Author Archives: Timothy Burke

Values Before Risk Assessment

Why is it a problem to place consideration of risk at the forefront of collective or institutional decision-making processes? Imagine that you had an array of specialized individual consultants that you could involve, one at a time, in your personal … Continue reading

Posted in Academia | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mucking Out Mead

Via Mohamad Bazzi of New York University, I learned last week about several articles published in the last few years by Lawrence Mead, also of NYU. I had a vague awareness of Mead as a kind of post-Moynihan “pathology of … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Cleaning Out the Augean Stables, Politics | 4 Comments

Masking and the Self-Inflicted Wounds of Expertise

A broken clock tells the time accurately twice a day, but Donald Trump tells the truth even less often than that. Never on purpose and rarely even by accident. And yet he told an accidental truth recently, one that doesn’t … Continue reading

Posted in Oath for Experts, Oh Not Again He's Going to Tell Us It's a Complex System, Politics | 4 Comments

Knowing Better

I’m struggling to process my own discomfort at the thought of either cancelling a fall semester or doing it only online with the primary intention of protecting the health of faculty and staff. Assuming that the still-fragmentary data about the … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics | 9 Comments

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

Posted in Academia, Politics | Comments Off on Harvest Time on the Whirlwind Farm

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

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Dershowitz Matters (Unfortunately)

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