Category Archives: Social and Political Philosophy

May the 4th Be with You

In honor of today’s holiday and the greatest movie saga of all time, I’m uploading a copy of a paper that I wrote for one of my graduate courses, Women in World Religions, with Dr. Lori Swick. 

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You can download the essay in its entirety here

Philosophers as Intellectual Historians

The philosopher, among many other things, is an intellectual historian.

  • What is an Intellectual Historian? An Intellectual Historian is someone who records, recalls, tracks, analyzes, and/or directly interacts with key agents/witnesses, primary and seconds sources of various intellectual value from the past, as well as objects of historical, social, or cultural significance.
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Concept-Checking: Killing vs. Murder/Homicide vs. Manslaughter

*To kill someone means to terminate their life permanently. To kill someone means that they cease to exist in any meaningful biological or physiological sense of the term. To kill someone means to end their ability to do just about everything.

**To murder someone means to terminate their life permanently. To murder someone means that they cease to exist in any meaningful biological or physiological sense of the term. To murder someone means to end their ability to do just about everything.

***To commit homicide against someone means to terminate their life permanently. To commit homicide against someone means that they cease to exist in any meaningful biological or physiological sense of the term. To commit homicide against someone means to end their ability to do just about everything.

****To commit manslaughter against someone means to terminate their life permanently. To commit manslaughter against someone means that they cease to exist in any meaningful biological or physiological sense of the term. To commit manslaughter against someone means to end their ability to do just about everything.

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Concept-Checking: Authority Figures (AFs) vs. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

On the surface, one may think that an ‘authority’ or ‘authority figure’ is the same (or nearly the same) as an ‘expert.’ Teasing out the key differences to these concepts is of philosophical significance.
Let’s take an ‘authority figure’ first. Someone who is an authority figure is someone who is seemingly responsible, either preventatively or reactively, for enforcing observance or obedience to a particular norm/rule/principle/ideal. They either encourage us to uphold (or at least not to break) that norm/rule/principle/ideal. Or, if we decide not to do what is asked or expected of us, they may punish us for our seemingly incorrect choice.

We can think of 3 key examples within our daily lives: the religious leader (e.g. priest, rabbi, imam, guru, etc.), the police officer (or military official), and the calculator (or the computer program).

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A Fantastic Introduction to Philosophy Video!

I have show all of my 120+ students this semester this video. Luckily for those who don’t have the textbook yet (but better be getting it soon), this video covers most of the same vital information!

Philosophers as Meta-Scholars

The philosopher is a meta-scholar.

    • What is a meta-scholar? A meta-scholar is one who understands, at a bare minimum, the fundamentals of a particular field of study or discipline (or historical enterprise or, most broadly, anything capable of being described, articulated, and/or analyzed — (e.g. any event, person, process, or object)).

      • The ‘fundamentals’ of a field of study or discipline refer to the sprawling mosaic of methodological rules, axiomatic and auxiliary operating assumptions, and normative and demarcating practices inherent to that field of study/discipline and its actively practicing members. Think of Lakatos’s ‘hard core’ or Kuhn’s ‘[dominant] paradigm.’

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SCOTUS and the Mandatory Arbitration Revolution: Part 7/7 (Works Cited)

Works Cited

American Arbitration Association (AAA). “Costs of Arbitration.” Consumer Arbitration Rules (published February 21, 2018, accessed March 19, 2018): https://www.adr.org/sites/default/files/Consumer_Fee_Schedule.pdf.

Aschen, Noah. “Tearing Down the Wall Protecting Mandatory Arbitration: A Critical Evaluation of Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in Consumer Contracts.” Dispute Resolution Journal 71:3 (2016), 55-75.

Barnes, Lauren G. “How Mandatory Arbitration Agreements and Class Action Waivers Undermine Consumer Rights and Why We Need Congress to Act.” Harvard Law & Policy Review 9:2 (2015), 329-354.

Berger, Klaus Peter. “Vynior’s Case, 8 Co. Rep. 81 b. et seq. (1609).” Translex (published March 01, 2016 and accessed February 18, 2018): https://www.trans-lex.org/801200/_/vyniors- case-8-co-rep-81-b-et-seq-/.

Bureau of Justice Statistics. “Civil Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts: 2005.” Publications and Products (published 2005, accessed February 13, 2018): http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=369.

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SCOTUS and the Mandatory Arbitration Revolution: Part 6/7 (Strong Suggestions for Improvement)

The FAA, Judicial Activism, and their Implications for Access Justice

But for all of this discussion about the empirical data concerning the utility and fairness of mandatory arbitration, a more serious and two-pronged, objection can be raised, one which combines the well-known concept of ‘judicial activism’ with the relatively new methodology to legal studies known as ‘access justice.’ In what follows, I will describe the Supreme Court’s judicial activism within the context of the FAA as well as its implication for access justice, ultimately arguing that the Supreme Court is causally responsible for mandatory arbitration increasingly becoming a hybrid institutional/financial barrier to an individual’s proper access to justice.

Judicial activism occurs, most broadly, whenever a judge rules for or against a particular decision based predominantly, if not solely, on their own political perspectives and experiences. For instance, instead of ruling impartially in a court case involving a relatively straightforward case of business fraud and negligence, this hypothetical judge may, instead, rule in favor of the business because he owns stock in it or they offered him a bribe or he just believes that businesses should inherently have more governmental protection than consumers.

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SCOTUS and the Mandatory Arbitration Revolution: Part 5/7 (Actual Disadvantages of Arbitration)

Disadvantages of Arbitration (MACs/CABs)

Despite the sincerity with which they are held, advocates of mandatory arbitration are entertaining demonstrably false and ultimately misguided views. For some of the aforementioned benefits of arbitration, there is significant empirical evidence to the contrary. In discussing the disadvantages of mandatory arbitration for consumers and employees, I will focus broadly on cost, flexibility, privacy/confidentiality, and finality. The advantage of time/duration that arbitration has over litigation withstands scrutiny; on average litigation does, in fact, take longer from beginning to end than arbitration and must be conceded.1

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SCOTUS and the Mandatory Arbitration Revolution: Part 4/7 (Supposed Advantages of Arbitration)

Advantages of Mandatory Arbitration

Mandatory arbitration has often been praised as an effective decision to help eliminate much of the bloat occurring within the U.S. state and federal legal systems. According to its advocates, mandatory arbitration has several advantages over litigation which include (1) duration of time, (2) overall costs, (3) flexibility, (4) privacy/confidentiality, and (5) finality. The proclaimed successes of arbitration that have been derived from these advantages make it ultimately worth preserving and protecting. Advocates are thus ultimately supportive of the trend of Supreme Court rulings on arbitration.1

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