Sunday, November 30, 2008

Scolari on Arsenal

28/11/08: "Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari is refusing to rule Arsenal out of the title race - even if his side beat them at Stamford Bridge on Sunday."

Chelsea 1-2 Arsenal

30/11/08: "We lost because one goal was not a goal, and it was a goal which changed the result. If we won, Arsenal would have been 13 points behind us and their championship would have been finished."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Liverpool 1-0 Marseille

Last season a poor performance saw us lose at home to Marseille (even though we went on to beat them comfortably in the away tie). This was, apparently, another poor performance, but the difference is that the scoreline was reversed: a 1-0 win, thanks to Gerrard's first half header. (Five goals in five Champions League matches for him now).

It's enough to guarantee our progression, though it remains to be seen whether Benitez will go all out against PSV to top the group (which will require us to overhaul Atletico Madrid's goal difference) or whether he'll rotate to keep our stars fresh.

Vegetarianism and the Job Market

I've never been on the US Job Market, but if this comment on Leiter is to be believed maybe I should give it a go. Apparently there's a 'vegetarian mafia' out there excluding carnivores from jobs... (Maybe we should let these chaps know)

Then again, others are more sceptical (here and here).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Morison to Princeton

I learned this morning, from this comment on Leiter, that my former tutor Ben Morison is leaving Oxford for Princeton. I see that Leiter thinks the news is worthy of its own post.

I didn't know Princeton was the place for ancient philosophy, although I know several Oxford ancient philosophers trained there - including my colleague Ursula Coope (albeit only as a visiting student). I'd have thought that Oxford would rank fairly highly, with Terry Irwin, C. C. W. Taylor, Richard Sorabji, David Charles, Chris Shields, etc and its new M.St in Ancient Philosophy.

Public Reason Podcast Symposium

My new job hasn't allowed me much time to follow the Public Reason Podcast Symposium, but I provided a response for the latest contribution: Paul Gowder on democratic leadership.

London Forum (CFP)

Last year, this only seemed to reach as far as philosophers and not political theorists, so I hope that posting it here helps contribute to a wider audience.



27th March 2008


Supported by the Institute of Philosophy and UCL Philosophy Department

Following the success of the previous two years of the London Forum in Moral and Political Philosophy, graduate students working in any field within moral and political philosophy are invited to submit papers for the 2009 meeting. This will be held on 27th March at Stewart House, Bloomsbury, London.

The Forum aims to provide a friendly and supportive atmosphere in which graduate students can present their work and receive constructive feedback from their peers.

Submissions should be in the form of abstracts of 300-400 words, and should be sent to The deadline for submissions is 15th February 2009.

Paper selection will be by the Organisation Committee and Prof. Veronique Munoz-Darde.

This years keynote speaker is Dr. Thomas Pink (Kings College London)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Liverpool 0-0 Fulham

As it was with Stoke, much good work this season is undone by our failure to beat teams that we should be able to beat comfortably. We're starting on a run of supposedly easier games that I hoped would allow us to rack up lots of wins (and three points). Sadly, we failed to capitalize on the failure of Chelsea and Man Utd to win. Perhaps the only good point is that Fulham are, based on this season's table and recent form, a better team than Newcastle so Chelsea dropped points from an easier fixture.

Lecturer at Lampeter

Anyone currently close to finishing a PhD, preferably in Philosophy of Mind or Modern European History, and looking to finish a job asap should check out this post: starting this month!

Fixed Term Lecturer in Philosophy

Salary: £30,594 pro rata

Job Ref: PHIL/04 - Closing Date: 12 noon Friday 28th November 2008.

The Department seeks to appoint to a fixed term lectureship from November 2008 (or as soon as possible thereafter) - September 2009.

The person appointed will contribute to Philosophy teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and will be prepared to be research active in this field. Candidates able to offer expertise in any area of Philosophy will be considered, but we are particularly interested in applicants working in the area of Philosophy of Mind or/and Modern European Philosophy (broadly construed). The position will incorporate some thesis supervision, and usual non-teaching duties.

An application form, job description and person specification may be obtained by contacting the Personnel Office, University of Wales, Lampeter, SA48 7ED, telephone 01570 424700; fax 01570 424988; e-mail or

We are an equal opportunities employer and welcome applications from all sections of the community whilst affirming that appointment will be strictly on merit.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

World Philosophy Day

Apparently, it's World Philosophy Day - the BBC has a simple introduction for anyone wondering what it's all about.

I'm giving a talk to the Balliol PPE Society this evening, so I guess I'm doing my bit!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lottery Voting on CT

In a recent post on education, over at Crooked Timber, Harry writes about budget cuts by committee: "each member brought in his or her own list of exactly what to cut, then they traded till the cuts worked out. It struck me at the time that nobody could seriously believe that the upshot was going to be superior in any way to a budget that the Superintendent would have recommended, and that the discussion was simply a waste of time; none of the board members is a fool, and I imagine that none of them thought their list was much better than anyone else’s, and that most of their lists were probably better than any compromise that they would forge; wouldn’t it have been better to pick a list out of the hat than to engage in endless detailed discussion?"

Death on Queen Street

As I was cycling down Queen Street last night (after the 10am-6pm no cycling restriction), I was forced to dismount as an area around BHS was cordoned off by police. Now I know why. Details are vague, but it seems an old woman was knocked over by two others having an argument (right?), and later died in hospital. Sad for all concerned.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bolton 0-2 Liverpool

We've still yet to comfortably thump anyone, in the way that we could have done today had not easy chances been missed (by Keane, Gerrard, Torres and Lucas), but it's pleasing to see that we can make away wins look relatively routine. I missed Match of the Day, so haven't seen the goals, but Kuyt's header was apparently very good, and then Torres - on as a sub - squared for Gerrard to just about wrap up the points. While 2-0 doesn't necessarily kill a game, Bolton rarely threatened - though Gardner spurned a couple of chances himself.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tottenham 4-2 Liverpool (League Cup)

What's disappointing is not so much our second string crashing out of the Cup, especially against the Redknapp-revived defending champions, but that - despite the recent successes of our reserves - we don't have the Arsenal-style team of talented youngsters who can play this competition (even though it was largely youngsters who took us as far as the semi-final in 2005 and Benitez has invested heavily in youth since).

Still, at least it's better to focus on the league - from which point of view, it's a shame that Chelsea also went out.

In other news, I was playing football myself at the University Club: making the regular philosophy game for only the second time this term...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lacuna Coil

Tonight I finally saw Lacuna Coil live in Oxford - having missed the chance to see them a few years back on what I didn't realize was their first UK tour (they played in October and had sold out by the time that I returned to Oxford). It was good to right that 'wrong', and I certainly enjoyed the gig, though I have to say I was somewhat disappointed that the setlist predictably focused on newer material and had only one song I think from In a Reverie (which remains my favourite album by far). That and the fact that they finished well before the 11 o'clock curfew - indeed I was home, via Tesco, by about five past...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Phil Grad Conf

The 12th Annual Oxford Philosophy Graduate Conference takes place the weekend after next (i.e. 22nd-23rd November). A full schedule can be found here.

Democracy Means All Things

One problem with working on democracy is that the term has become so widely used that it's descriptive meaning has been almost completely erased. In popular discourse, it is now used as little more than a term of commendation, so it is no wonder that almost all regimes claim to be democratic (properly understood).

Obviously, this is not a new trend. Last Monday I saw Bonnie Honig give a paper on mourning and membership in Sophocles' Antigone - which is certainly not my normal kind of political theory - but it raised interesting questions about the nature of Athenian democracy. Although Pericles celebrated Athens for permitting individuality and freedom - the very features Plato condemned - her claim was that Creon represented an equalizing and collectivizing democratic tradition going back to Solon.

Athenian democracy, of course, operated by lot rather than election - so it is important not to conflate democracy with elections. There are still some present writers who would advocate sortition; while deliberative democrats sometimes aspire to 'talk as a decision procedure', hoping that we can reach unanimous consensus and thereby avoid the need for voting.

This BBC article focuses on elections, and correspondingly seems to adopt a minimalist understanding of democracy as the power to 'throw the rascals out': Any election that can actually depose a government fulfils the minimum requirement of democracy, by which no oligarchy can count on maintaining itself in power because the electorate might decide otherwise... A government should be certain that it has been elected, but never certain that it will be elected again. All kinds of benefits flow from that uncertainty. (As Adam Przeworski notes, these benefits could actually be achieved by a lottery).

Interestingly, however, it then goes on to make a number of rather inflated claims about the connection between democracy and openness, freedom, equal opportunity and justice. For example: In 1995 a young right-wing zealot called Yigal Amir murdered [Israeli] Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin... In a non-democratic country he would have been quickly dealt with, but in democratic Israel he is still alive. If democracies cannot have the death penalty, then the US (despite widespread coverage of their recent election) is no democracy.

The article goes on to talk about how democracy allows men of colour - such as Martin Luther King Jr, Lewis Hamilton and Barack Obama, to come to prominence. I'm actually writing a response to a paper on citizen leadership for the Public Reason Podcast Symposium that touches on this - to which I'll link in due course.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Liverpool 3-0 West Brom

Given our recent record over West Brom, I'd hoped that this match would be about as straightforward a win as we can expect in the Premier League, and so it proved - even Keane scored (twice)! The opening exchanges were surprisingly open but our quality shone through: their strikers tended to mis-control at crucial moments, while Keane was able to dance past the last defender and chip-over the advancing Carson for two fairly similar goals (except that the second time Carson had over-committed by rushing out of his area).

I was hoping we'd be able to kill the game off in the second half, but it remained two until Arbeloa sneaked into the area and curled in a left-foot shot (that had me thinking it was Benayoun at first) to put a more satisfying gloss on the scoreline. The other welcome sight was the return of Torres as a sub - although he hardly did anything in his 15 minute cameo (I barely even saw him run), it will be some useful match minutes and help his return to fitness. Imagine having him and Keane both scoring...

Friday, November 07, 2008


There's an interesting article on the dissolution of civil partnerships (gay marriages) here. Interestingly, it says that adultery cannot be cited as grounds for dissolution.

The OED defines adultery as follows:
Violation of the marriage bed; the voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one of the opposite sex, whether unmarried, or married to another.

If we focus on the first part then, provided we are willing to describe civil partnerships as marriage, then adultery should be possible. If we take seriously the latter description, then adultery can only take place with one of the opposite sex. Even so, it would remain possible for there to be adultery in a gay relationship (e.g. one of the two men sleeping with a woman). Also, interestingly, if the husband in a heterosexual marriage sleeps with another man that wouldn't be adultery either.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Student Funding 'Lottery'

This BBC article quotes NUS President Wes Streeting as saying "All students have to pay £3,145 a year in top-up fees, but they face a postcode lottery when it comes to financial support... Richer universities in the Russell Group can offer poorer students an average annual bursary of £1,791, but those from the Million+ group can only offer £680.

I've pointed out before (e.g. here) that postcodes aren't allocated by lottery. The problem with distributing certain goods by postcode would be that the rich have more choice over where they live and can thus buy access to things like good schools or medical treatment via the back door.

This case is even worse as it's not as if the difference in funds is attributable to different LEAs or where one chooses to study (Oxford and Oxford Brookes, for example, may involve the same postcode). The problem is that traditional 'good' universities have more funds than modern ex-Polys. One would need a substantive debate to settle whether this was a fair meritocracy or whether competition for the best academic tuition should be of any relevance to funding, but it has nothing to do with postcodes.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Liverpool 1-1 Atletico Madrid

All square again, although this time it was us that needed the late goal to level things. I only saw the second half, and gather that Liverpool had fallen behind to a counter attack, but in the second half alone Liverpool had enough chances to win (similar to the Spurs game).

I must say, one thing I found disappointing was that Stevie G looked determined to produce one of his performances of match-saving heroics and kept shooting from 20-30 yards and missing the target. It reminded me of having Riise back in the team. Then again, with Keane and Ngog leading the line, maybe Stevie can't be blamed much.

It was, at least, Stevie who won and converted a 94th minute penalty to give us a deserved point. It's true that the award was possibly soft, but only in the sense that Stevie didn't have full control of the ball and was heading away from goal, so there was no need for the defender to barge into him - it's not like Stevie threw himself down without contact; he made sure he got to the ball first and then let the defender take him out. In any case, we'd been denied a fairly clear handball shout around 50 minutes in, which if converted may well have led to us winning the way things were going.

Still, one point each means that Liverpool and Atletico are both well-placed (although not guaranteed) to go through. Interestingly, if both are still level on points after playing PSV and Marseille again, the group could go to goal difference to decide 1st and 2nd - which is a blow for any plans Benitez might have had to rotate the squad.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


I never knew but apparently the form abbreviation + -er suffix, as in rugger (rugby), soccer (Association Football) and various nicknames (Aggers, Tuffers, etc) has its origins in Oxford. Indeed, apparently Jesus College is known as Jaggers - although I'm not so sure about that myself. If it's not something I've heard in actual speech then I'm sceptical that it's really used (like minus one-th week).

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool

I was wondering a while ago how long Spurs could stay so bad for - and hoping that it would be until at least mid-November (to cover both this and our Carling Cup game). Sadly, it wasn't to be - Harry 'Houdini' Redknapp arrived at just the wrong time for us, and Arsenal. (Indeed, Spurs' dramatic fightback against their local rivals may have done wonders for their confidence).

Even so, it looked for long periods like we would retain our winning start. Kuyt put us ahead inside three minutes and then, with the score at 1-0, we went on to hit the woodwork three times. Oh what a difference some clinical finishing would have made... As it was, Benitez introduced Babel shortly after the hour to threaten the Spurs defence with pace - but sadly things went wrong when soon afterwards Carragher inadvertently deflected into his own net to level the scores, thereby nullifying our game plan.

From that point on, Spurs seemed to have more belief and we lost our shape a bit. The commentators had pointed out earlier that we hadn't lost a league game from a winning position (or scoring first) in around two years - and that curse struck, when Pavlyuchenko scored a late winner.

The BBC described it as the least deserved victory of the season, but one can't complain too much - after all, we've won several that we didn't really deserve to with late winners ourselves (such as Middlesbrough). I'm not saying luck evens out, but individual games don't always go the way that the 'ought' to. At the end of the day, we're still the last team in the Premiership to lose our undefeated record and level with Chelsea on points despite having played several of our trickiest fixtures (Man Utd, Chelsea away and Everton away).

In fact, if anything, this might prove a reality check on any unrealistic expectations (one idiot on the messageboards had already asked whether we could go the season undefeated...). The fact is that Liverpool are still working to catch Man Utd and Chelsea, and it's been far too long since they've really had to deal with the pressure of a title race. It's too soon to expect them to win anything this season; what I want is for them to challenge - to still be within reach of the leaders until at least March. Unfortunately, I remember the way that Arsenal made so much early running last year only to fall away, and the disasterous November we had in 2002 after leading the league. My concern is to see how we bounce back from this defeat...