Tower Of Babel

In grappling with persistent questions regarding key aspects of human existence and the natural world — intentionality, free will, morality, and so on — it is very easy to become entangled in terminological difficulties. Here’s a particularly contentious example.

Reading the New York Times the other day, I noticed the following in an Op-Ed piece by Nicholas Kristof about moral types:

“Minds are very hard things to open, and the best way to open the mind is through the heart,” Professor Haidt says. “Our minds were not designed by evolution to discover the truth; they were designed to play social games.”

“Professor Haidt” is the psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who has done extensive research into the orgins and underpinnings of human morality.

Here’s another quote, from Harvard’s Steven Pinker:

The moral design of nature is as bungled as its engineering design.

And here’s Stephen Jay Gould:

In the domain of organisms and their good designs, we have little reason to doubt the strong, probably dominant influence of deterministic forces like natural selection.

Here’s a biology text from the University of Chicago Press: The Evolution of Vertebrate Design.

From the abstract of a lecture given this month by the American Society of Cell Biology:

Familiar features help to elucidate the origins, functions and design parameters for the secretory pathway, endosymbiotic organelles, the cytoskeleton, and cell cycle control.

Here’s the title of a paper from the Journal of Mammalogy:

Allometric scaling of body length : Elastic or geometric similarity in mammalian design.

Here’s another scholarly paper, from the University of Bonn:

The biomechanical design and morphofunctional evolution of presacral vertebrae in Sauropodomorpha deduced from shape analysis and FESS.

What do all these quotations have in common? The word “design”.

When biologists use this word to describe the bodies of living creatures, they obviously have something different in mind than a pre-Darwinian speaker of English would. While both would use it to describe intricate assemblages of working parts that perform some function, the difference is that the modern, technical usage of the term carries no implication of teleology, of having been assembled by an intentional designer for a preordained purpose. In the evolution of life there are no Aristotelian “final causes”, no “skyhooks” lifting the process from above. In short: design sans Designer; design not by purposeful plan, but by natural process. But the use of the word seems apt enough otherwise; it certainly feels appropriate, for example, to look at an albatross’s body as an exquisitely designed flying machine.

To use the word in this way — even though those who do so quite explicitly understand that when they say “design” they have in mind a concept cleanly filleted of all teleology, as what is effectively an instance of technical jargon — remains nevertheless a source of philosophical vexation in some quarters. One of those quarters is the popular website The Maverick Philosopher, where the host, Dr William Vallicella, has devoted more than a few comments and posts lately to this very topic, for example this recent item.

This persistent inconsistency in the way the word “design” is understood is extremely unhelpful, and I see no sign of its being resolved anytime soon. (Another word similiarly fraught with confusion and disagreement is the word “for”; there are many intelligent and philosophically sophisticated people who maintain, for example, that our eyes, since they lack a conscious designer, and were shaped solely by evolution, are not “for” seeing.)

Daniel Dennett, who is himself rather a polarizing figure in these discussions, has made quite clear what “design” ought to mean in light of our radical new (and at 150 years old, very recent indeed, in the timeline of human thought and language) insights into the process by which living things, and indeed intentionality, have arrived on the scene. In a 2005 paper, Atheism and Evolution (which is well worth your time, and available here), Dennett writes:

A designed thing, then, is either a living thing or a part of a living thing, or the artifact of a living thing[.]

This seems almost exactly right to me, with one quibble: it is not quite general enough. This engine of design discovered by Darwin and Wallace will work with not only living things, but with anything that meets the essential qualifications: replication with variation, along with some sort of differential selection amongst the variants. It happens that living things are the only such replicators we know of at the moment, but the process does not strictly require life. (Indeed, at the close of Dennett’s article he talks about Lee Smolin’s provocative idea (see here) that universes themselves may be subject to such a process, replicating themselves by way of black holes.)

But the point is: a definition of the word “design” that does not include the process that created the staggeringly intricate designs of living things is simply inadequate. Such a definition rules out of court, by mere terminological fiat, nearly all of the design in the world, leaving only the tiny remnant, childishly crude by comparison, that we humans have managed. This absurd philosophical convention — and it is nothing more than that — is due, I maintain, to an atavistic, anthropocentric fixation on conscious agency, and in particular an obdurate resistance to the idea of intentionality as an objective feature of the natural world, and an equally dogmatic unwillingness to decouple the ideas of intentionality and consciousness.

Dennett continues:

Darwin’s “strange inversion of reasoning” was in fact a new and wonderful way of thinking, completely overturning the mind-first way that even David Hume had been unable to cast aside, and replacing it with a bubble-up vision in which intelligence — the concentrated, forward-looking intelligence of an anthropomorphic agent — emerges as just one of the products of mindless, mechanistic processes. These processes are fueled by untold billions of pointless, undesigned collisions, some vanishing small fraction of which fortuitously lead to tiny improvements in the lineages in which they occur. Thanks to Darwin’s principle of “descent with modification,” these ruthlessly tested design innovations accumulate over the eons, yielding breathtakingly brilliant designs that never had a designer — other than the purposeless, distributed process of natural selection itself.

The signatures of these unplanned innovations are everywhere to be found in a close examination of the marvels of nature, in the inside-out retina of the vertebrate eye, the half-discarded leftovers in the genes and organs of every species, the prodigious wastefulness and apparent cruelty of so many of nature’s processes. These departures from wisdom, frozen accidents, in the apt phrase of Francis Crick, confront the theist with a dilemma: if God is responsible for these designs, then His intelligence looks disturbingly like human obtuseness and callousness. Moreover, as our understanding of the mechanisms of evolution grows, we can sketch out ever more detailed accounts of the historical sequence of events by which the design innovations appeared and were incorporated into the branching tree of genomes. A voluminously predictive account of the creative process is now emerging, replete with thousands of mutually supporting details, and no contradictions at all. As the pieces of this mega-jigsaw-puzzle fall into place with increasing rapidity, there can be no reasonable doubt that it is, in all its broad outlines if not yet in all its unsettled details, the true story of how all living things came to have the designs we observe.

Dennett responds also to the pervasive prejudice that sees “mere” matter, and the “mindless” processes of Nature, as somehow too lowly to have produced something as exalted as we:

Between the richly detailed and ever-ramifying evolutionary story, and the featureless mystery of God the creator of all creatures great and small, there is no contest. This is a momentous reversal for the ancient conviction that God’s existence can be read off the wonders of nature. Anyone who has ever been struck by the magnificent intricacy of design and prodigious variety of the living world and wondered what–if not God–could possibly account for its existence must now confront not just a plausible alternative, but an alternative of breathtaking explanatory power supported by literally thousands of confirmed predictions and solved puzzles. Richard Dawkins has put the point crisply: “Although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” (1986, p. 6).

Undermining the best argument anybody ever thought of for the existence of God is not, of course, proving the non-existence of God, and many careful thinkers who have accepted evolution by natural selection as the explanation of the wonders of the living world have cast about for other supports for their continuing belief in God. The idea of treating Mind as an effect rather than as a First Cause is too revolutionary for some. Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer with Darwin of natural selection, could never accept the full inversion, proclaiming that “the marvelous complexity of forces which appear to control matter, if not actually to constitute it, are and must be mind-products.” (quoted by [Stephen Jay] Gould, [The Flamingo’s Smile,] 1985, p.397.) More recently, the physicist Paul Davies, in his book, The Mind of God (1992, p.232), opines that the reflective power of human minds can be “no trivial detail, no minor by-product of mindless purposeless forces.” This is a most revealing way of expressing a familiar denial, for it betrays an ill-examined prejudice. Why, we might ask Davies, would its being a by-product of mindless, purposeless forces make it trivial? Why couldn’t the most important thing of all be something that arose from unimportant things? Why should the importance or excellence of anything have to rain down on it from on high, from something more important, a gift from God? Darwin’s inversion suggests that we abandon that presumption and look for sorts of excellence, of worth and purpose, that can emerge, bubbling up out of “mindless, purposeless forces.”

The community of evolutionary scientists and philosophers are already untroubled by the use of “design” in the broader sense that I am defending here; it might be seen, perhaps, as having been appropriated as technical language, in the way that many ordinary English words have been taken up in other technical fields. (Also, it is common for words to become more inclusive over time: for example, the word “guitar” once meant only what we would now refer to with the retronym “classical guitar” — the present argument over the use of “design” is rather like having a debate with a purist over whether my Stratocaster is really a “guitar” at all.) But so stubborn is the resistance to this broadening of the meaning of the word that I think we simply need a new one.

Any suggestions?

21 Comments

  1. bob koepp says

    Hi Malcolm –
    You already know what my suggestion is… to employ a perfectly good term from evolutionary science that does all the “work” of “design talk” without offending the scruples of those who wish to use ‘design’ only where there is an implied designer. ‘Adaptation’ can function as either a noun or a verb, just like design; it comports with our use of ‘for’, without implying anything about “interests” (Smolin’s universes, after all, don’t have interests…); and, contrary to what Bill Vallicella suggests, allows for a coherent explication of ‘function’ which is not observer relative.

    While I don’t have any principled objections to using ‘design’ to describe the products of evolution via natural selection, etymological considerations incline me to counsel against this extension — since what is notably absent from so-called “natural designs” is any essential role for signs or signification.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Hi Bob,

    We are a natural design, and do a fair amount of signification, though I might not be apprehending your meaning correctly.

    I also think, given that I have insisted that the design process of evolution works with anything that replicates with variation and is subject to some sort of selection, that I must bite the bullet and say that I suppose I mustn’t rule out Smolin-style universes coming to have “interests” as a result of the evolutionary process (after all, that’s how we came to have ours) — though I have never thought about that, and can hardly imagine what form that might take.

    Somehow “adaptation” falls a little short for me, but I agree it comes closest among existing terms.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  3. bob koepp says

    Malcolm –
    The fact that we employ signs is a very weak reason to think that the process that produced us involves any signing or signification — thinking otherwise is analogous to thinking that because the products of natural selection have a “that for which,” the process itslef is “for” something.

    As for ‘interests’, I think this term is so entangled with normative accounts of behavior that it is virtually useless in the context of evolutionary theory… until, that is, we enter into a discussion of how evolutionary processes have given rise to cognitive systems which employ explicit representations of goal-states. While I understand quite well what people are driving at when they speak of the interest of, say, genes in being replicated, I cannot view this as anything but poetic license. A rigorously formulated model of the processes involved in genic selection does not include any term or parameter that corresponds (not even as an analog) to the role of interests in contexts where the latter play an actual explanatory role. In other words, if it isn’t even a shorthand for some identifiable feature of actual explanatory models, talk of interests being served by the process of natural selection contributes zilch to our understanding of that process. I think what it does manage to do is to lull unprepared minds into a sort of complacency that is more likely than not to prevent them from appreciating how natural selection operates.

    I’m not sure what it is that ‘adaptation’ falls short of. Since it’s used in evolutionary discourse to identify traits that have been shaped and/or maintained in existence under the influence of the process of natural selection, I should think it’s “reach” is precisely right.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Bob,

    I think we are more on the same page than it seems, and are experiencing the same difficulties in using these terms that so often complicate these discussions. I certainly did not mean to suggest that the process of evolution was “for” anything, or “signified” anything.

    I disagree, though, about the uselesness of the idea of “interests” in understanding evolutionary products; quite to the contrary, often the best way to understand some adaptation is to do the usual thing that engineers do when reverse-engineering some artifact: to look at the feature in question and to ask how it serves the interests of the creature of which it is a part. Explicit representations of goal-states (that is, not only having the goals, but having conscious meta-representations of them) are a very late arrival, and just a fancy new feature built upon the underlying goals and interests themselves. Most living things just have the interests and act upon them, without ever having to “know” that they have them. A snake doesn’t have to be able to say to itself “I’m feeling hungry, and should go find some prey or I will be in trouble later on” — all it does is find prey when it’s hungry, and that works fine. Those explicit representations are, presumably, costly, and won’t be implemented if not needed.

    Maybe you’re right, and “adaptation” is good enough. But it just doesn’t have the right “feel”, somehow — and think that is reflected in the fact that all these evolutionary biologists I cited above are certainly familiar with the word, but still use the word “design” instead.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  5. bob koepp says

    Malcolm –
    The “explicit representation” of goal-states” is not equivalent to the “conscious meta-representation” of those states. There is no reason that an explicit representation, whether of a goal-state or some other state of affairs, needs to be conscious. But I do think that “explicit representation” is necessary to treat behavior as literally “goal-directed.” Getting precise about what “explicit representation” involves would take us into the bowels of cognitive theory, but that there is some need for a distinction of this sort should be clear from the fact that we do not view the movement of water toward the dominant center of gravity as goal-directed.

    I think reverse engineering is a very useful strategy for developing hypotheses about the evolutionary origins of various traits. But that’s a matter of methodology, not positive theory.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Hi Bob,

    Well, reverse-engineering an adaptation in terms of the interests of the organism to which it belongs could quite easily be part of a positive, predictive theory — for example one could predict how evolution will modify the trait in question as environmental factors change, etc.

    I’m not clear what middle ground you have in mind between “explicit representation” of goal-states and “conscious meta-representation” of those states; from a design stance we can certainly see that the stalking behavior of a snake has as its goal the securing of prey, even if the snake has nothing on board above and beyond the wiring for seeking the prey.

    To put that another way, the stalking behavior of a snake, and all the mechanics that have gone into making it function, are the result of a long and complex process of adaptation and modification — with successive iterations of the snake’s “design” or adaptation being adjusted, and this is the key point here, according to what does a better job of securing prey — in the way that falling water is not.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink
  7. “Any suggestions?”

    Stop reading Dennett!

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    That’s funny, D.

    I know he is a controversial fellow, but on this topic I think he’s quite right. I’ve been brooding about this stuff for decades, and this to me seems the clearest way out of the thicket. But then I think I am rather more of a thoroughgoing materialist than you are.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink
  9. Glad you thought so. It was facetious, and I was a little worried you would take offence.

    Of course, it wouldn’t surprise you to hear that I think Dennett — and you — are “getting out of the thicket” by redefining it as a clearing. (“A designed thing, then, is either a living thing or a part of a living thing, or the artifact of a living thing” — strikes me as very Dennettian.) As for being a materialist, I am not of any kind at all, as far as I can see, though no doubt, like most people, I have been rather hazy on the question. Still, if a man is to be a materialist, I believe he ought to be thoroughgoing one, with no inconsistencies or illicit appeals; the trouble is, with no inconsistencies or illicit appeals, can he believe he ought to be such?

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    Well, D., materialist or not, if I believe I ought to be one, then as far as I’m concerned I ought to be one.

    In other words, when it comes to “oughts”, what I say goes!

    (Your “oughts” may vary.)

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    And there is some distinction to be made between simply redefining a thicket as a clearing, and wandering around in a fog thinking one is in a thicket, when one was actually in a clearing all along.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
  12. bob koepp says

    I take it more or less for granted that snakes behave in a literal goal-directed fashion when they hunt prey. In other words, I assume they do somehow represent their prey and that the representation plays a specific sort of role in regulating their behavior. It’s not a question of whether there’s “wiring”, but what the precise causal structure of that wiring is. And I don’t think any of this needs to be done “consciously. But again, even if a particular selection process is instantiated in part by representations, even representations of goals, that does not mean that there is anything representational or goal-directed about natural selection per se. And, if that’s right, we should be able to say what it is that makes a process a process of natural selection without talking about interests, goals, etc. We must be able to “cash out” all metaphors without forfeiting any explanatory power.

    I think that maybe Deogowulf’s suggestion should be taken seriously. Dennett is very wishy-washy about what counts as a representation, a goal, etc. This is part and parcel of his studied ambiguity about whether these are just facons de parler or whether they refer to actual existents. When in his instrumentalist moods, he suggests it doesn’t matter. I, however, am clearly biased in thinking that science is about existents, the furnishings of this world. That’s why it’s important to me to employ language in a way that doesn’t tempt people to speak of the behavior of water in terms that, taken literally, suggest it has interests and goals. That’s why, even though I actually value metaphorical expression, I insist that in science, we must be able, in principle, to banish metaphor from what I’ve referred to as “positive theory.”

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink
  13. Malcolm says

    Bob,

    Again I think that we are talking past each other a bit here; I do want to be clear that I quite agree with you that there is nothing representational or goal-directed about natural selection itself.

    But I do also think it is more than a metaphorical figure of speech to say that a snake has goals and interests; it is more than just instrumentalism, I think, to say that we can see that it really has these goals and interests even if it can’t.

    I think that the snake, as a living, and therefore “designed”, creature, has goals and interests every bit as much as we do, with the only qualitatively important difference being our additional meta-representations of them (and of course our conscious awareness, but that is another matter altogether, and irrelevant to the having of goals and interests).

    The evolutionary process is, in my view, the only persuasive account of how goals, and purposes, and intentionality could enter the world in the first place. But to be clear once again: this is very different from suggesting that the evolutionary process itself has goals or interests.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
  14. bob koepp says

    Malcolm – I said that I take it for granted that snakes behave in a literal goal-directed fashion when they hunt prey — in other words, I don’t think talk of goals and interests is the least bit metaphorical in such a case. I’m also willing to follow the common practice of extending the notion of “interests” to the non-cognitive arena, as when we say it is in the interest of an organism to have adequate nutrition, even if the organism in question is incapable of “taking an interest.” But I object quite strenuously to treating just any old thing that might have evolved via natural selection as having survival and reproduction as “interests” — again I point to Smolin’s universes as things which, by hypotheses have evolved via natural selection, but which are not the sorts of things that can have interests, whether conscious, unconscious, literal or metaphorical. So the notion of natural selection, if it can apply to such universes, must be conceptually independent of the relevant notions of interest here. And if there are other sorts of cases where talk of interests is sensible, then I must assume that the sensibleness (ouch!) derives from some other source than natural selection per se. It’s just a matter of giving a proper accounting of conceptual dependencies.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Permalink
  15. Malcolm says

    Well, then I think we agree, pretty much.

    When I mentioned Smolin’s universes as potentially “having interests”, it was a thought that had only just occurred to me at that moment, on the basis that if:

    a) Natural selection operating on entities that replicate with heritable variation is indeed the only natural process we know of for creating entities with interests, and appears to have been what did the job in our case;

    … and if, as Smolin suggests:

    b) Universes themselves can be the products of natural selection;

    then to be consistent one needs at least to ask the question: why are only some, but not all, of the things that can be designed by natural selection the kinds of things that can have interests?

    But all that is going out on a very shaky limb; Smolin’s idea is very speculative indeed. Let me assure you that I am not trying to make the case that universes can have “interests”; all I was suggesting was that if universes, as Smolin proposes, really do exhibit replication with heritable variation, and are differentially selected in some way, then it becomes interesting to wonder why they can’t.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 6:04 pm | Permalink
  16. bob koepp says

    I don’t think it’s a matter of logic that a universe couldn’t have interests, just that nothing about the universes as Smolin describes them would warrant such an attribution. I think we need to address the question, “What is necessary in order that a thing have interests?” I’d recommend approaching this problem the way early cyberneticists approached goal-directed behavior. They designed systems that represented goal-states where those representations functioned via feedbacks to steer behavior toward the specified goals. It was obvious from the start that one could define systems the behavior of which tended toward those same endpoints, but where the behavior wasn’t regulated by any representation of the endpoints. The former sorts of systems were considered to be goal-directed, literally so. The latter sorts of systems were considered to be not goal-directed, though the flexibility of natural languages makes it easy to speak of them as if they were.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  17. Malcolm says

    I think we need to address the question, “What is necessary in order that a thing have interests?”

    Right, that’s what I was getting at too. What was necessary for living things to have interests? There were conditions that had to be met or the organism’s line would end; only those organisms that met those conditions would stay in the game, and the better-equipped they were the better they did. An organism that was lackadaisical about food or sex might just get by, but an organism that had instantiated a ravenous “interest” in such things, along with tools and weapons for serving that interest would, as they say, eat the lazy one’s lunch.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  18. bob koepp says

    Malcolm –
    Your suggestion about how to conceive of organic interests moves very quickly to an evolutionary frame of reference — perhaps too quickly to apprciate the view along the way.

    I think it’s probably right to view the interests of an organism as a sort of maximal realization of its natural functional capacities. Let’s call this “thriving” (actually, I think the more common word for this is ‘health’). It seems plausible to view thriving so understood to coincide with the interests of an organism. And let’s assume that the functional capacities the realization of which constitute an organism’s thriving can be individuated and explained in terms of the history of selection by which they evolved. So far, so good.

    But now, consider how the process of natual selection that underwrites our attribution of natural functional capacities operates at the level of populations and on transgenerational timescales. Do the interests of an organism have such scope? I doubt it. After all, an organism’s realization of its natural functional capacities takes place in the here and now, and is what it is, regardless of what it might portend for future generations.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 10:04 pm | Permalink
  19. Malcolm says

    Bob,

    I would say that the interests of an organism, very broadly speaking, are those things that tend to increase “fitness” in the Darwinian sense; often this corresponds closely to individual health and thriving, but often not. A salmon, for example, might have a longer life were it not to beat itself to death swimming upstream to spawn (just as governors might have longer political lives were they less concerned about spawning behavior also). And a mother will die trying to protect her offspring.

    Evolution will optimize design to serve those interests. But there are different hierarchical levels at which this design “tuning” can happen; for example, social animals may exhibit optimzations in which their local, within-group success becomes secondary to behaviors that lift the overall fitness of the group — and it is fairly uncontroversial these days (though it wasn’t thirty years ago) that some selection occurs at the gene level also.

    I agree with you that transgenerational timescales do not figure into any of this; evolution always reacts, of course, to the selection pressures of the present, and can’t look forward.

    Posted June 8, 2009 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
  20. bob koepp says

    Malcolm – We probably aren’t too far apart in our thinking about organic interests, since natural selection is a sort of coneptual linkage between the notion of fitness and the notion of natural functions. I nonetheless have a couple qualms about turning to fitness to articulate the content of organic interests…

    If I may paraphrase, you appear to suggest that the interests of interest can be subsumed under the heading “maximizing fitness” which you qualify with “in the Darwinian sense.” I’m wondering whether you mean to contrast Darwinian with Fisherian notions of fitness. And, to clarify a bit why I’m wondering this, it was Fisher who proposed a transgenerational measure of fitness in the course of constructing a selectionist explanation of sex-ratios. In contrast, some people equate the ‘Darwinian fitness’ of an organism with the number of its direct offspring. On the one hand, you have a measure of fitness that tangles you in transgenerational timescales; on the other hand, you have a measure of fitness that is of limited use in selection theory.

    And then there’s the notion of fitness at work in kin-selection models, where the locus of fitness is not the individual organism, but traits that can be dispersed quite widely within populations. While I appreciate the value of such models for elucidating the complexities of selection processes, I think this is not the most likely place to look for illumination about the content of an organism’s interests.

    But, like I said, there are conceptual linkages between the notions of fitness and function, and I might well have mangled them in my own thinking about these things. In any case, we’ve only just begun the process of reordering our thinking in light of evolutionary theory, and it’s unlikely that anybody has it all “straight.”

    Posted June 9, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
  21. Malcolm says

    No, I meant simply to distinguish “fitness” in the Darwinian sense from what a casual reader might interpret as health and bodily vigor.

    I realize that there are transgenerational selection effects, the classic example being the equilibrium pressure on sex ratios. The kin-selection example you gave is a good example of the more general notion of group-level selection, though due to its dependence on actual genetic relatedness it differs a bit from purely social forms of group selection, where a mere genetic propensity to join and behave appropriately is enough.

    I certainly have more thinking to do about all of this; this conversation has been helpful in focusing the question of what “interests” are, and what can be said to have them.

    Posted June 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

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