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Rebirth of Reason

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Post 20

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - 12:59pmSanction this postReply
It seems to me that both "survival" and "flourishing" require the actor to take some risks, for life is inherently risky. The question of what risks are worth taking, or what level of risk one should accept in his endeavors, depends partly on one's circumstances and personality. But in every case, my understanding is that one can identify an approproiate balance of risk to reward. So hang gliding, saddle bronc riding,driving race cars, or jockeying thoroughbreds through a steeple chase might be appropriate for someone who is young, single, childless, athletic, experienced, and carefully and skillfully attentive to all the details that mitigate risk if dealt with properly, or amplify risk if dealt with carelessly. For some, achieving various skills that involve risk might enhance their happiness and personal development. For others, those endevours might well involve foolhardy and lethal risks.

I doubt that a good case can be made for taking up smoking, because there are lots of other ways to enjoy pleasure without the health risk. As to whether or not coal mining involves unacceptable risks, that probably depends on the availability of alternative work opportunities. In the US, work opportunities abound, so coal mining might be a poor choice. In China or Tibet, coal mining might present the only work, as contrasted with extreme financial deprivation. 

Post 21

Monday, April 21, 2008 - 6:11amSanction this postReply



“The Errors of Egalitarianism” was the title of Tibor Machan’s paper. That was also the title of his introduction to the 2002 collection Liberty and Equality. You might want to check out that book.


“Libertarianism and the Sources of Unfreedom” was the title of John Christman’s paper. He is well-versed in classical liberalism and in libertarianism. For his critique of the theory of property in those political philosophies, as well as his original alternative, I would look first to his 1994 book The Myth of Property: Toward an Egalitarian Theory of Ownership.


For themes in Tara Smith’s critical response to the papers of Machan and Christman, you might want to get hold of her 1995 book Moral Rights and Political Freedom.


At Amazon there is an informative remark by Gideon Reich on this work:

Prof. Smith . . . first presents a detailed moral teleological argument for why individuals should have rights. She then proceeds to argue against both deontological and consequentialist justifications for rights and makes the case that her teleological justification is the only proper one which has none of the weaknesses of the other attempts at justifying rights. Finally she takes on so-called "positive freedoms" or "welfare rights" and shows how recognizing such rights negates actual freedoms and thus that such positive rights are not proper rights and freedoms at all.

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