Blaming Crime Victims, Constitutional Carry, Hijacking Ideas, More
Q&A Radio: 21 September 2014
I answered questions on blaming crime victims, constitutional carry, hijacking Ayn Rand's ideas, and more on 21 September 2014. 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: 21 September 2014
Question: Is it wrong to suggest that a crime victim should have taken greater precautions? My wife and I were discussing the recent iCloud data breach in which a hacker stole and published nude photos of hundreds of female celebrities. I made the comment that while the hacker's actions were despicable, at the same time I thought the celebrities were stupid to have trusted iCloud to protect the privacy of their photos in the first place. My wife balked at this, saying that this amounts to blaming the victim, and is no better than saying a woman who is raped was stupid for wearing a short skirt, or for drinking alcohol. But I see it as being more akin to saying a person whose bag was stolen from their car was stupid for leaving the door unlocked. Do comments of this sort really amount to 'blaming the victim'? Is it proper or improper to make such comments? Does my level of expertise or the victim's level of expertise make any difference? (As a computer engineer, I am very aware of the dangers of the cloud, whereas your average celebrity would probably be clueless about it.) Intuitively, I feel like the comments would be improper in my wife's example, proper in my example, and I'm unsure about the data breach itself. But I'm struggling to identify what the defining characteristics are for each case. What's the right approach here?
Answer, In Brief: Criminals are fully to blame for their criminal acts – always. However, if only for the sake of preventing future crimes, we should recognize that victims might have provided opportunities to the criminal by taking unnecessary and even negligent risks. In the case of the stolen celebrity nudes, the technology is pretty confusing to non-geeks, but hopefully the incident will inspire people to be more careful in future with their sensitive data.
Question: Should concealed carry permits be required to carry firearms concealed? In the United States today, most states have "shall-issue" concealed carry laws, whereby the sheriff of a county must issue a concealed carry permit to anyone who meets the requirements. Those requirements usually include no history of criminal activity, no history of mental illness, and some training. However, two states permit "constitutional carry," meaning that any law-abiding citizen has a right to carry a concealed firearm, without the need for a permit. Is requiring a "concealed carry" permit a violation of the right to self-defense? Or is "constitutional carry" a dangerous form of anarchy?
Answer, In Brief: Although people might have some reasonable trepidation about "constitutional carry," the fact is that requiring a concealed carry permit is (1) only a restriction on law-abiding people (not criminals), (2) a violation of those people's rights, and (3) not required for public safety or a hindrance to criminals.
Question: What can be done to prevent the hijacking of Ayn Rand's ideas? Ayn Rand has become more and more popular over the last decade, and her ideas have begun to spread into academia. There is more literature being written about Objectivism now than ever before. But there is one thing that worries me. There is a great risk that as Ayn Rand becomes "trendy," second handers will try to use her ideas, manipulate them, to gain respect, and to further their nefarious ends. This is exactly what happened to Friedrich Nietzsche – when his ideas became popular, his philosophy was hijacked by anarchists, Nazis, and postmodernists, completely destroying his reputation for a century. How do we prevent this from happening to Ayn Rand?
Answer, In Brief: It's too early to worry about hijacking of Ayn Rand's ideas. If it happens, you probably can't do much about it, except point out the facts and refuse to associate with dishonest critics or advocates thereof.
Rapid Fire Questions (56:24)
- Do you have an opinion on Scottish independence?
- Should regulations on the definition of a product exist? For example, in the UK, selling a product labelled 'sausage' is considered fraudulent if it is less than 42% meat?
- I enjoyed your analysis of libel and slander laws and their effect on free speech. I think revenge porn laws are likewise anti free speech, and therefore harmful. What do you think?
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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 email@example.com.