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Anarchy Vs. Government

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nimble
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I don't like the phrase "moral obligation". However, that aside, I translate your statement as...

"The difference is that you have a moral obligation to feed yourself, you don't have a moral obligation to protect other people's rights."

However, you do have a "moral obligation" to protect your own life and property.

If nobody will trade food for your work, you have to grow your own. If nobody will trade government work for your work, you will have to defend yourself. Fortunately, there will be enough people who like detective work, policework, soldiering...

I think the phrase moral obligation works just fine. Moral is the realm of oughts, and oughts are obligations, things that should/must be done in order to be moral. I am not saying that there won't be any people who want to be in government. I am saying that an institution that must exist in order to have a moral society, should have some group of individuals that must create and maintain it, or else the moral case for it having to be in place falls short.

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...an institution that must exist in order to have a moral society, should have some group of individuals that must create and maintain it, or else the moral case for it having to be in place falls short.
I don't think I really understand what you're saying, Nimble. If people want to have a society, then they must have a government. If nobody is willing to create and maintain a government, they will not have a society. So, the "moral obligation" of participating in government is secondary to the "moral obligation" to live in a society.

If we take "moral" to mean "that which furthers mans life qua man", then society is good. However, government is required to make society work. Therefore government is good. That's how I see the "moral case" for govenment.

I suspect that when you say "moral case", you mean something different from what I do. One can make a "moral case" for rationality, for productiveness, for a certain type of society, for a certain type of government... all based on the extent to which they further man's life.

... but, I fear I'm repeating myself without properly understanding your line of thought. If you could elaborate, it would help.

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I'm not very good at seeing other people's views, and that may prevent me from seeing what you don't get. Morality is the realm of oughts. For instance, if food is a requirement of survival of man qua man, then he is morally obligated to eat, when he opts not to he is acting against his interest and is acting to literally kill himself. In that instance the moral necessity for food was backed with the claim that in order to be moral you must produce and eat food.

But in contrast to that, the claim that government is necessary in order to be moral is not backed by the claim that you (or anyone) must produce government services.

Do you see the difference? I can claim you must eat in order to be moral (or even alive), and back it up with the claim that you have a moral obligation to produce the means to feed yourself and eat in order to be moral. Where as with the government circumstance you don't follow up with the 'you must produce it in order to be moral' part.

You just claim there ought to be a government, and then go with the contradictory statement that no one individual ought to produce it.

***Ignore this last sentence if it trips you up, the bulk of my argument is above and I don't want to get tripped up in semantics, if the last part was worded poorly. But I have to go to work now!***

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You just claim there ought to be a government, and then go with the contradictory statement that no one individual ought to produce it.
Only in the sense that no one individual ought to actually directly produce food. However, if I produce food in the sense that I produce something which I trade for food, then I also produce government in the sense that I produce something that I trade for government.

If one wishes to have government, one has the moral "obligation" to produce it, even though one might not do so directly.

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Only in the sense that no one individual ought to actually directly produce food. However, if I produce food in the sense that I produce something which I trade for food, then I also produce government in the sense that I produce something that I trade for government.

If one wishes to have government, one has the moral "obligation" to produce it, even though one might not do so directly.

No, I would say that Objectivism demands that one person ought to produce food. Suppose that everyone else in the economy either wouldn't trade with you (which they would have the moral right to do), or didn't produce any food. You would have the moral obligation to quit whatever job you are in and produce food, in order to keep yourself alive, but would that same obligation apply to government? Like, if no one else would participate in government, would it be your duty to?

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"Assure" in what sense, Nimble? Are you asking what reference we should check to assure that this is the Objectivist viewpoint, or you are asking something else?

That was poorly worded, sorry. I am asking how do we get from this

Yes, if there is no police etc. to protect you, you must protect yourself.
to establishing that your moral obligation to defend your life, leads you to say government is necessary, and that one has an obligation to somewhat participate in it, if it is at the very least encouraging it and keeping gov't from aggressing you or others.

Nimble

Edited by nimble
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Let's just taslk about the necessity for government.

The necessity for government is something one figures out when one meets the first bully. One realizes that it is important to have a judge that is not party to the argument, and that one needs an agent of force that will be taken seriously. I'm not speaking of moral government here, just government.

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I'm really more concerned not with why society needs a government as abstract from why I need a government. What I am really searching for is why my egoistic morality implies that not only should I defend my life with retailiatory force, but that I should endorse a specific governmnent rather than a private protection agency?

Basically, how does my moral obligation to protect myself, lead to me endorsing a government?

***We will discuss intricates later, for now let's keep the abstracts simple.***

Edited by nimble
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What would you say is the fundamental difference between a private protection agency and a government? I'm not asking why one is more or less moral that the other, just about what distinguishes the two. Is your idea of a private protection agency a way of saying 'non-geographical government' or does it mean something different?

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It means generally the same thing as government, I argued earlier that it met Rand's definition of a government. A PPA would be contractually obligated to be the one who uses retaliatory force in a given geographical area, only instead of that land being arbitrarily defined, it would be defined by the total amount of land owned by the customers of the PPA. The fundamental difference between government and PPA is that a PPA's territory can change at any time if its customers decide to leave and patronize another PPA. This is similar to when a person leaves a country to another, only instead of the person having to move, the government would have to move (ie-not protect that territory any more).

Sorry it took so long to get back to you.

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Governments have always been geographical. This does not just mean that each particular piece of property is under the control of a particular government, it also means that contiguous areas are under such control. It means that when you go to the mall, you don't have to read the detailed contract information at each store to figure out whether your rights are protected or not. Even with the current system, international contracts have an additional element of risk: notice how many eBay sellers will not sell to certain countries. Even non-Ebay, larger scale, international trade often uses special devices where each side may get some guarantees from some entity within their own country, regarding the performance of the foreign party.

So, if one is looking for efficiency and practicality, I cannot see how a non-geographical government will work better than a geographically-based one. Indeed, I find it difficult to even see how such a system can work outside of the mind of a modern-day professor of economics. It seems it will mean constant war between these governments, fighting for their citizen's rights. In essence, without a clear monopoly of force within a group of people who are constantly in contractual relationships, the system will approach non-government. It would be something like each person on this forum deciding on which moderator they want, and then being under the control of that moderator. The worst possible outcome is that everyone is his own moderator (a.k.a. no moderator). The best possible outcome is a situation where we end up with little sub-forums, each with their own set of moderators: which is really back to square-one of having a single, common system of arbitration and control.

On the other hand, I don't think is is fundamentally an issue of ethics. It is more a subject within the sphere of politics. Which is to say, if you can show that a non-geographical government can work, can work better than the geographical one, and can work while being moral and being a form of Capitalism, that's fine. Today, even adjoining counties sometimes have a difficult time cooperating.

If, on the other hand, you are suggesting that a non-geographical government is someone more moral, then that's a different issue.

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  • 1 month later...
Solution to An Old Dilemma

by Michael J. Hurd, Ph.D.

Monday 21. November 2005

Does might make right? Absolutely not.

Does right make might? Yes. If you define your "right" correctly, you'll have all the might you need.

http://drhurd.com

See! Dr. Hurd agrees with me.

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