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dadmonson

Does the Motivation of A Killer Matter?

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I was speaking to someone very close to me about the San Bernadino shooting and they said "it doesn't matter if the killers were Muslim.  What all killers have in common is a desire to kill."  We then proceeded to argue about gun control.  

Do you think it matters if murderers are motivated by Christianity, Islam, Nihilism, anger etc.?  Why or why not?

 

 

 

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"A common desire to kill" is like a Shakespearean motivation: it ain't deep. It stands there as an explanation for the physical action; but, it simply shifts the target of our question. Instead of asking: "Why do they kill?" we now ask "Why do they have a desire to kill?

Why does motivation matter?

"Motivation" is what comes before action. By working our way backward along the causal chain, we hope to discover the underlying motivation. The purpose of understanding the chain of cause and effect is: to be able to predict things, to plan, and to change outcomes. 

Consider a non-human case. Most tigers avoid men, but sometimes they do attack men. If we try to understand why, we can come up with ways in which to avoid such attacks. We might also find that the first attack changes the tiger and it becomes more likely to attack humans in situations where it would previously have avoided contact. In countries with tigers, hunters will typically be sent to kill or capture any tiger that has attacked a human.

Just saying "Islam" is a poor explanation too. But, we do need a good explanation if we want to do all the things we typically do with knowledge.

Edited by softwareNerd
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1 hour ago, dadmonson said:

I was speaking to someone very close to me about the San Bernadino shooting and they said "it doesn't matter if the killers were Muslim.  What all killers have in common is a desire to kill."  We then proceeded to argue about gun control.  

Do you think it matters if murderers are motivated by Christianity, Islam, Nihilism, anger etc.?  Why or why not?

It matters if it's a part of the Islamist campaign against the West, yes, because then it's not an isolated incident, and we need to act to prevent it from escalating into something much bigger.

Mass killings by lone, usually mentally ill actors are a naturally occurring phenomenon. They don't have anything to do with gun control, or any other defensive government strategies, they occur in all types of countries, with all types of gun policies (including near-total gun control). The US just happens to have a much greater population than other western countries, so the frequency of attacks is greater. But, as it turns out, the per capita deaths, from mass killings ARE NOT: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/12/03/facts-shoot-holes-in-obamas-claim-that-us-is-only-host-to-mass-killings.html .

This attack however has nothing to do with that. This will not remain a low level threat, if we ignore it. It will continue to escalate, because ISIS is an organized force of tens of thousands, with a stated goal to massacre as many as they can.

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I was speaking to someone very close to me about the San Bernadino shooting and they said "it doesn't matter if the killers were Muslim.  What all killers have in common is a desire to kill."  We then proceeded to argue about gun control.  

Do you think it matters if murderers are motivated by Christianity, Islam, Nihilism, anger etc.?  Why or why not?

Yes, it does matter, in all cases.  These killers know they are operating in a certain environment, with certain conditions, so there is a complexity to their actions and behaviors to not get caught.  If, as a fundamental, their actions and behaviors are ideological we _do_ have to know this information as a predictive function to thwart future attempts at mortal violence--otherwise, how are we to know their movements before events happen?

What that person close to you was doing was failing to think in essentials, human behavior here is the essential, and if that happens to be extremism then it is extremism.  After all, there are many more people who own guns and don't use them to commit acts of violence than do, and that is a cause of human behavior.  Of course your friend might follow up with "but it only takes one bullet to kill someone", which is true, but most murders are committed with illegally obtained weapons, so the would-be murderers would obtain their weapons regardless, which again points back to human behavior, regardless if its extremism or not.  (And on the gun control issue, the essential there is to prevent the guns from falling into the _wrong_ hands, not the right ones.)

Edited by KorbenDallas

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On 5/12/2015 at 8:09 AM, dadmonson said:

I was speaking to someone very close to me about the San Bernadino shooting and they said "it doesn't matter if the killers were Muslim.  What all killers have in common is a desire to kill."  We then proceeded to argue about gun control.  

Do you think it matters if murderers are motivated by Christianity, Islam, Nihilism, anger etc.?  Why or why not?

 

 

 

Yes and no, a person may have the desire to kill just because one day they woke up and decided that to make their day a bit more fun or interesting they were going to kill someone. Then again they may be motivated because of their religion or because of a social factor or situation that triggers them to act in a certain way. Just as the shooter in Dallas killed five police officers because two african americans were killed, other may have motivations like this one to commit the crime. In this case the shooter wanted vengeance and wanted to prove that this are the things that happen when police abuse people. So in my understanding, there may be people that have mental problems and commit crimes while there are people that have a reason to commit said crimes.

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On 11/2/2016 at 6:17 PM, Luis Enrique Colón said:

 So in my understanding, there may be people that have mental problems and commit crimes while there are people that have a reason to commit said crimes.

Luis Enrique Colon,

I believe I gather the meaning of your intent with this post. However, would you consider using another term other than "reason" as a motive for senseless murder? As an Objectivism, I believe reason is a very important concept, and should not be used casually as an explanation for something as unreasonable as unjustified murder.

On 12/5/2015 at 6:09 AM, dadmonson said:

I was speaking to someone very close to me about the San Bernadino shooting and they said "it doesn't matter if the killers were Muslim.  What all killers have in common is a desire to kill."  We then proceeded to argue about gun control.  

Do you think it matters if murderers are motivated by Christianity, Islam, Nihilism, anger etc.?  Why or why not?

If the question is: "Does it matter to me?," then, yes. The lone-wolf-psycho-killer, a mentally deranged, perhaps nihilistic fiend, such a murderer cannot be stopped. If he can't get his hands on a gun, he'll get a knife, a bomb, or poison, or by some other means, perhaps cause a mass transit vehicle or aircraft to become his weapon of choice. If it comes to trying the culprit, then it matters to the judge and jury. And it still matters to me, because I want to know that I can depend on the justice system. The reason what matters most is to determine whether such violence can or cannot be stopped at all. As for gun-control, I think most people are aware that anyone who wishes to get a gun will not be stopped from getting one.

If the motivation was intended as an act of following a religious (or political) requirement, it should be determined how the religious (or political) connection is made to the murderer, and whether this is an organized sect (or criminal organization, such as the Mafia,) or the inspiration for isolated acts of murder. If it is the latter, such as in the case of Islam, where violence is proscribed, then religious intellectuals of that faith should be motivated to enacting a theological correction more in line with modern social norms. If the former is the case, an organized sect, lawful organized force must be used against it. This may take the form of undercover police investigations, military forces, and citizen participation. Both theological and military means are necessary against religious fanaticism.

When religion is the motivation for murder, whether ISIS, KKK, or the IRA, isolating and arresting the "soldiers of God" is never easy, but always more costly than influencing the individual mind of an unreasonable person, and provide for them a path to reason.

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