Tag: logic

Ayn Rand is the Real Cool Kid’s Philosopher

Kevin Damato | @KevinCDamato

In late 2017, there was an article published on currentaffairs.org referring to conservative commentator Ben Shapiro as “The Cool Kid’s Philosopher.” The article goes on to quote a New York Times piece crediting him with “dissecting arguments with a lawyer’s skill and references to Aristotle.” Is Shapiro the best we can get when it comes to logic based-philosophy? The short answer is no, but the question of who the true “Cool Kid’s Philosopher” is remains.

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Philosophy: The Forgotten Framework

Kevin Damato | @KevinCDamato

Philosophy is one of the most overlooked fields of intellectual study. You attach your own personal philosophy to nearly every decision you make, whether it is conscious or subconscious.

It’s a thought-provoking topic that yes, you can try to ignore, but no, will not be able to escape. Inevitably after accepting philosophy as an everyday feature of your life the question of which philosophy to follow arises.

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A Lesson for The Left Wing on Guns

Kevin Damato | United States

The Lesson

Recently, I was praised by my one of my peers for my handling of a heated debate with a student on my campus who disagreed with me politically. At first, I was confused and didn’t view myself as doing anything special. But after further analysis, my eyes were finally opened to the extent of our communication problems across the country. We have become inundated with emotion, hatred and flat-out stupidity. My words won’t do justice to how sad it was to realize that it is “enlightening” to write about how to have a conversation with another person.

Political disunity has reached an all-time high in the United States and has fascinated me with normalizing our interactions with one another. I have sought out to write about guns in a two-part series, with one article having already come out on “the right” and this one focused on “the left.” I aim to convince my audience that neither side of the traditional political spectrum is free of blame on these types of issues.

I received mixed support after the publishing of my previous article on the right. The support and/or negativity was split across ideological lines. This is not surprising, in fact, it proves my point. The divisiveness of our own bias is blinding us to reality. Neither side is free of blame and as you will see, I attack both sides of the political spectrum with equal amounts of fervor. Understand that I do begrudgingly use broad labels such as “the right” and “the left” liberally throughout the article. This is not meant to group everyone together, but simply provide a generalized analysis of political groups. As always, I implore you all to try and objectively view the advice outlined in this piece.

The Problem with the Left Wing’s View of Guns

To put it bluntly, the “political left” does not understand, nor care to understand the views of Americans that wish to keep their guns. Believe it or not, the people who fight for gun rights are not uneducated backwoods hillbillies who love hearing about mass shootings in the news.

Constitutionality

To start, “the left” either blatantly ignores the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution or chooses to reimagine its meaning in a fairytale-like way. Pointless debates on the grammar or word usage of the infamous amendment have gone on for decades and will most likely continue to do so. We need not look any further than some of our founding fathers’ statements on the second amendment to find out what they meant when writing it.

“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.” -George Mason, 1788

So what was the point of the Second Amendment? This is a lesson that “the left” doesn’t like to talk about much. The Second Amendment was not created for self-defense or hunting, it was for revolution. The founders, in touch with historical trends, knew that the republic would not last forever. Eventually, evils such as corruption would force the American population to take up arms once again to destroy their government and start over. Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence, writes “It is Their Right, It is Their Duty To Throw Off Such Government”.

Culture

Understanding the constitutional argument is important because it leads us to culture. Because the United States was founded on the principles of the right to be armed, it has merged into the national identity. For generations, families have passed down the common belief in gun ownership and this is a key feature that “the left” doesn’t recognize.

Despite the coverage in mainstream media, as of 2017, 47% of Americans still say that they believe in gun rights over gun control. In order to truly capture the minds of Americans, “the left” still needs to keep an open mind on the cultural entanglement of guns.

Mass Shootings

None of the previous reasoning listed is a justification of mass shootings. While “the left’s” lofty goal of ending these mass shootings is noble, it doesn’t make it practical. In the ultra-connected 21st century, there are things that are simply unavoidable. Some of these include homicides, car accidents, and yes, mass shootings. Like the two previously mentioned problems, we should focus much more on mitigating these events, rather than full elimination.

With that being said, the factors to mitigate are still up for debate. Through normalized dialogue and a careful examination of statistics, we can ultimately reach a world in which these events are far less common and destructive.

The Solution

It all comes down to the conversation. We get nowhere unless we are engaged productively. I will leave you with the same 3 part advice that I stated in my previous article. I challenge you to use this in the next political conversation you participate in. Small victories are how we can turn our current mess around.

Formula to a Respectful Conversation

  • First, acknowledge that your opponent’s end goal is a noble one.
  • Second, ask pointed questions. If the opponent makes a controversial statement, ask them to support it with a fact.
  • Third, be respectful. Keep cool, don’t raise your voice, and give the other person ample time to talk.

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A Lesson for The Right Wing on Guns

By Kevin Damato | United States

The Lesson

Recently, I was praised by my one of my peers for my handling of a heated debate with a student on my campus who disagreed with me politically. At first, I was confused and didn’t view myself as doing anything special. But after further analysis, my eyes were finally opened to the extent of our communication problems across the country. We have become inundated with emotion, hatred and flat-out stupidity. My words won’t do justice to how sad it was to realize that it is “enlightening” to write about how to have a conversation with another person.

Political disunity has reached an all-time high in the United States and has fascinated me with normalizing our interactions with one another. I have sought out to write about guns in a two-part series, with one article coming out this week on “the right” and another next week on “the left.” I aim to convince my audience that neither side of the traditional political spectrum is free of blame on these types of issues.

The Problem with the Right Wing’s View of Guns

Those on the “political right” seem bewildered by the recent uptick in support for gun control and their tribalistic response of more political jabs has only led to further polarization. They’re missing the point. Like all other political issues, approaching with a truly open mind without toxic rhetoric goes a long way.

Traditionally, it is “the right” who makes comments on “the left’s” excessive usage of emotion, but in this case, it is actually the other way around.

The largest concern I have with “the right’s” approach on guns is their lack of understanding of “the left’s” position. It seems as if the general population yearns for the disgraceful violence of homicides, police malfeasance, and most importantly mass shootings to end. Some people believe the most reasonable solution to these problems are forms of gun control, whether it be more background checks, magazine limitations, or outright bans. Typical combatants hear the proposed solution and become belligerent, irrationally spewing labels like “gun grabber”, “snowflake”, or “liberal.” This is the wrong reaction.

The Solution

As an oppositional force in this circumstance, it would be much more effective to:

  • First, acknowledge that the end goal is a noble one. We can all agree that these kinds of tragedies are disgusting and ultimately, getting rid of them would be optimal.
  • Second, ask how they know forms of gun control work. Press your opponent on providing statistics or evidence to support their point.
  • Third, be respectful. You can’t expect everyone to have the same opinion as you, especially prior to having a meaningful conversation. Keep your cool, don’t raise your voice, and give the other person ample time to talk.

The intelligent layman will probably be groaning at these points. “I already do all of these things”, they might say. Perhaps this is the case, and if you do, I commend you. I would point out that, however, you are in the minority.

I implore you to share these basic tips with others as you inevitably stumble upon another foolish argument that only makes the state of affairs in the country worse.

We, as a societal body, are going down the wrong path. We, as a societal body, need to encourage more Socratic, civil discourse. We, as a societal body, can do better.


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The Constitution Is as Effective as Gun-free Zones

By Ryan Lau | United States

Allegedly firm supporters of gun rights in the conservative camp use an interesting argument. In reality, they often do indeed support some limitations on the right to bear arms. However, for the sake of argument, allow me to table this point and deal only with those who truly support full gun rights. One of their arguments goes like this:

  1. Many politicians advocate that we create gun-free zones in places such as schools and public places, with the goal of combating gun violence.
  2. People willing to commit murder are willing to break the law (as murder, usually, is illegal).
  3. Gun-free zones come in the form of other, less serious laws.
  4. If someone will break a felony law such as murder, then another, less serious law will not deter them from still killing.
  5. Therefore, regardless of morals, creating gun-free zones are not an effective way to combat gun violence.

In order for this argument to hold true, it must be both valid and sound. For it to be valid, the conclusion, point 5, must be undeniably true, if we assume that the premises, points 1-4, are also true. For it to be sound, points 1-4 must actually be true, therefore proving point 5 the same.

A Valid and Sound Argument

First of all, let’s examine whether the argument is logically valid. Point 1, of course, establishes what the action is doing: creating gun-free zones. It also makes the goal clear: combating gun violence. Points 2 and 4 explain that someone willing to break a law, murder, will do so again. As point 3 explains, a gun-free zone is a law. If we assume true that murderers do not follow laws and gun-free zones are laws, then it logically follows that murderers will not follow gun-free zones. If the gun-free zones do not reduce the murder rate, then they cannot be an effective means of combating gun violence. So, the argument is valid.

Similarly, the argument turns out to be sound, for all four of the premises are true. Gun-free zones, of course, cannot exist in the public sphere without a law creating them. Certainly, their only meaning is to deter gun violence. Therefore, points 1 and 3 are correct.

Point 2 is also correct. Barring instances such as military and police killings, taking the life of another human being is illegal. The government, though, does not consider these cases murders at all. In fact, they define murder as unlawful killing. Thus, every murder involves breaking a law, proving point 2 true.

As for point 4, one merely needs to look at the sentencing for various crimes. For a mass shooting, the punishment is either life in prison without parole or death. So, there is simply no way that an additional sentence would make this worse; an added fine or lengthened sentence mean little to someone who will never be free. This points to the fact that there is no reason for a murderer to follow the laws pertaining to gun-free zones. As a result, it is clear that point 4 is true, making the argument valid and sound.

The Constitution Comparison

Surely, the above argument holds true, provided that it is both valid and sound. Then, of course, the same reasoning must hold itself to be true in other, similar circumstances. If I can substitute the subject and object, but the logical premises remain the same, then the argument is also still valid and sound. Let’s see what happens when placing this analysis in the scope of abiding by the Constitution.

  1. Many politicians advocate that we create a Constitution to restrain government, with the goal of combating a growing, tyrannical state.
  2. People willing to authorize killing are willing to break the law (as murder, usually, is illegal).
  3. The United States Constitution comes in the form of United States law.
  4. If someone will authorize killing, then words on paper will not deter them from still authorizing killing.
  5. Therefore, regardless of morals, creating a Constitution is not an effective way to combat government growth.

Why is it, then, that so many people see the first one to be true, but not the second? Assuming the premises to be true, the conclusion is necessarily also true. Moreover, just like above, the premises themselves were true. The Constitution, thus, is no more effective than gun-free zones. Anyone who uses this argument against gun-free zones should also recognize its futility in other areas, especially that of the Constitution. The size of government has increased continually, and no sign or words on paper can stop it.

So, the Constitution, designed to prevent the growth of government, does not do so. Now what? Admittedly, this is a bold claim; the document’s futility undermines nearly 250 years of status quo. Without the Constitution, many traditional aspects of our society fall apart. Voting for change becomes nil if the politicians have no reason to ignore such change. Since the dawn of America, the government has grown continuously, showing little regard for any such limitations, regardless of party.

Subversive Innovation

However, hope is not lost. Rather, it comes from an entirely different avenue: subversive innovation. In 10 years, innovators who simply ignored the will of the state have done more for the liberty of the commoners than any politician has done since the dawn of the Libertarian Party. In 2009, as a response to the government’s control and manipulation of currency, Satoshi Nakamoto responded with an online, decentralized currency: Bitcoin. Since then, transactions have become easier, and many people have grown rich off of a coin not tied to fiat.

Following suit, a few years later, Ross Ulbricht joined the stage. With his platform, The Silk Road, he allowed consumers to avoid the regulation that they disapproved of on the state. Predominantly, users bought small amounts of marijuana, years before most politicians even considered its legalization.

Not long after, Cody Wilson jumped into the fray with Defense Distributed. By 3D printing guns with his files, consumers could escape the crippling regulatory action of the government. Without hurting anyone, he won a battle for decentralization.

A Common Characteristic

What do all of these, so far, have in common? Two things jump out right away. First of all, they all had a tangible effect on common people who did not need to understand the complex workings of the system. With very basic knowledge, they could help themselves and make their own lives easier.

Moreover, none of these actions required a vote, or anything political. The innovators did not act to support or oppose the government; they acted to help the people, without consulting the government. Their actions have aided many more than the vote has, even though the latter has had far longer to take effect. While the Libertarian Party garners 2% in some Senate race, subversive innovators change the world. While Nicholas Sarwark runs a good meeting, Max Borders helps to create a future where people do not need the state because they live on floating seasteads.

The vote, a natural extension of the Constitution, is as ineffective as gun-free zones. It has, for nearly 250 years, led the country further into darkness. Why, then, does anyone expect it to lead us back to the light?


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