Professor Lisa N. Guenther (Vanderbilt) has kindly responded to my recent comment at New APPS with a thoughtful and detailed new post. I will try to read up a bit before I consider responding. Fortunately, a dynamic conversation has already begun to develop in the comments.
Philosophy, Film, Politics, Etc.
Monday, January 28, 2013
Sunday, January 27, 2013
I've been thinking about capital punishment lately, somewhat provoked by a very thoughtful and interesting discussion here. It's a personal reflection by a philosophy professor named Lisa N. Guenther. Professor Guenther has spent time teaching philosophy to death row inmates. She is strongly against capital punishment (and life sentences, too, as she reveals in the comments.) I just posted a reply which upon rereading could use slight editing. I'm reposting a slightly edited version below. My argument for capital punishment employs a consequentialist justification for retributive justice. (This connects with a somewhat recent post about Dennett's approach to dessert, since he seems to endorse a conseqentialist argument for limited deontology.)
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
I recently noticed that a number of universities in the United States, including some of the top schools, do not award the coveted A+. This is a matter of policy. For example, the top two grades at Harvard and NYU are A and A-, both officially acknowledged as proof of excellence. You can get a B+, and even a C+ at those schools, though. Just not an A+. Why not designate a percentage or two at the top of the scale as evidence of near perfection?
I am interested in this as a teacher. There's at least as much of a difference between a 95% and a 99% as there is between an 85% and an 89%. For the sake of consistency, it would make sense to award an A+ for a 99% if you're going to award a B+ for an 89%. There's also something to be said for acknowledge perfect, or virtually perfect, work.
You might prefer not to use a +/- system at all. That's the way it was and is for undergraduates at my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University. However, graduate students there can get pluses and minuses, including an A+.
It seems to me that, if you're going to do it like Harvard and NYU, you must have some reason. I just can't figure out what it is.