Author Archives: Timothy Burke

An Actual Trolley Problem

I’ve always seen a certain style of thought experiment in analytic philosophy and psychology as having limited value–say for example the famous “trolley problem” that asks participants to make an ethical choice about whose life to save in a situation … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Grasping the Nettle, Politics, Swarthmore | 1 Comment

Free College: Not So Extreme

I’ve complained that for the most part, self-identified centrists and moderates prefer not to engage in direct arguments about their policy preferences in this election, but instead to argue about “electability”–essentially laundering their preferences through mute off-stage proxies, some other … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics | 2 Comments

Harvest Time on the Whirlwind Farm

To some extent, people turn to omnicompetent forms of conspiracy theory when they cannot believe that anybody could be THAT incompetent. People who are always and invariably against conspiracy theories tend to be that way first and foremost because omnicompetent … Continue reading

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Dershowitz Matters (Unfortunately)

The terrible thing about what has happened in the Senate is this: the intellectual and institutional infrastructure of legal and political systems can confer a kind of revenant legitimacy even on claims and verdicts that destroy those systems. You can … Continue reading

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No One Is Prepared

In the last two weeks, it’s been hard to miss the sudden turn among centrist punditry–the kind of people who presume to be kingmakers and political tastemakers, the viziers of the voters–towards trying to knock Bernie Sanders down before he … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

A Declaration of Dependence

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one orange-faced man to dissolve the legal restrictions which he finds incovenient and to assume among the powers of the earth, the permanently dominant station to which the Laws … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

The Concern Troll In Everyone

What we commonly call “concern trolling” in online discussion has far deeper rhetorical roots in the public sphere. In many ways, it’s a style that was honed to near-perfection by centrist liberal intellectuals and academics in the 1960s, the sort … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

Homeland Insecurity and American Terrorism

Let’s stop talking about guns and gun control. Guns and gun control in America function as an intensifying signifier of cultural division. They amplify the idea that this historical moment is a division of rural white ‘traditional’ communities vs. urban … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 9 Comments

Dialogue and Demand

Why is a call for conversation or dialogue met so often with indifference or hostility? That I am thinking about this question might feel peculiar to Swarthmore, but I could just as readily be addressing Johns Hopkins (the scene of … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Swarthmore | 6 Comments

College of Theseus

Most of us know to be skeptical about the public statements of a person paid to defend a particular organization or corporation. For the same reason, we tend to look askance on a pundit or expert who will derive some … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, I'm Annoyed | 4 Comments