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Is it moral to kill people who are ideologically dangerous?

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Suppose that a person is a dangerous ideologue, an outright intellectual terrorist, and has the ability and ambition to spread his philosophy on a large scale. Is it moral to kill such a person?

So long as he is only spreading ideas, you may not lay a finger on him. You can and should and must, however, oppose him by every intellectual means possible.

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You can and should and must, however, oppose him by every intellectual means possible.
Is that required by Objectivism? What if one rationally determines that one's time is better spent selfishly doing other things than using every means possible to oppose some particular ideologue? What if one chooses to spend just a fraction of his time (a fraction of his means) , or even no time at all, on the ideologue, but instead chooses to build skyscrapers? Or does rationally living selfishly itself constitute "opposing [the ideologue] by every means possible"? Edited by Hodges'sPodges
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So it would not have been moral to kill Kant, even though his ideas would kill millions of others.
Do ideas kill people? Or do people who have certain ideas kill people? If someone's ideas don't include unjust killing of people (especially to the extent of such things as genocide) but some aspects of those written ideas wind up a few hundred years later as part of movements in philosophy in which all kinds of different ideas got mixed into various ways with results ranging from individual freedom to totalitarianism, then is the person who originally wrote those ideas a killer?

Aren't there many philosophers other than Kant whose ideas have been taken into philosophies or ideologies that have led, by same chain of associations or another, to some killing or another?

Edited by Hodges'sPodges
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The ideal at the premise of such things (thought crimes/word crimes) has been used in Canada to set up the Human Rights Commissions and you can read Ezra Levant's blog for yourself to determine which of the two (freedom of speech and Hate Crimes) is the most damaging to a society.

As Mill says.

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. (p. 24)
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Should socialists and environmentalists kill you because they think your ideas make you a dangerous planet destroyer? "No," you might say, "because they are wrong. I know that for certain, so I can be the tyrant."

How can an individual predict with infallible accuracy which ideas lead to evil before the consequences actually happen? Should such an individual get to be the tyrant? When John Galt was tortured to be a tyrant, did he give in?

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What often puts a highly principled person at a great disadvantage, is that he will think and act according to his own standards, consistently.

So his potential or real enemies, such as these irrational ideologues, have the upper hand : in the short term.

i.e., in a reversed position such people would probably have no moral compunction about the use of force , or violence, against such a person.

This is the source of the world's double standards today - you live by your principles, while I do whatever I please.

So no, our hands are tied. Despite my full agreement with Hodges, that bad ideas eventually kill.

(BTW , in my book, 'building skyscrapers', or doing whatever one does with rationality and passion, could often be a perfect intellectual response to these people.)

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What often puts a highly principled person at a great disadvantage, is that he will think and act according to his own standards, consistently.

So his potential or real enemies, such as these irrational ideologues, have the upper hand : in the short term.

i.e., in a reversed position such people would probably have no moral compunction about the use of force , or violence, against such a person.

I don't have a compunction about the use of force, against any such people as you describe (people who are ready to use force against me, because of my ideas). I have a compunction about the use of force against people who don't use force (directly or through cronies), but only have bad ideas. I don't see my disadvantage at all.

So no, our hands are tied. Despite my full agreement with Hodges, that bad ideas eventually kill.

Our hands are not tied. We have every right to act pre-emptively against those who plan to harm us. But the OP did not ask about those who wish to harm us, he asked about people with bad ideas, and bad ideas don't kill people. Not even Kant's bad ideas. People kill people.

If you want to fight bad ideas (like those of Kant), you can: with good ideas. And if you want to fight people who use violence (like Ahmedinejad, or any tyrant), you can do that too, with violence. Your hands are not tied, either way.

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If you're a hyperliberal pro-bureaucracy asshole and a pro-tax ideologue like one particular economics professor I'm thinking of an you intend to spread your ideas to the masses with the end goal of plundering my bank account and forcing me into some shitty governmnt run healthcare cesspool, doesn't that give me the right to use force against you in my defense? In any case, the more involved I get in political debate, the more I realize that there is simply no getting though to most people- at best they will dismiss me as a conservative extremist or Ayn Rand cultist- and that a much more practical solution would be to just hoist the black flag and start slitting throats, as someone once said... it would certainly be a lot more satisfying.

Edited by cliveandrews
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Jake, I believe you're being picky.

My response " No, our hands are tied ", was a direct reply to "Is it moral to kill people who..." ie people who have not yet used force against us.

Also , I as good as stated that, OTH, our minds are not tied.[ in the last para. ]

True, I DID simplify excessively, and correct it here :- Bad ideas can eventually lead to people being killed by people.

thx

Tony

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Jake, I believe you're being picky.

My response " No, our hands are tied ", was a direct reply to "Is it moral to kill people who..." ie people who have not yet used force against us.

I think it is perfectly fine to kill people who have not yet used force against us, if there is clear evidence they intend to do it.

P.S. I try not to be too picky, as a general rule, so I disagree about my post being too picky: I think I made an important distinction, both in the previos post and even now.

I should have articulated it more clearly: some Objectivists do tend to drift toward political ideas that would tie their hands in the short term, against potential enemies. I think that is a mistake, any sign of an enemies' willingness to kill you should be met with overwhelming violence, there is no need to become a victim first, before action is morally justified.

If you're a hyperliberal pro-bureaucracy asshole and a pro-tax ideologue like one particular economics professor I'm thinking of an you intend to spread your ideas to the masses with the end goal of plundering my bank account and forcing me into some shitty governmnt run healthcare cesspool, doesn't that give me the right to use force against you in my defense?

No you do not have the right to use force against such a professor, that is absurd. The United States is the one country in the World where all speech is protected, and you want to attack someone for speech you disagree with.

at best they will dismiss me as a conservative extremist or Ayn Rand cultist-

I most certainly will not dismiss you as either of those: pure conservatives support the US Constitution and the First Amendment, and Ayn Rand would definitely be appalled by the suggestion to suppress any speech, no matter how senseless.

Instead I will dismiss you as a fascist.

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If you're a hyperliberal pro-bureaucracy asshole and a pro-tax ideologue like one particular economics professor I'm thinking of an you intend to spread your ideas to the masses with the end goal of plundering my bank account and forcing me into some shitty governmnt run healthcare cesspool, doesn't that give me the right to use force against you in my defense?
No, clearly not. Where would you get such an idea?
In any case, the more involved I get in political debate, the more I realize that there is simply no getting though to most people- at best they will dismiss me as a conservative extremist or Ayn Rand cultist- and that a much more practical solution would be to just hoist the black flag and start slitting throats, as someone once said... it would certainly be a lot more satisfying.
Well, at least your honest about the depraved position that you hold. But remember, you're inviting people to train the gun-sights at you for holding dangerous and irrational ideas.
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If you're a hyperliberal pro-bureaucracy asshole and a pro-tax ideologue like one particular economics professor I'm thinking of an you intend to spread your ideas to the masses with the end goal of plundering my bank account and forcing me into some shitty governmnt run healthcare cesspool

Having ideas does not imply action will be taken. They can live their own sad existence. People are capable of choosing whether or not to follow such a person's ideas. Killing such a person is preventive, but you're still initiating force without force being used on you in the first place. It would be better to ask "What sort of actions can I take in self-defense against taxation (which is force)? Would violence be immoral against the people demanding your money to be collected and sending the cops to your house?"

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It would be better to ask "What sort of actions can I take in self-defense against taxation (which is force)? Would violence be immoral against the people demanding your money to be collected and sending the cops to your house?"
Exactly.

It's private property. How does one protect their private property against the ever growing looter/moocher class that has the force of government and police at their disposal?

Additionally, with the ridiculous budgets of past US governments and now the current one, the paper that represents one's work is being cut up right before our eyes. Again, how does one protect oneself?

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The Objectivist holds a superior position ideologically and politically, ( I think) in the world today. He is a small but powerful influence in the war against irrationality - which at it's most extreme is insanity. Not for him the 'luxuries' of ignorance or evasion that the vast majority muddle by on.

But it is not for him to be the saviour of the world. The righteous slayer of covert or overt evil. Of course he will and must meet bad ideas, wherever they exist, with good ideas. Of course he must protect himself and his property with devastating force, when force has been other-initiated.

It is the pre-emption of force that I take issue with, whether as a political solution, or as here, contra those who are disseminating irrationally immoral ideas.

With superiority comes responsibility IMO. Knowing better implies being better. Fighting immorality must be done by one's own standards, not those of the enemy. ( There is an element of altruism in this- the sacrifice of one's own principles to beat the enemy, is still a sacrifice, not a victory.)

With superiority comes too, that much discussed "benevolence". Until it becomes very clear - VERY clear - who the enemy is, and what he stands for, and how much power he has, and that he intends using it, he must be watched very carefully, but be given the benefit of the doubt. NOT FOR HIS SAKE, but for ours. Benevolence must also be especially accorded to all those "who just don't know better", and probably never will ( but that's not for me to judge ).

What if bad ideas being propogated by a college professor today, leads to a "Hitler- Stalin" evil entity in my unborn grand-children's life time? I will just have to trust them to deal with it themselves; responsibility has it's limits.

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The key word here is "dangerous". If it is true that the person is dangerous, then they pose a present or near-term threat to life and limb. Would you kill a man-eating tiger, an alligator or a thug that you know would kill you if he had the drop on you? Ayn Rand wrote "The only thing you can do with a criminal is crack his skull before he cracks yours" Wouldn't the same apply to a dangerous tyrnannist?

The answer is "ABSOLUTELY YES" and it may be immoral NOT to if you get the chance to do so and go free.

However, the devil, like all devils, is in the detail. proving that the person is, in fact, dangerous. Someon whose ideas pose a threat to succeeding generations is POTENTIALLY dangerous, not, in fact, dangerous. As Ayn Rand said of the embryo being a living human being, the potential does not yet exist so cannot be treated as real.

Edited by Space Patroller
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