Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Second Amendment

I haven’t posted much recently in part because others are saying what needs to be said. In the past I tended to contribute to the debate when I thought others were missing a point or an emphasis was misplaced. I usually don’t talk about specific legal matters or individual acts but one concern that continues to resurface and which reveals the sorry state of today's debate is the 2nd amendment.

Long-standing historic rights, hard won rights which our forefathers shed their blood and gave their lives, should not be discarded suddenly to “solve” the problem of the moment. Our momentary comfort, often illusory, is a poor guide to the rightfulness of the principles and laws we need to insure our lives and liberty in the long-run. Thus, we should come to the debate with some understanding of history.

The notion of an individual’s right to protect his life from harm has a long history in English and American culture. But equally important is the ultimate insurance against the rise of a tyranny, either from domestic disintegration or foreign domination: the right to revolution. Our nation was founded by citizens rising up to fight a violent revolution against the encroaching tyranny of the Crown and a parliament ruling from abroad. The first battle was fought to protect the militia’s military supplies. In a literal sense we went to war to secure our right to bear arms, which was the ultimate means of protecting all other rights.

Today this right is under attack. In a hypocrisy typical of the left, the same people who praise the terrorists in Iraq as “insurgents who are fighting a foreign occupation just like we would” are the very people who would deny our citizens the means to own the weapons with which to fight. The agitprop filmmaker, who was cheered in Europe for making a movie on bowling and guns, was the first to absurdly compare vicious suicide bombers targeting civilians, to the Minutemen who faced and fought the King’s army in the American Revolution.

Europe’s leftist elite is going ballistic. Instead of blaming an evil mass killer for the deaths of over 30 people, they’re blaming Charlton Heston. But, of course, they haven’t had a stellar record of avoiding tyranny, have they? Over the past century, continental Europe faced communism, fascism, and Nazism. While evil is not inevitable there still is much to be said for Pakaluk’s characterization:

“Before we begin to agree with critics who might point to crimes such as the Virginia Tech massacre, or Columbine, as a sign of some unusual sickness in American society, we should consider that the scene of a madman with power, killing others remorselessly out of malice and envy, as he descends to his own self-destruction, was played out on a very large scale in Germany, Cambodia, Russia, and other nations in the last century. That sort of evil, which seems to afflict human nature generally, has so far been manifested only in private action in our country — thanks to our laws and political institutions, and the character of our citizenry. And for that we should be grateful.”

Let’s learn about the history that made that possible before we rush to discard long-standing institutions.

35 Comments:

Blogger Ann said...

Cubed here.

"But equally important is the ultimate insurance against the rise of a tyranny, either from domestic disintegration or foreign domination: the right to revolution."

The only person I have ever met who understood that this is the primary reason for the 2nd Amendment (not hunting or even personal defense) was a bagger I met at a grocery store in the early '70s.

He was a Hungarian survivor of the abortive revolution against the Communist government there, and as I engaged in a light-hearted attempt to tell the cashier about the real meaning of the 2nd Amendment, this man suddenly looked up, smiled and nodded his head vigorously, and said that if only the citizens involved in that rebellion hadn't been disarmed by the government (basically, they were at the level of villagers with torches and pitchforks), the rebellion might have succeeded despite the fact that the promised help from the U.S. never arrived.

He claimed that with even a small success, the rest of the population would have been encouraged to come to join them, that most of them hated the Communists and were sick and tired of their abuses, and that they could have been toppled.

The cashier listened to him with an open mouth; she must have been very young at the time of the Hungarian rebellion, and she was certainly the product of the government-school system, which no longer taught the entire Declaration of Independence.

It sure would help if more people today understood the meaning of "rights," and maybe even knew about the never-referred to 9th Amendment of the Constitution: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Of course, if the average Joe doesn't know what a right is, then this Amendment is useless, and the rest of the Bill of Rights is not a threat to "gov-creep" in Constitutional matters.

Our Constitution, and the wisdom that went into its creation, has been shredded regularly, especially in recent years, thanks largely to a government-run school system; like all other such systems, ours teaches the agenda of the prevailing political authorities.

Now why would the Powers that Be want us to understand what a "right" is, or "That to secure these (unalienable) Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."?

The reason is that they know that if we know what a "right" is, then we might wonder what the hell is going on and become well-armed villagers.

4/22/07, 8:08 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Hear, hear!

I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers. I respect the self-defense and hunting concerns, I was frustrated that no one was mentioning the main motivation.

Great story about the guy from Hungray.

4/22/07, 9:20 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

Hmmm

Cho ranted about killing rich people. This would seem to be the rare case of a Marxist with a work ethic.

4/22/07, 11:42 PM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

I concur with Jason (and Cubed) about the imperative for defending the Second Amendment, and with the arguments for doing so. I think that the counterarguments of the left are primarily consequential, claiming that owning guns results in killings. Were it an honest position, it would present a net assessment, with the lives lost subtracted from the lives saved. Yet, one notes that they never do so, but confine themselves to the lives lost. John Lott, in his book “More Guns, Less Crime” provides a sophisticated statistical analysis that includes many variables. I do not mention this to claim that his conclusion is correct, but rather to emphasize that if one were concerned with consequences, that is the type of analysis he would engage in. Yet note that the motivation of the left is not the results of gun ownership, but their view that people are not responsible for killing (guns are), with the exception that the individuals in the gun lobby are responsible. There is an irrationality in the position that guns be banned, given that fires and explosives can kill as many people, if not more, than guns. On the other hand, I do acknowledge that people who have engaged in destructive behavior (not mental illness) should be legally prohibited from ownership.

It is unfortunate that the perspective regarding the Virginia Tech killings has been that of the use of guns. Let me outline a more apt viewpoint. Our civilization is (or ought to be) based on providing freedom for individuals, through our culture, and restraining aggression, through our government. Thus our guiding principle should be to protect the productive, while punishing the destructive. Our social-democracy advocates the very opposite, namely protecting the destructive, while punishing the productive. Here, the culture is riddled with coercion, while government aims at providing benefits for the destructive.

Let us note that the left wins the war of ideas, by promulgating their ‘moral’ vision of helping the ‘victims’ while their opponents do not provide a truly moral vision of punishing only those who have done wrong, so as to protect those who are innocent. Were that our vision, we would focus on an administration that could have protected its students from harm, by expelling a stalker who wrote morbid, violent, hate-filled plays, frightened professors (till he was barred from class), and set fire to his room. The issue was not his mental illness, but his behavior. It makes one wonder whether anything that a student does suffices for expulsion. Yet of course there is behavior that will result in expulsion, namely the politically incorrect situation where a black woman accuses three white men of rape (via Duke University). Here, administrators have no problem in the presumption of guilt, nor in imposing harsh penalties.

My point is that if we address issues on their merit, with the guide of protecting the innocent, while punishing the destructive, we would be presenting a moral vision that could out-compete the prevailing vision of punishing the innocent to protect the destructive. *I cannot think of a single important social, political, or economic issue, that does not derive from the conflict of these moral visions.*

4/23/07, 9:55 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Jason,
Off topic....Fatwa in Pittsburgh, against Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

4/23/07, 10:18 AM  
Blogger Ducky's here said...

"weel regulated militia".

What don't you understand about "regulated".

And you know, I've always wondered why one of the world's most heavily armed states, Iraq. Never threw off Hussein.

4/23/07, 10:33 AM  
Blogger Ducky's here said...

Jason, why the censorship?

Because I implied (correctly) that expressive violence committed by our military is no different than Cho's violence and you cannot demonstrate this isn't the case in most military action?

You right wingers do lack for courage and hate having your aphorism's challenged.

4/23/07, 12:41 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

Duck you have gone off the deep end. There is zero comparison between the actions of a psycho and warfare.

Now if Cho threw in a peace rant he would be a hero like Ayers.

4/23/07, 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Mustang said...

If the left were so concerned about the rights of victims, they would stop accommodating misfits or making excuses for an over-medicated population. I daresay that there are more kids today on methylphenidate than ever before in our history. We might argue that those 32 students would still be alive if Cho had been committed for the treatment of serious psychological problems.

But, no.

4/23/07, 2:11 PM  
Blogger madmax said...

"The only person I have ever met who understood that this is the primary reason for the 2nd Amendment (not hunting or even personal defense) was a bagger I met at a grocery store in the early '70s."

Believe it or not, Ronald Reagan understood the primary reason for the 2nd Amendment:

http://www.solopassion.com/node/2411

4/23/07, 8:07 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Cubed here.

Glad you were around, Jason!

Re: Cho.

Folks, I'll bet my degree and certification that Cho was a paranoid schizophrenic; he manifested a few symptoms and signs in childhood (pCubed here.

I'll bet my degree and certification that Cho was a paranoid schizophrenic; he manifested a few symptoms and signs in childhood (pretty classic), and at puberty, he began to emerge as a full-blown psychotic (also classic). As a young adult, the deed was done (classic).

There is nothing in the world that could have prevented him from at least wanting to carry out those murders, and he would have used any "model" at hand, be it music, mythology, movies, "the injustices of society," games, etc. to justify what he did. Even psychotics have to ascribe how they feel and think to something, and he chose "rich people" etc.

Charles Krauthammer, who is a psychiatrist, didn't think Cho was psychotic, saying he thought he was "too organized" to be a schizophrenic. I about swallowed my tongue when he said that. Paranoid schizophrenics are the most organized (re: their thought disorders) of all psychotics, and they can look for all the world like miserable, unhappy, lonely, hostile (but otherwise not abnormal) people to those who don't have a lot of contact with them.

To family members and people who take a close look at them, their disorder is usually pretty darned apparent; it seems this is the case with Cho's family and the people at the mental health facility where he was examined.

The problem of having these people running loose lies with the law, not with the failure of professionals to recognize psychosis and the danger it represents.

Back in the late 50s and early 60s, there was a movement by the so-called "civil rights" groups to make it difficult to bring psychotics like Cho into some sort of treatment facility where their progress - or lack of it - could be monitored, and both the patient and the public could be made safe. The circumstances under which someone could be committed became extremely narrow, to the point where many who obviously needed help could not receive it.

When those laws were passed (mid 60s), I was still in med school, and we used to say (tongue in cheek, of course) "He died with his rights on" whenever a patient like Cho either had to be killed or committed suicide.

There are a lot of reasons for behavior such as Cho's, but schizophrenia is a common one, and it can appear suddenly in an otherwise unaffected family. There are several causes for the disorder proposed, but as of right now, the thinking leans in the direction of genes.

Other disorders exist that can result in outrageous behavior, but the behavior you see isn't often like Cho's. Paranoid schizophrenia remains the most common reason for that sort of event.

One of the primary reasons for otherwise pretty normal teenagers to carry out a school massacre is quite simply an immature brain that has been overloaded with issues he can't handle. The brain matures from back to front, and it's in the front where all the rational thinking, judgment, interpretation of the significance of incoming information, etc. occurs (mainly the medial pre-frontal cortex). It is still very immature between about 12-29, and doesn't really "cross over" into the adult mode until around 30. That, by the way, is why all the out-of-control kids in the riotous 60s always said "Don't trust anyone over 30;" they picked up on the difference very easily.

Most violent behavior for any reason is from males - that's an androgenic hormone thing; males tend to be more physically demonstrative when they're unhappy.

Since most people are intellectually/emotionally pretty intact, the most common reason for bad behavior of any kind is because someone chooses to behave badly.retty classic), and at puberty, he began to emerge as a full-blown psychotic (also classic). As a young adult, the deed was done (classic).

There is nothing in the world that could have prevented him from at least wanting to carry out those murders, and he would have used any "model" at hand, be it music, mythology, movies, "the injustices of society," games, etc. to justify what he did. Even psychotics have to ascribe how they feel and think to something, and he chose "rich people" etc.

Charles Krauthammer, who is a psychiatrist, didn't think Cho was psychotic, saying he thought he was "too organized" to be a schizophrenic. I about swallowed my tongue when he said that. Paranoid schizophrenics are the most organized (re: their thought disorders) of all psychotics, and they can look for all the world like miserable, unhappy, lonely, hostile (but otherwise not abnormal) people to those who don't have a lot of contact with them.

To family members and people who take a close look at them, their disorder is usually pretty darned apparent; it seems this is the case with Cho's family and the people at the mental health facility where he was examined.

The problem of having these people running loose lies with the law, not with the failure of professionals to recognize psychosis and the danger it represents.

Back in the late 50s and early 60s, there was a movement by the so-called "civil rights" groups to make it difficult to bring psychotics like Cho into some sort of treatment facility where their progress - or lack of it - could be monitored, and both the patient and the public could be made safe. The circumstances under which someone could be committed became extremely narrow, to the point where many who obviously needed help could not receive it.

When those laws were passed (mid 60s), I was still in med school, and we used to say (tongue in cheek, of course) "He died with his rights on" whenever a patient like Cho either had to be killed or committed suicide.

There are a lot of reasons for behavior such as Cho's, but schizophrenia is a common one, and it can appear suddenly in an otherwise unaffected family. There are several causes for the disorder proposed, but as of right now, the thinking leans in the direction of genes.

Other disorders exist that can result in outrageous behavior, but the behavior you see isn't often like Cho's. Paranoid schizophrenia remains the most common reason for that sort of event.

One of the primary reasons for otherwise pretty normal teenagers to carry out a school massacre is quite simply an immature brain that has been overloaded with issues he can't handle. The brain matures from back to front, and it's in the front where all the rational thinking, judgment, interpretation of the significance of incoming information, etc. occurs (mainly the medial pre-frontal cortex). It is still very immature between about 12-29, and doesn't really "cross over" into the adult mode until around 30. That, by the way, is why all the out-of-control kids in the riotous 60s always said "Don't trust anyone over 30;" they picked up on the difference very easily.

Most violent behavior for any reason is from males - that's an androgenic hormone thing; males tend to be more physically demonstrative when they're unhappy.

Since most people are intellectually/emotionally pretty intact, the most common reason for bad behavior of any kind is because someone chooses to behave badly.

4/23/07, 10:58 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

cubed here.

I have no idea what happened. Wish I could clean it up!

Sorry...

4/23/07, 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

"If you want to take my gun, why would I trust you?"--my favorite bumber-sticker.



The debate over the Second Amendment underscores two keynotes of modern American "liberalism:" the Need=Right fallacy and the primacy of feelings. "I feel the need to be safer--I feel strict gun controls will insure that--therefore that gives me the right to curtail your freedom." I'm always puzzled why, if A attacks B, C is assumed to have the right to attack D. (A being a criminal shooter, B being an innocent victim, C being a politician, and D being the peaceful gun-owner. And "attack" meaning just what it means: to unleash force against someone.)

4/24/07, 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Bilwick said...

Hey, since you recognized Jefferson's birthday someone here should note that April 19th was Patriot's Day. This commemorates the start of the American Revolution: the battles of Lexington and Concord, which resulted from the British Crown's attempt to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock and also to disarm the Minutemen. For their own good, and the good of society, of course

4/24/07, 1:13 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Some interesting info on schizophrenia! I've thought about the cases I've known over the years but this falls outside the parameters that I'm familiar with. Evil is still my operative categorization.
-------------
Reading about Sam Adams and the Minutemen I picture Charlton Heston holding a rifle and saying those immortal lines! Damn, he would have been a good Sam Adams or better yet, Patrick Henry.

I don't see the PBS series on Liberty in my area. Perhaps next month.

4/24/07, 3:24 PM  
Blogger madmax said...

"There are a lot of reasons for behavior such as Cho's, but schizophrenia is a common one, and it can appear suddenly in an otherwise unaffected family. There are several causes for the disorder proposed, but as of right now, the thinking leans in the direction of genes."


I don't agree with this. It sounds like excuse making for an evil person. A person who voluntarily chose to slaughter innocents. It also sounds like the denial of free will I would expect from a biological determinist, not an Objectivist

4/24/07, 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get it. What is the deal with not being able to recognize the simultaneous existence of schizophrenia and evil? It's kind of like denying evolution because you believe in god. Speculating that Cho was schizophrenic is not denying that he was evil or making excuses for his behavior. We need to recognize the existence of these disorders to better guard ourselves against them reocurring again. (Or at least trying to better the odds.) But I guess that's too wishy washy or sissified an attitude to have around these parts.

4/24/07, 10:32 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Kakistocrat said...

Ducky,

Your service towards leftism's lofty goal of convincing every rational person on Earth that all leftists are blithering idiots has once again not gone unnoticed.

----

"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms
each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia.
Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an
American ... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or
state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People."
-- Tench Coxe, 1788.

4/25/07, 7:48 AM  
Blogger Rancher said...

Point is we don't turn our guns on each other, just the bad guys. I feel much safer in my right to concealed carry state even if I am not armed.

4/25/07, 1:02 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Jason,

Your excellent point, "Our momentary comfort, often illusory, is a poor guide to the rightfulness of the principles and laws we need to insure our lives and liberty in the long-run" is something I wanted to respond to too, but I messed up publishing the last comment so much I thought I'd wait until I got a little sleep.

Well, I got a little sleep, so I'll give it a try:

You said,

"...the rightfulness of the principles..." (the "moral") is so commonly thought of as conflicting with "our 'momentary comfort' (the "practical")..."

This is another fine illustration of why it is that so many people shelve the "moral" in the interests of the "practical" - because the requirements for life are so often at odds with the moral code that people have chosen to saddle themselves with.

Too many people have become convinced that instead of altering our moral code to conform with reality, they must alter reality to conform to their moral code. No wonder so many among our population are confused about why it's so hard to "live a 'moral' life!"

Hmmm... The "moral/practical" dichotomy is just another reason to teach our kids what a "right" really is, and the relationship it has to morality.

And you also say:

"Europe’s leftist elite is going ballistic. Instead of blaming an evil mass killer for the deaths of over 30 people, they’re blaming Charlton Heston. But, of course, they haven’t had a stellar record of avoiding tyranny, have they? Over the past century, continental Europe faced communism, fascism, and Nazism."

Yeah, poor ol' Charlton Heston simply symbolizes "the gun," which is the ultimate demonstration of raw power which, when placed in the hands of the citizen, reminds the state where the real power resides, and that it is only delegated to the state in a "division of labor" agreement.

The people (e.g. the "elites") who reverse the relationship between the state and the citizen by placing the interests of the state (which has no rights) ahead of the interests of the citizen (who has rights) choose not to understand that the only way the state can be safe is to protect the rights of each of the citizens, including the right of the citizen to make "course corrections" in the government when the policy of the bureaucrats/politicians strays from its primary mission of protecting the rights of its citizens.

The elites, having ensconced themselves in positions of power, are far more interested in protecting their own status quo than in carrying out their jobs. Throughout history, from Plato foreward (and probably before!) the "elite" have made disparaging remarks about the ability of the "common man" to manage his affairs, and the need for "better" people to "guide" them. Hence, we need guns, just to remind them of what's really in their job description.

The biggest, baddest weapon that the elites have in their arsenal is to dumb down our kids in the school system that they control (via setting general policy), and substituting crap for knowledge and clear thinking. The only reason in the whole history of education for the establishment of a state-controlled education system has been to further its own agenda.

Not only does this diminish the ability of the individual to think, it effectively demolishes competition in the arena of ideas. That's what happened in the Dark Age; for a variety of reasons, there were no "deviant" ideas until the time Spain rid itself of the Islamic agressors.

So long as the intrusion of reason into our school system remains at the level of essay contests etc., the elites won't object too much; but can you imagine their consternation if suddenly the entire curriculum followed Objectivist principles?

We have a friend in Britain who, although he has lived in Saudi Arabia and is extremely well acquainted with all Islam's faults and the problems that travel with it wherever it goes; he has even published very good books about the subject, and is very unhappy and alarmed at the situation in Britain. Yet, when in a recent phone conversation we started talking about guns, and about what a dangerous situation they have with a defenseless, disarmed population, he began to get nervous. He admitted that he had been thoroughly "Europeanized" re: the issue of standing up to authority (submission, not independence, has been the tradition in Europe since the Stone Age), and that he gets a (negative) gut response to the word "gun."

He commented that in Europe, the whole notion of "guns" is thought to have had its origins in the Wild, Wild West, among "cowboys." We took a moment to enlighten (no pun intended) him, pointing out that it really had its origins with the (East Coast) Founding Fathers, who then ensconced the whole idea in the Constitution long before there were any cowboys.

Plato is still alive and well in Europe! Unfortunately.

Madmax,

"I don't agree with this. It sounds like excuse making for an evil person. A person who voluntarily chose to slaughter innocents. It also sounds like the denial of free will I would expect from a biological determinist, not an Objectivist"

MM,

There are many Objectivists who are also physicians, and some who are psychiatrists or neurologists who have had years of close-up and personal experience the schizophrenias within the context of both philosophy and disease.

I am aware that there are some people who "don't believe in" thinking or behavior resulting from anything other than choice, but just as other organs - skin, heart, lung, GI tract, eye, ear, etc. are subject to real, honest-to-gosh disease, so is the brain.

While it is the function of the skin to act as a barrier against dangers lurking in the environment, of the heart to circulate blood, of the lungs to exchange gases, of the GI tract to process ingesta, of the eye and ear to gather sensory data from the environment, it is the function of the brain to provide the means to think and behave.

The brain is a physical entity, an organ, and it is subject to the same sorts of disease processes that any other organ is subject to (OT, it might amuse you to know that the brain and the skin develop from the same embryonic source).

These diseases aren't limited to structural problems such as tumors, aneurisms, microcephaly, trauma and strokes, or to conditions such as autism, Creutzfeld-Jacob or Altzheimer's, but include abnormalities that exist at the cellular level - infection, toxicity, metabolic abnormalities - and are thus invisible to the naked eye.

Many disorders at the cellular level affect the ability of the cells to communicate with each other and even between structures within the cells themselves, and thus prevent them from functioning the way they do in you and me.

Sometimes there is a buildup of waste products of metabolism that the cells can't rid themselves of properly, which effectively poisons them, and ultimately even causes cell death.

We need normal brain cells in order to be able to perform those functions that produce a normal mind. Since the brain is the "control tower" of thought and behavior, it should not come as a surprise that when the brain is altered in some way, it can have an effect on the person's ability to either think or behave the way we do.

To believe otherwise is to attribute some mystical quality to the mind, some way for it to function free of some connection to reality.

Many years ago, I listened to a lecture by Leonard Peikoff where he illustrated the connection between an entity and action. He said "There's running in that room." Then he asked what our response would be to that kind of statement. People agreed that we would ask "What is in that room that is running?" He said, "Oh, nothing is in the room - there's just running."

We laughed, of course; that was ridiculous; you can't have an action without some entity to act. While legs are not the same thing as running, nevertheless legs are required as a means of enabling us to run.

It is helpful to remember that the mind is a product, and the brain is the means of production. If at some point the means of production is compromised, then the product is not up to par, just as when the legs are compromised, then their ability to perform the function of running is compromised.

If the status of brain health had nothing to do with the mind, we would have a hell of a time with a lot of things we deal with in medicine - anesthetizing patients for surgery (to say nothing of waking them up!), trying to help people with strokes, trying to maximize the ability of people with very low IQs to care for themselves and be productive, trying to control seizure disorders, trying to slow down (and one day cure) prion diseases such as Creutzfeld-Jacob, or genetic disorders such as Tay-Sach's, or psychoses such as schizophrenia, all of which produce the inability to control thinking and behavior. The fact that some causes of disease are invisible to the naked eye does not mean they don't exist.

To attribute the abnormalities in thinking and behavior of schizophrenics to "choice" is to ignore reality in much the same way as it would be to attribute the abnormal behavior exhibited by people on certain drugs (legal or not), toxins, or who are having temporal lobe seizures from whatever cause (there are many) to "choice."

Fortunately, disease as a source of bad behavior is not the norm, and most of us have intact, healthy brains, so the majority of bad behavior can be attribued to choice; but to attribute every problem of thinking or behavior to "choice" is no different, in principle, from St. Augustine's insistence that all disease was due to "demons." To believe that "choice" is the only obstruction to normal thinking and behavior would have the same effect as Augustine's "demons" did - it would stand in the way of discovering the truth.

4/25/07, 2:12 PM  
Blogger madmax said...

Cubed,

Are you arguing that a possible reason that Cho Sueng-Hui slaughtered 32 people is solely because of a diseased brain, and that morality played no role whatsoever?

Perhaps the same can be said of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Is it too late to do experiments on Saddam Hussein's brain?

4/25/07, 3:32 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Cubed here.

MM,

"Are you arguing that a possible reason that Cho Sueng-Hui slaughtered 32 people is solely because of a diseased brain, and that morality played no role whatsoever?"

What I argue is that a moral code is a set of values CHOSEN to guide our thinking and behavior, and that the values that are chosen are not always valid - such is the case even among many people with intact brains (e.g. Muslims).

Remember, every moral code has at its core a "standard of the good," that fundamental value by which all others are measured. If you make a mistake in chosing that core value, everything else is off kilter.

In some diseased brains, truly no choice is possible, but in most, the standard of the good is invalid, and because of the disease process, little can be done to change it.

Another difficulty in the way of trying to establish a valid "core" value, one that is consistent with reality, is that most people (like a lot of Muslims) simply don't have the intellectual energy to peel back all the crap they've been taught over the years, and which (for reasons too long to go into here) tend to "solidify" as one goes through puberty and young adulthood.

There are some giants who manage to survive every effort to implant an invalid core value into their brains (Ali Sina, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ayn Rand, etc.), but people like that aren't in the majority.

Unfortunately, one of the characteristics of true mental illness is bad judgment; they have loosened or even totally broken their ties with reality; they are no more capable of choosing a valid "standard of the good" than a young child is.

4/26/07, 1:19 PM  
Blogger madmax said...

"Unfortunately, one of the characteristics of true mental illness is bad judgment; they have loosened or even totally broken their ties with reality; they are no more capable of choosing a valid "standard of the good" than a young child is."

I disagree you with you completely. But for now I am just going to say that I think your undrestanding of volition is seriously flawed. I have read you and George Mason make such materialist arguments before on your blog. In my opinion, these arguments are not consistent with Objectivism.

4/26/07, 1:56 PM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

Cubed writes "Another difficulty in the way of trying to establish a valid "core" value, one that is consistent with reality, is that most people (like a lot of Muslims) simply don't have the intellectual energy to peel back all the crap they've been taught over the years."

Now I believe that establishing a valid core value is important, and that intellectual acumen is pertinent. Yet *there is anothe factor that is relevant with regard to doing what is right, namely the moral choice of the individual.* Let us note that throughout history, whatever the existent codes and level of intelligence, people have had the ability to choose between right and wrong. At times, the most backward of individuals have made moral choices, while the most advanced have made immoral choices.

Civilization aims at punishing those who make immoral choices (or at least allowing the perpetrator to suffer the consequences he has earned) and protecting those who make moral choices from persecution.

4/26/07, 2:47 PM  
Blogger madmax said...

I wrote a question to Dr. Hurd on this subject paraphrasing Cubed's argument. He responded:

http://drhurd.com/

It will only be up for a day so read it fast.

4/26/07, 11:29 PM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

I have concurred with Madmax that we are generally faced with the problem of immorality, rather than mental illness. However, Cubed has not been treated fairly, for she has not argued
"that mental illness eradicates the concept of evil..." Rather she wrote "a moral code is a set of values CHOSEN to guide our thinking and behavior..."

4/27/07, 7:18 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Due to a death in the family, I haven't been blogging or commenting. However, last week I left some comments on this topic over at AOW's blog for those interested.

4/27/07, 7:30 AM  
Anonymous jamal said...

even laws and constitutions can be subject to change!

4/27/07, 9:07 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Mad Max,
If I am not mistaken, Cubed is a neurologist. So stated her bio over at 6th Column, I think. That orientation might go far to explain some of her statements here.

Jason,
My condolences. I was going to leave you another comment, but now is probably not the time.

4/28/07, 11:12 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Cubed here.

Jason,

We're so sorry about your loss; I've been elsewhere for a few days, and only now saw your note.

We hope you are doing well.

4/29/07, 7:42 PM  
Anonymous George Mason said...

Jason,

I know that Cubed wrote for the both of us, but I want to add my own condolences individually as well for the loss of your family member.

4/29/07, 9:38 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Thanks for the condolences.

5/3/07, 8:30 AM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

5/3/07, 8:35 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Jason:

Please accept my sincerest condolences on your bereavement. My thoughts are with you at this sad time.

5/4/07, 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The entire reason we have a democracy is so that we don't have to revolt. We can elect a new president. That's the entire point of this country.

1/8/08, 9:12 AM  

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