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.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

God promises us that climate change won't happen: Rep. John Shimkus on March 25, 2009



I have been recently alerted to the above video footage of Rep. John Shimkus (Republican - Illinois). He appears to disagree that climate change is damaging the planet on the grounds that his reading of two brief passages in the Bible claim that God alone will determine when the world will end.

This leads Shimkus -- who explicitly states that he believes the Bible is the word of God and infallible -- to argue that there will be no flood to worry about due to climate change because the world ends when God decides and not when climate change dictates.

There are several particular problems with this claim:

1. The idea that climate change is happening is not incompatible with the idea that only God will determine when the world will end. If the oceans rise to new heights because of melting ice caps, then this will lead to major problems for our cities but it is not the case that the world will somehow "end". In fact, the world will continue albeit perhaps without humans.

2. Rep. Shimkus is explicit in arguing for a policy that is -- from the statement given in this video -- embedded within a particular religious belief. As such his views prioritize one religion over others in claiming as infallible his faith for purposes of guiding US policy on the environment. This may possibly raise some constitutional issues regarding the non-Establishment Clause in that the Government ought not give priority to any one religious faith over others.

3. There is no thought given to the idea that perhaps "the trumpet will sound" and the Second Coming arrive when climate change has scarred the planet. Does Rep. Shimkus know the mind of God? This would be to claim he can read God's mind. Such a thought may be blasphemous if you believed God was a perfect being: we can then only guess His plans as best we can, but we cannnot have certainty because we lack His perfection.

4. Is it any surprise to find an aide sitting directly behind him holding back her laughter?

Conspiracy theory fest: mystery missile fired near California

. . . according to this report. The Pentagon says there is nothing to worry about, but do they know what happened . . . ?

A new defense of the humanities and social sciences

The Times Higher reports here that Iran has "now banned the formation of new universities in the humanities and social sciences." The argument is that such subjects lead to "the dissemination of doubt in the foundations of religious teachings."

Why the humanities and social sciences? Because they help foster a reflective and active citizenry which helps guard against such authoritarianism.

We might want to reflect on this lesson when considering how to manage cuts in the public sector....

Martin O'Neill on executive high pay

. . . as submitted to the High Pay Commission., It can be found here. Essential reading!

Obama supports India UN bid

The excellent and long overdue details are here.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Berlin v. Swift on liberty

. . . can be found here, at the blog Crooked Timber. Warning: it is a bit rude and not for the faint-hearted.

NOTE: I assume it is only a matter of time before our old friend Philosophers Anonymous weighs in on this . . .?

The Queen has joined Facebook

Details here from the BBC.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The most underrated universities

. . . according to a piece in the Times Higher here are:

1. London School of Economics
2. Newcastle University
3. University of Warwick
4. Aston University
5. University of Copenhagen

Thoughts?

A new major centre in philosophy

I will be travelling shortly to the University of Oslo for this event on philosophy, ethics, and public policy: postings may be fewer than normal as a result.

Nevertheless, I alert readers to some good news. There has been much talk about the humanities in the UK and their future in the new "age of austerity" ushered in by the Conservative-led coalition government. Details will be forthcoming, but I expect to make a major new announcement about the launch of a new philosophy programme in the UK in about a fortnight. Watch this space . . .

Many thanks to Warwick University

. . . and their Centre for Ethics, Law, and Public Affairs for inviting me to discuss new work on capital punishment this week. I had a fantastic time and greatly benefitted from the discussion.

Democrats win race for Connecticut Governor

Details here.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

America elects four dead politicians

. . . although another two who had died before Election Day were unsuccessful. Details here.

US election predictions come true!

Readers may recall my earlier set of predictions concerning the US elections. These predictions were:

1. Harry Reid will retain his US Senate seat. (He did!)

2. Christine O'Donnell will be unsuccessful in her run to join the US Senate. (She was!)

3. The Republicans will *not* gain control of the US Senate. (They did not!)

4. The Republicans will score a very narrow majority in the US House of Representatives, much less than predicted.
 
Let me comment more on point 4. While the Republicans did score a big victory, it was less than many had predicted. Their majority in the House of Representatives from January 2011 will be workable, but not as large as many suspected. Plus, it is also worth noting that about half of the Palin/Tea Party supported candidates lost their elections: I suspect this surprised many as well (but not me).
 
I score my predictions as about 3.75. Don't ask me to predict an Obama second term quite yet, although I remain very optimistic.

Student fees may rise to £9,000 from about £3,300 from 2012

Details here.

Should a BA take no longer than two years?

This is currently being debated in the UK, details here.

The argument is that a shorter course would lead to much less student debt (at a time where fees look set to increase substantially). Plus, it is argued that there is much "dead time" such as winter, Easter, and summer holidays which could accommodate a full year's worth of instruction. There is also a UK university, the University of Buckingham, which does offer degrees that can be completed within two years.

The argument against is that the above view makes the mistake of thinking all lecturers do is teach. While a necessary and important (perhaps amongst the most important) aspects of their jobs, academics have a wide number of other tasks. These include submitting applications for funding grants, conducting research, and also the many administrative (and quality control) bureaucracy. These aspects of the job are performed in between lectures: if a three year degree were collapsed into two years, then academics would have much less time to apply for grants and conduct research.

I think the argument against is the clear winner. If universities are to be places where students learn about the latest developments in their chosen field, then it is necessary that they are taught by persons who know these developments and who contribute to them. This is difficult enough with the long working weeks at present, but may be next to impossible if time for research was curtailed even further. Those who believe universities should all offer two year degrees may condemn much of British higher education to being a place where British academics teach students about the research that happens everywhere else. If Britain is to remain a leader, then its academics must have the time to conduct research.

One of the biggest mistakes we can make about academic life is believing that academics only work when they are giving lectures. This is manifestly untrue, although it is perhaps the side of academic life that the public is most familiar with. It may then be incumbent upon academics to explain more about the myriad of tasks undertaken are beyond teaching and argue for their value in order to shake off the possibility of yet another major change in higher education policy.

Guess who's in the news?

A short piece on the Newcastle University website concerning my elections to the Academy of Social Sciences and the Royal Historical Society can be found here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

"Nudge" theory gaining prominence in British politics

Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein co-authored a book, Nudge, endorsing "liberal paternalism" . . . which seems to have won some favour from Conservative Party MPs. Details here

Convicted prisoners to get the vote in the UK

. . . after a European Court of Human Rights ruling. Details here.

I am sympathetic with this decision. While some may believe that criminals have always and everywhere at least temporarily removed themselves from full involvement in civic affairs because of their crimes, I disagree. Of course, there is a suspension of their full involvement in civic affairs due to their incarceration. However, if criminals are to be released, then there should be some attempt at helping them become citizens in good standing. Participation in voting is one important facet of this larger project. We should want criminals to believe they have a stake in organized society. If they do not have this view, then it may perhaps make future crime more likely. However, if they believe that they have a stake (or in Hegelian terminology they are "reconciled"), then law-abiding might be better engendered.

The secret to avoiding colds

Exercise! Details here.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Analytic Philosophy to replace Philosophical Books

I have just received the following announcement:

"We are pleased to announce that Analytic Philosophy is now accepting submissions for review.


Starting in 2011, the new journal Analytic Philosophy replaces Philosophical Books. Focusing on peer-reviewed research articles, the journal will publish outstanding philosophical work in all areas of philosophy. The primary criterion for acceptance will be philosophical excellence, in the many forms that it may be manifest. The most successful submissions will be pieces that significantly increase our philosophical understanding. There are no restrictions with respect to area, historical focus, length, or methodology.

The review process will be blind, expeditious, and external. Analytic Philosophy seeks quickly to become one of the best venues for publication of outstanding philosophical work.

Please submit manuscripts for review to: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/analyticphilosophy "

US election predictions

Many have predicted poor results for the Democrats after the US elections are held tomorrow. I suspect that the news won't be good, but won't be as bad as has been feared. While the poor economy does Obama few favours and the president's party is traditionally hammered in midterm elections, my suspicion is that many incumbents will hold on (if just by a thread). My 2010 predictions are:

1. Harry Reid will retain his US Senate seat.
2. Christine O'Donnell will be unsuccessful in her run to join the US Senate.
3. The Republicans will *not* gain control of the US Senate.
4. The Republicans will score a very narrow majority in the US House of Representatives, much less than predicted.