in our lives may do to us while we are yet living. If we could know before we die the events that will befall our loved ones and/or our communities how might we react? Would that knowing be a comfort or a curse? Moreover, what might our reflection on this topic teach us about death more generally? Such is our focus in the below.

Keywords: death; finitude; future; knowledge; value

Prescience and an early death_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Think, 18:53 (2019), 31-42. Final revised form copyright Cambridge University Press.

Time and lived time, time and the self

Abstract: Time is essentially a part of our lives that we take for granted, not thought about or even really noticed until we suddenly suppose that we do not have any, or anyway not enough. Yet the manner in which we choose to spend our time, and more so whether or not we make the needed effort to reflect on it, determines the kind of life that we lead and the type of person that we are – in short, time structures the self, and the self in its world is thereby either ‘made’ or ‘making’. The following thus examines these areas of time, of our relating to time, from the default position of embeddedness and the engaged position of the experiential: or in other words with an eye on the clock or a hand on the pulse. After primarily considering Husserl’s, Heidegger’s, and Bergson’s thoughts on time we then propose our own, filling out the overall picture with perspectives from contemporary scientific accounts and some philosophic responses before suggesting ways in which an altered notion of time could importantly lead to a more purposeful view of self and of being.

Keywords: experience; phenomenology; physics; the self; time

Time and lived time, time and the self_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Bulletin of the University of Kochi, 68 (2019), 1-19.

The phenomenology of sexual desire and the ethics of relation

Abstract: Sexual desire is one of the strongest emotions that we experience, and it perforce touches on issues foundational to our biological natures. We all know what it is to desire a person sexually, but how often has the sensation of that desire itself been analyzed? Moreover, when we are undergoing a sexual desire, how does our subtle behavior towards the desired change prior to any actual sexual or seductive actions? If we desire someone around us do we treat them differently in fully non-sexual and neutral circumstances than we do others that are not so desired? We tend to take it for granted that we should comport ourselves towards non-family/non-friend others in an equal way – or that we should at least try to do so – but is equality of comportment really open to us when sexual desire is involved? Phenomenological methodology can be of assistance here and using it we seek to answer the ethical query of whether it is possible to relate with equal treatment to those who are sexually desired and to those who are not.

Keywords: bracketing; ethics; interpersonal relations; phenomenology; sexual desire

The Phenomenology of sexual desire and the ethics of relation_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Cultural Studies, 6 (2018), 35-48. It is a revised and expanded version of my "Wanting someone, or A Question of interpersonal equality", available below.

Enlightening your laptop: Machine selves and a "real" Buddhist self?

Abstract: Futurists such as Ray Kurzweil and others associated with the idea of "The Singularity" have predicted that as artificial intelligence programs (AI) progress they will inevitably begin to experience and reflect on themselves in the same or in a similar manner to that which we are accustomed to doing in our everyday lives, and thus that these machines will then have their own "soul" or "mind" or "self" just as we are said to have. Buddhist philosophy of course would beg to differ on this point as one of the most central tenets of Buddhism is the no-self or no-soul, yet Buddhism does not deny that we have the kinds of experiences and reflections that we do. Thinking about Buddhism’s stance on this point raises a very interesting question: If there is no self behind the experiences and reflections that we engage in, could AI come to have a mind like we do? The futurists who answer this question in the positive often compare the brain-body relationship to that between software and hardware, stressing a direct analogy. That relationship will be examined in the context of what a machine’s qualia (the "what it is like" aspect of being a machine) might consist in, and it will be argued that in light of such considerations a machine cannot have the metalevels of mind that we have and therefore cannot have qualia in the sense that we do. The argument will then be continued, claiming that without qualia any hope for a true artificial "mind" and/or "self" must be groundless. However, in examining the software/hardware analogy something far more subtle and nuanced can be discovered: the notion of a thing’s reality as functionally existent, and that concept has very interesting consequences for the self from a Buddhist perspective. It may be that in creating machines the way we have been we are becoming capable of learning a great deal more about ourselves, and that learning can both benefit from and add to existing Buddhist insights.

Keywords: artificial intelligence (AI); Buddhist no-self; mind; qualia; the self

Enlightening your laptop: Machine selves and a "real" Buddhist self?_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of the Korean Association for Buddhist Studies, Special Issue: Encounter of Buddhism & the 4th Industrial Revolution, (2017), 504-537 (Korean translation 539-569).

Tweeting phenomenology: An ode to Kurt Vonnegut

Abstract: The contemporary world can seem anything but logically sound. Where once our societies faced the singular but sole threat of the Cold War and its nuclear question mark, we now have political violence on a grand scale – including of the (potential) nuclear sort –, a looming environmental collapse whose devastations we can hardly guess at, and a global economic system that has so successfully funneled wealth into ever fewer and more powerful hands that it appears as invincible as it is merciless. How can we approach this modern life? Is there a way to make sense of it, of how we are or could or ought to be in it? Analytical Philosophy, with its layers of abstract technicalities, offers very little in conditions such as ours, and so we turn instead to the Continent and its traditions, we turn to literature, and we turn to the enduring spirit of that dark hero of a planet touched in the head: Kurt Vonnegut. Our journey will be free-flowing, one of aphorisms and observations, one that is lyrical and loose, as we pursue a philosophy of time and of the self in an era that pays lip service to both but honors neither.

Keywords: aphorisms; existential crisis; Kurt Vonnegut; phenomenology; the self; time

Tweeting phenomenology: An ode to Kurt Vonnegut_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published on Philosopher, October 15, 2017. <>.

How realist was Hume's self?: A critique of Kristjánsson on Hume

Abstract: The question of the self, of whether or not there is a core part to us that forms our inner essence or absolute nature, has been with us almost since our beginning. For centuries philosophical arguments over the self took the form of discussing the nature of the self for its existence was taken to be a given. This assumption has been increasingly called into question, however, resulting in the current climate in which the absence of a self is presumed. Contrary to this trend Kristján Kristjánsson has recently proposed a realist self that allegedly rests upon the emotions, claiming a Humean foundation for his account. In the following that claim is called into question through a close examination of Hume’s approach to the self in his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) and an interpretation of Hume’s work that differs both from Kristjánsson’s reading and from the traditional reading is offered.

Keywords: anti-realist/realist; David Hume; Kristján Kristjánsson; personal identity; the self; whole person

How realist was Hume's self?: A critique of Kristjánsson on Hume_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Bulletin of the University of Kochi, 66 (2017), 67-77.

Wanting someone, or A question of interpersonal equality

Abstract: We tend to take it for granted that we should treat the others around us in as equal a manner as possible. Yet we also tend to treat those for whom we feel sexual desire in a very different way from those for whom we feel no desire. This is perhaps not surprising as such feelings are amongst some of the strongest that we experience and hit some of our core biological buttons. Even knowing this though, how often has the experience of sexual desire been analyzed? Moreover, when we are in the midst of experiencing sexual desire how does our behavior actually change? Edmund Husserl’s ideas on examining conscious experience can be helpful here, and in using such we try to answer the ethical question of whether or not it is possible to really treat everyone equally irrespective of any felt desire.

Keywords: bracketing; ethics; interpersonal relations; phenomenology; sexual desire

Wanting someone, or A Question of interpersonal equality_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published on Philosopher, November 02, 2016. <>.

Taiji and dolphins: Cultural relativism or moral realism?

Abstract: The decision by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) to expel its Japanese member institutions that continued to support the dolphin drive hunts that take place within Japanese waters was presented by the domestic press as an external group misunderstanding a local practice and forcing its own outside values on others. The dolphin drive hunts themselves have been defended by the Wakayama prefectural government on a number of grounds. The following considers the justifications employed for the practice in the light of WAZA and other groups’ objections and finds the strongest of these defenses to be the claim to cultural relativism. This is then analyzed against the idea of moral realism – that there are standards that exist outside of any cultural group – and it is found that whether moral realism is accurate or not there are very compelling reasons to stop the drive hunts currently taking place.

Keywords: cultural relativism; dolphin drive hunts; JAZA; mercury poisoning; moral realism; Taiji, Wakayama; WAZA

Taiji and dolphins: Cultural relativism or moral realism?_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of Regional Development Studies, 19 (2016), 57-68.

Living while dying: Reflections on death’s harm, finitude, meaning, and uncertainty

Abstract: Death as a topic of philosophical investigation has been enjoying something of a resurrection in recent literature. Much of the discussion has dealt with the question of its harm, whether or not it ought to be considered an evil, and the degree to which it deprives us of a good, if indeed it does. The following covers and comments on these positions from the perspective of how we ought to regard our own personal future deaths before then extending the analysis to consider the anti-natalist challenge and finding meaning through finitude, maintaining its focus on the particular throughout. The final section explores the often unacknowledged degree of uncertainty that we live under, why we are so poor at recognizing it, and how this affects our decision-making. Some suggestions for how we may consider our approaching deaths are given based on the results of each section.

Keywords: anti-natalist; death; deprivation; finitude; harm; meaning; uncertainty

Living while dying_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of International Philosophy, 5 (2016), 325-339. <和訳:「死に向かって生きる―死の害悪、有限性、意味、不確実性に関する省察」、同誌、119-131。ファイルはこちらへ。>

All too human?: Speciesism, racism, and sexism

Abstract: The issue of how we ought to treat the nonhuman animals in our lives is one that has been growing in importance over the past forty years. A common charge is that discriminatory behavior based only on differences of species membership is just as wrong morally as are acts of racism or sexism. Is such a charge sustainable? It is argued that such reasoning confuses real differences with false ones, may have negative ethical consequences, and could tempt us to abandon our responsibilities to the natural world. Finally, some benefits to human animal treatment that more humane nonhuman animal treatment may bring are considered.

Keywords: animal treatment; ecological responsibility; interpersonal ethics; racism; sexism; speciesism

All too human?: Speciesism, racism, and sexism_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Think, 15:43 (2016), 39-50Final revised form copyright Cambridge University Press.

Interpersonal violence and the groupish drive

Abstract: Violence and the threat of violence remains a major concern for people all over the planet, and while massive outbreaks of physical violence and destruction – such as those that occur in war – have received much attention in a number of fields the acts of violence that are perpetrated in personal settings have not. The following attempts to partially fill in that void through an investigation of the roots of our willingness to use interpersonal violence. The study begins by establishing definitional parameters and examining angles by which violence’s instrumentality has been considered by other researchers. Two case studies then follow in which the group-centered nature of the willingness to use interpersonal violence becomes clear: football hooliganism and the Khmer Rouge. An in-group/out-group orientation based on identity and/or belief is found to be at the core of perpetrators’ inclination to the instrumental use of violence; some final conclusions are drawn from this.

Keywords: football hooliganism; groupism (tribalism); instrumentality; Khmer Rouge; violence

Interpersonal violence and the groupish drive_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Surugadai University Studies, 51 (2016), 81-102. It is an edited and updated section of a larger unpublished project, provided here should there be any interested readers: Interpersonal violence and self-concept: A Virtue ethics approach_Andrew Oberg.

A realist self?

Abstract: Since the demise of the Cartesian dualist view of the self a number of possible definitions of what the self could be, if indeed it can be said to be anything, have been put forward but no consensus has yet been reached. In fact, such seems a long way off. In what follows four accounts of the self that are representative of the broad trends in the literature are analyzed for theoretical vigor and empirical accuracy in light of recent advances in cognitive studies and the findings of psychological research into behavior and decision making. The self-concepts examined are of both the anti-realist and realist varieties, with one particular realist account found to be most apposite. The account is not without its flaws, however, and as such an alternative self view is offered that builds on and adds to its strengths. Finally, some ethical implications of adopting the proffered self-concept are considered.

Keywords: anti-realist self; Hume; Kristjánsson; nonself; realist self

A realist self?_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of Applied Ethics and Philosophy, 7 (2015), 24-33. It is an edited and updated section of a larger unpublished project, provided here should there be any interested readers: Interpersonal violence and self-concept: A Virtue ethics approach_Andrew Oberg.

That which ought not to ought to have been (done). What?: Would’ves, could’ves, and should’ves

Abstract: Recent advances in psychology and cognitive studies have greatly advanced our understanding of the sources and expressions of human behavior, leading to a picture that is heavily intuitive and affective. Given that much of what we do has its roots in unconscious and automatic processes, how useful is an emotion like regret? The following attempts to answer that question by first comparing regret with guilt, often used in similar ways in everyday language, and finding that although the two terms do differ in significant ways there is also some carryover between them. Having teased out a more specific way to think about regret, real world and literary examples are then used to attempt to respond to the central question of usefulness. It is argued that regret can be profitable but only in limited and uneven ways.

Keywords: Bender; guiding emotion; guilt; regret; usefulness

Would'ves, could'ves, should'ves_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published on Philosopher, June 09, 2015. <>.

Ethical considerations for Japanese students doing short-term charity work abroad

Abstract: Students in the Department of Regional Development Studies at Toyo University regularly participate in short-term volunteer trips, traveling to developing countries and assisting with projects aimed at improving conditions for local people in one way or another. However, these students are rarely prepared beforehand for the ethical challenges that relate to the unique circumstances of limited duration charity work. A lack of consideration of these challenges can lead to negative results both for the students and for the local residents they will be working for and alongside with. Three aspects are of particular importance here: the us/them dichotomy, the helper/helped hierarchy, and the uchi/soto element of Japanese culture. Although these issues are considered from a Japanese perspective, the conclusions drawn and practical suggestions made may be more generally applicable. Finally, it is argued that we in the developed world have a moral obligation to support global poverty reduction, and that the most effective way to do so is through regular and ongoing charitable donations.

Keywords: charity; Japan; moral obligation; poverty; short-term volunteer work; Southeast Asia

Ethical considerations for Japanese students doing short-term charity work abroad_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of Regional Development Studies, 18 (2015), 77-87.

Reconsidering euthanasia: For a right to be euthanized and for recognizing alternative end of life methods

Abstract: The taking of one’s own life remains a morally divisive issue, most notably in Western and Western-influenced cultures, affecting views related to euthanasia programs and causing many to reject such programs out of hand despite the enormous amount of suffering that they could help to alleviate. The following focuses on voluntary euthanasia and argues that common conceptions of the issue are in need of a clearer analysis, suggesting that voluntary euthanasia should rather be considered suicide by other means, and that when historical perspectives and our shifting contemporary attitudes are considered the modern prejudice against these practices can be seen to be poorly grounded. A legal right to euthanasia would help to establish its moral acceptance, and this as well as a greater understanding of the conditions under which suicide can be rationally considered a potential choice are also argued for.

Keywords: euthanasia; historical trends; right to die; seppuku; suicide; voluntary euthanasia

Reconsidering euthanasia_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of International Philosophy, 4 (2015), 297-305.

The trolley trap, or Some (more) problems with utilitarian decision-making

Abstract: The trolley problem is a well-known thought experiment that is designed to test our moral judgments and intuitive reactions to a life-and-death situation in which we are forced to make a hard choice. Utilitarian thinkers especially have used the problem to illustrate the benefits of their system and the way that it can guide us when making decisions. In the following, that guidance is called into question and found lacking through some alternative trolley problem-based scenarios that draw attention to utilitarianism’s faults, focusing particularly on how the people involved in the trolley problem can have a drastic effect on the chosen outcome. The affective nature of our decisions and the influence our personalities exert on our actions are also considered, and it is concluded that a focus on character building has more to offer for moral behavior than utilitarian analyses do.

Keywords: cost-benefit analysis, decision-making, individual qualities, moral behavior, trolley problem, utilitarianism

The trolley trap_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published on Philosopher, April 19, 2014. <>.

This has got nothing to do with George

Abstract: Security cameras have become a ubiquitous part of everyday life in most major cities, yet each new camera seems to come with cries of foul play by defenders of privacy rights. Our long history with these cameras and CCTV networks does not seem to have alleviated our concerns with being watched, and as we feel ourselves losing privacy in other areas the worry generated by security cameras has remained. Our feelings of disquiet, however, are unnecessary as they stem from an erroneous view of the self. The following argues that this view of an autonomous and atomistic self is both detrimental and inaccurate.

Keywords: privacy; security cameras; the self; social programs; surveillance

This has got nothing to do with George_Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the journal Think, 13:37 (2014), 47-55. Final revised form copyright Cambridge University Press.