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Category Archives: Philosophy

  • Precinct Chair: A Discussion of Representation

    Last week at the GOP caucus I was elected as the precinct chairman of Provo’s Precinct 17. Since then I have been nearly inundated with advice from various sources on what “representation” means. What do representatives actually represent? Do representatives represent interests, groups, individuals, institutions, or merely the majority? The most popular consideration is that representation is merely the parroting of the majority’s expressed opinion and/or interest. This consideration, however, is quite insufficient. Representation, to be just, uniform, and applicable to all mankind must represent something innate or common among all people… Representation, then, must represent

  • How To Win An Argument

    Taken from a sign posted outside a philosophy professor’s office.

    How To Win An Argument

    I argue very well. Ask any of my remaining friends. I can win any argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me. You can win arguments too. Simply follow these rules.

  • “A Republic, If You Can Keep It…”

    The longer I am involved in the political scene, the more I see the need for a consistent understanding of the basic philosophical difference between Democracies and Republics. The necessary distinction is often confused by so-called ‘constitutional authorities’ who loosely throw around terms like Democracy or democratic Republic without realizing the harm they are causing newcomers to the philosophy of liberty. This post is intended to dispel many false notions concerning the foundation of our country, and to reestablish a consistent and fundamental understanding between the two forms of government. There is much to write concerning this issue, and this post is not intended to be all-inclusive; however, as time permits I will edit and add to the post to constantly make it more comprehensive.

  • “Power that does not come from the barrel of a gun.”


    Of the many atrocities committed and the genocides performed throughout the 20th Century, few cases rival the stories that have come from of the Cambodian “killing fields”. Between 1970 and 1979, an estimated 1.2 – 2.2 million Cambodians were killed by the Khmer Rouge (Genocide). The barbaric nature of slaughter, the torture committed on innocent civilians, and the beliefs that fueled this genocide is a surprising combination of the accidents of history, ideological extremism, blundered US foreign policy, and clandestine US militarism. In reviewing the history of Cambodia, the horror of this mass-genocide appears to establish a universal and moral mandate on mankind to ensure that something like this will never take place again. An important question to ask is concerning how the United States may have failed to keep the killing fields from happening.

  • Natural Right, Natural Law, and Positive Law: Aristotle’s Influence on St. Thomas Aquinas

    Since Thomas Aquinas, most arguments concerning natural right and natural law find their way back to Aristotle. Indeed, Aristotle pioneered a new concept of rights that were never discussed before his time. Whereas Plato bound the individual to his duty within the organ of the state, Aristotle argued that the individual deserved the right to enjoy an equality based society (Miller 87). Each individual had rights that existed within nature by definition (natural law). In addition to the discussion of natural law, Aristotle is credited for giving a detailed account of positive law as well.

    Many common interpretations of Aristotle’s theory on natural right, natural law, and positive law are seen through the eyes of Aquinas; however, this approach has drawn much criticism. There is no question that Aquinas was heavily influenced by Aristotle, but there are several convincing arguments that question whether an accurate view of Aristotle is seen through the lens of Aquinas’ interpretation; in other words, “we must be wary of reading back into Aristotle Aquinean doctrines” (Shiner 188).

  • Silent Enim Leges Inter Arma

    Over two thousand years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero observed that “in times of war, the law falls silent”(Silent enim leges inter arma) (Cicero 17). Today, political philosophers, policy makers, and political leaders argue over this same topic: What laws, if any, are applicable during war? More specifically, what laws, if any, apply to war itself? These questions presuppose a shifting ethical relationship between individuals, societies, and states during a time of war that do not exist in peacetime. But the important question is whether Cicero is necessarily correct – can there exist a time and place where the law is not silent in times of war?

    For nearly as long as mankind has maintained written records, it has argued over the ethical actions of war – the idea of a just war is not a Western concept. The ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, and Chinese all discussed various forms of just war. The Egyptians were known for showing great moral restraint in battle (Wilkinson 274), and Laotse – a Chinese philosopher – argued that war is undesirable and should never proceed beyond a minimal objective (Laotse 154). The Babylonians, under Sennecherib, displayed the modern jus in bello notion of distinction, when they would not destroy innocent non-combatants but they would only fight against active soldiers (Friedman 3). Even the Bible establishes the Israelite rules-of-war against the Canaanites in Deuteronomy 20. These examples appear to negate any necessary claim to Cicero’s observation.