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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday


Philosophers rightly think of themselves as experts on reasoning. After all, it was a philosopher, Aristotle, who developed the science of logic. But psychologists have also had some interesting things to say about the subject. A fascinating paper by Dan Sperber and Hugo Mercier has recently generated a lot of discussion.

The headline of an article in The Times about the paper— echoed on blogs and other sites — was, “Reason Seen More as Weapon than Path to Truth, ” a description, that implied that reason is not, as we generally think, directed to attaining truth, but rather to winning arguments. Many readers of the Times article thought that this position amounted to a self-destructive denial of truth. The article itself (though perhaps not the abstract) suggests a more nuanced view, as the authors tried to explain in replies to criticism. In any case, we can develop an interesting view of the relation between argument and truth by starting from the popular reading and criticism of the article.

How’s Bernard L. Madoff doing in prison? Not so badly, despite his simmering moral anguish, he told Benjamin Weiser in an interview in the Times on Wednesday. He’s working out and, for the first time in his life, devouring books, from junk novels to biographies. “Now, I literally read two books a week,” he said. “I’m reading all the James Michener novels.”



re: Argument, Truth and the Social Side of Reasoning

Wait, wait.... isn't there a difference between the words "Reason" and "Rhetoric"?

Seems this distinction is lost here. One uses reason and logic to the best of one's ability, to figure out what to think or do about a particular subject. One uses rhetoric to persuade someone else about it.

re: Photoshopping

So, did you notice the cover of the latest Newsweek Mag, has Photoshopped a picture of Princess Di (of all people) with her son's new wife. Good grief. They call it "News". Where's Jon Mecham when we need him. Tina Brown just ain't cuttin' it.

Re: Republicans and Empathy. This especially rings true when talking about those damn "illegals". I still don't know what the problem is if they just let them pay fines and become citizens. Loads of money coming in, plus taxes paid. In contrast, they want to spend who knows how much in order to just throw them out, and somehow the economy would get better.

I really don't see any reason to deny them the right to stay here (especially considering humanitarianism) other than plain malice.

Here in southern New Mexico, hardly anyone speaks of "illegals". Even my reneck dad never complained about undocumented Mexican immigrants. I've noted (on the internet and in newspapers from other states) that there are a lot of people from Southern Arizona and Southern Texas and Florida who have strong opinions re "illegals" from Mexico or South America. My experience with Mexican immigrants (undocumented or otherwise) has been mostly positive. Other's experiences may differ. One reason other's experiences differ is because they are underpayed blue-collar American citizens who feel that they are competing for this work. And yet, here where I live, it is only Mexican immigrants who are willing to pick cotton and chile in the fields of local farmers because it is difficult work and requires constant relocating. I worked with a guy from Mexico who traveled from Florida to California (staying in Southern NM for awhile) following the harvesting of crops and made good money doing so. How many American citizens would be willing to relocate following the crop harvest from Florida to California and toil in the hot sun? Most American citizens are unwilling perform such work this difficult which requires constant relocating at the wage which is offered. So one could say that the employers should pay more for such work, but then the price of food would increase and it is the poor who suffer most from the increase in the price of food. In other words, it's a complex consideration of economical dominoes if one should change the dynamics of situation that has been present for so long a time now here in New Mexico anyway.

...but then the price of food would increase...

I'd be willing to bet that the cost of labor in the growing and harvesting phase of food production is pretty small - increases in wages would likely contribute very little to the cost of food.

I'm not sure. I've heard this argument made, but I haven't done any research which leads me to conclude one way or the other.

re: "So one could say that the employers should pay more for such work, but then the price of food would increase and it is the poor who suffer most from the increase in the price of food."

IMO, the "cheap food" paradigm is killing us. Far too much of the food accessible to the poor is naught but oil and sugar. If we honored the labor that produces our food and other products by paying a living wage, then lots more folks could afford to purchase healthy food, and more could find work to support their families. The obscenely unfair distribution of wealth in this country places us all in downward spiral as citizens get sicker, health care gets more costly, and we create this bugaboo of the 'illegal' immigrant who is spozedly the only one who'll work in agriculture.

On our farm, we hire only as much labor as we can afford to pay a living wage to. We know how hard our helpers work, cuz we're out in the field working beside them. I refuse to believe that some jerk in a hedge fund, driving up energy prices for everyone by speculating on oil, oughta deserve to make gazillions while we pretend we can't pay those who grow our food honest pay for honest work. Meanwhile, the percentage of our food dollar going to support production on the farm gets smaller and smaller, while more and more goes to marketing costs. We can somehow pay for those TV commercials for sugar cereal, while we drive the cost of production in that 4 dollar box of sweetened cardboard down to 4 cents. We consume empty calories but defend "cheap food". Arghh.

Happy Independence Day.

Well, there's also the price of chile, cotton and many other crops that immigrants harvest. Like I said to Tim, I've haven't seen enough studies to know one way or the other.


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