Tag: reason

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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Groupthink Is a Threat to Justice and Reason

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

In the world today, it seems as though there are more people who identify with one group or another. All the while, they attempt to dispel any criticisms of that particular group. We see groups with extra protections under various laws such as “hate crimes,” for example. Also, the State often grants special rights to various groups, such as “gay rights” and “women’s rights.” These protections and positive claims rights came about as a consequence of groupthink, collectivism, and variants of so-called “social justice.”

Of course, this is not to say that these groups, or others, do not deserve rights. Rather, the point of Justice is that all are equal under the law and have the same negative claims rights as others. When everyone is equal, there is no need to specify additional rights for any specific group. Thus, adding classifying terms to “rights” and “Justice” negates the purpose of both. Without any modifiers, equality under the law guarantees Justice.

Throughout history and today, there have been many situations where groups, majorities, or the judicial system itself have hurt individuals. Even when the innocent face negative impacts, there is no need to provide extra rights for them or their groups. There should, instead, be a movement to correct the imbalance and enforce equal rights. Providing extra weight for the side of the proverbial scales that someone is robbing is a dangerous idea. When you add to one, you must either take away from another or grant extra rights. Regardless, equality fades, and with it, so does Justice. When an unjust act occurs, it is brought before the law to help determine retribution for the losses or grievances as a cost to the offending party. This, of course, brings the scales of Justice back to an even keel.

What is Groupthink?

As people continue to scramble for their identity found within a group rather than by themselves, they neglect their very own person and trade it for a herd mentality. This, in turn, leads people to form collective beliefs and partake in groupthink.

‘Groupthink’ is a word that social psychologist Irving Janis coined in 1972. Dr. Janis provided eight symptoms of what he determined to be ‘groupthink’ that are as follows:

  1. Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
  2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
  3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
  4. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
  5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
  6. Self-censorship – Members do not express doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus.
  7. Illusion of unanimity – Members assume the majority view and judgments to be unanimous.
  8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.

A Destroyer of Justice

Much like Orwell’s 1984, the concept of ‘groupthink’ arouses the mind to do one of two things. First of all, it can dismiss correct claims when one already has a particular groupthink and blind faith. This idea, called Identity-Protective Cognition, is often observable across the spectrum of ideas.

Alternatively, ‘groupthink’ can spark the awareness of the reader to be self-critical and skeptical of our own place in the world as an individual, while pushing to rid him or herself of the mob mentality. As social creatures, we often rely on groupthink, as it is a lazy way of finding knowledge and belonging. However, it is a philosophical sloth, detrimental to logic, rational thinking, and Justice itself.

Groupthink robs the individual of their Reason, as it relies on subjective beliefs of elites and majorities. Groupthink also robs the individual of exploring and growing, as it limits the interactions and thought processes of what one can and cannot explore. A species of collectivism, groupthink breeds the “us versus them” mentality over truth and Justice. In turn, this acts as a conduit of human and social regression, rather than flourishing and progress.

How to Avoid Groupthink

In order to best combat ‘groupthink,’ the individual must self-assess and question him or herself. This is especially true when red flags of collectivism and groupthink arise. As the study of methodological individualism demonstrates, through and through, only the individual acts and only the individual thinks. To rob yourself of your own individualism and capacity to Reason by granting it to the sporadic oscillations of groupthink is the antithesis of what it means to be a person. Simultaneously, it obliterates the very Justice that the groupthink mob falsely claims it fights for.


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