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TheAllotrope
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The discussion was about an individual's right of self-defense.
Eh? I'm not aware of that being "the discussion". That is not the point of Rand's statements. The point is that it is necessary to objectively distinguish those acts which are justified as acts of self defense, versus those acts which, by being a threat, are the initiation of force.
As far as the your paragraph above, I don't think it is the goal of government to absolutely block killings of men by other men. The goal of government is to enforce the law to the end of protecting people's rights.
Do you not see how the former is an instantiation of what the latter is about?
A goal of philosophy (Objectivism, etc.) is to stop all killings by convincing everyone to lead moral lives. That is not the government's job.
That's nearly correct. So the problem then is to determine how best to protect individuals' right. Since it is the job of the government to protect individual rights, it is the job of the government to act in a manner that protects individual rights. It is, naturally, the job of philosophy to correctly identify which acts should be prohibited by law.

When it is not possible to philosophically persuade men to behave rationally, and when killing is a fact of society, then it would be wrong to declare on rationalistic grounds that the government bears full responsibility for rights violations in the form of restrictions on weapons. As you know, Objectivism holds that moral responsibility for initiation of force lies with the force-initiator, not with the government which must act to protect rights.

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Hey, how does the govt outlawing gun ownership protect me better? There are numerous studies that show that in virtually any society where a systematic study has been done, allowing the lawful ownership of firearms of all types decreases rather than increases crime. So there is that.

Moreover, though, I have a perhaps a solution: lets outlaw murder, mugging, rape, and the initiation of force in general, instead of initiating force against me under the guise of protecting me from the initiation of force.

Edited by sanjavalen
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I have no idea: are you under the impression that someone here has suggested that?

When it is not possible to philosophically persuade men to behave rationally, and when killing is a fact of society, then it would be wrong to declare on rationalistic grounds that the government bears full responsibility for rights violations in the form of restrictions on weapons. As you know, Objectivism holds that moral responsibility for initiation of force lies with the force-initiator, not with the government which must act to protect rights.

How did I misunderstand that paragraph, then? That is what I took from it.

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Eh? I'm not aware of that being "the discussion". That is not the point of Rand's statements.

Eh? I never said it WAS the point of Rand's statements. Crawl your way back up this branch of the thread discussion and you'll see that I was responding to one of the TheAllotrope's points re: self-defense.

The point is that it is necessary to objectively distinguish those acts which are justified as acts of self defense, versus those acts which, by being a threat, are the initiation of force.

And I gave you one to explain my point which you completely ignored - someone breaking into my home and attacking me.

As far as the your paragraph above, I don't think it is the goal of government to absolutely block killings of men by other men. The goal of government is to enforce the law to the end of protecting people's rights.

Do you not see how the former is an instantiation of what the latter is about?
I see that you think so, but I disagree.

The only way for the government to "block killings" is to enact laws that make it a crime, and to establish a police force to stop criminals if they can and to find and prosecute criminals. It follows that one who commits such a crime will seek to avoid being discovered, therefore the governments "goal" can never be realized - not even hypothetically. On the other hand, a philosophy could hypothetically lead to killings dropping to zero, though in reality it probably never will.

Enforcement of the law by definition occurs mostly AFTER the crime has been committed and rights have been violated. The government is necessary to execute the punishment defined by the law, which we hope will deter crimes from occurring. That deterrent will never "block killings", only a desire to be moral can. And the government, by definition, has no responsibility whatsoever to create or enforce morality.

A goal of philosophy (Objectivism, etc.) is to stop all killings by convincing everyone to lead moral lives. That is not the government's job.

That's nearly correct. So the problem then is to determine how best to protect individuals' right. Since it is the job of the government to protect individual rights, it is the job of the government to act in a manner that protects individual rights. It is, naturally, the job of philosophy to correctly identify which acts should be prohibited by law.

To continue my obtuse example: the government HAS done so regarding murder - it is illegal. There is nothing more they can do. And as we can see by history, piling more and more laws on top to make murder even MORE illegal has little effect. Only philosophy has it's **goal** to change the heart of man to be moral. An immoral man may decide not to commit murder to avoid the penalty of law, but he remains immoral.

When it is not possible to philosophically persuade men to behave rationally, and when killing is a fact of society, then it would be wrong to declare on rationalistic grounds that the government bears full responsibility for rights violations in the form of restrictions on weapons. As you know, Objectivism holds that moral responsibility for initiation of force lies with the force-initiator, not with the government which must act to protect rights.

Translate this last please, I'm not following you. Are you saying the government should or should not restrict guns?

Edited by PatriotResistance
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As far as the your paragraph above, I don't think it is the goal of government to absolutely block killings of men by other men. The goal of government is to enforce the law to the end of protecting people's rights. A goal of philosophy (Objectivism, etc.) is to stop all killings by convincing everyone to lead moral lives. That is not the government's job. No law or principle that any government can ever invent will prevent all killings (unless by violating rights of freedom, which I suspect, is what you meant by 'improperly use force against men').

There are concrete steps that the government can take to prevent killings, without hindering the individual's self defense. For instance, if the government bans suicide-bomber style vests from being sold in convenience stores, that will prevent a lot of killings, but will not in any way interfere with the rights of individuals, to self-defense. (or hunting wabbits, for that matter) So that concrete step is easy: the government can do that.

However, something like a 45 caliber pistol is used both to rob thousands of convenience stores, but also to defend thousands of families from having their homes invaded by thugs. So it is complicated to find laws that will both allow the home or store owners to defend their lives and properties, but also prevent robberies, as much as possible. But, if a law were to manage that, that would be a proper law. In New York, for instance, there are laws that pretty much ban handguns (for most people... from what I hear, you need a lawyer, or massive amounts of free time and patience, to get a permit), but (mostly) allow shotguns in homes or stores. Shotguns work for home defense, but are hard to conceal from policemen, on your way to a robbery, so the intention is there to achieve both aims. Unfortunately, the balance is tilted toward violating people's right to self defense, it needs to swing back, toward allowing easier access to guns, for law abiding citizens. In most of Europe, it is even worse, it is almost impossible to get a gun for your home, and carrying is practically outlawed.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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It's not as if we are talking about 50 megaton warheads here.

If the bomb is far enough away from the spacecraft and/or there is a thick enough armor plate, it wouldn't be an issue. Though personally I would not want to be near the launch site, there being no armor plate to protect me. (Minor spoiler: You might want to check out the book Footfall by Niven and Pournelle for a fictionalized account.)

The spacecraft driven by one of these things would be *massive*, not like the stuff we launch today where every gram possible is shaved off and the spacecraft is incredibly fragile. Some rockets are so structurally flimsy (to save weight) they need to be stored with fuel in them, otherwise they risk collapse.

A much more recent variant of the Orion concept was to use lasers to fuse a small pellet of deuterium (as is being thought of for fusion reactors). You can make the explosion arbitrarily small that way and perhaps drive a smaller spacecraft--and you don't have to carry a bunch of heavy uranium or plutonium with you. Of course this is unproven technology at present.

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I could probably *make* a "suicide vest" out of fairly common household chemicals, given a little patience and after brushing up on my high school chemistry.

Its silly to outlaw things, when actions are what should be outlawed.

The main (rational) standard I think that would be applicable is *threat*. Obviously, I have every right to have a machine gun nest if I really want to. What I don't have the right to do is load them all up and point them at my neighbor's front door. That is a threat (assuming we're not good friends and he knows I'm just joking, though I would say thats a pretty stupid pair of friends.)

When you get into even more destructive devices (explosives, chemicals, etc.,) the principle remains the same - but an explosive is like a gun pointed in all directions, out to its maximum destructive range. So, while I don't think licensing is an issue, it certainly would be within the rights of my neighbors to call the cops and report me if they see me handling a truckload of dyanmite into my 1br apartment. This also means that nukes are, de facto (though, importantly, not de jure) outlawed in almost every context you can think of. This kind of law, however, leaves room for things like mining uses and private, Orion-like spaceship uses (assuming either is feasible,) while also forbidding Jihad McJihadenstein from packing one into his hotel room. I think its important to be able to point to an objective principle in law, and not say "We are balancing conflicting interests are arbitrarily saying the proper balance is x." Thats not a rational basis for making criminal law. A principle is - and I think the principle I defined here is the only relevant one when it comes to restricting weapons ownership.

Edited by sanjavalen
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Its silly to outlaw things, when actions are what should be outlawed.

...

Obviously, I have every right to have a machine gun nest if I really want to. What I don't have the right to do is load them all up and point them at my neighbor's front door.

This is essentially the correct way of analyzing the matter of proper restrictions on weapons ownership. The forbidden act is the act of threatening. The discussion then must focus on what specific facts constitute objective evidence of threatening. I disagree that you would have to actually go to the point of pointing the machine gut at the neighbor's front door. It would be sufficient to position the machine gun in such a manner that you could easily fire it at the neighbor -- like, mounting it on a swivel within 20 feet of their front door or their back door, or a window, or their deck.

The concept of objective law subsumes two major facts, namely whether the law is objectively justified, and whether it is objectively defined. Objectively defining what constitutes a "threat" is difficult, which is why laws are frequently stated in overly-general form that actually contradicts the requirements of objective purpose. The most obvious example would be a ban on the ownership of handguns, which is a really ham-fisted way of covering a particular kind of threat, declaring (incorrectly) that the act of owning a handgun is, necessarily, proof of an actual act of threatening.

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If the bomb is far enough away from the spacecraft and/or there is a thick enough armor plate, it wouldn't be an issue.

The problem isn't so much the blast but the fallout. Orion type craft should be used only outside the atmosphere, which leaves the problem of lofting thousands of tons into orbit anyway.

Some rockets are so structurally flimsy (to save weight) they need to be stored with fuel in them, otherwise they risk collapse.

ICBMs may be stored fully fueled. After all they are supposed to be launh-ready at all times. Rockets intended for space launches or other non-military activities (like high-altitude research), are pressurised with some inert gas, like nitrogen, to keep the fuel tanks from collapsing under their own weight (sometimes the tanks are also the rocket's skin).

A much more recent variant of the Orion concept was to use lasers to fuse a small pellet of deuterium (as is being thought of for fusion reactors). You can make the explosion arbitrarily small that way and perhaps drive a smaller spacecraft--and you don't have to carry a bunch of heavy uranium or plutonium with you. Of course this is unproven technology at present.

You'd need some serious power source for the lasers, too. Of course it could be built several miles away from the launch site. Florida is a good palce to build fission reactors, too. There's plenty of flowing water and flat terrain. I suppose detonating a deuterium pellet wouldn't produce much fallout, either (if any).

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I could probably *make* a "suicide vest" out of fairly common household chemicals, given a little patience and after brushing up on my high school chemistry.

Its silly to outlaw things, when actions are what should be outlawed. The main (rational) standard I think that would be applicable is *threat*.

Selling a suicide vest (or buying it) are both actions. So is making it, moving it, or touching it etc. So even if the principle "things cannot be outlawed, only actions" were to be a sound one, it wouldn't help your cause.

A suicide vest is an objective threat, because the only use for it is murder-suicide. It should be outlawed in a civilized society, because no one has the right to murder, or even just threaten to.

Obviously, I have every right to have a machine gun nest if I really want to.

Ayn Rand was asked if you do have that right, and she said it was complicated. So at least admit that it's not obvious, and then perhaps we can discuss why you would have such a right.

Until then, sorry, but you just don't. Everything has a reason, and you didn't give me any reason to think I should let you have a machine gun, so I'll continue voting against that "right" you have, along with almost everyone, until you do explain. So saying that it's obvious and moving on won't help you.

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It's silly to apply "intent" to what amounts to a mechanized paperweight. The motivating power behind any handgun or machine gun or nuclear bomb or lead pipe is a human being. It's him or her that initiates a violent act, and is therefore culpable... not the inanimate object he or she happens to have picked up and used.

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Do you believe that someone here holds the position that paperweights have intent? I couldn't find the post that you're referring to.

"X's are for..." "X's are only useful for..." "the only use for X is Y..." (and therefore you shouldn't have X)

"Jake_Ellison" is who I have my eye on at the moment. It looks like if he carries his argument to its logical conclusion, he'll do so by making a highly arbitrary metaphysical distinction, the likes of which so-called progressives have been using since the dawn of property rights to abridge same. Do you want specific quotes?

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"Jake_Ellison" is who I have my eye on at the moment. It looks like if he carries his argument to its logical conclusion, he'll do so by making a highly arbitrary metaphysical distinction, the likes of which so-called progressives have been using since the dawn of property rights to abridge same. Do you want specific quotes?

No, I can find it. Here's what he said:

So it is complicated to find laws that will both allow the home or store owners to defend their lives and properties, but also prevent robberies, as much as possible. But, if a law were to manage that, that would be a proper law. In New York, for instance, there are laws that pretty much ban handguns (for most people... from what I hear, you need a lawyer, or massive amounts of free time and patience, to get a permit), but (mostly) allow shotguns in homes or stores. Shotguns work for home defense, but are hard to conceal from policemen, on your way to a robbery,
so the intention is there to achieve both aims
.

It seems that you misunderstood what he said. A law was created, by men, in New York, which limits acts of possessing firearms. The intention, i.e. the purpose, behind men creating that law, is to both make it difficult for a person to use a weapon to commit a robbery, while making it possible to use one for self defense. Thus he is attributing intent to the makers of the law, not to the shotguns that citizens might use.

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No, I can find it. Here's what he said:

So it is complicated to find laws that will both allow the home or store owners to defend their lives and properties, but also prevent robberies, as much as possible. But, if a law were to manage that, that would be a proper law. In New York, for instance, there are laws that pretty much ban handguns (for most people... from what I hear, you need a lawyer, or massive amounts of free time and patience, to get a permit), but (mostly) allow shotguns in homes or stores. Shotguns work for home defense, but are hard to conceal from policemen, on your way to a robbery,
so the intention is there to achieve both aims
.

It seems that you misunderstood what he said. A law was created, by men, in New York, which limits acts of possessing firearms. The intention, i.e. the purpose, behind men creating that law, is to both make it difficult for a person to use a weapon to commit a robbery, while making it possible to use one for self defense. Thus he is attributing intent to the makers of the law, not to the shotguns that citizens might use.

That's not what I was referring to.

Here's one quote:

"The government may however completely ban those weapons and arsenals that are meant not as instruments of self-defense, hunting, or target practice, but war, mass-murder, terror attacks. (such as large bombs, machine guns (not all "automatic weapons", but actual machine-guns, like helicopter-mounted Gatlings), chemical and nuclear weapons."

Here's another:

"My reasoning was that weapons of war are useful for war, not self-defense or hunting."

And another:

"I disagree that it is not up to me (or objective laws) to decide what is used for war and what for self-defense (or hunting). Of course it can be determined what weapons should be allowed and what shouldn't be, objectively. You just have to look at what damage they can inflict on a crowd or building, and at what distance. If it does more than even the most extreme requirement for self-defense from criminals, it should be banned from civilian use, except perhaps in licensed facilities where gun enthusiasts can rent them out and play around with them." (Notice that not only does this one suggest that certain mechanical objects have only specific uses, but also that there should exist some regulatory body which has the capacity to regulate them, and decide who is and is not allowed to "rent them out and play around with them.")

Here's a really ridiculous one:

"A suicide vest is an objective threat, because the only use for it is murder-suicide. It should be outlawed in a civilized society, because no one has the right to murder, or even just threaten to."

___

Classifying something as a "weapon of war" means package-dealing the act of making war with what amounts to, as I said initially, a paperweight. The intent to initiate the use of force is attributed to objects which, of course, possess no means by which to intend to do anything at all.

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There are millions of opportunities where firearms are used in the United States for self defense in de-escalating crimes each year. I've read in some FBI statistics where that number is around 2.5 million. So, an act of force recognized by an individual was reduced. Moral self defense in action.

Aircraft have been used for the initiation of immoral force. Are those banned? Similarly for other forms of transportation and entertainment. Isn't it always back to intent?

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There are millions of opportunities where firearms are used in the United States for self defense in de-escalating crimes each year. I've read in some FBI statistics where that number is around 2.5 million. So, an act of force recognized by an individual was reduced. Moral self defense in action.

Aircraft have been used for the initiation of immoral force. Are those banned? Similarly for other forms of transportation and entertainment. Isn't it always back to intent?

Absolutely!

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Classifying something as a "weapon of war" means package-dealing the act of making war with what amounts to, as I said initially, a paperweight. The intent to initiate the use of force is attributed to objects which, of course, possess no means by which to intend to do anything at all.
I see; so in your opinion, when a person acquires a suicide vest or a canister of sarin gas, do you believe that that is no evidence at all of their intent? What would constitute evidence of intent? Or are you just objecting to the wording -- and I would agree that saying that an object is a threat can only be interpreted metaphorically as referring to the act of possessing or trotting out the object. Rather than say that a hydrogen bomb is meant to kill millions of people, would you prefer saying that the manufacture of a hydrogen bomb is done so with the intent to kill millions of people, and that the acquisition of such a bomb is done so with the intent to kill millions of people? In other words, are you saying that one cannot rely on context to understand that Jake is not actually attributing volition to inanimate objects?
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Rather than say that a hydrogen bomb is meant to kill millions of people, would you prefer saying that the manufacture of a hydrogen bomb is done so with the intent to kill millions of people, and that the acquisition of such a bomb is done so with the intent to kill millions of people? In other words, are you saying that one cannot rely on context to understand that Jake is not actually attributing volition to inanimate objects?

A hydrogen bomb generates an area of destruction. So, when the US government looked at nuclear explosives to clear areas decades ago, it was at least a thought. If an area was void of individuals completely and a nuclear weapon was detonated, it would not kill millions of people and it could be used for purposes that would require a lot more TNT, etc. to accomplish a specific tast.

When the atomic bombs were used in war, yes, the intent was to kill.

If I could acquire an M2 .50 machine gun for sport to shoot targets, is it any different than the 8000# vehicle I drive around town? I wear a belt at work. I could use that to beat someone or strangle them. If I change my individual intent, anything becomes a weapon.

Edited by SD26
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I see; so in your opinion, when a person acquires a suicide vest or a canister of sarin gas, do you believe that that is no evidence at all of their intent? What would constitute evidence of intent? Or are you just objecting to the wording -- and I would agree that saying that an object is a threat can only be interpreted metaphorically as referring to the act of possessing or trotting out the object. Rather than say that a hydrogen bomb is meant to kill millions of people, would you prefer saying that the manufacture of a hydrogen bomb is done so with the intent to kill millions of people, and that the acquisition of such a bomb is done so with the intent to kill millions of people? In other words, are you saying that one cannot rely on context to understand that Jake is not actually attributing volition to inanimate objects?

As evidence goes, it would be circumstantial at best. I see no reason to prohibit free trade based on that.

This "suicide vest" thing is the worst, because it's named in such a way as to just make the point real obvious... only it doesn't tell you anything about the item itself, it just tells you how the alleged wearer intends to use it. It's a vest! It doesn't think for itself - building intent into the name like this is an obvious package deal to the same end as this categorization of large-caliber weapons as "weapons of war." On the other hand, say someone tells you about a vest strapped with C4. Now we have something to work with. We're talking about a vest lined with C4, so now we can discuss potential uses. (And, lo and behold, suddenly we can hypothesize some of those uses for the vest that extend beyond jihadist-esque terrorism.)

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If an area was void of individuals completely and a nuclear weapon was detonated, it would not kill millions of people and it could be used for purposes that would require a lot more TNT, etc. to accomplish a specific tast.
Can you concretize this idea with a specific location, facts of wind, and kilotonnage to show that a hydrogen bomb can actually be properly used for anything other than initiation of force or retaliation (neither of which is legitimately open to citizens)?
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