Thursday, 30 December 2010

Putting Canterbury on the map

Writes Canada's national broadcaster:
In 1984, he became a philosophy professor at Canterbury University in Wellington, New Zealand. [emphasis added]

When he launched Arts & Letters Daily, he continued to champion sprightly writing and another of his interests, freedom of information.

Dutton told Salon he hoped the site would prompt everyone to explore fresh ideas and challenge preconceived notions.

Unusual course

"A vegetarian gun-control advocate who opposes capital punishment is fine," he told in a 2000 interview. "But what pricks my interest more is the vegetarian anti-capital punishment cowboy who carries three shotguns displayed in the back window of the cab of his truck."

Dutton's book, The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution, argues that art appreciation is not a result of education and exposure, but a natural evolutionary adaptation.

He taught an unusual course at the University of Canterbury titled "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" that explores how Darwin challenged conventional thinking and the impact of his ideas on philosophy throughout the 20th century.

He was a passionate defender of public radio and served on the board of public broadcaster Radio New Zealand.
September's earthquake might have moved Christchurch a few feet closer to Wellington, but it's still pretty far away. I'd make jokes about not expecting anyone at the CBC Igloo in Iqaluit to know that, but the rest of the obit is rather nice.

There is no other academic in the whole of New Zealand whose obit would be of this kind of international interest. It would be interesting to see what New Zealand's PBRF would have done with him had he made it through to the 2012 round. My bet: they'd have entirely discounted ALD as it's not peer reviewed (doubtful they'd ever have heard of it), would have given the book about the same weight as a couple of journal articles, given him some points for peer esteem and wound up with a B. Now if he'd given up that silly website and concentrated on getting lots of refereed journal articles in second tier philosophy journals, he just might have gotten an A. I'm glad he ignored PBRF.

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