Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by tjfields

  1. Nicky, Let me change the question. If 10 (or more) different governments within the same geographic location all formulated objective, rational laws and enforced those laws, then would it be acceptable to have competing governments in the same geographic location?
  2. Dante, To go back and answer the question asked in the original post (and modified later), you would answer that the use of non-retaliatory force could be inevitable in society since people are not infallible or inerrant in the process of discovering objective laws?
  3. Nicky, Thank you for your answer. Building on your answer, if objective laws can be formulated based on the way reality is (using logic - induction and deduction - as the means of processing the concretes we observe in reality) which is necessitated by the appropriate metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, then why does Ayn Rand argue against multiple, competing governments in the same geographic location? Ms. Rand argues that there needs to be one government which acts a the final arbiter and there can not be competing governments. However, if objective laws can be formulated based on the way reality is, then it should not matter if there is one government or dozens within a certain geographic location since all the governments will be enforcing the same objective laws.
  4. 2046, So, to you, there is no objective way of determining which is the right interpretation of natural laws so what society should do is "have a constitutional design that incentivizes its agents to solve disputes over conflicting interpretations of justice in terms more favorable to individual rights, peace, and cooperation." To go back and answer the question asked in the original post (and modified later), you would answer that the use of non-retaliatory force could be inevitable, although it could be minimal, in society since there is no objective way of determining which is the right interpretation of natural laws?
  5. 2046, So to avoid the use of non-retaliatory force, society has to enforce the interpretation of nature law that is in fact right. How do we know which interpretation is in fact the right interpretation? Since there are different interpretations of natural laws, will there not be different interpretations of which is in fact the right interpretation?
  6. 2046, Please help me understand your thoughts. Are you saying the following: There are natural laws; The interpretations of natural laws can differ; The choice of which interpretation of natural laws gets enforced in a society can be based on many methods; and Whether or not the enforcement of an interpretation of nature law constitues the use of non-retaliatory force is based on whether or not the interpretatin natural law is the right interpretation of natural law.
  7. 2046, If "the entire point of natural law is that it is justified in terms of the nature of man and reality" but there are conflicting interpretations of natural law (the view held by Locke, and you?), then how is it decided which interpretation gets enforced? If there are two rational but contradictory interpretations of natual law and one of those interpretations gets enforced by the government, is the response to those who support the non-enfocred interpretation: too bad for you? Is this not the use of non-retaliatory force, i.e. one group of people are forcing their interpretation of natural law on another group?
  8. Nicky, Thank you for the answer: I will restate my question using your answer. Are objective laws formulated based on the way reality is (using logic - induction and deduction - as the means of processing the concretes we observe in reality)?
  9. If cooperating and coming to mutual agreements is not the only thing you can do, what are the other things you can do? Additionally, if cooperating and coming to a mutual agreement on what is or is not justified is the "more prudent thing to do," is this not just a form of majority rule? If 51% of the people come to a mutual agreement about what is justified then that is what is justified and if the 49% disagree it is "to bad for them?" In your second paragraph you mention "natural law." What is "natural law?" Is this natural law something that everyone will know or does it to come from cooperating and coming to mutual agreements or from one of the other things that you can do?
  10. tadmjones, I was asking whether or not objective laws were discoverable by man like the laws of phyics are discoverable by man. I did not imply that objective laws must be discoverable.
  11. 2046, In your third paragraph that reads: So then the second part of your question seems to be saying, okay what then, if only thing that matters in terms of justice is which view is in fact justified, but obviously this doesn't do away with there being conflicting interpretations on what that is. There are always going to be such conflicting interpretations because reason isn't automatic or self-guiding. Locke explains in his Letters on Toleration that having differing opinions of the requirements of justice is part and parcel of human nature, since these things aren't self-evident. Unanimity on questions of justice can never be expected in any legal order. The only thing you can do is have a way of dealing with them reasonably, and in a manner consistent with peace, cooperation, and individual rights. That is one of the whole points of a constitutional design that incorporates things like checks and balances and separation of powers, etc. so that people say, okay look, we have differing views on what is in fact objective justice, but we're not going to go around killing each other, cause that wouldn't be a nice place to live. Instead, we're going to cooperate, come to mutual agreements, have contractual clauses, arbitration to a third party, or have periodic elections that we agree to abide by so long as the results are fair, or stuff like that. Are you saying that since there can not be unanimity on questions of justice, the only thing man can do is to cooperate and come to mutial agreements on what justice is and what is justified? If so, then based on your second paragraph, are you saying that once it is determined what is justified, then the government can enforce laws based on what has been determined to be justice without the consent of everyone?
  12. 2046, Thank you for the book suggestions. I will take a look at it. As for my question, "is the use of force inevitable," upon review, I should have been more specific. The question would most likely be better phrased as, "is the use of non-retaliatory force inevitable?"
  13. tadmjones, My question is trying to determine the source of objective law. If objective laws are not discoverable like the laws of physics, then they must be created by man. How does man do this? The examples of the two laws in the original post demonstrate that two laws can meet Ms. Rand definition of an objective law but there will be disagreement over which law should be enforced. Again, this raises the question of how are objective laws created?
  14. Nicky, I have not read "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" in a while so I do not remember it all. Did Ayn Rand explicitly stated that there are objective laws that are not created but are discovered by man, or that objective laws are created by man? I agree with you that contridictions do not exist. However, your reponse still leaves the question of how does the government know which law is rational and just? In the originial post I presented two laws and you responded that maybe neither is fully rational and that a third law could likely be rational. How does an individual, or a government, determine which is rational and which is not? How does the government choose which law to enforce when rational people disagree about which law is the rational and just law? You wrote: "If supporters of law B don't want to agree or consent to a law they don't agree with, or even to the government as a whole, that is fine. No one will force them to consent to anything. The government's job is to use force against criminals, not people who disagree with things. Freedom of though and speech is in fact a right." This I do not understand in the context of Ms. Rand's essay. If a person, or group, rationally thinks that the government is enforcing unjust, irrational laws, that person then withdraws his or her consent to delegate the right of physical self defense to that government. At that point, according to Ms. Rand, the government has no rights because none have been delegated to it and the government ceases to be a proper government. Once it ceases to be a proper government, it is no longer an agent of its citizens but a ruler of them and its continued use of force against anyone, including whoever the government defines as criminals, is not justified. So again, the question is raised as to how objective laws are created.
  15. Nicky, I am not sure of the purpose of your post. I did write that Ms. Rand failed to explain how objective law will be created. It is due to this lack of explaination that I ask the question. Since Ms. Rand argues that government is needed to in order to place the use of physical force under objectively defined laws, the fact that she does not explain how the objectively defined laws are created leaves a question about her argument for which I am seeking answers.
  16. Dante, To go back to one of the questions in the original post, where do legitimate laws come from? How do the laws that sick to the proper function of government come into existence? In the example in the original post, there are two objective yet conflicting laws that an individual who is granted authority as a member of the government could faithfully execute. How does it get decided which law is enforce since, regardless of the choice, there will be individuals who consider the enforcement of the law as a deviation from the proper function of government?
  17. Dante, Thank you for your insight. But if the individual "cannot participate in civil society and at the same time attempt to retain authority over the details of the use of retaliatory force" then who retains that authority? If the answer is the government and since the the government is just a collection of individuals, then is it not possible for at least some people to participate in civil society and retain authority over the use of retaliatory force? If so, then doesn't the government become just one group of people (those who retain authority over the details) forcing their will on another group of people (thoses who do not retain the authority over the details)?
  18. Dante, Could you please explain then what is an accurate characterization of legitimate government? Accorrding to Ms. Rand in "The Nature of Government": The source of the government's authority is "the consent of the governed." This means that the government is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of the citizens; it means that the government as such has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose. Additionally, if, as you wrote, "A government does not gain or lose its legitimacy based on whether it 'obtains voluntary, uncoerced agreement from its citizens.'" does that mean that a legitimate government can use non-retaliatory force against it citizens? Is your answer to my question of, "is the use of force inevitable in society" yes?
  19. Is the use of force inevitable in society? In her essay, “The Nature of Government”, Ayn Rand makes the case that for a civilized society to exist, for men “to live together in a peaceful, productive, rational society and to deal with one another to mutual benefit,” physical force must be barred from social relationships and put under objective control. Ms. Rand states, “A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control – i.e., under objectively defined laws.” While Ms. Rand goes on in the essay to define objective laws and argue why a government enforcing objective laws is needed, she fails to explain how the objective laws will be created. It is this point on which I am seeking answers. It appears to me that the lack of explanation as to how objective laws are created can lead to the use of force by the government charged with enforcing those laws. This use of force, according to Ms. Rand, is not a proper form of government and would therefore change the government to nothing more than institutional gang-rule. So, how are objective laws created? As I see it, there are two possible answers. The first is that objective laws are not created but are discovered by man. Similar to the laws of nature that apply to gravity or movement, there exists objective laws that uphold individual rights and, once discovered, can be enforced by men. These laws would be truly objective and anyone could test these laws and observe the same results as anyone else who performed similar tests. Just as with the laws of gravity, where anyone can drop two rocks of different sizes and weights at the same time and, after removing the effect of wind resistance, observe that the rocks hit the ground at the same time, an objective law could be tested and everyone performing the tests would make the same observations about the law. While not explicitly stated, Ms. Rand does not appear to endorse the concept of existing, discoverable objective laws when she states, “The use of physical force – even its retaliatory use – cannot be left at the discretion of individual citizens,” and “a man’s rights may not be left at the mercy of the unilateral decision, the arbitrary choice, the irrationality, the whim of another man.” If objective laws existed and were discoverable by man, then Ms. Rand’s statements would not apply as the individual (or competing police forces or governments) would not be making arbitrary choices or decisions based on whim, rather the individual would be following the objective law that is discoverable and knowable to all. In the absence of existing, discoverable objective laws, the second possible means of creating objective laws appears to be a government, acting with the consent of its citizens who have delegated to it their right of physical self defense, which chooses the objective laws to enforce. If this is the means of creating objective laws, the question then becomes how does a government choose the objective laws. Additionally, how can government choose and enforce objective laws without initiating physical force against some or all of its citizens? Ms. Rand defines an objective law when she states, “All laws must be objective (and objectively justifiable): men must know clearly, and in advance of taking an action, what the law forbids them to do (and why), what constitutes a crime and what penalty they will incur if they commit it.” Let us consider two laws, Law A and Law B, that both conform to and meet Ms. Rand’s definition of an objective law. Law A states that 1) Murder is forbidden, 2) murder is forbidden because it is immoral to deprive another of his or her life, 3) committing the act of murder is a crime that carries a penalty, and 4) the penalty for committing the act of murder is death. Law B states that 1) Murder is forbidden, 2) murder is forbidden because it is immoral to deprive another of his or her life, 3) committing the act of murder is a crime that carries a penalty, and 4) the penalty for committing the act of murder is imprisonment for life. The assumption is made that the definition of murder, the process of determining guilt or innocence, and the definitions of the penalties are all objective and clear. All aspects that concern these two laws, with the exception of the penalty, are identical. Now consider that in a society there are those who support one of the laws but not the other due to the difference in the penalty. Those that support Law A consist of both rational and irrational people and the arguments that the supporters use to justify their support consist of both rational and irrational arguments. The same is true for the supporters of Law B. Now the government, in its role of sole arbiter and enforcers of laws, must choose one of these objective laws (or another possible variation which would also have supports and detractors) to enforce since these two laws cannot be enforced at the same time. How does the government make this choice? How does the government decide which of these objective laws to enforce? If the government chooses to enforce Law A, then those supporters of Law B will be compelled to act against their own rational judgment if they continue to consent to the government’s authority, and vice versa. At this point, the government is not using reason by obtaining voluntary, uncoerced agreement from its citizens, it is using non-retaliatory force. If the government is initiating force against its citizens rather than protecting its citizens from the use of force when it enforces objective laws, then how can government be the necessity that Ms. Rand claims it to be?
  • Create New...