Like Noises In a Swound

I enjoyed my trip to Duluth. After my left-libertarian talk (powerpoint slides here), several leftists in the audience told me that they’d come prepared to do combat with the evil libertarian but ended up surprised and intrigued instead. (Upcoming speakers in the “Ethics of the Market” speaker series may not be as lucky.)

My host, Shane Courtland, was fun to hang out with as well (even if he is a Hobbesian). His office is filled with action figures, ranging from Darth Vader to Walter White.

The hotel where they put me up is in a cool old brewery overlooking the vast frozen expanse that is Lake Superior. Imagine this picture but with everything much whiter:


Less delightfully, my bag took a couple of days longer to get back from Duluth than I did (and Delta told me it had delivered my bag to me fifteen hours before it actually did so).

In other news, over the next couple of days I’ll be at my department’s annual conference.

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6 Responses to Like Noises In a Swound

  1. Chris Thomas March 6, 2015 at 2:27 am #

    Also, it’s on YouTube:

  2. Richard O. Hammer March 7, 2015 at 3:55 am #

    Can’t say that I’ve spent much time in Duluth. But I want to check it out, and will! After I’m given a few more lifetimes to complete my higher priorities.

    Holy tamoli, that looks like a big lake. It makes me wonder: But isn’t Duluth a port city? That view looks (at first) like a view from a beach, onto an expanse of water that goes beyond the horizon, and not a view across a bay or inlet such as I would expect in a port city. But after looking at Duluth on Google maps, and again at the picture, I have convinced myself that I can see a strip of low land on the far horizon. So never mind.

  3. Matt Zwolinski March 9, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    The second half of slide 26 seems a bit unfair, since (a) I assume you’re referring to me, and (b) I’ve published at least one paper and several blog posts examining precisely what you say I (or “many BHLs”) ignore.

    • Roderick March 9, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

      This is more nuance than I had time to go into, but when I say “ignore” I don’t mean “never mention,” I mean “de-emphasise and/or usually don’t mention.” Thus I take the posts you cite to be a defense of “ignoring” (in that sense) rather than a counterexample to it.

    • Irfan Khawaja March 12, 2015 at 10:50 am #

      Actually, neither Matt’s paper nor the several blog posts he cites examine “precisely” what Roderick is discussing in the second half of slide 26. Matt’s work is about exploitation. Roderick’s slide is about the path-dependent sub-optimality of the option-sets faced by the poor. There’s no intrinsic connection between these two topics. You can demonstrate that people are not being exploited by their employers without causally explaining why their options are structured as badly as they are.

      Suppose that A employs B without coercion or exploitation. Suppose that B’s working for A is the best option B has. Ex hypothesi, the A-B relationship is not exploitative, and yet it can still be the case that B’s prospects in A’s employ are very, very bad and that the causal explanation for both facts arises from some third factor, C, that’s external both to A and B. I take it that Roderick’s point is that the fact expressed in the preceding sentence is “ignored” in the sense of being under-examined. So even if all of Matt’s work is true, it is talks past Roderick’s issue. (Conversely, Roderick’s issue talks past Matt’s work.)

      When I was a dept chair (2011-2014), I regularly hired adjuncts who got a bad deal from my (private liberal arts) college–terrible pay, terrible conditions. I did the best I could for them. I neither coerced nor exploited them. But their options still sucked. (As did mine, for the nine years I spent as an adjunct.) It’s an exaggeration with some truth to it: my institution is regularly called “the sweatshop” by people working in north Jersey Phil Depts.

      The causal explanation for the suckiness of my adjuncts’ options does, as Roderick implies, have a lot to do with government interventions into the higher ed market. I’ve read a lot about adjuncts over the years at BHL, but have not read very much discussion of the latter fact, at least by the people in charge who write the posts. Whether the same under-emphasis holds true (mutatis mutandis) as a general proposition about the libertarian literature on sweatshops, I don’t know, but I think it holds true of BHL as a blog. The recent discussion of adjuncts by Jason Brennan at BHL is very much a case in point.

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