Thursday, July 30, 2009

You might be a liberal if ...

I was taking the Liberal Test over at Maverick Philosoher and started to feel real bad because I was scoring really low. I think I got the death penalty question right, or at least didn't find the rationale for the right answer all that convincing. (To be fair, of the one sentence arguments for instituting the death penalty, the Maverick's isn't bad.) Question #20 and the Maverick's answer gave me pause:

20. Racial profiling for terrorists is wrong -- a white American grandmother should as likely be searched as a Saudi young male.

No. Profiling, racial and otherwise, is a legitimate law enforcement technique.

Maybe he should read the story of Daniel Boyd.

Blonde with a Butt-Cut and the ringleader of a group plotting violent jihad.

I hadn't seen these comments from Krauthammer:

Assuaging feelings is a good thing, but hunting for terrorists this way is simply nuts. The fact is that jihadist terrorism has been carried out from Bali to Casablanca to Madrid to London to New York to Washington by young Muslim men of North African, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin. This is not a stereotype. It is a simple statistical fact. Yes, you have your shoe-bomber, a mixed-race Muslim convert, who would not fit the profile. But the overwhelming odds are that the guy bent on blowing up your train traces his origins to the Islamic belt stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia.

Yet we recoil from concentrating bag checks on men who might fit this description. Well, if that is impossible for us to do, then let's work backward. Eliminate classes of people who are obviously not suspects.

We could start with a little age pruning — no one under, say, 13, and no one over, say, 60. Then we could exempt whole ethnic populations, a list that could immediately start with Hispanics, Scandinavians and East Asians. Then we could have a huge saving, a 50 percent elimination of waste, by giving a pass to women, except perhaps the most fidgety, sweaty, suspicious-looking, overcoat-wearing, knapsack-bearing young woman, to be identified by the presiding officer.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

(snap, snap, snap)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Coherence Matters

Oh, if only I knew. I've been reading Kolodny's "How Does Coherence Matter?" and while I've been somewhat sympathetic to his error theory, I'm starting to have some doubts. It seems that there's something bad about incoherence, say, believing p and p's negation. We might try to explain the violation intuition by saying that subjects who believe p and p's negation violate (N):

(N) In any given case, one is required by rationality (either not to believe p or not to believe ~p).

Or, we might try to explain the intuition by appeal to (R1):

(R1) In any given situation, either it will be the case that (one is required by reason not to believe p), or it will be the case that (one is required by reason not to believe ~p).

By believing p and ~p, you ensure that you'll believe something or other that you are required by reason to refrain from believing. Kolodny offers some reaosns for thinking that we need more than (R1) to account for our various violation and satisfaction intuitions, but here's a worry that I think isn't yet on his list. Suppose in some given situation it is the case that one is required by reason not to believe p but you believe p anyway. Suppose, however, that your attitudes are coherent. That's bad. However, isn't it always worse to believe what one is required by reason not to believe when one does so by having incoherent beliefs? It seems worse from the subject's point of view that she's believed against reason and done so incoherently. But, then could the demands of coherence really be nothing but the demands of the reasons on the attitudes?

I'm not quite sure that this is an intuition easily accommodated by someone who is willing to deny that there are demands of formal coherence as such. (It's late, I'll add more after bedtime)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More money, more problems? No problems now!

A little post for the Jetta drivers out there who I imagine will find this by googling for information about Jetta, electric failure, dashboard lights, dead battery, alternator, or something along those lines. I drive a 2002 Jetta and a few weeks ago, I had some trouble starting it up. It died on campus, we jumped it, and I took it in to my shop. He tested the battery and alternator and said that the problem was with the regulator. The repair was about $300. A few days after later, I'm driving down to campus and my radio cuts off in the middle of Garrison Keiler. I don't particularly like A Prairie Home Companion, so I thought the ghost in my car was probably right to kill power to the radio. Seconds later the warning lights started coming on. I'm out of wiper fluid. The air bag isn't working. Check engine light comes on. Wiper fluid light goes out. Then they all go out. Then a few more come on. I park. Turn off the engine. Try to start it again. Won't start. Can't jump it. Now I have to have it towed in to the shop. I want to bring it back to the original shop, but Amy says that's a bad idea. I call original shop to see if they'll set up a tow. No. They said that I'd have to do it and gave me a number. The number was disconnected. Saw rave reviews for Lord of the Rings, a shop north of me, and called him. They arranged for the tow and they had to replace the alternator and the battery. Another $800. The shop's owner told me that he had learned long ago that if you try to fix the problem I was having on the cheap, it would last a week or so and in the end you'd ruin both the alternator and battery. Wish I had known that in the beginning. Anyway, if you drive a Jetta and your Jetta is having the sort of problems that mine was, I'd recommend not having the regulator replaced. If you drive a Jetta in Dallas, I'd recommend Lord of the Rings.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dispatches from the lunatic fringe

Here's your daily dose of crazy:

In my view, a person who is so reckless with America's well being as this person is, is not a decent person who means well. [Obama] is someone who stands outside America, as something foreign and meaningless to himself, and who is trying to mess it up as quickly as he can, because his main purpose is to change America completely and irreversibly from its past, and he doesn't care how much he harms America in order to accomplish that. He doesn't care about America any more than an invading alien in a 1950s horror movie cares about planet earth.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Little help?

Our library has a subscription to Analysis in a sense, but not in any sense that allows us to get online access to recent issues and not in the sense that any copies of Analysis can be found on the shelves. If anyone can send me a copy of Adler's piece on the knowledge norm and the piece Bruckner wrote with Buford that would be superdupererogatory.

We have a winner!

Thanks C&DPF!

Friday, July 17, 2009

New draft

I've written up something on warranted assertion and truth (click). If you've ever wondered whether there's a norm that enjoins us to refrain from asserting what isn't true, read this.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Warning: Misspelled Sexual Content

It's not bad.

Sounds very scholarly

Details are emerging about Bush's Presidential Library at SMU:

The library, in conjunction with the museum, will contain numerous official papers and electronic records collected during Bush's eight years of presidency provided by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Such records include briefing memos, decision memos, laws passed and presentations, according to Langdale.

This library will house the largest collection of digital archives, which will "give us a lot of opportunities to get information out to people sooner than other presidential libraries," says Langdale.

The library will be set up in the form of a case study that is different from most presidential libraries, which are done biographically. The library will demonstrate steps Bush took in making 22 key decisions while in office, says Langdale. The setup shows which core principles, such as compassion and freedom, Bush reverted back to when making governmental choices.

I thought it was going to be a joke, but it's turning into a farce.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Q&A with MvR

Not to brag, but I knew him back when he didn't own a cabin. Interview here.

Mark was kind enough to help me build some furniture when I was leaving Nebraska (although if he and I were in conversation, I'm sure the conversational context would force me to say something like he helped me join together pieces of wood that someone could rest on).

More empirical studies needed!

Are ethicists more ethical? My sources say 'No'.

Are believers better at following the ten commandments? Some data suggests that they aren't so good with all ten of them.