[The following is a guest post by Clinton McGruff, written in response to recent events.]
What do you call a man who exposes himself to women for pleasure? A philosophy professor, of course. Why does this joke work? Because sexual harassment is so common in academic philosophy. But also because of the tension between the image of the lewd “flasher” (a certain type of harasser) and that of the staid professor. When you think about it, most times that you are naked it’s not even about sex: when you bathe, dress, or are examined by the doctor, for example. The ancient Greeks used to wrestle naked and artists still use naked models. Indeed, without the body human culture would not exist. So really the body is very respectable and vital to human flourishing. We are a corporeal species.
I have in fact written a whole book about the body, Pretension, in which its ubiquity is noted and celebrated. I even have a cult centering on the body, described in this blog. I have given a semester-long seminar discussing the body and displays related to it. I now tend to use nudity in the wide-ranging manner just outlined, sometimes with humorous intent.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill turned their attention to philosophy this week after Monday saw what appears to be the nation’s third trolley-related homicide since April. Members of both houses of Congress raised the prospect of legislation to regulate the violent content found in much contemporary moral philosophy, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill to study the effects of violent philosophy on children and adolescents.
The proposal comes in the wake of the death of Amtrak employee Charles Shubin, who was killed Monday when a runaway trolley was diverted onto the side-spur to which Shubin had been tied by unknown individuals. Two trolleys involved in similar incidents in April turned out to have had their brake lines cut.
After 54 years of teaching at Berkeley, the man inside John Searle’s head has announced he will be entering a three-year phased retirement after the end of the current semester. The diminutive Zhu Tao made the announcement at a press conference Monday in a rare out-of-costume appearance.
At the conference Zhu said he is retiring from his current position in order to spend more time with Searle’s family. “I have become quite attached to these people,” Zhu said through a translator. “Although, admittedly, not being able to understand a word they say has limited the intimacy of our relationships.”
Though it never afforded genuine understanding, for the most part Zhu’s English-to-English instruction manual served him well during his time as Searle. One notable exception was the famous Searle-Derrida debate, in which Searle leveled charges of “deliberate obscurantism” against Derrida and other deconstructionists. ”Some people do not use words according to their prescribed manner,” said Zhu, reflecting on the exchange. “This results in great confusion.”
The APA referee lockout entered its sixth week today with no end in sight. Elsevier, Springer, and Wiley-Blackwell refuse to return to the bargaining table, claiming in a joint statement issued Saturday that the demands of the APA Referees Association are “simply not feasible.” The Referees Association responded by reiterating their demand for an improvement on their current contract, under which referees collectively work thousands of hours per year, enabling publishers’ profit margins of 30 percent or greater, in exchange for no pay or benefits. The association is asking for a 5% raise over three years.
Sheriff Tim Mueller
1115 SE Jackson St
Albany, OR 97322
Dear Sheriff Mueller,
I am writing to thank you for your recent letter to Vice President Biden, in which you pledge to prevent federal agents from enforcing any new gun regulation or executive order that you deem unconstitutional. Mastering the nuances of constitutional law and personally scrutinizing every federal, state, and local law that comes before you no doubt requires much time and effort. In fact, for lesser beings it is a full-time job. (Those people are called “justices.”) For this reason alone you have my thanks and admiration.
A previously unrecognized moral principle was discovered last week after ethicists at the University of Mesa realized that they would rather kill an old lady’s cat than a young girl’s puppy. The principle of moral naivete, as it is being called, justifies this preference by holding that the wrongness of inflicting a given harm can depend in part on the degree to which the victim has previously been exposed to such a harm.
The breakthrough came late Thursday as several members of the Moral Philosophy Research Group analyzed the results of a thought experiment they had run earlier in the night. ”We were messing around, getting pretty sloshed,” explains Anthony Vega, the group’s principal investigator. “Basically it was just another night at The Lab,” a local bar and the group’s favorite venue for conducting research. Vega and several graduate students were playing Would You Rather, a party game and the standard research tool in normative ethics. Before long the group hit upon the question that has since sparked a firestorm of scholarly interest: Would you rather kill an old lady’s cat or a young girl’s puppy?
“Are rainbows really illusory? In ‘The Rainbow Connection‘ Kermit says, ‘Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide.’ On the other hand, Kermit continues: ‘So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it. I know they’re wrong, wait and see.’ Although we understand the reservations expressed by the later Kermit, we side with the early Kermit on the grounds that a naïve subject will localize a rainbow to a location where there is no suitable stimulus to be found [. . .] Note that Kermit prefigures our deflationary account of illusion by suggesting that ‘rainbows have nothing to hide,’ i.e. that rainbows qua illusion have no hidden nature.”