Tuesday, August 31, 2004

"Do What You Love and You'll Probably Starve"
Check out the article by this name on MSN today...I thought it was very relevant for those of us in philosophy. And as I tried my best to cut down a paper to conference length last night, that question of whether this is what I really love popped into mind! Happy reading!


Monday, August 30, 2004

Can Someone Explain this to Me?
Maybe some of you who are into politics and are closely following the Kerry campaign can explain this to me. When Kerry was in FL recently, his daughters announced that they were there with their father to support him, announcing that voters should vote for their father. And before even getting through their message, they were booed off the stage. Why???

And Furthermore...
My friend's band "Furthermore" opened for the Numbs at the Cabana Club in Salt Lake. They were terrific! This Friday night, September 3 at 10pm at the Urban Lounge (500E between 200S and 300S) "Furthermore" is headlining and the Numbs are opening up for them. It will be a great show and you should all go!


Friday, August 27, 2004

Blogs as Public Forums to Complain
I vowed to myself that when I got a blog I would not use it to complain. Hmm...maybe I should try to recommit myself to this original promise!

Recycled Cell Phone Numbers Should be Banned!
I recently got a cell phone and I am very annoyed to learn that I was assigned a number that was recently in use. And not only was the number recently in use, but it was recently in use by two different users--one was a private individual and the other was a company called "Billing Unlimited." Calls for Billing Unlimited are very annoying because I find myself having to convince the party on the other line that this is no longer Billing Unlimited, and that no, I am not pulling their leg. At any rate, all this complaining just goes to say that cell phone numbers should not be recycled! But a question for any math geeks out there--I was under the assumption that you could generate enough permutations of a phone number so that they would not be reassigned. Am I wrong in this assumption?


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A New School Year Begins...

Classes just started today at the University of Utah and yesterday the philosophy department had a day long welcome/business meeting for grads. What was very obvious, even if you did not know who was a returning student and who was an incoming student, was who was an incoming student. Incoming grads could be detected from a mile away by their unrestrained enthusiasm. And while I expected this sort of energy from them, I pleasantly surprised myself by not being turned off by their enthusiasm--instead, I was re-engergized, and very happy to see that it looks like we will have an active grad group this year. And what is better, there are incomings who are interested in bioethics. Yes, it looks like it is going to be a good year...

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Random Thoughts
Instead of doing some last minute work that I need to be doing before I get outta Dodge, I am blogging instead. For this kind of procrastination, I blame fellow friend bloggers--you know who you are. Anyway, I hate moving. I have to move out of my office and I have just a couple of hours to do this on Monday. I have quickly realized how much junk I have collected. And some of the stuff that I am coming accross, I do not even recognize as my own...weird and definitely a sign of being a packrat. And lately I have been in the moving mode--sort of cleaning up (at least my closet). And as I was cleaning out my closet, the same thing happened, a lot of the clothes I did not even recognize. Taking a lot of clothes to the local DI has allowed me to (almost) completely clear my closet, though some of the clothes were in such poor shape that I had to toss them, as much as it broke my heart to do that, I figured that even the DI people would not want them. But a nice ending to the closet cleaning (I find it hard to part with clothes)--shopping! I need to shop for fall and a friend of mine is very willing to help me do this--that is, spend my money with her fashion advice since I have been told that I should not be allowed to shop for myself alone. Kind of like leaving a small child with matches--not a good idea. I like this stream of consciousness writing...maybe this stream will form into something coherent and philosophical, though probably not...


Friday, August 13, 2004

Why do we care about effort?
A friend who is a grad here at Utah gave a job talk the other day on depression. The paper was coming out of his dissertation and part of his dissertation is devoted to refuting the claim that all cases of medicating away depression are demonstrative of weak moral character. The claim that my friend seems to be arguing against is that working through depression without anti-depressants says something positive about moral character--namely, that moral character development is achievable through struggling through depression without the help of medication. (Of course it seems as though this view assumes that depression is not a disease but a character flaw or personality defect of some sort.) It seems like this view is one in which effort is valued--whether for its own sake or only instrumentally (as a means to moral character growth). My question is this: why do we value effort? Is effort something that we value because it is an indicator of sorts--one that indicates strong moral character?

This issue, of the value of effort, is of interest to me in relation to obesity. Medicare recently announced that it will no longer have barriers that prevent people from claiming that obesity is a disease, though Medicare itself does not assert that obesity is a disease. Changes in the language of Medicare's plans have spawned new debate in the issue of whether obesity should be considered a disease, something that is of particular interest to me. Here is how I see the issue of effort connected to the debate of whether obesity should be considered a disease. If obesity is a disease (having at least (partly) genetic and biological determinants), does this change our minds about certain kinds of treatments for obesity? Consider, for example, gastric bypass surgery. Some (myself included) think gastric bypass surgery is morally problematic because of an underlying intuition regarding effort--that effort is important in some fundamental, non-trivial sense. The same goes for other similar efforts for weight loss--a recent attempt that is going through clinical test trials is an electrical device that is inserted into the abdomen (I think, though the details are now fuzzy) and will send a feeling of satiety to the brain after the individual with the device eats several bites of food, curbing appetite. This electrical device I find particularly problematic--perhaps for reasons having to do with more than just effort being valuable. Any ideas on why we might care about effort in the obesity case, making electrical devices and surgical procedures for weight loss elicit the "yuck" factor? Or am I just on a limb here?


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