Friday, 7 September 2007

Yankee Watch

Both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees won today, so Boston’s magic number to eliminate New York is down to 15. If Boston (86-56) wins half of its remaining 20 games, New York (79-62) will have to go 17-4 to tie. Good luck with that, Yankee fans. Isn’t it time to concede?


Arianna Huffington doesn’t understand why, with a majority of Americans wanting an abrupt end to the war in Iraq, Democrats don’t end it. Has she considered the possibility that a majority of Americans don’t want an abrupt end to the war in Iraq? Maybe Democrats know their constituents better than she does. Maybe they fear electoral defeat if they vote to pull out.


Can somebody explain the point of this column? Is Goodman making an argument? If so, what is its conclusion? Is she criticizing someone’s argument? If so, what is the argument, and what, specifically, is her criticism? Is she explaining something? If so, what? Maybe it’s late in the day and I’m tired, but it reads like a rambling rant. Imagine getting paid to produce such tripe.


Here is Peggy Noonan’s latest column. Here is Peg Kaplan’s latest post.

Best of the Web Today



Here is a paragraph from Peter Singer’s essay “Famine, Affluence, and Morality,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 1 (spring 1972): 229-43:

My next point is this: if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it. By “without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance” I mean without causing anything else comparably bad to happen, or doing something that is wrong in itself, or failing to promote some moral good, comparable in significance to the bad thing that we can prevent. This principle seems almost as uncontroversial as the last one. It requires us only to prevent what is bad, and not to promote what is good, and it requires this of us only when we can do it without sacrificing anything that is, from the moral point of view, comparably important. I could even, as far as the application of my argument to the Bengal emergency is concerned, qualify the point so as to make it: if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it. An application of this principle would be as follows: if I am walking past a shallow pond and see a child drowning in it, I ought to wade in and pull the child out. This will mean getting my clothes muddy, but this is insignificant, while the death of the child would presumably be a very bad thing. (p. 231)

Singer thinks it is morally obligatory to make a rescue effort. Do you agree? Please note that I’m not asking whether it would be a good thing, morally speaking, if you made a rescue effort. I’m asking whether you are obligated to do so, i.e., whether it would be wrong of you not to do so.

Addendum: Here is a later essay by Singer on the same topic.

Addendum 2: Richard John Neuhaus reviews a new book about wealth and poverty.


Readers of the New York Times weigh in with their favorite Western of all time. I see that 12 people gave the correct answer. (No, I didn’t read all 700-odd comments; I used my browser’s search function to find occurrences of the word “little.”)

Addendum: Does anyone like Blazing Saddles (1974)? I saw part of it the other day and laughed my ass off.


If you think Bush Derangement Syndrome is a joke, or that it afflicts only anti-American law professors such as Brian Leiter, read this.


Count me as one of those fogies who will never accept electronic books. Are you with me, Will? How about you, Peg? John? Steve? David? Chris? George? Bob?

From the Mailbag

Hey Keith

I can’t imagine that you would remember me, but I was in several of your classes from ’98 to ’02, and they were some of the best classes I ever took. I ended up with a BA in Philosophy from UTA, and now live near Boulder, Colorado. I came across your blog probably 2 months ago, and now check it almost daily. You seemed to be always very careful, in class, to not give away what your positions were on issues we discussed, but I always thought you must be fairly left-leaning. I was absolutely blown away when I discovered your blog, to find that you are very conservative (I am very conservative, as well). I was never moved to comment on anything until I saw your post about 3:10 To Yuma. I hadn’t watched Lonesome Dove in probably 7 or 8 years, and my wife was out of town recently, so I watched it last weekend (she doesn’t care for it). If you like westerns, and have never seen it, you absolutely must at some point.

Chuck Parish

Note from KBJ: I’m a conservative now, but I was a progressive when Chuck took my courses. See here. Just as a good judge doesn’t let his or her personal views or values affect his or her judging, I don’t let my personal views or values affect my teaching. My job is to educate, not to indoctrinate. Thanks for the kind words, Chuck. Good to hear from you after all these years. I will purchase and watch Lonesome Dove. Several people have said good things about it over the years. I think highly of Robert Duvall as an actor.

A. P. Martinich on Hobbes’s Reconciliation Project

The correct interpretation, I think, is this: [Thomas] White’s project was the same as that of [Marin] Mersenne, [Pierre] Gassendi, and [Thomas] Hobbes. Each wanted to reconcile something old (Christian beliefs) with something new (modern science). Each had a different way of doing it. White wanted to keep both the Bible and Aristotle. Gassendi gave up Aristotle altogether and hitched his wagon to Epicurus; Hobbes rejected all the ancients, radically reinterpreted the Bible, and separated theology from science. (Mersenne engendered the work of all of these people, and others, so that he could benefit from the eventual winner.) White’s mistake was to hitch science and religion to the same plow. Hobbes’s view was that they worked in different fields. Religion therefore does not compete with science. Hobbes separated the two to safeguard religious belief. His separation was a form of fideism and no more irreligiously motivated than Søren Kierkegaard’s. That is the force of his comments that by trying to prove what cannot be proved, White was unwittingly undermining the very thing that both he and Hobbes were trying to save.

(A. P. Martinich, Hobbes: A Biography [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999], 185)


Here, hot off the press, is an essay by George Packer.

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Abandoned at the Border,” by Joseph P. Hoar (Op-Ed, Aug. 31):

I am an immigration restrictionist because of environmental issues and jobs. (According to the Center for Immigration Studies, at the current rates, immigration will add the population equivalent of 13 New York Cities over the next 50 years.)

Nonetheless, I agree with Mr. Hoar that we must welcome to our country those Iraqis whose lives are at risk because they helped our forces, and those Iraqi refugees residing in Jordan.

David C. Holzman
Lexington, Mass., Aug. 31, 2007

Note from KBJ: Are you prepared to have them as your neighbors, Mr Holzman? If not, then stop advocating that others have them as their neighbors.


This site may be of interest to users of Wikipedia. There was a story about it in today’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

All Fred, All the Time

The editorial board of the New York Times must have felt compelled to write something about Fred Thompson. This is the unhappy result. There is no substance to the editorial. It contains no argument, no criticism of an argument, no assertion of fact, and no analysis. It is nothing more than a series of unconnected metaphors, which is a sign of an undisciplined mind.

Addendum: I’m curious about something. How many of you donate money to political campaigns? You don’t need to say how much or to which candidates (or parties) you donate. Just give me a yes or a no. I’ve never given a penny to any politician, and I doubt that I ever will. What I have given (on occasion) is time (or energy).