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Reduction of “the Initiation of Physical Force is Evil”

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The aim of this essay is to reduce the principle that “the initiation of physical force is evil.”

(This issue has important connections to individual rights, but for now we’ll focus on the moral aspect of physical force, not what a government should do about it, and not what people should do about it (namely, retaliate against it and banish it from their relationships with others).)

“Force,” in this context, means the initiation of physical force, not “gravitational” force or persuasive force. The guiding concrete should be: “do as I say, or I’ll bash your skull in.” It’s a human violation of your choice or desire through physical, not psychological means. Persuasion can be subtle, or lead to debatable issues, but physical force is not debatable, and it’s available to the senses, like a punch or kidnapping someone.

The dictionary definition: “strength or power exerted upon an object.” For “coerce,” we have: “to compel by physical strength or intimidation, without regard for individual desire or volition.” There’s one example of an indirect form of force that we’ll allow in this reduction and induction, and that’s fraud: you deceive a person by making him do something for you but refuse to give him what you agreed to give him as compensation, in effect doing the same thing that could normally only be accomplished through physical force.

It would be a rationalist way of thinking to say:

“There are only two paths for dealing with people: reason or force, persuasion or coercion. Reason is good, therefore force must be bad, evil.”

What about evil people who do neither? Evil people who use neither reason nor force to settle disputes or handle problems? An example would be someone using malicious lies and rumors to ruin another person’s reputation: that wouldn’t be force, but isn’t using reason either; rather, it's an irrational, emotionalist sort of manipulation of other people. Or the Critique of Pure Reason, which isn’t force, but isn’t reason either: rather, it plays on people’s poor understanding of their own philosophical concepts, and tricks them into conclusions that they had never intended to reach. Rand states on many occasions that there are two basic ways, two ways in essence, to deal with people, implying that there are other, derivative ways (like through an emotional tantrum), precisely to include cases like the above.

If someone were to progress in this rationalist way, they would reach the point that reason and force are antagonists, and then they would become stuck in issues like this:

Let’s say that a person won’t listen to reason, and someone forces him “in the name of reason”? Like the (long since repealed) 18th Amendment, which prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol: there were temperance societies and Progressive advocates who argued that alcohol destroys families and leads to various immoral behaviors, and industrial factory owners supported prohibition because it gave them more efficient, sober workers to perform jobs for them. If the people were reasonable, these people believed, then they would just give up alcohol on their own, but they won’t, so we need the government to force them to do the rational thing. So here, we seem to have force being the means to the victory of reason, to reason and morality prevailing over ignorance, indifference, and immorality. (Prohibition, back in those times, was known as “The Noble Experiment.”) It’s harder to see how force and reason can be opposites, with cases like this.

Or, how about this rationalist argument: “Well, we still have free will while under force. If we have free will, then we can choose what to do with our mind, including thinking, right? Therefore, we still must be able to think under force, and therefore Rand has to be wrong when she says that force destroys reason and thought.”

These are two rationalist arguments, with opposite conclusions.

As opposed to rationalists, let’s discuss what concretes or examples we’ll need to understand what force is. This topic is one of the easiest of the principles induced thus far, because force is perceivable. Unlike the other principles, where there are potentially countless kinds of justice or reason being used as a tool of survival, there are really only three kinds of the initiation of physical force:

1. The first is crime: robbery, assault, rape, murder, kidnapping, etc., or the threat of any of these.

2. Government: it has a monopoly on force in a given area, and its history of warped political priorities (like communism's abolishment of property and enslavement of its people) has made it the most plentiful source of examples for the topic of “force.”

3. Non-prosecutable crime: these cases have no proof of contract and/or no way to show damages. These are often judgment calls that parents have the right to make with minors, but that entities like the government do not have the right to make. An example would a parent promising to get her kid a toy after he finished cleaning his room, and reneges on the promise after he finishes—this wastes the kid’s time and effort, going against his choice and his motivation through physical means (by not taking the physical actions necessary to give the kid a toy.)

The conclusion we want to reach in order to see how the initiation of physical force is evil is the principle that "force is anti-mind," it destroys the cognitive processes of reason as such, and this is the ultimate Objectivist reason for the initiation of physical force being evil.

In order to reach that, you’d have to know that force attacks particular conclusions that you hold, conclusions that you worked hard mentally to reach and grasp. Once you knew this, then you could later understand how force does something more expansive to the cognitive faculty as such. Force isn’t just against the body, you learn, but impacts the mind, wreaks havoc upon it, and from that you could reach the next level and claim that force is against the whole mind.

The next step is to figure out something about your conclusions, namely, what are they, and how do you reach them. If you just told someone, “force attacks your conclusions,” most people wouldn’t understand that, because force doesn’t directly assault a conclusion or idea that you have. Rather, force attacks conclusions indirectly by clashing with people’s desires, force makes you do something that you don’t want to do. This is our direct evidence of force from reality, and the end of the reduction.7360316141951760499-6741136400596619574?l=inductivequest.blogspot.com

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What about evil people who do neither? Evil people who use neither reason nor force to settle disputes or handle problems? An example would be someone using malicious lies and rumors to ruin another person’s reputation: that wouldn’t be force, but isn’t using reason either; rather, it's an irrational, emotionalist sort of manipulation of other people.

Nice blog.

I think that the above to be complete needs to be separated into a couple subcategories for clarification though.

Using malicious lies and rumors to get a social group you are part of to ostracise a person you dislike is one matter.

Spreading malicious lies that get that person arrested would be another. In this instance while not using force yourself you are causing force to be used against them.

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