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Capitalism and the Proper Role of Government

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My intention in referring back to Somalia wasn't to raise it as an objection. It's an attempt to visualize how the things you're describing would "look," if put into practice. I wanted to know what it is that Somalia lacks vis-a-vis the system you're arguing for -- to find the crucial difference between the anarchy which exists there, and the anarchy that you think would work.

Okay I was still going at it from the "wouldn't warlords take over" angle, but I see what you mean now. Yes, and I think that's a good question, and I don't know if this will be a perfect answer. I don't know exactly what Somalia's political situation looks like, but just off the top of my head, I can try to boil it down into three main things that it would lack vis-a-vis the kind of free society I am considering in this discussion. It seems to be lacking any kind of functioning market, except on maybe a very small local basis. As far as its legal structure goes, it's clear that it lacks any kind of objective or libertarian law code whatsoever. As far as its culture goes it seems to lack any kind of culture reflecting basic ideas contributing to modern civilization. Of course, you can expand these factors out to compare with any kind of modern civilized nation, it lacks any moderately stable government structure, modern legislative function, or cultural ideas. So just briefly then, I think these three are the crucial differences, which I just kind of categorized as follows:

1. Political/structural

2. Legal/legislative

3. Cultural/philosophical

Again, I don't claim that these are the only conditions that can be thought of, or that this list is exhaustive, but just what I come up with tentatively here. As far as similarity goes, I think the only thing we can point to is the lack of a central government, or at least the lack of authority or power of its central government.

I think that what you're saying is (something like) that for Somalia, or anyone else, to have the system you recommend, Somalis would first need to be Objectivists (or maybe at least something like it; something akin to the philosophy of the Enlightenment). That's a topic that I think could stand further discussion, but let it pass for the moment. Do your societal requirements end there?
Yes, definitely, I think that's right. I think that would be a necessary by not sufficient condition, certainly not the only condition necessary, so definitely the requirements don't end there. But it is necessary to satisfy the third cultural/philosophical condition above.

You also say that you'd want "a specific kind of polycentric legal order with a specific kind of law code." And if possible, I think this is some of what I'd like to explore. When you say that there's a legal order, and a law code, how would those things be implemented without an overarching government?

I mean, if we're saying that there's a "law code," that means that someone could presumably choose to violate that code, right? How would the society we're talking about deal with those who opted out of your law code? (Or if people could opt out of this code as they chose, then in what sense could we say that this society operated by that code at all?)

Certainly there is no argument that this is an area that is pretty hard to imagine that free enterprise can provide such services. But what we have to remember is that the law as historically developed did not just spring into effect overnight, or because some president or governmental body just one day decreed all the laws into effect. No, there is a vast body of law that evolved over many centuries spontaneously. Especially the most libertarian parts of the law, emerged out of competitive institutions: tribal custom, common law judges and courts, the law merchant in mercantile courts, or admiralty law in tribunals set up by shippers themselves. Much of our current tradition of the English common law, the Roman private law, and Continental civil codes were developed over a period of time by various judges who were not tasked with in "making law," but in finding the law in existing and generally accepted principles, and then applying that law to specific cases or to new technological or institutional conditions. The point is here that we don't have to imagine some thing that never existed, but that our entire tradition of law in the West has followed from this model of development.

Why one overarching coercive institution is not required is due to the fact that the principles of justice are grounded in natural law (i.e. the nature of man and reality), they thus fall within the province of human knowledge. An objective law is one which is based on the facts of reality and on principles derived from those facts. Just as we do not require a singe monopoly organization to dictate what is true in science or history, so we do not require such an organization to dictate standards and procedures in the realm of justice. The law code of the free society would be developed by the free-market judges, arbitrators, jurists, lawyers, and various legal experts, who were sought out by litigants for their expertise in understanding the legal areas involved and applying objective principles to the specific cases, in other words by entrepreneurship.

Maybe it would also be helpful to have an idea as to the kinds of things that this law code would specify... can you give me an idea as to the nature of this law code?
The specific content of the objective law code, or libertarian law code, (whatever you want to call it) can basically be deduced from the main principle of the prohibition on the initiation of physical force (along with the necessary development of a theory of private property rights), and the development of the various procedural rules that are necessary to accompany this, and basically spells out the implications of these rules. The compatible sections of the current law codes can be co-opted whilst the contradictory sections can be jettisoned. People can opt out of this code insofar as they can already in the current system: by making a contract with parties who agree to such conditions, e.g. Muslims can already make contracts in accordance with Islamic law, and agree to arbitrators along those lines. People who are found guilty of violating the law and are served a sentence by a court will have their cases handled entrepreneurially (is that even a word?) by the free-market police services tasked to the case by clients due to their efficiency and reputation for satisfactory service.
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I did not ignore it. I told you why it was illogical and incomprehensible. It is gibberish because it is incomprehensible, it is incomprehensible because the similarity does not exist, or the analog

Not presuming to speak for Mr. Miovas, but he said that one cannot rely on "men's rationality, or good-will, or good intentions to secure legal objectivity" (as you put it). Instead we need a governme

Yes, that doesn't change the point at all. He's saying that "we would have to rely on men's rationality, or good-will, or good intentions to secure legal objectivity" under market defense, and since h

#73 has a show-stopping gross conceptual error in it. It is logically impossible to proceed beyond it. I've pointed it out but you expect me to ignore it and reply to #73 anyway, as if that were possible. But I can't do the impossible. I'm not in some kind of temperamental pique, there just is no way forward from where you essentially "drove the discussion into a ditch".

You are so wedded to this error that it seems you can't even perceive it. It is a blindspot for you. The only way around a blindspot is to work it out explicitly and as formally as possible, naming the concepts involved, their definitions and their inter-relations. If we agree on the definition of a market then the next thing is find some common concept for a government and a "legal system", which are related concepts but not quite the same thing.

edit: I meant common definitions between you and I, not common between "government" and "legal system". Sorry for the ambiguity.

Feel free to point out, maybe even using the quote function you know, where this error is, and why you consider it an error. Don't just give me some slogan like "you're squaring the circle." Show me in the post exactly what you have a problem with and exactly in the post where you think something is incompatible.
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Now some of you guys are talking about "a law code" that would be applicable throughout the whole country based upon Enlightenment ideals; but somehow, a law code covering a whole country would not be a government nor lead to a government (like the early United States).

Right exactly. Besides the serious lack of imagination and that it misses the entire point, the problem with this is that you appear to want to conflate competition among agencies with competition among ways of doing things.

In real life, when one firm’s services prove more popular, rival firms typically respond by offering similar services themselves. For example, PC's feature the Windows interface that was pioneered by their rival, Macintosh, or likewise we can see that Burger King’s products bear a more than passing resemblance to those of McDonalds. And the same thing happens with competing courts as well. I ask again, why not look at the actual history of polycentric legal systems to see how they in fact operate? The Law Merchant is an excellent example of a nonstate legal system that prospered because it offered a more regular and uniform set of legal norms than those of existing governments at the time. There was a tendency for this convergence on legal norms because that was the entire point. If you want to call this "a government" that's fine by me, but thinking that as competing courts converge on a shared set of norms, they thereby become parts of a single coercive monopoly institution is false. If providing similar services turns competing firms into components of a single firm, then why aren’t McDonalds and Burger King to be regarded as a single firm? Or Visa and Mastercard? Or DC Comics and Marvel? Do these business "violate the law of non-contradiction" with their very existence, as You, Grames, and EC seem to think?

And then you claim Somalia is not really an anarchy because it didn't come about due to Enlightenment ideals, but sprang up when someone began fighting the former government.
Again, I haven't be using the term "anarchy" for this exact reason: that is has no precise meaning. But if you want to call it an "anarchy" and what I am advocating something else, that is fine with me.

So, you want to end all governments, just not through violence, people will just volunteer to do away with the countrywide protection of their rights under the law
No, why do you think I want to do that?

and go with competing agencies of force, who evident abide by a law code that is applicable to everyone, but not enforceable by a government. But, of course, there are no contradictions here, merely misunderstandings;
Yes, apparently.

like it is possible to have law without government, and Enlightened men seeking to buy defense services who will be assured not to buy services that go against justice because they are paying for it after all. So, no one would pay, say, $100 to kill off someone who did one an injustice, even though it is a good price for the service and is guaranteed by the force agency.

Certainly it is possible to have law without legislation, or else you are making some absurd un-historical claim that all laws we have today were enacted by some legislation. Guess what, that is false. What now? I don't know why you think I am saying that all men will be enlightened and not ever commit crimes here. Can someone try to carry out a hit on someone else? Of course, it's possible. People do this now with governments, so what is the matter? Have we just not enacted the right laws? Edited by 2046
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Not only "law codes" without government(s), but "countries" without governments as well. And even "constitutions" without governments. (What I see is stolen concepts and question begging, using concepts (like "laws," "countries," "constitutiones") divorced from their cognitive base, and assuming the thing that is in question: the plausibility of "competing protection agencies" absent any government.)

2046 has been putting the onus on others to prove that "anarcho-capitalism" is not an arbitrary construct, but the onus is properly his.

Has there ever been anything approximating what he thinks should be "competing protection agencies" with no government?

I look forward to seeing his efforts in defending his ideal, in the vein of replying to DonAthos's questions, for starters.

No, I have assumed that onus. The problem is that the people here haven't responded to my points. For example, I discussed the idea of a constitution in #73. Feel free to respond to it.
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2046: Okay then since you seem to seem to think that post #73 is essential to your argument while I see it as a wall of text jumping all over the place please abstract out the principles you're speaking of in a cliff note form so that they can be truly examined.

So did you just not want to read it or not? I can't really help you then.

The basics that I get is that: everyone (or most people) has (or have) differing views on justice and you believe that competing pseudo-government markets can best bring those groups of people together who most closely share the same views on justice and according to this they will form stable little pockets of society. Somehow in there I believe you point to some mechanism that either nullifies or attenuates what effects could be caused on these little independent societies by other groups that share opposite or no concepts of justice but that possess equal or greater resources and could destroy them?

No, I don't know where you're getting "pockets" and "little independent societies" from. And I don't know what you mean by people with the resources to destroy other people, or why if that were the case, then a government wouldn't face the same problem. But aside from that those issue, you seem to have the gist of it.

My point is exactly the opposite of this. I agree people now and maybe in the future may have differing concepts of justice, but that this point is completely irrelevant. There is only one concept of justice that is objective and falls in line with reality. This objective concept of justice and laws should be forced on all men regardless of their opinions on the matter. Whether all or none agree with objective concepts of law and justice is irrelevant; this is the only arena where men should literally have no choice in the matter. They must be forced to abide by objective laws that have objective punishments if they wish to live in a society regardless of their opinion on the matter.
I don't think you get the scope of it here. It's not just that "now and maybe in the future" people have differing interpretations of justice, it's that this is an all-pervasive feature of human nature. This fact does not go away under any system whatsoever, including limited government.

I submit that this represents an uber-rationalistic intrinsicist view of objective law that is not compatible with Objectivism whatsoever. Certainly there is a correct and objective interpretation of justice, but the idea that one person can force his conception of this on all men regardless of their opinion is quite farcical, and would be completely impossible in any system including limited government. Not everyone in the laissez-faire government would have the same interpretation of justice, not everyone, even if they were all Objectivists, would have the same interpretations of justice. There would not cease to be different interpretations of justice in an Objectivist society. Coming to a consensus on what the law should be even in limited government would require cooperation among a wide array of people in society.

Besides, even if we assume such an absurd goal, you still have failed to prove your case against a market-based legal order. For if it could somehow come to the case that everyone has the same, or by and large the same interpretation of justice, then it still would not follow that we should have one coercive monopoly government, nor would one in that case be necessary, even on your own argument's grounds. If (and of course I would agree) it is possible to verify objectively that one interpretation of justice is valid whereas another one is not, then it does not matter who employs the procedures in question. If one single monopoly agency employs correct procedures, then it is morally right, but so is every other agency which employs correct procedures. If, on the other hand, the one monopoly agency employs incorrect procedures, then it is morally wrong, as is every agency which employs such procedures. Thus, if there is an independent verifiable standard by which to judge legal procedures, then this argument has no force whatsoever.

Edited by 2046
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Let's follow this scenario of an agency placing a hit onto someone who George has claimed has committed an injustice towards him. Under current civilized law, this would be illegal, and the government would throw him in jail for just attempting it -- and not only George, but the "private agency" as well. Under anarcho-capitalism, what is to prevent this from happening? After all, George is just hiring his defense agency to take care of the injustice. Company X is even very efficient, since they dispense with trials and court proceedings and checks and balances to help to insure a miscarriage of injustice doesn't occur -- they just offer swift justice: You name the guy, and we will take care of the rest for you. In what sense could Company X be considered to be illegal, since there are competing agencies operating in the same region? Company X has opted out of the "legal" system of Sally, the one who supposedly committed the injustice towards George. So, Company X has agreed to take care of Sally for George, at a nominal fee. Of course, Sally deals with Company Y, who claims that George is acting illegally; but how can he be when he has opted out of the "governance" of Company Y? You tell me how this would be worked out peaceably.

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You tell me how this would be worked out peaceably.

So far as I understand you, I don't think it can be settled peacefully. You created an if-then scenario where a violent crime is being committed, so I'm going to have to say that either the criminal decides to turn himself in and confess his guilt, or coercion will have to be resorted to on behalf of the authorities. This, incidentally, is the same solution you provided, so I have no idea what that was supposed to prove.

But it seems like, if I can extrapolate any point to your question, that you are making the same mistake that I criticized in #70 and #73, which so far no one but EC has even attempted a partial response. You seem to view the law as existing in some kind of magical plane "outside of" and above society, rather than existing internally, i.e. constituting whatever patterns of social activity make up a given society, so that if someone simply announces one day "I opt out of this law (e.g. the law prohibiting murder)" then we would all have to throw our hands up and say "aww darn it, he outsmarted us!" and for some unmentioned and undefined reason would not be able to respond. (Binswanger also hints something like this in his example of people walking down the street threatening others with guns.) Rather than be so ignorant, stupid, and moronic as this, we should have an "absolute guarantee" that all members of society will pledge themselves to follow the law. Well, I'm telling you there is never such a mystical "absolute guarantee," not now, not under limited government, and not on the free market.

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So far as I understand you, I don't think it can be settled peacefully. You created an if-then scenario where a violent crime is being committed, so I'm going to have to say that either the criminal decides to turn himself in and confess his guilt, or coercion will have to be resorted to on behalf of the authorities.

What authorities? Under anarcho-capitalism, where each "agency of counter-force" sets its own terms, George is not breaking the law of Company X, his agency of counter-force. So how can one say that he is acting illegally under the authority that he has decided to follow in the protection of his rights? Isn't that the whole point of anarcho-capitalism? that one can chose one's agency of counter-force without there being a "national law" imposed on him, since otherwise one is recognizing that the government is the monopoly of force in a given geographical area? If Company X and Company Y are each independent of one another (having no binding contract with each other), then either or both can set the terms of settling violations of rights of their patrons -- assuming they even have individual rights as their standard, which, of course, they don't have to have, since they and their patrons are "free" to set their own terms. That's the whole point of anarcho-capitalism.

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No, I have assumed that onus. The problem is that the people here haven't responded to my points. For example, I discussed the idea of a constitution in #73. Feel free to respond to it.

No, you may claim that you have assumed the onus, but you have not. And your much vaunted post, #73, does nothing towards that end.

In #73, as elsewhere, you point out certain arguments against so-called anarcho-capitalism, such as those that flow from the fact that people disagree - the "people disagree" argument - which is inherent in the human condition and which therefore exists in a "single monopoly government" and would as well exist in a "market-based legal system," but each system has a means of dealing with the conflicts and ensuring justice.

Under our system, we have a series of constitutional restraints, you have various checks and balances and so forth. Certainly. But why do you assume that's not the case under a market-based legal order? Under a market-based legal order there are constitutional restraints, and various checks and balances too, that is, there are various institutions and incentives for people to do things.

...

a market-based legal system should not be seen as the absence of a government, or governance, or law, or order, or separation of powers, or checks and balances, but the market legal order should be seen as a kind of constitutionalism.

...

The question is which does a better job of this: markets or governments?

[my bold]

All of which begs the question, that there is such a thing as a "market-based legal system."

But of course, if we grant that a "market-based legal system" can in fact deliver the "good," that it can deliver on the need for the protection of individual rights, then yes, we have to ask if it is not the better way of doing so, compared with a "single monopoly government," as a competitive market does in contrast with any other monopoly and for the same reason: competition in a free market.

So you've got all these defense agencies trying to enforce incompatible codes of law. Now perhaps you find the argument above persuasive, and grant that yes, okay there are economic and legal incentives not to just be fighting it out constantly, that as a matter of prudence people would not necessarily just resort to shooting each other all the time. But there would be no stable rule of law, it would be an arbitrary environment then. And there would just be various groups, maybe not attacking each other, but this still wouldn't be a nice world to live in. Instead, let's form a limited government where we all agree that, yes we have these differing views of what justice and a just society looks like, but where we have these periodic elections, and we all agree that as long as the democratic process is fair, and basic liberties are secured, that we will abide by the results and try to build a consensus. And if people don't like it, they can try to elect somebody else the next cycle. Sounds fair, right? We're just going to not use violence to solve our problems, but we're going to just form this single institution and work things out by letting people at separate geographic locations vote, and have this federated legal structure, and so forth, and that's why we should form a limited constitutional government of the sort we currently have, or at least were intended to have.

Well what's wrong with this then? What I'm going to counter-argue then, is that if you have a society that is capable of doing that (even though let's be clear that no government ever emerged in that kind of nice, peaceful and voluntary fashion, but that's a side-point), but if they are capable of doing that, then why are the same people in a market-based legal order going to patronizing such defense agencies that will just be shooting it out constantly? After all, the defense services on the free market just respond to consumer demand. So if you're willing to say: Okay yes, we have different views from each other, you may think abortion is murder, I may think prohibitions on abortion amount to legalized rape, but I'm not going to physically attack you and hire people to shoot you down, so let's just be reasonable and settle this at the ballot box. If you're that reasonable of a person, then it's unclear why resort to a single monopoly government is necessary. A society that can settle things peacefully through the ballot box, even though there may be disagreements on some issues, why couldn't they also do the same thing through the market, where there's also not all the other problems that comes along with democracy? If the vast majority of individuals can agree that they should settle these issues not through arbitrary uses of force, but rather through various generally agreed-upon sets of orderly procedures (such as is provided by periodic elections), if this does indeed describe a particular population, why would we expect such people, as consumers, to patronize defense agencies that routinely used arbitrary force? Why wouldn’t the vast bulk of reasonable customers patronize defense agencies that subjected their disputes to various generally agreed-upon sets of orderly procedures, such as interlocking arbitration agreements? Why wouldn’t the market-based constitutional framework function as an orderly mechanism to settle matters of different views of justice, whereas having one single state that decides for everybody would? Doesn't seem to make sense on its own grounds.

[my bold]

Again, more question begging. Asking why a "market-based legal order" can't do what a proper government can do is not an affirmation that it can.

So, question begging (assuming that a "market-based legal order" is possible and can deliver the goods) and stolen concepts - concepts that take their meaning within the context of a "single monopoly government" arbitrarily applied to the context of an arbitrary construct, a "market-based legal order."

I had never heard of him before, but Paul Birch, who I recently discovered via a Google search) has some essays online that at least attempt to flesh-out what an "anarcho-capitalist" system could be like. He also points out some of what he thinks are the fatal flaws:

"A Fatal Instability in Anarcho-Capitalism?"

"Is Anarcho-Capitalism Possible?"

"Anarcho-Capitalism Dissolves into City States"

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Yes, certainly. I've pretty much explicitly said that over and over. [that there would be a pre-existing body of law]

Where is this pre-existing body of law supposed to come from and who is going to enforce it, and why should everyone agree to it in the first place? and if they don't agree with it, why shouldn't they opt out and get their own legal code, as the anarcho-capitalists want? I don't think you or the other anarcho-capitalists have the foggiest idea of what you supposed system would bring. You want global or universal law (covering a given geographical area), but no "National government" to impose it. You think that buying "defense services" on the market will naturally bring about individual rights as the legal standard, when every anarchy and such systems of private enforcement have brought nothing but chaos (see Somalia). Then you claim that such things come about in actual anarchies because they are unenlightened to the standards of proper government, though you don't want to have a government. You want all the goodies of having a standardized legal code, but you don't want it to cover a whole country and be the only standard of actual enforceable law. "But you haven't proven it is a contradiction!" you yell. Get a clue!

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I submit that this represents an uber-rationalistic intrinsicist view of objective law that is not compatible with Objectivism whatsoever. Certainly there is a correct and objective interpretation of justice, but the idea that one person can force his conception of this on all men regardless of their opinion is quite farcical, and would be completely impossible in any system including limited government. Not everyone in the laissez-faire government would have the same interpretation of justice, not everyone, even if they were all Objectivists, would have the same interpretations of justice. There would not cease to be different interpretations of justice in an Objectivist society. Coming to a consensus on what the law should be even in limited government would require cooperation among a wide array of people in society.

That doesn't make sense (I don't mean that as an argument; it doesn't make sense). If there is an objective understanding of justice, why would it be wrong to enforce that understanding of justice? Isn't that what a pre-existing body of law *is*? Some standard of justice as codified by *some entity*, typically a government? And likely that body of law would cover a particular geographic area. Which is essentially a government: a body of law created to cover a geographic area while saying other bodies of law are *wrong* and do not need to be respected. You wouldn't and shouldn't respect a body of law that ignores individual rights.

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Again, more question begging. Asking why a "market-based legal order" can't do what a proper government can do is not an affirmation that it can.

So, question begging (assuming that a "market-based legal order" is possible and can deliver the goods) and stolen concepts - concepts that take their meaning within the context of a "single monopoly government" arbitrarily applied to the context of an arbitrary construct, a "market-based legal order."

This misconstrues what I was saying in that paragraph. I was not asking whether a market legal system could do what limited government can do, and then just concluding that it could without reason. Here I was responding to the "people disagree" argument, and you are correct that this takes for granted defense services on the free market are possible.

But I get what you are saying. You are basically saying that in post #73 I have taken for granted that there could be such thing as defense services on the free market. It's desirability is not the question here, but the possibility of the system. You say it's a stolen concept because certain terms apply only to the context of a single monopoly government. And you're right that in most of post #73 I have taken for granted exactly that. But earlier in the discussion the "stolen concept" argument was addressed, as well as the "the free market presupposes a government" argument in #41. And you responded to that. But response consisted of admitting my point, then just repeating the original assertion without adding anything, then you started going on about mixed economies. I did address the issue of the meaning of "constitutionalism" and its applicability to a market legal system in #73 (5th paragraph.)

In #79 I did reply to the assertion that "there can be no such thing," and provided a concrete example of a market in defense services. This seems like a silly objection. We are talking about the division of labor as applied to protection. It is no different with a single monopolist government. There are various professionals, police officers, investigators, soldiers, judges and jurists, etc. Are you saying you literally can't imagine someone offering to someone else to protect them or defend them in exchange for a payment of some sort? Surely we can imagine this. If not, then I'm asking you to. That is all that is necessary. You can say we shouldn't do this with defense and protection services, but then now we are not talking about the possibility of this arrangement, we are talking about its desirability (including its workability), especially as compared with limited government, which you admit is the next step.

What I think is wrong with this question is you are not really saying "there can be no such thing" as in it would be an "arbitrary construct" if anyone could offer and exchange defense as a service. Obviously this is not arbitrary because you can perceptually see various exchanges happening, and then abstract out to various kinds of exchanges that could be made, and then isolate the various laws that prohibit certain exchanges from being made. So aside from the hyper-rationalistic "a free market presupposes government" that I address above, I think this argument is saying something different. What makes me think this is that you also asked in #123 right after you introduced this question, 'Has there ever been anything approximating what he thinks should be "competing protection agencies" with no government?' What I think this is saying is something more like objections offered in the past of human history to various other types of government. For instance, industrialized countries haven't been around all that long. There was a time when people said every civilized country (or just about every civilized country) is a monarchy. You will find people in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saying: look, all the civilized countries are monarchies. Democracy would never work, there can be no such thing as a democracy. And by saying "there can be no such thing," they didn't mean they literally cannot imagine someone casting a ballot, and some other people counting them and then declaring a winner, etc. They just meant that it would have these various bad results in the long run, they just thought it would completely fall apart into chaos in a matter of months, etc. But then if you're going to say that, you have to provide a reason.

As far as Paul Birch, who by the way also supports the establishment of a state church (no I'm not claiming this is proof against his other positions, though that's more fairness than I have been afforded), several libertarians have already replied to his articles. He is basically also repeating the same point that have been replied to. He complains that there is no "final arbiter." He complains that "there will be no legal uniformity." He complains that there will be "absolute guarantee" of anything. He conflates uniformity on the market with a government and says then a government will re-emerge (thus contradicting his earlier claim that there would be no legal uniformity.) I have addressed these points already in this thread.

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That doesn't make sense (I don't mean that as an argument; it doesn't make sense). If there is an objective understanding of justice, why would it be wrong to enforce that understanding of justice? Isn't that what a pre-existing body of law *is*? Some standard of justice as codified by *some entity*, typically a government? And likely that body of law would cover a particular geographic area. Which is essentially a government: a body of law created to cover a geographic area while saying other bodies of law are *wrong* and do not need to be respected. You wouldn't and shouldn't respect a body of law that ignores individual rights.

I don't think it was wrong to enforce an objective understanding of justice. I said that you can't say my interpretation of the one single objective concept of justice is the only right one and I will proceed to force everyone else in society to follow it. Why? Because, as Grames says: people disagree. Even when you have people that agree on broad principles, such as the people on this forum, there will still be disagreement over how to apply them. I didn't say there wasn't a right understanding of justice, or that it shouldn't be sought after and enforced, just that you can't say "my understanding of this one right conception is indeed the right one" while disregarding everyone else in society. Not on the free market, and not in a limited government. That is the whole point, according to the "people disagree" argument, of setting up a government: to get together to find the one right interpretation of justice and, as far as is possible, to deal with any disagreements over the right interpretation of justice. But then what if you find that the one interpretation that gets enacted isn't the one you think is right, is basically what EC asks. There is only one right one. Well, yes, but we all have different interpretations of what that is, is the whole point. Does he then reject limited government and want an "Objectivist dictatorship" then, with EC as the sole interpreter of the objective understanding of justice?

As far as codification of a legal code, there is more to codification than just writing something down. When we speak of constitutional restraints we are presumably not talking merely of words written on a piece of paper. Such paper prohibitions are neither necessary (look at Britain) nor sufficient (look at Soviet Russia) for actually operative constitutional restraints. What matters is a nation's 'constitution' in the original sense of the actual institutions, practices, and incentive structures that are in place. So a constitution in that sense has no existence independent of the actual behavior and interactions of actual human beings. The Platonic illusion I referred to is the habit of thinking of "separations of powers," and "checks and balances," as though these structures existed in their own right, as "external limitations" on society as a whole. But in fact those structures exist only insofar as they are continually maintained in existence by human agents acting in certain systematic ways. A constitution is not some impersonal, miraculously self-enforcing robot. It's an ongoing pattern of behavior, and it persists only so long as human agents continue to conform to that pattern in their actions. In both market defense and limited government, then, the working of the system will involve different parties trying to enact their several conceptions of justice. The best system is not one that eliminates such conflict, since no system can eliminate it, but one that does the best job of providing its constituent agents with an incentive to resolve their disputes 1) peacefully, and 2) in a manner consistent with individual rights. The question is which does a better job of this: markets or coercive monopolies?

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The best system is not one that eliminates such conflict, since no system can eliminate it, but one that does the best job of providing its constituent agents with an incentive to resolve their disputes 1) peacefully, and 2) in a manner consistent with individual rights. The question is which does a better job of this: markets or coercive monopolies?

That certainly is the question. But based on what you're explaining, you still left out how to even establish a body of law, and what does the establishing. You already said you're assuming a pre-existing body of law, so it would be useful to know how a body of law ought to be established. Perhaps that establishing entity is precisely what I think a government is in the first place. I don't understand why you mention "coercive monopoly". Is it because no two people will typically agree on the application of a particular principle of justice? That's confusing, because you clearly want rights to be respected, but to stay consistent about your point of disagreement, you must say it is coercive to only pay attention defense agencies which focus on individual rights explicitly. What if there is a communistic defense agency which tries to enforce justice on a capitalist stealing worker wealth?

I agree, there is more to codification than just writing something down. Standards are a complex thing to develop, but whatever the case, there needs to be *some* institution to establish which standards a company needs to use. Sometimes, that institution is made up of multiple entities which work together to develop standards by analyzing behaviors or anything else related to the field. That's what happens with the Internet. TCP/IP is a protocol that almost all people conform with, which does have a specific mode of operation. Markets of justice would need that, too. However, justice works differently. While it's perfectly fine to acknowledge competing ideas on how the Internet is best run, with justice it is *not* perfectly fine to acknowledge some competing ideas of justice, namely kinds that don't pay attention to individual rights.

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For the record, I distinguish between "legal theory" and "legal code." "Legal theory" is what John Locke wrote about, "legal code" is the US Constitution. And while there are people out there working on a better constitution, one that does not contradict individual rights, it is not legal code until a country accepts it and enforces it. As far as different interpretations of the legal code, that is why we have courts and lawyers, and appeals, and a final authority. Eventually, these types of disputes need to be worked out, and that is the purpose of the Supreme Court, which sets the final legal code for the United States.

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Here is another attempt to show why the legal code must be in the form of a monopoly of force or counter-force. Is getting an abortion legal or illegal, can force be used against the woman and her doctor who performs the abortion? Sure, there are differences of opinion about whether or not abortion should be punishable by the law -- some say no, some say it is murder. Obviously, it would be a direct contradiction for the legal code to say that abortion is both murder and non-murder at the same time in the same respect in a given geographical region. This is why the enforceable legal code must be one, and not many. It must be clear-cut that a certain action taken is either legal or illegal, punishable by law or not punishable by law.

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... And the same thing happens with competing courts as well. I ask again, why not look at the actual history of polycentric legal systems to see how they in fact operate? The Law Merchant is an excellent example of a nonstate legal system that prospered because it offered a more regular and uniform set of legal norms than those of existing governments at the time.

The problem is that the Law Merchant is about an entirely new thing (at the time) called contract law, which no legal system prior to then had ever acknowledged. The (grudging) recognition that violation of a contract is a kind of indirect theft and ought to be covered by the actual legal system unified an arbitration scheme with the legal codes that already existed. Governments and legal systems existed prior to the Lex Mercatoria. Lex Mercatoria had no official legal status whatsoever until actual government officials began using its principles in case law and legislation.

So much for the actual history of Lex Mercatoria, which was not even a legal system. "Lex" there is a misnomer, an analogy to actual laws which are used to settle disputes by very different methods than ostracism and keeping credit histories.

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The problem is that the Law Merchant is about an entirely new thing (at the time) called contract law, which no legal system prior to then had ever acknowledged. The (grudging) recognition that violation of a contract is a kind of indirect theft and ought to be covered by the actual legal system unified an arbitration scheme with the legal codes that already existed. Governments and legal systems existed prior to the Lex Mercatoria. Lex Mercatoria had no official legal status whatsoever until actual government officials began using its principles in case law and legislation.

So much for the actual history of Lex Mercatoria, which was not even a legal system. "Lex" there is a misnomer, an analogy to actual laws which are used to settle disputes by very different methods than ostracism and keeping credit histories.

I agree with everything you cite about the Law Merchant, as far as you write things that are facts about it, but I don't see it as supporting your case, but rather mine. I don't think it doesn't count as a legal system, I don't see how you get that point, unless you're saying it follows from the fact that boycotts and ostracism were used to enforce the laws. But that hardly disqualifies something from being a legal system, because method of enforcement is part of the concept a legal order. Far for being a failing of polycentric legal systems, this was a failing of the governments, for as you admit, the governments' laws was inadequate, and since they had a coercive monopoly, they were unresponsive. The fact that coercion could not be resorted to as a method of enforcement stems from the same fact, so this only further bolsters my case.
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Here is another attempt to show why the legal code must be in the form of a monopoly of force or counter-force. Is getting an abortion legal or illegal, can force be used against the woman and her doctor who performs the abortion? Sure, there are differences of opinion about whether or not abortion should be punishable by the law -- some say no, some say it is murder. Obviously, it would be a direct contradiction for the legal code to say that abortion is both murder and non-murder at the same time in the same respect in a given geographical region. This is why the enforceable legal code must be one, and not many. It must be clear-cut that a certain action taken is either legal or illegal, punishable by law or not punishable by law.

I already responded to that, explicity about abortion even. But keep arguing from repitition. It makes you more right the more you repeat things.
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That certainly is the question. But based on what you're explaining, you still left out how to even establish a body of law, and what does the establishing. You already said you're assuming a pre-existing body of law, so it would be useful to know how a body of law ought to be established. Perhaps that establishing entity is precisely what I think a government is in the first place. I don't understand why you mention "coercive monopoly". Is it because no two people will typically agree on the application of a particular principle of justice? That's confusing, because you clearly want rights to be respected, but to stay consistent about your point of disagreement, you must say it is coercive to only pay attention defense agencies which focus on individual rights explicitly. What if there is a communistic defense agency which tries to enforce justice on a capitalist stealing worker wealth?

I agree, there is more to codification than just writing something down. Standards are a complex thing to develop, but whatever the case, there needs to be *some* institution to establish which standards a company needs to use. Sometimes, that institution is made up of multiple entities which work together to develop standards by analyzing behaviors or anything else related to the field. That's what happens with the Internet. TCP/IP is a protocol that almost all people conform with, which does have a specific mode of operation. Markets of justice would need that, too. However, justice works differently. While it's perfectly fine to acknowledge competing ideas on how the Internet is best run, with justice it is *not* perfectly fine to acknowledge some competing ideas of justice, namely kinds that don't pay attention to individual rights.

Right, I don't think that's fine either, but the whole question here is how do you envision getting everyone in society to acknowledge our interpretation of justice as involving individual rights in order to form a limited government? Well, we get everyone to become Objectivists or libertarians or whatever, and we form a government, right? The case is no different. The people have to make up their mind. Earlier I was being accused of wanting to set up some political system and having the right philosophical beliefs follow only after, but it seems that the shoe is actually on the other foot, since what I'm arguing is precisely that a legal order cannot operate in blissful transcendence of the people it constrains, since its very existence and continuation consists in the behavior of those people.
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I agree with everything you cite about the Law Merchant, as far as you write things that are facts about it, but I don't see it as supporting your case, but rather mine. I don't think it doesn't count as a legal system, I don't see how you get that point, unless you're saying it follows from the fact that boycotts and ostracism were used to enforce the laws. But that hardly disqualifies something from being a legal system, because method of enforcement is part of the concept a legal order. Far for being a failing of polycentric legal systems, this was a failing of the governments, for as you admit, the governments' laws was inadequate, and since they had a coercive monopoly, they were unresponsive. The fact that coercion could not be resorted to as a method of enforcement stems from the same fact, so this only further bolsters my case.

"... boycotts and ostracism" are not enforcement at all. Where is the force?

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"... boycotts and ostracism" are not enforcement at all. Where is the force?

Enforcement doesn't (necessarily) imply violence. It implies submission or compliance ("ensuring observance of or obedience to.") The purpose of the executive function of a legal order is to ensure submission and compliance both to the judicial process itself and with its verdicts. This can be done by a variety of means and may or may not include violence as one of them. Fact that they were deprived of that method by the very institution I am criticizing doesn't seem to pose too much of a problem for my argument.
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