On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on satisfying psychological needs, insane murderers and the death penalty, ideological consistency, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 5 July 2015. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.


Firearms

  • Q&A: Responsibility for Stolen Firearms: 21 Jun 2015, Question 3
  • Question: Should a person injured by a stolen gun be permitted to sue the original owner thereof for damages? Imagine that a person's firearm is stolen, then used in a crime to injure an innocent person. Can the crime victim sue the owner of the gun for damages? Would it matter if the gun was left in plain sight or not locked away? Would it matter if the gun was stolen months or years before the crime? Also, what if the gun owner lent his gun to another person who he reasonably thought was honest and law-abiding? If the gun owner is not legally liable, might he be morally culpable?

    Tags: Crime, Ethics, Firearms, Law, Negligence, Responsibility, Theft, Torts

  • Q&A: Waivers to Rights-Violating Laws: 10 May 2015, Question 1
  • Question: Are waivers to rights-violating laws good or bad? There are many examples of immoral laws in which the government initiates force against individuals. There are also many examples of groups of people being carved out of the application of such laws via waivers. Some waivers are based on rational motivations, such as business exemptions from Obamacare based on economic burdens. Some waivers are based on irrational motivations, such as religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws or requirements to provide insurance for birth control because compliance would conflict with a "religious conscience." If we begin by agreeing that all initiation of force is immoral, how can we proceed with analyzing whether waivers to immoral laws are good or bad? Are the exceptions good if they're based on rational reasons and bad if based on irrational reasons? Or should we think of the exceptions as either universally good or bad? Philosophically, I'm confused. On one hand, how can I not support all waivers when, in fact, they would result in less initiation of force? On the other hand, I can think of a philosophical argument against all waivers on the following basis: unequal standards for the application of political force implies a variance in the ethical standards which implies a variance in the metaphysical nature of man. If we accept the implication that there are essential differences in our nature as human beings, then we have given up the objective basis for rights and open the door to widespread destruction of freedom. Is that right? How should a person who wants to consistently support individual rights think about this issue of waivers, in principle?

    Tags: Concealed Carry, Discrimination, Equality before the Law, Ethics, Firearms, Government, Law, Objectivity, Politics, Principles, Rights, Rule of Law, Separation of Church and State

  • Q&A: Constitutional Carry: 21 Sep 2014, Question 2
  • 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?

    Tags: Crimes, Firearms, Law, Politics, Rights, Self-Defense

  • Interview: Dr. Paul Hsieh on Understanding the Three Languages of Politics: 3 Jul 2014
  • Summary: How many times have you been in political discussions with friends where you find you're talking past one another? You'll make points they consider irrelevant, whereas they'll focus on issues you consider nonessential. Such problems can be overcome, at least in part, using Arnold Kling's concept of the "Three Languages of Politics." Paul Hsieh explained how freedom advocates (e.g., Objectivists and better libertarians), conservatives, and liberals tend to use three vastly different metaphors in political discussions, which can create unintentional misunderstandings and miscommunications. He discussed how to frame discussion points so they better resonate with those speaking the other "languages" without compromising on principles.

    Tags: Activism, Campaign Finance, Civilization, Communication, Compromise, Conservatism, Drug War, Firearms, Free Speech, GLBT, Government, Libertarianism, Medicine, Objectivism, Objectivism, Politics, Privacy, Progressivism, Property Rights, Rights, Three Languages of Politics, Values

  • Q&A: "Stand Your Ground" Laws: 15 Jun 2014, Question 1
  • Question: Are "stand your ground" self-defense laws proper? Should a potential crime victim in reasonable fear of of his life be required to attempt to withdraw from a confrontation when possible? Or is it proper to allow him to "stand his ground" and use a firearm to kill the assailant?

    Tags: Ethics, Firearms, Law, Rights, Self-Defense

  • Q&A: Property Owners Prohibiting Firearms: 27 Oct 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Should a person respect signs prohibiting guns in certain areas? Some businesses and government offices announce that firearms are prohibited in the building, yet no screening is conducted to ensure that firearms are excluded. In such "pretend gun-free zones," law-abiding people will disarm, while criminals and other dangerous or careless people will not. Is this a violation of a person's right to self-defense? Should people refuse to disarm in face of such signs?

    Tags: Firearms, Property Rights, Rights, Self-Defense

  • Q&A: The Morality of an Armed Society: 16 Jun 2013, Question 3
  • Question: Is an armed society a polite society – or a violent society? Author Robert Heinlein famously said that "An armed society is a polite society." Many liberals, however, fear an armed society as barbaric and violent. Is widespread ownership and/or carry of arms a positive or a negative feature of a society?

    Tags: Character, Culture, Determinism, Ethics, Firearms, Moral Amplifiers, Rationality, Responsibility

  • Interview: Jim Manley on Concealed Carry on Campus: 1 May 2013
  • Summary: Many people assume that college campuses are – and should be – gun free zones. Jim Manley explains why concealed carry permit holders should be permitted to carry on campus.

    Tags: Activism, Colorado, Democrats, Firearms, Government, Rights, Self-Defense

  • Q&A: Resisting Illegitimate Police Action: 21 Apr 2013, Question 3
  • Question: When is it moral to resist police action? Last year, the governor of Indiana signed a bill into law granting protection to citizens that resist the unlawful actions of a public servant. If a police officer enters your home without your knowledge or consent – legally or illegally – and you have no way of knowing whether he is an unlawful intruder, are you morally justified in taking violent action against him? When is it moral to forcibly resist police actions?

    Tags: Crime, Ethics, Firearms, Justice, Law, Police, Self-Defense

  • Interview: Ryan Moore on How Guns Save Lives: 6 Mar 2013
  • Summary: What does the right to self-defense mean – not just in theory but in practice too? What does that require of a person?

    Tags: Firearms, Law, Politics, Self-Defense

  • Q&A: Semi-Automatic Handguns Versus Revolvers: 17 Feb 2013, Question 4
  • Question: Are semi-automatic handguns more dangerous than revolvers? In the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting, many of my friends claimed that semi-automatic firearms should be banned. They think that people should only be permitted to own revolvers. What are the differences between these two kinds of handguns? Do those differences matter to public policy debates about gun rights and gun control?

    Tags: Firearms, Politics, Rights, Self-Defense

  • Q&A: The Morality of Nuclear Weapons: 23 Sep 2012, Question 1
  • Question: When should nuclear weapons be used, if ever? Under what circumstances would a free society use nuclear weapons – or chemical or biological weapons? Are they so destructive that their use would never be acceptable? Or might they be used in self-defense to win a war or win a war more quickly?

    Tags: Egoism, Ethics, Firearms, Foreign Policy, Free Society, Military, Rights, Sacrifice, Self-Defense, Self-Interest, War

  • Q&A: The Legal Status of Automatic Weapons: 20 Nov 2011, Question 2
  • 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?

    Tags: Firearms, Law, Politics, Rights, Self-Defense

  • Q&A: The Reasons for Carrying a Concealed Weapon: 24 Jul 2011, Question 3
  • Question: Why would an ordinary person wish to carry a gun? In your July 3rd webcast, you mentioned that you have a concealed carry permit. Why? Even if a person should be allowed to carry a firearm, shouldn't we rely on the experts – namely the police – to protect us from criminals?

    Tags: Ethics, Firearms, Law, Politics, Self-Defense

  • Q&A: The Boundaries of Proper Self-Defense: 3 Jul 2011, Question 2
  • Question: Is it moral to not defend yourself if you will get into legal trouble for doing so? As I understand laws on self-defense, you must be "in immediate danger of death or grievously bodily harm" in order to use lethal force. How is this reconciled with the morality of "shooting before he shoots you" or "hitting before you get hit"? In other words, preemptive attack may be seen as assault, but there might also be a threat of force. Is it moral to not defend yourself to avoid assault charges? In the case of using a gun to defend yourself, this could mean the difference between you dying at the hands of your attacker or living, but going to jail for murder. What should you do?

    Tags: Ethics, Firearms, Law, Self-Defense

  • Q&A: The Risk of Guns with Kids: 26 Jun 2011, Question 2
  • Question: Should people give up their guns when they have kids? Many people think that having guns in the house with kids is terribly risky, if not child endangerment. They say that the kids might get to the guns, even if locked away, and injure or even kill themselves in an accidental discharge. Is that right? If parents choose to keep their guns in the house, what should they do to minimize the risk of injury?

    Tags: Children, Ethics, Firearms, Parenting, Politics, Risk, Self-Defense


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