Saturday, May 27, 2023

Links of Note

 * Jennifer Mensch, The Poem as Plant: Archetype and Metamorphosis in Goethe and Schlegel (PDF)

* Tang Yun, Can Virtue Grow Out of Vicious Human Nature? Xunzi's Genealogy Reconstructed (PDF)

* David Polansky, Why Ancient Israel Was Not a Modern Nation

* Joshua Conrad Jackson, Danica Dillion, et al., Supernatural explanations across 114 societies are more common for natural than social phenomena. As is usually the case with studies like this, one has to be precise about what is actually being said; the paper shows that supernatural explanations are more common for particular natural phenomena like storms or sickness than particular social phenomena like murder or war in ethnographic descriptions of the cultures; cases for the natural phenomena considered were in 90% of cultures, while those for social phenomena considered were more variable (67% for war, 82% for murder, 26% for theft), and tended to be more common in larger and more urban populations. Since the ethnographic accounts span several hundred years, and are mostly Western, there's always a possibility that Western ethnographers just may have have been more sensitive to or interested in supernatural explanations of natural phenomena; and the authors note that sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a phenomenon should be classified as natural or social, as with African witchcraft cases, in which a phenomenon may simultaneously be considered both murder and natural disease. Nonetheless, it's an interesting attempt to study these matters.

* Michael P. Moreland, Friendship as the Primary Purpose of Law (PDF)

* Brendan Hodge, America's Aging  Bishops, at "The Pillar"

* Christopher Tollefsen, The Good of Play in John Finnis's Natural Law and Natural Rights (scroll down)

* John Ehrett, The End of Viking Vitalism, at "Mere Orthodoxy"

* Tobias Flattery, May Kantians commit virtual killings that affect no other persons? (PDF). Flattery's argument that (contrary to a common reading of Kant) the answer is 'at least often, no', is right; but I think a more straightforward line of argument is to compare this to Kant's arguments about our moral treatment of animals, in which he argues that treating humanity as an end in itself requires showing a relevant kind of moral respect even to non-human things that are sufficiently human-like (like the non-moral loyalty of a dog). Similarly, in order to show respect for humanity as an end in itself, you would have to show an appropriate respect for representations of humanity (I actually use this example with paintings, photographs, and statues, in my Ethics course when I talk about Kant on moral treatment of animals).

* Jesse Russell, The Sacred Roots of Modern Government, at "Public Discourse"

* Dixie Dillon Lane, A.I. Doesn't Cause Cheating. Fear Does., at "Front Porch Republic"

* Max G. Levy, Chatbots Don't Know What Stuff Isn't, at "Quanta", on a fascinating limitation of current LLMs -- researchers haven't worked out any consistently effective way to handle negation.

* A Mystery that Should Not Exist: Who Is the Cover Artist for This Edition of A Wrinkle in Time?, at "Unquiet Things"

* Alexander Geddes, Pregnancy, Parthood, and Proper Overlap: A Critique of Kingsma (PDF)

* Gregory B. Sadler, Interpreting Anselm of Canterbury as a Virtue Ethicist (PDF)

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