A Six-Gun for Socrates in Print

A_Six-Gun_for_Socrat_Cover_for_Kindle

This short book presents a series of philosophical essays written in response to gun violence in the United States. While the matters of guns, violence and rights are often met with emotional responses, my approach has been to consider these matters from a philosophical standpoint. This does not involve looking at them without emotion. Rather, it involves considering them in a rational way and this requires considering how our emotions affect our views of these vital matters.

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  1. Rational Hoplite

    Thank Zeus a philosopher is throwing his hat into the ring on the subject of gun control — or, to put it more accurately perhaps, is weighing-in on questions apropos of the limits of legislative permissivism (or restrictivism?) apropos of civilian access to firearms.
    We look forward to getting our mitts on this volume, and have just begun to read the post re: the analogy between automobiles and firearms. Indeed, we welcome correspondence with the author.
    With a view to helping advance the discussion, we offer now for consideration a few questions (Q) and observations (O):

    1. Q. What is the author’s experience with firearms-handling, and would he say that he has good (etc.) and hands-on knowledge of firearms? We submit that this is not an irrelevancy — tho’ the limits of the relevance is a good and open-question.

    2. O. We fear – and perhaps for no good reason, since we’ve not read his book – that the author might be oversimplifying the nature of ‘violence’ — or, less politely, might be swimming with the shoal (and therefore: not deeply) with respect to what ‘violence’ *is*. This topic has been the subject of our research for quite a while now, and we invite the author to consider the possibility that the social and behavioural-science community has been barking up the wrong tree for rather a long time with respect both to ‘violence’ and ‘aggression’. We hope philosophers and philosophically-minded enquirers will begin to turn their attention to the following conceptual problems:
    - the difference between correct or plausible (English) usage of the words ‘violent’ and ‘violently’, and the reigning concept of Violence (capital V) now bandied about by (inter alia) the behavioural science/public health community;
    - the difficulty of distinguishing assertive from aggressive, and appropriate aggression from inappropriate aggression — these questions seem not to bother leading luminaries in the social and behavioural sciences;
    - the manifest dysutility of the phrase ‘gun violence’; viz:

    (i) A purchases from B an illicit hand gun, where ‘illcit’ means illegally obtained, unregistered, etc. A is unlawfully in possession of the handgun; B is not licensed to acquire, own, possess, carry, etc., a handgun; and the transaction is illegal. This would be a “gun crime”, but not an act of “gun violence”.
    (ii) Now, a police officer draws, presents, and discharges intentionally her handgun at an armed suspect who has just shot an unarmed civilian. Is the police officer’s intentional act “violent”?…an “act of violence”? Is it an example of “gun violence” — or, the sort of “gun violence” the CDCP is being authorised (and funded) by Executive Order to study?

    We are thrilled to the marrow that the author is engaging this subject, and we hope more philosophers will jump into the breach. The question on our mind is: Will statesmen and public policy specialists read the book?

    We can only hope.

    Vale!
    RationalHoplite

  2. Rational Hoplite,

    1. Q. What is the author’s experience with firearms-handling, and would he say that he has good (etc.) and hands-on knowledge of firearms?

    I was trained to use guns at around age ten, beginning with a .410 shotgun and a .22 rifle. I’ve been a shooter since then-firing everything from .22 pistols to AK-47 assault rifles. So, I know a fair bit about firearms-I can can shoot them, clean them, strip them down and re-assemble them. I used to even hand load my own ammunition.

    2. O. We fear – and perhaps for no good reason, since we’ve not read his book – that the author might be oversimplifying the nature of ‘violence’ — or, less politely, might be swimming with the shoal (and therefore: not deeply) with respect to what ‘violence’ *is*.

    While I do not focus on defining the concept of violence, I go with the gun violence of this sort as being the criminal or immoral use of firearms to wound and murder innocent people. Buying guns illegally or stealing them (without force or threat) would be crimes, but not gun crimes of violence. While self-defense is violent, I do not put it in the same moral category as the violence of murder. Police using force legitimately would also be violent, but I would not lump that into the category of gun violence in the sense of wrongful use of guns to wound or kill.

    I suspect that few in politics will read it, though I did send a complimentary copy to the NRA. :)

  3. Rational Hoplite

    Cheers, Mike — it’s good of you to reply, and delightful that your replies were on-target (no pun intended) and good-natured. (O’ how rare these things are.) We do look forward to reading your book — and we hope that it will generate enough learned buzz to be read by enough of the right people.

    Very best wishes,
    RationalHoplite
    vide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YauMXrWG2I

  4. As the old cowboy said, “shoot straight and smile.” :)

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