Is Harry Binswanger going insane?

Richard Goode's picture
Submitted by Richard Goode on Sun, 2013-01-20 03:59

Harry Binswanger is a rare breed of man—he's both a philosopher and an Objectivist!

Qua philosopher, he wrote his doctoral dissertation in the philosophy of biology, later published as The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts.

Qua Objectivist, he takes credit for compiling the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

His latest piece on the current gun control debate in the U.S. is a gem. His point is a simple one, viz., With Gun Control, Cost Benefit Analysis Is Amoral.

Here's a key excerpt.

The government may use force only against an objective threat of force. Only that constitutes retaliation.

In particular, the government may not descend to the evil of preventive law. The government cannot treat men as guilty until they have proven themselves to be, for the moment, innocent. No law can require the individual to prove that he won’t violate another’s rights, in the absence of evidence that he is going to.

But this is precisely what gun control laws do. Gun control laws use force against the individual in the absence of any specific evidence that he is about to commit a crime.

But he's also reported as saying this on his private list.

one thing that the law should return to doing is locking away the dangerously insane. The libertarian Thomas Szaz was instrumental in the movement begun in the late 60s to dump crazies back on the streets. He bears heavy guilt for many of these Newtown-type atrocities.

Isn't locking away people deemed to be insane the very same evil of preventive law that Binswanger rails against in his Forbes article published only a week later? It seems that Binswanger has arrived at a contradiction.

To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality.

Binswanger's gone insane. He should be locked up, for the public good.

[Cross-posted from Eternal Vigilance.]


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Threats Against Free Thought and Open Discussion

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Bishop Binswanger says "An objective threat of force is force."? But an objective threat of censorship and excommunication is censorship and excommunication. On his discussion forum, Binswanger is totally guilty of that. So what if he keeps out the riff-raff and uneducated? He kills free and open discussion. Solo Passion is far superior. Binswanger's a slimeball religious pseudo-Objectivist -- not a proper Objectivist or human being at all.

OK, Greg

Richard Goode's picture

The question is this.

If the law had returned to locking away the dangerously insane (i.e., those who pose an objective threat of force), as Binswanger advocates, would the law have locked away Adam Lanza?

I think the answer is no. That being the case, perhaps Obama will have more luck keeping assault weapons away from the dangerously insane by confiscating the assault weapons.

No Goode

gregster's picture

In Binswanger's words, and I quote; An objective threat of force is force.

There must be specific evidence that someone is about to violate rights.

If someone feels threatened by his neighbor's plans, he can go to court and try to convince a judge that there's sufficient evidence of impending damage to warrant holding a proceeding regarding issuing an injunction.

To be an objective threat, there must be specific evidence of damage in the case at hand, not merely a statistic about the population.

One does not have to invent the legal standards for what constitutes a threat; such standards as “clear and present danger” have already been formulated.

Greg

Richard Goode's picture

How do you prove that someone is, in Binswanger's words, "an objective threat of force"?

Obama vs. Binswanger

Richard Goode's picture

Obama wants to keep assault weapons away from the dangerously insane by confiscating the assault weapons.

Binswanger wants to keep the dangerously insane away from assault weapons by locking up the dangerously insane.

Does anyone seriously think that Mr Binswanger proposes locking people up without some kind of objectively proven serious threat to public safety? If not, then what is this thread about?

This thread is about how to prove that someone is, in Binswanger's words, "an objective threat of force."

Look at this guy's face.

Adam

As Doug so beautifully put it, "He is clearly not normal." But is he clearly "dangerously insane"?

Does anyone (apart from Binswanger and Bandler) seriously think that allowing the state to lock away those whom it deems "dangerously insane" is a good idea?

Dangerously insane versus criminally insane

tvr's picture

"Crime is the breaking of rules or laws for which some governing authority (via mechanisms such as legal systems) can ultimately prescribe a conviction." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime]

A criminal is someone who is guilty of a crime.

Someone who is insane cannot be guilty of a crime due to the absence of mens rea.

So, isn't the term 'criminally insane' a misnomer, and, would not 'dangerously insane' therefore be the correct term to use when referring to persons who are insane and who would *otherwise* have be criminally liable for a violent (i.e. dangerous) act of aggression?

Does anyone seriously think

Richard Wiig's picture

Does anyone seriously think that Mr Binswanger proposes locking people up without some kind of objectively proven serious threat to public safety? If not, then what is this thread about?

'Why doesn't Binswanger

Callum McPetrie's picture

'Why doesn't Binswanger propose, instead, that the state lock people away merely because they're dangerous? Presumably, because to propose that the state lock away those whom the state deems to be dangerous is to propose that the government "descend to the evil of preventive law."'

The state does lock away those it considers to be dangerous, without being insane. It's called imprisonment.

Perhaps Binswanger should've been more careful with his terminology, and used ex ante preventive law. Ex post prevention - the prison sentence - can be considered part of the retaliatory force that the state is morally mandated to use.

Nevertheless, that still leaves open the question of under what circumstances the state can ex ante use force against someone. On a stricter definition of dangerous (ie, of the "bringing-a-loaded-shotgun-into-a-bank" sort), the threat is obvious and the state (or anyone) has the moral right to subdue that threat. Perhaps some insane people meet this criterion. On a more inclusive definition (ie, of the "your-family-has-a-history-of-shoplifting" sort), the state does not have that right.

Im dangerous(sort of)

Jules Troy's picture

I have a blackbelt.

I know how to make all kinds of "fun things".

With a 9mm I can put 3 in the chest and 2 in the head at 20 yards in under 2 seconds.

With my rifle I can hit a pie plate at 1000 yards and get a 3 round grouping of 3.6".

I am also a peaceful law abiding citizen, should I be locked up?

 

I think Mr Binswanger

Richard Wiig's picture

I think Mr Binswanger stressed danger for a reason. He doesn't want to lock up the insane.

Greg

Richard Goode's picture

Insane? Dangerously insane? What's the difference?

Is Binswanger proposing that the state lock people away because they're insane, or because they're dangerous? If it's because they're dangerous and not because they're insane, then what has insanity got to do with it?

Why doesn't Binswanger propose, instead, that the state lock people away merely because they're dangerous? Presumably, because to propose that the state lock away those whom the state deems to be dangerous is to propose that the government "descend to the evil of preventive law."

Binswanger wants the state to lock away the insane. Doug says there's

No contradiction. Insane individuals represent a danger to law abiding citizens. This is especially true of insane men (and young men even more so). The state should punish the initiation of force or the threat of force. It also must prevent initiatory force when such circumstances rationally indicate when such force is probable. This is why the state has a legitimate role in institutionalizing insane people.

but I disagree. Very few insane individuals represent a danger to law abiding citizens, and the state has no role in institutionalising insane people.

Ridiculous Richard

gregster's picture

As Callum and Doug say. "Dangerously insane" is the quote. I wouldn't wish you jailed for the overt signs of mental illness, and willful misunderstanding.

No Contradiction

Doug Bandler's picture

Isn't locking away people deemed to be insane the very same evil of preventive law that Binswanger rails against in his Forbes article published only a week later? It seems that Binswanger has arrived at a contradiction.

No contradiction. Insane individuals represent a danger to law abiding citizens. This is especially true of insane men (and young men even more so). The state should punish the initiation of force or the threat of force. It also must prevent initiatory force when such circumstances rationally indicate when such force is probable. This is why the state has a legitimate role in institutionalizing insane people.

Preventative law is when the state prevents activity where there is no initiatory force or threat of such force. Gun ownership falls under this category. The exception being those guns that are properly viewed as weapons of mass destruction. Where to draw the line is a technical question though not a philosophical one.

Binswanger is right on this one in terms of theory. He is oblivious to the fact that this is yet another example of the Leftist juggernaut in action and its desire to disarm and then to kill its opposition. As an orthodox O'ist, he just doesn't see the total picture with the Left. Basically none of them do. Which is my gripe.

Callum

Richard Goode's picture

One need not of course actually commit force in order for retaliatory force to be justified.

Isn't this the same point you made on the other thread re Bernie Madoff?

My own intuition on this matter is that some tangible harm must be involved before retaliatory force can be morally justified.

I'm completely fucking nuts. Where's the tangible harm in that?

Depends

Callum McPetrie's picture

It depends on what you consider an "objective threat," which is probably part of someone being "dangerously insane." One need not of course actually commit force in order for retaliatory force to be justified.

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