Monday, December 28, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Idea of the Cannibal

...discussed by Catalin Avramescu in an interview for Philosophy Bites.

And don't forget to read the book!

Stay calm, folks. It's just a thought experiment.

(I mention this just because the idea of cannibalism has found its way into some of my recent work here.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Homosexuality in Uganda

This news about proposed anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda came to my attention a couple weeks ago and I've been stewing about it. This report, which allows that the proposed bill goes "too far," inadvertently (guessing by the source) shows just how bad the problem is. Homosexuality is unproblematically associated not only with sexual promiscuity, but more importantly with proclivities for rape, abuse, and pedophilia. All of that is sloppy and dangerous nonsense.

As for the point that the proposers of the bill were concerned with "the many male homosexuals coming in to the country and abusing boys who are on the streets," well, maybe one should just be concerned about abuse and rape in general and enforce laws about that? (What an idea!) (And maybe one should think about getting boys--and girls--off the streets where they are vulnerable sexual violence of any sort from any person...)

Job Market

'Tis the season to be thinking about the job market, APA interviews, etc., as I'm constantly reminded by the posts showing up on my Google Reader list. I spent two years devouring (and medicating myself on) these postings and discussions, and it's hard to break the habit now even though I'm not looking for a job. I'm very lucky to have gotten a tenure-track job last year, given that the market looks worse this year, and I feel for everyone who's on the hunt.

I wish I had some great advice, but my impression is that general advice is pretty easy to come by, the stuff that is truly good advice is often fairly obvious, and beyond that, you have to simply work whatever your strengths (and other advantages) are. And beyond "being yourself," it would be good if "yourself" has the trappings of someone who appears to be a good (potential) colleague, an interesting scholar, and a promising teacher.

All I can suggest, from my own case, is not to despair--especially those who don't come from a land of (the oft-discussed and alleged application filter) "pedigree": it's not a delusion that you can find your way into a job through hard work and persistence, even if you come from a small school or program. If that wasn't true, then I wouldn't have a job. Stay focused, and if you must, read some Epictetus.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Moral Reflection and the Undiscussable

Here's something I've been working on. Here's the abstract:
In a recent interview about torture, Raimond Gaita has suggested that there are some things that are—or perhaps, should be—“undiscussable.” This paper seeks to unfold Gaita’s ideas about why some things are undiscussable, and, by way of illustration, to suggest that the use of the ticking-bomb scenario as a frame for recent discussions of torture may lead us away from sober moral discussion on this issue. The treatment of this particular example points to some general concerns about the use of thought experiments in ethics, especially those that appeal to fantastic and desperate scenarios. For it is not entirely clear what the real world implications of discussions (and intuitions) about such scenarios should be, or whether discussion of such cases can simply be assumed to play a part in a sober discussion of a moral issue.
I'm hoping to present this paper at a conference in the spring, so any comments would be appreciated (or a slap, if this is all actually quite silly).

If you haven't already been hooked, there's also a tasty discussion of cannibalism to be found therein...perhaps this spring I can follow up on this and host a panel discussion at EKU: "When is it ok to eat another person?" Any volunteers?

Update (1/31/10): I've updated the link above to a more recent version of the paper.