Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Global warming effect on Mortality

I think work like this on Global warming gives it a bad name.
Now at first glance you probably say - what is the problem? It is in a good magazine so it must be well researched and I dont have any data to prove them wrong BUT al the same I am almost certain it is wrong.
Note there ae NO countries that have a drop in expected mortality (ie a negitive growth in mortality per million) they didnt even include a marker for the possibility.
Now think logicaly - if you live in a very cold country like finland and most people die at around 3 am (cold) in the winter months (cold) then if global warming raises the temperature by a few degrees there will be a huge drop in deaths over that period.

Clearly what this work has done is count all the begitive impacts but none of the positive ones. Now I dont argue that the net effect is more likely than not negitive (within a generation or two time frame) but it is ridiculous to say that it will be only negitive for all countries. Any change has positive and negitive effects and if oyu only count the negitive effects it is trivial that you get a map that shows only negitive effects.

In fact it is very arbitrary to seperate out effects into negitive and positive things anyway

Death penalty

It would depend on lots of other factors but in theory if you killed a bunch of murderers and compared that to getting them wander randomly you would save lives - if you chopped their legs off instead (or gave excessive electro-shock therapy or whatever) you would achieve the same aim and save one extra life.

So I argue that making the criminal unable to commit the crime is in a sense fundimentally superior to the death penalty. Better yet they serve as a walking billboard for why not to commit the crime.

Giving Winston a tough time on his Foreign Ministry

I am the first to admit it is quite a funny set up with winston peters but somthing struk me as odd when national tried awkwardly to be critical of the setup.

I found it interesting that the national spokesman on foreign affairs was saying that they dont want to undermine NZ in international affairs and yet do so within NZ on national radio and so forth and in such a way as to effectively undermine NZ in international affairs.

I am less concerned by the fact they are doing it (to an extent that is what opposition parties are there to do and they have to weight that up for themselves) than the fact that they either dont realise it or are willing to be less than honest about it.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Commonwealth Don on Democracy

A storm has been whipped up regarding a speech made by Don McKinnon, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, regarding a speech he made in Malta regarding democracy at the recent CHOGM meeting.

""Many people are beginning to ask whether building a democracy is really the road to prosperity," he said in his address.

"Does democracy put food on our tables, clothe our children, put roofs over our heads, or give us a future."

Trade was not just an engine for economic growth, but was the most potent weapon to combat poverty, he told Commonwealth leaders. "

Aaron Bhatnagar makes the good point that

"If I recall my lectures correctly, Buchanan said that the building of democratic institutions was a prerequisite for successful democracy. Quite often, this process is best done slowly, guaranteeing stability as the regime makes its transition from despotic to democratic state."

I see two ways of looking at this that I don’t think are fundamentally in contradiction but leave me on both sides of the argument.

1) I don’t like anything that could be used to support a despot like Mugabe or to justify moving away from democracy in general so in that sense I might oppose him


2) I accept that
A) Aaron is right - a slow movement towards democracy will result in more robust democracy
B) I would go further to say that in theory a non democracy could do everything a democracy does and more (the problem of course is that the vast majority don’t certainly not at the moment).

So I think what he said might be against the commonwealth's and Most of our general objectives based on 1 but not untrue considering 2.

men are paedophiles?

Air New Zealand and Qantas policy bans men from sitting next to unaccompanied children on flights. Outrage has sprung up in political (eg rod donald) and blogging circles eg David farrar .

Frankly it is pretty damn hard to find ANYONE who supports the policy. Having said that I wonder if NZ is not being extra territorial by trying to enforce human rights rules on international air flights.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Iraq awaits 'Zarqawi corpse' DNA test

Iraq awaits 'Zarqawi corpse' DNA test Live by the sword and die by the sword....

Helen left or right

Cattle Theif
looks at helen clarke and seems to demonstrate Helen is actualy to the left of her party counter to popular perception.
Maybe Cullen pulls them a little right or maybe its just pure pragmatism.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


What is the cause of terrorism/resistance? I think it may be a bit more complex than it sounds

Because I suggest few of the areas with terrorism are recently invaded and numerous areas of recent invasion are not sites of terrorism. The countries involved don’t seem to be particularly repressive and the most repressive countries don’t seem to have much terrorism. This leaves me very reluctant to see terrorism as some sort of natural righting mechanism.

Trying to see what is the cause of resistance/terrorism itself. It seems to me like something that can be whipped up in any society regardless of the circumstances.
However in general the below seem to be indicators

1) It is often related to where there is a large group they identify with outside the country and where that group promotes the image that they are being wronged. (Communist groups, Palestine, srilanka, nth Ireland Thailand Chechnya bail etc) very few don’t seem to fit that prototype.
2) Quite often there is a fairly rapid rise in the population of the group from which the protagonist’s spring.
3) The country is often on the boarder of the Islamic world (there are few reasons behind this rather than it being intrinsically Islamic)
4) Communists are sometimes involved (I think the Soviet Union started this ball rolling)
5) The government is generally reasonably democratic

people who are engaging in terrorism tend to feel they are being "occupied" but that term means very little more than "I hate the government and will resist them" and possibly "I hate the foreigners more than I hate my neighbors" rather similar to tax is theft or property is theft.

Anyway what do you think is a root cause of terrorism?
Preferably with some consideration of when that rule created terrorism and where the absence of it didn't create terrorism

Benson Pope

the police have found htere is a prima facie case against benson pope but htey wont charge him because it occured 22 years ago.

Unlike everyone else and despite any political milae I might want to get - i think I have to support this decision. the first thing is

1) It is a crime that occured 22 years ago when he was almost a different man. Philosophically I think you can be almost entirely changed in that period of time if you wnat to punish someone for a crime punishment should rapidly follow the crime. and the law/police recognises this by letting it slide.

2) Politicians should be punished as much as any other man but no more so. Unless you would demand that your local truck driver loose his job if there is a "pria facie case" of assault against him.

Now a crime might be relevant to a person's job in which case it might be ok to use it (despite that being a bit unfair) but 22 years after the fact I dont think this is. Imagine if you couldnt get a job if you had commited a crime - you leave very little for the criminals to do except commit crime.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Doom the Movie

Why oh why did they have to butcher the central point of the games story line?

The movie is alright in as far as it is a little like aliens and it does a few nods to the game particuarly the scene which is basically just like playin he game BUT to be a doom movie you MUST have demons! You cant have some other tacky excuse for why somthing od is wandering around. Doom is supposed to be about the man too tough for hell.
Furthermore it is ok to build up the suspense but the main part of the movie should be hack and splater regarding many different types of monster - Come on thats why people bought the game!
AND I really dont think you can do it justice without lord of the rings level computer animation etc can you imagine a scene like in "the one" with a million demons coming up to fight a soldier on a hill top?
I expect someone will now destroy my faith in hollywood by doing foundation (the whole series in one movie) without any special effects and no robots or psycics and the mule just being a nasty fellow.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Amr Khaled

Lets all show some suport for Amr Khaled teaching that islam can be a religion of giving and love without the US conspiracy theories.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


makes a great comment regarding chomsky and the problem with him.

the bottom line being "I might note, lastly, that a close examination of Chomsky's views will discover that logic errors pervade. In fact, I do not think his positions have very much appeal to those who think an argument must be logically valid."

Chomsky isn't nearly the evil man his opponents might try to make him out to be he is just the natural result of our media system.

I think it is a sad thing about the media that people like chomsky are the people who are most able to sell articles because it is indignant shallow analysis (that carefuly avoids ofending certain groups) that is required to sell articles to people who will only apply shallow analysis in search of a reason to be indignant.

On the left this is chomsky and on the US right it is anne coulter - both doing the exact same thing - in the context of the post some of the peopel on Chomsky's side are pretty nasty people (although some might say the same of anne coulter!).

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Tax Cuts

Long Ago and Not True Anyway has a surprisingly good post on treasury and its call for tax cuts for the top tax brackets.

I think he is a bit unfair on treasury, treasury comes to conclusions baised on the evidence that they have and the tools that they have - it is therefore rational that they would suggest the sort of things that they suggest. Other people use different tools and care about different things.

It is still smart for a government to take their advice under consideration since they represent the experts at using the tools that they have even if we decide we will ignore their data in the end.

On to the details LANTA's
he seems to mis-spell padovano's name -

Padovano, F. & Galli, E. (2001) "Tax Rates and Economic Growth in the OECD Countries", Economic Inquiry, 44 .

anyway there is quite a bit of evidence on the effect of tax on growth - although it is as he notes quite hard to study accuratly because as you will soon see the conclusion.

amongst others

Mueller, D. C. & Stratmann, T. (2003), "The Economic Effects of Democratic Participation", Journal of Public Economics 87, 9-10, 2129-2155.

Fölster, S. and Henrekson, M. (2001), ‘Growth Effects of Government Expenditure and Taxation in Rich Countries’,European Economic Review 45, 8, 1501-1520

find a negitive tax vs GDP assocaition - BUt one or ten articles do not a consensus make because there are a large numer of articles that show no significant relationship between tax and growth.

anyway here a review to start with

Zagler, M. and Dürnecker, G. (2003), "Fiscal Policy and Economic Growth", Journal of Economic Surveys 17, 3, 397-418

Anyway most literature finds that generally one can say that certain tyes of expenditure and certain actual expenditures improve growth and others reduce growth (which is really what one would expect).

More expenditure on education for example will probably raise growth while more tax just spent against existing projects is very situation dependant. Basically if someone says let's cut taxes to raise growth the academic question is almost identical to the question the public asks - what service will you cut?". If it is the right things then growth will increase.

Of curse as LANTA would say the bottom line is not htat they are wrong - the tax cut may well raise growth - it is that they are claiming to know things they dont know.

"according to the briefing, will have a “substantial [positive] growth impact”; a claim that is – supposedly – based on two things: economic theory and empirical evidence."

I think they can claim 1 but cant ake absolute statements on 2.

Kiwi Catches up

Kiwipundit does a catch-up
So looking at the same issues in NZ politics

Salient v Victoria University

I agree with Kiwi pundit here - there are very rare that I have much sympathy for someone who sues the media and certainly don’t in the context of VU and Salient. In the context of keeping things simple the general rule of thumb is in favor of the media/freedom of information.
(Basically the university is sueing the university magazine for revealing that the fees were going up).

I am not sue fees going up is good though - this is because I think the universities are quite wasteful - having said that I can accept that it MIGHT be a good idea. I also don’t think it really reduces the damage of the interest free policy - because the real harm done there is not that it makes university cheaper but that it does so in such a stupid manner.

HIV people having sex

We had a court case that basically said that the right to privacy regarding HIV was more important than the right to know you are having sex with a HIV positive person.

The problem here is that condoms regularly break etc so the person having sex with the HIV positive person is taking a risk and that risk is a cost to society as a whole. I seriously doubt it would stop people getting tested since death is a bigger incentive than lack of sex.

Sir Kenneth Keith

One of our Supreme Court justices will be on the international court of justice thereby "increasing the standard of both courts".
but more seriously I agree that a mandatory retirement age is ridiculous having said that I also think that mental sharpness does decrease as you grow older - so it might be natural for us to slowly loose older and more feeble judges to places like the pacific islands and the international court of justice (not that that is necessarily the case with Kenneth Keith).

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mbeki/South Africa signs a deal with the devil

South Africa has signed a deal with Zimbabwae

from Brian Maloney on Michelle Malkin's site
"South African President Thabo Mbeki has pledged to HELP Mugabe torture dissidents and maintain one of the world's worst human rights records."

or as BBC puts it
"The two neighbours undertook to share security information and to co-operate in enforcing immigration laws."

I'm happy they didn't win the rugby world cup - frankly I feel like we should be putting sanction on them too.

Mbeki/South Africa signs a deal with the devil

South Africa has signed a deal with Zimbabwae

from Brian Maloney on Michelle Malkin's site
"South African President Thabo Mbeki has pledged to HELP Mugabe torture dissidents and maintain one of the world's worst human rights records."

or as BBC puts it
"The two neighbours undertook to share security information and to co-operate in enforcing immigration laws."

I'm happy they didn't win the rugby world cup - frankly I feel like we should be putting sanction on them too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Home ownership

Strangely everyone seems to assume housing investment high housing prices and a lack of capital gains tax raise home ownership. But, surely, if you add a capital gains tax it is the property investors (not average families) who will flee the market. Then the only people left to buy those properties will be current renters now able to enter the market because of the cheaper/bargain houses (who are more interested in owning their own property than making profit from it). This explains why we have high prices now but lowering home ownership.

This is all beside the fact that the limiting case involves average house prices in Auckland (for example) going only slightly higher before it is basically impossible for the average home owner to pay the interest on the average home loan. Imagine for example if the average house was worth 500,000 and interest was 10% in that case the people would have to make 50,000 a year after tax to pay for it clearly they would not be able to afford that so in theory house prices should not go (or not stay) that high until incomes catch up OR if there is a massive drop in home ownership.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


It seems words like civilization often have two meanings and result in meaningles debates as a result for example civilized can mean "morally admirable" but since morals are subjective that means "civilized people" is a synonym for "people I generally agree with".

The other less connotative definition is "organized/with a complex social and or legal structure".

Personally I favour using hte latter sort of definitions.

Desiring the good of others

The ethical wearwolf looks at "Desiring the good of others and being crazy"

The root problem he seem to have here is self justification ie that person x believes blacks are inferior because they want to believe lets say whites are superior (thus making themselves marginally more important). I dont think the root is ever "a desire to see others suffer" I dont think this is common enough to be a major cause and at it's root is created from the above anyway.

HOWEVER I am not sure if I would consider this the greatest / only evil even though it might be bad and is extremely common and pervasive.

I am also not sure such a reduction of morality produces the results we want -
Many of our moral positions depend upon us being illogical in a sense - for example we asert that certain groups of people are equal in all sorts of situations despite clear statistical evidence they are not (eg handicapped people or any other group you care to define).

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Art and the Suspension of Disbelief

Philosophy talk notes - We’re All Crazy (Prelude to Tuesday’s show “Art and the Suspension of Disbelief”

Surely if you want to fool yourself it is superior to be able to do that when required?
You could of course do the simple expriment of sitting in a room in the dark and, with a bit of determination, making yourself hapy or sad or whatever you want.
There are various practical situaton in which this could be useful including alowin the potential for an animal/ person to prepare themselves for an event in a mroe wholistic sensehan they could otherwise and to allow evolution another tool for shaping behaviour.
Personaly I often watch foreign movies right through BUT I see how every additional difference from my own world makes it harder and harder to get attached because it requires me to create and use new mental images rather than jsut using those that are already there.

Home ownership

I wonder - what percentage of total income should housing be at equilibrium?

At the moment an average Auckland household would probably make about 40k after tax. the average house is about 350k interest on that a the floating rate (I know its a bit high) is 32k leaving 8k pa for an average family (lets say 4 ppl) or $40 each for food clothes transport and so forth.

This is long run but short run it is effected by

1) the ease of borrowing against a house (since many people borrow to the maximum - making it easier to borrow tends to drive the prices up to a new equilibrium and thus home owners borrow an extra amount for no gain) obviously it is getting easier which pushes up prices and lengthens repayment times.

3) the wealth effect - you can dis-save against your own capital in your own house to avoid paying the full cost of borrowing (in this sense you lets say have 300k equity in a 350k house and only seem to be paying 50k on the mortgage (even though in the long run it is 350k worth of opportunity cost) new entrants of course get to see the full cost. This makes it easier to ride bubbles - and is reflected in our dis saving.

3) Population /population density (more density in Auckland would push up their prices at the expense of others). This is one structural reason behind house price rises.

4) The concentration of property in the hands of the wealthy (prices could go up faster than incomes if property moved into richer people's hands). This also seems to be happening as house prices go up and home ownership down. Only way to stop this is to burn the investors (since a rational investor will continue to snap up property as long as it is a good investment slowly forcing out the theoretical "home owners".

War and politics

do democracies declare war on each other?
well Yes quite a few times. Although maybe less so than military dictatorships.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Libiterianism's voyage

Universal acid notes

In college one of my political science professors tossed off an offhand comment in his first lecture to the effect that "over time, the modern state tends to expand." He meant expand both in intensity and scope - government becomes more effective at exerting power, and starts to bring more areas of life under its control - but especially the latter.

and Tyler Cowen agrees:

I have a simple theory: in any period of time, government grows as large as it can, given available technology and a few cultural constraints. For better or worse, voters support this growth. ... Short of technological retrogression and negative economic growth, we should not expect government to ever get smaller. ...

The complainers are the libertarians. They will always lose, and they will always be intellectually important.

To this I add that
Surveys seem to show the public are usually more libiterian than their government. take for example the political compass surveys etc that go around (I also suggest in general the public are probably more left wing than their government). This is probably because the government itself pushes for more power to do more good as they see it.

And i also suggest that the Libiterians wil loose in an absolute sense but relitive to the trend line they will from time to time have victories and defeats.

Pat robertson

Pat Robinson tells us
“I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there.”

Clearly Pat is either a person who loves to lie via exageration or is an idiot of considerable magnitude.

as Dr Petorius notes
If so, what is the proper procedure here if we wanted to vote God out of, say, a city. Also - does it have to be a city? I mean, I understand that a country is probably also possible (or at least I wouldn't be surprised), but how about something smaller? Could I take a poll in my apartment building and have him voted out? (Would I have to get the landlord to revoke his implicit lease or something? How would this affect his omnipresence - and would people who do claim to feel the presence of God in their normal day to day lives feel the difference when they walked across the threshold? I sense a possible testing procedure forming...)

Alternatively, if it was possible could we just vote him off the planet entirely?

But that isnt the only problem the second one relates to whether god has some special natural disaster programe for non believers. Surprisingly the emperical evidence doesnt seem to indicate that with disasters hitting places that exist on fault lines and floods hitting cities built under sea level as opposed to magically occuring everytime/where a non christian law is passed.

house prices

The NZ herald looks at the reaction to potential solutions for the high house market.

I think a capital gains tax is a good idea and restrictions on the amount banks can lend are worth considering (although I am more reluctant to interfere in this way)
You can run the economy by having an artificially high housing market and many home owners may like that but it is the same sort of illusionary gain that you get if the government prints $100 notes and hands them out to everyone. It hurts some people when the house prices drop or the dollar drops but if it puts incentives back in the right places (e.g. export incentives and investment decisions and work incentives) then it will help in the long run.

National's response is a classic response of an opposition party

"The Government should be looking at getting its own house in order before it looks to decimate the value of everybody else's."

This is a nonsense comment trying to divert the government onto how labor is just generally bad - true or not it is irrelevant. The following makes sense but is hardly constructive

"John Key, said the Government was playing with fire and risked a "complete implosion" of the economy."

The government constantly risks this - it is their job to not be as stupid in their application of laws as to cause this.

Meanwhile the banks are similarly useless.

""If they force a marked housing slowdown, then its goodnight nurse for the economy in the short term and the economy would go through a very tough transitional period." "

I think Brendan is playing us for fools here - because we KNOW that a drop in the housing market or the dollar is likely to result in worse economic performance just like slashing government expenditure might hurt short term economic growth. He is just restating this as if it is a threat but the whole point is that we expect long term benefits from correct pricing.

And the academic misses the point
""Market forces must make the housing market come a gutser anyway."
Yes indeed that is true but the question is
A) When
b) Without a capital gains tax your market is distorted already

Sunday, November 06, 2005

homosexuality vs the bible

There are a number of pasages in the bible that refer to homosexuality a interesting article fro mthe gay christian side is Justin Cannon's paper called "The Bible, Christianity, and Homosexuality", - but it is best not to hear jsut one side - here is my analysis of it.

Passage I: The Sodom Account (Genesis 19:1-9)
This is interesting as one often sees the argument that the term refers to "know" i.e. that they wished to interrogate (probably with force) the people. This of course is a weak argument in the context of Genesis as a whole and the rest of the passage.
The argument in the article that it is homosexual rape that is the problem is correct but noting that does not fully neutralize the argument as the linked site says
"Genesis 19, by itself, does not explicitly and specifically condemn homosexual relations per se. A Biblical ethic concerning same sex relations cannot be based on this passage alone. Nevertheless, we can see here illustrated narratively what is elsewhere taught directly: homosexuality is wrong, homosexuality is of one piece with a complex nexus of behaviors and desires that are wrong and of which we are all guilty, and God through his covenant has mercy on sinful people like you and me."

This conclusion comes from the fact that homosexuality is appearing in a negative context - it is not proof but it is implied by that that it is seen negatively. In the same way that someone might say "you are an Asian [insert bad word in here]!" implies that the speaker views both the former and the later categories as bad. This conclusion of course is pending further information because if it was shown that the bible approved of homosexual relations then that would mean we would have to take him other interpretation.

Passage II: 1 Timothy 1:8-10"
This passage seems to refer centrally to the concept of slavery but that doesn’t stop the fact that it also contains the concept of male/male sex. Again we have no clear refutation or support for the point.

Passage III: 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

This seems to imply 1) effeminate men 2) masculine men the former being seen as a "male prostitute"
This seems to be very much the way it would have been seen by a person 2000 years ago who was not a participant as a series of more wealthy dominant people with friends who took the role of their women.
Thus the submissive man might be termed a male prostitute just like one might crassly term a woman a whore or a gold digger.
Of course there is also the possibility that it was a specific attack on temple prostitution but that is quite a specific thing. Again it seems to beg the question if homosexuality is approved of surely one would feel the need to explain it a bit more - i.e. under what circumstances (egg marriage) it is allowed. If it is not approved of and it is seen as a common sin then there is no need if it is not approved of and it is a major sin/abomination there is more need but not as much as in the first case (I would have thought).

Passage IV: Romans 1:24-27
I think this is harder to argue. His quote from peter Gomes is
"But what is clear is that what is ‘unnatural’ is the one behaving after the manner of the other”"
Personally I don’t see the world as full of gays and straight people I think we can say quite safely that it is a continuum. So it doesn’t sound likely you would have a law that tells a person to act according to one or other nature depending on which is natural. And if it just means "act as you feel" that is contradictory to the whole spirit of the passage. Thus I tend towards it being shameful in that it is adultery and an orgy but it also seems it was noteworthy that it was male male. I guess that is a noticeable change/landmark but so it could be a measure of the depravity as opposed to depravity in itself but that seems again to be stretching the analysis.

Passage V: The Creation Narrative (Genesis 1-2)

Again the question is why are not such relations noteworthy? Surely a few might get mention. Maybe they are....

Passage VI: Leviticus 18:22
I am not sure if there was a concrete enough answer to this to address. He seems to be arguing the passage is not applicable anymore. I guess that is a possible argument to anything.

The problem is that basically every narrative, law, proverb, exhortation, metaphor, and piece of poetry in the Hebrew Bible having anything to do with sexual relations presupposes a male-female prerequisite.

I asume from the fact that I cant find much else critical of gays that there are basically no other mentions in the bible. I thought there was some mention of anal sex in relation to sperm. But no one mentions it so I asume that was an argument in error made by someone.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Christianity & homosexuality

two world colision talks about christianity and gayness and suggests to him they are compattable.

I understand from what I have been told that salvation depends on three pillars which are basically faith. I thought that was main stream and a such being gay doesn’t stop you from being saved - BUT you are highly immoral if you do the absolute minimum to avoid harm (gain salvation) and then proceed to intentionally break laws.

That has implications regarding their faith also. how deep can your faith be in that case? That raises the question do you say god does not reject homosexuality or do you say that he does but it is jsut one of theminor sins that occur every day? (I find the latter a weak excuse)

eric seems to take the plausible position which is that homosexuality as a whole is not a sin at least not if done right. And I expect that interpretation is in a sense open BUT the next question is, is this analysis biased on self justification?

If so it may not be "immoral" (from his perspective) but is the potentially lesser "crime" of "intellectual laziness". this may be less of an isue to a theist who might see that as no crime at all but to a philosopher it may represent the ultimate crime. Still I gues often philosophy is about where to choose to stop thinking, as i argued previously to a large extent this defines the diversity in philosophy.

Postmodernism vs keith

keith hates post modernism.
But I think this may have a vaguely similar sort of misunderstanding to it as the final cause debate mentind a few posts ago. basically the postmodernists who claim that physical objects are socially constructed are correct in a sense that the concept is defined in that way and not correct in that the object exists seperate from their particular social definition of it (although possibly not independant of external objects but that quantum physics). Thios means that peopel aregue past each other baised on their different frames of reference each thinking the otherside is an idiot and getting al sanctimonious.
I think the postmodernist approach as charachterized in the article is by far the less essential one but it is not a meaningless approach in various contexts.


Ellis develops a model of the way conciousnes is structured . from a readers point f view I find it a litle too convincing - i.e. I am not even sure of the other positions.
However funimentally the model is a procesing system protected from the environment in such a way as to recieve small pieces of information (because it needs to be) by a sensory collection device.

Manners vs rights

Nina explains why having manners seems to be a largely concequentualist view point and moving towards the right to break those social norms seems dentological. Having said it in that way I am no longer so convinced, but it is a wel writen article even quoting Miss Manners!
Nina also is concerned that there is a move from the manners approach to the rights baised approach in society.

efficient vs final causes

Kenny has an interesting post on Leibniz on "Efficient" vs. "Final" Causes in Physics. It is an interesting point that any event has many "causes" each which are causes of Leibniz says

Moreover, it is unreasonable to introduce a supreme intelligence as orderer of things and then, instead of using his wisdom, use only the properties of matter to explain the phenomena. This is as if, in order to account for the conquest of an important place by a great prince, a historian were to claim that it occurred because the small particles of gunpowder, set off by the contact of a spark, escaped with sufficient speed to push a hard and heavy body against the walls of the place, while the little particles that make up the brass of the cannon were so firmly interlaced that this speed did not separate them, instead of showing how the foresight of the conqueror enabled him to choose suitable means and times and how his power overcame all obstacles.

This sort of thing results in many people (not jsut theists and athiests ) having nonsese arguments about what is the "real" cause.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Peter Singer vs Jim Sias

Jim Sias has a good post on defending moral intuitions against an attack from Peter Singer.

Peter Singer argues our intuitions are contradictory in relation to examples like saving a child that we meet who is in danger and donating money to UNICEF. Jim Sias suggests this is as a result of relevant differences between the hypotheticals.