Report Anarchy / Minarchy / Competing Governments in Political Philosophy Posted June 10, 2004 Here we have a perfect case study in rationalism: a seemingly rational thought-process, totally removed from reality. Mr. Garner here sets out to present an argument in favor of anarchism, not by reference to reality, but by means of words detached from their referents in reality. As we shall see, this is the only way for the anarchist to gain a hearing: once reality enters the picture, he's finished.My argument was based on the logic of Rand's argument, and so no referrence to "reality" was necessary in order to show why Rand had failed to justify the existence of a government over anarchism. Nowhere in here essay did she argue that the justice of government depends on its practical necessity, and it is fortunate that she didn't, since such utilitarian pragmatism falls outside her philosophy. For arguments grounded in reality, sheck out Bruce Benson's writings, or the first volume of FA Hayek's Law, Legislation and Liberty. Ask yourself: what does it mean to say that rules of social conduct exist? And then ask, what would it mean to say they exist apart from an entity that defines, interprets, and enforces them? You'll notice that without the latter, the former cannot exist. But for Mr. Garner, rules of social conduct just happen to be lying about, and thus anyone is free to enforce them as he sees fit. How that describes anything in reality, I can't imagine. So my flaw is in not saying where the "certain rules of social conduct" come from? Well then, this is Rand's flaw too. She defined government as an institution as "an institution with the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct within a given geographic area." This definition says nothing about who or what provides the rules of social conduct - it certainly does not say that government is the institution that produces rules of social conduct. We know that government is not the only source of law in society simply by looking at society and history: Not all laws are produced through legislation. Neither are all laws judged in government courts in society - private arbitration is widespread. Neither are all laws enforced by the government. Here he's trying to clean up the mess he's made for himself, but instead he's reduced to talking about "a mishmash" of rules of social conduct "competing." Whose rules? By what means are they competing? What facts is Mr. Garner referencing? Mr. Garner doesn't say, because he can't. Because if you attempted to concretize the state of a society such as the one of which he is speaking, what you would have is a bunch of people trying to enforce their own "social rules" on each other, i.e., you would have gang warfare. First of all I said that it was irrelevent as to whether there was only one body of legal rules, or whether there was more than one in the same geographic area. What is in question is whether there is an institution with the exclusive power to enforce them or not. However, why not address the possibility of different people within the same geographic area being subject to different sets of laws? Jan Narveson writes: Part of our idea of the law is that it should be authoritative over everyone in the geographical area occupied by the society whose law it is. We should ask a few questions about this. (1) Which "geographical area"? There is no coherent principle for drawing the boundaries of nation-states in the modern sense of the term; and if we take seriously the idea that every individual has the ultimate rights and that collectives are legitimate only if they are associations rather than forced collectivities, then this purely definitional attribute of law is seen to have no interest whatever for establishing whether or not a given person should be subject to a given law. (2) And then, is geographical continuity actually necessary? If we look again at associations, what we will find is that highly discontinuous associations nevertheless have rules and regulations and succeed sufficiently in enforcing them, the primary enforcement proceedure being simply ejection from the association. This raises the question of whether a society could be fully anarchic with respect to law. Could different sets of individuals intermixed in the same geographical area be subject to very different sets of "laws"? Up to a point, there is no doubt that they can, since to a degree they actually are. Different religious communities, for instance, can interlace and yet impose very different requirements on their members. Are these actually "laws," though? They certainly have some of the characteristics of law as we understand it. Those rules generality and authority over those groups whose laws they are. Consequently, their members can use them to settle disputes by the process of weighing claims in the light of the rules in question, with appointed judges to engage in the weighing process. What these partial sets of laws have in common is that they lack supreme authority over all, whether the individual has volunteered coverage or not. Now you say "what you would have is a bunch of people trying to enforce their own "social rules" on each other, i.e., you would have gang warfare." The question is what happens when one person subscribing to one legal system gets into a dispute with someone subscribing to another. However, I can ask you the same question: DPW, what will you do under your system when one person from one legal system gets into a dispute with someone from another? What would happen if Bob from Washington feels that Mr Mbecki in Kenya has violated his rights and wants his government to take proceedings against Mr Mbecki, only to find that according to Kenyan law, Mbecki has done nothing illegal, and so the Kenyan government refuses to allow Bob's government to take proceedings against Mbecki. After all, under your system what you would have is a bunch of governments trying to enforce their own "social rules" on the people of another other, i.e., you would have gang warfare. You see, we already have a situation where people from legal system can get into a dispute with people from others; people from California can get into a dispute with people from Florida; people from different countries can get into disputes; etc. etc. So your criticisms fall just as heavily on you as they do on the anarcho-capitalists. What Mr. Garner is saying here is that justice can be cut off from that which makes it possible: rationality. In other words, he is saying that if the end result of some action happens to be proper, it does not matter how that action was arrived at. If an angry mob destroys a man accused of murder, then according to Mr. Garner, that is no different from that man being put on trial and found guilty, so long as he was in fact guilty. (Incidentally, a similar argument is used by those who say it is in one's interests to violate moral principles when one can "get away with it." If anyone is interested, I'll expand on this point.) I didn't say this anywhere at all. I firmly reject the type of consequentialism you accuse me of: the propriety of an end depends entirely on how it was achieved. I also wholeheartedly deny that simply being accused by a lynch mob is the same as being put on trial and found guilty. I never said anything you accuse me of above, and your attempts to say I did just show how incapable of intellectual discourse you are.