Question: Are high taxes comparable to slavery? On Facebook, some friends suggest that America is becoming more like Nazi Germany. Others share images comparing Americans workers to slaves picking cotton in the antebellum south due to our ever-higher taxes. I think these comparisons go way too far: Americans are still some of the freest people the world has ever known. No doubt, our freedom is being chipped away, but are we really like slaves?
Subjects Discussed: * What "bleeding heart libertarianism" (BHL)-- or rawlsekianism, liberaltarianism, new libertarianism – is * why BHL matters * What's new about BHL, as a form of libertarianism * The meaning of "social justice" * The seeming incompatibility of libertarianism and social justice * Why BHLs want to reconcile libertarianism and social justice * How BHLs attempt to reconcile libertarianism and social justice: Friedrich Hayek * Hayek's views * Hayek + Rawls = BHL * BHL verus altruistic defenses of libertarianism * The moral assessment of BHL * The need to develop a better defense of a win-win world * How to talk about how capitalism helps the poor: benefits versus goals * The success of BHL * The potential effect of BHL on American politics * Silver linings and take-home points * Rawls' conception of justice.
Question: Should the government intervene when widespread racism makes life impossible for some people? Given that the effect of strictly respecting the rights of private property owners in the South was that blacks could not find accommodations, health care, transportation, food, and other basic necessities of life, shouldn't the government have intervened? Didn't civil rights legislation help eliminate racism – and wasn't that a good thing – even if that meant violating the right to property of racists?
Question: Do right-to-work laws violate or protect rights? Some states are attempting to pass "right to work" laws, despite massive union opposition. Under such laws, employers cannot require employees to be a member of a union – as often happens due to federal law. These laws aim to empower employees against unwelcome unions. Are these laws legitimate – perhaps as defense against unjust federal law or a step toward freedom of contract? Or are they indefensible because they violate the rights of employers to dictate the terms of employment?
Subjects Discussed: * What tort law is, compared with criminal, contract, and property law * Intentional versus accidental torts * Crimes and torts * The negligence standard versus strict liability in torts * Standards for torts in American history * Good Samaritan laws and torts: affirmative duties * Special cases of duties to rescue * Free speech and torts: defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress * Proposals for tort reform * Torts and legal precedents in property law * Law and philosophy.
Question: Is chivalry virtuous? In the Aurora Masacre, three men died in the process of physically shielding their girlfriends from the gunfire. Is that kind of sacrifice noble? More generally, does chivalry have any place in an ethic of rational egoism?
Subjects Discussed: * The nature of work, energy, and power * The purpose of the energy industry * The history of the energy industry and its benefits * The moral evaluation of the energy industry * How to think about "the environment" * Pollution versus rights * The power of morality in thinking about environmental concerns * Natural versus unnatural * The law of pollution, including respecting context * Why the energy industry doesn't defend itself – and how it should defend itself * How the US should have dealt with nationalization of oil wells in foreign countries * About CIP, including the upcoming debate and how to support CIP.
Subjects Discussed: * Evaluating the past * What life was like in early America * Cultural changes in America, including for women and marriage * Federal versus state and local governments now and then * The 14th Amendment * Improvements in the law, including marriage law, morality regulations and cultural mores, blasphemy law, and obscenity law * The American north versus south * Andrew Jackson's duel * The caning of Charles Sumner * Today's Republicans and Democrats * The value (or lack thereof) of voting.