Rawls by Samuel Freeman

by Harry on December 10, 2007

I admit that I wasn’t certain that Samuel Freeman’s book on Rawls would be terrific. Two reasons. First, it is very long, and I imagined that a good introductory text would be less than 462 pages long (514 incl gloassry and notes). Second, although I’m a huge admirer of Freeman as a philosopher, all his work that I’d previously read is aimed squarely at scholars; he works on exceedingly difficult questions, makes complicated arguments, and although the pay off is always, in my experience, more than worth the effort, I never expect undergraduates, for example, to be able to make that effort.

But Rawls (UK) is a triumph. A brilliantly careful, utterly transparent, account of Rawls’s thought and an admirable presentation of the state of the debates around Rawls’s work. The amazon reviewer who says “this is the one” gets it right. Forcing students to read Rawls is the right thing to do; but I shall never again force them to read him without providing Freeman’s text as indispensable help.

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Balls on Foreign Languages

by Harry on December 10, 2007

Ed Balls makes the following, bizarre comment, in yesterday’s interview with Andrew Marr:

Also make sure that every child is being taught a foreign language in primary school.

What is he thinking?

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The Class of ’03

by Scott McLemee on December 10, 2007

Ralph Luker points out today that the history group blog Cliopatria has just celebrated its fourth birthday. Or anniversary perhaps. I guess it depends on how you look at it.

CT passed the same marker in July, though it does not appear from the archives that anyone noticed at the time.

A slogan that used to appear at Technorati said something like: “There are 55 million blogs. Some of them have to be good.” I never understood the logic of that. The idea that enough quantity is bound to produce some quality is not too rigorous, even by the standards of some blowhard quoting Anti-Duhring. Likewise, enduring for four years is no guarantee of anything either. But it’s pretty remarkable, even so, especially given the hyper-ephemeral nature of this medium.

Cliopatria at its best has been an example of why those who denounce the entire blogosphere as a bunch of people wearing pajamas in their basements and whinging about American Idol are, themselves, pretty silly. Congratulations to Ralph and the other Cliopatricians (also to myself for the good luck of being one of them) and also, retroactively, to the Timberistas (and ditto).