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Entries from December 2009

Doug Stanhope on Freedom

December 30th, 2009 · 4 Comments

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Tags: Libertarian Theory

Conservative Philosophy Returns?

December 23rd, 2009 · 19 Comments

A long New York Times profile this weekend advances the proposition that philosopher Robert P. George—whose work I first encountered back in college—is now “this country’s most influential Christian conservative thinker.” I have my doubts, but to the extent the profile itself helps make the claim more true, that’ll be welcome.  Andrew Sullivan argues—and I […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Journalism & the Media

The Illusion of the Illusion of Free Will

December 21st, 2009 · 55 Comments

I’ve written about this at some length before, but I want to quickly repeat the point because I keep seeing reader submissions to Andrew Sullivan’s running colloquy on free will that make a point to the effect that, whatever the metaphysical truth of the matter, we all have this “illusion of free will,” and ordinary […]

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Tags: General Philosophy

Checking in on the Healthcare Debate

December 15th, 2009 · 34 Comments

I have enough of my own issues to pay attention to, so I’ve been doing my best to scrupulously ignore the running health reform debate, but in this town there are limits to what can be blocked out.  As I understand the current state of play, we will still have a mandate and a “non-discrimination” […]

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Tags: Economics · Horse Race Politics

Anonymity Loves Company

December 14th, 2009 · 6 Comments

It’s something of a cliche among privacy researchers that “anonymity loves company“: Anonymizing mix networks (e.g. Tor) are more secure and more anonymous the more people are using them. Glossing the geekalicious details, the basic idea is lots of different encrypted communications, going to and from lots of different people, get chopped, scrambled, and sent […]

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Tags: Privacy and Surveillance · Tech and Tech Policy

Expectations of Privacy

December 11th, 2009 · 2 Comments

One more thought about Chris Soghoian’s great post from last week on telecoms and surveillance. The government is able to get an enormous amount of information about your online activity—short of actually reading your e-mails—using tools like National Security Letters and pen/trap orders, which don’t require the showing of “probable cause” required by the Fourth […]

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Tags: Privacy and Surveillance

Zizek on Hayek

December 11th, 2009 · 17 Comments

This is put a bit more bluntly than anything Hayek says, but I do think there’s a strand of it running through some of his arguments: What Rawls doesn’t see is how [a society based on the Difference Principle] would create conditions for an uncontrolled explosion of resentment: in it, I would know that my […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Markets

Two Thoughts on Searle at Google

December 9th, 2009 · 30 Comments

John Searle makes a game attempt to give an account—what Nozick would call a “philosophical explanation”—of how there could possibly be free will, of what it would have to look like if there were, in spite of all the familiar problems with the concept. He admits, frankly enough, that it is a loose and sketchy […]

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Tags: General Philosophy

Zizek @ Google

December 8th, 2009 · 12 Comments

What can I say, despite myself, I’ve got a soft spot for the old Marxist.

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Tags: General Philosophy

The Redactor’s Dilemma

December 8th, 2009 · 10 Comments

It’s been a good week for document dumps—especially if you’re interested in surveillance policy. On top of Chris Soghoian’s revelations about telecom location tracking requests and a slew of leaked telecom and social networking site surveillance manuals for law enforcement at Cryptome, I’ve also been poring over the FOIA documents on cell phone lojacking obtained […]

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Tags: Privacy and Surveillance · Science