In a nutshell the question is "Is it immoral under objectivism to insist that buildings be constructed with adequate fire doors?"
The argument has its misrepresentations, which I've corrected, but the core argument has some merit.
There should be no conflict of interests between rational men - but I cannot see how to resolve this conflict cleanly.
Presented unfiltered, more to follow:
Now on this point: "The objectivist take, I believe, is that preemptive force is never viable. That any potential difficulty in a victim being made whole following an imposition of force is irrelevant to the discussion. That punishment/retribution after the fact is all that is available. " - I clarified that the initiation of force is never MORAL. Pre-emptive is different and can be moral (you have no obligation to let your enemy actually attack you first) and of course, force CAN be viable - force is very effective - its simply never moral.
It usually comes up in discussions of taxes, and government (though the wishes of the majority), "forcing" an individual to part with his money against his personal desires. It goes further than that, but the main point is that my understanding of the objectivist view is that no man (woman, man, whatever), absent a contract for same freely entered into, has the right to "force" any other man to party with money or goods, or to live/operate in any particular way. However, if force is brought, it may be met by return force. This can be moderated through an agreed third party, like a governmental justice system, or an arbitrator. But this third party can only step in once the violative force is brought -- once damage has occurred. There is no allowance for a preemptive force that might temper a later force that can bring greater damage.
My position is there are cases where a preemptive bringing of force is justifiable, if it is brought in order to prevent a more damaging example of force on the other side. The objectivist take, I believe, is that preemptive force is never viable. That any potential difficulty in a victim being made whole following an imposition of force is irrelevant to the discussion. That punishment/retribution after the fact is all that is available.
I posit that preemptive regulation is necessary, because retributive punishment after the fact often (1) fails to make the victim whole (which I believe is a goal of a society) or (2) cannot be imposed to any meaningful degree because of the shields afforded by bankruptcy and modern corporate structures. As an example, consider a government-imposed regulation that a certain number of fire escapes be provided in a manufacturing facility. I argue that the taking of liberty of the manufacturer (forcing him to purchase, install and maintain additional doors that he otherwise felt unnecessary) is justified given a] a demonstrated history of fires in facilities of this size being fatal absent an appropriate number of accessible fire escapes; ( b] the inability of a judicial system to make survivors "whole" following a fatality; and c] the modern reality that even if money were to equal "making whole", the manufacturer is often structured to make collectibility difficult and any actual retributive punishment (meaningful fines, jail time) difficult to impossible.
When this was brought up in an earlier thread, Greebo's response was something along the lines of "since when is holding people prisoner legal?" which totally chucked the whole thing right off the rails in a manner in which he would likely never tolerate of others, so I just let it go. Had I come back I would have noted that the staff aren't "prisoners". They have access to the same large sets of doors at the front of the plant that provide them access in and out every day, as well as access to the large bay doors at the very rear of the plant where the product comes out. The owner thinks those should suffice, and will allow him to better monitor comings and goings and smoke breaks. My position is that the liberty taken from the owner by requiring him to install the extra doors is justifiable given the improbability of there being any punishment/restitution that could compensate for a fatality so easily avoided ahead of time. The objectivist position, if I understand Greebo correctly, would be that even this small infringement on liberty is too much, and that freedom is paramount, and that the potential for restitution isn't to be considered. My position is that this is a huge flaw in the theory that makes it difficult for me to view it as anything other than an interesting discussion in the abstract; but not anything of any potential import to modern society.
But as to the fire door example - I'm torn. I'm inclined to determine that the building owner has no right to deliberately create a dangerous environment and expose others to it unwittingly. Why? Fires are a real hazard. We know what happens when fire doors open the wrong way. We know what happens when there aren't enough exits. You have no right to drink and drive creating risk to others - can you have a right to put others at risk when you "hold forth" your building as safe?
On the other hand - does a person entering a building have a moral responsibility to judge the building's safety for themselves? I'm inclined to say no - that the primary burden is on the building owner.
Of course, there are other problems - WHO decides how many exits and of what nature are safe?
So - I'm stuck. I need a little help figuring this one out. Would anyone care to invest some time in this?
Edited by Greebo, 25 May 2012 - 12:38 PM.