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Everything posted by epistemologue

  1. bluecherry, I just showed how Peikoff's argument *is* a proof. Since you are already pre-committed to reality in the very act of debating the issue, any conclusion which goes against that is self-contradictory, and therefore cannot be morally or rationally justified. So choosing not to live is immoral, and choosing to live, and all of the moral commitments that come with that choice, is moral. Here's my answer to the "is-ought" problem more generally: moral claims of "you ought to do X" must be claims that you ought to act according to your nature. A claim that you ought to act in contradiction to your nature is self-contradictory: the action contradicts the identity of the subject. For this reason, moral necessity derives not from the alternative of *physical* life or death, as Objectivists try to argue, but from the alternative of *identity or non-identity*. Any action you take has to be consistent with what you are. A human being is a living organism. Life is one of the most fundamental characteristics of human identity, and so the choice to live is one of the most fundamental moral choices.
  2. There's no law against non-citizens owning property.
  3. Louie, since life is the ultimate value, to which all others are means, the choice to commit one's self to that ultimate value is the most basic decision, from which all other moral decisions should follow. Choosing to live is the most fundamental good choice that you can make, choosing not to live is the most fundamental bad choice that you can make. Peikoff's argument *is* a proof. It's a proof by contradiction. Any moral argument you make carries certain presuppositions, that existence exists, that you are alive, that you are capable of making a choice, etc. So you are already pre-committed to reality in the very act of debating the issue, and any conclusion which goes against that is self-contradictory. Where did this commitment originate? Well you were born as a living thing. So for us, it's just metaphysically given, that's what we are.
  4. What are you referring to? People can and do renounce their citizenship peacefully and without trouble all the time. I don't understand why you guys are suggesting that this is impossible or crazy, it's legal and it does happen. The state department even has a website on it: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal-considerations/us-citizenship-laws-policies/renunciation-of-citizenship.html
  5. @softwareNerd what do you mean? I'm not following you at all. I'm not taking the consent of laws as a premise, I've been arguing how and why they are consensual. From your last post: No, I was never arguing about whether one should follow the law or not. I have not addressed that issue whatsoever.
  6. I was arguing neither about the morality of the law, nor whether you should follow it. I was arguing whether the laws are consensual. I don't know why this is unclear, I haven't discussed whether or when one should follows laws or not at all.
  7. In the US today, you are free to renounce your citizenship and become stateless. Of course they have a lot of disclaimers about how incredibly stupid that would be. But you're free to do it.
  8. Yes, it is essentially voluntary. The US was founded on the principle of consent of the governed, and you have a right to renounce your citizenship. So taxes are being levied on you with your consent. Taxation, today in the US, is not theft.
  9. Another: "a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc." http://www.dictionary.com/browse/tax Whether the "compulsory" or "demanded" aspect is *legally* compulsory, i.e. *contractually* demanded, or whether it's imposed through an initiation of force, is inessential. A government *properly defined* is consensual, it's taxes ought to be voluntary, and thus the compulsion and demand ought to be legal and contractual. So I argue that the proper definition of taxation is the dictionary definition, where the "compulsion" or "demand" is understood to properly be essentially consensual.
  10. Adrian, I mostly agree. To clarify, there is a distinction here between two different senses of "voluntary": 1) Whether taxes are "voluntary" in the sense of being consensual, they are not forced on you without your consent. 2) Whether taxes are "voluntary" in the sense of being *contractually* obligatory. In other words, given that one's citizenship in a limited government is properly *contractual*, that is, you can voluntarily join and voluntarily leave, then taxes are not involuntary or non-consensual in the first sense. Given that context of a limited government where citizenship is based on a contract, that contract may then specify there are mandatory payments due, much like a monthly credit card payment is mandatory if you want to be a member of Netflix. I agree that taxes probably ought to be mandatory in this second sense, since government is a service that you are paying for, and everyone needs to be invested in citizenship, and the government in order to provide a consistent justice system ought to have consistent funding. But that's not necessarily required, a limited government could theoretically fund itself without any mandatory payments from citizens, in the form of lotteries and whatnot, and still get by just fine.
  11. This was not my argument at all. First of all, citizenship in a proper, rights-respecting government is a voluntary contract, that can be terminated by the citizen at any time. So any taxes that government levies are done so consensually. You must pay them because you have a contractual agreement to do so. Secondly, see my statement on the current system in the US in the OP: Lastly, nowhere am I saying that "laws are moral because they exist", or making any comment on democracy as a form of government.
  12. A Canadian citizen in the US is only protected by US law and subject to US tax because the Canadian government and the US government have a legal agreement to that effect. Yes, this applies to all laws. If you agree to be a citizen, you are agreeing to follow the constitution and the legal system it establishes. It could in some theoretical sense be possible that the majority of the citizens wanted to bring back slavery, and they somehow found a way to legally enact that into law. In the US that would require amending the constitution. Of course that does not make the law "legitimate", rights-respecting, or moral.
  13. Not only is the choice to live the most basic moral choice that one should make, but the choice to die (suicide), is the most immoral choice that one can make. And further, everyone should strive to live forever, through the pursuit of the scientific advancement of life extension. This should be one's central purpose in life.
  14. - Leonard Peikoff, "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"
  15. Man is by nature faced with a fundamental alternative: identity or non-identity, existence or non-existence – life or death. The concept of value, of "good or evil", is not an arbitrary human invention, but rather is based on a metaphysical fact, on an unalterable condition of man's existence: his life. The ultimate value, the final goal or end to which all lesser goals are means, is man's life. His life is his standard of value: that which furthers his life is the good, and that which threatens it is the evil.1 The choice to live is therefore the most basic moral choice that one faces.2 (1) See "The Objectivist Ethics", in "The Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand (2)
  16. Man's life is the standard of moral value, and his own life is his moral purpose. So morally speaking, choosing to live is the most basic moral choice, that is the most basic thing that you should do. Anyone who chooses not to is abdicating their moral values, and contradicting their moral purpose.
  17. This leads to absurdity. Do you believe there are no essentials, no human nature? Is every concrete essentially different from every other, and any generalization or induction is impossible? Doesn't that annihilate objective morality? Who's to say what's right or wrong, it all depends on the person, what's right for you may not be right for me, what's good for Hitler may not be good for the Jews. Was it was still morally right, for him, to try to kill them? No, we all share in common a human nature, human values, a human moral code, and human ideals. All other things being equal, there is an ideal approach for a young, single person trying to save money. I'd argue for a few reasons that it's better to live with roommates than to live alone in a small, detached home. But if we can't agree that there's any such thing as an ideal, as right or wrong, as human nature, then that discussion is rather pointless.
  18. What makes you think this is an ideal? Young people who need to live cheaply generally get roommates. This seems ideal for a number of reasons.
  19. That really doesn't follow. Also, the standard being discussed here is logical consistency, not "power". Logical consistency is not something eastern cultures are known for. They prefer "both-and" to "either-or".
  20. Someone who renounces their citizenship in the US can become a citizen of Canada, or a country in Europe, or join any other government, or become stateless. How is there an implication of competing governments?
  21. What is your problem? That was a brilliant article, very well researched and well argued from an Objectivist standpoint. That is not spam at all, jesus you are biased.
  22. The normal, dictionary definition of "taxation" is "the practice of a government collecting money from its citizens to pay for public services." "compulsory" is not in the definition. There's absolutely no necessity for it to be compulsory, in fact it should not be, as that contradicts the entire concept of a government based on the consent of the governed. Taxation is, properly, a contractual payment due. A proper government should have an explicit contract with its citizens, and allow them to leave the contract at any time. In the case of a rights-respecting government, the payment that is "demanded" by the government is demanded contractually. The contract between citizens and government is special for a lot of reasons, that's why we have a special word for the collecting of funds. The term only applies to the funds collected by the government from its citizens, and can only take a certain form. Donations or lotteries are not a tax, and it's not just a generic "fee" of any kind. Taxation is legally defined policy of government funding that you agree to pay on an ongoing basis. Of course a voluntary contract can be revoked at any time, when the citizen terminates their agreement with the government that's called renouncing one's citizenship, and no further taxes are due. "citizenship" is a term indicating the special relationship between the citizen and the government, which properly should be a voluntary one, based on contract. It is not an arbitrary designation. In the US you are opted-in automatically by birth, and there are fees and restrictions associated with renouncing one's citizenship. I disagree with these policies, I think they are improper, and to some extent definitely unjust. Citizenship should be a written contract that every individual has to qualify for and agree to in writing, and someone should be able to leave at any time without onerous fees or restrictions. But that doesn't change the fact that the US is essentially a government based on the consent of the governed, despite its flaws. One can condemn the individual instances of injustice and work to resolve any ongoing issues within the system without having to "surmise that America is currently in a state of anarchy", or "dedicate one's life to abolishing our wicked 'government' and to exposing those Satanic politicians". In summary, compulsion is not essential to the definition of taxation; there can be such a thing as a government based on the consent of the governed, where citizens are citizens of the government by voluntary, contractual agreement, and the taxes that the government levies (and the penalties applied for not paying them), are agreed to in advance by the citizen, who can terminate the contract at any time. Taxation is not theft, it is consensual. If Netflix is charging your credit card every month and you want them to stop, you can't just declare "I don't consent!", you have to actually go in and unsubscribe. Netflix will stop charging your credit card, and you will no longer be a member who has access to their services. The same principle applies here. If you don't want to pay taxes then renounce your citizenship, and you will no longer be protected by the government. Nobody is forcing you to be a citizen.
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