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Philosophy behind self-defense/guns etc.

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Isildur, May 8, 2007.

  1. Isildur

    Isildur Well-Known Member

    I'm still a student and we recently discussed the issue of guns, violence etc. in philosophy and we will continue this discussion at sometime in the future. This made me think of the philosophic backgrounds in favor of weapons and self-defense.
    Politically it's all quite clear, if someone tries to kill me, I'm allowed to stop him, if necessary kill him. But what's the philosophical background for that?
    In one "article" on www.a-human-right.com I read something about the "spirit of the enlightened warrior". Do you know of any literature or philosophical ideas/believes concerning the issue?

    It seems like every intellectual person is condemning weapons etc. and here in Germany even the priests teach that the bible is pacifistic. But I guess, as all of this is very one-sided(if there would be no weapons we would all be happy, so weapons are bad), that there are intellectual frameworks for an armed society, for the right to self-defense, distinguishing between the violence of the aggressor and of the victim. The only problem is:I don't know it and have got no real idea where to look for it. That's why I ask here if anyone has information on that issue.
    For example I just found this book accidentally while surfing through the net. I haven't read it but it sounds promising. But I welcome any material concerning the topic.

    ps:If you have got any questions feel free to ask.
  2. roscoe

    roscoe Well-Known Member

    You might want to check out all the unresolveable philosophical flaws in pacifism, too. Wikipedia is a good place to start.
  3. JesseL

    JesseL Well-Known Member

    It's pretty easy to derive the right to self defense from the principle of self-ownership. See also the non-aggression principle.

    Honestly, I think that most people opposed to armed self defense do not really believe that you are the sole and sovereign owner of your life and body. In their hearts they desire to see you enslaved to their own goals, doctrines, & desires.
  4. RPCVYemen

    RPCVYemen Well-Known Member

    I would think that you'd have a pretty hard time find a philosophical flaws in any reasobably mature pacificism (Quaker views, maybe Bertand Russell), etc. This is at least true if you mean "inconsistency" when you say "unresolveable philosophical flaw".

    In general, I think that most of the varieties of pacifism adopt a different sets of axioms than non-pacifist philosophies. If you start with different axioms, you derive different results.

    For example, here is one religious basis:

    • Axiom: Human life is sacred.
    • Everything that is sacred belongs to G-d.
    • Only G-d may destroy that which belongs to G-d.
    • Human beings are not G-d.
    • Human beings may destroy any that is sacred.
    • Therefore, human beings may not kill other human beings.

    I think that the axioms are wrong - but there is no "unresolvable flaw" this in this argument.

    I suspect that if you look for that Catholic Church's discussion of a "just war", you'd find some philosophical discussion about what it means to an agressor, and what it means to be a victim.

    I suspect that you will find that it gets complicated fairly quickly.

    Even the Founding Fathers finally had to punt - "endowed by their Creator", "inalienable rights", etc. - which may be true, but is not much of a philisophical argument.

  5. pax

    pax Well-Known Member

    For some historical perspective on the religious side of things (keeping in mind that religion and philosophy go hand in hand, and that much of Western Civ has its roots in Judeo-Christian philosophy), you might look up what St. Augustine had to say about the idea of a Just War.

  6. JohnL2

    JohnL2 Well-Known Member

    If only there was a philosophical discipline that considered all of it. Human nature, psychology of "evil", virtue and vice, history of violence from groups upon other groups in all their contrivances.
    Try out Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Especially the chapter on Courage. It lays a good foundation for reasoned argument. Also if you can, try Marcus Aurelius. Stoic philosophy is rife with the idea of mastery of self in relation to the external world.
    Innovations come and are utilized and widespread. But human nature is pretty much a constant. Therein lies a level of predictability.
    Intellectual arguments are great mental gymnastics, but ultimately what do you do when you face-down a psychopath or twisted dogma? Would they truly be open to reason?
    Is it better to live a slave or die a free man? What kind of person are you and what do you value?
  7. Leif Runenritzer

    Leif Runenritzer Well-Known Member

    I've wondered about this myself and my answer is individualism. When i argue for gun-ownership, individualism is the ground i stand on.
  8. DogBonz

    DogBonz Well-Known Member

    Go east young man

    I think that you will find a good source in the Eastern religions. They have a long standing tradition of viewing the balance between forces of nature, god and man, man and himself, etc.

    Also, I would look at the writings of Voltaire, Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, and other Deists who believed that not only live was worth defending but also ideals and the basic rights of humans.
  9. TallPine

    TallPine Well-Known Member

    Well, in Genesis the Bible tells about Cain murdering Abel with a blow to the head with a rock. So I guess that all we need to is ban rocks and we would all be happy :rolleyes:
  10. Patrick_Henry

    Patrick_Henry Well-Known Member

    In terms of Christian teaching on pacifism verses defense at least here in the US pacifism is a minority view in the church. To me the Bible seems to say that it 1. Okay to defend yourself and that 2.You are responsible to defend a. the helpless (others in need-maybe even future victims of a criminal you don't stop) and b. your family. And that you will be held guilty of sin if you don't defend them. As Pax already pointed out I'd check Augustine's just war stuff on this one although there are plenty of others. Just look up Just War and you'll find a lot. Also you could study moral equivalence those two topics would probably keep you busy with the philosophy of defense for a very long time...
  11. RPCVYemen

    RPCVYemen Well-Known Member

    My (very very very) vague recollection is of the Stoics being pacifists. Am I wrong about that?

  12. obxned

    obxned Well-Known Member

    I am a pacifist!! But you never will have a peaceful world if you allow evil to flourish.
  13. El Tejon

    El Tejon Well-Known Member

    Springs from a variety of sources including, The Bible, Old and New Testament, Saxon Law, The Greeks, The Romans, the Italian republicans, The English Common Law.
  14. DogBonz

    DogBonz Well-Known Member


    If life IS sacred, and IF it belongs to God, then that means that if you let someone kill someone or let them kill you, and you do nothing to stop it, then you are condoning the destruction of God's property. :p
  15. crebralfix

    crebralfix member

    It is biologically based. Everyone wants to live. It's hardwired into our systems and requires extraordinary effort to override. You don't need a religious document or a teacher to tell you this. It's the way we're built.
  16. redbearde

    redbearde Well-Known Member

    the philosophy of right to self-defense... Is there a similar philosophy of right to reproduce?

    I always thought the right/responsibility to defend myself was more axiomatic than resulting from deduction.
  17. CWL

    CWL Well-Known Member

    Here's a great quote from the Dalai Lama about the reasonableness of self-defense (and inherent preparedness by having one's own weapon).

    According to the Dalai Lama, "If someone has a gun and is trying to kill
    you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun." (Seattle
    Times, May 15, 2001).
  18. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
  19. Stickjockey

    Stickjockey Well-Known Member

    Thomas Paine was a Quaker and a pacifist. Here's what he had to say on the matter:

  20. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    There was the Quaker who discovered a burglar in his house one night and told him, "Friend, I would do thee no harm. But thee standest where I am about to shoot."

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