Poll: The Gang Leader Case
By S. Matthew Liao

Hi everyone,

I’d be quite interested in your intuitions regarding this case. So as not to bias anyone’s judgment unnecessarily, I’ll open the post for comments after I close the poll. Also, please vote only once. Thanks in advance!

A member of a local gang went to the leader and said, ‘We are thinking of trying a new tactic. It will flood the neighborhood with cheaper cocaine, increasing our profits, but it will also harm the cops since more cops will die in drug-related violence.’

The leader answered, ‘I don’t really care at all about harming the cops. I just want to make as much profit as I can. Let’s implement the new tactic.’

They did implement the new tactic, and sure enough, the cops were harmed since more cops died in drug-related violence.

Did the leader of the gang intentionally harm the cops?

  • No (64%)
  • Yes (36%)

Total Votes: 122

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Though by no means everyone, a significant of number people I have spoken with about whether the dates for the Eastern APA should be moved have suggested that a plausible alternative may be to move it to sometime in the first two weeks of January.

It’s that time of the year again, when a number of us will be separated from our family (for better or for worse), owing to the dates (Dec 27 to Dec 30) of the Eastern Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Here is a poll to see whether you think the dates of the Eastern APA should be changed. Do feel free to explain your rationale.

UPDATE: I’ve just added a new poll for this. Do vote away. :)

A few weeks ago, a colleague and I were discussing whether when you are refereeing a paper for a journal, you should take into account the journal’s reputation, editorial policies, etc., when you are giving your verdict regarding the paper. For lack of a better term, should you be a journal-relative referee or a journal-invariant referee? To make the issue more concrete, consider the following cases:

There is a really good discussion taking place at the Leiter’s Report on the timeliness of refereeing of articles. I’ve always thought that a possibly decent solution to this problem is

a) for the journal editors explicitly to ask potential referees if they can give a verdict within 3 months and to send the paper to other people if the potential referees say no;
b) for potential referees to decline reviewing a paper if they forsee that they can’t do so within 3 months;
c) for the journals to begin to send out automatic reminders after a certain period (e.g., after two months) on a regular basis (e.g., on a weekly basis); and possibly,
d) for the journal editors to keep a list of the ‘worst offenders,’ that is, of those referees who don’t deliver on time, and to avoid them in the future.

On why ethicists tend to write longer papers, Saul Smilansky has proposed the following hypothesis:

1. Do many people NOT write short papers because they believe that (with the exception of Analysis) the journals insist on longer papers?

Do you have this perception? Do vote and let us know. I’m creating this post so that people are aware that there is a new poll. Please continue the discussion at Saul’s original post. Thanks!

Professor Jason Stanley (Rutgers University) has recently won the American Philosophical Association Book Prize for his book, Knowledge and Practical Interests. In this book, Stanely also tests and develops his theories and principles by means of intuitive judgments about cases. Here is a case from the book:

[Bank Case 1:] Hannah and her wife Sarah are driving home on a Friday afternoon. They plan to stop at the bank on the way home to deposit their paychecks. Since they have an impending bill coming due, and very little in their account, it is very important that they deposit their paychecks by Saturday. But neither Hannah nor Sarah is aware of the impending bill, nor of the paucity of available funds. Looking at the lines [i.e., at the long queue at the bank], Hannah says to Sarah, ‘I know the bank will be open tomorrow, since I was there just two weeks ago on Saturday morning. So we can deposit our paychecks tomorrow morning.’ (p. 5)