This is Dale Miller's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Dale Miller's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Dale Miller
Recent Activity
I started to post a link to my CV, but then I saw you specified "unjustly" neglected. :-) So how about John Skorupski, "The Ethical Character of Liberal Law"?
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2014 on Overlooked Papers at PEA Soup
Thanks for the steer, Kristina; that was very interesting.
Doug and David, For what their worth, I think that Mill might have a couple of responses to Doug's point. First, he may well think that the better educated would tend to be more disinterested. At the very least, he seems to assume that the people who have the genuinely finest minds are also the least selfish. He wouldn't have thought that more years of schooling, even (especially!) at Oxbridge, necessarily produced genuinely fine minds, but he seems to think that those who have such minds would be included among those who got plural votes. He doesn't seem to argue for this convergence of the "moral" and "intellectual" elites at all; perhaps he was just generalizing from Harriet! Second, I think he would also believe that there is more harmony than conflict between people's interests, and so in a polity in which most people pursue their self-interest, it's better from the standpoint of advancing the public good to give more power to those with a better understanding of where their interests really lie. I'm curious what others think of David's worry about the relation between education and political astuteness. Is that concern widely shared?
Aaron: Thanks, that is all interesting and plausible. You might be interested in how Mill addresses your first concern, about the "strains of commitment": To have no voice in what are partly his own concerns, is a thing which nobody willingly submits to; but when what is partly his concern is also partly another's, and he feels the other to understand the subject better than himself, that the other's opinion should be counted for more than his own, accords with his expectations, and with the course of things which in all other affairs of life he is accustomed to acquiesce in. It is only necessary that this superior influence should be assigned on grounds which he can comprehend, and of which he is able to perceive the justice.
Many of you will know that John Stuart Mill advocates a scheme whereby college graduates, and the more educated more generally, would get more votes. Like some universities, he even accepts work experience in leiu of formal education: If every... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2014 at PEA Soup
13
I'll try to get you up for a talk (I'm in Hamburg April-mid July), although I'm not sure where they are in making up the program of speakers.
Toggle Commented Jan 17, 2014 on Konstanz Reasoning Conference at PEA Soup
And I leave Germany on the 24th, sigh.
Toggle Commented Jan 16, 2014 on Konstanz Reasoning Conference at PEA Soup
Never pass up a chance to pee.
What's so puzzling is that it sounds like the chair and colleague were saying not only that the book wouldn't help the junior faculty member's tenure case but that it would hinder it. This suggests that they were not merely thinking that it wouldn't count as new research but that it would in some way detract from the other publications. Perhaps they meant only that spending time on the book would be better spent writing more papers, but it almost sounds like they thought that incorporating the papers into the book would be an ethical violation, and that is indeed strange.
Interesting stuff. Can I ask for clarification on a couple of points? First, I'd be interested to hear more about the "theoretical cost" that you think must be paid if we reject the claim that moral blame is of a piece with the other sorts of evaluation that you describe. Second, could you say more about why, if we do accept this claim, it's inevitable that "there will be some kinds of inability to do otherwise which do nothing at all to excuse behavior that violates moral standards"? Putting on my (unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and unaccountably itchy) Kantian hat, for instance, I might respond to your case 3a by simply denying that the factors you cite could make you incapable of picking me up. So I would be denying that there are sources of inability that fail to excuse in that case, on the grounds that there are no sources of inability at all.
Toggle Commented Dec 20, 2013 on Moral Responsibility and PAP at PEA Soup
My department's last APA interviews were in '98; that's the search in which I was hired. After that we switched to phone interviews. We're doing three searches this year. In a rare stroke of good timing, I chose this time to go on sabbatical, so I'm not directly involved. However, our deadlines are not until 3 January. On at least one previous occasion, we did phone interviews and maybe even campus visits prior to the APA; in that year, we were trying to make an offer before an anticipated hiring freeze. So in short, yes, now that we're no longer interviewing at the APA we frequently depart from the traditional timetable.
How does "bad talk" work on this view? It seems like the obvious answer is that to call something bad is to say it promotes something that is relevantly disvalued or "aversed." (I'm not sure that that's a word, but I'm using it so that 'aversed' is to 'aversion' as 'desired' is to 'desire'.) In that case, if something is itself relevantly aversed, then isn't it Bad for its own sake in virtue of promoting itself?
Toggle Commented Nov 13, 2013 on For S***'s Sake! at PEA Soup
Suppose there is no bystander. Would it be wrong for one of the five workmen to move the switch by shooting IT, thereby killing the lone workman? You (Thomas) seem to be saying yes, but I'm not sure that I have any intuition about this case at all. If I do, it's certainly not one to which I'd be prepared to say that any acceptable moral theory must conform.
This is a very small point, but if you decide to go with the voluntary donations model then you might want to make the suggestion to readers in addition to those who submit articles. And, in that case, you might want to think about offering those who contribute enough some small reward for doing so. The Stanford Encyclopedia lets those who donate a certain amount access articles in a format that is nicer for printing. I've been a "Friend of the SEP" for the last few years, and while this isn't my primary reason for doing so, it may very well tip the balance in terms of my willing to kick in.
I don't lose many rounds of "who can read Mill most charitably," although David and Piers may be putting me to the test here. Or maybe not; I'm not sure how far apart the three of us are here (or how far away I am from the two of you, at any rate). I'm completely on board with the first of the points that David raises in his last post; we know that the conservative influence on Mill was strongest at this point in his life, through figures like Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Carlyle. But I just don't see any way to read this passage on which it's not fundamentally inconsistent with his later views in On Liberty, and I'm not sure whether David and/or Piers is trying to suggest that this could be done. ". . . making every man his own guide & sovereign master,& letting him think for himself & do exactly as he judges best for himself, giving other men leave to persuade him if they can by evidence, but forbidding him to give way to authority; and still less allowing them to constrain him more than the existence & tolerable security of every man's person and property renders indispensably necessary." That's really quite a nice summary of the "one simple principle." Although despite my earlier joke, I don't think that I'm being uncharitable to Mill in suggesting that over the course of many years there was a fundamental change in his thinking on this point.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2013 on Say what? at PEA Soup
An understandable mistake in view of my poor record of participation here! You're more sanguine than I am about the possibility of reconciling this passage with On Liberty (not that I'm especially disturbed by the thought that Mill's views changed over time, even radically). Notice that Mill incorporates the idea of being open to persuasion by others within the description of the liberalism that he's criticizing, so I don't think that the criticism is only meant to apply to the excessively individualist attitude that one has nothing to learn from anyone else. Also, right before the passage that I quoted, Mill describes the speculative Tories as being "duly sensible that it is good for man to be ruled; to submit both his body & mind to the guidance of a higher intelligence & virtue." Surely 'ruled' here implies the use of coercion.
Toggle Commented Oct 18, 2013 on Say what? at PEA Soup
Always the non-conformist, I let my "special month" slip by without a post. I'd had been planning to contribute something about what Strawson's account of the reactive attitudes can do for consequentialists (a lot, I think, despite his being read... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2013 at PEA Soup
While this is something of a special case, with narrow application, I'd be inclined to say that some moral principles can be empirically refuted if they entail that we ought to do things that as a matter of empirical fact we cannot do.
Berit Brogaard raises an interesting point here, which is that the unconsulted co-author is probably due some portion of the royalties of the volume.
If you're far enough along that you could defend in the fall, then either you should do it or your letters should be explicit about the fact that you could defend early but are choosing not to (because, say, doing so would cause you to lose support in the spring). At my school (state school, no graduate program), we would have a preference for candidates who have already defended. A candidate who doesn't have a Ph.D. in hand at the time of appointment won't be appointed, and since we could lose the line in that case we'd certainly feel safer knowing that no possible snag could arise that would keep the degree from being awarded. If it is clear that the defense is only being delayed for financial reasons that would probably make us feel secure enough. A confident projection that the defense will happen in the spring would count for something, but not as much. I was hired in advance of my defense, but with so many people who already have Ph.D.s in hand on the market these days being ABD is more of a disadvantage. In fact, all of our recent hired have had post-docs or prior positions.
The thought that students who are able to participate more frequently and more insightfully would be advantaged in the job market doesn't much bother me, in and of itself. After all, I'd write more enthusiastic recommendations for someone whose participation in a traditional classroom was more frequent and insightful, other things being equal. But if this data is being sold to employers, that might be a reason for concern. How do students' FERPA rights enter into this? If students are only included in the "head hunting" service if they waive those rights, that might be okay. Unless, at least, waiving those rights is a precondition of taking the course.
I've always been reasonably prompt about producing individual papers, but I have a hard time staying focused on longer projects, with the result that they take years longer than they should. In all likelihood, I'd have finished my Ph.D. at least two years earlier had the portfolio of papers option been available as an alternative to a traditional thesis. So there would be a huge advantage to going the portfolio route for someone with my particular neurosis. Then again, it was only when I embarked on the dissertation that I discovered that *I* have it (a diagnosis confirmed by a subsequent monograph).
A small correction (if I'm right) to what some others have said. My interpretation of what McGinn wrote was that the student was not genuinely made uncomfortable by the double entendres, although her boyfriend apparently was, but was complaining about the emails as a way to hit back at him after he criticized her for failing to do some work.
When this issue first arose my university's provost said that we would pay health insurance for adjuncts who taught enough that they were working for us over 30 hours a week. Then, however, our Governor declared that no state entity could let part-timers work enough hours that they would be due healthcare. After much arcane calculating, it was decided that adjuncts could teach an average of three courses a term. That means six for the year if they only teach fall and spring; if they're used in the summer, too, it could get up to nine courses a year. In my department we generally limited adjuncts to four in the fall and spring terms and didn't use them during the summer, which means that we haven't had to cancel any fall courses but will have to limit several to doing two in the spring. Across my college, though, I've heard that they're looking at having to cancel 40 courses fall courses because of this. In our state, each four-year university is being treated as a separate employer, as is the community college system. This means that an adjunct could potentially teach six courses for us in a year and six more for one of the local CCs (or six between the two local CCs). Frankly, I expect that most of our virtually full-time part-timers will be able to make roughly as much money by picking up CC courses, and the CCs will certainly be needing more instructors. Overall, though, I'm sure their lives won't be as good; they'll be driving more to teach the same amount. One bright side: over the last several years our Provost has upgraded around 50 of our best adjuncts, including one in my department, into full-time positions as lecturers. She's crunching the numbers now to see how many more conversions we can afford. It shouldn't be any shock that the Obamacare provision is having this result. It was an unintended consequences, but perfectly foreseeable. I talk about the plight of adjuncts in my business ethics courses, and one question I always ask students is what would happen next if we were told that we had to provide benefits to adjuncts who teach over a certain number of courses. Answer: No one gets to teach more than that number of courses.
I haven't read all of the discussion, but contrary to what was expected, the only case in which I thought that the agent might be less responsible for E than case 1 was case 3. This was the only case in which the agent's contribution was superfluous.