Can a neurotypical understand what autism is?

by Ingrid Robeyns on April 3, 2012

I have recently become more and more interested in the relevance of an epistemological question for its consequences for social and political philosophy, namely: To what extent are certain types of knowledge only accessible to those who have had certain experiences? And how do one’s values, judgements, etc. change (or not) after having lived through certain experiences? Intuitively, it seems so obvious to me that some sorts of knowledge (or perhaps ‘understanding’ is a better word?) cannot, or can only in an extremely difficult way, be reached without having had certain relevant experiences. We can all think of concrete examples in our own lives (e.g. how one’s views on death and sorrow change if for the first time one loses a very dear loved one; how views on human vulnerability change if one becomes a parent etc). But this also holds for knowledge/understanding of less personal and more social/political issues. For example, my colleague Constanze Binder once lived with Indigenous women in Oaxaca in Mexico, and recently wrote a short piece about how their practice to switch roles between men and women one day a year (on international women’s day) has lead to most progress in the fulfillment of their demands. Understanding can be an important factor in creating willingness to chance.

How does this question of knowing and understanding applies to autism?
[click to continue…]

Bottle the Inflation Monster!

by niamh on April 3, 2012

Do you know what the ECB does? It fights the Inflation Monster! Which used to rampage around in some indeterminate quasi-Dickensian era (evidently standing in for ‘the past’). Hilarious video is here.

Because ‘Lower interest rates generally spur economic activity, while higher interest rates slow inflation down’.

Now I know that these materials are produced for educational purposes and they aren’t going to get too complicated, and the mandate of the ECB is inflation-targeting. But reading them, you might be left wondering where this economic activity was to come from, what generated demand, how growth comes about. You wouldn’t easily pick up that interest rates are currently at extraordinarily low levels in the midst of a savage economic downturn (recession in Ireland, Greece, Spain, and Portugal), or that there are big debates about how monetary and fiscal policy link together. Nor would you get much insight into the problems entailed by having a currency union with a central bank that can’t pool lending risks or act as lender of last resort to governments, but which has taken on this role for the private sector through an extraordinary surge in liquidity provision, since keeping banks solvent is less politically controversial.

Furthermore this seems to me to play once again into the view that ‘economics’ is technical and has right answers, while ‘politics’ is emotive and contested, so students of the EU don’t have to talk about it.

Q: ‘What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?’
A:  ‘<2%’.

It seems – it is – a very long time since Helmut Schmidt famously stated that ‘five percent inflation is easier to bear than five percent unemployment.’