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.

Academized Paper Writing Service

How to succeed in high school, college, and even grad school: Buy your papers from the Academized Paper Writing Service!!
Check out their list of reasons why people might buy school papers, personal statements for college admissions, and even their PhD dissertations! My favorite: lessen your course load and make sure you get everything submitted on time.
Sophomore level college papers start at $14.99/page. (Assuming you can wait two weeks, otherwise it’s more.)
Need a doctoral dissertation? No problem! Prices start at $17.99/page—though you have to wait two months for delivery. (Again, for faster service, the price is higher.)
First time customers get 15% off!
Not sure whether to take the plunge? It may be well to be cautious. gives them only 3 out of 5 stars. The problems are that their website is not user-friendly enough, their writers not specialized enough, and slow response times for customer service. They of course have an 800 number and Live Chat, but wait times are long. On the bright side, TopDissertations rates Academized’s prices as “not bad at all.”
The rating from TopDissertations is in line with other reviews. gives them only 1.5 out of 5 stars, while gives them only 5.2 out of 10.
Fortunately, the rating sites rate plenty of other paper writing services.’s home page lists about 80 paper writing companies! So, if Academized seems not to be the best, there are others to choose from.
Is this a great time for education, or what?

“No One Could Have Predicted 9/11”

It’s been awhile since I’ve “stalked” (i.e., criticized) Jason Brennan, but the opportunities are always there. Here, Jason is riding his well-worn epistemic-political hobby horse: no one knows anything, but luckily, Jason Brennan is alone to know that knows one knows anything.

What is the expected difference between the candidates? Well, that’s usually really hard to say. A recent paper in APSR says that Republican vs Democratic leadership makes no measurable difference in outcomes in a bunch of issues after a few years. What about, say, presidents? Well, again, hard to say. No one could have predicted that Bush II would have to deal with 9/11, or that he would have invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.

No one could have predicted that Bush II would have to deal with 9/11? Phrase it less tendentiously: could anyone have predicted that Bush II would deal with a major terrorist attack initiated by Al Qaeda? Continue reading

In Which I Predict That a Certain Event Will Happen

To anyone interested in the following session of the Auburn U. Philosophical Society, Friday 6 November at 3:00pm Central (= 4:00 Eastern = 2:00 Pacific), you’re welcome to join us by Zoom.  Sessions usually run from between 90 mins. to 2 hrs., with the first half devoted to presentation and the second half to Q&A&A (questions & answers & argument).

Speaker: Dr. Dilip Ninan (Tufts U.)

Title:  “Assertion, Evidence, and the Future”

Abstract:  “In this talk, I use a puzzle about assertion and the passage of time to explore the pragmatics, semantics, and epistemology of future discourse. The puzzle arises because there appear to be cases in which: one is in a position to assert, at an initial time T1, that a certain event E will happen; one loses no evidence between T1 and later time T2; but one is nevertheless not in a position, at T2, to assert that E happened. I examine a number of possible explanations of this phenomenon: that assertions about the past give rise to an implicature about one’s evidence that are not carried by assertions about the future; that assertions about the future are not “categorical” in the way assertions about the past are; that one can lose knowledge of a fact F when then the passage of time transforms F from a fact about one’s future into a fact about one’s past. I argue that the third of these approaches is the most promising, and attempt to develop a specific version of it in some detail.”

Attendees are being asked to register beforehand. In other words, the link below is NOT the link to the meeting. Instead, if you follow the link below, you’ll be asked for your email address. Once you submit it, the meeting link will be emailed to you. You’ll need to make sure you register before the talk.

how Justin Snedegar’s main argument against the non-contrastivist view of reasons (having-reason) goes wrong

We speak, not only of X having reason to A (or of R being a reason for X to A), but also of X having reason to A rather than B (or to A as against B). According to Justin Snedegar, we should always read ‘rather than’ or ‘as against’ in such constructions as meaning but-not. So if I have reason to write this post rather than start scrolling down my Facebook feed, this means that I have reason to take the former option and do not have reason to take the latter option.

And this leads to the following strange result in certain ordinary-enough cases like the one below. (Adapted from Snedegar. The main difference between his case and mine is that I put the [X having reason to A] feature as against the [R is a reason for X to A] feature front-and-center, roughly in line with Daniel Fogal’s framing or reasons and having-reason.) Here is the case:

Continue reading

Double Double Toil and Trouble

Future historians will look back at the history of the u.s. in the 20th (and early 21st) century with the gravest suspicion.

According to the received chronology, they’ll note:

  • From 1901 to 1909, a president named Roosevelt, formerly governor of New York, held office, promoting policies of corporate elitism in the guise of economic populism.
  • From 1933 to 1945, a supposedly different president named Roosevelt, likewise formerly governor of New York, held office, likewise promoting policies of corporate elitism in the guise of economic populism.
  • From 1914 to 1918, a worldwide war waged, pitting Germany on one side against France, Britain, Russia, and the u.s. on the other; Germany lost.
  • From 1939 to 1945, a supposedly different worldwide war waged, pitting Germany on one side against France, Britain, Russia, and the u.s. on the other; once again, Germany lost.
  • From 1950 to 1953, the u.s. was involved, on the southern side, in a war between northern (Communist) and southern (anti-Communist) divisions of a formerly unified country on an Asian peninsula bordering China, with China and Russia giving assistance to the northern side.
  • From 1961 (or so) to 1975, the u.s. was involved, on the southern side, in a supposedly different war between northern (Communist) and southern (anti-Communist) divisions of a formerly unified country on a supposedly different Asian peninsula bordering China, with China and Russia once again giving assistance to the northern side.
  • In 1988, a New England preppy turned Texas oilman named George Bush was elected president; shortly after being elected, he sent troops to invade Iraq in opposition to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
  • In 2000, a supposedly different New England preppy turned Texas oilman likewise named George Bush was elected president; shortly after being elected, he too sent troops to invade Iraq in opposition to (the same) Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The historians will say:  it’s clear enough what’s happened here.  Evidently two somewhat inconsistent chronologies have been overlaid on each other, creating a series of artificial doublets.  Surely there was just one president Roosevelt, just one Germany-versus-u.s.-plus-everybody war, just one northern-Communists-versus-southern-u.s.-allies Asian peninsular war, just one president George Bush, and just one u.s.-versus-Iraq war. 

After all, no one in their right mind would choose to live through any of those things twice.

If another member of the Trump family gets elected president in the next few years, the hypothesis will only be confirmed. (As it would likewise have been had a second president Clinton been elected in 2016.)

EVS Journal (1): Kill ‘Em All

Some readers may remember that back in May, I resigned my position as Associate Professor of Philosophy at Felician University in protest at malfeasance I encountered at the university, malfeasance that upper-level university administration wanted covered up. These same administrators apparently expected me to help them cover it up, but I wouldn’t and didn’t; after a ten-day standoff with these assholes, it became clear that they wanted me off of payroll and out of the way. As an at-will employee at a non-tenure-granting institution (five years on the AAUP’s censure list), I had no viable institutional options for dealing with corruption that willful and entrenched, so I quit before they fired me. I’m glad I did. As I’ve been saying for years, Felician is a sinking ship. It’s only a matter of time before it goes under. Continue reading