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Gun Control & Causality; A philosophical discussion -2015 June 19, 2015

Posted by Chris Mark in Uncategorized.
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causeThis is an update from a post in 2014.  

It is now June 2015 and with yet another shooting in the news, the debate is again raging about gun control.

I personally believe these are healthy debates but I am often frustrated by the seemingly illogical positions taken on both sides of the debate.  Last year I wrote a post titled “A Perspective on Killing from a Marine and His Rifle” in which I provide personal as well as third party information on what is required to create a ‘killer’.   Adding to this I am including information that should help people better understand causality and point to the ‘actual’ cause of an event in which a firearm is used.  This is taken from the research brief titled: “Failed State of Security II; Victim Blaming in CyberCrime

With each shooting or killing the relevant question is certainly asked as to “what caused the action?” and “how could it have been prevented?”  We all want to stop crime and violence but we must balance a number of issues.  Irrespective of political leanings or other aspects, to get to the heart of the issue it is important to understand the “cause” of the event.  Many gun control advocates posit that guns are the ’cause’ of the murder.  With this in mind let’s take a look at the concept of causality.

Understanding Causality

The simple term “cause” can be deceptively complex to understand and apply.  The application becomes much more difficult when applied to social issues and events where ambiguity, subjectivity, and moral and ethical aspects must be considered.  While the concept of cause and causality has been studied and debated by philosophers for millennia a commonly accepted definition is still not found.   It was Virgil who, in Georgics 2 in 490 said: “Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas” or “blessed accomplishment theirs, who can track the causes of things.[i]   The difficulty of defining the concept of “cause” is familiar to those with an interest in philosophy or science.  Without becoming a primer on the intricacies of the debate, suffice it to say that cause, like security, is necessarily contextual in nature.   Within the context of Victimology, it is important to understand the distinction between identifying what a person emotionally or philosophically believes is a ‘cause’ of an event that impacts a victim and the philosophical and legal concepts of ‘cause’ as they applies to a crime.

The Philosophical View of Causality

People often ascribe blame  or identify a cause of an event based upon their internal logical calculus or emotional belief as to what ’caused’ the event.  Within the context of firearm violence, this is particularly true.  Firearm control advocates often state that “firearms cause” violence.  While not always explicit even the argument that “if they did not have a gun, this would not have happened” is an implicit nod to the idea that the firearm was the causal agent of the event.  For this reason, it is important to understand the philosophical underpinnings of reasoning and how they apply to determining ‘cause’.  As important is the understanding of errors in logics. Within logic, errors in either reasoning or structure are known as fallacies.  With an understanding of the common fallacies that pertain to identification of cause, it is easier to understand and identify the true, or actual cause of an event. (more…)

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