I will be out exploring the next couple of weeks and will not be posting to my blog or Facebook page until after the new year. Happy holidays!
Earlier this year, Fiona Robinson, a prominent scholar on the intersection of ethics, feminism, and international relations, published a new article on "feminist foreign policy as ethical foreign policy." Although the article is behind a paywall, Robinson's ideas on the ethics of care are articulated in this earlier interview:
"My first question, Fiona, is clearly the most obvious. Please give us a definition. Just what is ethics of care? What does it have to do with the particular experiences of women? What distinguishes it from the dominant rights-based or duty-based moral theories?
"The ethics of care is a relatively new way of thinking about ethics. Interestingly, it emerged not really from ethics in philosophy or even from political theory, but from work in social and moral psychology. ... Carol Gilligan was a social and moral psychologist. She did some empirical work where she compared men’s and women’s, and also girls’ and boys’, responses to a number of moral dilemmas that she put to them. What she heard was a different voice coming from the girls and the women. She heard that women and girls were often articulating their responses to these moral dilemmas in very different ways than what she was hearing from the boys and the men. The boys and the men focused on principle-based morality, the idea of applying moral principles universally to different situations, using terms like “justice”—what is just? What is right?—ideas of reciprocity. But she heard a different voice coming from the girls and the women, a voice of morality not as a series of moral decisions, but as a narrative that plays out over time. The girls and the women focused very much on relationships. This is a key idea in the ethics of care. ... Relationships of responsibility that grow over time and a feeling that you can’t understand morality without looking ontologically, if you will—so thinking about human beings not as autonomous subjects, but as being embedded in networks and relationships of care. ... My own work has developed from early work, which was very interested in the theory, the moral philosophy of these issues, to recognizing its implications for the real-world issues, as you say, of economics and globalization. So when I think of care, I think of it as a set of moral responses, moral virtues, moral practices. But it’s also a physical practice. Care work is a type of work; it’s a type of labor. It is, I think, an economic issue, and it’s a very important feminist issue, insofar as around the world it’s mostly women who are doing care work. Two-thirds of all care work done around the world is done by women. Much of this work is unremunerated. Feminist economists have done studies to show that the total value of unremunerated care work is something like $11 trillion, or two-thirds of the total market economy. ... Now we are seeing the phenomenon of the so-called “care drain,” where care workers are migrating from income-poor countries in the South to take up the care work in wealthier nations. More women around the world are entering the paid labor force. This is creating so-called 'care deficits.' ... Human security, then, just to reiterate, is about changing the referent from state security to individual security, and also broadening the aspects of security, so security is no longer seen as just a military issue."
Researchers have "mapped the location and density of Earth’s irrecoverable carbon — carbon locked in ecosystems that is potentially vulnerable to release from human development and, if lost, could not be restored to those ecosystems by 2050." This irrecoverable carbon, mostly residing in forests, peatlands, mangroves, and other natural areas, has been described as "the carbon we must protect to avert climate catastrophe." www.sciencenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/111821_jl_carbon_inline_desktop_rev.png (Map and quotes from www.sciencenews.org/article/climate-change-natural-carbon-stores-new-map)
The Bill of Rights Institute is sponsoring an essay contest for U.S. students in 8th-12th grade (must be ages 14-19 as of April 15) on the topic, "How does an understanding of natural rights and respect build a free society?" Top prize: $7,500. Essays are due by April 15. For more information, see billofrightsinstitute.org/we-the-students-essay-contest
To the extent that Americans know anything about Nigeria's security problems, it tends to be awareness of Boko Haram, which has been in decline. For Nigerians, though, the security situation is far more complex, as this map from The Economist (UK) shows. www.economist.com/img/b/640/547/90/sites/default/files/20211023_MAM996_0.png (Map from www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/how-kidnappers-zealots-and-rebels-are-making-nigeria-ungovernable/21805737)
Foreign Policy recently reviewed five games to better understand geopolitics. The list is a mix of online games and board games: foreignpolicy.com/2021/11/26/holiday-gift-games-wargames
Saudi Arabia is planning a new city. What makes this city different is that it is supposed to be a super-technologically advanced octagon-shaped industrial city floating in the Red Sea and powered entirely by clean energy. interestingengineering.com/a-floating-city-saudi-arabia-is-building-the-worlds-largest-sea-based-industrial-site
In 2019, fatal injuries cost the U.S. economy $2.2 trillion. This series of maps from the Centers for Disease Control reflect these costs by state, with West Virginia, New Mexico, and Alaska suffering the highest per-capita economic losses. [Fatal injuries include drug overdoses (25%), suicides (20%), falls (16%), motor vehicle accidents (15%), and homicides (8%).] www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/figures/mm7048a2-F.gif
Philosophy Now magazine (UK) is doing a question of the month and invites readers to submit their ideas for publication and and a book prize. This month's answers address the morality of meat eating and make for interesting reading. Next month's question is "What is a person?" Submissions are due by Feb. 14. philosophynow.org/issues/147/Can_Eating_Meat_Be_Justified
The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime has prepared a Global Organized Crime Index. The index's mapping tool allows users to select for specific categories of crime (e.g., human trafficking, synthetic drugs, arms trafficking) as well as resilience factors (e.g., victim and witness support, international cooperation, government transparency). ocindex.net/
Looking for a tangible way to teach geography or history? You can buy a pound of assorted foreign coins for less than $20. Here is one coin dealer who offers this online -- libertycoinservice.com/product/one-pound-of-mixed-foreign-coins/ -- but especially if you live in a metropolitan area, you will probably find a local stamp and coin dealer who can do the same locally (and generally more cheaply because there's no shipping).
Although Barbados achieved independence in 1966, the island elected to remain a constitutional monarchy with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as its titular head. Only recently, 55 years later, did Barbados choose to become an independent republic (while remaining part of the Commonwealth). This map from Statista shows countries that used to be part of the British Empire: www.statista.com/chart/26297/countries-gained-independence-from-the-uk/
The New York Times business section asked experts in a variety of fields to weigh in on what life in the United States will look like when you wake up in the year 2041. You can read the results here: www.nytimes.com/2021/11/27/business/dealbook/future-society-demographics.html (Be sure to click on the DealBook Special Report link at the beginning of the article to dig down into the specific forecasts.)
Factories in China produce an estimated 80 billion (yes, billion) pairs of disposable chopsticks each year. More than half of these disposable chopsticks are made of bamboo, according to China's forestry service. This article from Atlas Obscura provides a look at the industry: www.atlasobscura.com/articles/photographing-bamboo-chopstick-production-china
This map, from The Wall Street Journal, shows the states most affected by the Great Resignation this year. (from www.wsj.com/articles/where-u-s-workers-are-quitting-jobs-at-record-rates-11637836201)
If someone on your gift list would appreciate a gentle introduction to Socratic philosophy woven into a lyrical new children's book, I would suggest checking out Amber & Clay by Newbery Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz: smile.amazon.com/Amber-Clay-Laura-Amy-Schlitz/dp/1536201227
When a U.S. submarine ran into an unmapped seamount in the South China Sea two months ago, many wondered how that could happen. It turns out only 19% of the world's sea floor has been mapped. Moreover, the South China Sea is known to have particularly tricky underwater terrain. You can use this mapping tool from the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) to visualize ocean topography: download.gebco.net/ GEBCO is working to produce a complete, publicly available map of the world's oceans by 2030.
How hard is it to achieve zero emissions? Try it yourself with this free online game, in which you are the mayor of Smogtown. Your goal is to achieve zero emissions while retaining enough popularity to remain the mayor :-). The game's decision points include information about what real-life cities in your position have tried and learned. www.bloomberg.com/features/2021-net-zero-mayor-game/
Although the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 might be the newest threat to public health in southern Africa, it is far from the most serious. Even before the pandemic, roughly one-third of the ~25 million people with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa were not receiving anti-retroviral therapy. A recent study mapped out distance to the nearest health care facility, finding that more than one-third of HIV patients live more than a 60-minute walk to the nearest healthcare facility. medicalxpress.com/news/2021-11-access-hiv.html
Harvard Business School professor emeritus Shoshana Zuboff wants you to understand that you and your data are on the menu in the age of surveillance capitalism.
"Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are private surveillance empires, each with distinct business models. Google and Facebook are data companies and surveillance-capitalist pure plays. The others have varied lines of business that may include data, services, software and physical products. ... As we move into the third decade of the 21st century, surveillance capitalism is the dominant economic institution of our time. In the absence of countervailing law, this system successfully mediates nearly every aspect of human engagement with digital information. ... Today all apps and software, no matter how benign they appear, are designed to maximize data collection. ... An economic order founded on the secret massive-scale extraction of human data assumes the destruction of privacy as a nonnegotiable condition of its business operations. With privacy out of the way, ill-gotten human data are concentrated within private corporations, where they are claimed as corporate assets to be deployed at will. The social effect is a new form of inequality, reflected in the colossal asymmetry between what these companies know about us and what we know about them. The sheer size of this knowledge gap is conveyed in a leaked 2018 Facebook document, which described its artificial intelligence hub, ingesting trillions of behavioral data points every day and producing six million behavioral predictions each second. ... Next, these human data are weaponized as targeting algorithms, engineered to maximize extraction and aimed back at their unsuspecting human sources to increase engagement. Targeting mechanisms change real life, sometimes with grave consequences. ... Anger is rewarded or ignored. ... We can’t fix all our problems at once, but we won’t fix any of them, ever, unless we reclaim the sanctity of information integrity and trustworthy communications. The abdication of our information and communication spaces to surveillance capitalism has become the meta-crisis of every republic, because it obstructs solutions to all other crises. Neither Google, nor Facebook, nor any other corporate actor in this new economic order set out to destroy society, any more than the fossil fuel industry set out to destroy the earth. But like global warming, the tech giants and their fellow travelers have been willing to treat their destructive effects on people and society as collateral damage — the unfortunate but unavoidable byproduct of perfectly legal economic operations that have produced some of the wealthiest and most powerful corporations in the history of capitalism. ... If the ideal of human self-governance is to survive the digital century, then all solutions point to one solution: a democratic counterrevolution. ... No secret extraction means no illegitimate concentrations of knowledge about people. No concentrations of knowledge means no targeting algorithms. No targeting means that corporations can no longer control and curate information flows and social speech or shape human behavior to favor their interests. Regulating extraction would eliminate the surveillance dividend and with it the financial incentives for surveillance. While liberal democracies have begun to engage with the challenges of regulating today’s privately owned information spaces, the sober truth is that we need lawmakers ready to engage in a once-a-century exploration of far more basic questions: How should we structure and govern information, connection and communication in a democratic digital century? What new charters of rights, legislative frameworks and institutions are required to ensure that data collection and use serve the genuine needs of individuals and society? What measures will protect citizens from unaccountable power over information, whether it is wielded by private companies or governments? Liberal democracies should take the lead because they have the power and legitimacy to do so. But they should know that their allies and collaborators include the people of every society struggling against a dystopian future."
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