Reason Papers 43:1, JARS 23: Bromance, Romance, Scholarship

I’m very happy to announce the publication of Reason Papers 43:1 (Spring 2023), and the final, double issue of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (JARS) 23:1-2. There are a bunch of interconnections between these two journals, and connections back to PoT. Being the gossip hag that I am, I’m going to give you the juicy back story (romance, bromance, and all), so hold on to your hat.

The main piece of backstory here is that both journals bear a connection to Ayn Rand and the (American) Objectivist movement. (The preceding links go to Wikipedia, which was founded by Jimmy Wales, who was also a member of the Objectivist movement. You can’t make this shit up.) Reason Papers was founded in 1974 by Tibor Machan, a fervent Randian; JARS was founded in 1999 by Chris Sciabarra, a fervent Rand scholar. Many of the people associated with Policy of Truth were once Randians, associated in some way with one or both journals and/or the Objectivist movement. Whatever our proximity to or distance from Rand and Objectivism at this point, many of us still a bear a close relation to one another, and so, still find ourselves arguing about Rand and related topics (Aristotelianism, libertarianism, aesthetic Romanticism, etc.), whether as impartial scholars, as Rand-sympathizers, or as critics or even antagonists of Objectivism. Continue reading

In the Wake of Dobbs

For whatever reason, PoT has not, in the eight years of its existence, focused much on abortion or related issues. But we’ve run a few relevant posts, all written by yours truly. Most, I suppose, nibble at the edges of relatively peripheral issues; few are directly relevant to the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade through Dobbs vs. Jackson. Still, for whatever it’s worth, I thought I’d dig a few out of the vaults. 

In 2015, in the wake of the mass shooting at an abortion clinic in Colorado Springs, I wrote a pair of posts on whether opponents of abortion were logically or morally obliged to engage in vigilante violence in order to oppose abortion. Jason Brennan had argued that they were; I argued that they weren’t. Continue reading

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

That Zola Commercial

Here it is:

As you’ve probably gathered, the Hallmark Channel pulled this ad because the couple’s kissing–at their own wedding–supposedly violated Hallmark’s “policies on PDA.” Apart from the obvious hypocrisy and disingenuousness involved in invoking this excuse–what channel runs an ad that violates its own policies?–surely the question has to arise: why would any company adopt so idiotic a policy in the first place? Are articulable reasons involved, or just inarticulate fears? Continue reading

Roderick Long (and others) on Hilary Putnam

Here’s a nice brief memorial to Hilary Putnam by Roderick Long, with a bonus link to Roderick’s review of Putnam’s Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays, from Reason Papers 28 (2006). Roderick has a real gift for writing these RIP notices, emphasizing the deceased’s achievements but not ignoring what might legitimately be criticized.

Here’s Martha Nussbaum in The Huffington Post.

Jane O’Grady in London’s Guardian.

The official notice from Harvard, with a link that goes to Putnam’s blog, Sardonic Comment.

Though it’s not online, I’ve always found the interview of Putnam in Giovanna Borradori’s The American Philosopher candid and interesting.

Feel free to add any particularly good ones in the combox.

You’ve Got Another (Academic) Thing Coming

Passover and Easter are coming up, signifying events of cosmic significance: Easter heralds the Resurrection, Passover the Jews’ exodus from bondage in Egypt. Customarily, both holidays betoken the coming of spring, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. But most importantly of all, both days bring glad tidings of …wait for it…yes, the height of the academic conference season. April showers bring May flowers, but April’s conference presentations bring next season’s peer-reviewed publications. “April is the cruelest month, breeding/Manuscripts out of the dead land….”

Anyway, with that preface, I’m happy to announce the schedule for the Ninth Annual Conference of the Felician Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs. It’ll take place all day, Saturday, April 25 at Felician’s Rutherford, New Jersey campus (223 Montross Ave, Rutherford NJ, 07070). The plenary speaker is James Stacey Taylor of The College of New Jersey, defending the idea of markets in political votes. As usual, we’re fielding twenty papers this year–two sessions on meta-ethics, one on well-being and related issues, two on moral psychology, two on social/political philosophy, one on virtue ethics, one on bioethics, and one (for lack of a better description) on ethics and literature (featuring papers on Proust and Kierkegaard). Come by if you’re in the area; I’m hoping to post some of the papers online before the conference so that you can take a look even if you can’t make it to the conference itself.

While I’m in announcement mode, I thought I’d mention some PoT-head doings that the doers are too bashful to brag about on their own (or on her own, as it may be). Shawn Klein of Rockford College has just announced the imminent publication of an edited collection, Steve Jobs and Philosophy: For Those Who Think Different, from Open Court. Occasional PoT-head Carrie-Ann Biondi has a paper among sixteen others in there, called “Counter-Culture Capitalist” (which I’ve read in manuscript and rather like). As it happens, Carrie-Ann is speaking this Thursday (April 2) at Rockford College on a somewhat similar topic, “Mike Rowe and Ayn Rand: Somebody’s Gotta Do It“; the talk is sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Rockford.

While I’m singing Carrie-Ann’s praises, I may as well mention her (rather pugillistically titled) discussions of Marx, MacIntyre, and Rawls in “Three Enemies of Capitalism,” Parts I and II, which began life as a pair of lectures at The Atlas Society’s 2014 Atlas Summit. Here’s the first lecture, and here’s the second.

Finally, Roderick Long is announcing a Call for Abstracts for a Molinari Society session on “Police Abuse: Solutions Beyond the State” at the APA’s Eastern Division Meeting, due date May 18.  Of course, I couldn’t possibly announce a CFA on that topic and not cap it off with something like this….

You might as well begin to put some abstracts in your life.

Roderick Long on “Reverse Racism”

For obvious reasons, racism and reverse racism are very much on everyone’s minds nowadays. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to blog on those topics right now (or blog on Ferguson); I’m too much in the thick of end-of-semester grading and the like. But Roderick Long has an interesting post on the topic at his blog, to which I’ve offered a bunch of typo-laden comments.

Having thought about the issue over the past few days, I really do disagree with Roderick in some fundamental ways. I don’t think “reverse racism” is a useful or even entirely coherent concept, and don’t think his thought-experiments prove what he takes them to prove. In fact, I don’t think thought-experiments are a particularly helpful way to think about racism in the first place: in my view, something about the subject demands an “ecological” or “in vivo” rather than thought-experimental approach. In other words, the topic demands engagement with the living, breathing complexity of real-live experiences of racism, not with thought-experiments that abstract away from them. I also think that if the topic is racism, as it should be, Roderick’s focus on black-white relations in the U.S. is overly narrow, and problematically distortive of our thinking. It doesn’t even capture race relations in the U.S., much less race relations beyond American borders.

In particular, Roderick’s discussion ignores anti-Semitism altogether, a topic on my mind because I’m at work on a review of Neil Kressel’s “Sons of Pigs and Apes”: Muslim Antisemitism and the Conspiracy of Silence (forthcoming in Reason Papers, February 2015). I agree with parts, and disagree with other parts, of Kressel’s argument, but I think his book does a good job of exposing the defects of what he calls “antisemitism minimization strategies.” Unfortunately, though he doesn’t explicitly discuss antisemitism (because he doesn’t discuss it) I think Roderick’s minimizations of the moral wrongness of “reverse racism” amount, whether wittingly or not, to something like the minimization strategies that Kressel criticizes. Insofar as Roderick can be read as disagreeing with Kressel, I agree with Kressel.

But this all pretty telegraphic, I realize. Blame my day job for that. Back to grading some intensely mediocre papers on aesthetics.