Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rioting in London: Distinctions are important

Criticising the police response to the rioting in London (or should that now read 'the UK') neither implies nor entails acceptance of the rioters actions.  Equivalently, the riots themselves can be condemned without approving of either the police actions to date, nor of the increasingly hyperbolic and surely counter-productive measures being proposed by those in power as solutions to the rioting.

I am pretty sure that the most sensible available option is to condemn both the actions of the rioters and the response (+ institutional structure) of the police to them.

Today in Blaming things you don't understand...

A report (credence: lowish) that at least one member of the UK police force thinks they can make the rioting go away by... blaming it on violent video games!  Of course that is the problem!  Man, if only kids played friendly co-operative games, they would be able to ignore the poverty and institutional injustice being foisted upon them by the state.  Why didn't anyone else think of this?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Australian Bigotry Watch, part something

Someone who really shouldn't be an MP of anywhere, given the views he espouses, has decided that a child being brought up by a lesbian couple is being denied its human rights... or that is at least what this quote sounds like (
"I'm totally against a baby being brought up by two mothers - the baby has human rights"
Of course, the idea that the Reverend Fred Nile is not always right about everything doesn't seem to have crossed said reverend's mind.  If he was merely a fringe crazy, this might be less of an issue.  But the man is being elected by some large group of people, and I want to know why.  (He is an MP in the upper house of the NSW state parliament, for those who are lucky enough not to have run into his crazy before)


Blog coverage:  Lenin's Tomb  (Short version: Its all class, baby!)

London Burning! (Still? Again?)

Rioting isn't the best way to change things, but when the other options have been (or are being) systematically removed from you, it is fairly easy to understand why it happens.  The reputation of the police amongst the communities most involved here cannot be helping their case, either.  Maybe some thought to public relations would have helped prevent (or mitigate) things?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Trying to explain the problem of the religious endgame of the relativism argument to first year students...

Spur of the moment attempt:

Imagine a card player who sits down to play poker with you.  You explain the house rules to them, and they agree to these rules.  They then proceed to win a number of hands, while using the house rules to their advantage (deuces wild, high-low straights, the whole works, whatever it is that your particular card group buys into).  A few hands further on, they go in big on a hand, and lose to someone else who is utilising one of the house rules.  They object to the use of the house rule in this case, and refuse to give up the money that they have lost, leaving the game in a huff.


The religious defender of relativism about ethics does not, standardly, want to abandon reason in favour of religion.  Rather, they want to be able to use both reasons and religion when it suits them, while reserving the right to claim not to be bound by reason when it clashes with their religious convictions.  If you engage with them, while allowing them to make this move, you can only ever lose in the long run, because they are simply not acting in good faith.  They are purporting or pretending to be bound by a series of conventions (reason), which they are willing to sacrifice (and to deny ever having been bound by), when it suits them.


The religious objection that you are 'privileging reason' without good authority, collapses as it purports a false dichotomy between choosing to follow religion or reason, whereas the actual goal is to follow both when it suits them, and religion alone when it does not suit to follow both.

Monday, August 1, 2011

How short is too short?

I got a rejection letter recently, from a journal I will not name here, which told me that the article I had sent them, at 6000 words, was not long enough for their journal, where standard articles ran 9000.  This seems to me somewhat of a silly reason to say no to a piece.  I would like to think that 6000 words is plenty for making the kind of point that an article is intended to get across.