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Do people have the right to rebel in a democracy? Is it just?

What makes this issue tricky is that the question seems to equivocate on the notions of "right" and "just." Suppose (as seems likely) that rebelling against a democratic government involves conduct that the government in question has declared illegal. It seems clear that such rebellious conduct can't be "right" or "just" in the sense of of being legally permissible . It would, after all, threaten incoherence if a code of law has an 'out clause' permitting rebellion, akin to "here are the laws, but you can rebel against them without penalty." That would render that system of law toothless with respect to its authority. So if there is right to rebel, the right can't be a legal or political one. It would have to be a moral or "natural" right. Indeed, this seems to be what political theorists such as Locke (and the framers of the U.S. Constitution he inspired) had in mind when they referenced a right to rebel against unjust governments. I won't take on the big project of defending the existence of such...

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes sweeping pronouncements about rights to housing, education, etc. Who is obliged, however, to see that such rights are positively protected or practiced--the universe? The UN has no institutional standing to require me to house the homeless. Isn't my role not to interfere with people seeking housing, just as I honor another' right to free speech by doing nothing to stifle her expression? The Declaration seems like it should be recast as a desired state document that serves as a guide for government policy and law. Do philosophers find the Declaration sound?

Your question actually seems to be several rolled into one. In general, I think you're asking about what sorts of claims are being made when the UN Declaration states that there are rights to housing, education, etc. Your remark that you yourself only have to not interfere with others seeking housing seems reasonable (though I wonder whether you would agree that you have no obligation to provide housing if (say) your community is struck by a natural disaster that renders large numbers of people homeless). However, I gather that the UN Declaration is asserting that such rights are rights against one's state or society rather than against the members of states or societies. To say that individuals have a right to housing is not to say that particular individuals are obligated to house them. Instead, this right is one held against a collective: society, or the state as its representative. Secondly, the rights to which you refer appear to be positive rather than negative rights. To have a negative right...

what can philosophy do for the world peace?

First, philosophy can contribute to world peace by helping us think through the ethical importance of peace -- and of war. Philosophy has a long tradition of inquiry into the conditions for morally justifiable violence. A few philosophers have glorified war. Others have argued that war is justified when war advances a state's interests' ('realists') or when certain conditions are met (just war theory). Other philosophers have advocated for pacifism. Good overviews of these positions are available here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/war/ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pacifism/ Second, philosophy can contribute to world peace by undermining the conditions under which war tends to thrive and by pointing to alternative ways to resolve conflicts that might otherwise lead to violence. Starry-eyed though this might sound, philosophical inquiry tends to induce, on the one hand, modesty or humility about one's own beliefs, as well, on the other hand, as a greater appreciation for the merits of others'...

Some states mandate an automatic death penalty for murdering a law enforcement officer. How can this possibly be just when it elevates the victim above that of common civilians? I agree with the Aristotelian conception of justice as only partially overlapping that of morality but consistency is crucial to rationality in both judgment and conduct. Actions ought to be judged similarly unless there are morally relevant dissimilarities between them so a law-abiding or even a vindictive police officer, already armed and aware of the risks of his profession, is the same as any other civilian, both legally and morally. Common law jurisdictions work on the basis that all citizens are equal in intrinsic worth--wouldn't the imperative be to either entirely repeal the death penalty for murder or use it in every single instance?

I'm going to largely duck your last question: I doubt even the most enthusiastic proponents of the death penalty believe it should be imposed for every murder. Most jurisdictions distinguish between first-degree murder, second-degree, etc., precisely because not all murders are morally serious enough to merit the death penalty (which it is not to say that any murder merits the death penalty). But on to your main question: Should the death penalty be automatic for murdering a law enforcement officer but not automatic for murdering anyone else? I can think of three possible rationales for an affirmative answer. I'm not sure I find any of them convincing, but I'll leave that to your judgment. The first is that killing law enforcement is morally worse than killing someone else and so automatically deserves a harsh punishment. Your position seems to be that this is not so: That in order for killing law enforcement to be morally worse than killing someone else, there must be something about the...

Is bearing a child really a right? The state does not know much about its own citizens other than date of birth and tax information so bringing unwanted children into the world is unfair to the child and the rest of society that must deal with all of the associated problems. Irresponsible parents or single mothers cannot guarantee the welfare or even the survival of their wanted children so why not prevent problems by passing a law allowing the state to licence and decide what type of people are allowed to have children according to certain criteria just like a driver's license? Those denied a license can always reapply at a later date once they've proved they are responsible enough. Right to privacy ends once the child leaves the womb since it is then a separate human and legal entity.

Your questions touches on a number of issues within the emerging philosophical field of procreative ethics , the field addressing questions concerning the ethics of reproduction and parenting. I concur with the spirit of your last sentence: It is interesting that landmark legal rulings in the United States establishing legal rights to use birth control and the right to abortion both appealed to the right to privacy. But if there is a right to procreate, it is probably not best modelled on a right to privacy. Your comments about licensing parents echo a well-known argument given by Hugh LaFollette in a 1980 article (http://www.hughlafollette.com/papers/licensing.parents.pdf). Here's my reconstruction of LaFollette's argument: 1. Incompetent parenting is harmful to children. 2. Societies are justified in restricting access to activities that are potentially harmful to others if those restrictions significantly reduce the likelihood of harm from those activities. (Compare, for example, driving...