Saturday, December 22, 2012

Ebenezer Chicken Scrouge

It seems to presume that the future already exists as a non-contingent state of affairs; furthermore, it also seems to presume that one can actually make comparisons between two elements within this state of affairs from the present moment.

That the metaphysics of the future and the epistemology of the present were both foisted on poor Ebenezer so suddenly, all in one statement, no doubt accounts for his gaping beak of surprise -- well, that and the pronouncement on his existential plight, granted.

Did I mention I'm a Philosopher on Christmas break with no students around?



[ image ] savage chickens website.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gun control should be a lower priority; yes, even now.

The horror of an event lasts, but the real and overall numbers belie weightier problems 

This info-graphic has been floating around the internet, as a kind of perspective on the recent tragedy of school shootings.[1] I think there are two suggestive things here. First, that we get upset over something which has comparatively very small impact (in terms of total number of deaths of citizens); and, second, that emotion of recent events easily clouds our judgement on overall factors.

I am presuming that since all deaths happen only once to each citizen, they must be counted as equal. Yet since so many more deaths occur in all these other categories, guns are actually a much smaller problem for the country as a whole than these other issues. However, the emotive baggage toward guns and the highly publicized (albeit terrible) episodes involving them is what biases a response in people.  But that doesn't change what facts there are on the actual numbers of deaths. So, as an overall assessment, I'd say the gun worries are overblown.

One might counter that self inflicted or accidental deaths are not a "problem" that the country needs to deal with, certainly not with legal solutions. In fact, some libertarians would further are that (1) we should be allowed to harm ourselves, and (2) we can't legislate accidents away.[2]

But I think there is a way to approach the matter which moves the issue to the first or initiating causes of citizen deaths. Just as a badly broken mental health system can allow a person to end up using a gun in terrible ways, so can other broken social systems -- such as substandard auto monitoring, allowing under monitored or dangerous practices,  perpetuating addictive cigarettes in society, etc. -- all these allow other consequences where many, many citizens die. Therefore, it's the initiating causes that we should be worrying about, and the initiating causes for gun deaths have far, far less consequences in terms of citizen deaths than the initiating causes behind these other social issues that lead to citizen deaths. So (and again), as an overall assessment, I argue that gun worries are overblown.


[1] One should also note that the claim about FBI and baseball bats is incorrect (source).

[2] Of course, if one can't legislate accidents away, there is this mystery of what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been doing all these years.

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