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31


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 31, July 1, 1997

Food For Thought

Brought to you by The Libertarian Enterprise

From: Wendy McElroy mac@headwaters.com

         The contention that man's 'choices' may have a genetic root has been used to dismiss the concept of free will. I continue to argue for volitional man. But, in mulling the issue, a thought occurred to me and which I offer... just for the fun of it.
         Mankind's unbelievable diversity and adaptability is almost a defining characteristic of our species. Without fur or claws, man prospers in every climate and fills virtually every niche of the planet's surface, with the exception of the ocean floors. Human culture is quite naturally a rollicking cacophony of artistic, musical, sexual, and other 'choices'. No other species remotely resembles the complex, randomness of man's choices...using the word 'random' in the same manner as chaos theory. What if 'free will' does have a genetic base or component which, when coupled with the power of developed habits, predisposes man to chose in one manner rather than another. If so, could free will not be defined as the incredibly complex and chaotic biological capacity of man to adapt, a capacity which -- when coupled with patterns of prior adaptations that satisfied his goals [i.e. his developed habits] -- predisposes him toward certain choices in the future. (I emphasize the word predisposes because there is no evidence that complex behavior is genetically determined.) Such a chaos theory version of man's adaptability would put his behavior on the same level predictability as the weather, which no meteorologist claims to predict beyond the ridiculously limited short-term. Only the individual man himself would have any real chance to predict his own choices, as only he would have enough information in the form of his own emotions, thoughts and prior actions to do so. With this interpretation of free will, how important is it -- in practical terms -- whether a genetic base is present?


From: John Taylor johnno6@erols.com

         In a Washington Post special report, Hubert Williams, Police Foundation President and former police director in Newark, NJ states:

"Semi-automatic weapons and other weapons of war have no legitimate place in civil society and ought to be banned outright, right now.

"Unless we muster the national resolve to do so, the body count will continue to rise; and democracy remains the ante in this deadly, high-stakes race to arm ourselves against each other."

         Compare that to the following from Henry St. George Tucker (in Blackstone's Commentaries):

"The right of self-defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."

         Which person, even in this day and age, sounds the more credible?


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