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Showing posts from May 22, 2005

Our government knows what it is doing

In the great tradition of American government, only the truly important things get rushed though. Hence, the bankruptcy bill was the first thing herded through this year. It was an emergency. Credit card companies had recorded a mere 30 billion dollars in profits last year. Many of them, out of pure humanitarianism, were charging their customers a mere 29 to 34 percent after the inevitable late fees that did not have to be late fees on a specific card, but late on any payment. This is almost 0.5% percent less than the going rate Al Capone charged. We are, after all, talking about active Christians. Then there were the earthshaking investigations into steroid use among home run hitters. America simply stopped in its tracks, since, as is well known, nothing effects every household in America like a distorted home run record. It causes little children to cry and grown men to hurl themselves from tall buildings. But though grave issues require speed, other issues – like paying the trash

Atlas finally shrugs

Last night LI wrote Paul a semi apology. Starting this series of posts three days ago, we intended to obliquely angle into Paul’s post on ethical individualism. However, we admit the degree of obliquity seems a bit, well, excessive. An unkind critic might call it multitudinously losing the point. Paul wrote back: “Yeah, I was gonna write you an email from work today, with the subject of "Atlas - start shrugging"! I'm not sure what crazy scheme you have in mind - neither, apparently, do you (though your daimon does!) - but I look forward to reading the resulting opus.” LI will sniffily ignore the reference to that appalling novel and try to get down to brass tacks in this post. Paul’s post is an enthusiastic appreciation of a book by David L. Norton entitled Personal Destinies: a philosophy of ethical individualism. We thought this was among the best bits we’ve ever read on his site: “Of especial interest is the fact that Norton understands his account to ground a kind

clearing the table

Yesterday, we lined up things for Gigerenzer’s first shot. Okay, to briefly reprise – although to follow this post, you will have to read yesterday’s post: Tversky and Kahnman claim to have shown a pattern of illogical response to problems that transform sets into the language of probability. The conjunction problem, or what’s wrong with Linda, was one of those conundrums. Here’s the problem as T and K present it: Linda is 31, outgoing, single. She majored in philosophy in college. As a student she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination. Which of the two alternatives is more probable: Linda is a bank teller Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement? The b is, as Gigerenzer points out, rather like the question Piaget posed to children: here is a picture of flowers, 6 of which are daisies and four of which are not. Are there more daisies or flowers in the picture? In the Piaget case, by the time children are eight, they recognize that the daisies ar

Linda you sly fox

Lately, LI has been a little baggy and disorganized. Unfortunately, I foresee this post straying into chaos too – I can feel its edges, even now, being pulled towards some strange attractors -- but I will try to be a bit more disciplined. See, I want to write about two different things. I want to write about my web pal Paul’s post on the daemonic interpretation of the person – which rings some bells with me. And I also want to write about Gerd Gigerenzer’s essay in the new issue of Social Theory, I think, therefore I err. And at some point I wanted to use Schopenhauer’s image of the Veil of Maya to talk about traffic fatalities. Uhh, right. Okay. Three things. As fans of prospect theory know, Gigerenzer plays Moriarty to Kahneman and Tversky’s Holmes and Watson. Prospect theory – which takes the datum from psychological testing to understand patterns in how people make decisions according to their perspective of the probabilities involved in adopting a course of behavior – has busi

Doing our share

LI has been contemplating one of the latest developments in the War. “In a joint statement at the end of a three-day visit by the Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharazi, the new Shiite-led Iraqi government said that Saddam Hussein, the overthrown Iraqi leader, and other officials in his government must be put on trial for committing "military aggression against the people of Iraq, Iran and Kuwait," as well as crimes against humanity and war crimes.” Given this statement by our ally officially making that war a criminal offense, and given LI's well known sense of patriotism, we thought we'd start the ball rolling by fingering a few collaborators that the Iraqis might want to pick up in this country. For instance: Weinberger, Caspar W. Description: lunatic, former Secretary of War under Ronald Reagan (president, U.S.A.). In his memoirs, written in 1990 “ Weinberger holds the Ayatollah responsible for the war with Iraq, even though Iraq attacked first. Moreover, he
LI read a fascinating article by Mary Morgan in the Winter Philosophy of Science journal, and we want to write about it. Mary Morgan, Margaret Morrison, Nancy Cartwright, and Ronald Giere form, in LI’s mind, a sort of collective that bridges the distance between the Latourian Science in Action school and the last gasp tradition of the Popperians. Significantly, many come out of the London School of Economics, long a stronghold of the late Popperian school. As philosophers of science know, the first thing that scientists will mention when asked for a philosophy of science is falsification. This is less a thoughtful judgment of the practice of science as they have observed it than boilerplate. As is well known, the falsification criteria comes from the Logical Positivist school in the twenties. More specifically, it comes from Karl Popper, as a leading thesis in the investigation of the “logic of discovery.” What those scientists usually don’t know is that the leading thesis was part of