Koch’d Out
March 5, 2012

Fellow denizens of the left:

You may have heard rumblings of an attempted Koch brothers takeover of the Cato Institute. You may have then asked yourself: Wait, don’t the Koch brothers already control the Cato Institute? Or you may have smirked a little bit at the notion of infighting within the party of laissez faire. Or maybe it just doesn’t seem important to you one way or another.

But personally? This dirty welfare-and-unions-loving pinko finds ample reason to be unabashedly supportive of Cato’s anti-Koch insurgency. Their economic policy output may be usually misguided, often even contemptible and sneering, but it’s still better than it would be if the organization were the Koch-subsidized GOP SuperPAC that it always has been in the progressive imagination. Independence of spirit and some sort of internal integrity is better than none of either. It certainly makes for more fruitful arguments between libertarians and the left.

Besides, Cato’s work on Internet privacy and criminal justice is invaluable (thanks in no small part to friends of the blog Julian Sanchez and Jon Blanks). If Cato gets subsumed into the conservative Beltway borg, then civil libertarians lose a stauncher ally than they’re likely to find — let’s face it — anywhere on the center-left.

But the main thing is that if intellectual freedom matters, it always matters. Keep Cato free and feisty.

Read Jon and Julian for more.

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Matters of Utmost Seriousness
October 9, 2010

All the legitimate bloggers these days have end-of-the-day link roundups. And as it so happens, feigning legitimacy is one of my hobbies, which is why I’m starting a new semi-regular feature: MATTERS OF UTMOST SERIOUSNESS. I say “semi-regular” because I don’t have the time or inclination to post link roundups each day, much less assemble enough links on a daily basis to make for a decent roundup.

I do, however, have things I want to highlight but don’t feel I can construct a full post around. Here are some of the recent ones:

  • Julian Sanchez takes the question of whether or not a god could prove its omnipotence quite a bit further than I did. I stopped at what it would be like to experience omnipotence because it seemed inconceivable to me; but that’s sort of handwave-y, and Julian does a good job of puzzling through the concept of omnipotence. Also, the comments thread is glorious.
  • Philosopher Neil Sinhababu, who I interviewed for my column on personhood, thinks cognitive neuroscience has a solution to the philosophical zombie problem.
  • Massimo Piglucci on the limits of reasonable discourse.
  • Columbia University Press is going to publish David Foster Wallace’s undergraduate thesis, in which the future novelist tried to rebutt fatalism. The New York Times Magazine┬áhad an article about the thesis awhile back.
  • Via┬áLeiter, a blog about what it’s like to be a woman in academic philosophy.
  • Also via Leiter: an excellent essay on the nature of political conservatism.

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