Monday, June 30, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Academia...

...is the worst profession I have ever had the misfortune of working in.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm not holding my breath.

I don't really care what Prentice's "copyright reform" bill says. If it doesn't include -- and it won't -- measures strengthening fair use provisions and encouraging file-sharing, it's garbage. Copyright, as it currently stands, cannot continue. It will either fall because of mass civil disobedience (what is currently happening), in which case many people who make creative works will end up screwed; or it will fail because government has the foresight to put it out of our misery.

In any event, the Liberal Party of Canada has shown itself unwilling to stop its grand coalition partner from screwing up policy on immigration, climate change, and taxation, just to name a few. Without action on their part, no one else in Parliament has the numbers to stop the Conservatives from passing this bill. So, this bill will likely pass, once it's introduced, and thousands if not millions of Canadians will suddenly be exposed to civil liability from massive multinational corporations.

I was wondering, briefly, if I'd been too harsh on the Liberals as of late. Now, I think I wasn't harsh enough.

Uh huh.

According to Garth Turner, this Friday will be the day the Liberals decide to end this grand coalition government.

Sure thing, Garth. Whatever you say.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008

Oh, honestly.

This is making the rounds. Crispin Sartwell is pimping his new book and he gives this challenge:
My irritating yet astounding new book Against the State (SUNY Press) argues that

(1) The political state or government rests on violence (force and coercion).
(2) Violence is always wrong if it can't be morally justified. (That is, violence is wrong if it lacks a moral justification.)
(3) The arguments for the moral legitimacy of state - for example those of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Hegel, Rawls, and Habermas - are unsound.
(4) Hence, state power has not been shown to be morally defensible.

Until you show me otherwise, I insist that government power is in every case illegitimate.

Not only are the existing arguments for the legitimacy of state power unsound; they are pitiful, embarrassments to the Western intellectual tradition.

So I issue a challenge: Give a decent argument for the moral legitimacy of state power, or reconstruct one of the traditional arguments in the face of the refutations in Against the State.

If you can't, you are rationally obliged to accept anarchism.

Henceforward, if you continue to support or observe the authority of government, you are an evil, irrational cultist.

You're an anarchist now, baby, until further notice.
I'm going to go out on a limb and suppose that (3) is the meat of the book. However, I'm not convinced of either (1) or (2), and I'm certainly not convinced of the following implicit premise:
(0) State power can only be justified holistically.
That is, the argument as given assumes that we're looking to justify state power in all aspects, all at once, instead of piecemeal. I don't think that's right. I think it's perfectly coherent to hold, say, that the state's use of coercion to punish murderers is legitimate, but hold that the state's use of coercion to make us wear seatbelts is not.

That said, (1) I find dubious because I don't think that state power always rests on force and coercion. This seems to me to confuse, in a blatant way, power and authority. Power is based on force and coercion (indeed, it may be said that power is constituted by force and coercion). However, authority is based on normative weight: he has authority who has something like the balance of reasons on his side. Power, then, is a backing for authority, and is legitimated by service to legitimate authority. So, in the end, I suppose I'm suggesting that Sartwell is guilty of missing the point.

As for (2), I find it dubious as it assumes, without argument, that violence is by default wrong. That's a popular line, certainly, but what's the argument for it? I don't know of one, and I can't see what one would look like. Surely the presumption is that violence is neither right nor wrong until either shown to be justified or shown to be unjustified (respectively). Suspension of judgement strikes me as a more reasonable default position than condemnation.

Anarchists. Feh. Even libertarians are less annoying.