Injustice and Its Victims (Or Not)

Michael Young and I are hanging out at an undisclosed location in New Jersey, riding out the coronavirus by trading barbed moral intuitions with (or at?) each other. We need help. I mean, we need your help adjudicating a clash of intuitions about injustice. I doubt that anything of great significance turns on which set of intuitions is right. But I called bullshit on some of the crap Michael was slinging at me, telling him that I would appeal for a verdict to the Final Authority of All Philosophical Authorities, vox populi. Or at least the voice of a handful of self-selected readers of Policy of Truth, the moral and epistemic paragons of the Internet.

I won’t tell you which of us holds which view until I get some responses. This is my idea of an incentive to get you to respond. Like you care. Continue reading

Socratic Epidemiology

It’s a little known fact that Plato’s truly last and final dialogue was called “The Coronavirus,” took place on a college campus in north Jersey, featured a protagonist named “Khawaja,” and had a soundtrack by Ozzy:

Student 1, walking down the quad: So Khawaja, are we closing or not?

Khawaja: I don’t know.

Student 2: You don’t know? What do you mean you don’t know?

Khawaja: I don’t know.

Continue reading

March Madness

If you want to see the unconcealed essence of American higher education in action, pay attention to one simple contrast: As the coronavirus spreads, universities across the land are either closing or contemplating closure. But “closure” doesn’t quite mean closure; it means “continuity of instruction” for the duration of the public health crisis. So faculty and staff are struggling to convert on-ground classes to an online format, in order to maintain “continuity of instruction.” Not easy, not fun, but necessary. Continue reading

Irrelevance Logic

I’ve been teaching Sarah Williams Holtman’s “Kant, Ideal Theory, and the Justice of Exclusionary Zoning” in my applied ethics class. At one point, the discussion turns to norms of privacy. I address a question to the Felician-Franciscan sisterĀ observing the class this semester.

Khawaja: Sister, are there distinctive norms of privacy in the convent?

Random student, from out of nowhere: No, there’s no privacy. My sister’s always in my room, and I’m like, girl get out, yo! But she never listens.

Dirty Deeds Gun Girl Cheap

On Wednesday nights, as part of an articulated program with my home institution, I teach a class at Middlesex County College, a community college in Edison, New Jersey about an hour away. A couple of weeks ago, a student walked into class a few minutes late, visibly upset and flustered. I asked her what was wrong. She told me that on her way to class, she’d crossed an on-campus street at the crosswalk. By state law, cars approaching a crosswalk are supposed to yield to pedestrians, but one didn’t, and in failing to yield, almost hit her. In anger, my student flung her coffee at the offending car, splashing it. At that point, the occupants of the car got out, physically attacked the student, then got back in their car, and drove off. Continue reading

Imagine All the People

When Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election, there were people out there who were absolutely certain that the explanation was sexism: the American people couldn’t (they insisted) handle the idea of a female president, and voted accordingly. You couldn’t get such people to consider the possibility that maybe Hillary Clinton lost the election because she was a complacent, uninspiring candidate. Continue reading