Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hours of Work

Here are the approximate hours I spent on each class this semester:

History of Economic Thought: 99 hours
Senior Paper: 43 hours
Comparative Politics: 30 hours
American Politics: 16 hours
Writing for Teachers: 16 hours
U.S. History 12 hours
-I was the TA for this course.
Epistemology: 12 hours
-note: I audited this course.
Exceptional Children: 9 hours
Ethics Bowl: 3 hours
-note: I forgot to record most of my times I worked on this class.
Senior Seminar: 3 hours

Notice that these are approximate times since I sometimes would forget to record my times. Also, these do not count the time in class.

Merry Christmas, Go BUTLER!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wikileaks and Anonymity

I just finished watching a four part series on about wikileaks. I find the topic fascinating on multiple levels. Most definitely one cannot look at the issue in terms of black and white. Wikileaks is not pure evil or pure goodness. My post will be in two parts: an insight into the nature of wikileaks and a short ethical analysis of the ethics.

The Nature of Wikileaks
Wikileaks' foundation has two columns. First, free access to information. This is obvious if anyone who reads about them in the news. Second, it is based on guaranteed anonymity. It is interesting that they want freedom of information but not all information. They want the names of those who leak information to remain unknown. This is to protect those who leak information since what they're doing is breaking the law, and releasing their names would discourage future leaks.

So, Wikileaks is not in favor of releasing ALL information freely to the public. They have to agree that some information must remain secret.

Lastly, information is power because it is knowledge. They believe that knowledge is power. This is a philosophically very important point since this means that information is not neutral. It has value.

The Ethics
As I said before, this is not a black and white issue. I don't think that the activities of wikileaks are ethically coherent. As stated in the documentary, they believe that it is okay to risk the lives of people by exposing information to the world for the sake of keeping public officials accountable. Yet, they believe that the lives of those who leak information should be protected, not exposed to the world, for the sake that they continue to do so.

Why is it that those who break the law and act in secrecy are kept safe while others suffer? For the greater good? What greater good? There are two possible answers:
1. That information be freely given to the world.
2. That public officials are held accountable for their actions.
I find these two answers to be poor.

First, on what authority does wikileaks give that they can keep the identity of those who leak information confidential while exposing the work of public officials? If they are in favor of freedom of information, shouldn't these individuals identities revealed?

Second, in the documentary wikileaks has expressed moral outrage at the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq in the way civilians were treated. Yet, where is the moral outrage of wikileaks jeopardizing people's lives by leaking classified documents? Sure, public officials are embarrassed and its causing diplomatic strain, but who's going to keep wikileaks accountable for their actions? If someone dies because of wikileaks that puts blood on wikileaks hands for their actions.

I do not believe that wikileaks has the moral high ground. They are just as responsible as public officials for their actions. Yet, what they are doing is revealing who people really are? They are giving us the truth. I find that to be good even though its hard to accept the truth many times.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Movement for Assange

If you haven't heard, there have been a series of cyber attacks on various websites of companies and governments who have acted against Assange, the head of wikileaks. These attacks haven't caused great harm, as of now, but it is interesting. I have a couple observations:

1. What about these two women?
I am concerned about these women, regarding their accusation of Assange for rape. We need to be careful here because if you demonize and put down women who accuse someone for rape, you risk silencing women who have been raped. (The reason being, those who have actually been rape won't want to speak up because they don't want to be put in a similar position.) Hence, we should be very careful in how we deal with this accusation. I don't mean to say they're right or wrong. I'm just saying be careful how we perceive their accusations and work to find the truth as to what really happened.

2. We're all in This
When I first heard about the cyber attacks my mind went immediately went the Roman Catholic - Protestant conflict in Northern Ireland where many innocent people were murdered. The cyber attacks caused problems for these companies (Paypal and Mastercard) customers. Is it just to hurt these customers, making them collateral damage? Though there is a big difference between causing inconvenience and murder, the principle behind to the two is the same, that in order to achieve a "greater" end, people can be sacrificed. (Kant's categorical imperative is helpful in this ethical situation.)

3. There Needs to be Reason (Ironic that I just mentioned Kant?)
When the United States and other governments decide how they are going to deal with Assange, there needs to be rational thought and action in response to these governments. What happens to Assange will greatly influence the internet and great blessing we have, freedom of speech, (this includes freedom of the press.) but just as important will be people's response. How people respond to this decision will greatly determine how the public responds to government action. Let's look to movements like the Civil Rights Movement and not the Russian revolution. (No offense to the Russians or anything.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

-short post- Are you Bored?

I have an activity for you. Go to the library at a college somewhere. Walk through all the sections. First, count how many people are asleep. Second, watch many peer up at the slightest sound, like e caged animals right, dying for anything to distract them from the terrible reality they are in. Lastly, if you're a regular attendee to that library, notice how much quieter it is then usual.

Monday, December 6, 2010

God, Dead Week and Finals

It is Dead Week at Taylor. I used to think this term meant that you die because of all the assignments that are due. Thankfully, I have not been put beneath six feet deep of assignments this year, only four. My finals week should be harder but again, not the hardest I have had to endure. The irony of this week is that the term "Dead Week" is supposed to mean that students don't have any events going on so they have time to study for finals. I thought that was a joke but apparently it holds truth.

In my mind, one phenomenon that I enjoy during this week is all the wishful thinking that occurs. I have so many thoughts like "if only I worked harder." One particular odd thought I have is that I wish I worked hard on projects so I could say that I am more busy. Taylor and me suffers from the illusion that business equals cool.

Many cool people Taylor are busy this week. For example, my roommate has six papers due this week. And that's not counting finals. I'm "busy" myself, but not that busy. If I was, you wouldn't be reading this but instead watching me run around like chicken with no head.

Finals will be stressful, they always are. My finals for most of my classes will determine how good my grades will be, but I don't have a large quantity of work. The phenomenon in my head is that I want to be busy so I can be cool.

The problem with this is that when I become busy, my God is left out of the picture. It's only in those crisis moments that I honestly pray to him. Sure, I do my Bible Study, "pray" and go to church. Yet, I don't live with Him.

A great example of this problem I have is when I was walking from class to a dinner-meeting at work tonight. While walking I reviewed memory verses. It was Galatians 6:9-10. "And let us not grow weary in doing good works, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good works toward all people, especially of those who are of the household of faith." (not a direct translation.) Funny thing was that later that evening I had a chance to do a good work, and guess what, I didn't do it. I was too busy.

The problem with being busy is that it takes away the awareness of the supernatural world in which our actions recorded. We will reap a good reward if we do not lose heart. When I become busy, I lose heart.

To be busy is to lose sight of what's really important and focus solely on the tasks at hand. You forget the supernatural. In sense, you become a materialist. So, I have work to do and things have to get done, but I'm not busy.