Saturday, August 07, 2004

Tim Sandefur: Naturally Argumentative

When I first met Tim Sandefur, at an IHS Liberty and Society seminar, we started arguing before we’d even said, “Hello.” I don’t think we’ve ever really finished that particular argument, which concerned the meaning of “liberal” and what to do about it, because he still doesn’t agree with me. Fortunately, however, I did win an early argument with Tim about where he should go to law school, convincing him to attend Chapman University School of Law. And I certainly cannot argue with his decision, after graduating from Chapman, to join the Pacific Legal Foundation and pursue a career in smashing statism.

Tim’s blog, Freespace, recently offered a couple of amusing and informative posts about Credence Clearwater Revival’s run-ins with the law. In one of those posts, he relates how John Fogerty—the band’s lead guitarist, lead vocalist, lead songwriter, and (as Tim convincingly argues) lead leader—faced a lawsuit for plagiarizing himself. Tim concludes, “The possibility of self-plagiarism seems to me to be excellent evidence of the incoherence of a natural right to copyright. Perhaps Professor Bell will comment on the subject.”

Me? Comment on a question of intellectual property? Oh, gosh. If you insist.

Paradoxical though self-plagiarism may at first sound, I don’t think it says much the fundamentals of copyright. Rather, it says merely that copyright functions much like tangible property. Regardless of whether it arises naturally or by fiat, property can be acquired by creation, transferred voluntarily, and trespassed by its initial owner in violation of that transfer.

Fogerty was accused of copying without authorization a copyrighted work that he had created and then transferred to a music publisher. Even someone who believes in a natural right to copyright should see that as a prima facie case of self-plagiarism. It follows logically from the initial acquisition of a copyrightable work (by creation), the transfer to another party of that intellectual property (by sale), and the trespass on it by the same party who initially created it (by Fogerty, the alleged self-plagiarist).

Like Tim, I doubt that copyright constitutes a natural right. And, like him, I think that it does make sense to talk about natural rights to other sorts of property. But, perhaps contrary to him, I don’t see any paradox in violating a natural right you’ve acquired but transferred to another person. As always, though, I’m happy to argue with Tim about the question.


Friday, August 06, 2004

Half-Life of a Bogus Stat

I caught a few minutes of the news while eating lunch. As introduction to a fluff piece on how to get along with co-workers, the anchorman said something like, “Since we spend almost half our lives at work…” What? Half our lives? You’re kidding, right? By my calculation, a person working a massive 80 hours a week would spend 48% of his time at work – and that’s assuming this poor schmuck had no childhood, no retirement, no vacations, no sick days, and no periods of unemployment. And for this guy to be the mean or median American (the only way one could justify saying we spend almost half our lives at work), there would have to be a helluva lot of people at work much more than 80 hours per week – again with no childhood, retirement, etc. – to make up for all the people who are clearly at work much less than 80 hours per week (including everyone who’s not part of the labor force, like homemakers, children, and retirees).

Clearly, this little factoid doesn’t pass the smell test. Yet a Google search for [“half our lives” work] pulled up copious references to the same claim, including some that omitted the “almost” or even replaced it with “more than.” Anyone know where this clearly bogus statistic came from? Is my hyperbole detector on the fritz?


“Pertinax”: Arnold’s Next Starring Role?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his role as governor of California, recently hosted a premier for the California Performance Review (CPR). This thrilling work plots out several years of reforms aimed at curing the state’s budget crisis, combining the best of the sci-fi and slasher genres. Critics call it “radical,” “sweeping,” and “drastic,” crediting Arnold for “making history again.” Although it is too early to be sure whether the CPR will pan out financially, the governor already deserves an Oscar for bold originality.

He probably won’t dwell on that success, however. A savvy player like Arnold thinks several steps ahead. This time, he might also do well to look back—way back--as he ponders his next move. Governor Schartenegger can find both inspiration and a warning in the tragic story of Publius Helvius Pertinax, who ruled the Roman Empire for eighty-seven glorious days in the year 193.

Surprisingly, screenwriters appear not to have mined this true-life tale of intrigue, bravery, and heartbreak. Astonishingly, advocates of limited government seem largely ignorant of Pertinax, whom they should rightly include in their pantheon of heroes. Happily, Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire lyrically relates the tale. (Admittedly, though, some accounts treat Pertinax less reverentially.)

Commodus, the emperor who immediately preceded Pertinax, no doubt ranked among ancient Rome’s most cruel and despotic leaders. The assassination of Commodus, however welcome, left public affairs in shambles. A desperate Senate pleaded for the august Pertinax, a retired general, Roman prefect, and senator, to come to his country’s aid. He reluctantly but dutifully agreed to don the Imperial purple. “To heal, as far as it was possible, the wounds inflicted by the hand of tyranny, was the pleasing, but melancholy, task of Pertinax,” explains Gibbon.

Pertinax immediately embarked on a vigorous campaign of reform. His policies, as Gibbon recounts, would impress any friend of freedom:

Pertinax had the generous firmness to remit all the oppressive taxes invented by Commodus, and to cancel all the unjust claims of the treasury; declaring, in a decree of the senate, "that he was better satisfied to administer a poor republic with innocence, than to acquire riches by the ways of tyranny and dishonour." Economy and industry he considered as the pure and genuine sources of wealth; and from them he soon derived a copious supply for the public necessities. . . . He removed the oppressive restrictions which had been laid upon commerce, and granted all the uncultivated lands in Italy and the provinces to those who would improve them; with an exemption from tribute, during the term of ten years.
The innocent zeal of Pertinax proved his undoing, however. “His honest indiscretion united against him the servile crowd, who found their private benefit in the public disorders, and who preferred the favour of a tyrant to the inexorable equality of the laws,” explains Gibbon. The Praetorian Guard, in particular, chafed under the newly resurrected rule of law. Twice they conspired to force aside Pertinax and place one of their lapdogs in the throne. Twice they failed.

Gibbon’s account of the Praetorian Guard’s final assault, and of Pertinax’s noble last stand, merits quoting at-length:
These disappointments served only to irritate the rage of the Praetorian guards. . . . Two or three hundred of the most desperate soldiers marched at noon-day, with arms in their hands and fury in their looks, towards the Imperial palace. The gates were thrown open by their companions upon guard; and by the domestics of the old court, who had already formed a secret Conspiracy against the life of the too virtuous emperor. On the news of their approach, Pertinax, disdaining either flight or concealment, advanced to meet his assassins, and recalled to their minds his own innocence, and the sanctity of their recent oath. For a few moments they stood in silent suspense, ashamed of their atrocious design, and awed by the venerable aspect and majestic firmness of their sovereign, till at length the despair of pardon reviving their fury, a barbarian of the country of Tongres levelled the first blow against Pertinax, who was instantly dispatched with a multitude of wounds. His head separated from his body, and placed on a lance, was carried in triumph to the Praetorian camp, in the sight of a mournful and indignant people, who lamented the unworthy fate of that excellent prince, and the transient blessings of a reign, the memory of which could serve only to aggravate their approaching misfortunes.
Emperor Pertinax offers Arnold Schwartenegger the sort of movie role that he might relish playing, a role that pits a single man of courage and integrity against a snake’s nest of brutes, cowards and rogues. But Governor Schwartenegger surely does not want to relive—and die—the short reign of Pertinax. He might thus regard it as a cautionary political history. The moral of Gibbon’s tribute to Pertinax: Where you cannot force reform on a corrupt regime, you must take care to buy the peace from its minions.


Thursday, August 05, 2004

A Libertarian Case Against Non-Voting

Libertarians stoutly defend the right, sometimes even the virtue, of non-voting. Some pride themselves on their non-voting; others take pleasure in tweaking the conventional wisdom (“It’s your civic duty!” “You have no right to complain if you don’t vote!”). I’ve done this many times myself. I usually invoke the public-choice analysis of voting: the marginal benefit of voting is essentially nil, since a single vote almost never decides any election, while the marginal cost includes the opportunity cost of your time, the cost of travel, the risk of getting hit by a truck on the way to the polls, etc.

But perhaps I have a mote in my eye. When I explain rational non-voting to my students, invariably someone objects that a large group of people can indeed affect the outcome of an election. True, I reply, but I don’t control a large group of people’s votes; I only control my own, and the power of that one vote is negligible – popular mythology notwithstanding. Mathematically, that’s a fact. But politically, the result of libertarians taking that fact seriously, while adherents of other ideologies embrace the myth, is the under-representation of libertarian votes in the vote total. Libertarianism becomes further marginalized by its lack of electoral clout, thereby attracting less attention and fewer future adherents. Arguably, then, holding the objectively correct belief may constitute an evolutionarily weak strategy.

Still, that’s just the way it goes, right? We cannot, like Pascal, simply adopt a false belief because of its potentially good consequences. But how about an alternative belief?

The rational non-voter’s cost-benefit calculus rests essentially on private costs and benefits, not social ones. If all libertarians incurred the personal costs of voting, all libertarians would be better off. What we have here is a collective action problem brought on by the divergence of private and social benefits – in short, a public good. And how do other public good problems get solved by private means? One route is the inculcation of moral norms enforced by social approbation and public shaming. We frown at housemates who don’t do their share of the household chores, or fellow parishioners who fail to put money in the collection plate. (I use the word “we” figuratively, since I live alone and belong to no church.) We administer guilt trips to free riders who don’t contribute to worthy causes we know they agree with. Some go so far as to send critical postcards to people with unkempt yards.

The libertarian individualist bristles at such intrusions. But remember: these are not the commands of the state – they are the alternative. And in the context of voting, they could provide libertarians with a path to political relevance. What if libertarians stopped applauding non-voting, and instead began prodding each other to go out and vote? What if we had “voting parties,” consisting of groups of people who vote together and go out for dinner afterward (at a location disclosed only to those who joined in voting)? What if every libertarian called two or three libertarian friends on election day to make sure they did their duty? Yeah, duty. You got a problem with that?

What would happen? Would we win elections? No way. Would we swing elections to one major party or the other? Possibly, if we coordinated our votes. Would we attract more attention with higher numbers? Very likely, I think.

Oops, I think I may have just convinced myself.


Surfing Property Rights

Most people, when they think of surfing, picture fearless athletes charging down moving mountains of water. Non-surfers who know the sport only through movies and videos have little else to go on. But even surfers dwell on those sorts of money shots, fantasizing about the last great ride or the next big swell. I admit to the same daydreams. Surfing has hardly washed the law geek out of me, though. When I think of surfing, I also picture property rights in action.

What has surfing got to do with property rights? A lot. Although few of them admit or even realize it, surfers obsess about defining, getting, defending, and enjoying—especially enjoying!--property rights in waves. Specifically, surfers deal in rights to the area on a wave face capable of providing an enjoyable ride.

Rideable wave space, like property generally, proves all-too-rare. The raw inputs for surfable waves—a fair sized swell arriving at a surf break under relatively smooth conditions—don’t always obtain. And when nature finally does supply those resources, a crowd of surfers usually shows up to demand them. Since one wave face can generally support only one ride at a time, scarcity arises.

Bloody fights would probably arise, too, if surf ethics didn’t embody a profound respect for property rights. With rideable waves as with valuable goods generally, property rights help to coordinate social behavior, preventing conflict and waste. When a sweet set rolls in, everybody in the line-up gets a fair shot at catching a wave and, if successful, enjoys a solo trip to surf nirvana. For a summary, see this brief description of customary surfing rules.

How do the rules of surfing embody a respect for property rights? First and most importantly, they uphold the right to homestead wave faces. Sets roll in unowned. As this helpfully illustrated guide explains, the first surfer to take off closest to the breaking face of a wave enjoys the sole right to ride that wave face. Luck plays a role in finding that magic take-off point, but the ethics of surfing primarily award waves on the basis of wave knowledge, line-up strategy, and gutsy paddling.

How do surfers enforce their wave rights? For the most part, they rely on the gentle arts of social suasion. Surfers bobbing in the line-up make up a community of sorts, one often strengthened by the presence of locals who know and look out for each other. Getting the stink-eye for dropping in on somebody else’s wave stings badly enough. Sanctions against repeat offenders may escalate to sharp words or, in extraordinary cases, to physical violence. When someone dropped in on me recently, for instance, I first forebore the offense, then took alarm at his unsafe proximity and verbally warned him to back-off. Finally, when that proved unavailing, I put my hand on the punk’s chest, shoved him off his board, and finished out my ride.

Like any property holder, a surfer can transfer, jointly own, or extinguish his rights to a wave. Someone who favors large, outside waves might ride one only partially in-shore before pulling out over the lip and paddling back out, allowing a surfer who favors inside breaks to then take possession. Longboarders on softly sloping waves often share the face, especially with their friends. Surfers at some breaks honor a convention whereby the party in rightful possession of a wave can offer to share it with all comers by calling out, “Party wave!” or “All aboard!” One bright and warm day last summer, at Old Man’s, I joined some five other surfers on such a wave. We flew in formation for a while, like surfing Blue Angels, and then one by one peeled over the outer lip of the breaking wave.

Surfers can, of course, waste the waves they homestead. I doubt anyone does so intentionally; what surfer would? Every surfer wipes out from time-to-time, however, often in circumstances where no surfer can reclaim the wave thus abandoned. Though other surfers may groan and shake their heads at the lost opportunity, they generally respect others’ rights to do with waves what they want. Someone who repeatedly wastes waves, however, may soon draw blame for (in effect) violating the second Lockean proviso that no one take more property from the commons than they can use without letting it go to waste. (See the Second Treatise, section 31.)

I should caution the reader that these observations rely on my own, sadly limited, fieldwork. The topic deserves a great deal more research. To that end, I eager solicit funding so that I can expand my study to include cross-cultural comparisons of the role that property rights play in surfing by, for instance, extensive experimental work in Hawaii, Costa Rica, Fiji, and Australia.


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Death of a Pioneer

I’m almost a week late, but since no blogs that I read have mentioned it yet, I suppose it’s up to me. I’m greatly saddened by the death of Francis Crick. If we had our hero-worship priorities straight, his funeral would have garnered at least as much attention as Reagan’s.


Landscaping Man!

Some mysterious and opinionated person has launched a local crusade to beautify my San Clemente, California neighborhood. His (let’s suppose it’s a man) target: unsightly landscaping. His modus operandi: anonymous postcards. His prose: bizarrely condescending.

I learned of this fellow’s campaign from a neighbor some few doors away. After receiving several of his postcards, she began to worry that she was being targeted by some sort of home improvement stalker. When she worriedly asked our postal worker about the cards, however, he told her that she was hardly alone. Several people in our neighborhood had received similar missives.

My neighbor loaned me one of the postcards she’s received. It came to her addressed, “Good Neighbors?” and bears a postmark from a nearby town. (Other cards have born postmarks from all over the country, leading some recipients to surmise that the sender works as an pilot.) The front of the card bears unremarkable picture of the Stanyan Park Hotel in San Francisco. The back of the card bears this text in what looks to be a man’s handwriting:

The tree. The D-
E-A-D Tree is AN
eyesore on your prop
erty. Would take A
bout AN hour to cut it
up and put it in
the proper waste bin. What do you
think? Then after that there’s more work.
Disturbingly, after my neighbor cut down the “D-E-A-D tree” (which she had planned to do even prior to receiving the postcard), she got a card congratulating her on her progress (and suggesting another chore). The author apparently keeps tabs on his targets. Although the card I’ve quoted strikes a somewhat casual tone—“What do you think?”—other neighbors say theirs have sounded quite angry.

No matter how nasty the author’s tone, so long as he stops short of threatening harm to sloppy groundskeepers I doubt that his weird hobby crosses the line into illegality. On a charitable view, he even acts heroically. Private landscaping visible from city streets constitutes a public good, after all, one that homeowners don’t always see fit to maintain. Insofar as he shames slackers into improving their streetside yards and gardens, then, our mysterious benefactor helps the whole community. You might picture Landscaping Man as he no doubt pictures himself: Dashing down our quiet streets in a bright green mask and cape, a golden trowel in his raised fist, calling for, “Beauty! Industry! And Resale Value!”

Contrariwise, and back in the real world, Landscaping Man needs to get a life. A given homeowner largely internalizes the benefits of his or her landscaping, thank you very much, because it directly impacts the value of his or her home. And even a “D-E-A-D Tree” does not excuse freaking out your neighbors with cowardly and nasty notes.

Who would do such a thing? Personally, I suspect one of the realtors who specializes our neighborhood. Such a person would both have occasion to prowl our streets and a financial motive to drive up housing values. I might add that a realtor would also possess the requisite personality for craven nagging, but that would not be fair. I’ve run into—and into conflict with—some realtors of that type, but I’ve met some very pleasant and honest ones, too.

One more element of mystery closes out this story: How the heck has my house escaped criticism by the home improvement stalker? Granted, the front isn’t too bad (though I just lost two lavender bushes and the ornamental cherry tree again needs pruning). But I’ve fairly well let that loathsome iceplant take over the side yard. I’ll bet that Landscaping Man has held only because he cannot decide whether I or my neighbor deserves the blame for that offense.

I wait in trepidation, fingering my shears.


How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Spam

Tom is right, of course. It’s an endless game of predator-and-prey. As fast as we evolve new strategies to foil the spammers, the spammers evolve strategies to overcome them. As you can see from the modified right-side bar, I’ve decided to concede the race. Send us your penis enlargers, your Nigerian financial scams, your farm-girl fetish sites yearning to breathe free!

UPDATE: Yes, that was supposed to be a joke. I've restored the format in the right-side bar. I'm not quite ready to concede the race just yet. But Tom is assuredly correct that smart spammers are wise to the -AT- convention, and it's only a matter of time before all the spambots scan for it.


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Stampede-of-Elephants Effect

This weekend I watched “The Butterfly Effect” on DVD, and I must admit thinking it was underrated. I might feel differently if I had paid to see it in the theater, but as a rental it was definitely worth the price. It was one of the better takes on time-travel-induced alternate realities I’ve seen. I had only one serious complaint with the movie: its title. WARNING: Spoilers ahead.

Chaos theorists use the term “butterfly effect” as shorthand for the phenomenon of sensitive dependence on initial conditions. The notion is that small, seemingly insignificant events – something as tiny as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings – can result in cumulative changes culminating in drastically different outcomes, such as the creation of typhoons.

I would expect a movie titled “The Butterfly Effect” to draw on that insight, perhaps by having the time-traveling character step on a roach and thereby alter the outcome of presidential elections. But every history-changing event in this movie is undoubtedly of major significance, at least to the lives of the main characters: saving a little girl from molestation by her pedophile father, preventing a mother and her baby from getting killed in an explosion, and so on. These historical alterations change the present, not always for the better, but certainly in ways that follow straightforwardly enough from the historical events in question. Meanwhile, lots of insignificant details about the present remain essentially the same; for instance, Ashton Kutcher’s character always attends the same college, and even winds up in the same dorm room in at least three alternate realities. And at one point, Kutcher's character makes what could be a relatively major change in his life's history, with no apparent impact on the present except the sudden appearance of scars on his hands. Some changes, it seems, don't matter that much.

None of this makes the movie less worthwhile – it just makes the title inappropriate, and all the scientific commentary included in the DVD’s extras pointless and pretentious. If you’re looking for a better fictional treatment of the butterfly effect, watch Run Lola Run or The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror V.


Glen Quixote?

Thanks, Glen, for inviting me to blog with you for a while! I don’t suppose the world really needs yet another pro-market, technophile, law professor blogger. But neither does it really need, say, Two-Buck Chuck. I’m lucky that people enjoy a great many things that fall short of needs or, as seems more fitting in my case, that they at least forebear them.

You Agoraphile readers who know Glen only through his writings may not realize what prodigious charms he wields in person. Having taught with him at several Institute for Humane Studies seminars, I know better. Those IHS seminars include evening socials, where I’ve spent untold hours downing beers and swapping groansome jokes with Glen and the students who invariably surround him. Oh, the stories I could tell, even though I won’t, assuming I could remember them, which for the most part I don’t!

Instead, I’d like to discuss another aspect of Glen’s character, one only recently revealed to me: His willingness to carry on a worthwhile fight against all odds. I speak here not of his libertarian leanings or deep appreciation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but rather of his struggle against spam.

When Glen gave me the details about joining his blog, he noted that he planned to publish my email address as “,” to fool spambots. I expressed doubt about his strategy, reasoning that the malfeasants who program spambots have undoubtedly noted and accommodated that widespread convention. I invited Glen to follow through as he planned, anyhow, saying that I’m resigned to getting spam. In a testament to Glen’s tenacity, he did just that.

I don’t see much harm in using the “user-AT-domain.suffix”convention, though I doubt it does much good. As this web design firm notes of such techniques, “Any decent spambot can decode them and get your actual email address.” On my own contact page I use a GIF image of my email address, a strategy that certainly costs more to implement but that probably foils spambots a bit more effectively.

Still, I have few pretenses that Glen’s, my, or anybody’s strategy to limit the supply of email addresses will substantially curb spam. Only David Friedman’s plan—forcing spammers to pay email postage to their intended recipients—seems to me both appealing and workable. To put it in Quixotic terms, while most of us tilt at windmills, Friedman has targeted a smartbomb on the real dragons.


Tom W. Bell, Guest-Blogging Here

I’m happy to announce that Tom W. Bell will be guest-blogging on Agoraphilia for the next two weeks. Tom is a professor at Chapman University Law School, where he teaches and does research on intellectual property, Internet, entertainment, and commercial law. He’s also a veritable polymath, with interests in technology, music, and surfing, among many other things. I’ve had the pleasure of Tom’s company as a co-faculty member at IHS seminars for three years. This year, I successfully persuaded him to give blogging a shot. I look forward to reading his posts.


Monday, August 02, 2004

The Still Alarm

Upon hearing about the latest terror alert, which unlike most previous alerts actually names specific targets threatened by Al Qaeda, I reacted skeptically. “If I were a terrorist,” I thought, “and if I knew that counter-terrorist organizations were actively trying to thwart my plans, what would I do? Ah, yes: I would make it look like I’m targeting some location I don’t actually plan to attack, so the authorities would be distracted while I put my real plot into action.”

Then I had second thoughts. They have lots of smart people working at the intelligence agencies. Well, maybe not so smart, given recent failures; but surely smart enough to have thought of the point above. So they should be thinking, “If there is clear evidence that terrorists are casing targets A, B, and C, that’s really evidence that they are trying to distract us, and they plan to attack some other targets D, E, and F instead.”

But wait a minute. Those terrorists are pretty wily. They could presumably duplicate both lines of reasoning above, and then think to themselves, “If we make it look like we’re planning to attack sites A, B, and C, the intelligence agencies will think we’re trying to distract them, so they’ll focus their attention on sites like D, E, and F. Then we can attack A, B, and C after all!” And then the counter-terrorists would think, “The terrorists, in making it look they’re taking A, B, and C, are trying to mislead us into thinking they’re actually targeting D, E, and F, but in fact they are indeed targeting A, B, and C…”

This is a classic game of double-think. We could spiral through endless layers of “I know that you know that I know that you know…” without ever reaching a decisive conclusion. The structure of this game is identical to that of Matching Pennies, the Holmes-Moriarty game, and the Sneetches game. The only equilibrium of this sort of game is a mixed-strategy equilibrium, wherein both players (in this case, terrorists and counter-terrorists) randomize over their possible actions. I conclude that the current terror alert, which represents the counter-terrorists’ random response to the terrorists’ random evidence-creation, provides us with no information whatsoever.


Sunday, August 01, 2004

Sex Differences

In another outstanding post on the internal contradictions of (much) religious conservatism, Roderick Long gives the Vatican's letter "On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World" the rogering it richly deserves. Rod's main point: that the Catholic Church, allegedly a defender of the spiritual over the biological and material, nonetheless resorts to blind biology-worship in defining the role of women.

I only have one small complaint with Rod's analysis. He says:

The Vatican also pays women the old false compliment of a special feminine "sense and ... respect for what is concrete," as "opposed to abstractions which are so often fatal for the existence of individuals and society." That sounds very nice; but propagating such a view of women is hardly likely to enhance their success in intellectual careers. (Admittedly some feminists have made precisely the same mistake, trumpeting hostility to abstraction as some sort of liberating "feminine voice" and "ethics of care," when in fact such stereotypes are more plausibly regarded as artefacts of women’s subjection.)
I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss men's and women's differing capacity or affinity for abstraction as a matter of pure socialization. One doesn't have to engage in biology-worship to admit that there exist real biological differences between men and women, and this may be one of them. Naturally, I'm open to evidence indicating otherwise. Of course, virtually all mental and physical characteristics exist on a spectrum, so it would be wrong to make strong assumptions about the capacity of a specific man or woman to engage in high-level abstraction, even if it is indeed true that men and women as groups differ statistically.