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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
Over at Dorf on Law, Diane Klein clarifies, at least for me, the various facets of the attorney-client relationship. It seems the question of attorney-client privilege is not quite settled in the case of Hannity: [....] “...[T]he idea that establishing the relationship requires payment, and/or that in the absence of payment there is no attorney-client relationship, is one of the most tenacious errors in the layperson’s understanding of the legal profession (perpetrated by TV lawyers like Saul Goodman). It is not only that attorneys can do pro bono (unpaid charitable) legal work, although that is an obvious counterexample. The more fundamental point is that what triggers an attorney’s obligations of confidentiality (and renders certain communications privileged) has nothing to do with the exchange of money. Buying silence is what Cohen did for his clients: his own silence did not need to be purchased - so long as he was actually acting as an attorney. This is likely to become a crux of the matter. Not everything said to or by an attorney is covered by the attorney-client privilege. When a person who happens to be a lawyer gives business advice, for example, it is not protected. This situation - which Cornell Law Prof. W. Bradley Wendel calls ‘the two-hats problem’ - requires a determination of whether the client was consulting the lawyer as a lawyer (and not, for example, as a friend, business advisor, etc.) If, as the SDNY investigation of Cohen’s email accounts indicates, Cohen performed ‘little to no legal work’ at the relevant times, attorney-client privilege will not be available to protect what was said by or to him.” [....]
So what about Sean Hannity? He stated, “Let me set the record straight: Michael Cohen never represented me in any legal matter, I never retained his services....” He says he consulted him on real estate questions. There's not attorney-client privilege here because he never was a client of Cohen's (thus Cohen was never his attorney), right? Did not Cohen's attorneys claim in court that Hannity _was_ one of his clients?
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Occasionally one comes across a philosopher who, one believes quite strongly, was unduly neglected when alive, and thus virtually forgotten or ignored after his or her death. Ilham Dilman (November 4, 1930 – January 17, 2003) perfectly illustrates such a case (or at least that’s how it appears from my vantage point). I was surprised to discover some years ago from my dear friend, Nandini Iyer, that Dilman, a philosopher par excellence, taught for a brief period at UC Santa Barbara (I doubt they made an offer to keep him, knowing the philosophical or ideological orientation of the department in those days, although I suspect, with very little evidence, that he got along well with Herbert Fingarette). (Incidentally, I was no less surprised to learn that Kristin Shrader-Frechette once taught in the department as well: for two years, in the Philosophy of Science and Environmental Studies). Among the titles by... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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[….] “Several lawmakers asserted Sunday that the president should have sought congressional approval for the missile strike, launched in response to reports of deadly poison gas strikes on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. Congress, however, repeatedly has ducked votes on Syria policy since the fighting began there in March 2011. But even some people who have expressed vehement public disagreement with Trump’s previous actions voiced support for the strike, which was carried out in coordination with Britain and France. Former CIA Director John Brennan was among those who praised the action as ‘proportional and necessary to send a signal.’ Speaking on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Brennan, who is now an analyst for that network, said that ‘the administration's actions against Syria were appropriate — and I tend to be a critic of this administration.’” [….] [….] “At least 1,600 civilians were reported killed in weeks of punishing airstrikes before the... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“In an extraordinary decision, the Library of Congress this week bowed to pressure from angry anti-Freudians and postponed for as long as a year a major exhibition called ‘Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture.’ According to a front-page story in The Washington Post, some library officials blamed the delay on budget problems; but others contended the real reason was heated criticism of a show that might take a neutral or even favorable view of the father of psychoanalysis. Some fifty psychologists and others, including Gloria Steinem and Oliver Sacks, signed a petition denouncing the proposed exhibit; as Steinem complained to the Post, it seemed to ‘have the attitude of “He was a genius, but…” instead of “He’s a very troubled man, and….”’ Though the library assured them that the exhibit ‘is not about whether Freudians or Freud critics, of whatever camp, are right or wrong,’ the critics refused an offer to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Our first and second posts in this series are, respectively, here and here. “The logistics of a just, equitable, and healthy agricultural landscape here in the United States would remain a problem if Michael Pollan himself, Wendell Berry, or better yet Fred Magdoff were appointed Secretary of Agriculture. Decades-long efforts pealing back agribusiness both as paradigm and infrastructure, however successful, would require a parallel program. With what would we replace the present landscape? As a black hole about its horizon, a poverty in imagination orbits the question stateside. The vacuum is most recently felt in the developing animus between public health officials and artisan cheesemakers. What Europe has long streamlined into amicable regulation, the United States has lurched into clumsy opposition: cheese wheels are increasingly treated as suitcase bombs filled with Listeria. After [more than] sixty years of industrial production Americans have quite forgotten the logistics of real food. There... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Our first post, with an introduction to this series, is here. “Dumping grain on another country is a classic maneuver in economic warfare. When a country’s borders are opened by force or by choice, by structural adjustment or by neoliberal trade agreement, when tariffs and other forms of protectionism are finally scotched, heavily subsidized multinational agribusinesses can flood the new market with commodities at prices less than their production costs. That is, these companies are happy to sell their foodstuffs abroad at a loss. That doesn’t make sense, you say. Aren’t these guys in business for profit? They are indeed. The deficits are in actuality a cold-blooded calculation. The objective is to drive previously domestic sectors unable to compete with that kind of pricing, out of business. Once the mom-and-pop competition is rubbed out, Walmart-style, the multinationals, their competition cleared off the field, can impose what prices they please across... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Among other things, and cross-posted at the Agricultural Law blog, I’m going to occasionally post snippets from a handful of Rob Wallace’s rhetorically pungent, intellectually incisive, and politically powerful collection of essays in his book Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatchers on Infectious Disease, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science (Monthly Review Press, 2016). Early last year I posted notice of an article in New Left Review, 102 (Nov/Dec 2016): “Ebola’s Ecologies: Agro-Economics and Epidemiology in West Africa,” co-authored by Rob Wallace and Rodrick Wallace, appending a list of suggested reading that included Big Farms. I will post bits and pieces from the book sans the notes and with slight editing (e.g., in the interest of length, I’ve left out some of the many examples that illuminate the arguments), although I may provide some embedded links (some of which may be in the book’s notes). As this work—with notes—is well... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“Baseball has become countercultural in America. Its pacing defies our Twitter-addled era. The game denies instant gratification. Thousands of measurable events and matchups provide inarguable facts. The sport demands respect for history and context. Given the current political climate, the republic needs baseball more than ever. As the country has sped up, baseball has gotten slower. The average nine-inning game takes over three hours — 13% longer than in 2005. There is no ‘running the clock’ as there is in just about every other sport. Batters saunter to the plate and fiddle with batting gloves. Pitchers shake off signs, get set and then step off the mound. Major League Baseball hopes to quicken the pace by limiting the number of coaching visits to the mound and shortening breaks between innings. Players, bless them, have resisted a 20-second pitch clock. Baseball teaches delayed gratification. It lacks the constant movement of basketball... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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We know that the notion of an unconscious mind or mental states predates Freud, and in fact is found, more or less, in both Eastern and Western thought, even if there is little or no systematic reflection and examination of this idea in conceptual terms concerned at once with its philosophical and psychological facets and clarification. Thus, we typically don’t say Freud “discovered” the unconscious but when we think of the unconscious, Freud’s name leaps to mind, if not his provocative and groundbreaking thoughts on “the unconscious.” More often, it is said that Newton “discovered” gravity, but in one very important sense, he did no such thing, any more than Freud discovered the unconscious part of our minds. So, what was it that both Newton and Freud did in their respective fields of inquiry? “After all we didn’t need Newton to tell us that apples fall. The well-taught child replies... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Some readers—as viewers!—may be interested (assuming you’ve yet to see it) in the recent documentary on the remarkable and inspirational life of Dolores Huerta on PBS (Independent Lens): “Dolores.” And should you have missed its earlier posting, here is my bibliography for “César Chávez & the United Farm Workers … and the Struggle of Farm Workers in the U.S.” Image: “Yreina D. Cervántez’ 1989 mural La Ofrenda, painted under a bridge in downtown Los Angeles.... In it, Cervántez—an artist and Chicana activist—pays homage to Dolores Huerta, co-founder with César Chávez of the United Farm Workers of America.” Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Prompted by the recent post on the Great Irish Famine, I decided to put together a comparatively short bibliography (books, in English) on the history, causes, and consequences of famine. Compilations with significant relevance to our latest list: Beyond Inequality: Toward the Globalization of Welfare, Well-Being and Human Flourishing Beyond Capitalist Agribusiness: Toward Agroecology & Food Justice Ecological & Environmental Politics, Philosophies, and Worldviews Global Distributive Justice Health: Law, Ethics & Social Justice Marxism Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“Agriculture Wars” By Nick Murray (March 12, 2018), for Viewpoint Magazine “The town of Maricopa may be surrounded by Arizona desert, but a small plot of land near its northern border may qualify as the most closely studied piece of farmland our planet has ever produced. Here stands the LemnaTec Scanalyzer. Weighing some 50,000 pounds, the device sits on a steel gantry that moves back and forth along tracks that line the field. It monitors the growth of every plant below it, and by the end of the day it generates five to eight terabytes of data. What it records could help scientists develop the next generation of genetically modified seeds. The University of Arizona, the company LemnaTec and the U.S. Government, which funded the project through the Department of Energy, all agree: this could be the future of agriculture. ‘Culture in all its early uses was a noun of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“The law stands between food availability and food entitlement. Starvation deaths can reflect legality with a vengeance.”—Amartya Sen “ … [A]s it happens, quite a few famines have taken place without much violation of law and order. Even in the disastrous Irish famines of the 1840s (in which about an eighth of the population died, and which led to the emigration of a comparable number to North America), the law and order situation was, in many respects, apparently ‘excellent.’ In fact, even as the higher purchasing power of the English consumers attracted food away, through the market mechanism, from famine-stricken Ireland to rich England, with ship after ship sailing down the river Shannon laden with various types of food, there were few violent attempts to interfere with that contrary—and grisly—process. In many famines people starve and die in front of food shops, without attempting to seize law and order by... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Apologia Two philosophers, (the late) Hilary Putnam and his wife, Ruth Anna Putnam, are together largely responsible for re-awakening my interest in the work of John Dewey (Robert Westbrook’s excellent intellectual biography shares some blame as well). The language in much of Dewey’s philosophical writing appears deceptively simple. And some have complained about his prose style, but in both composition and meaning, his writing proves to be rather complex and provocative. As Tom Leddy states in his SEP entry on “Dewey’s Aesthetics,” “although Dewey seems to write in an almost folksy style, his philosophical prose is often difficult and dense” (however, what I share below from Dewey is not, strictly speaking, a sample of his philosophical prose). One should therefore read him rather slowly and carefully (in principle, of course, that is what one should do with all philosophical writing, but I’ve found that, at least with some philosophers, one... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“They faced 66 years in prison. The ‘Eastside 13’ and how they helped plan the East L.A. walkouts,” Los Angeles Times (March 8, 2018) By Louis Sahagun “As Los Angeles schools and others this week observe the 50th anniversary of the East L.A. walkouts, when thousands of Mexican American students marched to demand a better education, much attention has focused on those who became known as the Eastside 13. But who were the Eastside 13? They were 13 men secretly indicted by a grand jury June 1, 1968, on conspiracy charges stemming from the East L.A. ‘blowouts.’ The walkouts kicked off March 5, 1968, when students began protesting at Garfield High School, and spread to other campuses to decry the shortcomings of public schools in Los Angeles’ barrios. The walkouts are viewed as a turning point in the political development of the nation’s Mexican American community. Some local leaders at... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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The title of the post comes from the subtitle of a recent book by Jeff Goodell, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilised World (Little, Brown and Co., 2017), which I’ve yet to read but is reviewed by Meehan Crist* in the London Review of Books: “Besides, I’ll be dead” (Vol. 40, No. 4 · 22 February 2018). Goodell’s book concentrates on one of the more disconcerting and eventually devastating effects of the rise of temperatures causally tied to climate change (hence ‘global warming’): the imminent threat of sea level rise which, according to Elizabeth Kolbert, is explained “with characteristic rigor and intelligence. The result is at once deeply persuasive and deeply unsettling.” And, as Crist helpfully and succinctly reminds us in her review, “Global sea level rise is hard for scientists to predict, but the trend is clear. Massive ice sheets in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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Is Amartya Sen “the century’s great critic of capitalism”? The short answer is no, he is not “the century’s great critic of capitalism,” but surely Sen should be included in our pantheon of the foremost critics of capitalism. The conclusion that captures the essence of Tim Rogan’s piece in Aeon is as follows: “There have been two critiques [i.e., the ‘moral’ and the ‘material’] of capitalism, but there should be only one [i.e., a critique that does dialectical justice to both the material and the moral modalities]. Amartya Sen is the new century’s first great critic of capitalism because he has made that clear.” I don’t think Sen needs to be elevated to such “commanding heights” if only because it casts a shadow over all his comrades who have likewise been laboring on this selfsame endeavor, proving themselves equally adept as great “critic(s) of capitalism” according to Rogan’s criteria. In... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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First, some facts for background and contextual information: A comparatively few number of people with mental illness commit acts of violence. The homeless problem is not due to the “deinstitutionalization” of mental health patients. While deinstitutionalization or the “shuttering of mental hospitals” did occur from the late 1950s into the 1960s, we should recall that, “[f]ar from being therapeutic, many of these hospitals were warehouses in which, say, schizophrenics would live alongside epileptics. Patients were often abused and rarely rehabilitated. When drugs that could control the delusions and psychoses of major mental illnesses came along, they were seen as a cheaper and more humane alternative to long-term, inpatient psychiatric care.” [I won’t here address the myriad problems we’ve since discovered about such drugs, noting merely that they have not, on the whole, proved to be an alternative to different forms of therapeutic treatment, even if, in some cases, and setting... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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“GDP, the yardstick of economic success, is choking us and the planet” By David Pilling, for the Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2018 “There are 7.6 billion people alive today annually churning out goods and services worth around $75 trillion. By the end of the century there will be roughly 11 billion people. If each of them achieved a U.S. standard of living and if the U.S. economy keeps growing at about 3%, the global economy would need to expand nearly 100 times. Chen would have to work overtime. And the world would choke in trash, its air becoming more toxic and its forests more depleted. It’s not Malthusian to wonder how much more the planet can take. Walter Berglund, the quirky hero of Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom, says that only economists believe endless growth is optimal. In biology, it is called cancer. Part of the problem is how we... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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(This is the first in a planned series on the interrelated topics indicated in the title of this post.) “In The Claim of Reason [Oxford University Press, 1979: 125], Stanley Cavell imagines that a child ‘little or big, asks me Why do we eat animals? or Why are some people poor and others rich? or What is God? or Why do I have to go to school? or Do you love black people as much as white people? or Who owns the land? or Why is there anything at all? or How did God get here?’ and he goes on to describe confronting such questions—confronting them in a thoughtful way, as opposed to repeating ‘forgone conclusions’—as ‘a task that warrants the name of philosophy.’ ‘It is also the description of something we might call education,’ he adds. John Dewey would have certainly have applauded these words. Indeed, writing in 1915,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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I’m sharing the following, sans substantive comment, from the beginning of Daniel R. DeNicola’s book, Understanding Ignorance: The Surprising Impact of What We Don’t Know (MIT Press, 2017): “In the familiar metaphor, our ignorance (whether individual or collective) is a vast, fathomless sea; our knowledge but a small, insecure island. Even the shoreline is uncertain: both the history of the human race and psychological research suggests that we know even less than we think we do. Indeed, our ignorance is extensive beyond our reckoning. [….] [Moreover,] [d]espite the spread of universal, compulsory education; despite new tools for learning and great advances of knowledge; despite the breathtaking increases in our ability to store, access, and share a super-abundance of information—ignorance flourishes. [….] [The sort of ubiquitous ignorance found] “in [our] ‘knowledge society’ during the ‘Information Age,’ … is what might be termed public ignorance, by which [is meant] widespread, reprehensible ignorance... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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I have been reading about human nature and the notion of “self” (and selves) after being inspired by P.M.S. Hacker’s consecutive chapters on “the self and the body” and “the person” in Human Nature: The Categorial Framework (Blackwell, 2007), as well as several titles by Raymond Tallis. As a result, I’d like to share a list of books I’ve found helpful in thinking about human nature and personal identity. It is comparatively short, and I cannot claim it well represents the philosophical literature on these topics although several of the titles have, in fact, been very influential among professional philosophers. This compilation is therefore unabashedly idiosyncratic, yet I’m convinced its contents should be of help to anyone leisurely or systematically exploring questions of human nature and personal identity. Albahari, Miri. Analytical Buddhism: The Two-Tiered Illusion of Self (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). Cassam, Quassim, ed. Self-Knowledge. Oxford University Press, 1994. Duerlinger, James.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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In honor of Black History Month, I’m posting bibliographies germane to the observance and celebration of Black history, although some of these lists consider that history in global or cosmopolitan terms. Africana & African American Philosophy After Slavery & Reconstruction: The Black Struggle for Civil Rights, Freedom, and Equality in the U.S. Blacks and Food Justice: A Guide to Resources Blacks on the (Radical) Left The Black Panther Party Detroit: Labor & Industrialization, Race & Politics, Rebellion & Resurgence — A Select Bibliography Frantz Fanon—A Basic Reading Guide Pan-Africanism, Black Internationalism, & Black Cosmopolitanism Slavery South African Liberation Struggles Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com
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I first read J. David Velleman’s Self to Self: Selected Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2006) when it came out over ten years ago; reading it afresh leaves me far more impressed and moved by its arguments and insights. I used to discuss the chapter, “The Genesis of Shame” in my class on comparative world religions. It’s a moral and philosophical meditation on the Adam and Eve story in Genesis, which I thought gave the students a taste of what it means to look at religious narratives as (possibly) containing “interpretations” and “meanings” that stretch beyond those emphasized by adherents to a tradition or subscribers to a specific worldview (it was not intended to belittle or deny what those believers thought about this same material), much as we understand good literature to be “speaking” in some manner to all of us (of course we need not agree on what it is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2018 at ReligiousLeftLaw.com