Monthly Archives: October 2009

Plato’s Werewolf

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Put rather simply, a werewolf is a person who has the ability to transform from human form into wolf form (or a hybrid wolf-human form). The werewolf is typically cast as a monster whose taste for human flesh is exceeded only by the amount of fur that he (or she) sheds.

Throughout the years, folks have offered various explanations for the werewolf myths and legends. Some of the scientific ones point to mental illnesses. Those based in the supernatural tend to point towards vague curses. However, my objective is not to hash through these various theories. Rather, I am going to present a completely made up account of the werewolf using Plato‘s theory of forms. This is, of course, not intended to be “serious” philosophy but rather a little Halloween fun.

While there are different interpretations of Plato’s theory of Forms, the general idea is that the Forms are supposed to be eternal, perfect entities that exist outside of space and time. Most importantly, all the particular things in the imperfect realm (that is where we hang out, at least while we are alive) are what they are in virtue of a mysterious participation in the Forms. For example, take a particular being, namely me. On Plato’s view, I would be a man because I participate in the Form of man. Likewise, I am a runner because I participate in that Form as well. And so on, for all my properties.

As is rather evident, the particular things here in this realm lack perfection. For example, while I am obviously damn manly, I am not a perfect Man. Likewise, while I am, according to my mother, a handsome fellow, I obviously do not possess perfect Beauty. Plato explains this lack of perfection, at least in part, by the fact that particulars participate in the Forms in various degrees. He also seems to indicate that a particular entity might participate in “contrasting” Forms. For example, a particular person would participate in both Beauty and Ugliness (assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that ugliness would be a Form). Thus, the person’s beauty (or ugliness) is a “mix” of Beauty and Ugliness. Since people can look more or less beautiful (or ugly) over the course of time, this mix can presumably shift or the degree of participation can change.

At this point, you might be wondering what this has to do with the werewolf. Not to worry, grab some candy because I am getting to that bit right now.

So, if we assume that a thing is what it is because of its participation in Forms and that the Forms can be “mixed” in a thing (or rather, their instantiations), the werewolves are easy to explain. Plato’s werewolf would be a being that participated in the Form of Man but also the Form of wolf. As such, the being (let us call him “Lon”) would be literally part man and part wolf. When Lon is participating most in the Form of Man, then he would appear (and act) human. However, when the Form of Wolf became dominant, his form and behavior would shift towards that of the wolf.

Since Plato mentions the Sun in the Allegory of the Cave, it seems appropriate that the moon (which reflects the light of the sun) is credited with triggering the transformation from man to wolf. Naturally, I have no idea how this would work; but I also have no real idea how participation was supposed to work either. So, let it be assumed that both work and thus Plato’s werewolf is free to howl this Halloween. Naturally, this sort of werewolf would hunger for wisdom and not human flesh, so be sure to keep some philosophy books on hand, should you run into one of these furry philosophers.

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France & Scientology

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A French court recently convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud. The church is still allowed to operate in France, but has been warned to stay on “the correct side of the law.”

The basis for this case is the fact that Scientologists use a electropsychometer or E-Meter, to “locate areas of spiritual duress or travail so they can be addressed and handled” and then (the plaintiffs claimed) try to sell vitamins and books to those “tested.” Obviously enough, there seems to be no scientific evidence that this device does what it is alleged to do and hence it seems quite reasonable to regard this sort of behavior as fraudulent.

Not surprisingly, the Church is characterizing this ruling as being an Inquisition. This is, of course, hyperbole. Now, if Scientologists were being tortured and killed for their beliefs, then it would be like the Inquisition. Also, the church is not being persecuted because of its religious views. Rather, it was apparently prosecuted for trying to sell people things using what certainly seems to be a  bogus machine.

While religions are generally granted a great deal of leeway in many countries, fraud and other misdeeds by churches are still crimes. The Church of Scientology certainly seems to have committed fraud (that is, a legitimate court has convicted the church) and hence should be treated like anyone else.

Of course, the Scientologists might see themselves as being unfairly singled out. After all, churches routinely ask people for money and often imply that such giving will win favor from God. Since none of these churches can prove this claim or even that God exists, all that would seem to be fraud as well.

Of course, many of these folks are no doubt sincere in their beliefs. Hence, they also seem to be deceiving themselves. From a moral standpoint, this does seem to be an important difference. After all, if I sell you a holy pig totem that I think will really divinely cure your H1N1, then I am not engaging in intentional deceit. I am just mistaken and making money from the fact that you are also mistaken. This is like selling medicine that is believed by those involved to work, yet does not. While this would be a case of factual error, it would not seem to be an act of fraud. After all, that implies an intentional deception and not merely being mistaken.

But, if I am selling “holy pig totems” to sell to folks to cure their H1N1 and I know they do nothing, then I am engaging in fraud. This is because I know that what I am selling is not really what I claim it is and I am counting on people believing this deceit in order to make money. That would be on par with selling “snake oil” and hence quite wrong.

So, if the Scientologists truly believe in their E-Meter and are sincerely trying to help people with their ills, then they would not be acting in an immoral way. After all, they would be trying to help people (and make some money, apparently). However, if they know that the E-Meter is a hoax and are using it to push vitamins and such, then they are acting immorally. This is because they are using deceit to sell things to folks so as to “cure” a problem that does not even exist. This would, of course, be wrong.

Naturally, I am open to the possibility that the E-Meter works and that Scientology is true. I just need proof. As with divine healing, I’d be happy to help set up a properly controlled experiment to test the E-Meter. But, Tom Cruise would not be allowed to jump around on my couch during any testing. That would freak out my pets.

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What keeps philosophers up at night?

The New Scientist reports on questions that keep physicists up at night (Seven Questions).  I’m struck by how philosophical the questions are.  Why is there this sort of something rather than something else?  How does complexity emerge from simplicity?  What is the ultimate nature of reality?  What are the epistemological limits of scientific enquiry?  Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.  There is the view of philosophy as whatever it is that science cannot yet explain.  The big philosophical questions are just outside the reach of science, so we get to keep them, and physicists get to worry about them in the small hours of the night.

But I wonder what questions a panel of philosophers would produce.  Would the so-called ‘big philosophical questions’ get a hearing?  Would they be on your list?  No one’s homepage says just that they wonder what truth is.  Can you get tenure for wondering what truth is?  A philosopher is more likely to say something very specific if you ask what questions wrankle.  She’ll say she’s trying to articulate a conception of Thomistic hylomorphism which overcomes the challenges raised by animalism.  She’ll say she’s working on a reply to someone else’s objection to what she says in Analysis about Boreal reducibility.  OK, probably I’m going too far (no one worries about hylomorphism), but do philosophers still worry about the big questions the way those physicists do?  I may regret this, but what questions keep you up at night?

Does Hate Make a Crime Worse?

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The United States senate recently passed a piece of legislation that would make assaulting a person because of his/her sexual orientation or gender identity a federal crime. There are already other hate crime laws, such as those relating to race.

Some conservatives are concerned that the law will infringe on their freedom of speech. After all, some conservative groups are strongly opposed to homosexuality, same-sex marriage and other such issues. Their concern is that their criticism of such things could be taken as hate speech and perhaps even as an assault under this new legislation. It has been claimed, however, that the legislation only covers violent actions rather than speech. However, it must be noted that the application of any law is subject to interpretation and hence it is possible that the legislation (or similar laws) could be taken to cover what is regarded as hateful speech.  Obviously, the concern this raises is that such laws can serve to add to the erosion of the freedom of expression and eventually lead to harmful restrictions in such matters. However, let it be assumed that the legislation will apply only to violent actions.

I suspect that the law is intended, in part, to send a message to those who will be protected by the legislation and those who it is intended to protect against. However, I do have concerns about using such a means to send a message.

However, my main concern is a moral one, namely that the legislation seems based on the assumption that an assault on someone because of his/her sexual orientation or gender identity is somehow worse or of greater concern than  an assault on someone for any other (non-hate) reason.

For example, let us suppose that I am running with a friend who is openly gay and cross-dresses. As we run along someone jumps out yells “take that, skinny!” and cuts me on the arm with a knife.  Realizing that the person in the skort (a running skirt) is a guy, the mugger yells “fag!” as he takes a slash at him, also cutting him on the arm. After we subdue the mugger and tie him up with my friend’s tasteful pink running scarf, the police haul him off. Because I’m a straight guy wearing shorts, my cut is a matter of assault and not a federal crime. But, since my gay friend was wearing a skort and the mugger yelled “fag”, the attack on him is now a federal crime-even though his injury is the same as mine. As such, it would seem to be unjust for the mugger to be regarded as having done something worse to my friend than to me.

Of course, it could be replied that my friend suffered more harm because the mugger hurt his feelings as well. But, calling me “skinny” might have hurt my feelings as much as being called “fag” hurt my friend. Also, I am sure that the slashing would hurt much more than the name calling.

It could be added that a while the individual injury was the same for the both of us, the attack on me was just an attack on me as an individual. In contrast, the attack on my friend was somehow an attack on a whole class of people. Thus, I would just be a person being stabbed while my friend would be a veritable Platonic form of gayness and cross-dressingness being stabbed. As such, the crime would be much worse-it would be an attack against many and not just against one.

It might be pointed out that every person is part of many classes and, as such, the same sort of logic would apply. If someone attacks me, they would be thus attacking all men, all people of French, English and Mohawk descent, all runners, all philosophers, all gamers, all people who own huskies, all human beings and so on. On this logic, the severity of the crime would be based on the number  (and perhaps the importance )of groups the person belongs to, which seems  rather odd.

In reply, someone might note that it is not so much group membership that makes the attack worse, it is the intent of the person making the attack. After all, the legislation is based on the intent-it is assaulting a person because of his/her orientation/gender identity that makes it a federal crime.

Going back to the example, if the person had attacked us for any non-hate reason (as defined by the relevant hate laws) then the crime would not be a federal crime. For example, if we were attacked because he wanted money, was angry at the world,  hated runners or hated fit people, then it would not have been a federal crime. But, as soon as the attacker said “fag”, then that would seem to make it a federal crime because it would be possible to ascribe to him a motivation of the right sort of hate.

Intent is, of course, a relevant factor. If, for example, we were attacked because the person mistook us for two people that had just killed his wife, then that would be a mitigating factor. However, if the person has a wrongful intent to inflict harm, then the differences between being motivated by greed, general rage, hatred of runners or hatred of homosexuals seem to be largely irrelevant. What matters the most is the actual harm done and not the distinctions between such wrongful motivations. As such, treating such assaults as federal crimes would add an unjustified level of possible punishment.

Of course, a case can be made as to why such intentions make a crime worse-and I invite someone to make that case.

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Earth Ethics

I attended a lecture by Holmes Rolston III last Friday called ‘The Future of Environmental Ethics’.   He said a lot, concluding that what we need is an ethics of the Earth — something other than the view that humans matter most or even that nature ought to matter more, maybe matter in some non-anthropocentric way.

If you are a Kantian you think the good will is good in itself.  If you are a utilitarian you think that happiness or pleasure or the like is good.  Presumably, an Earth ethic is rooted in the thought that the Earth is what’s good, but good in what sense?

Rolston, like many environmentalists,  wants to resist the thought that the Earth is only instrumentally valuable, something valued just because it’s of use to us.  He said, though, that the Earth has value because it supports and sustains all other values — and that struck me as at least a little instrumental.  I asked him to expand on that, and he said the Earth’s value has to do with its productive or creative power.  He did something else too:  dimmed the lights and showed some images of the Earth from space.  The room went quiet.  We really are all alone, a little blue whisper in the dark.  But when you think of the Earth in that way, are you valuing it aesthetically?  Emotionally?  Neither seems quite right.  What’s the right way to think about the value of the Earth?

What Happened to Divine Healing?

A wide variety of healing powers have been attributed to religious figures. Most famously, Jesus was supposed to be able to heal people. Less famously, various saints and holy people were said to have the power to heal. Even religious relics were supposed to have healing powers.

Today, some folks still believe in this sort of divine healing. However, there seems to be no evidence that anyone today has this sort of ability either individually or collectively via prayer. Interestingly, it has been subject to scientific testing (see, for example, my essay on powerless prayer in my book) and has always been found to be lacking. In some cases, the folks who claim such power are sincerely mistaken. In other cases, they are con artists and charlatans. In any case, there seems to not even a single properly investigated and documented case of divine healing.

While people do attribute healing and recovery to divine sources, these recoveries and healings always fall well within what is to be expected without any divine intervention. Also, as noted above, evidence of a divine power at work is always lacking. For example, a person might allege that her recovery from cancer was the result of divine healing. Laying aside the obvious problem of why God would allow her to get cancer if He is so concerned about her health, people recover from cancer spontaneously without there being any attempt at divine healing. Without any solid evidence of divine action, it is most logical to regard such claims as mistaken. After all, the fact that a person believes that she was magically healed hardly counts as proof.

Naturally, given the alleged volume of divine healing in the past, I wonder why it does not occur now. One possible explanation is that divine healing has never occurred and this is why it is not occurring now.

Another possible explanation is that no one alive today has the necessary traits to be a divine healer (or to be healed by divine healing). In other words, perhaps we are all too corrupt or lacking in faith to have those magical powers. Of course, this would seem to be inconsistent with God’s love and His mercy. After all, a doctor does not refuse to heal the sick or injured simply because she thinks they lack moral purity. Surely a loving God would not just stop dispensing healing powers and hence there should still be such divine healing going on. However, there is no evidence of this.

Perhaps it is happening in secret and only to a select few people who also keep silent. Obviously, when I had my quadriceps tendon torn apart, no one came forward to magically heal me, but perhaps that is because I write blog posts like these. If this is the case, then God’s love (and the love of these folks) must be very selective indeed-and that seems inconsistent with being a loving and good God.

I am open to evidence for divine healing and would be happy to assist a divine healer in setting up a controlled experiment to establish that s/he has such powers.

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Is Epicurus Right about Sex?

Epicurus is very clear that the desire for sex is generally bad for one’s peace of mind. When we imagine Epicurus doing what he likes best, he is swinging in a hammock in his garden talking philosophy with his friends. The frenzy of love making and its aftermath disrupts the calm and stately demeanor that comes with living a simple life, satisfying only one’s basic desires. His motto is “Plain living, high thinking.”

Epicurus is very clear about this. Desires are natural or vain, necessary or unnecessary. Pursuing vain desires, like extreme wealth, pleasure or fame, is difficult, fretful and uncertain. None of the vain desires are necessary, and we never find rest if we pursue them. The necessary desires are for food, shelter, clothing, water and air. With these the individual can maintain life. Our happiness lies in cultivating a taste for the basics.

There is one desire, however, that Epicurus singles out for special attention, the desire for sexual pleasure. Like the vain desires, the desire for sex is unnecessary for the survival of the individual, yet it is perfectly natural, like thirst or hunger. We are built for sexual reproduction, and a maturing human animal will feel the stirring of sexual desire no matter what. We are hardwired to find sexual attractions in the world.

As well as being natural, the desire for sex is necessary for the survival of the human race. However, what is true of the species need not be true of every individual member. If everyone were to take the advice of Epicurus, we would die out in a generation. I suppose it is because of this that he sees sexual desire as natural. Nevertheless, whatever fools the rest of us make of ourselves, Epicurus thinks that it is not a good idea for a wise person to pursue sexual relationships or to be entangled in them.

A good analogy may be today’s economic paradox. Just as it is in the interest of each individual to get out of debt, live within a budget, and save some money for a rainy day, it is in the interest of consumer society that individuals spend beyond their means. As Bernard Mandeville puts it, in his commentary to The Fable of the Bees, called “Private Vices, Public Benefits,” the economy grows if people go into debt to buy things they do not really need, but it benefits the individual to remain debt free. So it is with sex and Epicurus. Humans must breed to keep the species going, but wise individuals refrain from doing so.

So what does Epicurus have against sex? First off, his objection is not against pleasure per se. In fact, Epicurus judges the good and bad as what leads to pleasure or pain. Also, he does not deny that sexual pleasure is the most intense physical pleasure that there is. But, for him, that is a large part of the problem. Sexual pleasure is too intense. It disturbs our mind. Think of the innumerable love songs about the craziness and blindness of love. We are carried away and lose our ability to reason things out realistically. The lover is outside the beloved’s window in the dead of night singing songs of longing. Look at all the fools for love and what happens to them: disaster after disaster.

What if one’s mighty love is unrequited? Oh, the agonies, weight loss, depression, bitter sweet memories when they are playing your tune. Then, suppose you are successful. You have a love and your love has you. Now you need each other, or are stuck with each other, engaged in working and child rearing. All of this bonding brings anxiety, concerns, hopes, fears, frustrations, pains and agitations of mind.

From all this bother, Epicurus sees an easy way out. Cultivate friends, not lovers, and you will not experience the possessiveness or jealousy, the hate or anger of frustrated love .You do not need your friends to be a certain way, and will accept them as they are. Friends are happy to see each other, become totally engaged with each other while they are together, and then say good-bye and go their separate ways without pulling romantic heartstrings. Sexual relations get one into trouble of mind, and this is precisely what Epicurus wants to teach us to avoid.

So is he right? I suppose that will depend upon whether or not one shares Epicurus’ view of what will make us happy in this life. If you think that peace of mind is the final desideratum and the essence of happiness, then it is true that one’s life runs more smoothly with fewer hostages to fortune, without erotic and then familial entanglements. If the avoidance of all suffering is the goal of life, then avoiding sexual relationships might provide some relief. However, if one deems it a richer life to have loving and erotic relations with others, and if one accepts the agitation that comes with them, then perhaps the advice of Epicurus is too bloodless.

Jury Nullification

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A short while ago, I received a summons for jury duty. Being a philosopher, I naturally set out to research the matter and one of the more interesting things I came across was the concept of jury nullification.

Jury nullification takes place when the members of a jury believe that the defendant is actually guilty of breaking the law yet a verdict of not guilty is rendered. This has the effect of nullifying the law. Generally, the term is applied when a jury acts on the basis of either a belief that the law itself is immoral or has been improperly applied to the defendant.

Perhaps the best known case of nullification (at least in North America) occurred in 1735. John Peter Zenger was charged with libeling William Cosby, the governor of what was then the colony of New York. While Zenger had, in fact, printed the alleged libelous material, the jury elected to find him not guilty, thus nullifying the law.

The morally tumultuous 1800s saw numerous cases of jury nullification in the United States as many juries rendered verdicts of not guilty in defiance of the Alien and Sedition Act as well as the Fugitive Slave Laws. During prohibition, many juries did the same for people accused of violating the laws relating to alcohol. The practice has continued to this day, although to a lesser degree relative to the 1800s.

The legality of jury nullification has an interesting history and is nicely summarized by Doug Linder. While the legality of jury nullification is interesting, my main concern is the ethics of the matter.To limit the scope of the discussion, I will focus on the morality of nullification based on moral grounds.

On the face of it, a jury should follow the law. After all, to paraphrase Thomas Aquinas, laws are created with the expectation of obedience. However, Aquinas also argues that there is an objective moral basis by which to assess human laws and human laws that fail to measure up are not true laws, but perversions of law. Of course, other thinkers (such as Thomas Hobbes) reject this sort of view. This disagreement provides the basis for an interesting (and possibly false) dilemma.

On the face of it, law is either based on a moral foundation or it is not. Now, if law has no moral foundation at all, then there would seem to be no basis to morally criticize a jury for nullifying a law. After all, they would have no moral obligation to follow the law.

However, if law has a moral foundation, then it would owe (at least some of) its authority to that moral foundation. This would seem to entail (with some suitable and lengthy argumentation) that any law that goes against that moral foundation would be an illegitimate law. This would clearly provide a moral basis for jury nullification. After all, if the jury has correctly discerned the law as being illegitimate (that is, it violates the moral foundation of law) then they would be in the right to refuse to apply it. Naturally, if they elected to apply it, then the folks on the jury would be acting in what would seem to be an immoral manner.

It might be objected that even if the law has a moral foundation, jury members are obligated to apply the law even if it is an immoral law. One might even point to Socrates‘ arguments in the Crito as to why a citizen owes obedience even when he disagrees with the law (although the citizen should try to persuade the state to change such laws).

While this objection does have a certain appeal, it can be countered by noting that the status of a person as a moral agent has a moral priority over her status as a citizen. This is to say that morality is more fundamental than the law. As such, a person has a primary obligation to do what is right and this can override other apparent obligations, such as the obligation to obey the law. In fact, if it is argued that a person is morally obligated to obey the law, the objection already assumes that morality is more fundamental than law. Otherwise, one would just say that the law commands obedience that overrides everything. This, of course, leads to the next objection.

Some thinkers hold exactly that: the law commands obedience. Some, such as the legalists, go even further and assert that what the law commands is good because it commands it and what it forbids is evil because it forbids it. On this view, citizens should obey the law because it is the law.

A reply to this is the intuitive view that there have been and are evil laws that should not be obeyed. That people should do what the state says because the state says so hardly seems to be a satisfying moral theory. Rather, it seems to be merely the dream of authoritarians and dictators.

A final objection worth considering is that a jury might be mistaken about the ethics of the law and hence they should simply follow the law out of fear of being wrong.

The easy and obvious reply to this is that if a jury can be trusted to make life and death decisions, surely they can be trusted to make such moral judgments. If juries cannot be trusted to make such tough moral decisions, then this would undercut the entire notion of trial by jury and thus render the whole concern about nullification moot. The objection does, however, present a reasonable concern. After all, juries should not lightly or frivolously apply nullification nor should they do so unless the folks on the jury have properly considered the ethics of the matter. In cases of immoral laws, jury nullification would seem to be more than morally acceptable-it would seem to be morally required.

So, why am I wrong? 🙂

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Violating Your Own Right to Privacy?

As I was getting ready to teach my Critical Inquiry class, I heard a woman outside the classroom carrying on a wicked fight over her mobile phone. I won’t go into the details, but she was “discussing” the various misdeeds of her (presumably now ex) boyfriend. On another occasion, I was walking to my truck and I had to cross by a screaming couple. Again, I’ll leave out the details but suffice it to say that he seemed rather concerned about the other men sleeping with her. Most recently, I heard about Penelope Trunk tweeting about her miscarriage. These incidents all caused me to think “hey, you have a right to privacy…think about using it.” This got me thinking about whether a person can violate her own right to privacy (assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that there is such a right).

On the face of it, it would seem that a person cannot violate her own right to privacy. A privacy violation would seem to require that someone acquire information that they do not legitimate have a right to know and they do so without the consent of the person. For example, someone stealing another person’s diary and reading about their secret hopes and fears would be a privacy violation. When a person knowingly reveals information about herself (such as by being very loud in public, posting it on a public blog or twittering it), then that person has obviously given consent to herself.

However, I think that a case can be made for the claim that a person can violate her own right to privacy. The first step in doing this is arguing that a person can (in general) violate her own rights.  To do this, I will  draw an analogy to suicide.  One reason to think suicide is wrong is that it violates a person’s right to life. Obviously, suicide harms (kills) a person and it seems reasonable to regard this as generally being wrong. To be fair, people do argue that consent to death somehow makes the action morally acceptable but this seems to clearly be a point that can be argued.  Returning to the main point, if suicide is a violation of a person’s right to life, then a person can violate her own rights.

Now, if the suicide analogy is found to be lacking, consider a second analogy involving the right to liberty. It seems quite reasonable to believe that a person who consents to slavery would be violating his own right to liberty. After all, if Locke is right, no one can rightly consent to being owned by another (although he does allow for slavery as an alternative to death). If this line of reasoning is plausible, the same would seem to hold for the right to privacy.

The second step in making my case is establishing that there are some things that should remain private, even if a person wants to make them public. This is rather challenging-after all, most people probably believe that people should be generally free to reveal their secrets even if doing so would be rather harmful to them. In fact, many reality TV shows and tell-all books rely on this view. However, it seems reasonable to believe that there is a category of things that should remain private and should not be revealed to others, even by the person whose privacy is at stake. To argue for this, I’ll appeal to the arguments for privacy and claim that these same arguments should also apply to the person in question. After all, if certain things should not be revealed by others, it seems reasonable to think that there are at least some things that should not be revealed by anyone. That is, that there are things that should be regarded as inherently private and not shared with the public.

If both of these steps work, then a person could violate her own right to privacy by making public what should be kept private.

I freely admit that my case for this is rather weak and that there are strong intuitions that folks have the right to reveal whatever they wish about themselves (naturally things change when the privacy of other people is involved as well). However,  it is not unreasonable to think that people can thus violate their own right to privacy by revealing  what should not be public. In any case, I look forward to comments that expose the errors in my line of reasoning.

If my previous line of reasoning is faulty, I have  second approach that I believe can produce a similar result. The idea is that while people have a right to privacy, people also have a right to sort of a reverse privacy. To be clearer, I mean that people have a right not to hear about certain things from other people. So, while someone might not violate her own right to privacy by twittering or yelling about private matters in public, such actions could be seen as violating the right of others not to be exposed to such things. My reason for this is that I think it is wrong for people to inflict their private matters onto the public without the consent of the public. When I am getting ready for class or walking to my truck, I think I have the right not to hear about the sexual activities of strangers. That is, I think I have a right to not have other folks private matters forcible entering my life.

Twitter, blogs and such are a quite a different matter. In these cases, people knowingly expose themselves to mediums that are often used to reveal private matters to the public and, of course, people can easily avoid those known to deal in such content.

In the  specific case of Twitter, people need to intentionally expose themselves to tweets. Since Twitter is well known for folks spilling private matters, people have no expectation that they will not be exposed to such things (this can be seen as a twist on the idea that there are situations in which people have no expectation of privacy). This is why I am not participating in Twitter. As I see it, Twitter is an unholy blend of narcissism and voyeurism that I would rather not invite into my life. But I do appreciate the fact that it does sometimes provide me with things to blog about.

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