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Entries from April 2009

Unrealistic Optimism

April 28th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Ygz is glad to see that polls show African Americans’ views of the state  of race relations hving improved dramatically in recent months, but surprised to see that fully 44 percent of black respondents believed that blacks and whites now enjoy equal opportunity in the United States—despite ample evidence that, presidential elections notwithstanding, this is […]

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Tags: Sociology

One Waterboarding Is a Tragedy; A Million Is a Statistic

April 28th, 2009 · 31 Comments

Matt Zeitlin finds something incongruous about (what used to be?) our special horror over torture. After all, he points out, any war we embark on—even the most just war you could imagine—involves the suffering and death of many innocent civilians. But the same rules don’t seem to apply there: If the generals determine that bombing […]

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Tags: Moral Philosophy · War

Unpersuasive Arguments for Free Will

April 27th, 2009 · 17 Comments

Economist Bryan Caplan has a recent blog post making a rather weird argument in favor of free will: If you take a closer look at BG research, though, you’ll notice something interesting.  Virtually every BG study partitions variance into three sources: genes, shared family environment, and non-shared environment.  Typical estimates are something like 40-50% for […]

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Tags: General Philosophy

Morel’s Machine

April 24th, 2009 · 13 Comments

I recently discovered that one of my favorite films, Last Year at Marienbad, was inspired by Adolofo Bioy Casares’ novella The Invention of Morel. I use the term “inspired” here in the loosest possible sense, as the plots of the book and movie (to whatever extent it’s appropriate to describe the movie as having a […]

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Tags: General Philosophy · Language and Literature · Moral Philosophy

Stop Making Martyrs

April 24th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Last week, I couldn’t even have told you whether there still was such a thing as a “Miss USA Pageant,” let alone that it had been held over the weekend. Nor, needless to say, had I ever heard of someone named Carrie Prejean. Had Prejean won the aforementioned  competition, I feel pretty certain that none […]

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Tags: Journalism & the Media · Sexual Politics

The First War?

April 24th, 2009 · 3 Comments

As we watch the terms of debate shift back from whether one or another “coercive interrogation technique” constitutes “torture” to the more straightforward question of whether torture “works,” the brief clips I catch of TV talking heads are becoming eerily reminiscent of freshmen chewing over their first Trolley Problem. So we find Bill O’Reilly challenging […]

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Tags: War


April 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on Definitions

Peter Kirsanow wonders: The president apologizes — on three continents and before scores of foreign leaders — for the failures of America. This will aid in the restoration of America’s moral legitimacy. Several of the foreign leaders who heard the president’s apology come from nations that have a documented history of employing the following “enhanced interrogation […]

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Tags: Moral Philosophy · War

Will Blog for Food

April 22nd, 2009 · 8 Comments

You know, if it’s good enough for Marcy Wheeler, I may as well mention that I’m probably going to be living the penurious freelancer life for at least a few weeks while I figure out what I want to do post Condé-layoffs. I’m also going to be blogging here much more regularly in my newly […]

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Tags: Economics · Personal

The Market Will Solve

April 20th, 2009 · 12 Comments

Earlier this afternoon: Rachel: do the libertarian wonks supporting seasteading intend to continue their wonkery once they move to the sea colony? or would they have to like, build stuff for the first few years? Julian: Build stuff? Don’t be silly.  The Market will provide Rachel: So the equilibrium is a place populated partly by […]

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Tags: Economics · Libertarian Theory


April 17th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, 2002: You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect in the box with him. You […]

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Tags: Language and Literature · Obedience and Insubordination · War