Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Singer on Cheating in Football

Good to see that big name moral philosophers are tackling the important ethical questions of the day, such as whether German goalkeeper Neuer should have admitted that the ball crossed the line. (Hat tip: Dominic Roser.)

It's an interesting read, though the Fowler anecdote isn't as I remember it: I seem to recall him once being booked for disputing the award of a penalty and then scoring it (but maybe I'm wrong or perhaps that was a different incident). There are, however, other cases that are rather like a batsman 'walking' - such as when a player does after a professional foul or red card.

I have to say though that I thought Singer's article was a little simplistic. It assumes that some standard set of moral rules applies universally, to footballers both qua human beings and qua football players. Maybe matters are more complicated. Perhaps - despite their gloves - goalkeepers, like politicians, cannot avoid dirty hands.

Moreover, one of the rules of football is that the referee's decision is final. Had the referee awarded a goal when the ball didn't cross the line, then it would have stood. Can the Germans really be blamed for taking advantage of the fact that he ruled this ball not to have done so? Maybe it's unreasonable to expect that, unless we're sure what we'd have done had the situation been reversed.

I haven't given a great deal of thought to these topics, but readers looking for more philosophical reflection on football are reminded of the recent Open Court title Soccer & Philosophy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reclining is Good for You

Personally, I tend to feel more comfortable leaning backwards in a chair, even if I sometimes worry that it suggests that I'm rather too relaxed and not paying enough attention (in a tutorial, for example). The good news is that it looks like I can now justify my preference on the grounds that it has been shown to be a better posture for your back (which is, I guess, why I feel more comfortable that way in the first place...).

Thursday, June 24, 2010


This is something that I've already told many of those who know me, but now it's on the department website I may as well make it completely public. I'll be moving to Scotland over the summer to take up a lectureship at the University of Stirling. Finally, I also get to see my name on Leiter's list of job hires! The move may make blogging sporadic over the summer, but I hope to keep updating everyone with developments.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It Could Take A Lottery To Get Us Through...

I've been keenly following the World Cup, mostly because it's football on TV and just because I can now that I'm almost finished with marking. But, while the group stages have contained some memorable matches, it's the knockout stages that I'm really looking forward to. In particular, they raise the possibility of the dreaded penalty shootout - often derided as a lottery.

Regular readers will know about my interest in lotteries, and I've already had my say on penalty shootouts in Soccer and Philosophy (currently 25% off at Amazon UK).

I'm happy to see that there's actually a role for lotteries - genuine lotteries - in the group stages too. Reading the BBC's build up to the match I see: "England must win to potentially top the group, but if both they and the US - who face Algeria - draw their matches, Capello's side need to score two goals more than the Americans to stand a chance of qualification through the drawing of lots."

This page further explains the possible permutations: "In this scenario [i.e. England and USA both drawing], England need a high scoring draw on Wednesday. Slovenia would go through as group winners, with England and USA finishing level on three points. Goals scored would decide who progresses. There is the possibility for drama even greater than that of a penalty shoot-out - if both sides are totally even then lots will be drawn to decide who goes through and who is out." Basically, the two teams will be level on head to head results, goal difference, and goals scored - so what fairer way to break the tie than a lottery?

It's not the first time lotteries have been used to decide the outcome of a football match - it's happened to both Liverpool and Celtic in the European Cup - but I wonder if they'll become more popular should England progress?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Milibands on Corpus Rents

Could disputes about 9% rent rises in Corpus Christi next year affect the Labour leadership contest? Probably not in fairness, but both Milibands (being alumni of the college) have a say here, which was picked up in the Guardian.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

OUP Sale

I'm now starting my second batch of marking, and have the distractions of the World Cup and end of term when not doing it, so little time to post right now. In lieu of anything more interesting, I thought I'd draw readers' attention to the OUP summer sale (until 16th July). Up to 75% off titles including the Oxford Handbook of Political Theory and the selected papers of my colleague C. C. W. Taylor.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Voting is Compulsory in Australia

I've just dug out this reference, since it came up in a seminar today, so I thought that I may as well post it here for future reference.

It's commonly known that Australia is one of several countries where voting is compulsory. It's also commonly said that compulsory voting is a misnomer, since all that's usually required is turnout (i.e. people can come to the polling station and cross their names off without even taking a ballot paper).

Well, I can't speak for other countries, but it seems that in Australia it's actually voting that's required to fill your legal duty, even though (for obvious reasons to do with the secret ballot) no more than turnout is enforced. This position is stated by the Australian Electoral Commission here (page 4):

"The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, under section 245(1), states:
"It shall be the duty of every elector to vote at each election".
• Under the Electoral Act, the actual duty of the elector is to attend a polling place, have their name marked off the certified list, receive a ballot paper and take it to an individual voting booth, mark it, fold the ballot paper and place it in the ballot box.
• It is not the case, as some people have claimed, that it is only compulsory to attend the polling place and have your name marked off, and this has been upheld by a number of legal decisions:
• High Court 1926 – Judd v McKeon (1926) 38 CLR 380
• Supreme Court of Victoria 1970 – Lubcke v Little [1970] VR 807
• High Court 1971 – Faderson v Bridger (1971) 126 CLR 271
• Supreme Court of Queensland 1974 – Krosch v Springbell; ex parte Krosch [1974] QdR 107
• ACT Supreme Court 1981 – O’Brien v Warden (1981) 37 ACTR 13"

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Earthtone 9: Free Download

I completed my collection of the Earthtone 9 back catalogue about a year ago now. A nice nostalgia trip back to circa-2000 British metal. For anyone that missed out first time round though, they've released a best of collection that's available for free download here. Particularly recommended 'Tat Twam Asi' and 'Amnesia' (yes, I much preferred the later more melodic stuff).