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The Childs-Peikoff Hypothesis

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Dennis Hardin
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I think that's right DA, and of course, even if someone did secede and try to establish their own "country" so to speak, I would even assert that that doesn't make them exempt from the law of the surrounding area anyway. If we take a normative conception of the law, which is what I presume objective law to be, then the same law would apply to everyone everywhere, and being in one's own independent country (or property) doesn't really exempt them from obeying the law. All it might do is leave open who is to provide protection services to him, since he apparently doesn't want the surrounding area service.

 

But this mentions a vital point, that opponents often see an anarchy as anyone can just sort of say "well I hereby declare your laws no longer apply to me" and, for some undefined reason, everyone would just throw their hands up in the air and say, oh crap, what now? This is definitely the feeling one gets when reading Binswanger, or some of the other commenters in other threads. What happens if A suddenly decides he doesn't care about B's laws and declares all B's property to belong to him??? What then??? ...we are often presented with such scenarios.

 

And in line with Don Athos' last pargraph, indeed there is a distinction between two different sorts of "monopoly," often times objectivists will conflate together. Earlier in the thread, Hardin tried to claim that since all instances of coercion imply forcing a monopoly view onto someone, so to speak, therefore all force must be utilized by a single monopoly agency. But this is a glaring non sequitur. A market anarchist can certainly think that some rights claims are correct and others are mistaken, and that agencies acting on correct views have the moral right to defend their clients, by force if necessary, against agencies acting on mistaken views. In that sense, market anarchists have no objection to the idea that actions based on correct views of justice have a right to a monopoly against actions based on a mistaken view of justice. What market anarchists deny is the further inference that this “monopoly” is best achieved through one monopoly agency or institution.

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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

the question in my post was meant to be sarcastic

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The relationship between force and rights is a very important one. At the beginning of his thread, I suggested that defenders of anarcho-capitalism read Understanding Objectivism. One of the key points covered in that book is the connection between the evil of force and individual rights.

The following is a brief summary of my own notes on this topic as taken from the book.

From the perspective of the hierarchy of Objectivism, the principle of the evil of the initiation of force is more fundamental than individual rights. However, this does not mean that you can move from the evil of force directly to politics and government (as anarchists typically do). Another step is necessary, and that step is the clarification of the nature of rights.

The nature of individual rights is the base of politics. When discussing rights—or any other issue related to politics—we must hold the context of everything that precedes politics, including all of ethics. The evil of the initiation of force is part of ethics. But one cannot proceed from “force is evil” to “government should ban it.” Government does not exist for the purpose of upholding morality. It cannot outlaw dishonesty or sexual promiscuity or pornography.

The principle relating ethics to politics is: What is moral in ethics must be possible in politics. Society must institutionalize the conditions which enable man to live morally. That’s why Rand defines rights as “conditions of existence required by man’s nature for his proper survival.”

“If a man has a right to his own life, then he has the right to take all those actions that are necessary, by his nature as a rational being, to sustain and protect it. In order to prove that a certain action is in fact a right, you have to prove that it is required by man’s nature.”

Ayn Rand, Objectively Speaking (p. 47)

Consider the implications of this for another ‘hot button’ issue with anarchists: copyright laws and patents. Objectivism says that, in accordance with the requirements of human life, a man should be able to profit from the efforts of his own mind. Therefore, he has the right to control who profits from his artistic creations and inventions. But the anarchist says that, because this will require “initiating” force to stop others from duplicating his work without permission, the artist and inventor has no such right.

The reason such anarchists cannot find any such “right” is that they have never grasped that the issue of the evil of the initiation of force is not a primary. Just that principle alone is not sufficient to build a political theory. It is necessary to understand why it is evil. It is not an axiom.

Paraphrasing Peikoff: If you start with the non-initiation of force as your axiom, there is no way to know how to interpret or apply that principle. That error alone--an error which reflects the epistemology of rationalism--underlies most of the massive folly called anarcho-capitalism.

I have no illusions that anarcho-capitalists will grasp this and suddenly “see the light.” The implications of this are obvious, but I am not about to waste my breath repeating myself while certain posters keep telling me that I have not ‘addressed’ this or that issue when I have addressed it over and over and over again. I have better things to do than to try convince anarchist “true believers.” My primary purpose in posting this is for the education of other readers on this thread.

For more clarification on this, please read Peikoff’s Understanding Objectivism.

I have that series on cassette tape, anyone else remember walkmans?

Edited by tadmjones
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In a polycentric legal system, are there any principles that work to compel the enforcement of objective law?

 

From the arguments presented, it seems there could exist some population( a frontier type city or some such) that would not be protected in their rights, if there existed no monopoly agency for law enforcement. What if justice dispensing agencies did not come about, what if no indvidual or group of individuals decidied it was not worth their while provide those 'services'?

Edited by tadmjones
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In a polycentric legal system, are there any principles that work to compel the enforcement of objective law?

 

From the arguments presented, it seems there could exist some population( a frontier type city or some such) that would not be protected in their rights, if there existed no monopoly agency for law enforcement. What if justice dispensing agencies did not come about, what if no indvidual or group of individuals decidied it was not worth their while provide those 'services'?

 

To begin with, I think it's worth asking whether there are any principles that work to compel the enforcement of objective law in a monopolist legal system.  I'm reminded of the (possibly apocryphal) story of, I believe Andrew Jackson, who disregarded a Supreme Court verdict saying "they have made their decision; now let us see them enforce it."

 

So perhaps we could critique a "polycentric legal system" by asking what would happen if "justice dispensing agencies decided it was not worth their while" to dispense justice... but I think that's potentially an equal critique of any other legal system.  I mean, when you ask about a "frontier type city," my first point of reference (and perhaps yours as well) is to picture the "Wild West," which existed under the monopoly government of the United States.  Whether I can provide satisfactory answers to these kinds of questions, I guess my first answer is that these are problems with "governance" generally, and not unique to the kinds of systems under discussion.

 

With respect to Objectivism, however, this is perhaps a more severe question... because we do not support even coercive taxation.  And so one may well wonder what should happen to the administration of justice if people decided not to contribute to those local agencies that provide this sort of service.  The United States government doesn't have such an issue.  Should you refuse to pay your taxes, they'll simply cast you into prison and seize your assets.  So yes -- if we take seriously the idea that people should work together through means of reason and not physical compulsion, it's worth asking: what if people simply opt not to work together at all?

 

But this seems to me to be equivalent to the sorts of questions one gets asked when advocating the termination of any coercively provided good.  What happens when you eliminate public schooling?  Will people simply stop getting educated?  How can we be confident that children will continue to receive education if we're not forcing them to do it?

 

To me, it ignores the reason as to why we're concerned about education in the first place -- it is a dear good.  So dear, that people are and will be willing to work to provide it for themselves.  In fact, it is that deep desire for education which provides the will to arrange for a public school system in the first place, and the funds, and the persistence to keep it running, even in the face of failure after failure.  "The people" want education.  But the means that they've chosen to acquire this education are coercive, immoral, and inefficient.

 

Obviously, the kinds of justice (and, generally speaking, self-defense) we're discussing are indescribably dear, moreso than even education, and people flock to those who they believe will keep them safe (often in disastrous fashion).  I do not fear that the provision of justice will disappear from lack of interest, once people are no longer compelled to pay for it (or when there are multiple agencies providing it), anymore than education would disappear with public schooling.  Rather, I would expect a greater provision of justice -- shorter waiting times on trials; fewer criminals released for want of prison space; and etc.

 

To look at one example, take the issue you've raised of the frontier town that is not being adequately served by existing institutions (and let us note that this is a problem, not alone in the "Wild West" days of the old U.S., but in current-day America, where poorer or harder-to-reach communities are sometimes poorly served).  Such a community would no longer have to write letters to their Congressmen, cross their fingers and hope that some bureaucrat decided to fund a little money in their direction, but they could take action themselves -- in the name of their own lives, and for their own self-defense -- and legally administer the justice that their community requires.

 

So ultimately what this boils down to, is that individuals and groups of individuals would have to decide that justice is worth their while.  I'm not concerned for it, but there is no way around that.  And all such government is like this.  What preserves our rights in the United States?  The Constitution?  That document requires the Congress to respect it in their laws, and the courts, and furthermore... it is amendable.  The US system works -- insofar as it does -- because individuals believe in it, and work to uphold it.  Government only works because people make government work.

 

If that's not a comforting thought, perhaps this is another way to look at it...

 

Objectivists in my experience are sometimes a bit skeptical about political activism.  Rather, it is felt that the current culture could not support an Objectivist-friendly government.  And indeed, if it were to fall out of the sky, the people would immediately set about tearing it down and putting up something close to what we currently have.  We have a statist system, because most people are statists.  And so, we work on changing the culture, and improving the quality of educational materials (through things such as essay contests, inspiring students to read Rand's novels; and getting Objectivist professors in universities; and writing essays on hot-button political topics; and participating in debates).

 

When Rand wrote about government financing -- and the complete elimination of coercive taxation -- she said:

 

The question of how to implement the principle of voluntary government financing—how to determine the best means of applying it in practice—is a very complex one and belongs to the field of the philosophy of law. The task of political philosophy is only to establish the nature of the principle and to demonstrate that it is practicable. The choice of a specific method of implementation is more than premature today—since the principle will be practicable only in a fully free society, a society whose government has been constitutionally reduced to its proper, basic functions.

 

[...]

 

Any program of voluntary government financing has to be regarded as a goal for a distant future.

 

I believe that the issue of monopoly vs. "polycentric" is also a goal for a distant future.  It could only exist in a society that would also support what Rand here describes as a "fully free society, a society whose government has been constitutionally reduced to its proper, basic functions."  And in that sort of society, and among the men who would by necessity live in it, I do not fear that nobody would be interested in providing justice, or paying for it.

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To begin with, I think it's worth asking whether there are any principles that work to compel the enforcement of objective law in a monopolist legal system.  I'm reminded of the (possibly apocryphal) story of, I believe Andrew Jackson, who disregarded a Supreme Court verdict saying "they have made their decision; now let us see them enforce it."

 

So perhaps we could critique a "polycentric legal system" by asking what would happen if "justice dispensing agencies decided it was not worth their while" to dispense justice... but I think that's potentially an equal critique of any other legal system.  I mean, when you ask about a "frontier type city," my first point of reference (and perhaps yours as well) is to picture the "Wild West," which existed under the monopoly government of the United States.  Whether I can provide satisfactory answers to these kinds of questions, I guess my first answer is that these are problems with "governance" generally, and not unique to the kinds of systems under discussion.

 

With respect to Objectivism, however, this is perhaps a more severe question... because we do not support even coercive taxation.  And so one may well wonder what should happen to the administration of justice if people decided not to contribute to those local agencies that provide this sort of service.  The United States government doesn't have such an issue.  Should you refuse to pay your taxes, they'll simply cast you into prison and seize your assets.  So yes -- if we take seriously the idea that people should work together through means of reason and not physical compulsion, it's worth asking: what if people simply opt not to work together at all?

 

But this seems to me to be equivalent to the sorts of questions one gets asked when advocating the termination of any coercively provided good.  What happens when you eliminate public schooling?  Will people simply stop getting educated?  How can we be confident that children will continue to receive education if we're not forcing them to do it?

 

To me, it ignores the reason as to why we're concerned about education in the first place -- it is a dear good.  So dear, that people are and will be willing to work to provide it for themselves.  In fact, it is that deep desire for education which provides the will to arrange for a public school system in the first place, and the funds, and the persistence to keep it running, even in the face of failure after failure.  "The people" want education.  But the means that they've chosen to acquire this education are coercive, immoral, and inefficient.

 

Obviously, the kinds of justice (and, generally speaking, self-defense) we're discussing are indescribably dear, moreso than even education, and people flock to those who they believe will keep them safe (often in disastrous fashion).  I do not fear that the provision of justice will disappear from lack of interest, once people are no longer compelled to pay for it (or when there are multiple agencies providing it), anymore than education would disappear with public schooling.  Rather, I would expect a greater provision of justice -- shorter waiting times on trials; fewer criminals released for want of prison space; and etc.

 

To look at one example, take the issue you've raised of the frontier town that is not being adequately served by existing institutions (and let us note that this is a problem, not alone in the "Wild West" days of the old U.S., but in current-day America, where poorer or harder-to-reach communities are sometimes poorly served).  Such a community would no longer have to write letters to their Congressmen, cross their fingers and hope that some bureaucrat decided to fund a little money in their direction, but they could take action themselves -- in the name of their own lives, and for their own self-defense -- and legally administer the justice that their community requires.

 

So ultimately what this boils down to, is that individuals and groups of individuals would have to decide that justice is worth their while.  I'm not concerned for it, but there is no way around that.  And all such government is like this.  What preserves our rights in the United States?  The Constitution?  That document requires the Congress to respect it in their laws, and the courts, and furthermore... it is amendable.  The US system works -- insofar as it does -- because individuals believe in it, and work to uphold it.  Government only works because people make government work.

 

If that's not a comforting thought, perhaps this is another way to look at it...

 

Objectivists in my experience are sometimes a bit skeptical about political activism.  Rather, it is felt that the current culture could not support an Objectivist-friendly government.  And indeed, if it were to fall out of the sky, the people would immediately set about tearing it down and putting up something close to what we currently have.  We have a statist system, because most people are statists.  And so, we work on changing the culture, and improving the quality of educational materials (through things such as essay contests, inspiring students to read Rand's novels; and getting Objectivist professors in universities; and writing essays on hot-button political topics; and participating in debates).

 

When Rand wrote about government financing -- and the complete elimination of coercive taxation -- she said:

 

 

I believe that the issue of monopoly vs. "polycentric" is also a goal for a distant future.  It could only exist in a society that would also support what Rand here describes as a "fully free society, a society whose government has been constitutionally reduced to its proper, basic functions."  And in that sort of society, and among the men who would by necessity live in it, I do not fear that nobody would be interested in providing justice, or paying for it.

You didn't answer my question.

Edited by tadmjones
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Uhh... yeah, he did. The answer is nothing. There is nothing to "compel" human beings with free will to act in certain ways, outside of the institutions and structures that they arrange themselves in, according to whatever articulated philosophical principles they go by. Again, see Wittgenstein on the idea of a "self-enforcing" rule, as has been mentioneda million times in this discussion.

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I didn't ask if individuals were complelled to do anything, the idea of the institutions of government are seperate from individuals, no? If not then , I think we are back to my 'assertion' that the very idea of what constitutes a government is actually the crux of the matter ( what I presume to be our different notions of what government is in the first place) 

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I'm afraid I don't follow you. What in the world would a government, or any institution, look like apart from the individuals that comprise it? Well sure, I'm certain that our levels of abstraction are quite different from each other, so most of what you're saying is actually just throwing around floating concepts. A lot of your phrasing seems to indicate that. I think a Socratic approach would work much better at this point.

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I didn't ask if individuals were complelled to do anything, the idea of the institutions of government are seperate from individuals, no? If not then , I think we are back to my 'assertion' that the very idea of what constitutes a government is actually the crux of the matter ( what I presume to be our different notions of what government is in the first place)

 

Didn't you ask about individuals?  Here was your post:

 

In a polycentric legal system, are there any principles that work to compel the enforcement of objective law?

 

From the arguments presented, it seems there could exist some population( a frontier type city or some such) that would not be protected in their rights, if there existed no monopoly agency for law enforcement. What if justice dispensing agencies did not come about, what if no indvidual or group of individuals decidied it was not worth their while provide those 'services'?

 

When you ask whether there are any principles "that work to compel the enforcement of objective law," I presume that you mean "compel individuals"... for it is individuals alone who would (or would not) do the enforcing.

And then, when you said "what if no individual or group of individuals decided it was not worth their while to provide those 'services'?" I took that as you asking about individuals (or groups of individuals), because... well... those were the words that you, yourself, chose.

But beyond this, I'm afraid that I don't understand the nature of your current objection, nor what you mean by having "different notions of what government is." Please explain what you believe "constitutes a government," since that's where you think the crux of the matter lies. And -- if you would be so helpful -- please explain what you believe makes a government a "legitimate" one, because I think that matters hugely to this discussion.

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Since it seems I may not be up to the task of answering your tagteam questioning style, schoralistically enough, let's try it this way.

Is there a difference between the Office of the Presidency of the United States and the person who holds that office?

editting--shit-- just realized in the formulation of my question I compared an individual human... to well something other so maybe what I really should ask is what is an 'office' in the sense of objective law, it it a needful thing, is it even a legitimate term ?

Edited by tadmjones
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Since it seems I may not be up to the task of answering your tagteam questioning style, schoralistically enough, let's try it this way.

Is there a difference between the Office of the Presidency of the United States and the person who holds that office?

editting--shit-- just realized in the formulation of my question I compared an individual human... to well something other so maybe what I really should ask is what is an 'office' in the sense of objective law, it it a needful thing, is it even a legitimate term ?

 

I really and truly don't mean to be rude... but I don't know that "try[ing] it this way" -- or any other way -- is really what we need right now.

 

I don't know where you plan on going with "offices" or such, but you've made the claim -- at least a couple of times now -- that we have some sort of difference of opinion on what "government" is, and that this is an important matter to the conversation.  And so I'd like for you to go ahead and explain what you think it is, please.

 

And also, I've been trying for what seems to be a very long time now to get you to speak to the issue of "legitimacy."  If someone stands up and says "I'm the government now," does that make him the government -- the one, true, and only?  If not, then what makes some entity claiming to be the government, the government in fact?

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I thought you realized my preference for the idea of constitutional republic based on the principles of objective law . The idea of three distinct branches I think is essential to limiting the power of the institution of government. Though given today's technology I'd rather the official constitution should be archived as an audio file with the text spoken by James Earl Jones.

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  • 8 years later...

The concept of Private property disappears in an anarchy. There are only possessions, like when a dog posses a bone, until the other dog takes it. The concept of private only exist under a proper government with objective law.

It does not help when objectivists talk about "private force agencies" or "private judges", they practically are helping anarchists to succeed into stealing that concept. 

Edited by logart
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