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Iatan Petru

Acting to stop a crime

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Is it immoral and/or should it be considered illegal if I acted to stop a crime that doesn't involve me? ~~~according to Objectivism of course~~~

If, for example, I see a person beating another person and I initiate force against the aggressor in order to stop him, would a proper Government sanction me for that?

 

I know that the current Law system states that if you initiate force in order to stop an illegal action, then you're good.

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2 hours ago, Iatan Petru said:

If, for example, I see a person beating another person and I initiate force against the aggressor in order to stop him, would a proper Government sanction me for that?

No, a government should not stop someone from such an act, as such. [The devil would be in the details of what you saw, what a reasonable could properly assume, and then the actual  details of what you did: e.g. too much force.]

Do you have some specific example in mind, that makes you think that this should be illegal?

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Stopping a crime involving someone else is absolutely moral.  We all want to live in a society with little crime, so at times we need to step up and get involved if we someone in trouble.

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2 hours ago, Iatan Petru said:

If, for example, I see a person beating another person and I initiate force against the aggressor in order to stop him, would a proper Government sanction me for that?

With others responding to legal/moral issues, I just want to clarify that, per my understanding of Objectivism, what you describe would not be the "initiation of the use of force" in the sense that Rand means when she employs those terms.

Rather, force would already have been initiated by your aggressor in beating someone else; if you employ force to stop him, that would be viewed in the vein of retaliatory/self-defensive action, which is moral per Objectivism.

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11 hours ago, New Buddha said:

Stopping a crime involving someone else is absolutely moral.

Way I heard it, Objectivism subscribes to the "No victim, no crime" principle. So if there's a victim then there's a crime and people can step in to help the victim, even if they're not authorities, do I understand this correctly?

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1 hour ago, Iatan Petru said:

Way I heard it, Objectivism subscribes to the "No victim, no crime" principle. So if there's a victim then there's a crime and people can step in to help the victim, even if they're not authorities, do I understand this correctly?

There is a class of crimes often times referred to as "victimless crimes" such as the use of an illegal drug (ex. marijuana).  Is this what you mean by "no victim, no crime"?

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10 hours ago, Iatan Petru said:

Way I heard it, Objectivism subscribes to the "No victim, no crime" principle. So if there's a victim then there's a crime and people can step in to help the victim, even if they're not authorities, do I understand this correctly?

For Objectivism, the fundamental political starting point is: individual rights. (I know you asked about the moral and political, and this is the political aspect: i.e. what should be okay, legally)

Rights are rights to action (in a generic sense that includes the choice not to act).

One can get into debates about what actions cross the line where you go from having a right to act, to violating someone else's right by acting. (e.g. swinging your arms in exercise, versus swinging your arm and punching someone in the face). In your example, I can't imagine what argument one could use to say that a person does not have the right to intervene.

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On 6/23/2017 at 5:17 PM, New Buddha said:

There is a class of crimes often times referred to as "victimless crimes" such as the use of an illegal drug (ex. marijuana).  Is this what you mean by "no victim, no crime"?

What I mean is that an act can only be considered a crime if there's a victim. Smoking marijuana is not a moral crime, according to Objectivism, so under a proper Government it shouldn't be considered one.

 

16 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

In your example, I can't imagine what argument one could use to say that a person does not have the right to intervene.

Well the way I thought about it is : If I attack a person then only that person has the right to self-defense (in this context, to fight back). If a third party, for example another civilian, intervenes in something which doesn't concern him and initiates force against me, I could take legal action against him for having attacked me, despite the fact that he did it to save the other person.

Of course, I agree that it's the 'right' thing to do, as in I would do it without feeling guilty about it, but how does Objectivism justify harming a person to save another? When you commit a crime, do your rights become invalid for the duration of the act? I'm really curious about the exact explanation.

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24 minutes ago, Iatan Petru said:

If a third party, for example another civilian, intervenes in something which doesn't concern him and initiates force against me, I could take legal action against him for having attacked me, despite the fact that he did it to save the other person.

You have no right to the original action. If your action was really beating up some person willy-nilly, there is no such right ab initio. Your action is already outside the law and you have no claim against anyone who stops you from an action that violates rights.

Think about it: what is the basis of such legal action? That the third party was violating your rights? But, what specifically: violating your right to violate the rights of others? Well, I guess you can see the problem: you have had the right to violate someone else's right, so you never had the right to be allowed to do so, and others may stop you... with gratitude of everyone who wants rights to be respected.

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If you attack a person you violate the NAP. If that person fights back, he does so because he is in an extreme situation, which can be seen as an 'emergency' under moral principles, so it's okay for him to defend himself at all costs, even by harming you. But if a stranger attacks you to save he victim, then he also violates the NAP because he attacked someone he didn't *need* to.

It's clear to me that it is moral to defend someone, even by initiating force against the attacker, what I am trying to get is an Objectivist explanation as to 'how' and 'why'.

Of course, if you harm someone without reason, then you cannot possibly have the pretention others shouldn't harm you, I get what you're saying. But what entitles the third party to intervene without facing legal consequences for NAP violation?

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27 minutes ago, Iatan Petru said:

If you attack a person you violate the NAP.

I'm not completely familiar with the way the idea of "Non Aggression Principle" is used. However, with that caveat: if you attack a person I cannot see how that violates the NAP. It depends what the person was doing. Maybe you should conceptualize this in terms of individual rights instead of "non-aggression", which sounds too concrete and narrow a term.

I'm not sure how to answer differently from before, but Objectivism starts from the concept of "individual rights". People have a right to act and they do not have a right to violate the rights of others. If you act to support this: e.g. by stopping someone who is about to abduct a baby, and holding him at gunpoint while you call the cops,... then you are acting to uphold rights, not to violate them. 

Is there some gap you find in that reasoning?

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12 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

Is there some gap you find in that reasoning?

Not really, but if we are to view things from the point of view of rights, instead of what's moral, then we can get to some moral anomalies. Rights are moral principles, so that would make those contradictions even more evident.

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6 minutes ago, Iatan Petru said:

Not really, but if we are to view things from the point of view of rights, instead of what's moral, then we can get to some moral anomalies. Rights are moral principles, so that would make those contradictions even more evident.

I was going to object to "rights are moral principles", but I'm not sure what you're thinking of here. So, you should elaborate before I respond...perhaps with an example

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8 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

I was going to object to "rights are moral principles"

Well that is what Objectivism claims. https://atlassociety.org/objectivism/atlas-university/what-are-rights/foundations-archive/3637-individual-rights-the-objectivist-view

 

And as for giving an example, imagine the following scenario :

Torturing a puppy is definetely immoral, even if that puppy is your property. For me to try and stop a person from torturing his puppy is clearly moral. But it would be illegal for me to do it because animals have no rights, so you can torture an animal but I can't lay my hands on you to stop you.

There's the moral anomaly I was talking about, if we are to view things from the pov of rights. I do something moral, but still it's illegal. Since the legal system has to be moral, then something cannot be illegal unless it is immoral. And thus we have a contradiction.

 

That's where I wanted to get btw, I seem fixated on the whole animal cruelty topic. :worry:

So, if I act to save an animal from abuse, why should it be illegal? It is, after all, very moral to do so.
 

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"Moral anomaly"? Not sure what that means...the same as contradiction? I'll assume so, since you say we have a contradiction... so, let's run with that:

As you say: a legal system should be moral. If something is illegal, it should be immoral too: yes, it would not be right to make moral actions illegal. So, illegal actions ought to be a sub-set of immoral actions. But, why would it be the other way around? 

For example: on Objectivist terms, it is moral for you to pursue your happiness. Does it mean you should go to jail if you're a routinely depressed person?

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