Executive, Legislative, Or Judicial?

Do you have a preferred branch of the government: executive, legislative, or judicial? Do they keep each other in check?

Share why if you wish.

Executive, Legislative, Or Judicial?

Do Animals Have Rights?

The concept of inherent rights is well established for humans. Do any of those rights extend to animals?

Humans are born (at least in the United States) with certain “unalienable” rights, which include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Bill of Rights enumerate additional rights. Other countries may differ in exact language, but in most places it is assumed that humans have some rights from birth.

Other animals are not human, however, and human laws and ideas do not automatically extend to them. But what are the differences between humans and other animals, and do those differences really matter?

One difference, of course, is that other animals don’t have laws, or form governments. Why should human laws and rights apply to non-humans?

While it is true that no animal other than humans have written a constitution, it is not clear that a written document is needed. A colony of bees has a well-defined hierarchy, for instance. You could almost consider a hive to be the equivalent of a (human) country.

What about the argument that humans are sentient, and they are the only such animal? That argument relies on the definition of sentience, and there does not seem to be a way to know for certain if other animals are, in fact, sentient.

Human laws are often written for the benefit of those people who do not have any political power. They allow for people with little or no power to avoid being taken advantage of by those who do. That would certainly seem to describe animals, who quite literally have no voice.

And yet, there are some rights which cannot and should not apply to animals. No taxation without representation? That doesn’t make any sense at all — animals don’t pay taxes, and it would seem impossible to give (direct) representation to, say, a bear.

So what rights, if any, should (non-human) animals have?

Related questions: Does nature have rights? How are humans like other animals? How are they different? Personal rights or public safety? What are our responsibilities to others?

What Does The Second Amendment Mean To You?

With the recent shootings in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX, attention has been focused on the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. What do you think of it?

The text reads, in full:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What are you willing to sacrifice?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What do you believe?’


Does this amendment signify a deep-seated right for individuals to bear arms? Is it an antiquated holdover from years ago? Does the vague language help or hurt it?

You don’t need to be a constitutional scholar to hold an opinion. What is yours?

Related questions: How can we encourage debate? Personal Rights or Public Safety? When should you not follow the law? How can we be safe?

What Role Should Government Play In Our Lives?

We pay taxes — income, property, sales — to the government. We vote for the people who hold public office at the local, state, and federal levels. What, then, should we expect in return?

In some circles, government is seen as a bad thing. However, it must play some part in our lives.

For example, perhaps that role is to protect us from other countries and threats across the world. A strong military would perform that task.

Maybe, though, the government can keep us safe from other dangers besides bad actors around the world. The current pandemic is an example. A strong state or federal entity can coordinate efforts that individuals, or even powerful companies, might not be able, or motivated, to do.

Does that also extend to other threats? Climate change? Dirty food or water? Guns?


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where we discuss the questions ‘Where does authority come from?’ and ‘What does your favorite music say about you?’


Whenever disputes between individuals arise, there needs to be some intermediate to resolve them. The legislative system serves as a way to codify this, and the courts allow for interpretations of those laws. Is this a valid governmental role?

There are many other tasks that the government oversees: education, land governance, roads and bridges, libraries, postal service, and on and on. Are there areas that the government currently manages that they shouldn’t, in your opinion? Conversely, are there roles it should have, but currently doesn’t?

If you like the government or not, it is true that in a democracy the government is a manifestation of the will of the people. In your mind, what do you want our civic institutions to do? What role should the government play in our lives?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? Where does authority come from? What role does technology play in your life? How much power does an individual have?

Are You Free?

In the United States political world, there has been a lot of talk about being free lately. From owning guns to wearing masks to availability of abortions, one person’s freedom is another’s oppression.

A number of freedoms, or rights, are explicitly mentioned in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In particular, the first and second amendments, freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, respectively, are the most famous. Are efforts to keep protests safe limiting freedom of speech? Are all efforts at gun control an infringement of the Second Amendment?

In addition, there is also a fierce debate going on regarding voting rights, and both sides of the political divide feel that they are defending democracy. One side wants increased voting access to previously under-served communities; the other thinks that is an invitation to fraud.

At the heart of many of the ongoing arguments is that people, regardless of their political affiliation or socioeconomic standing, feel their freedoms slipping away.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where we discuss the questions ‘Freedom or security?’ and ‘Is technology neutral?’


Not to mention the vanishing of privacy in the age of social media. Similarly, our personal information is becoming more available to corporations. Credit card companies, for example, know more about us than many of us realize. Cell phones allow us to be tracked wherever we go.

On a personal level, how do you feel about freedom? Are you free? Do you feel free? Are your freedoms threatened, and what can be done to strengthen them?

Related questions: Freedom or security? What are you doing to make the world a better place? Personal rights or convenience? How can we encourage debate?