Justice Everywhere

a blog about justice in public affairs

Month: November 2016

On Sneering Metropolitan Elites – Has liberal diversity become an ideology?

Verina Wild is a post-doctoral researcher at the Philosophy Department at Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, and Senior Teaching and Research Associate at the Institute for Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine at University of Zurich. Her research concerns questions of public health ethics, social and global justice in health and health of migrants. Hers is the second post in a series on:

Ethics in Academic Events

As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.

 

‘Us’ versus ‘Them’

Since the US election the internet has been awash with accusations. Apparently, ‘we liberal intellectuals’ should be ashamed of how blind we have become to real-life experiences or to any other school of thought. ‘We’ have been in “elegantly scented bubbles of privilege and prejudice” [1] in the metropolitan capitals of the world. ‘We’ looked down on ‘them’ (Trump supporters but also conservative academics) without respect, uttering endless calls for openness and diversity, but in reality not being open at all. ‘If ‘they’ are against progressive ideals ‘we’ immediately call them misogynists and racists, instead of listening to ‘their’ thoughts in an open way. ‘We’ are the true haters of democracy, because what ‘we’ really want is the imposed (not democratically elected) rule of progressive, liberal thought. ‘We’ adopt the self-image as the only group who thinks rationally and reasonably. However, in doing so, ‘we’ have been intolerant and dogmatic: ‘we’ are the totalitarians.

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Blind Reviewing for Workshops

Mollie Gerver recently completed her PhD at LSE, and now teaches at Leeds University. Her research is in the ethics of refugee repatriation. Hers is the first post in a series on:

Ethics in Academic Events

As theorists of justice and professional ethicists we are used to scrutinizing the practices of others. Is it not about time that we turned our analytical skills and discerning moral sensitivities on ourselves? Inspired by discussions at the closing of the workshop ‘Global Justice and Global Health Ethics Exploring the Influence of Iris Marion Young’, this series of posts seeks to examine our own actions and practices and explore the moral dilemmas of the academy.

 

At the age of sixteen Art Davis started to learn the double-bass. By the 1960s he was playing alongside Judy Garland and Louis Armstrong, but was consistently turned down by symphony orchestras. He suspected this was because he was black, so in 1969 he asked the New York Philharmonic to use a screen during auditions, hiding his identity from the selection panel. His request was denied, he sued the orchestra for discrimination, and lost the case, but had nonetheless set off a revolution: other orchestras began putting up screens for blind auditions, and within two decades began recruiting significantly more women and minorities.

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How to recognise bullshit on the Internet

Following Trump’s shocking election win last Tuesday, this picture was shared by thousands of people across both the world and my Facebook feed:

trumppeople

I, like I suspect most people I know, wanted to believe it. It just sounds so true. He totally would say that! They would buy it! It speaks to all my prejudices, and when trying to make sense of what just happened, it provides a bit of solace.

It’s too good to be true though, innit? It just fits a little too perfectly, the quote’s too prescient, its message too convenient. Indeed, as it turns out, the quote is completely fabricated. It first surfaced around October 2015, and has periodically made its return in sync with Trump’s successes over the past year.

This is fairly emblematic of how our news are generated these days, and the tendency was clear in the US elections. Facebook was flooded with highly partisan posts and articles on either side of the fence. Some, like Breitbart, are designed to be highly partisan. But a lot of it has to do with incentive structures: Online, most companies make their money from clicks rather than subscriptions. This creates an incentive to generate articles that conform to people’s preconceived notions, as they’ll be more likely to read and share them. And clicks mean advertising revenue. A BuzzFeed article recently exposed how a city in Macedonia had become a hub for far-right conspiracy nonsense on Facebook. They simply repackaged articles elsewhere and shared them with their followers with zero regard for factual accuracy. This is not only a right-wing phenomenon, however. On the left, The Canary is a particularly glaring example. It’s the worst of both worlds: A heavily partisan editorial stance, and an payment structure that pays authors per click, incentivising sensationalism.

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