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Everything posted by mrocktor

  1. No, I'm not kidding. And no, I'm not saying that. I am not saying killing is wrong because it is impossible to do outside a social context - that would be the absurd non-sequitur you are railing against. I am saying that since it is something you cannot do outside a social context the fact that you are forbidden from doing it in a (proper) social context is not a reduction of your freedom. You did not lose the right to do something by entering the social context. Read carefully before flying off into a rant. What property of yours is taken without consent when someone uses your name and identification numbers? None. Theft is the taking of another's property without consent. Identity "theft" does not fit the definition of theft.
  2. Yes. The doctor may choose to not administer the medication and keep the patient alive, or he may choose to administer it and kill the patient. The choice of whether to save or kill a fellow human being is not a medical choice - it is a moral choice. Knowledge is insuficient to determine action, judgment is necessary. You must act to an end, and any choice of ends is a moral - not merely scientific - choice.
  3. The Laffer curve fails when applied in the context of Objectivist government because it assumes that the product of government (protection of rights) is valueless. This assumption is masked in the data point 0% tax rate = 0 revenue (i.e. if we don't point a gun at people, they wont pay for rights protection). This is false. Is anyone concerned about corn farmers having zero revenue if we stop taxing people to give them subsidies? No. Corn has value - corn farmes will have some revenue even with no corecion (i.e. 0% tax rate financing them). A free government is financed willingly by the people who realize the double value it provides 1. retaliating against criminals (domestic or international) and 2. preventing a taxing government from taking over.
  4. This is wrong, and it causes no end of confusion. Freedom of action within a social context has to be defined as "to guarantee the actions that would be possible out of a social context are not impeded by force in the social context" or, in other words, that no one stop you from doing something you could do if you were in isolation. The fact that you cannot shoot another man in the head is not "limit" on your freedom of action - because freedom of action does not include, has never included and cannot include killing other men. Out of a social context there are no other men to kill. In a social context killing other men is a crime. In both cases it is an action which is not within your rights (in the first case by impossibility, in the second by the fact that it violates rights). Yet, even though this act is not permitted and is barred by force, you are as free in (an Objectivist) society as you would be in isolation. Respecting another's rights is not a reduction of one's freedom. Actually, identity theft is fraud. It is misrepresenting yourself to be that which you are not. Of course you may commit theft while under the guise of another person's name - but that is a second, additional, crime.
  5. I'll just point you towards any Intellectual Property debate between Austrian Ecnomics slanted libertarians and Objectivists. That should be very rich for you in discovering just how badly ungrounded concepts can bite you in the ass. Here, this one is good: link (bonus points: who am I?)
  6. The more you learn about Objectivist Epistemology the less you will regard that book. Even though we agree with many of the conclusions.
  7. Her wording might not have been ideal. The need to prove oneself to others definitively is a symptom of an unhealthy mindset. I don't think Ifat meant that in terms of proving anything to someone else, but to yourself. Even better, look at it as "accumulating further evidence of one's own continued effectiveness".
  8. Brilliant, isnt it? And we can't let objectivity stand in the way of writing books? And there lies the problem. He simply starts with this affirmation ("the non aggression principle") as if it were an axiom - he does not so much argue it as he does simply assume it. Point in fact, go argue with any Rothbardian libertarian and ask him why it is wrong to initiate force. You get two answers: the utilitarian argument (Capitalism produces wealth which is good for everyone therefore "the non aggression principle" is right) and the ad hominem argument ("Whaaat? You are in favor of aggression? Statist! Criminal!" therefore the "non aggression principle" is right). Fact is Rothbard does not connect his moral imperative to the nature of human beings, thus his whole ethics is a huge exercise in begging the question. And the fact that it is unconnected to reality creates some pretty bizarre applications (such as the "right" to abandon a child, to list one of the more outrageous).
  9. Typical confused libertarian. Very common in those who arrive at poitics of individual freedom by the path of economics. This because economics can tell you freedom is most productive - but can never tell you if (or why) it is good.
  10. Good job, you have ruled out peaceful existence in society. It is impossible to eliminate individual choice since, you see, humans have this thing called "free will". Whether laws are good or bad, every individual will constantly be choosing whether to respect or break them - pretty much every time he acts. You are setting up this absurd notion that if people secretively break immoral laws in order to live a moral life this somehow damages the concept or effect of proper rights protecting laws. What damages the effectiveness and respectability of proper law is the fact that immoral laws are on the books. It is always moral to foil the criminal who tries to violate your rights - if you can. Whether he was elected to violate your rights or not is immaterial.
  11. Great article Ifat. And that's a good point aequalsa, if parents frame every activity as something subject to reward/punishment from them, the child may internalize the overarching notion that life is about getting other people's approval (and stuff) instead of the intended message. One way around this is to make most rewards of the "if you achieve X you can enjoy the results" type instead of the (easier) "if you achieve X I will give you Y".
  12. Not fundamentally. From what I remember, though he seems to expresse a natural rights perspective, when discussing any issue his arguments tend to "X is right because it produces Y, otherwise Z would happen" - a utilitarian mindset through and through.
  13. I have not seen anyone advocate this here, or anywhere, except in the context of overt civil disobedience (where the purpose is to call attention to an obviously improper law). This is a false dichotomy. You are ignoring the fact that law can be proper (when it protects individual rights) or improper (when it violates them). If someone "cherry picks" laws by following only the ones of the first type while breaking those of the second type you can hardly argue that law becomes meaningless. This, I believe, shows the root of the trouble. It is not a matter of thinking a law is immoral. Laws can be objectively immoral - not a matter of opinion, a fact - a knowable fact. And ultimately, when you say "people, as a general rule are more likely to make their decisions about their own interests with more than a little emotional bias and more than a little lack of knowledge" you are basically working from the standpoint that the individual (yourself and present company presumably excluded) cannot be trusted to know right from wrong. It is pointless to argue law when you have an assumption that is so essentially contrary to the world view of most people here: that people are fundamentally rational beings capable of knowledge (and not just opinion).
  14. Obeying a law or breaking it is a decision like any other. Each individual makes this decision every time he is exposed to a situation where one of his possible actions (or, in our current situation, inaction) breaks the law. There is absolutely nothing different about "the law" that makes it immune to individual judgment and evaluation or that puts breaking the law beyond the pale. What exists is the fact that breaking the law exposes the individual to having force used against him (whether the law is just or not) - something everyone is eager to avoid - and can carry significant social stigma as well. A moral man in a free country never has ocasion to consider breaking the law. All the actions he wishes to take are legal, all things illegal (rights violations) are things he would never want to do regardless. A criminal in a free country will break the law to the extent he thinks he can gain from such acts (or due to mental problems), it is the objective of the law and its enforcement to dissuade this "prudent predator" as much as practical without violating the rights of innocents. A moral man in an unfree or mixed country has ocasion to consider breaking the law. The law may demand he perform immoral acts, the law may forbid moral acts. He must make a decision in every instance when this occurs. It is a risk/benefit evaluation - the risk of being victimized by an improper government versus the benefit from doing what he would do if he were free. Pretending this evaluation does not have to be made, looking for a threshold under which a government is "mostly moral" and therefore following both moral and immoral law is imperative is futile. The individual is the actor. Whether following immoral law is the best course of action to further one's life can only be judged by each individual in each specific context. "The rule of law" is a restriction on government. It's opposite is "the rule of men": arbitrary government. It's opposite is not anarchy (as Sophia implied in her reply to me). Recognizing the fact that individuals decide continuously whether to follow the law or break it is not defending anarchy - it is the essential insight to understanding that the only way to foster a law abiding society is to make the law moral. There is no moral argument that can possibly support the notion that an individual must subject himself to an immoral law "just because" it is the law. And I doubt anyone can convincingly argue that following immoral laws is always best for one's life - even in a mostly free country. There will always be particular circumstances where, for an individual, breaking the immoral law is the life furthering option - immoral laws being, by definition, anti-life.
  15. No it is not. It is within that realm to conclude that such laws reduce employment, that they reduce productivity, that they reduce output, that they (in the long term) make everyone poorer. It is within the realm of economics to determine that minimum wage laws do not achieve their stated goals. It is not within the realm of economics to conclude that they are wrong.
  16. I think that a planet originated species where a generally malevolent ethics (and thus politics - in the long term) is present cannot become an interstellar traveller. The costs of leaving a planet's gravity well and traversing interstellar space are so extreme that a species divided and driven to self destructive acts - as must be any species where individual rights are not broadly respected - would never muster the required resources and put them to that use. A unified tyranny cannot produce the required wealth and free or semi-free countries who have tyrannies to defend against (plus their own internal troubles if not fully free) cannot spare the resources. Case in point: ourselves.
  17. From a purely theoretical standpoint it stands to reason that if thought and reason emerge from physical phenomena in the brain, certain thought patterns could be related to physical phenomena that cause permanent harm. Looking only at the content of a mind (and not the "hardware"), it is also conceivable that one could form a framework of incorrect ideas such that the very tool to correct one's errors (reason) is never applied - although it could be if the person wanted to and knew how (i.e. volition is intact). In fact, any old leftist is an example of this (to some extent).
  18. That distinction is so fundamental and yet so little understood. If only a majority of people could grasp this... I would restate something that has been said before. The rule of law is primarily a restriction on government. An individual's assessment of whether he should follow a given law, advocate its repeal, secretly break it or flaunt his disobedience is unrelated to the primary objective of the rule of law: restraining government action to previously defined standards. While a general disrespect for the law leads to proper laws being disrespected alongside immoral laws, this is a feedback mechanism - not a primary cause. A fully moral system of law will have no laws that can be morally broken. While some individuals will choose to break laws, they will be actual criminals and will have no sympathy from the citizenry. As more and more immoral laws are put into effect, more and more people have ocasion to make the choice of breaking the law at some point - because that law is an impediment to their life and the risk of being caught is worth taking. This lawbreaker will usually have the sympathy of many or even most of the populace. For an example, drive on any freeway and observe the speed of the "flow". General respect for the law breaks down as the general morality of the law breaks down. Moral law and respect for the law are cause and effect. You don't make the law any more moral by respecting it without question - you do make the law more respected by repealing immoral laws.
  19. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
  20. This is another way to express the same relationship I established (if I understand you correctly). If rights pertain to non-criminals (this being the context in which they are applicable), using force against a criminal is not a rights violation. If you put anything abut government or due process in your context for rights, however, I have to object. Rights are the basis and starting point for political philosophy. They are a primary concept and cannot be logically dependent on a particular government structure to determine their applicability. Defending oneself and one's property against aggression is required by man's nature for his proper survival. Initiating the use of force, on the other hand, is not. No restatement is necessary.
  21. I see what you mean. When you talk in such broad generalities there is no conflict apparent. But these principles guide individual action, and define specifically what the government should and should not do. They have to be true in every particular instance. I'll give you two specific examples to illustrate: 1. Locking a person up in a prison certainly prevents him from acting in his self interest in many ways. Men have a right to be free to act in their own self interest therefore putting a man in prison is a rights violation. Yet, we consider it proper - even mandatory - that this be done to certain people regardless. It is a really simple problem: either there is something that voids rights or rights are not a fact of reality but a human creation (to be granted and taken away by some human created criteria). The former is true. My take on it, based on the fact that a right pertains to the means of survival of a rational being, is that in committing a crime one chooses to act other than as a rational being and thus one ceases to be a being that has rights (to some extent - depending on the crime committed). This is entirely consistent with the view that all rights violations are due to the initiation of force (since retaliatory force is only employed against individuals who have forfeited their rights and thus there is no rights violation in its use) and with emergency situations (where existing as a rational being is rendered impossible). I don't see another non-contradictory way to understand how rights, crime and retaliation relate to each other. 2. A man is walking down the street and another person snatches a bag that he is carrying and runs off. The man is under no immediate threat, the thief is simply running away. Now say this man is armed. The view generally expressed here is that by drawing his weapon and yelling STOP this man would be usurping the role of government. He should instead find a police officer, report the crime and wait for the government to take action. This seems like a bad choice for the victim - trading the certainty of recovering his property by acting himself for the off chance that it might be recovered by the police. Now perhaps someone would classify all such scenarios as "emergencies", but that is really conceding my point without accepting the logic of it (they would be accepting that a victim may use force while not under immediate personal threat). Initiation of force. The use of force defensively does not contradic that principle. Agreed. Again agreed. And here lies the core of my disagreement with you. Government may not do anything that is improper for men to do. It may not initiate force just as men may not initiate force. The issue being: are rights violated by applying the force necessary to secure an individuals rights - retaliatory force - only because the one applying that force is not a government official? Since an act is what it is, regardless of what men think of it, consider: Assume proper doctrine for a policeman recovering a stolen item is to order the subject to surrender it, taser him if he refuses. Is it proper to arrest a man for assault if he does the exact same thing - if it can be proven that the "victim" is actually a thief (to the same standards as the policeman would need that proof in order to act) and that the man was recovering his property? The key here being that an individual and a government official may use the exact same amount of retaliatory force in a given instance, but you are claiming the first one is committing a crime. Note that I'm not advocating different standards of proof either - only that while the government is constrained by due process before it can act, the individual only has to meet that burden of proof after he acts. This is a limitation on government - its every act must be proven proper before it acts - while individuals are free to act as they please (but held accountable). In practice I don't see this making absolutely any difference to life in a free country other than that "legitimate defense" would be a valid defense strategy in some cases beyond immediate defense of life (though for deadly force that would remain the only scenario). From a conceptual point of view, though, I think the issue is important.
  22. So, criminals have rights just like any other person. But it is OK to point a gun at them or take them down with a taser - if you have a badge. What being a government employee acting according to due process does to make it OK to violate a person's rights (since we are bunching criminals and non criminals and stating they have identical rights) is not in your answer. If a criminal has full rights, no one can rightfully use force against him. There is really no wiggle room here. I'm really trying to understand how you reconcile this with reataliatory force but you are not being very forthcoming with your arguments. Which is fine, of course, if you don't want to discuss it.
  23. Interesting. In that case do you consider the use of force by policemen to be a violation of a criminal's rights, do you consider that "due process" removes those rights so police can act without it being a rights violation or do you have some other justification as to why the use of force by government against criminals is not itself a rights violation? I'm not sure if this is meant to be an ironic non-answer or an actual answer. Knowing you I assume the latter, but the typical Objectivist position on government versus individual retaliation (which I have been arguing against here) is exactly what creates the contradiction. So if you don't mind expanding on how you unravel that contradiction I'd be greatful. I absolutely did not argue that. I stated "an individual is capable of objective judgment all by himself". If you disagree, lay out your case. If you agree, you admit you are proposing the government use force against individuals that are acting based on objective judgment as well as the ones who are not. This is what is called "false dichotomy". Not as such. There is a right to do anything that does not violate another's individual rights. The question is, therefore, does using force against a criminal in retaliation for the crime he committed violate individual rights? You are dodging this. Answer it. Proportionality is not a given. You are again trying to establish a relationship between what can be done against a criminal wihtout violating his rights while discarding the whole discussion about what rights a criminal retains and forfeits in committing his crime (as seen above). I quite agree. This is why I'm not advocating "competing governments", "private enforcement agencies" or any other sort of anarchistic or libertarian claptrap that implies the possibility of conflicting rules. I'm advocating that it is sufficient and proper that the government be the ultimate arbiter on all matters regarding force. That respecting the fact that all rights stem from the individual requires recognizing that the individual can exercise them objectively or non-objectively just as he can choose to act rationally or not, criminally or not.
  24. That is begging the question. To determine "the circumstances under which they are properly respected" you first have to determine what "they" are. I have framed the issue as a very clear matter of principle in two distinct ways: Looking at the innocent's rights: 1. Does an individual have a right to use force in retaliation against another individual who has initiated force against him? Yes/No 2. Does the existence of government void an individual's rights in any way? Yes/No Looking at the criminal's rights: A. Does a criminal have a right to keep stolen property? Yes/No B. Are any rights violated when stolen property is retrieved by the threat of force or the use of non-lethal force? Yes/No That is all there really is to it.
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