Ingrid Robeyns and Scott McLemee are joining CT

by Harry on September 5, 2006

I have the privilege of telling you about our new permanent additions to the roster. You’ll remember that Ingrid Robeyns joined as a guest for a week last month — well, now she’s back, and permanently. Ingrid is a Belgian economist and political theorist working in the Netherlands, and you can find out more about her (and perhaps a bit more about what to expect) at her personal website. Scott McLemee is a journalist of longstanding, formerly at the Chronicle for Higher Education but more recently at Inside Higher Education, and a Texan, of which he is evidently very proud. I’ve known of Scott (though we’ve never met) since the late 1980’s, and suspect that I am one of the earliest admirers of his work, many of his early articles having been published in journals and magazines which I used to sell, and of which I was one of very few readers! I’ve actually met Ingrid several times, and know her pretty well, so for me she won’t just be a virtual presence. 

Welcome aboard both of you, its great to have you on the team!

Happy Birthday Loudon!

by Harry on September 5, 2006

Loudon Wainwright III is 60 today. I just thought I’d remind the world, because I’m sure he won’t. Belle, you’d better send an e-card or something. He’s the performer I have seen live more than any other, and, as George Cole might say, I have all his albums.

And Al Stewart is 61!

David Velleman on Family History

by Harry on September 5, 2006

David Velleman has a riveting paper on his website called Family History (via an independently interesting post about the influence of genes on identity formation). The paper is an extended argument for the wrongness of having a child by an anonymous donor (including by an anonymous surrogate mothers). The argument goes something like this (sorry David, I’m trying to be terse): children have an extremely powerful interest in knowing who their genetic forebears were, because that knowledge plays a vital role in their identity formation (not, interestingly, because it plays the more mundane role of giving you information about your probabilities with respect to health prospects, etc). People who deliberately have children via anonymous donors thus deliberately have children for whom a vital interest cannot be met. So they do a wrong. He does not explicitly call for the prohibition of anonymous donation of various kinds (and rightly not; establishing that some behaviour is wrong falls short of establishing that it is appropriate to prohibit it), and it is not clear what the public policy consequences are of his argument. He dispatches various objections rather well – you should read the whole thing. But I’m interested here in the central premise – that having acquaintance with one’s biological forbears plays a vital role in identity formation and maintenance.

What evidence does Velleman marshall for this claim? It seems to me that he has 2 main reasons for believing it.

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