Category Archives: Academia

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

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

A New Year

This is not the first time I’ve gone quiet on this blog simply because I was busy. Fall 2017 was in many ways the busiest semester I’ve ever had at Swarthmore: I taught two courses, I chaired my department, I … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Blogging, Politics, Swarthmore | 12 Comments

On Harvard and Admission

Longer comment tomorrow, if I have time; and maybe also on the debate over the essay “The Case of Colonialism”. But in the interim, a quick thought on Harvard not admitting a promising student. ————————- Considering that Harvard is in … Continue reading

Posted in Academia | 1 Comment