H. Eugene Cline

Gene Cline, professor emeritus of philosophy, Albion College

Professor Emeritus of Philosophy

B.R.E., Cornerstone University, 1967; M.A. 1969, Ph.D. Michigan State University, 1980.

Office: Vulgamore Hall, Room 210
Phone: 517/629-0351

I'm presently most interested in social and political philosophy, particularly recent work on people's preferences and the nature of status quo thinking.

My recent professional work focuses on whether Americans should continue to subsidize discriminatory religious institutions. I argue that we should not, since we thus legitimize discrimination against citizens who have a fully normal range of abilities. To paraphrase Mill, it is foolish for our society to deny itself the full benefit of their contributions.

I am interested in various reasons why preferences, particularly discriminatory ones, ought to be discounted, once certain inadequacies are made manifest. My list of (related) reasons, so far, includes:

  1. Some preferences are based on habituation to traditional discriminatory practices.
  2. Some are based on predictably bad estimations of risks.
  3. Some are based on "objective illusions"-- culturally generated misperceptions.
  4. Some are naked external preferences, that others simply not have things.
  5. Some are formed in the absence of due consideration concerning opportunity costs.
  6. Some rank trivial choices too highly.
  7. Some are connected with extinguishable wants to the exclusion of basic needs.
  8. Some unnecessarily exacerbate problems with scarce resources.
  9. Some run perversely counter to facts about conversion efficiency and equality of opportunity.
  10. Some are narrowly focused on short-term first-person satisfaction, to the detriment of the actor and others.
  11. Some are based on a distorted view of the character and importance of selfhood.
  12. Some mistake law for morality.

I'd appreciate e-mail concerning our department, the above topics, or undergraduate philosophy in general.


Gene Cline