Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vox pop

From The Gazette:

Hearings a Pandora's box of bigotry, groups say
Jeff Heinrich, The Gazette

Before they had even begun, Charles Taylor and Gerard Bouchard worried that the cross-Quebec series of open-mike hearings they were about to embark on would become a Pandora's box of bigotry, to be pried open live and unfiltered on national TV.

Now - six weeks after the 17-city "reasonable accommodation" road show got under way and derogatory remarks against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities started flying - it seems that Quebecers think the chairmen were right to worry.

In a new poll, 62 per cent - rising to 74 per cent in central Quebec, scene of the Herouxville controversy - said the commission should have done something from the outset to prevent racist and anti-Semitic statements from being expressed.

And 40 per cent of non-francophones polled said those views are so objectionable that the hearings should no longer be carried live on Radio-Canada.

The concern echoes that of Quebec's Jewish community leaders, who told a national Jewish newspaper last week they fear the commission has become a forum for intolerance.

"A soapbox for venting racism and a beat-the-immigrant festival" - that's how Steven Slimovitch, national legal counsel for B'nai Brith Canada, described the proceedings to the Canadian Jewish News.

The proof was nowhere more evident than Sept. 24 in St. Jerome, north of Montreal, when speaker after speaker took the open mike to vent their frustration with Jews: their money, their kosher labels on foods, their cottages in the Laurentians.

The vitriol was "very painful," Rabbi Reuben Poupko of Congregation Beth Israel Beth Aaron told the Canadian Jewish News. The hearings, he said, had become "a magnet for some of the most extreme and dangerous voices in Quebec."

Bouchard and Taylor - who only once have cut a speaker off for making xenophobic remarks, and often engage in open debate with people who say they don't like Muslims or other "fanatics" - should intervene more when comments "go beyond the pale," Poupko said.

Do other Quebecers agree? Not quite.

The Leger Marketing poll, carried out for the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, suggests that Quebecers are split on how well the chairmen are handling the proceedings.

Fifty-four per cent said Taylor and Bouchard have moderated the forums "in an efficient way" - an approval rating that, paradoxically, rises to 57 per cent for non-francophones. Only 16 per cent thought they were doing an excellent job.

Overall, 69 per cent said the hearings are worthwhile despite the racism and anti-Semitism that has shown through. Only one-third of Quebecers think the hearings are "a mistake."

Two-thirds of Quebecers think the hearings are a good way to "send an important message about the limits" of accommodations of immigrants and religious minorities - not the freedom they provide.

A large majority - 71 per cent - also say the hearings show how much Quebecers "value cultural diversity" - just not religious diversity.

Sixty per cent feel the hearings "will generate an important critique of the place of immigrants in Quebec" and will "help to better define what Quebec's identity is."

However, many people think the commission is blind to some of the province's oldest and long-established minorities: anglophones and aboriginals.

Two-thirds said they want to hear more anglos and First Nations people come forth and address the commission - and an even higher proportion of non-anglophones agreed.

Overall, 70 per cent said the hearings are a "healthy" way for opinions to be aired in public, although only half think those opinions reflect what most Quebecers believe.

"Clearly, most Quebecers hold a positive view of the hearings," said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies.

"The commission has not lost credibility. People are concerned about the anti-Semitism and racist remarks, but they feel the deliberations are sufficiently important that we should look beyond them."

Thursday, October 18, 2007


via public reason:

ALSP: 27-29 March 2008 | CFP: 30 November 2007

The Association of Legal and Social Philosophy 2008 Conference will be held at the University of Nottingham from 27 to 29 March 2008. The conference theme is Global Justice. The deadline for abstracts and panel proposals is 30 November 2007. The deadline for complete paper submission is 1 March 2008. The plenary speakers are Margaret Moore, Queens University, Ontario; Stephen Gardiner, University of Washington; and Kok-Chor Tan, University of Pennsylvania. Call for papers.
CFP: British Society for Ethical Theory

Via Professor Solum, a call for papers for the British Society for Ethical Theory.

Call for Papers
University of Edinburgh, UK
14-16th July 2008

Invited Speakers: Barbara Herman (UCLA), Wlodek Rabinowicz (Lund)

Papers are invited for the annual conference of the British Society for Ethical
Theory, to be held at the University of Edinburgh. The subject area is open
within metaethics and normative ethics. Papers on topics in applied ethics or
the history of ethics may also be considered provided they are also of wider
theoretical interest.

Papers, which should be unpublished at the time of submission, should be in
English, no longer than 6500 words, readable in at most 45 minutes and in a
form suitable for blind review. Please send your submission electronically, and
include an abstract, as well as your full name, address and academic
affiliation. Those who submitted papers for our previous conferences
-successfully or otherwise - are welcome to submit again (though not of course
the same papers!).

Please tell us if you are a postgraduate student: submissions from postgraduates
are encouraged as our aim is that some such should be represented at the
conference. Selected conference papers will be published in the journal Ethical
Theory and Moral Practice. Please make clear in any covering letter whether you
wish your paper to be considered for publication here as well as for the
conference programme.

The deadline for submissions is 7th December, 2007.

Papers and accompanying particulars should be emailed to Dr. Elinor Mason:

Note that ONLY electronic submissions will be accepted.

The BSET conference is a major ethics conference held annually in or near the
UK. Our programme normally comprises around 11 papers, 2 invited, the rest
submitted. Submitted papers are blind refereed. All those we select for the
programme are assigned a generous time allocation (around 75 minutes, 45
minutes reading time, 30 for discussion) and all papers are given to plenary
sessions. We are a "British" society only as regards the geography of where we
hold our meetings and such trivia as the way we spell "programme"; we seek to
attract submissions from an international field. Submitted papers read to
previous conferences have included work by Robert Audi, Margaret Gilbert, Dan
Jacobson, Maggie Little, Rahul Kumar, Mathias Risse, Henry Richardson, Michelle
Mason, David Sobel, Valerie Tiberius, Jeanette Kennett, David Owens, Melissa
Barry and Garrett Cullity among many others.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Supreme downsizing

Adrian Vermeule is profiled and his work discussed in this article, from the Boston Globe's terrific Ideas section.

Monday, October 15, 2007

David Currie, 1936-2007

I only met Professor Currie on a few occasions, but I am a great admirer and beneficiary of his books in constitutional history (and learned conflicts of laws from his casebook). He was a major and multifaceted scholar, and an institution-builder at Chicago Law and of the Green Bag journal.

Chicago Law has a full obituary.
Final ASPLP Schedule

The schedule for the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, held in conjunction with the APA East, is now final.

American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy: Loyalty
Baltimore Marriott Waterfront

Friday, December 28, 2007

2:45 - 4:10pm: "Lawyerly Fidelity"
Location: Falkland (Fourth Floor)
Paper: Daniel Markovits
Commentators: Lynn M. Mather; Martin S. Lederman
Chair: Sanford V. Levinson

4:20-5:45pm: " For the Sake of Comrades"
Location: Falkland (Fourth Floor)
Paper: Nancy Sherman
Commentators: Ryan K. Balot; Phillip Carter
Chair: Jacob T. Levy

6-8pm: ASPLP Reception
Location: Kent A (Fourth Floor)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

8-9am: ASPLP Breakfast
Location: Dover B (Third Floor)

9-11am: "Partisan Loyalties"
Location: Dover B (Third Floor)
Paper: Russell Muirhead
Commentators: Richard H. Pildes; David Estlund
Chair: Nancy L. Rosenblum

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Welcome to the blogosphere...

to Public Reason, a group blog on political theory and political philosophy with quite a list of potential contributors. The mission statement:

Public Reason is a new group blog for political philosophers and theorists. The purpose of the blog is to create an informal but professional online venue where members of the academic political philosophy and theory community can discuss their work. Academic blogging has undergone a remarkable growth lately. A number of group blogs have been created by philosophers and political scientists, but none is specifically dedicated to political philosophy or theory. Public Reason aims to remedy that deficit. Contributors to the blog will have the ability to post a number of items:

* Literature discussions. If you have something to say about a recent article in journals such as Ethics or the Journal of Political Philosophy, you can link to the article and post a discussion of it on the blog.
* Reading groups. Work through a book chapter by chapter with colleagues.
* Working papers. Upload or link to working papers you would like to receive feedback on.
* Conference announcements. Post information about forthcoming conferences or calls for papers.
* Teaching discussions. Unsure about how to best explain sovereign authority in Hobbes’s Leviathan or the constraints of deliberative democracy to students? Post ideas about conveying theoretical concepts in the classroom.
* Podcasts. If you are giving a talk or just want to read a paper for colleagues to listen to on their iPods over lunch, record an mp3 file, upload it here, and subscribe to Public Reason podcasts via iTunes.
* General issues. Raise an issue of academic interest not sufficiently addressed in any literature you can find.

Why should an academic blog? For the same reason you attend conferences, give talks, ask questions, chat with colleagues, read books, and publish papers. An academic group blog is merely an online tool used to continue the conversations begun on the journal pages and in the conference halls. In that respect, Public Reason is not intended as a vehicle for purely personal reflections, social observations, or “Friday night cat blogging.”

Via Brad DeLong, Bruce Bartlett said:
Under the best of circumstances, getting a tenured position at an elite university is very hard. Because you can't get rid of someone with tenure and may be stuck with them as a colleague for decades, it stands to reason that the process of choosing someone for such a position is going to be very intense. For the same reason, the choice is not entirely meritocratic--elite universities don't choose the best scholars as professors any more than they choose the best applicants as students. There are a lot of factors that go into a hiring decision that don't favor conservatives and go beyond simple ideology.

Just to mention one area, conservatives have a tendency to choose sub-disciplines within academic fields that are not very fashionable. For example, in political science, conservatives tend to gravitate toward political theory--a field that has been out of fashion since at least the 1960s. In history, conservatives often excel at military and diplomatic history--again, fields that have been out of fashion for decades.

One of the basic elements of liberalism is a greater affinity for things that are new and trendy. For conservatives, it is the opposite--an affinity for the familiar, the tried and true. This means that conservatives are always going to be behind the curve in any field where changing fashion is a key to advancement.


even setting aside the "out of fashion" part:

While there has been a steady flow of people who are in some sense conservative into political theory thanks to the existence of Straussianism, the subfield is no great magnet for conservatives. Impressionistically I'd say that, of the small number of (even-loosely-described) conservatives who enter political science, a large proportion end up in international relations, a somewhat smaller proportion in formal modelling/ institutions/ American politics.

Indeed, it's an often-discussed pedagogical problem that we have so little conservative political theory to match with liberal, libertarian, socialist, democratic, feminist, and multiculturalist theory on syllabi. One of the big themes of the ASPLP conference on "American Conservative Thought and Politics" in January was, "Why so little explicitly conservative political theory?"

Nor is it remotely the case that political theory, for all its affinity with great books programs, is immune to faddishness, fashion, or trendiness!

I can't imagine what Bartlett means by this.