Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thomas Friedman's Because We Could

I couldn't find a free version of the Friedman article, but here's a pay version (though I'm not recommending you pay for it, mind you).

And the abstract hints at the point I was making:

DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - Thomas L Friedman Op-Ed column on furor over failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq holds real, unstated, reason for war was need to show Arab-Muslim world in wake of Sept 11 terrorism that Americans will fight to defend their open society; holds Saddam Hussein was target because he was vulnerable, deserved it and was in midst of that world; says all neighboring governments got message, which is important because government's let terrorism happen; holds Iraq must be rebuilt to ensure victory in war

Friday, August 25, 2006

Articles from class ---

Following are a few articles I am talking about in class.

The first is the Macaca reference.

Next is the article on the recent bus segregation incident.

Finally, an article on Survivor.

And, just in case this comes up, here is a quote I found real interesting from the O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: But aren't they hypocrites rather than bigots? See, here is what I am objecting to. We had John Podhoretz, who is a columnist send - he is a conservative guy. He says that Al Gore is insane. OK. That is just the usual partisan rhetoric. Ann Coulter calls people witches, harpies, all kinds -- retarded. Name calling is one thing but labeling a person a bigot, all right, saying they are anti-Semitic or homophobic, that elevates it up into here is a hater. That person is a hater. These columnists don't know these people. They don't know me. They don't know Mel Gibson. They don't know anybody. To do that, I think, is grossly irresponsible."

Friday, July 14, 2006

The course will focus on two books: Kwame Anthony Appiah's Ethics of Identity and Race and Racism, Bernard Boxill, ed.

Appiah is one of the leading scholars in philosophy of race, and I hope we will find his book fascinating (Even fascinating enough to do the reading in a summer course!). It does not concentrate on philosophy of race, but raises the main philosophical issues of the course: What is an identity? How does it affect our autonomy? What role, if any, does culture play in either identity or autonomy? And, finally, what role should the state have in helping us figure out what are identities are and in fostering our autonomy?

The last question may seem surprising, but Appiah has interesting arguments to the effect that the state should have some role in what he calls, 'soul making.'

Which is a fascinating idea (Fascinating enough to do the reading in a summer school course!)! The state making our souls? Sounds like everything the good Political Liberal stands against (By definition, as it were, if you are familiar with Rawls). So, how can it be justified?

We'll see this summer, coming soon (less than a month away) to a UCLA near you!


Thursday, June 15, 2006

--David Goldman--

So, our class finally got a TA.

And I think you'll be pretty excited to hear who it is: David Goldman.

I know you are probably wondering how I pulled that off. Well, I have to admit, I had to give up some good prospects.

Now you are probably wondering, good prospects? Was Goldman really worth that much? I mean, think of the future, man!

I have two responses: Yes. I'm pretty excited for our course to have signed Goldman and I think it was worth it because we want a great course now. Besides, you never know how prospects will turn out. Look at Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Lebron James, Moses Malone, and all those other players who came out of high school to play in the NBA, did any of them turn out to be any good? Would you seriously take a young Bryant and when you could have a Goldman nearing his TA-Prime?

Second, I'm probably gonna be gone from this institution in a year or so anyway...

So, I'm pretty excited. I've looked over the roster (we've got great students), I've started on the syllabus (It's going to be an amazing syllabus -- perhaps nearing my record 9-page syllabus from last year), and I've even started the reading! (Thanks to Collin O'Neill, who gave me some of the important articles in the discipline so I have not had to actually enter a library...yet...)

This is all pretty exciting if you ask me...

(And if you don't ask me, what are you doing reading my blog? That certainly seems like an implicit asking of me...)

(On another note: I did a spell check of this blog before posting it, and 'blog' came out spelled wrong. They don't have 'blog' in the blog spell-check dictionary? That's pretty stupid if you ask me...and if you don't ask me...)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Talk on Philosophy of Race

If anyone would like to see a sneak preview of this course, I will be giving a presentation on Philosophy of Race to the Philosophy Club on Tuesday, May 30, at 6:30 in Dodd 399.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Philosophy of Race

----- Philosophy 150 -----

Summer Session C

Philosophy 150 (Society and Morals) this Summer Session C at UCLA will be Philosophy of Race.

Much of the thinking in the philosophy of race field starts with a simple empirical fact: there's no such thing as race. Now, philosophers are quite well known for picking at statements for no good reason. "Of course," one would annoyingly say, "there's such a thing as race, it's a politically/socially constructed concept used to identify groups, often for the subjugation of some and the uplifting of the privilege of others."

Well, in that sense, maybe there is such a thing as race, but there's no biologically defined category of race that we might use to determine other factors about people due to their racial membership. There's no biological way to determine whether someone is intelligent or good at basketball based on their race. There's no such thing as race, in that sense.

But, race is clearly a thing in a socially-constructed sense, and philosophy of race attempts to figure out what that means and how it affects us.

In Philosophy 150, coming this summer to a UCLA near you, we will be attempting to answer this question. Specifically, we will be looking at the ways in which a socially constructed concept
deeply affects our identity. Each of us, whether we like it, or whether we like it some of the time and for some things, identifies with our race. Society would not allow us to do otherwise. Even people who adamantly attempt to opt out ("I don't see races, only people" type of people), have too much of their identity socially formed to actually opt out. And, it might be that the "I don't see races, only people" type of people have something right (that's one of the things we'll be trying to figure out), but they just can't choose to opt out, even in the most fundamental sense of how race affects their very own identity.

But what does this mean? How can I not be in charge of forming my identity? What's this "identity" thing anyway? If you think it is socially constructed, shouldn't we refer to it more like a social-dentity, since you don't even think I get to do it by myself? And, if so, maybe I will just stop caring about "social-dentities."

Dang! Hold up! Don't get so excited. This will be one of the issues we'll tackle in Philosophy 150 (coming this Summer Session C to a UCLA near you!). What is identity and how can it be partially out of my control how it gets formed? What if I don't want race in there, why does it have to be? And, doesn't it just make it worse that it's not a biological concept, and is a misleading socially constructed concept to begin with? And, what's the reason we care about identity in the first place?

Again with all the questions! Well, the short answer is: we care about identity because it is so wrapped up with autonomy. ... Wait, before you start off with the questions again, let me say that what autonomy is, why we care about that, how it ties into our identities and our moral behavior, and any other such question you might have about autonomy are all things that will be discussed (and settled definitively so no philosopher need ever worry about them again) this summer, in Philosophy 150, coming to a UCLA near you...

Philosophy 22 Restriction

I am currently working to have the philosophy 22 requirement from the course lifted.

It will be a challenging course, but I will not be requiring that you have any knowledge of historical ethical philosophers. We may discuss some Mill and Kant, but I will go over anything you need to know within the course.

If I do not get it changed on URSA, I will provide PTE's on the first day.