Chomsky on Ukraine

I’ve previously plugged John Mearsheimer’s views on Ukraine here, with generalized agreement but many misgivings. I have fewer misgivings about Chomsky’s views, which are in the same anti-interventionist ballpark as Mearsheimer’s, at least as regards Ukraine, but without the problematic realist baggage. This interview with Nathan Robinson in Current Affairs seems the best of the bunch that I’ve seen.

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Markets, Uncertainty, and Health Care

After about a year and a half of working in health care, and at least some casual reading of the relevant literature, I’m increasingly skeptical that a libertarian free market can provide an adequate basis for the provision of health care. The longer I work in the field, the more convinced I become of the essential truth of Kenneth Arrow’s famous insight about the economics of health care: 

[T]he special economic problems of medical care can be explained by adaptations to uncertainty in the incidence of disease and in the efficacy of treatment (emphasis added).* 

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Thus to Tyrants

Here’s one small step toward justice, democracy, and the rule of law for Pakistan, and a fitting follow-up to this post from a few years back. Pakistan has something to be proud of for a change, and possibly something to teach the democrats, aspiring democrats, and erstwhile democrats of the world: it is possible to fight tyranny through a tenacious commitment to activism and the rule of law. Here’s to a new beginning, not just for Pakistan, but for every country afflicted with a leader like Imran Khan.

Rand and I contra Kant

I have completed a ten-part essay titled “Rand and I contra Kant”. It addresses almost all of Ayn Rand’s representations and criticisms of Kant’s philosophy, all of my criticisms of Rand in those writings, and some of my criticisms of Kant. This serial essay is posted here: https://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?/topic/36888-rand-and-i-contra-kant/

I’ll post here the tenth part (~J~) as the first Reply under this post.

A Slap in the Face

The United States has just spent the last two decades fighting a series of ruinous wars, has created a million-person refugee crisis in Afghanistan, and is now fixated on the prospect of supporting a proxy war in Eastern Europe that might well go nuclear. So what, in the midst of all this, has genuinely engaged the country’s moral attention? The sight of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock during the Academy Awards. The idea of endless warfare, even the elevated risk of nuclear warfare, is righteously taken for granted. Meanwhile, Will Smith has become the poster boy for deranged, untethered violence. That moral inversion, it seems to me, is a more consequential slap in the face than the one Smith planted on Chris Rock’s cheek. But try to get anyone to notice.

London Calling: H.L.A. Hart on Place Names

H.L.A Hart devotes chapter 10 of The Concept of Law to international law, and in particular to the question of whether international law counts as a genuine case of law. Though I’m open to persuasion on the topic, I’m somewhat skeptical of the idea that international law is genuine law, and find Hart’s arguments in favor of its validity as law rather confused. That said, this post is devoted to a small and all-things-considered inconsequential confusion in Hart’s discussion, not the larger issue at the center of the chapter. So the point I’m making is a semi-pedantic one, but I’m going to make it anyway.  Continue reading

Hart, Nationalism, and the “Invention of Tradition”

After a hiatus of a few months, we’re back to discussing H.L.A Hart’s The Concept of Law in our MTSP Discussion Group, so I thought I’d throw out some ideas I’d had on the past few discussions on chapters 8 and 9 of the book, “Justice and Morality,” and “Law and Morals,” respectively. This post is on chapter 8. I’m hoping to revisit chapter 9 at some point. Continue reading

Ukraine: After the Last Sky

In a post back on February 26, I recommended a pair of lectures and an article by John Mearsheimer, going on to make a series of inferences from them about the aims and character of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On reflection (and under some fair criticism), I’ve now come to think that Mearsheimer’s claims, though essentially right, were overstated and misleading, as were my inferences from them. Hence this follow up to that post, intended to clarify what I still think is right about Mearsheimer’s thesis, what I now regard as wrong, and what I take to be as-yet unclear.

I’ve also added links to material on the invasion that I found worth reading, mostly (though not entirely) in confirmation of my own views. I encourage others to post other readings, videos etc. in the comments, regardless of how those readings square with anything I say. I also encourage PoT authors to post anything they find worth posting, again, regardless of how their claims square with mine. Continue reading

A Birthday Thank-You to My Mother

Today would have been my mother’s 96th birthday.  (She died at 91.)

The other day, while indulging in my usual frustration over how my college students are so often ignorant of so many things that I was familiar with well before high school, it occurred to me that a substantial portion of those things were material I learned not in school or even through my own reading, but from my mother – not in any didactic setting, but informally.  For example, I first learned about Versailles and Pompeii through my mother’s recollections of her own school projects on those topics; the mnemonic “SPA” (to recall the chronological order of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) she likewise recalled from her school days.

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