Workflow for Doomsday: Russia, the US, and Ukraine

I do workflow for health care organizations. Here is my proposed workflow for US policy on Ukraine.

  1. Either we are willing and able (militarily) to defend Ukraine against a Russian invasion, or not.

It may be cheating for me to treat “willing and able” as a conjunction rather than as a disjunction, but sometimes, it’s OK to cheat. Treating them as a conjunction ensures that willingness to defend is tailored to ability to defend, which seems to make sense: you should only be willing to do what you actually can do. Right? Aristotle thought so. Continue reading

Thank You For Your Swervice

I’m puzzled by a feature of much of the scholarly discussion of the Epicurean swerve.  So many of the discussants seem to be assuming that there must be a swerve corresponding to each human free action.  I don’t see why.  If indeterministic swerves occur, then every atomic motion – not just the times when the atom swerves, but also the times when it doesn’t – is going to be an instance of indeterministic motion.  And I take it that it’s the causally undetermined nature of the atomic motions underlying our actions that’s crucial to Epicurus’s account, not their specifically being swerves.  (And this seems to me to be true regardless of what stance one takes on the much-debated questions as to the precise nature of the relationship between human actions and underlying atomic motions and how the indeterminacy of the latter serves to guarantee the freedom of the former.)

Rand and Dewey

When a friend saw me using this photo of an elderly man on my Facebook page, he first thought the man was a typewriter repairman. It is actually John Dewey, near the end of his life. He lived from 1859 to 1952. He used the two-finger way of typing.

When Ayn Rand arrived in America in 1926, Dewey had been the dominant voice in American philosophy for about 15 years; he would continue to have that place for another 20 years. His writings ranged over all major areas of philosophy and more. He was a public intellectual and produced many books for the general educated public concerning philosophy (all areas), culture, and education. His works have been meticulously collected in chronological order into a 37-volume set, which required 20 years to accomplish (1967-87).

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Anti-Fascist Answers to Would-Be Thought Police

[Note: This post began life as a reply comment to Irfan’s recent PoT post: “Anti-Fascist Questions for Anti-Woke Warriors.” But it got to be too long for such a format, so I’m posting it on its own. However, I haven’t changed its tone of direct address to Irfan or bothered to summarize Irfan’s post or make long excerpts from that post. Thus, for the present post to be intelligible, one ought first to read the original post linked above.]

Hi Irfan,

I disagree with pretty much the entirety of your fundamental argument. No surprise there, I guess. However, I also found that argument thought-provoking. It has stimulated me to develop some thoughts on these questions that I’ve had incubating for some time. So, in what follows, I’ll concentrate on what seems new (to me, anyway) and try to avoid rehashing what we’ve been through before.

It seems like your argument can be summarized as, “Sometimes a lynch mob gets someone who richly deserves lynching. Therefore, lynch mobs are cool.” Stated thus baldly, I would hope it is obvious both that the conclusion does not follow from the premise and that the conclusion itself is unacceptable on the merits. The mafia, for example, does not become a good institution that should celebrated and promoted under the banner of social justice activism just because it so happens (as surely it must) that a just outcome is sometimes brought about by a mob hit.

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The Wizards of Uz

From E.M. Cioran’s The Trouble with Being Born:

According to the Bible, it is Cain who created the first city, in order to have, as Bossuet puts it, a place wherein to hide his remorse. What a judgment! And how many times have I not felt its accuracy in my night walks through Paris!

So can we can infer that “the perfect and upright” Job created the first suburb in order to have a place wherein to display his self-satisfaction? Or was it to hide his despair? Or both? 

Law’s Empire

When I was younger, I had this conviction that the law was a noble calling allied with rationality and justice. The more I learn about it, and see of it, and deal with it, the more it seems a grotesque parody or subversion of those things. Necessary? Yes. Noble? Not really. Often, it just seems like a game played by the rich, educated, and powerful, intended to rationalize whatever needs to be rationalized so that the world stays the way it is.

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Cautionary Tale

From the US State Department’s periodic safety advisory to travelers, Nov. 23, 2021:

Reconsider travel to Israel due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism and civil unrest.

No need to “exercise caution” due to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank or the Israeli siege of Gaza, apparently. Sporadic terrorism and vague hints of “civil unrest” are cause for concern, but a military occupation/siege enforced by M-16s, F-16s, phosphorus bombs, tear gas, armored vehicles, militarized bulldozers, and state-sponsored vigilantism is nothing to worry about.

Could the selectivity of the worries expressed by Foggy Bottom reflect the selective nature of its intended audience?