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Entries Tagged as 'General Philosophy'

Nozick, Libertarianism, and Thought Experiments

June 21st, 2011 · 36 Comments

In a piece over at Slate, Stephen Metcalf seems determined to prove that there’s nothing too fundamentally confused to be published on the site as long as it gets in a few good jabs at libertarians. My Cato colleagues Jason Kuznicki and David Boaz have already chimed in on the topic, but I wanted to […]

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Tags: General Philosophy

Desert vs. Entitlement

April 14th, 2011 · 17 Comments

In a recent post, I suggested that claims about “desert” are generally misplaced in arguments about copyright—whether they are deployed on behalf of “deserving” small fry artists or against “undeserving” labels. As some commenters pointed out, there’s no obvious reason this argument should be restricted to the domain of copyright—and quite right. I think most […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Libertarian Theory · Moral Philosophy

Werner Heisenberg, Economist

March 18th, 2011 · 8 Comments

Interesting passing observation from Yglesias: [F]or all the horrors of the current recession it’s been managed much better than the Great Depression of the 1930s was. Progress is happening. The only way to make more rapid progress on the science of macroeconomic stabilization would be to have many more recessions so as to gather better […]

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Tags: Economics · General Philosophy

The Trouble With “Balance” Metaphors

February 4th, 2011 · 40 Comments

Reading Orin Kerr’s new paper outlining an “equilibrium-adjustment theory” of the Fourth Amendment, I found myself reflecting on how thoroughly the language of “balancing” pervades our thinking about legal and political judgment. The very words “reasonable” and “rational” are tightly linked to “ratio”—which is to say, to relative magnitude or balance. We hope to make […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Language and Literature · Privacy and Surveillance

Could An Omnipotent Being Prove It?

October 4th, 2010 · 54 Comments

Ned Resnikoff ponders the question. It seems to me that the answer is clearly “no,” but for a reason Ned doesn’t actually offer: It would require a good deal less than omnipotence to make a human perceptual system experience any demonstration of omnipotence you might care to suggest. So we might imagine God zipping you […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Religion

Intellectual Honesty

September 13th, 2010 · 59 Comments

Yglesias wonders why “intellectual honesty” is any different from plain-old honesty. Noah Millman gets at the difference as I’d understood it: “Intellectually honest” means you make arguments you think are true, as opposed to making the arguments you are “supposed” to make and/or avoiding making arguments that you think are true that you aren’t “supposed” […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Journalism & the Media

Agnosticism and the Varieties of Certainty

July 4th, 2010 · 120 Comments

Here’s a little paradox.  Suppose we propose to meet for a drink at The Passenger after work, and I tell you that it’s on 7th just above Massachusetts Ave in Northwest. Perhaps being acquainted with my spotty geographic instincts, you ask if I’m certain. And of course I am, I go there after work often, […]

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Tags: General Philosophy

On “Following the Constitution”

May 16th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Harvard economist and fellow Catonian Jeff Miron suggests that the Kagan nomination will spark renewed discussion of the question: “Should judges follow the Constitution?” I hope not, because in practice those are seldom particularly useful discussions. I tend to agree with Ronald Dworkin that there is just not that much interesting disagreement about whether judges […]

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Tags: General Philosophy

Framing and the New Paternalism

April 5th, 2010 · 16 Comments

My friend Glen Whitman has an excellent essay over at Cato Unbound that takes aim at what’s been variously called “new” or “soft” or even “libertarian” paternalism. I’ve been relatively open to at least some of the ideas circulating under those banners—at least as libertarians go—but Glen’s arguments certainly provide ample reason for severe skepticism.  […]

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Tags: Economics · General Philosophy · Law · Libertarian Theory · Nannyism

Nozick on Intellectual Humility

March 30th, 2010 · 15 Comments

All this discussion of morality and epistemology—and especially Freddie’s latest post—reminds me of one of my favorite passages from Robert Nozick, in the introduction to Anarchy State and Utopia. I think it captures my sense of human intellectual inquiry as (what I’ve elsewhere called) The Great Wiki: [T]he usual manner of presenting philosophical work puzzles […]

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Tags: General Philosophy