Social Mobility

by Harry on October 9, 2003

I just learned (rather late) that this week’s Times Educational Supplement is carrying this Platform piece by me. Since I don’t have a subscription I can’t read it, but assume it is a nicely edited version of the following.

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Rorty on Davidson and Descartes

by Brian on October 9, 2003

Richard Rorty has an article in today’s Boston Globe arguing that Davidson showed that “reality can’t be an illusion.” (Note: that quote is from the subhead not from Rorty.) Since it’s Rorty it’s little surprise that I don’t believe a word of it (sadly I don’t have time to write a long enough post to convincingly say why) but it’s a much better philosophical article than you’ll normally see in an American newspaper. (Thanks to the APA News service for the link.)

Tories in straitjackets?

by Harry on October 9, 2003

Melanie Phillips has been at the Tory party conference and has some interesting things to say about it. Basically she distinguishes two conferences — a public conference with great ideas delivered in a voter-appealing way; and a lunatic asylum of Tory MPs conspiring semi-publicly against their leader. She says that

Duncan Smith, fights for his political life against malevolent libertines, intellectual snobs, resentful has-beens, insanely ambitious opportunists and other malcontents. The parliamentary Conservative party needs to be put in a straitjacket.

I can’t share her enthusiasm for the Tories newfound localism; but am all for straitjacketing the parliamentary party. But that leads me to wonder what would be left of the Tory party if we locked up the lunatics. A handful of shadow cabinet members (well, two, Letwin and Willetts) and some old age pensioners? Is Phillips a closet LibDem?


by Ted on October 9, 2003

Instapundit links to Mark Steyn on the Valerie Plame outing and says “Read the whole thing.” So, I read the whole thing, and I found one of the most intellectually dishonest pieces I’ve read since… since Monday or so.

It’s another “Isn’t the real issue…” piece. In this case, the “real issue” is why Wilson was sent to Niger.

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De motivis nil nisi bonum

by Henry Farrell on October 9, 2003

“Arnold Kling”: posts an essay on Tech Central Station, criticizing Paul Krugman’s punditry for deviating from sound economic theory. Kling suggests that Paul Krugman should stick to “Type C” arguments, about the consequences of policies, and that he should avoid “Type M” arguments about the motives underlying these policies. According to Kling, type M arguments are difficult to prove, and are anyway unimportant compared to policy outcomes, which are what we should care about.

Kling’s tone is reasonable and moderate, as compared, say, to the mendacious and economically illiterate ravings of Donald Luskin and his ilk. He’s still wrong.

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Dworkin on the “war on terror”

by Chris Bertram on October 9, 2003

Via “Larry Solum”: , I see Ronald Dworkin’s “Rights and Terror”: (pdf). Dworkin provides both a useful catalogue of the Bush administration’s restrictions on the rights of both citizens and non-citizens of the US since September 11th. He concedes that many of those detained fail to fit into the models provided either by the traditional laws of war or the criminal law. It is incumbent on us, therefore, to think through what justice requires in this new situation. The Bush administration, though, has not done so.

bq. The Bush administration and their supporters say that a new structure, which they call a new balance, is necessary. But they propose not a new structure but none at all: they assume the privileges of both models and the constraints of neither.


by Chris Bertram on October 9, 2003

Some sort of mad puritanism seems to be afflicting parts of the blogosphere. Oliver Kamm (in “comments to Harry Hatchet”: , then “Natalie Solent”: and “Stephen Pollard”: have been dogmatically asserting that government should limit itself to the provision of public goods, the assurance of basic rights and to treating citizens justly (though they disagree on what that means). Compassion, according to them, is a virtue (if it is a virtue) that should be exercised by individuals in a private capacity and not by government. But that just looks far too austere.

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Football slimefest

by Chris Bertram on October 9, 2003

Poor IDS. The Tory party conference (like “the Women’s World Cup”: ) has been entirely overshadowed in the British media by the ongoing slimefest that is the English Premier League. Following a mass brawl at the end of a recent Arsenal-Manchester United game, we’ve now been treated to two separate sexual assault allegations (one a gang rape involving players from at least two clubs), various petty acts of violence and verbal abuse, and finally, a leading club allowing one of its players to “forget” to take the drug test he was selected for shortly before. The refusal of the Football Association to select the player for England with investigations pending has led to England players (led by the player’s mates from the same team) to threaten to refuse to play against Turkey. Meanwhile, there have been hints that the England manager has abused his position to tout for a club owned by a Russian oligarch.

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Big Changes in California

by Kieran Healy on October 9, 2003

As you’ve probably seen on the news, Mark Kleiman’s blog has moved. Update your blogroll.

It just struck me that if all your information about America came from political blogs, you’d think the country was composed mainly of libertarians together with a bloc of right-wing populist-imperialists and a few liberals here and there. But if all your information about California came from political blogs, you’d think the state’s politics must be a model of thoughtful right- and left-leaning commentary, marked by a care for civility, a tendency to moderation and a close attention to detail.

Just goes to show.