How does the rule of law promote a free society?

In classical liberal philosophy, individual pursuit of happiness is made possible by a framework of law.

  • The rule of law as a principle has a philosophical history before it was popularized by classical liberalism, which can be traced back to Greek philosopher Aristotle.
  • The classical liberal conception of laws draws upon this pre-history but differs slightly. Yes, the end goal is the common good, however "goodness" varies by individual.
  • In this way of thinking, instead of telling us what will make us happy, law serves as the framework that allows us to pursue our own unique happiness.
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An algorithm produced every possible melody. Now its creators want to destroy songwriter copyrights.

A computer coder and a lawyer decide they have a right to speak for all the songwriters that ever lived, those who are alive today, and all those yet to be born.

Image source: Seeme/Shutterstock/Big Think
  • A computer coder calculated all of the possible 8-measure, 12-beat melodies possible from Western music's 12 notes.
  • The coder and a lawyer decided to claim ownership of every song melody ever.
  • The two of them submitted all of these songs into the public domain so no one could ever be found in court to be plagiarizing a song.
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Algorithms identify repeat offenders better than judges

Can AI make better predictions about future crimes?

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  • A new study finds algorithmic predictions of recidivism more accurate than human authorities.
  • Researchers are trying to construct tests of such AI that accurately mirror real-world deliberations.
  • What level of reliability should we demand of AI in sentencing?
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Law vs. justice: What is our duty in society?

Laws can't stand by themselves. Professor James Stoner explains why.

  • Can you divorce the rule of law from the virtue of justice? Immanuel Kant said the perfect constitution would work even among a nation of devils, provided they were intelligent devils.
  • Professor James Stoner thinks the opposite is true. The right punishments don't lead people to behave well, we are also guided to make morally good decisions by our conscience—by our internal sense of justice.
  • The ability of all people to pursue their own good is itself a kind of common good of a liberal society.
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Tyranny comes home: How the 'boomerang effect' impacts civilian life in the U.S.

When it comes to foreign intervention, we often overlook the practices that creep into life back home.

  • Methods used in foreign intervention often resurface domestically, whether that's in the form of skills or technology.
  • University of Tampa professor Abigail Blanco calls this the boomerang effect. It's a consequence not often thought about when we discuss foreign intervention.
  • The three channels to consider when examining the boomerang effect include human capital in the form of skills, administrative dynamics, and physical capital in the form of tools and technology.
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