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Arts & Letters Daily


Mae and Bill’s conversations – index


Principled Thinking

In the controversial book, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN THINK, Dr. Otto Toews defends a Principled Thinking Model which presents the use of five key categories: duties, rights, motive, desert and justice, as a rational approach to resolving moral dilemmas in pursuit of justice. The Model is applied in a hypothetical dialogue engaging two teachers, Mae and Bill, discussing controversial issues. After some time, Mae asserts that resolving moral dilemmas through the use of rational arguments misses an essential aspect: a sense of fellow feeling or empathy. From that Eureka moment on, they explore the application of the Principled Thinking Model together with Kurt Baier’s Moral Values Principle Test: New Cases Test, Role Exchange Test, Subsumption Test, and Universal Consequences Test, to include a sense of fellow-feeling to several issues to resolve moral dilemmas in pursuit of justice.

About the authour

Toews - author Dr. Toews concludes with a futuristic scenario where one of the character’s biological brain has been enhanced with a digital brain which is absent of any sense of justice. This scenario serves as a reminder of the need for the Principled Thinking Model together with a sense of fellow-feeling for resolving moral dilemmas in pursuit of justice.
Dr. Toews lives with his wife, Joan McCreath, in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

cover page

Read what Mae and Bill have to say about principled thinking in SO YOU THINK YOU CAN THINK
  • Conversation about DUTY – click HERE.
  • Conversation about RIGHTS – click HERE.
  • Conversation about MOTIVE – click HERE.
  • Conversation about DESERT – click HERE.
  • Conversation about JUSTICE – click HERE.

Moral Values Principle Tests

How would you apply these moral values principle tests?
  • New cases test
  • Role exchange test
  • Subsumption test
  • Universal consequences test


  • Driver-less cars vs. cars driven by people. To see an article on driverless cars, click HERE.
Apply the Principled Thinking Model and the Moral Values Principle Tests to the following issues.
  • Censoring Internet Access
  • Irate Parent
  • Considerate Parent
  • Arthur’s Moral Dilemma
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Civil Society
  • International Responsibilities
  • The Enemy is Neglect of Mental Illness
  • Reconciliation