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Delegating the right of self-defence

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Guest Grantsinmypants

I didn't make a mistake. This is exactly what I said:

That's why the police should be given the exclusive legal ability to initiate physical force to dispense justice.

The definition of the word "initiate", according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary is " to cause or facilitate the beginning of : set going"

Retaliatitory action/the enforcement of law/the pursuit of justice doesn't just automatically happen. Some police officer has to get out of bed, get dressed, and go use force to arrest the criminal. That is the initiaion of physical force. Yes, it is the initiation of retaliatory physical force, but it is still the initiation of physical force. The police officer is facilitating the beginning of retaliatory physical force. That was the context. That's it. Nothing else.

What's so hard to understand?

Grant Williams

P.S.: Instead of observing what I actually wrote and forming his opinion of what I actually wrote based upon whether or not it's true and makes sense, Radcap simply selected pieces of what I wrote and compared them to Ayn Rand's broad generalizations to see if they matched. He completely ignored the definitions of the words that I used, as well as the relationships that I created between my words when I arranged them.

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It is ironic that Grants resorts to common usage of the term instead of the contextual usage of the term (ie the context of RIGHTS to which he explicitly links the term) in a complaint ABOUT straying from context.

In a discussion of rights and the use of force, there are only TWO alternatives open to man - the INITIATION of force and the RESPONSE to force (termed "retaliation"). In other words, the only DIFFERENCE is in the ORDER of force. And that *order* REFERS to WHICH PERSON engages in force FIRST. Put simply, it refers to a RELATIONSHIP. However, when the error in his ordering was pointed out to him, Grants insists he was NOT referencing a relationship between individuals at all. Instead, he EXPLICITLY claims his reference is one of state-change - ie the change of state between non-action to action (because action - ANY action, including responsive action - requires a "begining" and THAT is what he now claims was the contextual reference). This means he is claiming to be speaking of the metaphysical (state-change), NOT the ethical (human relational). Or, more succinctly, in trying to avoid admission of error, he is now trying to place his argument OUTSIDE the context he himself framed with his original words.

Of course, his claim is total hogwash. Grants was NOT speaking of the metaphysical fact that an action must have a beginning - must be "started". His context was EXPLICITLY that of the ORDER of force. He stated:

"Nor is the right to self-defense a right to attack someone else who has wronged you. When a person has wronged someone and then left them alone, extenuating circumstances aside, that person has demostrated that he is no longer interested in his victim. However, he has demonstrated that he is capable of commiting such a wrong. He then becomes a threat to society at large. That's why the police should be given the exclusive legal ability to initiate physical force to dispense justice. This initiation is done not because the cut the victim suffered is still bleeding and that arresting the cutter will magically heal it; but because that person presents a clear and present danger to everyone."

I'll parse the ideas presented here sentence by sentence:

1. The right to retaliatory force is not the right to retaliate with force against someone who has initiated force against you.

2. Once the initiation of force has ceased, the initiator "demonstrates" he is no longer "interested" in initiating force against that specific individual.

3. By initiating force, the individual "demonstrates" he is "capable" of initiating force - ie has the potential to initiate force in the future.

4. By demonstrating the "capability" to initiate force, he is a "threat" to the collective.

5. Because of his *potential* for future initiations of force, the govt should INITIATE force against this individual.

This is obviously collectivist drivel (which is why I didn't bother addressing the whole specious argument to begin with - and why I STILL ignore some of the stupider assertions above - it simply isn't worth my time). Grants 'argument' explicitly REJECTS a RESPONSE to force because of an ACTUAL initiation of force against an individual, and instead demands initiation of force because of a POTENTIAL use of force against the group in the possible future. In other words, the CONTEXT of his discussion IS the *order* in which force is used in a given instance. It has just been SWITCHED from:

RE-action based on specific ACTUAL action against an individual

- to -

action based on NON-specific fear of POTENTIAL action against the collective

or, put simply it switches from:

retaliation because of initiation

- to -

initiation because of fear of initiation

So you see, GRANTS context (no matter HOW mistaken) IS the order in which force is used. It IS the realm of the ETHICAL, not the metaphysical, as he now claims. And it is HE who has left the context he originally established. *I* on the other, stayed within that context and corrected his error.

All in all, therefore, Grants has done two things:

He has demonstrated a clear lack of understanding about rights, force, and justice (thereby demonstrating a DESPERATE need to grasp the very topic he considers "absurd").

and

He has demonstrated the outrageous and intellectually dishonest lengths he will go to in order to avoid admitting an error. ("initiating retaliation" indeed - LMAO!)

Especially because of the last, I, for one, have no further use in dealing with the likes of him.

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Wow; you guys are really good at making mountains out of molehills. :)

Anyway, back to the main issue ...

RadCap, thanks for your answer. When I started this thread, I did not have a fully worked out answer to my question, or I would have posted it. My whole purpose was to get responses to help me understand the issues, and I thank all of you for helping me do that.

What I am really stuck on now is the idea that government must have a monopoly on the use of force. Rand says that government should be an "impersonal robot." She does not mean that literally of course, and the reality is that government is just human beings. Why should some people have more rights/powers than others? They get those powers only by delegation, which means that the original delegator should have the right to keep them if s/he chooses.

I agree that it is not practical for everyone to be their own police officer and jailer, but as a matter of principle I still don't understand why they could not be.

Anyway, we are going in circles so unless somebody has something new we may as well drop it ...

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Guest Grantsinmypants

Are you insane?

If you don't pay your credit card bills police will come and arrest you and/or take your stuff. By force if necessary. That's the initiation of physical force. You don't have to do anything to make that happen. That's the initiation of physical force for the purpose of dispensing justice. Yes, by not paying your bills you have initiated a situation where the police are forced to respond with physical force in order to dispense justice. But that's what I said. Remember "That's why the police should be given the exclusive legal ability to initiate physical force to dispense justice."

I attempted to switch the context from ethical to metaphysical? I don't know what you're talking about. If anything it was the other way around. All I did was to make an assertion that delegation was the morally preferable choice. In the rest of the paragraph that you quoted, I went on to explain the metaphysical nature of criminal behavior, and how police react to specific types of criminal behavior. These were the facts for why the police reacting, instead of the victim, is better.

In a discussion of rights and the use of force, there are only TWO alternatives open to man - the INITIATION of force and the RESPONSE to force (termed "retaliation"). In other words, the only DIFFERENCE is in the ORDER of force. And that *order* REFERS to WHICH PERSON engages in force FIRST. Put simply, it refers to a RELATIONSHIP. However, when the error in his ordering was pointed out to him, Grants insists he was NOT referencing a relationship between individuals at all. Instead, he EXPLICITLY claims his reference is one of state-change - ie the change of state between non-action to action (because action - ANY action, including responsive action - requires a "begining" and THAT is what he now claims was the contextual reference). This means he is claiming to be speaking of the metaphysical (state-change), NOT the ethical (human relational). Or, more succinctly, in trying to avoid admission of error, he is now trying to place his argument OUTSIDE the context he himself framed with his original words.

Of course, his claim is total hogwash. Grants was NOT speaking of the metaphysical fact that an action must have a beginning - must be "started". His context was EXPLICITLY that of the ORDER of force.

Yeah, I took care of all of that with the words "...to dispense justice" at the end of my sentence.

Also I don't know where you got the idea that I was a collectivist out of all this.

I didn't explicitly reject a response to physical force motivated by an actual use of force by a criminal. After agreeing with Godless Capitalist that there is no difference, in practice, between a citizen arresting someone and a cop arresting someone, I went on to demonstrate an added, superior benefit of delegation (the protection of society at large). This was to defend Ayn Rand's assertion that a rational, moral individual must choose the most beneficial choice (delegation) in order to rightly be called moral and rational. I can't think of any other reason why it's preferable nor why she would advocate such a thing.

Obviously physical force should not be initiated by the police against someone who they know has never wronged anyone else. Remember, that's why I included the words "...to dispense justice."

Grant Williams

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Grant,

RadCap is right. Any use of force is an "initiation" of force, by your definition of the term--thereby removing any meaning from that term in this context. After all, even the use of force by someone directly in self-defense must be "initiated" by that person.

So, in the context of the use of physical force, the only meaningful usage of the term "initiation" is to denote the initiation of the whole chain of events in which physical force is used. Thus, it is improper to describe the retaliatory use of force as an "initiation."

That said, I agree with Godless Capitalist that mountains are being made out of molehills. RadCap has given a reasoned argument, and your accusations of him rationalistically applying some floating principles is therefore groundless--especially in light of the way you rationalistically applied a dictionary definition of the term "initiation" out of context. In other words, you should simply apologize to RadCap and drop the issue instead of continuing to escalate it.

I suggest you drop the confrontational attitude. (And please don't say that RadCap "initiated" the confrontation with his initial correction...that was hardly a personal attack, and it was justified. If you can't take constructive criticism of your ideas or the clarity of your writing, then perhaps this forum is not the best place for you.) However, I generally don't have a problem with you, and I hope you can simply admit your error and move on and continue discussing ideas here. After all, isn't the whole point of such discussion to improve our ideas?

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Guest Grantsinmypants

I don't know what context you're talking about Ashryan, but the context of this discussion, indeed the topic of this thread, is the question "Should the government be given the exclusive right to use relatiatory force for the purpose of dispensing justice or should I reserve that for myself?"

I didn't just say "the police should have the right to initiate physical force". I said "the police should have the right to initiate physical force to dispense justice"

What is the dispension of justice? The correcting of injustice. What is an injustice? The initial initiation of physical force.

Given that, of course I was talking about the initiation of relatiatory physical force.

Grant Williams

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Ash

Grants has demonstrated a consistant irreverence throughout his postings on the board (sometimes harmless, sometimes not). Combined with his stubborn refusal to admit error, along with his continued evasion of facts and outright blanking out of statements and arguments, I think you are simply wasting your time dealing with him - both in general and in this case specifically. If you want to deal with him in other threads, that is your decision. In this thread, however, Grants has demonstrated his inability to deal with the subject in an intellectually honest manner. As such, continuing the conversation with him becomes an irrational pursuit.

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What I am really stuck on now is the idea that government must have a monopoly on the use of force. Rand says that government should be an "impersonal robot." She does not mean that literally of course, and the reality is that government is just human beings. Why should some people have more rights/powers than others? They get those powers only by delegation, which means that the original delegator should have the right to keep them if s/he chooses.

I agree that it is not practical for everyone to be their own police officer and jailer, but as a matter of principle I still don't understand why they could not be.

Anyway, we are going in circles so unless somebody has something new we may as well drop it ...

You say you are stuck on why a proper govt must have a monopoly on the use of force. AR answers this herself - saying basically that if a monopoly doesn't exist, one is left with a COMPETITION in the use of force. She describes clearly the anti-man results which derive from from such a competition.

As to your question why should some people have more rights/powers than others, it has already been explained that no one has more or less rights than another. Individuals simply delegate their rights in order to better protect themselves. That is not an addition or subtraction of "power" (an undefined term if there ever was one). It is simply a division of labor which benefits individuals in a way they never could on their own.

Also, as has already been explained, the delegator does not 'give up' his rights. He indeed 'keeps' his right to self defense. He cannot do otherwise, because rights are indivisible.

Finally, you say it is not "practical" for each individual to be their own police officer and jailer. It is more than impractical, for all the reasons (and more) already explained.

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Guest Grantsinmypants
Ash

Grants has demonstrated a consistant irreverence throughout his postings on the board (sometimes harmless, sometimes not). Combined with his stubborn refusal to admit error, along with his continued evasion of facts and outright blanking out of statements and arguments, I think you are simply wasting your time dealing with him - both in general and in this case specifically. If you want to deal with him in other threads, that is your decision. In this thread, however, Grants has demonstrated his inability to deal with the subject in an intellectually honest manner. As such, continuing the conversation with him becomes an irrational pursuit.

I guess that's your way of saying "I'm wrong"

Grant Williams

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I don't know what context you're talking about Ashryan, but the context of this discussion, indeed the topic of this thread, is the question "Should the government be given the exclusive right to use relatiatory force for the purpose of dispensing justice or should I reserve that for myself?"

I didn't just say "the police should have the right to initiate physical force".  I said "the police should have the right to initiate physical force to dispense justice"

What is the dispension of justice?  The correcting of injustice.  What is an injustice?  The initial initiation of physical force.

Given that, of course I was talking about the initiation of relatiatory physical force.

Grant Williams

RadCap,

I agree with the comments you addressed to me. My last post was intended as a warning to Grant, with some of the reasoning behind my disagreement with him included in the hopes that he would reverse his position so that we could hopefully avoid having further problems with him here in the future. However, it looks as though that will not be the case. That said, I am going to make one final attempt to address this issue with him--and it will be my last post on this issue.

---

Grant,

Re-read your last reply to me above. Doesn't what you've written here strike you as rather convoluted? In particular, your second parapraph, the phrase "the right to initiate physical force to dispense justice" (which is a contradiction in terms, since no one has the right to initiate the use of physical force since any such initiation is an injustice), the phrase "initial initiation" (ask yourself why you are in the position of needing to use such a redundancy to justify your previous statements), and the phrase "the initiation of retaliatory physical force" (another contradiction in terms, since initiation and retaliation are mutually exclusive categories).

Given your insistence on still using the term "initiation" in the context of the use of physical force to mean simply the cause of any particular use of it (which is redundant since any person is the cause of any of his own actions when viewed from a certain perspective) rather than the cause of the original use of it in that chain of events (which is therefore the only meaningful use of the term in this context), one has to wonder whether you truly understand the important distinction that Ayn Rand is making between the initiation of force and its retaliatory use. You seem to be able to apply the distinction somewhat correctly, but your confusion of the terms does raise questions about your understanding of them. It's either that, or the convoluted reasoning above is simply an attempt to escape having to admit that you made an error (even if it was just a simple misstatement).

All that being the case, I will ask you one more time to drop the confrontational attitude. If there are any more situations in which you start calling other board members names, and refuse to apologize when it is pointed out to you that your actions were groundless and inappropriate, you will be asked to leave the forum.

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Guest Grantsinmypants

There is a difference in definition between the words "initial" and "initiate". This is because they are two different words. These definitions existed before they were used by Ayn Rand in the context of her writings, and they exist afterwards.

"Initial" means the first event in a chain of events (eg: the unnecessary initiation of physical force). "Initiate" means to take actions to bring something into being (eg: retaliatory force). Also, I would like to define the word "context". "Context" means the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning. Therefore, you cannot treat the dictionary defintion of a single word as it's own context, since a single word alone has nothing surrounding it. There is no context to a defintion. That's why it's definitive.

When Ayn Rand rand uses the term "the initiation of physical force" these 5 words did not automatically lose their membership in the English language.

It is obvious what Ayn Rand meant by what she wrote and you and I have agreed upon that numerous times. However, unlike you, I recognize that the principle of "the initiation of physical force is at the root of all injustice" is dependent upon the juxtaposition in time of the commision of an injustice and the initiation of physical force (ie: the context). I correctly recognized this distinction in my original post, and therefore used the words "...to dispense justice" as the parts of my discourse that surround a word or passage (in this case, the word "initiate") to throw light upon it's meaning (ie: the type of juxtaposition I was commenting on).

Ayn Rand was correct in using the term "initiation of physical force" when indentifying what is at the root of all injustice in the context of her writings. She dealt with fundamental aspects that are present in all situations to communicate principles to her readers. This does not mean that these fundamental aspects themselves are principles. She also noted that principles, unlike rules or edicts or commands, are contextual. This means that while she recognized that the initiation of physical force is at the root of all injustice, she also recognized that injustice was not at the root of all instances of the initiation of physical force. She was not pronouncing moral condemnation upon any and all initiations of physical force. Rather, she was simply explaining the principle catalyst present in all commisions of injustice. With this observation in mind, it led her to advocate a strict control of the right to initiate physical force in the hands of the government for only specific purposes (ie: the dispension of justice). This advocation was in response to her realization that the initiation of physical force, if not for the correct reasons, would lead to crime and tyranny. If she were to ignore the actual definitions of words, and categorically believed that the initiation of physical force can only be used for the commission of injustice, then she would have been an anarchist politically and a rationalist epistemologically.

However, when I used the term "initiation of physical force" in my orignial post, I also included the words "...to dispense justice". The logical implication of this being that an injustice (the initial/unprovoked/unnecessary use of physical force) had already been committed. One cannot dispense justice upon someone innocent of commiting an injustice; this would be the dispension of injustice.

The principle that "the initiation of physical force is at the root of all injustice" is not an edict and cannot be substituted for a thorough, rational analysis of the facts, and the relationship of those facts to one another, in a given situation (eg: the context of a discussion about who should have the right to rectify injustices; the individual or the government).

When I initiate unprovoked physical force against you, this does not automatically initiate retaliatory physical force on your behalf. You, or the government, have to choose to pursue justice. You also have the choice to lay back and accept an injustice. This is why the claim that the term "the initiation of physical force" only refers to the first in a sequence of seperate instances of physical force, justifed or not, is erroneous. This is because principles, unlike rules have to be fully understood and chosen to be followed by each and every individual independently in each and every situation he encounters. If it is one's belief that the initiation of physical force is wrong, or that the initiation of physical force must be avenged, then that person has not understood and chosen to accept the principle that "the initiation of physical force is at the root of all evil, therefore force must be used only in opposition to evil". Rather, that person has accepted on faith a rule by which to live. It is only through this acceptance of context-less dogma can one react automatically in the face of other relevant facts (eg: declaring someone to be wrong for initiating physical force to dispense justice or using the actual definitions of words) . This is what creates your belief that the sequence, rather than the goal of each action , is what must be considered.

Grant Williams

P.S.: What confrontational attitude? In my last post, I honestly did not know what context you were refering to (because you weren't refering to one that had actually been used). Or is it that you just consider disagreement confrontation?

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P.S.:  What confrontational attitude?  In my last post, I honestly did not know what context you were refering to (because you weren't refering to one that had actually been used).  Or is it that you just consider disagreement confrontation?

What confrontational attitude? Calling other people "rationalists" without backing up that claim comes to mind. I'm sure I can find other examples if you'd like to push the issue. But since your last reply was less confrontational and presented an actual argument, I will respond.

(And as far as what context I was referring to, I specified several times that it was the context of the use of physical force--which, incidentally, is the same context which you have specified several times. So your professed confusion there is baffling.)

Now then.

There is a difference in definition between the words "initial" and "initiate".  This is because they are two different words.
Indeed. But the words are related. Oh, but I guess you wouldn't realize that since you hold that "there is no context to a defintion" and the meanings of words apparently therefore exist in a vacuum.

The question that you still have not addressed on this point is what the point is of referring to any and every use of force as an "initiation," since, in the way you are applying the definition of that term, every use of force is an initiation of force, and to specify any use of force as being an initiation of it is therefore redundant (at best). You are also ignoring the fact (while stressing the importance of context in your own arguments, interestingly enough) that the context of a discussion is relevant to the meaning of a concept (especially since words can and usually do have more than one meaning, depending on the context in which they're used). This is what apparently allows you to think that you can simply apply the definition of a word you got out of the dictionary and use it in any context you feel like, regardless of whether or not such a use of the word makes any sense in that context or ignores other relevant factors. You acknowledge something like this in your last post, but then you commit that error anyway. (And why you are stressing the point to us, when we're not the ones using the dictionary definition in this way and are in fact pointing to the context of the discussion as relevant to the meaning of the concept, is really beyond me.)

Apparently, you do understand the distinction in this context between the "initial initiation" of force and its retaliatory use. Why, then, do you insist on specifying intiation in either case (rendering that concept redundant and meaningless) when using that term in that way forces you to add qualifications such as "...to dispense justice" which would actually be contained within the concepts (such as "initiation" and "retaliation") used in the context of a discussion of the use of force?

As for all this...

When I initiate unprovoked physical force against you, this does not automatically initiate retaliatory physical force on your behalf.  You, or the government, have to choose to pursue justice.  You also have the choice to lay back and accept an injustice.  This is why the claim that the term "the initiation of physical force" only refers to a sequence of seperate instances of physical force, justifed or not, is erroneous.  This is because principles, unlike rules have to be fully understood and chosen to be followed by each and every individual independently in each and every situation he encounters.  If it is one's belief that the initiation of physical force is wrong, or that the initiation of physical force must be avenged, then that person has not understood and chosen to accept the principle that "the initiation of physical force is at the root of all evil, therefore force must be used only in opposition to evil".  Rather, that person has accepted on faith a rule by which to live.  It is only through this acceptance of context-less dogma can one react automatically in the face of other relevant facts (eg: declaring someone to be wrong for initiating physical force to dispense justice or using the actual definitions of words) .  This is what creates your belief that the sequence, rather than the nature of each action, is what must be considered.

...it is erroneous because it drops the context of the discussion (in light of the above considerations).

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Guest Grantsinmypants
What confrontational attitude? Calling other people "rationalists" without backing up that claim comes to mind. I'm sure I can find other examples if you'd like to push the issue. But since your last reply was less confrontational and presented an actual argument, I will respond.
I did present evidence of my accusation that Radcap was being a rationalist when you asked me to. Perhaps that evidence was too rudimentary for a rationalist to understand, but it was evidence nonetheless. I apologize for not taking this fact into consideration. I did not provide evidence at the time of the accusation because I assumed that Radcap and yourself knew what a rationalist was. Forgive me.

Indeed. But the words are related. Oh, but I guess you wouldn't realize that since you hold that "there is no context to a defintion" and the meanings of words apparently therefore exist in a vacuum.

Never did I claim that the meanings of words exist in a vaccum. I simply said that the meaning of a word, when extracted from a sentence and alone, has only it's definition to explain what it means. Obviously, a word (and it's definition) that was not derived from previously formulated concepts and was never utilized in a language would be meaningless. That does not imply that becase a word is utilized, it's author can change it's previously formulated definition. Ayn Rand does not own the word "initiation".

Also, how are those words related? I have a few guesses. And even if one of them is correct, how is that relevant?

The question that you still have not addressed on this point is what the point is of referring to any and every use of force as an "initiation," since, in the way you are applying the definition of that term, every use of force is an initiation of force, and to specify any use of force as being an initiation of it is therefore redundant (at best).
Every use of force is not an initiation of force. Every initiation of force is an initiation of force. I never did parse, nor did I consider parsing, the identity of an instance of the use of force into smaller units. Your observation would only be legitimate had I treated each individual movement in a fight as a seperate initiation of force. To "beat someone up" usually involves more than one movement on the part of the beater. However, it can involve just one key blow.

Whether it's a one million punch fight or a one punch fight, it's still a fight. It's still a use of force. It's still initiatied by one of the participants. This observation, because it attempts to refer to a non-existent entity (some kind of mini-fight within a fight), is worthless.

You are also ignoring the fact (while stressing the importance of context in your own arguments, interestingly enough) that the context of a discussion is relevant to the meaning of a concept (especially since words can and usually do have more than one meaning, depending on the context in which they're used).

What is the context of this discussion? It is the question: "Is Ayn Rand's assertion that one must delegate his right to self defense to the government correct?" It is also the question: "If so, why?" To understand these question does not require, and in fact should not rely exclusivly upon, the writings of Ayn Rand. As I said eariler, it was only in the context of the writings of Ayn Rand that one would find the statement "The initiation of physical force is at the root of all evil". And as I said earlier, this had nothing to do with her ethical judgements, but was merely a metaphysical observation included to help the reader understand more complex ethical and political principles. Therefore, it was completely appropriate for me, since I was not quoting, paraphrasing, or even refering to one of Ayn Rand's ideas per se (I was just using reason), to use the word "initiate" and expect it to be understood by it's actual definition.

This is what apparently allows you to think that you can simply apply the definition of a word you got out of the dictionary and use it in any context you feel like, regardless of whether or not such a use of the word makes any sense in that context or ignores other relevant factors.
Once again, the context was not "Is the initiation of force bad?". It was "Is the reservation by the individual of the right to use/initiate force for the purpose of dispensing justice preferable to the delegation by the individual of that right to the government?"

And why you are stressing the point to us, when we're not the ones using the dictionary definition in this way and are in fact pointing to the context of the discussion as relevant to the meaning of the concept, is really beyond me.)

The context of the discussion was not the examination of one of Ayn Rand's concepts for the purpose of understanding it. It was the examination of one of Ayn Rand's concepts to determine it's merit. This necessarily requires the use of outside resources (eg: your brain, a dictionary, etc...). We were not discussing the compatibility of one assertion by Ayn Rand with the rest of her assertions. We were discussing the compatibility of one assertion by Ayn Rand with reality.

Apparently, you do understand the distinction in this context between the "initial initiation" of force and its retaliatory use. Why, then, do you insist on specifying intiation in either case (rendering that concept redundant and meaningless) when using that term in that way forces you to add qualifications such as "...to dispense justice" which would actually be contained within the concepts (such as "initiation" and "retaliation") used in the context of a discussion of the use of force?

To answer your question: Because the words "initial" and "initiation" are different words. They have different meanings. If I hadn't added "...to dispense justice" my use of the term "initiate physical force" would have been unspecific and confusing to the non-rationalist reader. To the rationalist reader, qualification or no qualification, the use of the term is wrong because it conflicts with his accepted rules of thought. Perhaps I could have just said "retaliate with physical force". Perhaps that would have been the more efficient way of communicating what I meant; and in fact said. But my linguistic inefficiency is not what you and Radcap have taken issue with.

Grant Williams

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I am going to make one final attempt to address this issue with him--and it will be my last post on this issue.

Heh - what happened? :D

--

Seriously, note that Grants issue is not JUST redundancy. As I said before, he claims his context is that of the metaphysical realm, not the ethical real (ie - he claims his context is the metaphysical requirement that for an action to occur it must be initiated; started; begun; etc. - as opposed to his context being the type of interaction two individuals have when using force - though he claims also to not even grasp the difference he himself is making!).

But by focusing on this context, and claiming that force requires a starting point, all he is saying is that it must begin. But where does it begin? Does it begin with the police officer driving to the scene? Does it begin when he gets out of the car? Does it begin when he yells halt and the perp keeps running? Does it begin when his muscle twitches? Does it begin when that twitch causes his arm to pull back? Does it begin when his muscle reaches the fully contracted position? Does it begin as the arm stops? Does it begin when the arm begins moving forward towards the perps jaw? Does it begin when it contacts the jaw? does it begin when the perp feels the contact? Does it begin when the perp's face is pushed from its position BY the fist? etc etc etc?

By focusing on the COMPLETELY NON-ESSENTIAL, Grants has taken the ABSURD to new heights - all in an attempt to simply not ADMIT to a mistake. However, let us grant him his absurdity for a moment in order to demonstrate his absurdity. Force is contact with the person or property of another without that other's consent. Thus the ACTUAL force would be the CONTACT with the person. Therefore the begining of the force would EITHER have to be the cop swinging his arm towards the perp.

What about the rest of the action AFTER that though? Grants has tried to make the case that he was focusing on 'initiation' - on the begining of force. In other words, he was trying to DISTINGISH one part of the act of using force (movement from non-action to action) from another part. There are ONLY two other parts are - continuation (the action itself) - and cessation (movement from action to non-action). Put simplyhis SUPPOSED focus - his reason for using the term 'initiate' was to describe the FIRST PART of an action as DISTINGUISHED from the other two parts? So the question becomes - to what end? WHY is it necessary to draw such a distinction? Is it even LOGICAL to draw such a distinction?

In this instance, why focus on the swing of the fist as SEPARATE and isolated from the CONTACT of the fist with the perps jaw (the act of force) and SEPARATE and isolated from the fist leaving the jaw? By dividing the action - by using the term 'initiate' in the way he CLAIMS he meant, he is doing JUST THAT - he is SEPARATING and ISOLATING - he is abstracting - the first part of the action from the second and final part of the action.

Of course, once initiated, it is impossible TO forgo the other parts, for once an action occurs, the other two aspects NECESSARILY occur. There is NO way to have an initiation WITHOUT a continuation or a cessation. In other words, in the context of ACTION (be it the action of force or running or any other human action) there is NO logical need nor RATIONAL purpose to distinguish between an 'initiation of force' and a 'continuation of force' and a 'cessation of force'. (Though I have already stated the obvious IRRATIONAL purpose for claiming to focus on such a distinction). The word USE, by NECESSITY, means ALL THREE (this is why we distinguish between initiation and retaliation when it comes to force because they are the ONLY types of USE possible in the context of human interaction).

So why make a distinction which is both metaphysically impossible and does not pertain to the context of the topic? (The answer is OBVIOUS and has already been stated in previous posts).

Given these facts, when Grants used the term 'initiate' in the context of physical force he could have meant ONLY one of two things - that police should be permitted to ONLY initiate force, but NOT necessarily continue or stop the use of force (because, by focusing on ONLY one part of an inseparable motion, he claims that such a distinction not only exists but is IMPORTANT to the concepts under discussion, but to which he neither made mention of in the conversation, nor linked in any way to it) - or - he could have meant that the police should be able to USE force against another BEFORE that individual uses force (because, as he EXPLICITLY STATED, that person had previously 'demonstrated' the capacity to use force against others in the past).

I did not want to have to explain all of this. From his first denial, it SHOULD have been PAINFULLY obvious WHICH he meant. And it SHOULD have been ABSURDLY obvious why he denied it. Yet your continued discussion of this with him (even after you stated you would NOT continue the conversation) makes it at least APPEAR that his CONTINUED evasions are NOT obvious to you. It makes it appear you cannot believe someone would engage in such MASSIVE evasion WILLFULLY and thus Grants must simply be making errors in logic. Hopefully I have provided ample evidence so that his purposeful irrationality is obvious even to you.

Since your continuation of this discussion with Grants ONLY serves to give his COMPLETE evasion of reality YOUR sanction, I would respectfully ask that you NOT allow him to goad you INTO such a sanction (as he is want to try, 'civil' or not) - especially since you had already stated your intent to NOT continue the conversation in the first place.

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Heh - what happened? :D

You're right. After the post in which I made that statement, Grant's first post attempting a serious explanation led me to (mistakenly) believe that we agreed on the actual issue here and were merely having a minor disagreement about word choice--about which disagreement I was willing to reenter into discussion with him.

However, in light of such rationalizations as this:

Every use of force is not an initiation of force. Every initiation of force is an initiation of force. I never did parse, nor did I consider parsing, the identity of an instance of the use of force into smaller units. Your observation would only be legitimate had I treated each individual movement in a fight as a seperate initiation of force. To "beat someone up" usually involves more than one movement on the part of the beater. However, it can involve just one key blow.

Whether it's a one million punch fight or a one punch fight, it's still a fight. It's still a use of force. It's still initiatied by one of the participants. This observation, because it attempts to refer to a non-existent entity (some kind of mini-fight within a fight), is worthless.

it is now painfully obvious to me that he has some serious confusions which he refuses to face, or has some other motive behind his rationalizations. And the only one I can think of is that he is simply doing all this to avoid having to admit his original mistake.

This conversation ends here.

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Guest Grantsinmypants

Ash, I rationalized by defending the integrity of the definition of the word "fight"?

Radcap, I don't know what you're getting at with most of that. The only thing I can respond to is your first paragraph:

Seriously, note that Grants issue is not JUST redundancy. As I said before, he claims his context is that of the metaphysical realm, not the ethical real (ie - he claims his context is the metaphysical requirement that for an action to occur it must be initiated; started; begun; etc. - as opposed to his context being the type of interaction two individuals have when using force - though he claims also to not even grasp the difference he himself is making!).

I had always been talking about the ethical realm. However, instead of just regurgitating the misconception that Ayn Rand meant "the initiation of physical force is always wrong" as an ethical judgement when she was simply observing a fact (ie: the initiation of physical force is at the root of injustice), I applied metaphysical facts (ie: the requirements for the existence of physical force, the proper reasons for using physical force, the definition of the word "initiation") to a statement about the proper, moral role of the police. In order for them to even have a role, that would mean that there have to be certain situations/contexts in which their behavior should differ from their behavior in a different situation/context. But since the police only exist in the first place to use physical force, the only way their behavior can differ is if they use (by, as we have agreed, initiating) physical force for justice or injustice.

Also, since when are the "metaphysical realm" and the "ethical realm" different contexts? Contexts, when involving human actions, always involve both realms. A context is simply a particular set of circumstances.

All I can say to what the rest of what you said is that there is only one type of physical force that a human being can undertake. The initiated kind. There are three basic categories of motivation for a human to initiate physical force. Retaliation, accident, and everything else. There are only two types of retaliatory physical force. The just kind and the unjust kind.

The word "initiation" explains nothing about what is being initiated. Nor does it explain anything about whether it's good or bad to initiate that thing. Nor does it explain why it's being initiated. Nor does it explain when initiation ends and cessation begins. That's what the rest of the sentence is for.

Even in a human-relational context (as if we'd be having this discussion if it were only one human), the either/or distinction between "initiated" and "retaliatory" physical force that you and Ashryan have been making is erroneous. The proper distinction, the one derived from the nature of reality and the definitions of the words that reflect it, is between physical force initiated for a just reason and physical force initiated for an unjust reason.

Grant Williams

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Grant,

I said this conversation is over. But since you continue to post increasingly convoluted and bizarre arguments, such as this one:

The word "initiation" explains nothing about what is being initiated. Nor does it explain anything about whether it's good or bad to initiate that thing. Nor does it explain why it's being initiated. Nor does it explain when initiation ends and cessation begins. That's what the rest of the sentence is for.
(in other words, the term is completely useless and meaningless, i.e., it adds no relevant information, the way you insist on using it in the sentence--so why do you continue to insist on using it in that way at all?) I have put your posting ability on moderator preview. You may still post, but your posts will not appear on the forum until they are approved by a moderator. In other words, if you continue to attempt to make posts like this on this topic, they simply will not be posted and I may eventually have to remove you from the board entirely. If, on the other hand, you'd like to continue to participate in rational discussions (if you can) on other topics, please feel free to do so and eventually you may earn back your full posting priveleges. If you do not wish to accept the conditions I have decided to attach to your membership on this forum, you are free to discontinue your participation voluntarily.

[edit] In case any of the rest of you board members are wondering about the reasoning behind this decision, I think RadCap summed up this situation quite accurately:

The more Grants speaks, the more he evidences an intellectual immaturity in dealing with either error or basic basic understandings of such as "context" "metaphysics" "initiation" "retaliation" and a host of other concepts fundamental to the sites purpose of fomenting philosophic discussions about objectivism.

His last post is completely bizzare. In one sentence, he claims there is ONLY one type of force: initiation - and then, two sentences later, he states there are TWO types of retaliatory force, which means there is NOT just one type of force,. There is ANOTHER type he EXPLICITLY references (and which he claims is actually TWO types itself!).

And NOW he is claiming that the distinction between "initiation" and "retaliation" (the one expounded by AR) is false (though he previously claimed AR's version was accurate). He is claiming that it is "erroneous" to make such a distinction - a distinction he yet insists IS important to his definition of justice (because "the initiation of physical force is at the root of injustice"). In other words, his concept of justice is based upon a distinction he himself claims is in error!

This person is SO blatantly contradictory - SO blatantly irrational - I have to question whether it is appropriate to allow him to continue posting...

We do not necessarily have a problem with disagreement. What I do have a problem with is the way in which Grant insisted on pursuing this particular disagreement, and the questionable motives behind his doing so. People can make an honest mistake, but in my judgment, this situation goes beyond that. [/edit]

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Guest y_feldblum

Perhaps the solution is to divide violation of rights into two phases, the process and after-the-fact. While someone is in the process of violating youyr rights, ie, by initiating force against you, you have the right to defend yourself by application of retaliatory force, the right to self-defense; and you have the right to delegate defense to the government. However, after the fact, your rights are no longer in jeopardy. I do not remember anywhere that Ayn Rand says you have a right to execute justice yourself: justice is instead delegated to the government. An individual whom justice does not consider by default rationally/ethically objective has the right to retaliatory force against initiation of force during but not after the fact, whereas government which under a rational ethical system (laissez-faire capitalism) is assumed to be objective is delegated the responsibility for justice and for retaliatory force against an initiator who overpowers the individual.

The grandpa alone in his house could perhaps shoot the burgler (he's an NRA member), but if there were twenty burglers all at once, he's better off calling the police. He is countering the initiation of force, acting during the violation of his rights. However, after they make off with his TV, grandpa can hire all the private detectives he wants, but he cannot initiate force against the burgler. The initiation of force was in the past; this is after the fact and he is too late. However, he can call on justice and the law (police and courts) to retrieve his property for him or to jail the burglars.

And RedCap, threat of force is also considered force the same way theat present value is related to future events. The cop driving up is conceivably as forceful as the cop making physical contact.

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Guest Godless Capitalist
If you don't pay your credit card bills police will come and arrest you and/or take your stuff.  By force if necessary. That's the initiation of physical force.  You don't have to do anything to make that happen.  That's the initiation of physical force for the purpose of dispensing justice. Yes, by not paying your bills you have initiated a situation where the police are forced to respond with physical force in order to dispense justice

I think I see where Grant got confused. He's not seeing that failure to pay your bills is an initiation of force, albeit an indirect one. Rand explains this about halfway through the essay "The Nature of Government." So when the police come to arrest you for fraud they are not the initiators. A pretty small molehill, don't you think?

Now back to my question. I thought of another example. Suppose somebody steals my car, I figure out who did it, and I go to his house and take it back. He tries to stop me but I knock him out and take the car back. He decides to press charges against me for assault and robbery. At your trial I prove that the car was yours, that he stole it, and that my only physical action against him was what was necessary to take the car back. Did I do anything unethical or violate the thief's rights in any way? Should I be convicted? Keep in mind that if a police officer did exactly what I did it would be completely justified.

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Guest, as citizens of America we give our right of the use of force to an objective party; government. In your scenario the robber was the initiator of force but there was no threat to person he was robbing, only his car so he would have no right to retaliate back, that would be the job of the government. If the person who's car was being stolen was also in risk of losing his life or atleast in harm he would have the right to defend himself by retaliating.

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I have explained this principle already. Creating a new example simply demonstrates you have not grasped that principle yet. I will try again.

In your example, you explicitly submit yourself to the authority of a legislative and judicial system. For the current example, you present a scenario in which you and the courts agree about the evidence etc. - ie you come to the same conclusions. However, based upon your previous examples, if there was a disagreement (ie you think the evidence proves guilt - the courts do not), you indicated you would abide by the authority of the judge. In other words, you are essentially claiming to recognize the authority of a court to judge the actions of you and the thief based on a set of laws a legislature has established. Yet, in the same breath, you seek justification to recognize that authority.

Put simply, your own premises are contradictory. You begin WITH acceptance of authority, then turn around and reject it (and you do so WHEN you are in AGREEMENT with the authority - yet you accept it when you are in DISAGREEMENT! Very odd)

To resolve this contradiction, you need to answer a question (one which HAS been asked before, but never answered in an intelligable manner):

WHY are you submitting to the authority of a court in the first place?

Once you answer that, if your question is not answered automatically, you must answer a corollary question:

IF you DO recognize the authority of a govt to judge such actions, on what basis do you SELECTIVELY abide by that authority?

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Guest Godless Capitalist

First, sorry for the confusing wording of my example.

I would submit myself to the authority of a legislative and judicial system only if I believed that the system was run rationally and objectively as Rand proposes. (If it was not, I would not consider it legitimate.) I am not questioning the legitimacy of such a system.

What I am asking is why I cannot act in the same capacity as a police officer or even a judge if I choose to do so. As long as I follow the same rational objective rules that a police officer or judge would, I don't see why my actions would be immoral or illegal. Again, government is just individuals like me, and those individuals are equally prone to errors of fact or judgement.

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I would say for several reasons:

1. Normal citizens are not trained on how to deal with dangerous situations, and there are so many laws and procedures that police have to deal with that the normal person wouldn't know.

2. The police and the justice department are supposed to be an objective party; more likely to make a rational decision then the average person.

3. With no objective third party there would be no way to protect the innocent from more retaliations from the same person or friends of the person. What if you couldn't properly take care of the person? What would stop him from attacking you again and killing you?

4. What would you do you if you caught the guy and how would you cacth him? In an emotional state what would stop you from killing him and how would you decide the proper punishment for him?

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First off, the post above Alex's is mine; I forgot to sign in.

1. That's a legitimate practical objection, but not an ethical one. A person could still leave everything to the police, or get the needed training.

2. True, but the average person is still capable of acting objectively and rationally.

3. There would still be an objective third party (government) you could call on for help if needed.

4. I would decide the proper punishment by following existing laws in the same way a court would.

The concept I am having trouble with is that gov't must have a monopoly on the use of retaliatory force. Rand justifies this by postulating that private citizens would be unable to pursue justice objectively and rationally, would just follow their whims, and therefore could not be trusted to use force in retaliation. She seems to think that getting a bunch of people together and calling them a government somehow makes their actions more objective. It seems more like collective subjectivism to me, which of course is no more valid than individual subjectivism. All I am suggesting is that the judgement about whether a person acted correctly be made after the action, rather than preemptively denying individuals their rights.

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Actually govt CAN make for a means of more objective judgement for ALL parties involved (because a third party does not face either the clouding of rationality possible from personal emotional judgement - nor errors in judgement because of the potential for personal gain). However that was not her primary reasson. As I said (and I do not believe you have addressed) eliminating govt monopoly and replacing it with a competition in the use of force is what she railed against. Reread her work on the subject.

Finally, the questions I said you needed to answer are not eliminated by claiming you will submit yourself to a 'rational' govt's laws and judgements (and since the context of this discussion is that of a "proper" govt, it was implicit in my question anyway). So whether a govt is rational or not, the questions stand. You STILL begin by accepting govt authority ('supposed' rational govt) but in the end ask for justification for that which you have supposedly ALREADY accepted.

So - what happens if you disagree with the judgement of the 'rational' govt? Do you still jail this thief yourself? Or do you turn your back on your own judgements and accept the authority of govt to which you supposedly submit?

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