Tractor Cab

I was chatting with a GPS programmer for John Deere. The conversation was fascinating. Apparently, legacy farmers are upset because in order to stay competitive, they have to mortgage tractors that cost as much as a house, and if something happens, the farmers can’t just fix the machinery themselves, like their parents and grandparents did before them. Rather, the farmers are at the mercy of some corporate technician insisting on certain repairs and parts. Some of the anxiety the farmers experience is part of the growing pains of a new economy. However, there is also a good amount of the…


We don’t talk about amending the Constitution. I suspect that’s because we don’t really know what constitutions are for. Nobody taught us. I’m going to take a few paragraphs to lay this out and propose a few amendments to chew on.

Constitutions, in general, secure the specific character of the nation against other political and non-political activities. The US Constitution’s purpose isn’t obvious, but it is to secure the conditions of self-governance. It allows arenas of discretion and formation that do not fundamentally alter the conditions of self-governance. …


Infrastructure and essential workers are two abused concepts. The two concepts are thrown around at whim. There is this notion that there is a non-political answer to what is infrastructure or who the essential workers are, even as we are talking about the infrastructure and essential workers for a nation. The secret police and domestic spies are rightfully considered essential workers and the basic infrastructure for an authoritarian regime. In the US, we need to know what kind of goods and services figure into self-determination and self-governance in order to think through whether to publicly fund them.

We don’t assume…


Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a movement that grew out of Critical Legal Theory.

Critical Legal Theory is a realist attack against legal formalism.

What is formalism? Formalism is the notion that there are certain methods that can be legitimately applied, regardless of the object’s content. Formalism is everywhere. Let’s say that you have two boxing contenders, and you apply a method to find out which contender is the better boxer. A formal method is to simply have them fight a match. …


I start philosophy classes with Book I of Aristotle’s Physics.

The text is dense. It doesn’t teach itself, but I’m there. And I’m funny. The text introduces a few important concepts: elements, causes, starting points, and the relevance of wholes and parts.

Then I just go down a list.

Elements: I introduce the idea that beings are made up of parts. From here, you can go two different ways. Either your parts are made up of other parts and those parts are made up of other parts, and we get smaller and smaller bits of indistinct parts to infinity, or…


There are many arguments for a Federal Job Guarantee. This argument ties the program to the realization of freedom.

Pay attention to two recurring insights: freedom emerges through infusing an ethical principle that 1) accounts for how the options presented to people are calibrated to be attentive to, or reflect, the people who are choosing between those options, and 2) stabilizes the institutions through which people plan to realize their aspirations, so they do not labor in vain.

Prologue

Against the Notion of Freedom in Nature:

A good number of Americans are taught to romanticize their relationship with nature as…


Instead of casting healthcare as a human right, we should conceive the lack of healthcare as a problem for civil, political, and family freedom. Policies are not legitimate because they affect humans; they are legitimate because they enable or degrade the modes of self-determination humans, as choosing selves relatively free from biological determination, happen to be able to engage in.

The problem with illness is that it stops us from being able to realize our freedom, e.g., fulfilling responsibilities of our free families and participating in civil society. …


I’m reading debates in early modern philosophy, and I’m amused by how much they help explain our contemporary political problems. I think I can write this down in plain English. Here you go:

We want to be able to categorize the world, not just in the abstract, but we want our categories to reach all the way down and account for individuals’ properties in existence. …


The idea that choice is the same as freedom is a disaster. I’m going to explain why in a piece that takes three minutes to read.

Choices are degrading if you aren’t reflected in the options among which you choose. It’s like a vegetarian who walks into a restaurant that only serves beef, chicken, and fish. Or a pregnant woman choosing to get an abortion, compelled by the knowledge that she doesn’t have access to the resources to raise a thriving kid. …


The Peanut Butter Falcon is a revolutionary movie. It’s on Amazon Prime right now. You should watch it.

What makes the film revolutionary? It transfigures and clarifies the advance of freedom. Revolutions emerge for myriad reasons. Some of them technological, e.g., the cotton gin or washing machine. Others of them religious, e.g., the Protestant Reformation is going to have its social and political ripples, now that you can no longer lean on the authority of the priest, and the ultimate responsibility for your soul lays with yourself, that’s going to change the way you look at your boss in all…

Irami Osei-Frimpong

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