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Patrick S. O'Donnell
Adjunct Instructor, Department of Philosophy, Santa Barbara City College
Interests: philosophy of law and legal theory, philosophy of mind, ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of science, religious worldviews, psychoanalysis, psychology
Recent Activity
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Sierra Leone’s government welcomes the 165 Cuban health-care workers who came to fight Ebola. (Glenna Gordon for The Wall Street Journal) “While we repudiated with the greatest energy that tyranny of society over the individual which most Socialistic systems are supposed to involve, we yet looked forward to a time when society will no longer be divided into the idle and the industrious; when the rule that they who do not work shall not eat, will be applied not to paupers only, but impartially to all; when the division of the produce of labour, instead of depending, as in so great a degree it now does, on the accident of birth, will be made by concert on an acknowledged principle of justice; and when it will no longer either be, or be thought to be, impossible for human beings to exert themselves strenuously in procuring benefits which are not to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Reading a salvage book by one of the Salvage men on the truck of the A.T.S. salvage office. St. Nazaire. c1919. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Yes, I know, that is a rather pretentious title, but I believe it to be true (or at least could be true). Here is a list of the bibliographies available at my Academia page. (If you can’t access any of these let me know and I will send a PDF copy or copies to you.) Some, if not many of these will be occasionally updated. I also have published and unpublished writings on motley topics (and some teaching material) there as well if you are interested. 1. Africana & African American Philosophy 2. B.R. Ambedkar 3. American Indian Law 4. Analogy & Metaphor 5. Animal Ethics, Rights, and Law 6. The Arab World: Modern & Post-Modern 7. The Bedouin 8. Bioethics 9.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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I think the philosophical enterprise of developing a “moral theory” of human rights is important, one fine example of which (and there are others) is James Griffin’s On Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2008). And our own Michael J. Perry argues, in turn, for a religious ground of the morality of human rights (owing to the fundamental nature of the notion of inherent human dignity), which I do not believe is necessary to a liberal democratic polity’s constitutional commitment to a sound and persuasive conception of human dignity, as well as the corresponding moral theory of human rights. However, I do think it is important, in the spirit if not letter of Rawls’s notion of an “overlapping consensus,” that members of religious traditions be capable of endorsing this constitutionally entrenched notion of human dignity and the theory of human rights with (more or less) arguments generated from within their respective... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Claudia Jones leading a demonstration in London against the 1962 Immigration Act As today is International Women’s Day, I thought I would post these two photos of Claudia Jones (née Claudia Vera Cumberbatch: 21 February 1915 - 24 December 1964) in conjunction with notice of my latest bibliography on Pan-Africanism, Black Internationalism, and Black Cosmopolitanism. Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Claudia Jones leading a demonstration in London against the 1962 Immigration Act As today is International Women’s Day, I thought I would post these two photos of Claudia Jones (née Claudia Vera Cumberbatch: 21 February 1915 - 24 December 1964) in conjunction with notice of my latest bibliography on Pan-Africanism, Black Internationalism, and Black Cosmopolitanism. Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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There is an absolutely exquisite and powerfully compelling analysis of J.S. Mill’s political pamphlet, The Subjection of Women (London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1869) by Nadia Urbinati near the end of her book, Mill on Democracy: From the Athenian Polis to Representative Government (University of Chicago Press, 2002): 175-189. I happen to have a “new impression” of Mill’s text published in 1909 by Longmans, Green and Co. (London, New York, Bombay, and Calcutta!) that I bought many years ago for $2.00 (hence the image from a book that was printed three years prior to mine but is otherwise the same). It has an introduction with a detailed outline of the argument not found in the first edition. In any case, Urbinati describes it as a political work that goes beyond “liberal politics.” She notes that “since the 1980s,” scholars have in several important respects corrected earlier liberal readings, thereby... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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This very short compilation is here. At the kind request of Shelley Tremain, an online version of this was also posted at Discrimination and Disadvantage blog. 02/29/2016at the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog. is a space for philosophical reflection on various kinds of disadvantage (e.g., discrimination based on racism, classism, sexism, hetero-sexism, ableism, and the intersectionality of these and related phenomena) as well as discussion of such disadvantage within the philosophical community. - See more at: http://philosophycommons.typepad.com/disability_and_disadvanta/2015/01/welcome-to-disability-and-disadvantage.html#sthash.dF3QB8Uj.dpuf is a space for philosophical reflection on various kinds of disadvantage (e.g., discrimination based on racism, classism, sexism, hetero-sexism, ableism, and the intersectionality of these and related phenomena) as well as discussion of such disadvantage within the philosophical community. - See more at: http://philosophycommons.typepad.com/disability_and_disadvanta/2015/01/welcome-to-disability-and-disadvantage.html#sthash.dF3QB8Uj.dpuf is a space for philosophical reflection on various kinds of disadvantage (e.g., discrimination based on racism, classism, sexism, hetero-sexism, ableism, and the intersectionality of these and related phenomena) as well... Continue reading
Posted Feb 29, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“Alain LeRoy Locke (September 13, 1885 – June 9, 1954) was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts.” My bibliography for Africana & African American Philosophy is here. Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“If you’ve got a clothespin handy, you should clip it to your nose. I’m now going to tell you about the 12-hour California Coastal Commission meeting I sat through Wednesday in Morro Bay. When the spectacle was over, members of one of the most powerful regulatory agencies in the country had racked up a number of accomplishments. They fired their staff’s executive director, Charles Lester, who knows more about the 40-year-old voter-approved Coastal Act that protects our 1,100-mile shoreline than anyone in the world. They devastated and demoralized the agency staff, so much so that some employees wept when the firing was announced. They infuriated a who’s who of California’s longest-serving stewards of coastal preservation and access, along with hordes of public officials, current and former Coastal Commission staff, and former commissioners and citizens who had traveled from up and down the coast to speak glowingly of Lester’s integrity and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Elizabeth Catlett’s Homage to Black Women Poets, 1984 My latest bibliography, in keeping with Black History Month, is here. Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Today is the birthday of C.L.R. James (4 January 1901 – 19 May 1989), the remarkable Marxist humanist and Afro-Trinidadian socialist, historian, journalist, and essayist. Here are two posts from the archives on James: From “Cricketing in Compton” to the “Cricketing Marxist,” and The Marxist Spirituality of C.L.R. James. And here is a fitting celebratory essay by Christian Høgsbjergon on James’ “magisterial work,” The Black Jacobins (1938, second ed., 1963): “CLR James and the Black Jacobins.” The following books help illuminate the life and work of C.L.R. James, the “cricketing Marxist” and “urbane revolutionary.” Buhle, Paul. C.L.R. James: The Artist as Revolutionary. London: Verso, 1988. Buhle, Paul, ed. C.L.R. James: His Life and Work. London: Allison & Busby, 1986. Renton, Dave. C.L.R. James: Cricket’s Philosopher King. London: Haus, 2007. Robinson, Cedric J. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. London: Zed Books, 1983. Rosengarten, Frank. Urbane Revolutionary: C.L.R.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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El Lissitzky, 5. Globetrotter (in der Zeit), From Victory Over the Sun (1923) From the Institute for Policy Studies— “Billionaire Bonanza: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us” • America’s 20 wealthiest people — a group that could fit comfortably in one single Gulfstream G650 luxury jet — now own more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households. • The Forbes 400 now own about as much wealth as the nation’s entire African-American population — plus more than a third of the Latino population — combined. • The wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States. Among the Forbes 400, just 2 individuals are African American —Oprah Winfrey and Robert Smith. • The wealthiest 186 members of the Forbes 400 own as much wealth as... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2016 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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In the course of reading and research for a bibliography on “philosophy, psychology, and methodology for the social sciences,” I came across an intriguing discussion of a book by Jeffery M. Paige, Agrarian Revolution: Social Movements and Export Agriculture in the Underdeveloped World (New York: Free Press, 1975). Paige’s study is invoked by Harold Kincaid in Philosophical Foundations of the Social Sciences: Analyzing Controversies in Social Research (Cambridge University Press, 1996) as “an exemplary piece of social science research.”* I was particularly intrigued owing to my professional (such as it is, being an adjunct instructor) and political interest—to put it blandly—in (among other things) Marxism, for Paige is motivated by a Marxist sociological orientation in ascertaining “the primary causes of agrarian behavior, particularly in developing countries,” yet his study is not simply a predictable or banal academic exercise of “doctrinaire Marxism.” As Kincaid proceeds to show us, Paige “modifies the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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At the beginning of the year I posted a “reading guide” on Red-Green (or ‘Eco-’) Socialism. This is an expanded version of that list with more links (still, it is far from exhaustive). It represents what I’m acquainted with by way of the attempt to integrate Marxism (and the Left in general) with ecological and environmental worldviews (I make some further, more specific recommendations in the note appended below): Bahro, Rudolf. Socialism and Survival. London: Heretic Books, 1982. Bahro, Rudolf. From Red to Green: Interviews with New Left Review. London: Verso, 1984. Benton, Ted. Natural Relations: Ecology, Animal Rights and Social Justice. London: Verso, 1993. Bernstein, Henry. Class Dynamics of Agrarian Change. West Hartford, CT: Kumarian Press, 2010. Bernstein, Henry, et al., eds. The Food Question: Profits Versus People. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1990. Burkett, Paul. Marxism and Ecological Economics: Toward a Red and Green Political Economy. Chicago, IL:... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Another book I recently read in conjunction with the bibliography on “philosophy, psychology and methodology for the social sciences” was the late Martin Hollis’s Reason in Action: Essays in the philosophy of social science (Cambridge University Press, 1996). While the directed reading regimen was intentional, it turned out to be serendipitous: California is of course in a severe drought (to be sure, more rain than usual is expected this year, but I’ll believe it when I can’t ride my bike to school), and our household and condo. association have taken action in conjunction with the city’s quite reasonable requirements and recommendations on this score. And then I pick up Hollis’s book, the first chapter of which is a prologue and apologia, while the second chapter is titled “Three men in a drought” and opens as follows: “Water was short in the torrid summer of 1976 and there were soon calls... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
A Facebook friend asked me this morning, “Do you think the brownshirts may be coming?” Herewith my reply (composed before my first cup of tea): They’re already here (indeed, they’ve been here for some time), although they’re of uniform mind not costume (apart from white hoods and robes). And now they’re leaving footprints in the muck and mire. They’re willing to render themselves more visible to the rest of us because social and mass media has both deliberately (owing to its uncritical fawning deference to any sort of fame or celebrity) and inadvertently fanned the flames of demagogic fascist leadership, exemplified most egregiously in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Their individual and collectively shameless motivational structures having been awakened, xenophobic nationalism and fascism finds sufficient fuel in the ever-increasing number of immature and developmentally distorted character-types. With ample ideological sanction from above, as it were, the unconscious libidinal and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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My latest bibliography, on “Philosophy, Psychology, & Methodology for the Social Sciences,” is here. If you cannot access it, drop me a note and I will send a PDF version through cyberspace. Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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In a previous post, I promised we would examine Sridhar Venkatapuram’s “impressive and urgent book,” Health Justice: An Argument from the Capabilities Approach (Polity Press, 2011). I’m not prepared to do that quite yet, but I do want to share with you something from him on the limitations of the “bio-medical” model of health and the corresponding need to change the prevailing epidemiological paradigm in modern medicine, which is “substantively linked to the notion of disease.” The “bio-statistical theory of health” ensconced in this epidemiology “is the informational engine of medical care and public health.” Venkatapuram’s “capability approach” to health and health justice (which entails a ‘conception of health as a meta-capability to achieve a cluster of basic capabilities and functionings’) endeavors to transcend (thus not eliminate) the “dominant biomedical and risk factor model of disease causation and distribution” in its role as the overarching theory that, in turn, governs... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
Jon Elster on “qualitative social science”: “I believe the best training for any social scientist is to read widely and deeply in history, choosing works for the intrinsic quality of the argument rather than the importance or relevance of the subject matter. Here are some models: James Fitzgerald Stephen, A History of the Criminal Law of England; E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class; G.E.M de Ste Croix, The Class Struggles in the Ancient Greek World; Joseph Levenson, Confucian China and Its Modern Fate; Paul Veyne, Le pain et le cirque; G. Lefebvre, La grande peur; Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic…. What these writers and others of their stature have in common is that they combine utter authority in factual matters with an eye both for potential generalizations and for potential counterexamples to generalizations. By virtue of their knowledge they can pick out ‘telling detail’... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“Giving Thanks,” Horace Pippin (1942) “Enough is as good as a feast.”—Sir Thomas Malory (d.1471) “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.”—John Heywood (c.1497-1580) “Since we cannot get what we like, let us like what we can get.”—of Spanish provenance “When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.”—of Vietnamese provenance “ ‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”—Alice Walker “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”—William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”—William Arthur Ward “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”—Marcel Proust “Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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In the words of Gilbert Achcar (see below), “Maxime Rodinson (1915-2004) was the last survivor of an exceptional group of French Orientalists—in the pre-Saidian non-pejorative meaning of this term, i.e. scholars of Islam and the Arab world—who lived through most of the twentieth century and rose to fame in the 1960s, a decade that saw the emergence of an impressive contingent of French thinkers whose names loom large in the social sciences of our time. The group of brilliant Orientalists to which Rodinson belonged, and which included other luminaries such as Jacque Berque and Claude Cahen, reclaimed the field of Arab and Islamic studies with impeccable erudition, scientific rigour, and a critical solidarity with the peoples they studies that made their writings largely free from the deficiencies of the colonial ‘Orientalism’ of yesteryear and their own time.” I happen to be reading Maxime Rodinson’s work afresh after many years, having... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
Here too, as I've been having other problems and thought this was related to those...! Glad to see things back on track.
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Wassily Kandinsky, Yellow-Red-Blue (1925) By way of distinguishing brains from minds (including the unique and irreducible properties of consciousness), AI (artificial intelligence) from human intelligence,* and human (animal) nature from animal nature simpliciter, I proffer the following titles: • Bennett, M.R. and P.M.S. Hacker. Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003. • Bennett, Maxwell, Daniel Dennett, Peter Hacker, John Searle, and Daniel Robinson. Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind and Language. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. (I prefer the arguments of Bennett, Hacker, and Robinson over Dennett and Searle.) • Descombes, Vincent (Stephen Adam Schwartz, tr.). The Mind’s Provisions: A Critique of Cognitivism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001. • Finkelstein, David H. Expression and the Inner. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003. • Gillett, Grant. Subjectivity and Being Somebody: Human Identity and Neuroethics. Exeter, UK: Imprint Academic, 2008. • Gillett, Grant. The Mind and Its Discontents. New York:... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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The following is a draft of a revised entry on “Democracy” for a new edition of an encyclopedia on Islam (it is the only one of my entries I’m revising). The format is slightly different than the actual submission but the content is identical: “Democracy & Islam.” Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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An indispensable work on both (a few of) the causes and (some of) the effects of the political and cultural orientation of the “paperback generation” [i.e., ‘baby boomers’] is Loren Glass’s Counterculture Colophon: Grove Press, the Evergreen Review, and the Incorporation of the Avant-Garde (Stanford University Press, 2013). First, the Wikipedia introduction to Grove Press: “Grove Press is an American publishing imprint that was founded in 1951. Imprints include: Black Cat, Evergreen, Venus Library, and Zebra. Barney Rosset purchased the company in 1951 and turned it into an alternative book press in the United States. He partnered with Richard Seaver to bring French literature to the United States. The Atlantic Monthly Press, under the aegis of its publisher, Morgan Entrekin, merged with Grove Press in 1991. Grove is now an imprint of the publisher Grove/Atlantic, Inc.” And now a provocative snippet from Glass’s Counterculture Colophon: “On the one hand, individual... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2015 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com