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February 06, 2016



Philosophy and Real Politics by Raymond Geuss is more exciting than even Nozick. It's a red-in-tooth-and-claw attack on both Nozick and Rawls simultaneously, among other things. And readably brief too.


I 'got' anarchism quite young, and have spent my entire adult life believing not only that a society with nothing resembling 'money', 'wage labour' or 'commodities' is both possible and desirable, but that this first belief is axiomatic and obvious, at least for anyone even vaguely on the Left.

This second belief has been tested a few times, but never more than when I read Rawls talking earnestly about arranging things, behind the veil of ignorance, so as to minimise inequalities of something called 'income'. Come on, Professor - where we're going we won't need *income*! I'm pretty sure I'd have a similar problem with Nozick and his tickets to the basketball game.

(I'd recommend Debord.)

Luis Enrique

In earlier posts on free speech and democracy you have expressed some scepticism on the idea that the better arguments will win out. Here you seem to be say don't worry about exposing young people to books you may think wrong to point of dangerous.

Luis Enrique

Sorry I completely overstated that. Just meant you're more confident here about good ideas winning out.


Recent young person here - just finished a PPE degree so I'm probably blinkered in lots of ways.

I think Thinking Fast and Slow is a fantastic book for a young person to read! The main reason is because it's a remarkably easy way to learn to distrust people and ideas they come up with. When someone says "I think that X" - it suddenly makes you think, "well hang on, I'm not sure that it means much that you think X". Though if the other book you mention does the same thing, then I suppose you can discount Kahneman for readability.

I agree about Nozick > Rawls for the young person - I've even still not really read Rawls' primary literature, whereas Nozick I managed to read really easily. Especially nice because his arguments you naturally find quite horrible, and you have to try and work out why, or whether you can counter it. And the best part about it is that unless you are a grade A twat, you're probably not going to go round espousing Nozick, whereas I reckon that if young people read someone like Rawls or Marx, people that they instinctively might want to side with, they're likely to take it at face value and think uncritically, as well as speak bland blitherings about the veil of ignorance to their friends, thinking they're cool.

An Alien Visitor

"what should the well-read student read?"

Why does seem like a contradictory statement to me?

But can I throw the first Twilight book into the mix?


I teach young people and few of them seem likely to read at all, except under duress.

So I do think there's a need for intro works that get people interested in ideas.

So for today I'll plug "Logicomix."


Why do the books a well read young person needs to read be biases toward politics and economics?

Marvin Minksy Society of the Mind

The Art of Computer Programming Knuth, though a little dry, extra points for getting to the end of vol 3.

Each branch of maths, science and engineering has their own great. I see the best interests of the future of man kind to encourage the bright young things to do something other than PPE.

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