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The Examined Life

  • 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.

  • Endorsements: Do They Mean Anything At All?

    Earlier today it was released (1) that Utah’s Senator Mike Lee has endorsed Mitt Romney for the GOP’s candidate for President of the United States. Senator Lee beat out incumbent Bob Bennett (who, ironically, was endorsed by Mitt Romney) in a run-off primary in 2010. Senator Lee’s victory was correlated to the Tea Party’s uprising two years ago, as millions of Americans across the country were proverbially “up-in-arms” about the federal government’s fiscal irresponsibility and seeming disdain for individual and civil rights.

    Since becoming a Senator, Mike Lee has made quite the name for himself. He is considered a Tea Party darling, and, with Senator Rand Paul, another newly elected Tea Party darling, they have generally voted together on major issues.

  • 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.

  • Term Limits: A Ridiculous Policy

    The failing economy has turned many Americans into ‘garage-politicians’: people who become political and economic experts by religiously watching Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann. Many of these garage-politicians are blaming their legislators for their apathy, laziness, or indifference towards their constituency’s economic and financial needs. This heated view of their elected officials has led many Americans to support a policy change that would flush out the legislature and allow the American people a new start with a fresh set of legislators. This new policy is term limits. This change in policy is ridiculous, because our Republic has built-in term limits: voting.

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

    Introduction

    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.