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This approach doesn't allow for the case whereby the person who threatens to use force, subsequently withdraws the threat, apologizes and goes home.

 

Of course we can consider such a case. But let us also consider the case of someone who steals something valuable, then returns the item that they have stolen, apologizes and goes home.

In such an instance, has force been used? Has a crime been committed? I'd say yes on both counts, despite their apology. This is true, too, of the person who makes such a threat and then relents. (Which is not to say that the judge presiding over such a matter cannot take into account all of the facts of the matter as we have described them.)

I should add, however, that these details that we're adding now were not a part of the original scenarios I had constructed (such as a group that conspires to have you killed; I did not have them apologize and then retire to their estates). Nor do these details seem applicable to some of the examples proffered before my participation, such as a Mafia Don, or Hitler.

The question that I've been seeking to resolve is whether the Don, in orchestrating a hit let's say, or Hitler, in implementing the Holocaust, is himself guilty of "the initiation of force." And my answer to that is: absolutely.

 

It may be that to consider that he's done nothing wrong is exaggerated  but surely the threatened man is no longer entitled to 'self-defense'. Some 'retaliation' is in order, but certainly not to the same extend as if the threat was still active.

 

Completely agreed. The need for immediate action in self-defense is a slightly different subject than whether someone is guilty of a crime at all.

Consider, for instance, a serial killer who has seen the error of his ways and vows to do no more harm. It remains that the killer is guilty of his crimes and justice must be done... yet we may not commit such actions in self-defense, as you say, "to the same extent as if the threat were active."

 

Equating a threat, which is a potential use of force with an actual use of force would mean that the same 'defensive' actions maybe taken at any moment after the initiation regardless of what the perpetrator does later on. The actual use of force does damage. The threat itself (while it may do some damage such as emotional trauma) might very well end in no damage being done.

 

Consider for yourself a hypothetical scenario... let's say that you're being robbed at knife point. While no physical damage has yet been done unto you -- nothing has even yet touched your body -- the robber has initiated the use of force. You are entitled to take action in self-defense. Thinking that you have no right to take such action against the robber because all that the robber has done so far is "threaten" you, is both to mistake the nature of such a threat, and -- it seems to me -- is starkly contrary to your best interest.

Perhaps it needs to be said that I'm not trying to say that all manner of threat (or use of "actual force," come to it) are equivalent, or invite the same level of response. Suppose you pull out a gun and point it at the robber, who then turns and flees in panic. Are you then free to shoot him in the back of the head in the name of self-defense? Or suppose you punch him, striking first as is your right, and you knock him out cold. Can you continue to stomp his senseless body unto death?

Your evaluation of the actual threat, such as it is, is vital in determining an appropriate response. Even if someone walks up to me and slaps me across the face -- which in your parlance is no longer mere threat, but "actual force" -- that doesn't entitle me to take out a baseball bat and swing until my arms hurt.

 

So, yes, the group, as an entity, is guilty Monday and not guilty Tuesday, since they have changed their minds. All the information they have gathered, all the tools and weapons they have purchased, all the planning they have done - they have decided not to put it to use. For all practical purposes they no longer represent a threat to their previous target. Previous, get it? :) It is not the case with B2, obviously. He has decided to go ahead and use the weapons, tools, plan, etc against his target.

 

If I stalk a woman that I'm planning on raping, and then I change my mind -- I'm not going to rape her -- it is the case that I'm not guilty of rape or attempted rape. Yet I am guilty of stalking her.

Whatever crime your group has committed, such that they are guilty on Monday, they are still guilty of that same crime on Tuesday, even if they do not commit further crimes (or whatever might have been their original ends). To threaten force is to initiate force, and is itself a crime. I am not free-and-clear when I pull out a gun and point it at your head, because I suddenly change my mind and refrain from shooting you.

 

Well, what can I say? According to Objectivist standards you got me here.

 

Well... those standards seem especially relevant to me here, because (unless I'm mistaken) you're making your very case on Objectivist grounds (i.e. as you stated in your OP, "What is evil is ONLY initiation of physical force," which is not exactly the Objectivist position, but close enough so I understand your meaning). If we're stepping away from Objectivism, however, then we'll have to do a bit more work to establish the morality you're advocating, such that a man like Hitler might not be morally or legally culpable of any misdeeds.

But can I just say? Any concession at all that anyone else has made even a semi-decent point shoots you right to the top of my list of all-time favorite posters.

 

It's there, black on white. However, I believe that Ayn Rand didn't go into details of this subject, because it's not really a philosophical issue, but more of a legal/criminal one. If she had, she would have probably made a clear difference between 'self-defense' and 'retaliation'; she would have mentioned that the self-defense sometimes, or should I say 'in most cases', is properly performed by the threatened person with no delegation whatever; and she would have rephrased the quote above to the more cumbersome form "... those who initiate its use or a threat to use it". But, hey, these are just speculations, right?

 

I'm sure you're right that she would have discriminated between the needs of immediate self-defense and methodical justice via government.  I don't know off-hand where she may have commented on that, if she did.

 

That said, I feel quite confident that I am using Rand's language with respect to "the initiation of force" as she intended, and that my position is consistent vis a vis "actual" and "threatened" force. 

Here is from Galt's speech, emphasis added:

 

Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others.

To interpose the threat of physical destruction between a man and his perception of reality, is to negate and paralyze his means of survival; to force him to act against his own judgment, is like forcing him to act against his own sight. Whoever, to whatever purpose or extent, initiates the use of force, is a killer acting on the premise of death in a manner wider than murder: the premise of destroying man’s capacity to live.

 

And a few paragraphs later:

 

Be it a highwayman who confronts a traveler with the ultimatum: “Your money or your life,” or a politician who confronts a country with the ultimatum: “Your children’s education or your life,” the meaning of that ultimatum is: “Your mind or your life”—and neither is possible to man without the other.

 

Rand's highwayman has not yet physically injured his victim (let alone the politician). He has not yet enacted any particular manner of physical destruction, but he has threatened it. Yet this is clearly part and parcel with what Rand means when she speaks here of "the initiation of force," and the negation of man's mind.  She does not draw a distinction between the threat that a gun represents and the actual act of shooting a man, because with respect to "the initiation of force," no such distinction matters.  To threaten force is to initiate force.

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If you initiate force via an agreement with an agent (or third party), you are still initiating force.  Hitler is guilty of initiating force.

Oh cool. So I can pay someone to murder my hypothetical wife, and if someone tells the police on me, I don't have to worry about getting arrested, AND if someone does murder her, I STILL don't have to

Bogdan,   This sounds like the application of the 'labor theory of value' applied to crime.  Do you also think that a businessman who hires and pays other men to do labor is NOT to be credited with

DonAthos,

 

First - yes, I am making (or at least this is my intention) my case on Objectivist grounds.

 

I am now trying to pinpoint where we disagree. The topic has shifted to a more fundamental level than it was originally intended. Consider again the gang who plan to kill someone and then draw straws. I say that the action (or rather non-action) of the ones who didn't draw the short straw and stay home is morally equivalent to that of the 'aggressor' who withdraws the threat. I am not sure whether you agree with this or not. I think you do, but while I say that this would render them not-guilty, since no force was actually used, you argue that, since the threat itself is initiation of force, they remain guilty, possibly to a lesser extent.

 

I deliberately left out many details (for example by 'not-guilty' I don't mean 100%) which I thought would get in the way. Is what I say above correct?

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No one is (at least I'm not) equating a threat with actual use of force. It has to be shown that there was intent (through planning, taking steps towards, etc.) to carry out the threat.

 

 

 

Or it might very well end in you losing your life. 

 

I think the total context and circumstances under which a threat (or percieved threat) is made has to be factored in.    You have to have a reasonable expectation that the person confronting you poses an immenent risk to your physical well being before initiating (or attempting to initiate) pre emptive steps to avoid  the possibility they'll cause you physical harm. 

 

And while all this general theorizing that's going on in this thread about when it might be justified (from the Objectivist philosophical standpoint) to initiate pre emptive force  against a percieved threat is all well and good (and has it's place) what I think needs to be kept very fore front in one's mind in these types of situations is what your local legal system (law enforcement, the courts and possibly a jury of your peers) is likely to find reasonable and justified.  I think a big part of being mentally prepaired to defend yourself is knowing what your States Criminal Code has to say about what constitutes "assault" and what the "use of deadly force" statues are.

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The topic has shifted to a more fundamental level than it was originally intended.

 

I think that's a good thing. Surface disagreements often indicate discord (however slight) between underlying premises. We should always endeavor to get at the "root of the problem."

 

Consider again the gang who plan to kill someone and then draw straws. I say that the action (or rather non-action) of the ones who didn't draw the short straw and stay home is morally equivalent to that of the 'aggressor' who withdraws the threat. I am not sure whether you agree with this or not.

 

At this point, I probably need to briefly interject about your use of the term "morally equivalent." It's important that we understand that throughout this thread, we are primarily discussing legality/politics, not ethics or morality. While it is certainly the case that Rand held the initiation of force to be evil without reservation, a full moral evaluation of an action is much more than a simple determination of whether physical force has been employed (or threatened).

As an example: it is equally legal to betray your best friend by sleeping with his wife, or not to do so -- neither of these is an initiation of force -- but these are not necessarily "morally equivalent." Further, I do not hold that every "initiation of force" is morally equivalent with respect to the evil it represents, or accomplishes. If I slept with my best friend's wife, and he slugged me for it, I would not hold him morally akin to Hitler or Stalin.

And so, rather than attempt to answer whether these two scenarios are "morally equivalent," let me attempt to address myself to the political aspects.

 

Consider again the gang who plan to kill someone and then draw straws. I say that the action (or rather non-action) of the ones who didn't draw the short straw and stay home is morally equivalent to that of the 'aggressor' who withdraws the threat. I am not sure whether you agree with this or not.

 

When you speak of the "non-action" of those who drew the longer straws, we may be getting at the issue. I'm not looking at their "non-action," but the actions that they have already taken towards ending a man's life. It is these actions which constitute a "threat" and "the initiation of force," and it is for these actions that I find them guilty.

Whether this is legally equivalent to pointing a gun at a man's head, then backing down, I'm uncertain, though I expect that it is not. And I further expect it matters whether the conspiracy actually bears fruit (just as we draw distinctions between murder and attempted murder)... but I'll warn you that to try to discuss such gradations is a bit beyond me, in that I have no particular legal expertise, or interest. My central point is that criminal conspirators have already initiated force, and are guilty for the actions that they have committed. If we are agreed on that point, then for my purposes we are agreed.

 

I think you do, but while I say that this would render them not-guilty, since no force was actually used, you argue that, since the threat itself is initiation of force, they remain guilty, possibly to a lesser extent.

 

Yes. It is my case that "the threat itself is initiation of force" and thus they are guilty of precisely that. Attempted murder will carry a smaller penalty than murder, and threatening murder without attempting it will carry a smaller penalty still, but again, I'm not particularly qualified to address myself to all of the distinctions we might expect or find between various criminal activities. It is my endeavor to establish that such activity is criminal.

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I'm not looking at their "non-action," but the actions that they have already taken towards ending a man's life. It is these actions which constitute a "threat" and "the initiation of force," and it is for these actions that I find them guilty.

Whether this is legally equivalent to pointing a gun at a man's head, then backing down, I'm uncertain, though I expect that it is not. [...] My central point is that criminal conspirators have already initiated force, and are guilty for the actions that they have committed. If we are agreed on that point, then for my purposes we are agreed.

 

I totally agree that it's only the actions that we need to look at. Bear in mind though that the moral (or legal, if you will) evaluation of the actions is made at step 3, when B2 is on his way to C's house, carrying a rifle in his hand and all the required information in this head. And I think this is where we disagree. The action of the others of handing to B2 the rifle and the layout of C's house, of patting him on the back and wishing him good luck are equivalent to backing down from their initial threat. When they say to B2 "May God be with you", they're in effect saying "You are in it. We're out! We don't support you, we don't drive you, we don't call you, we don't do anything from this moment on.".

 

This doesn't make them 100% not-guilty. Their amount of guilt is determined based on their action of planning to commit murder AND the action of backing out. This is very important to my case, since it makes B2 aware that his guilt is much greater than that of the others. From his point of view, it's 100%. They get a slap on the wrist, he gets the chair. It's not enough to build trust, to make him feel some kind of conspiratorial bond. 

 

Just to clarify: In my OP when I say "is not guilty! At all! Only B should be punished by law" I am referring to the action I mention in the paragraph just above "the ones who actually pull the trigger". 

 

My argument applies to all types of A - the priest who identifies the abortion doctor, purchases a gun and puts in the hand of a 

religious zealot; the husband who pays a killer to murder his rich wife. And of course it does not apply to the driver of the getaway car in a bank robbery.

 

I must emphasize that I am not saying that this is the way it is, now and here, that this is what the current law holds. I say that this is the way it should be. The fact that, just like you, I have no legal/criminal expertise is not relevant, since I am making my case on moral grounds: The action of killing is much worse that the action of just planning murder and then backing out.

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The action of the others of handing to B2 the rifle and the layout of C's house, of patting him on the back and wishing him good luck are equivalent to backing down from their initial threat.

 

But there is no way to "take back" what they have already done. They remain guilty of that.

You speak of "backing down from an initial threat." And yes, I may threaten you with some action and then not go through with it. But does that mean that I have taken no action against you at all? Done nothing wrong? I am still guilty of threatening you.

 

This doesn't make them 100% not-guilty.

 

Indeed. It makes them 100% guilty.

But guilty "of what?" Of that which they've done, meaning "criminal conspiracy" or "aiding and abetting" or whatever it happens to be. We can, and do, draw such distinctions between those who pull the trigger and those who make that possible through supplementary action.

 

Their amount of guilt is determined based on their action of planning to commit murder AND the action of backing out.

 

Well, even this idea of "backing out" can be meaningfully parsed. Does it mean sitting back, confident that the trigger man will take care of his responsibilities?  Lying in wait with a second gun, in case the first gunman fails to get the job done?  Does it mean breaking off with your co-conspirators, refusing to be complicit in their crimes (while keeping their secrets)? Does it mean phoning vital information into the authorities, to prevent the murder from taking place?

Were I a judge, these would all present me with different scenarios, and I would weigh all of the relevant information to formulate an appropriate response. But again, I didn't know that we were trying to assess precise levels of guilt (which is ultimately impossible absent an actual case with details we can examine); I've just been trying to establish that the "conspirator" is guilty -- is a criminal. And unless you would continue to take issue with that point, I... believe that I have done that to your satisfaction...? :)

 

This is very important to my case, since it makes B2 aware that his guilt is much greater than that of the others. From his point of view, it's 100%.

 

The trigger man's guilt is 100%. As is the guilt of his co-conspirators. Everyone is 100% guilty for everything that they have done. The co-conspirators are not guilty of pulling the trigger -- that belongs to the trigger man -- but they are guilty of those actions that they've taken which, as we've seen, are also criminal in nature. In the name of justice, they should all pay for their crimes according to their actions.

 

I must emphasize that I am not saying that this is the way it is, now and here, that this is what the current law holds. I say that this is the way it should be. The fact that, just like you, I have no legal/criminal expertise is not relevant, since I am making my case on moral grounds: The action of killing is much worse that the action of just planning murder and then backing out.

 

We are absolutely discussing the way things ought to be. But even there, it requires a bit of experience with/education in legal matters to be competent to discuss certain specialty topics in a meaningful and honest fashion. For instance, if you had asked me "what's the appropriate penalty for driving the getaway car in X kind of robbery"? I wouldn't know how to begin to answer you. Given what I know, I can only say that it is criminal and deserves some penalty. (And perhaps I could "feel" my way through some punishment scenarios that seem "too light" or "too harsh," based on my general life experiences: capital punishment is out, but 8 hours community service is not enough.)

On whether the "action of killing" is better or worse than the planning...

I don't know, but we might have to investigate some scenarios to suss this out a bit (and these may well be fantastic in nature, so I apologize in advance if that offends). For instance, I came in as the topic of Hitler was being bandied about, and I would put Hitler's guilt (and that of his fellow Nazis) much higher than any number of German soldiers who executed his orders (though I do not necessarily hold them blameless either -- they remain responsible for their choices).

So imagine that we have the warden of a prison. An inmate is scheduled to be executed, but the warden wants to use this opportunity to kill someone else that he does not like. He substitutes his intended victim for the man who is to be executed, and the executioner -- believing everything to be above-board and normal -- performs the task as is his job.

The executioner is responsible for the "action of killing" in the sense of the trigger-man, is he not? Yet how would you assign guilt for the murder that has taken place in such a case?

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DonAthos,

I believe we can reach a conclusion: We disagree :-) . The way I see it, a thief who returns the stolen object is still a thief. His punishment might be reduced, but he WILL be punished, since the crime was committed, the damage was done. However, I see a big, essential difference between a thief who returns the object and the guy who plans a theft to the last detail but never commits it. The latter never used force. He only threatened to use it.

You, on the other hand, argue that the planning itself IS force, since it's a threat. The withdrawal of the threat is the same as the return of a stolen object.

I have no new arguments to support my view. And, as I said before, on Objectivist grounds you're right. So, until I do (or someone else does) find new arguments, this round belongs to you. But I will keep thinking about it, because I feel I am right and usually my feelings turn out to be correct. I'll let you know :-)

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I believe we can reach a conclusion: We disagree :-) .

 

Fair enough, and again I appreciate your courtesy in this post.  People can disagree, argue their sides, and yet have a pleasant, honest, non-nasty conversation.  Who knew!? :)  I'd be happy to revisit this topic, or examine any other, with you in the future.

 

You, on the other hand, argue that the planning itself IS force, since it's a threat. The withdrawal of the threat is the same as the return of a stolen object.

 

Not to continue my argument, but just by way of clarification, I do not necessarily think that the withdrawal of a threat is the same in every way as the return of a stolen object (or other means of making amends for whatever harm has been done). I only think that they are the same in that they are both still examples of the initiation of force, and thus both still criminal and subject to penalty.

 

But I will keep thinking about it, because I feel I am right and usually my feelings turn out to be correct. I'll let you know :-)

 

I look forward to it.

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.... What is evil is ONLY initiation of physical force, and only B does that. So, let me say it again: A is not guilty! At all! Only B should be punished by law.

 

Why not adhere to the literal definition of "initiation?"  

 

Ordering physical force to be used is, of course, initiation.    Why do we have to ignore what initiation means in order for your argument to work?

 

(initiating:  to cause or facilitate the beginning of) - Merriam-Webster

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Why not adhere to the literal definition of "initiation?"  

 

Ordering physical force to be used is, of course, initiation.    Why do we have to ignore what initiation means in order for your argument to work?

 

(initiating:  to cause or facilitate the beginning of) - Merriam-Webster

If I order you to move the Moon, would you say I initiated moving the Moon?
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If I did so as a result of your order, of course. Would you rather I take the credit owed to you?

I assumed that it's obvious that you can't move the Moon. If it's not, I'm telling you now. Trust me, you can't move the Moon. With that in mind answer my original question, please.
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I assumed that it's obvious that you can't move the Moon. If it's not, I'm telling you now. Trust me, you can't move the Moon. With that in mind answer my original question, please.

If I order you to move the Moon, would you say I initiated moving the Moon?

Ok then. If moving to the moon does not (or cannot) occur, it is an invalid question to ask who initiated it.

There is no initiator of an action that never happened.

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Why not adhere to the literal definition of "initiation?"  

 

Ordering physical force to be used is, of course, initiation.    Why do we have to ignore what initiation means in order for your argument to work?

 

(initiating:  to cause or facilitate the beginning of) - Merriam-Webster

 

A indeed initiates something, but not force. It could be a conversation, a plan, a plot, a conspiracy, etc. But not force. B is the one who initiates force. Incidentally, this is different from the case whereby A fires a bullet and then claims that it was the bullet that initiated force. That's because, as opposed to the bullet, B is a human being who always has a choice not to hurt (or threaten :) ) C.

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Why not adhere to the literal definition of "initiation?"  

 

Ordering physical force to be used is, of course, initiation.    Why do we have to ignore what initiation means in order for your argument to work?

 

(initiating:  to cause or facilitate the beginning of) - Merriam-Webster

 

I find it interesting that you use 'Ordering'. This seems to be an attempt to circumvent the fact that B is a human with a choice. Somehow, because he was ordered, he is absolved of guilt, just like the bullet in a previous example.

 

In fact, now that I admitted I can't yet prove my point, I can address other issues raised in this thread. One is that I should have stayed away from the Hitler analogy/example. That's because 'orders' are different from other types of persuasion such as money, or virgins in Paradise. That's because (on Objectivist grounds) orders, correctly defined, apply only to military, police and other enforcement agencies that belong to the government. In this case the executor may properly assume that the action ordered is morally right. Not only that, but the superior explicitly assumes responsibility for the action (which does not apply to the Mafia boss and the thug).

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A indeed initiates something, but not force. It could be a conversation, a plan, a plot, a conspiracy, etc. But not force. B is the one who initiates force. Incidentally, this is different from the case whereby A fires a bullet and then claims that it was the bullet that initiated force. That's because, as opposed to the bullet, B is a human being who always has a choice not to hurt (or threaten :) ) C.

 

No.  He was the "initiator" of the plan, plot, or conspiracy to use physical force.  He was the instigator, the initiator, the actor causing the action.   We can trace the initiation back to him.    You must limit the definition of initiation to to make your distinction.

 

It is a given that humans have choices (well, by most of us here ;-) ).  Nevertheless, there is no discussion about the "initiator" of an action if the action does not occur.

 

I find it interesting that you use 'Ordering'. This seems to be an attempt to circumvent the fact that B is a human with a choice. Somehow, because he was ordered, he is absolved of guilt, just like the bullet in a previous example.

 

In fact, now that I admitted I can't yet prove my point, I can address other issues raised in this thread. One is that I should have stayed away from the Hitler analogy/example. That's because 'orders' are different from other types of persuasion such as money, or virgins in Paradise. That's because (on Objectivist grounds) orders, correctly defined, apply only to military, police and other enforcement agencies that belong to the government. In this case the executor may properly assume that the action ordered is morally right. Not only that, but the superior explicitly assumes responsibility for the action (which does not apply to the Mafia boss and the thug).

 

I find it interesting that you seek to limit the meaning of initiation.  For what purpose?   It doesn't have to be an order.   That same "choice" you refer too is being made by the initiator,   the person who intentionally sets it all in motion.  The fact that other actors are part of the plan (by choice or by duty) does not change where it begins.  

 

It also appears that you are attempting to limit moral culpability for the use of force to a single person.   There is always context.  If somebody hits someone else with a bat, it can be said that he initiated force on another.  It can also be said that the bat initiated force on the skull.   Both are correct give the context.

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Ok then. If moving to the moon does not (or cannot) occur, it is an invalid question to ask who initiated it.

There is no initiator of an action that never happened.

That directly contradicts your previous statement: "Ordering physical force to be used is, of course, initiation."

Anyway, it doesn't even matter if an order counts as the first step of delivering physical force or not: when Ayn Rand uses the word "initiation" in this context, it doesn't meant "the initial segment/step in the delivery of physical force". She means "being the first person to deliver physical force". If you hit someone with a hammer unprovoked, your entire act is the "initiation", not just a first part of it.

Arguing that giving orders is physical force because it's the initial step is just an equivocation on the word "initiation". Like I posted in this thread a while back, the key in defeating Bogdan's argument lies not in saying that the order is "the initiation", but rather in the fact that Ayn Rand defines as criminal not just the delivery of physical force itself, but the USE of physical force, directly or indirectly, actual or just the threat thereof (including many times removed) in inter-human relations, except in cases when it is in self defense or retaliation.

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That directly contradicts your previous statement: "Ordering physical force to be used is, of course, initiation."

That doesn't contradict.  We're assuming the act of force took place.  If you need the sentence to be more clear, it would be stated:

 

"Ordering the physical force that was used is, of course, initiation."

 

Or, even better:

"So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others."

-Galt's speech

 

Further, Rand makes it clear that the initiation of force can be either direct OR indirect:

"A unilateral breach of contract involves an indirect use of physical force: it consists, in essence, of one man receiving the material values, goods or services of another, then refusing to pay for them and thus keeping them by force (by mere physical possession), not by right—i.e., keeping them without the consent of their owner. Fraud involves a similarly indirect use of force: it consists of obtaining material values without their owner’s consent, under false pretenses or false promises. Extortion is another variant of an indirect use of force: it consists of obtaining material values, not in exchange for values, but by the threat of force, violence or injury."

 

-Nature of Government

 

 

 

...when Ayn Rand uses the word "initiation" in this context, it doesn't meant "the initial segment/step in the delivery of physical force". She means "being the first person to deliver physical force". If you hit someone with a hammer unprovoked, your entire act is the "initiation", not just a first part of it.=

I cannot imagine her agreement with your interpretation.  If so, how would the following quote make any sense?:

 

"But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality..."

 

-Galt's speech

 

If we use the limited definition you attribute to it, "a government," as an entity could not exert physical force.  Only an individual can.   Yet she uses the term.  

 

And again: "-- do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others."

 

 

 

 

... Ayn Rand defines as criminal not just the delivery of physical force itself, but the USE of physical force, directly or indirectly, actual or just the threat thereof (including many times removed) in inter-human relations, except in cases when it is in self defense or retaliation.

 

No.  She clearly makes a point to always include the concept of "initiation".    Here is exactly how she describes criminal:

 

"It is only the initiation of physical force against others—i.e., the recourse to violence—that can be classified as a crime in a free society (as distinguished from a civil wrong)."

-Political Crimes - Return of the Primative

 

It is true that this has become a bit of an argument about semantics.  However, I think you are in error to assume that Rand does not fully embrace the litteral and complete meaning of initiation.  It is fundamental to contextualizing the "use of force."

 

 

initiate: verb;

1. cause (a process or action) to begin (dictionary.com)

1. To set going by taking the first step; begin: (the free dictionary)

1. to cause or facilitate the beginning of : set going (Merriam Webster)

 

To equivocate would be to interpret the definition differently or avoid its literal meaning.

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No.  [...] He was the instigator, the initiator, the actor causing the action.   We can trace the initiation back to him. 

 

This is why I brought the argument that B has a choice. If by "action" you mean "the killing of C", then I disagree: The action cannot be traced, as a cause, back to A. It stops at B. To instigate someone to kill C is not the same as to shoot a bullet toward C.

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This is why I brought the argument that B has a choice. If by "action" you mean "the killing of C", then I disagree: The action cannot be traced, as a cause, back to A. It stops at B. To instigate someone to kill C is not the same as to shoot a bullet toward C.

 

The bottom line is that the action (killing of C) does not occur in the absence of A's initiation.   That is an objective fact.  There are two choices that can be directly traced and cannot be ignored.  The choice you refer to does not exist in a vacuum.   Initiation refers to the start of the process.  Multiple means are employed to facilitate the end result and there is no reason to ignore the knowledge of how the process started.

 

So yes, the "cause" is most definitely traced back to a human choice.  Actor "A" is choosing to cause physical harm to "C".   The fact that he employs "B" (who could stop the process and did not) only means there is joint culpability for the use of force.  

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The bottom line is that the action (killing of C) does not occur in the absence of A's initiation.   That is an objective fact.  There are two choices that can be directly traced and cannot be ignored.  The choice you refer to does not exist in a vacuum.   Initiation refers to the start of the process.  Multiple means are employed to facilitate the end result and there is no reason to ignore the knowledge of how the process started.

 

So yes, the "cause" is most definitely traced back to a human choice.  Actor "A" is choosing to cause physical harm to "C".   The fact that he employs "B" (who could stop the process and did not) only means there is joint culpability for the use of force.  

 

As I thought, our disagreement resides at a more fundamental level - metaphysical, causality to be more specific. This should be discussed in another topic, in the appropriate forum. But since I have the feeling that we're not getting anywhere anyway, I'll throw in a few lines.

 

You're wrong. :) Here is why: Someone's action is the cause of something only if the entire subsequent chain of effect/cause triggered by that action is purely metaphysical (I use the term 'metaphysical' in the sense given by Ayn Rand when she made the distinction between the metaphysical and the man-made). Therefore, A's monetary offer does not cause B to kill C. The cause of C's death is strictly B's action to shoot. The actions of both A and B are man-made, but only that of B triggers a chain of purely metaphysical events.

Volition is not an exception to the Law of Causality; it is a type of causation. . . .

 

In our case, B's volition represents the causation.

 

Indeed, B's choice to shoot is not made in a vacuum, but in a context. That context however is irrelevant for the purpose of determining the cause of C's death. At best it can only offer a social/psychological/economical reason for why B did it. But B does it. It's not a question of B stopping the process of killing initiated by A, but a question of whether B decides to initiate it.

 

I will not continue to reply to this topic in this direction.

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