Personal Freedom vs. Public Welfare

chair

Well-known member
When people get organized into groups, they set up rules. Rules that interfere with personal freedom. A church, for example, may have membership dues, or expect you to dress a certain way during prayers, or to be quiet at certain times. The biggest penalty that you may run into if you don't follow the rules is that you will be thrown out of the group. Nobody is going to whip or imprison you for talking during the sermon.

Other groups, for example countries (though I think this applies to tribal groups as well), have more rules, and more ways to enforce them. Many of these rules are for the public good, but they often infringe on personal freedom, and they are enforced, in most countries by fines, imprisonment or in extreme cases the death penalty.

Traffic rules are an example. You can get fined, or lose your driver's license for parking in the wrong place, running a red light, not stopping at a stop sign, and a host of other rules. In some places you can go to prison for driving without a license, or driving drunk- because the state has decided to infringe on your personal freedom for the public good. The state forces you to pay taxes. Sometimes it forces you to join the army. That's what governments do. All governments do this to some degree, not just totalitarian ones (as some try to pretend).

The question is- what ought to be the limitations on this? I'm obviously bringing this up because of the current mask issue, but the problem is a general one.

How does one draw the line?
 

Rusha

Ms. Morals
LIFETIME MEMBER
Hall of Fame
When people get organized into groups, they set up rules. Rules that interfere with personal freedom. A church, for example, may have membership dues, or expect you to dress a certain way during prayers, or to be quiet at certain times. The biggest penalty that you may run into if you don't follow the rules is that you will be thrown out of the group. Nobody is going to whip or imprison you for talking during the sermon.

Other groups, for example countries (though I think this applies to tribal groups as well), have more rules, and more ways to enforce them. Many of these rules are for the public good, but they often infringe on personal freedom, and they are enforced, in most countries by fines, imprisonment or in extreme cases the death penalty.

Traffic rules are an example. You can get fined, or lose your driver's license for parking in the wrong place, running a red light, not stopping at a stop sign, and a host of other rules. In some places you can go to prison for driving without a license, or driving drunk- because the state has decided to infringe on your personal freedom for the public good. The state forces you to pay taxes. Sometimes it forces you to join the army. That's what governments do. All governments do this to some degree, not just totalitarian ones (as some try to pretend).

The question is- what ought to be the limitations on this? I'm obviously bringing this up because of the current mask issue, but the problem is a general one.

How does one draw the line?

Does your *freedom* infringe on the life and well being of others? That would be my starting point.

Great topic.
 

Jefferson

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Super Moderator
I'm obviously bringing this up because of the current mask issue, but the problem is a general one.

How does one draw the line?

For the Democrats, the line won't get drawn until after the election. They need people wearing masks as walking billboards advertising that everyone needs to live in fear and paranoia over this "pandemic."

This fear will give the Democrats their excuse to demand mail-in voting which is a very easy way for them to cheat. They'll claim people could catch the virus in the voting booths.

They promote this virus like it's the second coming of the bubonic plague.
 

chair

Well-known member
For the Democrats, the line won't get drawn until after the election. They need people wearing masks as walking billboards advertising that everyone needs to live in fear and paranoia over this "pandemic."

This fear will give the Democrats their excuse to demand mail-in voting which is a very easy way for them to cheat. They'll claim people could catch the virus in the voting booths.

They promote this virus like it's the second coming of the bubonic plague.

Please try to relate to the general question. This issue has always been around, long before there were Democrats or Republicans or masks or COVID-19. Where do you think the line should be drawn? Is it reasonable for me to be arrested for drunk driving? For running a red light? What is reasonable and what isn't? And why?
 

expos4ever

New member
Chair, you ask a question that puts the Trump crowd in an impossible position - your implied point is obviously correct: the masks are clearly an entirely warranted sacrifice of individual freedom in deference to the public good. And, of course, the Trump supporter will have none of that. If you sift through the anger, the conspiracy-thinking, and the general looniness coming from reptilian hindbrains tucked under red ball caps, one general trait becomes clear: a clear disinclination, or perhaps incapacity, for the complex thinking required to perform trade-offs between competing, desirable goals (in this case, respect for personal liberty and respect for public welfare).
 

chair

Well-known member
Chair, you ask a question that puts the Trump crowd in an impossible position - your implied point is obviously correct: the masks are clearly an entirely warranted sacrifice of individual freedom in deference to the public good. And, of course, the Trump supporter will have none of that. If you sift through the anger, the conspiracy-thinking, and the general looniness coming from reptilian hindbrains tucked under red ball caps, one general trait becomes clear: a clear disinclination, or perhaps incapacity, for the complex thinking required to perform trade-offs between competing, desirable goals (in this case, respect for personal liberty and respect for public welfare).

I am trying to get people to think about this logically. That will work a lot better if we step away from the emotionally charged COVID Mask topic, and look at it in a more general way.
 

Rusha

Ms. Morals
LIFETIME MEMBER
Hall of Fame
Smoking cancer sticks. Adults have the absolute right to damage themselves in private. What they shouldn’t have the right to do is spread their poison in public. Same thing with jumping off a bridge. Make sure it’s in a spot where they won’t land on someone else or destroy another person’s property.
 

chair

Well-known member
Who has been harmed when you drive drunk?
Do you really need me to answer this?

Similarly, I am free of infection for the Kung Flu - who has been harmed if I decide to walk around without a mask?
Nobody knows that they are free of infection. That is one of the reasons it spreads so easily- people without symptoms infect others, and only afterwards realize that they are sick.
 

chair

Well-known member
Yes and I'll give you a specific case. Last night I drove home drunk. Who was harmed?
Nobody, as far as I know. It's a question of probabilities- drunk drivers are far more likely to cause an accident.
So you think drunk driving is OK. How about ignoring red lights?

I do. I know that I am free of infection. Who is harmed if I decide to go out in public without a mask?

Unless you have been living in total isolation fro the past few weeks, you don't know that.
 

ok doser

Well-known member
Nobody knows that they are free of infection.

I wanted to flesh this out and was rushed for time.

I was tested for Coronavirus antibodies yesterday. My test came back negative.

Explain who was harmed by my decision not to wear a mask in April, May, June and the 1st three weeks of July.
 

chair

Well-known member
A sorry I wanted to flesh this out and I was rushed for time. I was tested for Coronavirus antibodies yesterday. My test came back negative. Explain who was harmed By my decision not to wear a mask in April, May, June and the 1st three weeks of July.

It's like driving drunk and not killing anybody, or running a red light, and not killing anybody. Just because you were lucky doesn't mean it was right or smart.
And... you can get infected tomorrow...
 

ok doser

Well-known member
Nobody, as far as I know.

Exactly right - nobody was harmed yesterday by my decision to drive home drunk.

And yet if I had been stopped I would have been subject to the full force of the law including potential jail time and financial penalties.

For engaging in an action in which nobody was harmed.
 

Idolater

Well-known member
You're talking about rights. The political philosophy concerned with rights is liberalism. The idea that liberalism and the regard for rights is "freedom" or "liberty" is an interpretation of rights, an interpretation of liberalism. We must be careful to not run too far with an interpretation when it goes far beyond its foundation, which are rights.

The conflicts we see especially in America but also wherever the people recognize rights is imo because we have not formed a canonical enumeration of almost any of our rights. Some exceptions to this are the rights against being murdered and raped and kidnapped or falsely arrested, and the rights to remain silent and to not be coerced into incriminating ourselves, and the rights to a trial by jury and to due process of law, and the rights against having your possessions stolen and being falsely testified against and being slandered or libeled or defamed. There are many other examples where rights have been precisely defined and enumerated, but for the most part rights are not so carefully explicated.

So whenever conflict arises between "liberty" or "freedom" and whatever is posed as their opposites, I recommend pondering that dispute and framing it as a struggle to define our rights, rather than it being between the forces of good against the forces of evil. To perpetuate it as the latter is to presume that an anarchistic liberalism is the correct interpretation of our rights, and that requires additional argument to sustain (and I personally would object that anarchistic liberalism is the correct view).
 

chair

Well-known member
Exactly right - nobody was harmed yesterday by my decision to drive home drunk.

And yet if I had been stopped I would have been subject to the full force of the law including potential jail time and financial penalties.

For engaging in an action in which nobody was harmed.

Exactly. It is called "statistics". You stop people from driving drunk because they are much more likely to harm somebody. You don't wait till after the accident. You will be arrested for behavior that endangers others. If you actually killed somebody- then the punishment would be far worse. Society prohibits certain types of behavior because they pose a high risk to others.

I gather that you disagree with this approach, and think people should get punished only if they actually harm somebody. Is that correct?
 

ok doser

Well-known member
It's like driving drunk and not killing anybody, or running a red light, and not killing anybody. Just because you were lucky doesn't mean it was right or smart.
And... you can get infected tomorrow...

The answer that you're trying to avoid giving is, of course, nobody.

Nobody was harmed by my decision not to wear a mask in April, May, June and the 1st 3 weeks of July.
 

ok doser

Well-known member
Exactly. It is called "statistics".


100% of the times I drove home drunk last night, nobody was harmed.

Statistically speaking, driving home drunk last night is one of the safest things I could have done.


Society prohibits certain types of behavior because they pose a high risk to others.

​​​​​​​ Nobody was placed at risk last night by my decision to engage in that specific type of behavior.
 

ok doser

Well-known member
Is it reasonable for me to be arrested for drunk driving?

Is it reasonable for me to be arrested for engaging in an action in which nobody is harmed?

If I go to the police station today and say "I drove home drunk last night, got home safely, no accidents, no problems - you should arrest me and charge me" what do you think their response will be?
 
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