In this essay, I review two earlier anti-Semitic propaganda films of 1939, to wit, Robert and Bertram, and Linen from Ireland. I begin by rehearsing some of Abram de Swann’s analysis of genocide and then discuss in greater detail a classic sociological analysis written during WWII by Hans Speier. Speier distinguished three broad kinds of war of increasing ferocity: instrumental war, agonistic war, and absolute war. While the first two sorts of war are relatively constrained, in absolute war the in-group (...) regards the out-group as inherently evil, and consequently the goal of such a war is to exterminate the out-group, with no limitation on methods. I suggest in the piece that the focus of these films is precisely to get the audience to view Jews as three different things: different (not Germans as “Aryans” are supposed to be); disgusting (loathsome, somehow degenerate); and dangerous (a threat to Aryan Germans by their very nature). I cover both films, pointing to the scenes that are crafted to engender in the audience exactly these feelings. To help explain how the various scenes manipulate the audience to push the regime’s Anti-Semitic narrative, I use Robert Cialdini’s theory of the use of psychological mechanisms in marketing. (shrink)
Christopher Johnson has put forward in this journal the view that ad hominem reasoning may be more generally reasonable than is allowed by writers such as myself, basing his view on virtue epistemology. I review his account, as well as the standard account, of ad hominem reasoning, and show how the standard account would handle the cases he sketches in defense of his own view. I then give four criticisms of his view generally: the problems of virtue conflict, vagueness, conflation (...) of speech acts, and self-defeating counsel. I then discuss four reasons why the standard account is superior: it better fits legal reality, the account of other fallacies, psychological science, and political reality. (shrink)
This essay is my review of Erwin Leiser’s excellent documentary film Germany Awake. This classic film first aired in Germany in 1968, and remains to this day one of the best surveys of major Nazi-era movies and exactly what messages they were meant to convey. The film underscores the emphasis the regime put on film as one of the premier mechanisms of propaganda, though Leiser’s film points out that most of the cinema produced by the Nazi regime was not pure (...) propaganda, but mainly entertainment. In the review, I put forward a list of criteria for evaluating the degree of the deceptiveness of propaganda, and why cinema is so apt to exploit those criteria. (shrink)
In this essay, I look at two negative portrayals of egoism. I summarize in detail the superb All About Eve—which won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The movie is about the rise of a ruthlessly ambitious actress, and how she treats her main competitor. Eve Harrington worms her way into top theatrical actress Margo Channing’s inner circle by pretending to be an admirer, but she is really a schemer who wants to eclipse Margo’s star in the theater universe. However, (...) Eve runs into trouble when she attempts to manipulate tart-tongued theater critic, Addison de Witt. The movie portrays the New York theater industry as being full of narcissists. I then review the classic film noir The Third Man (1949), rated by the prestigious British Film Institute as the greatest film of the 20th century. The film centers around a charismatic, handsome criminal mastermind Harry Lime living in bombed-out post-War Vienna. Lime is a man of no conscience or empathy—a true psychopath. He cripples children by selling hospitals adulterated penicillin. But we (the audience) still feel sympathy for him. I end the piece by explaining the psychological mechanisms at work that give rise to our paradoxical sympathy. (shrink)
SummaryIn this paper, two different theoretical problems of induction are delineated. The first problem is addressed; the second problem is deferred to the sequel to this paper. The first problem of induction is taken to be the seemingly unformalizable nature of traditional inductive arguments. It is shown that the problem does not arise out of some particularly dubious argument form , but rather from the presupposition that inductive “logic” is, like deductive logic, assertoric. Rather , inductive logic is dialectical in (...) nature.RésuméDans cet article, deux problèmes théoriques de l'induction sont formulés. Le premier est traité, le second le sera dans une suite à cet article. Le premier problème de l'induction est ici la nature apparemment non formalisable des arguments inductifs traditionnels. L'auteur montre que le problème ne provient pas d'une forme d'argumentation particulièrement douteuse , mais au contraire de la présupposition que la «logique» inductive est, comme la logique déductive, assertorique. Il soutient au contraire qu'elle est par nature dialectique.ZusammenfassungIn der vorliegenden Arbeit werden zwei theoretische Probleme der Induktion formuliert, wovon das zweite in einem anderen Artikel behandelt werden soll. Das erste Problem betrifft die scheinbar nicht formalisierbare Natur der üblichen induktiven Argumente. Der Verfasser zeigt dass das Problem nicht von einer besonders zweifelhaften Argumentationsform herrührt , sondern von der Voraussetzung, dass die induktive «Logik» — wie die deduktive Logik — assertorisch sei. Es wird dagegen gezeigt, dass die induktive Logik dialektischer Natur ist. (shrink)
Dialectic, as commonly approached, is not an analytic study, as the notion is defined in the paper. Where it is analytically approached (as, for example, by Grice and Hamblin), the result is pragmatic in nature, as well as syntactic and semantic. This paper lays the foundations of a purely formal (nonpragmatic) analysis of conversations. This study is accordingly called "Conversation Theory". The key notions of "conversation", "dialogue", "conversation game", "rules of response", "epistemic community" and "channel of informations" are defined precisely, (...) and an analysis of how these notions fit together is given. Particular attention is given to distinguishing conversation theory from standard logic. The paper concludes by analysing a few sample conversation-games, indicating areas needing further research, by pointing out the simplification inherent in the sample games. (shrink)
In this essay, I briefly review ten of the best bio flicks of artists. After laying out my criteria for assessing biographical films about artists, I review my ten choices. These films are: The Agony and the Ecstasy; Frida; Local Color; The Moon and Sixpence; Girl with the Pearl Earring; Pollock; Rembrandt; Moulin Rouge; Modigliani; and Lust for Life. For each film, I try to explain the ways in which the directors were able to show the artist’s creative processes and (...) personal challenges. (shrink)
This essay is focused upon the question raised by the economic historian Andrei Znamenski: was National Socialism really socialist? I lay out his answer—that indeed it was—and explore it. I introduce the notion of neo-socialism as a way to characterize the Nazi regime, and fascist regimes more generally. I explore the key role played in the development of this ideology a number of thinkers called by Jeffrey Herf “reactionary modernists”: Ferdinand Tonnies; Werner Sombart; Hans Freyer; Martin Heidegger; Ernst Junger; Carl (...) Schmitt; and (to a lesser degree) Oswald Spengler. I conclude the essay by explaining the role of the uniquely virulent Nazi anti-Semitism—as well as the changes of the breakout of the war in 1939—played in the decision to exterminate the Jews. (shrink)
This essay is my review of Philip Booth’s ...and the Pursuit of Happiness: Wellbeing and the Role of Government. The book is an anthology of original articles by eminent researchers in modern happiness economics, such as: Booth himself; Paul Omerod; David Sacks, Betsey Stephenson, and Justin Wolfers; Christopher Snowden; J. R. Shackleton; Christian Bjornskov; Peter Boettke and Christopher Coyne; and Pedro Schwartz. I conclude by offering several criticisms of the work.
This essay is my review of economist Mark Skousen’s book, The Big Three in Economics. In it, he discusses the economic work of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes. He gives even-handed treatments of the major contributions of each, for example, Smith’s reputation refutation of mercantilist policies and Smith’s crucial insight into the role that division of labor plays in economic growth. My only complaint is that Skousen doesn’t adequately explain his choice of Marx as a great economist. (...) What enduring contributions did he make to the field? Why name him rather than (say) David Ricardo? (shrink)
This essay is my review of Colleen Dyble’s book, Taming Leviathan: Waging a War of Ideas around the World. Dyble is affiliated with the legendary classical liberal British think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs. Her anthology is a collection of essays by people around the world who have been involved with similar free-market think tanks in countries with historically statist economic systems. These writers include Greg Lindsay, founder of the Center for Independent Studies in Australia; Margaret Tse, of the (...) Instituto Liberdade in Brazil; Michael Walker, co-founder of the Fraser Institute in Canada; Cristian Larroulet, of Libertad y Desarrollo in Chile; Giancarlo Ibarguen, of the Center for Economic and Social Studies in Guatemala (which actually founded a free-market-oriented university); Parth Shah, founder of the Center for Civil Society in India; Daniel Doron, co-founder of the Israeli Center for Social and Economic Progress; Alberto Mingardi, of the Instituto Bruno Leoni in Italy; Masaru Uchigama, founder of the Japanese for Tax Reform; Elena Leontjeva, co-founder of the Lithuanian Free Market Institute; Alexander Magno, co-founder of the Foundation for Economic Freedom in the Philippines; and last, Leon Louw, of the Free Market Foundation of South Africa. I then discuss seven important reasons why classical liberal think tanks are so important in modern societies. (shrink)
This essay is my review of Olaf Gersemann’s book, Cowboy Capitalism: European Myths, American Reality. Gersemann was a reporter for Germany’s largest business weekly magazine, and he came to America to write an expose of the weakness of the American economy. What he found instead—and argued in detail—is that the American economy was robust, for better off than commonly believed in Europe. I finish the review by pointing out some things he overlooked, such as the fact that the U.S. has (...) paid and continues to pay disproportionately more for joint American/European defense, and that no European nation has allowed in the vast number of poor immigrants that America has. (shrink)
In this essay, I use four war movies to explore conflicts of loyalty and how they are resolved, all to illustrate W.D. Ross’ multiple rule deontologism. The films are all fine WWII movies: The Enemy Below; Decision Before Dawn; John Rabe; and The Bridge on the River Kwai. In my analysis of each, I show how the protagonists face conflicts of their loyalty to themselves, their countrymen, their friends, and humanity in general, and resolve them in the face of changing (...) factual backgrounds. (shrink)
This text covers the nature of statements, single- and multiple-argument identification, the pitfalls of language, definition, truth tables and Venn diagrams, analogy, generalization, causal inference, and informal fallacies.
This essay is my review of Philip Booth’s Wellbeing and the Role of Government. The book is an anthology of original articles by eminent researchers in modern happiness economics, such as: Booth himself; Paul Omerod; David Sacks, Betsey Stephenson, and Justin Wolfers; Christopher Snowden; J. R. Shackleton; Christian Bjornskov; Peter Boettke and Christopher Coyne; and Pedro Schwartz. I conclude by offering several criticisms of the work.