Tag Archives | Ethics

Born to Be Badhwar

In my first video interview for my YouTube channel, I chat with philosopher Neera K. Badhwar about backyard buffaloes, wild attack monkeys, Ayn Rand, airline deregulation, eudaimonia and virtue, paternalism and suicide, sociopathic grandmothers, child abuse, Aristotelean business ethics, 19th-century robber barons, charitable Objectivists, friendly Manhattanites, charismatic nationalist leaders, and national health care. In more or less that order.

Plato, Space Ranger

A new episode of my YouTube channel is up! This one focuses on the connection between philosophical thought experiments (from Plato’s Ring of Gyges to Judith Jarvis Thomson’s defense of abortion) and science-fiction (and fantasy) literature.

In related news, a combination of unexpected expenses (e.g., high medical co-pays for kidney stone surgeries, plus my car’s imminent need to have its electrical system serviced) and my reduced summer salary means that any support via my PayPal or Patreon would be especially timely and welcome.

Experimenting with the Timeline

Below is a presentation I created today using a software tool called Timeline, as part of a teaching workshop I’m participating in this week:

That embedded version is a bit cramped; for a less cramped view, click here.

I wanted to break long paragraphs into shorter ones, preferably on more than one page, but couldn’t figure out (in the allotted time) how to do it.

I also wanted to date the slides by centuries, not individual dates. I couldn’t figure out how to do that either. So then I wanted the first dated slide to be labeled “c. 340 BCE.” (“c.” for “circa.”). But it wouldn’t let me include “circa,” either; no non-numeric content was allowed in the dates. And it said I had to use negative numbers for BCE. So I ended up dating that slide “-340.” But I’m not happy about that, because they’re not equivalent; positive and negative integers belong to a cardinal sequence separated by a zero; but the BCE/CE (or BC/AD) system of dating is an ordinal system with no Year Zero. So, strictly speaking, 340 BCE would correspond to -339, not -340.

Otherwise, though, I’m fairly pleased at how it looks; and I could probably get something closer to what I want if I tinkered with it a bit. (The content I wrote is oversimplified, but this is just a trial.)

The March of Time

I realise that I’ve never blogged here, even minimally, about my trips from last March. (I thought I had, but actually I just discussed them on facebook.)

So on March 9-10 I participated in a workshop on exploitation, run by Matt Zwolinski and Ben Ferguson, at the University of San Diego.

I flew out a couple of days early in order to spend some time hanging out with my friends Gary Chartier and Alicia Homer.

Then on March 12-14 I attended the PPE conference in New Orleans. (That’s “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics,” not “Personal Protective Equipment.”) I gave a talk on “Virtue’s Unity and the Liberal Quest for Principled Moderation.” Several of my co-panelists, alas, had to pull out in light of the impending Coronapocalypse.

After that, the Coronapocalypse fell utterly across the land and all further travel was curtailed; thus I did not attend APEE (Las Vegas), the Pacific APA (San Francisco), or Gary and Alicia’s wedding celebration (Laguna Beach) in April, nor again the AtInER Philosophy Conference (Athens) in May.

Southern Comfort

Recommended quasi-lockdown viewing: an excellent pair of docudrama miniseries about early Antarctic exploration – The Last Place on Earth (about the competing Scott and Amundsen expeditions) and Shackleton (about, duh, the Shackleton expedition – though Shackleton also features briefly in the former series). They’re not just exciting dramas but also useful case studies in virtue ethics.

When The Last Place on Earth first appeared it was vigorously attacked by the right-wing press in the u.k. for casting aspersions on the great British national hero, Robert Scott, by suggesting that the failure of his expedition owed more to his defects of character than to bad luck. But from the reading I’ve done I conclude that the miniseries is pretty much accurate.

It was my mother who got me interested in the history of Antarctic exploration. Her interest dated from coming across, in her youth, the remains of Amundsen’s boat (at that time preserved, kind of, in a neglected corner of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park as a monument; it’s since been relocated to Norway). Although this was not the boat he used for his Antarctic expedition, the plaque named him as the first to reach the South Pole, leading her to wonder why she’d never heard of him and had only heard of Scott. She subsequently became a great admirer of both Amundsen and Shackleton, though not so much Scott.

The Last Place on Earth is out of print on DVD, and so is available at only astronomical prices in that format, but subscribers to Amazon Prime can stream it for free.

I couldn’t find Shackleton streaming anywhere (places advertising it turn out to have conflated it with a documentary recreating Shackleton’s voyage), but the DVD is only ten bucks.

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