Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Invictus2017

Correcting the nonaggression "principle"

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I was working on an essay about immigration, and realized that I had to first deal with an error in Objectivism. So here is what I ran into. (All quotes are from Rand.)

"The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may initiate the use of physical force against others." ("The Objectivist Ethics".) And, "In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use." ("The Nature of Government".)

These statements are false. To explain why, I need to go back to first (political) principles.

A "right" is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man's right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action — means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. ("Man's Rights".)

So, the determination of what constitutes a right requires an analysis of what actions the nature of a rational being require in a social context.

From "The Nature of Government" (all further quotes are from there):

Man's rights can be violated only by the use of physical force. It is only by means of physical force that one man can deprive another of his life, or enslave him, or rob him, or prevent him from pursuing his own goals, or compel him to act against his own rational judgment.

This is not true. Fraud, for example, violates rights, but no physical force is used. Rand gets around this by asserting that fraud involves "indirect force", but this is silly — if there is any physical force involved in fraud, it is in the retrieval of that which was taken by the fraud, not in the fraud itself. Moreover, Rand nowhere explains how one determines what constitutes indirect force.

What force, fraud, and certain other categories of action have in common is that, by their nature, they are incompatible with their object's actions to further his own life. Force necessarily deprives a person of the ability to act on his own will. Fraud necessarily deprives a person of the information needed to engage in voluntary trade. Rand observed that, "The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships — thus establishing the principle that if men wish to deal with one another, they may do so only by means of reason: by discussion, persuasion and voluntary, uncoerced agreement." Rand's error here is not in her conclusion, but only in how she arrived at it. Fraud, e.g., must be banned, not because it is a species of "indirect force", but because it is inconsistent with "voluntary, uncoerced agreement" which, in turn, makes it inconsistent with a person's acting to further his own life in a social context.

Why is my way better? Because it allows one to solve other problems that would otherwise have to be dealt with ad hoc, by asserting that they involve some species of "indirect force". So, for example, if I invite you into my property and then forbid you to use its exits, I may not be using any sort of physical force, but I am preventing you from furthering your own life. Such an action would therefore violate your rights.

So what to make of the "nonaggression principle" I started out with? It must be taken as a mere approximation, to be clarified later. (It's not really germane here, but I should note that Rand's critique of libertarianism — that it takes the nonaggression principle as an axiom when it is anything but — misses the real problem, which is that the nonaggression principle is simply false.) So what is it an approximation to?

The essential point Rand makes is that society is a value because it enables one to obtain knowledge from and to trade with others in the service of one's life. What must be banned is not force, or even the initiation of force, but whatever, by its nature, is inconsistent with those values (which includes the initiation of force). Such things necessarily violate rights and it is proper to use force (or fraud or any other species of otherwise rights-violating action) to protect against them or to vindicate rights violated by their use. There is no short phrase for these things, so I am going to use the phrase "violative force" — with scare quotes — from hereon to refer to these things. (If you will, my "violative force" comprises physical force plus what Rand called "indirect force", except that my definition allows one to use reason to determine what constitutes "violative force".)

The proper formulation of the nonaggression principle is that no person may use "violative force" against another. But this principle is not sufficient to for the needs of society. There are situations where it is proper to take actions that would otherwise constitute "violative force" to defend or vindicate one's rights. Such actions, "defensive force" and "retaliatory "force" (again, I'll keep the scare quotes), are not only permissible, they are necessary to a proper society.

As necessary as they may be, society cannot function if their use is left to the judgment of each person. There must be an organization, the government, that constrains the use of all three sorts of "force". This constraint operates in two ways.

The use of "defensive force" in exigent situations cannot, by its nature, be delegated to the government. If you have a burglar in your home, it's too late to call the police — your rights are being violated and only you (or others right there) can put an end to the violation. The government's function is, first, to define such situations and what constitutes "defensive force" in those situations and, second, to review each use of "force" to see whether it is "defensive" or "violative". You get to shoot the burglar, if that is your chosen method of self-defense, but you will be required to show that his actions were "violative force", thereby permitting you the use of "defensive force".

Non-exigent uses of "defensive force" and all uses of "retaliatory force" must be left to the government, but the government must be utterly rule-bound, constrained to act objectively, as Rand noted:

The retaliatory use of force requires objective rules of evidence to establish that a crime has been committed and to prove who committed it, as well as objective rules to define punishments and enforcement procedures.

Consider, however, what would happen if people could arbitrarily deprive the government of facts it needs to make proper use of "force". Its procedures would then necessarily lack the objectivity that a government must have, and would therefore be inconsistent with the rights of the governed. It follows then that no person may arbitrarily deprive the government of the information it needs to properly employ "force", that doing so is in itself a violation of the rights of the governed.

Note here that, under Rand's formulation, a refusal to respond to a subpoena would have to be classified as indirect force, but it is anything but obvious that such a refusal is any kind of force, or even that it violates anyone's rights. It was this conclusion that led me to rethink the formulation of the nature of force. Under my formulation, such a refusal is clearly "violative force" because it is demonstrably inconsistent with the requirements of life in society, just as much as non-defensive physical force, fraud, etc., is.

But, to return to the point with which I began this essay, it is simply not true that, "In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use." Only by twisting the word force into a hyperpretzel is it possible to consider, for example, a refusal to answer a subpoena as an initiation of force justifying retaliatory force. This proposition needs to simply be excised from Objectivism, replaced with a more accurate description of what sort of actions are forbidden and when an action that would ordinarily violate rights is legitimate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

Consider, however, what would happen if people could arbitrarily deprive the government of facts it needs to make proper use of "force". Its procedures would then necessarily lack the objectivity that a government must have, and would therefore be inconsistent with the rights of the governed. It follows then that no person may arbitrarily deprive the government of the information it needs to properly employ "force", that doing so is in itself a violation of the rights of the governed.

Note here that, under Rand's formulation, a refusal to respond to a subpoena would have to be classified as indirect force, but it is anything but obvious that such a refusal is any kind of force, or even that it violates anyone's rights. It was this conclusion that led me to rethink the formulation of the nature of force.

This won't be a substantive critique, both because I don't think I understand your thesis well enough yet, and also because the turkey is almost done...

But out of curiosity, how would you apply your ideas to conscription? What would happen if people could arbitrarily deprive the government of the manpower it needs to defend its territory or citizens? Or what of compulsory taxation? What would happen if people could arbitrarily deprive the government of the funds it requires... or eminent domain, where people arbitrarily deprive the government of facilities/infrastructure, or etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

This won't be a substantive critique, both because I don't think I understand your thesis well enough yet, and also because the turkey is almost done...

Gobble, gobble. :)

(Hear that faint scream? That's my diet not so quietly expiring....)

2 hours ago, DonAthos said:

But out of curiosity, how would you apply your ideas to conscription? What would happen if people could arbitrarily deprive the government of the manpower it needs to defend its territory or citizens? Or what of compulsory taxation? What would happen if people could arbitrarily deprive the government of the funds it requires... or eminent domain, where people arbitrarily deprive the government of facilities/infrastructure, or etc.

The argument I made applies to information needed in, for example, trials, because the government by its nature cannot function without such information.  There can be no circumstance where the government properly says, "oh forget it, we'll just judge in the absence of information."  Moreover, no rational person would want it to do that.

As Rand pointed out, "Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action — means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life."  But because no rational being would want his government to act without the information that is objectively necessary to render a proper judgment, there can be no right to withhold that information.  (Note that this does not mean that the government has carte blanche to demand whatever information it wants.  Rather, it must follow objectively validated procedures to determine that it needs the information, which includes the means for the one who has that information to challenge the government's alleged need.  I note that this is, in principle, if not in practice, what happens in modern courts.)

 

Making this sort of argument in the case of other government functions is not so easy.  For example, a government needs manpower, but it has the option to hire that manpower rather than conscript it.  There is therefore no metaphysical necessity for conscription as there is for the information needed for proper judgment, which makes the argument insufficient to justify conscription.

There is a metaphysical necessity for sufficient resources to function as a proper government.  But this cannot be a claim on particular resources.  Thus, it cannot be used to justify eminent domain and the like.  It is only in the case where there is a pattern of deprivation so severe that the government cannot function that the government would be permitted to -- and required to -- compel people to provide the necessary resources.  In such a case, the argument does apply, because no rational person would want a government that was nonfunctional due to insufficient resources.

Taxation is a harder issue.  The argument has been made that the functions of government can be funded by user fees and the like.  I'm not persuaded either way.  What I will say is that, if it is true, taxation would be forbidden.  Conversely, if this is not true, taxation would be necessary.

(For my proposed city, I'm probably going to sidestep the issue by requiring, as a condition of citizenship, an agreement to contribute to the government by some predetermined formula.  Citizens would have rights, such as the right to recover damages, that non-citizens would not have.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

Fraud, for example, violates rights, but no physical force is used. Rand gets around this by asserting that fraud involves "indirect force", but this is silly — if there is any physical force involved in fraud, it is in the retrieval of that which was taken by the fraud, not in the fraud itself. Moreover, Rand nowhere explains how one determines what constitutes indirect force.

When accusing Rand of an error or omission, it's best to first look at and address the Lexicon entry for that subject. Otherwise, you probably won't be taken seriously.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

When accusing Rand of an error or omission, it's best to first look at and address the Lexicon entry for that subject. Otherwise, you probably won't be taken seriously.

I have read that entry -- and the rest of the essay from which it is excerpted.  In fact I quoted that very essay in the post from which you quoted.  Did you not notice?

 

If you wish to be taken seriously, I suggest that you assume that others have done their homework unless the evidence proves otherwise.  If you do think that I have erred, describe the error.  Snide suggestions of my incompetence will only damage your reputation.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fraud

A unilateral breach of contract involves an indirect use of physical force: it consists, in essence, of one man receiving the material values, goods or services of another, then refusing to pay for them and thus keeping them by force (by mere physical possession), not by right—i.e., keeping them without the consent of their owner. Fraud involves a similarly indirect use of force: it consists of obtaining material values without their owner’s consent, under false pretenses or false promises.

This is a perfectly legitimate identification of an indirect use of physical force. A civil mechanism, authorized to use retaliatory force once breach of contract or fraud is established in order to neutralize the indirect force initiated by the perpetrator via refusing to give up physical possession of the material value.

 

Edited by dream_weaver

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recommend Peter Schwartz's 2011 essay "Free Minds and Free Markets", available from the ARI Estore, which provides a detailed analysis of the relationship between force, rights, freedom, voluntary action: the concept “force” denotes a physical action to which we are subjected against our will. Thus the concept of "force" employed by physicists it not the same as the philosophical one that Rand speaks of. A handshake is not the initiation of force; speaking to a person is not the initiation of force.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On Friday November 24, 2017 at 2:10 PM, dream_weaver said:

A unilateral breach of contract involves an indirect use of physical force: it consists, in essence, of one man receiving the material values, goods or services of another, then refusing to pay for them and thus keeping them by force (by mere physical possession), not by right—i.e., keeping them without the consent of their owner. Fraud involves a similarly indirect use of force: it consists of obtaining material values without their owner’s consent, under false pretenses or false promises.

This is a perfectly legitimate identification of an indirect use of physical force. A civil mechanism, authorized to use retaliatory force once breach of contract or fraud is established in order to neutralize the indirect force initiated by the perpetrator via refusing to give up physical possession of the material value.

Instead of quoting Rand's examples of indirect force (which I'm well aware of), how about defining "indirect force".  In particular, is it a species of force or a species of rights violation? And what is the differentia? And address how (and whether) a refusal to obey a subpoena constitutes indirect force and thereby justifies a government sanction. What about the scenario I described, wherein I allow you entry to my home and then deny you permission to use its exits?  Consideration of those issues is what led me to my current thoughts.

Note that I'm not disagreeing with the conclusion that contract violations and fraud can be replied to with retributive force, I'm arguing that the derivation of this conclusion needs to be rethought.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When you do a thing to a person and directly override their will, you have direct force. When you do a thing to a person and you have conditional consent ("I agree, providing...") but do not satisfy the condition that consent was predicated on, you have indirect force.

I don't understand your attempt to make resisting a subpoena (etc) an instance of initiation of force, if that's what you're up to. A person who denies the rights of others cannot claim those same rights for himself. The justification for government use of force derives from the virtue of justice – a person who acts like an animal will be treated like an animal, in a fashion objectively set forth by law.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/24/2017 at 11:10 AM, dream_weaver said:

the indirect force initiated by the perpetrator

I like this formulation. It's important to retain the idea that violating someone's rights is a process that must be initiated but not necessarily completed. For a crime to take place it is not necessary that a person finish the use of physical force against others. Mere initiation is enough. If a man seriously and intently threatens to shoot you with a gun, that itself initiates the process of shooting you with a gun. It does not matter that the perpetrator failed to finish the deed. Men act based on choices they make. And he expressed his choice to shoot you. Therefore he started the process of using force against you.

Indirect force, as in the case of fraud, is the initiation of the use of physical force which begins with the intent to dishonor an agreement or contract and ends by forcibly keeping the values gained through deception.

Ignoring a legal subpoena is in essence a breach of your social contract with society as a citizen. You may choose to obey the law and remain a citizen in good standing. Or disobey and be an outlaw. As an outlaw, you forfeit certain rights, such as freedom of movement while under subpoena.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Indirect force, as in the case of fraud, is the initiation of the use of physical force which begins with the intent to dishonor an agreement or contract and ends by forcibly keeping the values gained through deception.

There still remains a legitimate distinction from the lexicon fraud entree.

A breach of contract may not have been intended from the get-go. Material values received may not be easily returnable, such as a coat of paint on a house, or the installation of a retaining wall or regrading of a slope to redirect water from an entryway. A payment plan intended to be completed initially could be waylaid by job loss. Reluctance to part with other assets in order to make good the contract, or worse, not having assets aside from the improved properties (as in the particulars offered) still leaves the receiver of the material value in a position where its return is not desirable.

If the contracted parties cannot reach a settlement based on the mutual exchange of the available facts, it is at this point that a system of adjudication steps in to identify the merits of the case.

Fraud is the above scenario with intent to breach the agreement from the get-go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Fraud is the above scenario with intent to breach the agreement from the get-go.

Yeah. So we have intentional breaches (fraud) and unintentional breaches (default?). Is this what distinguishes criminal from civil liability: the intent?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

Yeah. So we have intentional breaches (fraud) and unintentional breaches (default?). Is this what distinguishes criminal from civil liability: the intent?

This would stand to reason for me, barring a more compelling consideration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Relatedly, McCaskey has an article on the same subject. He too differs from Rand on indirect force.

Quote

If I pay a man and he doesn’t deliver what he promised, the physical force was my taking the money from my pocket and giving it to him. That physical force was used by the scoundrel who tricked me into handing over the money.

Now that is quite a striking departure from Rand. The indirect force is not the scoundrel keeping the money, but the victim handing it over!

In order to achieve this conclusion McCaskey contorts and parses Rand's formulation...

Quote

The moral doctrine is this: It is wrong, (1) in dealing with someone else, to (2) initiate the (3) use of (4) physical force.

...and then he analyzes the segments backward to forward. By the time he gets to #2, the word "initiated" somehow comes to mean "not authorized."

Quote

Whether a particular use of physical force is authorized or initiated can be a complex question, both legally and morally. 

Huh?

Edited by MisterSwig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two parties agree to trade.  Party 1 makes the trade but Party 2 refuses to complete the trade.  Party 2 is keeping Party 1's property by force.  That's the indirect force.   That seems simple enough.  Am I missing something Invictus2017?   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

When you do a thing to a person and directly override their will, you have direct force. When you do a thing to a person and you have conditional consent ("I agree, providing...") but do not satisfy the condition that consent was predicated on, you have indirect force.

(I understand "to a person" as shorthand for "to a person or his property".)

But this does not cover all types of indirect force. E.g., I don't see how to make it cover inadvertent breaches of contract involving a service.  But never mind, that's not my real problem.

15 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

I don't understand your attempt to make resisting a subpoena (etc) an instance of initiation of force, if that's what you're up to.

Resisting a (properly validated) subpoena is not a species of force, because it does not necessarily involve acting on a person against his will.  Consider, as an example, the situation where the FBI wanted Apple to hand over a tool to crack iPhones.  The tool did not belong to the government, nor to the criminal, nor was it involved in the crime, etc.  It's impossible to see Apple's refusal as an action against anyone.  Nevertheless, had the FBI's demand been legitimate, I think (and I think you'd agree), Apple should have been required to hand over the tool.  Now, either demands of that type are never legitimate or we have an example where there is no initiation of force yet force may nevertheless be employed to enforce the demand.  I think it's the latter, which is why I think the non-aggression principle is an approximation that needs rethinking.
 

15 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

A person who denies the rights of others cannot claim those same rights for himself. The justification for government use of force derives from the virtue of justice – a person who acts like an animal will be treated like an animal, in a fashion objectively set forth by law.

A person who commits, say, assault does not thereby lose all right to be free from assault.  And the justification for government use of force is that the individual must protect his rights and the government is his agent for that purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Ignoring a legal subpoena is in essence a breach of your social contract with society as a citizen. You may choose to obey the law and remain a citizen in good standing. Or disobey and be an outlaw. As an outlaw, you forfeit certain rights, such as freedom of movement while under subpoena.

Objectivism does not accept -- nor do I -- the notion of a social contract.  Unless I actually give my consent, there is no contract.

The propriety of the government's use of force does not stem from such a thing, it stems from its function as an agent of an individual who has an enforceable right.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

(I understand "to a person" as shorthand for "to a person or his property".)

But this does not cover all types of indirect force. E.g., I don't see how to make it cover inadvertent breaches of contract involving a service.  But never mind, that's not my real problem.

A crime occurs when property rights are violated. A coherent understanding of contract shows that it transfers title to property. 

Seems reasonable that, given the above, one can easily differentiate between a taking "directly" and a not-giving "indirectly" what was agreed upon.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Craig24 said:

Two parties agree to trade.  Party 1 makes the trade but Party 2 refuses to complete the trade.  Party 2 is keeping Party 1's property by force.  That's the indirect force.   That seems simple enough.  Am I missing something Invictus2017? 

That's just one kind of indirect force.  But it's the basic idea.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, 2046 said:

A crime occurs when property rights are violated.

Only certain violations constitute "crime".  For example, one generally does not consider an unintended or exigent violation of property rights a crime.

6 minutes ago, 2046 said:

A coherent understanding of contract shows that it transfers title to property.

It transfers rights, not title.  Title is involved only in certain kinds of transactions.

9 minutes ago, 2046 said:

Seems reasonable that, given the above, one can easily differentiate between a taking "directly" and a not-giving "indirectly" what was agreed upon.

Because those things are not given, it's not quite so easy.  Be that as it may, that doesn't really address the issue that brought me to start the topic, the one having to do with apparent exceptions to the non-aggression principle, such as the use of force to enforce a subpoena.


 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure, but we're taking past each other now. The crux of the issue is this: what is your theory of ownership and contract. Contract transfers rights and not ownership title? What does that mean? Rights, as I see it, are inalienable, but ownership is not. I can alienate my ownership in a thing, but I don't alienate my rights. Using imprecise language like "I am transferring my right to X" may be creating confusion. If we start using casual terms, we can get into trouble.

If we understand that making an exchange is a conditional transfer of ownership title, then we can see how fraud and breach of contract constitute property rights violations. 

As far as subpoena, it's interesting to me that AR stated in an interview that she believed in the states power to compel someone to show up to court and give testimony. But, she maintained compulsory jury duty was illegitimate. Peikoff, in his podcast, supports both subpoena and compulsory jury duty. Amy Peikoff also stated she supports both. I don't have enough legal expertise to really form an opinion, but I would say that at first glance, I'm not sure compulsory testimony can be squared with the NAP, as any sort of compelled service or testimony prior to conviction just seems like forced labor to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don’t know what you mean by “inadvertent” breach of contract: this is probably a terminological issue. When a party unknowingly does a thing contrary to a contract, that might be considered a “breach”. In an objective legal system, force would not come into play until the person knows of the act (“you failed to paint the wall”) and authoritatively knows that he agreed to (the court rules that that is part of the contract).

In the case of Apple v. FBI, there clearly was initiation of force, by Farook Malik. So all that remains to be decided is whether the FBI demand is legitimate. That question was was mooted, and would not have been resolved by reference to objective law anyhow. Since we can’t see the arguments, we can’t judge them on their merits, but I am inclined to conclude that the order was unlawful. I think the fact that you’ve lost track of is that moral responsibility for the use of force against innocents lies with the initiator of force. I believe there has been a reasonable amount of discussion of the “collateral damage” problem here. I think that may be the lacuna for you.

Quote

A person who commits, say, assault does not thereby lose all right to be free from assault.  And the justification for government use of force is that the individual must protect his rights and the government is his agent for that purpose

I take it that you’re alluding to some alternative to the Objectivist acount of retributive force, essentially only accepting defensive force. A person who commits, say, assault, does thereby lose all right to be free from assault, in a manner prescribed by objective law.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, 2046 said:

Rights, as I see it, are inalienable, but ownership is not.

You are mistaken.

 

A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context.

Nothing there requires that rights be inalienable.  Indeed, if I make a widget, I have many sanctioned freedoms of action that I lose once I sell the widget to you.  Those rights are alienated by the sale.

Ownership refers to legally enforceable rights.

Title is a document that proves ownership ("I have a title to my house") or a legal status demonstrable by such a document ("I have title in my house").

1 hour ago, 2046 said:

As far as subpoena, it's interesting to me that AR stated in an interview that she believed in the states power to compel someone to show up to court and give testimony. But, she maintained compulsory jury duty was illegitimate.

Rand was correct on both counts.  Compulsory testimony is a metaphysical necessity of proper government, juries and the attendance of a particular juror are not.  The government should pay jurors, on the open market, for their service.
 

1 hour ago, 2046 said:

I'm not sure compulsory testimony can be squared with the NAP, as any sort of compelled service or testimony prior to conviction just seems like forced labor to me.

 

Compulsory testimony can't be squared with the NAP.  But compulsory testimony is a necessity for government and government is a necessity for society, so compulsory testimony is a necessity for society. The NAP must fall by the way, at least when it comes to compulsory testimony.  Unless you want non-objective government or no government at all....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

Objectivism does not accept -- nor do I -- the notion of a social contract.

Rand accepted a form of Locke's social contract theory. As an atheist, she made a case for the biological origin of individual rights, whereas Locke assumed they came from God. But both of them argued that the proper basis for government is the agreement among people to recognize and protect individual rights. Rand wrote in The Nature of Government:

Quote

If men are to live together in a peaceful, productive, rational society and deal with one another to mutual benefit, they must accept the basic social principle without which no moral or civilized society is possible: the principle of individual rights.

She, of course, goes on to explain what accepting that principle means in practice. And we can debate whether compelling court appearances and truthful testimony are proper applications of the principle. But what would be the purpose of doing that when you reject the very foundation upon which such questions are asked?

2 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

The propriety of the government's use of force does not stem from such a thing [a social contract], it stems from its function as an agent of an individual who has an enforceable right.

From what does the government's function as an agent stem? Isn't there usually some sort of agreement or contract between agent and client?

2 hours ago, Invictus2017 said:

Unless I actually give my consent, there is no contract.

Okay, but you should take care not to entangle yourself with anyone in society who does consent to be governed, because they might bring their government after you, and then what will you do?

Edited by MisterSwig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

You are mistaken.

 

A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context.

Nothing there requires that rights be inalienable.

It's true that Rand did not use the term "inalienable" in what you've quoted. She did, however, use it elsewhere:

"Since Man has inalienable individual rights, this means that the same rights are held, individually, by every man, by all men, at all times. Therefore, the rights of one man cannot and must not violate the rights of another."

I don't know what this does for or against your case, but if if we'd like to know how the specific term "inalienable" applies to Rand's conception of rights, we might have to look beyond the quote you've provided.

25 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

Indeed, if I make a widget, I have many sanctioned freedoms of action that I lose once I sell the widget to you.  Those rights are alienated by the sale.

"Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values."

Man's property rights are not "alienated" by the sale of a widget; rather, his voluntary sale of the widget is an expression of his property rights.

25 minutes ago, Invictus2017 said:

Rand was correct on both counts.  Compulsory testimony is a metaphysical necessity of proper government, juries and the attendance of a particular juror are not.  The government should pay jurors, on the open market, for their service.

If anyone has the relevant quotes or source, it might help illuminate the topic. My initial "instinct," however, is that I would rather lose subpoena than the prohibition against the initiation of the use of force.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×