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September 2008



In which I talk about Jonathan Caulkins again

I’ve got to admit, I’m having a little bit of fun with this, despite the deadly serious nature of the issues…
Jonathan Caulkins steps back into the fray in “The Discussion” part of the Cato Unbound series.
You may remember that I had previously accused him of either deliberately distorting the meaning of the Erowids’ comments, or being dumb as a rock. Well Jonathan defends himself (not from me, actually, but from Jacob Sullum’s more polite version of that assessment).

I fully agree with Sullum that saying modern humans must relate to psychoactives responsibly is not the same as denying an individual‰s right to choose temperance. However, the Erowids‰ full statement was

Modern humans must learn how to relate to psychoactives responsibly, treating them with respect and awareness, working to minimize harms and maximize benefits, and integrating use into a healthy, enjoyable, and productive life.

I explicitly wrote that ‹most of that assertion is innocuous,Š but singled out the part about the necessity of integrating use into life as not respecting someone‰s right to choose not to use a drug.

I still don’t see how you can take that philosophical statement about the class of “modern humans” and claim that the Erowids are “denying or denigrating an individual’s right to choose temperance” and thereby being “not worth engaging.” What does he think that they are suggesting? That police will come door to door and make sure that everyone has taken their psychoactive drug for the day? Or is Jonathan afraid the Yippies will dump LSD into the water supply (although such a scenario today is actually more likely to be the fault of the DEA).
So I’m confused here. It appears to me that anyone with a reading comprehension level above 4th grade knows that the Erowids are not denying individual choice. But Caulkins still believes it. So what is going on? Let’s get your view: