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DonAthos

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  1. You're talking past everything I actually say, to argue against something I have not said. It is supremely frustrating. While I could engage on you whether Christianity is somehow a "religion of peace" (despite all of its history), better or worse than Islam in that or any other respect, I fear that I could not expect any better behavior in that conversation -- or even for you to agree that it is itself a tangential distraction from the matter we had initially been discussing. You paid me a compliment in another thread, but the far better compliment would be to repay my efforts with honesty.
  2. No, those things aren't the "same." And blowing up an abortion clinic isn't the same as "speaking in tongues," either. Or cross burnings (note... literal fire). Or sectarian violence in Ireland, or elsewhere. Since its inception and continuing to present day, Christianity has plenty of blood on its hands; and while mainstream Christianity currently disavows most of that (just as there are Muslims who disavow terrorism and extremism, and wish to banish those things further to the fringe), the root of Christianity is just as anti-reason and anti-life as Islam. It is only less fully implemented at the moment, thankfully being more successfully hampered by other Western traditions -- many of which emerged fighting against the abuses of Christianity, rather than to the religion's credit. The evangelicals themselves can be just as nuts as anyone else, and woe betide us if they ever feel empowered in their influence to move beyond converting homosexuals, deranging science curricula, and destroying the reasoning ability, self esteem and morality of countless generations. Christianity, which is one of the world's enduring curses, hardly needs the defense and support of Objectivists -- and if the point you're making is, "but it doesn't produce as many high-profile suicide bombers as Islam, at the moment," I think it's time you ask yourself precisely what distinction you're attempting to draw. Yes, "shadow grey" is a somewhat lighter shade of grey than "charcoal grey" (or so my cursory search reveals). Granted. But they're both still grey. They're neither white, nor close to it. They still both belong fully on the list of "shades of grey," just as Islam and Christianity belong equally on the list of "irrational philosophies which pervert minds and poison society" (let alone "proselytizing groups successful at spreading irreason," which was the actual context of their initial mention). Besides all of which, the second half of the sentence you've quoted reads: "whom our current Western evangelists would more and more closely resemble, if they ever again got a whiff of real power." This seems to acknowledge the fact that, no these two groups aren't identical today -- there is indeed a difference -- while maintaining that there is still a reason to regard them together, because they share a fundamental irrationality. It doesn't answer for everything, but when you find yourself responding to an argument, not in its central contention, but to an isolated sentence (or further, a snipped portion of a sentence), it's worth further consideration as to whether you're contributing to an earnest exchange of ideas, or something else.
  3. You mean to tell me that, because I recognize the problems with, for instance, Islam, I cannot also identify the problems in Christianity? Because the world lumps itself into "left" versus "right," I must pick a side -- for pragmatic reasons -- and thereafter only find the faults in my supposed opponent? If that's the thrust of your response, I strongly disagree. There is irrationality all around, I'm afraid, and on every side. If we mean to advocate a philosophy of reason, then we must identify that fact without hesitation. Evangelists absolutely belong with, for instance, the jihadists -- whom our current Western evangelists would more and more closely resemble, if they ever again got a whiff of real power. In fact, with respect to some socialists*, I would say that the faults of evangelism are typically graver as they represent an earlier/more fundamental breach with reality. There are some socialists who broadly accept "reason" as a governing epistemological principle, and then incorrectly believe that socialism itself is the reasonable means to govern, or effect justice. They're wrong, and that error has grave implications and must be addressed, but it is worse to deny reason itself -- which, obviously, can itself have dire consequences politically, even if someone claims to be an advocate for "capitalism." (* I say "some socialists," because there are, obviously, many other socialists who also reject reason explicitly... and there are even some special folk who are both "evangelist" and "socialist.") That said, it's true that we might sometimes make common cause with some given individual or group to achieve some specific end or narrow range of goals. I agree that that's in the nature of politics, and it might sometimes involve some temporary and delimited agreement with the "right" (to the extent that they support a "pro-business" agenda, for instance; so long as their "pro-business" ideas are not, themselves, "class warfare" waged from the other side) and it might sometimes involve some temporary and delimited agreement with the "left" (e.g. to support marijuana legalization or the de-criminalization of sex work). In every election, ultimately, a ballot must be cast: and I've seen you stump for Trump, which I'll allow so long as you understand that -- as an American citizen who has to live with him as my president, my representative in the world -- I would rather vote for a cheese sandwich. But none of that ever means that we stop recognizing the faults of those with whom we make such common cause, or that they get a "pass." Because I recognize the dangers of Antifa, that doesn't make me conservative or "alt-right," any more than recognizing the problems with the Proud Boys suggests that I should throw a brick through a Starbucks window. I will only ever find "common ground" with the "left" or the "right" to the extent that I believe they're actually correct on any given issue, and that is the full extent of my participation, my consent, my sanction. I will not join their teams. I will not play their game.
  4. It's interesting to consider where you would be or I would be, had not Rand felt the need for "activism" -- the spreading of her ideas which required her to work in fiction, research other thinkers, craft arguments, form an institute, engage with others (often hostile), and so on. Whatever Rand may have thought about art and didacticism, I'd dare say that activism describes her life's work. She meant to change the world by changing the minds of others, and she put a lot of effort into making that happen. And perhaps you might think that misses the point -- that Rand had no need to act in your interest or my own, but only in her own interest. But why do we take it that Rand's activism wasn't in her selfish interest, or that she did not judge it so? How is an individual's interest not generally served in working to help others to find truth and reason? You're right that life isn't about preaching to others... but preaching to others might well be an important part of one's life. So while I agree that there's a limit, in reason, to trying to drag the recalcitrant from their errors, we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater: we shouldn't abandon efforts to spread good ideas in the culture, or to fight against the bad ones. And we might consider whether and how we might do so even more effectively. People have the capacity for reason, and I believe that most people will tend to respond to a good argument, all else being equal. Argument itself is something of a science and something of an art, and it has to be learned and worked on and continually revised in the face of failure and opposition -- and I believe that there's a lot of frustration in the Objectivist community because, perhaps implicitly, we believe that The One True Argument has already been made, one size fits all, done and dusted. But no, the work of spreading these ideas has only just begun -- if I can even fairly describe it as having been "begun." The ideological battle you reference is real, and I fear we are losing it, in part because we are too often content to surrender the battlefield without a fight. To act as though we shouldn't need to show up in the first place, as though any ideological movement in the history of mankind has ever spread without people actively working to make that happen. Do you know who doesn't share that notion (both literally and its tenor more broadly)? The evangelists, the socialists, the jihadists, among many others. And because they commit themselves wholeheartedly to spreading their ideas, and to finding the most effective means for so doing, they typically succeed in spreading them far better than we do. Unfortunately, their ideas are poisonous for society, and unfortunately for us, we live in society and tend to suffer directly when that poison spreads. If it were the case that a man could simply say, "Well, that's none of my responsibility; I'll leave them to it and enjoy my life unimpaired," and retreat to Galt's Gulch, I'd say more power to him. But I don't believe that he can enjoy his life unimpaired. I don't believe that Galt's Gulch exists outside of Atlas Shrugged, and if it did, I don't think it would be allowed to last. I believe that the condition of the world has a direct bearing on our individuals lives, and so yes, we must take some measure of responsibility for addressing that condition -- not out of altruism, but selfishly, so we can live.
  5. Paraphrasing a quote here, Rand saw herself as primarily a proponent, not of capitalism, but egoism... and not primarily egoism, but reason. I approach my friendships and other relations the same sort of way: I seek people who are fundamentally reasonable. Your mileage may vary, but I've found people who demonstrate varying degrees of reason in every walk of life, and subscribing to most every sort of view -- at the very least, nominally. At the same time, I have met people whose stated beliefs I judge as correct, yet they are not very reasonable in their dealings, in their lives -- and they don't make for great friends. This fundamental orientation to reason can show up in many ways, from hobbies and activities, to career pursuits and romantic involvements, discussions/arguments and so forth. The more reasonable they are, in this basic sense, the more apt we are to get along... even where and when we disagree. The people who are less fundamentally reasonable, though we may agree on everything else (howsoever superficially), the smallest disagreement could wind up being an unmanageable obstacle. Consequently, I've maintained friends among Christians, Hindus, Atheists, Buddhists, and politically on the left, right and in the "middle." The more zealous socialists I've known can be trying, at times, and not least because -- to the extent they adhere to their own professed beliefs -- they often feel required not to be friends with someone who believes as I do. Yet even with one or two of these, I have found that I can identify sufficiently with their virtues to overcome other deficits (like intelligence and taking ideas seriously). My closest friend in the world (apart from my wife) is a Methodist. He's sincere in his religious beliefs, but not very dogmatic. We made peace about our diverging views very long ago, and though we still argue them from time to time in one form or another, we understand that our bonds are based on fundamental things that, perhaps, aren't completely captured or expressed in our stated philosophies. We do not fear disagreement.
  6. That people put this incident in a racial context is not a failure of objectivity; it's trying to interpret events in the "widest possible context." No, it's not necessarily the case that the officer in this incident was motivated by racism. It can often be hard to determine other peoples' motivations with precision, given the internal nature of consciousness*. But when you examine the history of the United States, specifically with respect to race relations, and modern policing, and any number of these incidents of police brutality, then a pattern emerges. It is not a failure of rationality to recognize such a thing (though it is arguably a failure to be unable to do so, or unwilling). While justice requires that we treat individuals as individuals, and while, as agreed above, the officer in this case is not necessarily racially prejudiced (and will have his day in court), neither is it wrong to see this pattern of behavior over time or to interpret new information accordingly. (* Although, given the notion of "structural racism" it is not always necessary for an individual actor to himself be racist to yet act in a racist manner -- according to the "structure" of the system in which he participates. Or at least, so the logic of that argument goes.) Yes, if this were a black police officer and a white suspect, it may well have provoked a different reaction. White people were not widely enslaved for hundreds of years in this country, subject to discriminatory law, and not the focus of the broad suite of racist ideology that grew up around supporting those institutions, and which infiltrated the general culture. If you look at the scenarios "white officer/black suspect" and "black officer/white suspect" devoid of this larger historical and sociological context, then yes, there oughtn't be much to further distinguish them. But what do we stand to gain by forgetting or pretending not to know what we do, in fact, know? We should strive rather to widen our context, to see events not merely in themselves, isolated and discrete, but as a part of a larger current, when and where applicable. Mistakes of interpretation can be made, given such a process, but as the incidents of police brutality continue to pile up, and as this is rather to be expected given the history from which we all proceed, I think it becomes harder and harder to argue that there isn't a broad and persistent problem here -- even if some specific incident fails to qualify, or does not withstand further scrutiny. It is not rational to insist that, because only trees exist metaphysically, that we may therefore never describe a "forest."
  7. Yes. I agree with you that there is no "predetermination," and that many individuals have risen above their surroundings, background, environment, and so forth. However, as you indicate, we are also "influenced" by what is around us, and sometimes heavily so. (Which is in part why it is important for us to work to reshape the culture. Culture is powerful.) It is tricky to work out the meaning and extent of this "influence," such that we are still recognizably moral actors and do not succumb to some form of predestination. I won't pretend to have anything like a precise formula worked out for this, but I've sometimes looked at this like... there's certain limits, to a greater or lesser extent. And then, within those limits, man makes choices. And then, men fall on some range of introspective power, or power to radically reassess one's own premises, or philosophical inclination. I don't know why exactly, but I think that the vast majority of people -- in every place, at every time -- more or less go along with the current, and with what they have been told. Their range, their "limits," are relatively narrow... yet within those limits, there is still crucial distinction, and difference, and morality. You know, if we'd had some analog to this message board hundreds of years ago -- perhaps imagining us back to the High Middle Ages, or to the Carolingian Empire -- I doubt we would all be having the same conversations, making the same arguments. To hear some Objectivists talk, it's like none of us ever needed Ayn Rand to see our way to these precise beliefs (reading her "only confirmed what we already believed"; she just "put into words what we already knew"); but no, I think she was a singular genius. I think, in a pre-Rand world, we might all be discussing something that was out of step with our time, perhaps, maybe/hopefully a bit more reasoned than the norm, a bit more nuanced, but it would not surprise me if the general context for our hypothetical Medieval conversation was still, say, soundly within the Christian tradition. It's not that we would have been "destined" to be Christian, or anything like that, but just that the act of rejecting all of that (and especially without all of the steps carved into rational inquiry, one at a time, by the great thinkers) would have been too great, too much, for any one of us to manage. Or maybe I assume too much? Maybe here, now, there is another generational thinker? And maybe one of us can run a four minute mile, too, yet it remains a feat, and a rarity, and nothing I expect to find in my daily dealings. And so, I don't think anyone is destined or doomed to buy into identity politics -- even when they are so powerfully ascendant in our cultural and educational systems as today. But the act of rejecting all of it in one fell swoop... I just don't know if that's a reasonable expectation to hold for the vast majority of people. And so the question I have of "staging" is whether it can help to lead more people in a positive direction, to remake culture and education over time so that, eventually, those forces can work with our individualist ideology rather than against it. Right, so here's where the rubber meets the road. And to a great extent, my instinct is to agree with you (and by that, I also include arguments that I would personally have made even up to a few months ago, or a few weeks). It's just that... I don't think our approach is winning the day; I think that the facts, the results, are such, that its time we reexamine our tactics. (And maybe we reexamine them and determine that they're fine, they're not at issue, and the real problems lay beyond our grasp. It's certainly possible. But I think we need to have the conversation, and entertain the idea that we are also making some kind of mistake, because the world appears to me to be moving quickly in the wrong direction.) It's like, take the idea of "gay pride." Setting aside Objectivism's sometimes tricky relationship with homosexuality in itself, I would normally say that sexual attraction is not something that one should feel pride in: insofar as we regard sexual attraction to be unchosen, what in the world is there to be proud of? Yet -- and this is my question of "staging" -- is it possible that the most of the queer population needs something like "pride" as a psychological counterbalance against the equally irrational, yet traditionally much stronger, cultural forces that insist they feel shame? That ideally this pride will function as a bridge, or as a stop gap, to lead to a future wherein the majority of people can more easily reject both such shame and pride as useless historical artifacts? Or to address the central matter directly, I think that ongoing controversies regarding racism (including the modern "race realism" debate which has even sometimes found support here on Objectivism Online, to my chagrin) are exacerbated by continued disparities in educational attainment, wealth, and etc., between the "races" (and I think it's true that even these modern disparities by and large owe their existence to the actual crimes of slavery, Jim Crow, and such; which is to say that they are the legacy of grievous evil, some of which is in the distant past, some in the near past, and some of which is ongoing). Rather than asserting individualism at first, might it be easier to try to address those broad disparities first, and then allow people to draw the resulting, easier-to-see conclusion that discrepancies in outcome are generally attributable to individual merit? To put it more bluntly, I think it possible that in a United States where blacks do just as well as whites, and where the sins of our past are more carefully buried, both sides of the racist coin will more easily wither away. And yes, I fear that I'm wrong, here, too. I'm sensitive to the idea that any of this "staging" is a tacit admission that there is any meaning, truth or importance in "race," and that it is right to treat people differently on that basis -- which is anathema to me, and utterly opposed to what I value and hope to achieve. Yet, as I say, I see the world on fire and it forces me to "check my premises." I cannot deny that people are being treated differently according to their race, often cruelly and violently, and sometimes fatally. That this is deeply rooted in our culture, and taught to our children as a matter of course. I think that arguing for individualism directly is not making sufficient headway; that we are losing this battle. As to the best way to respond to this situation, I'm no longer quite so certain.
  8. I agree with this. But I have a question, or a series of questions, that I guess coalesces kind of like this: do you think it's possible to move directly from our racist past (meaning things such as slavery, Jim Crow, etc.) to individualism? Or do you think that any "staging" is necessary, like "affirmative action" (which could be undertaken without governmental intervention; a private business owner could take such things into consideration, of his own accord)? And to be clear, I'm not asking by way of disagreeing with your or anything you've said -- this is a real question in my mind. I'm concerned that efforts to "stage," as I've described them, may actually retard the ascension of individualism... but I also am concerned that society at large cannot make the leap from point a to b without steps in between, and that we are currently bearing violent witness to that fact. Absolutely. On the other hand, what would it take for an individual to grow up in our society, given all of its baggage (and the fact that there is so much actual racism still extant) and not see themselves and others through such a racialized lens. If you're being judged by others and treated differently on the basis of your race, handled differently in the media, read of the history of "your kind," see evidence of being profiled by law enforcement, etc., how can a person see through that, clearly to individualism -- especially since a lot of this treatment will have started early, very early in life, before anything like philosophical awareness, and when a person is forming their sense of identity... and thereafter be reinforced by the community (parents, religion, etc.). I can imagine a hero who might do such a thing, or an unusual genius -- but over the last few years, I've grown wary of judging most individuals against the heroic efforts that I imagine they might ideally have employed. It's like, because Roger Bannister ran a four minute mile, that doesn't make everyone else "slow," if you understand my meaning.
  9. Disagree here. "Retaliatory force" is not sensibly distinguished from "force used in retaliation." There may be legitimate and illegitimate uses of retaliatory force, but "force used in retaliation" is, as grammar would seem to have it, "retaliatory force." And further, vigilantism may not be "legitimate" in the sense of legal, but it may yet be moral depending on context. Our sense of law and legal "legitimacy" comes from pre-legal/extra-legal understandings that retaliatory force may be morally proper, in a given situation. "Initiation of force masquerading as retaliation," is not, on the other hand, retaliatory force, by definition. I disagree that "right of retaliation" exists only in the "victim." If someone attacks my wife or my child, I reserve full right of redress/retaliation. Delegation of that to some other authority, like government, is often a fine strategy to better effect justice. But in some given context (like in a place where government's reach is poor or nonexistent, or where government is corrupt), I may have to act myself in the name of justice -- on their behalf. Or on the behalf of my friend or neighbor. Or on the behalf of someone I've never met. Ultimately, I receive an attack on an innocent anywhere as an attack against myself, insofar as I am likewise innocent of the initiation of the use of force. This is really where this "governmental power" comes from. There's no formal delegation or surrender of power, or of the "right of retaliation." But the idea of this "delegation" is a general acknowledgement that retaliatory force is proper, in certain situations, and need not be carried out by the victim (and may in fact be better served when not carried out by the victim). The use is "legitimated," thus, by virtue of being proper and correct -- by being a redress of wrongs against the guilty, in the name of the innocent. When the government acts improperly, it is illegitimate, and anything considered initially "delegated" may be taken back by the individual. I have no moral duty to surrender anything to government, or anyone else, if that does not actually serve my individual interests. When a police officer is kneeling on your neck, killing you in fact, you have no moral obligation to allow it. If you witness an officer doing this to another, you have no moral obligation to permit it -- and perhaps quite the opposite. Yet there are institutions, and we do recognize that they may be to blame for various crimes or actions -- do we not? This is how and why we recognize a street gang, or the mafia, for what it is, its criminal character, arising out of yet distinct from a particular accounting of the individual crimes of its members. And when we take down the mob, we take down the mob. It is clear to me that there is a failure at some point: in the present controversy (though how many others are there?), for instance, of the four officers present someone ought to have intervened; it should not be left to the civilians to tell the officers to relent, to let the man up as he's dying under their weight, and to be ignored. People are outraged rightly, because it is outrageous. As to where that failure lies...? Perhaps it is in initial screening, perhaps in training, perhaps it accounts in part to the individual... or likely, actually, it is all of these things -- the problems we're facing are many and deep, and yes: the institution itself is in part the initiator of force. I know that most Objectivists don't like speaking (or thinking?) in these terms, but I find it helpful to remember that US law initiates the use of force constantly and regularly against its own citizenry, and that the police are individuals who have signed up to assist in that effort. They commit themselves personally to using force against innocents on a routine basis; this is how they make their livelihoods. They have opted in, and they continue to make this choice, again and again. It should not be a surprise that there are "bad apples" among the bunch. Actually, it should be surprising to find someone moral in such a role -- and I have long believed that the truly moral would not be able to stomach such a thing for very long. The most committed to truth and justice, to fighting against the evil in society, would be the first to be sickened and enervated by the reality of his situation. I don't think he could last. But you should ponder why persons arrive at their conclusions, at length and to the best of your ability: if you mean to do something, anything to benefit society, then understanding other people is essential. In any event, the correct conclusion is, in part, that our policing needs to be overhauled. The culture of silence and mutual protectionism must be dismantled, and measures need to be installed to give greater civilian oversight and transparency. We should work to demilitarize (which includes a change in law and priority, too, like ending the "war on drugs") and de-escalate, so that the police can work with their communities again, instead of as an occupying force. We must commit ourselves to rooting out the remnants of racism and other cultural detritus, and upholding personal accountability so that no one may act with impunity (from the President down). Until these sorts of fundamental changes are begun, we can expect these same essential results, again and again and again.
  10. Not to agree or disagree more broadly about this particular act of mob violence, but you're looking at "retaliation" wrong here. The thing that makes for retaliation is not that it is the individual who has had force used against them, replying in kind. If you look at the most widely agreed-upon uses of "retaliatory force" -- namely, law enforcement itself, I think this should be plain to see: When the judge sentences a murderer to jail, that judge was not necessarily there at the time of the attack; neither he, nor the arresting officer, nor the jailer, have been themselves attacked. Yet their use of force is retaliatory. I think it's arguable at the least that police training and culture have contributed to these sorts of outcomes; that there are "systemic" and "institutional" problems manifesting themselves, beyond the mere choices of one (or four) bad actors. I agree with you that what the protestors did in setting fire to the police station is wrong (and of course, illegal). Whether or not it was "retaliatory" in nature is less clear to me. Things are complex in modern society. Given that there are laws which, themselves, initiate the use of force against the innocent, and given that the police routinely enforce those laws, it has long been unclear to me as to how one assesses that morally. I don't think carte blanche resistance or retaliation is moral, but at the same time, I don't think it's right for a police officer to kneel on someone's neck for minutes at a time, let alone in the circumstances in the Floyd video. If I saw an officer treating a loved one in such a fashion, I would fight back. There are further problems in our culture that have deep roots and are subtle and insidious, and though "racism" has become such a fraught term, and often employed unjustly, it has to be remembered that racism does exist and has had a powerful influence on our country's history. I understand why people could look at a video like that and see it in that context, and come to consider the police "the enemy."
  11. I'm going to leave alone re: "analogy" for the moment. There seems to be something missing from your final sentence here, so I'm not entirely certain I understand your point. Regardless, we aren't discussing "epistemic standards," we are discussing the initiation of the use of force. Whether you believe you're comparing some aspect of law enforcement to something found in science, or otherwise relating them in a... somehow non-analogous fashion, you're not addressing the matter at hand. What we're discussing does not apply to science and its "investigation of the unknown." (Unless scientists are stopping people at the border to study them; or unless the objects of scientific inquiry, say photons, have been assigned individual rights.) I acknowledge fallibility. Whatever standards we devise will be subject to fallibility. Yet it is not the case that we only use force when we believe we have determined an individual to be guilty of some crime, howsoever we might be mistaken -- rather, we employ force against those whom we acknowledge may well be innocent, and on that point we are as yet indeterminate. We recognize this informally when we say that someone is "innocent until proven guilty," but formally we have a process wherein we determine the guilt of individuals... after we have employed force against them! This is to say, we recognize that some of the people we "suspect" or charge for crimes will be found not guilty, will in fact be innocent: this is why we have a trial. That we use force against people we later determine to have been innocent is not an "error"; it is the very system itself, functioning precisely as designed. This is why I contrasted it against the notion that we could try people first, before employing force against only those found guilty. You've dismissed this and refused to consider it and strawmanned it (as it has nothing whatever to do with infallibility), but I don't see why, or why you would prefer warrants and "probable cause." Why do you prefer that? But table that for a moment. Let me bring the parenthetical from my quote to the fore: "And furthermore being 'somehow involved with a crime' does not make you criminal. There are plenty of people involved with a crime who did not themselves commit any crime -- and these people are often subject to the use of force, as in the case of a subpoena. Yet they have not initiated the use of force." Suppose a man suspected of stealing... a necklace. Let us say that, prior to his arrest, he was spotted entering a bank and leaving a short while later. An interview with the clerk turns up that the suspected thief rents a safe deposit box at the bank. Consulting with the district attorney's office, the police determine that it will be hard to prove any theft in court without being able to show that the thief wound up in possession of the necklace. So, the police would like to inspect the suspect's safe deposit box... but the bank refuses to cooperate; they do not wish to violate their customers' privacy. Would you have the police seek a warrant/use of force against the bank? If so, how would you characterize this? I do not have to look at literally every single person crossing the border to be sure that law enforcement can do their job; that is law enforcement doing their job. Gaining this information -- as for instance, whether anyone in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States has a warrant out for their arrest -- is part and parcel to law enforcement. I don't know whether this would serve to muck things up further, or cut to the chase, but imagine that we had the technology to scan the face of the planet such that law enforcement could know with precision who everyone is and where everyone is, at all times, along with all relevant, associated criminal data. (And let us stipulate that this has no other byproduct; that the scan itself is utterly harmless and unintrusive.) Given that all other law upholds and protects individual rights the world over, what would you make of such a scan? Is that a marvelous technology that would help us to better protect individual rights? Is it, in and of itself, the violation of rights? Or something else?
  12. It boggles me a bit that I'm stopping to address this, but even if the same principles are involved, it would still be an analogy... i.e. "law enforcement is analogous to science in that they share the same epistemic standards," or what have you. As to "epistemic standards" and the best practices of "investigating the unknown" (which is such a broad and saturated phrase as to be practically useless), they must be guided by experts in the field and with great attention to specific context. I am not in the position to prescribe to professional scientists what the best manner of "investigating the unknown" would be in any given instance, and what I would have to say with respect to the philosophical underpinnings of such would be again so broad and general as to be both obvious and practically useless. Insofar as I know you, I think you're in much the same position. And I feel confident in saying that neither one of us has any standing to comment on law enforcement practice, as such -- whether a border stop is an effective use of law enforcement resource, or setting up a scanner, or etc. Regardless, the question before us is not to do with "epistemic standards," but politics, individual rights, and the use of force. What is there to rebut that I have not already done? Here's your response (from not so very long ago -- it's dated from 9/29): "Because of warrants, with some means of inferring that you have a good reason to search someone, and that the person is somehow involved with a crime or threat of a crime. In that way, nobody you search would be innocent. Of course, you might be mistaken, and it turns out the person didn't know anything. In that case, I think it would still be a violation, but not from malicious intent or disregard for rights." I've bolded the part where you acknowledge the initiation of force (for that is what a "violation" of individual rights consists of). Do you send mixed messages by claiming that "nobody you search would be innocent" in the same paragraph? Of course. And my refutation of that notion came directly: "The police absolutely search innocent people. You can be accused of a crime, or suspected of a crime -- and be 100% innocent of that crime. (And furthermore being "somehow involved with a crime" does not make you criminal. There are plenty of people involved with a crime who did not themselves commit any crime -- and these people are often subject to the use of force, as in the case of a subpoena. Yet they have not initiated the use of force.)" So yes, by defending warrants and probable cause, you are advocating the initiation of the use of force by your own accounting -- and to belabor this a bit (because by now I'm sure we all recognize it is necessary), you are advocating using force against people who have not themselves used force. Forgive me, Eiuol, but I want to see proof that you understand the text before I grant you some power to infer subtext. Speaking for myself, if you gave me an answer that truly satisfies me, I would expect to be satisfied.
  13. I'm not entirely certain how you would ask for documents without some level of "detention," though I have proposed a futuristic scanner that would eliminate the need for any kind of stop at all -- but you're not satisfied with that, either. I don't know if you want some different standard than I do. I have constantly asked you to articulate a standard -- and you have yet to provide one (though in its place you've provided an analogy to science, and you've gestured towards established law/authority, and you've drawn -- and subsequently disavowed -- distinctions between "active" and "inactive," and etc.). My standard is that we must do that which is necessary (i.e. required in reality, in context) to enforce the law, because "individual rights," whatever else that entails, requires the enforcement of law. This further requires information to be gathered (prior to the stage of "probable cause"; it is on the basis of information that one may arrive at something like probable cause) and is inclusive of both "warrant" and stops at the border. The particular nature of a border stop accounts to the particular nature of a border, and the change in jurisdiction it represents. When you're presented some clear standard, then we can see whether our standards align or where they diverge. The argument has been presented from the first. The argument that supports border stops without first requiring warrants is that border stops are necessary to enforce the law. Judges recognize this and do not require warrants for border stops. There's the water. Drink up. Because you are talking about probable cause and warrants. You think probable cause and warrants are acceptable, despite the fact that they entail the use of force against those who have not themselves initiated the use of force. And as you have left me guessing as to whatever "standard" provides the foundation of your views, I'd guess that it is just that sort of thing that you'd like to avoid with border stops. So, I'd like to know how and why you justify using force against the innocent in one case but not in the other. It isn't that 1% have committed crimes, as such; it's that 100% are coming from a separate legal jurisdiction, and so we need to stop 100% to get that information. And if we mean to be protected against "unreasonable search and seizure," then we have no disagreement, because a border stop is not an unreasonable search and seizure.
  14. You invented an argument to refute -- that I was calling for "infallibility." You did not address my actual argument at all. I don't doubt the value of probable cause (and there is value, too, in a border stop). However, I believe that both probable cause and warrants are susceptible to the same principled critiques offered regarding border stops. As presented, they both "violate rights," yet you endorse one and reject the other. But why should we allow rights violations in the case of a warrant/probable cause? Can you defend that which you advocate? I don't. I think that a border stop does not require "suspicion." Suspicion, or "probable cause," is one good reason to stop a person. Crossing a national border is another.
  15. But Eiuol, we do start with perception. You see the person approaching the border, you stop them: that starts with perception. You would like some individualized reason to stop a particular person -- but I still do not see why. Your standard of "probable cause" is not the strict use of retaliatory force, not in all cases and probably not in most. "Suspicion," is not a terrifically high hurdle to clear, after all, and when I suggested a higher one (e.g. trial by jury), better designed to avoid violating rights, you rejected it without reason. But the fact remains, you're willing to stop people though you understand that some of them will not have initiated the use of force. I'm willing to do that, too -- not "arbitrarily," but when they cross the border, for the purpose of gaining information (i.e. information which allows for law enforcement). That information is required specifically at a border crossing because the border crossing represents an individual crossing from one legal jurisdiction (where their records are kept, where evidence of crime is gathered, where warrants are issued, etc.) into another. Everything that supports both "probable cause" and "warrant" in terms of reasonableness and necessity also supports a border stop, though it is a different instrument with a different threshold. That you embrace one such instrument, one such threshold, while rejecting all others is clear -- but what isn't clear is whether you have any principled reason for doing so.
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