A Philosopher's Blog

And then I stopped Reading Newsweek…

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on June 30, 2011
Cover of the May 13, 1940 issue of Newsweek ma...

Remember when Newsweek used real images?

I’ve read Newsweek for decades. As I recall, my mother subscribed to it and I also read it at school. I eventually subscribed to it myself and found it to be of reasonably good quality with some top notch contributors. Like much of the printed media, Newsweek began to fell victim to the rise of the internet and, although the magazine created a web page, it seemed to have difficulty keeping up with the times. Some of its top people moved on to other venues and the magazine struggled to remain relevant and profitable.

Since I have been involved in a home improvement marathon, I just got around to looking at the latest issue of the magazine. For some strange reason, they decided to add a computer-aged image of Princess Di to a photograph featuring Kate Middleton and used this as the cover. The feature story, by editor Tina Brown, is a counter-factual piece that speculates what Princess Di would be like now, if she had not died.

While such alternative timelines can be interesting as science fiction or as academic exercises in what might have been, they generally seem to be out of place in the context of the news. After all, fiction and speculation deal with what might have been. The news is supposed to deal with what is (or was).

True, there can be some merit in including some speculation about what might have been if certain things had been different. However, for the news this should remain a small part of the whole (specifically in the editorial realm), rather than a major focus of the story. Otherwise, it will cross over from being news to being science fiction. The fact that Newsweek is engaging in this sort of thing is a clear indicator of what the magazine has become.

This sort of speculative story could, perhaps be forgiven as a lame attempt to cash in on what would have been Lady Di’s upcoming birthday. However, creating a doctored image for the story certainly crosses an important line.

As noted above, a publication that purports to be a news publication needs to remain within the realm of news. This is supposed to be the realm of facts. As such, images used by a news source should be real images, not modified. While Newsweek did not stoop quite to the level of a tabloid (the level at which one might claim that Princess Di is still alive and offer up a doctored photo as evidence), this is certainly a step down from legitimate news.

This need not be a fatal blow to Newsweek, but recovering from this sort of thing will be difficult. Of course, this assumes that they want to remain a news magazine rather than descending into the realm of tabloids. That still seems to be a profitable realm, so perhaps it is worth going there.

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Same Sex Marriage (Once Again)

Posted in Ethics, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on June 29, 2011
May Hansen celebrating the vote on the same-se...

Um, gay marriage or a foursome?

New York recently passed a law legalizing same sex marriage, which once again brought the matter into the public eye. Opponents trotted out the stock appeal to tradition fallacy and also made the slightly better argument that passing the law would have dire consequences.

Although I am in favor of legalizing same sex marriage and think that the arguments for it are compelling, as a philosopher I think I am obligated to consider the best possible opposing arguments.

One stock argument is the appeal to tradition: marriage has always/for a long time been between a man and a woman, so same sex marriage should be illegal. As noted above, this line of reasoning is fallacious. The mere fact that X has been around a long time does not make it right. After all, slavery was an accepted practice for a very long time, yet it hardly seems reasonable to accept that it is correct. Also, the “traditional” marriage that people point to is not, in fact, the traditional form of marriage. Marriage as practiced in 21st century western countries is rather different from what was practiced 100 or even 50 years ago, let alone in biblical times.

A second stock argument is the slippery slope argument: if same sex marriage is allowed, then people will then be allowed to marry turtles, dolphins, trees, cats or iPads.  Since this would be bad/absurd, same sex marriage should not be allowed. Obviously, this slippery slope is a fallacy since the folks who claim these dire results do not make the causal link needed to infer, for example, that allowing same sex marriage will lead to people marrying goats. Also, a slippery slope argument could be made against allowing same sex marriage: if we allow different sex people to marry, the next thing you know, same sex couples will get married and then people will be marrying flying fish. Since this is absurd, by parity of reasoning the original argument would seem to be absurd as well.

A third stock argument is the religious argument, namely that God forbids same sex activities of this sort. One problem is that if the religious argument is accepted as the basis of law, then the same principle would need to apply across the board. So, for example, there should be laws against unclean foods (like lobster) and it should be legal to stone disobedient children to death. Imposing such religious laws would seem far more harmful than allowing same sex marriage. Another obvious problem is that God is a big boy and He gets what He wants. If he did not want people to be gay, there would presumably be no gay people. In any case, if God does exist, surely He’d pop in and let us know what He thinks about a matter so obviously important to Him. At the very least, He’d throw down a smite or burn a bush.

A fourth stock argument is the procreation argument: marriage is for procreation, same sex couples cannot procreate, therefore they should not be allowed to marry. The stock reply is that straight people who do not or cannot have children are still allowed to marry. Consistency would require that if same sex marriage is banned on these grounds, then straight couples who cannot or will not produce offspring must be denied marriage. This seems absurd.

A fifth stock argument is the moral argument: being gay is evil, evil people should not be allowed t0 marry, so same sex marriage should not be allowed. As with the procreation argument, the obvious flaw is that there are plenty of evil straight people and they are not denied the right to marry on this basis. A person who is a convicted rapist, mass murderer, serial killer, and arsonist can still get married. On a less extreme note, liars, cheats, bullies, and petty thieves can also get married. As such, this argument has little merit.

A sixth catch all argument is the consequence argument: allowing same sex marriage will have dire consequence D, inflicting D is wrong, therefor same sex marriage is wrong. This argument is the strongest of the lot and does have a certain appeal. After all, if same sex marriage were to cause dire harms, then it would seem reasonable to ban it on the same grounds that dangerous things like alcohol and tobacco are banned. I mean, rather on the same grounds that dangerous things like cars and junk food are banned. Um, I mean on the same grounds that heroin and driving drunk are banned.

The main problem with these sorts of arguments lies not with the reasoning or the moral theory (consequentialism). The main problem is that they all seem to suffer from false or dubious premises. Some examples include that it has been claimed that allowing same sex marriage will lead to anarchy, that it will destroy marriage, that it will harm children and so on. However, these claims never seem to stand up to scrutiny. That said, if a harm can be shown and this harm outweighs the benefits of allowing same sex marriage, then it could be argued that it should be banned on the basis of the harm principle. However, the harm has to be properly established and it needs to be the right sort of harm. After all, if some people claim that legalizing  same sex marriage will make them very sad, that is not adequate. If it can be shown, for example, that anarchy and chaos will result, then that should suffice.

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Video Game Ban

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Technology, Video Games by Michael LaBossiere on June 28, 2011
Arcade Video Game

Image via Wikipedia

I have been using my budget-cut based summer break from teaching to do various home improvements. The point of mentioning this is that I have been alternating between baking in the Florida sun and being exposed to “second hand paint fumes” (as opposed to directly huffing the stuff) as such, my writing might be a bit off. I have checked for any obvious weirdness (well, weirdness beyond the usual sort), but I apologize in advance for any heat/paint induced lapses in logic. I blame the flying frogs that seem to be infesting my house now. In any case, down to business.

The United States supreme court recently ruled that California’s law banning the sale of  video games to minors that “depict serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.” The ruling was, of course, based on the first amendment.

Being both a gamer and an ethicist, I have thought (and written) a fair amount about the banning video games. On the one hand, a very reasonable case can be made for placing age based restrictions on video games. While studies of the impact of virtual violence on children are hardly conclusive, it seems reasonable to accept that exposure to virtual violence can have an impact on how the child thinks. As Aristotle has argued, people become habituated by what they do. Children are, of course, even more likely to be influenced. They are more receptive than adults and tend to lack the cognitive resources that adults are supposed to possess. As such, it seems reasonable to keep young children away from violence-even the virtual sort.

On the other hand, there are reasonable grounds for rejecting such bans. First, there are reasons for doubting that such games have a significant impact on children. The psychological studies are open to question and, of course, humans seem to be naturally prone to violence ( the stock “we like violent games because we are violent, we are not violent because of the games” argument). When I was a kid, long before violent video games, we spent a lot of time playing war. While the effects were not very special (cap guns), we certainly did act out killing each other. When violent video games came along, they simply allowed me to do what I had done as a kid (play at killing) only with ever better graphics and effects). As such, banning violent video games to protect children from the influence of violence seems like something that simply will not work, thus making such a law unnecessary.

Second, there is the matter of freedom of expression and consumption. While minors do have a reduced right of freedom of consumption (they cannot but alcohol, tobacco, guns or porn), imposing on their freedom only seems justified when it protects them from a significant harm in cases in which they lack the judgment to (in theory at least) make an informed choice. Even if violent video games have a harmful impact, it can be contended that the harm is not on par with that of adult vices such as alcohol or tobacco but rather on par with junk food. So, just as it is sensible to think that children should not eat junk food, yet also think there should not be laws banning children from buying candy bards, it seems sensible to think that although young kids should not buy violent video games, there should not be laws against doing so.

Third, there is the matter of what is fit for the state to control and what is fit for parents to control. There are, obviously enough, matters that should be handled by the state and those that should remain a matter of parental choice.  Alcohol, guns and tobacco are so dangerous that it seems reasonable that the state has a interest in keeping children away from these things by force of law. There is also a category of things were the state should aid parents in making choices, such as diet and exercise, but where the state should not intervene except in extreme cases. As noted above, I am inclined to put violent video games in the category of junk food. As such, parents should be informed about what the games contain (which is already done by the rating system) and the choice of whether or not their children play the games or not should be up to them. Naturally, children who lack parents or whose parents are dangerously incompetent will fall under the domain of the state, but these would be relatively rare cases.

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Afghanistan & My House

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on June 27, 2011
Map of Afghanistan with flag.

Image via Wikipedia

I was a bit remiss in my blogging today-normally I have a post ready to pop in before 6:00 am. However, I have been engaged in “home improvement.” While doing some indoor work, I happened to catch a bit about Afghanistan and began to see the parallels between home improvement and that war.

Just like Afghanistan, my home improvement project began with a provocation that could not be ignored (‘wow, the 1980s called and want this house back”). Initially, the goals were limited and sensible (repaint some rooms and replace some fixtures). However, they soon expanded (replace the chewed up linoleum, rehang the gutters, clear out the attic and all closets, and so on) and money began being poured into the endeavor at an alarming rate. Like Afghanistan, no end seems to be in sight. While the main painting was completed Saturday, I spent today doing even more tasks. There will be more tomorrow, more the next day and presumably more and more. In fact, owning a home creates an ongoing cycle: as one project is finished, it makes something else look bad and that must be fixed. Then some problem arises that must be fixed. Once those things are dealt with, it is probably time to go back to the original thing that started the cycle and deal with that again.

Fortunately, there have been no fatalities (yet) involving my house.

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Ramblings on DIY, With Some Useful Advice (Maybe)

Posted in DIY/Recipes, Miscellaneous by Michael LaBossiere on June 26, 2011
Basic DIY Tools

Image via Wikipedia

Thanks to the budget cuts, I do not have a summer class. I have been using my time off to crank out books to sell on Amazon and to do a variety of DIY projects. Interestingly enough, I suspect that the value of the work I will do over the summer will exceed what I would have made while teaching.

Thanks to inhaling paint fumes for about two weeks, I am now prone to some writing rambles. I did, however, refresh my memory of painting and paints. I learned once again that paint adheres best to human skin. This has always surprised me a bit. After all, when you paint a surface, it is supposed to be dry, free of oils and so on. When I paint in Florida, my skin is far from dry and is rather oily. Yet, the damn latex paint just sticks and dries amazingly well on my skin. The very same paint that will peel up in the slightest moisture coming from wood will cling tenaciously to me over the course of a ten mile run in 90+ degree weather (I did this as a test). I am, of course, sweating like mad. After painting in a confined space, the fumes got me thinking that perhaps human skin should be vat grown and used as a wall covering. After I got some fresh air, I considered that maybe I should speak to a counselor about such ideas. Or a venture capitalist.

Speaking of bathrooms, I removed all the fixtures, towel racks and hooks when I painted. Some of these I replaced with new ones that came with handy paper templates. However, I had some hooks and other items that either did not come with templates or whose templates were long gone. Rather than marking my newly painted wall, I decided to make my own templates. While blank paper can be used for this, as a gaming nerd I realized that graph paper would be ideal for laying out a template. After all, it has a nice grid that makes it very easy to lay out where the holes should be drilled. So, I placed the hooks on the graph paper, lined them up, spaced them out, marked the holes and had a template. I used some painter’s tape to attach it to the wall, checked it with my level, drilled and installed. For those of you who are not math or gaming nerds, here is a pdf file of the  graph paper I created using Freehand. Use it to create templates or dungeons.

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Dead Island

Posted in Ethics, Technology, Video Games by Michael LaBossiere on June 25, 2011

While looking for some new co-op play Xbox 360 games, I ran across an upcoming game called Dead Island. The game is set, amazingly enough, on a resort island. The player must battle zombies in order to survive. Seeing the game made me think of an adventure I had written for GDW’s horror RPG Dark Conspiracy. This adventure, called Nightsider, was published in 1992 and the first part is titled “Dead Island.” The players are on a resort island and find that the inhabitants have been killed and raised up as zombies by a military experiment gone wrong. Naturally, there are secrets beyond that (involving my own creations, the nightsiders). But, aside from the name and the basic plot elements, Dead Island is different from my adventure. One weird thing: though my adventure is set on a fictitious island off the coast of Maine, the cover of the adventure shows a tropical setting (palm trees and the zombie kid has a dead parrot).

Perhaps someone involved in the project saw my adventure and got the basic idea from it. Perhaps the person does not even recall the adventure. Or, which is also a real possibility, it is just one of those coincidents that happen because gamers often think alike. To use one example, I have noticed that gamers often independently come up with the same names for characters, monsters and game settings.

“Dead Island” is also the name of part one of GDW’s 1992 Dark Conspiracy adventure, Nightsider. This adventure, written by Dr. Michael C. LaBossiere, features a vacation island whose inhabitants have been transformed into zombies by an experimental military weapon. This island is, however, located off the coast of Maine. Aside from the name and plot similarities, there is no known connection between the video game and the Dark Conspiracy adventure.

Naturally, I have no interest in attempting a troll style lawsuit. I would, however,  be interested in knowing if my adventure had some small role in the idea for the game-it is always cool to see that happen. I’ve been inspired by others, so I think it is only fair to try to pay it back in a small way.

I did attempt to put a blurb on the Wikipedia page for Dead Island clearing up that it has no connection to my adventure, but someone quickly swooped in to remove my addition. I am, of course, not urging people to add something like the following to the page:

“Dead Island” is also the name of part one of GDW’s 1992 Dark Conspiracy adventure, Nightsider. This adventure, written by Dr. Michael C. LaBossiere, features a vacation island whose inhabitants have been transformed into zombies by an experimental military weapon. This island is, however, located off the coast of Maine. Aside from the name and plot similarities, there is no known connection between the video game and the Dark Conspiracy adventure.

That would presumably be wrong. Right?

In any case, I am a big fan of zombies (which is why “Dead Island” leads off Nightsider) and video games. So, if Dead Island is any good, I’ll pick up a copy. If it sucks, I will curse it for tainting the name “Dead Island.” I really like that name.

Full disclaimer: I suspect that the genesis of “Dead Island” can be traced back to one of my favorite childhood books, The Bad Island. It has no zombies, but is about an island populated by monsters. I must confess that I still have it.

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Mormon vs Mormon

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on June 24, 2011
Governor Mitt Romney of MA

Image via Wikipedia

While Mitt Romney seems to be leading the Republican pack, Jon Huntsman has thrown his hat into the ring. Huntsman was a rather successful governor and was appointed by Obama as the ambassador to China. He, like Romney, is also a Mormon.

The Mormon faith is still looked at as being a bit odd, at least by mainstream Americans. This has raised some questions in certain circles as to whether or not a Mormon could be elected president. Since the same sort of thing was asked about Roman Catholics not too long ago (and answered by the election of Kennedy), I suspect that this will not be a major factor. As such, I think that both Romney and Huntsman will not find their chances diminished by their religion (at least not significantly).

Huntsman’s major worry at this point is not how people see his faith. Rather, it is his perceived dalliance with Real America’s greatest enemy: the Democrats. As noted above, Huntsman was appointed by Obama to be the ambassador to China. He can probably avoid the damage from this by contending that he was not serving the Democrats but was serving America. Of course, he will still have that Obama taint upon him. His family also gave money to help Harry Reid get elected and he also appointed Reid’s son to the Uta Board of Regents, which has raised some concerns among the Republican loyalists. He is, of course, trying to put as much distance between himself and Reid as possible and this nicely illustrates how cross-party interaction is viewed these days. However, Huntsman’s conservative credentials can probably be beefed up enough to make him more appealing to the base, while making him less appealing to the middle.

Romney also has the Democratic taint upon him. His stint as governor of Massachusetts left him with some liberal seeming marks on his record, such as Romneycare. As such, he will need to work hard to disavow his own successes as governor in order to appeal to the more conservative elements of the party. As with the other candidates, the more he steers right to appease certain base elements, the more he will move away from the moderate voters.

As such, both Mormon candidates need to worry more about the liberal/Democrat taint on them than they need to worry about how their faith might be perceived. Of course, the Mormon factor might be more significant than I believe-perhaps America is not ready for a Mormon president.

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Media Bias

Posted in Business, Politics, Reasoning/Logic by Michael LaBossiere on June 23, 2011
FOX News Channel newsroom

If the pants are off, it gets the lead off.

It is rather common for the media to be accused of bias, usually towards the left. This seems to be obviously true of MSNBC. Fox News is, of course, not liberally biased. It is, however, clearly leaning to the right. Talk radio is generally right leaning. CNN is sometimes accused of leaning left, although most people who watch it are stuck in airports and hence their judgment is probably impaired. As such, the media does seem to have plenty of instances of bias. However, they are clearly not all liberal. Unless, of course, Fox News, talk radio and so on are excluded from the media.

While the matter of a general bias among media folk can be debated, there is a clear bias in most of the media. Namely, the media has a bias towards stories that they believe will attract viewers. This typically means stories that are sensationalistic, preferably with a sexual element or an attention grabbing crime. Such stories are covered, obviously enough, at the expense of matters that are generally far more significant. To use the most recent example, while Weiner’s misdeeds were newsworthy, his being uncovered was covered far more than it actually deserved. As Weiner himself pointed out, we are involved in three wars, unemployment is high, revolts are sweeping the middle east, and so on. However, the main focus of the media remained aimed right at Weiner’s groin (an area to which he seemed obsessed with drawing attention towards).

While it is tempting to lay the blame on the media, they are actually following a good business model: they are giving the customers what they want. The news media is a business and it makes most of its revenue through advertisement. As such, the media folks need to keep the numbers up to keep the money rolling in. What keeps the numbers up is, obviously enough, stories that are sensational, sordid, sleazy, sexual and so on. As such, the media will tend to focus on these sorts of stories because that is what people prefer. This would seem to entail that changing the media bias requires changing what the consumer wants. To be fair to the consumers, they tend to consume what is pushed towards them, so the media folks could take a more active role in serving up more significant news. The analogy to food is obvious: companies sell junk food because people want it, but people want junk food in part because the companies push it. Just as Americans need to get off the junk food, we also need to cut back on our junk news.

This is a rather challenging thing. To use another obvious analogy, trying to provide the significant news is a lot like teaching. Most people find the content of education to be far less interesting than what is going on on Facebook or what text is incoming. Just as some teachers simply give up on trying to compete, so too has much of the media.

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(Re)Proving I’m an American

Posted in Law, Politics, Universities & Colleges by Michael LaBossiere on June 22, 2011
Seal of the United States Department of Homela...

Making sure your philosophy professor is here legally.

Yesterday I had to go prove that I am an American citizen and not here illegally. In case you are wondering, I was born here. My parents were born here. In fact, my family traces directly back to the Mayflower (and before) and I even have documentation showing I am descended from people who fought in the American revolution.  In short, I am as American as fortune cookies.

You might be wondering why I had to do this. I was told by the HR department that because of something Rick Scott (our “small government” governor) had decided, I would be required to turn in an I-9 form. Mind you, I had to establish my American citizenship when I was hired as an adjunct and then, as I recall, when I was hired into a normal line. I also have had to establish my credentials at various times for various reasons, so my status as an American citizen should have been well established. Apparently, however, this was not enough. Fortunately, when Homeland Security came into being, I wisely took the step of renewing my passport. As such, I was able to establish that I am, in fact, an American citizen. The fact that I have to use my passport to show that I am an American citizen illustrates that the bureaucracy needs to be streamlined. After all, the government folks who need to know if I am an American, should be able to just confirm that via my passport data.  Of course, bureaucracy is like a virus: it  is mainly all about making more of itself.

I do, of course, understand the need to check on the legal status of employees. People who are here illegally should not be allowed to remain and one way of finding such people and also encouraging them to leave voluntarily is to require employers to verify their status. However, once this status is established, it seems somewhat unreasonable to require that it be established again unless, of course, there are some grounds for suspecting that a person engaged in duplicity or their status somehow changed. After all, this process adds to the paperwork that must be done and also involves governmental intrusion. True, it is fairly minor. All I had to do was get the form, complete it, get my passport, copy my passport, drive to the university, have the office manager complete her part of the form and then head home (because the budget cuts mean that I am not teaching this summer). The documents then have to be passed on to HR, processed, and then passed on to the rest of the bureaucracy. I assume it eventually ends up on Obama’s desk.

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FSU & Charles Koch

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics, Universities & Colleges by Michael LaBossiere on June 21, 2011
Florida State University in Tallahassee

For Sale?

Because of the financial crisis (and other factors), public universities are having a harder time with their finances. As businesses often do, some schools have addressed their financial woes by cutting employees. The cuts often begin with adjunct and visiting faculty and then move on to full time staff and even regular faculty. In truly dire circumstances, some administrators even find their bonuses being trimmed.

While cutting positions often appeals to some folks, perhaps because it gives them that business feel, there are also attempts to increase revenue in various ways. Tuition has, of course, been increasing steadily. However, that somehow never seems to keep up with the financial needs of the schools. Schools also seek outside money, often in the form of grants and gifts. However, even these sources are often not enough.

Florida State University  hit on on interesting method of securing funds. A while ago, the FSU economics department entered into a contract with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. In this contract, FSU received $1.5 million to create two endowed chairs to “promote political economy and free enterprise.” While this all seems rather good, one concern is that the contract specifies that Koch’s representatives have the right to reject candidates selected by the faculty hiring committee. In short, the representatives have veto power over hires.

One practical concern is, obviously enough, that FSU seems to have sold out for relatively little. While $1.5 million seems like a substantial sum, it actually amounts to very little when considering the budget of FSU. At the very least, they should have asked for more in return for granting this level of influence. To be rather crude (and perhaps  unfair), if one is going to be a whore, at least be a well paid whore.

More importantly, there is also the matter of ethics. Having served on a few hiring committees I am well aware about how they are supposed to function. As one might expect, candidates are supposed to be assessed based on their academic merits rather than their ideological views (and based on private conversations, it appears that a specific ideology was used to assess the candidates).  Since universities are supposed to operate on the basis of academic integrity and academic freedom,  granting such decision making power in return for a cash payment seems to be questionable, at best.

One obvious reply is that the idea of academic integrity and freedom are little but pleasant myths. After all, it is well known that people are often hired based on having the right connections and the right ideology.  The deal with Koch merely puts things in writing and puts cash on the table. As such, to single out this situation for special condemnation would be an error, given that the basis of criticism has no real substance.

To counter this reply, while it is true that some people do not take the matters of integrity and freedom seriously, it is not true that no one does so. To use an obvious example, the search committees I have served on have been above board and run with integrity and respect for academic freedom. There is also the obvious fact that appealing to a common practice does not show that the practice is right or correct. That is, of course, why there is a fallacy called “common practice.” Naturally enough, if the Koch Foundation is wrong for what it has done, those who do the same sort of things (be they left or right leaning) would also be in the wrong.

Another obvious reply is that schools need to relax their concerns over these principles in the face of the economic woes. Just as an individual might do things that /she might not otherwise do for money when in dire straights, universities also have to swallow their pride and set aside what principles they might have left so as to secure they money they need. To make this into a properly ethical argument, an appeal can be made on utilitarian grounds. While allowing people to purchase veto power over endowed faculty positions might have some negative consequences (like allowing people with money to ensure that certain ideologies are pushed), the positive consequences could outweigh the negative. After all, accepting such money can allow schools to address their budgetary woes and continue to provide students with educations. While this education might be of a different sort than what would be offered if the money was not needed, it is still an education.

The counter to this reply is that the negative consequences could very well end up outweighing the positive consequences. Using the analogy of the individual, doing questionable things for money can have a corrupting effect on the character and can damage one’s reputation.  If it turns out that the cost exceeds the benefits, then accepting such money would not be a good thing.

As I see it, accepting money in return for such veto power is a violation of professional hiring ethics. Naturally, I do agree that if money is offered with conditions and accepted, then there is (on the face of it) an obligation to stick to that agreement. As such, by taking the money, FSU has obligated itself to the terms of the contract. However, they should not have entered into that agreement.

Naturally, it might be wondered if I would still hold this view if my continued employment was contingent on my university accepting such a deal.

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