Johan van Schaik

Jury trials = Mob justice

Jury trials are the norm in the Anglo-Saxon world. A jury of your peers. This sounds very nice for a group person. A herd person. For charming and manipulative liars. For sociopaths, and in the modern age, for people who have the media on their side. But is it the most likely system to guarantee justice?

Juries are groups of ordinary people. Not trained professionals in law or assessing evidence, nor people trained in any way to be impartial. They are groups. Groups of ordinary people. Yet their assessment of a person, their collective intuition or sentiment is made decisive in determining guilt or innocence.

Judicial activism and Constitutional Courts

In The Ideal Constitution (in the section Philosophy under About) , we described constitutional principles that would ensure a proper separation of powers and specifically an independent judiciary. This is especially important if the judiciary engages in the constitutional review of law.

We support and defend constitutional review as an important part of constitutional democracy. Decision by judges regarding the constitutionality of laws have not been without controversy however and backlash to judicial decisions has worsened the last couple of years. But what is the alternative?

A modest proposal… against the spread of monkey pox

How about we try to temporarily enforce an end to orgies that risk to spread monkey pox. Apparently abstinence won’t work, but come on man! It was possible to force people to stay in their homes for weeks, to not work, to keep distance from each other, stay away from movie theaters and restaurants and even to not visit dying family members. This should be a piece of cake.

Philosophical basics: A process of reduction

All philosophy starts with axioms. The question is which ones are the most basic, the most essential, the most inescapable.
The first axiom appears to be logic. Or perhaps reason. Or perhaps most basically, the law of non-contradiction. There cannot be a round square.
The law of non-contradiction was the basis for the rejection of dogmatic scepticism. You cannot know for certain that nothing can be known for certain. Just as the statement ‘I am a liar’ is inherently meaningless.

The Cold European civil war?

Orbán won again in Hungary. But contrary to what I (and pretty much everyone) had predicted, he once again won a two thirds majority. Orbán outdid his most favourable polls and yet both international observers and the opposition have acknowledged that there was very little actual fraud (though not radical leftists in the European parliament or even national parliaments).[1][2] It was however asserted the Fidesz had an unfair advantage due to its control over state-owned media and use of other state resources to its advantage. That is true. Hungary has developed and now further cemented, a dominant party system and leans in the direction of a hybrid regime. But to be fair, the united opposition enjoyed the backing from pretty much all Europhiles and was painted as pro-Putin.

Elections in Hungary and the future of Europe

Parliamentary elections will be held on April 3 in Hungary. Europeanists and the left hope Orbán will finally be unseated by the United opposition. That seemed like a likely possibility till recently, but the 6-party alliance and its independent candidate have been successfully messing things up. Disunited and unfocused they’ve failed to use Orban’s connections to Putin against him. Instead Orbán has successfully painted his neutralism as the safer bet.

The ‘ideal’ constitution

What is the ideal constitution? No actually, what is the least horrible constitution? The ‘best’ political system is an entirely different subject. Assuming the political system is a constitutional state, what should the constitution be?
In case people question why this article is listed amongst the philosophical articles, even though it analyses and compares an abstract political system, I would remind them that this constituted philosophy for Plato and Aristotle, so I am going to say that it counts as such.