List of Quizzes

I thought it might be convenient to list the quizzes I gave you:

  1. Catcalling (online)
  2. Dating and Hooking (online)
  3. (a) What’s So Illicit About Illicit Drugs? or (b) Defining Addiction (online) [pick one]
  4. Drones (in class)
  5. Talk Back to a Terrorist (online)
  6. Drones (in class)
  7. Obama’s Drone Speech (in class)
  8. Drones (in class)
  9. Grandstanding 1 (in class)
  10. Grandstanding 2 (in class)
  11. Grandstanding 3 (online)

Remember that you need at least seven quizzes for full credit, and there are no make-ups for in-class quizzes. But since five quizzes were online,  you only need two in-class quizzes to make the minimum.


Due Date for All Material

The due date for all material in this class-blog comments, on-line quizzes, final exercise–is end of day, Wednesday, December 13th. By “end of day” I mean 11:59 pm of December 13th. Material received after that time will not be graded. In-class quizzes cannot be made up.

Final Exercise (Due by December 13)

Write an essay of about 600-750 words, addressing the following:

What was the most important thing you learned through this class? Explain.

The question is deliberately vague. One way to answer it might be to pick a topic you found important, and explain why it was. Another way to answer might be to pick a particular reading you found important, and explain why. A third way might be to focus on something that came up in discussion. There are other possibilities as well. But the question is compatible with encountering nothing of importance in the class. You could legitimately have concluded that the most important thing you learned from taking the class was that the class was not worth taking. That’s an acceptable answer, as long you give a good explanation for it.

Whatever you say, just try to give an honest, thought-out answer. And try to be as specific as you can. What I’m looking for is evidence that you actually engaged with the material in the class. You can’t properly answer the question unless you did that.

Submit your answer directly to the combox below. I’ll use our final meeting on December 13 for a wrap-up, and to resolve any remaining grade issues. I’m hoping to submit final grades for this class by December 16 or so.

End of Semester Information

I am holding class on Monday, December 11th. I’ll use that opportunity to hand your quizzes back to you, give you a grade breakdown, and resolve any last-minute grade queries you or I have. I’ll also discuss the final exercise on that day. The final itself will be posted here, and is due on December 13. More information coming within a day or two.

As I said in class, make sure to monitor this website as well as your Felician email account until December 21, in case I have an announcement to make or need to get in touch with you.

Grandstanding and “Excessive Emotion”

We focused today’s class on Tosi and Warmke’s claim that grandstanding  “is often characterized by displays or reports of excessive outrage or other strong emotions” (p. 206). We then looked at four videos intended to get some purchase on this issue–two by the Palestinian activist Remi Kenazi (first video, second video), one by President Donald Trump, and one by the artist Molly Crabapple. Our basic question was whether any of the four qualified as excessive-emotion grandstanding. The other possibility was that the emotion displayed by each person was simply appropriate to the topic. Of course, the three individuals and three contexts were also sufficiently different to raise the question whether it made sense to compare them all on the same issue.

As usual, most of you just sat there, hoping that I’d give you all the answers–which didn’t happen. But Hrbek and Cordova spoke up (kind of). Here’s the Hrbek-Cordova consensus.

  1. The Kenazi videos were grandstanding in the bad sense: excessively emotional and one-sided. They seemed to be playing to an in-group constituency or antagonizing defenders of Israel rather than trying to reach neutral third parties. We then had a long conversation about why Kenazi and other activists tend to do this sort of thing: divestment campaigns are not kindly received by the administrations that invest in the companies activists dislike, and activists rarely offer alternative investment options to the ones they want to eliminate. So administrations play a waiting game with activists, and activists feel the need to ramp up the outrage to get support.
  2. The Trump video seemed oddly unemotional, despite (or maybe because of) Trump’s reputation as an emotional grandstander. In fact, it almost seemed inappropriately muted. (Paradoxically, Barack Obama was often criticized for appearing unemotional on highly emotional topics.)
  3. After Kenazi and Trump, it seemed tempting to conclude that Crabapple got the balance right. Maybe she did, but a critical viewer would want to know whether she got the facts right. (I’m not saying she didn’t. I’m just saying you’d want to know.) She implied that FEMA had done a poor job, and that the ordinary people of Puerto Rico, led by people like her activist friends, had done a superior job. That is certainly possible, and the video clearly gives that impression, but unless you were in Puerto Rico yourself to confirm those claims, it’d be hard to know whether it was the whole truth.

Feel free to comment on today’s discussion.

Quiz #11: What’s Wrong with Grandstanding?

We’ve spent almost two weeks talking about Tosi and Warmke’s paper on grandstanding. This is how they put their verdict on grandstanding on p. 208:

We suspect that most people would agree that grandstanding is annoying. We think that it is also morally problematic. In our view, the vast majority of moral grandstanding is bad, and, in general, one should not grandstand.

Do you agree? Your response should be at least six or seven sentences long.

What Counts as Grandstanding?

In our last few classes, we’ve been discussing the Tosi-Warmke analysis of “grandstanding.” So far, we’ve really only covered section I, the basic account of what “grandstanding” is supposed to be. The basic idea is that “grandstanding” refers to a form of moral discourse in which what one says is motivated in significant part by a desire for recognition for saying it. In other words, you grandstand what you engage in moral talk partly to be recognized for engaging in it.

Note the “partly.” On their view, a grandstander isn’t entirely motivated by a desire for recognition; he’s just motivated enough that he’s disappointed when he’s not recognized. Later on, they make clear their view that grandstanding is generally wrong. We should not (they think) engage in moral discourse for an egoistic, or self-interested, reasons. We should do so simply to advance discussion, with no thought for or about ourselves.

Our conversation about grandstanding ranged over a wide variety of topics, but one consistent theme was that the authors’ critique of grandstanding seems incompatible with moral discourse that also functions as advertising for a particular person or cause. One obvious example is a campaign ad. Campaign ads are often highly moralistic, but they are motivated by the candidate’s desire to be recognized and voted for. Continue reading

Connecting the Dots: College, Money, Drugs, Bombs, Strip Clubs, and You

If you want a sense of how the topics in this class come together, read this article from today’s New York Times. We’re bombing drug labs in Afghanistan because the Taliban are using the money from the drugs they sell to fight a war against us–while we consume the drugs and get addicted to them. (By the way, addiction is expensive–therefore costs money. So we’re paying twice around–once for the war on terror, once for the war on drugs.) Meanwhile, we’re sending troops to Afghanistan, many of whom will eventually return home and come to college on the GI Bill. And I’ve already explained how the Taliban’s war against us might affect you here at home.

That’s five topics of the course right there: money, college, drugs, bombs, and terrorism. The only missing element is sex! On the other hand, there is a strip club down the street.

By the way, lots of people oppose anyone’s building rehab clinics in their neighborhoods, using the same techniques used to block affordable housing.

See how it all makes sense?

Moral Grandstanding

As there’s no class on Wednesday, our next class will take place Monday, November 27. For that class, and the two classes following it, we’ll be reading a somewhat long and complex article (published last year in a professional philosophy journal) about “moral grandstanding.” “Grandstanding” is a form of showing off. The authors have a very specific view of grandstanding, and I’d like for us to read the paper carefully and pay attention to the details.

As usual, the paper is on the syllabus page of this website. For Monday’s class, read pp. 197-203 of the paper (section I), and come to class prepared for quiz #9 on that material. As you read, try to come up with your own concrete example(s) of grandstanding.

Happy Thanksgiving. Feel free to bring up money, sex, drugs, or drones at the Thanksgiving dinner table, if only to show your family where all of their money is going in educating you.

Underlying and Overarching Themes of the Class So Far

I spent today’s class on what might be called “underlying and overarching themes of the class so far.” The aim was to review what we’ve covered, and see how the parts interact to form a whole. What we did in each case was first to remind ourselves of the units we’ve previously covered (“Previously on Phil 250…”), then list questions we pursued, trying to list the broadest and most general rather than the narrower or most specific questions. And then we tried to make connections between the various topics. Here’s what we came up with. I’m not necessarily looking for a comment for this post (it’s mostly intended as summary), but  feel free to make a comment if you’d like to. Continue reading