by Kieran Healy on November 5, 2006

I was browsing in the campus bookshop over lunch and saw the “UK/Australia edition”: of “Freakonomics”: for sale — this is the recently released revised and expanded version. Looking to see what had changed, I was surprised and gratified to see that the new version incorporates much of Steven Levitt’s “response”: to “our seminar on the first edition”: The essay is prefaced by a generous comment from Steve to the effect that the CT seminar is the best available discussion of the book. Unfortunately the new edition doesn’t contain our essays (though it does give the seminar’s URL), and so we won’t be getting any royalties for our efforts. This shows why traditional models of publishing are doomed in the era of free online content.

Inward and Outward Justice

by Jon Mandle on November 5, 2006

In her 2002 Locke Lectures, Christine Korsgaard suggests readings of Plato and of Kant that try to make sense of the relationship between “inward justice” and “outward justice”. She asks, for example, “What is the relationship between maintaining unity in your soul, and doing things like telling the truth, keeping your promises, and respecting rights?” In the course of exploring the connection, she observes, “It’s hard to have a free press and lie to the world.” Her point is not limited to freedom of the press. Rather, she thinks that it is hard to have a democratic society that engages in free public deliberation if it lies to the world.

In its recent effort to prevent victims of “alternative interrogation methods” from telling even their own lawyers – let alone the general public – what they endured, the Bush administration seems to agree with Korsgaard.

Actually, they offered two defenses of the prohibition. First:

“Many terrorist operatives are specifically trained in counter-interrogation techniques,” says a declaration by Marilyn A. Dorn, an official at the National Clandestine Service, a part of the C.IA. “If specific alternative techniques were disclosed, it would permit terrorist organizations to adapt their training to counter the tactics that C.I.A. can employ in interrogations.”

It’s hard to take this seriously. What do they imagine they’ll do – practice holding their breath while being waterboarded dunked in water?

Here’s the other defense:

revealing the countries where the prisoners were held could undermine intelligence relationships with those governments. Such disclosures “would put our allies at risk of terrorist retaliation and betray relationships that are built on trust and are vital to our efforts against terrorism,” Ms. Dorn wrote.

The connection seems plausible – only the conclusion is absurd. We need to undermine the rule of law at home so that we can continue to lie to our allies. Not exactly what Korsgaard had in mind, I think. As a lawyer for several Guantanamo detainees observed, the prisoners “can’t even say what our government did to these guys to elicit the statements that are the basis for them being held. Kafka-esque doesn’t do it justice. This is ‘Alice in Wonderland.’”