Monday, June 20, 2011

"But conservative values are bad..."

I am drawn to US political coverage like a moth to a flame.  I know reading about it will hurt, I know that the most liberal positions on display make conservatives in New Zealand (and even some of the centrists in Australia) seem liberal by comparison, and I know that the rhetoric will make me angry.  But still I click through to see Rick Perry claim that the US needs to embrace conservative values like banning abortion and killing off the poor for the sake of corporate profit.  Then I get sad at the state of the US system.

I also wonder, quite often, why countries like New Zealand don't offer huge numbers of immigration spots to liberal young USians fleeing the wreckage of their crumbling society.  It could help out a lot.

Friday, June 17, 2011

So True...

Parfit:  "It is Kant who made really bad writing philosophically acceptable."

Thursday, June 16, 2011


"Reconciling the Criminal and Participatory Responsibilities of the Youth" in Social Theory and Practice.


In this article I criticise the differential treatment of the youth between the criminal and participatory spheres.  I examine the reasons given for the setting of the age of criminal responsibility and that of participatory responsibility, noting that criminal responsibility is attributed significantly earlier than is participatory responsibility.  I question the purported justifications that warrant this differential treatment.  I claim that the requirements for being a capable participant in democratic processes are less onerous than those required to be responsible for criminal acts, and that as such, we have reason to question the system that denies youth participatory responsibility.  Two methods of resolving this difficulty are suggested.  Firstly, I suggest lowering the voting age to enfranchise the capable youth who are currently excluded.  Secondly, that criminal responsibility ought to be modeled on the Australian system, which retains a doli incapax standard giving provisional immunity from prosecution to youth between ten and fourteen years of age.

Link to a late draft will go up shortly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NZ By-Election

I hope this poll is somewhere near accurate.  Hone Harawira is, at this stage, less a politician and more a publicity generating machine.  Fading away after a humiliating defeat, with his newly formed party disintegrating, would be nice.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Publicity for Assisted Suicide

Courtesy of Terry Pratchett and the BBC, a documentary showing the death of a British millionaire in a Switzerland clinic.

I am pretty certain that I agree with Pratchett and the right to die side of this debate, in that I think there clearly are situations in which someone can, in full knowledge of their position and life prospects, reasonably decide that they want to end their life on their own terms, before an illness/whatever does so for them.  I also think that we can probably establish principled reasons for not extending a right to die beyond illness/suffering related cases.  I am not, however, sure as to whether we should attempt to establish these reasons.  I worry that doing so would be overly paternalistic. 

What limitations should there be on the right to die?  Age restrictions spring immediately to mind, because of the popular notion of the depressed teenager for whom it actually would get better if they stuck around. (Side Issue: That link goes to the It Gets Better Project, which is dedicated to helping LGBT teenagers cope with their sexual identity.  A worthy cause, and immediately relevant to this issue, due to the high rate of self harm and suicide amongst this group of people).  But some people of any age would have legitimate reasons to want to end their lives (the terminally cancer-stricken teenager, for example).  So a simple age limit will not suffice, it must be modified by something like the necessity requirement arising from illness/suffering.  We might also worry, as we do for age restrictions generally, that these are ill founded.



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Elderly Japanese folk have a plan to help fix the nuclear situation...

Stop sending in the workers, and start sending in retirees, because they are old enough that cancer probably won't get a chance to kill them before old age does.  Oh, and they are volunteering for the work.