Plato’s weekend suggestions

readingsHere it is, our regular Friday diet of suggested readings for the weekend:

How should we treat science’s growing pains?, asks Jerome Ravetz in the Guardian. An interesting article about different aspects of what the author construes as science’s crisis, from reproducibility (or lack thereof) to the abuse of metrics of merit.

Over at the New York Times, Teddy Wayne reflects on the end of reflection, meaning the fact that our portable e-gadgets are making it increasingly difficult to idly observe our surroundings in moments of inactivity. I’m not convinced this is such a bad development, but food for thought nonetheless.

Lots of articles on Trump vs Clinton these days, but this one by Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post compares their reactions to the Orlando shootings. Anyone who insists that “there is no difference” between the candidates is full of obvious crap.

Can liberal education save the sciences?, asks Lorraine Daston in Point Magazine. Yeah, you read the question right: she isn’t worried (too much) about the STEM disciplines destroying liberal education, but rather about what the latter can do for the former.

A new entry in the seemingly never ending diatribe between neuroscientists and philosophers about free will. This time Hanoch Ben-Yami argues at the Scientific American blog that recent grand claims by neuroscientists actually “demonstrate that conceptual confusions and irresponsible overgeneralisations can mislead overconfident scientists.” Ouch.

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127 thoughts on “Plato’s weekend suggestions

  1. Hi garth,

    Even in this double straw man world you have created, one “wouldn’t” because one would not want to live in a world where robbing was rampant.

    Agreed. I would not want to live in a world where robbing is rampant — but that’s a different issue from me personally robbing. The effect on me of others robbing is negative; the effect on me of me (successfully) robbing is positive. Cf “tragedy of the commons”.

    But anyhow, give that you’re emphasizing the same levels of deterrence and putting people into jail, effectively all you’re doing is changing the commentary while keeping the practice the same. To a large extent, what you’re suggesting would make little difference.

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  2. Well if we regard ‘robbers’ as ‘insane’ rather than ‘evil’ it might change how they are treated in ‘jail’ which might effect the deterrence. If ‘jail’ was really nice, hungry people might try to get in.

    Of course, we currently treat people in jail rather badly. We ought not to do that even if it has a deterrent effect.

    -Traruh

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  3. Coel,

    So what we do to the mentally ill could just as easily be called punishment? Is it just splitting hairs to not call it punishment? Or is there some significance there?

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  4. Can any of us really not see a way in which we could re-structure our society in such a manner that it would eliminate most crime? Are we all so blind to human nature as to not see the folly in telling people they ought not cheat, be deceptive, and cunning, in a dog eat dog world? In a game where the winner is the one who amasses the most wealth, even if they had to risk jail, and burden their conscience beyond repair, if they amass the most wealth, they are perceived as the winners of life. And we think rather than changing that system, and rather than seeing humans as being made mentally ill by that system’s conflict with their cooperative compassionate nature, we choose instead to punish them, and shame them with social opprobrium? Tisk tisk, cheater.

    It does feel good to moralize. I’ll give you that. But only that.

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  5. “If ‘jail’ was really nice, hungry people might try to get in.”

    Damn hungry people always trying to scam us into feeding them. Have they no categorical imperative?

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  6. Can any of us really not see a way in which we could re-structure our society in such a manner that it would eliminate most crime?

    “New Socialist Man” – how’d that work out?

    Of course, the whole thing was hijacked by testosterone driven alphas like Uncle Joe.

    But not only will the poor always be with us, so will the assholes and the anal retentive.

    It’s all with the spectrum of ‘human nature’ (scare quotes are for Dan K in this particular case).

    Genetic Engineering anybody? But who to decide what a ‘good’ redesign is?

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