Monday, December 28, 2009

In A Different Voice...

Much has been made of differences between men and women, for instance the suggestion that women favour an 'ethic of care' as opposed to rational rules (a la Kant). Well now sources in China suggest that women have a "different sense of distance."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hilary Term Lecture Lists

Call me sad for noticing, but lecture lists for next term are available here. My name is down on two of them...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Waldron to take Chichele Chair

I've just heard the confirmation, after months of rumours, via Leiter. More, presumably, to follow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Civic Service

The Demos think-tank has just come out in support of a program of 'national civic service.' It's an idea that has enjoyed previous support.

I haven't, yet, had time to look at the details of their proposal, since it's admissions interview time (i.e. the busiest time of year for an Oxford tutor). I'm generally opposed to compulsion, but do think it sounds like it has many benefits for all involved, so much would depend on how it's implemented.

I dislike the idea of compulsory service or making students pay, but would cautiously welcome it if it was a way for the unemployed to gain skills/experience and do something useful in exchange for their benefits (i.e. if it was incentivized rather than strictly compulsory).

I note with interest that one of the authors is my former classmate Sonia Sodha, who has appeared on this blog before. She seems to be doing well in the policy world...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Tax Free Toll Bridge

I forget why, but this bridge came up in conversation last night. It recently changed hands for over £1m, but apparently the owner collects almost £200,000pa tax-free from the toll, thanks to an 18th century grant. Sounds like quite an investment.

The example seems relevant to a claim made by my friend Karl in his 2009 PPE paper: "Current titleholders do not hold full property rights, and they did not pay for full property rights when
they bought their rights from earlier holders. Those titleholders would have charged more for those titles if they constituted stronger rights of ownership, or perhaps they would have retained those incidents of ownership for themselves. That is, most current titleholders lose nothing to government taxation and regulation, because they never bought the right to be free of it" (p.58).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ethics of Eating Meat

I've always said that I think you could base a plausible (if not necessarily correct) argument for vegetarianism simply on our duties to fellow human beings, thus avoiding tricky questions about animal rights or suffering. In a world marked by over-crowding, food shortages, and global warming, it may be that the world's population could be better-supported if we were all (at least nearly) vegetarian.

It seems that Sir Paul McCartney is on board with the idea, suggesting that people give up meat on Mondays. (Though the cynic in me wonders whether he'd profit from increased sales of his ex-wife's vegetarian alternatives, I applaud the sentiment.)

Of course, though, another alternative would be if we could artificially grow our own substitutes, which might remove many of the ethical objections (though, as my girlfriend points out, artificial meat grown by cloning animal cells still wouldn't be vegan).