Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Links and Notes

* Ed Brayton has a good post on slander of Clarence Thomas. The whole thing leaves one shaking one's head. Here is a man who has risen to the highest court in the land, whose opinions, though controversial, are recognized to be well-reasoned, and (while I can't certify it myself, I am told by those who would know) whose opinions on corporate law cases in particular are often far and away the most insighful opinions the Supreme Court delivers with regard to corporate law, and that still isn't enough for people to stop treating him as an inferior when it suits their purposes. I mean, seriously, what does a black man have to do to be appreciated for merit in this country, particularly when he has controversial views?

* Jonathan Rowe at "Positive Liberty" notes that Google has digitized Joseph Priestley's A History of the Corruptions of Christianity. I'll certainly be reading it; as Rowe notes, it was fairly influential for its time.

* Lee at "Thinking Reed" notes C. S. Lewis's position on laws against homosexuality (he was very much against them) as it appears in some of his letters.

* Currently reading: Michael S. Pardo, Testimony (PDF). One weakness of its argument, it seems to me is that it wants to read the justification relevant to testimony in law as epistemic justification, when obviously it is practical justification. What we are trying to justify in court is not belief but action; it doesn't matter whether the judge and jury have justified beliefs about the defendant's guilt, for instance, only whether they are justified in rendering a guilty verdict given the law and its prudent and just application in light of all the circumstances presented. Thus the role of testimony in law is only secondarily an epistemological question at all; it is primarily an ethical one. The discussion of testimonial failure -- due to a lapse in sincerity, narration, perception or memory -- is interesting, though. I'm inclined to think the 'cognitive cul-de-sac' case (Dead-End 5) is incorrectly diagnosed, since, the stout not being Young's, S does in fact know that he's drinking an Irish stout and can pass this on. The only way it would fail is if S did not know the difference between Young's and Guinness, or did not in fact know that Guinness is an Irish stout, which, ex hypothesi, he does; his error about Young's being an Irish stout is only relevant when he's drinking Young's.

* Also reading: Paolo Carozza's Subsidiarity as a Structural Principle in International Law (PDF) and Thomas Kohler's Solidarity and the Secret History of American Labor Law (PDF).

* Jeff McMahan's contribution to the Online Philosophy Conference, about pacifism (PDF) is well worth reading. If you're interested in issues of pacifism and just wary theory, I highly recommend it.

* I haven't said much about Falwell's passing, since I don't have much to say. I was interested by the following passage in an old New Yorker piece (recently reprinted and updated, and discussed at Get Religion), though, that put its finger, without the author quite knowing it, on the cause of Falwell's success, and the thing that so many of his critics never at all grasped. The passage is speaking of Falwell's church:

"It's a laboring church," said one of the five businessmen who had been on the committee to straighten out the church’s finances — the president of the First Colony Life Insurance Company. "There’s no participation in it by community leaders, and that is probably why it is so successful. The nonachievers have to have something to be proud of, and they are proud of their church and contribute handsomely."

As Get Religion's Douglas LeBlanc notes, this is a very classist quotation. But it shows an insight into something that many people find utterly mysterious, namely, his widespread appeal, particularly in his heyday: he let ordinary, decent working people in on something big, in a way that gave them a personal investment and an essential role to play in it all. That has powerful draw, and for very good reason; and it gave him both a stable core of influence and a very public platform from which to speak. I find it very sad that so many of Falwell's critics have been more interested in attacking those same people instead of loving them, seeing what attracted them, and giving them different options.

UPDATE: Yes, I know about the 'just wary' typo; but since it's become a tourist attraction (and is pretty nice, as far as typos go), I'm leaving it up.

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