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The Childs-Peikoff Hypothesis

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Dennis Hardin
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Why "AnarchObjectivism" is a classic oxymoron.

And why Roy Childs--an Objectivist-libertarian and one of the early supporters of Anarcho-Capitalism--would have agreed.

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies

"The Childs-Peikoff Hypothesis," pp. 169-78

by Dennis C. Hardin

In his infamous "Open Letter to Ayn Rand," Roy Childs, a prominent libertarian advocate of anarcho-capitalism, argued that limited government is inconsistent with Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. In the early 1980s, Childs changed his mind and rejected anarcho-capitalism as a rational political system. Despite a brief, unfinished, posthumous essay, some say that the real reasons for Childs' change of heart will always remain a mystery. However, specific comments by Childs in that essay point directly to the influence of a series of lectures on Objectivism presented by Leonard Peikoff in 1983.

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I have always felt there was a fine line between embracing anarchy and embracing objectivism or libertarianism.

In one sense, I think that anarchy as a lack of government makes no sense at all. We need some form of government, and that is unlikely to change, at least until we all wake up perfectly rational (i.e. never).

In another sense, I think that anarchy is a perfect description for human life. We are gangs of people killing other gangs of people in order to protect what is ours. People within that gang can have drastically divergent reasons for being part of it, but ultimately, the gang comes first. When a person doesn't put it first, they are called criminals, terrorists, traitors. When they do, they are called patriots. Libertarianism is the means of injecting moral backbone into the gang, so as to be the change we want to see in an anarchistic world.

Edited by Justin Benner
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"Gangs of people killing other gangs of people in order to protect what is ours" is a "perfect description of human life" under anarchy and authoritarian government.

The role of limited government is to prohibit gangs (including "criminals" and "terrorists" and statist politicians) from interfering with the rights of the smallest minority--the individual.

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I have always felt there was a fine line between embracing anarchy and embracing objectivism or libertarianism.

In one sense, I think that anarchy as a lack of government makes no sense at all. We need some form of government, and that is unlikely to change, at least until we all wake up perfectly rational (i.e. never).

In another sense, I think that anarchy is a perfect description for human life. We are gangs of people killing other gangs of people in order to protect what is ours. People within that gang can have drastically divergent reasons for being part of it, but ultimately, the gang comes first. When a person doesn't put it first, they are called criminals, terrorists, traitors. When they do, they are called patriots. Libertarianism is the means of injecting moral backbone into the gang, so as to be the change we want to see in an anarchistic world.

I find the gang comparison ito be ironic. Gangs can only exist when a state is there in the first place. Most of human history has been made up of groups called "Armies" or "Tribes" that attack one another. Gangs mitate tribal structure, but in the context of industrial civilization, which often makes them entirely irredeemable.

Edited by Hairnet
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I ran across an argument for anarchy in Marsha Enright’s new book, Ayn Rand Explained, and I want to comment on it here because of its relevance to the article cited in the heading of this thread: The Childs-Peikoff Hypothesis. In the following excerpt, Enright rephrases a statement by Ronald Merrill in The Ideas of Ayn Rand. (Her book is a revision of Merrill’s earlier work.)

The strong point of the anarcho-capitalist critique is that [John] Locke’s compact between government and citizen is not really voluntary. The State, like Don Corleone, makes you an offer you can’t refuse. The individual must sign or, at minimum, be forcibly ejected from the country of his birth….So Locke’s Just State is nothing of the kind, for its basic moral justification—voluntary acceptance by its citizens—does not really exist.

The anarcho-capitalists reject the social contract as a group contract. They demand an arrangement under which each person can voluntarily make an individual social contract. But, in their view, if government is a monopoly, then those who reject its terms have no viable options. The ‘consent of the governed’ is extorted, not truly voluntary…

In this interpretation, the anarcho-capitalist position must be conceded to have great force…

Ayn Rand Explained, pp. 181-182

This is simply a restatement of the rationalist argument that, if there can be no legitimate initiation of force, then government cannot “initiate force” against private defense agencies. It seems to have “great force” only to those who hold their ideas in the form of rationalist floating abstractions, as many Objectivists (including apparently Marsha Enright) continue to do. The beauty of Peikoff’s 1983 lectures on Understanding Objectivism was to show exactly how rationalism is contrary to Objectivism.

Rationalism is the epistemological policy of holding ideas above reality, of using concepts in such a way that you effectively ignore their concrete referents. Example: One may never initiate force, therefore no organization may stop others from using force—including the agency whose task it is to objectively prohibit the initiation of force.

If there is something inherent in the nature of force that requires that one agency have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force—if, in reality, that is a precondition of freedom--then limited government is not at all inconsistent with Objectivism. The ‘consent of the governed’ means: the members of a society recognize the reality that society can only exist if individuals relinquish the use of private, nonobjective force—and that those who do not recognize this threaten the liberty of everyone else.

Anarcho-Capitalism is pure, undiluted rationalism. Because it ignores the reality of the nature of force, it is not remotely consistent with the philosophy of Objectivism. It is only from a simplistic, rationalist perspective that the anarcho-capitalist argument “must be conceded to have great force.”

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If there is something inherent in the nature of force that requires that one agency have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force—if, in reality, that is a precondition of freedom--then limited government is not at all inconsistent with Objectivism.

Yeah, so what is that?
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Is there something inherent in the nature of force that requires that one agency have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force?

To exert force is to control or compel another person, whether done by a government, a private organization or an individual. The person who is the object of force has no choice about it. Under anarchy, when there is a dispute about the rightness of the force being used, one party must prevail—i.e., will end up imposing its viewpoint on the other. So the private defense agency is in the same position of ‘monopolizing force’ (ie, not allowing dissent) as the single government entity. The party being coerced can always claim that it did not ‘consent’ to the coercing agency’s authority. ** The choice is whether to have one agency restricted by objective law or multiple agencies with multiple interpretations of the law.

Every individual in society could potentially refuse to “consent” to any government or any private defense agency, and the result would be as many diverse views of justice as there are citizens. Everyone would then retain their own right to use force in self-defense according to their own personal view of their rights. (Anarcho-capitalism incorrectly assumes that everyone would “consent” to some external agency.)

The choice is objective restraint on the use of force via objective law—or random bloodshed in the streets. Objective restriction on the use of force is a precondition of civilization, and limited government is the only practical way to do it.

**I want to credit Harry Binswanger for this point.

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Is there something inherent in the nature of force that requires that one agency have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force?

There are some historical examples where multiple armed forces (or even gangs) bode ill for the society at large.

For example in Germany of the ruination of the Versailles Treaty started to wreck German multiple armed groups, the Freikorps organized. These consisted of veteran soldiers (mostly) of the Great War and they were sore. They felt they had been betrayed by the politicians and were not favorably disposed toward the Weimar Republic. Many of these groups were out for bloody revenge. The sequel shows the result. The rise of the S.A. and the rest is history.

ruveyn1

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Is there something inherent in the nature of force that requires that one agency have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force?

To exert force is to control or compel another person, whether done by a government, a private organization or an individual. The person who is the object of force has no choice about it. Under anarchy, when there is a dispute about the rightness of the force being used, one party must prevail—i.e., will end up imposing its viewpoint on the other. So the private defense agency is in the same position of ‘monopolizing force’ (ie, not allowing dissent) as the single government entity. The party being coerced can always claim that it did not ‘consent’ to the coercing agency’s authority. ** The choice is whether to have one agency restricted by objective law or multiple agencies with multiple interpretations of the law.]

We do not deny that a protection agency may legitimately use force against non-consenting aggressors. We can fully recognize most of the foregoing, that one party being coerced doesn't consent to the coercing party's authority and "has no choice about it." We don't assert anything to the contrary. We do favor justified coercion of one party (self-defense), over another party (aggressors), but we do not favor the enforcement of such legitimate uses of coercion by a coercive monopoly agency. Rather, the free market anarchist favors free entry into the field of specifying and enforcing such law and security. Hence they endorse the non-monopolizing of retaliatory force, and oppose monopoly government. To say that the coercion of one party over another in any instance, and the coercive barring of market competition are the same "monopolizing" is to commit the fallacy of equivocation. One type of "monopolizing" we are for, another we are not for. One type of coercion legitimate, the other illegitimate.

Lastly in this paragraph, you present a false dichotomy. Really, that's the only choice? Logic begs to differ. In fact, with the options you present us, there are other choices. We could have, as you describe, one agency restricted by objective law or multiple agencies with multiple interpretations of the law. We could also have one agency with multiple interpretations of the law, or multiple agencies restricted by objective law. (The latter is the kind of free market anarchism that we here support.) We could also have, and this is what I assert is the case, rightly understood, (as I will explain below), one agency with multiple interpretations of the law, or multiple agencies with multiple interpretations of the law.

Every individual in society could potentially refuse to “consent” to any government or any private defense agency, and the result would be as many diverse views of justice as there are citizens. Everyone would then retain their own right to use force in self-defense according to their own personal view of their rights.

If someone can refuse to consent to either government or private defense agencies, then you fail to show a problem unique to market anarchy. But if people don't have the right to use force according to incorrect, subjective interpretations of justice, then it's hard to see how they would retain a right according to you, which we here assert they don't have.

But the substance of your criticism is one of "but people have differing interpretations of justice under anarchy," a criticism which anarchists supporting objective justice have addressed in the literature.

First, you presented your false dichotomy in terms of the government having one (the correct, objective one) interpretation of justice, but this isn't and can never be the case. As Locke argued, that people have differing interpretations of justice is all pervasive fact of human nature. This fact does not go away under any system whatsoever, including limited government. Certainly there is a correct and objective interpretation of justice, but 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. Just look at the people in this forum, no one here even has the same interpretations of justice, we argue about it in almost every thread.

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 it is possible (and of course we are in agreement that it is) 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.

(Anarcho-capitalism incorrectly assumes that everyone would “consent” to some external agency.)

I like being told what I assume. I know a lot of Objectivists like the make sweeping generalizations of "anarchists" as if they all have the same opinion, but there are a wide variety of anarchists with a wide variety of opinions on a lot of things. I know of exactly zero that make the claim quoted here. It is actually Objectivism that bases its claims to legitimacy on the basis of consent doctrine, with the belief that the government derives its authority from the right of self-defense delegated to it by individuals. One wonders about the individuals that would delegate their self-defense to a different, but equally objective agency.

The choice is objective restraint on the use of force via objective law—or random bloodshed in the streets. Objective restriction on the use of force is a precondition of civilization, and limited government is the only practical way to do it.
Again, we don't opposed objective restriction of the use of force. It is, however, a non sequitur to reason from the claim that force should be objectively restricted to the claim that there should only be one coercive monopoly doing the restricting. Again, "random bloodshed in the streets" sounds scary, but thus far in your post, it is a baseless assertion. Most of us require arguments for claims.
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We do not deny that a protection agency may legitimately use force against non-consenting aggressors. We can fully recognize most of the foregoing, that one party being coerced doesn't consent to the coercing party's authority and "has no choice about it." We don't assert anything to the contrary. We do favor justified coercion of one party (self-defense), over another party (aggressors), but we do not favor the enforcement of such legitimate uses of coercion by a coercive monopoly agency. Rather, the free market anarchist favors free entry into the field of specifying and enforcing such law and security. Hence they endorse the non-monopolizing of retaliatory force, and oppose monopoly government. To say that the coercion of one party over another in any instance, and the coercive barring of market competition are the same "monopolizing" is to commit the fallacy of equivocation. One type of "monopolizing" we are for, another we are not for. One type of coercion legitimate, the other illegitimate.

To monopolize is to dominate by excluding others from choice. Force necessarily involves excluding others from choice: it is one party imposing its will on another. This is true any time one party exercises coercion. The barring of competition is simply one instance of force. So there is no equivocation here.

Let’s examine the difference between what you call “legitimate” coercion and “illegitimate” coercion by concretizing both (since my case against anarchy in “The Childs-Peikoff Hypothesis” is that it is based on rationalism).

“Legitimate” force would presumably include things like police intervention to stop theft or assault or to penalize someone for those crimes. In either instance, the thief or assailant may well refuse to sanction or consent to the use of force against them, but you would say no ‘consent’ is necessary.

“Illegitimate” force (in your view) would be arresting someone for pulling a gun on a “suspect” (thief or assailant) without the authority to do so—by a private individual or ‘defense agency.’ Or arresting someone for pulling a gun on a neighbor for trespassing. In the last instance, the person is being arrested because the law does not allow you to threaten someone’s life for trespassing. In all these instances, the people arrested are acting outside the province of the law, which makes them ‘aggressors’ (in the eyes of the law). Here again, the parties being arrested would deny sanction or consent to the arrest, claiming they were simply acting in self-defense.

In the first instance, you claim the lack of consent doesn’t matter. In the second, you seem to say that it does matter.

But then later you say this:

If someone can refuse to consent to either government or private defense agencies, then you fail to show a problem unique to market anarchy….

With that comment, you have acknowledged that a lack of consent is just as much of an issue with anarchy as with limited government.

The entire case for anarcho-capitalism rests on the consent issue. When anarchists argue that the government has no right to stop a private defense agency from using retaliatory force, they are basing the agency’s right to act on someone’s choice (consent) to use their services instead of the government’s services. That is the whole “moral” raison d’etre for this curious phenomenon called anarcho-capitalism.

The anarcho-capitalists reject the social contract as a group contract. They demand an arrangement under which each person can voluntarily make an individual social contract. But, in their view, if government is a monopoly, then those who reject its terms have no viable options. The ‘consent of the governed’ is extorted, not truly voluntary…

From Ayn Rand Explained

Since you have conceded that the lack of consent is just as much of a problem for the anarcho-capitalist as for the minarchist, no further discussion is really needed.

The main case for anarcho-capitalism is based on a moral argument: that individuals should be able to make their own private choice as to how they enforce their right of self-defense. If that’s true, then this should extend to a further question: Not just to whom they delegate their right of self-defense, but whether they choose to delegate that right in the first place. Perhaps no such agency meets their “objective” criteria for administering force.

And there is no stone tablet that says individuals must “consent” to abide by some established “objective code” of retaliatory force. If the withholding of consent is the issue, the question of restricting the right of self-defense to an established “objective code” is also necessarily thrown into the mix as well. Anyone could argue that his “objective code” is superior to any others being offered on the “market.”

Repeating what I said in a prior post:

If there is something inherent in the nature of force that requires that one agency have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force—if, in reality, that is a precondition of freedom--then limited government is not at all inconsistent with Objectivism. The ‘consent of the governed’ means: the members of a society recognize the reality that society can only exist if individuals relinquish the use of private, nonobjective force—and that those who do not recognize this threaten the liberty of everyone else.

The practicality of limited government and whether this is the best way to establish objective law is not the issue. (Obviously it is. No sane person disputes that.) No one would have “cooked up” the wacky notion of anarcho-capitalism but for the alleged “moral” arguments. So I’m not about to waste my time trying to “prove” that limited government is a more practical solution. Give me a freakin’ break. I have better things to do.

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To monopolize is to dominate by excluding others from choice. Force necessarily involves excluding others from choice: it is one party imposing its will on another. This is true any time one party exercises coercion. The barring of competition is simply one instance of force. So there is no equivocation here.

You still didn’t really refute anything I said. Yes, we can perfectly agree that any time one party uses coercion they are “excluding others from choice.” Very well. Didn’t I specifically say, yes we agree? The barring of competition on the market is certainly an instance of “excluding from choice.” But one type of excluding from choice we are for (using coercion against aggressors), and another type of “excluding others from choice” we are not for (the production of law and protection from aggressors.) Get it? Two different instances of “excluding from choice” going on here. One good, one bad, from the point of view of market anarchism. We favor “exclusion from choice” of aggressors to do the aggressing, just as you favor a government to do; but we don’t favor “exclusion from choice” of agencies to do the excluding. If we were to say, hey they’re both “excluding from choice” therefore to be committed to the first one, you also have to be committed to the latter because they’re the same thing, then this inference is invalid because it would be the fallacy of equivocation. The equivocation is not in your assertions about the nature of coercion, that we agree on. The equivocation is in the inference you draw from that observation.

Let’s examine the difference between what you call “legitimate” coercion and “illegitimate” coercion by concretizing both (since my case against anarchy in “The Childs-Peikoff Hypothesis” is that it is based on rationalism).

“Legitimate” force would presumably include things like police intervention to stop theft or assault or to penalize someone for those crimes. In either instance, the thief or assailant may well refuse to sanction or consent to the use of force against them, but you would say no ‘consent’ is necessary.

All good here.

“Illegitimate” force (in your view) would be arresting someone for pulling a gun on a “suspect” (thief or assailant) without the authority to do so—by a private individual or ‘defense agency.’ Or arresting someone for pulling a gun on a neighbor for trespassing. In the last instance, the person is being arrested because the law does not allow you to threaten someone’s life for trespassing. In all these instances, the people arrested are acting outside the province of the law, which makes them ‘aggressors’ (in the eyes of the law). Here again, the parties being arrested would deny sanction or consent to the arrest, claiming they were simply acting in self-defense.

Well now why would you go and do this? Really, is that my view? It seems like you didn’t even read any of what I said. Where did I say people ought to be able to act outside of the province of law? In fact, didn’t I say exactly the opposite of that when I said: “we don't oppose objective restriction of the use of force.” We don’t oppose law and order and constraints on self-defense and retaliatory force. Force used in self-defense must be constrained by objective law, according to our view. But this does not yield you one monopoly agency. If this was your “something” in the nature of force that makes a monopoly necessary, then your case has failed, as it has been revealed to be a non sequitur, and furthermore your characterizations of anarcho-capitalism are based on strawmen.

In the first instance, you claim the lack of consent doesn’t matter. In the second, you seem to say that it does matter.

Well let me try and explain it again. We do not deny that a protection agency may legitimately use force against non-consenting aggressors. We do favor justified coercion of one party (self-defense), over another party (aggressors), but we do not favor the enforcement of such legitimate uses of coercion by a coercive monopoly agency. If there is anything unclear about the foregoing, I will certainly try to clarify again.

With that comment, you have acknowledged that a lack of consent is just as much of an issue with anarchy as with limited government
By “just as much of an issue” I mean “not at all.” Something’s being “just as much” as something else doesn’t necessarily imply it is very big or very small. Making such an inference would be invalid.

.

The entire case for anarcho-capitalism rests on the consent issue. When anarchists argue that the government has no right to stop a private defense agency from using retaliatory force, they are basing the agency’s right to act on someone’s choice (consent) to use their services instead of the government’s services. That is the whole “moral” raison d’etre for this curious phenomenon called anarcho-capitalism.
Well, no. We’re basing the agency’s right to act on the justice of the act. The same as you do a government’s action in the same instance. You seem to just want to ignore everything I wrote on the issue. Let’s recap. The correct procedures of justice, being a province of human knowledge, which Objectivists must agree on, then there is an independent verifiable standard by which to judge legal procedures. If it is possible (and of course we are in agreement that it is) 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 the 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. We don’t say “you can just use any old procedures you want, as long as one person is consenting.” Perhaps this strawman you have constructed serves to help explain why you seem to see the issue of one party “excluding the other from choice” inherent in coercion as an issue. But, as you can see, since this is not our view, then this point is wrong.

Since you have conceded that the lack of consent is just as much of a problem for the anarcho-capitalist as for the minarchist, no further discussion is really needed.

The main case for anarcho-capitalism is based on a moral argument: that individuals should be able to make their own private choice as to how they enforce their right of self-defense. If that’s true, then this should extend to a further question: Not just to whom they delegate their right of self-defense, but whether they choose to delegate that right in the first place. Perhaps no such agency meets their “objective” criteria for administering force.

And there is no stone tablet that says individuals must “consent” to abide by some established “objective code” of retaliatory force. If the withholding of consent is the issue, the question of restricting the right of self-defense to an established “objective code” is also necessarily thrown into the mix as well. Anyone could argue that his “objective code” is superior to any others being offered on the “market.”

No, again you basically just ignore everything I’m writing. You seem dead-set on wanting to say that our view is “anyone can use force in any old way he sees fit, and any way is just as valid as another.” But that is not our view, again. What is one of the ways you judge who wins a debate as versus who loses? I submit one way is whether or not the opponent actually engages someone’s view. I don’t think you’ve succeeded in doing that. I hope your paper is better than the display you have here, because this doesn’t bode well for your case. So once and for all, we don’t oppose a specific objective law code being enforced. What we do not favor is their enforcement by a monopoly agency. I assume Dennis Hardin accepts Rand’s definition of government as “an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area.” This definition clearly implies not merely (indeed not even) that a unique set of rules is going to be enforced, but rather that a unique agency is to do the enforcing.

Anyone could argue that his “objective code” is superior to any others being offered on the “market.”

Again, how is this any different from government? Anyone can, and does (last time I checked President Obama had a different conception of a legal code than, say, Ron Paul does) argue that his legal code is superior to anyone else’s.

The practicality of limited government and whether this is the best way to establish objective law is not the issue. (Obviously it is. No sane person disputes that.) No one would have “cooked up” the wacky notion of anarcho-capitalism but for the alleged “moral” arguments. So I’m not about to waste my time trying to “prove” that limited government is a more practical solution. Give me a freakin’ break. I have better things to do.

Wow, what great scholarship. Let’s not try to prove our inferences, they’re obvious and self-evident. Let’s ignore the tons of scholarly articles out there right now examining the various historical instances of legal orders and political structures of more or less polycentric legal systems and whether or not they present a more practical or effective set of institutions and incentive structures for liberty than a limited government. Nope, you’re insane, that is, you are mentally ill or handicapped for even considering such an option according to one Dennis Hardin.

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You still didn’t really refute anything I said. Yes, we can perfectly agree that any time one party uses coercion they are “excluding others from choice.” Very well. Didn’t I specifically say, yes we agree? The barring of competition on the market is certainly an instance of “excluding from choice.” But one type of excluding from choice we are for (using coercion against aggressors), and another type of “excluding others from choice” we are not for (the production of law and protection from aggressors.) Get it? Two different instances of “excluding from choice” going on here. One good, one bad, from the point of view of market anarchism. We favor “exclusion from choice” of aggressors to do the aggressing, just as you favor a government to do; but we don’t favor “exclusion from choice” of agencies to do the excluding. If we were to say, hey they’re both “excluding from choice” therefore to be committed to the first one, you also have to be committed to the latter because they’re the same thing, then this inference is invalid because it would be the fallacy of equivocation. The equivocation is not in your assertions about the nature of coercion, that we agree on. The equivocation is in the inference you draw from that observation.

I found your first paragraph utterly confusing and bewildering, but after considerable effort, I think I succeeded in breaking it down into something comprehensible. You seem to be saying the following:

My Translation of 2046:

Dennis defines coercion as “excluding others from choice,” then offers two very different instances of “excluding from choice”:

A. Coercion means “excluding others from choice.” Using coercion against aggressors is justified.

B. Coercion means “excluding others from choice.” Using coercion against competing agencies which produce law and provide protection from aggressors is justified.

Dennis argues that A implies B because in both cases someone is excluding others from choice. He says they are the same thing. This is the fallacy of equivocation, because the market agency which produces law and provides protection is not excluding others from choice.

(End of translation)

To begin with, the fallacy of “equivocation” does not apply here because I use the same meaning for coercion (i.e., excluding others from choice) in both statements. I am not switching the meanings of the term coercion, so there is no “equivocation.” If I argued that A by itself implies B (which I didn’t), you could call this a non sequitur or perhaps a diversion, but not an equivocation.

In fact, I never argued that A implies B. An additional premise is required, as follows—As soon as any "market agency" begins imposing its view of law and justice on someone outside that agency, it is “excluding others from choice.” Therefore, coercion may be used against them to stop them.

That's my argument, and it is not an "equivocation."

..The correct procedures of justice, being a province of human knowledge, which Objectivists must agree on, then there is an independent verifiable standard by which to judge legal procedures. If it is possible (and of course we are in agreement that it is) 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 the correct procedures, then it is morally right, but so is every other agency which employs correct procedures.

This is rationalist nonsense, and very typical of anarchist thinking. It is not consistent with the Objectivist viewpoint that "it is possible. . . to verify objectively that one interpretation of justice is valid whereas another one is not." There are an infinite number of issues where vast disagreement is possible. Certain basic principles can be established, but the interpretation of those principles and their application to specific contexts can be incredibly complex. There will always be room for reasonable disagreement among the most rational men about any number of political problems. Have you ever been exposed to the intricacies of contract law, to take just one example? It is hard to believe that someone--even a rabid anarchist--could maintain such a fantasy.

Here is what I am saying, in brief and simple form: Imposing their own view of law and justice on an external party (another such agency or private citizen) puts a “market defense agency” in exactly the same position as a monopoly government. That’s the inherent nature of coercion. Period.

That’s the bottom line.

It is clear from reading your post that you have no interest in understanding my position, which is invariably the case with anarchists. With all due respect, I see no point in continuing further discussion with you on this matter. I’m sure we both have better things to do than waste each others’ time.

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I found your first paragraph utterly confusing and bewildering, but after considerable effort, I think I succeeded in breaking it down into something comprehensible. You seem to be saying the following:

My Translation of 2046:

Dennis defines coercion as “excluding others from choice,” then offers two very different instances of “excluding from choice”:

A. Coercion means “excluding others from choice.” Using coercion against aggressors is justified.

B. Coercion means “excluding others from choice.” Using coercion against competing agencies which produce law and provide protection from aggressors is justified.

Dennis argues that A implies B because in both cases someone is excluding others from choice. He says they are the same thing. This is the fallacy of equivocation, because the market agency which produces law and provides protection is not excluding others from choice.

(End of translation)

Uhh, no. Whatever you just wrote there makes no sense whatsoever. A market agency which produces law is "excluding others from choice." Didn't I state that we are perfectly okay with this? In fact, here's exactly what I wrote:

Yes, we can perfectly agree that any time one party uses coercion they are “excluding others from choice.” Very well. Didn’t I specifically say, yes we agree? The barring of competition on the market is certainly an instance of “excluding from choice.” But one type of excluding from choice we are for (using coercion against aggressors), and another type of “excluding others from choice” we are not for (the production of law and protection from aggressors.) Get it? Two different instances of “excluding from choice” going on here. One good, one bad, from the point of view of market anarchism. We favor “exclusion from choice” of aggressors to do the aggressing, just as you favor a government to do; but we don’t favor “exclusion from choice” of agencies to do the excluding.

Why you would need to "translate" that is beyond me. I think mostly everyone else reading it would get it instantly and not botch it up upon reproduction.

To begin with, the fallacy of “equivocation” does not apply here because I use the same meaning for coercion (i.e., excluding others from choice) in both statements. I am not switching the meanings of the term coercion, so there is no “equivocation.” If I argued that A by itself implies B (which I didn’t), you could call this a non sequitur or perhaps a diversion, but not an equivocation.

In fact, I never argued that A implies B. An additional premise is required, as follows—As soon as any "market agency" begins imposing its view of law and justice on someone outside that agency, it is “excluding others from choice.” Therefore, coercion may be used against them to stop them.

That's my argument, and it is not an "equivocation."

Well see, I don’t agree that you are using the same meaning. It is true that both involve “excluding from choice” but in one you mean excluding aggressors from choosing to commit aggression. Well that’s all fine and dandy. Then in the other meaning you mean excluding market competition, which the free market anarchists’ viewpoint doesn’t agree with. Now you say that you don’t argue that the former implies the latter by itself, but now we are supplied with an additional premise. The argument is supposed to go like this:

Major: Using coercion against aggressors is justified.

Minor: As soon as any "market agency" begins imposing its view of law and justice on someone outside that agency, it is “excluding others from choice.”

Conclusion: Therefore, coercion may be used against them to stop them [all agencies except one]. [That is,] using coercion against competing agencies which produce law and provide protection from aggressors is justified.

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t follow. The minor premise doesn’t necessitate the conclusion, unless it can be shown that it coheres with the major, that is, that a market agency is an aggressor. But then, the conclusion would only follow for market agencies which were aggressors, and not for non-aggressing ones. That is a proposition which market anarchists agree with, so how this mess of an argument necessitates a monopoly government is unclear.

You would have to show that any and all agencies which used force, aside from the one you would like to be a monopoly, are inherently aggressors in order to prove your case. This is something for which we still await an argument. In fact, as everyone can see, you didn't even try to argue something like that, as you were going on about consent and about individuals having differing interpretations of justice.

So back to the original question. What is this "something" inherent in the nature of coercion that necessitates we have a single monopoly government? According to Dennis Hardin, it is the fact that in all cases of coercion, one party excludes the other from choosing. But sorry, market anarchists too, favor using coercion against aggressors. How this necessitates a single agency to perform that specific type of "excluding" still has yet to be seen. We can only conclude, even if we may agree with your ultimate conclusion, that you’ve failed to make your case.

This is rationalist nonsense, and very typical of anarchist thinking. It is not consistent with the Objectivist viewpoint that "it is possible. . . to verify objectively that one interpretation of justice is valid whereas another one is not." There are an infinite number of issues where vast disagreement is possible. Certain basic principles can be established, but the interpretation of those principles and their application to specific contexts can be incredibly complex. There will always be room for reasonable disagreement among the most rational men about any number of political problems. Have you ever been exposed to the intricacies of contract law, to take just one example? It is hard to believe that someone--even a rabid anarchist--could maintain such a fantasy.

I never claimed to hold such a narrow position on law, and I think that in your invective, you like to invent positions and ascribe them to your opponent instead of understanding and grappling with their position. I am baffled that you think I’m making such a claim, or even if I were, why this would have improved your case. By “one interpretation of justice” I am including things like “basic principles” and “room for disagreement on their applications.” Or does Hardin not think this is itself an interpretation of justice?

Here is what I am saying, in brief and simple form: Imposing their own view of law and justice on an external party (another such agency or private citizen) puts a “market defense agency” in exactly the same position as a monopoly government. That’s the inherent nature of coercion. Period.

That’s the bottom line.

It is clear from reading your post that you have no interest in understanding my position, which is invariably the case with anarchists. With all due respect, I see no point in continuing further discussion with you on this matter. I’m sure we both have better things to do than waste each others’ time.

Of course it puts it in the same position as a monopoly government inasmuch as both are utilizing coercion, but it is not in the same position as a monopoly government inasmuch as it is not a monopoly. We do not deny the “same position-ness” of the first, but rather, it is the latter which is the entire point of what market anarchism seeks to establish as a morally and practically superior position.

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I know that you believe I should understand what you think you said, but since I don’t, and since you refuse to acknowledge any points I make….

Let’s keep it as simple as possible.

The case for monopoly government arises from the fact that, in a free society, force must be kept under objective control. This is not possible when competing police agencies operate under conflicting interpretations of the law, which you have conceded would occur. This will necessitate aggression by one agency against another (or against private citizens).

The case against monopoly government is based on the false claim that such a “monopoly” requires coercion against innocents who do not consent whereas private defense agencies do not. But since they will often be operating under different interpretations of the law, private agencies must also use coercion against innocents who do not consent.

"Competition" in the creation of objective restrictions on the use of force is hopelessly impracticable, and will destroy the precondition for a free market.

Obfuscate that

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The case for monopoly government arises from the fact that, in a free society, force must be kept under objective control. This is not possible when competing police agencies operate under conflicting interpretations of the law, which you have conceded would occur. This will necessitate aggression by one agency against another (or against private citizens).

As I typed in #10: Again, we don't oppose objective restriction of the use of force. It is, however, a non sequitur to reason from the claim that force should be objectively restricted to the claim that there should only be one coercive monopoly doing the restricting.

And in #12: We don’t oppose law and order and constraints on self-defense and retaliatory force. Force used in self-defense must be constrained by objective law, according to our view. But this does not yield you one monopoly agency. If this was your “something” in the nature of force that makes a monopoly necessary, then your case has failed, as it has been revealed to be a non sequitur, and furthermore your characterizations of anarcho-capitalism are based on strawmen.

And again in #12: No, again you basically just ignore everything I’m writing. You seem dead-set on wanting to say that our view is “anyone can use force in any old way he sees fit, and any way is just as valid as another.” But that is not our view, again. What is one of the ways you judge who wins a debate as versus who loses? I submit one way is whether or not the opponent actually engages someone’s view. I don’t think you’ve succeeded in doing that. I hope your paper is better than the display you have here, because this doesn’t bode well for your case. So once and for all, we don’t oppose a specific objective law code being enforced. What we do not favor is their enforcement by a monopoly agency. I assume Dennis Hardin accepts Rand’s definition of government as “an institution that holds the exclusive power to enforce certain rules of social conduct in a given geographical area.” This definition clearly implies not merely (indeed not even) that a unique set of rules is going to be enforced, but rather that a unique agency is to do the enforcing.

"Conflicting interpretations of the law (or justice) was also specifically responded to in #10.

You see, your argument has been engaged with, and directly and clearly responded to every step of the way. It's a non sequitur. Everyone reading this can see who as responded and who is on argument from repetition mode. Argumentation cannot advance unless the analysis of claims can proceed beyond the point of unsupported reiteration of prior convictions.

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You confuse throwing out a bunch of unsupported assertions with an argument. You have not shown how competing police agencies could provide an objective restraint on the use of force. (Which is understandable, since they can’t.) You’ve just blurted out the absurd contention that somehow they can.

And you have not shown how their conflicting interpretations of the law would not lead to chaos and bloodshed. Your answer to the issue of conflicting interpretations of the law was no “answer” at all. You offered this “solution”: “ If it is possible (and of course we are in agreement that it is) 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.”

When I explained that this is typically anarchist, rationalist crap, you came back with: “Oh, I didn’t really mean that there is one interpretation that’s verifiable, I only meant basic principles, blah-blah.-blah.”

I consider your long-winded, ambiguous posts to be nothing more than a poor effort at obfuscation, and I will continue to repeat the essential points as long as you continue to try to bury them in needless complexity and confusion.

Edited by Dennis Hardin
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You confuse throwing out a bunch of unsupported assertions with an argument. You have not shown how competing police agencies could provide an objective restraint on the use of force. (Which is understandable, since they can’t.) You’ve just blurted out the absurd contention that somehow they can.

Well, you never asked me. Despite your somewhat uncivilized tone, we could've had a great point of exchange on polycentric legal systems if you were interested. It's funny how Objectivists suddenly turn into a pure deductivists who resort to various arguments in the attempt to show how a free market legal order is somehow a priori impossible, but not once has any Objectivist scholar (that I know of anyway) has ever engaged the vast literature out there right now on examples of polycentric legal systems. Nope, then any such scholars or papers are persona non grata, they don't even get mentioned. In fact, Dennis Hardin exclaims that his position is simply obvious and no sane person must dispute it, engaging with the empirical record is a "waste of time." This is akin to Galileo's inquisitors refusing to look into the telescope because they just knew, a priori, that the Ptolemaic theory must be true. It's a waste of time! If our critics wish to challenge our interpretation of the historical evidence, they are free to do so; discussion and debate on that front would be most welcome. But once we have offered our historical evidence, it is essentially an admission of defeat for the other side to go on repeating their old deductivist arguments without responding to the evidence.

Here's a good start for you:

Bruce Benson - The Enterprise of Law: Justice without the State

Pacific Research Institute, 1990

Fred Foldvary - Public Goods and Private Communities:

The Market Provision of Social Services

Edward Elgar Publishing, 1994

Robert C. Ellickson - Order Without Law : How Neighbors Settle Disputes

Harvard University Press, 1994

Bruce Benson - To Serve and Protect: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice

New York University Press, 1998

David T. Beito, Peter Gordon, Alexander Tabarrok (ed.) -

The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society

University of Michigan Press / Independent Institute, 2002

Hans Hermann-Hoppe (ed.) - The Myth of National Defense

Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2003

Gustave de Molinari - The Production of Security (pdf)

Journal des Economistes, 1849

Benjamin R. Tucker - The Bill for Justice: Who Should Pay It?

Liberty, Vol. 9, No. 49, Saturday, March 24, 1894, Whole No. 283

Murray Rothbard - Defense Services on the Free Market

in Power and Market, Ludwig von Mises Institute, 1970

David Friedman - Police, Courts, and Laws-on the Market

in The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to A Radical Capitalism, Open Court, 1973 (1989 second edition)

John D. Sneed - Order without Law: Where will Anarchists Keep the Madmen ? (pdf)

Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1977

Karl T. Fielding - The Role of Personal Justice in Anarcho-capitalism (pdf)

Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1978

T. L. Anderson & P.J. Hill - An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild, Wild West (pdf)

Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 3, no. 1, 1979

David Friedman - Private Creation and Enforcement of Law: A Historical Case

Journal of Legal Studies 8, 1979

Murray Rothbard - Pennsylvania's Anarchist Experiment: 1681-1690

Barranco Galt - Libertarian Ireland

Alfred G. Cuzan - Do we ever really get out of Anarchy? (pdf)

Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1979

Karl T. Fielding - Nonexcludability and Government Financing of Public Goods (pdf)

Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1979

George H. Smith - Justice Entrepreneurship in a Free Market (pdf)

Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 3, No. 4, 1979

I await your next JARS article, which I'm sure will be filled with references to some of these papers.

And you have not shown how their conflicting interpretations of the law would not lead to chaos and bloodshed. Your answer to the issue of conflicting interpretations of the law was no “answer” at all. You offered this “solution”: “ If it is possible (and of course we are in agreement that it is) 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.”

Well let me, in the spirit of treating you better than you have treated me, try to, as charitably as possible, reconstruct your argument here, and show you how response proceeds.

The "people have conflicting interpretations of justice" argument goes like this: If you don't have a single monopoly government, then everyone is just sort of free to going around and impose their own interpretations of justice, and things won't be equally applied, and this requirement of objectivity is breached. People, after all, do have different interpretations of justice, people disagree about what crimes should be, and also the proper response to all sorts of crimes. People have different interpretations of the natural law, says Locke, or different interpretations of what is permissible to do. Even when people can sort of grasp intuitively the general principles, like murder is a crime, theft is a crime, beating someone over the head is wrong and should be punished, etc. or even when people do have a rational understanding of the natural law, people still disagree about how to apply them. After all, just look at this forum. People here may agree on general principles, but don't ever seem to agree on how to apply them. So therefore, this is a problem with a market-based legal order, which having a single monopoly legislature is designed to fix.

So the worry is that competing providers of legal services in a market legal order will have conflicting interpretations of justice. Do we have to deny this in our response? No, no doubt they will. In fact, we agree with Locke that this is a pervasive feature of the human condition. Thus, how is this different from a single monopoly government? Having differing opinions of the requirements of justice is part and parcel of human nature, as Locke himself demonstrated in his Letters Concerning Toleration, since the answers to these things aren't self-evident, or given to us by a pure rational intuition from the noumenal self, or what have you. That's going to be true of a market-based legal system, and it's also going to be true under a single monopoly government. Ordinarily, the people in government, the people administering the monopoly system, will disagree with each other about the interpretations of justice. It seems pretty clear that not everyone in the US government is unanimous on interpretations of justice. But also amongst the American people, they all still have differing interpretations of justice. Even in a limited government, even in an Objectivist society, where there is agreement along fairly broad principles, there would still be differing interpretations of justice. So how exactly is this any different? As Locke explains the whole point of having a constitutionally limited government, with checks and balances, is that the agents who administer the system will have conflicting interpretations of justice. There would be no point whatsoever in having distinct branches of government limiting each other, or having the people limit the government through the franchise, if unanimity on questions of justice could be expected. So it's not as though there cease to be differing interpretations of justice under a single monopoly government.

But we might imagine the response being, well sure, there's conflicting interpreations of justice under government now, and there would be under limited government, but there's a way of dealing with them under a single monopoly government system. 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. The point of constitutional design is that the government is supposed to be structured in such a way that people have an incentive to work together and reach some reasonable solution rather than fighting it out when they have differing interpretations of justice. So there are also incentives in a market-based legal order for people to work together peacefully rather than fighting it out. In fact, you could argue that they have more incentive, because with defense services being provided on the free market, it's harder for anyone to externalize their costs, thus people are less likely to choose violent conflict instead of coming to a consensus. It's the incentive structure that matters in terms of how likely it is anyone will attempt to solve conflicting interpretations of justice with violence versus a consensus.

Now there is also another objection to consider against the "people disagree" argument. So let's go back to the original complaint. People are all patronizing different defense agencies on the market, the problem is that people have different views. Like you mention, some people believe in the death penalty, some people think abortion is murder, some people think that if you violate certain religious laws you should get your hand chopped off, etc. 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.

When I explained that this is typically anarchist, rationalist crap, you came back with: “Of, I didn’t really mean that there is one interpretation that’s verifiable, I only meant basic principles, blah-blah.-blah.”
That's not my understanding. My understanding was that you took exception to the fact that I claimed since justice is a province of human knowledge, it is possible to verify one interpretation objectively, and you wanted to interpret this claim in too narrow a fashion, whereas I explained it need not be, because the interpretation you took was indeed itself an interpretation of justice open to verification.

I consider your long-winded, ambiguous posts to be nothing more than a poor effort at obfuscation, and I will continue to repeat the essential points as long as you continue to try to bury them in needless complexity and confusion.

Why do that? Why not consider them for what they are at face value: disagreement with your position. Edited by 2046
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I consider your long-winded, ambiguous posts to be nothing more than a poor effort at obfuscation, and I will continue to repeat the essential points as long as you continue to try to bury them in needless complexity and confusion.

Hey Dennis,

I'm going to try not to be either "long-winded" or "ambiguous," though I've started to give some thought to the matters being discussed here, and I have questions... so I hope you don't mind?

Suppose within a traditional ("monopoly") government, I decide to offer my own services of law and order, in order to effect justice in society where perhaps I believe there is ordinarily failure. I do so according to what you and I agree are objective principles, and let us stipulate that I observe whatever procedural features the traditional government likewise grants (i.e. trial by jury; habeas corpus; etc.).

You would contend that the government should act to preserve its "monopoly" by shutting my efforts down, and that it would be right to do so -- is that correct?

But if the government is to use force against me -- and to do so, itself, with justice -- then we are contending that I have somehow initiated the use of force. Yes?

How so, and against whom? If I find a murderer and put him on trial and do everything that we would also have a proper government do, then am I not acting properly? -- which is to say, I am not initiating force, but acting in response to an initiation of the use of force, just as any other proper governmental action?

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Hey Dennis,

I'm going to try not to be either "long-winded" or "ambiguous," though I've started to give some thought to the matters being discussed here, and I have questions... so I hope you don't mind?

Suppose within a traditional ("monopoly") government, I decide to offer my own services of law and order, in order to effect justice in society where perhaps I believe there is ordinarily failure. I do so according to what you and I agree are objective principles, and let us stipulate that I observe whatever procedural features the traditional government likewise grants (i.e. trial by jury; habeas corpus; etc.).

You would contend that the government should act to preserve its "monopoly" by shutting my efforts down, and that it would be right to do so -- is that correct?

But if the government is to use force against me -- and to do so, itself, with justice -- then we are contending that I have somehow initiated the use of force. Yes?

How so, and against whom? If I find a murderer and put him on trial and do everything that we would also have a proper government do, then am I not acting properly? -- which is to say, I am not initiating force, but acting in response to an initiation of the use of force, just as any other proper governmental action?

Is there a difference between government and dispensers of justice? If individuals are in the right to 'dispense' justice , as long as they follow correct procedures, then there is no need for government?
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But if the government is to use force against me -- and to do so, itself, with justice -- then we are contending that I have somehow initiated the use of force. Yes?

How so, and against whom? If I find a murderer and put him on trial and do everything that we would also have a proper government do, then am I not acting properly? -- which is to say, I am not initiating force, but acting in response to an initiation of the use of force, just as any other proper governmental action?

Don,

Thanks very much for your comment.

Trials by private agencies would only be possible with close governmental oversight, again, to insure procedural objectivity. Consider the frequency with which trial verdicts are overturned because of some seemingly trivial error on the part of the court—allowing the use of tainted evidence or questionable testimony, etc. Any hint of impartiality is sufficient cause to void a guilty verdict. The role of the government is to insure absolute adherence to due process—rules of evidence, jury selection. et. al. Without ironclad safeguards on due process, there would be no assurance that justice was served in a given case.

So, yes, in the absence of such oversight, the government can legitimately intervene to stop a trial conducted by a private agency in the name of protecting individual rights. If there were no such oversight, what would stop alleged “victims” from paying private agencies to conduct “trials” for the purpose of prosecuting anyone they considered guilty of having harmed them? There would be nothing to insure the impartiality of the outcome.

The government would be justified in acting on principle to prevent the initiation of force by such agencies, even if, in a given instance, a particular agency acted properly (i.e., observed appropriate due process) without governmental oversight. That is the only way a government can guarantee the protection of individual rights in all cases.

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Why do that? Why not consider them for what they are at face value: disagreement with your position.

I‘m sorry if this response seems less than civil, but you will need to learn to express yourself more succinctly if you expect me to respond. I do not have the time to read 3000 word essays on a webforum and then respond to every point. Particularly not when the purpose of the essay is to defend an elaborate fantasy whose entire theoretical basis consists of a falsehood—the alleged “immorality” of limited government.

And I suspect that when people need thousands of words to convey a simple theory, they either do not know what they are talking about or the theory itself defies rational comprehension.

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Don,

Thanks very much for your comment.

Trials by private agencies would only be possible with close governmental oversight, again, to insure procedural objectivity. Consider the frequency with which trial verdicts are overturned because of some seemingly trivial error on the part of the court—allowing the use of tainted evidence or questionable testimony, etc. Any hint of impartiality is sufficient cause to void a guilty verdict. The role of the government is to insure absolute adherence to due process—rules of evidence, jury selection. et. al. Without ironclad safeguards on due process, there would be no assurance that justice was served in a given case.

So, yes, in the absence of such oversight, the government can legitimately intervene to stop a trial conducted by a private agency in the name of protecting individual rights. If there were no such oversight, what would stop alleged “victims” from paying private agencies to conduct “trials” for the purpose of prosecuting anyone they considered guilty of having harmed them? There would be nothing to insure the impartiality of the outcome.

The government would be justified in acting on principle to prevent the initiation of force by such agencies, even if, in a given instance, a particular agency acted properly (i.e., observed appropriate due process) without governmental oversight. That is the only way a government can guarantee the protection of individual rights in all cases.

Well this is interestingly similar to the theist's cosmological argument. A "first cause" is needed to explain the existence of the universe, but then a first cause is needed to explain the supposed "first cause," and so on, until you have an infinite regress. So the government is overseeing, in Nozickian fashion, that the correct procedures are being followed. But then if these other agencies require a "super-agency" to oversee the correct procedures are being used, who is to oversee the super-agency to ensure it is following the correct procedures? Does being a member of the super-agency somehow endow you with the ability to be objective, whereas being a member of any of the other agencies does not?

But moreover, we have this picture of the government as a "licensing agency," so to speak, granting licenses to act within a certain set of legal rules, and being the "overseer" as Hardin wants it, of these other agencies. First of all, what exactly this means can have varying interpretations (I'll skip listing all of them for now), but suppose that means something like the state confines itself to doing what Hardin wants it to do, ie,. to oversee that all other agencies are adhering to the correct procedures of justice. If one believes, as we both do, in such a single, uniform standard, then what possible objection could you have to this?

You see, saying "well yes, if they use the correct procedures, then it's okay, as long as one agency oversees the correct procedures" doesn't escape Don Athos' question. Let's think what this would look like for a second. We're supposed to have a variety of competing agencies on the free market, and one organization takes upon itself the job of forcing all the other agencies to conform to the single, uniform standard of objective justice. But it's the only organization doing this, so then suppose another organization enters that field and competes in the job of being the "licensing agency" certifying in accordance with the same exact principles of justice. Does it then prohibit competition in that field? Even if the other agencies are "overseeing" in accordance with the exact same principles, as per Don Athos' question? If so, then it is an unjust aggressor on its own grounds, for if the coercive imposition of these objective principles of justice is permissible, then it is permissible for anybody. Secondly, it is also undesirable on incentive grounds (the same reasons we don't want licensing laws, e.g. in consumer protection or for the medical industry), since all coercive monopolies (and licensing laws) lack the very checks and balances that make us want competition in the first place, and so this type of argument completely fails on its own grounds.

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I‘m sorry if this response seems less than civil, but you will need to learn to express yourself more succinctly if you expect me to respond. I do not have the time to read 3000 word essays on a webforum and then respond to every point. Particularly not when the purpose of the essay is to defend an elaborate fantasy whose entire theoretical basis consists of a falsehood—the alleged “immorality” of limited government.

I think this requirement for "succinctness" is funny. First I give you the condensed version, for which you complained was "blurting out" "assertions." But now it's just all too much to read.

Suppose I say "you're defending and elaborate fantasy whose entire theoretical basis consists of a falsehood." Your position is "pure, undiluted rationalism." "This is just rationalist crap," my position is obvious, why, "no sane person disagreeds with me," etc. (your actual words) and make a whole string of one-sentence assertions, well if my name is Dennis Hardin, then I don't need any evidence for that. I don't need any supporting argumentation for this lines. I don't need to show any line of reasoning. I can just say them.

On the other hand, suppose you're 2046, and you're saying something other than just regurgitation of conventional Randian phrases and lines (mostly from the Ayn Rand Lexicon), why then these become "obfuscations" and "unsupported assertions." And of course people may reasonably expect an explanation, or supporting reasoning, for what I mean. But I can't give such reasoning if Dennis Hardin-style "succinctness" is required. Nice isn't it. You can only repeat conventional thoughts under this criteria.

And I suspect that when people need thousands of words to convey a simple theory, they either do not know what they are talking about or the theory itself defies rational comprehension.

Have you ever studied physics or medicine or something like that? You can't distill a lot of these theories in such a manner.
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