L/l Leanings and Gleanings


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BigG
December 31, 2003, 11:43 AM
From Federalist 51: “But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” James Madison

Would somebody from the "perfectibility school of politics" please explain how they've managed to void this observation? TIA

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Marko Kloos
December 31, 2003, 01:10 PM
Madison managed to commit several logical fallacies with that statement.

First of all, if men can't be trusted because of their inherent human nature, it does not follow to extrapolate a need for government out of this. Government is comprised of humans, which are just as prone to falling prey to their nature within government as without.

Second, if humans cannot be trusted to govern themselves, they most certainly cannot be trusted to govern others.

Third, the whole quote reminds me of a fallacy we point out about gun control laws: men can't be trusted, so we need laws...which men will obey, because they can be trusted?

rock jock
December 31, 2003, 01:51 PM
First of all, if men can't be trusted because of their inherent human nature, it does not follow to extrapolate a need for government out of this. Government is comprised of humans, which are just as prone to falling prey to their nature within government as without.
That is only a logical fallacy if those that govern are not bound by the same laws as the governed, i.e., if they themselves are not governed. Otherwise, and specifically in our case where justice is applied to the great as well as the weak, it is perfectly logical.

Second, if humans cannot be trusted to govern themselves, they most certainly cannot be trusted to govern others.
See above.

men can't be trusted, so we need laws...which men will obey, because they can be trusted
Throwing in a few logical falliacies of your own there, huh?;)

Men in general obey laws not because they can trusted, but rather out of self-interest, i.e., they wish to avoid punishment.

Marko Kloos
December 31, 2003, 02:14 PM
Men in general obey laws not because they can trusted, but rather out of self-interest, i.e., they wish to avoid punishment.

So the only reason why you don't rob a bank or kill your obnoxious neighbor or brother-in-law is because you fear the punishment?

Personally, I found that your statement is true for me when it comes to victimless crime laws. For example, I (mostly) obey the speed limit because I don't want to get a fine.

EWhen it comes to the "biggies", the crimes that involve infringing on somebody else's rights, my motivation is different. I do not rob, kill, or rape, because my moral code forbids me from doing so, not because the activities are illegal.

You'll notice that there are plenty of people who rob, kill, and rape despite the laws and punishments on the book.

It looks like those who are not inclined to commit those deeds don't need to be constrained by law, while those who are inclined to commit them are neither constrianed by law, nor deterred by the potential punishment.

BigG
January 23, 2004, 02:32 PM
Marko, bud, It looks like those who are not inclined to commit those deeds don't need to be constrained by law, while those who are inclined to commit them are neither constrianed by law, nor deterred by the potential punishment. (emphasis added by BigG)

It seems that you have pinned a pretty good tail on this donkey, explaining it as it is in our current social structure. I disagree with the administration of punishment by this handwringing nanny state, myself. A violent criminal, convicted, ought to receive a swift and merciless whack job with no second guessing or whining from the society. Dead men do not make repeat offenders and the ones left in circulation will be deterred, imho. ;) :evil: But, as you know, that is one man's opinion. YMMV

cordex
January 23, 2004, 02:45 PM
That is only a logical fallacy if those that govern are not bound by the same laws as the governed, i.e., if they themselves are not governed. Otherwise, and specifically in our case where justice is applied to the great as well as the weak, it is perfectly logical.
How do you reconcile the whimsical notion of equal application of law with the laws that exempt government employees and agents?

Oh sure, the law may be applied equally, but when it specifically and intrinsically exempts certain officials from having to abide by it, the law is not equally applied.

BHPshooter
January 23, 2004, 03:12 PM
That quote (from Madison) does sort of contradict itself, but that is in keeping with the view held of the government.

When we overthrew English rule and won the Revolution, we found ourselves free. So to institute a government with power to control people is contradictory to freedom. Obliging gov't to behave itself is again contradictory, because that favors freedom.

I believe Madison knew what he was saying. We want to have our cake and eat it too -- we want to have a strong government but freedom too?

It doesn't make sense and isn't meant to.

Wes

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