January 14, 2008


Hirschmann, Nancy J., Gender, Class, and Freedom in Modern Political Theory (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press. 2007) (“[I]ncreasing numbers of political scientists see the relevance of gender to the history of political thought as fairly old hat…. But to many mainstream political theorists, political scientists, and philosophers, gender is still at best an afterthought, a sideline to historical analysis of the ‘major’ themes and issues of the canonical texts. It is not that such theorists are actively hostile to feminism (though some still are), but that they do not see feminism as having anything to do with ‘real’ political theory. It has long been one of the central aims of may academic writing to change such attitudes by demonstrating that feminism is a method , a way of conceptualizing social relations that reveals aspects of social and political life that are otherwise not seen, such as power dynamics in the family, or the ways in which the denial of equal rights to women is a more profound denial of woman’s full humanity. In the present book, I am less directly concerned with methodological issues than I am with a basic argument about substance: gender matters to all political theory. By incorporating gender into the analysis of freedom offered by this book. I demonstrate that gender is an important aspect of the mainstream of political theory, not an aside; and that if the mainstream is to be truly ‘mainstream,’ and not narrowly focused in the experiences and interest of a small group of white men, then it must attend to gender, as well as race and class. Id. at 22.).

Kirshner, Jonathan, Appeasing Bankers: Financial Caution on the Road to War (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press. 2007) (Though definitely not a theme or topic of this book, reading it may cause some to wonder whether the subprime lending crisis, though real and serious, is merely a small part of the larger financial stress caused by the American War in Iraq, etc. It has certainly diverted many consumers’ attention from the war being the source of their financial unease and economic pessimism.).

Marglin, Stephen A., The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community (Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 2007) (This is a very interesting book: market thinking erode community. In reading this book I could not help but reflect on whether thinking like a lawyer undermines community. I quote this relatively lengthy passage because it does set the stage and tone of the book so well. “In 1990, a boy with adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency was born into an Amish community. ADA deficiency compromises the body’s immune system so drastically that survival beyond the age of three used to be quite rare…. [F]or the Amish boy a drug was available to compensate for his body’s immune deficiency. Taking this drug, he could hope for a fairly normal life, not unlike the life led by diabetics on insulin. And because the family income was sufficiently low, Medicaid would pay the cost, staggering though these were. The drug alone cost $114,000 per year, and additional costs would bring the annual total up to $190,000.” “Happy ending? Not so fast. On principle, most Amish do not participate in government programs like Medicaid. If this money was to be spent on the boy, it would have to come from the community. But medication was not a short-term fix. The expenditure would go in indefinitely, and there was too little experience with the drug to predict its long-term consequences. Even with the drug, the boy might not make it into adulthood.” “Anguished, his parents consulted the bishop and elders of their congregation. The newspaper reports… are ambiguous, but my reading is that the congregation would provide counsel, and, having done so, would leave the decision to the parents. The alternatives were clear: once Medicaid was eliminated from the menu of options, the choice boiled down to almost certain death for the child or economic stress, maybe even disaster, for the community.” “The couple did not treat their baby. Three months later he was dead.” “A local (non-Amish) physician who was asked by the congregation to evaluate treatment options offered this commentary: ‘What is at stake is the ability to maintain an independent culture.’ When asked why he would not accept Medicaid, the boy’s father put it like this: ‘If we take money from the government, then we are not Amish.’” Id. at 1-2.).