“The Purge of the Hunters” by W. Dean Cook

“What do we do now? We’ve pushed through the executive order outlawing the Republican Party, and managed to blame the previous President’s assassination on NRA-extremists.”

“Yes, and the purge of the last of the reactionaries from our own, now-renamed Green-Democratic party is complete. But, we need something really flashy that will show that we intend to make the Earth a garden again, and to destroy this industrial society that has become a cancer on Mother Earth.”

“What about an executive order outlawing all experimentation on animals?”

“No, unfortunately, there are still too many selfish people in our society. They won’t stand for not getting their precious pharmaceuticals. The same goes for all of the people who didn’t become vegetarians until after we banned the killing of domestic animals for food. Their time will eventually come, but we have to ease into it.”

“What about a ban on genetically modified crops?”

“Well, the 200% sales tax we’ve imposed on any food that isn’t organic has already effectively done away with G.M. crops anyway….which reminds me, exactly how bad is the famine in Southern California?”

“You’re actually concerned about the starvation there?”

“Ha! No, of course not, the Earth’s population is going to have to be reduced to under a billion people, so we might as well start with the Southwestern US. I just wanted to know if there is a possibility of revolt in Southern California. We can’t have anyone getting it into their heads that they should try and secede from the Union.”

“Oh, no worries there. We just call anyone who suggests secession a neo-Confederate racist. Besides, the Prefect of California had some of the strictest gun control laws even before our Green Revolution overthrew the corrupt capitalist regime that existed under that document that was a legacy of the white male hetero-patriarchy known as the Constitution.”

“I’m glad to hear it won’t be a problem. Now, back to the issue at hand. We need something ‘splashy’ that will make good headlines in the state-controlled news channel, MSNBC. By the way, have you noticed that MSNBC’s reporting is exactly the same as it was prior to the Green Revolution? We had to purge people from the other news channels, but everyone at MSNBC was already on board with us. Just goes to show you that MSNBC was right -or, should I say ‘left’? HA!- all along. Anyway, what I am thinking is this: We go after the hunters.”

“The hunters? What’s that?”

“Oh, back before they imposed nation-wide gun control under the old regime, and back when that barbaric notion of private property existed, say more than 20 years ago, there were people who used to hunt our brother and sister animals with weapons for sport or for food. It was a horrible crime against mother Earth. Since we are all agreed that there is no difference between a man and an animal, those people are really no different from people who commit crimes against humanity, and they are a small minority group, so no one will complain too much if they are liquidated.”

“How will we find them?”

“We will just go through the old records and round up anyone who ever applied for a hunting license. It’s the same tactic we used to liquidate the gun-owners, just check the government registry. The previous regime’s largely useless attempts to prevent criminals from getting guns did at least make it easy for us to eventually round up that group of undesirables.”

“What will we do with them once we find them?”

“The gas chamber for every last one of them. Like I said, the world has an excess human population, and we might as well get rid of the troublemakers.”

“What about a trial?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. No due process for fascists! We’ll just issue another executive order.”

“Structural” versus “Declaratory” Provisions of the Constitution and Originalism

For purposes of this paper, the provisions of the U.S. Constitution can be broken down into two different major categories. The first category of provisions are “structural”. These include such things as Article I, Section 8, which sets forth the powers of Congress, all of Article II, some of Article III, Article V, and Article VI. (This is not an exhaustive list.)

These structural provisions of the US Constitution set forth things like how a bill becomes a law; that the Congress will be divided into a House and a Senate; how congressmen and the President are elected; how long congressmen, Supreme Court Justices, and the President serve; how treaties are ratified, etc. Most of these “structural provisions” could have been arranged differently. For instance, it is conceivable that the Founders could have decided to have a unicameral legislature (one chamber of Congress instead of two), or that they could have made the President’s term of office 6 years instead of 4.

Most of these “structural provisions” were based in political expediency, or in the historical and social circumstances of the states at the time the US Constitution was ratified. For instance, at the Constitutional Convention, there were two competing “plans”. These two plans represented differing interests of low-population states versus high-population states, as well as other interests of the time.

The first plan, put forth by James Madison and Edmund Randolph, became known as “the Virginia Plan”. It called for a much more unified Republic with state sovereignty significantly reduced by allowing the national legislature to veto all state laws.[1] By way of contrast, the Constitution actually adopted just implicitly says that state laws that are contrary to the Constitution are void under the Supremacy Clause of Article Six, Clause 2, but it does not empower Congress with a cart-blanche veto power over any and all state laws.

Large states like Virginia supported this plan because it would give high-population states more power in the national legislature. Low-population states preferred the New Jersey Plan, which would have created a single unicameral national legislature that kept the one-vote-per-state representation found under the Articles of Confederation. With the New Jersey Plan, small states could more easily prevent large states from enacting legislation that would have trampled on their sovereignty as states. The New Jersey Plan was more of a modification of the existing Articles of Confederation, while the Virginia Plan threw out the Articles altogether.

At the end of the day, neither the Virginia Plan nor the New Jersey Plan was enacted. The document eventually adopted regarding legislative power was reflected in the “Connecticut Compromise”. It retained the bicameral legislative features of the Virginia plan. Also like the Virginia plan, in the lower house, there would be proportional representation based on state population. However, the upper house would have two representatives per state, thereby ensuring that low-population states could not be dominated by high-population states in the new Congress.[2]

The other major category of provisions that can be found in the US Constitution are what I call the “declaratory provisions”[3]. These provisions don’t set forth the powers of government or government officials, or how government is to operate. Instead, they state certain fundamental rights that citizens or residents of the United States possess. Most of these “declaratory provisions” are found in the first Ten Amendments to the US Constitution. For instance, Amendment I says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

These first ten Amendments reflect the Enlightenment tradition of individual rights[4], and were adopted in order to placate the anti-federalist critics of the Constitution. At the time, some state constitutions included a bill of rights[5], and the English legal tradition, as embodied in the Magna Charta, often had a declaration of rights. During the debates leading up to the ratification of the US Constitution, Madison and Hamilton responded to anti-federalist complaints about the lack of a declaration of rights in the proposed document by saying it was unnecessary, and that such a declaration could actually be dangerous to the rights of individuals.

Hamilton’s opposition to a bill of rights can be found in Federalist Number 84:

The most considerable of these remaining objections [of the Anti-Federalists] is, that the plan of the convention contains no bill of rights….I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colourable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretence for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority, which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it, was intended to be vested in the national government. (Emphasis added, Federalist Number 84, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/bill_of_rightss7.html )

In essence, Hamilton said that there was no need for a declaration of the right of freedom of the press in the new Constitution because the Constitution did not authorize the Federal government to regulate the press at all. Article I, Section 8 sets forth the scope of Congress’ powers, meaning that unless a power is granted to Congress under this section, then it has no power to act. Since there is no power to regulate the press, Congress does not have the power, and it can make no law regarding press or speech.

Additionally, Hamilton goes on in the above-quoted text to note that a bill of rights provision stating that Congress can make no law regarding the freedom of the press could be construed as meaning that Congress has this power –that it might give a “…plausible pretence for claiming that power…” In other words, a bill of rights for Hamilton and Madison, could actually be dangerous because someone might assume that Congress has the power to regulate speech and press, when, under Article I, Section 8, it has no such power.

At the end of the day, Hamilton, Madison, and other supporters of the new Constitution compromised on the issue of a Bill of Rights. In order to avoid the problem of “constructive powers” being implied to the new Federal government under the Bill of Rights, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments were probably included:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”[6],[7]

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

In other words, the 9th and 10th Amendments ensure that the people retain all of their rights, not just the ones set forth in the Constitution, and that the Federal government only has the power to act insofar as it has been delegated powers under the Constitution.

In order to properly understand this distinction between “structural” provisions on the one hand and “declaratory” provisions on the other, it is necessary to move into the realm of political philosophy and philosophy of law. Specifically, it must understood what a constitution is, and what purpose it serves.

Human life is not guaranteed. If one wants to live, then one must take certain actions. Such actions are a necessary condition for living. Man posses a rational faculty that allows him to comprehend laws of nature and to adjust his natural environment, in accordance with those laws, to maximize his chances of survival. For instance, someone recognizes that it is human nature to require protection from the snow, the rain, and the cold. A man’s chances of survival are maximized when he is protected from certain weather conditions. He also notices that certain types of plants and trees, when properly harvested and arranged, can provide a barrier against the weather. So, he gathers naturally occurring elements like trees, rocks, and dirt, and combines them to build a house. Another man recognizes that he needs nourishment, and he learns to build weapons to hunt the lesser animals with, or he makes a plow and plants seeds to grow crops.

Food, shelter, clothing, and other values are necessary for man’s survival, and are typically not found in nature, or are not sufficiently plentiful to sustain man’s life. As his technology and scientific knowledge grows, man’s capacity to improve his life grows. Men have gone, over several millennia, from living in caves to building rockets to the Moon -all thanks to man’s capacity to recognize reality, formulate general principles of cause and effect, and to act accordingly. Man’s mind allows him to recognize cause and effect relationships amongst entities that exist, to recognize his own nature as a living being and a rational animal, and to take action aimed at his survival.

Just as other inanimate entities have a certain nature, so does man. Man is the “rational animal”. He is a living organism of a certain kind and, in principle, he must therefore act in accordance with that nature if he wants to survive. A man cannot live like a plant, by merely sitting and absorbing nutrients from the sun and the soil. A man must engage in a process of thought, and create the wealth necessary for his survival. Men also have the capacity to engage in collaborative endeavors amongst themselves that benefit all participants. Men can trade with other men, which means that individual human beings gain from certain types of associations with each other. If men are going to benefit from each other, they must recognize that each individual living in society acts to provide the things necessary for his survival, if he wants to live. All men must recognize the moral principles defining and sanctioning an individual’s freedom of action in a social context. These moral principles are known as individual rights. Although the list is not exhaustive, fundamental individual rights include the right to live and the right to private property. The right to live is the ultimate individual right, and forms the basis of all rights.

Although most choose to live as traders and producers, some human beings choose not to think and produce their own values. Some will attempt to take what others have produced by means of force. Such people are known as “criminals”. The criminal attempts to gain values from others not by voluntary trade, but by means of force or the threat of force. A criminal substitutes reason and persuasion for force in an effort to gain values from others, or to destroy the values of others. Criminals are force-initiators. They use their fists or a weapon, or they threaten the use of force, to gain what others have produced without their voluntary consent.

If men are to live together in society, then they must create an institution or collaborative agreement to protect those who want to live by means of reason, persuasion, and trade from those who wish to destroy or take the values of others by means of physical force. Although in an emergency, each individual has a right to use force in retaliation and to defend himself from a force-initiator, a formal institution to stop such force-initiators, with objective rules of procedure and fair notice of what is prohibited, is necessary once a society gets beyond a certain point in size and geographic scope. This organization is known as “government”.

There are various reasons why government is necessary if rights are to be protected, and this paper is not meant to be an exhaustive critique of the political philosophy of anarchism, but some of the major reasons why government is essential for the protection of individual rights will be discussed prior to turning to constitutional law.

Without a central governmental authority, it is difficult for others to know whether a person using force in retaliation against a criminal is truly acting in retaliation. Concretely, imagine that a criminal has stolen a person’s property. The victim then goes to the criminal’s house, and holds him at gunpoint while recovering his stolen property. If others see only the victim holding the criminal at gunpoint, how will they know that this is not a robbery? If the criminal’s family or friends see this, and know nothing about the circumstances, then they might mistakenly believe that the victim is the force-initiator, and use force to stop what they perceive as a robbery. This in turn would lead the victim’s family and friends to counter-retaliate, and society could devolve into gang-warfare.

By instituting formal rules of procedure in this situation, misunderstandings can be minimized. The victim of a burglary goes to a socially recognized authority, the police, and files a complaint. The police then investigate, while ensuring that the rights of the accused are respected. Another branch of the government, the courts, then make a determination, in accordance with pre-established rules of evidence and procedure, as to whether the property was in fact stolen, and issue a ruling.

Another important function that only a government can serve is to provide all members of society with prior notice of exactly what actions are violations of individual rights. Citizens elect representatives who then gather periodically and promulgate rules prohibiting certain actions that would violate individual rights. This representative body is generally called a “legislature”, and it sets forth the elements of crimes. For instance, at English Common Law, murder was defined as: (1) unlawful, (2) killing, (3) of a human, (4) by another human, (5) with malice aforethought. The legislature promulgates a statute which sets forth each of these elements, and they must all be proven by a certain standard of proof in a given circumstance before one can be shown to be guilty of the crime of “murder”.

Governments are instituted among men and derive their powers from the governed, who delegate some of their right to retaliatory force to that institution so that individual rights can be protected, and everyone can be assured that their own rights will be protected if they, or their friends or family, are ever accused of a crime. Government isn’t there just to do justice, but to show justice, and only justice, being done. It is there to assure everyone in society that force is only being used to protect individual rights. But, this raises a new problem. How to ensure that those acting on behalf of government –the police, the military, the courts, and the legislature- do not themselves become force-initiators? If the fundamental powers of government are written down in a document, then it is clear what actions government officials can take, and the exact procedures for taking such actions. Any power not granted by this written document is not a power delegated to the government by “the people”. This is the purpose of a written constitution. In other words, a written constitution can be defined as the fundamental charter delegating the peoples right to the retaliatory use of physical force to a central authority. Only the powers granted to government agents in a written constitution are authorized.

The difference between these two types of provisions found in the US Constitution suggests that they have different origins and should be interpreted in accordance with different methodologies. As was already stated, the “structural” provisions of the Constitution represent decisions at the time the particular document was adopted. They represent the political and social circumstances at the time of ratification, and might be significantly different if circumstances had been otherwise. The “declaratory” provisions tend to be more “abstract”, “timeless”, or “universal”. For instance, a right to freedom of speech and the press is seen as essential to all human beings everywhere, and under all circumstances, while the creation of an upper house of the federal legislature whose members are chosen by individual state legislatures (the Senate) is more a matter of social, economic, and political circumstances at the time of adoption. In some other nation, with some other set of historical circumstances, a unicameral legislature might make more sense. The structural provisions represent the compromises that made the union possible. The structural provisions have a role to play in ensuring rights are protected via such things as separation of powers and checks and balances, but they presuppose the rights that they protect.

Given what has been said about the strong role of historical, political, and social context at the time they were ratified, the structural provisions of the US Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with that historical, political, and social context. In other words, the structural provisions of the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with original meaning, as described by Justice Antonin Scalia and others.[8] The reasoning here is fairly simple: (1) A constitution is the fundamental charter delegating the people’s right to the retaliatory use of physical force to a central authority, and only the powers granted to government agents in the written constitution are authorized; (2) “the people” currently living may not have ratified the constitution, but they are free via its amendment process to alter it at any time; (3) since the currently living have chosen not to amend the enacted constitution, they must still prefer its original terms. When judges interpret these structural provisions of the Constitution, they should therefore look to original meaning on the assumption that it is what the current generation of the body politic prefers. Since most of these provisions have to do with the powers and structure of government, it would undermine the idea of “the consent of the governed” for judges to reinterpret, for instance, how a bill becomes a law. It would abrogate the consent of the governed if the courts suddenly decided that “times had changed”, and only a majority of Senators had to vote for a bill that was signed into “law” by the President, and by-passed the requirement that a majority of the House of Representatives also vote in favor.

Using “original meaning” makes no sense with regard to the “declaratory” provisions of a constitution because these provisions describe universal individual rights, and the protection of rights is the very purpose of government, and a constitution, in the first place. Individual rights are conceptually and logically more fundamental than any written constitution, and form the underlying moral foundation for a written constitution. The source of rights is not divine law, and it is not Congressional law. As discussed, rights are moral principles defining and sanctioning an individual’s freedom of action in a social context. They ensure that the individual is free to live in society. People have freewill so, they can choose not to respect individual rights. However, when the majority of a society fails to respect rights, it will disintegrate. Only a society that respects rights to life, liberty, and property can remain functional long-term, because it is the only society that leaves people free to think and act on their own best judgment in the maintenance of their individual lives.

[1] See The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, Gordon S. Wood, Chapter XII, “The Worthy Against the Licentious”, Section 1, “The Federalist Revolution”: “Not only should the national government have a ‘positive and complete authority in all cases where uniform measures are necessary,’ as in finance, commerce, and foreign policy, but it should have ‘a negative, in all cases whatsoever, in the Legislative acts of the States, as the King of Great Britain heretofore had.’”

[2] See The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, Gordon S. Wood, Chapter XIII, “The Federalist Persuasion”, Section 7, “The Redefinition of Bicameralism”: ”With the ‘Connecticut compromise,’ which provided for two senators from each state, the Federalists found a justification for the upper house that they had not anticipated. ‘The people will be represented in one house, the state legislatures in the other,’…The Senate now became a means of restraining ‘the large states from having improper advantages over the small ones.’”

[3] Hamilton also appears to make this “structural” versus “declaratory” distinction in the Federalist Papers: “Independent of those, which relate to the structure of the government, we find the following: Article I. section 3. clause 7. “Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit under the United States; but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.” Section 9.” http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/bill_of_rightss7.html

[4] The Meaning of the American Revolution, Dan Lacy, Chapter 1, “The Eighteenth-Century World”: “The general body of thought we call Newtonian was most effectively applied to social issues by another Englishman, John Locke (1632-1704)…they dominated political thought for a century to come and provided the philosophical basis for the American Revolution.”

[5] See The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, Gordon S. Wood, Chapter VII, “Law and Contracts”, Section 2, “The Contract of Rulers and Ruled”.

[6] James Madison, The Writings of James Madison, comprising his Public Papers and his Private Correspondence, including his numerous letters and documents now for the first time printed, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900). Vol. 5. 6/26/2015. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1937#Madison_1356-05_877: “The exceptions here or elsewhere in the Constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people, or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the Constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.”

[7] James Madison, The Writings of James Madison, comprising his Public Papers and his Private Correspondence, including his numerous letters and documents now for the first time printed, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900). Vol. 5. 6/26/2015. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1937#Madison_1356-05_898: “It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard urged against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may [385] be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution. [See above footnote for this clause.]”

[8] Section 70, “The false notion that the Living Constitution is an exception to the rule that legal texts must be given the meaning they bore when adopted”. In: Scalia, A. and Garner, B. (2010) Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts, “Preface”. St. Paul: Thompson/West Publishing.

What is Proof?

I was recently asked what I consider to be “proof”. This question came up specifically with respect to my blog post on why I am an atheist and not an agnostic.  So what is “proof”?

I hold that the most essential form of proof is observation -that which you can come into contact with by means of your sensory-perceptual mechanism. In other words, “proof” is generally what you can see, hear or touch. (Taste and smell would also count, but these are pretty weak senses for human beings.) There are other types of proof that are possible, but they are related back to observation.  Some things are not directly perceivable, but we know that they do exist because of how they interact with things that we can observe. We can observe the effects on things that we do observe directly, and thereby come to understand something about the imperceptible thing that was the cause.

In the natural sciences, much of what we would call proof involves observing the effects on things we can perceive by things that we cannot perceive, thereby providing evidence about the existence and nature of those imperceptible things. For instance, bacteria were first observed by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in 1676, using a single-lens microscope of his own design. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacteria#History_of_bacteriology  With bacteria, human beings have been able to use a device with known properties to observe what was previously unobservable. The device was something that used specially shaped glass to amplify light. We knew that when glass was shaped in certain ways, it would make something appear bigger. We then extrapolated that if we bent and shaped this glass and combined it with other bent and shaped glass -other lenses- then it would amplify even smaller things. With sufficiently powerful enough lenses, such a device would eventually amplify the appearance of things that were too small to see with the naked eye. This device was named a microscope, and when Leeuwenhoek looked through it, he saw tiny organisms that were not visible with the naked eye, which were subsequently called “bacteria”.

The atom was discovered thanks to a number of observations made by scientists:
“In the early 1800s, John Dalton used the concept of atoms to explain why elements always react in ratios of small whole numbers (the law of multiple proportions). For instance, there are two types of tin oxide: one is 88.1% tin and 11.9% oxygen and the other is 78.7% tin and 21.3% oxygen (tin(II) oxide and tin dioxide respectively). This means that 100g of tin will combine either with 13.5g or 27g of oxygen. 13.5 and 27 form a ratio of 1:2, a ratio of small whole numbers. This common pattern in chemistry suggested to Dalton that elements react in whole number multiples of discrete units—in other words, atoms.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom#First_evidence-based_theory

This knowledge was combined with other knowledge such as the phenomena of “Brownian Motion”:

“In 1827, botanist Robert Brown used a microscope to look at dust grains floating in water and discovered that they moved about erratically, a phenomenon that became known as “Brownian motion”. This was thought to be caused by water molecules knocking the grains about.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom#First_evidence-based_theory

In the case of atoms, it was observed that a certain amount of tin always combined with a certain amount of oxygen in one of two ways, suggesting that whatever the ultimate constituents of tin and oxygen were, they must be discrete units. In other words, they must consist of units that cannot be divided any further -at least if you still wanted to speak of them as “oxygen” and “tin”. This knowledge, combined with other observations, such as Brownian motion, eventually led to the widespread acceptance of the existence of atoms. We inferred the existence of something, the atom, based on things that we could observe with our inborn sensory-perceptual mechanisms (our eyes).

The Theory of Evolution is another example of how we have come to have, at the very least, a theory, that explains our origins. There is no way to directly confirm this theory by direct observation. If it is happening, evolution happens over millions of years, with parents giving rise to slightly different offspring, who then are either more or less successful at survival because of these characteristics. These offspring have more children than those without those characteristics, and this continues on and on, until the resulting organism is so different from the original ancestor that it can no longer even be considered of the same species. This theory is based on things like:
(1) Geological observations that suggest the Earth is billions of years old.
(2) Observing the fact that different members of the same species of organism have different characteristics from each others. (E.G. some people have red hair while others have brown hair.)
(3) Parents are able to pass some of their unique characteristics on to their children. (E.G. blue-eyed parents have blue-eyed children.)
(4) Some of the unique characteristics an organism has can make it more successful at surviving and reproducing than if it didn’t have that characteristic. (E.G. a bacteria might have partial resistance to penicillin, while other members of its species do not, meaning resistant ones will tend to survive and reproduce.)

All of these observations suggest that, given sufficient time, one organism can be the ancestor of organisms that would be considered a completely different species, and that this occurs because of changing environmental conditions.

Proof of things that we didn’t observe by observing other things, and recognizing that there is a relationship, is not limited to the natural sciences. For instance, in a murder trial, all of the evidence that is presented is something that the judge and jurors can observe directly with their eyes and ears. For instance, the prosecution can present finger prints that were lifted from the murder weapon, and explain the chain of custody of the object such that no one had touched the murder weapon since it was discovered at the scene. Or, the prosecution can explain how each gun barrel leaves unique markings on the bullet when it is fired, and that the markings on the bullet found in the victim matches the markings on a bullet fired through the weapon by a ballistics expert.

Witness testimony can also establish other facts for the jury, such as if someone saw the accused walk into the victims house, and then heard a shot ring out. In that case, the jurors are relying on the eye witness’s observations, which are generally going to be believed, unless it can be show that the witness had some bias to lie or some mental problem that makes them unreliable. Even testimony such as someone seeing the victim and the accused in a heated argument a few days prior to the murder can be evidence, based on what we know about human nature. Human beings tend to do things because they have a motive for doing so, and if the accused hated the victim, then that would suggest he might have killed the victim. This recognition of human behavior is also based on observation.

What is the method of relating the things that we observe and then concluding the existence of something that we didn’t observe? The method of logic provides us with guidance in this area. Logic generally takes two forms: the inductive and the deductive. In deductive logic, we mentally place a specific instance into a general category or principle. It is reasoning from the general to the specific. For instance: All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal. “All men are mortal” is a general category or principle. Socrates is shown to be a specific instance of a man, and therefore everything that is known to be true about all men is true with respect to Socrates, i.e., that Socrates, just like all men, is mortal.

Deduction is a means of coming to have knowledge that doesn’t depend on direct observation of the conclusion, but the conclusion is based on other direct observations. In the case of the Socrates syllogism, you didn’t observe Socrates being born, growing old, and then eventually dying, but you were able to conclude without such direct observation that he is mortal -that Socrates will eventually die. What is the evidence for this?  One such fact is that every other man who is known to have lived eventually died. You then assume that since Socrates is in this category of “men”, that he has the same characteristics as other men, and is therefore mortal.

The above discussion of deduction leads to the other major form of logic. Where did the “all men are mortal” part of the Socrates syllogism come from? This is a complicated subject, and is not even fully agreed on today, but, in general, such knowledge is gained by observing a sufficient number of concrete examples of a thing and then generalizing that all members of that category possess that characteristic. For instance, it is impossible to actually observe all men and see that they are mortal, but you observe enough examples that you can eventually conclude that “all men are mortal.” The problem is that this can lead to generalizations that are erroneous. An example of this is the generalization: “All swans are white.” You observed numerous examples of white swans, and you conclude that they are all white. But, one day, you discover a bird that is morphologically the same as white swans, but it has black feathers. How do you know when you have a valid generalization versus an invalid one? I would like to know the answer to that one myself. In general terms, I think that if you are clear about the nature of the thing, and your purposes when you generalize, then it is possible to come up with valid generalizations. So, in the case of the invalid statement “all swans are white,” if you were clear about what a swan is and also about why the color of swans matters to you, then you probably wouldn’t make such a generalization in the first place. I cannot even think of a situation where it really matters whether swans are black or white. If you regard swans as a food source, then their color makes no difference. If you simply think swans are beautiful and graceful, then I think that belief applies to both colors. For my purposes here, the minutia of valid induction can be put aside. The point is that you generalize, or induce, by observing a sufficient number of examples to reach the generalization. Induction ultimately depends on your observations -on what you can perceive with your senses.

Someone might claim that they have a means of gaining knowledge other than through observation or logical reasoning, but I am aware of no such means. However, if they can provide me with proof, then I am open to hearing what they have to say. I just don’t know how you provide proof without proof, which seems to be what they are claiming.

Why I am not an Agnostic

A friend of mine asked me about being an atheist recently, and I realized that I had written very little directly on that subject, especially in recent years. I typically just refer someone to what others have written on the subject. For instance, I found “Atheism: The Case Against God” by George H. Smith to be a fairly thorough explanation, and to be largely correct, although I haven’t read it since 1994, so I don’t know to what extent I might now have disagreements with that book.

I am a proponent of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. I am also fully convinced that it is inconsistent to be an Objectivist and be anything other than an atheist, but that is not actually an explanation for why I am an atheist. After all, maybe Objectivism is right on that one issue, and wrong on everything else, or vice-versa, or somewhere in between. So, in my mind, simply saying: “I am Objectivist, therefore I am atheist,” is not a satisfactory explanation to give to someone regarding why I am, specifically, an atheist. In this essay, I will explain why I am an atheist, but I will do so in the context of a related issue: Why I am not an agnostic.

For me, being an atheist rests on a logical principle that is known as “the onus of proof” principle. This is generally defined as something like: “He who asserts a claim has the burden of proof.” Every statement has a truth-value. That statement can be true, it can be false, or it can be “arbitrary”. A statement is “true” if there is evidence to establish that the statement is in accordance with reality. A statement is “false” if there is evidence to show that that the statement is not in accordance with reality. For instance, imagine that person A says: “All swans are white,” and then he shows person B ten white swans to prove it. However, person B then shows person A an eleventh swan that is black, thereby establishing that A’s statement is “false”. Or, Person A says: “All men are law-abiders,” and person A shows person B ten men who are obeying the law. But, person B then shows person A an eleventh man that is breaking the law, thereby showing person A’s statement to be “false”.

It is also possible to make a statement and offer no proof regarding that statement. Such a statement is neither “true” nor “false”, but “arbitrary”. For instance, person A says: “All swans are white,” and B asks for proof, and A says: “Prove that it isn’t so.” As far as B is concerned, A has made an “arbitrary” statement. In B’s mind, there is no evidence to establish it. Notice that unlike the example above, person A did not show ten white swans to prove his statement. He just “arbitrarily” asserted it.

Another example of an arbitrary statement would be if person A says: “Portland is a city in Oregon.” Person B then asks for proof, and A says: “Prove that it isn’t so.” As far as B is concerned, assuming that B didn’t already have any independent proof of this statement, this is an “arbitrary” statement. In B’s mind, there is no evidence to establish it. (In this case, it can be established that Portland is a city in Oregon, but the evidence simply hasn’t been presented to B.)

A more common example of an arbitrary statement will be something more mystical, along these lines: Person A says: “I was Julius Ceasar in a past life.” Person B then asks for proof, and person A says: “Prove that it isn’t so.” A has made an “arbitrary” statement. In B’s mind, there is no evidence to establish it.

So, if someone asserts: “There is a little gremlin standing on my shoulder, but he is invisible, and you cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell him, nor can you use any sort of logical reasoning or deduction to establish that he exists, now prove that it isn’t so,” then they have violated the onus of proof principle. Their statement is neither “true” nor “false”. It is merely “arbitrary”.

How should such an “arbitrary” statement by a person be dealt with by the listener? This question depends on what you think the purpose of knowledge is. I assert that human beings use their rational faculties –that they think- in order to maintain or enhance their individual lives. Knowledge, in general terms, is about grasping causal relationships between perceived entities in order to effectively use those things to maintain or enhance your own life. For instance, people study Biology and human anatomy so that they can understand how a particular entity, the human body, works, and how it interacts with things in its environment like viruses and bacteria. This enables them to develop means of curing disease, which maintains and enhances human life. Or, we study planetary motion, which gives us the ability to understand the nature of gravity, which, thanks to Isaac Newton, gave us the law of Universal Gravitation, which eventually, along with other knowledge, let us build rockets. This allowed us to launch weather satellites that we can use to predict hurricanes. Such technology gives us the ability to evacuate cities in the path of a hurricane, thereby saving countless human lives. One last example that isn’t from the natural sciences: We study man’s fundamental nature in order to understand and grasp certain general principles of action that will enhance or maintain his life. These general principles of action for maintaining one’s life are what Ayn Rand called “ethics” or “morality”.

If the purpose of knowledge is to allow human beings to understand laws of nature, i.e., causal relationships, then any assertion which is not backed up by proof or evidence is an attempt to get people to act on ideas that have no established connection to reality. Acting contrary to the facts in this way is typically not life-enhancing. It is more likely to lead to self-destruction. For instance, if I decided that I could flap my unaided arms and fly like a bird, then went to the roof of a building and jumped off, that will likely end badly for me. This is why it is important that all ideas, statements, and assertions be established in your own mind to be in accordance with reality before you act on them.

The onus of proof principle is the primary reason I self-describe as an “atheist”. When someone makes any statement, I expect proof, if I don’t already have it. Thus, if someone says: “There is a god,” I want proof, just like if someone said: “There is a little green man on Mars.” It just happens to be that within our culture, belief in some sort of god is so common that there is a word for what I am: “a-theist”. But, I am also “a-little-green-man-on-Mars”(ist). (If the majority of the human population were “atheist”, then there probably wouldn’t even be a word for it. That would just be considered “normal”.)

I once explained this “onus of proof” basis for being an atheist to someone who was generally a “secular humanist”, and he said that sounded like “agnosticism”. I must disagree. Let’s look at the definitions of “atheist” and “agnostic” found via a “define: atheist” and “define: agnostic” in Google’s search engine:

Atheist: a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

Agnostic: a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

My interpretation of these two contrasting definitions is that agnosticism says: “I don’t know if there is a god or not, so I am not going to take a position one way or the other.” But, the truth-status of every assertion of fact matters, if you want to live. Imagine if this were done in some other area, such as if you worked at a construction site. If someone said: “There is a crane about to drop a ton of bricks on you,” the truth or falsity of this statement matters. If you look up and don’t see any crane or bricks, then you’re going to think: “This person is a liar. I am going to distance myself from him and not listen to him.” You might also investigate why he said that. Perhaps you will discover that you were standing on a hundred dollar bill you had dropped, and he wanted you to move so that he could get it without telling you the real reason. This says something about his character.

On the other hand, if you look up and see that there is a ton of bricks about to fall on you, then you will take action: you will get out of the way. (In that scenario, you’re more likely to take that person’s word for it, and jump out of the way. But, after the fact, if you see that he was lying, then, if you want to live, it will affect your opinion of him, and how you deal with him -or don’t deal with him- in the future. My point here is that the truth-status of his assertion matters to your life.)

Imagine what agnosticism would mean to your life in practice. Imagine that an advocate of Sharia Law came to an agnostic and said to her: “God says all women should wear a burka.” Is the agnostic going to think: “I don’t want to take a position on this, so I’ll cover my head half of the time, and not cover it the other half of the time,” or: “I will just cover half my head”? The agnostic can’t say: “Prove that there is a god, and until you do, I am going to disregard everything you say on this subject,” because that would be taking a position. If she does that, then she isn’t actually an agnostic in that situation. She is an atheist. Whether she wants to use the word “agnostic” to describe herself to others is a different issue, but in her mind the truth-status of the assertion matters to her, and she refuses to act on arbitrary assertions. She is an atheist, at least on that issue.

I suspect that there are several reasons why most secularists tend to want to self-describe as “agnostic” rather than “atheist”. “Atheist” is synonymous with “immoral” in our culture because most people believe that any sort of respect for the rights of others must necessarily rest in religious faith. (“Religion” and “morality” are synonymous in many people’s minds, although I don’t think that is correct, if morality means “principles of action necessary for living your life”.) Agnosticism also seems more “reasonable” or “middle of the road”, and our culture tends to promote “the golden mean” between two “extremes” as an ideal, but it is not actually more reasonable. Not if you care about living, because that is why we must adhere our minds to reality on all issues.

Ayn Rand Lexicon on “arbitrary“.

The Rwandan Mass Murder of 1994

I have been researching the mass murder that occurred in Rwanda over the course of a couple of months, starting in March of 1994. This was precipitated by the death of the President of Rwanda who’s plane was shot down by unknown persons. It’s estimated that anywhere from 500,000 to 1,000,000 people, mostly identified as “Tutsis”, were murdered by militias and government soldiers, most of whom were identified as “Hutu”.

The parallels to the holocaust during World War II are readily apparent. There was an extreme xenophobia resting in a “tribal-mindset” and a generalized belief on the part of the Hutus that their problems were the result of the hated minority group. The people committing mass murder also had the same mindset as the average German: that if their government ordered them to commit murder, then they had no choice but to obey.

The Objectivist position is that this “tribal mindset” in Germany was formalized by the works of Immanuel Kant who stated that one must do one’s “duty” in spite of any desires to the contrary. Kant also said that your “noumenal self” actually wants you to do your “duty”, even though there is no rational way to know what your “noumenal self” wants. The Nazi “translation” of Kant was to say that your “Aryan blood” tells you what your duty is, and, in practice, this probably just reduces to: “duty is whatever the leader says it is”.  Both 1994 Rwanda and WWII Germany were marked by a distinct anti-individualism with mystic notions about the power of the ethnic or tribal collective’s authority to govern the individual.

Since Rwanda is a non-Western culture, I don’t know where the Hutu majority got their anti-individualist mindset.  Rwanda was a German colony prior to being taken over by the Belgians after World War I, but I don’t know that German culture would have permeated Rwanda that quickly or comprehensively to call that the cause from the standpoint of the history of ideas. This “tribal mindset” is probably common in any primitive society, although I think it would be interesting to see if German ideas gave the “Hutu power” movement academic and cultural respectability.

The other interesting parallel between Nazi Germany and 1994 Rwanda is the lack of racial difference between the group committing mass-murder and the group that was the victim of the mass-murder. The hatred was not based on race, since Hutus and Tutsis are racially indistinguishable, just like Germans and Jews were racially indistinguishable. Although I found commentators referring to Rwandan culture as racist, I think a more accurate description might be “tribal mindset”.


[1]”The most profound factor fueling the transmission of genocidal ideology from the regime to the masses, however, was the longstanding and deeply ingrained racism of Rwandan society. Racism develops when the objective differences between oneself and others are not accepted but rather morally condemned. The ‘other’ is construed as categorically evil, dangerous, and threatening. For decades, Rwandan society had been profoundly racist. The image of the Tutsi as inherently evil and exploitative was, and still is, deeply rooted in the psyche of most Rwandans; this image was a founding pillar of the genocide to come. Although ethnic peace had prevailed during most of the regime, the racist nature of Rwandan society had not changed.” (“4 Rwanda’s Lack of Resources and Extreme Poverty Provided the Breeding Grounds for Genocide” by Peter Uvin, found in _The Rwanda Genocide_, Opposing Viewpoints Series, Edited by Christina Fisanick, ISBN: 0-7377-1985-0, 2004, Greenhaven Press.)

[2]“Now, having ‘returned’ to a country many of them did not know, they were confronted with the triple conundrum of dead relatives, limited economic opportunities, and cultural strangeness. They were discovering that, paradoxically, Tutsi survivors often had more in common with their Hutu neighbors than with themselves. They started to divide and quarrel according to their synthetic ‘tribes of exile,’ that is, the countries where they had spent their years away from Rwanda. There were ‘Zairians’, ‘Burundians,’ ‘Tanzanians,’ and ‘Ugandans,’ as well as those from more exotic places not ranking high enough in terms of returnee numbers to constitute a serious network of solidarity. If these distincutions didn’t matter too much in daily life, they mattered a lot as soon as politics, business, or the military was involved. Networks and mafias emerged, struggling for political control and economic advantage in the midst of the ruins.” (“Chapter 1: Rwanda’s Mixed Season of Hope (July 1994-April 1995), _Africa’s World War: Congo, The Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe_ Gerard Prunier, Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-0-19-537420-9)

[3]_The Ominous Parallels_, Volume 3 of Ayn Rand library, by Leonard Peikoff

[4] “Tribalism” in _The Ayn Rand Lexicon_

“Free Will” and “Determinism”

I was thinking about the “determinism versus free will” debate yesterday, and I had a couple of thoughts that I thought might help in this debate. I am aiming my thoughts at people who are generally secularists and who look for naturalistic explanations for all phenomena.

First, I think it’s useful to think about things that clearly *are* determined. These are all non-living things, some of which are man-made and some of which are not. Examples include: billiard balls on a pool table that bounce when struck by other billiard balls, water reacting to a pebble being thrown in it with waves, the planets moving in orbit around the sun, a mouse trap when it is set and then sprung by a mouse, a basket ball that is dropped from a height and then repeatedly bounces -but less and less until it comes to a stop, and a rube goldberg machine. Both a proponent of determinism and an opponent of determinism will agree that all of these things are completely “determined”. These things possess no “internal will” that causes them to act as they do.

Second, it is also useful to look at the human mind to see if all of our mental actions are the same in terms of “level of choice”. Internal introspection of your own mind is the only way to really do this. There are certain “mental behaviors” or “mental actions” that seem less “chosen” than others. Normally, your emotions typically just react to external stimuli with very little or no ability on your part to avoid feeling those emotions. You feel anger, hatred, sadness, or happiness in reaction to certain perceived events seemingly “automatically”, like a mousetrap going off. At any given moment, your emotions seem closer to the examples of non-living things that are determined. If you are a man interested in women, and you see a woman with a certain body shape, size, and age-range, who behaves in a certain way, you feel a certain amount of romantic desire for her. If you are a woman with a child, you will normally feel fear if you see your child facing some sort of danger -or you will feel hatred or anger for the source of the danger towards your child. If someone tries to rob you with a gun, you will feel fear or anger. If someone you care about dies, you feel sadness. In all cases, you have little choice about the feelings that you feel at that moment. Your actions with respect to those feelings appear to be more under your control, but not the feelings themselves. Over time, your emotional reactions to certain things seem like they change. If you see someone you were romantically involved with several years after you broke up, you may no longer have the same romantic feelings you once had for them, or not to the same degree, but this happens over time. At any given time, one’s emotions are more fixed. (Some psychological schools seem to be based on the assumption that your thoughts can change your emotions over time, so if you change your thinking, which is under your control, then you will eventually change your emotions, but that is beyond the point here.)

But, when it comes to certain tasks, your ability to mentally solve problems seem less “automatic” than your emotions. For instance, if you are a physicist trying to solve a complex math problem, you actually have to sit down and work on the math problems. If you are a doctor trying to diagnose a patient’s illness, you actually have to draw on your store of knowledge and try to come up with a diagnosis. If you are a computer programmer, you actually have to sit down and try to figure out what data structures and if-then-else statements will solve the problem you are trying to solve. If you are a lawyer, you have to think about the facts of the case, and then go research the law and try to determine what legal precedents the facts of your case fit into. If you are a structural engineer, you have to decide what are the requirements of your building, such as: What will it be used for? How many people will use it? etc. Then you actually pick construction materials, work out the load requirements, etc. This applies equally to “blue collar” occupations. If you are a taxi cab driver, and your fare wants to get to the airport from downtown in less than 30 minutes, you have to consider the time of day, the traffic conditions, which roads are under construction, possibly consult maps, and mentally devise a route. In all of these cases, the mental activity involved is not nearly as “automatic” as when you feel an emotion. They all involve thinking to solve the problem of human survival.

Now, I think that a dedicated determinist is just going to say that all of these examples of thinking are “illusory” examples of choice because at some “lower level”, we are all just made up of some substance(s) that appears wholly determined. For instance, he will say on the molecular level, an atomic level, or a subatomic level, you are actually determined. He says this with the following reasoning: Your brain is made of nothing but molecules (or atoms). Molecules are entirely determined. Therefore, your brain is entirely determined. In other words, your mind is actually just a more complicated example of things like the mousetrap discussed above. My concern with that sort of reasoning is that it basically says: what you perceive as reality is not really reality at all. “Reality” is the molecular level, and the world that you perceive is nothing but an illusion. But, if you cannot count on what you perceive, including your perception of the choice to think, then I am not sure that any sort of knowledge of the molecular level, or any other level, is actually possible. Without knowledge, life would seem to be, as Hobbes said in another context, “nasty brutish and short”.

The Plano Ordinance Banning Discrimination Is An Attempt to Substitute Force for Reason

Even though I live in Plano, I apparently missed this ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals by businesses when it was originally approved earlier this month. I am opposed to the ordinance for the same reason I oppose the initiation of governmental force *even* when it is for a supposedly “good cause”.

In my personal life, I don’t discriminate against gays and racial minorities because I don’t think it is in my rational self-interest to do so. If a person has a value to offer me in trade, or has a new idea that is true, then it would not be beneficial to my life to avoid that person just because of his skin color or sexual preference. (Similarly, I don’t pretend to like someone  -as many white “liberals” seem anxious to do- when that person behaves like an obnoxious moron, and happens to be a member of a racial minority group.)  Even if certain sexual preferences are irrational, that would not prevent me from buying or selling goods or services from such a person, since their private sex life would have no bearing on the purchase or sale of goods and services. I don’t pick my grocer based on what he does in his bedroom, but based on whether he sells me the best groceries at the best price. Economically, speaking, such discrimination will also fail, because any business that refuses to sell to a particular customer group would invite competition from other profit-seeking businesses. (The mere fact that there is a sufficiently large enough political majority in Plano willing to enact such an anti-discrimination ordinance tells me that there are large numbers of people and businesses willing and able to sell to homosexuals, or the ordinance never would have passed in the first place.)

My opposition to the Plano ordinance also isn’t based in the silly “religious freedom” arguments that get advanced by some conservatives. By this reasoning, people can engage in human sacrifice or cannibalism and then claim that it is part of their “religious freedom” to do so. Government must protect individual rights, and this means that it can rightfully prohibit any action that violates rights. But, fundamentally speaking, government can *only* protect rights, not make people use their minds when they choose not to. This is the proper basis of religious freedom. Even if the majority of people were atheist, the religious minority, would need to be left free to have and speak their beliefs, because there is no way to force them to use their rational faculty if they choose not to. Only reason and persuasion can change them.

The reason I oppose this ordinance is because it is based in the assumption that reason and persuasion are not the proper means of dealing with other men. This ordinances is based in the assumption that one can instead simply rule over men with a gun as your only syllogism. But, when the initiation of force, not reason, becomes your method of dealing with men, watch out! Soon your society will stop being governed by law and reason, and will instead be ruled by those who are most effective at brutality, force, and violence. (Then your society will perish.) 

I Just Realized There is No Authority Under The Constitution for the Feds to Impose a 21-day Quarantine on Persons From Africa

In a previous blog post, I wrote that the President and the Federal government should impose a 21-day quarantine on persons entering the country from areas of Africa stricken with ebola. I now no longer think the Federal government has the power to do this under the Constitution. In fact, there is no Constitutional authority for the Federal government to restrict entry into the United States at all.

The Constitution is a charter of enumerated powers for the Federal Government. It lists what powers are expressly carved out of state sovereignty( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enumerated_powers ) If it does not list a power as belonging to the Federal government, then such power is reserved for the states. (“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution)

Article I, Section 8 lays out Congress’ powers, and it says nothing about quarantine. In fact, it appears to give the Federal government no power to regulate entry into the country at all, except for the purposes of imposing duties (Art. I, Sec. 8-1) It also says Congress can make uniform laws of naturalization (Art. I, Sec. 8-4), but that is just how people become citizens -not whether they can enter the country. That means the Federal government must be relying on the “catch-all” of Art. I, Sec. 8-3, (“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations…”), but I fail to see how people entering the country is “commerce” under original meaning. It now appears to me that Congress has no power to restrict entry by people into the country at all -assuming we are going to actually take the Constitution seriously, which I do. 

I did some further research online, and discovered this article: http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/immigrationlaw/chapter2.html It basically seems to say that the courts have found an “inherent power” in the Constitution that allows the Federal government to restrict entry into the country. From the stand-point of original meaning, this seems as problematic as the “penumbras and emanations” that supposedly give rise to a right to privacy in the Constitution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griswold_v._Connecticut). I don’t see how Scalia, Thomas, Bork, or other originalist scholars could look at themselves in the mirror in the morning and claim some sort of unenumerated “inherent power” of the Federal government to restrict entry into the country.

Does this mean that quarantine cannot be imposed? I think it must occur at the state level. Each state government must establish its own quarantine laws, consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution) As long as some sort of hearing with objective rules of evidence and sufficient proof of a threat to others occurs, then this is probably sufficient. The additional implication of my new understanding of the Constitution, which I won’t get into too much here, is that each state would appear to have the power to set its own rules for entry into that state by immigrants from other countries. This might not be the result that originalists like Scalia would like, but it is what the Constitution seems to require under original meaning.

President Refuses to Impose 21-Day Quarantine on Persons Entering the Country From Africa Because He Wants to Sacrifice The Welfare of Americans

Today, I got confirmation from an article that the reason the President and other federal officials are not imposing a 21-day quarantine on people entering the country from ebola-stricken portions of Africa is due to a morality of self-sacrifice that I reject:

“‘It’s typical of what America does best,’ Obama said of the response team. “When others are in trouble, when disease or disaster strikes, Americans help.'”http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/ebola-virus-outbreak/gods-work-obama-says-u-s-must-support-health-workers-n235776

The President and other federal officials believe it is my job to sacrifice my life for strangers.

I pursue my own rational self-interest, and I am only interested in the welfare of others to the extent that it promotes my own life. For instance, if I had a wife or children, I would be very interested in their welfare because it enhances my own life to have them around. I would take large risks in order to ensure their safety. The same goes for my friends. But, I am not going to willingly sit by and endanger my life, and the life of my friends and family for total strangers.

I recognize that the risk of a major ebola-outbreak in an advanced semi-capitalist economy is small given our superior medical care, but I don’t engage in self-sacrifice, even when the risk is small.

If You Were a Healthcare Worker at Presbyterian in Dallas Who Is Subject to the State’s Travel Restriction, You’re Rights Are Being Violated

I have decided to offer my services as an attorney to any of the health care workers from Presbyterian for free for what I regard as an unconstitutional violation of their liberty without due process of law. If anyone knows any of them, have them call or text message me at 214-336-7440 and I will go down to the Northern District of Texas Federal court today and try to get a temporary restraining order regarding the travel ban that has been imposed on them by the state. I think this is a Section 1983 civil rights case.