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In Defense of Evil Stories
When Odysseus sets sail from Circe’s island, she advises him to stop up his ears and eyes when he passes the Sirens or he will suffer terrible consequences. He makes his crew do it, but keeps his own senses clear, asking only to be tied to the mast so he cannot act on any bewitchments. This story could almost be an allegory about the moral danger of art. In this dissertation, I defend a small part of what I take to be the Odyssean thesis: that art is worth the danger it represents, and, specifically, that what I call "evil stories" are worth the danger they represent. The phrase "evil stories" is a shorthand, for me, for the longer phrase "stories which require us, in order to understand them, to imaginatively simulate the point of view of characters who commit acts of great harm for sadistic, malicious, or defiant reasons." I argue that auditing “evil stories” is not, for most people, and as part of a balanced imaginative diet, so morally dangerous that they ought to be avoided; moreover, I argue that it can be morally opportune to audit them and, in some special cases, morally obligatory. My strategy to defend this thesis is two part. First, I formulate and respond to what I take to be the most serious reasons to suspect that auditing evil stories is too morally dangerous. Those reasons include: the idea that auditing evil stories is itself an immoral action (chapter 3); the idea that it is a virtue to be unable to perform the mental operations involved in adequately auditing evil stories (chapter 4); the idea that understanding evil actions or characters is tantamount to condoning them (chapter 5); and the idea that being fascinated by evil undercuts one's standing to condemn it (chapter 6). Second, I venture several tentative arguments in support of the idea that evil stories can actually provide opportunities for moral growth and education: the idea that evil stories provoke unique and valuable kinds of moral reflection and that we can sometimes be obligated to audit them (chapter 7); and the idea that auditing evil stories is uniquely revelatory of some kind of moral truth (chapter 8). In the course of all this rebutting and reason giving, I propose a way of thinking about the ethics of audition in general which I call "role-centered response moralism," which develops obliquely across the subsections of various chapters.
Preserving 20 Years of TIMSS Trend Measurements
This dissertation describes the foundation for maintaining TIMSS’ 20 year trend measurements with the introduction of a new computer- and tablet-based mode of assessment delivery—eTIMSS. Because of the potential for mode effects on the psychometric behavior of the trend items that TIMSS relies on to maintain comparable scores between subsequent assessment cycles, development efforts for TIMSS 2019 began over three years in advance. This dissertation documents the development of eTIMSS over this period and features the methodology and results of the eTIMSS Pilot / Item Equivalence Study. The study was conducted in 25 countries and employed a within-subjects, counterbalanced design to determine the effect of the mode of administration on the trend items. Further analysis examined score-level mode effects in relation to students’ socioeconomic status, gender, and self-efficacy for using digital devices. Strategies are discussed for mitigating threats of construct irrelevant variance on students’ eTIMSS performance. The analysis by student subgroups, similar item discriminations, high cross-mode correlations, and equivalent rankings of country means provide support for the equivalence of the mathematics and science constructs between paperTIMSS and eTIMSS. However, the results revealed an overall mode effect on the TIMSS trend items, where items were more difficult for students in digital formats compared to paper. The effect was larger in mathematics than science. An approach is needed to account for the mode effects in maintaining trend measurements from previous cycles to TIMSS 2019. Each eTIMSS 2019 trend country will administer the paper trend booklets to an additional nationally representative bridge sample of students, and a common population equating approach will ensure the link between paperTIMSS and eTIMSS scores.
Silent promotion of agendas
Until recently, both Republican and Democratic administrations have been promoting free trade and market deregulation for decades without intensive policy debates. We set up a two-party electoral competition model in a two-dimensional policy space with campaign contributions by an interest group that promotes a certain agenda that many voters disagree. Assuming that voters are impressionable to campaign spending for/against candidates, we analyze incentive compatible contracts between the interest group and the candidates on agenda policy positions and campaign contributions. If the interest group pushes its agenda more than the candidates want by providing contributions, then the candidates can compete only over the other (ideological) dimension. As the agenda is pushed further by the interest group, ideological policy polarization and campaign contributions surge., Originally posted on: http://ideas.repec.org/p/boc/bocoec/944.html
What We Do When We Recognize
What action or actions does a person perform when she recognizes someone? I argue she engages in a process composed of four parts. First, she attends to the subject in a particular manner. Second, she uses the information gathered in the first stage to categorize the subject. Third, she appreciates the import or significance of the subject in light of the category she employs. Fourth, she acknowledges the subject by engaging the subject’s attention as one who bears that import and that category. My analysis helps us interpret theories of recognition. One clarifies a theory’s specific claims by decomposing theories into instances of recognizing and then further analyzing each instance into discrete actions. First one determines how many instances of the process are involved by stating who does what to whom and for what end. Once instances are separated, one analyses each instance into its four components by describing the agent’s progress through the process of recognizing. The final result is an organizing body of specific claims with well-defined relations to one another.
A Stronger Gordon Conjecture and an Analysis of Free Bicuspid Manifolds with Small Cusps
Thurston showed that for all but a finite number of Dehn Surgeries on a cusped hyperbolic 3-manifold, the resulting manifold admits a hyperbolic structure. Global bounds on this number have been set, and gradually improved upon, by a number of Mathematicians until Lackenby and Meyerhoff proved the sharp bound of 10, which is realized by the figure-eight knot exterior. We improve this result by proving a stronger version of Gordon’s conjecture: that excluding the figure-eight knot exterior, cusped hyperbolic 3-manifolds have at most 8 non-hyperbolic Dehn Surgeries. To do so we make use of the work of Gabai et. al. from a forthcoming paper which parameterizes measurements of the cusp, then uses a rigorous computer aided search of the space to classify all hyperbolic 3-manifolds up to a specified cusp size. Their approach hinges on the discreteness of manifold points in the parameter space, an assumption which cannot be made if the manifolds have infinite volume. In this paper we also show that infinite-volume manifolds, which must be Free Bicuspid, can have cusp volume as low as 3.159. As such, these manifolds are a concern for any future expansion of the approach of Gabai et. al.
A Triassic-Jurassic window into the evolution of Lepidoptera
Version of record., Also available on publisher's site: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1701568

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