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The frustration that is the U.S. Foreign Policy

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You misunderstand what Hobbes was getting he.  He said we need a Commenwealth (a State) precisely so humans can live more than a hard scrabble life consisting of wars for survival. 

 

ruveyn1

Couple of points:

 

1. I don't agree that's what Hobbes is saying.

2. I don't agree the above inference is valid.

3. I don't think that has anything to do with the point in contention.

 

The claim is that there are no ethics in war, and that this is justified by survival. Hobbes argues that there is only one natural law and that is that anyone can do whatever he wants so long as it is necessary to survive (with various caveats.) As an Aristotelian and Randian, this survivalist ethic is found to be rather lacking. What that has to do about scrapping and a Commonwealth, is beyond me. But so is a neo-Aristotelian-Randian eudaimonist ethic, or a Hobbesian survivalist ethic more reasonable? Which one can be justified, and what are the arguments for each?

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 If you defend your life, you defend the entirety of it and help preserve "The Good Life" as well as the survival. 

 

  A total destruction of an enemy populace is painful, but it in no way interferes with my ability to live a good life. 

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 If you defend your life, you defend the entirety of it and help preserve "The Good Life" as well as the survival. 

 

  A total destruction of an enemy populace is painful, but it in no way interferes with my ability to live a good life. 

Only if the requirements of justice are not, to you, constitutive of "the good life." But again, as an Aristotelian/Randian, since it is, I beg to differ.

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Couple of points:

 

1. I don't agree that's what Hobbes is saying.

2. I don't agree the above inference is valid.

3. I don't think that has anything to do with the point in contention.

 

The claim is that there are no ethics in war, and that this is justified by survival. Hobbes argues that there is only one natural law and that is that anyone can do whatever he wants so long as it is necessary to survive (with various caveats.) As an Aristotelian and Randian, this survivalist ethic is found to be rather lacking. What that has to do about scrapping and a Commonwealth, is beyond me. But so is a neo-Aristotelian-Randian eudaimonist ethic, or a Hobbesian survivalist ethic more reasonable? Which one can be justified, and what are the arguments for each?

Hobbes argues that living in a state of nature is a state of no-law.  Which is why he advocates having a State or Commonwealth so that property is possible.

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Only if the requirements of justice are not, to you, constitutive of "the good life." But again, as an Aristotelian/Randian, since it is, I beg to differ.

 

 

When was it established that this was an unjust action? In what context are you speaking? 

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Hobbes argues that living in a state of nature is a state of no-law.  Which is why he advocates having a State or Commonwealth so that property is possible.

Sure, Hobbes held that in a state of nature there would be no organized body of law. But that's not in and of itself why he advocates having a state, what he calls a commonwealth, which is an absolute monarchy, and only then, by grant of the absolute sovereign, we get property rights of a sort (not at all of the Randian sort.) Indeed, property rights are identical with the sovereign's will, for property rights of the libertarian kind would exclude the sovereign, and thus cause war of all against all again.

 

So Hobbes thinks that interpersonal cooperation requires a structure of law. Second, he thinks you can't have any law unless it's enforced by a monopoly state in the form of an absolute monarch. I don't agree with that.

 

For the first assumption, it is certainly amenable to social cooperation to have a structure of law, but that doesn't altogether make any cooperation impossible. Cooperation can emerge, certainly not as efficiently, but nonetheless can emerge without law. There's Robert Ellickson's book Order Without Law where he talks about how neighbors manage to resolve disputes. He offers all these examples about what happens if one farmer's cow wanders onto another farmer's territory and they solve it through some mutual customary agreements and so forth, and there's no legal framework for resolving it. Maybe that's not enough for a complex economy, but it certainly shows that you can have some kind of cooperation without an actual legal framework.

 

For the second assumption you can have formal legal systems that are not monopolistic. To reason from "there should be a structure of law that allows interpersonal cooperation" to "therefore we must have a monopoly" is a non sequitur. Since Hobbes doesn't even consider that possibility, he doesn't really give any argument against it. But you can certainly see examples in history, and there is a large amount of libertarian scholarship on systems of polycentric law. The history of medieval Iceland, for example, where there was no one center of enforcement. Although there was something that you might perhaps call a government, it had no executive arm at all. It had no police, no soldiers, no nothing. It had a sort of a competitive court system, and systems evolved for enforcement of the law wiithout monopoly.

Edited by 2046
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