This book delivers on the promise of political philosophy. Rather than ideal theory, Anderson engages directly with one of the central forms of injustThis book delivers on the promise of political philosophy. Rather than ideal theory, Anderson engages directly with one of the central forms of injustice in US society. She draws heavily on work in the social sciences, historical examples, and legal precedent to illuminate the impacts of segregation and the idea of integration. She lays out the injustices of segregation over the course of several chapters culminating in two chapters, on affirmative action and color-blindness, which should be required reading for anyone living in America today, let alone anyone interested in political philosophy. All of this would be reason enough to recommend this book, but in addition Anderson is one of the most concise writers in academic philosophy (or any field), without a word wasted....more
Gilligan freely admits that this is not intended to be the last word on violence, but hopefully the first word on a new way of thinking about it. ButGilligan freely admits that this is not intended to be the last word on violence, but hopefully the first word on a new way of thinking about it. But on reading this book, it's hard not to hope that if this was more widely read, we might move towards an understanding of violence like that which Gilligan gained after working with violent criminals in the Massachusetts prison system. Gilligan's ideas are best grasped through reading his case studies and reflections on his patients, but briefly he identifies a central source of violence in shame and lack of self-love. He then looks at ways society encourages us to feel ashamed of our needs - such as material needs exacerbated by economic inequality, or emotional needs that everyone shares but which are considered 'unmanly'. If you care at all about violence and our institutions of punishment, this is book is indispensable....more
Wray's prose is dense, rich in jargon, and tedious to work through at times, so it could not go any higher than three stars. However, the ideas in thiWray's prose is dense, rich in jargon, and tedious to work through at times, so it could not go any higher than three stars. However, the ideas in this book are fascinating, hence it could not go any lower than three stars.
The central idea of this book is that taxes drive money. That is, contrary to the belief that governments need to collect tax revenue to be able to spend (underlying the push for fiscal austerity in government), Wray argues for the view that the reason to charge taxes is to create a demand for the fiat money created by the government, so that private citizens will accept that money in exchange for goods and services (i.e., government spending). On this view, governments will tend to run perpetual deficits, as private citizens and banks will hoard money, so that the government will have to spend more than it collects in taxes. Wray then proposes a measure the government can use to stabilize the price of its currency: offer a fixed price for unskilled labor, so that government spending responds automatically to fluctuations in private demand (as private demand for that labor decreases, government spending will increase as it absorbs the unskilled labor, and vice versa as private demand increases again).
It's hard to escape the feeling that, as with all economic models, this one glosses over myriad difficulties that would plague this policy if it were implemented in the real world. But it is tempting to think that much of the current debate about government fiscal policy is all built upon a misunderstanding about the nature of money and its relation to governments....more
In Traffic, Tom Vanderbilt aims to present the reader with some of the most surprising psychological findings about the phenomenon of driving. As a reIn Traffic, Tom Vanderbilt aims to present the reader with some of the most surprising psychological findings about the phenomenon of driving. As a result, this book is incredibly informative, and reads quickly for the information density of the chapters. Stylistically, I did find it to be pretty mediocre pop-sci writing - for example, Vanderbilt has the tendency to digress to throw in random anecdotes or movie quotes where they occur to him, which didn't really add a lot for me. I also couldn't help but be disappointed in his overly quick treatment of the relation of traffic laws and traffic norms (I think this concluding sentence speaks for the level of sophistication: "Laws explain what we ought to do; norms explain what we actually do."), given that it is a topic I take pretty seriously. Overall, the book is definitely worthwhile for anyone who has ever been even a little curious about traffic patterns, why they exist, and whether they can be improved....more