Virtual Molinari Society Panel on Rights

The Molinari Society will be holding its mostly-annual Eastern Symposium in conjunction with the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association via Zoom (7-9 and 14-16 January). Only those who cough up the hefty registration fee will be able to access the session, so no chance of free-riding this time around (the APA’s decision, definitely not ours; the APA is both pragmatically and morally confused about the costs and benefits of allowing free-riding at its conferences, but that’s another story). But there’s a substantial student discount, verb. sap. Anyway, here’s the schedule info:

Molinari Society symposium:
Radical Rights Theory

[Two timeslots back to back; we haven’t yet sorted the order of speakers or who’ll be in which timeslot – it depends on some logistical details that remain to be worked out (check back here for updates).]

12K. Thursday, 14 January 2021, 9:00-10:50 a.m. E
13K. Thursday, 14 January 2021, 11:00 a.m.-12:50 p.m. E

chair:
Roderick T. Long (Auburn University)

presenters:
Jesse Spafford (The Graduate Center, CUNY), “When ‘Enough and as Good’ Is Not Good Enough
Daniel Layman (Davidson College), “Keeping the Proviso in Its Place
Roderick T. Long (Auburn University), “How to Have Your No-Proviso Lockeanism and Eat It Too
Jason Lee Byas (University of Michigan), “Alienation, Forfeiture, and Two Concepts of Natural Rights
Cory Massimino (Center for a Stateless Society), “Two Cheers for Rothbardianism

See the full schedule here.

Were it not for the pandemic, I’d be heading to Manhattan for this event, preparing to dine with my co-panelists, to see friends in the NYC area, to catch up with colleagues in the profession, to visit some new museums, etc. But alas!

Adventures in Space and Time

Three Agoric Café videos this week! What have you done to deserve such a superfluity of Agoric content? Nothing good, I’ll warrant.

In the main event, I chat with economist and legal scholar David Friedman on free-market anarchism; the Society for Creative Anachronism; tectonic geology; the quasi-anarchic legal systems of medieval Iceland and 18th-century England; being converted to anarchism by Robert Heinlein; how getting a Ph.D. in physics led to being an economist at a law school; the joys of fomenting war and exploiting one’s students; how he repeatedly achieved promotion through violence against his predecessors; how to make medieval armor both for humans and for turnips; how innovations in fireplace design facilitated adultery; and the perils of central planning for wizards.

The Friedman interview is bookended by two other videos of lesser import – this one, in which I show you around my childhood neighbourhood in San Diego (Sunset Cliffs and Ocean Beach, in Point Loma):

and finally this one, in which I share a special message for the New Year:

Galactic Mysteries, Birdheaded Humans, and Mona Lisa’s Mustache

Behold, a new series on indie bookstores in the San Diego area (my hometown)!

In the first episode, I chat with Matthew Berger, new co-owner of Mysterious Galaxy (website; facebook page), a bookstore featuring titles in science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, etc., as well as merchandise, podcasts, author events, etc.

In the second episode, I chat with Sean Christopher, founder of LHOOQ Books / Exrealism, a unique bookstore with a once and future San Diego location (though currently located in a renovated armory in Astoria, Oregon). This episode in particular should appeal to anyone with an interest in bookstores, art, literature, etc., even if they have no special interest in San Diego (or Astoria).

By the way, I stripped out the soundtrack from the five-minute video at the end (on renovating the Astoria Armory), in order to avoid a musical copyright claim – but still got hit by a copyright claim for the background music on the 15-second clip at the beginning. So that soundtrack is muted now too.

Value for Value: Helping Out Roderick Long

I’m a little late to the party with this, but better late than never. My friend and fellow PoT blogger Roderick Long has set up a GoFundMe for help with expenses during a particularly difficult time. I’ve cut and pasted the blurb for his GoFundMe page below, and cut and pasted a comment I wrote responding to it in the combox below. I’m elated to see that Roderick  has exceeded his initial $8,000 goal, but see no reason to stop simply for that reason. I was also extremely pleased to see some of my Felician colleagues, like Sherida Yoder, who know Roderick only through PoT or my Facebook posts, kicking in to help. By the by, I’d love to overhear a literary conversation between Roderick and Sherida. Some day, we should all get together and party like it’s 2099.

But for now. please just give what you can. We’ll set up a separate GoFundMe for the Blowout Party for Friends of Roderick Long at a later date, when we’re all rich and famous. Continue reading

Carol Welsh: Redefining “Heroic”

My long-time friend Carol Welsh is re-defining the concept of “heroic” later today (I’m writing at 1 am) as she fights a brain tumor growing into her spine. I’ve visited for just three of Carol’s surgeries (the three brain surgeries), but could not be there for the gamma knife surgery, the chemo, the radiation, the respiratory arrests, or the spinal surgeries. Her sisters, her mom, her nearby friends, her health care providers, and her brain tumor support system have been there for everything. They’re re-defining the concept of “heroic,” too, and many other things besides.

Continue reading

The Book That Should Not Be

Despite being out of academia for several months now, I occasionally get invitations from academic book publishers to review book proposals and book manuscripts in ethics and political philosophy. Here’s a book proposal that somehow found its way to me:

Call “disease moralism” the thesis that disease outbreaks result from people’s moral failures. Disease moralism so defined need not mean that bad behavior magically causes disease, but rather than that morally bad behavior creates the conditions which spread disease. Moralism also usually includes moral prescriptions as solutions for the disease. …

Now we know many diseases are caused by viruses, bacteria, or other microscopic infectious agents. But that does not mean moralism is behind us. Consider the moralism that accompanied the AIDS outbreak in the 1980s. And, of course, we see rampant moralism today regarding COVID-19. Many people say they would be ashamed to admit they were infected, as they expect to be judged and condemned. “Oh, you’re sick? Well, I guess you weren’t being careful. You probably spread it to others, too.”

Now we know. Continue reading

Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and the Flower of Life

Today is Thanksgiving, a day on which it’s appropriate to give public thanks for the gifts we’ve received from life itself. Until recently, I had great disdain for Thanksgiving–just last year, I wrote a bitchy attack on it–mostly because until recently, bitterness and resentment were my favorite go-to emotions.

Paradoxically, I had to lose a lot in the past few months to appreciate what I have, and to grasp the true meaning of gratitude: a job, a marriage, a house, a car, tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours of labor, and a large handful of illusions, for starters. I sold the house, but stand to make very little from it, so I count it as a loss. I sold the car for a ridiculously lowball figure, so I regard that as a loss. I’m in litigation, make a nominal wage at a dirty job doing hard physical labor, and lack permanent housing or the means to pay for it. I have temporary housing, but it lacks running water. So there are challenges. And yet, life has never been better. Last year, I had everything I now lack, and made sure to get up bright and early “to take a crap on Thanksgiving.” Now I’m writing a paean to gratitude. What a difference a year makes. Continue reading

Stalker’s Delight

People sometimes wonder why I pick on–“stalk”–Jason Brennan so much. The answer is that I like wringing concessions out of his arrogant ass, and often get exactly what I’m looking for.

Like this:

UPDATE: I modified this slightly, because I realized that I don’t know what Krugman thinks about trade all-things-considered. 

No, I don’t mean the claim about Krugman. I mean the hyper-conscientiousness Brennan now shows about alerting his readers to the substantive changes he makes in his posts for 200-Proof Liberals. Remember when, at BHL, he self-righteously asserted the prerogative to write and re-write and re-write and re-write his posts without notice so as to evade criticisms? I do, and so does everyone who read the site. Now, without further ado, he’s forgotten all his “arguments” on that issue, and changed course by 180 degrees. Conscientious Brennan now makes sure to tell us when he’s made substantive changes. Continue reading

Frederick G.H. Fayen II, RIP

I got word the other day of the passing of a high school history teacher of mine, Frederick G. H. Fayen II. I can’t improve on the first paragraph of the memorial notice from Matt Levinson,* the current head of my old high school:

I am sorry to share the news that former Magistri faculty member Fred Fayen passed away on November 11. For 45 years, from 1963-2008, Mr. Fayen served as a history teacher, college counselor, and coach, known for his standards of excellence, quiet dignity, calm demeanor, and unceasing eagerness to learn from those around him. I have reached out to his family to express our deepest sympathies and support.

This is one of those cases where I regret not having said to Mr Fayen in life what I’m about to say on his passing. And despite my own relatively advanced age, I’m afraid I’ll have to refer to him here as “Mr. Fayen.” Calling him “Fred” somehow seems out of the question. Continue reading

Roger Cohen: “Au Revoir, but Not Adieu”

Whatever my disagreements with him, on Israel and Zionism for instance, I’ve always admired both the style and substance of Roger Cohen’s writing. This farewell column of his for The New York Times is moving testimony to the value of the literate, civilized brand of journalism he wrote.

He was, to my mind, one of the Times’s best columnists, a consistent and eloquent defender of commonsense realism married to liberal values. He drew intelligently and without grandstanding on an enormous reservoir of hard experiences, and there was something fresh and authentic about his prose, a relief from the tedious nostrums, whether left or right, that one so often encounters on the Op-Ed page.

The highest compliment I can pay him is the sense of writerly jealousy I often felt on reading him. He’ll be hard to replace. He’s a hard act to follow.