Within the last decade or so several philosophers have argued against handgun prohibition on the ground that it violates the right to self-defense. However, even these philosophers grant that the right to own handguns is not absolute and could be overridden if doing so would bring about an enormous social good. Analysis of intra-United States empirical data cited by gun rights advocates indicates that guns do not make us safer, while international data lends powerful support to the thesis that guns (...) do indeed increase homicide. If handguns do not make us safer, then appealing to the right to self-defense as an objection to prohibition is moot. Prohibition neither violates the right to self-defense nor sacrifices anyone’s interests for the common good, since it makes each person less likely to be murderedthan the current permissive handgun laws. Moreover, we also must take into account the right to life of victims of handgun crimes made possible by liberal handgun laws. Consequently, invoking the right to self-defense does not provide any sound reason against handgun prohibition over and above familiar utilitarian objections, which are themselves refuted by the empirical evidence. (shrink)
Menzel and Light have argued that the conservative principle of self-sufficiency gives good reasons to strive for universal health coverage. This paper gives further reasons for connecting universal health care with self-sufficiency and continues Menzel’s and Light’s project in four more ways. First, a more extended analysis of a conservative conception of government shows how a general opposition to welfare programs is consistent with guaranteeing universal basic health care. Second, common fears about the abuse of health care when universal access (...) is guaranteed are unfounded. Third, worldwide experience shows that the most effective way to bring high quality health care to a population is through a government mandate, not the free market. Fourth, while socioeconomic status is an important determinant of health independent of the accessibility of health care itself, this does not undermine the case for universal health care based on a minimal, conservative conception of equality of opportunity. (shrink)
Trash talking, which is the North American term for verbal barbs directed at opponents during a sporting event in order to gain a competitive edge, is widely accepted by athletes and the athletic community as a legitimate part of sport. It is, however, morally indefensible. A simple Kantian injunction against treating opponents merely as objects to be overcome is sufficient to condemn this verbal abuse. Attempts to justify trash talking as a strategic ploy that implies no disrespect are disingenuous in (...) view of the fact that its effectiveness depends on opponents' being offended by it. Nor can we defend trash talking as enhancing the goal of athletic competition, since the ability to verbally abuse opponents and remain impervious to their abuse are extraneous to the athletic excellence that contests are designed to measure. Attempts to deflect criticisms by partially immunizing sport from moral scrutiny are implausible. With few exceptions, we judge actions in sport by the same moral standards that we use in any other context. Moreover, the view that neither trash talking nor other actions in sport are fit subjects for strict moral scrutiny is inconsistent with the often-heard claim that sport promotes moral development. (shrink)
Driving light trucks creates the risk of significant harm to other people. Compared to regular cars, light trucks endanger the occupants of other vehicles more and have a markedly more negative impact on the environment. Consequently, many people who currently drive light trucks ought to switch to smaller vehicles.
324 "we should impose a single legal restriction that would effectively eliminate boxing's main medical risk: a complete ban on blows to the head" against Mill's harm principle, is not possible to justify paternalism requires other paternalistic arguments 325 "the entire paternalism v. respect for autonomy debate as it applied to boxing is cast in nonconsequentialist terms" do we have any reason to suppose that boxers' decisions to enter the profession are lacking in autonomy? many fail the first hurdle: "having (...) adequate information" - unlikely to know the medical facts 326 liberal view would state we need better education, not paternalism stronger paternalism = "an autonomous decision must flow from the agent's own values, without undue pressure from other people or external circumstances." otherwise is coercive and precludes autonomous action "since boxers often come from severely disadvantaged backgrounds and may see boxing as their only means of escaping from dangerous, povery-stricken neighborhoods, their decision to become boxers may reflect their desperation, rather than an authentic desire that flows from their own considered values". (shrink)
By far the most plausible explanation of data on violent crime in the United States is that its high handgun ownership rate is a major causal factor. The only realistic way to significantly reduce violent crime in this country is an outright ban on private ownership of handguns. While such a ban would undeniably restrict one particular freedom, it would violate no rights. In particular, the unquestioned right to self-defense does not entail a right to own handguns, because the evidence (...) indicates that the widespread belief in handguns’ defensive efficacy is mistaken, especially when we confine our attention to defensive handgun use that is actually morally permissible. A handgun ban will never eradicate the weapons from this country, but it can substantially reduce the ownership rate and, as a result, substantially reduce violent crime. Although political realities may make a handgun ban unattainable in the United States at present, the very act of advancing cogent arguments for the most defensible position will make the goal of handgun prohibition more and more achievable. (shrink)
My paper describes a method of teaching history of modern philosophy in a way which is accessible to students with no background in philosophy. The main innovation of the course is that the readings are organized around three themes: (1) theory of knowledge; (2) philosophy of religion; (3) the free will problem. This provides continuity between the readings, a feature often missing in historical courses. Moreover, seeing how different philosophical methods--rationalism (Descartes), empiricism (Hume), pragmatism (James), and twentieth century analytic philosophy (...) (Russell)--approach the same issues deepens students' understanding of these methods. (shrink)