Sacrilege!

by Daniel on July 25, 2008

While I of course do not countenance the harassment of anyone by religious nuts, I also have something of a baleful view of the kind of self-conscious atheist who regards it as a good use of his time to spend the day winding up the god squad. And so, I think it’s hard to argue that anyone involved will look back on the PZ Myers/Bill Donohoe/Webster Cook/”fricking cracker” episode and think “yes, that was my finest hour”.
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What obligation? Maximise what?

by Daniel on July 25, 2008

Further to John’s post (on which this should have been a comment, but it growed), I have a real bee in my bonnet about the claim made by Richard Posner that ” The managers of corporations have a fiduciary duty to maximize corporate profits”. It raises a whole load of topics relevant to plenty of my favourite economic hobby-horses as soon as you start to look remotely critically at what the seemingly simple phrase “maximise corporate profits” actually means anyway.

Pretending not to understand the meanings of common English phrases is a stock tactic for creating the impression of profundity (cf philosophers, who are always pretending not to understand the meaning of words like “is”, “would” and “must”). But sometimes you have to do it – my view is that in any view of the world more complicated than a very elementary blackboard model, the phrase “maximise profits” can’t be unpacked into a coherent decision rule which rules out any of the things which Posner talks as if it does. First, let’s look at some things that it can’t possibly mean.
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Do you remember the first time?

by Henry on July 25, 2008

Not the Pulp song; Siva Vaidhyanathan is looking for people to “tell him”:http://www.googlizationofeverything.com/2008/07/can_you_remember_your_first_ti.php about the first time that they used Google, if they can remember it. Personally, I can’t – there was a vague process of transition beginning with exclusive use of Alta Vista (remember that?) and finishing with exclusive use of Google, and I’m not sure what came in between.