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Everything posted by mrocktor

  1. Only because you do not grant the difference between law qua definition of crimes and penalties versus law qua definition of government procedures. I called attention to this quite a few posts ago, and speculated that your extensive legal knowledge could be causing you to ignore the distinction. So long as this issue remains unaddressed, we are discussing at cross purposes. It is obvious that an individual cannot perform the procedures the law mandates for the police and the courts. I get that. I never said otherwise. This is a non sequitur. By this logic there is no reason to have restaurants unless you "delegate your right to cook", no reason to have barber shops unless you "delegate your right to shave". I know it is a ridiculous reductio, but I hope you get the point. The fact that it is the only proper function of government is not an argument for it being an improper function for the individual - in fact it cannot be so, since the legitimacy of government retaliation is derived from the legitimacy of individual retaliation. The use of retaliatory force is a moral imperative. Do you agree or disagree? If you agree, how can you say it is not necessary? Granted, its necessity is conditional (to having been the victim of a crime), but since criminals exist (this is metaphysically given), I think the condition may safely be assumed.
  2. Thank you! What is necessary for the pursuit of happiness is that man be free from the initiation of force against him. We agree on that. I don't see any reason why a "legitimate retaliation" clause in the law would damage that freedom in any way. It does not permit anyone to go on a killing spree, nor does it give a "get out of jail free" card to criminals. It only gives rational honest men who chose to deal with a crime commited against them personally, and do so objectively, and can prove it, recognition. I think your main argument depends fundamentally on your vision of the consequences of this "legitimate retaliation" clause. This is why I was so strong in rejecting your envisioned scenarios and tried to keep the debate focused on whether an individual does or does not have a right to use retaliatory force when victimized and why this right is abrogated (or delegated against his will, which is the same thing) the moment a government is constituted. Of course it is dubious. If I'm right, and I would not be arguing this point if I didn't think I was, no such chaos would follow. In fact, I think the distinction would be almost irrelevant - since successful appeals to the "legitimate retaliation" clause would probably be mostry of the "self defense in emergency" type. I really don't think in a functioning free country choosing to "take justice into one's own hands" would be a popular choice - considering that you will be held accountable. Your premise is flawed, or rather, incomplete. Rational men have no use of force among themselves. They have an essential use for force when dealing with the irrational who initiate force against them. Keep in mind that using force is a moral imperative when you are victimized. I share your distaste for force, don't get me wrong. But it is required for a rational man's survival and will continue to be until all men are rational. Correct. He has a right to use force to defend his life, property and freedom (i.e. to remove force used against him and its effects on his life). The lines are bright enough for other readers. They are one and the same. If someone takes your property and you go and retrieve it by force the next day, you are defending your property in the exact same way as if you shot him during the actual robbery. The item does not cease to be your property when you lose sight of it, your right to defend it does not cease to be a right to self-defense just because the criminal managed to get out of sight. Jones stands accused of assault, Smith stands accused of robbery. The state must make a case against each. Jones may make it easy for the state, if he claims "legitimate retaliation" he has confessed to the act. The case against Smith may be jeopardized by Jones' act. He may have destroyed or otherwise invalidated critical evidence. If Smith is found not guilty, Jones is automatically not a legitimate retaliator, does not pass GO, does not collect 200$ and goes directly to jail. If Smith is found guilty, Jones may or may not be able to prove that his actions were legitimate. For instance, if the law states that the use of deadly force when retrieving stolen property is only permitted when there is resistance, Jones would have to prove Smith resisted (which he didn't, so Jones is screwed). No, you can deal him the retaliation permitted by law. Unless you have a death penalty for petty theft, what you stated is not a consequence of what I'm arguing.
  3. Wrong Mark. I think few vigilantes would be rational, but I think few people would choose to be vigilantes at all. I'm making an effort to keep the mindset that you are arguing in good faith at this point, because it seems you (and David) are trying very hard to shove me into the anarchist mold you are (rightfully) comfortable arguing against. And, since I said that, I might as well say that I'm sorry for the needlessly confrontational tone of my previous reply to you. Does it take a committee to correspond to reality? No. Anarchy would be if they could do that and not be held accountable for their acts. The only solution is to jail everyone then, since if anyone commits any sort of murder it's "too bad for the innocent shlub lying dead". Falibility is no basis to take away a man's freedom. Even if vigilantism resulted in the massive breakdown of society and wholesale violation of rights, it still would be right to allow man to exercise his right to use force in defense of his own life and property. Happy? You could read what I have written in this thread and find exactly what you are saying I have not done, but I'll make your life easier and restate it. A government that respects individual rights, and is constituted to protect these rights, must recognize that the rights belong to the individuals. Each individual may or may not delegate his right of self defense to the government, to force him to do so violates his rights. A legitimate government must recognize, therefore, that an individual's act of force may be legitimate - if in retaliation against a criminal. The government must also safeguard the rights of all innocent individuals. This means a standard is needed to determine the legitimacy of individual acts of force. The first part of this standard is the law. Law as in the objective definition of what an individual's rights are (life, property, liberty) and what the penalties are for their violation. The second part is a standard of proof, what sort of evidence is required to prove something is true. In practice this would mean that, when a private act of force is commited, the government, as a guardian of ever individual's rights, must immediately seek and detain the person responsible. The principle that everyone is "innocent until proven guilty" applies. A standard of proof must be met to objectively determine that the person is the actual responsible for the act. Once the person who commited the act is objectvely determined, he may claim to have been acting in legitimate retaliation (note that this applies to all instances of self defense - in emergency situations or not). He will have to meet a standard of proof for this claim to be accepted. Note that the burden of evidence is reversed at this point - once the individual is proven to have commited an act of force, he must prove it was legitimate. In most cases of emergency situation, such as a shooting a robber inside your home, this standard of proof would likely be easy to meet. In cases of retaliation after the fact, probably not.
  4. OK, thanks for the clarification. When I say "crime" I mean "violation of rights". When I say "lawbreaking" I mean "breaking the law", whether it is a good law law or a bad law. Please interpret them in that way when you read my posts.
  5. I am not arguing that the law should be open to individual definition or interpretation, as such I don't think this difference exists. In the text you quoted I'm referring to the objectivity of the action, not to the law. Again, I think it is important to make a distinction between law qua definition of crimes and penalties versus law qua definition of government procedures. The first defines what each person's rights are and the penalty for violating them, as such it applies to individuals. The second is a means to keep government action objective - since it is answerable only to the law, unlike individuals who are answerable to the government. As such, this type of law has to be seen as a limitation on government. As an example, the government may be required to provide the independent testimony of three different people to establish something as true in some context. It is not the fact that two people testify that makes it true, an individual can independently know it is true all by himself. Individuals should be held to a standard of proof required by the law. Thus, in the case of a vigilante and assuming the rule above applies to his case, if the vigilante cannot provide the required testimony he cannot prove his action was legitimate and thus is convicted of a crime. The "other side" of this debate would consider testimony irrelevant - the man used retaliatory force "when he didn't need to" and is therefore a criminal, in their view. On the other hand, some of this "procedure law" does not involve standard of proof and cannot apply to individuals in any way. For instance "a warrant is required to enter a suspect's home". Lets say the individual saw a man shoot his wife, follows him home and kills him. Lets say he has enough witnesses and evidence that the man did kill his wife so the matter of the original killer's guilt is beyond question. It would be ludicrous to jail this man because he failed to get a warrant. That is a limitation on government action. It is not the warrant that makes the act objective - it is having objective knowledge that that person is in fact a criminal that does. If the vigilante can prove he got the right guy, he only exercised his rights. If he cannot, he must be treated as a murderer and a burglar.
  6. No, wrong. I am rejecting the validity of the argument. This is why I did not contemplate it when it was made, and as soon as I contemplated it in my answer to you I got exactly the answer I expected. Whether all hell would brake loose or not is a consequence. If the principle "each man has a is right to defend himself by force" is correct, then all hell will not break loose when he is "allowed" to do so. If it is wrong, then maybe he really needs to be chained by the government so his "inner beast" cannot destroy society. The point is, consequences follow principles - they do not define the validity of those principles. Thus they are not relevant to this discussion. I'm sure everyone here grasps this, after all who has never heard the "if there were no welfare millions of people would starve" argument? Is it the fact that millions of people would in fact NOT starve if we were free that makes freedom right? No, it is right because it is derived from man's nature. Since freedom is consistent with man's nature, it "works". It is not right because it "works", it "works" because it is right.
  7. It comes, ironically, from arguing extensively with anarchists. An "argument" in the form "imagine the consequences of X. See, those consequences are bad. X is therefore wrong" hinges on each person's power of imagination. It is not a real argument (though sometimes a useful thought experiment). Obviously Marc thinks a society where the right to use retaliatiory force is recognized would devolve into chaos. Obviously I do not. We can argue all day about what each of us thinks would happen - but since we would be arguing about conjecture, and not about facts, it would lead nowhere. You are correct. I have written that explicitly.
  8. Which is equivocation, since we are not discussing having multiple laws, we are discussing whether an individual has a right to enforce that law himself, or whether it is collective agreement that makes law enforcement objective. Because it is directed against criminals. When it is not, I agree that it is a crime. An unsubtle difference. They are retaliating against people who commited crimes against them - as is their right. Another unsubtle difference. Crime means "a violation of individual rights". If your definition of "crime" is "something that breaks the law", what is your concept for the former? This is not true. There is a crucial difference between forbiding the initiation of force and forbidding retaliatory force. The first is never proper, the second may be. That would depend on whether that one person used reason or not, wouldn't it? Objectivity does not come from collective approval, nor from written procedures. Objectivity comes from the use of reason. The government's structure and procedures are means to that end, not the end in themselves. Here you are denying that an individual is capable of objective action, that only the collective can objectively enact justice - which cuts objective philosophy off at the knee. No, I won't imagine. I'm not a pragmatist, such imagination would be irrelevant to my argument.
  9. This is what I mean. Just as it is irrational to be religious, or to be a slacker or to do anything else that is of actual or potential harm to yourself. As long as it harms only yourself, or in other words, as long as no one's rights are violated, he government should do nothing. And thus the critical issue. When someone "takes justice into their own hands" they do not necessarily violate rights. If their acts are against the true criminal, and are adequate to the crime (as defined by the law), they have not violated anyone's rights. The criminal gave up his rights by commiting the crime. But not every vigilante will be a rational one, in fact most will not. Those who cannot prove their acts were rightful must be treated as criminals. See, this is your problem. It is not breaking the law that makes something a crime, it is violating individual rights. No, he would do it because you propose to force him to. You are not giving him the option, don't dare pretend you are. Either he has a choice or he doesn't. I'm defending that he have the choice, and bear the consequences. You are defending that he have that choice taken away by force of government. This line must be kept clear in this discussion.
  10. And thus the question: how can an objective legal system punish a man for doing what is right - and being able to prove it? Either the individual has or he doesn't have a right to retaliate personally. If he does, this right is necessarily valid in the context of society (after all, who would he retaliate against if that were not the context?). Since rights are facts, they do not dissapear the instant someone creates a government, and you can't force an individual to delegate one of his rights "because society needs it" and still call yourself an individualist. Granting the fact that the individual does have a right to retaliate by force, personally, whether government is available or not, it is easy to realize that this action must be seen by others (personally and as represented by the government) as aggressive, until proven legitimate. Thus rational people would avoid vigilanteism out of self interest (as not to be confused with criminals) and not by force or by a categorical imperative.
  11. This is not true. It remains necessary to use retaliatory force. It becomes optional to use force personally, which I assume is what you meant. The fact that the individual has the possibility of delegating this use of force in a lawful society does not in itself create an imperative that he do so. Your conclusion does not follow. Yes. Except for the criminal, all the actors are behaving according to their best judgment. The criminal is stopped. The innocent who used poor judgment got shot, you acted rationally based on what you knew and would be considered innocent for shooting him. Remember, rational objective law is NOT meant to guarantee that people will make good choices nor that they are free from those choices' consequences - only to protect innocents. In this case, your system is only protecting a man from himself. Precisely what it should NOT do.
  12. You are entirely right! Ignorance and willful denial are both possible causes. On the rest, I'm just happy we can politely disagree
  13. This is what I meant. Using force against another person when needed for self defense (which subsumes defense of life and property) is moral. Morally mandatory, in fact. Whether you do it yourself or delegate it does not change this. It is rational to use force in response to force. You are creating a false dichotomy. If it were otherwise, there would be no right to delegate and no purpose for a government.
  14. It is not a quote, or it would be in a quote box. But he avoids developing meaningful relatinoships with women because he (correctly) expects that some of those may eventually develop emotional and romantic components. The use of the word "scared" is charged and, I admit, intentionally provocative. Personally, I have lived and seen every one of Dan's "problem" scenarios. I attribute every one of them to insufficient honesty - people not being honest with each other or with themselves. While simply giving up 50% of the potential great people in the world is a way to avoid the problem, I don't think it is the rational solution.
  15. Well, in your view using force to reclaim stole property is not a corollary to the right to property - since it requires the sanction of others. I disagree. No, it is never moral to initiate force against a person. Without added context, to "use" force against a person is neither moral or imoral - judgment is not possible without the context. The burden of proof DOES lie with the individual who used force though. I agree that rights are a means to subject society to moral law. I disagree that government approval is the source of legitimacy of an act of force. It is a means to assure legitimacy, but individuals are capable of legitimate acts of force. In other words, moral law states "this is a crime, don't do it. If you do, force will be used against you and this is the penalty taht will be imposed". This law applies to individuals. This is not up for debate. There is a whole other kind of law, the kind that determines how the government must operate. "When a police officer approaches a suspect he must give warning" or "he must read his rights when he arrests him". These are limitations on government. They exist to guarantee that government acts are objective because the government does not answer to anyone else. I agree.
  16. Well written, and fits the rest of your theories on relationships. From my point of view, the fact that you are scared that you will fall in love with another woman while still in love with your current partner just underscores the point that the idea of monogamy as "the proper kind of relationship for man" is disconnected from the facts of reality.
  17. There you go again. We are not trying Jones here, we are arguing whether he, alone, is capable of objectively knowing that he was stolen, and who did it. And if so, whether he has a right to rectify the situation by force. All of your considerations are 100% valid when subsequently Jones is put on trial for his act of force (which I think he should be, though I also think he should be absolved if he can prove he acted legitimately). At the risk of introducing a personal observation, I think your legal knowlege may be getting in the way of seeing the fundamentals here. No, I am not arguing that. Quite the contrary, I am discussing whether if an individual is found to have used force objectively by this very same government he should be treated as a criminal. This quote from the Epistemological Anarchy article is excelent, it makes the problem that bothers me evident! Here we go: So the individual has a right to retaliate. Note that this is primary, and that it assumes (correctly) that an individual is capable of objectively using force - though obviously it is not guaranteed that he will do so. "Enough" for what? It is certainly enough for him, since truth does not come from consensus or from government decree. And this is the huge issue being evaded here. It is possible for the individual to know, with absolute certainty, that a crime has been commited against him, and to retaliate objectively. Remember, this is assumed in the very beginning when it was stated that he has a right to do so. Who is this "society"? It would be correct to say that such a man must be considered a threat by other men. Even if he is using force objectively! Now the issue that the vigilante is acting on his own becomes relevant - since other people don't know that his use of force is legitimate they should consider him a threat. This is why I am saying the guys should be arrested. This is false. An act of retaliation that isn't first proved to be an act of retaliation is distiguishable from aggression if it can be proved to be an act of retaliation after the fact. Thus the man should be arrested and tried, if he cannot prove his use of force was legitimate, he gets convicted. David lists numerous reasons why such a standard of proof would be very hard to meet indeed. I have no problem with that. A man may use force based on whim. He should be treated as a criminal. A man may use force objectively but be incapable of proving it. He should be dealt with as a criminal (because everyone else has no evidence his act was legitimate). He may act objectively and be able to prove it. What then? I disagree. I think a society where there is no objective definition of "justice" (i.e. objective law) would devolve into chaos. I think a society where there is no ultimate arbiter holding everyone to that standard would devolve into chaos. This does not contradict what I'm arguing here. It is in fact "your side" of the argument that is embracing a contradiction - that a man as an individual is capable and has a right to retaliate, but when in society suddenly loses this capability and must be forced to not exercise his right. I think he should be left free - but held accountable. Subtle, and probably irrelevant in practice since the burden of proof is on him and is extremely difficult to meet.
  18. That is how it seems at first glance. However, looking at it carefully, I don't think it is so. What makes the government "THE" government is that it holds all individuals (and anyone else that these individuals choose to employ for whatever purpose) to a single standard - a single objective law. In other words, even though the individual is free to act in retaliation or to hire someone to do so, neither of them will escape being arrested and tried for those acts. IF they can prove their acts were legitimate, they are not convicted. But that is a huge "if", as we have been discussing. And in no way do I believe that it is the individual or any organization's right to challenge the aforementioned government's authority to hold them accountable. Anyway this is where my reasoning has me at the moment, and its not comfortable. An odd position to hold, I suppose, not anarchism but also not Objectivism. But then, Objectivism itself is odd to 95% of people too since it is neither "left" nor "right".
  19. There is no such thing as excess labor because there is no such thing as too much wealth. Anyone who says otherwise and calls himself an economist is either dumb or dishonest.
  20. I think that until the perpetrator is out of sight or out of reach there should be no doubt that any amount of force necessary to stop him and retrieve the property is legitimate. This does not mean that the victim is entitled to commit crimes (such as trespass, property damage or personal harm) against innocent bystanders, though. Gunning the thief down in the middle of a crowd would be idiotic (and criminal, if anyone gets hurt or anything gets damaged). This is based on the fact that losing sight of the criminal means that recovery of your property uncertain. In fact, the emergency cannot be considered over until 1. the thief is stopped and values recovered or 2. the thief gets away and values are considered lost (though they may or may not be recovered later). Until he is out of sight, your wallet and ring are right there. Whether one has a right to hunt down the thief and take back the property after he gets away, this is what is being discussed in the other thread. Personally, I would not hesitate to shoot the thief in the back and get my stuff back if, in my judgment, this act did not put innocents at risk (i.e. not on a plane or in a movie theater, definitely on a deserted street in the middle of the night). I would not try to hunt down a criminal who actually managed to get away, preferring not to run the risk of being mistaken. But in this country I'm not allowed to carry a gun, so the point is moot.
  21. All of this is true. You make the sticking point extremely salient in this argument. It is not a matter of "allowing", it is a matter of rights. When we start talking about it being "better" to allow this or forbid that we leave the realm of principle and fall into utilitarianism. I don't think someone who rationally performs an act of legitimate force should have to use such a subterfuge (in fact, I'm not sure "temporary insanity" is even a valid concept much less defense). Yes. I would go further, you have to be sure you can prove it to others. If Inspector's hypothetical father killed the man who murdered his daughter and in the process destroyed the evidence that would incriminate the killer (his own testimony becomes worthless, to begin with) - he should be charged and convicted of first degree murder himself. This is why I don't think such a "rational vigilante" clause undermines the rule of law or the government's authority or the principle of individual rights.
  22. Yes. What I have difficulty with is to deny the right to use violence when he knows that he has been the victim of a crime, and knows the criminal. You are ignoring the possibility that an individual may actually not be acting on whim, but on objective knowledge. I don't accept the dichotomy between self-defense and retribution (in the sense of obtaining restitution, not of punishment). A right to property means a right to take back by force that which has been stolen from you. I don't accept the "you are free within the law" argument for mandatory delegation of this right. The law, after all, is based on what is right and not vice versa. PS: Inspector's example is a good test. From my current point of view, the man should not be convicted of a criminal offense for doing what the law itself determines should be done. This does not mean that he should not be tried, but that the veredict should be not-guilty, on the basis that his use of force actually was proper - if he can prove it.
  23. You don't have to understand him, and you totally ignore the issue of whether a law that punishes a man for exercising his right to self defense is right. No, not "arrogates the proper function of government", try "exercises his right". Yes, defense is the proper function of government, but this does not in itself obligate individuals to not defend themselves. No, this is just social contract theory. The fact is that the individual has NOT chosen to live in a civilized society - he was born into it and has no real means to escape it short of suicide. And this is really the bone. It assumes that all individuals will use force based on whim and thus must give up their right to retaliate. Or, it assumes that many individuals will use force based on whim and from that derives that all must give up their right to retaliate because "it is better for everyone that way" or "it is needed for civilized society". This is utilitarianism. If a free society requires that an individual give up his rights against his will, it is not a free society. You can argue that the individual does NOT have a right to retaliate against criminals in the first place - but this undermines the legitimacy of government retaliation. You cannot package deal "living in society" with "choosing to give up your right of retaliation", this is the exact same argument welfare statists use to defend taxation - "if you don't like it, go away". It fails there and here for the same reason.
  24. Yes Kendall, and this is the standard way to look at it (I dare say, the Objectivist argument - which would put me at odds with Objectivism for the moment, which I don't take lightly at all). But how do you deal with the guy who flouts due process, goes out and actually metes out the proper punishment to the actual criminal? You can't say that is impossible without denying reason (i.e. if it is possible for a government to make the required judgment, it is possible for an individual to do so). You can't say the individual does not have a right to use retaliatory force (after all, the government derives this right from him); And you can't rationally argue that "since not everyone is rational all the time, if everyone were free to retaliate it would be chaos". While the assumption is true - certainly most people seeking retribution are not in a rational frame of mind - this argument is simple pragmatism, justifying something by the envisioned consequences. Thus my current intellectual bind.
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