Friday, July 10, 2009

The Drug Trade, for example

Continued from last post.

I fear that many approach the world of ideas as if allegiance to an ideology dictates one's positions on all issues. A well formed system of thought will have some core principles and a logical framework for discussing ideas. However, one will find that, in any well formed systems of ideas, there are different ways to argue both sides of most major issues.

I present two examples: Libertarians tend to favor legalization of drugs. Conservatives tend to oppose it. So, I will present a Libertarian argument against legalizing drugs and a Conservative argument for it.

The beating heart of Libertarianism is the freedom of the individual. Libertarians aspire to a society where people are making rational decisions for themselves which cumulatively improve the quality of the society itself.

A great deal of Libertarian thought centers on resolving the paradox that society cannot give an individual the right to take liberty from others.

Psychoactive and addictive substances diminish the ability of a person to engage in rational decision making. Even worse, the drug culture often has people selling or giving away drugs in hopes of manipulating others.

A staunch Libertarian might argue that society must have a way of restricting any substance which diminishes the capacity of a person to reason based on the observation that the capacity of reason is the essence of the individual.

Conservatives are dedicated to preserving and strengthening the moral fabric of a nation. As such, Conservatives tend to be strident supporter of strong anti-drug laws.

A conservative however, might notice that the strong drug laws are not stopping the drug trade, but appear to be providing a mechanism that is funding the moral break down of society. Such a conservative would argue for legalization with the hope that legalization might create a mechanism wherein one controls the harms of the drug trade. A law and order conservative might recognize that a law not well enforced can do more harm to society than the activity outlawed.

Conversely, I should note, an anarchist hates all laws. An anarchist might like the strong drug laws as the laws makes smuggling operations lucrative and have the potential to create an underclass that could be radicalized in revolution.

Anyway, rational systems (with a set of defined principles and solid reasoning process) are not as dictatorial as people make out. Having principles affects one's approach to the challenges of the day, but it does not dictate one's actions.

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