Monday, June 20, 2011

Plains Pops: Finally Seeing The Light Edition

It took just over 10 years for this one.  To be fair, Secretary of Defense Gates inherited two of these wars from Rumsfeld.
“I will always be an advocate in terms of wars of necessity. I am just much more cautious on wars of choice."--Robert Gates in New York Times
This New York Times "The Stone" column quotes Hegel in the first paragraph.  Given the fact that Hegel died in 1861, shouldn't one have figured out that philosophies have social impacts much sooner
But the real significance of rational choice philosophy lay in ethics. Rational choice theory, being a branch of economics, does not question people’s preferences; it simply studies how they seek to maximize them. Rational choice philosophy seems to maintain this ethical neutrality (see Hans Reichenbach’s 1951 “The Rise of Scientific Philosophy,” an unwitting masterpiece of the genre); but it does not. Whatever my preferences are, I have a better chance of realizing them if I possess wealth and power. Rational choice philosophy thus promulgates a clear and compelling moral imperative: increase your wealth and power!

Today, institutions which help individuals do that (corporations, lobbyists) are flourishing; the others (public hospitals, schools) are basically left to rot. Business and law schools prosper; philosophy departments are threatened with closure.
In light of the above situation, Time magazine has this little blurb to appeal to students' self interest. (HT Carolyn D. Cowen)
It seems all that debate-clubbing, band-playing, yearbook-editing and after school do-gooding literally paid off.

GOOD uncovered a study that said a student who participates in extracurricular activities in high school will earn 11.8% more in later life. The report, published by Vasilios D. Kosteas, an economics professor at Cleveland State University, concluded the 11.8% salary bump is equivalent to more than two and a half years additional of schooling.
People have been making statements like the one that follows since NCLB was implemented, but no one has listened. 
The society of the future will need citizens who can solve problems without violence, appreciate diverse points of view, feel compassion for others and stand up for what is right. Isn’t this the purpose of education — to teach these things along with academics?--Nancy Carlsson-Paige in a graduation speech reprinted in this Answer Sheet post.
Succinct take downs are always timely.
Stephen Metcalf's critique of libertarianism in Slate is uninformed, incoherent, and self-contradictory. Other than that it's fine--@ayjay aka Alan Jacobs
Conservative Fareed Zakaria comes through with a good summation of the current political situation.
Conservatives used to be the ones with heads firmly based in reality. Their reforms were powerful because they used the market, streamlined government and empowered individuals. Their effects were large-scale and important: think of the reform of the tax code in the 1980s, for example, which was spearheaded by conservatives. Today conservatives shy away from the sensible ideas of the Bowles-Simpson commission on deficit reduction because those ideas are too deeply rooted in, well, reality. Does anyone think we are really going to get federal spending to the level it was at under Calvin Coolidge, as Paul Ryan's plan assumes? Does anyone think we will deport 11 million people?

We need conservative ideas to modernize the U.S. economy and reform American government. But what we have instead are policies that don't reform but just cut and starve government — a strategy that pays little attention to history or best practices from around the world and is based instead on a theory. It turns out that conservatives are the woolly-headed professors after all.

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