Why is American punishment so cruel? While in continental Europe great efforts are made to guarantee that prisoners are treated humanely, in America sentences have gotten longer and rehabilitation programs have fallen by the wayside. Western Europe attempts to prepare its criminals for life after prison, whereas many American prisons today leave their inhabitants reduced and debased. In the last quarter of a century, Europe has worked to ensure that the baser human inclination toward vengeance is not reflected by state (...) policy, yet America has shown a systemic drive toward ever increasing levels of harshness in its criminal policies. Why is America so short on mercy? In this deeply researched, comparative work, James Q. Whitman reaches back to the 17th and 18th centuries to trace how and why American and European practices came to diverge. Eschewing the usual historical imprisonment narratives, Whitman focuses instead on intriguing differences in the development of punishment in the age of Western democracy. European traditions of social hierarchy and state power, so consciously rejected by the American colonies, nevertheless supported a more merciful and dignified treatment of offenders. The hierarchical class system on the continent kept alive a tradition of less-degrading "high-status" punishments that eventually became applied across the board in Europe. The distinctly American, draconian regime, on the other hand, grows, Whitman argues, out of America's longstanding distrust of state power and its peculiar, broad-brush sense of egalitarianism. Low-status punishments were evenly meted out to all offenders, regardless of class or standing. America's unrelentingly harsh treatment of trangressors--this "equal opportunity degradation"-- is, in a very real sense, the dark side of the nation's much vaunted individualism. A sobering look at the growing rift between the United States and Europe, Harsh Justice exposes the deep cultural roots of America's degrading punishment practices. (shrink)
In his monumental 1687 work, _Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica_, known familiarly as the _Principia_, Isaac Newton laid out in mathematical terms the principles of time, force, and motion that have guided the development of modern physical science. Even after more than three centuries and the revolutions of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, Newtonian physics continues to account for many of the phenomena of the observed world, and Newtonian celestial dynamics is used to determine the orbits of our space vehicles. This (...) authoritative, modern translation by I. Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman, the first in more than 285 years, is based on the 1726 edition, the final revised version approved by Newton; it includes extracts from the earlier editions, corrects errors found in earlier versions, and replaces archaic English with contemporary prose and up-to-date mathematical forms. Newton's principles describe acceleration, deceleration, and inertial movement; fluid dynamics; and the motions of the earth, moon, planets, and comets. A great work in itself, the _Principia_ also revolutionized the methods of scientific investigation. It set forth the fundamental three laws of motion and the law of universal gravity, the physical principles that account for the Copernican system of the world as emended by Kepler, thus effectively ending controversy concerning the Copernican planetary system. The illuminating Guide to Newton's _Principia_ by I. Bernard Cohen makes this preeminent work truly accessible for today's scientists, scholars, and students. (shrink)
In his monumental 1687 work, _Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica_, known familiarly as the _Principia_, Isaac Newton laid out in mathematical terms the principles of time, force, and motion that have guided the development of modern physical science. Even after more than three centuries and the revolutions of Einsteinian relativity and quantum mechanics, Newtonian physics continues to account for many of the phenomena of the observed world, and Newtonian celestial dynamics is used to determine the orbits of our space vehicles. This (...) authoritative, modern translation by I. Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman, the first in more than 285 years, is based on the 1726 edition, the final revised version approved by Newton; it includes extracts from the earlier editions, corrects errors found in earlier versions, and replaces archaic English with contemporary prose and up-to-date mathematical forms. Newton's principles describe acceleration, deceleration, and inertial movement; fluid dynamics; and the motions of the earth, moon, planets, and comets. A great work in itself, the _Principia_ also revolutionized the methods of scientific investigation. It set forth the fundamental three laws of motion and the law of universal gravity, the physical principles that account for the Copernican system of the world as emended by Kepler, thus effectively ending controversy concerning the Copernican planetary system. The translation-only edition of this preeminent work is truly accessible for today's scientists, scholars, and students. (shrink)
How should we react to philosophical skepticism? Whitman answers this question by examining analytic and post-analytic responses to the problem. He tests analytic theories of knowledge and the post-analytic responses of Donald Davidson and Richard Rorty against skeptical arguments. Whitman concludes that embracing a theoretical version of philosophical skepticism has advantages over post-analytic responses—both in the realm of philosophical inquiry and in everyday life.
Behavioral paternalism raises deep concerns that do not arise in traditional welfare economics. These concerns stem from behavioral paternalism’s acceptance of the defining axioms of neoclassical rationality for normative purposes, despite having rejected them as positive descriptions of reality. We argue that behavioral paternalists have indeed accepted neoclassical rationality axioms as a welfare standard; that economists historically adopted these axioms not for their normative plausibility, but for their usefulness in formal and theoretical modeling; that broadly rational individuals might fail to (...) satisfy the axioms for various reasons, making them unpersuasive as normative criteria; and that even if their violation did constitute irrationality, that would not justify paternalists’ choosing among inconsistent preferences to define an individual’s “true” preferences. (shrink)
Why battles matter -- Accepting the wager of battle -- Laying just claim to the profits of war -- The monarchical monopolization of military violence -- Were there really rules? -- The death of pitched battle.
American criminal justice has undergone a sad odyssey over the last 175 years. In the early nineteenth_century, when Alexis de Tocqueville arrived to study American prisons, American criminal punishment was regarded as a model for the civilized world. Today, by contrast, America is widely regarded with horror. What happened? This Article focuses on some Tocquevillean themes. The roots of the harsh criminal punishment regime of the contemporary United States have to do with some of the aspects of "Democracy in America" (...) that Tocqueville found most entrancing. These include traditions of popular sovereignty, religious freedom and social equality. It may be painful for Americans to acknowledge the possibility that some of their most cherished ideals may have ugly consequences for criminal punishment, but they must do so. (shrink)
Scholars have begun to explore Baruch Spinozas critique of rationalism, largely because of his importance for later thinkers deeply concerned about the nature of body, including Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, Frankfurt school critical theorists, and feminists. Until now, however, Spinozas epistemological writings have not been properly addressed in this revival of interest in his materialism. My dissertation reconstructs Spinozas materialist method of knowing in an effort to reclaim it from Cartesian and idealist readings, offering instead a materialist reading of Spinozas epistemological (...) writings that shows him as the first serious critic of modern rationalism. Contrary to the predominant reading of Spinoza in Anglo-American philosophy, which presents him as a metaphysician dependent on Cartesian epistemology, I argue that Spinoza offers something separate, akin to an epistemology, that distinguishes him from the Cartesian model and allows him to critique it. The dissertation explores how Spinozas method of knowing must involve material conditions, including concrete history, psychology, society, and politics, that are experienced through the body and that render a purely mental criterion for knowledge impossible. (shrink)
Drawing upon almost twenty years of teaching philosophy as a physically disabled person in a wheelchair, I explore the “learning moments” afforded to me in the classroom as a disabled teacher. Focusing primarily on the teaching of ethics, and how my experience and the experiences of other disabled students in a class can enhance the education of everybody, I attempt to demonstrate to other philosophy teachers that disability in the classroom can and should be viewed not as a burden but (...) more as an opportunity for teaching enrichment. (shrink)
In order the combat the growing apathy, cynicism, and indifference observed among students, the author developed a course designed to make the study of philosophy relevant, applicable, and personal for students. This paper is a detailed exposition of the structure and content of this course. Build around the theme “Exploring Moral Character,” this course focuses on the role of moral character in ethical decision making and the nature of students’ own moral character. The course is divided into four units. Designed (...) as a voyage of personal discovery for students, each unit concludes with a non-traditional writing assignment . The author discusses why the course structure and paper assignments facilitate students’ ability to make explicit and to reflect on their own moral values. Appended to the article is a list of the course’s non-traditional paper assignments. (shrink)
This paper examines the phenomenon of moral luck and how it can effect professional practice. Using both Thomas Nagel’s and Bernard William’s exposition on moral luck, this paper first demonstrates the close relationship between moral luck and epistemic luck. Then, drawing on some of the lessons one might learn from the epistemologist’s treatment of epistemic luck, particularly in the debate between internalists and externalists in epistemology, strategies are developed that professionals and professional organizations might use to avoid and/or mitigate the (...) problem moral luck presents to professional practice. Examples from various professions—the military, engineering, medicine, journalism, business—are use to illustrate both the problem of moral luck and the strategies useful in avoiding it. (shrink)
This paper examines how slippery slope arguments are used, and misused, in many public policy debates -- especially in the area of bioethics. I divide the various kinds of slippery slope arguments into the following categories: 1) the logical form vs the conceptual form, and 2) the theoretical context vs the practical context. While all these various types of slippery slope arguments are found wanting, I nonetheless find a valuable role for slippery slope arguments in public debate. In that they (...) give expression to certain of our moral emotions, slippery slope arguments should not be dismissed out of hand by philosophers. (shrink)
Abstract In Myth & Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage, David Card and Alan Krueger assemble a variety of evidence purporting to weaken the case that minimum wages lead to unemployment among low?wage workers. Although the authors succeed in casting doubt on some previous studies that supported the standard view, they fail to provide compelling evidence for their alternative model. The methodological errors in their showcase study of minimum wages in New Jersey and Pennsylvania render it nearly worthless, (...) and the remainder of the book's arguments are not weighty enough to reverse the conventional economic wisdom on minimum wages. (shrink)
Preparing the Next Generation of Oral Historians is an invaluable resource to educators seeking to bring history alive for students at all levels. Filled with insightful reflections on teaching oral history, it offers practical suggestions for educators seeking to create curricula, engage students, gather community support, and meet educational standards. By the close of the book, readers will be able to successfully incorporate oral history projects in their own classrooms.
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