Roger Kimball on Will Smith and Utopianism

Roger Kimball has intriguing reflections on the utopian impulse and the underlying thought, stemming from Rousseau, that one can reshape human nature—all from thinking about Will Smith’s remark, “Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today’,” said Will. “I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to … Continue reading Roger Kimball on Will Smith and Utopianism

Prisoners’ Dilemmas

A few days ago I talked about flaccid strategies for iterated prisoners’ dilemmas, noting that strategies without retaliation cannot win. I remarked: Many Western leaders seem committed not only to avoiding retaliation but to responding to defection on an opponent’s part with forgiveness and even more extensive cooperation. [Emphasis added.] That inspires a further thought. Robert Alexrod and others have investigated strategies for iterated prisoners’ … Continue reading Prisoners’ Dilemmas

Game Theory and the Clash of Civilizations

An interesting attempt to apply game theory to the conflict between Islam and the West. Many Western leaders seem committed not only to avoiding retaliation but to responding to defection on an opponent’s part with forgiveness and even more extensive cooperation. Let’s call such a strategy flaccid. Christians with the attitude I spoke of yesterday seem to view flaccidity as ethically required. But the problem … Continue reading Game Theory and the Clash of Civilizations

The Ethics of Interrogation

Immanuel Kant wrote a short essay, “On a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns,” in the Berlin Press in 1799, replying to a criticism of his views by Benjamin Constant. Constant described a case in which you allow a friend fleeing a murderer to take refuge in your house. The murderer comes to the door and asks whether the friend is there. Must … Continue reading The Ethics of Interrogation

“Who[m] Would Jesus Waterboard?”

Ah, Christmas—a time for holly, lights, caroling, manger scenes, and . . . politics. At our church, today’s services included “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Exceeding Joy” (a contemporary version of the Magnificat), “The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee,” and, as part of a sermon series on “Coming Home for Christmas,” a sermon on torture. Torture? Yes, today’s sermon was mostly about torture—not the … Continue reading “Who[m] Would Jesus Waterboard?”

The Wages of Beauty

Should we tax people for being good looking?  An Argentinian group of self-proclaimed ugly people are proposing just that.  The idea seems preposterous—but, as Greg Mankiw observes, it’s not easy to explain why without undercutting other more mainstream egalitarian positions.  So much the worse for egalitarianism.  But maybe this is a tax people would be eager to pay, as a kind of status symbol. Continue reading The Wages of Beauty

Subprime Intelligence

Hillary Clinton has called for measures to suspend foreclosures on subprime mortgages for 90 days, and the Secretary of the Treasury seems to agree that government must take steps to protect people who made foolish financial decisions. A good example is this woman, who could have been close to paying off an inexpensive mortgage but has refinanced her house repeatedly to draw a total of … Continue reading Subprime Intelligence

Pornostan

Mark Steyn describes the contradictions involved in a multicultural Amsterdam. How many advocates of multiculturalism have appreciated that it is inconsistent with civil liberties? John Stuart Mill defends the harm principle, which says that people ought to be allowed to live as they see fit so long as they don’t violate the rights of others. That superficially seems to support multiculturalism, but in fact it … Continue reading Pornostan