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Everything posted by mrocktor

  1. Incorrect. In that context they are respected. They exist regardless, however.
  2. Disagree. Criminal is one who has violated individual rights. Rights are not created by a context of laws nor are they created by government procedures. Rights exist, you violate them you are a criminal. My rational judgment is the only guide to action I need. I don't need a jury of my peers to validate my conclusions. It's not a matter of "wanting to believe", it is a matter of knowing. You apear to be arguing from the point of view that the individual cannot objectively judge for himself. I'm not letting that slide for one second. Now I doubt you actually mean that, but in that case you need to present an argument for forbiding rational individuals from acting based on their rational judgment whenever this creates the possibility of their acting erroneously. If such a claim could be proved, it would lead to a radically different politics than Objectivist politics. No. But you have set up a nice contradiction. In order to secure my right act on my own judgment free from force you will threaten me with force so I don't act on my own rational judgment - and defer to the judgment of others instead. I am free to act in any manner that does not violate another person's individual rights. This is not about a "right to recover property" - it is about the fact that the criminal has no right to hold my property in the first place. I'm not violating anyone's rights by taking it back.
  3. I don't think it is. I think he has no right to resist recovery of that property in any way. So if he does not hand it over when challenged, he can be physically compelled to return it by any means that don't cause him permanent damage (thus, non lethal) - without this being a rights violation. Any infraction of his property rights incurred in recovering the stolen item which does not permanently damage said property is also not a violation of rights (trespassing on his land, for instance). In both those cases I am arguing that the rights that would have been violated by those acts are forfeit in the act of stealing. If while the stolen goods are being recovered the thief commits additional crimes (such as offering threat to the life of the people recovering the goods - police or not) he forfeits additional rights (in this case his right to life, for as long as he presents a deadly threat). The fact that "criminals forfeit their rights" is generally accepted. To what extent is rarely discussed. This is, however, essential to this matter. My observing a person take the stereo from my car and concluding he is a thief is an objective process. Government badges and juries are not what make a process objective - they are a means to constrain government to objective process. An individual can act objectively, or not. A government constrained by objective law and due process will act objectively. You here are either ignoring the fact that an individual can act objectively - or simply advocating banning all individual's actions because it can be non-objective. Not "other man". I am assuming a man has a right to use force to obtain restitution from a criminal. No small difference. Are you saying law is primary, rights secondary? I definitely take the opposite view. I argue that there is no such thing as "usurping the proper function of government". Quite the contrary- the government is the only one who can do any usurping, because everything a government can do it can do by delegation of individual rights. Either an individual has a right to use force in self defense (immediate or retaliatory) or he does not. If he has that right, the existence of a government does cannot take it away. If he does not have that right, constituting a government will not make that act permissible. A government does not produce rights - and should not eliminate them.
  4. Nevertheless, a thief does not have a right to defend himself from the recovery of the stolen goods, his right is forfeit in committing the crime. If he pulls a gun on the victim as the victim tries to recover his goods, the victim is fully right to shoot him down (because at that point a threat to his life is present). In my view this victim of robbery turned killer of the criminal should be tried and, evidence being present to meet the legally defined burden of proof, found innocent of any crime. It is not the legal system that makes taking the goods back proper. It is not the legal system that removes the criminal's rights. And "having a legal system applying force as appropriate" is not the ultimate goal - it is a means to achieve the goal of protecting individual rights. So the burden of proving that having an individual exert his own individual rights is a threat to individual rights must be met, if one is to argue that it should be illegal for a victim to forcibly retrieve stolen property from the criminal.
  5. I agree. I think the use of deadly force by individuals should be reserved for immediate self defense (as it is now). I can't, however, find reason to support banning the use of non-lethal force by a victim to retrieve stolen property after the fact. That is the sort of situation which is debatable, in my opinion.
  6. I was evidently not trying to describe strictly the conditions under which the law admits the use of deadly force, only give an example of a situation where it might be proper. Nevertheless your correction displays exactly the kind of principle that the law should establish for the private use of force: 1. A level of retaliatory force (in this case, deadly force) 2. The types of rights violation in which the criminal forfeits his rights to the extent of warranting this level of force (in this case, "presenting a threat of physical injury or death") This kind of structure can be applied to bracket all sorts of retaliatory acts and strictly delimit the conditions in which they are proper. You are treating immediate self defense and retaliation under the same concept of "retaliatory force". I actually agree that they are of the same nature, however the standard position is that while immediate self defense is proper (under the "emergency situation" category), private retaliatory acts after the immediate threat has been removed are criminal. Treating every private retaliatory act as criminal by definition implies the assumption that every such use of force is arbitrary. If one does not accept this assumption (and I do not), one must defend a legal system where one may individually retaliate and subsequently be found innocent of any crime by the government, assuming you can meet a burden of proof as to the retaliatory nature of your act and that the retaliation is appropriate to the crime commited against you by an objective criteria such as the one exemplified above. Good correction. However this also implies that the individual may at any moment choose to exercise his own right. There claim "you must delegate your right to retaliation to live in rational society" is internally contradictory since it implies that the individual has delegated his right to retaliation (and thus retains the right - is free to exercise it) and at the same time implies that the individual must not exercise his right. The correct word for this formulation would be "surrender" and not "delegate". Good question. It would not strictly be a protection racket (where the persons offering protection and presenting the threat are the same). Nevertheless, freedom is what exists when an individual is not threatened by the use of force against his person and property therefore you could not say the choice to fund government is voluntary (i.e. free) if it must be made in the context of being under the threat of force (by the government itself (which is taxation) or third parties (which would happen if a "voluntarily" funded government denied protection to those who do not pay up)). Also a fair point. As David Odden mentioned, however, the discussion of goverment is within the context of reality - where criminals exists, where even honest individuals have disputes. A function for police and courts will always exist to some extent. You are entirely correct, though, that in real circumstances there could be many rational reasons to not support the government at any given time. For instance, the current government is increasing staffing beyond what you judge necessary, or is spending on equipment you don't consider necessary, or is implementing policy you don't agree with. All these can happen even in a free country with government based on Objectivist principles. This feature of voluntary government funding is, in fact, one of its greatest positive traits! The fact that you can choose how much to pay and whether to pay at all constrains the government to spending efficiently and in a matter that is considered reasonable by the people. Fair enough distinction. There are certainly individuals who call themselves anarchists or libertarians who actually have some philosophical basis for their beliefs (not to say a correct basis). This is not the case for anarchism or libertarianism, which simply refer to the conviction itself (respectively "no government" or "no agression") without any concern for a basis for these beliefs - as you identified yourself. This complete disregard for grounding their "principles" describes the absolute majority of anarchist and libertarian individuals I have had discussions with. For that reason I'm not the best person to defend it. The argument I have seen is the one I described in my previous post. This I can answer, since I have no dispute here. The legitimacy of a government (which is what you are asking about) is based solely on whether it protects individual rights. While this might seem to not answer your question, consider: 1. If a government (i.e. ultimate arbiter of justice and wielder of force in a given jurisdiction) strictly defends individual rights, no one has a right to challenge it. Challenging an entity that strictly defends individual rights means using force against the innocent. No one has the right to do that. 2. Rights are facts of reality - you cannot have two governments enforcing conflicting law and yet both strictly defending individual rights. If a "competing government" also strictly defends individual rights, the two organizations will actually never conflict - except over procedural matters. What can happen is: 2a. Both organizations have an objective means to settle their procedural conflicts. In this case you actually have one de facto government, though different parts of it call themselves by different names, and not "competing governments". Just as the current federal and state governments are not "competing goverments". 2b. The two organizations do not have an objective conflict resolution mechanism. In this case there is a potential for violence when the two organizations conflict in some matter. This is not a credible arrangement if both are actually strictly defending individual rights (this case would quickly evolve to 2a.) 2c. One (or both) governments is not actually strictly defending individual rights. In this case the potential for violent conflict is real as is the potential for injustice (when one organization fails to protect some individual's rights because of fear of reprisal from the other). This is, essentially, a civil war which can vary from a cold war (where fear and insecurity is the visible effect) to a regular people shooting in the streets sort of civil war. What the "competing governments" or "private law enforcement" brand of anarchist or libertarian fails to see, therefore, is that either all these entities are actually defending individual rights objectively - in wich case they are actually only parts of a de facto government, or they are not - in which case they are at war. In most cases they fail to realize this because they do not believe individual rights are actually objective facts of reality - and they want to be "free to define their own rights" so to speak, or "to be free to do whatever they want" - which amounts to the same thing. By no means! You show all the signs of being in search of truth. We appreciate that around here.
  7. Don't be surprised. Large swaths of anarchistic literature make sense (basically anything not related to the use of force - such as economic matters). The trouble is that anarchistic (and thus many Libertarian) ideas are grounded on... nothing. I once used the following metaphor in a discussion with an anarchist: So while Objectivism is grounded on reason and the facts of reality, anarchism (and most "Libertarianism") is based on a "non-aggression principle" which is just assumed. As it happens, non-aggression is actually a proper principle - but since they don't know what aggression is in the first place, they carry the "principle" to very wrong places. Correct. Government funding should be voluntary. Thus, not taxation. Your assumption is incorrect. A proper government will protect your individual rights whether you choose to fund it or not. This is for two reasons. First and foremost, if you must pay to have your rights secured (i.e. to be free from the threat of force) this is actually a form of extortion. Threat of force being used against you (in this case by third parties) being used to take your money. A proper government is not a protection racket. Second, in protecting your rights the government is in fact securing the rights of the people who do actually fund it. Letting criminals get away with and benefit from crime is a threat to all peaceful citizens - not only to the immediate victim. So even though you (in this example) are not rational enough to realize funding this government is a good deal for you, it will still protect your rights - in the interest of the more rational people around you. This is entirely a different issue since, as mentioned above, you will receive full protection of your rights regardless of your choice to fund the government or not. The standard position you will see with regard to this issue is that any organization wielding retaliatory force (note: not force for immediate self defence, actual retaliation) within the country other than the government is by definition a threat and therefore that it is legitimate to the government to preemptively use force against this organization to remove this threat. The following is my personal application of Objectivist principles to the issue and not the Objectivist position on the matter Personally I'm not satisfied with this line of reasoning. A threat consists of means and intent to violate rights. The trouble with the standard doctrine above, in my view, comes from two related issues. The first is assuming that retaliatory force wielded by and individual or private organization is by definition arbitrary and therefore a threat. This contradicts the basic fact that using force in retaliation against violation of one's rights is itself an individual right. In society this right is delegated by individuals to the government. But "delegated" implies that it is voluntarily ceded. Thus just as not financing the government is permissible (though not rational) in a free society, retaining your individual right to retaliate should be as well. Would a society where the individual has the option to retain his right to use retaliatory force not in fact be anarchic? No. The individual's actions are not themselves immune from the law. So if in retaliating against a criminal an individual or organization violates any rights not forfeit in commiting the crime, that individual or organization has itself commited a crime and is subject to government retaliation. This means that the law would have to be clear with respect to which rights are forfeit when each type of crime is commited, what measure of force is proper in each circumstance. These already exist implicitly in police operating parameters (i.e. you don't shoot a shoplifter, you do shoot a hostage taker if it allows you to save the hostages etc.). Which brings us to the second related issue with the standard position: applying limitations on government to individuals. The government, being the ultimate arbiter is answerable to nothing outside of itself. The law, therefore, provides procedural limitations to its action in order to protect individuals from having their individual rights violated by the government. This, for instance, is why law enforcement cannot enter your home without a warrant. This sort of limitation on government is frequently extended to individuals - and this is a fallacy, in my view. This particular argument against individual or private retaliation goes "but if you enter the thief's home to retrieve your stolen wallet you have done so without a warrant and therefore are trespassing". The same logic can be applied to various other scenarios. The thief, in taking your property against your will and carrying it into his property has forfeit his right to keep you out. This is evident, since the police can and will enter his property (after appropriate procedural actions) to retrieve it. If he had not forfeit that right, the police could not enter his property either. Rights pertain to individuals. Committing crimes forfeits them, it is therefore not a crime to use force against the criminal to the extent that he has forfeit his rights. It is not a warrant that voids the criminal's right to property - it is his crime. The warrant is a limitation on government. What if you break into the wrong person's house? What if you break into the actual thief's house but cannot prove that he actually stole from you? In both cases you will be found guilty of trespass by the government. You, after all, are not the ultimate arbiter. You are not subject to the procedural limitations of government but you are subject to the law. My view, therefore, is that every use of force must be treated like a potential crime by the government - the ultimate arbiter in the land. But just as there is a "legitimate self defense" justification for some uses of force (such as shooting a burglar in your home), there has to be a "legitimate retaliation" justification for other uses of force (such as tasering the burglar as he runs away down the street). One essential thing to note: even in my scenario anyone who chooses to use retaliatory force will be treated as a potential criminal - until it is proven that his use of force was legitimate. It is easy to imagine a scenario where there is evidence that you used force against someone (let's say you held him at gunpoint until the police arrived) but no evidence that he commited a crime against you first (lets say he pickpocketed you but successfully ditched the goods before you caught up with him and drew your gun). In these cases even if the use of force actually was legitimate it may be impossible to prove - meaning you end up in jail even though you actually retaliated against the right person. So not delegating your right to retaliate to the government is (in almost every circumstance) a poor choice - just as not funding a proper government is a poor choice. These cases are probably less contentious. With regard to the courts, any mutually agreed uppon arrangement between individuals is valid. If they opt for private arbitration of a dispute, that is fine. But note: if one of the parties subsequently refuses to abide by the arbiter's decision it falls to a government court to find him in violation of the agreement and to the government to physically make him comply with whichever terms he originally agreed to. In this case there may be a extremely developed private structure but it rests on the ultimate arbiter which is the government. As for the military, any actions outside the country are by definition outside government jurisdiction. If you have a private army and go take out Hugo Chavez or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad there is no reason why the government should care about that. Of course if you use your private army against peaceful countries or if you try to move it into the country proper there are pretty clear grounds to consider it a threat - and eliminate the threat.
  8. There is one sort of man who would respond to such a claim with a request for further information and evidence, another sort of man who would say "ok then". The first type is the man who takes responsibility for his own life, the second is the type that surrenders his own life to the judgment of others - and whines when things go badly. Regulatory states breed a nation of second handed whiners. Of course if a mine owner claims he has an emergency ventilation system that he does not have, or claims positive results of a geological survey he didn't do - he is committing fraud (as you identified) and is liable for the consequences of this fraud (including getting people killed).
  9. mrocktor


    You cannot own facts of reality. This is why scientific facts should not be patentable. Inventions are different in that they are means to use some arrangement of natural factors to accomplish a definite and specific purpose. It is this - creating means of using nature to further human life - that is the productive aspect of intellectual endeavors, and it is this aspect that produces property. One should not be able to patent "salt" (imagine for a moment that the compound was newly discovered) or the fact that high concentrations of salt kill certain pathogens. One should be able to patent the use of Sodium Chloride to preserve meat from rot (assume, again, that this usage is newly discovered). The patent would not cover other uses of salt, nor would it cover the use of other compounds for the same purpose. Another patent could cover the use of salt to disinfect wounds (again, picture this as a recent discovery). Facts of reality can never be property. Only specific ways of accomplishing specific purposes by specific physical means can be owned as patents. Only specific means of expressing ideas, not ideas themselves, can be owned as copyrights. And trademarks are not strictly about intellectual property, but rather about fraud (deceiving the customer). The "right to privacy" should be seen as a limitation on government, for the purpose of protecting individual freedom from government encroachment. It is not an actual right.
  10. Then it is the opinion of those individuals that choose to work in those conditions that the rewards (pay) is worth the added risk to their life. It is not up to you, me or some government official to say they are wrong. It is their own responsibility to assess their working conditions and quit their job if they find them unacceptable. They have no claim on the mine owner's property and no right to force him to offer conditions they would find more desireable.
  11. Format your question as something other than a straw man with an insult attached and perhaps you'll get an answer.
  12. Since "good behavior" should be the expected behavior, I consider a proper system would be to have all convicts serve their full term and extend that term whenever they behave badly. This system achieves the goal David mentioned (i.e. keep the deliberate viscious criminals in jail, let the incidental criminal out after he has served his term).
  13. I agree. Stop calling those people "liberals". I want my language back.
  14. A mater that is strictly about taste (which you are calling "preference" here) is not a choice. The fact that one flavor is more physically pleasurable to you than another is not a choice, it is a fact of nature. Facts of nature are not subject to moral evaluation.
  15. Be sure to read Principles Of Economics by Carl Menger. I would recommend it as one of your first reads. It lays out the basis for the field in simple terms and is an easy read. And since it precedes the "mathematical model" era of economics it will serve as a great reference to keep you from thinking economics is math. Available online.
  16. Definitely. However in the issue of trivial preferences (topic of this thread), the causes of the fact are typically in the realm of sense perception (i.e. a matter of taste) and thus outside the realm of moral evaluation.
  17. Exactly. The fact itself is not moral or immoral, how you choose to act regarding it, is.
  18. Which ice cream you like better is not a choice, it is a fact. Facts are not subject to moral evaluation.
  19. After such a well reasoned rebuttal I have no alternative but to stand corrected. /sarcasm
  20. Does one have a weird color? Is that attractive or repulsive to you? Does one have chunks and the other not? Do you like your ice cream smooth or chunky? You will realize that the only way to make the choice completely empty of moral significance is to make it so both alternatives are absolutely identical as far as you know. Or, in other words, to make it so you don't know anything that would distinguish one option from the other with regard to your values. In that case either 1. both choices are identical, so it is not really a choice or 2. both choices are not identical and you just don't know which one is better. Even the second case is not void of moral significance - is it wise to choose given your ignorance or should you not eat ice cream after all? You may, evidently, come to the conclusion that the moral significance of the choice is so negligible that it is not worth the effort of evaluating in any detail. That is when you flip the coin. But this does not mean that there is no moral significance.
  21. That example was created exactly to point out that it is absurd to consider that a particle can be decayed and not decayed at the same time, only "choosing" a state when it is observed (i.e. the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics). A cat is alive or it is dead. A particle is decayed or is not. Whether you know the state of the particle or not, whether you can know the state of the particle or not, it has a state (existence is identity).
  22. Asking for definitions is good. This thing you described is just stupid.
  23. Sounds like a perfect opportunity for you to exercise (and validate) your concept formation skills
  24. That sounds like a good idea! Lets see how it works out.
  25. This argument is fallacious. More specifically, a non-sequitur. Land rights, for instance, are infinite in duration, though landowners' lifetimes are finite in length. Why does your deed to the land you bought not expire after 20 years? Why are you allowed to sell your right to that land and the buyer to sell it again, and so on with no limit but not the property over the idea you created? At the root of trying to impose time limits on IP is the (utilitarian) fear of "intellectual gridlock". If you concede that fear, you have already surrendered the argument to the anti-IP anarchist/libertarian. There is, in fact, no good reason to time-limit IP, and no rational justification for it.
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