Monday, September 27, 2010

Legal "Realism"

In a past post, I talked about the troubling issue of tense in the legal status of those who commit crimes. We "presume them innocent" until found guilty by a jury or other sanctioned legal body. But this seems like nonsense talk because it's the crime that makes them guilty, not the judgment. Also, I mentioned that the doctrine would not make sense of legal mistakes. Judges, juries, prosecutors, police, etc can make mistakes and thus on occasion, when legal rulings are overturned, it would seem that people can be exonerated in the full meaning of that term.

I just found out that the doctrine that legal rulings by legit legal institutions are what makes the legal standing (and not as opposed to actual state of affairs of events which makes the case of guilt or innocence, e.g.) is called (absurdly) 'legal realism'! This is almost the opposite of moral realism which basically says that the rights or wrongs are not determined by what people or institutions say is right or wrong but posits moral facts of the matter independent of what people say which does determine (are the "truth-makers") of moral claims.

Friday, September 24, 2010

genocide once more

I had a post earlier on the philosophical relevance of the concept of genocide a while back. But it occurred to me that the main reason why I gather genocide is so bad is because it is not only a crime against each individual in a victimized population but it is a crime against the group as such. Thus it would seem to be worse than mere democides or mass murder on a comparable scale because these other kinds of mass killings etc may be seen as nothing over and above the crimes perpetrated against each member of the group added together. Because there is the further crime against a group as well as each individual within it, genocide is a crime over and above the other kinds of -cides. Perhaps this shows that most people's intuitions on the badness of genocide shows that (or at least compels them to admit so) a group of people (which is a collection of individuals and hence an abstract object unlike a person which presumably is a concrete object) as such has certain rights. But what kind of rights do groups have other than those protecting them from genocide and how are they related to individuals' rights within groups?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My review of Zen and the Art of motorcycle Maintenance

Here. This book is like many of the philosophizing books of Ayn Rand. A whole lot of words and no substance. In case there's any ambiguity in my review, I didn't think it was very good.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I can't say I'm surprised about this. The evolutionary psychologist Marc D. Hauser of Harvard has been implicated and found at fault on 8 counts of academic misconduct by Harvard investigators. From what the Times Higher Education has reported, it looks to be a case of academic fraud (as detailed by a letter to the Times from Hauser's research assistant) but Harvard's investigation has not publically stated yet what the misconduct was for. I wrote scathing a book review of his “Moral Minds” book at amazon two years ago.