Saturday, May 29, 2010

Since the semester has ended: Or, pragmatically unadvisable emails

A collection of some recent email missives from students and perspective students:

"I was just wondering if the grade I was givin was correct. Would missing the first midterm really impact my grade?" (A complete message)

In said course, each midterm was worth 20% of the grade, so missing one and not making it up is likely to have an effect on a final grade.

"hi i really want to take this class and wondering if i can get an add code thank you." (Another complete message)

Note the simplicity, the challenging nature of asking me to figure out what the class is and who the correspondent is and to whom the email was meant to go. And, the class doesn't begin for another month. The best strategy is probably to come to the actual class and ask then—oh, and to treat me as if I'm not a friend to whom you are sending a text.

"After I took the test today, I believe that if I calculated it out right, i'll be making a grade of somewhere in the 70's (I hope). With that being said, is there anything I can do to improve that final grade? I know I missed a whole paper, and that is what's really affecting me right now. Is there anyway I could write it and get half credit??" (Message edited to protect the identity of the student)

Yes, yes, I would enjoy doing extra work at the end of the semester because you were unwilling to do it during the semester and now are worried about your grade. And, after all, the point of thinking about philosophy and writing the paper was just to get points.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Is it not telling?

Doesn't it say something about modernity that, when questioned about their responsibility to disclose the real value of securities they were selling and the positions (i.e., betting that these same securities would fail) they were taking, executives of Goldman Sachs—here standing in for many in financial and other sectors—were unable to think of any sort of responsibility other than legal responsibility? Their defense was that they had not violated the law, so they had done nothing wrong, whatever the effects of their actions on their clients, the national and international economies or indeed whatever their deceptive intentions had been.
Even good old Adam Smith, famed but not sole progenitor of capitalist theory—but whom I doubt would recognize much of what goes on on Wall Street and elsewhere as anything like capitalism—thought that capitalism could only work, could only make sense, could only be justified against a background of shared moral belief and, yes, social justice.