Odious and Peculiar

Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.

O&P's Current Pick:

Forging the Sampo

Odious' Links:

The Little Bookroom
The Pumpkin King
Larissa Archer
Inverted Iambs
Eve Tushnet
Pamela Dean
Kambodia Hotel
Pen and Paper

Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary
Deep-Sea News
NASA's Mars Website
Classics Online
Perseus Digital Library

Nine Scorpions
The Blithe Kitchen
Letter from Hardscrabble Creek
Arts & Letters Daily
About Last Night



Chas Clifton's Nature Blog
Rock Art Photo Blog
Girl on a Whaleship
Nature Lyrics Languagehat
Jabal al-Lughat
Laputan Logic
Strange Maps
Vladimir Dinets: Polymath Russian Adventurer
Virtual Tour of Almaty, Kazakhstan
Aerial Landscape Photography
USGS Earth As Art
Panoramic Aerial Maps of the American West

The Internet Bird Collection
Bird Families of the World
Ancient Scripts
The Aberdeen Bestiary Project
The Cephalopod Page
The Ultimate Ungulate
The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire
USGS Streamflow Data

Worthy Miscellany
Finno-Ugrian Music
Boojum Expeditions
American River Touring Association

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Absolutely. The argument, "Believe this or everything will go to Hell," is the weakest possible. Things are believed because they're true, not because the masses will be better governed if they trust in the divine right of kings, for example.

The law need not appear inevitable. It could be argued that a rational actor would almost always choose the law as a dispute-resolution heuristic. It's just that "almost" that worries me. As I've said before, my view of my own best interest varies depending on how much I've had to eat. It's tempting to view obedience to the law as inherent in the idea of a state, and derive much moral maundering from that postulate, as Kant does. But I think it's false to do so. There are such things as legitimate rebellions.

As to legal mutations, any organism detests mutations: so few of them are beneficial. What's needed is a method by which bad mutations are lost and good mutations are gained. It's this evolutionary role which history plays, and which we've both been admiring.

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