government-on-trial-logo

 

Rarely in academia are the basic assumptions underlying all mainstream "political" thought questioned. In an effort to remedy that, the “Government on Trial” campaign was started, in which two hundred instructors in fields related to philosophy and/or politics are being asked to answer the following five questions:


  1. Is there any means by which any number of individuals can delegate to someone else the moral right to do something which none of the individuals have the moral right to do themselves?
  2. Do those who wield political power (presidents, legislators, etc.) have the moral right to do things which other people do not have the moral right to do? If so, from whom and how did they acquire such a right?
  3. Is there any process (e.g., constitutions, elections, legislation) by which human beings can transform an immoral act into a moral act (without changing the act itself)?
  4. When law-makers and law-enforcers use coercion and force in the name of law and government, do they bear the same responsibility for their actions that anyone else would who did the same thing on his own?
  5. When there is a conflict between an individual's own moral conscience, and the commands of a political authority, is the individual morally obligated to do what he personally views as wrong in order to "obey the law"?

The individuals shown below have been sent these questions, along with a cover letter asking them to provide written answers based on their own personal view of morality, however they define or determine that. Each was also sent a copy of “The Most Dangerous Superstition,” which posits that the entire notion of “government” is inherently illegitimate. Larken Rose, the author of that book and the organizer of “Government on Trial,” answers the five questions as follows: 1) No, people cannot delegate rights they don’t have; 2) No, those in “government” have no moral right to do anything that the common man does not have the right to do; 3) No, documents and rituals cannot alter morality; 4) Yes, every individual is personally responsible for his own actions—wearing badges and “following orders” does not change that; 5) No, an individual cannot have an obligation to ignore his own moral conscience in order to obey any external “authority.”

Those recipients who respond will then be invited to participate in a recorded discussion/debate of these issues with Mr. Rose, and the resulting recordings will be be posted here, unedited and in their entirety.

Humanity is not served by avoiding or silencing uncomfortable or unorthodox ideas, and it is high time that the rapidly growing anarchist/voluntaryist movement was recognized, and either embraced or logically rebutted by mainstream academia. Pretending they don’t exist, or trying to dismiss them out of hand, will not make them go away.


CAMPAIGN RECIPIENTS

ROUND 1 SENT JULY 20, 2015

RECIPIENT RESPONSE DEBATE REQUESTED RESPONSE
Professor James Alt

Department of Government

Harvard University


1737 Cambridge Street


CGIS Knafel Building 307


Cambridge, MA 02138

     
Professor James Snyder

Department of Government

Harvard University

1737 Cambridge Street

CGIS Knafel Building RM 413

Cambridge, MA 02138 
     
Professor Robert Bates

Department of Government

Harvard University

1737 Cambridge Street

CGIS Knafel Building RM 213

Cambridge, MA 02138
     
Professor Steven Smith

Department of Philosophy

Yale University

P. O. Box 208306

New Haven, CT 06520-8306
     
Professor Seyla Benhabib

Department of Philosophy

Yale University

P. O. Box 208306

New Haven, CT 06520-8306
     
Professor Gideon Yaffe

Department of Philosophy

Yale University

P. O. Box 208306

New Haven, CT 06520-8306
     
Professor Roderick T. Long

6086 Haley Center

Auburn University, Alabama 36849
     
Dr. Nina Brewer-Davis

6097 Haley Center

Auburn University, Alabama 36849
     
Professor Thomas Christiano

Philosophy Department

University of Arizona

P.O. Box 210027

Tucson, AZ 85721-0027
     
Professor James E. Rogers

Philosophy Department

University of Arizona

P.O. Box 2100227

Tucson, AZ 85721-0027
     
Professor R. Jay Wallace

Department of Philosophy

314 Moses Hall #2390

University of California

Berkeley, CA 94720-2390
     
Dr. David Hills

Philosophy Department

450 Serra Mall

Main Quad, Building 90

Stanford, CA 94305
     
Philosophy Department

450 Serra Mall

Main Quad, Building 90

Stanford, CA 94305
     
Professor Allen Wood

Philosophy Department

450 Serra Mall

Main Quad, Building 90

Stanford, CA 94305
     
Professor Anthony Laden

Department of Philosophy

1423 University Hall (MC267)

601 South Morgan Street

Chicago, IL 60607-7109<
     
Professor Samuel Fleischert

Department of Philosophy

1423 University Hall (MC267)

601 South Morgan Street

Chicago, IL 60607-7109
     
Professor Robert Audi

Department of Philosophy

100 Mallow Hall

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN 46556-4619
     
Professor James P. Sterba

Department of Philosophy

100 Mallow Hall

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN 46556-4619
     
Professor Andrei Marmor

USC School of Philosophy

3709 Trousdale Parkway

Los Angeles, CA 90089
     
Professor Margaret Gilbert

University of California, Irvine

Department of Philosophy

85 Humanities Instructional Building

Irvine, CA 92697-4555
     
ROUND 2 SENT JULY 27, 2015
Professor Kenneth Ehrenberg

The University of Alabama

College of Arts and Sciences

Box 870218

Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0218
     
Professor Stuart Rachels 

The University of Alabama

College of Arts and Sciences

Box 870218

Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0218
     
Professor Elizabeth Brake
School of Historical, Philosophical

and Religious Studies

P.O. Box 874302

Tempe, AZ 85287-4302
     
Professor Peter De Marneffe

School of Historical, Philosophical

and Religious Studies

P.O. Box 874302

Tempe, AZ 85287-4302
     
Professor Jacob Adler

Department of Philosophy

318 Old Main

University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, AR 72701
     
Professor Richard Lee

Department of Philosophy

318 Old Main

University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, AR 72701
     
Professor Seana Shiffrin

Department of Philosophy 

University of California, Los Angeles

Box 951451, Dodd 321

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1451
     
Professor Barbara Herman

Department of Philosophy 

University of California, Los Angeles

Box 951451, Dodd 321

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1451
     
Professor Gerald Doppelt 

UC San Diego 

Department of Philosophy

9500 Gilman Drive #0119

La Jolla, CA 92093-0119
     
Professor Christopher McMahon

University of California, Santa Barbara

Philosophy Department 

South Hall 3431/3432

Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3090
     
Professor Carl Cranor

Department of Philosophy

University of California, Riverside

HMNSS Building, Room 1604

900 University Avenue

Riverside, CA 92521
     
Professor Daniel Guevara

Department of Philosophy

UC Santa Cruz 

1156 High Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95064
     
Professor Rodney Peffer

University of San Diego, Philosophy

Founders Hall 162

5998 Alcala Park

San Diego, CA 92110-2492
     
Professor Manuel Vargas

University of San Francisco

Department of Philosophy

2130 Fulton St.

San Francisco, CA 94117-1080
     
Professor Eleanor Wittrup

Department of Philosophy

University of the Pacific

3601 Pacific Avenue

Stockton, CA 95211
     
Professor Teed Rockwell

Department of Philosophy

Sonoma State University

1801 E. Cotati Avenue, Nichols 363

Rohnert Park, CA 94928
     
Professor Michael Huemer

Philosophy Department

University of Colorado

Campus Box 232

Boulder, CO 80309
     
Professor Alastair Norcross

Philosophy Department

University of Colorado

Campus Box 232

Boulder, CO 80309
     
ROUND 3 SENT AUGUST 20, 2015
Professor Philip Cafaro

Department of Philosophy

243 Eddy Hall

Colorado State University 

Fort Collins, CO 80523-1781
     
Professor Candace Upton

Department of Philosophy

Sturm Hall 257 & 266

2000 E. Asbury Avenue 

Denver, CO 80208
     
Professor JC Beall

101 Manchester Hall 

344 Mansfield Road, Unit 1054

University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT 06269-1054
     
Professor Paul Bloomfield 

101 Manchester Hall 

344 Mansfield Road, Unit 1054

University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT 06269-1054
     
Professor Kai Draper

Department of Philosophy 

University of Delaware

24 Kent Way 

Newark, DE 19716
     
Professor James W. Nickel

Department of Philosophy

University of Miami

1252 Memorial Drive

Ashe Bldg., Room 721

Coral Gables, FL 33124
     
Professor Michael Slote

Department of Philosophy

University of Miami

1252 Memorial Drive

Ashe Bldg., Room 721

Coral Gables, FL 33124
     
Professor Randolph Clarke

Department of Philosophy

151 Dodd Hall 

Florida State University

Tallahassee, FL 32306-1500
     
Professor Colin Heydt

University of South Florida 

Philosophy Department

4202 E. Fowler Avenue 
FAO226

Tampa, FL 33620
     
Professor Michael Morris

University of South Florida 

Philosophy Department

4202 E. Fowler Avenue 
FAO226

Tampa, FL 33620
     
Professor Piers Stephens

Department of Philosophy

107 Peabody Hall

University of Georgia

Athens, GA 30602-1627
     
Professor Victoria Davion

Department of Philosophy

107 Peabody Hall

University of Georgia

Athens, GA 30602-1627
     
Professor Colleen Murphy

Department of Philosophy

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

810 South Wright Street

105 Gregory Hall, MC-468

Urbana, IL 61801
     
Professor Helga Varden

Department of Philosophy

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

810 South Wright Street

105 Gregory Hall, MC-468

Urbana, IL 61801
     
Professor Leonard Harris

Department of Philosophy

Purdue University

100 N. University Street

West Lafayette, IN 49707-2098
     
Professor William McBride

Department of Philosophy

Purdue University

100 N. University Street

West Lafayette, IN 49707-2098
     
Professor Diane Jeske

Department of Philosophy 

The University of Iowa

170 English-Philosophy Building

Iowa City, IA 52242-1408
     
Professor Jovana Davidovic

Department of Philosophy 

The University of Iowa

170 English-Philosophy Building

Iowa City, IA 52242-1408
     
Professor Tony Smith

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Iowa State University

202 Catt Hall

Ames, IA 50011-1301
     
Professor Margaret Holmgren

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Iowa State University

202 Catt Hall

Ames, IA 50011-1301
     
Professor Ben Eggleston

Department of Philosophy

University of Kansas

1445 Jayhawk Blvd. 

Wescoe Hall, Room 3090

Lawrence, KS 66045-7590
     
Professor Ann Cudd

Department of Philosophy

University of Kansas

1445 Jayhawk Blvd. 

Wescoe Hall, Room 3090

Lawrence, KS 66045-7590
     
Professor Natalie Nenadic 

Department of Philosophy

University of Kentucky

1415 Patterson Office Tower

Lexington, KY 40506-0027
     
Professor Arnold Farr

Department of Philosophy

University of Kentucky

1415 Patterson Office Tower

Lexington, KY 40506-0027
     
Professor Dean Moyar 

Department of Philosophy 

Johns Hopkins University 

281 Gilman Hall

3400 N. Charles Street

Baltimore, MD 21218
     
Professor Hilary Bok

Department of Philosophy 

Johns Hopkins University 

281 Gilman Hall

3400 N. Charles Street

Baltimore, MD 21218
     
Professor Peter A. Graham

Department of Philosophy 

352 Bartlett Hall 

University of Massachusetts

Amherst, MA 01003-9269
     
Ernesto V. Garcia

Department of Philosophy 

352 Bartlett Hall 

University of Massachusetts

Amherst, MA 01003-9269
     
Professor Marion Smiley

Department of Philosophy

Brandeis University 

415 South Street, MS 055

Waltham, MA 02453-2728
     
Professor Andreas Teuber

Department of Philosophy

Brandeis University 

415 South Street, MS 055

Waltham, MA 02453-2728