Low European Birth Rates In The NY Times: No Babies?

Full article here.

Is there a crisis in Europe?  Maybe, maybe not.  There are low birth-rates, however.  The article suggests one of the reasons in Mediterranean countries is their half-step toward modernization:  More women work and have educational opportunities yet the old Catholic traditions remain in place.  This produces an economic crunch on all parties involved.  

Of course immigration is sometimes offered as a potential solution.  However, it’s often overlooked that immigration is probably more of a threat to smaller, more stratified European societies then it can be in America.  This might help explain some of the extreme rightist political support lately (where a potentially violent nationalism united with racial identity lurks). 

See Also:  This weekly back-and-forth between Kerry Howley (libertarian) and Kay Hymowitz (social conservative) in the L.A. Times, in which they discuss fertility, the family, American culture, low European birth-rates etc…

On This Site:

The NY Times On Equal Parenting: When Mom And Dad Share It All

Kay Hymowitz In The City Journal:  Child-Man In The Promised Land?

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Kantian Metaphysics and J.S. Mill’s Utilitarianism

As to the last post on Allan Bloom, if there are potential dangers in a Nietzschean reading on the Greeks, surely there are dangers in mixing Kantian metaphysics with politics?

In part, synthesizing Kantian metaphysics with political science is what Daniel Deudney has done in his book Bounding Power (addressed to Republicans), and he’s come up with some deep moral thinking and practical advice in an arena of global politics where greater depth is always needed.  However, there is also a certain idealism I’m extremely wary of.

Kant’s metaphysics is successful enough but his political philosophy isn’t that impressive to me, especially in light of the success of our forefathers and British philosophers like John Locke.  The moral imperative doesn’t work so well “on the ground. ”

In fact, I’ve suggested some ideas for those of us frustated with the current state of liberal ideas, or at least how they might benefit from a return to Mill and a more classical liberalism/utilitarianism.

Perhaps it’s wise to keep the two separate: Kant’s metaphysics and a functioning, American utilitarianism.

Thanks for reading, your comments are welcome.

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Victor Davis Hanson In The New Criterion: Haven’t We Heard This Before?

Full article here.

Of course, he’s got some good points:

“As defenders of a unique discipline inextricably linked to the origin of American values and traditions, classicists also need to introduce the Greeks and Romans to a wider public, both to enrich contemporary American society and to bring both an ability to popularize and a much needed pragmatism to what has otherwise become a stultifying and often pedantically narrow field.”

Not much here you won’t find in Allan Bloom (which I think gets some things right and some things very wrong).  Values?  Well, the Greeks and Romans are important I suppose.  Anyways, we’ve gotten away from our intellectual roots:

“In acknowledgment of such frequent controversies and loud revisionism, the compromise is that “Western civilization” continues to metamorphose into something known as “World Civilizations”: India, China, Africa, and the New World merit roughly the same attention in the university core curriculum as the West, inasmuch as they are merely “different,” hardly less influential in the formation of Western and now global civilization.”

Okay, I’ll bite, there do seem to be some departments in universities intellectually adrift, too easily tethered to a set of ideas (certain French philsophers, moral relativism, probably even in response to logical positivism) that thus could be tethered to deeper classical, and Western ideas.  

Though as for the hubris of moral relativism, Hanson’s mixing of current politics and philosophy seems just as, if not more, guilty of hubris.  

Maybe I’ll just read Aristotle on my own…with an open and focused mind, asking questions.  Aren’t other people doing this in universities…without political agendas?

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The NY Times On Equal Parenting: When Mom And Dad Share It All

Full article here.

The author, Lisa Belkin, showcases a series of husbands and wives with children who are going against the grain, and attempting to create:

…“equally shared parenting,” a term the Vachons have embraced.”

There are reasonable arguments here, and issues here that affect all of us: work/life balance, family, raising children, tradition:

“The point…is not to spit at tradition for the heck of it but rather to think things through instead of defaulting to gender.”

I could be convinced. Yet, is the equality stick the best tool by which families should measure themselves and challenge these norms? Isn’t this inviting all kinds of other problems?

“Social scientists know in remarkable detail what goes on in the average American home…Any way you measure it, they say, women do about twice as much around the house as men.”

Most men already have incentive to do some of the housework if they love their wives, and wish to continue to have love, companionship, and kids (in part, a way to pass on their genes). Also, of course, social science has its limits as most good social scientists would point out.

What about biology?

“Women, she says, know that the world is watching and judging. If the toddler’s clothes don’t match, if the thank-you notes don’t get written, if the house is a shambles, it is seen as her fault, making her overly invested in the outcome.”

How many guys do you know who worry about writing thank-you notes? As the article mentions, this isn’t an option for everyone.


Later on, it pretty much becomes a parody of other hot-button liberal issues:

“Jo would not disagree with Deutch’s point that she had a role in creating that inequity — choosing to major in international rural development…”

Poor Jo…will she never win?  There’s this from a lesbian couple:

“We developed a wonky theory,” Dorea says of all that talking [sic]. “You need a rabid N.G.P. — nongestational parent. The N.G.P. has to push if you are going to get an equal relationship”

Dads-to-be take note!

Addition:  From bloggingheads: The purpose of women is to bear children?

Another Addition:  If you’re like me, you’re exasperated with this line of thought.  Even if liberalism is more grounded and deep than this, it still promotes an idealism that can be dangerous to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the rest of us.  When will they bottom out?  Do they need to bottom out?  How will the right respond?  What effect does this have on our institutions and our freedoms?

by wallyg

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George Johnson Reviews “The Drunkard’s Walk” In The NY Times

Full post here.

Well, you probably know that people rarely make rational decisions, but did you realize how easy it is to be wrong?

the additional information skews the odds, and with Cardano’s method you can make a rational, though counterintuitive, decision.

We have all probably “trusted our intuitions” in crucial moments but haven’t had rational explanations for why we did so, or for that matter, we probably don’t have a good definition of what intuition is either.

The Nikzor site has some good fallacies and Marilyn Vos Savant’s (of Parade and Jarvik fame) page has some as well.

*Check out Johnson’s garage band science page if you’re interested in simple experiments, especially to do with electricity.

See AlsoMarilyn Vos Savant:  The Game Show Problem

Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

Full article here.

Paris has something that Scruton admires.  It’s not just an aversion to central planning (and perhaps the political and social philosophies associated with it) that makes Paris special, but also a resistance to modernism, and even postmodernist architecture.  Visitors will:

“…quickly see that Paris is miraculous in no small measure because modern architects have not been able to get their hands on it.”

Modernism may even have a lot to do with a certain aesthetic totalitarianism, a desire to grant the architect the ability to see all in his vision, and plan other peoples’ lives accordingly.

“…a later generation rebelled against the totalitarian mind-set of the modernists, rejecting socialist planning, and with it the collectivist approach to urban renewal. They associated the alienating architecture of the postwar period with the statist politics of socialism, and for good reasons.”

In modernism’s place (souless airports, blank modern facades speaking only to themselves) Scruton suggests Leon Krier’s New Urbanism and a return to more Classical architecture. New England towns might not be a bad place to start, but also:

“The plan should conform to Krier’s “ten-minute rule,” meaning that it should be possible for any resident to walk within ten minutes to the places that are the real reason for his living among strangers.”

Well, minus the car anyways.  Are you persuaded?

First National Bank of Houlton, Maine

Some of Le Corbusier’s work here, examples of Modern Architecture here.

See Also: Brasilia: A Planned City and Review Of Britain’s “Lost Cities” In The Guardian


Brazil’s Roberto Unger In The Chronicle Of Higher Ed

Full article here.

Does anyone know more about Unger?

He seems to have roots in Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and even the romantics.  I’ve found that some Latin American thinkers are animated by a deep progressivism as they try and negotiate with the success of more conservative traditions (American and European legal, political, philosophical).

Law, in any case, struck Unger as just one “terrain” for institutional imagination, and his CLS work as “a subordinate part of my general intellectual project.” Primarily, he says, he cared about “the imagination of alternatives in the world.”

Oh boy…but still…he’s a deep thinker.

Latin-America also tends to have a non-Reformation Catholicism (Spanish) influence and not as strong of an Enlightenment influence either.

That’s my hubris.

See Also:  More here.  Check out Law At The End Of The Day on the Blogroll as well. 

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