Monday, November 30, 2009

Theory/Philosophy Debate reaches Amazon

I've seen many a discussion get bogged down in the difference between 'political theory' and 'political philosophy' (most memorably here, though a moderator since seems to have deleted it all as unproductive). As far as I'm concerned, there's not really a difference, since what I do could be called either, though I accept that there are some - like the girlfriend - who would claim to do the first and not the second.

I raise this because it seems that the distinction has even reached Amazon shoppers, as seen from this forum thread. Since it concerns one of my supervisor's books, I felt compelled to weigh in (even though the issue seemed to have been resolved). I don't know why someone felt the need to try to distinguish political theory from political science, or why he chose to do so in such an inept way (not sure I should quote it here, since it wasn't put out in public, but it strikes me as quite funny).

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Virtual Graduation

I finally graduated my D.Phil just over a month ago - after a wait of over a year (and my M.Phil at the same time, after somewhat longer). The University of Edinburgh, however, has come up with an interesting alternative: virtual graduations. I wonder what the photographs will be like...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Library Fines

An anonymous American (former) high school student returned two books that were 50 years overdue. The £600 doesn't really seem enough to cover realistic fines to me (whatever 4c/day was back then it isn't much now - and what about compound interest?), though I suppose in fairness the fine should probably have been capped at the replacement cost of the book.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Colleagues in the News

I've known about Toby's plans for a long time, but it's good to see it getting publicity - hopefully it will encourage others to do the same.
Eloise asks how long he's counting on living. He does hang out with the human enhancement crowd, so maybe to 150... (There's an interesting discussion with several philosophers on the issue in the latest Oxford Today.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Problems of Impact

There's a nice piece here (via Leiter and Philos-L) on the REF which, among other things, nicely points to the important difference between 'impact' and 'benefit'.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Monkey Could Do It

My old school economics teacher insisted that the average monkey ought to get 10/40 in the multiple choice part of our exam and a lucky monkey would probably get 17-18/40, in order to castigate anyone who scored less than this.

I was reminded of this on hearing that a South Korean woman passed her multiple choice driving theory test at the 950th attempt. I wonder what the odds are of a monkey passing in that many attempts? (Unfortunately, even if I knew how, I can't work this out as the article doesn't tell us how many options there are for each question.)

I wonder if the same monkey would go away and write some Shakespeare afterwards...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Are Train Fares Fair?

Apparently you can now pay over £1,000 for one train journey in the UK (albeit from Cornwall to Scotland).

What bothers me is not so much (or only) the extravagant cost, but the complexity of ticket selling. It's often seemed to me that what I've paid has depended on the seller in question. A couple of weeks ago my girlfriend and I got returns from Oxford to Coventry, which I was expecting to pay almost £50 for (with her railcard), for less than half that because the conductor sold us separate tickets from Oxford to Banbury and Banbury to Coventry. Where's the sense?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Will We Be Haunted?

Apparently the new Radcliffe Observatory Quarter (ROQ) - the new Humanities site, which will house Philosophy along with other disciplines - sits on a Bronze Age burial site... Details here.