Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wishing readers a very, very happy new year!

New Year's Honour's 2011

Not much announced today in wake of the cuts of 100% to the teaching budget in arts, humanities, and social sciences except a Knighthood for David Butler (Nuffield College, Oxford) for services to Political Science . . . and for fellow fans of Poirot, David Suchet has been awarded a very well-deserved CBE.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The travel blues

Well, I have finally arrived in the United States. This was after flight cancellations, being re-routed via Amsterdam and Paris, several delays for various items, sitting on a tarmac for 5 hours after landing, and still I don't have my luggage. No wonder I'm not going to make it to this year's APA, right? Anyway, I feel sorry for the many graduate students who will be doing everything short of making the trip on foot to ensure they attend whatever interviews they can achieve in what appears to be the most difficult market I have seen yet. I certainly wish everyone the best of luck -- and warmly encourage search committees to offer Skype or phone interviews to candidates who could not make it to interview in person. This year has been exceptional in many ways.

I'd be interested to hear of search committees that do short list candidates who were unable to make the Eastern...

Monday, December 27, 2010

APA travel woes

Writing now in Amsterdam waiting for my connection flight to Paris CDG onto the US as flights continue to be cancelled: my travel has already been delayed by cancelled flights. It's looking highly unlikely I'll make it to the APA-Eastern this year....and, from anecdotal evidence, it appears quite a few others will miss the conference as well. I suspect this may be the least well attended APA in many years. And the snow continues to fall....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy holidays!

I will be travelling over the next several days, including arriving in Boston next week for the annual American Philosophical Association--Eastern Division meeting. Posting will be light in the meantime although I may offer a few postings "live" from the conference. Otherwise, I wish everyone a very happy holidays!

APA-Eastern events worth noting

A brief announcement of a few panels that may be of interest to some readers:

Tuesday, 28th December 2010 - 5.15-7.15pm
Association of Philosophy Journal Editors (APJE)
Roundtable on electronic publishing
Chair: Thom Brooks
Speakers: Jeff Dean, Julia Driver, Gary Gutting

Wednesday, 29th December 2010 - 11.15am-1.15pm
Nussbaum's From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orietnation and Constitutional Law: Author Meets Critics
Chair: Thom Brooks
Commentators: Helga Varden, Suzanne Goldberg, Yoel Inbar
Respondent: Martha Nussbaum

Thursday, 30th December 2010 - 9.00-10.00am
Hegel, forgiveness, and liberalism
Speaker: Shannon Hoff
Respondent: Thom Brooks

Hope to see many of you there!

NOTE: The exact locations for these meetings will not be announced until the conference starts (and, thus, not known in advance).

North Korea ready for a "holy war"?

The BBC report here does not make for comfortable reading as tensions appear to increase.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where is the best place to research philosophy?

I would be interested to know from readers which they suspect is the best database for conducting research in philosophy:

A. Philosopher's Index

B. Philosophy Research Index

C. PhilPapers

D. Social Science Citation Index (Web of Science)

E. Westlaw

F. Other

CFP: Death - Its Meaning, Metaphysics, and Morality

Call for Papers:


Death: Its Meaning, Metaphysics, and Morality Newcastle University (UK) July 6-7, 2011



Keynote speakers:

Ben Bradley (Syracuse University, USA)
Mary Midgley (Newcastle University, UK)

This conference focuses on the meaning, metaphysics, and morality of death. We invite authors to submit abstracts on topics related to the conference theme, such as:

• Is death ‘bad’ for those who die?

• Is immortality desirable?

• What constitutes the end of a life?

• Is death a state of being or a process of extinction?

• In what, if any, sense might our death be a harm for us?

• May we posthumously harm the dead?

• Are rights for the living alone? Do the dead have rights?

• Do we have obligations to the dead?

• What is the relationship between death and existence?

• Does a life of integrity or authenticity require a certain kind of orientation toward one’s own death?
Abstracts should be between 150-300 words and submitted by Monday, February 28, 2011 to Thom Brooks (t.brooks@newcastle.ac.uk). Please contact Brooks if you have any questions.
This conference is sponsored by the Jean Beer Blumenfeld Center for Ethics at Georgia State University and the Newcastle Ethics, Legal, and Political Philosophy (NELPP) Group at Newcastle University.
This call is also posted to the conference website, www.gsu.edu/ethics, which in the coming months will include accepted abstracts, registration information, conference schedule, and notes about visiting Newcastle.

Google Labs -- fun, fun!

Readers may be interested in checking out Google Labs. This allows you to see by language over a long period of time how popular books have been. You really can find amazing things out, such as:

1. Fichte was sometimes far more popular than Hegel (in German).

2. Brian Barry far more popular than Rawls and many others (in US English) and UK English.

3. Although some things are too hard to believe... 

Should the APA-Eastern date change?

Vote early and often in this poll at Ethics Etc!

Further cuts in higher education

The BBC reports the following here:

"[. . .] Universities in England face a 6% cut to this year's teaching budget, before their incomes increase from raised tuition fees in 2012. Teaching grants will be cut from £4.9bn to £4.6bn for 2011-2012, ministers said in the annual letter to the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The government said higher fees could mean 10% more investment by 2014. But the vice chancellors' body said it was very disappointed, and the cuts amounted to 8% in real terms.

Business Secretary Vince Cable and Universities Minister David Willetts said the government faced "extremely challenging public spending constraints". But Mr Willetts said universities were "well able to handle" the cuts and it was a "very solid cash settlement".
[. . .] The University and College Union said the cut was a "kick in the teeth" for the sector, which would fall behind international competitors. "The government seems to think that the sector will be able to deliver more for less and students will be happy to pay three times the price. That is absolute madness," said general secretary Sally Hunt. "By cutting funding and access to university, attacking staff pay and conditions and charging students record fees we are going to be left behind," she said.
The Russell Group of research-intensive universities said it was concerned that cuts to the capital budget would be "particularly detrimental", and the reduction of the teaching grant would be "really challenging" for universities to absorb. [. . .]"

I fear this may be further bad news for UK universities. They have already gone through a variety of "efficiency saving exercises": look at the rise in number of universities where departments have been brought together into "schools": it is unclear what more might be cut.

Some may argue that, look, the whole country is going through some pain and the universities must share this burden. Yet, universities seem to be taking the brunt with a massive reduction in funding --- including a 100% cut in all support for teaching arts, humanities, and social sciences --- from 2012. While it is claimed that universities might be able to make up this lost revenue by charging much higher fees, the government has given no firm response to any number of central questions such as whether quotas on student numbers for universities will be lifted. If lifting quotas is as unlikely as I suspect, then this may greatly limit how much cash universities might make up with higher fees. Plus, universities will be less able to prepare in advance for the rise in fees (where students may pay twice or even treble current fees) with this additional cut in funding.

Yes, we've heard this line before about doing the best in a tough economic climate. We might have thought the 100% cut in teaching for arts, humanities, and social sciences well beyond any sane threshold. Unfortunately, this seems only the beginning of cuts, not the conclusion. It is helpful to see the Russell Group now voicing concerns. Perhaps if we heard more (and a different line) before . . .

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Higher University Fees: an English problem?

It appears likely that Scotland will retain a policy that its students will pay 0 and students from elsewhere in the UK may pay about £6,000 per year. EU students would also be charged 0. Expect applications to rise? Details here.

Philosophers are best on GRE results

. . . and yet again. Analysis here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The House of Lord: Our Last Hope?

The House of Lords is set to debate the bill raising tuition fees at British universities from about £3,200 to as high as £9,000 today. Let us hope that they will vote against it. There are many good reasons. One particularly compelling reason whatever side readers may prefer is the lack of proper consultation. In mid-October, there was a review, the Browne Report, recommending several fundamental changes to the way that universities were funded. This included a rise in fees with a graduated levee for fees of £6000 or more. The coalition government had timetabled a vote on raising fees little more than a month after receiving the report. More worryingly, the proposals that the government is endorsing in this bill and subsequent bills differs in many significant respects from what the Browne Report had recommended. Subsequently, there has been precious little time to determine likely effects of the new proposals (it seems still being worked out) for the future of higher education.

Amongst a great many other things, there should be at least a White Paper reviewing the likely impact of relatively firm proposals that the government would like to implement. While one can understand their desire for swift reform, proper public policy making need not take too long but nor should it be done overnight. Let us hope that the House of Lords defeats this bill if only to permit more time for greater consideration of a suite of new measures the government is keen to introduce. Higher education is one of the true jewels in the crown of the British economy and (dare I say it) "brand": it would a travesty if this were to be damaged overnight by too hasty politicians with more concern for putting ideology ahead of sound public policy for the benefit of the common good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Liberal Democrats suffer major loss of support

Ipsos-Mori has the details here. This loss includes a particularly dramatic loss of support in the North East where the Liberal Democrats did well at taking support from Labour in the previous general election. Since the election, their support in the region has dropped from 24% to a new low of 4%. We are watching a major political party against the ropes.

P.S. You know times are bad when party leaders beg their own side to stick with the party through the national media. (Details here.)

Nor is disatisfaction one-sided: many Tories are apparently unhappy with the coalition leadership. (Details here.)

The Philosophers' Carnival

. . . is here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thom Brooks on "Natural Law Internalism"

. . . can be found here on SSRN. The abstract:

"G. W. F. Hegel developed a new understanding of natural law that departs from both traditional and more contemporary accounts. Natural lawyers defend standards that are external to the law in order to survey the merits of law. Call these accounts theories of natural law externalism. Hegel offers a very different account where we survey the merits of law through a standard that is internal to law. This essay will explain Hegel’s natural law internalism and whether it marks an advance on existing natural law accounts. I will argue that Hegel offers us a novel understanding of natural law that is compelling, but ultimately unstable and problematic."

Comments most welcome!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Should politicans lead by example?

My thought of the day: if those in favour of today's trebling of fees genuinely believe "we're all in it together" and the current deal is so "progressive" and "a better deal for students," then how many will now voluntarily ask to begin making payments to the state to reimburse it for the free fees and grants they received as students. Lead by principled example, not spinelessly shifting debts to the next generation.

Let me expand on this briefly. The argument against today's vote on raising fees is that students will receive a worse deal. The government says that the deal is genuinely better than ever and necessary given the current financial situation. In reply, those against make many objections including one of standing: many of those in government supporting a trebling of fees had themselves paid nothing at all for their university educations. Indeed, many also received free grants to cover living expenses leaving universities with a degree and no debt. Now students will have from £18,000-27,000 worth of debt in fees alone that may raise to £40,000-50,000 including living expenses. This is seen as grossly unfair.

If those in government believe that we are in this together and all should contribute in the national interest to solving the country's financial problems, then it seems only fair that those who paid nothing at all for their university educations should now pay something back. This is perhaps especially true for those who support what they constantly say is a "fair deal" for all future students and yet they themselves will not be burdened with any of the debts that will be passed onto future students. If the deal is so good, then by all means let us see the Prime Minister agree to make the same kinds of payments he will have imposed on future students.

Moreover, this has also been sold to the public as necessary given current economic conditions. These conditions may change for the better. There seems no plans in place to ever return to greater public investment for teaching in higher education should the financial crises be overcome. This then suggests that proposals sold as a solution to a temporary problem is itself a permanent solution. There should be great concerns about a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Finally, why should the future generation be burdened by the sins of their fathers (and mothers)? Baby boomer MPs enjoyed free university education in many cases. They also had oversight over financial institutions, oversight that later proved problematic. The burdens for which they bare at least some responsibility might be thought to be left with them and perhaps their generation. Instead, there is a generational shift whereby burdens are shifted on the next generation. This is unfair.

If politicians in favour believe what they are arguing for today, then let us see them put their money where their mouths are and sign up to making their own payments themselves. If not, then they concede by their actions that they are proposing a permanent solution to a temporary problem to be imposed on a future generation to cover the debts incurred by a previous generation, a solution so fair that none who propose it have signed up to themselves and -- while students may take on debts of £40,000+ in these "fair" proposals -- they enjoyed debts of precisely £0.

Politicians should lead by principled example. I doubt this will happen today though.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Who benefits from higher education?

Today, in the House of Commons, PM David Cameron said that  plans to raise fees will mean that those who benefit from higher education will not be subsidised as heavily by those who do not.

The idea seems to be this. Students are the beneficiaries of higher education. Thus, they should pay the costs of higher education if they wish to receive the benefits. Furthermore, those who do not attend university should not subsidize those who do. The idea here is that those who do not benefit from higher education should not subsidize those who do.

Does this get the idea of "benefit" correct? No. Let me consider various scenarios to more closely analyze the sense of "those who benefit should be subsidized by those who do not benefit".

Students with university degrees may expect greater than average earnings. They may benefit from these higher earnings. The government claims that those who do not enjoy such benefits (e.g., higher than average earnings) should not subsidize those that do enjoy these benefits. Several thoughts on this:

1. A wealthy businessman without a degree did not enjoy the benefits that may have been likely had he attended university. However, he will also share in the benefit in question: higher than average earnings. If those who do not enjoy benefits (defined as higher incomes) should not subsidize those who do enjoy the benefits (defined as higher incomes), then the wealthy business does enjoy the same material benefits and, thus, he is not exempt from subsidizing university students through the tax system . . . even though he had not attended university himself.

2. The other scenario is this. Suppose that we understand "benefits" as in The university student benefits differently. Instead of "higher incomes" we now understand it as "higher incomes due to university study". The wealthy businessman lacking a degree may enjoy the benefit of earning a higher than average income, but he would not enjoy the specific benefit afforded to university students: his higher income was not due to university study. The wealthy businessman then does not enjoy the same benefit -- if we understand "benefit" in this different way -- as the university student. Thus, according to this principle, the wealthy businessman lacking a degree should not pay a penny to help defray university costs for students under any circumstances. BUT the government will use tax revenues to subsidize students in science subjects, as well as to help fund research councils.

3. Consider a different scenario of the student whose expected income for a course will be under £21,000 (the amount from which which she will be expected to pay off her student debts). Courses where students will likely earn under £21,000 will be fully subsidized by tax payers because students will not have passed the threshold by which they must pay off their debts. One way of looking at this is to say that the students have not received a (material) "benefit" from their education in the form of higher than average wages. If they lack the benefits, then they may be entitled to some subsidy. This, in turn, undermines the government aim of having students pay the costs of their course.

4. Let's return to the wealthy businessman lacking a degree. Does he benefit from university graduates? He may if their skilled labour is in demand at his place of work. Subsidizing universitry study through the general tax system allows him to support a wider system by which his pool of available talent for employment is increased. Thus, he is a direct beneficiary. If those who benefit should pay, he benefits and should pay.

5. What about the average citizen? Many of her local and national representatives who determine policies at home and abroad are university educated. They are also chosen by the citizenry in competitive elections. There is a case to be made that we all benefit from university graduates in the determination of public policies. We all benefit and, thus, should all pay. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a case where most citizens do not benefit in any substantive way from higher education.

The alternative is to say that this principle of those who benefit should pay is a matter of justice. If this is the case, then why should immigrants unable to receive welfare assistance pay taxes that contribute to the welfare assistance of otehrs if "those who benefit should pay"? Or why should the able bodied pay for the health care costs of those less healthy? Or why should council tax money from citizens who do not drive or use a car be used to pay for road repairs and snow removal? Or why have any state service? On the one hand, we all benefit in some sense from various public services. On the other hand, it may be possible to make cases like these hypothetical questions.

It then appears that the principle that "those who benefit should pay" sounds catchy, but yet wildly problematic and objectionable. In fact, it would seem no major policy adheres to the principle in any clear sense, not least higher education policy.

If only our politicians took their own stated principles more seriously . . . . . . . . .

UCU claims proposed changes to higher education funding puts many universities at risk

Details here.

Shovel your own streets . . .

The Conservative Party endorses the Idea of the Big Society. Briefly speaking, this is the view that citizens should become more reliant on (and helpful to) each other and less reliant on the state to satisfy various needs and wants. We are all in it together and should lend a helping hand where we can rather than wait for the state to do it for us.

Of course, there is much that is attractive about this view, but also much that is problematic. One attractive feature is we should all be encouraged to assist others where we can, all things considered. The problems include the major worry that certain services should not be left to the beneficience and good will of other (just in case these services are not honoured).

Enter the major snowstorm that has covered the UK. Many councils eventually cleared the major roads, but few (if any) cleared "minor" roads -- or, in other words, the roads where most people live. My own street and surrounding areas do not appear to have had any gritters or snow ploughs to clear the snow and ice despite more than a week of daily snow fall. My walk home continues upon icy sidewalks where no one has shovelled.

There are reasons why snow removal has been such a problem in the UK. One reason is that the snow rarely stays for long. Most snow storms leave only a dusting or 1-2" which begins to melt the next day. Why have expensive equipment for something so temporary? A second reason is that you may become liable for another's injury if your snow removal contributed to it. Thus, you may be on safer legal grounds against claims from persons walking past your property if you did not shovel the snow (because you would not be liable for any injuries on your property because of a fall).

One sign of the Big Society IN PRACTICE would be citizens digging each other out. As someone from Connecticut, I find it incredible how so little snow causes so much chaos.

It appears that the government has heard my anguish. We now have the Transport Secretary agreeing that citizens should help dig each other out. (Details here.) However, his plans go much further than American norms. It is common in the US to find sidewalks shovelled within 48 hours. Often this may be in keeping with local laws. The Transport Secretary wants us to help remove snow from our properties and neighbours in need but also our streets! Apparently, if you have trouble getting out of your property, then the problem is that you have failed to use your shovel to dig sufficient amounts of snow from your front door to a main road. Welcome to the Big Society. (I'd rather leave for a Small Island myself . . .)

Some say the attitude here is of the "stiff upper lip": better to "get on with things" than "whinge" about them. Perhaps. Nevertheless, I am at a loss as to why there is not greater pressure on councils to clear snow from all streets and public walkways, not just the main postal routes.

We shall see if the Big Society can deliver, although has any Tory MP or supporter shovelled their sidewalk or part of their street? If not, then perhaps we can do without the Big Society after all . . . .

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Earn your degree and then get out

It has been reported by the BBC here that student work visas for non-EU international students will be curtailed. The effect will be that students will not be permitted to seek work after completing their degrees (or at least without getting another visa). The move is aimed at forcing more students to leave the UK after completing their degrees so that the Tories can fulfil an election pledge to bring down the number of visas awarded.

This will surely come as more bad news for universities. Perhaps one attractive feature of paying to study at a British university (in addition to the degree) was the possibility of having a few months after graduation to find work, that might then lead to a more permanent work visa. Now higher university fees will be met with no post-graduation work opportunities generally for non-EU international students. Whether this will have an effect on international student recruitment awaits to be seen, but more reason to hold a review into the effects of proposed reforms before they are implemented without a thorough analysis later this week . . . . .

Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, is arrested

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is arrested in London. Details here.

Government university scholarship scheme "unworkable and unfair"

The universities think tank Million+ has branded the coalition government's university scholarship scheme "unworkable and unfair". From the BBC:

"[. . . ] A scholarship scheme to part pay the university fees of students from the poorest homes has been branded "unworkable and unfair". University think tank Million+ claims the £150m funding for the scheme may not be enough to pay the fees of students who would qualify. It adds that making universities give a year's free tuition to poorer students could push fees up higher.

The government says it wants to open up universities to more people.  MPs will vote later this week on plans to raise fees to a maximum of £9,000. There are also plans to cut university teaching budgets which along with the fees rise have sparked widespread protests. Under its national scholarship scheme the government is proposing to fund a year's free tuition for students from the poorest backgrounds - those who were on free schools meals when they were at school. And universities charging more than £6,000 in fees would be required to give a second year free to poorer students. [. . .]"

Further evidence that the government should suspend a vote on these proposals until their full impact is examined more thoroughly. Will it do so? I fear it will plough on ahead regardless with potentially major future consequences for higher education in years to come . . .

Monday, December 06, 2010

Sheffield Philosophy petition

Details here - readers encouraged to support!

Write to your local newspaper opposing the rise in university fees

. . . to be vote on in the UK Parliament later this week. The link is here.

Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the US economy



A must watch speech from the floor of the US Senate.

Women in Philosophy Group workshop

WORKSHOP BY THE EWPG - 21 JANUARY 2011
The Edinburgh Women in Philosophy Group would like to invite interested parties of any gender to attend a workshop aimed to explore some of the philosophical issues surrounding the under-representation of women in professional philosophy. The date is Friday 21st January 2011, in the Conference Room, David Hume Tower, George Square, Edinburgh. We have the following provisional program:

12.30pm: Welcome coffee
1pm – 2pm: ‘Particularity, Epistemic Responsibility, and the Ecological Imaginary’ - Lorraine Code, University of York
2pm – 3pm:‘False Consciousness and the Modern Woman’ - Elinor Mason, Edinburgh University
3pm – 3.30pm: Coffee break
3.30pm – 4.30pm: ‘Unconscious Influences and Women in Philosophy’ - Jennifer Saul, Sheffield University
4.30pm – 5.30pm: ‘Should sexual harassment law be used to address the operation of implicit bias in the workplace?’ - Jules Holroyd, Cardiff University
5.30pm – 6.30pm: Coffee and further discussion

Each paper will be of 40 – 45 minutes, followed by a 15 – 20 minute Q&A session. The discussion after all the talks is intended to develop and explore arising issues further and/or to identify common threads in the talks.
Attendance to the workshop is free, but numbers are limited. Please note that we won’t be providing lunch. After the workshop there will be a workshop dinner, and attendees are welcome to join us. Please let Ana Barandalla know if you plan to attend, and if so, whether you would like to come for dinner (a.i.barandalla-ajona@sms.ed.ac.uk). Please indicate if you require any special arrangement for access either to the workshop, or to the restaurant.

Deadline for registration for the workshop and for dinner is 10th January 2011.

The organisers wish to thank the Scots Philosophical Association, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Philosophy Department at Edinburgh University, for their generous support.

CFP: Graduate Conference in Political Theory

Graduate Conference in Political Theory
Princeton University
April 8-9, 2011

The Committee for the Graduate Conference in Political Theory at Princeton University welcomes papers concerning any period, methodological approach or topic in political theory, political philosophy, or the history of political thought. Approximately eight papers will be accepted.

Each session, led by a discussant from Princeton, will be focused exclusively on one paper and will feature an extensive question and answer period with Princeton faculty and students. Papers will be pre-circulated among conference participants.

The keynote address will be given by Professor Patchen Markell of the University of Chicago.

Submissions are due via email to polthry@princeton.edu by Monday, January 10th, 2011. Please limit your paper submission to 7500 words and format it for blind review (the text should include your paper's title but be free of other personal and institutional information). Only graduate students who will be enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the time of the conference may submit papers; papers from post-doctoral students will not be accepted. Papers will be refereed by current graduate students in the Department of Politics at Princeton. Acceptance notices will be sent in February.

Assistance for invited participants' transportation, lodging, and meal expenses will be provided by the committee, which acknowledges the generous support of the Department of Politics, the University Center for Human Values, and the Graduate School of Princeton University.

More information is available at politicaltheory.princeton.edu. Questions and comments can be directed to: polthry@princeton.edu.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Thom Brooks on "Guidelines on How to Referee"

At long last, I have completed a draft of "Guidelines on How to Referee." The guidelines offer practical advice on how to referee for academic journals and publishers. It is written in the same vein as my earlier "Publishing Advice for Graduate Students" that I know many have found useful. While there was little available on publishing advice when I wrote the earlier piece, there seems even less advice available on how to act as a referee. I hope this new set of guidelines fills a real gap and proves popular.


The abstract is:

"This essay offers clear practical advice on how to act as a referee when asked to review an article for an academic journal. The advice is also relevant for reviewing manuscript proposals for academic publishers. My advice is based on my experiences in editing an academic journal, the Journal of Moral Philosophy, and four book series. I will draw on these experiences throughout as illustrations. The structure of the advice is as follows. First, I will begin by saying a few words about the academic publishing industry. Secondly, I will discuss whether one should accept or decline an invitation to review. Thirdly, I will examine the question of what appropriate standard should be applied when reviewing submissions. Finally, I conclude with advice on how to draft a report before submitting it to an editor.

The essay is designed in much the same spirit as my earlier “Publishing Advice for Graduate Students” and my hope is that this new essay on refereeing advice will be found every bit as useful by colleagues and students."


The paper is available for free downloading here.

Comments and suggestions are most welcome! Please do share the link with others who may be interested in this topic.

UPDATE: My thanks to Larry Solum and his Legal Theory Blog for posting a link to this paper here!

Visiting academic fellowships at Newcastle University

Academics employed at other universities are welcome to become visiting academic fellows at Newcastle University. Academic visitors would be able to use many university facilities and it is unpaid. Anyone wishing to express interest should contact me.

Interested in applying for a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at Newcastle University?

Persons interested in this opportunity for projects in the area of political and legal philosophy should contact me. I woudl highly recommend taking a close look at the Leverhulme website (which will post materials from 4th January 2011).

All interested persons should contact me before 10th January 2011.

Mark White on "The Implications of Human Fallibility for the Future of Capital Punishment"

. . . can be found here and highly recommended.

9th December is the big day

. . . when the House of Commons will vote on proposed changes to higher education funding. The BBC has more here. I will be following developments very closely.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Which side are you on? Vince Cable and student fees

Today, we learn the extraordinary news that Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat and Business Secretary with responsibility for universities, may abstain on a bill he has recommended to the House of Commons. Readers will be aware that a recent review recommended a lifting of the cap on student fees. Students would no longer pay the ca. £3,200 per year at present and would instead pay fees of up to £9,000 per year. Many students have been angered by what they have understood as a broken election promise: Liberal Democrats campaigned only this past spring against tuition fees, but now they find themselves proposing that annual fees treble. The situation has been difficult for the party and support for the party has dropped significantly in recent weeks with current public support a mere 10%.

Now we learn that Cable is considering abstaining on this vote. The BBC reports:

"[. . .] Mr Cable, a senior Lib Dem whose party had opposed raising tuition fees before the election, is now the minister responsible for universities. He told BBC Radio 5 live his "personal instinct" was to back the rise but he was "willing to go along with my colleagues" if they chose to abstain. Labour called his comments "extraordinary and appalling".
[. . .] The coalition deal allowed for Lib Dems - who during the election campaign pledged to oppose any rise in tuition fees - to abstain in any vote on an increase in fees.  Mr Cable told the Victoria Derbyshire programme: "My own personal instinct, partly because I'm the secretary of state responsible for universities and partly because I think the policy is right, my own instincts are very much to vote for it but we want to vote as a group." He said discussions were continuing about how that would happen and he was talking to Lib Dem MPs individually about the policy, which he said was more "progressive" than the one that had been inherited from the previous government. He acknowledged that the issue had meant his party was "going through a difficult period" adding: "We want to support each other, we try to agree these things as a group as other parties do. [. . .]"
 
It is one thing for a member of the Government to abstain on a vote: this would be bad enough and might merit sacking. However, it is quite another for a member of the Government with responsibilities for a certain brief to abstain on votes directly relating to his brief. This might suggest a lack of confidence in bills that relate to a minister's portfolio which might also make continuation in post untenable. Of course, Cable has repeatedly stated his clear support for the bill.
 
The most remarkable aspect of this case is that the Liberal Democrats are considering abstaining as a party. Of course, they have thsi right under the coalition agreement. However, as a member of the coalition Government, it would be extraordinary for several members of the Government including the Deputy Prime Minister and relevant minister to fail to support a Government bill, especially when these persons support the bill.
 
Cable says he works as part of a team, as part of his political party. Perhaps he should be reminded that his party now shares power and he is in Government. They said they came together in the public interest, but when they felt heat it was party politics once more. So much for "no more broken promises" . . .

Introducing Spiros to the Wurzels



Not quite the Misfits, are they . . . ?

CFP: MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory

MANCEPT Workshops in Political Theory

Eighth Annual Conference: August 31-September 2, 2011
http://manceptworkshops.wordpress.com/


Call for Convenors

From 2011, the Manchester Centre for Political Theory (MANCEPT) in Politics at the University of Manchester will be organizing the annual Political Theory Workshops. Over the last seven years, participants from over twenty countries have come together in a series of workshops concerned with issues in political theory/philosophy widely construed. This note is a first call for convenors for the 2011 workshops.


Workshop Structure

Convenors organize a workshop which can have between 3 and 12 paper-givers. The reading of these papers takes place over four sessions, each lasting three and a half hours. For workshops with just 3 paper givers this normally requires only one session, with 6 papers 2 sessions and so on. In most cases, paper-givers will be asked to speak for 30 minutes, and will then field questions and comments for a further 30 minutes. However, workshop convenors are free to organize the length of the presentation and question time as they see fit. In short, a workshop can last for one session, or it may extend through all four sessions. For example, some may find it convenient to squeeze four paper-givers into one session or use 2 sessions with 2 papers read per session. Also, if a workshop has, say, 5 paper-givers, the second session can finish an hour early. On occasion workshop convenors in the past have had a 'round table' discussion about a particular topic. This could have up to six speakers and would normally last for only one session.

Please also note that workshop convenors decide which papers to accept in their workshop. (We do not vet papers and workshops range from those which discuss fully developed papers to those where nascent ideas are given their first hearing.) There is no conference policy on whether papers should be circulated to other workshop participants in advance and, again, this is for the workshop convenors to decide. We do provide a conference website where papers can be posted or they can be circulated among workshop paper givers through email etc.

While participants in the MANCEPT workshops need not be paper givers, and workshop chairs may decide not to deliver a paper, all participants must be attached to a particular workshop and their attendance agreed by with the workshop convenor. Note, too, that delegates are free to attend any workshop they like during the 4 sessions when their own workshop is not meeting.

Conference Fee and Accommodation

The standard conference fee is £190 (£130 for students). This includes dinner on second evening of 1st September, lunches on arrival and on the 1st, and a wine reception (plus plenty of coffee, tea, and biscuits).

We do not find accommodation for all workshop participants but we do have 60 B&B en suite rooms in University Halls of Residence. These are given on a first come first served basis and cost £80 for 2 nights accommodation (31st August and 1st September).

Please note that our financial resources are very limited. All participants, including workshop convenors, should get funding from their own institutions. Paper-givers on part-time academic contracts may qualify for the reduced postgraduate fee, even if they are not technically postgraduates any more. This would be decided on a case-by-case basis.

If you are interested in convening a workshop, please contact David Rhys Birks. You are also welcome to contact the MANCEPT organising team to discuss any issues that arise.

They are: Kimberley Brownlee, Thomas Porter, and Stephen de Wijze

Thom Brooks on "Retribution and Capital Punishment"

. . . can be found here on SSRN. It is forthcoming is Mark White's Retributivism (Oxford University Press). The link is to a revised version of the paper. The abstract:

"Should retributivists reject capital punishment? It is easy to see how those holding different theories of punishment might oppose it. For example, a deterrence proponent could argue that capital punishment lacks a deterrent effect and, thus, it is unjustified. This seems a far more difficult task for a retributivist.


I will argue that retributivists should reject capital punishment for murderers. My argument will accept several concessions. First, I accept that capital punishment may be proportionate to the crime of murder. Thus, my claim is not that capital punishment should be rejected because it is disproportionate to murder. Secondly, I accept that capital punishment need not be cruel nor unusual punishment. This is an area of wide disagreement, but I do not wish to be distracted by these debates here. Note that I am not defending any particular method of execution. I simply assume that a method may be satisfactory. Thirdly, I also accept that capital punishment is not barbaric nor uncivilized. Some philosophers, such as Kant, rejected punishments for some crimes on the grounds that doing so might itself be a crime against humanity. This also an area of wide disagreement I wish to avoid. In summary, these three concessions are accepted up front purely for the sake of argument. My claim is that retributivists should reject capital punishments for murderers even if they believed it proportionate for murderers, it was not cruel nor unusual to impose capital punishment on murderers, and capital punishment was not barbaric nor uncivilized. "

The UK's Food Standards Agency says cloned meat is "hypotehtically" safe

Details here.

Clegg to students: c'mon and see "the true picture"

Nick Clegg continues to dismiss student anger at his party's apparent support of measures to increase the cap on university student fees from about £3,200 per year to £9,000 per year by saying that they should scrap a further national strike today and see "the true picture" whereby many will be "better off". He believes students -- especially those from poorer backgrounds -- should support the government's proposals as there is nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay post-graduation until students earn at least £21,000. (Allegedly, this £21,000 - in 2016 - is equivalent to £18,000 today.)

I believe students are correct to oppose these plans for many reasons, although I will not rehearse much of what has already been said. There is something curious about arguing that austerity measures are necessary to reduce the nation's debt because it is bad for the country's future . . . and then shift debts to university students who will now have significant debts of £27,000 for fees and perhaps another £20,000 in housing/living expenses over three years. If increasing debts are bad for the country's future, then it is curious that the government is explicitly increasing the personal debts of the country's future, namely, its university graduates.

Some may argue that the higher education sector is unsustainable at current levels. An answer to this is to make the argument to the public that we are all better off with investment in higher education. A higher skilled workforce is necessary for global competition. Yes, university students may be more likely to earn higher incomes, but higher incomes mean higher taxes paid: we all benefit from the skills and higher tax receipts.

Some may argue that those who benefit should pay. If so, we all benefit in having a more competitive work force that is more highly skilled and a work foce that pays a higher share of tax. Why should someone on low income support university students from more affluent backgrounds? One reason is that the student will pay more tax that will help provide better services for all. Higher education is a public good. Besides, the tax paid by those on lower incomes that go to universities is actually quite small -- so the argumet is very spurious. Note how those who make such claims never argue that it is wrong for childless couples on lower incomes to support local schools accessible for all. Or for immigrants without family in the country to support meals on wheels programmes.

The "true picture" is that the public were promised "no more broken promises" by Mr Clegg: he was going to be a politician who stuck to his convictions . . . or at least until the party had its first chance in a generation to enter government. The problem with claiming to be on higher ground is that it makes it more perilous to compromise without risking significant losses amongst supporters (a problem Republican candidates often face in the US).

Liberal Democrat support has fallen to a miserly 10% in recent weeks and we should expect this to dwindle further still. This is "the true picture" that Mr Clegg should be more interested in.

Humanities and the social sciences matter!

I highly recommend this website -- and encourage all readers to consider signing its petition. Humanities and social sciences matter!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Liberal Democrat activities want party to vote against rise in student fees

Unsurprising news. Details here.

Advice for referee guidelines

My thanks again to Brian Leiter for agreeing to run this post on advice for referee guidelines. Please visit it and feel free to comment: the more, the merrier! I will respond later this week as more comments are sent.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Student ocupations continue across British university campuses in opposition to proposed fees

Details here. I note that this is also true at Newcastle University where our Fine Arts Building has been occupied by students since Wednesday. Expect the protests to increase in the run up to the vote on fees next month.

UPDATE:And the occupations continue still at 12 different British universities, including Plymouth, Leeds, Cambridge, Newcastle, Edinburgh and University College London. Details here.

Which university offers the best student experience?

. . . according to the Times Higher poll here are:

1. Harvard University
2. University of York
3. Newcastle University
4. University of Surrey
5. University of Sussex

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

British Vice-Chancellors demand that the government decide quickly on the details concerning the future financing of universities. Details here. My suspicions are that Parliament will pass legislation raising the cap on tuition fees substantially (despite a small revolt/abstention by some Liberal Democrats). The vote probably won't boost support for the Tories, but may have a positive effect on Labour who look set to benefit handsomely from voter defections from the Liberal Democrats: the Lib Dems had vowed to fight any increase in tuition fees only a few months ago during the general election.

Liberal Democrats will hope that voters see the overall positive narrative of their effect on Tory policies more widely, overlooking this change of stance on university fees. If they support a fee rise, then the benefit is getting their way on other measures and the cost is greatly upsetting their base. If they do not support a rise, the benefit is pleasing their base while greatly upsetting their coalition partners and perhaps many universities. I suspect the costs of support are far greater than the costs of opposing a rise, although I think the party (wrongly) believes otherwise.

However, the real debating point is the curious silence of many British university leaders on the Browne Report. As unions, lecturers, university students, and school students cry out in protest -- whatever happened to our university leaders? We can only wonder.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

JOB: Essex (2)

Two Fixed-Term Posts, Department of Philosophy, University of Essex - deadline: 06th December 2010

As a new initiative of the Essex Autonomy Project, the Department of Philosophy at the University of Essex and the AHRC will enter into a partnership on the theme "Contested Autonomy in Public Policy and Professional Practice". This initiative adds to the already existing three-year research initiative, "Deciding for Oneself: Autonomous Judgment in History, Theory and Practice", which started its life in April 2010 (see www.essex.ac.uk/autonomy).

As part of the new initiative, we are now advertising two fixed-term posts - see below. In both cases, the application deadline comes up very soon (*6th December 2010*) and successful candidates will be asked to start working from the beginning of January 2011 or as soon as possible thereafter.

(1) SENIOR RESEARCH OFFICER, Department of Philosophy
Ref: RE233
Salary: In the range £29,853-£30,747 per annum Closing date: 06/12/10 Interviews are likely to be held: Mon., 20 December 2010

We are looking to make a fixed-term appointment of a Senior Research Officer to work on the research and knowledge exchange project Contested Autonomy in Public Policy and Professional Practice, based in the Department of Philosophy. The postholder will have a research background in applied ethics, law, and/or public policy. It is our expectation that the successful candidate will have an advanced degree in philosophy, law or related disciplines prior to taking up the post; consideration will be given, however, to candidates for whom completion of the PhD or equivalent is imminent. The successful candidate will have to be an effective communicator with commitment to fostering interdisciplinary dialogue. Applications from candidates with a legal background are encouraged. A degree in philosophy is not an essential requirement.

The AHRC funded project Contested Autonomy in Public Policy and Professional Practice is part of the Essex Autonomy Project (EAP) -- a collaborative, interdisciplinary research initiative of the Philosophy Department at the University of Essex. Its aim is to investigate the ideal of self-determination in human affairs. For more information see: http://www.essex.ac.uk/autonomy. The AHRC grant is co-directed by Prof. Wayne Martin and Dr. Fabian Freyenhagen and overseen by a Project Planning Team, comprising senior officers of the AHRC, members of EAP, and distinguished practitioners.

The appointee will participate in all aspects of the research project, and provide research assistance to the investigators. He or she will have special responsibility for preparing materials relevant to Public Policy Seminars and Knowledge Exchange activities. This will include responsibilities for preparing policy documents and/or curricular materials in one or more of the following areas: Unified Mental Health Legislation; the Mac-CAT(T); Autonomy and Paternalism: An International Comparison. He or she will be centrally involved in planning and routine running of the project, including organising and overseeing events, and taking partial editorial responsibility for resulting publications.

Appointment to this post will be fixed term for duration of one year, starting 1 January 2011 or as soon after as possible. Funding for the post is provided until 31 March 2011 in the first instance with the expectation of funding for the remainder pending final approval.

For further information see: http://gs12.globalsuccessor.com/fe/tpl_essex01.asp?newms=jj&id=54532


(2) VIRTUAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT PROJECT OFFICER, Department of Philosophy
Ref: RE233
Salary: In the range £29,853-£30,747 pa (pro rated for duration of contract) Closing date: 06/12/10 Interviews are likely to be held: Mon., 20 December 2010

We are looking to make a nine-month, fixed-term appointment of a Virtual Learning Environment Project Officer to develop and roll out a Distance Learning Hub for the research and knowledge exchange project Contested Autonomy in Public Policy and Professional Practice, based in the Department of Philosophy. The postholder will have experiences with distance learning facilities and virtual learning environments. A research background in moral philosophy, political philosophy, applied ethics, law, and/or public policy would be an advantage. The successful candidate will have to be an effective communicator with commitment to fostering interdisciplinary dialogue. A degree in philosophy is not an essential requirement.

The AHRC funded project Contested Autonomy in Public Policy and Professional Practice is part of the Essex Autonomy Project (EAP) -- a collaborative, interdisciplinary research initiative of the Philosophy Department at the University of Essex. Its aim is to investigate the ideal of self-determination in human affairs. For more information see: http://www.essex.ac.uk/autonomy. The AHRC grant is co-directed by Prof. Wayne Martin and Dr. Fabian Freyenhagen and overseen by a Project Planning Team, comprising senior officers of the AHRC, members of EAP, and distinguished practitioners.

The appointee will participate in all aspects of the project. He or she will have special responsibility for developing and rolling out a Distance Learning Hub and will contribute to the delivery of the AHRC Autonomy Summer School, for which the Distance Learning Hub provides one of the key components.

Appointment to this post will be fixed term for the duration of nine months, starting 1 January 2011 or as soon after as possible. Funding for the post is provided until 31 March 2011 in the first instance with the expectation of funding for the remainder pending final approval

For further information see: http://gs12.globalsuccessor.com/fe/tpl_essex01.asp?newms=jj&id=54533

Clegg to students: stop, look, listen

The BBC reports here that UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (Liberal Demcorats) has appealed to students to "listen and look before you march and shout" during today's nationwide student protests against proposed raising of the university fee cap from about £3,200 per year to £9,000 per year. Clegg had campaigned against any rise in university fees during the spring general election, his party's platform called for the abolition of all fees, and he had described (pre-election) proposals to raise fees to £7,000 a disaster. Liberal Democrats performed strongly in seats with universities, attracting large student support.

Perhaps the issues the public was most aware of in the Liberal Democrat platform were its opposition to the Iraq War and its opposition to student fees. Inevitably, compromises must be struck within a coalition government. Not all party manifesto pledges can be met in full or in part. However, to abandon perhaps one of the most widely known and most popular positions amongst their supporters to such an extent -- and then to treat opponents like children with the old school saying of "stop, look, listen" -- is incredible.

Expect opposition to the Liberal Democrats to harden and public approval for the party to decline even further. This is a political party in meltdown facing possible near electoral extinction -- all at the price of being unable to resist the opportunity to grab power. The real tragedy is the party seems to be unaware of its growing crisis.

Have a Happy Slayer Christmas

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(4) (2010)

Journal of Moral Philosophy: An International Journal of Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy
Volume 7, number 4 (2010)

Articles
Sonu Bedi, 'Expressive Exclusion', pp. 427-40.

Rowan Cruft, 'On the Non-instrumental Value of Basic Rights', pp. 441-61.

Richard L. Lippke, 'Punishing the Guilty, Not Punishing the Innocent', pp. 462-88.

Michael Cholbi, 'A Kantian Defense of Prudential Suicide', pp. 489-515.

Review article
David Sobel, 'The Limits of the Explanatory Power of Developmentalism', pp. 517-27.

Book reviews
T. M. Scanlon's Moral Dimensions: Meaning, Permissibility, and Blame (Travis N. Rieder)

Ben Bradley's Well-being and Death (James Stacey Taylor)

J. L. Kupperman's Ethics and Qualities of Life (Roger Chao)

Referees for Volume 7

Thom Brooks (Newcastle), Editor
Christian Miller (Wake Forest), Reviews Editor

NOTE: The Journal of Moral Philosophy will have a new book series, Studies in Moral Philosophy, to be published by Brill and edited by Thom Brooks with an editorial board. Please contact me *here* if you are interested in submitting a proposal. The series will launch in 2011.

Journal of Moral Philosophy, volumes 1-7

 This bibliography lists the full contents of all articles published since the Journal of Moral Philosophy was launched in April 2004. The JMP acceptance rate is less than 8%.

Allen, Robert Francis, ‘Robust Alternatives and Responsibility’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(1) (2004), pp. 21-29.

Alm, David, ‘Deontological Restrictions and the Good/Bad Asymmetry’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(4) (2009), pp. 464-81.

Anderson, Scott A., ‘Of Theories of Coercion, Two Axes, and the Importance of the Coercer’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(3) (2008), pp. 394-422.

Andreou, Chrisoula, ‘Standards, Advice, and Practical Reason’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(1) (2006), pp. 57-67.

Bedi, Sonu, ‘Expressive Exclusion: A Defense’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(4) (2010), pp. 427-40.

Bennett, Christopher, ‘Forgiveness and the Claims of Retribution’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(1) (2004), pp. 89-101.

Bennett, Christopher, ‘State Denunciation of Crime’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(3) (2006), pp. 288-304.

Besser-Jones, Lorraine, ‘Personal Integrity, Morality and Psychological Well-Being: Justifying the Demands of Morality’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(3) (2008), pp. 361-83.

Besson, Samantha, ‘Democracy, Law, and Authority’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(1) (2005), pp. 89-99.

Bittner, Rüdiger, ‘A Horse in the Basement: Nietzschean Reflections on Political Philosophy’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 321-33.

Brake, Elizabeth, ‘Rawls and Feminism: What Should Feminists Make of Liberal Neutrality?’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(3) (2004), pp. 293-309.
• Reprinted in Thom Brooks and Fabian Freyenhagen (eds), The Legacy of John Rawls. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Brock, Gillian, ‘The Difference Principle, Equality of Opportunity, and Cosmopolitan Justice’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(3) (2005), pp. 333-51.

Broome, John, ‘Does Rationality Consist in Responding Correctly to Reasons?’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(3) (2007), pp. 349-74.

Brown, Stephen, ‘Naturalized Virtue Ethics and the Epistemological Gap’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(2) (2004), pp. 197-209.

Butler, Brian E., ‘Rorty, the First Amendment and Antirealism: Is Reliance upon Truth Viewpoint-Based Speech Regulation?’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(1) (2004), pp. 69-88.

Carens, Joseph, ‘The Integration of Immigrants’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(1) (2005), pp. 29-46.

Carter, Alan, ‘The Evolution of Rawls’s Justification of Political Compliance: Part 1 of The Problem of Political Compliance in Rawls’s Theories of Justice’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(1) (2006), pp. 7-21.

Carter, Alan, ‘Political Liberalism and Political Compliance: Part 2 of The Problem of Political Compliance in Rawls’s Theories of Justice’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(2) (2006), pp. 135-57.

Clark, Michael, ‘Retribution and Organic Unities’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(3) (2006), pp. 351-58.

Choi, Yoon, ‘Revisiting Kant’s Ethics: Two Challenges to the Status Quo’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(1) (2008), pp. 137-49.

Cholbi, Michael, ‘A Kantian Defense of Prudential Suicide’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(4) (2010), pp. 489-515.

Christie, Tim W., ‘Natural Separateness: Why Parfit’s Reductionist Account of Persons Fails to Support Consequentialism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(2) (2009), pp. 178-95.

Coyle, Sean, ‘The Ideality of Law’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(4) (2009), pp. 521-34.

Crisp, Roger, ‘Ethics Without Reasons?’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 40-49.

Cruft, Rowan, ‘On the Non-instrumental Value of Basic Rights’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(4) (2010), pp. 441-61.

D’Agostino, Fred, ‘The Legacies of John Rawls’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(3) (2004), pp. 349-65.
• Reprinted in Thom Brooks and Fabian Freyenhagen (eds), The Legacy of John Rawls. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Dancy, Jonathan, ‘Defending the Right’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 85-98.

DeGrazia, David, ‘Moral Vegetarianism from a Very Broad Basis’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(2) (2009), pp. 143-65.

de Muijnk, Wim, ‘Thinking about Normativity: Ralph Wedgwood on “Ought”’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(1) (2009), pp. 133-44.

Deonna, Julien A., ‘The Structure of Empathy’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 99-116.

Dietsch, Peter, ‘Distributive Lessons from Division of Labour’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(1) (2008), pp. 96-117.

Enoch, David and Ehud Guttel, ‘Cognitive Biases and Moral Luck’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 372-86.

Eylon, Yuval, ‘Just Threats’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(1) (2009), pp. 94-108.

Flikschuh, Katrin, ‘Duty, Nature, Right: Kant’s Response to Mendelssohn in Theory and Practice III’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) (2007), pp. 223-41.

Friedman, Alex, ‘Intransitive Ethics’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(3) (2009), pp. 277-97.

Fuller, Lisa F., ‘Poverty Relief, Global Institutions, and the Problem of Compliance’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(3) (2005), pp. 285-97.
• Reprinted in Thom Brooks (ed.), The Global Justice Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

Goddu, G. C., ‘More on Blameworthiness and Alternative Possibilities’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(1) (2006), pp. 69-75.

Grau, Christopher, ‘Moral Status, Speciesism, and Liao’s Genetic Account’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2009), pp. 387-96.

Green, Michael, ‘Social Justice, Voluntarism, and Liberal Nationalism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(3) (2005), pp. 265-83.

Hall, Timothy, ‘Doing Harm, Allowing Harm, and Denying Resources’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(1) (2008), pp. 50-76.

Harcourt, Edward, ‘Crisp’s “Ethics Without Reasons?”: A Note on Invariance’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 50-54.

Hayward, Tim, ‘Thomas Pogge’s Global Resources Dividend: A Critique and an Alternative’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(3) (2005), pp. 317-32.

Hendrix, Burke A., ‘Authenticity and Cultural Rights’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(2) (2008), pp. 181-203.

Hills, Alison, ‘Practical Reason, Value and Action’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(3) (2007), pp. 375-92.

Hirose, Iwao, ‘Aggregation and Non-Utilitarian Moral Theories’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) (2007), pp. 273-84.

Hofmeyr, Benda, ‘The Power Not to Be (What We Are): The Politics and Ethics of Self-creation in Foucault’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(2) (2006), pp. 215-30.

Holroyd, Jules, ‘Substantively Constrained Choice and Deference’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 180-99.

Hookway, Christopher, ‘Ethics and the Pragmatist Enlightenment’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(2) (2006), pp. 231-36.

Hutton, Eric, ‘Han Feizi’s Criticism of Confucianism and Its Implications for Virtue Ethics’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(3) (2008), pp. 423-53.

James, Aaron, ‘Rights and Circularity in Scanlon’s Contractualism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(3) (2004), pp. 367-74.
• Reprinted in Thom Brooks and Fabian Freyenhagen (eds), The Legacy of John Rawls. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Kaufman, Alexander, ‘Rawls’s Practical Conception of Justice: Opinion, Tradition and Objectivity in Political Liberalism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(1) (2006), pp. 23-43.

Kirchin, Simon, ‘Moral Particularism: An Introduction’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 8-15.

Kirchin, Simon, ‘Particularism and Default Valency’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 16-32.

Knight, Carl, ‘Egalitarian Justice and Valuational Judgment’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(4) (2009), pp. 482-98.

Knight, Kelvin, ‘MacIntyre’s Progress’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(1) (2009), pp. 115-26.

Kristjánsson, Kristján, ‘A Utilitarian Justification of Desert in Distributive Justice’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(2) (2005), pp. 147-70.

Laden, Anthony Simon, ‘Taking the Distinction between Persons Seriously’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(3) (2004), pp. 277-92.
• Reprinted in Thom Brooks and Fabian Freyenhagen (eds), The Legacy of John Rawls. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Landemore, Hélène, ‘Politics and the Economist-King: Is Rational Choice Theory the Science of Choice?’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(2) (2004), pp. 177-96.

Landrum, Ty, ‘Persons as Objects of Love’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(4) (2009), pp. 417-39.

Lang, Gerald, ‘Luck Egalitarianism, Permissible Inequalities, and Moral Hazard’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(3) (2009), pp. 317-38.

Lefkowitz, David, ‘Partiality and Weighing Harm to Non-Combatants’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(3) (2009), pp. 298-316.

Lenard, Patti Tamara, ‘Motivating Cosmopolitanism? A Skeptical View’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 346-71.

Lenman, James, ‘How to Live, What to Do: A Critical Study of Allan Gibbard, Thinking How to Live’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(3) (2006), pp. 359-69.

Liao, S. Matthew, ‘Time-Relative Interests and Abortion’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) (2007), pp. 242-56.

Liao, S. Matthew, ‘The Basis of Human Moral Status’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 159-79.

Lippert-Rasmussen, Kasper, ‘Publicity and Egalitarian Justice’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(1) (2008), pp. 30-49.

Lippke, Richard L., ‘Imprisonable Offenses’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(3) (2006), pp. 265-87.

Lippke, Richard L., ‘Punishing the Guilty, Not Punishing the Innocent’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(4) (2010), pp. 462-88.

Ludwig, Bernd, ‘Kant, Garve, and the Motives of Moral Action’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) (2007), pp. 183-93.

Lynch, Sterling, ‘The Fact of Diversity and Reasonable Pluralism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(1) (2009), pp. 70-93.

Mahoney, Jon, ‘Public Reason and the Moral Foundation of Liberalism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(3) (2004), pp. 311-31.
• Reprinted in Thom Brooks and Fabian Freyenhagen (eds), The Legacy of John Rawls. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Marino, Patricia, ‘Expressivism, Deflationism and Correspondence’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(2) (2005), pp. 171-91.

Marino, Patricia, ‘Moral Rationalism and the Normative Status of Desiderative Coherence’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 227-52.

Martin, Rex, ‘Twp Concepts of Rule Utilitarianism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(2) (2008), pp. 227-55.

Martin, Wayne, ‘Hegel and the Philosophy of Food’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2009), pp. 279-90.

Matravers, Matt, ‘“Who’s Still Standing?” A Comment on Antony Duff’s Preconditions of Criminal Liability’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(3) (2006), pp. 320-30.

McKeever, Sean and Michael Ridge, ‘Turning on Default Reasons’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 55-76.

Merritt, Maria W., ‘Aristotelian Virtue and the Interpersonal Aspect of Ethical Character’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(1) (2009), pp. 23-49.

Mookherjee, Monica, ‘Feminism and Multiculturalism—Putting Okin and Shachar in Question’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(2) (2005), pp. 237-41.

Moyar, Dean, ‘Unstable Autonomy: Conscience and Judgment in Kant’s Moral Philosophy’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(3) (2008), pp. 327-60.

Mulnix, M. J., ‘Harm, Rights, and Liberty: Towards a Non-Normative Reading of Mill’s Liberty Principle’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(2) (2009), pp. 196-217.

Naticchia, Chris, ‘The Law of Peoples: The Old and the New’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(3) (2005), pp. 353-69.
• Reprinted in Thom Brooks and Fabian Freyenhagen (eds), The Legacy of John Rawls. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Nolan, Daniel, ‘Consequentialism and Side Constraints’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(1) (2009), pp. 5-22.

Norman, Richard, ‘Particularism and Reasons: A Reply to Kirchin’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 33-39.

Nussbaum, Martha C., ‘Radical Evil in the Lockean State: The Neglect of the Political Emotions’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(2) (2006), pp. 159-78.

O’Neill, Martin, ‘The Facts of Inequality’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2009), pp. 397-409.

O’Neill, Onora, ‘Experts, Practitioners, and Practical Judgement’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) (2007), pp. 154-66.

O’Neill, Onora, ‘Normativity and Practical Judgement’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(3) (2007), pp. 393-405.

Øverland, Gerhard, ‘Self-defence among Innocent People’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(2) (2005), pp. 127-46.

Øverland, Gerhard, ‘Poverty and the Moral Significance of Contribution’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(3) (2005), pp. 299-315.

Øverland, Gerhard, ‘Conditional Threats’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 334-45.

Papdaki, Lina, ‘What is Objectification?’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(1) (2010), pp. 16-36.

Peterson, Martin, ‘The Mixed Solution to the Number Problem’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(2) (2009), pp. 166-77.

Pink, Thomas, ‘Normativity and Reason’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(3) (2007), pp. 406-31.

Primoratz, Igor, ‘Patriotism and Morality: Mapping the Terrain’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(2) (2008), pp. 204-26.

Redondo, María Cristina, ‘Legal Reasons: Between Universalism and Particularism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(1) (2005), pp. 47-68.

Reitan, Eric, ‘Defining Terrorism for Public Policy Purposes: The Group-Target Definition’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 253-78.

Richardson, Henry S., ‘Our Call: The Constitutive Importance of the People’s Judgment’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(1) (2008), pp. 3-29.

Ridge, Michael, ‘Anti-Reductionism and Supervenience’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(3) (2007), pp. 330-48.

Riley, Evan, ‘Libertarian Self-Defeat’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 200-26.

Riley, Patrick, ‘Kant against Hobbes in Theory and Practice’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) (2007), pp. 194-206.

Riley, Jonathan, ‘Ethical Pluralism and Common Decency’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(2) (2004), pp. 211-21.

Ronzoni, Miriam, ‘Constructivism and Practical Reason: On Intersubjectivity, Abstraction, and Judgment’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(1) (2010), pp. 74-104.

Rosebury, Brian, ‘Reply to Silcox on Moral Luck’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(1) (2009), pp. 109-13.

Sable, Andrew, ‘Virtue for Pluralists’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(2) (2005), pp. 207-35.

Scarre, Geoffrey, ‘Corrective Justice and Reputation’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(3) (2006), pp. 305-19.

Scarre, Geoffrey, ‘The “Banality of Good”?’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(4) (2009), pp. 499-519.

Segall, Shlomi, ‘How Devolution Upsets Distributive Justice’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) (2007), pp. 257-72.

Seglow, Jonathan, ‘Associative Duties and Global Justice’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(1) (2010), pp. 54-73.

Shafer-Landau, Russ, ‘Moral and Theological Realism: The Explanatory Argument’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(3) (2007), pp. 311-29.

Sheinman, Hanoch, ‘Raz on the Social Dependence of Values’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(1) (2006), pp. 77-87.

Silcox, Mark, ‘Virtue Epistemology and Moral Luck’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(2) (2006), pp. 179-92.

Silcox, Mark, ‘Reply to Rosebury’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(2) (2009), pp. 245-48.

Simpson, Matthew, ‘A Paradox of Sovereignty in Rousseau’s Social Contract’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(1) (2006), pp. 45-56.

Sin, William, ‘Trivial Sacrifices, Great Demands’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(1) (2010), pp. 3-15.

Singleton, Jane, ‘Neither Generalism nor Particularism: Ethical Correctness is Located in General Ethical Theories’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(2) (2004), pp. 155-75.

Slomp, Gabriella, ‘Kant against Hobbes: Reasoning and Rhetoric’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) (2007), pp. 207-22.

Smith, M. B. E., ‘Does Humanity Share a Common Moral Faculty?’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(1) (2010), pp. 37-53.

Smith, Stephen R., ‘Keeping Our Distance in Compassion-Based Social Relations’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(1) (2005), pp. 69-87.

Sobel, David, ‘The Limits of the Explanatory Power of Developmentalism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(4) (2010), pp. 517-27.

Spector, Jessica, ‘The Grounds of Moral Agency: Locke’s Account of Personal Identity’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(2) (2008), pp. 256-81.

Stark, Susan, ‘A Change of Heart: Moral Emotions, Transformation, and Moral Virtue’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(1) (2004), pp. 31-50.

Stern, Robert, ‘The Autonomy of Morality and the Morality of Autonomy’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(3) (2009), pp. 395-415.

Stone, Alison, ‘Essentialism and Anti-Essentialism in Feminist Philosophy’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(2) (2004), pp. 135-53.

Talisse, Robert B., ‘Does Value Pluralism Entail Liberalism?’ Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(2) (2010), pp. 303-20.

Taylor, Robert S., ‘Self-Realization and the Priority of Fair Equality of Opportunity’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(3) (2004), pp. 333-47.
• Reprinted in Thom Brooks and Fabian Freyenhagen (eds), The Legacy of John Rawls. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Telfer, Elizabeth, ‘“Animals Do It Too!”: The Franklin Defence of Meat-Eating’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(1) (2004), pp. 51-67.

Thomas, Alan, ‘Practical Reasoning and Normative Relevance: A Reply to McKeever and Ridge’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 77-84.

Tideman, Nicolaus, ‘Secession as a Human Right’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(1) (2004), pp. 9-19.

Timmermann, Jens, ‘Good but Not Required?–Assessing the Demands of Kantian Ethics’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 2(1) (2005), pp. 9-27.

Timmermann, Jens, ‘Simplicity and Authority: Reflections on Theory and Practice in Kant’s Moral Philosophy’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(2) (2007), pp. 167-82.

Tropman, Elizabeth, ‘Renewing Moral Intuitionism’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(4) (2009), pp. 440-63.

Tyler, Colin, ‘Brian Barry and Writings on Social Justice from the Left’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(2) (2008), pp. 301-12.

Upton, Candace, ‘Virtue Ethics, Character, and Normative Receptivity’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 8(1) (2008), pp. 77-95.

van Zyl, Liezl, ‘Agent-based Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Action Guidance’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(1) (2009), pp. 50-69.

Vargas, Manuel, ‘Taking the Highway on Skepticism, Luck, and the Value of Responsibility’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(2) (2009), pp. 249-65.

Ward, Lee, ‘Locke on Punishment, Property and Moral Knowledge’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(2) (2009), pp. 218-44.

Webber, Jonathan, ‘Virtue, Character and Situation’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(2) (2006), pp. 193-213.

Weirich, Paul, ‘Utility Maximization Generalized’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(2) (2008), pp. 282-99.

Wenar, Leif, ‘The Unity of Rawls’s Work’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 1(3) (2004), pp. 265-75.
• Reprinted in Thom Brooks and Fabian Freyenhagen (eds), The Legacy of John Rawls. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Westphal, Kenneth R., ‘From “Convention” to “Ethical Life”: Hume’s Theory of Justice in Post-Kantian Perspective’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 7(1) (2010), pp. 105-32.

White, Heath, ‘Fitting Attitudes, Wrong Kinds of Reasons, and Mind-Independent Goodness’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(3) (2009), pp. 339-64.

Wiland, Eric, ‘On Indirectly Self-defeating Moral Theories’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(3) (2008), pp. 384-93.

Williams, Reginald, ‘Morality and Privilege’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 5(1) (2008), pp. 118-35.

Wolff, Jonathan, ‘Equality: The Recent History of an Idea’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 125-36.

Zaibert, Leo, ‘The Fitting, the Deserving, and the Beautiful’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 3(3) (2006), pp. 331-50.

Zaibert, Leo, ‘The Paradox of Forgiveness’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 6(3) (2009), pp. 365-93.

Ziegler, Rafael, ‘Tracing Global Inequality in Eco-space: A Comment on Tim Hayward’s Proposal’, Journal of Moral Philosophy 4(1) (2007), pp. 117-24.

Student anger at proposed university fee rises continues

. . . with the occupation of three universities before tomorrow's national student strike. My expectation? I expect more student protests to come.

Korea: shots fired between North Korea and South Korea

Details here - and very worrying.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fears for music instruction in British schools

The BBC has the details here. Let's hope these fears are not realized . . .

Bhikhu Parekh on "active citizenship"

. . . from his speech in the House of Lords that can be read here. The speech concludes with great wisdom (as usual from Bhikhu):

"[. . .] I will end by saying that in order to cultivate a sense of national belonging, there must be equal respect for all citizens. The definition of the nation must include everybody and it must have equal regard to the interests of all its citizens. It should seek and value the opinion of everyone. Freedom of speech is not enough, because I can speak to my heart's content, but if nobody listens, it has no meaning. Listening can stop in a variety of ways. People can filter out my views or close their minds to what I say. Therefore, freedom of speech on my part implies an obligation on the part of others to open their minds to what I say.


In this context, it is very important that we realise that sections of our country are deeply alienated from the wider political system. They feel neglected, ignored, disempowered and angry at their unfair treatment; and they wonder why, when the bankers made a mess of our economy, the ordinary folk have to pay the price. Some of them sulk and withdraw into their own unhappy world. Others provide combustible material for extremist individuals, ideologies and organisations. How do we bring in alienated ethnic minorities, the working classes on council estates and other sections of people who feel resentful at the way in which they have been treated? How do we foster in them a sense of belonging? When we do that, we will have begun to address the question of active citizenship."

Which university would you most recommend to a friend?

. . . is the latest poll organized by the Times Higher and with the following results:

1. Aston University
2. Newcastle University
3. Imperial College London
4. Polytechnic University of Milan
5. National University of Singapore

The most attractive university campus

. . . according to an opinion poll by the Times Higher are:

1. Yale University
2. Stanford University
3. Newcastle University
4. Johannes Kepler University of Linz
5. National University of Singapore

I can hardly fault those who took the poll (I did not) for choosing my home town (New Haven) or current university (Newcastle). I am surprised that Cambridge and St Andrews do not appear on the list.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

209,000 students missed out on university places in the UK during 2009

The BBC reports here:

"[. . .] More than 209,000 would-be students were left without a university place this year in the UK, official figures show. This was 52,938 or a third more than in 2009, Ucas data say. Grammar and independent school pupils were least likely to be disappointed in the university application process. But there was a small increase in the number of students accepted from areas that do not traditionally send large numbers on to higher education. Figures from the university admissions services Ucas show just under seven out of 10 applicants found a place at university compared with 75% the year before. Although the acceptance rate for pupils from all types of schools was down, it fell less sharply at independent and grammar schools where 82.9% and 83.8% of applicants respectively, found a place. At both comprehensive schools and further education colleges the acceptance rate was down nearly five percentage points to 78.5% and 74.3% respectively. But there was a large increase, 22%, in the number of students who declined offers made to them or withdrew their applications. [. . .]"

For non-UK readers, it is worth noting the curious application rules for entry into UK universities. For example, students looking to study in the US can apply to as many university departments as they can afford. However, students looking to study in the UK have a cap of five degree programmes. Furthermore, students cannot choose a programme at Cambridge and one at Oxford: they must choose between them. Applications aren't free, but not nearly as expensive as elsewhere: it costs £21 to apply to two or more programmes. Students who for whatever reason are unhappy about and/or unsuccessful with their max. five choices may enter a process called clearing where they may apply to other programmes, although the usual worry is that the more popular degree programmes at the more popular universities will already be full.

All expectations are that applications next year will reach new heights as students try to win places at university before the expected introduction of much higher fees. Students beginning university in autumn 2011 will pay roughly £3,500ish in fees for each of their three years -- a total of about £10,500. It is expected that students beginning the following year (e.g., 2012) may pay as much as £9,000 in fees for each of their three years -- a total of about £27,000. Needless to say, if the demand is as great as expected, then there will be many students left disappointed. What will the coalition government do then? We shall have to wait and see.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Updated websites

I brief note that I have updated several personal websites (in addition to the links of this blog), including:

New personal website (Thom Brooks)

New CV format

New publications list

New information on courses and seminars

New list of speaking engagements -- and always happy to accept more! (I can be contacted here)

New list of links

"There is no college cost crisis"

. . . is a NY Times op-ed by Stanley Fish that will have some resonance in debates in the UK about the soon-to-be introduced plans to double or even treble student fees. The op-ed can be found here.

"Humanities and Social Sciences Matter"

Please visit this website and sign its petition.

Monday, November 15, 2010

More evidence of the need to retain an unelected House of Lords

Details here on oppositions to problematic voting reforms the current British governing coalition hopes to introduce.

The impact of the humanities

. . . is discussed in this op-ed in the Times Higher Education.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why charge domestic students more? To help bring down charges for foreign students

. . . or so Prime Minister David Cameron argues here:

"[. . .] Increasing tuition fees should mean future rises in foreign students' charges can be kept lower, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said. He was replying to a student at Beijing University who asked about the impact of the rise on international students. Mr Cameron said in the past fees charged to foreign students had been pushed up "as a way of keeping them down on our domestic students".But they had "done the difficult thing" of putting up English students' fees. The result of this was that "foreign students will still pay a significant amount of money - but we should be able to keep that growth under control". [. . .]"

It will be interesting to see how this plays with voters given that UK students may see a trebling in annual tuition bills from 2012.

Nick Clegg "regrets" making fees pledge

. . . as reported by the BBC here. The BBC reports:

"[. . .] It was put to Mr Clegg on Daybreak that no-one would believe any pledge he made in future. He acknowledged: "You need to be careful. I should have been more careful perhaps in signing that pledge at the time. At the time I thought we could do it." "In politics as in life" there were times when you could not do what you wanted to, he said. But rather than "put my head in the sand" and oppose any changes, he had worked to make the system "more progressive".

During prime minister's questions on Wednesday, deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman quoted him as having said before the election that increasing tuition fees to £7,000 a year would be "a disaster". "What word would he use to describe fees of £9,000?" she asked. She suggested Mr Clegg had been "led astray" by the Conservatives, who had plans "to shove the cost of higher education on to students and their families". [. . .]"

What is truly remarkable about this confession is that all Liberal Democrat candidates signed a pledge to oppose tuition fees during the general election held last spring. This was a major boost to them in seats where there are high numbers of university students. Now the party supports doubling, even tripling, annual fees as "progressive" given certain "realities".

So much for the candidate who only a few months ago declared "no more broken promises" . . .

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A new meaning to "progressive"

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats) said that the new possible annual fee cap of £9,000 --- nearly three times the current annual fee cap of £3,200 --- was a "fair and progressive solution to a very difficult problem".

So is it "progressive" to treble fees for all? Spin returns to government.

Students protest against rise in fees; attack on Conservative Party HQ

This is quite an extraordinary story. Readers will know that the current British coalition Government will move ahead with several recommendations offered by the Browne Report, including a steep rise in fees. Fees are currently capped for British and EU students at about £3,200 per year. The new cap has looked set to be about £9,000 per year: students may well pay in one year's fees what they would have over three years previously.

It is unsurprising that students and many others are seriously concerned. But I never imagined the protests today.

One group of students even attacked the Conservative Party Headquarters in London, smashing windows and filling the inner lobby. Can anyone imagine the party headquarters of a governing Republican Party or Democrat Party receiving this treatment?

I suspect the coalition may have failed to read how deep the opposition runs to their plans. No doubt, I expect the coalition to try to use today's protests against the protesters: they have crossed a line, unreasonable and not serious, etc. But rationalizing this away will only persuade so many. The middle classes may not accept what they might perceive as yet another major cost for them to bear the brunt of.

One thing is for certain: Liberal Democrats are hoping this all blows over before the next general election.