(Thanks to Keith DeRose for the pointer.)
(Thanks to Keith DeRose for the pointer.)
Posted by Brian Leiter on September 30, 2004 at 05:01 PM in Texas Taliban Alerts (Intelligent Design, Religion in the Schools, etc.) | Permalink
David Baltimore, President of Cal Tech, has a useful item in the September 24, 2004 issue of Science, which, unfortunately, is not available on-line without a subscription. Here is an excerpt:
"[A]s we approach the election, it is important to examine the most critical issues at the interface of science and politics in the determination of public policy. And on several of these issues, a new pattern of behavior by the administration is becoming clear. The sequence is as follows: A government position is taken on a matter of scientific importance; policy directions are announced and scientific justifications for those policies are offered; strong objections from scientists follow; the scientific rationale is then abandoned or changed, but the policies based on that science remain, stuck in the same place.
"U.S. policy with respect to HIV/AIDS is a case in point. The virus is spreading at an alarming rate, devastating Africa and now making horrifying inroads into the teeming continent of Asia. Stopping the spread, especially among the youngest and most productive members of society, should be the highest international priority. With a vaccine far in the future, stemming the tide requires that we educate people to protect themselves; and although abstinence and fidelity prevent exposure to HIV, under most circumstances the only safe and effective protection is condoms.
"Initially, the Bush administration gave scant recognition to the protective value of condom use. The Centers for Disease Control Web site (which was once changed to suggest, incorrectly, a possible relation between abortion history and breast cancer) contains a confusing mixture: some emphasis on condom failure rates and a plug for abstinence. Complaints apparently led to the addition of a positive statement about condom effectiveness. The U.S. Agency for International Development now promotes condom use. But the emphasis is on use in selected target populations, although the value of much more widespread use has been demonstrated repeatedly in scientific studies.
"Climate change has had a similar history. Repeated administration statements questioned the science behind the position of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the global warming seen in the past 100 years is associated with human activity. Now, at last, comes a statement from an interagency administration committee, signed by cabinet secretaries, confirming the IPCC position. In the policy domain, however, we still have a long-range research program aimed toward a 'hydrogen economy,' but no commitment to current mitigation of this growing crisis.
"As for stem cells, the arbitrary decision to restrict federally supported research to the few cell lines available before the president's statement in 2001 still holds. After sustained criticism from the scientific community, the administration has conceded that the research is valuable. It has made funding available for research but nevertheless maintains the cell line restriction. And it supports legislation that would criminalize research involving nuclear transfer from somatic donor cells--work focused on making stem cell research more valuable, both therapeutically and experimentally."
Posted by Brian Leiter on September 30, 2004 at 11:12 AM in Texas Taliban Alerts (Intelligent Design, Religion in the Schools, etc.) | Permalink
My friend, the philosopher Jose Zalabardo at University College London, has some memorably apt comments about movies at his personal web site (click on the upper right box to see them):
"Contemporary Hollywood films are the most deplorable cultural phenomenon of our time. The way they trivialise life makes me sad and angry. I don't watch them and no one should. Fortunately, other people in other places are making wonderful films all the time. Click here for a list of some of them."
I will confess to liking some Hollywood films (mostly from the 1970s), despite their trivialisations. But Jose has a nice list of non-trivial films, which I plan to get to work on. (I should note, however, that the 1991 Slacker, which is on the list, and which purports to be about Austin, Texas, is utterly boring!)
This evening the candidates of the Fascist Theocracy Party and the Somewhat-More-Prudent Wing of the Ruling Class Party, George W. Bush and John Kerry, will have what is being called a "debate" at the University of Miami. Except it's not a debate, since according to the rules:
(1) the candidates can't ask questions of each other,
(2) the moderators can't ask follow-up questions.
Which means, as these letter writers put it, that, "Instead of a debate, we will be watching two men reciting the lines they have committed to memory to prepare for this occasion" and that "the presidential debate is more like a joint news conference."
That the mass media continue to call it a "debate" is further evidence of how far America has fallen through the looking glass.
UPDATE: Kerry should break the rules!
...for his work on his blog site InstaIgnorance. (Scroll down to Friday, September 24 at the link for the details.) Richly deserved.
"A Georgia group calling itself Teachers for Equal Time has asked that stickers be placed in all new physics textbooks which note that mutual attraction and relativity are not the only theories available to explain gravity and should not be taken as fact.
"Teachers for Equal Time hopes that the addition of the warning stickers will pave the way for the teaching of its alternative theory, Intelligent Grappling, the theory that certain intelligent and conscious agents 'push' things together."
(Fear not, readers, this is satire. Thanks to Ben Wolfson for the pointer.)
Posted by Brian Leiter on September 30, 2004 at 09:14 AM in Texas Taliban Alerts (Intelligent Design, Religion in the Schools, etc.) | Permalink
Keith DeRose (epistemology, philosophy of language, early modern, philosophy of religion) at Yale University has declined the offer from Cornell. That's a good break for Yale, at least for the time being. Other suitors may come calling, of course....
More from the same speech:
"[N]ever has there been an administration like the one in power today—so disciplined in secrecy, so precisely in lockstep in keeping information from the people at large and, in defiance of the Constitution, from their representatives in Congress. The litany is long: The president’s chief of staff orders a review that leads to at least 6000 documents being pulled from government websites. The Defense Department bans photos of military caskets being returned to the U.S. To hide the influence of Kenneth Lay, Enron, and other energy moguls, the vice president stonewalls his energy task force records with the help of his duck-hunting pal on the Supreme Court. The CIA adds a new question to its standard employee polygraph exam, asking, 'Do you have friends in the media?' There have been more than 1200 presumably terrorist-related arrests and 750 people deported, and no one outside the government knows their names, or how many court docket entries have been erased or never entered. Secret federal court hearings have been held with no public record of when or where or who is being tried."
The full speech is here; an excerpt:
"One of the biggest changes in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. How do we fathom and explain the mindset of violent exhibitionists and extremists who blow to smithereens hundreds of children and teachers of Middle School Number One in Beslan, Russia? Or the radical utopianism of martyrs who crash hijacked planes into the World Trade Center? How do we explain the possibility that a close election in November could turn on several million good and decent citizens who believe in the Rapture Index? That’s what I said—the Rapture Index; Google it and you will understand why the best-selling books in America today are the 12 volumes of the 'Left Behind' series that have earned multi-millions of dollars for their co-authors, who, earlier this year, completed a triumphant tour of the Bible Belt whose buckle holds in place George W. Bush’s armor of the Lord. These true believers subscribe to a fantastical theology concocted in the l9th century by a couple of immigrant preachers who took disparate passages from the Bible and wove them into a narrative millions of people believe to be literally true.
"According to this narrative, Jesus will return to earth only when certain conditions are met: when Israel has been established as a state; when Israel then occupies the rest of its 'biblical lands;' when the third temple has been rebuilt on the site now occupied by the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosques; and, then, when legions of the Antichrist attack Israel. This will trigger a final showdown in the valley of Armageddon during which all the Jews who have not converted will be burned. Then the Messiah returns to earth. The Rapture occurs once the big battle begins. True believers 'will be lifted out of their clothes and transported to heaven where, seated next to the right hand of God, they will watch their political and religious opponents suffer plagues of boils, sores, locusts and frogs during the several years of tribulation which follow.'
"I’m not making this up. We’ve reported on these people for our weekly broadcast on PBS, following some of them from Texas to the West Bank. They are sincere, serious and polite as they tell you that they feel called to help bring the Rapture on as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. That’s why they have declared solidarity with Israel and the Jewish settlements and backed up their support with money and volunteers. It’s why they have staged confrontations at the old temple site in Jerusalem. It’s why the invasion of Iraq for them was a warm-up act, predicted in the 9th chapter of the Book of Revelations where four angels 'which are bound in the great river Euphrates will be released to slay the third part of men.’ As the British writer George Monbiot has pointed out, for these people, the Middle East is not a foreign policy issue, it’s a biblical scenario, a matter of personal belief. A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed; if there’s a conflagration there, they come out winners on the far side of tribulation, inside the pearly gates, in celestial splendor, supping on ambrosia to the accompaniment of harps plucked by angels.
"One estimate puts these people at about 15 percent of the electorate. Most are likely to vote Republican; they are part of the core of George W. Bush’s base support. He knows who they are and what they want. When the president asked Ariel Sharon to pull his tanks out of Jenin in 2002, more than one hundred thousand angry Christian fundamentalists barraged the White House with e-mails, and Mr. Bush never mentioned the matter again. Not coincidentally, the administration recently put itself solidly behind Ariel Sharon’s expansions of settlements on the West Banks. In George Monbiot’s analysis, the president stands to lose fewer votes by encouraging Israeli expansion into the West Bank than he stands to lose by restraining it. 'He would be mad to listen to these people, but he would also be mad not to.' No wonder Karl Rove walks around the West Wing whistling 'Onward Christian Soldiers.' He knows how many votes he is likely to get from these pious folk who believe that the Rapture Index now stands at 144—just one point below the critical threshold at which point the prophecy is fulfilled, the whole thing blows, the sky is filled with floating naked bodies, and the true believers wind up at the right hand of God. With no regret for those left behind. (See George Monbiot. The Guardian, April 20th, 2004 .)
"I know, I know: You think I am bonkers. You think Ann Coulter is right to aim her bony knee at my groin and that O’Reilly should get a Peabody for barfing all over me for saying there’s more to American politics than meets the Foxy eye. But this is just the point: Journalists who try to tell these stories, connect these dots, and examine these links are demeaned, disparaged and dismissed. This is the very kind of story that illustrates the challenge journalists face in a world driven by ideologies that are stoutly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. Ideologues—religious, political, or editorial ideologues—embrace a world view that cannot be changed because they admit no evidence to the contrary. And Don Quixote on Rocinante tilting at windmills had an easier time of it than a journalist on a laptop tilting with facts at the world’s fundamentalist belief systems.
"For one thing, you’ll get in trouble with the public. The Chicago Tribune recently conducted a national poll in which about half of those surveyed said there should be been some kind of press restraint on reporting about the prison abuse scandal in Iraq; I suggest those people don’t want the facts to disturb their belief system about American exceptionalism. The poll also found that five or six of every 10 Americans 'would embrace government controls of some kind on free speech, especially if it is found unpatriotic.' No wonder scoundrels find refuge in patriotism; it offers them immunity from criticism."
Here is the list of the 2004 winners of these lucrative but idiosyncratic awards, that are sometimes called, misleadingly, "genius grants." No philosophers or legal scholars on the list; indeed, the only person I even recognize is Angela Belcher, who used to be a Chemistry professor here before MIT snatched her up last year. In prior years, I've usually had some familiarity with a half-dozen of the winners or more. Perhaps I've become more ignorant over time, or perhaps the awards have grown more peculiar. Hard to say...
So asks a law student. While I know various American students who have gone off to practice in London, I actually don't know the answer to this. Comments are open. Insight and links to resources welcome.
UPDATE: Bill Burke-White, a lawyer who is currently a lecturer at the Wilson School at Princeton, e-mails the following exceptionally informative response (some of which is similar, I see, to what Professor Froomkin has recently posted in the comments):
"In response to the question about US trained lawyers working in the UK, there are a couple of ways to do this. I'll try to outline the main paths here. First, both US and UK law firms hire US trained lawyers to work in their London offices. Most of this work tends to be securities and project finance. These lawyers are effectively practicing US law (generally NY law) but doing so based in London. There are no special requirements for doing this other than getting hired for a London office and then passing a US bar exam (normally NY). These positions can be quite lucrative as lawyers make an NY salary plus ex-pat benefits.
"A second option is to actually qualify as an attorney in England. As you may know, in England there are two separate routes to legal practice. Solicitors work directly with clients and do a range of corporate transactions and preparation for litigation. Barristers (the ones who wear the wigs) are then hired by solicitors to provide legal opinions or argue cases in court. Though barristers tend to work as part of a chambers, they are independent rather than salaried or part of a partnership. This is not quite the same as the corporate/litigation distinction in a US law firm as they are fundamentally different career tracks, but that can be a useful reference distinction.
"Assuming you have a US law degree, to qualify as a solicitor in the UK you must pass a US state bar exam and gain two years of common law practice experience. Then you can complete the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test (far easier than a US bar exam). Many US trained lawyers working in London go ahead and qualify even if they do not plan to practice English law. For more information on this route visit this site. It is worth noting that most English lawyers undertake legal study as an undergraduate degree and therefore begin work at a younger age. They are therefore required to complete a 2 year traineeship at their solicitors firm before becoming fully qualified. Most firms will waive this if you qualify from abroad after 2 years of experience. As debt burdens are lower in England, solicitors firms tend to pay significantly lower salaries for English lawyers than a US firm would for a US qualified lawyer.
"Becoming a barrister is far harder. The typical route for a British lawyer would be to complete their normal legal training followed by a year of Bar School (often at the Inns of Court School of Law) in which one learns the practical elements of court appearances, etc. Then you must get offered a pupilage at a barrister's chambers which are highly competitive. Some proportion of those offered a pupilage will, after a year, be given a tenancy. Once you have a tenancy at a barrister's chambers, you are formally called to bar, have an independent legal practice with rights of audience in court.
"For a foreigner to become a barrister, you have to pass a bar exam in your home jurisdiction and have 'regularly exercised rights of audience in the superior courts of a common law jurisdiction for at least 3 years,' have UK work status, and have reasonable grounds to expect that a barristers chambers will offer you a pupilage. These are fairly difficult standards for a recent US law graduate to have. Often the easiest route to being a barrister is actually to get a job at a law firm in the UK, qualify as a solicitor, get work status, and then complete bar school and then get offered a pupilage with a chambers. There is one shortcut. If you have an academic appointment as a teacher of law in England, you can automatically get called to bar and skip all the above. Useful information can be found at this site."
Story and interview here; any Arizona folks know more details about this peculiar incident? As Matthew Smith (Philosophy, Yale)--who called the story to my attention--remarks:
"The main concern I have with this is that the student's threats are the product of a broader campaign to equate dissent - particularly vigorous and public expression of criticisms of Bush's policies - with threat. We have seen this before here in the United States and of course it is a hallmark of the totalitarian state. I am not claiming that the US is a totalitarian state, of course. Rather, I am simply adding to the already substantial case that the right in the US is now fearless about publicly adopting (as opposed to covertly adopting) tactics that characterize totalitarian states like the USSR and Cuba, as well as quasi-totalitarian states like Apartheid-era South Africa, etc. Anyway, the mere fact that such threats are made seems to me to be somewhat unfortunate and perhaps is an indication of something more serious."
The red flags have been raised about Republican efforts to undermine the integrity of the voting in Florida, but it appears Ohio is next. (Could it be that Florida and Ohio are hotly contested swing states? Nah....)
Shortly after The New York Times reported that Democrats are registering far more new voters in Ohio than are Republicans, it turns out that Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell is calling for the rejection of many newly issued registration cards on the weighty grounds that the paper they are printed on isn't thick enough.
Susanna Siegel, who called this story to my attention, points out that you may want to contact the Democratic National Committee, to urge them to get on the ball about this.
UPDATE: More information via For the Record.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A law colleague elsewhere writes:
"I've been doing some work with the Democrats on election litigation this cycle, and I can tell you that they're definitely on the ball on these issues, particularly in states like Ohio and Florida. Instead of encouraging your readers to send angry letters to the DNC, you might want to urge them to take the more productive step of signing up with a group like the DNC's Voting Rights Institute or the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition to use their legal training to safeguard the rights of voters on Nov. 2."
Just to clarify one thing: while there are lots of reasons to write "angry" letters to the DNC (like the right-ward push they have given to the party over the last two decades), I wasn't encouraging angry letters in this case, just letters of concern, to let the DNC know that citizens are worried about this latest Republican mischief. Happily, it appears the DNC is on the case, and my colleague elsewhere has some excellent suggestions for those with the pertinent legal expertise.
Thanks to Jeff McMahan (Philosophy, Rutgers) for permission to post this essay (Download Iraq_War.doc) on the moral indefensibility of the Iraq war. McMahan (for those outside philosophy) is one of the very best and most incisive moral philosophers writing today about concrete moral and political problems, including, most recently, issues about war and killing in self-defense. (Those interested in Professor McMahan's work ought to take a look at his book The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).) Professor McMahan tells me the essay here will also appear in the alumni publication of one of the Oxford colleges.
UPDATE: Here is Download Iraq_War.rtf in RTF, which may be easier for some readers to access.
Gary Lawson (Law, BU)--who as readers know is always worth quoting--writes with some important observations that warrant the attention of law faculty:
"Your recent post on RAs and co-authorship deserves a thread. The failure of legal academics properly to credit co-workers (who are often relegated to polite mentions in star footnotes) is one of the great undiscussed scandals in this business – and considering the number of undiscussed scandals in this business, that is saying quite a bit. In every other discipline of which I am aware, students who work with professors receive appropriate co-authorship credit, even if they do not get mentioned as the principal researcher. But when you combine uncredited RAs with uncredited law review editors –- who, I gather, often do much of the grunt work for authors by filling in research – the situation in law schools cries out for inquiry.
"It is particularly important to raise consciousness on this issue because so many people in this business frown on appointments candidates whose articles are co-authored. In any rational discipline, co-authorship would be seen as a strong positive indicator of intellectual openness, collegiality, willingness to share ideas, and a host of other virtues that ought to be valued in academia. But how many times have you heard scholarship of candidates denigrated because it is – gasp – co-authored? I’ve heard it so many times that I want to puke, and I have gotten to the point that I am genuinely nasty every time that I hear it (it doesn’t stop people from saying it, by the way, but it gives me a lot of opportunities to vent my penchant for nastiness). I’d be curious to see if other people’s experiences on this score match mine.
"Having railed a bit, however, one ought to give due credit on this score to my old stomping grounds (and your favorite whipping boy): Northwestern. The senior research program at Northwestern, which allows third-year students to spend a good portion of their credits writing intensively with a faculty member, encourages a strong ethic of noting students as co-authors. I’ve co-authored with four different Northwestern students, and I plan to carry that over to BU; I have two student co-authors already committed to a forthcoming project. Steve Calabresi [at Northwestern] has also been exemplary, in my view, in giving co-authorship credit to students who everyone else in this business would have glossed over in star footnotes. It has no doubt hurt his career (by giving people who don’t like him on political grounds a neutral-sounding reason to diss him), but it has been the right thing to do.
"If I get riled up enough, perhaps I will write something and send it to the Journal of Legal Education. Information –anecdotal or otherwise -- from your viewers might help on this score."
Comments are open. No anonymous posts, please.
"At a campaign appearance in Oregon last week, Vice President Dick Cheney said the all-volunteer military remains America's best option and it would take a crisis 'on the scale of World War II before I would think that anybody would seriously contemplate the possibility of going back again to the draft.'"
This is a striking admission; obviously, no matter what their intentions, no candidate is going to endorse the idea of a return to the draft. But Cheney actually specifies circumstances under which his Administration would support it. If we now recall how often the right-wing analogized Saddam to Hitler, and we recall some of the horrific scenarios that may be on the horizon, this may be as close to an admission of intent that we will get until the time comes.
UPDATE: An e-mail from a colleague elsewhere leads me to offer the following clarificatory remark: considered in isolation from all the other evidence, Cheney's comment would be meaningless; in context, it is less so. The problem is we have already seen specious analogies to WWII (e.g., "appeasing" Saddam is just like "appeasing" Hitler); we are already involved in a "world war"; and so on. That is all I wanted to remark on.
On the off chance that some folks who write blogs are (appearances notwithstanding) educable, may we take a break from our regular (or irregular) programming, to explain the meaning of "ad hominem"?
Many names have descriptive and referential content: this goes for "criminal," "moral cretin," "moron," and "liar." Many of these names (e.g., "moral cretin") can, of course, also be used metaphorically, though so used, they still have cognitive content, and the individuals to whom the names are attached either do or do not satisfy the descriptive content of the name metaphorically used.
The use of "names" is not an "ad hominem."
An "ad hominem" is a kind of argument, that is fallacious (though, in some contexts, may actually be fairly reliable: more on that in a moment). The argument has the following structure: X asserts Y; you attack X to undermine Y, e.g., you argue that because X is a certain kind of person, Y is false and/or ought not to be believed. (Note: the fallacy, strictly speaking, would be to conclude from facts about X that Y is false; concluding that Y ought not to be believed based on an attack on X can be reasonable, a point to which we'll return.)
"Reynolds beats his wife" is an insult; "Reynolds beats his wife, therefore you shouldn't believe anything he says" is an ad hominem. Reynolds may, indeed, beat his wife, but, in fact, say many true and justified things. (Of course, if Reynolds said, "I don't beat my wife," then you shouldn't believe that, but then the argument is also not an ad hominem--compare, "Reynolds dodged the draft, therefore don't believe him when he says he was drafted and served in the military.")
Once in a blue moon, I employ an actual ad hominem on this site. (There's one here in the Update, for example.) That I use unflattering descriptive names for individuals, however, while shocking to some who stumble upon this site (you folks ought to leave immediately!), is not an ad hominem. That I refer, e.g., to Bush & co. as "criminal war mongers" is an unflattering name, but it is also correctly applied to Bush & co.: their invasion of Iraq was a violation of international law (and there appear to have been war crimes committed as well), and they are, quite obviously, war mongers (e.g., they led the nation in to an unnecessary war on false pretenses). If one argued that because Bush is a criminal war monger, therefore one shouldn't believe anything he says, that would be an ad hominem, though as an epistemic rule of thumb, it might not be a bad one: it could be, for example, that someone who is a criminal war monger is far more likely to lie and distort about most topics, for reasons that are easy to imagine. In that sense, an ad hominem can be fairly reliable, namely, when the attack on the person has implications for that person's general credibility or reliability.
Which brings us to InstaIgnorance, an unflattering name (a "childish" name I've been told), but not, by itself, an ad hominem. It is offered as a description of a particularly well-known blog site: and the implication, clear enough I suppose (except to those policing good manners), is that the blog site increases one's ignorance, not one's knowledge base or understanding. To know whether the unflattering name is warranted, whether it is not childish but simply apt and descriptive, one would need to scrutinize the site and assess, on the merits, the claims made.
So, for example, InstaIngorance has recently addressed John Kerry's charge that a military draft is likely if Bush is reelected. If we peruse InstaIgnorance's comments and links, here is what we "learn":
1. That Kerry is "making bogus claims about restoring the draft" because he's doing badly in the polls.
2. That what shows it to be "bogus" is that "it's Democrats in Congress who are sponsoring bills to brink back the draft."
3. That this is really all about the "fact" that Kerry is doing badly in the polls.
In none of this is there any mention of the pertinent facts that support the conclusion that a military draft is highly likely unless there is a change in current policy. Indeed, we are told that it is Democrats who sponsored the bills reinstating the draft, but are given no context or explanation for this fact--for example, that all 14 sponsors of the House Bill voted against the Iraq War, and that the bills were thus, obviously, (foolish) strategic ploys to stop the rush to war by raising the specter of drafting the children of chicken hawks and rich folks. The ploy, of course, failed, but this doesn't change the crucial fact, namely, that the bills were a response to Bush's belligerent policies, just as the current crisis in military staffing is a consequence of those same policies. It is the Bush policies that make a military draft inevitable, not the fact that some anti-war Democrats made a bad strategic call.
In short: InstaIgnorance's posting leaves you with no pertinent knowledge base on the issue of a possible military draft.
This is but one example, but it could be multiplied, though I'm sure the exercise is unnecessary for my regular readers, and unproductive for my irregular ones. Hence the site is more aptly called "InstaIgnorance": the name is warranted (if you know nothing else, you will instantly be made more ignorant by perusing the site), and it is not an ad hominem.
To be sure, the warranted application of the name carries with it an epistemic rule of thumb: namely, be careful before you believe what InstaIgnorance says. But insofar as the application of the name is actually warranted, then there is still no ad hominem, just a reasonable epistemic moral drawn from the fact that the blog site in question satisfies the descriptive content of the name.
This article might lead one to think so. Although I'm no fan of the "Professor of Torture" Alan Dershowitz, my impression was that the "plagiarism" allegation against him last year lacked merit; Larry Tribe and Charles Ogletree present clearer cases, and both acknowledged improper use of the work of others.
But what does it all mean? What does it tell us about Harvard, or any other elite, law school?
One thing it does not mean is that faculty at Harvard Law School are more ethically challenged than faculty at other elite law schools (all my colleagues excepted, of course!). What this signifies is something rather different (or so it seems to me): namely, that it is very hard to manage a full-time career as a celebrity lawyer, public pontificator, and political activist, with the actual duties of one's day job: namely, teaching classes and doing scholarly research and writing. The result is extreme carelessness in the performance of some of one's duties.
The other significant story here is the extent to which faculty at elite law schools rely on their smart students to do their work. Those of us who write in jurisprudence don't make much use of research assistants, but faculty in most other areas of legal scholarship do. The Olgetree incident, in particular, sheds an unflattering light on the extent to which professors simply incorporate, sometimes wholesale, the work of their RAs. If the Association of American Law Schools were a useful professional organization, one thing it might do is try to formulate and promulgate some professional standards for the professor/RA relationship, and how work should be credited. (Perhaps the AALS or some other organization has done so--anyone know?) As things stand, my strong suspicion is that the phenomenon brough to light in the Ogletree case is very widespread and the amount of scholarship that is really co-authored is much, much higher than one would guess from viewing the by-lines of articles.
(Sidenote: some anonymous Harvard students have started an entire blog devoted to these incidents! I've not read enough of it to offer any opinion as to its accuracy or fairness, so approach with caution.)
UPDATE: Comments on the use of research assistants by faculty from Mark Tushnet (Law, Georgetown) are here.
"The demonstrators who have halted the construction of the new animal testing labs in Oxford command little public sympathy. Their arguments are often woolly and poorly-presented. Among them is a small number of dangerous and deeply unpleasant characters, who appear to respect the rights of every mammal except Homo sapiens. This unpopularity is a gift to the state. For fear of being seen to sympathise with dangerous nutters, hardly anyone dares to speak out against the repressive laws with which the government intends to restrain them.
"It is not as if the state is without the means of handling violent extremists. Murder, arson, assault, threatening behaviour and intimidation are already illegal in the United Kingdom. Instead, it has seized the opportunity provided by the violent activists to criminalise peaceful dissent.
"The Home Office proposes 'to make it an offence to protest outside homes in such a way that causes harassment, alarm or distress to residents.' This sounds reasonable enough, until you realise that the police can define 'harassment, alarm or distress' however they wish. All protest in residential areas, in other words, could now be treated as a criminal offence.
"The new measures, if they are passed, will also ensure that most protesters can be charged with stalking: they need only to appear outside a premises once to be prosecuted under the 1997 Protection from Harrassment Act. The government will also seek to "suggest remedies" for websites which 'include material deemed to cause concern or needless anxiety to others.' As my site has already been blacklisted by at least one public body, I have reason to fear this proposal, alongside every online dissident in Britain.
"If all this goes ahead, in other words, legal protest will be confined to writing letters to your MP. Or perhaps even that could be deemed to cause 'concern or needless anxiety' to the honourable member."
I suppose the author is just another "airy-fairy civil libertarian," like the Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford.
"Dear Americans (I am here addressing only those of you who are rationally choosing to prolong the suffering of the human race for 4 more years):
"Just this past week, Iraqis had the equivalent death toll of 9/11. In fact, they have one every week or two, on average, thanks to your sickening and utterly irrational support for the neo-con gang at the helm of power in Washington.
"I, and I bet most people around the earth, cannot take it any more! The pictures from Iraq are gruesomely clear: your armed forces are committing awful war crimes, killing Iraqis in a wedding party; killing Iraqis dancing around a burnt out Bradley; killing Iraqis in custody by beating them to death; killing Iraqis sitting in their homes, sleeping on their roofs to escape the heat, or walking down the streets; just killing, butchering with impunity, brutality and nauseating repetitiveness.
"And when they are not murdering, your proud soldiers are shattering souls and trying to efface human dignity. They torture prisoners with a barbarism that was thought extinct. A 14 year-old was 'bleeding from his anus' after your soldiers raped him with a metal object. Two more children were terrorized by dogs 'for the purposes of a game between the two dog teams to see ... if they could get their bowel or bladder to move.' Another child was raped in detention, while older inmates were 'ridden like animals' or 'forced to eat pork and drink alcohol in contravention of their religion.' A teenage girl was 'repeatedly raped' by your servicemen, while older female prisoners were paraded 'naked in front of male prisoners.' Prisoners were put on dog leashes, stripped naked for days on end, severely beaten, bruised, made to lie 'in their own faeces.' A prisoner was sodomized with a 'chemical light,' others with a 'broom stick.' Simply put, Iraqi detainees -- held without due process, without charges or trials -- were subjected to 'sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses,' as US general Taguba, who investigated the Abu-Ghraib torture, wrote.
"Your leaders who issue the orders to those soldiers, who free them of any obligations before international law, and who create the racist environment conducive to their unforgivable behavior, have stopped perceiving Iraqis as humans a while ago. But lately they themselves seem to have lost any semblance of human behavior; they've lost whatever claim to morality or human decency they ever had.
"And when you mourned the death of more than 1,000 of your fallen soldiers, those brainwashed killing machines, you were apathetic towards the estimated 37,000 Iraqis who were killed as a result of your illegal war and even less legal occupation. Are you still capable of recognizing them as fully human? I hope so, for failing to do so would entail a corresponding failure on your part to recognize the human in yourselves. Your intrinsic human trait of feeling compassion for fellow humans seems to have been deeply corrupted, blunted or tranquillized. We, Arabs and/or Muslims, simply do not show on your radar of relevant humans.
"You've lost your alibi!
"In a democracy, the majority deserves no better than the leaders they elect. No better. No worse. You seem to have chosen Bush. You deserve no less a menace to everything humane, civilized or ethical than him."
"It is fair to ask how many wars our imperial nation can fight with its hard-pressed volunteer forces, many of whom are now forbidden to leave when their enlistments run out. Or, when they are finally released, how many will re-enlist. The National Guard, for example, failed to meet this year's quota of 58,000, recruiting 5,000 less people. A more pressing question is, how many Americans will be forced to fight, perhaps die for the crazed imperial dreams concocted by a small clique of extremely influential and well-funded neoconservatives, virtually none of whom ever bothered to serve in the military they so profess to love?....
"And even more ominously: There is increasing chatter in Washington among neoconservatives and their pet columnists of ever more wars ahead. They call it spreading their version of democracy; I call it aggressive and unjustifiable wars. Israel, America's client state, is now hinting at an attack on Iran while neocons here are suggesting that America's next target should be Iran. Unanswered is what happens if Iran strikes back at Israel and U.S. forces in Iraq? In fact, the issue of Iran is now being discussed behind closed doors at the White House. How many dissenters do you think are present at these sessions?
"This time Selective Service System (SSS) regulations have been changed. This time, as SSS states, 'a college student could have his induction postponed only until the end of the current semester. A senior could be postponed until the end of the full academic year.' Canada will no longer welcome anti-draft people. A new SSS plan, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer last May, proposes raising the age of draft registration to 34 years old, up from 25, and possibly including women as well. People with special skills, such as computers, foreign languages, medical training and the like, will also be subject to being drafted. In effect, if approved, it will be a universal draft where everyone, including the kids of the rich and powerful, will allegedly be eligible to serve in the military.
"But remember this: No congressional son was drafted during the Vietnam War and today there are virtually no congressional sons or daughters serving as enlisted combat personnel in Iraq. Since 9/11, it is almost impossible to name a single prominent pro-Iraq war activist, those who demand an all-out war against terrorism, whose son or daughter has enlisted for active military duty....
"Many pro-draft politicians are doubtless waiting for the post-election period when a 'safe' effort will be made to reintroduce conscription under the guise of fighting terrorism."
If I may add a thought, for the benefit of naifs: remember how the country was whipped in to a war frenzy over Iraq? No one in the summer of 2001 would have dreamed that it would be a matter of national urgency within 18 months to attack a decimated country, whom we outspent on military might 400 to 1, and half of whose population were children. (No one would have dreamed it on September 12, 2001, except for the madmen in the Bush Administration.) But it happened, with media collusion and cowardice, and on the basis of lies and falsehoods peddled by our "leaders." A draft will be sold the same way, and it will have to be sold, because there is no way that Bush & co. can maintain their current belligerent posture towards the world without more bodies. No one doubts that the military professionals prefer volunteer armies; but they do not set policy in Washington, and as things stand, they are hardly listened to when it comes to policy that involves them (such as troop levels in Iraq). While there is no assurance that Kerry--whose increasingly hawkish pronouncements are getting harder and harder to distinguish from Bush's--will change course, the odds are surely better. And unless the course is changed, the writing is on the wall for the next generation of victims.
(A sidenote on naifs: this one--a law review student, it appears, named Anthony Rickey at Columbia--purports to take issue with this posting of mine, yet neither disputes nor responds to any of the factual claims in that posting, instead quoting something else, which he denounces as silly, before noting, parenthetically, that I had not quoted it! This can not be a quality of argumentation that makes my friends on the Columbia Law School faculty proud. Another one, alas, for the annals of the decidedly weird. [By the way, on the basis of this robust argumentation, he thinks that I and, by implication, you dear readers are "schmucks." Goodness!)
"This week made it even harder to convince the voters that this country has a genuine, major opposition party. The Congressional Democrats have now completely capitulated to the Republican advocates of supply-side economics -- what the first President Bush once called 'voodoo economics'--by overwhelmingly voting for Dubya's tax cut package. Only one, lone Democratic Senator--retiring octogenarian Fritz Hollings of South Carolina -- had the guts to vote on Thursday against this insane tax cut. And in the House, two-thirds of the Democrats (including a lot of the so-called liberals) voted for the Bush bill, which includes more tax breaks for corporations.
"Kerry -- although he didn't show up for the vote -- issued a statement supporting the tax cuts, even though (as the Washington Post reported), they include 'an array of business tax breaks' worth $13 billion to Corporate America. (On Monday, Public Campaign will issue a study of how the corporate interests bought their tax cuts with campaign cash.)
"The folly of the Democrats' position was underscored by a new study just released by Citizens for Tax Justice, about the effects of previously-passed Bush tax cuts on the top Fortune 500 Companies. Many of these companies made bigger profits after taxes than they did before taxes!
"The feckless folly of the Democrats' election-year cowardice in supporting this plan insures that the slashing of the social safety net will speed up to a breakneck pace in the next four years. Why? Because, to quote that WashPost article again, 'With the approval of the legislation, virtually all of Bush's first-term tax agenda -- four tax measures worth nearly $1.9 trillion over 10 years -- would survive a potential second Bush term.' With so much of the federal budget already devoted to mandated spending, and both Bush and Kerry committed to increasing already-bloated military budgets, about the only area of discretionary spending left to cut -- to fight a budget deficit that will soar from $4.3 trillion today to $l8 trillion in the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office study of the just-passed bill -- is, of course, the social safety net. The poor will, once again, pay for keeping the rich in clover, and the gap between the Two Americas that John Edwards likes to talk about inevitably will widen to even more shamefully uncivilized levels."
As a distinguished British legal academic (a political moderate) put it to me over dinner once, "America is not a democracy, it is a plutocracy."
Richard Arnold (1936-2004)
The New York Times obituary of this honorable jurist is here. Sadly, he will almost surely be replaced, if Bush is reelected, by a right-wing zealot and mediocrity.
UPDATE: Rick Garnett (Law, Notre Dame), who clerked for Judge Arnold, has a more personal remembrance here. Professor Garnett also informs me that Judge Arnold had taken "senior" status awhile back, and so a replacement has already been appointed.
David Lefkowitz (Philosophy, UNC-Greensboro) writes:
"I'd like to contribute a few thoughts on the choice between political philosophy and political theory....
"First, one way for a student to get a quick and dirty look at the differences between political theory and political philosophy is to visit the American Political Science Association's annual meeting web-site, and to look over the panel sessions for political theory, the foundations of political thought, and other related units. Many of these sessions will list abstracts for the papers that are being presented. I don't recall whether the American Philosophical Association provides a similar service on-line for its annual meetings; if not, perhaps the student can get his or her hands on a paper copy of the APA Proceedings. [Ed.--It is available here.]
"Second, students thinking about graduate school in political theory should consider what their academic life will be like if they do not end up at a top research institution. My impression is that political science departments without graduate programs (and even some with them, if the focus of the program is, say, public administration) often have only one political theorist. Of course, similar programs in philosophy often have only one political philosopher. But the philosophy department is also likely to include at least one or two people who work in ethics, and so who are prepared to discuss justice, rights, desert, and so on. The same may not be true of a political science department; that is, no one else in the department will have any real familiarity with political theory (and I suspect this increases the longer the other faculty have been out of graduate school). I should note, however, that this is only my impression.
"Third, the biggest advantage that I can see in doing political theory rather than political philosophy is that one may have greater access to relevant empirical work, say on how different institutions actually work in practice. Even if some questions in political philosophy can be settled without recourse to empirical considerations, many others cannot. Or at least this is true of issues in applied political philosophy - e.g. justice in immigration - and various issues involving democratic governance. But of course one may acquire knowledge of the relevant empirical information without earning a Ph.D. in a political science department - if one is disciplined and inquisitive enough to seek it out.
"Finally, a partial plug - I recently earned my Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Maryland, College Park. My concentration was in political philosophy and philosophy of law. As a participant in Maryland's Committee on Politics, Philosophy and Public Policy, I had the opportunity to take some courses co-taught by people in the philosophy department, the political science department, and the institute for philosophy and public policy. This kind of program - already set up to facilitate some cross-departmental study - might be of particular interest to students who are torn between political theory and political philosophy. As I recall, one or two students actually switched from one graduate program to another after a year or two of coursework, while still being able to count toward their degree most of the classes they had completed."
Jonathan Wolff (Philosophy, UCL) writes (partially in response to the update here):
"1. A person is much more likely to get a job in a politics dept with a philosophy degree than a job in philosophy with a politics degree, for several reasons (e.g., smaller size of phil depts makes it harder to specialise on just one area; suspicion of government depts by philosophers, etc.)
"2. Within analytic political philosophy the style in politics departments seems to be to find as many arguments - good or bad - as possible for your conclusion, whereas in philosophy departments it seems to be to concentrate on a smaller number and make them as strong as you can.
"However this seems rather self-serving and someone currently in a politics
dept might want to comment on philosophy's obsession with minute details and
the focus on partially described abstract models, rather than real cases! (I
think of this as the Nozickian revolution in political philosophy - it is now easy to overlook the fact that Anarchy, State and Utopia was methodologically highly novel. The methodology has stuck even though the doctrine hasn't.)
"I have heard people outside political philosophy say that the existence of
political philosophy, and its connection with the 'real world,' justifies the existence of philosophy, as political philosophy cannot be done well without
a philosophical training (and all the research needed to support this training). However students are often frustrated by the lack of connection with the real world that they find in analytic political philosophy. I think people in politics departments are someone more driven by what they see as urgent problems - problems making headlines - that need addressing."
"The Army Field Manual describes information operations as the use of strategies such as information denial, deception and psychological warfare to influence decision making. The notion is as old as war itself. With information operations, one seeks to gain and maintain information superiority -- control information and you control the battlefield. And in the information age, it has become even more imperative to influence adversaries.
"But with the Iraq war, information operations have gone seriously off track, moving beyond influencing adversaries on the battlefield to influencing the decision making of friendly nations and, even more important, American public opinion. In information denial, one attempts to deceive one's adversary. Since the declared end of combat operations, the Bush administration has orchestrated a number of deceptions about Iraq. But who is its adversary?
"In August 2003, the administration's message was that everything in Iraq was improving. The White House led the information effort and even published a paper on the successes of the first 100 days of the occupation. By October the message had shifted: Things were going well in Iraq, but the media was telling the wrong story.
"Then, toward the end of 2003, the message was that the whole problem in Iraq was 'dead-enders' and 'foreign fighters.' If it weren't for them, the situation would be fine. Then, after Saddam Hussein was captured in December, the message shifted again: The coalition had discovered along with the former dictator documents revealing the insurgent network, which now would be broken. Once again, everything would be fine.
"At the approach of the hand-over to Iraq's interim government in late June, the administration said the event represented the worst fears of the insurgents, who did not want any movement toward democracy. The White House warned that there would be increased violence as the insurgents tried to prevent the interim government from assuming its proper role in running the country. In fact, violence did increase before the transfer, but there was even more violence afterward. But the administration's information about the situation in Iraq sharply declined.
"Denying information to adversaries is one way of maintaining information dominance. (According to the Army Field Manual, this dimension involves "withholding information that adversaries need for effective decision-making.") In the case of Iraq, this has meant eliminating press releases and press briefings. Since the hand-over of power, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq has issued only six releases, including one on the new Iraqi environment minister's visit to a landfill project. The most recent press release, on Aug. 12, was about a boxer on Iraq's Olympics team. The last press briefing by the Multi-National Force in Iraq was June 25. The interim Iraqi government does not hold press conferences.
"The White House Web site also reflects the strategy of withholding information. It used to actively provide content on Operation Iraqi Freedom (or as the Web site now says, 'Renewal in Iraq'), but the last new entry is dated Aug. 5.
"The effect of the White House's control of information has been dramatic. The chart above shows how English-language press coverage of Iraq has fallen off since July. Early in July, it was typical to find almost 250,000 articles each day mentioning Iraq. That number has dropped to 150,000. The goal of denying the adversary access to information is being realized. But, again, who is the adversary?"
Steven Shapin, one of the most important and provocative historians and sociologists of science at work today, is moving from the University of California at San Diego to a new Chair in History of Science at Harvard University. Details here. This is slightly dated news, but will still be of interest to philosophers.
Indeed, we should. This new 527 group is putting the ad at the link in to circulation, and soliciting support for more. You would be forgiven for thinking that they believe the only deaths that count are American, but as a political matter (and given the general moral indifference to the miseries of non-Americans in this country) this is probably a correct tactical choice. Anyway, do check them out.
(Thanks to Tamar Gendler for the pointer.)
I've got to finish several letters for PhD students, here and elsewhere, who are on the job market, as well as meet a law-review deadline for revisions to an article. As a result, there will be less new material over the next week, though I'll still try to put up at least one item most days. Thanks, loyal readers, for your indulgence and your continued interest.
A book by my friend Mark Weiner (whom I had the privilege of teaching and getting to know when I visited at Yale Law School back in 1998-99), who is now a legal historian in the law school at Rutgers-Newark, will be published in a few weeks by Knopf: Black Trials uses court cases involving Blacks to illuminate race relations in the United States. I've heard Mark present and talk about these ideas on a number of occasions, and it is fascinating stuff, that non-historians will enjoy.
You can learn more about the book here.
"California State University-San Marcos President Karen Haynes said yesterday that it would be illegal to have Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore on campus before the presidential election.
"'As a public university, we are prohibited from spending state funds on partisan political activity or direct political advocacy,' Haynes wrote in a statement posted on the campus Web site and released to local newspapers' opinion pages.
"She argued that Moore has campaigned for Democratic candidates and publicly declared his desire to oust Bush, but she said the university would welcome him as a speaker after the election.
"Civil liberties lawyers disagreed, however, saying partisan figures have for years have spoken at universities, and that sitting presidents including George Bush often speak at college commencements, with funding by public universities during an election year.
"Nancy Sasaki of the American Civil Liberties Union San Diego chapter concurred with Haynes that the university itself cannot endorse Bush or challenger John Kerry or other political views, and it cannot donate public money to them.
"But she said the law does not limit the free speech on a university campus or prevent colleges from having speakers with political views, even if universities pay their honorariums.
"'It's ludicrous to say you can't invite any speaker with a political viewpoint,' said Sasaki."
The faculty and students at Cal State-San Marcos must be hugely embarrassed by the abysmal stupidity (or is it venality?) of their President.
Thom Brooks, who recently completed the PhD in philosophy at Sheffield and is now on the Politics faculty at Newcastle (and who is also editor of the Journal of Moral Philosophy), has more pertinent observations on our issue du jour:
"In the UK things work much differently. In general, if a student already has a MA or MPhil degree, they can be accepted straight into a PhD programme. Now if you are *not* accepted into a PhD programme immediately (as you may not have some kind of postgraduate research training), students are generally accepted into a 1 + 3 year PhD programme. Here students take classes for one year and, if they receive sufficiently high marks, are then formally admitted into the PhD programme in full.
"Someone who is accepted into a PhD programme in the UK --whether it be immediately after receiving MA/MPhil or after a probationary year-- need not take any classes or comps. This is very different from the US (where I also was a graduate student). And it makes a big difference. I would much prefer taking a course in epistemology rather than international relations. If I had to take a few years of classes, then I would be pulled towards philosophy rather than politics.
"However, as I stated above, no classes need be taken when one is admitted into a PhD programme. This means that students immediately begin to work on their PhD thesis, as ABD equivalent: a huge plus in my eyes.
"Given that one does not have to take courses, one's supervisor becomes all important. I would advise all students thinking about graduate studies in Britain (or Ireland) to give highest priority to finding the right supervisor. If he or she is not a Straussian, postmodern, etc., then all these worries attributed to US political science graduate programmes disappear. (Unless one wants to study such things and, in such cases, one can do so 100% of the time with his or her supervisor.)
"Personally, I opted to go to a philosophy department. Why did I do so? Given that a student can be acepted immediately as an 'ABD' equivalent, one's supervisor is all important. And it makes all the difference in the world. For me, I wanted to work on Hegel and a particular person (Bob Stern) and this led me to apply to a philosophy dept rather than a politics dept. If Stern had been in politics, I would have applied to a politics dept. (And, in fact, I am now lecturing in a politics department.)
"If I were in the US, I would not have been so carefree about which department I went to. After all, one must worry not only about how one gets along with a supervisor and what he or she thinks of one's work, but also the kinds of classes that are offered (and esp. which classes are mandatory). In the UK this choice is made simple: go to the place that has the supervisor you want. Whether or not other graduate students are studying epistemology or international relations is almost immaterial.
"It is worth putting forward my slight bias: my best guess is that graduate students in political science probably have much greater job prospects than graduate students in philosophy in the UK (and probably in Ireland). I would imagine it would be true generally and almost certainly in academia, as the Thatcher years (and beyond) have led to more and more philosophy departments closing their doors. Swansea is reported to be perhaps the next dept to close. Meanwhile, Swansea's politics dept stays off the chopping block...."
UPDATE: Chris Bertram (Bristol, Philosophy) disagrees with some of this:
"Let me just enter a note of mild dissent with Thom Brooks's comments. Thom writes that political science graduates have better job prospects than philosophy ones. That might be true (I'm not sure). But it doesn't seem directly pertinent to the issue, which had to do with people studying political philosophy/theory (so a subset of philosophers or a subset of political "scientists"). I don't have any data to back this up, but my strong impression is that there is much less resistance among politics department to hiring people with a background in philosophy than there is among philosophy departments to hiring someone with no background in the subject.....Lots of people do PhDs in political philosophy in philosophy departments and end up teaching in departments of politics. So I'd say that the smarter choice jobwise is to study in a philosophy department."
I should add that the same seems to be true in the U.S., though less often at the junior level. But there are lots of PhDs in philosophy who have or have had a primary appointment in a Political Science Department (Charles Larmore, Philip Pettit, Stephen Holmes, Seyla Benhabiba all come to mind), but I can't think of any PhDs in political science with a primary appointment in philosophy in the US.
A law professor at another university writes with the following amusing remarks (not to mention nice words, which I get to gratuitously include):
"First, my compliments on your ever-interesting blog. Every day brings worthwhile and often horrifying information, expressed wittily and pungently. The swine in the White House shouldn't seek reelection; he should seek absolution. Keep up the good work!
"Probably I'm the last person in the world to realize this, but I wandered through some creationist sites recently and found that the Institute of Creation Research is authorized by the State of California to award the M.S. degree. If the S stood for stupidity I wouldn't much care, but how on earth can this group purport to give degrees in science, degrees held out as credentials by their brainwashed possessors? A college friend teaches at a little religious college in
[name omitted] where one of the science faculty has an ICR M.S. as his highest
degree. I suspect I learned more and better biology from Mr. Bloomhuff in ninth grade."
Posted by Brian Leiter on September 22, 2004 at 03:07 PM in Texas Taliban Alerts (Intelligent Design, Religion in the Schools, etc.) | Permalink
A philosophy professor writes:
"I found your discussion of Bush's attitudes and performance at Harvard enlightening. The same attitudes seem to be present still. I have a colleague who tells me that W. made an "A" in a philosophy course while at Yale. I have not been able to confirm this. As a philosophy professor myself, it is hard to imagine that a person with these sorts of attitudes and responses could have made such a grade. And I have doubts as to the accuracy of what he is telling me, not because I think he might deliberately mislead me, but that his sources might be wrong.
"Do you have any information on this? Do you know if it is true? If so, is there any information available that you know of that would explain how he managed it?"
UPDATE: A quick response. Renato Mariotti writes:
"Here's a link to Bush's Yale transcript...Bush took three philosophy courses and got a 75, 88, and 78. I assume that means his highest grade is a B+ (the 88)."
ANOTHER UPDATE: A graduate student at Yale writes:
"I'm writing with a vague suspicion that W's Yale transcript linked to from your site is a fake. (I know, sore subject right now, but...) What flagged it for me was the inclusion of Skull and Bones on his activity list. I have no firsthand knowledge of their actual disclosure practices, but it strikes me as extremely unlikely that a nominally secret society would emblazon itself on its members' transcripts. Put that together with the site's obviously (and hilariously) parodic slant, and...
"Frankly, I kinda hope it is a fake, because his grades aren't THAT bad for
the late '60s."
Here's a good summary of the facts that explain why the writing is on the wall, unless there is a dramatic change in current policy (which won't happen if Bush & his bestiary of madmen are re-elected, and might not happen even if Kerry is elected):
"The U.S. Army has acknowledged that they are stretched thin and that finding new recruits is challenging. They recently placed 300 new recruiters in the field. Bonuses for new recruits to the Army have risen by 67 percent to a maximum of $10,000 and $15,000 for hard-to-fill specialties.
"The extended tours of duty have made service less attractive for both the regular armed forces, and particularly for the National Guard and Reserves. To meet this year's quota for enlistees, the Army has sped up the induction of 'delayed entry' recruits, meaning they are already borrowing from next year's quotas in order to meet this year's numbers.
"Reservists are now being called away for longer periods. In 2003, President Bush dramatically extended the length of time for the Guard and Reserves deployment in Iraq. Extended tours of up to a year have become common.
"In a further sign of a lack of adequate staffing, the armed forces are now in the process of calling up members of the Individual Ready Reserves. These are often older reservists usually waiting retirement. They are typically in their mid-to-late forties, and have not been on active duty and have not trained for some time. Traditionally, they are only supposed to be called up during a time of national emergency. In 2001, President Bush authorized their call up but never rescinded this order even after he declared 'Mission Accomplished' in Iraq in May of 2003.
"The Armed Forces are already chronically understaffed. In 2003, General Eric Shinseki testified before Congress that an additional 50,000 troops would be needed beyond what the Bush administration said would be necessary to stabilize Iraq after the invasion. The President ignored him. We do not have enough troops in Afghanistan to be able to stabilize the country, as shown by the continual putting off of elections well past their announced date. In an effort to free up yet more troops in the coming years, we are moving troops away from the Demilitarized Zone in Korea and reducing the number of troops on the Korean Peninsula at a time when North Korea poses more of a danger to the U.S. - not less. Because of the President's military adventurism, our Armed Forces are under enormous pressure. The only place to go for more troops is a draft.
"Selective service boards have already been notified that 20-year-olds and medical personnel will be called up first."
So things are really looking up in America: the mass media is now circulating an incompetent whitewash of the last great experiment herding suspect racial groups in to concentration camps; the great unwashed are running scared to an incumbent who has been endorsed by the terrorist group he is supposed to protect us from; and now the house magazine of the "liberal" Yale Law School, Legal Affairs, runs an article by a political "scientist" defending "preventive detention," one of Hitler's early, favorite tools, and a popular choice of authoritarian regimes everywhere. No doubt this is really just part of that famous effort to strike "an appropriate balance between civil liberties and security," as Professor Bainbridge reminded us. Someone said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It is also paved with some bad ones pretending to be good.
Finally, it is perhaps worth noting that the "liberal" Yale Law School magazine has chosen to publish an article defending police state tactics of a kind that one has reason to believe Justice Scalia would find beyond the pale.
So things are really looking up in America.
UPDATE: More on the Legal Affairs article from Chris Bertram (Bristol, Philosophy) here.
As we all know, George W. Bush is so morally upright that he would never receive oral sex from anyone other than his wife in the Oval Office. That fact, alas, does not exhaust the question of whether he is qualified to hold any job, let alone the Presidency of the United States, based on his character. On that score, a former Harvard Business School professor (Yoshi Tsurumi) who taught W. has some insight (this is excerpted from a longer article at salon.com):
"I don't remember all the students in detail unless I'm prompted by something. But I always remember two types of students. One is the very excellent student, the type as a professor you feel honored to be working with. Someone with strong social values, compassion and intellect -- the very rare person you never forget. And then you remember students like George Bush, those who are totally the opposite....
In observing students' in-class performances, "you develop pretty good ideas about what are their weaknesses and strengths in terms of thinking, analysis, their prejudices, their backgrounds and other things that students reveal."
One of Tsurumi's standout students was Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif., now the seventh-ranking member of the House Republican leadership.
"I typed him as a conservative Republican with a conscience. He never confused his own ideology with economics, and he didn't try to hide his ignorance of a subject in mumbo jumbo. He was what I call a principled conservative.
"[Bush] was totally the opposite of Chris Cox. He showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him.
[In a discussion of government aid for retirees, Bush] "made this ridiculous statement and when I asked him to explain, he said, 'The government doesn't have to help poor people -- because they are lazy.' I said, 'Well, could you explain that assumption?' Not only could he not explain it, he started backtracking on it, saying, 'No, I didn't say that.'
"We were [once] in a discussion of the New Deal, and he called Franklin Roosevelt's policies 'socialism.' He denounced labor unions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Medicare, Social Security, you name it. He denounced the civil rights movement as socialism. To him, socialism and communism were the same thing. And when challenged to explain his prejudice, he could not defend his argument, either ideologically, polemically or academically.
"In class, he couldn't challenge [students who criticized his views]. But after class, he sometimes came up to me in the hallway and started bad-mouthing those students who had challenged him. He would complain that someone was drinking too much. It was innuendo and lies. So that's how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk, that he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy.
"The other children of the rich and famous [at Harvard] were at least well bred to the point of realizing universal values and standards of behavior...At first, I wondered, 'Who is this George Bush?' It's a very common name and I didn't know his background. And he was such a bad student that I asked him once how he got in. He said, 'My dad has good friends.'
"I used to chat up a number of students when we were walking back to class. Here was Bush, wearing a Texas Guard bomber jacket, and the draft was the No. 1 topic in those days. And I said, 'George, what did you do with the draft?' He said, 'Well, I got into the Texas Air National Guard.' And I said, 'Lucky you. I understand there is a long waiting list for it. How'd you get in?' When he told me, he didn't seem ashamed or embarrassed. He thought he was entitled to all kinds of privileges and special deals. He was not the only one trying to twist all their connections to avoid Vietnam. But then, he was fanatically for the war."
Tsurumi's conclusion: Bush is not as dumb as his detractors allege. "He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion."
A philosopher at Georgetown reports being asked to forward to the undergraduate majors at Georgetown the following "call for papers":
"Dear Georgetown University Philosophy Students,
"The Undergraduate Quarterly is now accepting submissions for
publication into the winter 2005 edition of the Journal. Aside of presenting Undergraduate Philosophy students with the rare opportunity to publish their essays, the Journal also offers a variety of generous merit based scholarships of up to $5,000.00 for the best papers of the publication. Please visit the website for more details.
"You may submit your articles on-line at:
"www.undergradquarterly.com "I look forward to reading your submissions. Sincerely, Andy M. Zaky It turns out, however, that when you go to the website, and proceed along the application process there arrives a $35 "application fee." If you get this solicitation, and still decide to pass it along, please alert your students to the fee!
*/The Undergraduate Quarterly/*
914 Westwood Boulevard, Suite 509
Los Angeles, CA 90024"
==============end of letter===================
Of course, real journals do not charge fees to consider work for publication. And while an undergraduate who publishes his or her work in a real peer-refereed journal is rare, undergraduates should understand that publishing in fora like this will do nothing to enhance their credentials for admission to PhD programs.
"I look forward to reading your submissions.
Andy M. Zaky
It turns out, however, that when you go to the website, and proceed along the application process there arrives a $35 "application fee." If you get this solicitation, and still decide to pass it along, please alert your students to the fee!
First Bush is endorsed by al-Qaeda, now he locks up the support of Saudi Arabia. This is certainly the guy we wanting leading the "war" on Islamic-inspired terror. Anyway, here's something for our truth-seeking sleuths in the blogosphere to pursue when they're done with the trivia:
"[T]hanks to Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia and the Failure of America's War on Terror, a new book by Senator Bob Graham, we know that the Saudis may have played an even bigger role in 9/11 than previously reported. As a member of the Senate intelligence committee, Graham said he learned that 'evidence of official Saudi support' for at least two of the 19 hijackers was 'incontrovertible'.
"As co-chairman of the joint House-Senate panel investigating 9/11, Graham found his efforts to get to the bottom of the Saudi role in 9/11 again and again were quashed by the Bush administration. When his committee tried to subpoena a key witness who happened to be an FBI informant, the FBI refused to cooperate. 'It was the only time in my senatorial experience that the FBI has refused to deliver a congressional subpoena,' Graham told Salon.com in a recent interview. 'The FBI wasn't acting on its own,' he added, 'but had been directed by the White House not to cooperate.'
"In the end, 27 pages of the report on the role of the Saudis in 9/11 were classified by the White House and not released to the public. According to Graham, the Bush administration may have censored the material because it did not want the public to be aware of Saudi support for the 9/11 terrorists. 'There has been a long-term special relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia,' he said, 'and that relationship has probably reached a new high under the George W Bush administration, in part because of the long and close family relationship that the Bushes have had with the Saudi royal family.'
"Graham writes: 'It was as if the president's loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America's safety.'"
Bloggers, led by Instaignorance, love to congratulate themselves for holding mainstream journalism to higher standards of accuracy, but they, in fact, do nothing of the kind, except when it is trivial and irrelevant (e.g., the attack on Dan Rather of CBS News for using unreliable documentary evidence about Bush's National Guard "service", when the facts about his National Guard "service" are equally well-established by other kinds of evidence routinely ignored by Instaignorance and co.).
But when the blogosphere is confronted with an actual issue--namely, fascist propaganda whitewashing race-based internment, propaganda already being picked up by the right wing of the mainstream media (do read this piece, especially if you are Arab-American--this is very scary stuff--and see Muller's comments here)--only a handful of bloggers (North Carolina Law Professor Eric Muller paramount among them) really take it on, while the rest of the self-congratulatory charlatans pass by in silence.
Shame on these bloggers, as Professor Muller says. Shame, indeed, on these moral cretins and self-important poseurs.
UPDATE: Gordon Smith (Law, Wisconsin) doesn't understand why the Malkin fraud on the public is an "actual issue". I shall help him, because I am a nice guy. When CBS news reports, accurately, that George W. Bush is a draft dodger, who used connections to get a "safe" spot in the National Guard, they are reporting a by now well-established fact; that they offered as support for that fact some discredited evidence is irrelevant as to the truth of the proposition in question, and that is what matters. By contrast, when a know-nothing journalist whitewashes the herding of minorities in to concentration camps during WWII, on the basis of shoddy history, and her whitewash is then picked up by the mainstream media, that is alarming. It is alarming because we are living in an historical moment when such violations of human rights are real prospects again--not for law professors at Wisconsin and Texas, to be sure, but for real people who have the misfortune to be members of the currently suspect racial group. That is why the Malkin fraud on the public is an "actual issue" that ought to command the attention of a blogosphere interested in the truth, as opposed to a blogosphere interested in pandering to the right.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a conservative blogger who has also taken Malkin to task.
AND ANOTHER: Ann Althouse, another Wisconsin law professor, is apparently shocked by the word "shit." I'm a bit surprised, frankly. I still recall the Chicago litigator at a firm I once worked at who routinely referred to his clients as "the shitheads" and those suing his clients as "the fucking douchebags." Now that was gratuitous vulgarity! I can only assume Professor Althouse worked in tamer environments than I did. She also takes exception to my disdain for the misinformation Professor Reynolds regularly puts in to circulation--a disdain widely shared, as she surely knows, by academics. Since Professor Reynolds has done much to boost her readership, I understand her indignation on his behalf. Predictably, Insta-Ignorance (good point about the hyphen!) himself has now linked to her, and I've already started to get letters from those who take exception to my disdain as well. Please, save yourself the effort: I delete them. Life is too short to quarrel with those who believe that Professor Reynolds is providing them intellectual uplift.
And for those who still think the CBS story is important, I invite you to consider a contrary perspective. And for my views on "civil discourse," of which Professor Althouse purports to be an advocate, try this.
AND ANOTHER UPDATE (YAWN, I KNOW): A law student writes (I almost deleted this, before realizing it was not a tirade from an Instapundit fan--happily, my advice appears to have been heeded, and I've gotten hardly any tirades at all):
"After having the misfortune of reading Instapundit's blog, I just have to ask how such a morally-bankrupt character has the gall to call himself an academic? I know there are laws out there protecting academic freedom, but do these laws cover hacks who do nothing but spread lies and misinformation? Every day, he posts intellectually dishonest material.
"Don't get me wrong, I am all for debate, and always enjoy getting into intense arguments on politics, religion (I'm an atheist at a Jesuit law school). And I definitely support the open dissemination of ideas (Which is why I despised the 'free speech zone' at my undergrad university). Nevertheless, it scares me that such a character is allowed to openly spread lies.
"When un-educated, right-wing morons cite him, I don't mind as much. But when people teaching at prestigious universities justify his idiocy, it makes me wonder how low those on the right have gone."
There is no question that academic freedom, and more importantly, the First Amendment, protects him as much as it protects me or Professor Althouse. All one can do is respond, criticize, resist.
AND THIS IS IT, REALLY: A colleague elsewhere writes to object that I was "too nice" to Professor Althouse (this charge doesn't often get levelled at me, so it's notable when it happens). He notes: "Once you overlook her prissiness about your choice of language, she manages to ignore or mangle every substantive point you made, and respond to nothing on the merits. You made clear why the Malkin defense of internment is an issue of current importance, not merely historical interest as Althouse dishonestly suggests. Your link to the Counterpunch piece does a good job of demolishing the CBS story as a story of no importance. Isn't it clear that this has nothing to do with nice manners, and everything to do with the fact that she's just another conservative you've offended by not taking the usual conservative pablum seriously?" Perhaps.
A student writes: "Having used PGR while going through the graduate admissions process last year, I thought I'd offer a suggestion. After studying philosophy and political science while an undergrad at [a liberal arts college], my main interest going into grad school graduate school was political
philosophy/theory. The dilemma faced by someone like myself is whether to focus on political theory in a political science department or political philosophy in a philosophy department. I can't be certain, but I imagine there are a number of others who have faced or will face a similar dilemma."
This is typically a stark choice, since PhD work in Philosophy and Political Science, even with a primary interest in political philosophy, are very different paths to hoe.
The first difference is that the "supporting" and "required" work you'll have to do before getting to your main interest will be quite distinctive. In Philosophy, you'll most likely have to do some history of philosophy, some metaphysics and epistemology, some logic, and some work in ethics. By contrast, in Political Science, the other required work will be in American Politics, Comparative and/or International Politics, and perhaps quantitative or formal methods.
The skills in almost all areas of Philosophy will be argumentative and analytical (with, of course, a somewhat greater emphasis on interpretive, philological, and other scholarly skills in the study of historical figures), whereas Political Science appears to be an increasingly diffuse discipline, an amalgmation of sub-disciplines with very little in common. (The formal methods/rational choice folks in Political Science would be much happier in an Economics Department; the political theory folks often interact much more with folks in History and Comparative Literature and sometimes Philosophy, than with folks in the social sciences; the American Politics people, depending on their approach, may have much more in common with sociologists and psychologists than their colleagues doing rational choice or history of political thought.)
That graduate study in Philosophy is almost always organized around a core intellectual skill--argumentative and analytical rigor and precision--no doubt explains why political theory in Political Science Departments is sometimes afflicted with the two intellectual pathologies that are unknown in Philosophy Departments: Straussianism (on the right, more or less) and postmodernism (on the left, more or less). Both depend on bad arguments, careless scholarship, and a heavy dose of political motivation--and both are absent in the leading Philosophy Departments. The combination of argumentative aggressiveness and analytical rigor that are the hallmarks of the latter make it impossible for the superficial muddle-headedness of the Straussians and postmodernists to get a foothold.
Which brings us to a final, important difference between the two paths. While there are a number of Political Science PhDs whose work is of substantial interest to political philosophers in Philosophy Departments (e.g., Dennis Thompson, Amy Gutmann, Charles Beitz, Michael Walzer, etc.), and while some first-rate political philosophers have been poached in recent years by Political Science Departments (e.g., Philip Pettit by Princeton), it is clearly the case that a lot of work done under the rubric of "political theory" in Political Science Departments is of little interest to philosophers. I am not referring here solely to the Straussian and postmodernist work which, as noted, is regarded as largely silly by philosophers. There are substantial and important political theorists in the Political Science world whose work bears no trace of Straussianism or postmodernism but who are operating, for all practical purposes, in a separate intellectual universe from the political philosophers in Philosophy Departments. Sometimes this is related to the fact that "history of political thought" is an important topic in Political Theory in a way it is not within Philosophy Departments. But some of it is due to fundamental differences in intellectual style, often related to the point noted earlier, namely, the obsession with analytical and argumentative rigor and precision that is the hallmark of philosophical practice.
My advice to a prospective student trying to figure out which route to pursue would be to do some reading, to figure out where one's intellectual sympathies lie. Read (among political theorists) folks like Don Herzog, Rogers Smith, Carol Pateman, George Kateb, Sheldon Wolin, Dana Villa; read (among political philosophers) folks like David Schmidtz, Philip Pettit, G.A. Cohen, Thomas Nagel, Raymond Geuss, Joshua Cohen, Judith Jarvis Thomson. There are some commonality of interests between all these writers, and yet often a clear difference in style and intellectual method. Assuming some of the other factors noted above are not decisive for a student trying to choose, this final exercise ought to make vivid where it is one's intellectual sympathies ultimately rest.
ADDENDUM: I'm less sure how the above points apply to students choosing between Politics and Philosophy in the UK and Australia. (I think the situation in Canada is similar to that in the U.S.) My impression, for example, is that the Straussian pathology is unknown outside North America; but what about postmodernism? What about some of the other differences? I'd welcome comments from Australian and UK political philosophers and theorists.
UPDATE: A UK-based political philosopher writes:
"Oxford's PPE [Philosophy, Politics & Economics] is an enormous boon. It is, I'm pretty sure, far and away the most frequent first degree of Brits who teach political philosophy or political theory in the UK. Therefore, a much higher number of political theorists in Britain than in the US studied analytic philosophy as an undergraduate. And, as you note in your post, postmodernist bullshit dries up and disintegrates under the gaze of an analytically-trained mind. So, though present, postmodernist political theory is much less a presence in UK as compared with US politics departments (it is, I'm told, virtually non-existent in the Oxford Politics department), and UK politics departments are more receptive to analytic political philosophy. Here are a few analytic political philosophers in the UK whose appointments are in politics departments: G. A. Cohen, Susan Hurley, Hillel Steiner, David Miller, Adam Swift, Stuart White, and Matthew Clayton. Moreover, anyone who has studied political theory at Oxford during the last 20 years will not have escaped the towering intellects of Cohen, Dworkin, and Raz."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jacob Levy, a political theorist in the Poli Sci Department at Chicago, has thoughts on this topic as well. I've also revised slightly my list of who to read, above, to get a sense of the different approaches, based on some of his suggestions. Note that Professor Levy was trained at Princeton, which has, for a long time, been a Political Science Department where the political theory folks have maintained strong ties with political philosophy as practiced in Philosophy Departments.
ANOTHER: And more on the subject here, with particular reference to the UK situation.
ANOTHER: And more comments from political philosophers here.
The saga continues:
"Michael Scheuer, the longtime CIA counterterrorism official who headed the agency's Usama Bin Laden Unit from 1996 to 1999, sent a letter to the congressional intelligence oversight committees that discussed, among other things, how the unit has grown weaker in the three years since 9/11. Here is the relevant section of Scheuer's letter:
"'September 2004: In the CIA's core, U.S.-based Bin Laden operations unit today there are fewer Directorate of Operations officers with substantive expertise on al-Qaeda than there were on 11 September 2001. There has been no systematic effort to groom al-Qaeda expertise among Directorate of Operations officers since 11 September. Today, the unit is greatly understaffed because of a "hiring freeze," and the rotation of large numbers of officers in and out of the unit every 60-to-90 days--a process in which experienced officers do less substantive work and become trainers for officers who leave before they are qualified to support the mission. The excellent management team now running operations against Al Qaeda has made repeated, detailed, and on-paper pleas for more officers to work against the al-Qaeda--and have done so for years, not weeks or months--but have been ignored.'"
Please bring this up the next time some innocent soul announces they're voting for Bush because of security concerns.
"We Americans simply don't answer our phones like we used to. Entire industries are now devoted to helping us not answer the phone. Voicemail, Caller ID, caller-specific-rings, cell-phones, even email have fundamentally transformed the ways we (don't) answer the phone when it rings. These and other technological innovations have moved us from a late-20th Century near-pavlovian automatic response of answering the phone when it rang, to new levels of screening or ignoring calls without a sense that we might be missing something important. When pollsters call under these technological conditions they are now increasingly treated as any telemarketer or unknown caller would be, thus the people who pollsters actually get to talk to are becoming increasingly less representative of the general public. There now may be something unusual about people who are willing to answer the phone a talk with strangers, and we should be skeptical about generalizing from the results of these surveys. It is possible that the new habit of non-phone-answering is evenly distributed throughout the population (thus reducing this as a sampling confound), but this seems unlikely.
"Anthropologist Robert Lawless once speculated on the possibility that many 'native informants' were often marginal, or 'odd' members of their societies. They were at times so unusual that they were the only ones willing to deal with the oddest of outsiders: anthropologists. The implication of this finding of course is that if anthropologists' primary informants are often marginal people, then it can be questionable to generalize from the information collected from interviews with them....
"[S]tatisticians and pollsters know that new telephone technologies present serious problems for standard telephone surveys. A Pew Research Center study released last April...found that:
"'More African-Americans than Whites have caller-ID (73% vs 47%) and a higher percentage of Blacks use it for call screening (34% vs 24%). Young people, ages 18-29 are the group most likely to say they always screen calls with caller-ID (41% say this), compared with only 12% those aged 65 or older.'
"Pew also found that more women than men were found to use features like call blocking (20% vs. 14%). If we can get over the paradoxical fact that this data was collected in phone interviews (and of course the point of this piece is that I'm not sure we can get over that) you can see that those profiled as being most prone to answering phone surveys tend to be: (more) White, (more) older, and (more) male. Or if you prefer to think this through in hall-of-mirrors-phone-paradoxical-mode: We simply don't know how many households with Caller-ID were called and didn't choose to answer. Out of those homes who did answer the phone it was reported that those who didn't use call screening were more white, male & older. But for all we know there is a whole universe of households with the opposite attributes who used Caller-ID to avoid this poll."
Last Thursday, 453 e-mail invitations went out to philosophers around the world to participate in the faculty quality surveys for the 2004-06 Philosophical Gourmet Report. Some faulty e-mail addresses for about 4% of the recipients required resending invitations later on Thursday and on Friday, but it now apperas that all but 2 of the nominated evaluators have received their invitations. 10% of the recipients have already completed the surveys (more than half of those are first-time participants in PGR surveys, which is nice), while about 3% have declined, most often for reasons of time, sometimes for perceived lack of competence. This year's survey is especially time-consuming, because evaluators, for the first time, will also score faculties in their areas of specialization, as well as for overall quality.
The survey ends on October 7, and the new PGR will be available not later than mid-November, and perhaps as soon as the end of October.
Thanks to everyone for their contributions.
Details here. Signatories include Noam Chomsky and Jim Hightower, among others.