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Category Archives: Philosophy

  • Scenic landscape view of lush rolling green hills in the English countryside with sunlight breaking through morning mist and cloud

    The British Empiricists: Locke, Berkeley, and Hume

    John Locke (1632-1704)

    From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    John Locke (b. 1632, d. 1704) was a British philosopher, Oxford academic and medical researcher. Locke’s monumental An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) is one of the first great defenses of empiricism and concerns itself with determining the limits of human understanding in respect to a wide spectrum of topics. It thus tells us in some detail what one can legitimately claim to know and what one cannot.
  • The Case Against Wheat?

    wheatWheat, the staff of life, has been used by nearly every major civilization since the dawn of time, or at least the last 9000 years. This isn’t necessarily a good indicator that something is good for you, but it certainly does show that we’ve evolved to live with and consume wheat—and other grains, for that matter. However, recently we have seen a whole slew of negative press about wheat.

  • What Good is a Petition?

    As of my writing this, there are approximately 675,000 Americans from every state in the Union who have digitally petitioned the White House to allow their state to secede from the United States of America. In other words, there are the beginnings of a movement that seekito break up the United States as we know it.

    On its face, I support secession as a principle of individual liberty and sound Constitutional government. If government goes beyond its authority, it is the right of the people to either remove themselves from the association of that government or to abolish it altogether.

    That said, the current movement to secede is an endeavor in fruitlessness.

  • The Twelfth Article of Faith and Obedience to the Law

    Originally posted on LDS Liberty here.

    [A podcast of our interview with the author on this topic can be found here.]

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    We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying honoring, and sustaining the law.

    The Twelfth Article of Faith is a standard of religious compliance and belief of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints specifically regarding every member’s obligation to be subject to the laws of their country and to their leaders. Many interpret this Article of Faith to mean absolute compliance to all laws enacted within a political mechanism, while others have used this article to justify a higher principle of natural rights, justice, and morality.

    Grammar of the Twelfth Article of Faith

    This particular Article of Faith is commonly misread to include a coordinating conjunction that is not actually found and which dramatically changes its meaning when added. Most quote theTwelfth Article of Faith to read, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents rulers, and magistrates, [and] in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” The coordinating conjunction “and,” however, does not exist in the actual text. This is important because, grammatically, the coordinating conjunction changes the meaning of this passage.

  • The Importance of Philosophy to Individual Liberty

    This article was published on libertasutah.org, on July 3, 2012, and an audio recording is viable here.

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    I graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in philosophy. I consider myself a philosopher. As a student I learned that philosophy is of two types: (1) good philosophy, and (2) bad philosophy. Bad philosophy is, sadly, far more prevalent than good philosophy, and when most people think of philosophy in general (synonymous to “ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth”) they think of bad philosophy.

    Good philosophy’s purpose is to present a consistent worldview, as we find the proper relationships and balances of man’s place in this world. Whereas bad philosophy results in cognitive dissonance, good philosophy leads to consistency in thought. Whether we admit it or not, we all have a philosophy (i.e. a view of the world, a justification for how we know that world, and what ethical relationships we accept from that discovery). The endeavor of knowledge is to have a good philosophy that leads to a discovery of truth.

  • Libertarian Realism: Shifting Overton’s Window

    Mitt Romney has a problem – a libertarian problem.

    It’s not because the libertarian Republicans were poorly treated by the GOP establishment over the last 4 years. It’s not that Ron Paul supporters were called “Paulbots”, “Paultards”, “Psychos”, “Crazies”, and basic “domestic terrorists” by fellow Republicans and conservative pundits. It’s not because the RNC and the Romney campaign did everything possible to keep Ron Paul delegates out of the National Convention (1). It’s not because the RNC broke its own rules. It’s not because the RNC performed blatant scripted rule changes that constituted a massive and unprecedented power-grab (1).

    These issues are annoying for libertarian Republicans to deal with among fellow Republicans, but the reasons why we will not vote for Romney are

  • Formal Education

    A recently published article, circulating around Facebook and other social media sites, talks about the impending “bubble” that will eventually burst concerning the high costs surrounding formal education. While I happen to agree with the economic argument surrounding formal schooling (especially surrounding institutions of higher learning), I have seen this post most circulated from those who oppose formal education in general – as yet another general argument against receiving higher education.

    There are many arguments against a formal education. Indoctrination, high costs (resulting in massive debt) and low economic rewards, socialized conditioning, anti-social behavior, and the ever sounding “school teaches you what to think, not how to think” arguments are but a few of these.

  • Thinking in Terms of Principles: Principles vs. Convention

    There is a seemingly fine line between principles and convention.

    When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence (with the editing assistance of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin), he penned the list of grievances against the British throne and parliament that provided the foundation and principle the Colonies used for separation. Many have argued that Thomas Jefferson plagiarized much of John Locke’s Two Treatises on Government (e.g. the Declaration’s use of the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”), yet Jefferson spoke conventionally when he said in a letter to James Madison, August 30, 1823, that the Declaration of Independence

  • David Hume: On Property

    Hume wrote that “it is well known that men’s happiness consists not so much in an abundance of [the commodities and enjoyments of life], as in the peace and security with which they possess them” (Essays 54-5). This, for Hume, was the purpose of government, and may well be one of the foundational thoughts concerning his notions of property. Property, to Hume, was not the metaphysical extension of self that Locke had argued, but was a conventional idea that arose out of society. When only a few people associate with each other in a simple relationship, then the concept of property – as a self-realizing concept – has no existence or purpose (i.e. utility). In a rather Aristotelian concept of man’s nature as a political being, Hume argues that men naturally form society – upon the foundation of families – and that the concepts of justice and property are only known through social utility. For Hume, justice and property are artificial and conventional ideas.

  • David Hume: On Conservatism

    Riddled throughout both US and international politics are the terms of conservatism and liberalism. Generally speaking, these terms are thrown about with little understanding of their origination or of their meaning, but, when elicited, feelings of emotion, sentiment, and passion are often triggered as epithets of self-identification. David Hume is often described as “the father of Conservatism,” but what is conservatism? Conversely, some have called David Hume a liberal (or, a classical liberal), but what is liberalism? In finding whether David Hume was a conservative or liberal political philosopher, we can define the foundational basis for both liberalism and conservatism.