Sedition

What is the purpose of government? One answer—to benefit the greatest number with the greatest happiness—is advanced by utilitarians with whom, concerning government, many people agree. Another answer—to safeguard the rights of individuals—is common too. But Jeremy Bentham, the original theorist of utilitarian ethics, called rights ‘nonsense on stilts’ (Ross 1995, 85). However, it is conceivable that utility is maximised only when there are inviolable prohibitions which would prevent agents from performing actions, such as expropriation or incarceration, which, in the absence of a glib justification, seem intuitively wrong. Positive rights are problematic, but negative rights, or freedom from harm and coercion, are necessary for a functional society. Sedition, the crime of promoting rebellion against the established order, violates neither positive nor negatives rights but, given certain, albeit complex and unlikely, conditions, could lead to their revolutionary abolition. The question whether a democratic majority can punish an individual for not violating rights on a causally tenuous or purely moral pretence will be answered in the negative. Continue reading

Majority Tyranny and Free Speech in Australia

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Modern liberal democracies balance two ideologies which complement each other but which have mutually exclusive underlying assumptions. Liberalism holds that the individual is the primary moral evaluand; democracy, that it is popular opinion or the will of the people which is primary. The sovereignty of the democratic polity permits it to oppress dissenting minorities. Liberalism, under which the individual is sovereign, labels the oppression of minorities a “tyranny of the majority”. Liberal democracies try to resolve this conflict of opinion by granting to individuals rights that are immune to majority rule. The nature of these rights, and the conditions under which they are inviolate, remain subject to critique and change. This essay will argue that democratic liberty is more pernicious than individual liberty, that its power should be attenuated, and that one particular right, the right to free speech, should, in Australia, be granted, if not unconditionally, then with less restrictions on the individual than are currently enforced. Continue reading

Marx and Coca-Cola

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Note: this essay is being posted online because there are no other essays on this film available. If you wish to use this essay to help you compose your own, please cite this webpage, and let me know if you do.

Marx & Coca-Cola

This is an essay about Marxism, social change, and the film Marx & Coca-Cola. It will use scenes from the film to illustrate and explain several themes relating to Marxism and social change. The three themes—Marx’s idea of human nature, the Marxist conception of work, and the immiseration thesis—will be presented separately in turn, and through them, over the course of the essay, a general critique of Marxist theory will be delivered. The essay will end by reviewing the isolated critiques and filmic expositions to produce a unified, general recommendation for how social change should be approached in the real world. Continue reading

A Few Philosophers’ and Scientists’ Opinions about Time

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Do the past and future exist?

One common agreement among many who think about time, is that time, if it involves the mind, is, in some meaningful sense, fundamentally mind-dependent. Arguably, every question about time is reducible to this single, dichotomous split: whatever time is, and whatever it is like, is it mind-dependent, or is it independent? To begin, then, we will seek to resolve this fundamental question; we will ask two great philosophers their opinion of time, and whether it is mind-bound, or whether, outside of man, time has a life of its own. Continue reading

Global Warming and Population Ethics: How to Evade the Worst of Both

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Does drastically reducing our carbon emissions also require us to drastically reduce the rate at which our population is presently growing?

This essay will explain why global CO2 emissions need to be decreased; will outline dystopian consequences of rapid human population decrease which mirror the dystopia of a high CO2 environment; explore ways to reduce human population while minimising negative social consequences; and, lastly, will suggest that decreasing animal agriculture would be less disastrous than decreasing human population, and will explore the feasibility of this option. Continue reading

Human Nature and the Future of Politics: Reconciling Hobbes, Mill and Marx

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 The latest in a line of preparatory essays: “The problem with political philosophers who think you can improve society is that they just do not understand human nature”.

 The history of political thought is riddled with error. “Four centuries ago, we thought that rule by kings was the best way to arrange a government; a mere century ago, we thought that women were too stupid to vote; and, presently, non-human animals are denied important rights” (Peter Hurford). This essay will suggest that the historical failure of political theorists to form pragmatic ideas is due to their incomplete understanding of the biological causes of human behaviour. It will critique the views of three political philosophers and supply contemporary discoveries in science and sociology to demonstrate concrete ways their thoughts might be improved. To end, some suggestions will be made about how to correct traditional errors, suggestions which are evidence-based and—hopefully—free of most of the errors of the other philosophers discussed. Continue reading

“Green Capitalism”

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In preparation for an exam, I have composed some minor essays. Here is one of them.

This essay will define green capitalism; distinguish green capitalism from industrial capitalism; detail how the former is in important ways identical to the latter; suggest that industrial capitalism is ruinous and should be discarded; suggest that green capitalism, being similar, should suffer a similar fate; discuss what type of world should replace the one left by capitalism; and, finally, explain how green capitalism can serve temporarily as a means to the end of realising this world. Continue reading