Category Archives: Social and Political Philosophy

Criticisms of the Use of the Evolving Standard of Decency (ESD) Doctrine in Kennedy v. Louisiana (2008)

The most commonly raised criticism against the national consensus test of the ESD doctrine is that it constitutes an ongoing saga of judicial activism. Judicial activism occurs when a judge/justice upholds his or her own political, legal, religious, economic, or other beliefs contra society, thereby substituting the objectivity of existing laws for the subjectivity of personal preferences. Some may not feel that judicial activism is all that subversive. But judicial activism not only forces the judge/justice’s will on the people, but also it can greatly limit the legislative branch’s ability to function. The blurring of judicial and legislative lines can result in political stalemate, voter apathy, and a general distrust of government. Kimberly Bliss comments that under a democratic system “legislatures, not courts, are constituted to respond to the will and consequently the moral values of the people” since the former has more contact with the people and has, in theory, been elected by the voters (1334).

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Conscientious Objection: Some Thoughts

What I think I find most problematic about Conscientious Objection, or at least what lays the groundwork of my distaste for it, is its unique context. To put it more straightforwardly, Conscientious Objection can, but does not always, involve genuine cases of life and death.

Rather than considering one-off examples, let’s try a cluster approach.

i. A woman is in dire medical need of an abortion; if she does not receive an abortion, she will inevitably die during childbirth. If she lives, the fetus will die and vice versa.

ii. A woman is in significant medical need of an abortion; if she does not receive an abortion, she will inevitably suffer permanent physiological damage. If the fetus lives, she will live but in immense pain for the rest of her life. If she lives (i.e. has an abortion), the fetus will die.

iii. A woman is not in any medical need of an abortion; she elects to abort the fetus within the federally and state regulated timelines allowed to do so.

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An Overview of Albert Camus and the ‘Absurd’

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The Absurd (at least on Camus’s view) emphasizes “a fundamental disharmony” or “tragic incompatibility” in our finite existence. Camus ultimately argues that the Absurd is the product of a head-on collision between our seemingly universal human desire for objective order, meaning, and purpose in life and the bleak, indifferent, perhaps even soul-crushing “silence of the universe.” “The absurd is not in man nor in the world,” Camus writes, “but in their presence together…it is the only bond uniting them.”

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(Some) Economic Rights of the Individual

Original source: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-business/chapter/consumer-rights/

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The Other 3 Loves – [Ludus, Pragma, & Philautia]

First, we have ‘Ludus.’ Ludus is playful, juvenile, or uncommitted love. Ludus is commonly found during the beginning stages of a relationship (a.k.a. the honeymoon stage) and often involves activities such as teasing, flirting, seducing, and toying with someone. The focus is on fun, and also on the conquest, with no unwanted strings attached. Physical intimacy may be commonplace, though it is not necessarily so.

Ludus relationships are casual, undemanding, and uncomplicated, but typically land at extremes: they are either over very quickly or they endure for an extremely long time. Ludus works best when both parties are mature and self-sufficient (not to mention not jealous). But problems typically arise when one party mistakes Ludus for Eros, whereas Ludus is, in fact, much more compatible with Philia.

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Philosophers as Meta-Scholars

The philosopher is a meta-scholar.

    • What is a meta-scholar? A meta-scholar is one who understands, at a bare minimum, the fundamentals of a particular field of study or discipline (or historical enterprise or, most broadly, anything capable of being described, articulated, and/or analyzed — (e.g. any event, person, process, or object)).

      • The ‘fundamentals’ of a field of study or discipline refer to the sprawling mosaic of methodological rules, axiomatic and auxiliary operating assumptions, and normative and demarcating practices inherent to that field of study/discipline and its actively practicing members. Think of Lakatos’s ‘hard core’ or Kuhn’s ‘[dominant] paradigm.’

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Concept-Checking: Authority Figures (AFs) vs. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

On the surface, one may think that an ‘authority’ or ‘authority figure’ is the same thing (or nearly the same thing) as an ‘expert.’ Teasing out the key differences to these concepts and their functions is of considerable philosophical significance.

Let’s take an ‘authority figure’ first. Someone who is an authority figure is someone who is seemingly responsible, either preventatively or reactively, for enforcing observance or obedience to a particular norm/rule/principle/ideal. They either encourage us to uphold (or at least not to break) that norm/rule/principle/ideal. Or, if we decide not to do what is asked or expected of us, they may punish us for our seemingly incorrect choice.

We can think of 3 key examples within our daily lives: the religious leader (e.g. priest, rabbi, imam, guru, etc.), the police officer (or military official), and the calculator (or the computer program).

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Key Quotes from On Disobedience by Erich Fromm

On Disobedience by Erich Fromm

Introduction and Synopsis

Recently, I read this book on a whim. I was at a local bookstore and stopped to give it a quick glance; the first few pages interested me enough that I bought it. Looking back, I am honestly glad that I did. While some of Fromm’s pleadings have lost their urgency (e.g. the looming threat of nuclear war with the USSR (as it was known at that time)), he ultimately provides an insightful, scaffolded analysis about the concept of disobedience itself. Moreover, Fromm weaves together several other explanatory threads to properly contextualize disobedience and both its value and proper usage in contemporary society, using this as a vehicle to establish his political worldview known as humanistic socialism

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Excerpt: (4) Types of Guilt

*Originally published on: https://philosophynow.org/issues/147/What_Is_Guilt

In his work, The Question of German Guilt (1947), the German existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers attempted to resolve the impossible – understanding the conscious and systematic mass murder of Jews, Romani, homosexuals, political opponents, and other groups defined or perceived by the Nazi regime as ‘undesirable’ as well as being a direct threat to its totalitarian ideology of a ‘pure’ Aryan state.

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(6) Types of Social Darwinists

The Social Darwinist is someone who believes that the Darwinian theory of evolution — i.e. “survival of the fittest” — should be actively applied to people, societies, or nations. To the Social Darwinist, ALL of life is a struggle for survival in which the strongest naturally prosper at the expense of the weak — and it is right and natural that they should do so because that’s just the way things are, and/or natural law is Above Good and Evil.

Such people rarely concede that their chances for survival may have started higher than others due to reasons such as inherited wealth, social prestige, or even dumb luck. They typically state that we, collectively, have become complacent and stupid; they want to remove any trace of “weakness” and “stupidity” from society. It may seem to some that because humans aren’t currently enduring wars or other catastrophic extinction events, evolution in humans has ceased altogether (or at least paused — either one of which is highly problematic). If Social Darwinists do talk about evolution, they are very likely to talk about evolutionary levels and teleological evolution rather than Darwin’s actual theory (which was more of a pass-fail concept). Regardless, it is worth taking a look at the typology of Social Darwinists.

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