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Test Test Test

I’m testing to see how this social media button works.


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Star Trek’s Big Black Hole

I enjoyed the movie, but can someone please explain to me why the Romulans drilled to the core of a planet in order to plant red matter?  Afterall, black holes are created later in the film without a planet’s core working as a catalyst. It seems the red matter can work in any conditions: Spock uses it in open space to halt the star’s explosion; and our heroes use it against the Romulans to destroy their ship. So what gives? Why use a drill to penetrate the planet?


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Letting a Thousand Nations Bloom

If you’re curious, I’ve been blogging and editing over at Let a Thousand Nations Bloom, a blog devoted to exploring market solutions to government.  Check it out!


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If Humans Have Free Will, Then Subatomic Particles Do Too

So say a couple of Mathematicians from Princeton, John Conway and Simon Kochen. Conway will present the theorem supporting this view during a six week lecture series.  The two define free will as the lack of necessary and sufficient conditions in any previous state to determine (or to help us predict) the present state of conditions. From the Princeton press release

“It’s not about theories anymore — it’s about what the universe does,” said Kochen, a professor of mathematics and the associate chair of the Department of Mathematics. “And we’ve found that, from moment to moment, nature doesn’t know what it’s going to do. A particle has a choice.”


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Gary Hart on Liberalism

In this Sunday’sTimes book section Hart reviews both Alan Wolfe’s new book and Purdy’s Tolerable Anarchy.  He uses the review as an opportunity to wax stupidly on his own understanding of liberalism.  For instance: 

The closest Wolfe comes to a core liberal principle is this: “As many people as possible should have as much say as is feasible over the direction their lives will take” (somewhat a definition of democracy itself). 

Of course this bears no resemblance to a definition of democracy.  When voters in the Mid-West can decide how people in California love each other, that is a democratic decision.  When voters in Michigan and Ohio and Montana decide whom I can pay to help me in California, that is a democratic decision.  All of these electoral issues–and a thousand others–erode liberty.  In fact, Hart seems oblivious to the inherent tensions between liberty and democracy.  Nevermind his “as is feasible” proviso. Who determines that?

Hart continues:

…neither socialism on the one hand nor the ruthless markets of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman on the other guarantee any degree of equality of opportunity… 

Ruthless? Does not “guarantee any”? Hyperbole, I suppose, but these are the very points that classical liberals debate against the modern liberals of the Donk. Besides, Hart writes as if Obama weren’t elected. He writes as if the Donk didn’t control both houses of Congress. Was he assigned this review last September?

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Moral Philosophy as Rationalization

Tyler Cowen links to a very insightful article on the theology of the young John Rawls.  It seems Rawls’s disciples are looking under the couches, beds, and rugs for anything written by the hierophant of social democracy.  I am reminded of a story the Harvard philosopher Warren Goldfarb once told a friend of mine about his own career. He said (or is said to have said) that he was downtrodden, worried about continuing on for his PhD, regretting a woefully written term paper he had just handed in to Rawls.  Apparently–I, without a doubt, have no way of verifying this–Goldfarb expressed his concerns to Rawls and Rawls told him not to worry about it. Well, fast forward a few decades, after Rawls has passed away, and the philosophy department is cleaning out Rawls’s office in Emerson Hall. Once they moved his couch…surprise!….that woeful paper Goldfarb wrote was moldering away underneath the furniture. It turns out Rawls never read it.  The paper was left ungraded.

Apocryphal, yes. But two things I know for sure: after Rawls died, many of the books from his office were left up for grabs in the copier room on the third floor of Emerson.  There wasn’t much left when I got there, but I happily snatched Rawls’s copy of Charles Peirce. (Unfortunately there are no passages underlined in it.) The other thing is that one of the offices on the third floor became known as the death office because a string of philosophers died while occupying it.  That couldn’t have been Rawls’s office, but I’m fairly certain that Quine used it, followed by Nozick.  Runaway! 

Thomas Pogge has a book out on Rawls which has a chapter or two devoted to biography.  Along with this paper on religion, it offers some insight into the moral education of the young man as philosopher.  The book mentions an episode during Rawls’s WWII stint.  He and some other officer were approached about driving a jeep into hostile territory.  Since it was dangerous, the commander told the two young men that they could flip a coin to see who’d have to take the mission.  They flipped, Rawls won, and he stayed behind.  His friend’s bad luck didn’t end there, however. He died on the mission. Perhaps this explains why Rawls rejected the equal chance of being any one in society once the veil of ignorance is lifted?

My friend also told me Rawls’s daughter didn’t like the way he dressed.  She said he dressed behind a veil of ignorance.

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