On Torture

Peter Levine has been thinking through ways to rebut consequentialist arguments that might condone torture. John Yoo, who wrote the official memo justifying the use of torture, still thinks that there are situations when torture is acceptable. “Look, death is worse than torture, but everyone except pacifists thinks there are circumstances in which war is… Continue reading On Torture

Continental Kantianism

Is the following secret or common knowledge? Many continental philosophers (including Levinas, Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard) are Kantians, at least with respect to morality. This may be surprising given that none of them cares much for concepts such as autonomy and reason, two concepts that seem central to Kant’s moral philosophy. But I think they all… Continue reading Continental Kantianism

Shortcomings of the FSP Index

I’ve learned this morning,  from a comment to my last post and from an e-mail from a friend, about a problem with Academic Analytics’ Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index.  In putting together the data for the index, Academic Analytics used the database company, SCOPUS, which bills itself primarily as covering life science, health science, physical science… Continue reading Shortcomings of the FSP Index

Ranking Philosophy Programs

There are now two sets of rankings of Ph.D.-granting philosophy departments in the United States: Brian Leiter’s Philosophical Gourmet (PG) and Academic Analytics’ Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index (FSPI). The latter only ranks the top ten, so I’ll stick with comparing both rankings’ top ten. Only two universities are listed in both rankings: Princeton and Rutgers.… Continue reading Ranking Philosophy Programs

Charles Taylor Wins Templeton Prize

The philosopher Charles Taylor was awarded the 2007 Templeton Prize of $1.5 million on Wednesday. I like it when good things happen to good people. I also like how Taylor questioned the very notion of the prize “for progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities.” An intellectual might indeed wonder whether there are spiritual… Continue reading Charles Taylor Wins Templeton Prize

Martha Nussbaum on philosophy & public life

I just came across this interview of a few months ago. Note some interesting comments about Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin… Interview with Martha Nussbaum, “Philosophy and Public Life,” by Stelios Virvidakis for Eurozine Political philosopher Martha Nussbaum discusses philosophy’s capacity to influence public life; the future of political liberalism and the role of the… Continue reading Martha Nussbaum on philosophy & public life

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Karl Rove’s Links

Full disclosure: I have two immediate links to Karl Rove. First, I sat next to him at a meeting in Austin, Texas, in the late 1990s when he was the political mastermind behind Dubya’s governership of Texas. There were about eight people in the room. I don’t remember saying anything but “hello” to him. Second,… Continue reading Karl Rove’s Links

Does policy need democracy?

A friend told me this morning that when he was in graduate school in public policy he mentioned to his advisor that he might opt for the concentration in public policy and democracy. His advisor advised him: “Don’t bother.” “Is that because the school’s offerings in democracy were lame?” I asked. “Or because the idea… Continue reading Does policy need democracy?