Archive for Ianuarie 2008

For Romanian readers

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I finally added some pdf-articles in the „Articles in Romanian Newspapers” page. Unfortunately, the following articles are written only in Romanian. I wrote them in 2004, while I was a journalist in my hometown. Some of them happen to be very close to my heart, so please don’t be too agressive with my (literary?) style…

Written by Andrei Stavilă

Ianuarie 21, 2008 at 11:40 pm

Publicat în Altele

Multiculturalism: here we go again

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Sometimes (but only sometimes) multiculturalism can be nice. See „Weird Al” Yancovic’s „Amish Paradise” clip here. [I recommand you his other clips, for example „Like a surgeon”. Tip: after watching these two clips, try to watch Tom Green’s movie „Freddy Got Fingered”. This recipee will always save your day / week / month / year!!!]

Written by Andrei Stavilă

Ianuarie 18, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Publicat în De risul curcilor

Emir Kusturica vs. Bruce Willis

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Emir Kusturica set up a funeral service for Bruce Willis’s “Die Hard 4”, “the worst movie of all times”. The funeral is real: it has an orthodox priest, a religious service, people crying, etc. You can watch the scene here (or go to and search for „Kustendorf – Die Hard 04 Final”) or you can watch it and read an article in romanian about it here

Written by Andrei Stavilă

Ianuarie 18, 2008 at 1:08 pm

A philosophical analysis of bullshit

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Who says that there are non-philosophical subjects? Here are the first two paragraphs of a paper written by Harry G. Frankfurt (Cambridge University) – “On Bullshit” (see Harry G. Frankfurt, “The Importance of What We Care About – Philosophical Essays”, Cambridge University Press, 1988, pp. 117-133):

“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry.

In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us. In other words, we have no theory. I propose to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit, mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory philosophical analysis. I shall not consider the rhetorical uses and misuses of bullshit. My aim is simply to give a rough account of what bullshit is and how it differs from what it is not – or (putting it somewhat differently) to articulate, more or less sketchily, the structure of its concept” (p. 117)

Written by Andrei Stavilă

Ianuarie 15, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Liberalism versus communitarianism: the individual and his cultural group

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As far as I can see, in what concerns the relation between an individual and his cultural group, communitarians could endorse one of the following two claims:

(1) The group is ontologically, but not politically, prior to the individual. As a consequence, the interests of the group should be protected, but when these interests conflict with those of the individual members, individual interests (and rights) must always trump group interests (and rights)

(2) The group is both ontologically and politically prior to the individual. As a consequence, the interests of the group should be protected, and when these interests conflict with those of the individual members, group interests (and rights) must always trump individual interests (and rights)

If (1), then there is no conflict between liberalism and communitarianism. Even if some liberals deny that the group is ontologically prior to the individual, the problem is not that important. All that liberals want is to sanction the view that the individual is politically prior to his cultural group. In other words, (a) the group should be protected just because this protection increases the freedom and welfare of group’s individual members; (b) whenever there is a conflict between the group and (some of) its individual members, the interests of the individual members is prior. Bluntly put, I consider that this view is endorsed by liberal communitarians like Charles Taylor, Will Kymlicka and Joseph Raz. But this shows that there is no conflict between communitarianism and liberalism.

If (2), then the conflict is genuine: if group’s interests must always trump individual interests, then the group (in fact, its leaders, right?) has the right of life and death over its individual members. The “traditions” of the group (and the power of its leaders, right?) must always be defended, even at the expense of the individual members’ welfare and freedom. I do not know any communitarian theorist who would explicitly endorse this view, although Michael Sandel and Michael Walzer can be read as supporting a “soft” version of this idea.

In short: if (1), there is no conflict between liberalism and communitarianism in what concerns the relation between the individual and its cultural group. If (2), then this latter theory (if not simply wrong) cannot be sincerely endorsed by any mentally healthy person. So it seems that liberalism wins the case again.

Written by Andrei Stavilă

Ianuarie 13, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Just another story about our best friend

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Let me start the new year with this story. In short, it is just one of those many (real) tales where a human being’s life is saved by a dog.

Oh, and just en passant: why is it considered that the darwinist theory can be applied only to physical characteristics? What if not only the brain, but also intelligence, abstract thinking, and other related stuff are „darwinistically” developed? What if a dolphin, an ape, a horse or a dog are really thinking (even if in a lesser degree than humans?). My guess is that, if this is right, then we have a big ethical problem…

Written by Andrei Stavilă

Ianuarie 11, 2008 at 11:11 pm

Publicat în Gânduri

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