Monday, January 23, 2012

New website launched -

I have promised some big news on this blog in recent days. My first big announcement is twofold.

First, I have launched a new website here - There are a few bugs left to fix and I expect the website will be 100% functional from tomorrow. The website will replace my current Newcastle site here. The new website will include the latest updates on new publications and media links.

Secondly, I intend to spend much less time blogging to devote more attention to other projects, including writing more for other outlets. I had originally planned to close the blog entirely, but the shock expressed by Spiros convinced me to suspend this plan for now.

Originally, the Brooks Blog provided me with a much needed outlet. I had wanted to post drafts of my papers and my university did not yet have the facilities in place to permit this. Over time the Brooks Blog posted more on higher education and political commentary moving beyond highlighting my latest drafts and publications. And so it has continued for almost six years now.

The Brooks Blog has introduced me to new friends and colleagues from across the UK, Europe, North America, and beyond. I have benefited enormously from brilliant insights and comments on current affairs and my own research. I suspect there will be more to come in future, but note it will become much less frequent.

My suspicion is that the days of lone bloggers is coming to an end. The rise and rise of new group blogs, not least APPS, has been exciting. It has been impossible to keep up as a lone blogger with the excellent work appearing at APPS, PEA Soup, Feminist Philosophers, Labour Left, and many other group blogs. Instead of continuing on my own, I plan to join forces with others and primarily in the area of British politics and public policy rather than academic philosophy and higher education. This is where my interests have been moving in recent months and years and where I plan to dedicate more time.

The Brooks Blog has become something of an elderly gent in the blogging world. Most blogs have died after 1-2 years whereas my blog has run since early spring 2006. I have long felt it was time to move on to new challenges. I have a second major announcement forthcoming on new changes at the Journal of Moral Philosophy as well.

So it's not the end for this blog, but readers should expect less frequent posts in future. After 360,000+ "hits" and hundreds of comments, etc., I can only thank you, the reader, for making this all worthwhile. It is often remarked how difficult and even callous academic philosophy has become. This has never been my experience and I am deeply grateful for the fun that blogging has brought me.

If you haven't blogged before, then I recommend you try it. But as a group blog. In the meantime, I can be found over here and on Twitter (@thom_brooks). Until next time . . .

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The latest insights on publishing by journal editors

Many thanks to the organizers of the "Editors' Cut" workshop last week at the University of London. The event was enjoyable and the discussion wide-ranging and lively. Full audio of the different talks can be found here. Papers are forthcoming in Metaphilosophy.

Thom Brooks on "How Not to Save the Planet"

. . . can be freely downloaded here. The paper's abstract:

"Climate change presents us with a pressing challenge. A global consensus accepts that human activity is responsible for climate change and its associated dangers. However, there is disagreement on how best to address this challenge. The essay argues that leading proposals are unsatisfactory, such as the ecological footprint and polluter pays principle. The reasons include that they do not effectively manage climate change and may contribute to further problems. We require a new approach to address climate change. "

Comments most welcome!

Thom Brooks on "Climate Change and Negative Duties"

. . . has now appeared in Politics and found here. The abstract:

"Climate change and its harmful effects are widely accepted. A common approach is to argue along the lines of Mill's ‘harm principle’: if we contribute to climate change, then we are likewise responsible for harming others and we have a negative duty to reduce our carbon emissions. This article argues that a negative duty leads to a philosophical fork in the road which does not necessarily entail carbon emissions reductions. Arguments for such reductions require further supplementation to close off possible non-conservationist alternatives."

Particularly pleasing is that - after publishing about 70 articles - this is the first to start from page one in a journal.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My final "new books" list

Vittorio Bufacchi, Social Injustice: Essays in Political Philosophy. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Jennifer Lees-Marshment, Political Marketing: Principles and Applications. London: Routledge, 2009.

Anna Moltchanova, National Self-Determination and Justice in Multinational States. Dordrecht: Springer, 2009.

A. Raghuramaraju, Enduring Colonialism: Classical Presences and Modern Absences in Indian Philosophy. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Melinda A. Roberts and David T. Wasserman (eds), Harming Future Persons: Ethics, Genetics and the Nonidentity Problem. Dordrecht: Springer, 2009.

Robin West, Normative Jurisprudence: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Major forthcoming announcements

A brief note that in the next few days I will be posting some major new announcements. Watch this space...

Monday, January 09, 2012

"Punishment: Should we lock 'em up?"

Ideas on the 3rd Floor
IPPR North’s in-house programme of events on politics, culture and society

Punishment: Should we lock ‘em up?

Tuesday 24 January 2012, 5.30pm to 7pm
IPPR North Offices, central Newcastle (UK)

IPPR North would like to invite you to take part in Ideas on the 3rd Floor, an exciting new programme of in-house events on a wide range of topics within politics, culture and society designed to bring the freshest ideas and the most interesting thinkers to Newcastle for intelligent debate of some of today’s most pressing social challenges.

We would like to invite you to join Thom Brooks, Reader in Political and Legal Philosophy from Newcastle University, and Rick Muir, Associate Director of Public Services at IPPR, to discuss the concept of punishment – an area of increasing importance and concern to both citizens and politicians.

Thom will be talking about his soon to be published book on punishment. He will explore questions such as: how do we decide what should be crimes? How do we decide when someone is responsible for a crime? What should we do with criminals? Rick will respond to Thom’s argument and will explore how ‘justice reinvestment’ – which sees resources currently spent on incarcerating offenders in prison redirected into community-based alternatives that tackle the causes of crime – could more effectively rehabilitate offenders.

The event will be held on Tuesday 24 January 2012, 5.30pm to 7pm at the IPPR North offices in central Newcastle. The event is free and open to all but it is essential that you book your place as space is limited. Please email to book. Please feel free to pass this invitation on to colleagues who you think may be interested in the event topic.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Michael Gove's war on schools: hundreds of teacher misconduct cases to go unheard

The story can be found here. More than 300 cases of teacher misconduct cases may be affected. The story is all the more remarkable given Gove's repeated claims about the need to improve standards. Yet more pursuit of ideological ends at the expense of students and the public.

UPDATE: Those interested in evidence of what Gove would be like in a classroom may wish to see this video of Gove addressing a group of students...who proceed to fall asleep. Yet more evidence that Gove is out of touch on how to improve schools.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The latest issue of Legal Theory in China

. . . can be found here. I strongly encourage readers to check it out. Essays and more with Brian Bix, Thom Brooks, Christine Korsgaard, and Brian Leiter.

Michael Gove's war on schools: all schools are second class?

The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has launched a blistering attack on opponents of his drive to transform schools into academies. We have remarked on why schools should not become academies before here.

Today, Gove says of his opponents that "Let's hold their prejudices up to the light. What are they saying? If you're poor, if you're Turkish, if you're Somali, then we don't expect you to succeed. You will always be second class and it's no surprise your schools are second class. I utterly reject that attitude." Gove appears to clearly link study in a non-academy school with a "second class" education.

This is an outrageous attack on the UK's successful education system. School standards are high and there is no glut of schools receiving "outstanding" status: indeed, only 6% of primary schools are found "outstanding". (There will be no direct comparison possible for academies because they will not be subject to Ofsted inspections.)

So let's hold Gove's prejudices up to the light: he appears to claim that all schools in the UK are second class. If you desire a first class education or to exercise your full potential, it's academies or bust. This is untrue and has no basis in fact. This is an astonishing allegation to make without supporting evidence (echoing John Reid's comments about the Home Office being unfit). These comments will do nothing to improve education standards, the education experience or improve morale amongst teachers in schools or academies.

Moreover, it is further remarkable that little attention until recently has been given to ensuring that academies will satisfy any standards as they will all be beyond Ofsted control. This may suggest that Gove is driven by ideological zeal -- in his drive to disrupt collective action by teachers -- and not by evidence nor standards.

Gove's war on schools appears to be in full swing.

Top Ten Blog Posts

. . . on The Brooks Blog since May 2009:

1. Why publish journal articles? (3,754 views)
Published: 4th January 2011

2. Equality: the ticket to greater citations? (3,126 views)
Published: 2nd January 2011

3. The Journal of Moral Philosophy joins Thomson Reuters ISI (2,687 views)
Published: 11th July 2011

4. Senior academics threaten resignations over Big Society (1,802 views)
Published: 23rd June 2011

5. The top philosophy journals: initial results (1,691 views)
Published: 18th January 2011

6. Thom Brooks on "Guidelines on How to Referee" (1,479 views)
Published: 2nd December 2010

7. New worries about British higher education reform (1,167 views)
Published: 25th February 2011

8. "We are sorry for any inconvenience caused" (909 views)
Published: 8th October 2010

9. The Big Society: relaunch? (690 views)
Published: 23rd May 2011

10. Doom, part 387,913,201 (622 views)
Published: 12th December 2011

The results are surprising. Most top posts have been published over the past 12 months and reflect the blog's growing popularity. My biggest surprise is that my Publishing Advice for Graduate Students -- downloaded over 10,000 times -- isn't in the top 10.

Families with children will be hardest hit by coalition plans

More confirmation that we're not "all in it together" that will be very damaging from the coalition's efforts to win back lost women voters. Details here from the BBC.

Plans for a privately funded science university

Details here and sounds like the much trumped idea of building some alternative MIT. These are the kinds of ideas that exercise ministers, but never seem to work. There is little doubt that the coalition seems interested in "for profit" enterprises entering the higher education market. The question is whether we'll see a trickle or a flood.

Now that's what I call "tighter than a new tube sock on a cow"

. . . or so the race between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in Iowa has been described. Romney won by 8 votes in the end. This will not translate into extra delegates for Romney as Iowa distributes its delegates proportionately. However, it will mean positive headlines of a Romney win and some much needed momentum. The bad news -- for Romney fans -- is that he is still failing to break from the pack and the race is too close to call for many pundits.

As stated months ago, The Brooks Blog calls the race for Romney - and the White House for Obama. My suspicions are that the GOP race will run for a while yet with each candidate so concerned about removing Obama they inflict lasting damage on their own side. This will also deplete much needed resources to contest the election with Obama. Plus, there is the possibility of voter fatigue which will benefit Obama (the incumbent).

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Top Blog Posts for 2011


The APA Newsletter on Women, Philosophy, and Philosophy Journals

The top 50 philosophy journals

Sarah Palin's political future post-Tucson

Why publish philosophy articles?


New worries about British higher education reform

Why not let prisoners vote? 

For joint appointments

A war on British universities?

Politicians and "the vision thing" 


The petition to remove the "Big Society" from the AHRC delivery plan

What is a university graduate?


32 learned societies call on the AHRC to remove the "Big Society" from their delivery plan

Why Labour should not become "Blue Labour" 

The AHRC and the "Big Society" 

Why not charge £9,000?


David Willetts, the "Big Society" and campaign slogans

The audience of scholarly research 

The "Big Society" relaunch fiasco

More on Rylance, the AHRC, and the "Big Society"

Prediction: there will be no House of Lords reform 

My advice for Ed Miliband 

Election 2011: Results and Analysis


Public sector pension reform: my advice for the Prime Minister

Senior academics resign from the AHRC Peer Review College over "Big Society" 


The end of Blue Labour?

Professional associations and joining the profession

The Journal of Moral Philosophy joins Thomson Reuters ISI

Newcastle philosophers have "Big Ideas for the Future"

A Connecticut Yankee in King Alan's Court  

The unified theory of punishment makes "Big Ideas for the Future" report 


The Brooks Blog ranked in top 50 blogs

My advice for politicians on the recent riots 


Should the UK raise its speed limit?

Bin "localism"

Journal rankings in Philosophy 

The Research Council Satisfaction Survey: an idea whose time has come?

The Brooks Blog ranked in top 100 amongst Labour Party blogs

The UK citizenship test: fit for purpose?


Two strikes...and you're out

Philip Blond's "Big Society"

Everyone seems to agree with me on the UK citizenship test 

What can politicians do about immigration? 

Lessons in political survival: when all else fails, smile

The government's big gamble: reading the latest poverty statistics

The AHRC and the Big Society: the next chapter

George Osborne's secret millions 


Why academies are a bad idea 

Retribution and capital punishment 

The latest on UK immigration policy  

The UK summer riots and criminality


Tories cannot be trusted with the economy

After Fukushima Daiichi: on nuclear power policy 

The AHRC rewrites history

The Big Society is in Big Trouble


How students learn best

Apparently, research claims to show remaining active and having a set routine are key.