Archive | Philosophical

Thought Talk: What are the responsibilities of a consumer in a free-market economy?

A free-market economy is an economy that is regulated solely by its participants. In its purest form, buyers and sellers do not coerce each other, and instead engage in trade without any kind of third party regulation.  Their dealings are based on the belief that both the producer and the consumer is getting the best deal.  In addition, the government does not play an active role in promoting or suppressing the economic activities of its citizens.   While a controlled market (the opposite of a free market) would place tariffs on foreign goods and restrict other aspects of the economy, a free market economy operates laissez-faire style. Would buying goods produced in one’s own country support a free market economy by preventing the necessity of tariffs, or is it counter-productive to a free-market economy because it goes against the principles of it? What are the necessary steps a consumer must take to allow a free market economy to work?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Economics, Philosophical2 Comments

Resolved, that democracy is not suitable in every country.

Democracy, defined most simply, is rule by majority. Most states today are liberal democracies, those that reconcile majority rule with individual rights. The system works best when the population is equal and has a tradition of popular government. However, many societies have much inequality and view liberal democracy as a Western import rather than as an organic development. Should such a society be required to maintain a liberal democratic government? There have been cases when the people prefer a non-democratic government; should their wishes be respected? Defenders of democracy claim that it is the lesser evil when compared with other regimes. Also, a society that rejects democracy might isolate itself from the world community, which generally supports it. Is democracy really the best system for every country?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Philosophical3 Comments

Resolved, that an elected official should always act in accordance with the wishes of the majority of his/her constituents.

In a republic, elected officials are chosen by a majority of people to represent the collective will. Constituents who elect officials entrust them to make legislative decisions for them and hope that as a representative of the people, elected officials will act in accordance with their best interests. Some feel that their officials are also bound to act in accordance with the wishes of the majority. However, many argue that when the majority of an elected official’s constituents supports a policy that the official views as unethical, immoral, or untenable, the official is not beholden to his constituents, that an official is not required to act in accordance with the wishes of the majority of his or her constituents when their wishes constitute an idea, a stance, or course of action that the elected official views as fundamentally wrong. Some feel that the elected official’s individual judgment can and should override the popular will of the people if the will of the people will lead to something destructive, harmful, or otherwise unjust. Must an elected official always act in accordance with the wishes of the majority of his constituents, or is he permitted to use his own discretion in regards to the wishes of his constituents? Is an elected official beholden to his constituents, regardless of the circumstance?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Philosophical0 Comments

Resolved, that corporate activism is a misguided attempt at achieving social justice.

In the years since the rise of the alter-globalization movement, advocacy groups and political organizations have pushed for greater corporate responsibility worldwide.  The efforts of human rights groups to render corporations more responsible for their actions engendered not a new wave of ethical business, but a trend of corporate activism.  The efforts taken by a company to demonstrate social responsibility, termed corporate activism, have been criticized from both the left and the right.  Economists, such as Robert Reich, argue that corporations’ embracement of “social responsibility has dulled the public’s sense that there exist troublesome issues deserving of public attention.”  Many, like Reich, argue that corporate activism obfuscates the real problems caused by the corporations, thus preventing citizens from understanding the true nature of such problems. Corporate activism allows corporations to pat themselves on the back for doing a good job when in reality, they have done very little.  Others argue that though ideally a nice concept, corporate activism is an unnatural act for a company.  Concerned solely about profit and their bottom line, corporations, they argue, are ill-suited to be socially or morally responsible.  However, others contend that corporate activism is an important and effective way to achieve social justice.  Regardless of motive, some note, the fact is that corporate activism can alter lamentable situations, be they ones that endanger workers or ones that affect consumers adversely. Proponents of corporate activism argue that in many cases, it has achieved laudatory goals, such as the encouragement of healthy eating and lifestyles (the food industry) and the promotion of online safety (News Corp., Fox News’ parent company). Is corporate activism an effective way to allow market driven social change?  Is corporate activism an important or even necessary part of a corporations public outreach? Can corporations even be trusted to attempt to achieve social justice when their legal mandate is solely profit-maximization?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Economics, Philosophical1 Comment

Resolved, that anarchism is a valuable political ideology.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s anarchism emerged as a far-left ideology, one that took socialist ideals to an anti-statist communitarian extreme.  Traditional anarchists, in the vein of thinkers like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Mikhail Bakunin, reject the legitimacy of state authority while simultaneously rejecting capitalism and the free market. Opposed to all forms of authority and hierarchy, including those of the free market, classical anarchists are often considered to be not merely idealists, but also extremists.  Though some consider anarchism to be a valuable ideology that opposes the tyrannies of capitalism and authority, critics claim that anarchism is an outdated, idealist, and unrealistic ideology that essentially has no pragmatic value. They argue that because anarchism argues for the dismantling of the state apparatus, it cannot be a political ideology in the contemporary sense and that it has little merit in addressing the problems of government. Nonetheless, has anarchism contributed valuable concepts to political philosophy?  Is it ever necessary for some to hold extreme political views if it adds to political and governmental theory?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Philosophical3 Comments

Resolved, that animal shelters conduct background checks on potential adopters.

Currently, there is nothing to prevent an abusive person from walking into an animal shelter and adopting a pet and then subjecting the animal to cruelty. Certainly, there are first time abusers who might have no prior record of animal abuse, but conducting a background check might be an effective prevention tactic. About 70% of animal abusers have records of other crimes. Background checks are, nevertheless, invasive of one’s privacy.  A background check may make the process of adopting a pet a daunting one, and might encourage less people to adopt a pet. Would performing background checks on potential customers be an effective way to prevent animal abuse, or simply an infringement on the privacy rights of an animal adopter?

KS/APR/11

Posted in Philosophical0 Comments

Resolved, that civil disobedience is the best way to effect change in government.

Background: Although nonviolent protest methods have been used, with varying success, around the world for hundreds of years, the idea of “civil disobedience” in name began with Henry David Thoreau’s influential essay Resistance to Civil Government. Thoreau himself engaged in the practice to protest slavery by tax evasion, which he considered a much more effective method of affecting change in the government than voting. His ideas later influenced leaders around the world, from Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Leo Tolstoy and Upton Sinclair. Those in favor of civil disobedience praise its ability to attack unjust laws while still upholding the integrity of just laws, while its opponents disparage its weak impact.

Pro:

  • Lawmakers are more willing to negotiate with peaceful movements rather than be     forced into a mock “hostage” situation.
  • Nonviolent protest derives its strength from the willingness to accept risk without threatening others. The most effective way to protest a repressive government is to use methods which are universally moral     and could not be construed as hypocritical.
  • Due to its nonviolent nature, civil disobedience is more capable of winning the support of the general public, rather than alienate them     by seeming “radical.”

Con:

  • In the United States, unjust laws are easily challengable through the judicial branch of the government. In this manner, laws are directly disputed from their source.
  • As demonstrated in the conflicts in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and other     Arab states, even nonviolent protests are often assumed to be     riotous and thus military and police action are used.
  • Disobedience     on a small scale does not draw much attention and therefore does not     make a large impact on the government or its laws.

Sources:
– Earlham College (http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/civ-dis.htm)
– Civil Liberties (http://www.civilliberties.org/sum98role.html)
– AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (http://www.actupny.org/documents/CDdocuments/HistoryNV.html)

KS/MARCH 2011

Posted in Philosophical1 Comment

Thought Talk: Are religion and politics inseparable?

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” Those were the words of Ben Franklin in response to Danbury Baptists in the early 17th century.  Although this is written in the Constitution, the “wall between church and state” is a very fuzzy one. Many argue that all laws are based off of laws from religion, and therefore we should not be ashamed to associate ourselves with the faiths that our nation was founded upon. However, many argue that this can lead to bias towards a people and prejudice in legal matters. They also argue that our country was founded on a freedom to religion, and linking religion and politics goes against that foundation. Is the country making a considerable effort to separate church and state? Or are we really “One Nation, under God”?

KS/MARCH 2011

Posted in Philosophical, Religion1 Comment

Resolved, that felons should retain the right to vote.

The current U.S. law states that each state has the right to establish their own law on the voting rights of felons.  Some states allow their convicted felons to vote from prison, where as others prohibit felons from voting even after their release from prison.  In today’s society where every US citizen has the right to vote, many believe depriving felons of their right is unconstitutional.  Proponents argue that removing a felon’s right to vote alienates them further from society, preventing any potential rehabilitation. Opponents argue that after committing crimes, felons are unworthy of voting and should be excluded.  They say that those who don’t choose to abide by the law shouldn’t have a say in how such law is made. Should felons be allowed to vote?

KS/MARCH 2011

Posted in Domestic Affairs, Philosophical1 Comment

Society through the Eyes of Robert E. Lee vs. Benedict Arnold: Resolved, that the country is more important than the individual.

This debate is a look back into our nation’s history.  Robert E. Lee was a General of the Confederate Army during the Civil War.  General Lee believed that country was more important than the individual, evident by the fact that he supported his state of Mississippi in secession despite his personal view against it.  Conversely, Benedict Arnold believed that the individual is more important than the state.  Benedict Arnold was a General during the American Revolution who committed treason and conspired with the British as a means to help himself.  Many years later the debate remains, is the country more important than the individual?

KS/MARCH 2011

Posted in Historical, Philosophical0 Comments