^z 17th September 2023 at 7:33am

A short month of Philosophy Breakfast table discussions:

4 February 2000 — mostly Books:

  • What does "right to life" mean? What is "life"? Is abortion an ideal philosophical problem because it brings together so many complex and conflicting issues?
  • What limits can one legitimately impose on the behavior of other people?
  • Some recommended readings: A Knock at Midnight ... the sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr. ... George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia ... Paul Veyne's Bread and Circuses ...
  • When is it OK to lie for a good cause? Never? To prevent great evil? (See Lying by Bok.) What are the gradations of truth?
  • How should one react to good beliefs which are sincerely held, but for bad reasons? Is sincerity enough?
  • How about beliefs which are disruptive or hurtful or repugnant to various people? Possible examples: The Bell Curve ... E. O. Wilson writings on sociobiology ... recent Darwinian explanations of rape ... Camille Paglia on bacchinalianism/paganism/feminism ...
  • In-Your-Face-ism — overdramatization of beliefs, strident presentation, exaggeration to get attention....

11 February — mostly Government:

  • People are complex ... look at Jefferson and his struggle with slavery
  • "The fantasy is the enemy of the do-able."
  • A challenge is to be responsible, to meet one's obligations, to accept blame for shortcomings ... "The buck stops here" proverb ... organizationally, this is hard to do, especially in high-profile situations when "the yipping of the press" oversimplifies and unfairly points fingers at those who are trying to do the right thing in a complex world.
  • Can political speech be regulated? How about lies? How about commercial speech? What can be done about huge concentrations of wealth and power? Can anonymity, facilitated by technology, provide a counterweight?
  • What's the appropriate level of government? What fraction of the economy should flow through government channels? And what are appropriate rôles of government? Antitrust? Antidiscrimination?
  • Look at ancient Greek society ... its democracy, and its treatment of women ... readings on "moon & cherry blossoms & fish & geishas" ... fascinating social glimpses of social aspects which aren't often explored.

18 February— mostly Patience:

  • Is change good? What is "good"? How relative is it?
  • Is there a real difference between "Gen X" and earlier generations? Must young people nowadays be managed differently as employees? Are they fundamentally less loyal, patient, persistent, etc.? (Or are all these just clichés?)
  • Book Built to Last, about enduring and visionary companies — interesting reading ... suggestion that what's critical is to preserve fundamental values and principles, but change strategies and goals as needed ...
  • A new organization, especially one with a clear mission and lots of resources and smart people, doesn't need to be introspective ... but after a few decades we "... need a real dialog about who we are and why..."
  • A successful and enduring organization tends to be exclusive or exclusionary ... and people who work there tend to have a bimodal longevity distribution: <5 years or >25 years ... since those who don't fit are washed out early, while those who remain have a powerful loyalty to the corporate culture.

25 February — mostly Society vs. State:

  • George Will comment: "People are self-indulgent by nature." So is it the job of the State to promote social virtues? Would everybody be "profligate and indolent" if not driven?
  • How can the battle between Individual and Community be resolved?
  • Should Society, not Government, be the driving force for moral behavior?
  • Have social standards of morality declined? (Witness tabloid TV, Internet trash?) Or have things always been this bad?
  • "Boy, this stuff is weak tea!" — a philo-spouse's comment on the results of searching the Web for a particular substantive topic. On the other hand, "There are nuggets in the schlock" ... but "it's a lot easier to find your way to the good stuff in a paper library" ... and "the ordering is very powerful — the ultimate tool is the Dewey Decimal System" ... though admittedly it's only a one-dimensional categorization.
  • Three bureaucratic shibboleths:
    • collaboration
    • risk management
    • flexibility
  • All good things, to be sure, but the trick is not to just talk about them but to implement them properly.

Thanks again to BW, JC, BD, GdM, AP, JB, JJ, et al.!

Tuesday, July 25, 2000 at 20:56:21 (EDT) = 2000-07-25

TopicPhilosophy - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicOrganizations - TopicSociety

(correlates: InFoamation, ForgivenTrespasses, EyeCandy, ...)