Is Harry Binswanger going insane?

Harry Binswanger is a rare breed of man—he’s both a philosopher and an Objectivist!

Qua philosopher, he wrote his doctoral dissertation in the philosophy of biology, later published as The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts.

Qua Objectivist, he takes credit for compiling the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

His latest piece on the current gun control debate in the U.S. is a gem. His point is a simple one, viz., With Gun Control, Cost Benefit Analysis Is Amoral.

Here’s a key excerpt.

The government may use force only against an objective threat of force. Only that constitutes retaliation.

In particular, the government may not descend to the evil of preventive law. The government cannot treat men as guilty until they have proven themselves to be, for the moment, innocent. No law can require the individual to prove that he won’t violate another’s rights, in the absence of evidence that he is going to.

But this is precisely what gun control laws do. Gun control laws use force against the individual in the absence of any specific evidence that he is about to commit a crime.

But he’s recently reported as saying this on his private list.

one thing that the law should return to doing is locking away the dangerously insane. The libertarian Thomas Szaz was instrumental in the movement begun in the late 60s to dump crazies back on the streets. He bears heavy guilt for many of these Newtown-type atrocities.

Isn’t locking away people deemed to be insane the very same evil of preventive law that Binswanger rails against in his Forbes article published only a week later? It seems that Binswanger has arrived at a contradiction.

To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality.

Binswanger’s gone insane. He should be locked up, for the public good.

[Cross-posted to SOLO.]

5 thoughts on “Is Harry Binswanger going insane?”

  1. I would think their is a difference between denying full rights to a mental patient from imprisoning an innocent person.
    With the Metal patient it is a matter of ‘custodianship’ … like tha of Parents over children… and for the same reason… mental capacity negates self-responciblity… the pre-requisite of Liberty.

  2. Hmm, “dangerously insane” implies that the person in question has a history of violence stemming from mental problems. There must be some level at which such a history implies “an objective threat of force”.

    No contradiction detected, move along please.

  3. There must be some level at which such a history implies “an objective threat of force”.

    Indeed, Luke. At what level does such a history imply “an objective threat of force”? That is the question, and, AFAIK, Binswanger doesn’t address it.

    There must be some level at which a weapon becomes so dangerous that it implies “an objective threat of force”. But what level is that? Libertarians I know deny your right to possess nuclear weapons because your mere possession of them constitutes an objective threat of force. What about semi-automatic firearms?

    No contradiction detected, move along please.

    How about an ominous parallel instead?

    Obama wants to keep dangerous weapons away from the dangerously insane by confiscating the dangerous weapons.

    Binswanger wants to keep the dangerously insane away from dangerous weapons by locking up the dangerously insane.

  4. With the Metal patient it is a matter of ‘custodianship’ … like tha of Parents over children…

    Can we pin the blame for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Adam Lanza’s mother? Isn’t that a case of blaming the victim?

    (Metal patient, lol! I’m an SMF!)

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