The American Philosophical Association (APA) publishes a brochure entitled "Philosophy Student Performance on the Law School Admissions [sic] Test (LSAT)," the clear implication of which is that majoring in philosophy causes one to do better on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). No evidence is provided for this startling claim, which is repeated so often by so many people in so many contexts that one is inclined to accept it as fact. Given a correlation between majoring in philosophy and doing well on the LSAT, and given that the former occurs before the latter, there are two possibilities:
Majoring in philosophy causes one to do better on the LSAT.
People who are intelligent, and therefore going to do well on the LSAT anyway, major in philosophy, perhaps because philosophy rewards the very attributes that cause one to do well on the LSAT, such as analytical ability, argumentativeness, critical awareness, and reading comprehension.
I have never seen any evidence in support of the first of these possibilities. It seems much more likely to me that the second is true than that the first is true. So why would the APA imply that the first claim is correct? I think you know the answer: dishonesty motivated by self-interest. The APA wants students to think that majoring in philosophy will cause them to do better on the LSAT. The more philosophy majors there are, the more lucrative the discipline of philosophy is for everyone who is involved in it or earns a living by it. This is another reason why I'm proud to have dissociated myself from the APA. It's politically biased and dishonest.
Addendum: My philosophical colleagues both home and abroad will criticize me for addressing this issue. My question to them is this: What is your evidence for the first of the possibilities listed above? For surely we philosophers should not be making bold empirical claims without supporting evidence. Isn't that what we teach our students? I haven't even mentioned the ethical question. How can it be right to induce students to major in philosophy when the basis of that inducement is questionable? I hope other philosophers join me in calling upon the APA to withdraw its brochure, at least until empirical research (by nonphilosophers!) establishes the requisite causal connection. Philosophers have a chance to practice what they preach.
The virtue of people who honor their duties of judgmental justice and respect the rights of others to be fairly appraised is called "fair-mindedness." Whatever job our voiced and written judgments may do, whatever changes they may effect in the world, they also form part of the human record, and all persons, or at least all fair-minded persons, have a double stake in that record. Everyone will wish to make his own record as good as possible, but all fair-minded persons will also wish the record itself to be accurate and untarnished, partly as a matter of common interest, but also, as we say, as a matter of justice, and justice in a quite basic and underivative sense. Nothing makes the head spin more than the death and burial of a known truth. Those who have read the passages about rewriting history in Orwell's 1984 will understand the "dizziness" which another writer, Albert Camus, cites as his response to "the absolute murder of a truth." Our concern for the truth is also at the root of that feeling which is sometimes called "guilt" and is prominent in the consciousness of fair-minded people who sense that their own position in life implies a judgment of their merits that is too favorable, that they are therefore posing as something that they are not in fact. The moral principle behind these phenomena is that every person has a right to be treated and judged as the kind of being he is, and since this principle derives its persuasiveness and its impersonal authority from the alliance between interest and the objective truth, it also imposes a duty to accept no more favorable judgments from others than those that are in truth warranted. The alliance between personal interest and the truth may not always be present, and even where it exists, it may be short-lived, but the truth itself is timeless, and it is the truth's prestige that supports judgmental justice even when all connection with personal interests is severed. James Flexner writes that it is "unfair" to call George Washington a racist, given that he ardently and conscientiously opposed the institution of slavery. Notice how the biographer naturally thinks of doing justice to his subject well after the subject, having long been dead, has any personal stake in the record.
(Joel Feinberg, "Noncomparative Justice," The Philosophical Review 83 [July 1974]: 297-338, at 325-6 [italics in original; footnotes omitted])
The catcher is always the smartest person on the field. As evidence, consider this. Ten managers made the playoffs this year. Eight of them were catchers:
Mike Matheny of the St Louis Cardinals
Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs
A. J. Hinch of the Houston Astros
Ned Yost of the Kansas City Royals
Jeff Banister of the Texas Rangers
John Gibbons of the Toronto Blue Jays
Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees
Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates
Hurdle was primarily an outfielder, but he played catcher occasionally, which means he had the tools (including the intelligence) to do so. The only two managers in the playoffs who were not catchers are Terry Collins of the New York Mets (shortstop) and Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers (first base). By the way, all 10 playoff managers are white.
I’m puzzled by David Brooks’s concern that the “careerist tide” is drowning emotional, spiritual and moral education (“The Big University,” column, Oct. 6). Seriously?
Nearly all my students work one or two jobs to pay for school, leave college with significant debt, and enter a labor market in which the benefits of rising productivity have gone exclusively to the wealthiest. Yet conservatives oppose the very policies that would reduce student debt, make college affordable or increase their prospective wages.
To chastise universities’ focus on careers rather than humanities in the aftermath of decades of conservative policies that exacerbated inequality is disingenuous.
MARK K. CASSELL
The writer is a professor of political science at Kent State University.
Note from KBJ: Yes, it's all the fault of conservatives. Who has been president for the past six and three-quarters years (and 14.75 of the past 22.75)?
So Bruce Jenner is now a tranny. He has male genitalia and female breasts, dresses like a woman, and says he's (still) attracted to women. Does he get to go into women's bathrooms? If so, then, given his attraction, he can leer at the women and they won't be able to do a thing about it. See here for the consequence of this craziness.
Though it is likely to be cast as a struggle between trade and jobs, or between Wall Street and labor, the debate about the Trans-Pacific Partnership should also be about uncertainty and catastrophic risk in an increasingly turbulent 21st century. Economists and most political scientists have assumed that it is good to remove barriers. But much as removing natural barriers can expose ecosystems to invasive species that decimate their diversity, globalization threatens local and regional economic diversity.
Is it wise to be selling resource-intensive American beef in Asia and importing exotic produce from around the world? If these drive much local and regional production out of business, what happens when global climate chaos degrades California or Iowa and world prices suddenly rise? The result could be food shortage or famine in poor countries, after the Trans-Pacific Partnership had ruined local farmers and emptied their countryside. Is a global market for goods, capital and information stable and innovative? May it not induce crashes and incite extremism?
Congress should reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership and rethink globalization.
Note from KBJ: Free trade has been a disaster for this country. It enriches the rich and impoverishes the poor. It destroys industries, communities, and families. It undermines American sovereignty. It prevents us from protecting and preserving what is distinctive about this nation and its culture. The Left loves free trade because it promotes cosmopolitanism and undermines American sovereignty. The Right loves free trade because it enriches multinational corporations. Open borders and free trade will be the death of this country. Think twice before you support these abominations.
Rupert Murdoch is correct. Barack Obama is half black. His mother is as white as my mother. Obama's father is Kenyan. Obama, therefore, has no connection to American slavery, unless, of course, his mother descends from slaveowners.
Utilitarians—as well as moral philosophers who have not been utilitarians—have not always failed to notice the fact that we think actions are right if they are of a sort which would produce good consequences if generally practised, or are wrong if they are of a sort which would produce bad consequences if other people did the same. Mill, for example, remarked: "In the case of abstinences—indeed of things which people forbear to do from moral considerations, though the consequences in the particular case might be beneficial—it would be unworthy of an intelligent agent not to be consciously aware that the action is of a class which, if practised generally, would be generally injurious, and that this is the ground of the obligation to abstain from it." But utilitarians have not always realised that, in admitting that the performance of such actions is a duty, they are departing from, or, at least, modifying, utilitarianism as it is stated above. And that they are departing from, or modifying, utilitarianism, as it is usually thought of, is clear. For actions which are permissible, according to utilitarianism as I have defined it above, might well not be permissible, according to utilitarianism in this modified form. For it may very well be true of an action, both that there is no other action within the power of the agent that would produce better consequences than it, and that it is an instance of a class of actions which would produce harmful consequences if they were to be generally performed. In this case, I should, according to utilitarianism as it is normally thought of, be acting rightly if I performed it; whereas, according to this modified form of utilitarianism, I should be acting wrongly.
(J. Harrison, "Utilitarianism, Universalisation, and Our Duty to Be Just," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, n.s., 53 [1952-1953]: 105-34, at 113 [footnote omitted])
Note from KBJ: Here is an example. Suppose I am shipwrecked with my grandfather on a deserted island. Before he dies, he asks me to promise him that I will bury his body. I make the promise. According to act utilitarianism, I should break the promise, since keeping it will (1) do no good and (2) do some bad. (It's hard work digging a grave.) According to rule utilitarianism, I should keep the promise, since breaking it "is an instance of a class of actions which would produce harmful consequences if they were to be generally performed." This example shows that act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism are distinct theories. It does not tell us which theory is best or preferable. Some people prefer act utilitarianism; some prefer rule utilitarianism. Some people reject both theories.