Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Reason Papers Announcement

As some of my readers are aware, I recently joined Reason Papers as co-editor. I’m very excited about this opportunity!

Here’s a little about the journal from Reason Papers’s website:
Reason Papers is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal appearing online twice a year. It features full-length Articles and Discussion Notes, along with Symposia, Book Reviews, and Review Essays. Our Fall 2011 issue inaugurates a new section of the journal, “Afterwords,” devoted to brief commentaries on contemporary issues, including original translations from non-English sources. 
As a “journal of interdisciplinary normative studies,” Reason Papers publishes work whose content is “normative in the philosophical sense.” As an interdisciplinary journal, Reason Papers’s mission is guided by an ideal of disciplinary integration that extends beyond philosophical reflection on normative concepts. We welcome work in any academic field, as long as it meets the relevant standards of rigor for the fields it discusses, and as long as its normative implications are clear or made explicit.
If you are interested in submitting to the journal, please read the Submissions information: http://reasonpapers.com/submissions/ 

We also have lots of opportunities for book reviews as well. See our list of books for which we are looking for reviewers: http://reasonpapers.com/booksforreview/

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

CFP: Studies in Philosophy of Sport

Call for Book Proposals for new series: Studies in Philosophy of Sport

The Studies in Philosophy of Sport series from Lexington Books encourages scholars from all disciplines to inquire into the nature, importance, and qualities of sport and related activities. The series aims to encourage new voices and methods for the philosophic study of sport while also inspiring established scholars to consider new questions and approaches in this field.

The series encourages scholars new to the philosophy of sport to bring their expertise to this growing field. These new voices bring innovative methods and different questions to the standard issues in the philosophy of sport. Well-trodden topics in the literature will be reexamined with fresh takes and new questions and issues will be explored to advance the field beyond traditional positions.

Proposal Information

The series publishes both monographs and edited volumes. The “philosophy of sport” should be construed broadly to include many different methodological approaches, historical traditions, and academic disciplines. I am especially interested in proposals from scholars new to the discipline of philosophy of sport (either because they are from a discipline other than philosophy or they are philosophers new to the study of sport). Click here for proposal guidelines.

If you have an idea for a book but are not ready to submit a complete proposal at this time, please still email me (sportsethicist@gmail.com) to discuss your idea.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Thrown


Thrown
Thrown by Kerry Howley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



I am not sure this book is for everyone, but I found it engaging and thought-provoking. It is a funny and original book that looks at the world of mixed-martial arts fighting. I hesitate to say an insider’s view, since the author is not a fighter. She is what she calls a space-taker: not quite a groupie, not quite an assistant, not quite a beat writer, but some weird mix of all three. She ‘space-takes’ with two fighters making their way through the lower levels of MMA fighting. She follows them because she is obsessed with finding an ecstatic, pure, out-of-body experience induced by the brutality and violence of the fight.

It is beautiful in moments as she captures the sublime aspects of sport and spectatorship. It becomes a little clich├ęd at others times with its disparagement of mundane jobs and boring family life. It is also, at times, a little too impressed with itself and also a bit overwrought in places. But, then, that is part of the point I think: the juxtaposition of philosophical musings about Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and phenomenology with fights in run-down gyms in Iowan backwaters. For the most part this works and is a big part of the draw (especially for a philosopher of sport like myself). But there were times it was a little forced.

These are minor flaws. The book is definitely worth reading if you are interested in sport, spectacle, MMA, or phenomenology.






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Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere


The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere
The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere by Kevin Carey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This was not quite the book I thought it was going to be. It is focused on the history of higher education and not education policy or proposals. It tells the story of the particular circumstances that gave rise to the contemporary hybrid American university (one part research institute, one part liberal arts, one part practical education/training) and shows how those circumstances are changing (mostly due to technology). With these changing conditions, Carey argues, the hybrid model is starting to come a part. Technological advances are exposing the faults and cracks of higher ed and educational entrepreneurs are exploiting those opportunities. Eventually, a critical mass of new models will emerge and college as we know it will end.

What will the future look like? Carey's vision of of the University of Everywhere is aspirational and ideal. He's not offering a proposal or any detail. He sees a future where technology breaks up the hybrid universities. Technology will make what is a scarce resource, widely available and nearly free. What he calls your educational identity will be more under your control and direction (not housed on transcript somewhere in the ivory tower). Education won't be 4 years in one location: it will be lifelong and every where.

Using his experience taking an intro biology course online at MIT edX and interviews with different educational entrepreneurs, Carey presents the bits and pieces that are chipping away at the foundations of the ivory tower (the different ways people are offering online classes, using technology for education, and experimenting with alternative ways of credentialing). Each one of these pieces is exploiting a problem in the hybrid model and as they become more numerous and more successful, the hybrid model is breaking down.

I am glad Carey discusses the credential issue. That is the key to the breakdown of the hybrid model. Once employers and others can make use of credentialing systems that are as good as (even better than) a college diploma, the edifice of much of higher ed will come crashing down. As Carey notes, Harvard and MIT will be just fine. The state universities, community colleges, and small colleges (like Rockford U) that depend so much on (1) current tuition and (2) vast numbers of students whose primary aims are credentials for jobs not education will lose their market and their revenue. Though the disruption will be difficult and scary, and I don't know what will emerge, I think a higher ed system with more models and more competition will lead to a system that is more effective, more accessible, and more affordable. In this respect, I agree with Carey.

I am, though, much more skeptical about the technology; it is earlier than we think. It is hard to see how the intimate seminars of upper-level, advanced classes in most of the liberal arts and sciences can be taught online with the current level of technology. I think there is a lot that can be done and will eventually be done, but the dynamic, face-to-face chewing of ideas in a shared inquiry of a seminar is not (yet) replicable in discussion forums, chat rooms, or google hang outs. An Intro to Bio may work great -- as it seemed to for Carey at MIT edX, but what about a senior level seminar on the economics of Shakespeare's plays?

Though it wasn't what I expected, I learned a lot about the history of education and educational technology. Carey weaves in anecdotes into his history and interviews that make the book interesting and compelling.



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Saturday, April 04, 2015

Review: Moscow Rules


Moscow Rules
Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Another great Allon novel. The twist here is that instead of fighting Islamic terrorists, he goes up against Russian agents and arms dealers.



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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Book: Steve Jobs and Philosophy: For Those Who Think Different

My new book, Steve Jobs and Philosophy: For Those Who Think Different,will be out in late-April. You can pre-order on Amazon.com.

You can read the Preface

Table of Contents:
I. The Crazy One
1. The Reality Distortion Field of Steve Jobs by James Edwin Mahon
2. Counter-Culture Capitalist by Carrie-Ann Biondi
3. The Anti-Social Creator by Terry W. Noel
4. What Pixar Taught Millennials about Personhood by Kyle Munkittrick

II. The Troublemaker
5. How Can We Make Entrepreneurs by Stephen R. C. Hicks
6. The Visionary Entrepreneur by Robert F. Salvino
7. But Steve Jobs Didn't Invent Anything! by Ryan Krause and Owen Parker
8. What Does Market Success Show? by William R Thomas

III. The Rebel
9. Marley and Steve by Jason Walker
10. The Noble Truths of Steve Jobs by Shawn E. Klein and Danielle Fundora
11. Two Sides of Think Different by Robert White
12. The Moral Perfectionist by Jared Meyer
13. Does Apple Know Right from Wrong by Jason Iuliano

IV. The Misfit
14. Close Your Eyes, Hold Your Breath, Jump In by Paul Pardi
15. Does Steve Jobs Live and Work for You? by Alexander R. Cohen
16. Jobs and Heidegger Square Off on Technology by Christopher Ketcham
17. Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication by Dennis Knepp



 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Deflate-Gate Media Appearances

Who knew under-inflated footballs would cause such a stir! Over the last week, I’ve had a number of media appearances related to this issue. I’m trying to get a post out soon (this coincided with the first of class so I’ve had to attend to my ‘real’ job). Here’s the list of my ‘deflate-gate’ appearances (check out SportsEthicist.com for updates to this list):

ESPN The Classroom, Marist College Center for Sports Communication. 1220 ESPN. January 24, 2015. Web (podcast): http://espntheclassroom.podomatic.com/entry/2015-01-24T09_33_16-08_00

Huffpost Live “The Latest on Deflate Gate” January 23, 2015. Web: http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/deflate-gate/54bfe93078c90a13b500019f

CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello. January 23, 2015. Transcript: http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1501/23/cnr.04.html Video Archive: http://archive.org/details/CNNW_20150123_150000_CNN_Newsroom_With_Carol_Costello#start/2040/end/2100

 Maese, Rick. “Patriots, Bill Belichick walk, sometimes cross, line between competitiveness and cheating” Washington Post, January 22, 2015. Web: http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/patriots-bill-belichick-walk-sometimes-cross-line-between-competitiveness-and-cheating/2015/01/22/e4152bf4-a271-11e4-91fc-7dff95a14458_story.html

 Spewak, Danny. “Science Claims Deflategate Was No Accident!” WGRZ, Buffalo, NY. January 22, 2015. Web: http://www.wgrz.com/story/sports/2015/01/22/sports-science-for-the-patriots/22184649/

Alesia, Mark. “Sports ethics experts analyze Belichick, ‘DeflateGate'” Indianapolis Star, January 22, 2105. Print A1; A6. Web: http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/nfl/colts/2015/01/22/sports-ethics-deflategate-bill-belichick-new-england-patriots-indianapolis-colts/22153199/

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: The Secret Servant


The Secret Servant
The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Another great Allon novel from Daniel Silva. While the last novel in this series left me wanting a little more, this one hit all the right notes. It had all the usual features of a spy thriller and these were all well executed by Silva. I especially enjoyed the unexpected humor in the denouement. One thing that makes this series so interesting is the way Silva gets into the minds of Allon and his foes. The terrorists are rarely just evil caricatures; Silva gives space for acknowledging that some of their gripes are legitimate—while giving no quarter to their methods. He also shows you the psychic damage to Allon for being like his namesake, the angel of judgment. Killing, even when justified and necessary, leaves a mark. This novel, involving both the Americans and the British, highlights the ineptitude of the West in dealing with Islamic terrorism.

---Spoiler Alert---

Shamron is clearing dying; it'll be interesting to see what Silva does with Allon as he loses this guiding figure in his life. Also, I am curious to see how the marriage with Chiara plays out.



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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Review: The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children


The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children
The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



I was disappointed in this book. I loved the title and the idea of it; it’s been on my ‘to-read’ list for a while. But it wasn’t really what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, there are many good and interesting ideas. Mogel connects worthwhile parental advice to Jewish wisdom and teaching. However, this connection seemed somewhat superficial. The parental advice is mostly conventional and typical of parenting books. The Jewish teachings often felt like an afterthought.

Two other aspects of the book led me to an overall negative review. First, Mogel is a clinical psychologist and uses her cases and experiences to illustrate her advice. That is fairly typical for books like this, but nonetheless, it is too anecdotal for me. I would have liked the anecdotes to be more grounded in some data.

Second, the religiousness of the book was surprising and put me off. Now, with a book with a subtitle of “Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children”, I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I was. As a secular Jew, I see the value of Jewish teachings without a lot of God-talk. I expected something more along the lines of using Talmudic teachings or other forms of Jewish wisdom to illustrate points. Mogel, though, goes beyond this towards advising particular religious practices as part of her parental advice. I don’t want to overplay this. Mogel wasn’t proselytizing or making constant references to God. This aspect was more subtle and something that I was more sensitive too.

There is some very good advice in these pages. In particular, her advice on the need to avoid overindulging and overprotect children is important and she offers some practical tips to help parents on this front. But overall, I am not comfortable recommending this book without the caveats about my concerns raised above.




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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Wool Omnibus


Wool Omnibus
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Wool is a creative and original post-apocalyptic dystopian work that is gripping, unpredictable, and thrilling. The story mainly takes place in the Silo: a self-contained, underground city of 150 stories. As far as the inhabitants know, this is the entirety of existence. Speaking of anything beyond this is prohibited. The why of this taboo and the existence of the Silo is slowly explained through the book's five parts.This mystery and the impact it has on the characters is the driving force of the story.

While there are plenty of ideas in play: freedom vs control; liberty vs security; facing uncomfortable truths vs ignorance is bliss; fate vs choice; justice vs the collective good; and the obvious allusion to Plato's Cave, these don't overpower the characters and the story. Like all great sci-fi, the characters are dealing in world that is in many ways distant from our own but still we know them and their concerns.

Howey is a great story teller; looking forward to reading much more of him.




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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: What the Buddha Taught with Texts from Suttas & Dhammapada


What the Buddha Taught with Texts from Suttas & Dhammapada
What the Buddha Taught with Texts from Suttas & Dhammapada by Walpola Rahula

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This book is a solid and straightforward overview of the basic philosophic tenets of Buddhism. The text itself is relatively short (less than 100 pages), but it is not simplistic. Rahula explains the main points and directs the reader to the sources for these ideas. For the most part, it doesn’t get into more esoteric details or points of dispute between different branches of Buddhism. He does indicate a few points of disagreement over interpretations, but leaves that more for the reader to go and explore on his own. Rahula explains the ways that Buddhist ideas have been misinterpreted or misunderstand by Western thinkers and he tries to correct these errors. The latter half of the book contains translations of original sources for those interested. This is definitely a good starting place for people interested in Buddhist ideas.




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Review: How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness


How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness
How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness by Russ Roberts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Russ Roberts’ new book on Adam Smith is part introduction/summary and part self-help. Roberts takes a fresh look at Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments to see what we can learn about how to make our own lives better. Along the way, we are introduced to Smith’s ideas of morality, economics, and human nature.

While I am familiar with Smith’s TMS and his approach to morality, I am no expert and the refresher of key elements and ideas was most welcomed. To understand Smith, one needs to return to him again and again. Like many profound thinkers, his insights seem obvious once you get them, but before that you need to go back to Smith many times to grasp what he is getting at.

Roberts takes Smith’s insights and applies them to how one lives his or her own life. How should we think about the pursuit of material wealth and good? How do we treat loved ones, strangers? And what does that treatment say about us?

One of the more interesting sections is where Roberts looks at what an understanding of Smith can tell us about making the world a better place. He doesn’t focus on grand gestures or big plans. It is more about the little things we each do every day: smiling at the store clerk, being honest and trustworthy, or being good at one’s work. All of these are things that are good to do, and they also help make the world better. Appealing to Smith’s idea that social norms and civilization evolves out of the aggregation of all the actions we all take, the more good actions we do, the better the world gets. We show other people what counts as goodness. We encourage other people to good. We reinforce our own habits of acting well. Conversely, when we do bad things – even small, seemingly minor things – we make the world a little worse.

Roberts also examines the “Adam Smith Question”: how to reconcile the apparent (and I think seriously overplayed) inconsistencies between TMS and The Wealth of Nations (WN). The latter is supposedly focused on humans as self-interested actors while the former focuses on the so-called altruistic virtues of love, sympathy, and justice. Roberts’ response is that TMS is about how we interact with those we know and care about it: our personal interactions. WN is about our market and commercial interactions which are mostly with strangers and usually are one-off. Smith isn’t using a different theory of human nature; he is focused on understanding human nature in different contexts, so the focus is different. The nice way Roberts sums this up is: “Love Locally, Trade Globally.”

This is a quick, easy read; worthwhile for anyone interested in Smith, morality, and those interested in how to live better in their own lives. Warning: it’ll make you want to go and read Adam Smith.




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Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: Roast Mortem


Roast Mortem
Roast Mortem by Cleo Coyle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars



I was disappointed with this contribution to the Coffeehouse Mystery series. What draws me to these novels is the fun of the mysteries built around connections to coffee. And that's where this volume really fell short. Sure there was some nice descriptions of espresso crema, but the story didn't really have anything to do with coffee. The other aspect of the book that was less appealing for me was that I just don't care about the romantic relationship between Quinn and Claire. It's a little too much Harlequinn for my taste. It'll be a while before I come back to the Blend for a taste.



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Friday, October 03, 2014

Review: The Fantasy Sport Industry

I recently reviewed The Fantasy Sport Industry: Games within Games (Routledge Research in Sport, Culture and Society) by Andrew C. Billings and Brody J. Ruihley for the Nordic Sport Science Forum.
The central idea of Andrew Billings and Brody Ruihley’s book, The Fantasy Sport Industry¸ is that fantasy is a game-changer. It is a game-changer in the way sport is covered by and represented in the media. It is a game-changer for the fans and how they consume sport. Indeed, it is potentially a game-changer for the very sports on which these games are based.

Fantasy Sports have been around for several decades. They started small, the domain of, so the stereotype goes, geeky guys in their basements. But these games have expanded exponentially in the last twenty years. Something like thirty five million North Americans play fantasy sport in some manner: that’s more than the numbers of people who play golf, watch the American Idol finale, or own iPhones (Berry, 2; Billings and Ruihley, 5). Fantasy is now a regular and frequent feature of the broadcasts and news reports of sporting events. Networks such as ESPN have dedicated programs for fantasy. There is even a TV sit-com centered on the members of fantasy football league called, appropriately enough, The League (of which this reviewer confesses he is a big fan). Much of all this revolves around Fantasy Football, but there are fantasy leagues for all the major professional sports (indeed there are fantasy leagues for non-sporting activities as well: Fantasy Congress and Celebrity Fantasy to name two).

Given all this interest, it is no surprise that fantasy has become big business with billions of dollars in revenue. Billings and Ruihley set out to provide a much needed look at this growing industry. The first chapter provides the overall context. The authors discuss the philosophical question of just what makes something a fantasy sport and breaks down the basics of how fantasy games are played. They demonstrate the popularity and growth of fantasy and through this ask the main question of the book. Why do people play fantasy? This raises the important follow-up question: what effect does fantasy have on all the ways we normally consume and understand sport?
You can read the rest of the review: http://idrottsforum.org/klesha_billings-ruihley141003/

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Review: The Haunted Mesa


The Haunted Mesa
The Haunted Mesa by Louis L'Amour

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



This was not what I expected at all, but I really enjoyed it. I picked this up because I enjoy western films and wanted to read some westerns. I've read Robert Parker's Virgil Cole mysteries, but I wanted to read some of the classic western authors. I've read a Zane Grey and so I figured L'Amour would be a good next try. Yes, it takes place in Utah and involves Native Americans and a few cowboys, but it is more fantasy/sci-fi and takes place in the 1980s. It's also a mystery as you (along with the protagonist) try to figure out just what is going on. I really liked the narrative voice and the characters. The main character, Mike Raglan, has some interesting musings about the Anasazi, native Americans, and the growth and death of civilizations.

There were times were it felt a bit repetitive (Raglan goes over the same set of circumstances in his mind). Also, there were times where the plot seemed to jump: I sometimes checked to make sure I didn't miss a page. Not much is every explained about the workings of the passages (And so it's more fantasy than sci-fi in my view).




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