mardi 7 décembre 2010

Guns don't kill people, people do

 Well, you know the line, it’s the motto devised by the NRA, the famous peace and love club.

First time I heard it I admit I was taken aback and couldn’t help thinking, well, sounds true in the end. And yet, I knew there was a hitch but where was it hidden?

Let's see how it works in other situations.

- It’s not the saw that cuts the branch of the tree it’s the one who uses the saw. Huh? And if he has no saw? Well he’ll use an axe. But if he has no tool can he cut the branch? Humm… obviously not, he needs some kind of device but he alone can’t do anything. There’s interdependency between both a tool and someone to use it.

Not really convincing still.

- Let’s try with something else:

It’s not the plane which flies, it’s the pilot who makes it fly.

Hummm… I feel there’s some kind of trick here.

- Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes, it’s the one who eats sugar.
- Tobacco doesn’t cause cancer, it’s the one who smokes.

And on and on and on…

It’s very confusing really because at first glance you can’t dismiss the apparent logic of the line.

Now, let’s have a look at Aristotle and his notorious 4 causes.

Isn’t it clearer now that when someone came with the line we’re discussing he actually constructed a sentence with 2 final causes included?

The gun is the final cause because it has been designed and manufactured in order to kill and nothing else. It’s a tool like any other one.

Man is the efficient cause because without him there would be neither guns nor any other tools.

Each tool has been conceived with one specific goal, the ultimate goal of the gun being to kill whereas the man wasn’t born to kill (well, for some happy-triggers you may wonder indeed).

Here lies the trick then: To artificially put on the same level the man and the tool (here the gun) he fabricated, e.g. to hop over the efficient cause in order to have 2 final causes in the same sentence, which is logically impossible since it comes down to circular thinking. A = B then B = A. Well, great... and where do we go with that?

Plutôt que de recourir à la logique classique, essayons autre chose : la réfutation par l'absurde (ad absurdum)

The NRA mantra is basically a trivial tautology. Of course, without men, tools are ineffective (be it a saw, a hammer or a submarine). Well, this is sheer common sense and pure tautology.

If guns didn't kill people, criminals could resort on the sole lethal power of their frightful look. But it's inefficient so they use the tool most effective to accomplish their wishes.

Some try by throwing balls made of paper but it doesn't really work. And yet they do try hard... It's not the will only that kills people, it's the tool, e.g. the guns which raison d'être is to kill.

If guns don't kill people then I'm happy to learn that Abe Lincoln didn't die because a bullet smashed his head off. And the same goes for Kennedy. Bullets didn't cause their death I'm told, just the will of the murderers.

Ca tient de la transmission de pensée là...

Since we're at it, how many Americans are shot before they can react and kill the would-be killers? I have a feeling there are more innocent victims than the other way round like we've seen again no later than last year in Fort Hood. Of all places where all victims were suposed to be armed!

- If guns don't kill people, people do, why didn't William Calley, convicted as a war criminal by the US judiciary, end his life behind the bars?

As I wrote above, will doesn't suffice to kill, a tool is necessary, be it a chainsaw, a gun or an iron bar.

If not, then P. Tibbets is personally responsible for the death of 80.000 Japanese, not the atom bomb.

The guys who turned the taps open are personally responsible for the death of 6 million Jews, not Zyklon B.

The American pilots who dropped million tons of napalm in Vietnam are personally responsible for the death of, say, one million Vietnamese, not the bombs. Unless it was R. McNamara who wasn't even in the planes over Vietnam.

There has been an earthquake last January in Haiti. If we admit the logics of the NRA line, whose will is behind the 250.000 dead in Haiti? The tectonic plates (as weapons) or... God himself who created all things on earth?

En fait ce slogan de la NRA n'a d'autre raison d'être que de donner bonne conscience et déresponsabiliser les clients des armureries du pays. Il faut faire marcher le commerce et une bonne accroche marketing logiquement trompeuse légitime moralement ce commerce.

6 commentaires:

Ned Ludd a dit…

NRA types think that there is only one amendment to the Constitution and for some unknown reason it is called the second.

I get tired of this argument, but I will add that the idea of "personal responsibility" is questionable. It implies a "volonté" or a "free will" which are not known to exist.

So the violence committed by a person is a result of his/her genes and environment. The idea of "responsibility" just seems to be the best thing that we have found to maintain social order.

It wasn't the booster rockets that exploded the Challenger shuttle, it was the company and some engineers who did it. But I don't think any of them were punished, though I may be wrong. In fact certain engineers warned about the danger, so some company officials could possibly be charged with homicide.

Flocon a dit…

"I get tired of this argument"

Probably because of your origins, you've been submitted to this line more than you ever wanted. Which isn't the case of non-Americans.

Ce qui m'intéresse c'est l'usage biaisée de la logique qui aboutit à ce slogan. En tant qu'Européen je ne suis pas personnellement concerné.

Pour ce qui est fusées d'appoint (rocket boosters), effectivement ce ne sont pas elles qui ont fait exploser la navette comme tu l'indiques mais les concepteurs/fabricants dont les erreurs ont amené à la catastrophe.

Mais cet exemple n'entre pas dans le cadre de mon propos car les navettes n'ont jamais été conçues pour faire exploser la fusée. Contrairement aux armes à feu dont la seule raison d'être est de tuer.

"I will add that the idea of "personal responsibility" is questionable. It implies a "volonté" or a "free will" which are not known to exist."

Exactly Schopenhauer's point like I've written so many times. What we do is the consequence of what we are.

We're not responsible for what we do but for what we are.

It may seem unacceptable to be held accountable of what we are but in the end, who is? My neighbour? The baker's wife? My cat or some unknown and distant Chinese peasant living during the period of the Three Empires? Unless my teaspoon is responsible for who I am...

"The idea of "responsibility" just seems to be the best thing that we have found to maintain social order."

Pas mieux; c'est une autre fiction nécessaire à la vie commune, conséquence de la première fiction d'un libre arbitre ou d'une volonté délibérée.

Ned Ludd a dit…

On peut appeler l'éxplosion de Challenger comme homicide parce qu'il y avait des engineers à l'epoque qui refusaient le lancement parce qu'ils croyaient que les "boosters" n'étaient pas concue pour les bas temperatures des ces jours là.

Leurs superieurs les n'ont pas écoutés.

Flocon a dit…

Je ne sais pas quel a été le chef d'accusation contre le responsable de la conception de Concorde mais ce pourrait être Homicide ayant entraîné la mort sans intention de la donner.

Les deux cas sont assez similaires vu de loin et on rencontre la même situation dans tous les accidents concernant les produits industriels (voitures, machines à laver, some Chinese made products etc.)

These products aren't conceived to produce havocs but some time they do.

Bullets are manufactured only to produce a maximum of havocs like all weapons.

Ned Ludd a dit…

Last I read, about 34,000 Americans are killed by firearms every year. 18,000 of them are suicides(or maybe the other way around).

Most people are shot by people they know or members of their family. One is more likely to be shot if one has a gun in the house than if not, for the reasons just stated.

I don't know how many criminals have been shot by home-owners in self-defense nor how many justifiable homicides have been committed.

Flocon a dit…

I didn't know the numbers. 34.000 casualties are a little below the number of road accident victims (40.000 per year isn't it?).

Combien de victimes du terrorisme in the meantime?

But this is another issue.

Ce qui m'intéressait c'est de comprendre l'apparente "logique" du slogan qui sert de titre.