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Tag Archives: moral reasoning

Progressivism goes off the rails

Here’s Tyler Cowen: But what struck me most of all was how much the “Old New Left” — whatever you think of it — had more metaphysical and ethical and aesthetic imagination — than the New New Left variants running around today. Bob Dylan wrote My Back Pages at age 23.  Here are a few stanzas: Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth“Rip down all hate,” I screamedLies that life is black and whiteSpoke from my skull. I dreamedRomantic facts of musketeersFoundationed deep,...

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Some Reflections on Reparations for Slavery

In any liberal-libertarian conception of justice, there is no doubt that a liberated slave had a moral right to compensation from his master. From an economic viewpoint (what is possible and at what cost), the problem is more complex, especially across generations. In response to an article in The Economist, I would propose two arguments against reparation payments to today’s descendants of the slaves of several generations ago. These arguments suggest a new approach...

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The Mob Lost and the System Won

On June 12, I posted briefly about the efforts of Justin Wolfers and other economists to get Harald Uhlig fired from his position as editor of the Journal of Political Economy. Here’s what I wrote: I don’t know if he should be fired. I don’t know enough about how good an editor he is, which, in my view, is the only thing that should matter. Justin hasn’t made a case that he’s a bad editor. Rather, Justin doesn’t like what the editor, Harald Uhlig, said about Black...

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African-American lives matter

So much has been written about the recent protests over the police killing of George Floyd that it’s hard to find anything new to say. In this post I’ll try to get out of the American “bubble” and looking at this from a global perspective. I’ve been struck by the global nature of the black lives matter movement, with news reports of protests in far-flung nations such as New Zealand. What motivates protesters outside the US? Obviously the death was a horrible...

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Is Being a Cop So Dangerous?

Any defendable normative political philosophy—at any rate, any classical-liberal one—holds that policemen are the citizens’ servants, not their masters. A policeman owes respect to a peaceful citizen and, to a certain point, even to a violent one. The policeman is paid by the citizen, not the other way around. While protecting some citizens, policemen have no right to attack innocent bystanders or protesters. I use the European term “policeman” (which of course...

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Dick Timberlake RIP

Every Veterans Day, I try to do something special to remember or honor a veteran. I don’t like the standard flag-waving event that this day has become for many people. In many Veterans Day speeches, the speakers talk about the hundreds of thousands of American veterans who gave their lives for our freedom. The problem with that is twofold: (1) Very few of those who were killed in war literally gave their lives but instead had their lives ripped away, and (2) very few...

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Wrong headline

Bloomberg has a very good article on the deteriorating global situation, but they gave it the wrong headline: Pandemic Shatters World Order, Sowing Anger and Mistrust Here’s how the headline should read: Nationalism Shatters World Order, Sowing Anger and Mistrust Every time I read an intellectual defending nationalism I think to myself; “Have these people not studied history?”  Haven’t we been here before?

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The Importance of Play

I loved Amy Willis’s interview of co-blogger Bryan Caplan. The questions were on target and Bryan’s thoughtful answers showed what a good, caring father he is. The interview went far beyond home schooling and got into how to be a good parent. I made notes at the time, but didn’t time stamp them. So I don’t remember where in the interview Bryan said this, but it was clear that he understood the importance of play and joy in his children’s lives. It’s important, not...

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“Everyone has their reasons”

There’s an old French saying, “Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner”, which means roughly “to understand all is to forgive all”. When someone does something that seems bad, you might hear a bystander say, “I know how that guy felt.” The observation is generally viewed as at least partially excusing the behavior, even though there is no logical correlation between understanding something and the morality of the underlying action. To see this point, assume for the...

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Trump’s effusive praise of China’s coronavirus response

Politico has an article that outlines 15 different times that President Trump praised China for its handling of the coronavirus epidemic, between January 22 and February 29. More recently, Trump has become harshly critical of China: President Donald Trump yanked U.S. funding for the World Health Organization on Tuesday, complaining that the United Nations public health agency was overly deferential to China and had put too much faith in Beijing’s assertions that it...

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