Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Chronicle Profiles Philosopher Joshua Knobe

This is interesting. I'm not sure I fully understand why the people in the experiments say what they say or what it really means about intention and morality. I'd like to read the full paper. (And how the heck did he come up with this experiment?)

The Chronicle: 9/2/2005: Lessons From the Park: "He approached people in New York City's Washington Square Park, asking them to read two short paragraphs about a profit-hungry corporate leader who wants to pursue a certain business strategy. In the first example, the businessman is told that a side effect of the strategy is that it will harm the environment. But the businessman says he doesn't care, and sure enough, when he pursues the strategy, the environment is harmed.

In the second example, the businessman is told that a side effect of his strategy is that the environment will be helped. He says he doesn't care, and sure enough, when he pursues the strategy the environment is helped.

After each scenario, Mr. Knobe asked people: Did the corporate leader intentionally harm the environment? Did he intentionally help it?

Philosophers have reasoned that questions of whether someone did something intentionally are entirely about the actor's state of mind. When asked these hypothetical questions, conventional wisdom says most people would agree the corporate leader did not intentionally help or harm the environment.

But Mr. Knobe found that people's views of intentions depend on the outcome. People in the park said that the businessman did not intentionally help the environment, but that he did intentionally harm it.

'Groundbreaking' Work

'Joshua went out and did these experiments, showing that at least one common-sense psychological concept -- doing something intentionally -- isn't really a descriptive concept, it's a moral concept,' says Mr. Stich. 'Part of people's judgments about whether you act intentionally is what they take to be the moral status of what you've done.'"

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

View From Reference Desk

View From Reference Desk
Originally uploaded by Marc Meola.
Yesterday we opened to the public and today was my first day at the reference desk. My first question was about a catalog message--"check at reference desk for availability." Subsequent questions were mostly directional, with "where can I print" being a popular one. I saw a few faculty with big smiles on their faces.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Moving In!

Originally uploaded by Marc Meola.
Yesterday was our first day back at work in the new library! Today I'm still unpacking boxes and getting oriented.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Posner on Blogs

A wide ranging article by Richard Posner on media and blogs. I hope ALA President and blog basher Michael Gorman reads this. (Although I'm not sure about that keeping tabs on the troublemakers part.)

Bad News - New York Times: "Some critics worry that ''unfiltered'' media like blogs exacerbate social tensions by handing a powerful electronic platform to extremists at no charge. Bad people find one another in cyberspace and so gain confidence in their crazy ideas. The conventional media filter out extreme views to avoid offending readers, viewers and advertisers; most bloggers have no such inhibition.

The argument for filtering is an argument for censorship. (That it is made by liberals is evidence that everyone secretly favors censorship of the opinions he fears.) But probably there is little harm and some good in unfiltered media. They enable unorthodox views to get a hearing. They get 12 million people to write rather than just stare passively at a screen. In an age of specialization and professionalism, they give amateurs a platform. They allow people to blow off steam who might otherwise adopt more dangerous forms of self-expression. They even enable the authorities to keep tabs on potential troublemakers; intelligence and law enforcement agencies devote substantial resources to monitoring blogs and Internet chat rooms."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Library Move Update

The latest as of today:

We are into our 3rd week of moving. The Ps are gone to the new library, the music scores and music reference, as well as music LPs, are gone also. The movers are working on Qs, interfiling as they go with titles from the science reference and old reference locations. They currently are moving QCs and the books on music (ML-MTs). A plan for today is to continue with Qs, and to start moving the art books (LC class N), time permitting. The mover is bringing additional crew tomorrow, so moving and interfiling the bound periodicals will resume, while the existing crew continues with moving the other LC classes of materials..
To summarize:
LC class J, K, L, P, R, S, T, U and V are already in the new library, and unavailable to the public (see an update message from Taras)
LC class M is being moved, as we speak.
LC class N will start later today
LC class Q is being moved, as we speak..
Bound periodicals are due to resume tomorrow.

For July pics: