I have reached a milestone in my progress towards a PhD. I have formed my disseration committee!
The chair of my committee is Peter French. He's the director of ASU's Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics and has a great reputation in ethics and related fields. He's long been the editor of Midwest Studies in Philosophy, and he also edits the Journal of Social Philosophy. My two other committee members are Michael White and Julia Annas. Prof. White is a professor of philosophy and professor of law at ASU. His knowledge of the history of philosophy (among other fields) is encyclopedic. Prof. Annas is a Regents Professor of philosophy at Univeristy of Arizona. She is very well known for her work in ancient ethics and virtue ethics.
My topic is going to be on Phronesis or Moral Wisdom. I want to explore its role in moral theory and in our moral lives. One of the questions I want to look at is to what extent neo-Aristotelian accounts like Rosalind Hursthouse's in "On Virtue Ethics" are superior to versions of Virtue Ethics (and possibly other normative theories), like Michael Slote's in "Morals from Motives", that seem to downplay phronesis. I also want to look at the development of phronesis from Aristotle up through Aquinas and into the modern period.
So now I am working on developing a reading list for my comprehensive exam--which I hope to take in May.
The NFL's integrity as a sport is in doubt. The officiating is so bad and so incompetent. How can the leading sport in the US have some of the worst officiating at the most important time of the year?
I am not just biased here. Yes, I am huge Patriots fan and was disgusted to see the officials hand the Broncos a TD on bad calls not just once, but twice! But I hate the Steelers, and I was outraged when the Polamalu interception of Manning was overturned. In many ways this was worse than the Samuel (bullshit!) pass interference. In that Samuel situation, the officials had to find sufficient evidence (which there in fact was) to overturn the ruling on the field. Okay, I get that someone judges (incorrectly) that there is not enough evidence to overrule the field decision. But in the Polamalu interception, the ruling on the field was that it was an interception. The official now had to find enough evidence to overrule that. With more time and more views of the play, there is no reason to get this call wrong.
Both of these horrific calls handed TDs to the opposing teams. I tend not to be attracted to conspiracy theories, but I am beginning to think that the NFL had a hand in these calls. Subtle pressure on the officials: We want the Colts in the Super Bowl, and we don't want the Pats.
I am more convinced of the first point. The Pats killed themselves in their game; despite the bad calls they could have won had they not made the mistakes they did. But the Colts had a puff schedule, rule changes to favor their style of play, and extraordinary calls in their favor.
(Before you bring up the Snow ball and the tuck rule: almost every commentator, analyst, expert, agrees that the official's ruling was the correct one. In the case of the two examples discussed above, almost everyone is in disbelief at the sheer incompetence)
Something has to be done to improve officiating. Replay isn't enough. It helps, but then these idiots in stripes make mistakes even with it. One proposal that I think might help is to set up an independent committee to review the officiating in each game, each week and to fine officials when they make the wrong call. That'll make them think twice before interfering, wouldn't it?
Thomas Sowell's op-ed peice: Serious or Suicidal. (Try this, if that link doesn't work). Sowell provides a very clear account of the danger of a Nuclear Iran and the need to take serious action on this front. I am aware of the concerns, issues, and problems action against Iran poses, but I see no other rational alternative.
My sister-in-law, Ellie, is running the Boston Marathon this year. I grew up wanting to run it, but never happened (and with my knees and laziness--never going to happen either).
Ellie is running as a member of the Mass General Hospital Fighting Kids' Cancer team. She's trying to raise money for kids with cancer. Hard to argue for a better charity to give to. Kris and I donated some. Here's the link if any out in the blogosphere are interested in supporting Ellie in raising money for kids with cancer.