Saturday, July 29, 2023

Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae

Today is the feast of Saint Olaf, Perpetual King of Norway.

Dirge of Saint Ólaf 
After Sighvat
by Beatrice Helen Barmby

Upon the Mount I stood,
 Anear the towns at morn,
 And thought how targets good
 And breastplates broad were torn.
 My lord remembering,
 Amid the dawning grey,
 How high he sat as king
 In Thórd my father's day. 

 He who his love hath lost
 Is fain of death's long sleep;
 Too dearly love hath cost
 When o'er the dead we weep.
 And bitter tears must fall
 For a brave warrior's end;
 Our loss is more than all,
 To lose our king and friend. 

 The henchmen in the court
 Were joyous as I passed,
 I turned me from their sport,
 My cheek grew pale as bast.
 I thought of years gone by,
 Of many a merry day
 When my dear lord and I
 Were fain of sport and play. 

 All laughing seemed the coast,
The hills round Norroway;
I knew them, least and most,
Ere Ólaf passed away.
 I miss my leader good,
 In whom all joy I had,
 And now to match my mood
 The very hills grow sad.

Sighvat, or Sigvatr, was St. Olaf's court poet, and much of the surviving poetry about Olaf that is contemporary to the king is from him. Beatrice Helen Barmby was a Victorian author who played a signfiicant, if not always remembered, role in translating, paraphrasing, and adapting Old Norse works into English.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Dashed Off XXV

This completes the notebook that was finished at the end of December 2022. 

The opposite of freedom of speech is not restriction of speech (which people with freedom of speech often voluntarily do) but punishment of people for speaking.

Talk of harmful speech often confuses speech as objective cause with speech as moving cause.

Judith 13:18 and Judith as type of Mary

All rites functioning in their proper context either remove obstacles or provide goods or complete what needs completion.

perfecting perfecting sacrament: eucharist, ordination
perfecting illuminating sacrament: confirmation, marriage, unction
perfecting purifying sacrament: baptism, reconciliation
illuminating perfecting sacramental: liturgicals, Scripture (liturgically), consecration
illuminating illuminating sacramental: Scripture (devotionally), icons, relics
illuminating purifying sacramental: exorcism
purifying perfecting sacramental: votives?, preaching (liturgical)
purifying illuminating sacramental: sign of the Cross, preaching (devotional)
purifying purifying sacramental: holy water?, preaching (missionary)

To be part of the laity is to be like guardian angels for the good things of the world, protecting them, enriching them, and bringing them to God.

What the priest does in concentrated and proper way in Mass, the laity does in loose and symbolic way in the world; the real presence of Christ in the Mass is extended representatively by the laity into the world.

Baruch 3:12 -- the fountain of wisdom = Father (Athanasius)

Divine incorporeality directly and easily implies immutability and simplicity in some sense.

promise as a gift of form or end

Lancelot Andrewes, drawing on St. Isidore, reads Dt 21:11-13 alleogrically as describing the use of customs and ceremonies of gentiles by Christians (A Discourse of Ceremonies Retained and Used in Christian Churches).

You cannot be benign to something that has no definite nature.

the sources of the rabbinical list of the seven things created before the world:
(1) Torah -- Pr 8:22
(2) Repentance -- Ps 90:2-3
(3) Garden of Eden -- Gn 2:8
(4) Gehenna -- Is 30:33
(5) Throne of Glory -- Ps 93:2
(6) Temple -- Jer 17:12
(7) Name of Messiah -- Ps 72:17

It's often the case that the same thing that makes something bureaucratically legible, makes it easy to counterfeit or cheat. If a bureaucracy can process it, a method can game it.

1 Kings 8:1-6 as a type of the Dormition (Damascene)

The liturgy opposes the devil by grace, the world by sign,a nd the flesh by discipline.

No -ism can substitute for the Kingdom of God.

"The people turn to benevolent rule as water flows downwards, and as wild beasts fly to the wilderness." Mencius 4A.9

Knowledge, and especially skill or know-how, expands the possibilities opened to us and to our decisions.

natural law : legislative :: natural right : judicial :: human authenticity :: executive

An event is a set of active and passive powers acting and being acted on in such a way as to be related to each other.

Where there is a right, there is a teleology.

Where people respect property rights, extending the respect for such rights to respect for public property is easy, and requires only mild enforcement.

Civil societies are structured and driven by teh nature of the families that constitute them.

"The conviction of a truth may be irresistible, and yet not immediate." Reid

As 'gender' tends to be used, most religious identities are also gender identities.

music as a mold, its objective causality as being analogous to that of place, which is filled by other thoughts and feelings, a vessel into which one flows

Talking loudly about one's morality often obscures one's morality even to oneself.

the natural, moral, jural, and sacral concomitance of the Body and the Blood
sacral concomitance: each is a sacred sign of each

"The vulgar have undoubted right to give names to things which they are conversant about; and philosophers seem justly chargeable with an abuse of language, when they change the meaning of a common word, without giving warning." Reid

There are times when need does what trust would otherwise do, where lack of trust makes little difference because need fills the gap. Indeed, trust has sometimes been seeded by need in this way.

the gregarious function of college campuses

Effective opposition to authoritarianism requires dogmatic certainty.

Subective rights are often ways of thinking about the negative (do no evil) part of the rithg (as object of justice).

The development of the New Testament was inevitable in that the Old Covenant was seen as something read (Ex 24:7; 2 Kg 23:2; 2 Cor 3:14) and the apostles saw themselves as ministers of a New Covenant (2 Cor 3:6).

"If man had not sinned, the Son of Man would not have come. " Augustine, Sermon 174.2
"What was the cause of the Incarnation, if not the redemption of teh flesh that had sinned?" Ambrose, De Inc. c. 6
"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." 1 Tim 1:15

elements of predestination
(1) divine self-love
(2) appropriation to Father and Word (the Father's love for the Son)
(3) appropriatino of creature to Word (intention of grace)

"An effect is formally likened more to a lesser, proximate cause than to a more perfect, remote one." Scotus, Ord. 1d3p3q3

Mary's role in the sacraments is related to the role of angels in the sacraments (she participates as Queen of Angels).
the Virgin's liturgical co-prayer
the Virgin's sacramental patronage

The primacy of charity arises from the primacy of divine action, not from any primacy of the will.

Human inquiry is not an atomistic enterprise. Inquiries always overlap social practices, including other inquiries.

We are co-stewards of inquiry.

Part of the honest pursuit of truth is recognizing the need for companions in it.

types that are also precedents (e.g., ceremonial laws for the sacraments)
types that are prophetically framed (e.g., 'Immanuel')
types that provide pre- and co-reflection (e.g., Jonah)

The antitype for the type is not the doctrine but the res.

Scriptural typology is heuristic and clarificatory, despite not being in itself probative.

Nothing is blameworthy or praiseworthy in skill except what can be otherwise.

Probabilities for 'X does not exist' often don't seem to work like probabilities for 'X exists' because we often take the former to be about a the result of a set of all searches and the latter about the result of a particular search.

search impossibility: returns false in all possible relevant searches of adequate integrity
search necessity: returns true in all possible relevant searches of adequate integrity

Justifying reasons for permissions often work very differently from justifying reasons for omissions or commissions.

(1) Differences of possible worlds presuppose a cause.
(2) Not all differences of possible worlds can be explained by contingent causes (i.e., causes associated with only some possible worlds).
(3) Therefore the possible worlds manifold presupposes at aleast one necessary cause.
(4) The necessity of this cause is either derivative or original.
(5) If there are derivative necessary causes, tehre must be at least one original necessary cause.
(6) Therefore there is some original necessary cause. This all call divine.

Arguments involving the structure, 'defect indicates nonexistence of cause of nondefect' all require that we know the scope of the capability of the cause, in very specific ways related to the defect. Even in ordinary cases this can be difficult to assess.

It is a common failing of the modern age to conflate life and experience.

"The Preeminent-Beyond-All is not only beyond every affirmation, but, beyond every negation, he has also exceeded ever preeminence whatsoever which has come into being in the mind." Palamas (Triads 2.3.9)

sameness : substance :: equality : quantity :: similarity : quality

substantial sameness
A. per se
--- (1) formal (by ratio/nature/notion)
--- (2) material
--- --- (a) in physical order (matter)
--- --- (b) in logical order (genus)
B. per accidens
--- (1) predicated of same subject
--- (2) interchangeable with subject
--- (3) interchangeable with predicate

"By grace man is made a lover of God." Aquinas (SCG 3.151)

We can refer to one reality under many different concepts.

The lover participates the beloved objectively, not subjectively.

It is a common experience in trust to find that the trust is in some way a gift of the one trusted, that the trusted is in some way the source of the trust.

regulative, constitutive, and facilitative means

Marriage, circumcision, and priesthood are patriarchal sacraments (moral) taken up by the Mosaic law (jural); the Mosaic elevations of these are then transfigured by Christ (sacral), with circumcision transformed into baptism as sign of 'circumcision of heart'. Mosaic circumcision is the one that was participated in by Christ Himself, to whom we are united in baptism through His Baptism.

In every covenant there is a promise and confirmation.

"There are three things in which the junzi stands in awe: the ordinances of Heaven, great men, and teh words of sages. The petty man does not know the ordinances of Heaven, is disrespectful of great men, and makes sport of the words of sages." Analects 16.8

What the doctrine of recollection gets right about knowledge is that we start in medias res and in some sense work backward to that which our being here-and-so requires.

Just laws have the mark of being, in at least a general way, friendly to humanity.

People like confessing and repenting other people's sins because it means less time for examining their own.

Science, like everything human, accumulates folkloric accretions.

On infant baptism and vicarious intention, note healings by Christ where one person is healed on another person's faith.

To pray with faith is to pray in solidarity with the faith of others.

'Doxa in Hypsistious Theou' as a Trinitarian formula

The distinction between reasoning and experience is not a sharp one, because we experience reasoning and reason in experiencing.

The Parable of the Sower does not only apply to the first evangelical proclamation, but to every sowing in every generation.

faith, hope, and love as synodal dispositions

The science of the modern age has often been a byproduct of its kookery, woo, and 'pseudoscience'. This is clear whenever one looks extensively at the biographies of scientists.

We tend to study stable things dynamically and changing things statically.

the problem of eisegesis in museum curation
textual & higher criticism // museum curation

Inference to best explanation is ultimately inference to best context; it is reasoning about to contextualize an explanandum.

Human sexual activity is always partly symbolic.

In everything there is something unmeasurable.

skills as alethic and deontic powers

If Box is the error-free, there are as many Boxes as there are general forms of error.

Many of the Lord's hard sayings are hard for a particular kind of genuine decency -- if you don't find them hard, this can be as much a red flag as finding them impossible; it is a sign that you are below them rather than above them.

A large portion of the Pauline Epistles is devoted to the problem of integrating very diverse populations and demographics into one church community.

Tristram : disregard for penance :: Lancelot : disregard for marriage :: Knights in Grail Quest : loss of eucharist
Serras : eucharist :: Avalon : unction
Sword in the Stone : Baptism :: Excalibur : Confirmation :: Grail Sword : Order

Creation is a kind of love.

Even our meals are better when seasoned with story and symbol.

We first understand history by taking it as a sort of allegory.

Any full development of argument requires test runs (eristic), resource development (logistic), defense (apologetic), and offense (polemic). These arise out of the communicative nature of human reasoning.

Better that people argue polemically and heatedly than that they not reason together at all.

typical rom-com structure: meet-cute, entanglement, hook, surrender

Universalist arguments tend to fail in at least one of three ways:
(1) violation of remotion
(2) false account of heaven
(3) handwaving guarantee of contrition

consensus gentium arguments as based on the recognition of inquiry as cooperative

We make our obligations more practicable in and accessible for our situation by rites and ceremonies.

It is part of natural right that humanitarian traditions be sustained by the people.

Thigns are good relative to the virtues with which they can be integrated. When considered simply, we are usually talking about prudence-goods.

Virtue signaling seems to arise from treating moral problems as broadcast-rhetoric problems.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Jottings on the Nature of Money

The concept of money often plays an important role in social ontology literature; both Searle and Guala treat it as a paradigmatic institution or 'institutional fact', and a great deal of the social ontology literature argues whether this or that account of institutional facts can do proper justice to the institutional character of money. I think this is entirely based on a mistake; money is not an institution or institutional fact. Currency and bills are, of course, as are bank drafts and so forth, which are instituted in order to play money-roles, but money itself is an abstract feature of certain kinds of exchanges. Money doesn't need to be instituted, because it is a natural phenomenon that occurs in exchanges when you have a lot of exchanges of broadly similar kinds that can be compared to each other. It doesn't need to be instituted by collective intentionality (in the Searlean fashion), and in fact it's fairly easy to find cases in which people are using money without conceptualizing it as money, or (as happened with early banking) only realizing later that it was money. It doesn't need to be instituted as an equilibrium solution to a coordination problem (in the Gualan fashion) because it's in fact the pre-existence of money that makes it possible for money to be a solution to any coordination problems, and we can be using money without having any definite regulative rules for how to do so. It might sound a little weird to say that money is a natural phenomenon; but that's because we are often thinking 'currency' when we think money.

It is clear that currency is instituted. A dollar, properly speaking, is a piece of paper that is printed and issued as a Federal Reserve Note under the authority of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing; it presupposes the existence of the Federal Reserve and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which presuppose the existence of the U. S. Constitution and the Congress of the United States of America and Congress's statutory laws, all of which are themselves obvious institutions. But none of this makes the dollar money. A thousand years from now, it's unlikely that a dollar bill printed today will still be money. And of course, money pre-existed the dollar -- the dollar bill was instituted in order to serve an already existing role of money, which previously was filled by different things but most notably by the Spanish dollar, which filled a money-role previously filled by the thaler (among other things), which filled a money-role previously filled by the guldiner (among other things), which filled a money-role previously filled by etc., etc., etc. The origin of this traditional chain is lost in time, but there is good reason to think that currency developed to fill an already-recognized money-role. The usual story is that currency began as a token-receipt for stored goods, especially grain, when the receipt itself began to be traded; if that's the case, measures of stored grain (and occasionally other goods) pre-exist currency as a form of money. Money itself has no identifiable origin; as far as we can tell, it rises spontaneously as soon as any extensive kind of trade exists. And of course my claim is that the reason for this is that it is a natural phenomenon; it presupposes certain very general kinds of exchanges, and it seems to presuppose there being enough exchanges of sufficiently similar kinds that they are easily compared, but given those you get money without any need to institute it at all.

This is tied to the Aristotelian idea, which is still the primary theory of money today, that money is fundamentally a medium of exchange. Properly speaking, I think this is the genus of money; there are media in exchanges that are not monetary (ritual formalities like promises or favors are a very common case). Money is more like a medium commensurable across exchanges that is indifferent to the content of the exchange. But we can still call this 'medium of exchange' for short. Human beings, interacting with each other, exchange things in lots of ways; some of these exchanges involve indirectness and thus a medium, and when there are enough of these exchanges going on, some of these media are found not to be limited to their particular exchange but to be 'detachable' and usable in lots of exchanges, and that is a particular form money, just in and of itself. This then gets 'locked in' as a stable feature as we recognize that we can use it to solve certain kinds of problems, and over time as we endeavor to make the problem-solving easier, we develop conventions in which certain things stand in this role. By trial and error, some of those conventions win out, until eventually you are in the present year in the history of money. But the money-role is just part of the exchanges themselves; all the rest is trying to work out the most useful ways to take advantage of it.

From money being a medium of exchange in this way, we get the other Jevonsian functions. Jevons famously identifies four functions of money, which eventually were put into the mnemonic rhyme:

Money's a matter of functions four,
A Medium, a Measure, a Standard, a Store.

Because money is a medium in similar exchanges, it can therefore be used as a store of value and as a unit of account. Money as a store of value arises from the fact that the similar exchanges are diachronic; to be a store of value is just to be a medium of exchange stable across exchanges across time. Money as a unit of account (or measure of value) arises from record-keeping; to be a unit of account is to be something recordable for a wide set of synchronic and diachronic exchanges. And a unit of account that can play a role in diachronic planning on the basis of how the records work can be standard of value (or standard of deferred payment), so that one can trade with future as well as present units of account. These four are mutually reinforcing. (There are theories of money that take value storage rather than mediation of exchange as the fundamental function of money, but all the versions I have ever seen shipwreck on the question, "Value for what and as what?")

From the four functions, we get the various desiderata for successful institutions to serve in the role of money. A medium of exchange is best if it is fungible and portable (and therefore easy to exchange); a store of value is best if it is durable and difficult to replicate (and therefore easy to keep and difficult to fake); a unit of account is best if it is verifiable (and therefore easy to record); a standard of deferred payment is best if it is stable (and therefore easy to plan around); and so forth. But all of these desiderata are just success-conditions for the functions of money; you can perfectly well have money that does poorly on all these grounds, and (unsurprisingly) things that spontaneously take on the character of money in exchanges are often rather poor fits. All of the institutional facts concerned with money arise not in order to have money but in order to use money more easily. Money itself is not instituted; it just happens, spontaneously and often without people even recognizing it.

I think, incidentally, that this is also true of some other things that are often seen in social ontology literature as 'paradigmatic institutional facts' -- I think language is a plausible case. Grammar is an institutional fact -- grammar is the intentional use of language to organize language, so that language can be used more successfully -- and, given language, one can institute language (just as, given money, one can institute money), but language itself just happens naturally if you have enough people thrown together, and it likely pre-exists both our collective intentions about communication and any of the definable coordination problems that it actually solves. There are a lot of institutions within language, but language is not an institution, unless you count human beings coming to exist in proximity as an institution. Society is a more obvious case; marriage a more debatable case. But in any case, the result is that I think a lot of social ontology literature goes wrong by assuming that non-institutions are institutions, or (perhaps more commonly) confusing institutional facts with more basic natural facts that they presuppose.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

And Rise and Dress to Roast Another Day

A Sonnet to Heat
by May Overstreet 

When I do watch the clock that tells the time,
And know the hot day sinks to hotter night;
When I recount the hard spent hours no rhyme
Have brought, or even thought to sense or sight,--
Oh heat, oh heat, oh blasted heat, I cry!
Why come to us whose heads must crack to write?
Away, away, to those who play, them fry,
And leave us to a kind and helpful sprite.
I hate you, heat: I storm, I sweat, I toil. 
I tear my hair, I try in vain to think. 
No care you have my work to spoil
You drive me to despair the very brink.
To bed, I sigh and groan and try to pray, 
And rise and dress to roast another day.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Music on My Mind


BEHM, "Hei Rakas". I really like the chorus on this one:

Hei rakas, kerro mulle
Mikä on tää tunne
Kun ei tunnu jaloissani maa?
Voisin tehdä laulun kauniin
Tai kodistani valmiin
Mut ilman sua ne ois seiniä vaan.
Hei rakas, kerro mulle
Mikä on tää tunne
Kun ei riitä Linnunratakaan?
Voisin tehdä kodin kauniin
Tai laulustani valmiin
Mut ilman sua ne olis sointuja vaan.

Which is, roughly,

Hi, darling, can you tell me
what is this feeling,
when I cannot feel the ground below?
I could make a beautiful song,
or be finished with my home,
but they would be mere walls without you.
Hi, darling, can you tell me
what is this feeling,
when the galaxy is not enough?
I could make a beautiful home
or be finished with my song,
but they would be mere chords without you.

'Linnunrata' is a great Finnish word; it means the Milky Way, but the literal meaning is something like 'Bird Road'.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Exercitives and Covert Exercitives

 Kukla and Lance have recently published a peculiar paper, Telling Gender: The Pragmatics and Ethics of Gender Ascription. I find the argument being made completely baffling. They say, early on:

...Jenkins (2021), Dembroff and Wodak (2018), and Àsta (2018) have all suggested that gender ascriptions function as exercitives. That is, they institute social norms for how people should be treated. Here, we take up this suggestion in detail. We look at how this instituting function works, and how this function differs depending on who utters a gender ascription, about whom, and to what audience. We examine the consequences of taking seriously the idea that the primary function of gender ascriptions is not to make declarative truth claims.

While 'gender ascriptions', like anything else, can function in an exercitive speech act, the notion that gender ascriptions in general are exercitive is immensely implausible, and in direct contradiction to our actual evidence. Exercitives are authoritative enactments. If a parent says to a child, "You will not get a tattoo", this is often an exercitative: the parent, acting in authoritative manner as parent, is enacting a policy of no tattoos. Thus for any exercitive, the two major questions are always, "What authority is being exercised here?" and "What policy, rule, or state is being enacted through the exercise of that authority?" It's important to grasp that merely causing a norm is not sufficient for an exercitive; if someone gives advice and, because of the respect other people have, the advice is treated by others as a norm or standard, this doesn't make the advice exercitive. Something has to be imposed by and through authority for it to be an exercitive in a proper sense. 

It seems very clear that gender ascriptions are not generally exercitives in a proper sense. If someone comes in and says, "There is a boy at the door and he is asking about a dog", there appears to be no normative authority being exercised and no policy, rule, or norm being enacted. The claim is clearly declarative; even if one held that it was not aptly declarative, it is clearly intended as a declarative; and it quite clearly admits of being true or false in virtue of facts outside the speech act itself, and could be proven wrong by the discovery (for instance) that the boy is actually not a boy. All of this points to the original claim being an ordinary truth claim. Likewise, if one were to say, "The victim's assailant was a man," we are not authoritatively enacting man-norms; we are just trying to describe the assailant.

There is a concept that one occasionally finds of a 'covert exercitive'. For instance, a building manager putting up a 'No Smoking' sign and thereby instituting a no-smoking policy is engaging in an excercitive act in the proper sense; but if someone comes in smoking and I, as a nobody, point to the sign and say, "No Smoking", my action would be an example of a 'covert exercitive'. It is immensely unclear whether covert exercitives are even exercitives at all, or are best understood as exercitives even in an extended sense of the term. (A speech act that is exercitive in the proper sense could also be covert exercitive, but it's extremely doubtful that being a covert exercitive makes something exercitive.) The primary reason for thinking that covert exercitives have a relation to standard exercitives is the argument that while the building manager is enacting a policy on his own authority, I am in some sense re-enacting the rule on the business manager's authority; it gets called 'covert' because the obvious sense is that I am pointing out a policy already in existence, but one would could say that in some sense of the term I am enacting (by trying to make effective here and now) the policy on authority (albeit the business manager's and not my own). But this has a huge price; on this particular conception, it becomes difficult to find anything that is clearly not a covert exercitive. Indeed, the philosopher who has most explored the notion of the covert exercitive, Mary Kate McGowan, holds that a very large portion of our ordinary conversation involves covert exercitives. (My own view, which I will not argue or explain here, is that covert exercitives are not exercitives, and it doesn't make sense to think of them as exercitives even in the extended sense, because what is being called 'exercitive' here is perlocutionary, not illocutionary. I think also that the topic gets confused because some things that are called covert exercitives are actually defective attempts to engage in a deliberate exercitive speech act.)

It seems that Kukla and Lance take 'exercitive' to include 'cover exercitive', since they go on later to appeal to Katherine Jenkins's argument that gender classifications are covert exercitives. But a covert -exercitive account seems to run into the problem that, contrary to what Kukla and Lance imply, something's being a covert exercitive doesn't seem exclude its being a declarative truth claim. If a teacher protests behavior by saying, "This is a classroom", this seems to be a covert exercitive (the teacher is not the authority who authorizes whether something is a classroom or not, but the teacher is in practice imposing a set of norms by the act that get authority from that classroom-authorization); but it would obviously be absurd to deny that it is a declarative truth claim. We can actually check whether it is really a classroom, and can make perfect sense of the teacher being misinformed about school policy or the law, and therefore saying something false. What's more, the covert exercitive seems to get its bite precisely from the fact that it states something apparently true.

But the notion that gender ascriptions themselves are usually covert exercitives is also extremely implausible. If someone says, "My niece is a brilliant girl", what rule or norm or policy is being imposed, and through what authority? One might take the phrase as a cue for what normative system of referring you use when talking about the person's niece, but again, just as something is not an exercitive merely because it happens to cause rule-following, neither is something a covert exercitive merely because it happens to lead to people following norms of some relevant kind. Probably people who say, "My niece is a brilliant girl", are just bragging about their sibling's child, and bragging involves making truth claims. If we go back to, "There is a boy at the door and he is asking about a dog", it's not being said to the boy but to another person, and it seems most likely that the intent is to indicate that there is a person at the door, whom the speaker takes to be a boy, who is asking about a dog. If a victim of assault is asked to describe the assailant and says among other things, "He was a man", it seems very much that they were, in fact, describing the assailant. It could be, of course, that they are incorrect and mistakenly thought that someone who was not a man was a man, but they are quite clearly intending to make a declarative truth claim in order to facilitate accurate identification, not impose a policy or rule or norm about how the assailant is to be treated. And so on and so forth. Covert exercitives are only covert 'exercitives' (whether or not they are proper exercitives or exercitives in an extended sense) because they seem to have a structure at least suggestive of an exercitive. Most of the time when people are engaging in what Kukla and Lance call 'gender ascription', that structure is nowhere in sight.

Now, none of this implies that gender ascriptions are never used exercitively; as far as I know there is no ascription of any kind that could not in principle be used exercitively under the right conditions. And certainly in engaging in an exercitive one may use gender ascriptions; this is not quite the same as the gender ascription itself being exercitive, but perhaps it would be close enough to count. And the same is true of covert exercitives. But there is just no reason to think that these occasional cases are the usual case.

Kukla and Lance in any case seem to have a weird notion of how 'gender ascriptions as exercitives' seems to work. They make a strange analogy to friendship throughout the paper:

But there are other things that can be ascribed that are normatively inflected all the way down; to ascribe them to someone is to insert them into a location in social normative space. To call me a friend is not in the first instance to call attention to empirical facts about me and then to make normative inferences from those facts, but to impose expectations for what I should do, what my obligations are, how it is appropriate for me to behave, what counts as social success for me.

I'm very sure that this is not an accurate claim about friendship ascriptions in general. I suppose I have come across people who might think of friendship ascription in something like this way; but they are literally psychopaths and thus not typical. Most people take it that calling someone a friend in most situations is classifying them by historical connection in life, which is, in the relevant sense, a set of 'empirical facts' that are taken to license various normative inferences. There are situations in which this would not be the case, of course; but most people don't say, "You are my friend", in an attempt to "impose expectations" but to acknowledge what they regard as a fact. I don't have any problem with saying that "You are my friend" is "to insert [a person] into a location in social normative space", but "That person is on the side of the road" also inserts the person into a location in social normative space. Very many of the things we do insert people or things into social normative space, because we are social normative beings and therefore our ordinary life is lived in social normative space. But this doesn't make something even a covert exercitive, and it doesn't exclude the possibility that they are in the first instance concerned with facts.

Links of Note

* Meena Krishnamurthy, Martin Luther King Jr. on Democratic Propaganda, Shame, and Moral Transformation

* George Weigel, The "Synodal Process": Talking a New Church into Being?, at "First Things"

* Sebastian Gertz, Do Plato and Aristotle Agree on Self-Motion in Souls? (PDF)

* Charles Camosy, 'Brain Death' at a crossroads, at "The Pillar"

* Stephen Harrop, Du Chatelet's First Cosmological Argument (PDF)

* Richard Marshall interviews Liz Jackson on Pascal's Wager and philosophy of belief

* Kevin McDonough, The importance of examples for moral education: An Aristotelian perspective (PDF)

* Alasdair MacIntyre, On Having Survived the Academic Moral Philosophy of the 20th Century, at "Church Life Journal"

* Ryan Kulesa, A defense of conscientious objection: Why health is integral to the permissibility of medical refusals (PDF). (I think this concedes too much to Schuklenk, Smalling, and Savulescu, whose argument grotesquely misrepresents both the nature of professional ethics and the reasons for recognizing conscientious objection, but the criticial point is correct -- their conditions under which objection is impermissible are wholly inadequate to the actual complexity of the medical field.)

* Alexandre Billon, The Sense of Existence

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Fortnightly Book, July 23

 Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly (1808-1889) is one of the great late Romantic authors of France. He would be of significance for French literature even if only for his critical work, in which he argued for the value of a significant number of authors who, in part because of his work, became major figures in the French literary canon. But he is also a major figure in his own right, although the deliberately perplexing character of his work has often complicated his reception.

 A literal dandy, who dressed all his life in the aristocratic style of Beau Brummell, he spent the early portion of his life as an atheist critic of Christianity, but in the 1840s converted to Catholicism. It was also about this time that his literary star began to rise. His fiction and poetry were in Decadent style, and his fiction particularly often had an erotic aspect to it, his 1851 work, Une vieille maîtresse, beginning a long history of his works being denounced as immoral. As with Poe and Baudelaire, evil and its attraction plays a significant role in his stories. 

The next fortnightly book is the work often considered his masterpiece, and regularly taught in French schools today, Les Diaboliques, or 'The She-Devils', a collection of short stories about women committing crimes in the Norman countryside. When it was published in 1874, the usual charges of immorality began to spread, and the Ministry of Justice attempted to seize all extant published versions on the grounds of blasphemy and obscenity; the censorship backfired, as censorship often does, and made it one of the most widely read works of the day. Barbey d'Aurevilly was saved from being prosecuted for the book only by having very good connections.

I'll be reading it in the Dedalus edition, translated by Ernest Boyd.