Follow-up: Philosophy, History, Tasers, etc.

As promised, here are a few things related to last week’s meeting on philosophers:.

Ayn Rand

  • A devastating takedown of Rand and her adherents in a review of the biography “Ayn Rand and World She Made:”  Unfortunately, this is behind a pay wall.  But you folks who haunt libraries should get it from the Sept 14,  2009 issue of the New Republic.
  • Another such slap-fest of objectivism.  And another

PhilosophyWhat Is a Philosopher? from the NYT’s The Stone blog on contemporary philosophy issues.

History: The Purpose of the Past, by the revolutionary-period historian Gordon Wood.  Short, it’s a series of his essays on what “history” means and different ways to think about history.  Most are reviews of other books on constitutional and revolution-era history.  I also learned a lot about the period. 

Radical Islam: 

  •  The Future of Political Islam;  Explains what radical Islamism is and argues we need to learn to deal with, and encourage the growth of, its more moderate strains.  Short, easy read.  Also:  
  • The Shia Revival, by a UCSD professor.  All about the sect that comprises about 20% of Muslims, and that dominates Iran.

Taser Abuse:  Many organizations track police abuse of these weapons.  The abuse is NOT when police use them to subdue suspects who pose an imminent danger to others.  The problem is when cops use these devices just to enforce obedience and prevent back talk.  The number of taser-related deaths is a lousy indicator of this problem because — duh — tasers are usually non-lethal and don’t even leave a mark.  But, they are still torture, and therefore their use to enforce p0lice authority only is a disgrace.  

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