Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Baseball

This is just nutty. Julio Franco will be 49 years old in less than a month. He’s in his 26th season.

W. D. Ross (1877-1971) on Right Action

It is worth while to try to state more definitely the nature of the acts that are right. We may try to state first what (if anything) is the universal nature of all acts that are right. It is obvious that any of the acts that we do has countless effects, directly or indirectly, on countless people, and the probability is that any act, however right it be, will have adverse effects (though these may be very trivial) on some innocent people. Similarly, any wrong act will probably have beneficial effects on some deserving people. Every act therefore, viewed in some aspects, will be prima facie right, and viewed in others, prima facie wrong, and right acts can be distinguished from wrong acts only as being those which, of all those possible for the agent in the circumstances, have the greatest balance of prima facie rightness, in those respects in which they are prima facie right, over their prima facie wrongness, in those respects in which they are prima facie wrong—prima facie rightness and wrongness being understood in the sense previously explained. For the estimation of the comparative stringency of these prima facie obligations no general rules can, so far as I can see, be laid down. We can only say that a great deal of stringency belongs to the duties of ‘perfect obligation’—the duties of keeping our promises, of repairing wrongs we have done, and of returning the equivalent of services we have received. For the rest, εν τη αισθησει η κρισις. [Ross translates this—a quotation from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics—as “The decision rests with perception.”] This sense of our particular duty in particular circumstances, preceded and informed by the fullest reflection we can bestow on the act in all its bearings, is highly fallible, but it is the only guide we have to our duty.

(W. D. Ross, The Right and the Good [1930; repr., Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1988], 41-2 [italics in original; footnote omitted])

Note from KBJ: Ross is providing a criterion of right action, i.e., a condition that is both necessary and sufficient for rightness. It can be put formally as follows:

An act is right if and only if there is no other act the agent could have done instead that has a greater balance of prima facie rightness over prima facie wrongness than it has.

Compare act utilitarianism:

An act is right if and only if there is no other act the agent could have done instead that has higher utility than it has. (I take this formulation from Fred Feldman, Introductory Ethics [Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1978], 26.)

It’s interesting that both Ross (a deontologist) and act utilitarians are maximizers. They simply differ about what is to be maximized.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Fat

See here.

Addendum: It occurs to me that there’s a marketing opportunity here. I’m 50 years old; I’m five feet eleven inches tall; I weigh 155 pounds (151 after my run today). I will befriend fat people (anyone except Brian Leiter) for a fee. They will lose weight not only from being around me, and seeing how lean, lithe, disciplined, and athletic I am, but from the guilt I heap on them. Ask my friend Hawk about the guilt. He’s a fat, lazy bastard. Don’t even get me started about his love of the New York Yankees. That only adds perversion to the list.

Addendum 2: I just sent the following message to Hawk:

I’m going to start charging you for being your friend. As a lean, healthy, athletic person, I’m a positive influence on you. I hate to think how fat you’d be if I weren’t pestering you all the time. You fat, lazy bastard.

With friends like me, who needs a personal trainer?

Music

I love this song. The bridge is exquisite.

Best of the Web Today

Here.

Cycling

This is unbelievable. The overall leader of the Tour de France, Dane Michael Rasmussen, has been kicked out of the race—not for using performance-enhancing drugs, but for being less than forthcoming (or downright dishonest) with his team. This may be the death knell for professional cycling. If even die-hard fans such as me are disgusted, it can’t long survive.

Addendum: With Rasmussen out of the Tour, the leader, with four stages to go, is 24-year-old Spaniard Alberto Contador. Australian Cadel Evans is second, 1:53 behind. American Levi Leipheimer is third, 2:49 behind. Contador and Leipheimer are teammates, which means Leipheimer can’t attack Contador on a road stage. But there’s an individual time trial Saturday in which each rider races against the clock. Leipheimer could make up the time on Contador and pass him in the overall standings. I also believe that Leipheimer can make up 56 seconds on Evans, although Evans is a good time trialist. In short, there could be a ninth consecutive American winner of the Tour. Stay tuned.

Addendum 2: Let me clarify my disgust. I’m glad that the various cycling organizations are cracking down on cheaters. I’m even supportive of the rule about notifying authorities of your whereabouts. This is essential if the authorities are to conduct random tests. What bothers me is that Rasmussen was allowed to start the Tour. Either don’t let him start or let him finish; but don’t expel him during the Tour! He hasn’t tested positive for any banned substance. I’m disgusted with the way things are handled, that’s all. I love this sport. Sometimes it seems to be run by Abbott and Costello.

Addendum 3: Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour de France, won by Michael Rasmussen. The Danish rider averaged 21.25 miles per hour on the 135.7-mile course. Here is the story. Here is the New York Times report. Here is tomorrow’s stage.

Addendum 4: Here is the latest update from Cyclingnews.

“The Tiredest of 1970s Feminist Mantras”

See here.

Hall of Fame?

Troy Percival. (For an explanation of this feature, see here.)

Food

Here is a New York Times story about the use of animals for food. By the way, all of my donations are to organizations that care for animals. Is that speciesist?

Africa

Has anyone noticed the constant references in the media to “Africa” and “Africans”? See here, for example. Africa is a continent, like North America. It is composed of nations, each of which is composed of individuals. Why is it simply assumed that all the individuals on that great continent are alike? Is this an instance of racism?

Health Care

Mark Spahn sent a link to this column. Here’s something I don’t understand: Why is health care a matter of public concern? Your health is your responsibility. Mine is mine. It’s particularly galling that many health problems are brought on by bad choices, such as drinking, smoking, eating meat, and not exercising. Those of us who live clean, active lives should not be made to subsidize other people’s foolishness.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “U.S. Is Seen in Iraq Until at Least ’09” (front page, July 24):

There is nothing new about the “new strategy” you reported. President Bush has stated previously that he expects to leave the resolution of the Iraq quagmire to his successor. This is exactly what the commander’s and the ambassador’s strategy would compel.

Even if we succeed in pacifying some sectors of the country, we will be there as an occupation army, generating more anger and violence against us.

Any indication of a rise in support for our invasion of Iraq further proves the effectiveness of this administration’s ability to delude people.

Bernard Morse
Sarasota, Fla., July 24, 2007

Note from KBJ: When the American people elected Democrats in 2006, it was, according to progressives, clear and convincing evidence that they wanted the war ended. When the American people tell pollsters that they support the invasion of Iraq, they’re deluded. Heads I win; tails you lose.

A Year Ago

Here.