Thursday, May 25, 2006

GK Economic Survey 2006

The 2006 Economic Survey is now out. Uncharacteristically, it has lots of good news. Kenya is officially in boom. I pun, as does the Nation...


  • The economy grew 5.8 percent last year, the best annual rate since 1995-6.
  • 458,900 jobs created. (this, if true, is the best number for years, maybe ever.)
  • Total public debt down by ~KSh1 billion, from KSh697.8 billion to KSh687.9 billion.
  • Inflation down to 10.3% from last year's 11.6%.
  • Health spending up from KSh17.6 billion to KSh19 billion, clinics up 3% from 4,767 to 4,912, and immunisation coverage from 59 to 63 per cent.
(All figures from the Nation rather than the report itself. I can't find the report on the Ministry site)

OK. So these are administration figures, so ipso facto dodgy (especially the jobs created number, which is suspiciously close to the 500,000 promised in the manifesto.) Also, I imagine the rise in health spending has a huge donor component. And the failure to get a medical insurance bill passed really is a hanging offence. As is the pathetic response to the drought, only more so. I could go on. Still, if the improvement is anywhere near the survey's findings, there's cause for celebration.

PS. Check out Mzalendo: "keeping an eye on the Kenyan parliament". An M and Ory collaboration.

UPDATE: Wow, I surfed over to Bankelele's to see what he had to say, and came across this. Full disclosure indeed. That, it's got to be said, is a very healthy-looking stable.

A reductio of NFP?

Luc Bovens has a new paper in the Journal of Medical Ethics*, wherein he claims that the rhythm method causes lots of embryo deaths. Enough of them to make it as bad as prohibited forms of birth control. Here, but the link is probably not permanent. (via Unfogged, Hit and Run)

*J Med Ethics 2006; 32: 355-6

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A little-known rule of Indie success...

...cover Love Will Tear Us Apart. This guy has 25 covers, from U2 to the Frames. (via muthecow at Metafilter)

Also, check out Mattgy's Ben Loxo du Taccu. He podcasts carefully chosen African mp3s; he recently had one of Samba Mapangala's finest. Definitely worth your time.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

One of the good guys.

It's JS Mill's birthday today. Randoms:

1. Mill, it's often forgotten, was of Scottish descent. Probably all the really great British philosophers except Russell have been Scottish.

2. "The Conservatives, as being by the law of their existence the stupidest
party..."[1] = the shortest refutation of conservatism I know of.

3. Mill was the subject of this week's In Our Time.

4. Roger Scruton does the outraged authoritarian conservative howl here; Andrew Sullivan's retort is pitched just right:
Think of a Tory squire hunting foxes, muttering about Jews, before attending Evensong. When all is said and done, that's Scruton's idea of the "sacred and the prohibited.
[1] footnote 4 of Representative Government(pdf), via Stumblingandmumbling.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A defence of internalism

Timothy Williamson[1] argues[2] (against internalism) that:

‘the search for a purely operational standard of evidence is …vain. It can be argued on quite general grounds that no standard of evidence is such that we are always in a position to know what our evidence is (Williamson 2000, 93-113; 147-83).’
One central argument for the claim proceeds as follows:

  1. Facts about S’s present mental states aren’t always cognitively accessible to S. In particular, how is S to judge whether S’s present conscious inclination to judge that P is strong enough to count as an intuition that P?
  2. Either all inclinations are strong enough to count as intuitions or not all are.
  3. If all such inclinations count, then very weak and very strong intuitions will be lumped together. (i.e. they’ll have the same evidential impact.)
  4. But a theory of evidence must distinguish the evidential impact of very weak and very strong intuitions.
  5. If the evidential force of an intuition varies with its strength, then we need a way to measure the strength of the intuition.
  6. To do so, we need a common scale of strength.
  7. But then, there will be scope for misjudging the strength of one’s intuitions, because, given human nature, there will be a temptation to overestimate the strength of one’s intuitions, even unconsciously.
  8. But then, if one looks to correct for this, one might underestimate the strength of one’s intuitions.
  9. S cannot always know the strength of S’s inclination to consciously judge that p.
  10. So, S doesn't always know what S's intuitions are.

That argument is perhaps not irresistible. The description a theory of evidence in (4) is ambiguous. It could mean: ‘A theory of the nature of evidence’, or ‘a theory of how evidence works’ (how it justifies). If Williamson is using it in the first sense, then premiss (4) is not obviously true. A theory explaining what sorts of things count as evidence doesn’t have to say what sorts of things count as good evidence. If Williamson is using it in the second sense, to mean a theory of how evidence justifies beliefs, the internalist can reply that his aim is to give a theory of the nature of evidence. And maybe, if one has a theory of evidence one is warranted in using that evidence even if one is ignorant of the strength of the evidence.

The internalist could say that any conscious inclination of S’s to judge that P is an intuition that P. Now, if S has a conscious inclination to judge that P, typically S is aware that he has a conscious inclination to judge that P[3]. If I intuit that P, P seems true to me, for, surely, judging that P means representing to myself that P is the case. If P seems true to me, then I’m defeasibly justified in believing that P. If P’s seeming true to me defeasibly justifies me in believing that P, then P’s seeming true to me is (defeasible) evidence for P (for me) [4]. So, if S judges that P, S typically knows that he has evidence that P. One can know that e is evidence for P without knowing exactly how good e is as evidence for p. Therefore, if S judges that p, S has evidence for P, even if S doesn’t know exactly how much credence he ought to attach to it.

[1] Williamson, Timothy (2003) “‘Philosophical 'Intuitions’ and Scepticism about JudgementDialectica 58: 109-153.

[2] Williamson (2003) p. 12

[3] It’s unlikely that a healthy alert observer would be mistaken about whether he was judging that P.

[4] If I judge that P, then P seems true to me. This will usually mean that my personal Pr (P) has increased.

Blogging for Alaa

Egypt is a wonderful place. Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt is probably Africa's hottest holiday destination. There's trouble in paradise Egypt though. The government of Egypt has detained Alaa Abd-El-Fataa. He's now blogging from his cell in Egypt. Bloggers need to stick together, so a googlebomb to make Alaa the top result in Google for 'Egypt' is cooking, even as we speak about Egypt. Spread the 'Egypt'.

via Keguro.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Kenya's first test-tube babies

Nation story. (subscription only)

UPDATE: The photo is Arthur Okwemba's and appears on the Nation website.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

An Odd Implication

Consider the Tory election poster of 1987 with the legend: Labour say he's Black, we say he's British. The second clause is supposed to contrast the first. More precisely, the sentence implies that the property P2 attributed by the second clause excludes the property P1 attributed by the first clause, at least for the subject of the sentence, at the time of utterance. The sense of exclude I have in mind here is something like: if P1 and P2 exclude each other, then P1 and P2 are not jointly true.

An example: John says it's margarine, Peter says it's butter. I think Peter clearly means to rule out the possibility that John is now spreading margarine on his toast.

A possible objection is that this implication will only work for some P1 and P2 that can't be coinstantiated anyway. I don't think so. Consider the example: Ali says it's sweet, Sophie says it's sour. Even in this case, where the pork could be both sweet and sour, the clear implication is that the pork is either sweet or sour, and it's not both sweet and sour.

I think the implication is true of most (or all) sentences of the same form.