Archive for the 'London' Category

Blair, Responsibility, and Terrorism

February 22, 2007

Just heard PM’s interview on Radio4. An issue came up which already came up yesterday in the Commons; an issue of responsibility. Let us suppose that terrorism (or attacks against westerns, or whatever) has increased since, say, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Are the US and UK Government responsible for that, given that their invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq was deliberate and intentional? Blair has a good answer to that: look (as he always, annoyingly, starts his answers), we can’t be responsible for the actions of others. And this is true. Responsibility is not causally transitive. So even if it made sense to say that the decision of the UK Government to invade Iraq caused the terrorist’s decision to blow up tube trains in London (and it isn’t at all clear what it means for one’s action to cause another’s action, given that the former, supposedly, was not sufficient to bring about the latter, otherwise the latter would not be an action), that does not mean that the UK Government is responsible for those trains being blown up; it is only who blew them up that is responsible. So that the counterfactual ‘the London trains would have not been blown up if the Government had not invaded Iraq’, even if true, would not bring with it responsibility for the Government. But there are at least to replies to Blair’s answer which, unfortunately, John (who fancies himself a bit too much to be a good interviewer) did not put to the PM: firstly, responsibility comes in if the government could have prevented what happened (but if the counterfactual is true, wouldn’t not invading Iraq have been a way to prevent the attacks? I guess the issue is whether you can do counterfactuals with people’s intentions and actions; and still, even then, it’s not clear that they would carry any responsibility). Secondly, there is an issue of prediction: because it is the Government’s responsibility to try and predict threats, it the Government could have predicted the threat, then, even though it cannot be responsible for someone else’s action, it would still be responsible for not having predicted someone else’s actions, which resulted in the attacks. In this latter case, both who blew up the trains and the Government would be responsible for the people who died on 7/7, because both who blew up the trains and the Government could and should have prevented what happened.

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proportions

February 15, 2007

The Guardian’s war against the democratic potential of new media continues: today, Catherine Bennett gives out about e-petitions:

By the time it closes next Tuesday – she says – there may be two million signatories to the road-pricing petition. A large figure, but one that should, perhaps, inspire only limited owe in a country where eight million people watched Jade flop out of Big Brother. And where, in 1989, 4.5 million people put their names to a real, paper, petition, in support of the ambulance workers’ wage claim“.

Weren’t a million people marching in London in February 2003 (exactly four years today, in fact) supposed to mean that the whole Britain was against the war?

seen in London (5)

February 7, 2007

Visiting the Design Museum, one worries that blogging is just like design: of the little things. If you ever visit a Blog Museum, do remember us please.

Later, in the Tate Modern‘s bookshop, I found a book entitled “Designers are wankers”. Indeed, bloggers are said to wear pajamas while they are at it.

seen in London (4)

February 7, 2007

This woman approaches me to beg. But she suddenly has to retreat, having her mobile just rang.

seen in London (3)

September 15, 2006

t03415_9.jpg

Marguerite Kelsey (1928) by Meredith Frampton (Tate Modern)

seen in London (2)

September 13, 2006

Today I run into another one of those free papers, Lite. This one does, in fairness, give you a good reason to be chosen over the many others. It says on the front page:

Printed with ink that WON’T come off on your hands 

seen in London

September 13, 2006

around the corner from my sister’s place in Whitechapel, London, there is a branch of the Islamic Bank of Britain. You’d think they have put the adjective ‘islamic’ there to make sure customers know where their money ends up…