Dried Roses

Sandwich Theory of Mind

From the inimitable Fafblog. Bonus: a serious discussion of utilitarianism and deontology.

LinkJuly 1, 2004 in Ethics · Metaphysics & Epistemology

A little language rant

Item 1: societal — This used to be a rather learned word. To judge from the OED’s citations, it wasn’t used often. Now I see it frequently as an elegant variation of ‘social’. I suspect that this is another instance of the abuse of thesauruses. We don’t need two words that mean ‘social’. But for those who think ‘societal’ is the cat’s pajamas, another otiose synonym is waiting in the wings: ‘societary’. Even more syllables!
Item 2: processes — Some people pronounce the plural of ‘process’ with a long e, as if it were like ‘analyses’ or ‘thanatopses’. It isn’t. ‘Process’ is from Latin processus, the nominative plural of which is processūs with a long u. Like other words of its sort (‘recess’, ‘progress’), it lost the us on the way into English. Its plural is the perfectly normal es used for words ending in sibilants.
If you say ‘processEEs’, you’re not showing how much you know but how little. Perhaps this is a case of overcorrection, like ‘Between you and I’. (On the other hand, the pronunciation of ‘basēs’, the plural of ‘basis’, with a long e is not only correct, but is useful to distinguish the plural of ‘basis’ from the plural of ‘base’.)
Item 3: argue thatCrooked Timber has noticed this phrase being used in the sense of ‘take issue with [the claim that]’. The unfortunate result is that if I say “Many doctors argue that obesity may endanger health” you won’t know whether those doctors would have you be fat or thin.


LinkJuly 4, 2004 in Language

Belief in Hell might ignite fallacies

Headline for an article at the St. Louis regional Federal Reserve website: “Fear of Hell Might Fire Up the Economy”. Good news for all those Christians who think that faith ought to be rewarded here on earth. The authors, Kevin L. Kliesen and Frank A. Schmid, conclude that “Religious factors can also help explain variations in economic growth […] In particular, in countries where large percentages of the population believe in hell, there seem to be less corruption and a higher standard of living”. The article thus attempts to explain an asserted positive correlation between “belief” and wealth.


LinkJuly 29, 2004 in Current Affairs · Society | TrackBack (0)