Showing posts from December, 2013

Some Problems with Gun Control

There are no guns in my home, and there never have been. But I believe there are several mutually reinforcing reasons for skepticism about proposals for gun control. Gun control measures reduce the popular capacity for armed resistance to tyranny and invasion. These measures limit opportunities for self-defense against thuggery. They deny people the benefits of the deterrent effect exerted by the widespread belief that most members of a given population are armed. They increase people's dependence on state authorities who would otherwise be seen as irrelevant and unnecessary. They leave state authorities more willing to violate people's rights with impunity. The implementation of these measures increases the power of the state and provides excuses for state authorities to intrusively surveil people's nonviolent activities, thus compromising privacy and autonomy. The implementation of these measures involves forcible interference with nonviolent conduct—at minimum t

Against Reincarnation

I suggest, in brief, two sets of reasons not to embrace belief in reincarnation: 1. Even if one affirms some sort of numerical duality between brain and mind—a duality that need not involve any commitment to substance dualism—it still seems simplest to suppose that the brain gives rise to mental life. At least at first blush, this is what our experience and observation suggest. But, for reincarnation to make sense, one would need to imagine that not only a mind or soul numerically other than the brain but also a personal self with memories, personality, etc., exists in distinction from the brain. It will then be necessary to explain both (a) how this personal self comes into existence in the first place, if not as an initial product of brain activity and (b) how it comes to be intimately associated with a particular brain. 2. In tandem with these metaphysical or scientific objections to belief reincarnation, there are also existential objections. Most important is the devaluation o

Problems with Suicide: Necessity, Fate, Decree, Teleology

I have, as some readers might know, been reading a good deal about death and life beyond death in recent months. In light of what I've read, I've found myself thinking about a philosophical puzzle related to beliefs regarding suicide. I don't believe anyone I know well has ever committed, or attempted, suicide. But the topic remains of considerable interest (and the subject of vocal debate ). Suicide and New Age Beliefs about Life after Death A number of New Age thinkers and experients report that someone who has committed suicide can be expected to run into special problems in the afterlife as they conceive it. Sometimes, this is said to be because of the various moral problems putatively attendant on suicide. I am inclined to think that suicide (at least often)  is morally problematic, and I have no particular beef, therefore, with those who reason in this way. But I find interesting and puzzling another account of why suicides might create distinctive afterlife