Commonplace book

Brian Barry doesn't like libertarianism: 

"...[L]ibertarianism has been well defined as the form taken by liberalism as common sense asymptotically approaches zero".

"Anarchy, State and Utopia still strikes me as the equivalent of the lucubrations of somebody who believes he is a poached egg and then draws from it conclusions such as that he should sit on slices of buttered toast."

Aristotle invents analytic moral philosophy: 

"In general, we should return a benefit instead of doing a favour for our companions, just as we should repay a debt instead of giving the money to a companion. But perhaps even this is not always so. For example, if you have been ransomed from kidnappers, should you ransom in return the person who freed you, whoever he is? Or if he has not been kidnapped, but asks for his money back, should you repay him, or ransom your own father instead? It seems that you should ransom your father even in preference to yourself.

Nicomachean Ethics, 1164b

Cats don't like to work for their food:

"A new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine showed most domestic cats choose not to contrafreeload. The study found that cats would rather eat from a tray of easily available food rather than work out a simple puzzle to get their food.

“There is an entire body of research that shows that most species including birds, rodents, wolves, primates — even giraffes — prefer to work for their food,” said lead author Mikel Delgado, a cat behaviorist and research affiliate at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “What’s surprising is out of all these species cats seem to be the only ones that showed no strong tendency to contrafreeload.”"

Delgado, Han and Bain, Domestic cats (Felis catus) prefer freely available food over food that requires effort

Cats are not picky eaters: 

"The study found about 9% of known birds, 6% of known mammals, and 4% of known reptile species are eaten by cats – and they are not fussy snackers. “Cats are largely eating what is present,” researchers wrote. “If a species is missing in the diet analysis it is likely that the prey is either absent or rare in the surrounding environment”.

On Shane MacGowan: 

"He was beloved for his songwriting (Dylan, Springsteen, and Bono were ardent fans), and also for his rotten teeth (when he finally had them fixed, in 2015, his dental surgeon described the experience as “the Everest of dentistry”). That he made it this far feels like a miracle, both for him and for us."

Rousseau is saved by a sitcom trope: 

"In an ecstasy of despair and mental torment he tried, in February 1776, to place a copy of this on the high altar of Notre-Dame, only to find the gates closed. Still believing himself to be the hunted object of secret malign plotting, he wandered the streets with a leaflet entitled To All Frenchmen Who Still Love Justice and Truth, handing this to passers-by, who must have thought they were being accosted by a lunatic. In October 1776, a strange accident took place in which Rousseau was knocked down by a large dog – a Great Dane – and quite badly hurt. For some unaccountable reason this episode seems to have eased his mind and spirit, and in his last years he worked on his collection of brief essays, Reveries of the Solitary Walker, left unfinished at his death and to which I alluded earlier."

Nicholas Dent, Rousseau

On Ariely and Gino:  

"One day, Ziani came across the field study from the car-insurance paper. This data was the fishiest of all, and she sent the file to Data Colada in triumph. On a Zoom call, Simonsohn looked more closely and realized, “Hey, wait a minute. This wasn’t Francesca?” The study had been conducted by Ariely. Later, they opened the file for Gino’s contribution to the same paper, and that, too, seemed incommensurable with real data. It was difficult not to read this as a sign of the field’s blight. Simmons told me, “We were, like, Holy shit, there are two different people independently faking data on the same paper. And it’s a paper about dishonesty.”"

Hierarchy of credibility: 

"We can use the notion of a hierarchy of credibility to understand this phenomenon. In any system of ranked groups, participants take it as given that members of the highest group have the right to define the way things really are. In any organization, no matter what the rest of the organization chart shows, the arrows indicating the flow of information point up, thus demonstrating (at least formally) that those at the top have access to a more complete picture of what is going on than anyone else. Members of lower groups will have incomplete information, and their view of reality will be partial and distorted in consequence. Therefore, from the point of view of a well socialized participant in the system, any tale told by those at the top intrinsically deserves to be regarded as the most credible account obtainable of the organizations' workings. And since, as Sumner pointed out, matters of rank and status are contained in the mores, this belief has a moral quality. We are, if we are proper members of the group, morally bound to accept the definition imposed on reality by a superordinate group in preference to the definitions espoused by subordinates. (By analogy, the same argument holds for the social classes of a community.) Thus, credibility and the right to be heard are differentially distributed through the ranks of the system."

Howard S. Becker, "Whose Side Are We On?"

La Ferrara et al.'s (2012), difference-in-differences studys finds that exposure to soap operas lead to declined fertility in Brazil: "These estimates suggest that in the decade 1980–1991 the expansion of Globo accounted for about 7% of the reduction in the probability of giving birth".

People demanding not just material equality but respect:

"One indignant grassroots soldiers’ song is clear in these priorities:

Sure we’d like some tea

But give us with our tea

Some polite respect

And please have officers

Not slap us in the face.

Soldiers and workers demand to be ‘respectfully’ addressed, in the courteous second-person plural, vy, rather than as ty, the singular, which is deployed from a position of authority.

China Miéville, October

Citienship and the welfare state: 

"I am not a client, a customer, nor a service user. I am not a shirker, a scrounger, a beggar nor a thief. I am not a national insurance number, nor a blip on a screen. I paid my dues, never a penny short, and was proud to do so. I don’t tug the forelock but look my neighbour in the eye. I don’t accept or seek charity. My name is Daniel Blake, I am a man, not a dog. As such I demand my rights. I demand you treat me with respect. I, Daniel Blake, am a citizen, nothing more, nothing less. Thank you.” 

Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake,

Predatory journals:

“The worst predatory journals will publish literally anything, even the most obvious hoax. In 2014, the computer scientist Peter Vamplew became so irritated by the constant stream of junk emails from the predatory journal International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology that he submitted a joke article entitled ‘Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List’. The paper consisted entirely of the sentence ‘Get me off your fucking mailing list’ repeated over eight hundred times (including a helpful flowchart figure with boxes and arrows portraying the message Get → me → off → Your → Fucking → Mail → ing → List). The journal rated it as ‘excellent’ and accepted it for publication”

Stuart Ritchie, Science Fictions

Hobbes discovers the envy test & also "Akılları pazara çıkarmışlar, herkes yine kendi aklını almış":

"For such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves; for they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of any thing, than that every man is contented with his share."

Hobbes, Leviathan 

Religion v. superstition: 

"Fear of power invisible, feigned by the mind, or imagined from tales publicly allowed, RELIGION; not allowed, SUPERSTITION"

Hobbes, Leviathan

Where there's a will... 

"In 1983, following General Wojciech Jaruzelski's declaration of martial law aimed at suppressing the independent trade union Solidarnosc, supporters of the union in the city of Lodz developed a unique form of cautious protest. They decided that in order to demonstrate their disdain for the lies propagated by the official government television news, they would all take a daily promenade timed to coincide exactly with the broadcast, wearing their hats backwards. Soon, much of the town had joined them. Officials of the regime knew, of course, the purpose of this mass promenade, which had become a powerful and heartening symbol for regime opponents. It was not illegal, however, to take a walk at this time of day even if huge numbers did it with an obvious political purpose in mind. By manipulating a realm of ordinary activity that was open to them and coding it with political meaning, the sup- porters of Solidarity "demonstrated" against the regime in a fashion that was awkward for the regime to suppress."

James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts Resistance

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose:

"The young graduate just escaped from the pressure of the examInation system finds he has exchanged one servitude for another, for it is on his published results by number and bulk as much as by excellence that his future depends. The period of years that would most profitably be spent... in study, meditation and apparently aimless experimentation, is denied to all research workers without means, that is, already to the great majority. The result is to stifle originality at a, time when it is most fruitful and when it is still free from the later burdens of administrative and social responsibility. Another result is to burden scientific literature with masses of useless papers, which makes the task of finding good ones far more difficult than it need be."

J. D. Bernal, The Social Function of Science, 1939

"What has remained and what has been essentially increased is a factor peculiar to the university career: the question whether or not such a Privatdozent, and still more an assistant, will ever succeed in moving into the position of a full professor or even become the head of an institute. That is simply a hazard. Certainly, chance does not rule alone, but it rules to an unusually high degree. I know of hardly any career on earth where chance plays such a role. I may say so all the more since I personally owe it to some mere accidents that during my very early years I was appointed to a full professorship in a discipline in which men of my generation undoubtedly had achieved more than I had. And, indeed, I fancy, on the basis of this experience, that I have a sharp eye for the undeserved fate of the many whom accident has cast in the opposite direction and who within this selective apparatus in spite of all their ability do not attain the positions that are due them."

Weber, "Science as a Vocation", 1917

On the paradoxical marriage of neoliberalism and authoritarianism: 

"Some observers claim to have found something paradoxical in the fact that the Thatcher regime combines liberal individualist rhetoric with authoritarian action. The two are in fact simply opposite sides of the same coin. Even under the most repressive conditions...people seek to act collectively in order to improve things for themselves, and it requires an enormous exercise of brutal coercion in order to fragment these efforts at organization and force people to pursue their interests individually. Things are no different here: left to themselves, people will inevitably tend to pursue their interests through collective action—in trade unions, tenants’ associations, community organizations, and local government, for example. Only the pretty ruthless exercise of central power can defeat these tendencies: hence the common association between individualism and authoritarianism, well exemplified in the fact that the countries held up as models by the free-marketeers are, without exception, authoritarian regimes."

Brian Barry, "The Continuing Relevance of Socialism"

Rawls, the charitable reader: 

"These three different formulations illustrate the very different ways in which Kant may state a basic thought or principle. A contemporary writer would not normally write so loosely or use such a diversity of expressions. No matter: it's possible to get the sense if you listen to the music."

Rawls, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy

Next time someone says Rawls's prose is dry: 

"Lacking a sense of long-term security and the opportunity for meaningful work and occupation is not only destructive of citizens' self-respect but of their sense that they are members of society and not simply caught in it. This leads to self-hatred, bitterness, and resentment."

Rawls, Political Liberalism

"A somewhat different point is suggested by the following doubt: namely, that while the decision to preserve our sentiment of justice might be rational, we may in the end suffer a very great loss or even be ruined by it. As we have seen, a just person is not prepared to do certain things, and so in the face of evil circumstances he may decide to chance death rather than to act unjustly. Yet although it is true enough that for the sake of justice a man may lose his life where another would live to a later day, the just man does what all things considered he most wants; in this sense he is not defeated by ill fortune the possibility of which he foresaw. The question is on a par with the hazards of love; indeed, it is simply a special case. Those who love one another, or who acquire strong attachments to persons and to forms of life, at the same time become liable to ruin: their love makes them hostages to misfortune and the injustice of others. Friends and lovers take great chances to help each other; and members of families willingly do the same. Their being so disposed belongs to their attachments as much as any other inclination. Once we love we are vulnerable: there is no such thing as loving while being ready to consider whether to love, just like that. And the loves that may hurt the least are not the best loves. When we love we accept the dangers of injury and loss. In view of our general knowledge of the likely course of life, we do not think these risks so great as to cause us to cease loving. Should evils occur, they are the object of our aversion, and we resist those whose machinations bring them about. If we are loving we do not regret our love. Now if these things are true of love as the world is, or very often is, then a fortiori they would appear to be true of loves in a well-ordered society, and so of the sense of justice too. For in a society where others are just our loves expose us mainly to the accidents of nature and the contingency of circumstances. And similarly for the sentiment of justice which is connected to these affections. Taking as a bench mark the balance of reasons that leads us to affirm our loves as things are, it seems that we should be ready once we come of age to maintain our sense of justice in the more favorable conditions of a just society."

Rawls, A Theory of Justice

When optimal self-control is too expensive: 

"In theory, delay devices might be used to counteract passion, in the wide sense that also includes cravings for addictive substances. If I want to limit my drinking to social occasions but do not trust myself to do so, I could keep my liquor in a safe with a delaying device so that I would have to set it six hours ahead of time to get access to it.  In practice, I have not come across any examples of this strategy. Perhaps it is too expensive - a safe with a timer costs about $1,000..."

Jon Elster, Ulysses Unbound

Free speech for the working class: 

"The second strain is less recognizable as an infringement on free speech. This class of restrictions targeted strikes, pickets, and boycotts— including much activity that consistently was construed as economic rather than political and coercive rather than persuasive. Curtailment of labor activity occasionally originated in city councils and state legislatures, as in the case of the Los Angeles antipicketing ordinance. More often, it came directly from the courts, in the form of labor injunctions. For a brief moment during the New Deal, the First Amendment would expand to encompass speech of this sort."

Laura Weinrib, The Taming of Free Speech

Analytic philosophers do love: 

"It should be obvious, however, that love is not a deontic or juridical attitude."

Stephen Darwall, "Trust as a Second-Personal Attitude (of the Heart)

Out of context: 

"Arthur Young's eulogy to the cow seems clearly vindicated."

Jane Humphries, "Enclosures, Common Rights, and Women"

Inequality is bad for the stomach:

"The extreme inequalities in the manner of living of the several classes of mankind, the excess of idleness in some, and of labor in others, the facility of irritating and satisfying our sensuality and our appetites, the too exquisite and out of the way foods of the rich, which fill them with fiery juices, and  bring on indigestions, the unwholesome food of the poor, of which even, bad as it is, they very often fall short, and the want of which tempts them, every opportunity that offers, to eat greedily and overload their stomachs; late nights, excesses of every kind, immoderate transports of all the passions, fatigues, mental exhaustion, in a word, the numberless pains and anxieties annexed to every condition, and which the mind of man is constantly a prey to...."

Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality

An early anti-natalist:

"A famous author, calculating the goods and evils of human life and comparing the two sums, has found that the latter greatly surpassed the former and that all things considered life was a rather poor present for man."

Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality


"Desire, to know why, and how, CURIOSITY; such as is in no living creature but man: so that man is distinguished, not only by his reason; but also by this singular passion from other animals; in whom the appetite of food, and other pleasures of sense, by predominance, take away the care of knowing causes; which is a lust of the mind, that by a perseverance of delight in the continual and indefatigable generation of knowledge, exceedeth the short vehemence of any carnal pleasure."

Hobbes, Leviathan

Cognitive foundations of ideology: 

"The fates of human beings are not equal. Men differ in their states of health or wealth or social status or what not. Simple observation shows that in every such situation he who is more favored feels the never ceasing need to look upon his position as in some way "legitimate," upon his advantage as "deserved," and the other's disadvantage as being brought about by the latter's "fault." That the purely accidental causes of the difference may be ever so obvious makes no difference." 

Weber, Economy and Society

The rich are very different from you and me:

"In 2020, I started buying sustainable jet fuel and will fully offset my family's aviation emissions in 2021."

Bill Gates, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

On Marx-can relate:

"Marx was a tremendous nonfinisher of work that he had projected."

Alan Ryan, On Politics

Next time you teach induction: 

"...[Y]ou might notice that some of them [primes], when you divide them by 3, you get a remainder of 1, that they’re 1 more than a multiple of 3. So things like 7, which is 1 more than 6, or 13, which is 1 more than 12. And some of those primes, like 11, or 17, which is 2 more than 15, they’ll have a remainder of 2 when you divide them by 3, because they’re 2 more than a multiple of 3. And so you could think of these primes in teams. Team 1 is all the ones that are 1 more than a multiple of 3 and Team 2 are all the ones that are 2 more than a multiple of 3. And as you go through the primes and you list the primes, you could list all the primes and you could tally up, and see how many are on Team 1, and how many are on Team 2. And if you did that tally up to 600 billion, at every point, every number up to 600 billion, you would find that there are more Team 2 primes than Team 1 primes. So, you might naturally conjecture, based on that evidence, that there will always be more Team 2 primes than Team 1 primes. Turns out, at a number around 608-billion-something, I forget the exact number, it changes."

 Melanie Matchett Wood, How Do Mathematicians Know Their Proofs Are Correct?

"“Perhaps there is a clue in a story told about Hans Reichenbach, a professor of philosophy in Berlin in the early 1930s. Like Popper, Reichenbach escaped to the English-speaking world as totalitarianism engulfed his Germanic homeland. Reichenbach had not thought much about Hume’s worry that the future may fail to resemble the past until 1933. In that year, the Nazis burned the Reichstag, took control of the University of Berlin, and expelled many of its Jewish professors and staff, Reichenbach included. “Then,” Reichenbach is said to have observed, “I understood at last the problem of induction.”

Michael Strevens, The Knowledge Machine

On the dangers of being friends with dictators:

"Although he was always ordering books, Stalin borrowed from others as well. The poet Demyan Bedny was foolish enough to complain that he hated to lend his books to Stalin because they were returned covered with greasy fingermarks. That was the last Bedny saw of his luxurious apartment."

Gary Saul Morson, "Stalin: his own avatar"

The subtle ways in which we fall into vice:

"In Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s splendid tragedy, The Visit of the Old Lady, an incredibly rich woman who had been wronged in her youth by her lover now offers the residents of her hometown $1 million to kill him. At first the offer is angrily rejected by the citizens as deeply immoral, but the woman induces them to raise their consumption and take on debts. Finally as they accommodate themselves to their new level of comfort, they decide to kill the lover who refused to accept paternity for her child so many years ago."

Debra Satz,  Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale

Markets v. censorship: 

“When Galileo’s Dialogue on Two World Systems went on the Index in the early seventeenth century, even Catholic monks rushed to get it, helping to push the black-market price to ten times the original. One canny German publisher told its authors to “write anything . . . that will be forbidden.”"

Eric Berkowitz, Dangerous Ideas

The kind of correction that really matters:

"Morris had remarked that Kuhn smoked incessantly, and that he smoked Pall Mall cigarettes. Morris even included an old Pall Mall advertisement in the published piece. Sarah Kuhn, though, corrects Morris, noting that he never smoked Pall Mall cigarettes; rather, Kuhn’s brand was Camel..."

K. Brad Wray, "Thomas Kuhn, Hyperbole, and the Ashtray: Evidence of Morris’ Faulty Memory"

Marx's motto--forgotten by many Marxists: 

“Marx was a good critic of his own views; he might wriggle and twist in his attempts to make sense of the world, but he was deeply respectful of the facts. “Stupidity never helped the working class” was the insult he hurled at the utopian socialist Wilhelm Weitling in 1847, but it was Marx’s motto.”

Alan Ryan, On Politics

Paine's luck: 

"“He was made a French citizen and given a seat in the National Convention, but fell foul of Marat over the execution of Louis XVI, and spent ten months in prison under the Terror. He survived because the chalk mark that indicated he was to be executed was placed on the wrong door.”

Alan Ryan, On Politics

Business as usual under authoritarianism: 

"Timothy Colton also tells a story about a post-Soviet official who reproached his subordinate for implementing his written instruction: ‘If I had wanted you to do something, I would have called you.’"

Alena V. Ledeneva, Can Russia Modernise?

Marx's Blue Books / Parliamentary democracy working: 

"Over a hundred Royal Commissions were set up between 1832 and 1849, with experts being examined, information compiled, and their reports, published as ‘Blue Books’, selling thousands of copies across the land and providing a detailed factual basis for public debate. ”

Richard J. Evans, The Pursuit of Power: Europe, 1815-1914

An unexpected enemy of sexual equality: 

“Proudhon was vehemently opposed to female equality. If women obtained equal political rights, he declared, men would find them ‘odious and ugly’, and it would bring about ‘the end of the institution of marriage, the death of love and the ruin of the human race’. ‘Between harlot or housewife,’ he concluded, ‘there is no halfway point.”

Richard J. Evans, The Pursuit of Power: Europe, 1815-1914

The Freedom Tree:

““The Voortmans were originally Dutch and the company had an office in Amsterdam; the family was known to be Orangist. Moreover, the firm was unpopular not only because of its introduction of machinery but also because it had responded to a strike in November 1829 by locking the workers out, hiring twenty-five spinners from France, and getting several of the strikers sent to prison. In 1831 the workers spread a rumour that the company was concealing weapons on its premises; they broke in and during their search they also, not coincidentally, smashed the factory machines. Somewhat tactlessly, the owner told workers demanding the reopening of the factory ‘Go and eat your freedom tree if you are hungry!’ The workers broke into his house, beat him badly, and forced him to kiss the Freedom Tree, though they did not make him eat it. When he recovered and reopened the factory, in 1832, wages were lowered, only twenty-seven of the previously employed 132 workers were re-hired, and the police were called in to protect him from the workers yet again.”

Richard J. Evans, The Pursuit of Power: Europe, 1815-1914

Potato in history: 

“It took a long time to find acceptance among the European peasantry. In Russia in the 1830s, peasants called potatoes ‘apples of the Devil’, and government attempts to make state serfs plant them sparked a series of violent disturbances known as the ‘potato revolts’. In 1834 the English radical William Cobbett (1763–1835) dubbed the potato ‘this nasty, filthy hog feed’, while in one French district, the Sologne, it was “reported ten years later that the local inhabitants ‘would consider themselves disgraced if they ate potatoes’. ”

“Among other things, he [Kapodistrias ] also introduced the potato into Greece in an effort to improve people’s diet. At first, this met with deep scepticism among the peasantry, who refused to take up his offer of free distribution of seed potatoes to anyone who would plant them. Trying a new tactic, Kapodistrias had the potatoes piled up on the waterfront at Nafplio and surrounded by armed guards. This convinced local people and visitors from the countryside that these new vegetables were precious objects, and thus worth stealing. Before long, as the guards turned a blind eye, virtually all the potatoes had been taken – and their future in Greece was assured.”

Richard J. Evans, The Pursuit of Power: Europe, 1815-1914

Technology and control: 

"A classic example of the politics of technological design in the fields of California where there occurred decades long struggles over “el cortito,” the short handled hoe.  Farm workers objected to its shape and its enforced use because the hoe was hard on their bodies and imposed onerous conditions of discipline. The bosses could always see who was working because they were bending over; those who were standing upright were subject to reprimand. After many years of struggle, el cortito was eventually outlawed by the State of California.  At the funeral of Cesar Chavez, leader of the fight for the rights of farm workers, el cortito was placed on the altar as a symbol of struggle and victory."

Langdon Winner, "Is There A Right To Shape Technology?"

Condorce, not passing:

"The great exponent of a state in which science and virtue would be mutually reinforcing, the Marquis de Condorcet, died in abject defeat, escaping from house arrest in Paris in May 1794 and walking all the way to Clamart only to arouse suspicion at an inn when he ordered an omelette. "How many eggs?" asked the patronne. "Twelve," replied Condorcet... He was locked up for the Revolutionary Tribunal but was found dead in his cell before he could be transported to Paris." 

Simon Schama, Citizens

Agains method in teaching: 

"Feyerabend was not one of my favorite professors, but he was a very distinctive professor. He was teaching Ancient Philosophy. He would just sit on the stage at the front of the lecture hall, rambling for the whole period about relativism and the presocratics. It wasn’t so bad, but I don’t think we learned much from him. We never did manage to get to Aristotle in that class. The TA’s had to assign the grades because, I was told, Feyerabend was not allowed to assign grades anymore, since he would just write “A” on the top of the grade sheet and an arrow all the way down. One time, a student had died during the semester but still got an A from Feyerabend. Feyerabend reportedly said, “Well, he would have gotten an A.”

Michael Huemer, What Is It Like to Be a Philosopher?

The persistence of law:

"In I 944 a woman was prosecuted i n England and convicted for telling fortunes in violation of the Witchcraft Act, I735.

Hart, The Concept of Law

Reason under dictatorship:

"I am particularly glad to read in his acknowledgments the tribute to Tibor Szamuely, who understood Stalinism better than I did. I remember saying to him that I could see why Stalin had Marshal Tukhachevski shot, but why did he do the same to his old friend Marshal Yegorev? Tibor’s answer was “Why not?”"

Robert Conquest, Kingsley Amis and ‘The Great Terror’

First rule of dictatorships:

"In private, Lin was in fact decidedly more critical than Peng, confiding in his private diary that the Great Leap Forward was 'based on fantasy and a total mess'. But he knew that the best way to maintain power was to shower the Chairman with flattery. Lin had realised long ago how crucial it was to exalt Mao: 'He worships himself, he has blind faith in himself, adores himself, he will take credit for every achievement but blame others for his failures'."

Frank Dikötter, Dictators: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century

The only copy of Theory almost destroyed; Rawls again proving to be a remarkably decent person:

"Rawls’s closest personal encounter with specifically political violence was as victim, rather than as a perpetrator or a sympathizer:

During the 1969–1970 academic year, Rawls intended to finish his book at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. The year almost ended in disaster when the Rawlses received an early morning phone call informing them that the Center had been bombed. “Jack’s first reaction,” says Margaret Rawls, “was to turn pale and say, ‘I can’t do it again.’” But the manuscript, while soaked, was still legible.

(Ponce 1999)

The front page of the Stanford Daily News of April 27, 1970, was divided between the firebombing story and a report on a campus-wide strike called to demand that the Stanford administration oust ROTC, the Reserve Officer Training Corps. An inside page ran a Jules Feiffer cartoon, depicting two sleek, adult white men, tête-à-tête, whose dialogue suggested that, because ecology requires socialism, ecology is not a discussable issue. It was a wild time.

Philosopher Amelie Rorty was also at the Center, and she recalls Rawls’s deportment:

When we heard that the Center had been attacked overnight, we all rushed up the hill in the early morning to see what had happened. The fire was limited to the wing that held Rawls’s study and that of the anthropologist M.N. Srinivas. Srinivas’s study was completely burnt . . . a lifetime of research notes on class and caste in an Indian village were entirely destroyed, lost. He was walking around in a daze when Jack came up. Before going into his own study (next door to Srinivas’s) to see what damage had been done to the only revised copy of Theory of Justice, Jack took Srinivas off for a long walk in the hills behind the Center. Only after they returned from the walk about an hour later, did Jack go into his study to see that his manuscript was waterlogged but intact. It was completely characteristic of Jack to help someone in grief before turning to his own concern.

(Rorty, personal e-mail correspondence, 2016)"

W. A. Edmundson, John Rawls: Reticent Socialist

Labor republicanism and distributive epistemic justice: 

"To think for oneself was part of becoming free from the will of another. And the practice of reading, thinking, and debating was itself part of the education. Second, these educational initiatives were a practical necessity, not just an expression of independence. The natural tendency of most cultural institutions, even under conditions of freedom of the press, was to “foster prejudices rather than cultivate intelligence.” Only their own cultural institutions could provide the alternative information and stimulus that could educate workers into a “true sense of their own surroundings” and a full sense of their competence as political actors."

Alex Gourevitch, From Slavery to the Cooperative Commonwealth

Class war in the media:
"In the early 1900s, the Los Angeles Times unremittingly editorialized against labor unions, the push for an eight- hour workday, and the closed shop. “This city is unique in having driven to bay the snarling pack of union labor wolves that have infested many other cities of the land and have snapped their red-seeking jaws over the fallen form of industrial freedom,” asserted one editorial. The Los Angeles Times publisher, Harrison Gray Otis (referred to as “General Otis” due to his military background) saw himself leading an all- out class war against labor unions. He stockpiled weapons at his printing plant and forced his employees— whom he referred to as his “phalanx”— to drill with rifles. Otis drove around town in a touring car equipped with a brass cannon mounted to the front and an ammunition box hinged to the back. Class antagonism reached a head in 1910 when the anarchist McNamara brothers bombed the Los Angeles Times building, an event that gripped national attention for years."

Victor Pickard, Democracy Without Journalism?

Next time you teach underdetermination:
“ In late 2011, neutrinos created at the CERN research facility in Switzerland were clocked traveling faster than the speed of light—an athletic feat forbidden by Einstein’s theory of relativity. Rather than discard relativity, the great majority of physicists supposed instead that something had gone wrong with the measurement apparatus. The matter did not rest there, however; having saved relativity from falsification, they followed Popper’s advice and set to work testing the supposition on which the rescue depended: that “something had gone wrong.” An exhaustive overhaul of the experimental machinery vindicated their conservatism. It turned out that a cable was loose.”

Michael Strevens, The Knowledge Machine

Luxemburg on Lenin:

"Lenin says that intellectuals remain individualists and tend to anarchism even after they have joined the socialist movement. According to him, it is only among intellectuals that we can note a repugnance for the absolute authority of a Central Committee. The authentic proletarian, Lenin suggests, finds by reason of his class instinct a kind of voluptuous pleasure in abandoning himself to the clutch of firm leadership and pitiless discipline."

Rosa Luxemburg, Organizational Questions of the Russian Social Democracy

Invisibility and power:

"Capitalists don't like to be called capitalists, at least not in public; they prefer to remain invisible, or at least be called by some other name."

David Schweickart, After Capitalism

Why finding out what subordinate groups believe is hard:

"Power relations are not, alas, so straightforward that we can call what is said in power-laden contexts false and what is said offstage true. Nor can we simplistically describe the former as a realm of necessity and the latter as a realm of freedom. What is certainly the case, however, is that the hidden transcript is produced for a different audience and under different constraints of power than the public transcript. By assessing the discrepancy between the hidden transcript and the public transcript we may begin to judge the impact of domination on public discourse.”

James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance

Manipulation and autonomy: 

"When one person exerts tight control over another’s choices, his treatment of her is disrespectful not because it “fails to honor [her] right to make [her] own decisions,”  or even because it undermines her control over her life or her world, but because it involves treating her as an (autonomous) object in his world, a character in his plot, rather than as someone with whom he shares the world, someone whose plot interacts with his own in ways he has not himself plotted."

Sarah Buss, "Valuing Autonomy and Respecting Persons"

A pluralistic, and tragic, response to the problem of evil: 

"One strand of the Jewish tradition, Kabbalah, holds—I follow the descriptions of the great scholar Gershom Scholem—that within the divine being, within einsof (translated as without limits), there are attributes, realms (sefirot). Evil in the world results, in the standard  Kabbalist view, through a tension between various divine attributes. These attributes each are good in themselves. No attribute is bad or evil or blameworthy. Only somehow in their interaction things don’t work out so well. It is not an accident, I think, that for the two attributes which didn’t work out so well, the Kabbalist writers focused on judgment (din) and loving kindness or mercy (chesed). These were in tension, they somehow couldn’t reach the right balance; because of their tension and imbalance, trouble occurs in the created world.

You might ask: Why couldn’t the divine being get them into the right balance? Isn’t that an imperfection in the divine being? But between judgment and loving kindness, between justice and mercy, who knows what the right balance should be? These things are always in tension."

Nozick, The Examined Life

On the conditions of academic freedom, which no longer exist, if they ever did:

"The long struggle for academic freedom has provided our universities with the means of protecting the scientist from many of the immediate pressures of convention or prejudice. The university at its best provides its workers with a strong sense of group solidarity and security, plus a substantial degree of personal and intellectual freedom. Both are essential in the development of new knowledge, much of which can arouse opposition because of its tendency to challenge current beliefs and practices."

Vannevar Bush, Science: The Endless Frontier

Turning the tables:

"B. F. Skinner's students supposedly conspired to pay attention to him only if he took a step toward the door.  Soon--the story goes--they had conditioned Skinner to deliver his lecture from the hallway."

Robert Noggle, "Manipulative Actions: A Conceptual and Moral Analysis"

Analytic philosophers do life: 

"Leading a human life is a full-time occupation, to which everyone devotes decades of intense concern."

Nagel, "The Absurd"

Clearing lemmings' name:

"Elton returned on the second Oxford Spitzbergen expedition in 1923, this time as chief scientist, as well as on the third in 1924. Out of this study came his account of lemming behaviour that has lived on in a curious manner as popular knowledge. The notion that lemmings have a suicidal urge to throw themselves off cliffs can be traced to Elton’s publication in which he wrote that the small creatures marched ‘with great speed and determination into the sea’. The jump of the lemmings was later animated by Disney and in that cinematic form witnessed by millions. However, it is a myth. Lemmings do experience peaks in populations, and can suddenly seem to be ubiquitous when the snow covering their tunnels melts. Lemmings can appear to be running everywhere in these peaks, but they do not make for cliffs."

Jon Agar, Science in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

An likely recruit

" 1915, when Germany declared merchant shipping as legitimate targets, and especially following the sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania in May 1915, the submarine was established as a terrifyingly effective weapon of war. The unprecedented loss of shipping would justify some unusual scientifi c responses, among them the conditioning of sea lions, in a manner akin to Pavlov’s dogs, to locate U-boats."

Jon Agar, Science in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

Really serious about getting rid of metaphysics:

"After lecturing on "Science and Life," Carnap met with Ludwig Hilberseimer, Meyer's crucial appointment to the architectural department. Hilberseimer and his colleagues insisted that not only the artists' theories also their objects (such as the Bauhaus lamps) still contained metaphyics, and that these needed to be purged."

Peter Galison, "Aufbau/Bauhaus: Logical Positivism and Architectural Modernism"

Cat power: 

"Cats possessed occult power independently of their association with witchcraft and deviltry. They could prevent the bread from rising if they entered bakeries in Anjou. They could spoil the catch if they crossed the path of fishermen in Brittany. If buried alive in Beam, they could clear a field of weeds. They figured as staple ingredients in all kinds of folk medicine aside from witches' brews. To recover from a bad fall, you sucked the blood out of a freshly amputated tail of a tomcat. To cure yourself from pneumonia, you drank blood from a cat's ear in red wine. To get over colic, you mixed your wine with cat excrement. You could even make yourself invisible, at least in Brittany, by eating the brain of a newly killed cat, provided it was still hot."

Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre

Reason under dictatorship:

"And if you were one of the real elite, you had a little personal exemption from some of the constraints of the world you ruled over. You could command the command economy to simulate, just for you, a little bit of what you had admired on your trips abroad. Brezhnev himself, for example, was very taken with denim jackets when he visited America, despite being a bulky sixty-something at the time. When he came home he summoned his tailor, Aleksandr Igmand, and had one made to measure. The problem was the metal buttons. The USSR didn’t manufacture the right kind. So a special order was put in to a steel foundry, and back came just enough round American-type metal buttons to ornament one jacket. As a procedure, it was the absolute opposite of the dream of harnessing the fecundity of mass production: but as Brezhnev drove out of Moscow on a summer evening in his jean jacket, black coiffure shining, a tyrant without a cause, he could tell himself that the promise of abundance had been kept for him, at least."

Francis Spufford, Red Plenty

Different ways to think about death:

"When he had thought of death before, he had thought of it either as a literary event or as the slow, quiet attrition of time against imperfect flesh. He had not thought of it as the explosion of violence upon a battlefield, as the gush of blood from a ruptured throat."

John Williams, Stoner

Weber responding to critics:

"One should really only criticize things which one has read, or the argument of which, if read, one has not already forgotten."

Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

An unresolved mystery about the Frankfurt School: 

"Osha Neumann was sceptical about the philosopher as prophet of libidinal liberation [Herbert Marcuse], not least because his stepfather loved stuffed toys. ‘He felt a particular kinship with hippos, not as they actually shit and fight in the forest, but as some teddy bear version’, recalled Neumann... ‘He would sit with this one stuffed hippo on his lap and project this image of a non-aggressive, non-genital sexuality.’ Marcuse shared that fondness with Adorno who, as noted earlier, in letters to his mother would address her as ‘My dear, faithful Wondrous Hippo Cow’ and, occasionally, sign himself off as ‘Hippo King Archibald’. Why did the Frankfurt School fetishise hippos so much? We may never know.”

Stuart Jeffries, Grand Hotel Abyss

Oh vanity:

"Researchers can also manipulate where they stand in a hierarchy of prestige. By way of example, the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) website routinely generates a list of the top 10 downloaded papers by field. A recent study shows that individuals game the system, downloading their own papers when they are “close” to being in the top 10 or in danger of losing their top 10 status."

Paula Stephan, How Economics Shapes Science

Positive psychology circa 1918:

"The German Army had asked for peace talks because it knew that it was fast losing the war. Germany had already seen the surrender of its two major allies, Ottoman Turkey and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was rapidly fragmenting as one ethnic group after another declared its independence. The most powerful German commander, General Erich Ludendorff, had had a nervous breakdown, raging at his staff, drinking heavily, and suffering panic attacks; a hastily summoned psychologist advised flowers in his office and the singing of folk songs when he woke in the morning."

Adam Hochschild, A Hundred Years After the Armistice

Good governance in 1023:

"I shall not break forcibly into any church, nor into the stores of any church, except with the intent of apprehending a wretched violator of the peace or an assassin. I shall not imprison any peasants or their wives, nor any merchants; I shall not seize their money or compel them to free themselves by paying a ransom. I do not intend for them to lose their possessions on account of some local war fought by their lord, nor will I have them flogged in order to seize their means of sustenance. I will neither destroy nor burn down their houses. I will not pull up the roots of their vineyards, not even by claiming that it is necessary for the conduct of war; nor will I use that same pretext to seize their wine."

Gianfranco Poggi, The Development of the Modern State: A Sociological Introduction

Schopenhauer doesn't like Hegel:

"Hegel, installed from above, by the powers that be, as the certified Great Philosopher, was a flat-headed, insipid, nauseating, illiterate charlatan, who reached the pinnacle of audacity in scribbling together and dishing up the craziest mystifying nonsense. This nonsense has been noisily proclaimed as immortal wisdom by mercenary followers and readily accepted as such by all fools, who thus joined into as perfect a chorus of admiration as had ever been heard before. The extensive field of spiritual influence with which Hegel was furnished by those in power has enabled him to achieve the intellectual corruption of a whole generation."

Schopenhauer quoted in Popper, Open Society and Its Enemies

The real reason Owenism failed:

Faced with new social problems, two very different communitarian remedies battled against the prevailing liberalizing current: "Owenism" in the 1820s and 1830s, and "Young Englandism" in the 1830s and 1840s. Robert Owen (1771-1858) was a brilliant young Welsh businessman who made a quick fortune in cotton in the 1800s. His textile mill at New Lanark (with Jeremy Bentham as a partner) aimed to provide an enlightened industrial model, and it drew thousands of visitors to see the houses and schools provided for workers, making its owner a celebrity-though some employees left because there was too much compulsory music and dancing."

Robert Tombs, The English and Their History