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Switch to Forum Live View Arms in a Civilized Society
1 year ago  ::  Dec 24, 2012 - 11:21PM #1
d_p_m
Posts: 9,013

There is a very active debate right now, especially but not exclusively in the US, about access to arms, and specifically firearms.

There are a number of distinct positions, with a fair bit of opinion at the extremes - ban guns, versus let them buy anything they want to have, with a significant middle ground - some arms are justified,  but others are bad, or arms are ok in some places and bad in others.

While this is often argued on the basis of political principle (eg, constitutional rights, natural rights) or on the basis of sheer practicality (I don't want to be shot by accident, I don't want anyone around me to have guns, I want to be able to protect myself, guns cause murder, guns prevent rape and murder), there seems to be some part of the discussion that isn't happening.

Perhaps that is just me, but it seems like the philosophical and practical meet at some level, more abstract than individual anecdotal cases, and less legalistic than arguments about constitutional rights. Now that I have been reminded, I remember some of these points, but they don[t seem to be getting equal time with 'my god we've got to stop this' and 'I have a right to defend myself with my chosen guns'.

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Here is the article that set me thinking:
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Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.


In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.


When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.


............Please go to link for entire article.


So the greatest civilization is one where all citizens are equally armed and can only be persuaded, never forced.


– Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)


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I am sure that some gun owners will be thinking 'that was obvious enough to not need saying' while some anti-gun activists will be thinking 'that's more gun nonsense, and I don't want to hear it'.


Still, in some ways, it does seem to represent a reasoned approach to discussing some of the fundamental societal issues, and might be worth thinking about.


There are other thoughts as well. Consider that the rise of parliamentary government and the beginnings of individual rights began when the English yeoman was armed with a weapon that could defeat kill any knight. This may not be a coincidence, and does bear some thought about the relationships between weapons, force, reason, rights, and justice.


Edit: added link and property rights.


Moderated by Stardove on Dec 26, 2012 - 12:43AM
PHARAOH IRY-HOR, FROM THE 3100s BC, IS THE FIRST HUMAN WHOSE NAME WE KNOW.

-- cool facts from xkcd


"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

-- Albert Einstein
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1 year ago  ::  Dec 25, 2012 - 12:22AM #2
mountain_man
Posts: 38,064

Guns are not part of a civilized society. Guns are not meant to be civil, they are designed to kill. Every gun out there is a threat to your life and a threat to a civilized society. The USA is proof of that.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

I am a Humanist. I believe in a rational philosophy of life, informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by a desire to do good for its own sake and not by an expectation of a reward or fear of punishment in an afterlife.
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1 year ago  ::  Dec 25, 2012 - 11:54PM #3
solfeggio
Posts: 8,528

I do have to agree with mountain_man on this one.  Because the very obvious fact is that guns were invented with the express purpose of either wounding or killing another living being, human or nonhuman.


There will always be firearms, but their usage can be controlled.  For example, Japan has very, very few gun-related firearms related deaths each year.  Part of this is because it is so difficult to own a gun in Japan, but also because of obvious cultural differences between Japan and the U.S.


Because of all the restrictions, Americans would think of Japan as a police state.


www.theatlantic.com/international/archiv...


Laws reflect the culture.


 


 

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1 year ago  ::  Dec 26, 2012 - 12:02AM #4
d_p_m
Posts: 9,013

It might be considered that weapons - tools designed to kill - are not only the foundation of civilization, but also one of the key factors that made us human, rather than hyena fodder.

PHARAOH IRY-HOR, FROM THE 3100s BC, IS THE FIRST HUMAN WHOSE NAME WE KNOW.

-- cool facts from xkcd


"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

-- Albert Einstein
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1 year ago  ::  Dec 26, 2012 - 12:05AM #5
Ken
Posts: 33,860

Dec 25, 2012 -- 11:54PM, solfeggio wrote:

There will always be firearms, but their usage can be controlled.  For example, Japan has very, very few gun-related firearms related deaths each year.  Part of this is because it is so difficult to own a gun in Japan, but also because of obvious cultural differences between Japan and the U.S.


Because of all the restrictions, Americans would think of Japan as a police state.



I'm an American and I wouldn't.  I think too many Americans are self-willed, overopinionated, undergoverned brats who need to be taken in hand. I'm sick of them.

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1 year ago  ::  Dec 26, 2012 - 2:26AM #6
shmuelgoldstein
Posts: 2,171

Dec 24, 2012 -- 11:21PM, d_p_m wrote:

... Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force.



I agree.


But how is that force used?


When a person is "forced" to pay a traffic ticket, is a gun being used? Not exactly. There *is* a threat of imprisonment, and a threat of thugs showing up at your door and taking you away, by force of arms if necessary. So, perhaps the threat of arms is inherent in every traffic ticket and every time someone loses even a civil case in court.


Dec 24, 2012 -- 11:21PM, d_p_m wrote:

 Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction,



On a person-to-person level, I agree. But I do not agree on a society-to-person level, as I have said above.


Dec 24, 2012 -- 11:21PM, d_p_m wrote:

  ... and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm ... When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. 



Completely disagree.


The other party can have a gun as well.


The other party can outnumber the person with a gun.


The *I* here might not be able to use the gun properly, and so the gun is useless. Yes, the fellow writing this is a retired U.S. Marine, but he's using *I* in the generic sense.


His thesis is that firearms help people to deal with each other by reason as opposed to force, and that's good for society.


I agree, but not on a person-to-person level. On a society-to-person level (or an "establishment-to-person" level) I agree.


Say I want to buy a widget for $5, but you say it costs $10. How can I convince you to reduce your price? Haggling. And if we do not come to a mutually agreed upon price, then we both walk away. Without a gun. No guns needed, because we have the implicit threat of "the system" coming down on our heads.




 

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1 year ago  ::  Dec 26, 2012 - 2:46AM #7
d_p_m
Posts: 9,013

Dec 26, 2012 -- 2:26AM, shmuelgoldstein wrote:


When a person is "forced" to pay a traffic ticket, is a gun being used? Not exactly. There *is* a threat of imprisonment, and a threat of thugs showing up at your door and taking you away, by force of arms if necessary. So, perhaps the threat of arms is inherent in every traffic ticket and every time someone loses even a civil case in court.



Precisely. One thing I did learn, long ago in either history or sociology, was that civilization is dependent upon force and the threat of force, quite literally. Before industrialization, cities were founded and their specialist classes were supported by 'excess production' by peasants, which was collected as taxes. In some cases the taxes were collected by the army, in some cases the army backed up the tax collectors... but in either case the peasants were compelled to give over a significant portion of their food to support the specialists - kings, astrologers, priests, soldiers, etc. without whom the cities and city-states would not exist. Indeed, it is likely that the peasants really did not consider their excess production excess at all. Doubtless some of them suffered due to the forced extraction of wealth in the form of food, animals, and other forms of wealth. Civilization has always depended on the gun or its military predecessors - the bow, sword, and spear.

PHARAOH IRY-HOR, FROM THE 3100s BC, IS THE FIRST HUMAN WHOSE NAME WE KNOW.

-- cool facts from xkcd


"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

-- Albert Einstein
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1 year ago  ::  Dec 26, 2012 - 3:18AM #8
Fodaoson
Posts: 10,920

I somewhat agree with the article. There is only two way to settle a disagreement, reason or force of some kind.  A gun may level the field but only if both guns at the same time are in hand and ready to discharge.   If I am going to rob someone and approach the target with a pointed ready to fire the weapon, the field is in my favor. Almost every policeman killed in the line of duty is armed but the killer usually had weapon ready to fire. 


In a civilized society civilized social pressure keeps it civilized, not guns, not money , not democracy but each individual’s  sense of being a responsible  part of civilized society.     


   

“I seldom make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.” Edward Gibbon
"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
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1 year ago  ::  Dec 26, 2012 - 6:06AM #9
Dostojevsky
Posts: 6,808

Reason or force; how about wisdom to walk away.


Reason/ing most of the time develops into argumet, argument fires up volence.


Wisdom will teach when reasoning will work when it is useless.


People today are too stressed, or on drugs or alcohol or just simply not coping; and if you are none of these things and they are, be kind and walk away and let them sort it out for themselves. 

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1 year ago  ::  Dec 26, 2012 - 9:14AM #10
Do_unto_others
Posts: 7,813

Dec 26, 2012 -- 12:02AM, d_p_m wrote:


It might be considered that weapons - tools designed to kill - are not only the foundation of civilization, but also one of the key factors that made us human, rather than hyena fodder.





Nonsense.

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