May 3, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 5:49 PM


Florida Lawmakers Don't Know What They're Doing With ESG (Molly Taft, 5/03/23, Gizmodo)

Incredibly, the bill's own sponsors seem to be in the dark as to how all these new restrictions will actually play out on the ground--and how they'll affect everyday Floridians.

"I'm sorry I forgot my magic 8-ball," Republican State Rep. Bob Rommel told a Democratic colleague when asked during a hearing in mid-March about how lawmakers would ensure Florida taxpayers don't lose money if the bill passes. In a follow-up question about the bill's green bond provisions, Rommel said that the state would be allowed to use a bond for projects like building a dike to protect portions of the Everglades.

"But if you're saying, 'hey, we're selling fairy dust to protect people from some unknown character in the world, they would be disqualified," he continued.

Unfortunately, the bill doesn't set parameters for making this distinction--and a lot of bonds used for climate mitigation projects, like building protections in the Everglades, are ESG bonds.

"It's unclear what the impact of this provision is going to be, but based on [Rommel's] description, it would invalidate some socially responsible bonds that would support some of the projects Rommel is describing," Haedtler said. "You could say the Florida attorney general is now empowered to decide which environmental projects they care about, and which they don't, and which green bonds they want to approve and which they want to scrutinize. That doesn't make me feel very good."

Many of the other states that have passed or considered anti-ESG laws have seen a lot of fallout from their decisions. Lawmakers in Indiana and North Dakota earlier this year backed down from proposed anti-ESG bills over concerns they would hurt small businesses; a board overseeing a Kentucky retirement fund in February told the state it would not comply with an order to divest from BlackRock. One study issued in January found that the countrywide push against ESG could cost taxpayers more than $700 million in higher payments. In January, Haedtler's consulting firm issued a memo that estimated that the cost of Florida's bill could be more than $300 million to taxpayers.

Of course, if there are any firms that do not consider what liability they may incur for violating environmental, social, and governance norms, Florida should be requiring them to do so. Happily, over 90% do now. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:17 PM


REVIEW: of Katharina T. Kraus, Kant on Self-Knowledge and Self-Formation: The Nature of Inner Experience (Reviewed by Pirachula Chulanon, 5/03/23, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

We make empirical judgments by which we ascribe mental states located in time (like occurrent thoughts, desires, and so on) to ourselves and, hence, to a self that is identical through time and across different mental states. Kant seems nowhere to deny the possibility of empirical judgments about oneself. On the contrary, it is plausible to identify these judgments, as Kraus does, with the conceptual content of what he calls inner experience (130). However, Kant also indicates that there is an important disparity between inner and outer experience: unlike outer intuition, inner intuition does not present us with any persistent object, and so it fails to meet the condition for applying the category of substance (and, consequently, the other relational categories). Kraus's account of inner experience seeks to address the problem of how, despite the disparity, inner experience is possible as empirical cognition of the thinker-qua-object or the psychological person. In Kraus's view, inner sense by itself does not yield an object-directed representation of a self that is identical across different representations and through time (Chapter 2). Neither can this self-representation be derived from transcendental apperception, since this constitutes only the "general form of reflexivity" that pertains to any conscious representations of objects (Chapter 3). Thus, the problem is how we get from inner intuition and the awareness of reflexivity of our representations to referential or reflective self-consciousness.

The first part of Kraus's solution (Chapter 4) explicates the relationship between the logical I (the subject of apperception) and the psychological I (the object of inner experience). As Kraus rightly insists, there must be a sense in which the two I-representations are "identical regarding their referent" (152). She fleshes out this identity claim as the claim that a successful referential use of 'I' must ascribe representations that are unified through their belonging to one and the same consciousness (expressed by the 'I think', 108-9) to one and the same real subject. Thus, the question is how 'I', which originally is a mere expression of the form of reflexivity of my representations, comes to refer to me as a real psychological entity. Kraus proposes that the answer is given in the Paralogisms. The positive contribution of the Paralogisms is the specification of the "logical predicates" of 'I', from which the "semantic rules" that fix its referent in experience can be derived. For instance, the minor premise of the second paralogism states that I must think of myself as "an absolute (though merely logical) unity" (A350). This entails, according to Kraus, the following semantic rule: "The mental equivalent of 'I' refers to a single referent who cannot be divided into self-standing parts" (149). Kraus's fundamental point, as I understand it, is that the 'I think' specifies a priori the determinations of oneself as an object of thought prior to that object being given intuition and in accordance with the condition of sensibility. In other words, the reflexive structure of my representations dictates how I must think of myself as an object of possible cognition: "If these logical predicates define conditions of how one must think of oneself, then they also define conditions of how one must cognize oneself, since cognition presupposes thought" (148). In this way, we can explain how 'I' can refer to myself as an object of inner experience (if it turns out that there is such an object).

This is a bold and intriguing thesis. However, it is unclear how the mere "logical exposition" of the 'I think' can yield rules that fix the referent of 'I' when employed in empirical contexts (unless, perhaps, it is supplemented with a metaphysical account of representational activity which maps logical features of representations to real features of the representing subject). How can an a priori representation that expresses the "mere form of consciousness" entail what the subject of that consciousness is like? If the 'I think' is merely formal and empty (cf. A346/B404), how can the determinations of the thinker-qua-object "follow analytically" from it? Indeed, Kraus emphasizes that these determinations are "logical" and not "real determinations of a real thinking agent" (146).

Making Descartes into even worse gobbledygook, only in German, is how Europe ended up so backwards.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


New documents show how Sandra Day O'Connor helped George W. Bush win the 2000 election (Joan Biskupic, 5/03/23, CNN)

Amid ballot recounts in various challenged counties, the Florida secretary of state certified a 537-vote margin on November 26 for Bush, from 6 million votes cast. Bush strove to stop the recounts as Gore continued to challenge the state's tallies. When the Supreme Court ruled on December 12, it ended the count, declaring that the Florida recount standards varied too widely to be fair and to meet the guarantee of equal protection of the law.

O'Connor laid the groundwork for that result in her December 10 memo to all her colleagues as she condemned a Florida state Supreme Court decision ordering selective recounts of "undervotes" in certain counties.

She opened by highlighting state legislative authority to set the rules for the appointment of state presidential electors but quickly focused on the flaws, as she perceived them, of the ongoing recounts ordered by the state court.

"The Florida Supreme Court provided no uniform, statewide method for identifying and separating the undervotes," O'Connor wrote, referring to instances when machines had failed to detect a vote for president. "Accordingly, there was no guarantee that those ballots deemed undervotes had not been previously tabulated. More importantly, the court failed to provide any standard more specific than the 'intent of the voter' standard to govern this statewide undervote recount. Therefore, each individual county was left to devise its own standards."

The system triggered by the Florida Supreme Court "in no way resembles the statutory scheme created by the Florida legislature" for the appointment of electors, said the justice who had once served as Arizona state Senate majority leader, the first woman nationwide to hold such the top post in a state senate.

The next day, Kennedy wrote to the chief justice, "Sandra's memorandum sets forth a very sound approach" and said he wanted to build on it. He suggested he would point up how the varying recount practices breached the guarantee of equal protection.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


The Most Financially Savvy U.S. States (Jon Jones, 5/02/23, Smartest Dollar)

While age and education are highly correlated with financial literacy, geography also appears to play a major role. States in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest have the largest shares of adults with high financial literacy, with nine out of the top 15 states located in those regions.

To determine the most financially savvy states, researchers at Smartest Dollar analyzed data from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. States were ranked based on the share of adults with high financial literacy--defined as those who scored higher than the national median score of 42.9% on FINRA's Financial Literacy Quiz.

Here are the most financially savvy states in the U.S.