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mormont

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  1. The biggest problem the UK government are having really is messaging. Technically, the advice has always been to work from home if you can: so technically, there's been no change to the rules there. Except that government ministers have publicly called for people to go back to working in the office, and are now having to reverse that message. It's the story of the pandemic at UK level - Tory ministers often undermine or confuse their own government's advice, either by public statements contradicting it, or explaining away breaches as harmless, or waffling when asked about the guidance. The underlying problem, I think, is that many of them ideologically dislike what they're having to do, and hate telling people to do it. By contrast the Scottish government rules aren't all that different but the message from ministers is consistent and therefore credible. They've made mistakes along the way but they basically believe in what they're doing.
  2. I've little doubt that probably everyone in the Cabinet looks around the table and agrees in their head that none of these idiotic losers can possibly connect with the public the way Johnson does... ...except me, of course.
  3. A very sad day, not only for the US but for everyone who cares about the law as a force for good.
  4. Now this is just misrepresenting what happened, I'm afraid. Here's what you said: And here's my response: You've very clearly introduced the idea that there is a threshold under which these concerns can be dismissed: not enough of the right sort of people are upset. I've responded by saying if that's your concern, you should check out the only source of data that we have - there are no opinion polls, to my knowledge - but also by rejecting the very idea that such a threshold is important. Implicit in your criticism is the assumption that because the petition is open, it is not safe to assume that the signatories are the 'right sort of people' - which you've suggested is (current?) students and particularly BAME students. You duck the question of whether alumni and others are not important too, or why we should dismiss the opinions of others, or why we need a certain amount of people to have this concern, which was my actual response to your point above. But whatever. We've thrashed that particular horse to death. I remain of the opinion that there's a good case for taking this step, you remain in your opinion that it's fine to airily dismiss genuine and serious concerns about Hume's evident racism as 'very silly'. Let's leave it there.
  5. [mod] Absolutely endorse the post by karaddin above. and would want to also ask that people dial down the personal remarks and hyped up rhetoric on both sides. Cool down or you may be given an enforced cooling off period. [/mod]
  6. Yeah, but it's you who brought the numbers into it, I'm afraid. So the onus is on you to quantify. If 2,000 isn't enough, how many are enough? What's a 'reasonable proportion' and for that matter, who are the 'people in whose interest the building was named'? Students, presumably, but what about alumni? Staff? Former staff? The people of Edinburgh? You can't dismiss the objections as not enough of the right sort of people to matter, and then refuse to define what is enough and who the right sort of people are, is my point. It's not because of a footnote. It's because he was a racist. That footnote is only one example. Hume is known to have made other racist comments, for example disparaging the Irish, in other contexts. Again, I take the view that asking BAME students to study philosophy in a building named after a racist is not really acceptable in the modern age. It's a pity that you feel that view is 'very silly', but there we are. Some people have very silly opinions, I guess. This is nonsense: Hume's views were pointed out as being empirically wrong by his contemporaries and acknowledged as racist even at the time. Racism was not something that everyone agreed on before 1950: to say so is as factually ignorant as Hume's statements about black people. Moreover, even if it were true that these views were held by 'pretty much everyone' (it's not true), Hume literally made his name as a man willing to challenge orthodoxy. It's not credible to excuse his racism, therefore, by claiming he was merely reflecting orthodox thought.
  7. It is quite difficult to see how reading the book could alter the basic fact that after years of campaigning about how trans acceptance will lead to men invading women's spaces, putting women in physical danger, Rowling has written a book where a man dresses as a woman in order to kill women. I can't really imagine any context in which that doesn't come over pretty badly.
  8. I repeat - how many signatures (and from whom, if you like) are necessary to make the support 'meaningful'? Show your working. Please be explicit about how signatures from members of the public, current students, staff, alumni, etc. are weighted in your calculation. Does this formula account for depth of feeling, or only breadth? Absurd questions, of course, but the point is that it's easy to dismiss any measure of objection you like by measuring it against some arbitrary, undefined standard of 'meaningfulness' or 'validity'. But that's not a substitute for explaining why the objections aren't valid. You've not repeated your original assessment of the objections as 'very silly', so that's good, but would it kill you to just accept that you can disagree with the renaming while still recognising that those who disagree with you have views that are meaningful and valid?
  9. You're quite right: I agree that would be overreacting. Let me know when anybody suggests we should stop considering David Hume to be brilliant. I used that very word about him in my last post. Can we agree that he was both brilliant, and a racist? Renaming a building isn't quite the same as burning his books, though, and blurring the lines between these things isn't really an intellectually honest way of arguing IMO. It's trying to give himself some bargaining chips in a position where he currently has none.
  10. I'm not even sure what this is supposed to mean. Racism is OK if you're a brilliant philosopher? You can't criticise people who are your intellectual superiors, even if - in addition and despite that brilliance - they held views that were demonstrably stupid, factually wrong and morally corrupt? Quick note - Aristotle believed that women have fewer teeth than men. Are we allowed to say that was stupid and wrong, or not? I mean, I'm not on Aristotle's level of intellectual output, so... I'm not qualified to say he was wrong, I guess? Neither is any given dentist I can name, so there's that.
  11. I'm sure some do. But many feel differently. You're certainly entitled to say you feel that the conclusion the University has reached (a temporary one) is wrong, but I would hope you would acknowledge that many people quite reasonably and strongly believe that this was correct, instead of dismissing their views as 'very silly'. Well, check out the petition, then. But how many students need to be upset for this to be valid? 10? 100? 10,000? This idea that concerns are only valid if a certain threshold is reached is fraught with difficulties, IMO. If the concern is valid, then it's valid. The exploration of philosophy does require us to examine views that some may find challenging, or the writings of those who held racist, sexist or otherwise offensive opinions. There are ways to approach that problem, and the philosophy department at Edinburgh is skilled enough to do that. But there's a difference between that and celebrating someone who held such views. If you don't see that difference, well, many do. So it doesn't matter what the actual reason was? Or that this reason was misrepresented, cynically, by those who wanted to create a straw man to beat up in public (including the Prime Minister, who enthusiastically joined in the attack despite the fact that he knew perfectly well he was spreading a lie?)
  12. I don't get to tell black/nonwhite students whether they are or ought to be offended, but I do in fact get to have an opinion on whether something is offensive, as do you. So yes, speaking for myself, I find racism offensive. I find the idea of asking black students to study in a building named after a man who considered them inherently inferior to whites offensive. And it would appear that many others, including Edinburgh University students and staff (and alumni, of which I am one) agree or see this as a reasonable view. Reading Hume isn't the same as studying in a place named in his honour, though, is it? And really, I find it a bit inconsistent to complain that I'm speaking on behalf of black and non-white students and then to produce your speculations on why they might not mind after all. This is not, in fact, what happened in that episode.
  13. I did two years of classes in DHT as an undergrad, reading Hume's works, and they were a huge influence on me. So I do feel I have some personal stake here. But calling this 'very silly' is trivialising racism, Hume is famous, unarguably, but he was also unarguably racist. I don't want to quote his views at length here: instead I'll link to this newspaper article that does so. https://www.thenational.scot/news/18717804.david-hume-racist-scottish-philosophers-racist-comment-full/ While the language he uses can to some extent be explained by the times, the views he espouses are undoubtedly racist and it's offensive to ask black and other non-white students to attend classes in philosophy in a place named after a man who thought them incapable by reason of their race of being 'eminent either in action or speculation' and who likened an educated black person to 'a parrot, who speaks a few words plainly'. Well... yes and no. In the abstract, Brexit supporters were willing to say these things were worth it, in opinion polls and so on. But opinion polling on questions like that is unreliable, in that once the price becomes a concrete thing, people can and do change their minds on whether it was worth it. Buyers' regret, and all that.
  14. Surely also worth noting that what, around 2% of the voting age population can't vote due to felony disenfranchisement? I mean, many of those might not bother to vote even if they could, but some significant proportion are likely opposed to Trump but lack the ability to do anything about it at the ballot box.
  15. He's having the Churchill delusions again. This sort of rhetoric, as arousing as it may be to Johnson and his friends in the party sexually, is clearly just rhetoric. Johnson himself, after all, enthusiastically signed up to the idea of breaking up the country when it was politically advantageous to do so, and he'll fold again. He likes to bluster and bloviate but he's a poor negotiator with no cards to play, and he knows it. This is theatre.
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