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Showing posts from October 7, 2012

and the rightwing utopia project in honduras goes on...

Sadly, my moral feelings, here, are pitted against my stomach. The founder of Whole Foods, John Mackay, and a libertarian freakheadnamed Michael Strong are trying to found libertarian zone cities in Honduras onuninhabited land – sort of like going back in the time machine to the days when monopolies like the East India company ruled over populations. Of course, the land is actually inhabited – oh, inconvenient! But as it is inhabited by poor Afro-Caribbean peasants, you can drive them out with minimal bloodshed – a few murders, rapes, and the burning of houses ought to do. The murders have started: Antonio Trejo Cabrera, a lawyer who charged various Honduran legislators were bribed to pave the way for these new libertarian utopias was gunned down outside a wedding, on September 23 rd . Michael Strong, who knows that the age demands the mushmouthed Romneyism we all enjoy, expressed his shock at the murder   in the following words: "We believe that Antonio Trejo, had

Locke on personal identity 2

So what does? How is the personal life identified?  This is an agitated question, and it is expressed in an agitated text. Locke, normally so normal-mouthed, makes a pre-Voltarian move in the midst of this chapter by including the story of the rational parrot. Nothing prepares us for this story – the movement of the text has been straightforwardly argumentative until we suddenly receive an anecdote that takes up its own section, concerning a parrot who, according to a high and credible source, apparently spoke with understanding. The purpose of the rational parrot is, in a way, to parody – parroty – Descartes’ vision of the rational difference. Locke hopes to loosen our sense of rationality as the key to personal identity, because he wants something that loops through the conscious and the unconscious. He does not want his waking Socrates to be different from his sleeping Socrates. He faces this problem in a different spirit than Chuang Tzu: “Once Chuang Chou dreamt he was a

Locke on personal identity 1

Locke begins his chapter on identity and diversity by what seems to be a refusal of philosophical and theological speculation – a refusal, that is, to consider either Stoic cyclical time or theological eternity: “When we see anything to be in any place in any instant of time, we are sure (be it what it will) that it is that very thing, and not another which at that same time exists in another place, how like and undistinguishable soever it may be in all other respects: and in this consists identity , when the ideas it is attributed to vary not at all from what they were that moment wherein we consider their former existence, and to which we compare the present. For we never finding, nor conceiving it possible, that two things of the same kind should exist in the same place at the same time, we rightly conclude, that, whatever exists anywhere at any time, excludes all of the same kind, and is there itself alone.” Notice the drum beat of the “same”, here, doing the conceptual

a little lesson in flat tax propaganda

A little lesson in flat tax economics and propaganda There is a way of keeping gasoline prices low. It consists in the government price controls. You enforce a top price for gas, say 1.90, and allow noone to sell above it. Of course, any economist worth his Econ 101 will tell you that won’t work. It interferes with the nature of the price system. Prices are set “naturally” in the market place acc ording to the laws of supply and demand. Even if one concedes to institutionalists that prices are determined, as well, by the firm, according to a complex system of emulation – government price controls would simply cause either shortages, or black markets, or both. But these same economists have no problem writing in the NYT – as Richard Thaler recently did – decrying the “complexity” of the tax code and urging flat rates. Even if the flat rates are tiered – say 29 percent for the wealthiest, 15 percent for the 99 percent scum – this, these economists will say, would

a peculiar argument: Locke on personal identity

There’s a peculiar form of argumentation that emerges when ethics meets ontology – an encounter is that is comparable to mudwrestling in quicksand. We often derive, from a moral premise, an ontological conclusion. There are, for instance, multiple instances of the derivation, from normative ideas of responsibility and promise keeping, to an ontological fact about the continuity of the person. Locke, in the Personal Identity chapter of the Essay on Human Understanding (Book 2, chapter 27) – which is what I really want to write about - provides us with an instance: “… if the same Socrates waking and sleeping do not partake of the same consciousness, Socrates waking and sleeping are not the same person. And to punish Socrates waking for what Socrates sleeping that, and waking Socrates was never conscious of, would be no more right, than to punish one twin for what his brother twin did, whereof he knew nothing, because their outsides were so like, that they could not be distinguish