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The Childs-Peikoff Hypothesis

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Dennis Hardin
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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.

This comment reflects zero progress in your understanding of the concept of objective restraint on the use of force. I don't know if you are honestly unable to grasp the concept or actively working to sustain an evasion, but in either case, there is obviously no point in wasting further time with you discussing this matter.

Your follow-up post was pure invective. So, again, no comment by me is needed here.

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This comment reflects zero progress in your understanding of the concept of objective restraint on the use of force. I don't know if you are honestly unable to grasp the concept or actively working to sustain an evasion, but in either case, there is obviously no point in wasting further time with you discussing this matter.

Your follow-up post was pure invective. So, again, no comment by me is needed here.

Your post reflects your absolute zero willingness to confront the fact that the idea of having objective restraints on the use of force doesn't logically get us to a monopoly. We'll let the readers be the judge of who is evading.
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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?

Quid custodiet ad ipsos custodii? Who shall guard, the Guardians of justice? And what keeps a righteous group of citizens from becoming a vigilante gang?

That problem is as old as the notion of government and justice. 8000 years later and there is still no sure fire answer.

ruveyn1

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2046, I am interested to here more about your theories, but I always see them in response format. Would you be willing to start a new thread where you lay out a synopsis of your political theory?

I appreciate it of course, but I don't want to run afoul of the forum rules, so I don't open a new thread. However, I trust responding to or analyzing various arguments presented falls under the category of "honest questions about such subjects." I think the links in #18 are definitely worth reading in regards how a free market legal order could work, and historical examples are discussed. A good starting point for understanding how law without a state is possible is books like Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law, Edward P. Stringham (Editor), Anarchy and the Law, Bruce Benson, The Enterprise of Law: Justice without the State.

As to why should we have a free market legal order, the foundations are the same as the argument for a laissez-faire capitalist society. The question of what kind of constitutional structure we should have goes along with the question of what our goals are. So you have articulated philosophical principles on the one hand, and the question of political structure on the other hand. We get conclusions like, we should have a society that respects the non-initiation of force principle, we should have restraints on the use of retalitatory force, so we should have objective law, etc. So then what kind of system will produce objective law and will have the best incentive structure for maintaining respect for individual rights. So what is objective law? What are its requirements? Can a state satisfy these requirements, or does objective law require a free market? I mean, you could imagine a dictator that only wanted objective law, but that kind of system would have a terrible incentive structure, so you wouldn't want it. You would want a constitutional structure incorporating checks and balances, separation of powers, etc. So where Rand stopped short and supported representative democracy, I think if we analyze her arguments, you will find defficiencies, and I think that the incentive structure of the free market provides the best constitution for a free society.

So the question boils down to what kind of constitution should a free nation have? In trying to answer that question we immediately think in terms of a Bill of Rights, restrictions on governmental power, and so forth. And any constitution worth having would certainly include those things. Usually Objectivists answer "well we should have a written constitution," and that would solve a lot of the structural problems. But mere paper constitutions are neither necessary (look at Britain) nor sufficient (look at Soviet Russia) for actually operative restraints. What matters is a nation's constitution in the original sense of the actual institutions, practices, and incentive structures that are in place.

So a constitution has no existence independent of the actual behaviour and interactions of actual human beings.Things like "separations and divisions of powers, and checks and balances," are not structures that exist as external limitations on society, as if they are being imposed from without. But in fact those structures exist only insofar as they are continually maintained in existence by human agents acting in certain systematic ways. A constitution is not some impersonal, miraculously self-enforcing robot. It's an ongoing pattern of behaviour, and it persists only so long as human agents continue to conform to that pattern in their actions.

So if a constitution is to be more than a wish list, it must also specify the political structure necessary to ensure that people have an incentive to keep acting in a manner consistent with the articulated philosophical principles that you're attempted to put in place. And so the incentive structure you put in place must encourage people to act in a manner consistent with individual rights, to produce objective law, to encouraging social cooperation, persuasion instead of force, and peace. So in discussing whether a government or the market is the best for this, you have to look at the incentives of each strucutres, and I think there are problems with coerced monopoly, and I think the opponent of competition has some considerations to surmount before they can prove their case.

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I still do not understand how in the abscence of unilateral(?) rule of law there could exist conditions for a market.

I don't understand that either. Good thing that's not what we're arguing here, as I have explained to you at least 5 times now. At some point you have to stop ignoring responses and make an argument instead of asserting things.
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That may well be because you are unwilling to evade the fundamental difference between the free exchange of goods and services and the exchange of gunfire.

What would that even mean? Obviously we are not for "free exchange of gunfire" so this meaningless sloganizing is argument by assertion.
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I don't understand that either. Good thing that's not what we're arguing here, as I have explained to you at least 5 times now. At some point you have to stop ignoring responses and make an argument instead of asserting things.

Actually I think the situation is just that your assertions are more verbose, you have not shown, at least 5 times, that markets can operate without the rule of law.

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Actually I think the situation is just that your assertions are more verbose, you have not shown, at least 5 times, that markets can operate without the rule of law.

I know I have not shown that. That's probably because I've never attempted to show that. And I think you know that.
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I don't understand that either. Good thing that's not what we're arguing here, as I have explained to you at least 5 times now. At some point you have to stop ignoring responses and make an argument instead of asserting things.

Whether markets can operate without the precondition of the rule of objective law is precisely what we are arguing here. You argue that there can be a "market" (i.e., competition) in the control of "gunfire" (i.e., force).

That's the consequence of rationalist thinking: ultimately you have no grasp of what your ideas mean in reality. The more levels of abstraction you put between your floating concepts ('police agencies,' courts, laws, et. al.) and their referents in reality (men with guns pointed at each other), the easier it is for you to go on entertaining the foolish fantasy of "anarcho-capitalism."

Edited by Dennis Hardin
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Whether markets can operate without the precondition of the rule of objective law is precisely what we are arguing here. You argue that there can be a "market" (i.e., competition) in the control of "gunfire" (i.e., force).

That doesn't make any more sense than saying than asking if the Internet can operate without objective rules to its operation. The Internet has protocols and all that without a central, monopolized agency. In some sense there is a market, but little deviation exists precisely because no one would get along. That would especially be applicable to violence - people don't *want* to be killed, unless we want to presume a Hobbesian world. Rules can and do exist without a central agency, so certainly police agencies/courts/laws are reasonable. If anything, this is how the world works right now. Multiple governments means multiple standards of law and of course a variety of people wielding force, and some governments wielding force wrongly. I see no difference from just saying "anarcho capitalist private agency" and "government". At least today, in 2013.

My point is not that I think anarcho-capitalism is right, but that your arguments are bad.

If you want to really demonstrate how government should be distinguished from private agencies, go through an example of it in practice. An thought experiment I like is consider how a "slave contract" would be dealt with. Suppose I decided to sell myself to you for you to control my life, doing this with a contract. People may think I'm crazy to do that, but hey, it's my choice I'll claim. Would this contract by respected in any sense, and if not, what would be done about it?

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That doesn't make any more sense than saying than asking if the Internet can operate without objective rules to its operation. The Internet has protocols and all that without a central, monopolized agency. In some sense there is a market, but little deviation exists precisely because no one would get along.

Yeah Google does what they do(and Ebay) regardless of knowing they have a civil court system to protect their "internet" property, hey they must be anarcho-capitalists.

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Whether markets can operate without the precondition of the rule of objective law is precisely what we are arguing here. You argue that there can be a "market" (i.e., competition) in the control of "gunfire" (i.e., force).

Right but arguing the second sentence doesn't commit you to the first sentence. You can say that my position might be that rule of objective law is possible (or even necessary) on the free market, but that that position is wrong and would lead to there being no stable rule of law. But then we are owed an argument for that, not self-evident assertions.
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Right but arguing the second sentence doesn't commit you to the first sentence. You can say that my position might be that rule of objective law is possible (or even necessary) on the free market, but that that position is wrong and would lead to there being no stable rule of law. But then we are owed an argument for that, not self-evident assertions.

One can only argue from the stand point of the conditions necessary for a market, you can not start with a market system. On the premise that traders must know in advance that their rights would be recognized and protected, by some entity or agency, prior to trading. If trading value for vlaue were contingent on nothing other than force, who but those that can wield the most force would even think of entering any type of 'market' activity. It seems to go against human nature to purposely put oneself in that position, the position of being at somones mercy that a trade will in fact occur.

Edited by tadmjones
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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.

To consider the question of "monopoly," I don't think we are best served by a hypothetical of a poorly administered "private trial." But imagine a private trial that does *everything* that government normally does in terms of due process, incorporating the same rules of evidence and jury selection and so on that you mention, and the same level of sensitivity to "any hint of impartiality." A private trial that provides as much "assurance" that justice will be served as any trial run by the state (unless you believe that no such private entity could ever "assure" justice in the same way... but then I would have to ask why not).

Would the state -- in the name of preserving its monopoly of the administration of justice alone -- be justified in shutting down a trial that in all other respects was perfectly consonant with objective justice?

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.

When you say that "[t]he 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 must observe that this may be begging the question. For after all, I'm not talking about an agency initiating the use of force, but responding to force with force, as is just, in the same manner that a government might do. Justice in this case remains an aspect of self-defense.

If, however, you're saying that the government is justified in acting on principle to prevent the use of force in response to force -- acting against those who have not initiated it (i.e. the agencies under discussion) -- then aren't we ultimately advocating the initiation of force on the part of the government?

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Yeah Google does what they do(and Ebay) regardless of knowing they have a civil court system to protect their "internet" property, hey they must be anarcho-capitalists.

One can only argue from the standpoint of the conditions necessary for a market, you can not start with a market system. On the premise that traders must know in advance that their rights would be recognized and protected, by some entity or agency, prior to trading. If trading value for value were contingent on nothing other than force, who but those that can wield the most force would even think of entering any type of 'market' activity?

Exactly.

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When you say that "[t]he 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 must observe that this may be begging the question. For after all, I'm not talking about an agency initiating the use of force, but responding to force with force, as is just, in the same manner that a government might do. Justice in this case remains an aspect of self-defense.

If, however, you're saying that the government is justified in acting on principle to prevent the use of force in response to force -- acting against those who have not initiated it (i.e. the agencies under discussion) -- then aren't we ultimately advocating the initiation of force on the part of the government?

Exactly, what’s supposed to justify a monopoly agency is that it is necessary to impose a single code of objective procedures (forget the implications of one-world government for the moment), but suppose a competing agency is using the exact same procedures, then these grounds are no longer sufficient. Either the activity is permissible, or the activity isn't permissible, in which case the government shouldn't be engaging in it either.
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One can only argue from the stand point of the conditions necessary for a market, you can not start with a market system. On the premise that traders must know in advance that their rights would be recognized and protected, by some entity or agency, prior to trading. If trading value for vlaue were contingent on nothing other than force, who but those that can wield the most force would even think of entering any type of 'market' activity. It seems to go against human nature to purposely put oneself in that position, the position of being at somones mercy that a trade will in fact occur.

This doesn't seem to be coherent. Your second sentence is a sentence fragment, and if I can best interperet it, I am sure that you cannot mean by "traders must know in advance that their rights would be recognized and protected, by some entity or agency, prior to trading" that "traders must know in advance that their rights would be recognized and protected, by some entity or agency, [temporally] prior to trading" because if no trading could ever occur temporally prior to "some agency or entity" protecting their rights, then no agency or entity could exist. After all, agencies and entities require resources, and thus if no trading can temporally occur, then where are their resources coming from that they are using to become law-producing agencies to begin with? This, I submit, is the "rationalist nonsense" Hardin refers to, an attempt to prove polycentric legal systems a priori impossible, all the while refusing to look at the actual historical record (I even provided an abundance of papers one can research in this very thread.) Reminds one of Galileo's inquisitors refusing to look through his telescope because, after all, they just know a priori that the Ptolemaic theory is deductively true.

But let me, once again, extend courtesy I have not received, and try to be as even-handed as I can with this type of objection. Again, it's like talking to a wall because the argument seems to want to say, in summary, "Okay, look, functioning market requires a functioning legal order and stable rule of law, and can't really exist otherwise." Yes, certainly this is true. But as I have stated again and again, we are not saying "we are against stable rule of law," we are saying that polycentric legal orders can produce stable rule of law. Critics say that it can't, but if they are making that claim then they need to produce an argument for it, instead of simply re-asserting prior convictions as if they should be self-evident. Argument is not making ex cathedra pronouncements over and over while ignoring everything, or reciting passages from the Ayn Rand Lexicon as if that were sufficient refutation to just cite the appropriate cannon.

So, in the foregoing, my most charitable interpretation, if we make some minor changes, is this: "traders must know in advance that their rights would be generally recognized and protected, by some entity or agency, in order to have a stable, functioning market." Certainly, once again, we have no issue with this, but it is unclear how this tells against market anarchism, except insofar as to infer the necessity of a coercive monopoly from this is a non sequitur, as to have rights recognized and protected by some entity or agency does not logically necessitate that be one monopolistic agency or entity. It is erroneous to reason from "there must be some agency or entity that recognizes and protects traders' rights" to "there must be one single agency or entity that recognizes and protects traders' rights." That would be an example of the fallacy of composition, wherein one infers from, e.g., "Everyone likes at least one TV show" to "There's at least one TV show that everyone likes."

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Would the state -- in the name of preserving its monopoly of the administration of justice alone -- be justified in shutting down a trial that in all other respects was perfectly consonant with objective justice?

Thanks again for your comments, Don.

My question to you would be: How is the government supposed to protect individual rights if it does not have oversight over the use of force? I don’t know about you, but I seriously doubt if the honor system is going to work.

If, however, you're saying that the government is justified in acting on principle to prevent the use of force in response to force -- acting against those who have not initiated it (i.e. the agencies under discussion) -- then aren't we ultimately advocating the initiation of force on the part of the government?

This brings us back to the moral issue—i.e., the moral legitimacy of the government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force. It is the government’s responsibility to protect the rights of the citizens within its jurisdiction—i.e., to prevent the initiation of force. It cannot do so unless it has control over the use of force. That’s simple causality. If the government does not control the use of force, it cannot protect individual rights.

Any agency that tried to usurp the government’s authority by using force on its own, independently of the government or governmental oversight, would be acting to prevent the government from doing its job. Such action by an independent agency would constitute a de facto threat to the rights of all the citizens within the government’s jurisdiction. So I argue that, in such cases, the government's action is retaliatory and not an initiation of force.

In reality, the government has to be able to do its job of protecting rights. To say that it cannot, in a technical sense, “initiate force” against those who obstruct its proper function of protecting individual rights is sheer rationalism—i.e., focusing on concepts severed from reality.

And further, the government’s action against private parties who use force is exactly equivalent to what any private agency would have to do when confronted with another agency with a conflicting interpretation of the law. So to say that it’s okay for private agencies to do it but not a government “monopoly” is to endorse a contradiction. That’s the inherent nature of force—one party prevails. And to say that there would not necessarily be any such conflicting interpretations is to live in a dream world.

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And further, the government’s action against private parties who use force is exactly equivalent to what any private agency would have to do when confronted with another agency with a conflicting interpretation of the law. So to say that it’s okay for private agencies to do it but not a government “monopoly” is to endorse a contradiction. That’s the inherent nature of force—one party prevails. And to say that there would not necessarily be any such conflicting interpretations is to live in a dream world.

Well let's pass over the fact that you totally didn't answer Don Athos' question again, for the second time (hope you have more patience than me, Don), and passing over again that you have misrepresented our position (we have not said there wouldn't be conflicting interpretations of justice, we have said the exact opposite, and you even acknowledged it earlier! Anyone reading this can see that), but let us question why would any private agency have to use force against another agency with a conflicting interpretation of the law? Really? They have to? Say's who/what? Again, I already argued why since conflicting interpretations of justice is an all-pervasive fact of human nature, what happens when members of the government have conflicting interpretations of justice? They have to use force? I'm just gonna start copying and pasting until someone actually responds to my arguments: here from #18.

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.

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This brings us back to the moral issue—i.e., the moral legitimacy of the government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force. It is the government’s responsibility to protect the rights of the citizens within its jurisdiction—i.e., to prevent the initiation of force. It cannot do so unless it has control over the use of force. That’s simple causality. If the government does not control the use of force, it cannot protect individual rights.

But I don't believe that anyone (yourself included) argues that government ought to control the use of force entirely -- imagine the application of such an argument to gun control, for instance. If a government's goal is to prevent the initiation of force -- this and nothing more -- then we can agree that such a government is just. But to argue that such a government must be the only agency that may respond to force, or act to protect individual rights, or enact justice, is something else altogether. More to the point, that's precisely the question under examination.

In positing a private trial/court, we are examining an entity that does not initiate force, but responds to it in the same manner that we ordinarily ascribe to the government. If this private court observes justice in the same manner as a just government would, then our private court would not harm individual rights anymore than the just government -- would it? If you believe that this private court would damage individual rights (by, say, convicting a murderer in the same fashion that a government court would), then I'll ask you, again, to please demonstrate how. Would the private court be initiating the use of force against the murderer in proclaiming him a murderer or punishing him for it, in as objective a fashion as we may ask of any government?

I do not believe that punishing a murderer for his crimes is an initiation of force. It seems to me that justice is a question of making sure that the murderer pays for his crimes -- and proper procedure is required to do this correctly. But apart from that, I don't see how it matters who dispenses the justice in question, so long as it is done correctly.

Any agency that tried to usurp the government’s authority by using force on its own, independently of the government or governmental oversight, would be acting to prevent the government from doing its job.

If the government's "job" is to prevent the initiation of the use of force within its jurisdiction, then I do not believe it follows that the example of the private court is acting to prevent the government from doing its job; I do not prevent the street sweeper from cleaning the streets by finding a candy bar wrapper on the ground and throwing it in the trash.

Such action by an independent agency would constitute a de facto threat to the rights of all the citizens within the government’s jurisdiction.

In what way? How would an independent agency that metes justice -- and does so according to whatever procedures you would demand of a just government -- act as a threat to the rights of any man?

So I argue that, in such cases, the government's action is retaliatory and not an initiation of force.

And thus far I believe I must disagree with this. The government (as with any group) does not have any additional or special rights; it only has the rights of the individuals which defer to that government. If government does not harm individual rights, as such, in administering justice -- if that is not an initiation of force -- then I would think that individuals could administer justice outside of a particular government (i.e in what we're calling a "private court") in the same fashion: with the character of retaliatory/just force and not as an initiation of force.

In reality, the government has to be able to do its job of protecting rights. To say that it cannot, in a technical sense, “initiate force” against those who obstruct its proper function of protecting individual rights is sheer rationalism—i.e., focusing on concepts severed from reality.

What we haven't yet shown is that the government's "job of protecting rights" is necessarily frustrated or hampered or otherwise "obstructed" by another institution that also protects rights.

But besides this, I'm afraid that I do believe that government must be restricted from initiating force (in even a "technical sense") for me to consider it just. Some may argue (as I've seen before elsewhere) that government must be able to tax people against their will, because such taxation is necessary for government to survive and do its good work of protecting rights, and so on. That the ends justify the means. And yet I do not believe in compulsory taxation either, because that is an initiation of force, both technically and truly.

If we propose a government that survives on voluntary contribution, and never initiates force (even in a "technical sense") but only responds to the initiation of force, and only acts with justice, then I'm all for it. But I'm not willing to accept compromises in that regard.

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I appreciate it of course, but I don't want to run afoul of the forum rules, so I don't open a new thread. However, I trust responding to or analyzing various arguments presented falls under the category of "honest questions about such subjects." I think the links in #18 are definitely worth reading in regards how a free market legal order could work, and historical examples are discussed. A good starting point for understanding how law without a state is possible is books like Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law, Edward P. Stringham (Editor), Anarchy and the Law, Bruce Benson, The Enterprise of Law: Justice without the State.

I didn't read, nor do I think I shall ,any of the source material you posted. The reason I won't is contained in your statement "..a good starting point for understanding how law without a state is possible.." , if the materail suggested are sources to find justifications for this and like assertions are ridiculous on face.

As to why should we have a free market legal order, the foundations are the same as the argument for a laissez-faire capitalist society. The question of what kind of constitutional structure we should have goes along with the question of what our goals are. So you have articulated philosophical principles on the one hand, and the question of political structure on the other hand. We get conclusions like, we should have a society that respects the non-initiation of force principle, we should have restraints on the use of retalitatory force, so we should have objective law, etc. So then what kind of system will produce objective law and will have the best incentive structure for maintaining respect for individual rights. So what is objective law? What are its requirements? Can a state satisfy these requirements, or does objective law require a free market? I mean, you could imagine a dictator that only wanted objective law, but that kind of system would have a terrible incentive structure, so you wouldn't want it. You would want a constitutional structure incorporating checks and balances, separation of powers, etc. So where Rand stopped short and supported representative democracy, I think if we analyze her arguments, you will find defficiencies, and I think that the incentive structure of the free market provides the best constitution for a free society.

If the foundations of a free market legal are the same as a LFC society, how do they not incorporate a monolopy of the use of just force vested in the state?(ignoring any grammatical errors they may lead to differing interpretations of meaning)

So the question boils down to what kind of constitution should a free nation have? In trying to answer that question we immediately think in terms of a Bill of Rights, restrictions on governmental power, and so forth. And any constitution worth having would certainly include those things. Usually Objectivists answer "well we should have a written constitution," and that would solve a lot of the structural problems. But mere paper constitutions are neither necessary (look at Britain) nor sufficient (look at Soviet Russia) for actually operative restraints. What matters is a nation's constitution in the original sense of the actual institutions, practices, and incentive structures that are in place.

In the context of a discussion on politics from a philosophic perspective, who believes a constitution is but the mere words(text) printed on paper? What do you mean here?

So a constitution has no existence independent of the actual behaviour and interactions of actual human beings.Things like "separations and divisions of powers, and checks and balances," are not structures that exist as external limitations on society, as if they are being imposed from without. But in fact those structures exist only insofar as they are continually maintained in existence by human agents acting in certain systematic ways. A constitution is not some impersonal, miraculously self-enforcing robot. It's an ongoing pattern of behaviour, and it persists only so long as human agents continue to conform to that pattern in their actions.

What? Are you saying that concepts like legality, rights , justice and capitalism only exist in the actions of concrete indiviual humans and that unless they act in manners consistent with those concepts , the very idea of such things would be impossible?

So if a constitution is to be more than a wish list, it must also specify the political structure necessary to ensure that people have an incentive to keep acting in a manner consistent with the articulated philosophical principles that you're attempted to put in place. And so the incentive structure you put in place must encourage people to act in a manner consistent with individual rights, to produce objective law, to encouraging social cooperation, persuasion instead of force, and peace. So in discussing whether a government or the market is the best for this, you have to look at the incentives of each strucutres, and I think there are problems with coerced monopoly, and I think the opponent of competition has some considerations to surmount before they can prove their case.

Perhaps just a semantic difference(though I doubt it), but in organizing the proper structure for a civilized society incorporating rational principles into the idea of a state and its mechanics is not the same as trying to put in place philosophic principles. Rational principles are what they are , there is no choice or competition between principles as to their respective rationality.

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In positing a private trial/court, we are examining an entity that does not initiate force, but responds to it in the same manner that we ordinarily ascribe to the government. If this private court observes justice in the same manner as a just government would, then our private court would not harm individual rights anymore than the just government -- would it? If you believe that this private court would damage individual rights (by, say, convicting a murderer in the same fashion that a government court would), then I'll ask you, again, to please demonstrate how. Would the private court be initiating the use of force against the murderer in proclaiming him a murderer or punishing him for it, in as objective a fashion as we may ask of any government?

I do not believe that punishing a murderer for his crimes is an initiation of force. It seems to me that justice is a question of making sure that the murderer pays for his crimes -- and proper procedure is required to do this correctly. But apart from that, I don't see how it matters who dispenses the justice in question, so long as it is done correctly.

How would an independent agency that metes justice -- and does so according to whatever procedures you would demand of a just government -- act as a threat to the rights of any man?

Again, we are back to looking at the real world as opposed to a fantasy world.

As long as the private court did everything the government court would do, everything would be lovely. The problem, of course, is that it is very likely that the private court might not follow all of the procedural safeguards that a government court is required to follow. And in that event, someone’s rights have been violated. If the private court is operating separately from the government’s oversight, the government cannot do its job of protecting individual rights.

If the government's "job" is to prevent the initiation of the use of force within its jurisdiction, then I do not believe it follows that the example of the private court is acting to prevent the government from doing its job; I do not prevent the street sweeper from cleaning the streets by finding a candy bar wrapper on the ground and throwing it in the trash.

The difference between a private company performing a specific service and the government is that the government's responsibility is to make sure that something does not happen--that force is not used improperly. That's why it requires jurisdiction over any agencies that may use force in any way.

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Again, we are back to looking at the real world as opposed to a fantasy world.

Are you quite certain this distinguishes our viewpoints? I'll come back to this in a moment, but for now let me observe that this is something I've often heard in opposition to any number of Objectivist principles, arguments or conclusions. That it's all too "fantastical" or "idealistic." That, after all, in the "real world," men make compromises to their principles in order to "get things done."

As long as the private court did everything the government court would do, everything would be lovely.

And in such a case, it would not be just for the government to initiate force against that private court. Both because of how lovely it would be, and also because it is wrong to initiate the use of force -- it is a violation of rights -- even when the government does it.

The problem, of course, is that it is very likely that the private court might not follow all of the procedural safeguards that a government court is required to follow. And in that event, someone’s rights have been violated.

And so long as gun owners use their guns with justice (i.e. in self-defense, or for other things that do not violate others' rights), everything is lovely. The problem, of course, is that it is very likely that some gun owners will not use their guns justly. And in that event, someone's rights have been violated.

Violations of rights are intolerable, of course. But as with gun owners, I think it's necessary to distinguish between those that actually do violate other peoples' rights, and those who do not. I think that such a distinction is, itself, an application of "justice."

Those courts which pursue objective justice, which here means all of the procedural safeguards you mention along with whatever you think a government should properly do, do not violate rights, and thus a just government would not take action against them -- would not initiate force. But those courts which do not pursue objective justice, and violate rights, should have action taken against them, just as anyone who violates rights should.

Before leaving off, I want to return to your observation that "it is very likely that the private court might [violate rights.]" I wonder how you come to this conclusion? Do you think that the government, generally, performs tasks more efficiently and with less corruption and immorality than similar tasks undertaken by the "private sector"?

Since you've mentioned my "dream worlds" and "fantasy worlds," against which you're offering the sober perspective of "the real world," perhaps it is worth reintroducing the context of the actual world in which you and I currently live, in which there is not a single government which has ever, ever existed, except through a mass and continual violation of human rights.

If your argument is that we must not have private courts, but only government courts, because -- heaven forfend -- a private entity could never be relied upon to act justly, as opposed to that stalwart bulwark of human rights known as the government, then I must say that you are very far from "the real world" yourself, in which perhaps the best government on record in the history of the planet, the United States, has laws which stand in perpetual violation against every conceivable human right, survives through a system of continual compulsory taxation, nationalizes the property of its citizenry, drafts its men to war, and so on.

Given a private court today comprised of men of justice who subscribe to an objective code of justice, as against the government court of the United States, I should certainly prefer that private court as being the better protector of my actual rights.

However we regard the idea of a private court -- hopelessly idealistic, a "dream world," or whatever other way you might think to slight it -- I think it stands at least as far from the reality of our situation as the remaking of the United States or any other actual government into a paragon of morality and protector of man's rights. If I am correct in my arguments that private courts would be allowed in a just government, then I'm no closer or further away from "reality" than you, but I would have the advantage of advocating a more consistent system of justice.

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