Susan Hurley

by Chris Bertram on August 19, 2007

My colleague Susan Hurley died last Thursday night. She had been ill for some time, but many of us still held on to the hope that someone as energetic and determined as Susan was would survive. Susan had only joined us at Bristol fairly recently, but she had had a tremendous impact on the Department of Philosophy. She was a great inspiration for graduate students and a formidable interlocutor for her colleagues. Susan is well known to the wider philosophical community for her books _Natural Reasons_ and _Justice, Luck and Knowledge_ as well as for an impressive array of “papers”:http://eis.bris.ac.uk/~plslh/ . Her interests were very broad, ranging from decision theory and political philosophy, through philosophy of mind, psychology and neuroscience. Lately it had been neuroscience that had engaged her, and she was keen to articulate a distinctively naturalistic view of what philosophy is that makes it very much continuous with the natural sciences. Many of us didn’t agree with Susan about that, but she was pretty good at forcing us to reexamine our own lazy assumptions in thinking through why. She’s a real loss to the profession and to the academic community more widely: someone who was committed to the discipline, who was generous with her time and person, and whom many students at Bristol, Warwick, Oxford and elsewhere will remember for having got them really excited about philosophy. We will all miss her.

Beaucoup de Beauchamp

by John Quiggin on August 19, 2007

A bunch of rightwing blogs are getting excited yet again about Scott Beauchamp. For those who haven’t followed the story, Beauchamp is a US soldier in Iraq who wrote some pieces for The New Republic which, among other things, described bad behaviour by US troops, such as deliberately running over stray dogs and taunting a woman disfigured by burns. The pro-war lobby has worn out dozens of keyboards seeking to discredit Beauchamp, his story and the very possibility of running over dogs in an armoured vehicle. Now it appears the US Army has denied Beauchamp’s claims. (To reiterate, I don’t care about or intend to debate, or even to link to, the details of this case).

Some might suggest that the truth or falsity of these stories doesn’t matter much in the light of this. or this or this or this, to list just a few of the disasters have taken place while the wingnutosphere has been defending the US Army’s commitment to animal welfare.

But that would miss the point. What matters, in the world of rightwing postmodernism, is not reality but the way the media reports it. One bogus memo is enough to turn George W. Bush from a scrimshank who used his family connections to line up a cushy billet to avoid war service, and then shirked even that, into a war hero.

So, lets stick to media criticism. Not long after Beauchamp’s piece ran in a single magazine of modest circulation, all the major MSM outlets ran a story by well known critics of the war, Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack whose intrepid journey through recently pacified parts of Iraq had convinced them that the surge was working. Here, for example, is their piece in the NY Times.

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Ancient Athenian Law Bleg, Special Cleruchy Edition

by John Holbo on August 19, 2007

Quiet around here over the weekend. Anyway, following up on my Euthyphro post, another legal thought.

Euthyphro describes the case (4c): [click to continue…]