Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The FA and Retrospective Punishment

Today it was announced that the FA would not take action against Callum McManaman for his tackle at the weekend. The BBC quotes the FA statement that "Where one of the officials has seen a coming together of players, no retrospective action should be taken, regardless of whether he or she witnessed the full or particular nature of the challenge. This is to avoid the re-refereeing of incidents".

So far, so good, but clearly this isn't a consistent line. Go back to September 2006 and Ben Thatcher's elbow on Pedro Mendes, as covered here. The BBC's own description of events ran "Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher has been suspended for eight games by the Football Association for elbowing Portsmouth midfield man Pedro Mendes.... Thatcher was only booked at the time by referee Dermot Gallagher".

Clearly, then, it's not unprecedented for the FA to take retrospective action, even when an official not only saw the incident but when punishment was meted out at the time. In fairness, the BBC story on the Thatcher case notes that because "of the severity of the incident, the FA circumvented its own rules to lodge a charge of "serious foul play" against Thatcher". Since that set a precedent, however, it's disingenuous of anyone to suggest that the FA could not have acted in the recent McManaman case, had they wanted to; the fact is that they chose not to.

(For the record, I've not seen the McManaman incident and am therefore agnostic as to whether it deserved retrospective punishment; my point is simply that the reasoning offered by the FA for not taking such action seems weak, given that they have done so before.)

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

MPs and Hypocrisy

There's a piece by the BBC on MPs' practice of abstaining by voting both for and against a bill, rather than not voting at all. It's a slightly odd practice, but it seems that some MPs at least think that it allows them to register views such as that they support a motion in principle but have reservations about the particular implementation before them. In fact, it's not clear that this abstention is any more articulate than silence, since it seems that sometimes the double vote can be due to a mistake.

I was struck by the following quotation, from Andrea Leadsom:
I find myself genuinely torn... I cannot vote against a measure that would mean so much to the minority of homosexual couples for whom marriage is the ultimate recognition for their genuine feelings for each other. Yet nor can I vote for a measure that risks centuries of faith based belief in marriage.

Remember, this is supposed to rationalise voting both for and against the gay marriage bill. First, she says that she cannot vote against it, though she did so. Then she says she cannot vote for it, though again she did so. True she might reasonably say she did not support the bill, nor oppose it, since by casting a vote either way her influence cancelled out. But she specifically says she could not vote either way, even though she did in fact vote both ways.

It's often said that to vote a particular way is to align oneself with it, which explains why people sometimes feel that they cannot vote a particular way with a clear conscience. Voting both ways isn't to align oneself unambiguously with either, but if voting sends any signal then she has to admit that she did vote for gay marriage (and against it). Perhaps, if she really felt that she couldn't vote either way, she shouldn't have voted at all.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Women in the NFL

Apparently, women are allowed to play in the NFL (American football). I'll have to remember this when teaching feminism later in the semester.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Co-Authorship in Philosophy

There's an interesting discussion of co-authorship over on Leiter's blog. (The discussion is primarily about what input counts as 'authorship' and how credit should be divided between authors, rather than how to go about it or whether it's a good idea.)

My own contribution was to suggest that perhaps we should think of the 'authors' credited in a paper as contributors, rather than authors in the traditional sense. This, I think, better captures some of the reasons for which we may think that someone deserves credit, even if they weren't actually involved in the writing of a paper.