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The Overton Window

Beto O'Rourke (NOT the guy pictured here) has left the building, specifically, the Presidential campaign.

I begin that way because Beto's campaign always had a celebrity-celebrating Elvis-like aspect to it, Vanity Fair cover and all. If for that reason alone, I'm not sorry to see him go.

Before he left, he did give us a chance to think about what the term "Overton window" means, especially in the context of gun control in the US, and in more particular in Texas.

Joseph Overton, a free market oriented political scientist who passed away in 2003, and who IS the guy pictured above, originated the concept of a "window of discourse" encompassing all 'acceptable' positions on an issue, and since named after him by his admirers. The point is that only fringe thinkers believe proposition 'A,' and only thinkers on a contrary fringe, we shall say, believe 'E'.  The current policy is C and the more sensible not-so-fringe reformers say that…
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Induction versus Abduction

A few days ago, Henry asked my in the comments section to a post about a Wesley Salmon quote whether our knowledge of the basic natural forces and laws -- gravity, inertia, etc. -- is at bottom inductive?

I said I didn't think so, and described the actual method of discovery as guess-and-test, or "abduction" in Charles Peirce's terminology. Today I'll go a little further into the distinction. The bottom line is that the "riddle of induction" shouldn't be all that worrisome because induction is seldom used.

Abduction is the name Peirce (pictured above) gave. Unfortunately, it is also a synonym for kidnapping, but that isn't the point at the moment. Abduction in the relevant sense is inference to the simplest explanation for a phenomenon.  It is often just a hunch or guess.

Our knowledge about the laws of nature arose through abductions. Benjamin Franklin abducted: that it would be more economical to believe that the static sparks that are often g…

Sports Betting in Colorado

Proposition DD.

Coloradans (who led the nation in the legalizing of recreational use of marijuana -- yeah, Rocky Mountaineers!) are now deciding whether to move in the direction of liberty on another important matter, one that could bring another major industry into the sunlight: sports betting.

In both cases, part of the sales pitch to get the public to legalize the industry involved is, "...and then the state can tax it, and do various good things with that money."

I'm not enthusiastic about that part of the pitch but so long as the general direction is toward the liberty, the win will go to our best selves.

("That's a strange expression Bruce.")

NOTE: The Proposition won, however narrowly.

Homer and the Wine Dark Sea

One frequently hears this Homeric tag, 'the wine dark sea.' No, not the donut-eating Homer, the founder of western literature Homer.

There has been some controversy on the subject. After all, the sea looks blue-green, not purple (or whatever color was the wine Homer might have been drinking when he came up with the tag.)

There are lots of explanations. Julian Jaynes, the author of the controversial thesis about the "breakdown of the bicameral mind," used it as support for the proposition that human neurology has changed over time, even within historic time.

Kantian Aesthetic Theory

I'm writing about this because I'm not sure I understand it.

Corrections of my stupidity are more than usually welcome.

Five points:

1. "Taste," for Kant, is the act of deciding whether something is or isn't beautiful. (Not "sublime," another matter I'll stay away from here.)

2. For something to be beautiful, it must offer "disinterested satisfaction." Presumably, a heterosexual man who finds a woman "beautiful" has an "interest" in mind, consciously or not. Because it is not DIS interested, then sexual appeal is NOT "beauty" in the Kantian sense.  On the other hand an image of abstract art, or perhaps a musical motif, may be considered beautiful, and those are both a better candidates for satisfying the test of disinterest than our beautiful woman in the "male gaze."

3. The fact that one takes pleasure (that is, the grounds of one's taste) is not completely subjective. If I find a musical motif…