Mental health experts say a new tougher New York state gun control law might interfere with treatment of potentially dangerous people and even discourage them from seeking help.

The law would require therapists, doctors, nurses and social workers to tell government authorities if they believe a patient is likely to harm himself or others. That could lead to revoking the patient's gun permit and seizing any guns. (source)

New laws tend to have unintended consequences worse than the conditions or situations they are intended to remedy. The hysteria over the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has such strange bedfellows as the NRA and some of the most liberal Democrats calling for psychological or psychiatric evaluations of potential gun owners. 

Question: Does the state have enough of an interest to require a breach of the privacy normally holding between a patient and his clinician making the state an invisible presence in the conference room?

Question: Might more mayhem be prevented by letting clinicians do their job rather than imposing requirements on them.?

Question: Might imposing a reporting requirement on clinicians expose them to homicidal danger once the client realizes that his counselor has breached the shell of confidentiality holding between them?

Question: Given the ambiguities holding between what clients talk about and what they might actually do might a reporting requirement expose clinicians to needless criminal and civil sanctions if their best guess turns out to be wrong and a client they thought safe did something horrendous? The point is, it's a lot easier to judge how dangerous a patient was in retrospect and hold a clinician responsible.

Tags: control, gun, psychiatry, psycology

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The ethical realm and the legal realm are two distinct realms.  Sometimes they coincide and sometime they do not--and that also applies to rights.  Slavery in the U.S. would be a case where rights did not coincide with legislation.  Surely, UNSEEN, you do not think that slavery was RIGHT just because it was the law in the U.S.--how absurd.

There are many Normative Ethical Theories (NETS) and RIGHTS is just another NET.  Some NETs work better than others at explaining ethical phenomena. One question with RIGHTS is the question of where do RIGHTS come from. Some say they are God given. Some say by contract. A Utilitarian might argue that they  are generated via utility, that is as obligations and direct moral rules (DMR) that increase the overall good.

The ethical realm and the legal realm are two distinct realms.  Sometimes they coincide and sometime they do not--and that also applies to rights.  Slavery in the U.S. would be a case where rights did not coincide with legislation.  Surely, UNSEEN, you do not think that slavery was RIGHT just because it was the law in the U.S.--how absurd.

Slave owners had a right to own slaves under the law, until the law was changed. I don't like slavery. Slaves had whatever rights were given them by their owners. I think slavery (the industrial slavery of the old south) was wrong, but that's an opinion, not a fact.

There are many Normative Ethical Theories (NETS) and RIGHTS is just another NET.  Some NETs work better than others at explaining ethical phenomena. One question with RIGHTS is the question of where do RIGHTS come from. Some say they are God given. Some say by contract. A Utilitarian might argue that they  are generated via utility, that is as obligations and direct moral rules (DMR) that increase the overall good.

Disputes over ethics are clashes over attitudes, not disputes as to facts.

Slavery in the old south was demonstrably unfair, injurious, and unjust, and was defended using incongruous, inaccurate and dishonest arguments.

The only thing demonstrable is that slavery in the old south is wrong by today's standards and in terms of the way we use language today. Slavery was quite okay in ancient Greece which shows how relative these things are.

It's easy enough to see that ethics is all relative to a historical period by simply examining attitudes from other times and noting that they held different attitudes.

So, everything that looks wrong in a certain historical period is ipso facto objectively wrong? Slavery looks wrong today so it's wrong seems to be your argument.

The only fact you've laid out is that slavery was wrong according to the definition of "wrong." But definitions are of just two kinds: a) descriptions of the way language is used or b) they are stipulations ("we will use 'wrong' so as to mean this:...").

Right and wrong are always subjective. Intelligent and and sincere people argue about them without one side or the other being able to lay out a proof of their case, and this is because they are expressing attitudes not proving facts. To say slavery is wrong is little different from saying shit brown is an ugly color, even if everyone agrees with you.

An acorn is not a tree.

An acorn may not be a tree but it is an oak. Any botanist will affirm that fact.

The ethical realm and the legal realm are two distinct realms.  Sometimes they coincide and sometime they do not--and that also applies to rights.  Slavery in the U.S. would be a case where rights did not coincide with legislation.  Surely, UNSEEN, you do not think that slavery was RIGHT just because it was the law in the U.S.--how absurd.

I don't think it was right because it was the law, but nevertheless it was legal. It didn't go away because someone proved slavery was wrong but because the North beat the South in the Civil War, which is not to say that attitudes had nothing to do with it. In fact, attitudes had much to do with it, I'm sure.

Nobody can prove any ethical theory by forming a series of syllogisms based on measurable and testable facts, but rather based on things people agree on, and agreements are based on coinciding attitudes. 

There are many Normative Ethical Theories (NETS) and RIGHTS is just another NET.  Some NETs work better than others at explaining ethical phenomena. One question with RIGHTS is the question of where do RIGHTS come from. Some say they are God given. Some say by contract. A Utilitarian might argue that they  are generated via utility, that is as obligations and direct moral rules (DMR) that increase the overall good.

I would think the fact that there are competing ethical theories rather than just one tends to support my position  that it's based on attitudes and not facts rather than yours that ethics is (or can be) objective.

I'm an atheist but a bit more hard-nosed than you. When we gave up God we gave up the possibility of an objective ethic. We may all agree on ethical matters (like that day will ever come), but agreement isn't proof and doesn't establish that anything is a fact.

UNSEEN what is a fact?  If we accept the argument from possibility, then every science is subjective. I am willing to grant you this, but then your bark has no bite!  If morality is subjective in the same way science is, then the argument from possibility or ultimate disagreement shows too little.  I am more than happy to accept the claim that morality is "only" as good as objective as science.

Some, if not most, moral disputes are dependent on the resolution of some factual issues.

The talk about facts is a "red herring." I present an argument from one of my professors: "Moral judgements are almost all relational:For example, John has an obligation to pay Nancy back the $5 he borrowed from her and promised to pay back on Monday." Any relational claim is on whose referent is not some object in the world, or any other world for that matter. The judgment that the word 'word' the letter 'r' is to the right of 'o' is true and can be confirmed by those who understand what the relation to the right of is.  But, the relation is not some additional object that we see in the same way that we see the individual letters.  We would not be justified in saying, though, that since there is no object that is the meaning or re[resents the relation, then relational judgments are personal, an expression of some affective state and thus not true or false in the same way other kinds of judgments are."

Specific moral judgments are generated and justified when we apply Normative Ethical Theories.

At the meta level, I propose that we use  the best explanation model.  In which case, meta-ethical positions are acceptable if they are the best hypotheses of a certain range of phenomena.

Of course we can agree to disagree.

UNSEEN what is a fact? If we accept the argument from possibility, then every science is subjective. I am willing to grant you this, but then your bark has no bite! If morality is subjective in the same way science is, then the argument from possibility or ultimate disagreement shows too little. I am more than happy to accept the claim that morality is "only" as good as objective as science.

A fact is a state of affairs in the world. A fact is what is the case.

If I don't accept the argument from possibility, what then?

Some, if not most, moral disputes are dependent on the resolution of some factual issues.

An example might help.

The talk about facts is a "red herring." I present an argument from one of my professors: "Moral judgements are almost all relational:For example, John has an obligation to pay Nancy back the $5 he borrowed from her and promised to pay back on Monday." Any relational claim is on whose referent is not some object in the world, or any other world for that matter. The judgment that the word 'word' the letter 'r' is to the right of 'o' is true and can be confirmed by those who understand what the relation to the right of is. But, the relation is not some additional object that we see in the same way that we see the individual letters. We would not be justified in saying, though, that since there is no object that is the meaning or re[resents the relation, then relational judgments are personal, an expression of some affective state and thus not true or false in the same way other kinds of judgments are."

When you can express that argument in terms any caveman can understand get back to us with it. I keep my arguments simple and easy to understand and so might you. Einstein once said "If you can't express your idea in simple terms you probably don't understand it yourself."

Specific moral judgments are generated and justified when we apply Normative Ethical Theories.

But first you need to prove the NET.

At the meta level, I propose that we use the best explanation model. In which case, meta-ethical positions are acceptable if they are the best hypotheses of a certain range of phenomena.

And they are not tied to attitudes held by people in local historical time? I doubt it.

Of course we can agree to disagree.

UNSEEN,  I am arguing against the possibility argument. That argument is used by those like you who claim that there are no facts in ethics because it is always possible that people will disagree. There are disagreements in science--so! Furthermore, as you said, agreement does not make it so, and the same thing applies to science. The layer cake theory of science is false. What was proved to be a fact one day turned out not to be a fact after all.

No God is needed for there to be objective morality. Nor is the fact that people disagree over ethical issues prove that there is no objective morality.  If that were the case, then there would be no objectivity in science, as there is disagreement in science.

UNSEEN you said: "I would think the fact that there are competing ethical theories rather than just one tends to support my position  that it's based on attitudes and not facts rather than yours that ethics is (or can be) objective."

Well let us use that logic.  There are many competing theories in science rather than just one. There is disagreement even over such theories as  germ theory of disease. If that is true, using your logic, then science is based on attitudes and not facts, and so can not be objective.

Lastly, it is interesting that on another thread that you, UNSEEN, claimed that your family was GOOD. Now, your claim supports my position, as I take it you were truly stating what you considered to be an ethical fact. Now perhaps you were stating the truth and perhaps not, perhaps others would agree with you, and others would disagree--nevertheless the best explanation is that we can explain your claim by examining Normative ethical theories and looking at the EVIDENCE that moved you to claim that your family was GOOD.

If not, then your claim about your family being GOOD, is nothing more than your attitude and feeling about your family and no more, than as you say, "To say my family is GOOD is little different from saying shit brown is an ugly color, even if everyone agrees with you."

In this case, consistency would be a virtue.

And...we haven't reached the age depicted in Minority Report where we arrest citizens based on a profile indicating they may commit a crime. We all have a right to remain free unless we lose that right through an act of our own or through the evaluation of an expert that we cannot control our lethal impulses, bearing in mind that such evaluations may lack deterministic certainty with a very high likelihood of both false negatives and false positives.

If you tell people that rights result from some sort of legislation (in a democratic society) or dictum (in a dictatorship), they nod their heads in assent. When you utter the obvious corollary, that whatever human rights exist aren't inherent in man but are the result of some sort of legislation or dictum (e.g., a vote of the United Nations), their faces go white. All rights are one of two things legislated (counting dicta as a form of legislation) or imaginary. Mostly, they are imaginary. Something we aspire to, but that's not nothing.

But is that right...is it safe?

According to the college of Physicians and Surgeons (Canada):

The Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA) permits the disclosure of personal health information to prevent harm where certain criteria are met. Additionally, there are court decisions that set out separate and distinct criteria for disclosure by physicians where there is an imminent risk of serious bodily harm or death.

Furthermore, in Canada, there is a strict screening procedure that is done before anyone is allowed to purchase a gun, and handguns are strictly regulated.   Not everyone is allowed to "bear arms" here.

I agree that if there is a risk of serious harm or death, a clinician should be obligated to report it.  By doing so, clinicians would be doing their job, and reducing the mayhem. 

Doctors, psychiatrists, police officers, etc., are always at risk, and they know that.  It is also their duty to prevent the "mayhem" that you speak of.  Without them, there would be chaos. 

Oh, and I guess that, in Canada, if a clinician feels that someone is, a la Minority Report, on the verge of committing some crime of violence, they can take these person's freedom away indefinitely(?).

What about the unintended consequence, often argued, that you might, taking the long view, actually increase violence because people having such feelings and knowing the law will simply not expose themselves to indefinite incarceration?

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