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Funky exchanges of ideas

Photo credit: Nogwater, Flickr site

Photo credit: Nogwater, Flickr site

I just got back from Congress 2013 at the University of Victoria, where my views on Israel and Palestine were met with reactions ranging from puzzled (or intrigued) interest on the one hand, to skepticism, rejection, hostility, and derisive misrepresentation on the other. Just the “funky exchange of ideas” I was looking for when I went.  But more on the talk, and the reception to it (along with commentary on the conference) later this week. I also happened to read Jason Brennan’s The Ethics of Voting (Princeton, 2011) en route, which I highly recommend, and which turned out to be highly relevant to my own argument. I basically agree both with Brennan’s conclusions and with his arguments for them, but would dispute some of the specific moves he makes along the way. Incidentally, Reason Papers will be featuring a symposium on Brennan’s book in our forthcoming issue (now delayed a bit to July), with contributions by Bryan Caplan (George Mason), Randall Holcombe (Florida State), Nikolai Wenzel (Florida Gulf Coast), Ezekiel Spector (Universidad Torcuato di Tella), and a response by Brennan himself (Georgetown).*

Toronto’s Globe and Mail has the story on Congress 2013 itself:

Jean-Paul Boudreau, Ryerson University’s dean of arts, spent last week scouting Congress 2013 and said it was “fantastic.” But he is also bidding to host the gathering in 2017 with an ambitious plan to push more events out into the city. “You can’t just say to the community, come in and listen to, uh, Jean-Paul’s arguments on how he’s rethinking 17th-century French texts,” he said.

Dr. Boudreau describes Congress as “a beautiful, overflowing fountain of ideas” – its massive scope makes it attractive, but also impossible for any one visitor to grasp more than a few drops of the overflow.

He imagines a map for Congress resembling Toronto’s subway routes, but with “idea stops” that can be navigated through the delegates’ smartphones, allowing them to find interesting events and tag them to watch later as podcasts if they can’t make it live. He wants to reach out to alumni from the business world and “bring them home” to Congress. And he hopes to partner with cultural hubs like the Art Gallery of Ontario or Royal Ontario Museum, which can tap “their networks in the city.”

“Let’s create a real funky exchange of ideas that create new opportunities that really excite and motivate the academic as well.”

Congress 2014 will be at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario.  Worth attending, in my view, especially for us cloistered Americans, if only to experience the subtle (but real and significant) differences between Canadian and American academic culture. And anyway, interesting questions in political philosophy arise anytime you cross an international border.

In other funky exchanges of ideas, Chris Sciabarra reports that the newest JARS–in its new incarnation–is almost ready to go. He appropriately calls it the beginning of a “new era” for that journal. Lots of interesting stuff there worth checking out.

Meanwhile, over at the Atlas Society, Phil Coates is engaging in a third (yes, funky) round of the conversation begun there and continued here, on the future of The Atlas Society. If I respond, I’ll do so here at the IOS blog.**


*In an earlier version of this post, I mistakenly included Daniel Klein in place of Nikolai Wenzel. I should add that the symposium was organized and guest-edited by Joshua Hall of Beloit College.

**Actually, I ended up responding at length to Coates at The Atlas Society’s blog (the link above takes you there). Another day, another blog post, another broken promise….


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