Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Too loud a solitude

This will be the second time I decide to take a break with the postings here on Rawls & Me. This time I have already set a date when I will resume weblogging, and that date is 13 June when Gabriel and I leave for the Balkans.

As for journeys, I now also hold a confirmed ticket for TG 917. That flight is due to leave London Heathrow for Southeast Asia on 5 July at 9.30 p.m. According to the itinerary I will spend 40 days discovering Thailand, Cambodia and maybe Vietnam.

But until we meet again, take care everyone!


Friday, May 11, 2007

Goat cheese spotting

As the conference finished one day earlier than originally scheduled, I decided to rebook my flight to Copenhagen, taking me down to Skåne already today. Unfortunately, the late evening bird was the only one with any seats left so for the next six hours I am stuck here at Helsinki-Vantaa. But since I have a lot of work waiting for me, not the least to write down all the excellent comments I got on my paper today, I think I will do pretty fine.

Luckily, I have been able to find a place with an excellent view, wireless internet and tasty goat cheese salad. Yet, for an aerogeek like myself that amounts to a considerable source of distraction, right now a Finair MD-11 is on final just outside my window.


Thursday, May 10, 2007


Muxmäuschenstill is now on my list of films-to-see.


Conference fatigue

ECPR Joint Sessions 2007 is now into its third day. Academic bliss and wonderful discussions but clearly physically exhausting. The sequence goes: ten hours of philosophy, ten hours of social activities and beer drinking, four hours of sleep and then back to philosophy. And on the top of that, jet lag...

Tomorrow I will present my paper “Beyond the Rawlsian Monologue” which is actually the first non-normative piece I go to a conference with.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Today was the first day of the ECPR Joint Sessions 2007. So far, it has been immensely rewarding; just before lunch I gave comments on Robert Huseby’s paper and it turned into a really interesting discussion and so did the afternoon session on nuclear weapons and intergenerational exploitation.

After the session, a smaller group went for a few beers. Not many but still enough to encourage me to discuss the Moomins with the front desk clerk working here at my hotel.


Monday, May 07, 2007

On location

Spent the morning hours walking around in Helsinki. Actually this is my first visit to the Finish capital, on earlier trips I have just been to Turku and the surrounding archipelago. So far, my impressions of Helsinki are positive, it reminds me a bit of Oslo and its affluence. Yet it has a certain eastern flavour with small food stands in the corners that makes one think of Białystok.

Bought Hufvudstadsbladet to learn more about yesterday’s victory of Nicolas Sarkozy in the French presidential election. I am surprised by my own feelings regarding this election. On one hand I am naturally critical to Sarkozy, yet in the case of France I feel so completely fed up with its political mentality (not to mention its stance on the Common Agricultural Policy) that I think that some kind of change is necessary. And, Ségolène Royal would probably had done nothing in that direction.

As for Hufvudstadsbladet, I have to share some von Wright-trivia. According to his memoirs, this was the only newspaper that George Henrik von Wright read. And always while standing up, so that he would not read things that he considered unimportant.

Finally, just to clarify my previous post here on Rawls & Me. I have absolutely no problem with youth hostels, I often stay in them. But this hotel comes at €105 a night and then I think you have the right to expect something more than a broken coffee machine.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Exquisite sherry, I say!

Whenever you make a long journey, maybe across several time zones, you start to create an image of what your destination will look like, once you finally get there. In my case, I had this vision of a hotel bar, strikingly similar to Park Hyatt Tokyo (as seen in the movie “Lost in Translation”), in which Marcel and I could sit and sip some Laphroaig, talk about Karl Popper and enjoy breathtaking views of the Finish capital.

When boarding in Copenhagen I was lucky enough to score an upgrade to C. Naturally this intensified my sense of international flair. Landing at HEL, taking the public bus to this worn-down “youth hostel” did not. Definitely no washi paper lanterns overlooking a glittering sea of city lights below. Only a sad coffee machine.

But hey, I am here to do research, right? And if I am able to defeat the jet lag monster, I plan to wake up early tomorrow morning and go running, one of my favourite ways of discovering a new city.


Another red-eye

Benefiting from strong western jet streams, we literally blew in over Europe this morning. Following a surprisingly southern track at an amazing 1029 km/h, we came in just north of Sligo where dad and I went hiking in February.

And now I have my boarding pass printed for Helsinki...


Carbon philosophy

About an hour ago, UA 190 made a safe landing at Chicago O’Hare, finishing the first of three flight segments this weekend as Nilla and I head back to Scandinavia, in her case to Lund and in my case to Helsinki and this year’s ECPR Joint Sessions.

As evident from the picture, I am right now busy reading through Robert Huseby’s paper one more time, trying to come up with some good comments. In short, Huseby’s paper is an attempt to refute an argument presented by Derek Parfit, Tomas Schwartz and most recently Alan Carter. The argument goes that any effective attempt to improve the life prospects of remotely future generations will cause different individuals to exist in that future than would have existed had no such attempts been made in the present. Accordingly, the life prospects of particular individuals in that future can in no way be altered by policies adopted in the present. Such policies can only cause different remote persons to come into existence.

If valid, that argument, and the so called non-identity problem which it outlines, would mean that common moral theories would be unable to account for why we should be concerned with the more important moral challenges of our time (such as global climte change).

Overall, I must say that Huseby is doing an excellent literature review and also presents a few quite fresh objections to earlier work done Edward Page and Rahul Kumar. Yet, philosophy often stands the risk of becoming a mere play with words while the world stays pretty much the same. As also evident from the picture of Rasmus reading his paper in an airplane…

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sinkin’ Soon

As I was returning from the laundromat yesterday, the sky darkened as dozens of lightning bolts began chasing each other along the southern horizon. A few hours earlier I had stopped by at a Barnes & Noble and bought Norah Jones new jazz-album "Not too late".

Her song "Sinkin’ Soon" made the picture perfect. It is an instant favourite with an almost Tom Waits-like sound. By the time Norah and I got home, a torrential rain had broken out. I took shelter inside and wrote something important.

Then, afterwards, as I was driving down to the arts building to save Nilla from the rain, a lightning struck just fifty metres away from the Mustang, creating a shockwave which made the whole car shiver!

And this morning, I was able to witness the destruction first hand:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In the solitude of cotton fields

A few minutes have passed since I turned off the engine. Large rain drops keep popping against the roof of the convertible. The car stereo is playing Britta with “You are not my boyfriend”.

I recall going to a concert with Britta Persson in September last year. I also recall a long winter night, sitting in an almost empty apartment in Växjö together with my dear friend Ally, listening to Britta's album "Top Quality Bones and a Little Terrorist", over and over again. And now here, out in the convertible as the last daylight wanes. In the solitude of cotton fields.

(and if you read this Ally, I hope you will have a good time in France)