Russian-American Relations: Update 2

At this point in my project I have almost finished my literature review! In my previous update I talked about trying to find more resources about Russian perceptions of Americans. I was not able to find much, but I did find an article written by a Russian news source that argued Russians thought the negative portrayal of their country in Hollywood films was comedic. It discussed the frequency of horrible Russian accents and grammatical and spelling mistakes. Additionally, the article argued that the consistent representation of Russians as antagonists to Americans was positive for Russia. The author stated that it proved Russia’s importance on the international scale and that the United States still thinks of Russians as real threats. While this article was published on a news site that has sometimes published propaganda from the Russian government, I think there is some weight to the logic it offers.

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An American in Paris, a Romanian in Bucharest – Background

A Little Bit of Background

After over two months, I have finally returned home, suitcases full of books, photocopies, and digital records collected during my time abroad. During my ten days in France and six weeks in Romania, my research led me through two old European capitals – Paris and Bucharest – and to their crown jewels of national libraries, but it also led me to the banlieue of Carrieres-sur-Seine, marked by La Defense on the horizon. It led me to the towns of Brasov, Varatec, Busteni, and Sinaia nestled in the Romanian Carpathians. It led me through small streets and book shops, to both academic journals as well as popular press books intended to bring the issue of the EU’s future to the very citizens who would be living it out.

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Abstract: An Evolutionary Objection to Ethical Objectivism

The idea that there is right and wrong is incredibly intuitive. Charity is right. Slavery is wrong. But if right and wrong exist what does this entail and how do we know what if something is right? If morality exists it must be an objective morality. The right action in a specific scenario cannot be right for one person and not right for another. Another requisite of morality is categorical action guiding power. To do what is right you may have to act against your desires, thus morality must be able to motivate  independently of desire. We cling to the idea of morality because if morality didn’t exist then. Surely, without morality there would be no reason for people not to just kill each other on sight or lie without a care.

However, we cannot accept morality exists simply because we fear a world without it. Like everything else we believe exists we must have reasoning beyond intuition. There is no positive reason why morality exists. In fact, many moral actions can be explained by evolution. Research in affective and cognitive neuroscience has show that “moral” instincts have evolved overtime. This summer, I plan to read and analyze studies and articles on the evolution of moral behavior. 

Beyond scientific research, there is significant philosophical evidence against morality. J.L. Mackie argues that the idea of motivation independent of desires is too weird to fathom. In addition to my scientific research, I will research philosophical objections to ethical objectivism and find the intersection of this research and the scientific research I have accumulated.

Hollywood and the Holocaust: The Influence of Jewish Filmmakers in World War 2

The film industry exerts an enormous influence over us. Movies have the potential to greatly influence how we view issues, whether or not we sympathize with others, and what we do about problems. In the 1930s and 1940s, as America rested on the brink of World War 2, Hollywood had the opportunity to influence national sentiment towards the war. Given that many of the studio owners were Jewish, the industry likely had a different perspective than those in the government who turned away refugees and ignored information about the Holocaust.

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