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Subpoenas in a Free Society

Webcast Q&A: 22 May 2011, Question 1

I answered a question on subpoenas in a free society on 22 May 2011. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.

Why are subpoenas justified but not compulsory juries? In your 15 May 2011 webcast, you contrasted your position on jury duty with that of Dr. Peikoff's, saying that compulsory jury duty constituted the initiation of force. My understanding is that Ayn Rand's position was that subpoenas and the jury selection process are entirely consistent with justice, as Peikoff mentions in this podcast. Juries are selected using subpoenas. How would you reconcile being for subpoenas but against compulsory jury duty? And, does this also mean that you disagree with Ayn Rand's view of justice?

My Answer, In Brief: Ayn Rand's view of subpoenas, which I suspect to be right, seems to have been that for a person to fail to testify when required is a violation of the rights of the people involved in the court case, presumably their right to a fair trial. (That's different from the rationale offered by Dr. Peikoff.) A full theory, adequately defended, will depend on the work of philosophers of law.

Tags: Free Society, Juries, Justice, Law, Objectivism, Objectivism, Politics, Rights


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I'm Dr. Diana Brickell. I'm a philosopher specializing in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, is available for purchase in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."

My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on most Sunday mornings and some Thursday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Thursday evenings, I interview an expert guest or discuss a topic of interest.

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