Friday, August 13, 2004

I've wasted too much time in the comments on this at Crooked Timber.
If I had made my points on my own page I would have been able to edit and rewrite, so I'm tempted not even to link to it. I have to wade through my own crap just to find the stuff I'm happy with. And even I have to admit, calling myself a "Field Nigger" doesn't have quite the punch it used to. Most of my income comes from very dirty work, and though I maintain the social mobility of my personal history -and of my race- I have no money, and I work with people who have not had my advantages. Of course at this point quite a few of them have more money than I do: they work harder and have responsibilities. I have none, and the luxury of coasting. But as I've said before I'm getting older, with less to coast on as time goes by.

Nonetheless, something interesting happened over the run of the argument at CT. It's true: I am more interested in sensibility than policy. It's easy to construct a logical and consistent strategy. It's something one can rely upon even for comfort after it's outlived its other functions. Developing a sensibility, a consistence in attitude about small things, and building upon that, is something else entirely.
I came upon this by accident: The Leiter Report

Did anyone else notice that nice, moderate Democrat Matthew Yglesias (who majored in philosophy at Harvard, before becoming a "pundit") has removed all the academic blogs from his blogroll ever since he got beat up by Larry Solum (San Diego, Law) and Chris Bertram (Bristol, Philosophy) for a rather weak posting on Rawls? It is true I've never seen Solum be so harsh as he was in this case, but, hey, Matt, don't take it out on me and Weatherson!

This just made me laugh. He stopped ass-kissing for once, got hammered, then ran away. I thought he was destined to be the next Eric Alterman, but now he's in Tom Friedman territory.
I've spent some time with Rawls and become annoyed quickly, but my criticism comes from the standpoint of the argument outlined above. In order to discuss human activity in Rawlsian terms it has to be simplified beyond the point where simplicity is helpful.   I'm more interested in the history of justice than the theory of it. But Rawls built a complex and subtle academic logic and Yglesias was stupid to bite the hands that have fed him so well.

Here's the link to Solum's post

Looking back at this years later and judging only by the quotes posted by Bertram -Yglesias' old page is gone but it's safe to say Bertram picked what he thought was the most egregious passage- Yglesias' only mistake was copping out. He gave his schoolmasters too much credit and so did I.

Solum: "Bad form. Poor job. Shame." Just stupid.

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