frey lied, amir died: connecting community and police violence

Last week, police officers shot and killed another Black man, 22-year-old Amir Locke, in the city that just two years ago was torched by the trauma of George Floyd’s murder, and just months ago failed to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety. Locke had been sleeping on his cousin’s couch, shot to death within nine seconds of police entering the apartment during a no-knock SWAT raid. The killing happened in the midst of a tragic week of loss–with several teenagers shot and killed by other teenagers. The horrific layering of all this death has prompted a new wave of trauma, rage, and demands to transform policing in Minneapolis. But it’s also started to build a bridge between conversations and movements to end police killings and community violence. Rather than treating the two as separate issues, activists and some city leaders are drawing deeply sociological connections about how structural racism produces both kinds of violence and what it will take to address these staggering losses.

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guest post: black boxes and wishful intelligibility

Here’s the one-sentence version of this post: Black-boxing is good, actually. 

(The longer version is a summary of my recent paper, “Wishful Intelligibility, Black Boxes, and Epidemiological Explanation,” just out in Philosophy of Science.) 

Black box explanations get a bad rap: they are opaque, often the result of statistical (rather than canonically “experimental”) causal inference, and self-consciously, well, not the whole truth. Probably because of this, philosophers of science often take for granted the idea that it’s a good thing to “fill in” a black box explanation with more causal detail. In particular, lack of mechanistic evidence is sometimes considered a shortcoming of epidemiological explanations, which often rely on sophisticated observational causal inference methods.

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