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If a drug may produce violence in its users, is the government correctly banning its trade and consumption in order to prevent the degree of probability that the drug may lead to the use of force against another person--thus violating rights? I would think this is similar to the idea of banning the use of cellphones while driving, since they may distract a person from the road and hit somebody. Are these legitimate actions of government?

asked Jan 07 '14 at 13:40

Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

Juan Diego dAnconia
110113

Do you have an example of such a drug? If someone uses the drug within his/her own home of which s/he is the sole occupant, is it going to induce the person to involuntarily leave the home and commit a crime?

(Jan 08 '14 at 18:31) anthony anthony's gravatar image

@ANTHONY

I notice you've given several comments but no answers. I assume, perhaps falsely, that this means you're not an Objectivist.

Why not? Is it because you don't call yourself one, or because you consider yourself to be a Libertarian, advocate revising Objectivism, or associate with false advocates?

Just curious.

(Jan 15 '14 at 22:14) KineticPhilosophy KineticPhilosophy's gravatar image

I don't consider myself to be a Libertarian, don't advocate revising Objectivism, and don't associate with false advocates.

As far as why I haven't sent an email requesting answer-posting privileges, I guess it's because I don't agree with the definition of "Objectivist" as "you agree with and live by the principles of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism as best you understand them". In particular, the "as best you understand them" makes the definition subjective. The process also strikes me as kind of creepy, like I'm being asked to take an oath for some religious cult or something.

(Jan 16 '14 at 13:41) anthony anthony's gravatar image

And I guess another important reason I haven't sent that email is that I really don't care whether or not I can post answers.

(Jan 16 '14 at 13:54) anthony anthony's gravatar image

"makes the definition subjective"

That's interesting that you interpreted that in a negative manner. I interpreted that part as being good. Since what they're trying to do there is simply allow leeeway or latitude in your knowledge or understanding of Objectivism, so as not to exclude people who say they are Objectivist, but what they interpret as being Objectivist principles or living by it, is not what others might think is correct or consistent with what it actually is.

In other words, at least there, they are trying to be compromising about it. Trying to be lenient.

(Jan 16 '14 at 17:43) KineticPhilosophy KineticPhilosophy's gravatar image

"like I'm being asked to take an oath for some religious cult or something"

This is also very telling that you took that in a negative light. They are basically just making sure that when you call yourself Objectivist, you are an orthodox Objectivist rather than a Neo-Objectivist. As this is an Orthodox Objectivist website.

The part I think is a problem is the associate with false advocates. That to me, is taking it too far as that entails or sounds like shunning. I understand for them to say you dont agree with them, but the NOT ASSOCIATE part is too much.

(Jan 16 '14 at 17:50) KineticPhilosophy KineticPhilosophy's gravatar image

As far as the subjective part, you seem to agree that the definition is subjective (it's based on whether or not you think you have a certain philosophy rather than whether or not you do in fact have a certain philosophy). I don't think that's a proper definition. I understand that the intention was to include more people in the definition than just Ayn Rand herself, but including people based on their ignorance doesn't seem like the right way to do that.

(Jan 17 '14 at 08:21) anthony anthony's gravatar image

As far as my "religious cult" comment, I may have mistakenly in my mind mixed together Step 3 in Alcoholics Anonymous with Born Again Christianity (though the two are related anyway). I also seem to continually misread "you agree with and live by the principles of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism as best you understand them" as "you agree to live by the principles of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism as best you understand them".

In all probability I'm just misreading things. But for some reason, whether I'm right or wrong about it, the sentence strikes me as creepy and cult-like.

(Jan 17 '14 at 08:28) anthony anthony's gravatar image
showing 2 of 8 show all

Is it legitimate for a government to ban drugs that have been proven to induce violent behaviour?

There is an ambiguity in this formulation. Does "proven to induce" mean 100% certain to induce in every case, or does it mean proven to induce in some cases and/or proven to be one of multiple causal factors? The main text of the question refers to the latter, i.e., it's a question about probability, not certainty.

As for the "100% certain" interpretation, there is the dosage issue to consider. Actual drugs have a minimum dosage level needed for the harmful consequences to occur, and the level varies from person to person according to one's body weight and other factors. In addition, a "ban" generally means prohibiting possession and sale as well as consumption, and mere possession or sale do not "induce violent behavior"; only consumption can do that, so a "ban" would have to be limited to consumption if the criterion is "certain to induce."

If a drug may produce violence in its users, is the government correctly banning its trade and consumption in order to prevent the degree of probability that the drug may lead to the use of force against another person--thus violating rights?

No, mere probability of harm to others is only a potential harm, not an actual harm. A governmental ban in that case is a form of preventive law, which is discussed in CUI in "The Assault on Integrity":

..."protective" legislation falls in the category of preventive law. Businessmen are being subjected to governmental coercion prior to the commission of any crime. In a free economy, the government may step in only when a fraud has been perpetrated, or a demonstrable damage has been done to a consumer; in such cases the only protection required is that of criminal law.

An article in The Objectivist Newsletter, Vol. 1 No. 5 (May 1962) titled, "Who Will Protect Us from Our Protectors," also expresses Objectivism's opposition to preventive law:

... the legal hallmark of a dictatorship [is]: preventive law -- the concept that a man is guilty until he is proved innocent by the permissive rubber stamp of a commissar or a Gauleiter.

The context of both articles is consumer protection from potential harm caused by businessmen. Both articles describe how businessmen are being presumed guilty until proven innocent, with government regarded as the "consumers' protector," protecting hapless consumers from fraud or misrepresentations from businesses, or from products requiring a degree of skill and rationality on the part of consumers which statists regard consumers as incapable of handling.

The case of potential harm to others from the actions of a private individual isn't exactly the same case considered in these articles, but the distinction between actual and potential seems just as applicable.

I would think this [drug use] is similar to the idea of banning the use of cellphones while driving, since they may distract a person from the road and hit somebody. Are these legitimate actions of government?

Generally no, I would not classify such cellphone use as a proper reason for a governmental ban (it is possible to use a cellphone responsibly while driving), nor laws against smoking based on "second-hand smoke," and so on. (Smoking laws violate property owners' rights, too.)

One can escalate the cases, however, to a point where the magnitude of the danger to others does seem to warrant governmental action to ban or regulate the activity, such as building nuclear bombs in one's garage in a populous suburban residential area. Similar cases might include producing explosive nitroglycerin in one's home or garage; maintaining a fully operational anti-aircraft gun in one's backyard; or possessing fully operational machine guns and perhaps even brandishing them visibly in public without actually pointing them at anyone. Ayn Rand didn't have a definitive philosophical answer when asked about gun control; see, for example, Ayn Rand Answers, p. 19. She regarded gun control as an issue for the philosophy of law to work out, recognizing that guns have a legitimate use for self-defense. (Some types of guns are also used in sports such as hunting animals or target shooting, and non-nuclear explosives have legitimate uses in construction work.) I have seen arguments from other leading Objectivists emphasizing guns for self-defense, including guns in private hands as a potential check on a government that is rapidly deteriorating into overt statism and dictatorship. Ayn Rand didn't see the defense-against-government possibility as practical, as of 1971. (Ibid.)

Gun control was also discussed previously on this website (link). For additional gun perspective from Leonard Peikoff, refer also to his podcast #255, 2/11/13.

answered Jan 12 '14 at 01:00

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
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Asked: Jan 07 '14 at 13:40

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Last updated: Jan 17 '14 at 08:28