Categories
Blogistan English

The Generalist Programmer

I have started writing essays (kind of like blog posts) in my new website The Generalist Programmer. I will probably not be writing much here in my old blog, so go check it out, if programming is interesting to you!  There is an RSS feed and possibility to subscribe by email.

Categories
Quit Lit

Blogging may be the future, but it is not there yet

Earlier this year, I had an argument with a senior colleague of mine at the university. They said that there is no point teaching undergraduate and master’s students to read the academic research literature, as they would be relying on blogs and QA sites like Stack Overflow in their professional life after graduating.

Earlier this month, at a Dagstuhl seminar, a famous professor challenged me after I had complained of a lack of suitable academic forums to publish certain kinds of papers. They said that the only problem was finding prestigious forums that would look good on a junior academic’s tenure application; apart from that, we can always use widely read blogs such as one run by another famous professor.

Both certainly are correct that blogs have become important forums for both professionals and academics. It is also true that academic publication forums suffer compared to blogs, as they are often behind expensive paywalls and often publishing in them requires a large amount of money.

Indeed, as I am in the process of leaving academia, I find myself less and less interested in following or contributing to the academic publications. Since I am giving up the goal of a tenure track professorship, I do not need to hunt for the prestige of a highly ranked conference or journal. Posting my thoughts in my personal blog, on a separate topical blog that I am considering creating, in a LinkedIn post, or as a Medium post, allows me the potential for a much wider readership than I could hope for in most prestigious academic forums.

Yet.

The very real downsides of academic publications are not an inherent feature. They are rather the side-effects of well known systematic diseases in the academic world. They are perversions of the system, not how it is supposed to work.

Academic forums have traditionally provided three very real services to the research community:

  1. They were an efficient channel to communicate, and provided the means to create international scholarly communities, relatively free of geographical biases.
  2. They still provide a reasonably good filter, letting through only communications that follow community norms.
  3. They promise to archive the discussions for posterity.

The first point is no longer valid, as there are much more efficient ways to communicate in the community, such as various online forums and blogs.

The second point is important: we still need some way to identify communications that are genuine contributions to the discussion, weeding out not only the lunatic fringe, but also students who are not mature enough yet to contribute, and communications whose main purpose is to gain status instead of contributing. There are blogs and other alt-ac forums that fulfill these criteria, but it is not a systematic part of our wider community.

The third point is crucial: no blog that I am aware of commits to multigenerational archival of its content. There are some attempts to archive the whole of the Internet, but we desperately need a mechanism of long-term archival of the current discussions in both the professional community and in the academic community outside of the journals.

This is my challenge to all of us: build the infrastructure that allows curated archival collections of important discussions.


Image credit: Photo by Ivo Rainha from Pexels

Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho has been working at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, as a University Teacher in Information Technology (and in other previous roles) since around the beginning of this millennium. He received his PhD degree in 2015 from the same institution. He recently accepted a role in a private company and is currently in the process of migrating from the academia to the industry. This post was first published in his personal blog.

Categories
Finnish Yhdistyskirjanpito Yhdistystoiminta

Yhdistysneuvoja Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho

Alkavan vuoden kunniaksi julkistan uuden projektini:

Yhdistysneuvoja Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho on uusi palvelu, jossa tällä hetkellä on tarjolla päivitetty versio yhdistyskirjanpidon ohjeesta. Lähitulevaisuudessa siellä aukeaa myös seuraavat kaupalliset palvelut:

  • Kysy yhdistysneuvojalta
  • Yhdistystoimijoiden lyhytkoulutuksia Jyväskylässä mm. taloudenhoidosta ja tietosuojasta

Jos haluat tietoa näiden palveluiden etenemisestä taikka muuten pysyä kärryillä yhdistysneuvojan toiminnasta, käy yhdistysneuvojan sivustolla ja liity tiedotuslistalle.

Teen Yhdistysneuvojan tehtäviä sivutoimisesti lähinnä iltaisin ja viikonloppuisin. Sillä ei ole vaikutusta päätyöhöni yliopistolla, eikä se liity yliopiston toimintoihin mitenkään.

Mitä sinä odotat tai toivot yhdistysneuvojalta?

Categories
Academic publications Education English

Fixed versus Growth Mindset Does not Seem to Matter Much In Late Bachelor Level

On Monday, I had the honor of presenting a paper that I coauthored with my colleague Ville Tirronen. We had wondered if our two problematic courses might benefit from mindset interventions – after all, we regularly run into student behaviors that are consistent with the mindset theory.

The mindset theory, as you may recall, sorts people into two rough categories at a particular point in time: people with a fixed mindset view their own intelligence as something they cannot change; they adopt behaviors that try to emphasize their brilliance and hide their stupidity, including choosing safe (not challenging) problem-solving tasks; they view effort as a proof of their own stupidity; and thus they tend to not reach their own full potential as problem solvers. People with a growth mindset view their own intelligence as growable by learning; they tend to choose challenging tasks as those give the best opportunities to learn, and they see effort as a sign of learning; they thus are able to reach their full potential in problem solving.

We ran an observational study in two of our courses last fall, where we used a questionnaire to measure student mindset and then we statistically estimated its effect on course outcomes (did the student pass, and if so, what grade they got). It turned out that observed mindset had nothing to do with student achievement on our two courses. This was not what we expected!

Another surprising finding was that there were relatively few students with a fixed mindset on these courses. This raises the question, whether students who are affected by their fixed mindset drop out of our bachelor program before they reach our courses; unfortunately, our data cannot answer it.

While I still believe in the compelling story that the mindset theory tells, and believe a causal connection exists between mindsets and achievement, this study makes me very skeptical about its practical relevance. At least in the context where our study was run, the effect was so small we could not measure it despite a decent sample size (n = 133).

The paper citation is

Antti-Juhani Kaijanaho and Ville Tirronen. 2018. Fixed versus Growth Mindset Does not Seem to Matter Much: A Prospective Observational Study in Two Late Bachelor level Computer Science Courses. In Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research (ICER ’18). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 11-20. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3230977.3230982

While the publisher copy is behind a paywall, there are open access copies available from my work home page and from our institutional digital repository.

The reception at the conference was pretty good. I got some tough questions related to methodological weaknesses, but also some very encouraging comments. The presentation generated Twitter reactions, and Andy Ko has briefly reviewed it in his conference summary.

Now some background to the paper that I did not share in my presentation and that is not explicit in the paper. Neither of us have done much quantitative research with human participants, so the idea was originally to do a preliminary study that allows us to practice running these sorts of studies; we expected to find a clear association between mindset and outcomes, and with that confirmation that we are on the right track we would have then moved on to experiments with mindset interventions. Well, the data changed that plan.

I had hoped to present an even more rigorous statistical analysis of our data, based on Deborah Mayo’s notion of severe testing – it gives us conceptual tools to evaluate results like ours that are difficult to interpret using the traditional tools of significance testing. Unfortunately, while the conceptual basis of Mayo’s theory is well established, there is very little literature on how it is actually applied in practical research. I hope her forthcoming book Statistical Inference as Severe Testing: How to Get Beyond the Statistics Wars will contain some technical development of the practical kind beyond what has previously been published. But until that technical development, I really cannot use Mayo’s theory to argue for a particular statistical model in a particular paper. Thus, while our drafts contained discussions of Mayo’s conceptual ideas, they were too far removed from the rest of the paper without the technical developments, and thus were deleted before submission.

We sent this paper to ICER mostly because we wanted to offer something to a conference that is held in Finland, and this one was ready. While we were confident of our method and results, we did not think it very likely that it would be accepted, as it is notoriously difficult to publish null result papers. We were quite surprised – though very happy – to get positive reviews and an acceptance.

We should publish negative results – in cases where there is a plausible theoretical basis to expect a positive result, or a practical need for an answer either way – much more than we do. A bias for positive results increases risks for bad science significantly, from the file drawer effect to outright data manipulation and deliberate misanalysis of data. I am extremely happy that our negative result was published, and I hope it will help change the culture toward healthy reporting practices.

Categories
Family Finnish Law and justice Life

Avioliitto ja lahjaverotus

TL;DR: Pitäkää puolisoiden rahat erillään. Yhteisten ja puolisoiden henkilökohtaisten menojen maksaminen puolin ja toisin on fine, samoin yhteistili talousmenoja varten, mutta rahasiirrot puolisoiden välillä voivat tulla lahjaveron alaisiksi.

Sattuneesta syystä olen viime aikoina tutustunut aiheeseen, jota en ole pohtinut eläessäni koskaan ennen: avioliiton sisäiset rahavirrat. Naivisti ajattelin, että voisin yksinkertaistaa ongelmaa ajattelemalla, että aviopuolisoiden rahat ovat yhteiset, ovat ne kumman tahansa nimissä, mutta näin ei asia ole.

On totta, että ilman avioehtoa ja muita erityisiä rajoituksia, puolisoiden varat lasketaan yhteen ja puolitetaan avioliiton päättyessä, siis kuoleman tai avioeron sattuessa. Mutta tästä ei seuraa mitään sen suhteen, miten asiat ovat avioliiton aikana.

Avioliiton aikana kunkin puolison omissa nimissä oleva omaisuus kuuluu yksinomaan hänelle. Yhteisomistukseen hankittu omaisuus kuuluu molemmille yhteisomistuksen suhteessa. Mielenkiintoista on, että esimerkiksi puolisoiden yhteiselle tilille yhden puolison siirtämä raha ei siirry yhteisomistukseen pelkästään tämän tilisiirron nojalla, vaan omistusoikeus vaihtuu vasta, kun raha siirretään kyseisen puolison käyttöoikeuden ulkopuolelle, esimerkiksi käyttämällä johonkin yhteiseen tai toisen puolison omaan hankintaan (ks. Helsingin hallinto-oikeuden ratkaisu 21.2.2006 06/0246/3).

Avioliitossa molemmilla puolisoilla on velvollisuus “kykynsä mukaan ottaa osaa perheen yhteiseen talouteen ja puolisoiden elatukseen. Puolisoiden elatus käsittää puolisoiden yhteisten sekä kummankin henkilökohtaisten tarpeiden tyydyttämisen.” (Avioliittolaki 46 § 1 mom.) Tämä tarkoittanee käytännössä sitä, että molempien tulee kotitöitä tekemällä ja henkilökohtaisilla tuloillaan taikka omaisuudellaan osallistua yhteiseen talouteen: kotia pitää hoitaa ja kodin tarpeet tulee tarpeellisilla hankinnoilla täyttää. Tämän lisäksi kummallakin puolisolla on velvollisuus omien tarpeittensa täyttämisen lisäksi osallistua myös toisen puolison tarpeiden täyttämiseen. Monissa tapauksissa tämä voi tarkoittaa, että parempituloinen puoliso maksaa yhteisten menojen osuutensa lisäksi heikompituloisen puolison henkilökohtaisia menoja.

Elatusvelvollisuus ei kuitenkaan tarkoita, että parempituloinen voisi yksinkertaisesti antaa rahaa heikompituloiselle ilman veroseuraamuksia. Lahjavero astuu heti kuvioon, kun yksi puoliso antaa rahaa tai omaisuutta toiselle puolisolle. Pelkästään se, että raha oli tarkoitettu kantamaan elatusvelvollisuutta, ei riitä: verotonta on vain elatus, jota vastaanottaja ei voi käyttää muuhun. Siis esimerkiksi kauppalaskun voi maksaa, mutta rahan antaminen kaupassakäyntiä varten – ainakin jos rahankäytöstä ei vaadi tilitystä – voi olla verotettava lahja. Jo 150 euroa kuukaudessa ilman tilivelvollisuutta ylittää lahjaverovelvollisuuden minimimäärän (150 €/kk * (3 v / 36 kk) = 5400 € / 3 v). Ks. Perintö- ja lahjaverolaki 19 § ja 19 a §.

Lienee turvallista käyttää yhteistä pankkitiliä, jonka käyttöä seurataan yhteisellä tilivelvollisuudella pelkästään talouden yhteisiin ja mahdollisesti puolisoiden henkilökohtaisiin menoihin. Edellä mainittu hallinto-oikeuden ratkaisu viittaa siihen, että rahan tallettaminen tällaiselle tilille ei ole vielä lahja toiselle puolisolle. Jos kummallakin puolisolla on tosiasiallinen velvoite tehdä tili toiselle puolisolle kyseisen pankkitilin käytöstään, voitaneen tilin käyttöä oman kontribuution yli pitää lahjaveron ulkopuolisena elatuksena. Varma en tästä tulkinnasta kuitenkaan ole.

Sen sijaan omaisuuden kartuttaminen yli sen, mihin heikompituloisella olisi yksin varaa, voi helposti johtaa verotettavaan lahjaan. Esimerkiksi jos aviopari ostaa parempituloisen puolison säästöillä ja tulevilla tuloilla yhteisen asunnon, joka kirjataan yhteiseen omistukseen 50-50, syntyy tästä melko varmasti verotettava lahja heikompituloiselle puolisolle. Vastaavasti eläkesäästöjen kartuttaminen molempien tuloilla vain toisen nimiin saattaa myös johtaa lahjatulkintaan: kumpikin kartuttakoon omia säästöjä omilla tuloillaan, ja kun eläkeaika koittaa, paremmin säästänyt voi elättää heikommin säästänyttä ongelmitta.

Päädynkin itse tässä tulkintaan, että puolisoiden rahat ja omaisuudet kannattaa pitää mahdollisimman selkeästi erillään toisistaan. Ei yhteisiä pankkitilejä (poislukien mahdolliset yhteistalouteen ja elatusvelvollisuuden piiriin laskettavat käyttötilit), ei yhteisiä säästöjä. Jakamaton omaisuus, kuten asunto, hankitaan puolisoiden kontribuutioiden suhteessa: jos toinen maksaa 100 000 euroa ja toinen 10 000 euroa, kirjataan asunnon omistussuhteiksi 90% ja 10%. Näin ei vahingossa pääse syntymään tilannetta, jossa lahjaveroa olisi pitänyt maksaa mutta kumpikaan puoliso ei sitä tajua.

Jos sinulla on eri käsitys, tai haluat muuten keskustella asiasta, kommenttikenttä alla on auki. Mutta pyydän, että esität mahdollisille väitteillesi luotettavat lähteet.

Categories
English Family Law and justice Life

Marriage and gift tax in Finland

TL;DR: A married couple in Finland should keep the spouses’ money and property separate.
A common household expenses account is probably fine, as is paying common expenses and personal expenses of the other spouse from one’s own money. Direct transfers of money or other property from one spouse to the other are likely to trigger gift tax, however.

Recently I have studied the law of marriage. As regards to money issues, I was naive to think that I could regard both spouses’ money as common property; in Finland, this is not so.

It is true that when a marriage ends (by death or by divorce), in the absence of specific prior restrictions, both spouses’ net worth is combined and distributed to each spouse (or their inheritors) 50-50. However, this does not say anything about how things are during a marriage.

In a marriage, under Finnish law, money and property held in the name of one spouse is generally the money and property of that spouse, and money and property held in joint ownership is (of course) jointly owned in the proportion specified. Interestingly, a court has held that a spouse transferring money to a joint bank account to which they have unilateral access retains ownership of that money until it is transferred out of their grasp (by being spent, for example); thus, money in that account is separately owned by each spouse to the extent of their net contributions, and no joint ownership is implied.

A spouse in a marriage has, in Finland, the legal duty, to the extent they are able, to take part in the common household economy and in fulfilling both spouses’ common and individual needs (see the Marriage Act, Section 46, Paragraph 1). This seems to mean that both spouses must take part in household chores and contribute what they can from personal income and assets to the family economy: the household must be maintained, and its needs must be met by appropriate purchases. Additionally, each spouse has a duty, in addition to meeting their own needs, to contribute in the fulfilling the needs of the other spouse. In many cases, this means that the spouse who makes more money spends money not only on their own needs and on common needs but also on the needs on the other spouse.

This duty does not mean, however, that a spouse can simply give money to the other spouse without tax effects. The gift tax enters the picture as soon as one spouse gives money or other assets freely to the other spouse. Just the intention of covering marital duties does not exempt the transfer from tax. What is needed is that the recipient must not be able to spend the money on other things. Thus, one can pay a grocery bill, but one cannot (without demanding an accounting) give money to pay for the groceries. As little as 150 euros per month is enough to trigger the tax within three years. See the inheritance and gift tax act Sections 19 and 19a.

It seems safe to use a joint debit card to be used for household and private expenses, so long as both spouses demand an accounting from the other on its use. The court decision I mentioned above seems to mean that simply putting money on such an account is not a taxable gift, and so long as both spouses actually account for their use of the joint card, their use of it in excess of their own contribution should be the exploitation of an untaxable marital duty. I am not certain of this interpretation, however.

Accumulating assets over what a spouse can afford by themself is very likely to involve taxable gifts, however. For example, if the couple uses the savings and future earnings of the higher earning spouse to buy a house under 50-50 joint ownership, this is very likely a taxable gift to the other spouse. Similarly, using both spouses’ income to accumulate retirement savings in one spouse’s name might be seen as a taxable gift (though it might be possible to explain it to the tax office as a joint savings in truth). Instead, both spouses should save independently, and at retirement, the higher savings of one can be used to discharge the marital duty to the other spouse.

My conclusion is that married spouses in Finland should keep their finances separate as much as possible. Avoid common bank accounts (apart possibly from household and private needs spending accounts), avoid joint savings. Undivisible property, like apartments and houses, should be listed in the ownership proportions corresponding to actual contributions: if one contributes 100 000 euros and the other 10 000 euros, the proportion should be listed as 90–10. If you do all this, you are unlikely to accidentally breach the gift tax act.

If you have a different opinion, or if you want to discuss this, feel free to use the comment box below. I ask that you substantiate any factual or legal propositions by reliable sources, however.

Categories
English Family

Just Married! – There’s nothing just about it

Waiting for the Vietnamese wedding to start
We got married, twice, in March: once in Hà N?i, Vi?t Nam, on March 10, and another time in Jyväskylä, Finland, on March 29. Both ceremonies are happy memories for us, as we get on with the rest of our lives together. This post, however, is the first in a series about the details of actually having a legal and culturally respected marriage between two different countries.

My wife is, in Western style, called Hang (not pronounced like the English word). Officially, in Vi?t Nam, she is Nguy?n Th? Thu H?ng, and in Finland, she is Thi Thu Hang Nguyen. She was born in Hà N?i, Vi?t Nam, and is a Vietnamese citizen.

I was born in Jyväskylä, Finland, and am a Finnish citizen.

Waiting for the Vietnamese wedding to start
Now, as I understand it, wedding customs in Vietnam are quite formal, derived from arranged marriages. There are three major meetings of the bride’s and the groom’s families: once to allow the couple to meet each other, once for the formal betrothal, and once for the actual marriage. Nobody asks the couple anything: all talking is done by the parents. In addition, there are introductions to make across families and prayers (and chickens) to offer to dead ancestors. We asked for a simple ceremony, but it ballooned into something reasonably big, about 150 guests in the main event, so that our marriage looked respectable in the local custom.

After the Jyväskylä wedding, at Maistraatti
In Finland, in contrast, we were in charge ourselves and could choose something simple. We arranged for ourselves a small ceremony in the state registry office in town, maistraatti, followed by a very classy fine dining meal at the best restaurant in town. We entertained only ten guests. This happened a couple of weeks after the Vietnamese ceremony.

However, celebrating marriage does not make it official. In the Vietnamese custom, the state does not enter into weddings – the marriage is registered officially usually weeks, sometimes years, before or after the wedding. Similarly, our Vietnamese wedding did not have any official status recognized by the state. However, we did need to make ours official, and that required paperwork.

We first had to decide whether to create the official marriage in Vietnam or in Finland. In the end, we would need to register it in both, but the first country would be recorded as the place of marriage in both countries, and the date of the first official act would be the official date in both countries. In the end, it seemed simpler for us, as we both live in Finland, to do the official here.

So, paperwork. To get officially married in Finland we first needed to have our eligibility to marry to be officially determined. The key question is whether we both were unmarried. For me the answer was easily obtained, as it is recorded in the state population database. However, even though Hang is registered in the database, her marital status was not. Hence, we needed a document from Vietnamese officials. Being naive, I thought she could get one from the embassy in Helsinki. Turns out, the document she got from there only stated she had not married anyone while in Finland, as far as the embassy’s records showed; it said nothing about her time in Vietnam. So, we sent her father a power of attorney to get another paper from Vietnam itself.

Now, there are two main ways for a country to authenticate its official papers for use in official process in another country. If both countries are parties to the Apostille Convention, certain officials of the originating country can, on request, grant an apostille that certifies the signature of the paper, and the receiving country will accept that certification. Unfortunately, while Finland is a party, Vietnam is not.

The other possibility is grand legalization. Usually, the foreign ministry of the originating country certifies the signature of the paper, and the embassy of the receiving country will then certify the foreign ministry’s certification. In addition, there is often a required step of official translation from a language to another.

Thus: Hang’s father got her single certificate. Then it was given to an official translator to be translated into English. Then, both the certificate and its translations were brought into Vietnam’s foreign ministry, which certified both the certificate and its translation. Finally, both the certificate and the translation were brought into Finland’s embassy in Hanoi, where the foreign ministry’s certifications were certified. Complicated, no?

Eventually, we had two properly certified papers for Hang, saying that she had never married in Vietnam or Finland. We then went to the state registry office, who received our request for certification of marriage eligibility. They told us that we would hear from them if there was a problem, but we would get no confirmation of success until marriage day. A couple of months later, we got a bit nervous and sent email to ask; they confirmed all was good.

Another thing is surname. It is the Finnish custom for a couple to settle on a common surname, usually the husband’s, though the law recognizes the right of both spouses to keep their name, or for one to adopt a double-barreled name containing both spouse’s surnames, and many couples end up choosing one of these options. The Vietnamese custom is for both spouses to retain their names. We chose to respect the Vietnamese custom, and neither of us changed our official names.

A collage from the Jyväskylä ceremony, compiled by Hang.
The official ceremony in Finland did not quite go as planned. We forgot to bring one of our identity cards, so I had to make a quick drive to home to fetch it. Fortunately, we had rented a very nice car and we did not live very far, so it took me only about half an hour to make the trip. Still, that half an hour meant that we changed from being early to being very late. Fortunately, although we used a bit of the next couple’s time, the officials were understanding and allowed us to complete our ceremony and do some photography as well.

Later, I will write more about our Vietnam trip and our Vietnamese wedding, as well as the process of getting our Finnish official marriage recognized at the Vietnam embassy in Helsinki. For now, I will just say that we are very happy together, and look forward to the many decades to come.

[Edits May 7, 2018, to clarify the order of events.]

Categories
Academic publications English Programming

Discussing the future of the field: Do it on the record!

I came to the field of programming language research as an outsider. Though we had an active researcher in our faculty (he has since retired), for various reasons he was never my mentor, so I never got personal introductions nor did I receive much oral wisdom from an elder in the field. Instead, I immersed myself in the literature. Eventually, I got good enough to write a reasonably good licentiate thesis, which in turn led me to spend three months visiting one of the external examiners, Stefan Hanenberg. From him, I got some of the inside story, and the world looked much different. Of course, he is a minority voice in the field, but every participant has a unique point of view anyway. The thought I am writing about here crystallised for me immediately: too much of the field’s development happens off the record!

On Wednesday, I presented my essay “Concept analysis in programming language research: Done well it is all right” [ACM DL] [Author’s PDF] [presentation slides (PDF)] at SPLASH Onward here in Vancouver. I told some of my story there; the session chair Robert Biddle expanded on it and made a forceful point, which I am repeating and expanding on here now.

The discussions that lead to significant developments in the field must happen on the record! It is fine to talk with friends and colleagues in pubs and at lunch (or wherever), but if the discussion leads to a concrete proposal that would affect the field either substantially (in terms of, for example, conceptual developments), the issue should be written up and published in a publication of record, and sufficient time should be allowed (if possible) for contrary and refinement views to be similarly published on the record.

The reason for this is, on the one hand, the empowerment of the community fringe, who does not have the opportunity to participate in off the record discussions, and, on the other hand, the creation of a full record for the future generations of researchers so that they can read up and learn about why things are the way they are.

Concept analysis, as I proposed it in my essay, is one way of proceeding with this on-the-record development of the field in terms of conceptual issues. Too often it appears to an outsider that things just appear out of thin air. Instead, any conceptual developments should be argued for in the literature!

I think the field would benefit enormously if we stopped thinking of research publication as the accumulation of facts (or the completion of a grand theory), and instead took a page from the humanities and the social scientists: for them, scholarly publications form a grand – multicentennial – discussion where individual researchers listen for a while, then start participating for a couple of decades, and then go away, while others take their place. This viewpoint has a side-effect of creating a fuller historical record, but it also places more responsibility on the reader: you have to listen for a while to catch the import of what you are reading, instead of grabbing a paper here or a paper there and taking them to be the gospel.

It would also allow putting more of the development of the field on the record.

Categories
English Philosophy

I am emphatically not anti-empiricist

Yesterday, I gave a talk at SPLASH Onward in Vancouver introducing my essay “Concept analysis in programming language research: Done well it is all right” [ACM DL] [Author’s PDF] [presentation slides (PDF)]. Both reader comments earlier and some of the questions after my presentation leads me to think that I was not quite clear enough in my essay and my presentation:

I am not advocating abandoning empirical research. Quite the contrary! I believe it should be used wherever it makes sense. I just happen to think that conceptual questions cannot be resolved based on empirical stuff (alone – though empirical research can function as reasons in a philosophical argument quite fine).

A related question is, is nonempirical research science? I believe it is. If we restricted science to empirical stuff only, we would have to reject mathematics from the halls of science. I believe the key characteristic that separates science from non-science is intellectual honesty combined with the use of best available methodology. Concept analysis, done well, fits that bill.

Categories
Finnish Law and justice Politics

Lautamiehenä 2005–2017

Eilen se sitten päättyi. Nimittäin minun kauteni käräjäoikeuden lautamiehenä. Aloitin 1.3.2005 ja lopetin (paperilla) 30.9.2017. Palveluaikaa kertyi siten noin 12½ vuotta. Viimeinen istuntoni oli keväällä ja se liittyi henkisesti vaikeimpaan juttuun, jonka olen koskaan istunut: julistimme viimevuotisen Multian murhan tuomion saatuamme vastauksen mielentilatutkimuksesta. En voi puhua tapauksista, joissa istuin maallikkotuomarina, joten en siitäkään enempää sano, mutta ajattelin nyt muistella yleisemmällä tasolla menneitä ja linjata yleisellä tasolla sitä, mihin toivon lautamiesjärjestelmän menevän.

Lautamiehen tehtävä on yhdellä tasolla ollut koko kauteni ajan sama: istumme ammattituomarin (tai toisinaan tuomioistuinharjoittelua suorittavan nuoren lakimiehen) kanssa rikosjuttuja. Julkisessa istunnossa emme (yleensä) sano sanaakaan, vaan kuuntelemme ja havainnoimme muutenkin tarkasti. Jotkut tekevät paljon muistiinpanoja, minä en yleensä juurikaan. Joskus harvoin laitoin lapulla viestiä puheenjohtajalle, joskus työjärjestykseen mutta joskus myös asiaan liittyen. Lautamieskollegoiden kanssa lappukeskusteluja (aina itse asiaan liittyen) käytiin useammin. Kun asiassa oli loppulausunnot annettu ja seuraamuskeskustelu asianomaisten kesken käyty, sali tyhjennettiin ja aloimmme porukalla ruotia juttua. Keskustelua oli, emmekä läheskään aina olleet aluksi samaa mieltä. Keskustelun jälkeen tuomio oli kuitenkin lähes aina yksimielinen: äänestystuomiota olen muistaakseni ollut antamassa kahdesti. Useimmiten tuomio julistettiin heti, mutta toisinaan asia siirrettiin kansliatuomioksi, jolloin palaveerasimme (yleensä) tuomarin työhuoneessa kerran tai pari seuraavan parin viikon aikana.

Myös miljöö jossa toimimme pysyi aika lailla samana. Istuimme samoissa saleissa, joissa oli samat huonekalut ja sama huonejärjestys koko sen ajan. Jossain vaiheessa saleista poistuivat Raamatut ja jossain vaiheessa saleihin ilmaantui video- ja äänitallennetodisteiden läpikäyntiä varten läppäri ja projektori.

Käräjäoikeuden lautamiehen tehtävään liittyy myös toinen tehtävä: istuimme myös Kuopion (sittemmin Pohjois-Savon) käräjäoikeuden lautamiehinä silloin, kun se tuli Keski-Suomeen istumaan maaoikeutta. Pääsin istumaan maaoikeudessa vain muutaman kerran, mutta ne olivatkin sitten hyvin mielenkiintoisia kertoja jokainen.

Toisaalta lautamiesten työ muuttui hyvinkin radikaalisti näiden 12 vuoden aikana. Kun aloitin, istuntoja oli parikymmentä päivää vuodessa, siis kaksi istuntoa useimpina kuukausina. Tänä vuonna istuin kahtena päivänä, viime vuonna viitenä.

Se mikä tässä on muuttunut, on laki. Kun aloitin, käytännössä kaikki rikosjutut aivan vähäisimpiä lukuunottamatta istuttiin lautamieskokoonpanossa. Näitä olivat muiden muassa hyvin yleiset rattijuopumusjutut, ja “rattipäiviä” olikin usein. Ne olivat varsin yksinkertaisia ja puuduttavia juttuja: erinomainen tapa uudelle lautamiehelle päästä kärryille, mutta epäilemättä olisin alkanut tuskastua ellei ensimmäinen uudistus olisi pian vienyt rattijuopumusjutut pois lautamiehiltä.

Kaikki rikosasiat voitaisiin edelleenkin istua lautamieskokoonpanossa, mutta laissa on lautamiesten käytön pakko poistettu kokonaan. Valtaosa jutuista istutaan yhden (ammatti)tuomarin kokoonpanossa ja vaikeimmat puolestaan viedään kolmen ammattituomarin pohdittavaksi. Lisäksi lautamieskokoonpanon kokoa on pienennetty: aiemmasta 1-2 ammattituomarista ja 3-4 lautamiehestä siirryttiin jokunen vuosi sitten 1-2 ammattituomariin ja 2-3 lautamieheen.

Oli hyvä, että rattipäivät poistuivat – valtaosa rattijuopumusjutuista on kaavamaisia, joissa ei juurikaan tarvita harkintaa. En pidä hyvänä, että lautamisten käyttöä on muuten vähennetty. Erityisen huonona pidän, että tätä on tehty ensisijaisesti säästötoimenpiteenä. Jos lautamiehistä luovuttaisiin kokonaan, se olisi ihan toinen asia, mutta tällainen oikeusjärjestelmän periaatteeton juustohöylääminen on ollut hölmöläisten hommaa.

Itse pidän lautamiesjärjestelmää tärkeänä. Lautamiesten tärkein tehtävä nykyaikana on antaa ammattituomareille “reality check”: tuomarin tulee kyetä esittämään kantansa niin, että maallikkokin sen ymmärtää, sillä muuten hänet äänestetään nurin. Pelkään lautamiesjärjestelmän romuttuessa lainkäytön irtoavan kokonaan omaksi maailmakseen.

Laajentaisin lautamiesjärjestelmän myös hovioikeuksiin, hallinto-oikeuksiin ja korkeimpiin oikeuksiin, ja vaatisin lautamiesten käyttöä kaikissa asioissa, joissa todisteiden painoarvoa tai lain tulkintaa joudutaan pohtimaan – rajaisin pois vain riidattomat suhteellisen vähämerkitykselliset asiat. Reality check -syistä lautamiehillä tulee alemmissa oikeuksissa aina olla äänten enemmistö kokoonpanossa, mutta heitä ei tarvitsisi olla kuin kaksi tavallisimmissa tapauksissa. Rajaisin korkeimmat oikeudet enemmistövaatimuksen ulkopuolelle, jotta lautamiehet eivät pääsisi sooloilemaan. Lautamiesten valintamenettely vaatii myös uudistamista, mutta siitä joku toinen kerta.

Lopetin lautamiehenä omasta tahdostani. Siihen oli kolme syytä:

  1. Olen 12 vuoden aikana kehittänyt omaa oikeuspoliittista ajatteluani paljon. Haluan kirjoittaa siitä paljonkin, mutta monet kantani eivät ole sellaisia, jotka sopivat aktiivituomarin sanottaviksi.
  2. Olen 12 vuoden aikana oppinut laista ja juridiikasta paljon, ja vaikka en olekaan ammattitaitoinen lakimies, ymmärrän lakia jo aivan liian hyvin. En ole enää puhdas maallikko.
  3. Turhauduin harvoihin istuntoihin. Istunnot olivat kiinnostavia, niiden odottelu ei.

Aion lähiviikkoina ja -kuukausina kirjoitella blogiini enemmänkin lautamiehistä ja Suomen rikosoikeudesta. Niitä odotellessa toivotan kaikkea hyvää uusille lautamiehille ympäri maan sekä myös tehtävässä jatkaville.