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Everything posted by nanite1018

  1. Well I'd have to agree with the libertarian crowd then. It isn't an initiation of force if you do not actually use nor directly threaten force. Driving drunk does neither (as obviously you aren't capable of threatening someone with force if you cannot interact with them in any way). Now, if you do in fact damage someone's property then I do see a justification, perhaps, in increasing the punishment because you were negligent.
  2. The question is not "should initiation of force be illegal/banned?" (duh, yes it should), but rather "is dueling an instance of initiation of force?" It isn't obvious, as it is a consensual activity (perhaps with somewhat higher standards of proof of consent than most other such activities, but consensual just the same). It probably wouldn't be rational to ever participate in a duel (I can't think of an instance, though perhaps it will come to me), but that does not mean it should be banned. I can't think of any instance when the use of heroine would be rational, but it shouldn't be banned either. And I very much doubt that anyone who is for the legalization of dueling actually wants to duel; it is a question of what delineating exactly what qualifies as an "initiation of force", and thus clarifying Objectivism's ideal legal code. Finally, "pressure" does not have any bearing in a legal code. Is someone threatening you with force? If not, then whatever they are doing is legal and non-coercive. Refusing to trade with you because they think you're a coward is not an instance of coercion, and so has no role in the legality of the instance of dueling that may result. Threatening someone with refusal to trade isn't coercion (in the legal sense) either. So, that section of your post has nothing to do with dueling at all. Also, welcome to the forum.
  3. I had typed up a very detailed response. If this sounds snippy, it is because the work of nearly an hour I put in was deleted in under a second by an unknown typo (I believe I selected all text and then typed a letter, all at once, without meaning to). I'm a bit peeved as of this writing. Did you infringe on someone's rights before? Yes or no? If yes, then they are probably not violating your rights (depends on what exactly they are doing, but it wouldn't be hard to tell). If no, then they are. Where'd the certainty go? Sure, as long as they do not use force against those who are trying to bring their clients to justice (for example, if they are convicted of a crime, and they are going to arrest them and punish them according to the law). If they do so, they would be initiating force and so guilty of crime. If they're aren't interfering with justice/initiating force, there's no problem. That seems obvious (and very unlikely for Mafia protectorates). "No rulers" (i.e. monopoly enforcers/courts)= "anarchy" then yes. "No rules" = "anarchy", then no. Big big difference. I do not want to do so, I think it would be reckless to do so. Too much risk. But I could if I was reckless. And if I mess up, then I'll pay the price, plain and simple. The courts and police would be more efficient, as they'd compete for business, and so any crazed vigilantes/rogue enforcement agencies (those who misuse force basically) wouldn't last very long at all. If he's innocent, I don't allow it, as the man who punished him will be punished. If he's guilty, there's no issue. Say I steal 1000 dollars. Then I need to pay you 2000 (plus court expenses, etc.), 1000 that I stole, and then 1000 punishment. Now, say I offer to have you or someone else whip me 10 times instead of paying you. You agree or disagree, we haggle, etc. and eventually land on some punishment we both agree with (obviously, I'm gonna try to reduce my sentence, and you'll try to increase it). If you are being unreasonable (like wanting to kill me), then I, the thief, can always just pay you the money and be done with it. If I killed your wife, then I can try to haggle, but you are clearly in a better position as you can always just kill me and be done with it. Regardless, since there will be an objective baseline, whatever punishment occurs will be just (as it was agreed upon by both parties and/or ruled by court). If a pacifist wants to let someone go, then why not let him, he's just asking to get hurt again. If a muslim wants to kill a thief, well he can't, because that would be a violation of the thief's rights. I think you misunderstood my point here; there isn't a problem, thanks to the objective baseline set by the court. You never defeated his arguments. He had the better argument, far more convincing/sound than your's or David's in my opinion. That's why I said I agreed with almost everything he said. Highly unlikely, as it would be costly and irrational to do what you suggest here. You can however hold him at gun point until police-types arrive. He is, after all, guilty until proven innocent (though you need to be cautious about the possibility of that last part). If he attacks you, then defend yourself; otherwise avoid killing him or hurting him. Perhaps there should be some wiggle room here, as without evidence you have to go on the evidence available. Though, this would be akin to an undercover cop shooting someone and not announcing his identity first. If you tried to defend yourself against him, you probably won't be charged with anything, as you didn't have any way of knowing. Perhaps I was wrong, I haven't totally made up my mind. Perhaps they are somewhat different, But I think everyone owning and carrying a gun would make the world a much safer place than the government itself ever will (interestingly, the Wild West wasn't so wild, it had very few murder/deaths, you can research it). Well the arguments against "anarchism" in my sense (no rulers, just rules) have been answered to my satisfaction, and I've never seen a convincing argument for a monopoly government as opposed to monopoly law (which I think is necessary). A point of confusion that I see is that government isn't actually an entity that can be examined directly. It is merely a group of men who say they act by some set of rules. Only the populace can check and judge whether they are or not. How does government get or maintain its authority? By the consent and support of the populace. But the only way government can be just is if the people are just. And if the people are just, then why do you need a monopoly government as opposed to simply a just set of rules? People will, collectively, enforce those rules (they do now in exactly that manner, they simply have a monopoly enforcer; probably out of force of habit). If the people are unjust, monopoly government can't save you. If the people are just, then monopoly government is superfluous. The only way to have justice is for there to be a populace of just, rational people. With them, enforcement will be ensured to be just, as will the courts, by popular opinion, competition for business, and ultimately the power of the people. Government is simply a bunch of people protecting other people according to an agreed upon arrangement; why not let people compete for those agreements (within the bounds of just law)? When it comes down to it, the very mechanisms you and others propose will ensure government is just are the mechanisms that will ensure enforcement agencies are just in a system that allows competition in that arena. There is no difference, except one unnecessarily restricts competition in a possible business area, and so decreases efficiency and accuracy of justice. If you don't wish to continue that's fine, but reading that other thread, and this one, hasn't led me to believe that rule of law requires rulers (people who make everyone else accept their judgment as final).
  4. Right now, I am saying we all "deal" in force, except that the vast majority elect to have the people employed as policemen do the work of defending us. Criminals have their protectorate now (themselves, each other, etc.), and so do we (the government), and the two are at war. That is reality, and it will always be so. It is an unwinnable war, in that all criminals will not be once and for all vanquished, but one side can consistently be winning handily (namely, government, as it is today). I deny they are separate in any sense. I can defend/retaliate so long as I do so by not violating the rights of anyone who is innocent (that is, anyone who has not committed a crime; that is different from anyone who has not been convicted before a court of law to have committed a crime). I must show my act of force was legitimate in the sense that it was just, i.e. that I acted with an appropriate (just) level of force against a guilty individual. If I cannot do this, or if I used too much force, then I must be punished for my act of force (or whatever the difference was between the just level of force and that which I employed). I outlaw the initiation of force. If it were unlawful for men to use force ever, then the justice system collapses, as it is composed of men. Retaliatory/defensive (they are, as above, one and the same) force is justified to within the bounds of justice against guilty men. What is the just level of force against a guilty man for crime X? I think somewhat more than the amount of force he used against another man, plus restitution if such a thing is possible for the crime. So, kill a murderer, take 1000 dollars from someone who stole 1000 dollars (in addition to the thousand in restitution), etc. Translating that into years in prison, or perhaps direct compensation to the victim, should (I think), be up to the victim in the case. Did it. Took an hour and a half, but I read every post (well, not andre whatever's, they weren't enlightening). I agree with mrocktor in essentially every point, except for when he made that comment that if someone kills someone next to you, and you kill them, but it turns out the original man who was killed was actually a murderer and the second man was simply dealing out justice, then you should not be punished. You should, you murdered an innocent man, regardless of whether you thought he was a threat. And that was one thing you hammered him on in that thread, for saying that he should not be punished. I was surprised that you mentioned "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and the hiring of professional jurors for cases on the street as a possibly legitimate system of justice. I have not read the novel, but to my understanding it is essentially a depiction of an anarcho-capitalist revolution on the Moon, and the system you very very briefly outlined sounded a heck of a lot like what I was discussing previously in this thread. I really do not see how you could disagree that I can use the lawful amount of force due to a man who is guilty of a crime, provided I do not violate anyone else's rights. I must, of course, be presumed, for the time being, to be a threat and be detained, of course. But if the person I used force upon is found guilty of a crime (even with the numerous increases in restrictions resulting from, for example, the possibility I planted evidence, the probably invalidation of my testimony, etc. etc. etc.), and the legal amount of force to use against him was greater than or equal to the amount I used, then I should be acquitted and compensated for my loss of time/restriction of movement. It would likely be quite difficult in many instances to actually prove the guilt of the party I used force against, but that simply means that I am going to have to be very cautious about taking a vigilante route, rather than going through courts. Due process is a means to show everyone that the conviction was just. It is a protection for government officials to not be convicted of a crime (for kidnapping for example) for sending someone to jail. It also makes proving someone guilty somewhat easier, as more evidence will be allowable in court if it is followed. However, it has nothing to do with proving guilt or making the act of retaliation just. So long as you can objectively prove guilt and show that the force was of a just level, due process (in the sense of chains of evidence, etc.) isn't important. It certainly would factor into what would be taken as evidence in the case to determine the just-ness of the act of force, but violating those rules couldn't be punished in and of themselves. Of course for government agents one could be prosecuted for violating those rules, but that is because you would agree to abide by them in your contract for employment, not because doing so would necessarily violate anyone's rights. And if vigilantism as you might call is just, so are private defense agencies (so long as their actions are up for legal review). And if those hired private jurors you said might be a legitimate system of justice are indeed legitimate, then you have no monopoly government, only monopoly law. And that I'm fine with.
  5. Well that would be the concept, yes. But it is a result from my analysis that the possible actions of government can be broken into essentially three categories, and of the various possible political viewpoints with reference to those categories, each has important differences that make it relevant for discussion of political views. The people in the "individual rights only" camp are very different in terms of their political views and aims than those in the other camps with respect to those categories. They also share a lot in common with respect to political views and aims. Classifying political positions/views is important, as it allows one to find people similar or different to you in political views, and to carry on discussions about political subjects (voting, interest groups, blocks of voters, etc.) in a concise and clear way. It is valid to classify sets of political positions and aims, based on the fundamental types of possible government action. IT isn't the same as your concept Q, because the concept Q is based on non-essentials and has no use (well, provided you aren't in some business that could, somehow, only deal with such people or something like that; perhaps advertising might find a value in such a term). But the conservative, liberal, totalitarian, and libertarian terms I came up with are based on essential differences with respect to political positions- views with respect to the fundamental types of possible government action. They are useful and based on essentials, they are valid concepts (when discussing political positions).
  6. The basis is the conceptual common denominator, the essential commonality between all units of the concept which differentiates them from the others. If you are trying to classify someone's political positions, then what are the essential differences/commonalities? It is impossible to be extremely precise about it, as even with Objectivists political positions (as to who to go to war with, etc.) vary. But in general, you can classify government action as predominantly of three types. 1) Enforcement of individual rights. 2) Intervention in social matters. 3) Intervention in economic matters. Now, essentially, everyone wants 1, at least generally, in the sense that we have a defense of property rights (though they are vague on that) and a defense of personal sovereignty. Libertarians want 1 but reject 2 and 3. Liberals want 1 and 3 (though they don't realize that is contradictory), and conservatives want 1 and 2 (again, same as liberals). Totalitarians/collectivists/statists want 2 and 3 (and may pay lip service to 1). And that is about it. Those are the essential classifications of government action, and those are the various groups in terms of what the support. What separates an Objectivist/libertarian in terms of these broad classifications of government action from others? They only support 1. Indeed, by looking into how people think on some few subjects, you can broadly classify them in one of those regions (though of course there are wide borderline cases). What separates an Objectivist from a libertarian? Perhaps a different derivation of 1 and what 1 means. While that might affect positions on various issues, in general people in the "only 1" camp are quite alike politically (in comparison to the other groups. It is similar to colors I suppose. Various shades of green may be very very different, but they are still, basically, green as opposed to blue, yellow, or red.
  7. The war on society I was discussing is what the Mafia and serial killers do. It is one which we have to fight in any society, including and Objectivist one, because there will always be crazies. Without illegal drugs it has always been on the fringes of society in the modern era, as it will necessarily continue to be once such restrictions are removed. I do not say that no one will use force. I am saying that anyone wishing to deal in force will face constant threat from the rest of society, and so those who do initiate force will be few in number, and that force can be as well restrained without a "government" in the sense of monopoly police and courts as it can with them. You can't have multiple final arbiters on each side. You arrange for arbitration and the order and rules regarding it in your contract, and that is respected by everyone else in society (it is, after all, in the contract) and so any break with that is permissible to be met with whatever force is there by law. Or, we have a law that says the decision in any two courts (not hired by one party in the dispute) will be final. It doesn't kick the can down the road, because if three courts have heard the case, the decision of two of them will be final and deemed enforceable. If that's the law (or what you agreed on in the contract), then where is the can-kicking? Agreed. It is lawful for men to practice justified retaliatory force (it is lawful for some to do it now after all, and it must always be so). It is unlawful to initiate force (including a misapplication of so-called retaliatory force, for example using too much force, or using force against someone who is innocent). I don't see the problem there.
  8. If all acts of retaliatory force are also up for review according to the law we are dealing with, then why make a differentiation? Any and ALL acts of force would be (at least could) subject to review. You must agree with this, because the acts of the police must necessarily be subject to judicial review in any conceivably objective government. But if everything is up for review, why do you need "police" in the sense of a specific institution, rather than defense/enforcement agencies that enforce the decisions of courts? If a court sentences a man to die, and I hunt him down and execute him with a bullet to the head, what is the problem? He had been sentenced to death, he's dead. I simply don't see the need for a differentiation between retaliatory or and defensive force so long as all acts of force are open for review by courts. If I do something wrong while trying to enforce the law, I am subject to punishment. Where's the issue? Just be careful about writing off things because they're not objective. If you stipulate "a government that enforces objective law in an objective way", then you have eliminated all problems from the hypothetical government, as any deviation in enforcement or court decisions is written off as not part of it. It is quite possible that the courts will make the wrong decision. It has happened before and will happen again. The question is that given any system is necessarily fallible, how do we minimize the errors in both number and scope? If you have law (either an explicit written constitution-type document or a huge body of common law with well established principles serving the same purpose), then anyone may enforce it. If people believe they committed an error, they will be brought to court and dealt with, and so on and so on. The ultimate check is everyone in society enforcing the rules on everyone else. That is the case whether we have some people who are designated part of "government" or not, as ultimately the only check to make sure a government is objective is a population which ensures that it is indeed objective. Ultimately, government or no, all there is in society is a bunch of people enforcing the rules as they see them on everyone they come across, and if the people are objective the rules and enforcement will be objective, and if not, they won't. If you follow different, non-objective rules than society at large, you will be punished (and rightly so, if the rules applied to you are objective). You can do anything, so long as you obey objective rules/law. If you hunt down the man who murdered your wife, for instance, then you are perfectly justified in doing so so long as the punishment you deliver is just (i.e. appropriate according to the objective rules of justice) and he is indeed guilty (which would be up to the judgment of everyone else in society, though most everyone will respect the decision of a court which they find to administrate the law objectively). You don't need a specific institution for the administration of justice, only a system of objective principles of justice accepted by society. If you have that, administration of justice will be objective. If you don't, I don't care what government you have, it simply isn't going to be objective or stay objective for long.
  9. Binding as in universally regarded as enforceable. So, if someone disagrees even after the process of arbitration dictated in the contract has been finished, that's just too bad. No one will care, because we've already gone through the judicial process (according to the law). It would be similar to if the Supreme Court hands down a ruling. By law, what they say is final. Therefore, there decision is carried out by everyone, and if it is not, they are punished because they broke the law. You can try to set up or sign with a defense agency that doesn't care about the law, but then it will be an outlaw agency whose agents will be subject to the use of force by the agents of any and all other agencies, as well as private citizens (in defense). You would, essentially, be declaring a war on society, and the consequences will be no different really than if you are in a criminal organization like a gang or the mob. You'd be hunted down and dealt with in the manner the law provides. The idea that you could contract with some huge agency that ignores the law is silly, because as I said before, such an agency would have to survive while in constant conflict with everyone else in society (it really would be no different than problems of corruption and the Mafia that we see today, and as everyone recognizes I should hope, such organizations will be hard pressed to survive if it wasn't for the illegality of drugs). The enforcer of law could be anyone, but anyone who acts in the capacity of enforcer must be subject to judgment by others in society (so if you go on a killing rampage, or break the law in some way, other agencies or individuals will act to stop you and bring you to justice). The final arbiter for disputes will either be arranged in the contract itself, or be set up via an agreement between the defense agencies we contract with, or simply the decision of any two courts (provided both were not contracted by only one party in the dispute) on the subject matter. Such rules could be placed in the law. There has to be a final arbiter, and the rules surrounding that should be subject to law, but there does not have to be a single final arbiter which has that role for every dispute around. I don't see why there would be a negative consequence to having many courts which act as final arbiters in each individual case rather than a single all-encompassing final arbiter. Nor would there necessarily be a net negative consequence to having competing agencies of defense and enforcement of law. Benefits would be likely increase in efficiency and protection generally (because people would actually be paying for the service rather than having money taken from them without consent or simply having some people donate to finance the whole system; having payment and service closely linked improves quality in almost all instances). Costs would be possibly increased friction between agencies, and likely more court cases (though courts would also be more efficient if they had to compete for business). Overall, the only net benefit would be that it would eliminate the monopoly of police departments and courts which, as far as I can see, is unnecessary for man's nature and thus unjust.
  10. The need for law is unquestioned. Rules must be in place and enforced by people. That such rules can and should be objective isn't questioned either. The question is in the administration and enforcement of said laws. The question is not whether we need a "monopoly" in law, i.e. a set or rules enforced over a region (such will necessarily develop, as is the case with common law, for example; alternatively it might be created at the outset, through a form of constitution, though different in character than ones we have today). The question is whether or not one and only one group should be able to enforce said laws. If the police in my area suck, and take, for example, 11 minutes to respond to a report of robbery, I might be willing to pay more to another agency that will respond in 5. Or I think a judge in the city is corrupt and me and my business partner agree in our contract to go to some other judicial agency if we have a dispute, the ruling of which will be binding (and enforceable by a defense agency of our choosing). That is the sort of thing that is under discussion. Monopoly of enforcement of law in a given area is not synonymous with the existence of law in a given area.
  11. I do not deny the need for objective law that is enforced by the courts and police. There is a need for objective rules. But I do not see a reason why there must be, for example, a single court of final appeal. Couldn't we simply have, for example, a rule that states that the decision of any two or three courts on a case is final (after all, I pick a court, you pick a court, and then a final court of appeal seems like it should be enough to cover all eventualities). Then we can specify in the contract we sign that we will go to courts X, Y, and Z in that order if there is a disagreement. If there is no contract, then we will have enormous public pressure to pick a court, or one party could file suit in a given court, and then the other party could ask for an appeal, and then there might be one final appeal and then everything is finished. The final verdict (whether voluntarily submitted or if it finishes the appeal process) is then recognized by everyone as final and enforceable (as it is the law). Common law should be able to take care of law-making/enforcement, but perhaps we would need a codified code of law that is enforced by all the courts and police. A dedicated police force that has sole jurisdiction over an area, so long as there are courts and other police forces that also enforce the law to ensure they are in check. So we could have private courts and private police, all without making the idea of law invalid In short, police and courts do not have to be monopolies for an Objectivist system to work. Law, perhaps, does, but if we have a society of Objectivists, common law will almost certainly be objective and just law. After all, isn't it we Objectivist-types that say that a simple top-down change in society is impossible, and that cultural shift is needed to both create and maintain such change in the long haul? A society of mostly Objectivists will not stay Objectivist for long if it doesn't wish to, government or no. And a society of Objectivists, I argue, would not need a government, in that it has sole jurisdiction over an area maintained by force if necessary.
  12. I'm sorry, I thought you were talking about Communism, not a desire for a world of voluntary communes. Communism, as in rule be Communists, results in total destruction. Someone who wants to live in a totally voluntary commune is not a problem, so long as it is indeed totally voluntary (it won't last for long after all, or it will cease to be voluntary, in which case people can do something about that). If you reject the validity of libertarianism as a concept, than you must also reject ALL concepts of political viewpoints, liberal, conservative, socialist, communist, progressive, populist, etc. as none of them are based on a complete system of philosophy in the way Objectivism is. Indeed, the only meaningful distinction would then be "Objectivist" and "non-Objectivist", as that would delineate what is (according to most Objectivists, it seems) the only relevant distinction in the realm of politics: a correct defense of individual rights (degrees and differences in problems are irrelevant apparently). The basis for concept formation is the political positions of the person at hand, and whether they are generally supportive of government intervention into 1) business affairs 2) social affairs 3) neither 4) both. It is clear that in general the groups in each of those categories would be more similar to each other in other respects than they would be similar to groups in the other categories. A libertarian (group 3) will have far more in common with an Objectivist, in general worldview, then a conservative, liberal, or total collectivist. Certainly, the classifications are necessarily loose and are not all-encompassing systems of philosophy. But I don't see why that necessarily destroys their essential differences in the area of politics.
  13. You do all the time. You buy groceries from them, watch movies in the same theater, live in the same country. You go to work with them, perhaps sell to them. Why do you do this? Because you have a goal, and they can help you reach that goal (and their other philosophical positions do not eliminate their usefulness). The goal in this case is a proper government and the growth of the number of people who accept Objectivism. Libertarians a) want many of the same present policy proposals as Objectivists as well as many long term goals and b ) for that reason would be relatively easy (at least I should think) to get interested in Objectivism. Oh, and at least in general, most libertarians do not reject reason as such (at least not any more than anyone who believes in any sort of deity does, or conservatives or liberals generally). Libertarianism is a term describing a class of political positions (or broadly, political philosophies). If we are discussing politics, Objectivism falls under libertarianism. Communism does not. As for religion, we have a term to describe Communism and Objectivism, it is atheist. How dare we associate with communists by calling ourselves atheists?! (Joking). Perhaps people would be happier if there was a broad term like atheist that described both libertarians and Objectivists? That name has already been taken though, and it is libertarianism. You can make up a word if you like, but it doesn't mean anyone would ever use it.
  14. More to the point, if people will, through voluntary action, be unable to set up a system that deals with criminals (that is, initiators of force), then how can they set up a system that excludes all alternative arrangements (as there are many ways of setting up a government, in terms of its mechanics of operation, that are in line with Objectivist principles) that deals with them? Objectivity isn't intersubjective, it is open to the all rational people, and the transition from an individual being able to make objective evaluations about everything, to only some specified body being capable of doing so, seems like a stretch (if not a break) with that principle. That's the part I haven't worked out.
  15. Anyone can identify themselves as anything, doesn't mean that is in fact what they are. Him saying he is a Libertarian is no different than John Keynes calling himself a capitalist, or if Rand called herself a socialist. Just because they said so doesn't make it true.
  16. I agree that they both have fundamental issues, and that if they desire to be consistent they must either reject the idea they have the right to initiate physical force for any reason, or wholeheartedly support it (though that path would lead to death, at least they would have a glaring contradiction in their political philosophy, even if there ethics would be way out of whack). And that is their most important characteristic, though I still think they can be useful categories so as to organize the nature of certain errors in political philosophy. This is where we differ. The question of "who should rule" has never been answered by Objectivists (that is, exactly how a government should justly be formed; the topic has gotten no attention so far as I can tell, except a brief sentence vague sentence or two perhaps). That is an important question, one which needs more attention in my opinion. In any case, only anarchists are libertarians for that reason alone (and perhaps they deserve their own label). Many libertarians are ethical subjectivists, or follow a more rationalist approach (like Rothbard) and think ethics is irrelevant. But most do NOT arrive at freedom by default. Almost all believe that liberty and property are the keys to prosperity and human happiness. Others believe it is the only logically consistent social system (that isn't default either, that is an affirmation that it is the only possible system, as all others are contradictory by their nature). Unfortunately, some, as we all know, do arrive at freedom as a default, or as an excuse for their immoral behavior. But so what? The majority do not, and can mount a defense of liberty and property that doesn't sound like they are trying to excuse bad behavior, nor that they hold no values whatsoever. Now, you are quite right that a certain political viewpoint does not imply necessary coherence on non-political (or even all political) issues. But those are not the fundamental differences in the political sphere. Those differences are whether or not government exists to protect rights and whether or not you accept that the initiation of force is never justified and must be banished from human interaction.
  17. Well, actually, non-anarchist libertarians all want a military to defend the country. The major difference is an insistence on a) being attacked directly by that country first before striking (Iran hasn't, directly, attacked us for instance) and b ) an insistence that civilian deaths should be minimized. But if that is the major difference then we aren't very different at all, in the political sphere. There is a LOT of similarity between Objectivists and libertarians. If you ask an Objectivist and a libertarian/minarchist what they think on issue X they will agree almost all the time (or, the variance between them will be within the range of the variance among Objectivists themselves), with the possible exception of some elements of foreign policy (though those issues aren't drastic, and many libertarians agree with most Objectivist positions in that arena). Indeed, in domestic policy, minarchists and Objectivists will have almost identical viewpoints. I know most Objectivists don't like libertarians because they don't have the proper backing for their positions, but the fact is that the two groups agree on an enormous number of issues, at least as much as any of the other groupings like conservatives, liberals, and socialists. If libertarians and Objectivists cannot possibly be grouped together (even the non-anarchist libertarians), then neither can "conservatives" or "liberals" be grouped together either, for they share just as profound a difference in justifications for their beliefs (including epistemology and ethics) as there are differences between conservatives and liberals. In order to be consistent, you either have to, as Grames has done, denounce all such labels, or admit that a common broad term akin to "conservative" or "liberal" could describe "libertarians" and "Objectivists". edited to make be b ). I really don't like that emoticon.
  18. See, but "libertarian" does not force together disparate units in the political sphere (unless, perhaps, you include the anarcho-capitalists, then there might be more of a case). If you very explicitly confine your discussion to the political sphere alone, and say that someone being a libertarian has no necessary connection the other branches of philosophy, such as ethics or epistemology, then you can have a valid concept. The justification for their belief in a "small" (defined in terms of scope, not actual size or power) government may be different, but libertarians are all in a similar place in terms of their views on the scope of proper government, and have very different views than conservatives, liberals, socialists, or fascists. Such classifications are very useful in political discourse and enable people to have political discussions about both current policy and to a lesser extent philosophy (when critiquing other viewpoints) far easier. Indeed, banning such terms of our vocabulary would require people over and over to use similar descriptions as that of a hammer given earlier in the thread.
  19. Alright, well then at least you are consistent. So, in your opinion, there is no essential difference between a liberal (wants a very strict separation of religion from the public sphere, large welfare programs, few restrictions on non-economic behavior) and a conservative (essentially switch things around)? Grouping the two into categories serves no cognitively useful function whatsoever? I understand that neither take up an Objectivist definition of rights (and most do not agree that government's only function is the protection of rights), but they do have fairly major differences, with each violating rights in a different manner. If all such concepts are invalid, is "socialist" invalid as well, as it has so many disparate referents, or is it only applicable to a teensy part of the population, like "capitalist"? Would you say that there should only be two categories for political thought- "Objectivist" and "rights-violating" (I didn't want to make up a word)? Because that seems to be the only essential difference, if all specific policy proposals are removed from consideration as "non-essential."
  20. If "libertarian" is a meaningless/invalid concept, so is liberal, progressive, conservative, and perhaps even socialist. What is a conservative? What do "conservatives" say on issue X? They aren't all the same. Nor do they all have a similar ethical basis, or explicit political philosophy. There are conservatives who are pro-choice (though not many), and liberals who are pro-life. There are conservatives who want a sizable amount of regulation, others who want none. Progressives may want certain industries to be nationalized, or keep them private but regulated. Many conservatives (and some, but far fewer liberals) have a "natural rights" background to their political philosophy. Others are very explicitly utilitarian. If we are discussing the political sphere alone, not ethics or epistemology, then all of these are valid concepts (though with many borderline cases, and many many sub-groups encompassed within them to describe important differences). If you deny this, then it will be hard to take part in nearly any discussion of politics at all, as it would take a lot of effort to delineate who "conservatives" or "liberals" were without using those words. "Libertarian" may be defined as someone who wishes to ban the initiation of force from human relationships (force being defined as the violation of property rights and "ownership"/control of one's person). Perhaps another definition works better, and I'd be open to suggestions. But the general category of "libertarian" is just as useful a categorization as "liberal", "progressive","conservative", etc. which most of the people on this thread feel perfectly comfortable to use while critiquing "libertarian." So long as you keep the discussion limited to the political sphere, all of those are useful categorizations describing some basic differences in political viewpoints of various voters (though not all positions).
  21. Not so much. Justice demands the programs be eliminated as quickly as they possibly can be. "The program should only be eliminated at rate Y" means that if one were politically able to eliminate it quicker, one should not. Whereas a non-gradualist strategy would work to eliminate the program as quickly as one possibly can at any given point in time (so if one were able to viably speed up the phase out of some program, one would do that as well). Indeed, gradualism is what implies a split between moral and practical, as it maintains that while the initiation of force is evil and must be eliminated, practically we just can't do it because [insert some reason that is not "we can't get the bill passed"]. If you are sold a stolen item, you have no right to said stolen item, and the original owner does. So, that item should be removed from your possession and placed into the possession of its original owner. Then you can sue the person who sold you the stolen goods to get back all the money you are out, and then some (or this might be done automatically, rather than as a separate case). "I bought your family heirloom from somebody who, it now seems, stole it, but you have no right to get it back" seems fairy preposterous. Indeed, I am not penalizing anyone if I take from them property which is not justly their's. They had no right to it in the first place. But, and this is important, this isn't treating them like the original criminal. They didn't have to pay for court costs, or interest, or damages, they aren't locked in jail, etc. The criminal has to do all that. We're just talking about returning all that money to its proper owners. And I think essentially all of the money is untraceable, because if that money was put into a big pool (say money from their savings accounts), then you couldn't know exactly where it went, which property was bought with it. And since you couldn't know that, you couldn't justly go after anyone for the money (as you don't know where it went). As a result, it isn't possible to get that money back. Justice would demand then that the money due back to the original earners be paid by the criminal. But the criminal is the government, and the only way the government can pay anyone back for anything is to steal it. Since that certainly isn't moral (to correct one injustice we have to create another one of equal size which must too be corrected, and on and on to infinity), we can't pay back the money. And finally, trying to trace it would cost even more money, and that too would be unjustly acquired. So the only way to correct the injustice is through far more injustice, and so we simply should let things lie as they are.
  22. The problem here is that that money has already changed hands, to other people (the people the spent it on) who got that money illegally (as it was gotten by illegal means), so they have no right to it, and then on and on and on, in a chain of untraceable interactions. The property is gone, lost in a blizzard of transactions and receipts rotted away in landfills. The money stolen has changed hands an enormous number of times since then. The key is that no one should now control property which is not rightfully their's. That is the principle we must base our analysis on. Except for perhaps the last few months of social security payments, the money (the property that was stolen) is now in the possession of an enormous number of other people (not the people who received it initially), and those people cannot possibly be identified at this point. We also cannot show exactly what most social security recipients actually obtained through stolen money, as they almost all have some other source of revenue from somewhere, and so good money got mixed with bad. No objective analysis of what is justly there's and unjustly there's is possible. If you can't show something was unjustly acquired, you must hold the property claim as valid. The same logic applies for virtually all government interventions of any sort: the property stolen cannot now be tracked down to who controls it now. It is unjust to take from someone who does not presently hold stolen property (and to demand they return items purchased with said property is also impossible, as what was purchased with the money would be impossible to determine in virtually all cases). As a result, we can't demand everyone give all the money the government gave them back. We can declare bonds null and void, we can end the current rights violations, but correcting the vast majority of past violations is impossible to do in an objective manner. If that is what you can get, then take it. And continue to work for its immediate end during the phase-out period, or a shortening of the phase-out period. The point is to never hesitate to reduce the interventions of government if you can do it at any given moment in time. To say that "justly, we must gradually reduce program X at Y rate" is fundamentally different than "the fastest I can, in a politically viable manner, demolish program X is at Y rate." The latter will jump at any chance to increase the rate at which the phasing out of government intervention occurs, the other will purposely prolong it if the opportunity to accelerate it occurs. If the possibility arises that you could get a phase-out in 5,3,2,1 years instead of 30 arises, you should jump at the opportunity. That is the real difference between gradualism and a rights-based approach-one has a maximum rate at which the reduction of state intervention occurs, the other would do it all tomorrow if it could. Gradualism in practice is a requirement of the way the world happens to be at the moment, but gradualism in theory is the result of placing individual rights below something else in importance in the political realm (or so is the case if my analysis above holds).
  23. I'll respond to both of you at once, as it will be faster. The man who opposed SS all his life but couldn't save might warrant me helping him. But it does NOT warrant someone stealing my money to help him. That is a violation of my rights. If I, or anyone else, choose to help him, then so be it. It is impossible to do as softwareNerd suggests and go through and take back everyone's property, because the property was thrown into a common pot and redistributed. The original owner cannot be located, and since the present possessor did not commit the crime in question, it can justly be said to be his (as no one else has any higher claim to it). Who has a right to which portion of other people's property cannot be determined in any objective fashion. What can be known is that to continue stealing in order to give to others is a violation of property rights, regardless of whether the other person was a victim of aggression or not (provided the the actual individual person you are taking from wasn't the aggressor against that individual you are giving to, but that isn't the case here). You make valid points that many who are on Social Security or the welfare programs or what have you may oppose such systems, and have been unable to find any other avenue to survive given current conditions. But we can't change that, or even rectify it (as to rectify it would require stealing from others who were uninvolved, or unobjectively stealing from someone who had no choice in the matter). The only thing we can do is to change the system. To try to phase out social security is to prolong theft. I have no obligation to anyone else, just because they were rendered helpless by government policies (I am speaking here of legal/rights-based obligation, I would most certainly choose to give some portion of my income to organizations that help such people). Government doesn't enforce morality, but rather rights. Those people have no right to my money, and there is no objective way of figuring out thieves and victims in the system (it is far too tangled, and mixes everyone's property up so it can't properly be tracked). The only answer is to end the rights violation, and to advocate people help those who were made victims of (in their judgment) and avoid helping (or actively boycott) those who were the active thieves.
  24. Alright, let's examine social security. The person about to retire has been living under this system, expecting, indeed relying, on social security in order to finance his retirement, is complicit in the violation of property rights in the system. The man who is only 25 has no such plans (as he likely isn't too concerned about retirement at this point), and has only been involved in the system for a few years. Justice would say that the person who was relying on theft to finance his retirement (primarily) can justly have that swept out from under him. The young man can justly have his property rights defended, as he is not relying upon theft for his livelihood. The same for those on welfare. There is a difference between drawing social security money, or collecting unemployment, because you might as well (it's there for you to take after all), and actively relying upon it in order to live your life. In the one case you are not complicit in the theft (as your life is not dependent upon it, and you have the option of actively opposing it without contradiction of your life), and in the other you are complicit in the theft (as your life is dependent on it, and to oppose it would be to oppose your own survival). If anything, justice gives more of a reason for immediate repeal than anything, as those who would be severely negatively impacted deserve to be, and those who would not do not deserve to be. As for regulations and the like, immediate repeal (as in, tomorrow morning all regulations are gone) would likely lead to many problems, even some severe ones. But the very severity, if backed by a powerful government capable of enforcing rights, would push the development of just measures to deal with them far quicker than could happen under any more gradual plan. So long as the government enforced rights (had sufficient police and a large and capable enough court structure), the economy would work itself out just fine.
  25. It is gradualism, but in practice. The difference is that while I will advocate the biggest changes I could ever in my wildest dreams actually get through Congress, if those changes are somehow going to be enormous (like a bill that eliminates Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the minimum wage, and the income tax effective in, say, three months) then I'd do it. Gradualism in theory says that we can't change too fast, and need to wind down programs like Social Security, or the income tax. The problem with gradualism in theory is that since society generally doesn't agree with us, they won't really have much pull on politics for a given number of voters who agree with them. If you have a bunch of people who would like to see the repeal of these programs effective immediately, then they will have more pull on politics and have more influence for their numbers. Also, gradualism in theory places some goal higher in the political realm than individual rights (as it explicitly states that we can't eliminate rights violating programs because [something] ). That seems, to me, to blatantly violate the principle that government must not initiate force, and individual rights must be protected.
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