Citizenship, Automatic Weapons, Reasoning, and More
Webcast Q&A: 20 November 2011
I answered questions on the meaning of citizenship in a free society, the legal status of automatic weapons, forcing religious fanaticism on others, reasoning by facts rather than emotions, and more on 20 November 2011. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.
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Segments: 20 November 2011
Question: What should it mean for a person to be a citizen of country? Suppose that America were a free country, with open borders. What would be the difference between a long-term resident and a citizen? How would that affect a person's relationship to the government? How would a person (including someone born in the US) become a citizen? Could a person be a citizen of two countries?
Answer, In Brief: In a free society, a citizen must be loyal to basic principles of country, in word (by swearing allegiance to the constitution) and deed (by voluntarily financing the government). That would entitle the citizen to extra protections by the government, as well as the right to participate in the government by voting and more. Other people, so long as not hostile or criminal, would be free to live and work in the country as residents, with their rights protected.
Question: Should it be legal for civilians to own fully automatic weapons? At present, civilians can only own full-auto firearms by special permission of the US Treasury. In a free society, would such weapons be banned or regulated, such that only members of the police and military could access them? As a law-abiding civilian, am I somehow violating someone else's rights by owning an M-16 fully automatic rifle – as opposed to the virtually identical (and currently legal) semi-automatic AR-15 rifle?
Answer, In Brief: The critical question to ask with any potentially dangerous property is whether mere ownership constitutes a threat to others. That's not true of firearms, including fully automatic weapons.
Question: Why do religious fanatics seek to impose their beliefs on others? Most religious fanatics aren't content to practice their religion for themselves: they seek to impose it on others by law. Why is that? Why is that wrong? What can be done to combat it?
Answer, In Brief: For myriad reasons, the politics that naturally flows from religious faith is forced obedience, not freedom.
Question: How do I know that I'm reasoning based on facts, rather than just being driven by my emotions? Often, I feel strong emotions on some personal or political issue. How do I know that I'm not rationalizing what I want to be true?
Answer, In Brief: By monitoring his thinking, a person can notice the many signs of rationalizing feelings rather than reasoning based on facts. Introspection is the key to noticing and solving this problem.
Rapid Fire Questions (54:18)
- Is jury nullification ever justified?
- When saying the Pledge of Allegiance, what should be one's policy concerning "under God"? Should one simply leave out those words?
- Is there anything wrong with being strongly attracted to certain unchosen traits in a potential romantic partner (e.g. blonde vs brunette, short vs tall, race, etc)?
- I know many people who supposedly share my same rational, egoistic, pro-freedom philosophy – but they're unpleasant jerks! How can this be, if we're all committed to reason and happiness?
- What do you think of the idea of a "temporary marriage", as Mexico has instituted?
- What do you think about the Joe Paterno situation at Penn State? Specificaally, how should someone handle receiving second-hand allegations?
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased 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 second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.