I read this blog post this afternoon while browsing the New York Times website. A few minutes ago, I got out my Zune (which I hadn't used in several months) to see whether it works. Nope. It's frozen on the startup screen. According to the post, it should resume working tomorrow morning at 6:00 (Central Time). Do iPods have problems like this?
There is a difficulty about drawing from all this a moral for ourselves. I imagine that we agree in our rejection of slavery, eternal damnation, genocide, and uncritical patriotic self-abnegation; so we shall agree that Huck Finn, Jonathan Edwards, Heinrich Himmler, and the poet Horace would all have done well to bring certain of their principles under severe pressure from ordinary human sympathies. But then we can say this because we can say that all those are bad moralities, whereas we cannot look at our own moralities and declare them bad. This is not arrogance: it is obviously incoherent for someone to declare the system of moral principles that he accepts to be bad, just as one cannot coherently say of anything that one believes it but it is false.
Still, although I can't point to any of my beliefs and say 'That is false', I don't doubt that some of my beliefs are false; and so I should try to remain open to correction. Similarly, I accept every single item in my morality—that is inevitable—but I am sure that my morality could be improved, which is to say that it could undergo changes which I should be glad of once I had made them. So I must try to keep my morality open to revision, exposing it to whatever valid pressures there are—including pressures from my sympathies.
(Jonathan Bennett, "The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn," Philosophy 49 [April 1974]: 123-34, at 133 [italics in original])
Note from KBJ: I thought of animals when I read this. Many people exclude animals from moral consideration, even though they would never think to neglect, much less harm, a dog or a cat. It is natural to feel sympathy for animals who are suffering. This sympathy can be a basis for revising one's moral principles so as to take animals into account. Perhaps the sympathetic impulse would be activated if people saw how their meat is produced. Have you taken the time to investigate this? Have you visited a factory farm or a slaughterhouse? Have you looked at images or videotapes of slaughter? If you haven't, then you are suppressing your sympathies, thereby protecting your moral principles from revision. This is bad faith.
Bruce Bartlett tells us that “the trick is to find a way to get people and businesses to spend money over and above what they would have spent anyway.” Isn’t this how we got into trouble in the first place?
What’s the point of going into more debt (that’s what “spending” comes down to) just to keep the economy growing? Hasn’t “growth” itself now become the problem?
Adrian Kuzminski Fly Creek, N.Y., Dec. 24, 2008 The writer, a resident scholar in philosophy at Hartwick College, is the author of a book about the history of populism.
I had a good year afoot as well as abike. I ran 724.14 miles in 366 days, for an average of 1.97 miles per day. I don't run every day, obviously. I ran on 174 of the 366 days, which means I averaged 4.16 miles per running day. (I say "running day" rather than "run" because I ran two races in a day twice this year.) Today's 3.1-mile run (in gorgeous weather, I might add) was my 800th 5K run (including races). When you add my bike rides to my 174 running days, you see that I was a busy boy this year. There is no other way to live. My resting heart rate this morning was 46. I weigh 153½ pounds (down from 156 when I woke up).
Brian Leiter's sycophants are busy smearing me (anonymously, of course, for they are cowards) because I had the gall to say that their hero smears people. I just received a hateful e-mail message from firstname.lastname@example.org. (Joel Feinberg [1926-2004] was my teacher.) I replied to the sender, but my message came back instantly, marked "user unknown." The sycophant didn't realize (and wasn't smart enough to find out) that the University of Arizona domain is "u.arizona.edu," not "arizona.edu." He or she tried to make it seem as though the message came from someone at my old school. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it was Leiter himself who sent the message. He is a well-known troll.
It is clear that Israeli airstrikes are a vastly disproportionate response to Hamas’s rockets launched into Israel.
Although Israel may claim that it is aiming at military targets, the dreadful civilian death toll in Gaza says otherwise, and almost certainly defines Israel’s actions as a war crime.
The bombs dropped by Israel are killing noncombatants by the hundreds in Gaza. The United States supplies arms, technology and other substantial military aid to Israel. Taxpayers should demand that a new United States administration cease doing so at once.
The time occupied in this editorial work was extremely well employed in respect to my own improvement. The “Rationale of Judicial Evidence” is one of the richest in matter of all Bentham’s productions. The theory of evidence being in itself one of the most important of his subjects, and ramifying into most of the others, the book contains, very fully developed, a great proportion of all his best thoughts: while, among more special things, it comprises the most elaborate exposure of the vices and defects of English law, as it then was, which is to be found in his works; not confined to the law of evidence, but including, by way of illustrative episode, the entire procedure or practice of Westminster Hall. The direct knowledge, therefore, which I obtained from the book, and which was imprinted upon me much more thoroughly than it could have been by mere reading, was itself no small acquisition. But this occupation did for me what might seem less to be expected; it gave a great start to my powers of composition. Everything which I wrote subsequently to this editorial employment, was markedly superior to anything that I had written before it. Bentham’s later style, as the world knows, was heavy and cumbersome, from the excess of a good quality, the love of precision, which made him introduce clause within clause into the heart of every sentence, that the reader might receive into his mind all the modifications and qualifications simultaneously with the main proposition: and the habit grew on him until his sentences became, to those not accustomed to them, most laborious reading. But his earlier style, that of the Fragment on Government, Plan of a Judicial Establishment, &c., is a model of liveliness and ease combined with fulness of matter, scarcely ever surpassed: and of this earlier style there were many striking specimens in the manuscripts on Evidence, all of which I endeavoured to preserve. So long a course of this admirable writing had a considerable effect upon my own; and I added to it by the assiduous reading of other writers, both French and English, who combined, in a remarkable degree, ease with force, such as Goldsmith, Fielding, Pascal, Voltaire, and Courier. Through these influences my writing lost the jejuneness of my early compositions; the bones and cartilages began to clothe themselves with flesh, and the style became, at times, lively and almost light.
Note from KBJ: It sounds crazy, but the only way to become a good writer is to . . . write. Many of my students are atrocious writers, probably because the only time they write is in (or for) class. That's like expecting to win a tennis tournament when the only time you play tennis is during the tournament. I am convinced, after a quarter of a century of teaching, that writing cannot be taught. It can be learned, but it cannot be taught. One must learn it by doing it and by emulating good writers. You cannot emulate good writers, obviously, unless you read good writers, and you cannot read good writers unless you read. I wonder how many of my students who can't write don't read. Mill's style improved by reading Bentham. I am a better writer (I will not say I am a good writer) for having read the likes of Joel Feinberg, R. M. Hare, Peter Singer, W. D. Ross, C. D. Broad, J. J. C. Smart, William Rowe, and Richard Robinson.