Thursday, 25 October 2007

“A Fine Republican Field”

I leave you this fine evening with a column by Charles Krauthammer.

Twenty Years Ago

10-25-87 Sunday. It’s over: not only today’s game, but the baseball season. I hate to report it, but Minnesota [the Twins] is the new World Champion. It’s the team’s first World Series title. In 1965, Minnesota made it to the World Series, but was beaten by Los Angeles [the Dodgers] (I think). As for today’s game, it was close throughout. The score was tied at two in the middle innings when Minnesota scored a run on an infield hit by Greg Gagne. The team scored another run later and won, 4-2. Overall, Minnesota outscored St Louis, 38-26. There were lots of runs scored, plenty of home runs, and even some well-pitched games in St Louis. This was the first time that the home team has won every game of a World Series. Minnesota is just awesome in the Metrodome. In large part, I think, it’s psychological. The Twins have come to think of themselves as invincible there, and it affects their play. The most valuable player of the Series was Frank Viola, who started and won two games for the Twins, including today’s. Poor Whitey Herzog! He has now lost two seven-game series in three years: 1985 [to the Kansas City Royals] and 1987. He won a seven-game series in 1982 [over the Milwaukee Brewers].

As I watched the game, I had a brainstorm. Why not write a book entitled “Baseball and Philosophy”? It would be a book in philosophy, but it would use baseball as the point of departure. For instance, I could discuss the nature and function of rules by focusing on the rules of baseball. Other subjects include judgment (umpires), roles (leadoff hitter, cleanup hitter), the concepts of necessary and sufficient condition (touching the ball with your glove is not necessary for getting an error), counterfactuals (in computing earned-run average), sacrifices, excellence, desert and entitlement, and the difference between risky behavior and good outcomes. In short, it would be a book of conceptual analysis that used baseball as an example. This should make it attractive to sports fans. So far, all I’ve done is compile a list of subjects. Once I’m settled in as a professor somewhere, I’ll give the topic more thought. I could probably write the book in a matter of months, if not weeks.

Utopian Socialism

Here is a review of Paul Krugman’s* new book.

* “Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults” (Daniel Okrent, “13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did,” The New York Times, 22 May 2005).


Here is a story about Ronald Dworkin, who figures prominently in my Ph.D. dissertation.

Scholarly Influence

What I’m about to describe has probably been done. If not, it should be. Imagine a computer program that scours scholarly books and periodicals for references. Suppose I refer to essays A, B, and C in my published essay. Each essay, including mine, would be represented by a dot. There would be a line from my essay to A, to B, and to C. Each reference in essay A would have a line from it to A, and so on. Suppose the dots varied in size depending on how many lines they had connected to them. Obviously, scholarly space would be large and messy, but you would be able to see which essays are most often referred to, and therefore most influential. (Influence in this context doesn’t mean agreement with; it means affected by.) I suspect that works such as John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971) and Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) would appear as planets in scholarly space, since they have been referred to many times. Most essays would be visible, if at all, as specks of dust. If anyone is aware of a website that contains this sort of thing, please let me know.

Addendum: This image will give you an idea of what I have in mind.

A Year Ago


R. M. Hare (1919-2002) on the Function of Philosophy

Many of you, I am sure, will disagree strongly with the political views which I have just expressed about Suez. Since this is a philosophical, not a party-political broadcast, I shall not try to defend them. I expressed them only in order that people may not say, as they often do say, that philosophers don’t care about politics. I always lose my temper when they say this—for I happen to care rather a lot. When people make this accusation, what they really mean is that philosophers ought to be using their philosophy to prove political conclusions, so that ordinary voters, instead of making up their own minds about political issues, can just ask a philosopher. But it is not the function of philosophy to make up people’s minds for them. It aims only at understanding; and its initial move is often to show that we do not understand what we think we understand. That is why it is so unpopular.

(R. M. Hare, “Reasons of State,” chap. 2 in his Applications of Moral Philosophy [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973], 9-23, at 23 [italics in original] [address given in 1957])


Here is Daniel Henninger’s column about Rudy Giuliani, about whom there are things I like and things I dislike.

Addendum: Pat Buchanan is worried that conservatives would rather be powerful than pure. I’m worried that they would rather be pure than powerful. Political parties are not political moralities. There will never be a party that maps onto a political morality, such as egalitarianism, libertarianism, or conservatism. Parties, to succeed, must be coalitions. Ronald Reagan put together a coalition of libertarians, conservatives, evangelical Christians, and neoconservatives. Bill Clinton put together a coalition of egalitarians, liberals, cosmopolitans, secularists, and progressives. When election day comes, I will vote for the candidate who is most conservative, even if I disagree with him or her on many issues. If it’s Rudy versus Hillary, I will vote for Rudy. Unless, of course, Ralph Nader is on the ballot.

Best of the Web Today


From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Victims in Wildfires’ Fickle Path Say, ‘Why Me?’” (front page, Oct. 24):

The answer to that question lies in our number.

Simply put, there are too many people in Southern California—building where homes should not be built, and too many driving too far every day to work.

Mounting evidence suggests that there are too many people in this nation, let alone on this planet, given the polluting and inefficient technologies we use to shelter and sustain ourselves.

Too many fossil fuel emissions are warming the globe, disrupting natural weather cycles, bringing unprecedented drought, heat and wind to places like Southern California.

This is hardly the economic catastrophe predicted by the Stanford population biologist Paul R. Ehrlich, whose 1968 book “The Population Bomb” ought to be required reading in the world’s capitals. But it is a sampling of what’s to come if our numbers, along with our appetites and willful ignorance, continue to increase.

Mark Miller
Los Angeles, Oct. 24, 2007

Note from KBJ: This is a good example of natural evil, and it shows how a theist can explain it. Humans made bad choices by building their homes in canyons. Their suffering will induce them to make good choices. If they continue to make bad choices, they will continue to suffer.


Are the Rockies done? See here.


I’ve been getting allergy shots for at least a decade. I’m allergic to many North Texas trees and grasses. When I started the regimen, I had to go in twice a week. Eventually, I reduced the frequency of visits to once a week, then once every two weeks, and finally once a month. The allergist requires that patients wait 15 minutes after an injection, in case there’s an adverse reaction. I always take a book to read while I wait. Today, when I walked in for my injection, the nurse told me that the office policy has changed. Patients must now display a reaction device before getting an injection, and the reaction device requires a prescription. The reaction device is about the size of a fountain pen. It’s supposed to counter an adverse reaction to an injection. As the nurse explained it to me, she can respond to a patient who’s in the office; but once people leave the office, they need a way to respond by themselves.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I’ve never had an adverse reaction,” I said. She indicated that there could be no exceptions. If I wanted an injection, I would have to (1) get a prescription (which she was busily writing as we spoke), (2) get the prescription filled, and (3) bring the device to the office each time I wanted an injection. The nurse told me that if I have questions about the device, I could ask the woman standing next to us, who just happened to be the pharmaceutical company’s representative.

I’ve been around the block long enough to know what was going on. My allergist had struck a deal with the pharmaceutical company. The company would get sales of the device, since most patients would submit to the new policy; the allergist would get a kickback from the company. The losers would be the patients, who would have to spend money unnecessarily. I told the nurse that the device should be voluntary. People who want the device should be able to get a prescription for it, while those who don’t want it, such as me, should be able to do without it. I got no response to this. If the issue were legal liability, then all the allergist would need is a waiver from patients such as me. There were no waivers.

I refused to take the prescription. “I’m done,” I said, and walked out the door.