Hormones for toy choice

by Chris Bertram on December 10, 2008

From “an otherwise serious article”:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/its-official-men-really-are-the-weaker-sex-1055688.html about the effects of pollution on males of all species:

bq. … a study at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University showed that boys whose mothers had been exposed to PCBs grew up wanting to play with dolls and tea sets rather than with traditionally male toys.

Language requires what?

by Chris Bertram on December 10, 2008

Samuel Freeman’s _Rawls_ has received considerable praise on this blog. Indeed Harry “described it”:https://crookedtimber.org/2007/12/10/rawls-by-samuel-freeman/#more-6491 exactly a year ago as “A brilliantly careful, utterly transparent, account of Rawls’s thought and an admirable presentation of the state of the debates around Rawls’s work.” Well Harry may well be right about the book as a whole, but I’m afraid I found the pages where Freeman states his and Rawls’s objections to “liberal cosmopolitanism” somewhat objectionably arresting. Details are below the fold, but I was taken aback by the linked claims that “language itself” would not be possible without “social co-operation” which, in turn, would not be possible without the enforcement of social rules by a coercive power. From which it follows, of course, that language itself is not possible in the absence of such a coercive power. That just seems rather obviously historically and ethnographically false unless Freeman intends by “social cooperation” and “coercive power” rather looser arrangements for coooperation and constraint than he needs for the conclusion he wants to reach, namely, that there is a qualitative difference between the domestic order and the international one, such as would justify restricting strong distributive justice duties to co-members of societies. Given that he has to reject, then, a looser conception of those terms, it looks like he’s committed to the claim that “language itself” would not be possible without the state. Which is nuts.
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Participation in the Networked Public Sphere

by Henry on December 10, 2008

I’m at the Berkman Center in Harvard, for a conference on the Internet and Politics in 2008 (Eszter is here too). Participants have written a number of interesting short pieces on this this topic for the “conference website”:http://publius.cc/category/internet-and-politics-2008/ (there are more promised); I’ve also done a piece, which I enclose beneath the fold on how Internet participation and partisanship are linked together.
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