Man cannot live by politics alone, and Marc “Armed Liberal” Danziger and I were just having a discussion that ranged into the philosophical. I’ll quote him:
Stipulate that there is a small machine that I could put into your home or workplace that with absolute accuracy – I mean 100% accuracy – would send an alarm in the specific case that a person who had the true intent to commit murder. Yes, it’s Minority Report territory. But accept it as true.
Would you – as an American – be comfortable having something like that in your house?
I’m going to elaborate on this. The bottom line: you’re back in your college-level philosophy class.
By which I mean to say:
Yes, I understand that there is no such thing as 100% accuracy in human affairs. Never mind. It’s a hypothetical.
Yes, I understand that there are all sorts of killings, and not everything is “murder.” That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re dealing with the purely hypothetical situation where the alarm goes off only when there is an imminent killing that all rational people agree would be murder if carried out: a cold-blooded, evil, utterly unjustifiable killing. There is no conceivable way that its purpose could be expanded into some unrelated area.
It’s a hypothetical, folks. The alarm goes off only when such a killing is going to occur. There is no room for error.
Would you allow such a device in your home? Would you allow it to be placed in the home of all Americans?
Comments are open. Forget about this McCain and Obama nonsense and lose yourself in a philosophical discussion. Why not?
P.S. This does have something to do with the election — but we’re not going to explain it right now. For now, just stick with the basic philosophical question.
UPDATE: ACT OR INTENT?
Commenter Eric Blair asks whether this is a machine that a) sounds an alarm when it senses people with murderous intent, or b) sounds an alarm when someone is about to commit the act of murder?
I meant b. But I’m not sure what Marc meant. Let’s go with b. The machine doesn’t go off merely when it senses someone with bad intent. It activates only — and infallibly — when the act of murder is going to occur.
UPDATE x2: Mrs. P. says we should arrest anyone who won’t allow such a machine in their home. Good answer!
(She insists that I point out that she’s kidding.)