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JacobGalt

Should you use force to protect your own life?

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The instant a rights violation occurs, the violator has irrevocably forfeited every right he or she has? If so, why do we punish shoplifters less severely than murderers? Is this an arbitrary social convention?

In actuality, the extent of the forfeiture is directly linked to the extent of the rights violation. The shoplifter forfeits his rights to the extent that it is now morally permissible to exact a certain amount of punishment, but it is not just to (for instance) end his life.

I don't think there is any way you can capture the meaning of the concept justice (which is necessary if you wish to determine what the right to punish a violation of rights means) with the notion of "forfeiture of rights". It is an oversimplification.

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I think we do ourselves a disservice by arguing about rights and, really, even morality (or at least the morality of everyday life) in the context of an emergency situation.

There is no right or wrong answer to an emergency situation and these are the conundrums that the skeptics, moral relativists, anarchists and altruists dream up in order to demonstrate that there are inherent contradictions in man's life and between men. Normal, everyday, civilized life is of no import.

There is no dichotomy between morality and rights: whatever is moral is right. Nor is there a dichotomy between the practical and the moral: the moral is the practical. But morality and Rights are for living and therefore when life is impossible morality and Rights do not apply.

So in emergency situations there is no right or wrong and good and bad are not absolute but relative. However, I want to register my disagreement that the following scenario is an emergency situation or that you should "take the medicine".

The more usual expression of this lifeboat scenario is "would you steal medicine to save your life?".

The answer is: [...] Take the medicine.

Example 2: The owner of the medicine (or a loved one) has a present or anticipated need for it, therefore it is reasonable not to allow the sick man to take it. Lifeboat.

Life in the ocean is definitely an emergency: if you don't get out of the water, you will die. It is a metaphysical fact.

Dying from disease is normal everyday life, it happens to millions every year. The question is: how is it prevented? The answer is not by killing the person who makes the cure.

When a loved one is dying from disease in the US she is in a much better position than the same person in Africa even if neither could afford the medicine. As a reaction to something that will happen to everybody eventually, it would not be proper to destroy the very thing that makes a flourishing life possible. No flourishing life is possible on the ocean or a desert island -- you will either survive or you will die but you really won't flourish.

I maintain that these questions cannot be answered. First off, there is no right or wrong. And second, what could you learn about morality by answering anyway? Situations where people must be at each other's throats, where one man must die so that another can live, have no relation to real life -- the real life you must live the rest of the time (which is all of it) when life (a full life) is possible.

When someone proposes an emergency situation I think the proper response is to say: "why don't we talk about real life instead."

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Clearly you don't have a clue what I think. Property rights do not give one the authority to initiate force against an innocent person.

What you think is irrelevant. The fact that someone who violates property is not an innocent person is relevant.

An innocent victim of a shipwreck is not a criminal

An innocent victim of AIDS is not a criminal. How do you justify retaliation against such a person if he/she steals a dose of AZT? Or do you consider such theft not to be a crime?

Actions are what they are. Place yourself on another person's property against their will and you are a trespasser.

The instant a rights violation occurs, the violator has irrevocably forfeited every right he or she has?

Not necessarily instantly and not necessarily irrevocably. That is why I qualified the example to state that the person refuses to comply when ordered off the property - reason is exhausted.

Wandering inadvertently into private property is trespass, but does not mean that the owner can simply shoot you in the head. On the other hand putting a fence around the property with adequate signage might be considered to be sufficient to assure that anyone trespassing is doing so with intent, and thus might be considered to justify immediate force without prior warning.

The discussion of to what extent rights are forfeit when a crime is committed is an interesting topic worthy of discussion (this has not been clearly settled in Objectivist literature, to my knowledge).

I don't think there is any way you can capture the meaning of the concept justice (which is necessary if you wish to determine what the right to punish a violation of rights means) with the notion of "forfeiture of rights".

Forfeiture of rights is a necessary corolary to the notion of retaliatory force. If forfeiture of rights were not a valid premise any defensive force would itself be a violation of rights as well.

I think we do ourselves a disservice by arguing about rights and, really, even morality (or at least the morality of everyday life) in the context of an emergency situation.

Definitely.

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Forfeiture of rights is a necessary corolary to the notion of retaliatory force. If forfeiture of rights were not a valid premise any defensive force would itself be a violation of rights as well.

Ayn Rand argues for the right to self defense without relying on the premise of forfeiture of rights. Is there something specific that is wrong about Miss Rand's argument for the right to self defense?

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Ayn Rand argues for the right to self defense without relying on the premise of forfeiture of rights. Is there something specific that is wrong about Miss Rand's argument for the right to self defense?

Nothing wrong, it is implicit (because it is logically necessary). If you have a problem with forfeiture of rights, lets hear it.

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What you think is irrelevant. The fact that someone who violates property is not an innocent person is relevant.

An innocent victim of AIDS is not a criminal. How do you justify retaliation against such a person if he/she steals a dose of AZT? Or do you consider such theft not to be a crime?

Actions are what they are. Place yourself on another person's property against their will and you are a trespasser.

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What you think is irrelevant. The fact that someone who violates property is not an innocent person is relevant.

You don't think, you follow rules. Objectivism is essentially a method for thinking, and that is not it.

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Someone mentioned that Peikoff did address this very recently. They did miss one part though. If it's your only option then yes, you fight to survive. Peikoffs example was in fact that of an Island also, so I don't know if you sent him the question as well.

Although Peikoff did not state this in his example specifically he did elude to it, but if there were another Island that you were sure you could swim to, then no. If there are other options available to you, the moral course is to pursue alternatives before resorting to force for your survival.

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Wow, the original question is a lot different from what people are responding to.

I would kill the owner of the land since it is not rational to tell someone to leave your property when it means certain death for yourself. However, if he offered a reason that I found true (which the question seems to suggest he doesn't) such as he could prove to me that his existence on the island could not support anyone else (limited food supply etc.), I would leave. To me objectivism is a way to approach issues, not a concrete list of things you must follow. mrocktor statement that "what you think is irrelevant" seems to be suggesting the latter which I sincerely hope is not a view held by all objectivists.

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