Category Archives: Academia

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

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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

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

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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

Save the Children

Jonathan Haidt is consistently unimpressive. Responding in this Chronicle piece about Jeffrey Adam Sachs’ great essay for the Niskanen Center, Haidt concedes that the speech-related episodes that he and his pals get so agitated about are confined to a relative … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Politics, Swarthmore | 1 Comment

The Kid With the Hammer

A certain kind of application of social science and social science methods continues to be a really basic limit to our shared ability in modern societies to grapple with and potentially resolve serious problems. For more than a century, a … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Oh Not Again He's Going to Tell Us It's a Complex System, Politics | 3 Comments