an in-between move

Cool kids read The Bellman.


Don't read this blog!

I mean, thanks for dropping by my little corner of the blogospheric backwaters, but the blog you should be reading is The Bellman. The stuff I post there is much, much less likely to be imbued with dormitive powers.


[German, from zwischen, intermediate + zug, move

Literally an "in-between move". A move in a tactical sequence is called a zwischenzug* when it does not relate directly to the tactical motif in operation. |source|

image copyright TWIC

From this position, black played a zwischenzug: 19…d5
(Linares 2002, 1-0)


about your blogger

David Rowland studies philosophy at the University of Illinois - Urbana / Champaign, where he's an active member of the Graduate Employees Organization. He used to play a lot of chess, but wasn't all that good. He has a blog. And email.



First day of school
Untitled post #6
Free at last, free at last
Blogger blog blogging
An introduction to the logic of quantification*
General and particular
Normativity and morality


error log

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$zwichenzug$ sell-out zone





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Union Label

Direct Action
Gets the Goods!


some folks I know

Mark Dilley
a daily dose of architecture
Safety Neal
January Girl
mimi jingcha
Hop, Skip, Jump
ambivalent imbroglio
Brooke & Lian


some blogs I read

strip mining for whimsy
It's Matt's World
School of Blog
Fall of the State
Dru Blood
Echidne of the Snakes
Colossal Waste of Bandwidth
Running from the Thought Police
Bionic Octopus


some philosoblogs

Fake Barn Country
Freiheit und Wissen


some labor blogs

Confined Space
Working Life
Dispatches From the Trenches
Labor Blog
Eric Lee


some A-list blogs

This Modern World
Matthew Yglesias
Andrew Sullivan
Political Animal
The Volokh Conspiracy


some other links

Rule 33
This Week in Chess
War Nerd
National Priorities Project
Bible Gateway
Internet Archive
A Weekly Dose of Architecture
Orsinal: Morning Sunshine
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Safety Sign Builder
Get Your War On


some philosoblogging

Six views about reasons
Seidman on reflection and rationality
And another thing
Tiffany's argument for strong internalism
Internalism v. Externalism
What do internalists believe anyway?
Rationalism and internalism
The experimental method in philosophy
Advertising to children
On moral skepticism
A linguistic argument
More on Williams
Williams on reasons
General and particular
Normativity and morality
Political intuitions
What it is, what it was, and what it shall be
Objectivity and morality
Thinking revolution
Abortion and coercion
Moore on torture
On the phenomenology of deliberation
Even more Deliberation Day
more Deliberation Day
Deliberation Day run-down
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge, cont.
He made a porch for the throne where he might judge
Every shepherd is an abomination
Droppin' H-bombs
ad hominem

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


There's evil going on

My view of human nature is basically optimistic. I think that people can be counted upon to act in ways that they believe to be justifiable and that, within certain limits*, the mistakes that people make about which actions can be justified are mistakes that can be corrected through discourse.

I'm not religious at all, but I'm aware that this is a view that's steeped in the Christian tradition. It's a view which holds that personal redemption is possible. I think people do terrible things thinking that they are justified. And I think that people are capable of seeing and regretting their mistakes. I don't know that atonement is always possible, but I think that people are motivated to atone when they understand wrongs that they have done.

The most disturbing news this morning is coming from North Ossetia in Russia, where a band of Chechens have taken over an elementary school, taking hundreds of hostages--many of them children--in the process. The Chechens are threatening to blow up the school and everyone in it if Russian security forces try any kind of assault.

That's pretty evil.

I can see, sort of, the machinery of a mind capable of contemplating this sort of terrorism. Russia's war in Chechnya is unjust - the people of Chechnya ought to have the right of self-determination. Nor has the Russain Army limited themselves to justifiable tactics. Even leaving aside the crimes of the Soviet regime (which the Chechens certainly don't) there have been enough atrocities committed in the assaults on Grozny to keep the Chechen's bitter for generations. Faced with this, I guess I'm not really surprised that some Chechens have decided that Russian schoolchildren are legitimate targets of violence. Call this the Chechen inference.

Still, this is pretty tough to reconcile with an optimistic view of human nature. One narrative that's bouncing around my head says that you just can't treat people the way the Chechens have been treated and expect them not to make the inference. On this view, making the Chechen inference isn't a culpable act, so the Chechen's aren't exactly blameworthy for their actions. That's a narrative that's ultimately, I think, tragic, because it makes it look like there's not much hope of getting beyond the mistakes that have been made in the past.

Worse, I think, is that this seems to imply that there are no grounds for criticizing the Chechen inference. Maybe there aren't, but if there aren't then it doesn't look like there's much to morality or much worth preserving about beings like us.

* My thought is that justification is a discursive process, so my model of justification is a conversation rather than a proof. But whether or not an argument given in conversation is found persuasive depends on more than the validity of the premises. It also requires, among othe things, that the participants be willing to listen to one another. And, pretty clearly, there are cases where this condition won't be met. So, for example, I doubt that a sincere Chechen nationalist could convince a Russian victim of Chechen terror that Russia's war in Chechnya is unjust. I also doubt that a Russian general could convince a Chechen terrorist that her tactics were evil. On the other hand, one Chechen nationalist might convince another that kidnapping schoolchildren is beyond the pale, and one Russian citizen might convince another that the war in Chechnya is indefensible.

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