Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Anarchism vs. Minarchism

Rate this topic


PeteyRimple
 Share

Recommended Posts

Before I submit my positive claim for anarchy, let me ask this question of everyone. In order to have a moral law enforcing agency it must meet these requirements, correct?

1. The laws must be objective and know to all those who fall in its jurisdiction.

2. The laws must protect man's natural rights.

3. There must be some third party settler of disputes in any given case that happens under the jurisdiction of the agency.

4. That settler of disputes has to be able to enforce its decision to the best of its ability.

And to clear up one last thing, let me ask--Objectivists are Natural law theorists meta-ethically, correct? And they are Positive law theorists when it comes to government application of laws, correct?

I think we get some confused messages when I get people saying men create laws (positive law) and then the next person will say that laws are derived from nature (natural law). But if the two above questions are true then I think that will settle our miscommunication.

Thanks

Chris

Tragically incorrect. The massive acceptance of altruism-collectivism by the governed led it completely away from Objectivis principles.

A proper Objectivist government can keep a nation free as long as a majority of the population understand rights. Considering that currently in America the people who reject altruism-collectivism number less than 10%, I'd say the system is proven to work fantastically well.

mrocktor

So you are saying that the only way government will work is with a majority of Objectivists in the society? I'm not trying to antagonize, but I don't see how this is any less utopian than anarchy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 80
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Just a bunch of Objectivists making circular arguments because you have already defined it in a manner in which you can't possibly lose your point.

Bear in mind please that just as you criticize others for bad debating tactics, you should take care not to engage in them yourself. There have been Objectivists in this thread making non-circular arguments and it is improper of you to try and sweep all Objectivist arguments in this thread aside by criticizing the few weaker ones.

As just one example, what about the criticism made by David and others that anarchy would have multiple law-enforcement agencies trying to enforce conflicting laws in the same geographical area? Is that a circular argument? If not, then how do you answer it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I said David deserved an answer in my post if you read it. And before I went on to tackle those questions I wanted to first make my positive case for anarchy and to ask him a few questions, so I can be clear on where he and Petey left off and where I need to go with this.

Sorry, if you think I mean all Objectivists make circular arguments. I don't think that by definition Objectivist=circular arguer haha.

I was just a bit frustrated with the replies Petey got.

By the way Fred, I don't mean for you to think I'm degrading you in any way, I just didn't want this argument to boil down to the way Rand had defined things. It must be obvious that any anarchist doesn't concede that law=government or else we wouldn't even be arguing right now, so I thought that it was pointless to just give me a definition as a refutation of all that has been said here.

We can debate the definition if you like, but I believe this whole argument will boil down to how law is in theory (meta-ethical) and how law is in practice.

Thanks

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So you are saying that the only way government will work is with a majority of Objectivists in the society? I'm not trying to antagonize, but I don't see how this is any less utopian than anarchy.

No, I think the "critical mass" of rights respecting people is less than that. And full blown Objectivists are not the requirement either, only people who understand the government is not supposed to tell others how to live.

mrocktor

EDIT: and as to the comparison to anarchy, anarchy essentially requires everyone to be rational. A faction with 10% of a region's military might can cause civil war, a faction with 10% of the vote in government can at most be mildly anoying.

Edited by mrocktor
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a synopsis of the main points I want to make to Chris: the main conceptual problems I see for anarchism. As a reformed ex-anarchist, what got me to drop anarchism was recognition of these points.

1. Identifying what the law is.

There is no philosophical concept in capitalism that obligates private enforcement companies to publicise the details of their contract with any individual (non-customers including ‘not prospective customers’); and there are contractual concepts of privacy that would at least make it difficult for an enforcement company to make customer information public. Why would they need to? In order to provide fair notice to all others, to say “These are the particular laws which we will enforce, in your dealings with out customer, and you are hereby notified that we will use force against you if you [fill in the blank].” You have a right to know in what specific way your actions will be restricted by force -- and while “as long as you respect the rights of others” may sound simple as a predictive principle, it is insufficiently explicit. Ordinary people should not need to have PhD’s in philosophy to know how to legally live their lives.

There are various points of law which need to have definite answers, where there seem to be multiple reasonable answers. There are various rational conditions that could be imposed on the legal search of a vehicle, which protect the rights of the accused while not letting him get away with murder. We need a definite answer as to what is legal, and we need a stable answer that doesn't change every year or two. Some specific choices seem to be arbitrary -- but they aren't. Even though we we may not know enough about man's nature and the nature of law to give a decisive defense of a particular decision, it is in the nature of the concept of objective, monopolistic law that there must be a unique answer. There is nothing at all in the concept of anarchy that supports the idea of a single set of laws that people would be subject to, and thus you can easily be subject to contradictory legal requirements.

2. Uniqueness of the law

The anarchist counterargument is that there are already multiple competing agencies (governments) in different areas. This argument misses the point that with monopoly government, a person is never subject to contradictory legal requirements. I am subject to US law, Canadians are subject to Canadian law, and the French are subject to Murphy’s law. Under anarchy, I might be simultaneously subject to a dozen different and mutually incompatible set of laws while living in one and the same location, simply depending on what enforcement companies are hired by my neighbors and others with whom I might have dealings. Under monopoly government, even when you have, say, perjury statutes at the state and federal level, state perjury law holds only for state courts and federal perjury only holds when someone makes a federal case out of some matter: there is no competition. There may have been chiseling away on these jurisdictional issues, where the federal government grabs jurisdiction inappropriately, but this is bad and no Objectivist or any other kind of rational being sanctions competing federal and state laws and prosecutions for one and the same act.

There is also the argument “the market will yield the best results”. But I have never seen an explanation how this would lead to unique laws. Indeed, it is a virtue of the market that we don’t all have to drive Trabants and watch Beta videos. Under state-controlled economy, the principle driving production is “make what the majority of people want: the minority can knuckle under or do without”. The basic facts of unrestricted commerce say that for some people it might be advantageous to have long-term copyright protection of say 100 years, and for others it would be advantageous to have a short-term protection of say 5 years (or 2 years). It is in the nature of unrestricted competition that if there is a market for both services, both services would naturally come into existence.

But that leads to a profound contradiction. One company may routinely assert that their customers have the right to protection from copying for 100 years, and another company may routinely assert that their customers have a right to freely copy any material over 2 years old. Now we know that war isn’t profitable, so what is the basis for peacibly negotiating a value between these two durations of copyright? Market size and profitability. Consider what your customers demand, and how much you would lose by abandoning certain customers. There are tens of millions of customers who would be happy to pay a few dollars to enforce their perceived right to freely copy music and video after a couple of years. There are tens of thousands of customers who would be happy to pay a few dollars to enforce their right to exclusive control of their intellectual property. Copyright enforcement is a real arcane niche service. I’m betting that less that 10% of the participants in this forum are of the class of producers that enjoys direct benefits from protection of the product of their mind, and I would bet the percentage is even lower in the general population. That means: it will be essentially unprofitable to offer meaningful copyright protection, except to large businesses such as Microsoft or Sony Pictures who could afford the million-dollar premium.

Fine words butter no parsnips: I would like to see some analysis of how the free market is going to result in a unique set of laws, and especially a set of laws which are just -- treating the same fact in the same way.

3. Universality of rights protection

Under Objectivist assumptions about law, all people enjoy the protection of the law. Not “most” or “many” prople, but all people. And this is not a particularly Objectivist-only idea. Even now, no matter who you are, if you are the victim of an assault or a robbery, the cops will go after the perp in the US, Canada, Britain, Germany, Italy, even France. This isn’t just politeness, this is recognition of a basic right: man has the right to live free from coersion, and the government has the responsibility to protect that right. For all people. With a free market of protection, I have no right to call upon the services of a protection agency who I have not previously contracted with: protection of my rights is contingent on finding a willing protector.

4. “Force Market” is a contradiction in terms

You argue that a market is anything in which people are allowed to trade. Okay, I buy that, as long as you correctly use the term trade. Using force against a person is not a trade, it is coersion. That means that private law enforcement can not, if it is to engage solely in trade, use force. The enforcement agency can try to persuade others to obey their particular laws, perhaps they can even offer treats like toasters or 10,000 hours of free AOL online time. But they can’t use force: doing so goes beyond what is in the domain of trade.

5. Picking the right primary

Anarchism is founded on a principle that is indefensible: that liberty is man's purpose on earth. Objectivism, on the other hand, sees liberty as a means toward something else, something that is more important -- life. This might seem like a small nit to be picking, but what it means is that when a choice must be made, the anarchist must chose death over any encroachment on his liberty. The Objectivist, on the other hand, will select life. The anarchist ethics, were it to actually be applied consistently, would prohibit arresting a murder suspect -- a suspect is innocent until proven guilty (and all appeals have been exhausted), and until it is absolutely proven that the person has lost their rights, any use of force to bring the person to trial is an initiation of force under anarchist ethics.

As for your preliminary questions:

  1. The laws must be objective and know to all those who fall in its jurisdiction.
  2. The laws must protect man's natural rights.
  3. There must be some third party settler of disputes in any given case that happens under the jurisdiction of the agency.
  4. That settler of disputes has to be able to enforce its decision to the best of its ability.

I agree with the first point, with the proviso that this specifically means both “objectively justified” and “objectively stated (and interpreted)”. I can’t see anything to add to the second point. For 3, as long as you mean that as “a unique arbiter”, yes. I will also point out a relationship between 3 and 4: the ultimate arbiter is the one who must have the power to enforce. (This is because commercial contract arbitration companies would not have the power to enforce their decisions: that would be done by the government court which would determine that the arbitration firm’s decision was proper and would then order force if needed to get the complainer to comply with the decision.

As the for natural law / positivism question, no package deals on this cruise, bub. Laws serve a purpose which has to do with man’s nature (so we’re largely natural law types). I don’t know what it would mean to be a legal positivist in terms of government application of laws -- maybe you can be more explicit. Obviously we abjure the separability thesis. The pedigree thesis, in any version that I have encountered (Austin’s view, for instance, and the “social acceptance” view that I extract from Hart), is also anathema to Objectivism. Whether or not Objectivists accept some version of the discretion thesis is, well, highly variable. For the most part, I think it would not be a popular stance among Objectivists.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do not believe that by definition law assumes one all powerful government to enforce it. The simplest counterexample is the fact that multiple agencies (countries) exist now that enforce different laws in different areas, just as would exist under our theoretical anarchy, which is under scrutiny.

No, the different countries are all "monopolies" in a specified geographic region. Within that geographic region they do not allow any competition. So, law most certainly does assume "one all powerful government to enforce it". If a "private agency" assumed the mantle of such a gov't, enforcing its laws in a given region, then that agency will merely have taken on the role of a gov't.

Look, in reality, anarchism means rival gangs, tribes, warlords. Each of them does have a given "territory" which they will fight to protect.

The difference between anarchism and gov't therefore is not whether there will a "monopoly authority" - since, as I said, if there is law there *must be* - but whether its exercise of power is restrained by objective law.

As for your objection against my saying that anarchists steal the concept of "market", I do not say it merely as "a matter of definition". Any market, in order to function, must have a body of rules which govern its operation and some authority must exist to enforce those rules, e.g. to prevent force and fraud. That authority must have *a monopoly* over the operation of that market and its rules must be conducive to the operation of the market (if it is to function as a market). Markets, if they are to exist, require laws and some means of enforcing them, i.e. they presuppose a governing body. I don't care what you want to call it. It still must be a governing body with monopoly authority.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you very much David. I will think on that, because it is a hefty post with lots of material to sift through. But this is the most useful post I have seen in 8 pages of anarchy debates. Let me think of some sort of a reply rather than write on the go.

As for Fred, I suppose your post will be summed up in anything that is in response to David, since he basically brought every main objection to a specific point.

G'Night

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have said this before that I didn't know where I stood, but I would play devil's advocate. Not being an expert on anarchist thought, I have no idea how to respond to this:

There are various points of law which need to have definite answers, where there seem to be multiple reasonable answers. There are various rational conditions that could be imposed on the legal search of a vehicle, which protect the rights of the accused while not letting him get away with murder. We need a definite answer as to what is legal, and we need a stable answer that doesn't change every year or two. Some specific choices seem to be arbitrary -- but they aren't. Even though we we may not know enough about man's nature and the nature of law to give a decisive defense of a particular decision, it is in the nature of the concept of objective, monopolistic law that there must be a unique answer. There is nothing at all in the concept of anarchy that supports the idea of a single set of laws that people would be subject to, and thus you can easily be subject to contradictory legal requirements.
So I am going to concede this to you David. I have to say I agree with you here. I will let Petey try to answer that one.

2. Uniqueness of the law

I am going to say I agree with you here as well. There does seem to be a practical problem with this. But in defense of anarchy, I would have to say the 'different States different laws' counterexample still holds. Under the territory the PPA controls there are a set of unique laws, except PPA will tend to have a smaller jurisdiction, say specific small plots of land, maybe the size of a small community or even just a house.

The problem of copyrights being different in different places exists in the world as we know it. Sweden has almost no intellectual property rights, and all the bit-torrent sites in the world usually hold their bases there. So that when Microsoft or Apple sues them for distributing their material, they have no legal course of action to take. Unless the US is willing to put some type of sanction/declare war on Sweden on Microsoft's behalf.

The only difference between countries and this proposed anarchy is that the jurisdictions are smaller and more complicated. But there are jurisdictions. Each PPA would be defined by the property lines of the customers.

3. Universality of rights protection
I have to say I disagree with you here. If we are to assume Objectivists are natural lawists, then we can agree that rights are derived from nature and that they are universal in that sense. But unless there is someone to protect those rights, then those rights only exist in principle, there is no material form to them. And you must remember that government does not work in a vacuum, it is composed of real people like you and me. Unless there is some willing people to enforce those rights for you, then you are rightless and I don't see an problem with that.

Are you proposing that we should force people into power to protect our rights?

You argue that a market is anything in which people are allowed to trade. Okay, I buy that, as long as you correctly use the term trade. Using force against a person is not a trade, it is coersion. That means that private law enforcement can not, if it is to engage solely in trade, use force. The enforcement agency can try to persuade others to obey their particular laws, perhaps they can even offer treats like toasters or 10,000 hours of free AOL online time. But they can’t use force: doing so goes beyond what is in the domain of trade.

The trade takes place without force. I trade the PPA money of some sorts (or barter) in exchange for its law/protection, and once I have consented to their laws, then I they have a right to use force on me or others in their jurisdiction without violating the sanctity of the market, so to speak. They may use force, if that is what our "trade" entailed.

So I disagree with you here. There maybe pragmatic problems with even having a market for something like what I described above, but it definitely does not mean that PPAs have to abstain from all force in order to retain some "market."

*******My personal thoughts and reasons for playing devil's advocate***********

I was an anarchist for about a year, and I have been flirting with Objectivism for well over 5 years. I usually tend to agree with Objectivism and when I disagree I tend to eventually move back toward Objectivism after working problems out here.

However, there are a few things about Objectivists, not Objectivism, that bug me.

1. Petey knows very little about Objectivism and when you argue with him, you seemed to be playing little tricks on him and it wasn't fair. You (not all of you) assert things that any non-Objectivist would definitely question. And you do so without any explanation.

An analogy to this is when Christians refer to the bible in arguments against atheists. Maybe they quote a passage of real truth and make a true assertion, but the point is, you don't do reference Christian specific common-knowledge to non-Christians in debate form.

2. For being so against rationalism, I noticed that a lot of the critiques provided were definitional critiques.

3. A lot of posts would completely ignore Petey's points. I remember one instance where he posts a huge explanation of his thoughts and just happened to use the phrase "libertarian principles" instead of saying "non-agression/coercion" and he got a small reply that basically said, we don't like libertarian principles and ignored the rest of his post.

What if he would have said "Objectivist principles" instead, then maybe he would have gotten a decent response.

4. If you are allowed to critique practical problems in anarchy and use an evil PPA as an example, it is completely fair game to say that in all likelihood there won't be an Objectivist government that sticks around for any lengthy period of time longer than a generation or two, so it is fair game to use evil governments in critique of government.

***************

And I wanted to thank David for being the best of all the people I have encountered in both anarchy threads and actually helping me resolve my issues. I will concede this debate on my end and let Petey pick up where I left off.

Edited by nimble
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am going to say I agree with you here as well. There does seem to be a practical problem with this. But in defense of anarchy, I would have to say the 'different States different laws' counterexample still holds. Under the territory the PPA controls there are a set of unique laws, except PPA will tend to have a smaller jurisdiction, say specific small plots of land, maybe the size of a small community or even just a house.

The problem of copyrights being different in different places exists in the world as we know it. Sweden has almost no intellectual property rights, and all the bit-torrent sites in the world usually hold their bases there. So that when Microsoft or Apple sues them for distributing their material, they have no legal course of action to take. Unless the US is willing to put some type of sanction/declare war on Sweden on Microsoft's behalf.

The only difference between countries and this proposed anarchy is that the jurisdictions are smaller and more complicated. But there are jurisdictions. Each PPA would be defined by the property lines of the customers.

The main problem you have here is still that it will become pretty much impossible to keep track of whose land you are on at a specific point in time and hence whose PPA is in charge there. If there are 5 large PPA's in a big city, the chances of them all having one large area under their control are pretty slim. It's more likely that house A will be dealing with agency 1, house B with agency 2, etc. So unless you keep track of by whom everyone you are dealing with is being protected (which quickly becomes impossible if you know many people) you could quite easily argue that they do not have to tell people who they are doing business with.

If I shop at store X, I do not have to tell you that I shop there. The PPAs would have to voluntary instate these rules in order to make it possible for others to know what they dealing with, but you can't really require this by law, now can you?

If even some part of the population doesn't say who they are dealing with as a PPA it will become impossible to know when you are breaking a law or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a few follow-up comments.

Under the territory the PPA controls there are a set of unique laws, except PPA will tend to have a smaller jurisdiction, say specific small plots of land, maybe the size of a small community or even just a house.
To the extent that the PPA has exclusive jurisdiction over a geographical territory, it strongly resembles a government with a monopoly on the use of force. But such a monopoly would be antithetical to the nature of capitalism, see for example multiple telecommunications providers within a given area -- even within a single house. With an "every household has its own law" system, you will very frequently run into problems of jurisdiction-crossing. I'm having a hard time imagining how jurisdictions would be established -- can you get a "traveling jurisdiction" for when you leave your home? Property lines are, usually, legal constructs that aren't actually painted on the ground. Actual, visible property lines -- analogous to state and national borders -- become much more important if that is your only way of knowing what laws you will be subject to.
The problem of copyrights being different in different places exists in the world as we know it. Sweden has almost no intellectual property rights, and all the bit-torrent sites in the world usually hold their bases there.
Well, I dunno about that. I know that there are some problems regarding computer data and downloads, but I don't know the particulars of Swedish law on that point. I do know that Swedish copyright law does grant exclusive ownership of intellectual property as is the case in the US. Most nations adhere to the Berne Convention: I'm not arguing that there can't be rogue nations that don't respect IP rights and I'm very aware that there are differences in the details between nations. The point is that the law is published, and if I want to go after an infringer in The Netherlands, I know what I have to do (and I also know to what extent the protection I enjoy in the US may be weaker than it is in Canada and stronger that in Sweden).
But unless there is someone to protect those rights, then those rights only exist in principle, there is no material form to them. And you must remember that government does not work in a vacuum, it is composed of real people like you and me. Unless there is some willing people to enforce those rights for you, then you are rightless and I don't see an problem with that.
This is a fundamental disagreement: I would say that you have the right to your life, whether or not that right is recognised by your neighbor, PPA, or government. Rights don't exist in a vacuum, but they also are not pure social convention.
Are you proposing that we should force people into power to protect our rights?
No, and if one lives in a "society" where the government is not willing or able to protect rights (Somalia, for example, or Rwanda during the Inteerahamwe terror, or Darfur region of Sudan; or, the various governments behind the Iron Curtain), then you are simply SOAL. If a society is that degenerate, then PPA's are no help. In all of these discussions, we have to assume a certain basic level of civilization and respect for rights, no matter which side you're arguing. So I am assuming (from the anarchist POV) that there are some number of protection companies and (from the Objectivist POV) that we do have a basically rights-respecting monopoly government.

The important difference is that given the existence of a rights-respecting government with a monopoly on the use of force, by nature that government protects everybody's rights -- everybody is an automatic customer, and the government has an obligation to protect those in its jurisdiction. But nobody is a customer of Tannahelp until they have a contract with them, and nobody has a right to protection until they have negotiated a protection agreement with someone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been keeping up with this discussion as best as I can. Apologies if my jumping in startles anyone.

David, as an aside, that was a phenomenal post.

I've nothing to contribute other than my continuing inductive argument that I originally posted to Petey. This particularly addresses the whole Objectivist Utopia vs. Anarchist Utopia argument.

Why is it that in the course of history that we have a very good example of the development of a complex, peaceful, division of labor society (the US) evolving from governmental principles, and there seems to be no examples of complex, peaceful, division of labor societies that evolved out of anarchism? Yes, the perfect of either doesn't exist, but to the extent that Objectivists point to the US as being an example of a society that is pretty darn good at protecting individual rights. What do anarchists point to?

Nimble and Petey, thanks to you for continuing the engagement.

Nimble, some thoughts on your opinions on Objectivist ettiquette.

*******My personal thoughts and reasons for playing devil's advocate***********

However, there are a few things about Objectivists, not Objectivism, that bug me.

1. Petey knows very little about Objectivism and when you argue with him, you seemed to be playing little tricks on him and it wasn't fair. You (not all of you) assert things that any non-Objectivist would definitely question. And you do so without any explanation.

An analogy to this is when Christians refer to the bible in arguments against atheists. Maybe they quote a passage of real truth and make a true assertion, but the point is, you don't do reference Christian specific common-knowledge to non-Christians in debate form.

2. For being so against rationalism, I noticed that a lot of the critiques provided were definitional critiques.

3. A lot of posts would completely ignore Petey's points. I remember one instance where he posts a huge explanation of his thoughts and just happened to use the phrase "libertarian principles" instead of saying "non-agression/coercion" and he got a small reply that basically said, we don't like libertarian principles and ignored the rest of his post.

What if he would have said "Objectivist principles" instead, then maybe he would have gotten a decent response.

4. If you are allowed to critique practical problems in anarchy and use an evil PPA as an example, it is completely fair game to say that in all likelihood there won't be an Objectivist government that sticks around for any lengthy period of time longer than a generation or two, so it is fair game to use evil governments in critique of government.

***************

1. is true, however, remember we're on an Objectivist forum. I for one have no idea what Petey's level of Objectivist knowledge is, but I expect to be dealing with people who are at least familiar with it. The key is are Objectivists willing to take a step back if the newbie so desires to understand the meaning of the terms and jargon, and I think the answer is most decidely yes. I don't blame objectivists for this fact, just the crow epistemology, and my inability to develop an argument from first principles in 6 sentences or less.

2. Definitional issues are not necessarily rationalism. Definitions are necessary and working out what concepts people are using is important. Inability to come to an understanding on concepts leads nowhere. Most of the people you've been debating with are not known for their bouts of rationalism. Rationalism is the failure to integrate your arguments back to reality all along the argumentation path. Focus on definitions can be linked to it, but definitions play a crucial role in proper argumentation as well.

3. I for one, and Objectivists in general do not feel duty bound to answer all points. In fact, good debaters try to distill out essentials and will dismiss the non-essentials. David has done a phenomenal job of that. The example you give is certainly a trivial response, but that is also due to the fact that 2 or 3 people may answer a post and each has different issues. I only get upset when the main person I'm debating seems to be dropping what I think are key issues. But David is your main debater and he has not done that to you. Everyone else is adding "richness", but don't hold everyone repsonsible to answer all your points.

Besides Petey failed to answer the big question I asked him before.

4. Hypotheticals are touchy tools on either side. If you won't rely entirely on the utopian or evil PPA examples, then I think you'll probably find that others won't rely entirely on the converse. It is fair to bring these up, but not as the only tools. Don't know if either side did that much. I tend to not like the use of utopian hypotheticals much, and would rather integrate back into reality which is why I asked my question, which no one seems to want to answer. :thumbsup:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Donny With An A from the Austrian Economics forum wrote the following "proof" that there is no need for a government. I'd like to hear your reaction.

1) Humans act in order to substitute a better state of affairs for a worse one.

2) What constitutes a better state of affairs must be determined by each individual actor.

3) There is no objective way to compare ends in terms of worthiness.

4) If (1) and (2) and (3), then no actor can justify claiming their ends to be more worthy than the ends of another actor.

A) Thus, no actor can justify claiming their ends to be more worthy than the ends of another actor.

5) Any action presupposes that the end it was designed to achieve is a worthy one.

6) It is impossible to know ex ante whether an action will obstruct another actor's pursuit of their ends.

7) If (5) and (6), then any action presupposes that the end for which it was designed is more worthy than any end that it might obstruct.

B ) Thus, any action presupposes that the end for which it was designed is more worthy than any end that it might obstruct.

8) If (A) and (B ) then no action can be justified.

C) Thus, no action can be justified.

9) The restriction of an action presupposes that the end for which it was designed is not worthy.

10) If (1) and (2) and (3) and (9), then no restriction can be justified.

D) Thus, no restriction can be justified.

11) If (C ), then no circumstance that is the result of action(s) can be justified.

E) Thus, no circumstance that is the result of action(s) can be justified.

________________________________________________________________________________

________

A) No actor can justify claiming their ends to be more worthy than the ends of another actor.

B ) Any action presupposes that the end for which it was designed is more worthy than any end that it might obstruct.

C) No action can be justified.

D) No restriction can be justified.

E) No circumstance that is the result of action(s) can be justified.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd like to hear your reaction.
My reaction is that it substitutes word-trickery for sound reasoning. There is a similar game that some guys used to play on the streets of New York, involving three cups and a marble. Here, we have a lot more marbles. Anyhow, proposition 1 is false, 2 is sorta false (it implies that rational values are entirely subjective and whimsical), 3 is clearly false, and 4 is just made up (I can understand how you might think 1-3, and just be wrong, but 4 is completely made up). Thus A doesn't follow from anything. 5 is clearly untrue and offensively poorly thought out to boot, 6 is also false, and 7 is like 4 (fabrication). So B is unsupported. 8 and thus C is unproven.

That "proof" is a typical example of really bad argumentation in the rationalist mode. It gives logic a bad name. And I think he has argued for nihilism, not just no government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see a direct argument against government. What he is saying is that: there is no right and wrong, everything is subjective. He is saying that when Sadaam's sons raped women, they were neither right nor wrong. I remember him complaining about some moderator actions on this forum, when he visited in the past... evidently he thinks his complaints cannot be justified. :) I'm confused why he would make an unjustified complaint. I think it's best to take him at his word and treat the actions of his mind -- a.k.a. his "argument" as neither justified nor unjustified... it's his argument...and that's it. It has no value or disvalue... just a string of words in cyberspace. In essence, he is saying that anyone can do anything to him: lie to him, cheat him, assault him, and he may fight and try to win... but all the while knowing that his attacker is just as justfied in the attack as he is in his defense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to disagree with you regarding his first statement. Every human action is an attempt by the actor to, in his subjective opinion, replace his current state of affairs with a better one. That, after all, is the fundamental axiom of human action.

However, I also see problems with his other statements. Could you elaborate your reasoning as to why they are wrong?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every human action is an attempt by the actor to, in his subjective opinion, replace his current state of affairs with a better one.
If the statement had been about "most people" or if that was a normative statement about what people should do, I might agree. It wasn't, so it's wrong.
Could you elaborate your reasoning as to why they are wrong?
I explained the main flaw of 2, as for 3 I'd simply point to Smith's Viable Values as a good proof that there are objective values. More to the point, nota single one of thesestatements is perceptually self evident or factually suported. What arguments did he give to suport his arbitrary assertions. (I actually am under the time-gun now so I can't give you a very satisfactory aswer: the big question is, why should we believe any of those propositions?)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Rothbard (A brilliant economist) put it best:

The distinctive and crucial feature in the study of man is the concept of action. Human action is defined simply as purposeful behavior. It is therefore sharply distinguishable from those observed movements which, from the point of view of man, are not purposeful. These include all the observed movements of inorganic matter and those types of human behavior that are purely reflex, that are simply involuntary responses to certain stimuli. Human action, on the other hand, can be meaningfully interpreted by other men, for it is governed by a certain purpose that the actor has in view.[2]The purpose of a man’s act is his end; the desire to achieve this end is the man’s motive for instituting the action.

All human beings act by virtue of their existence and their nature as human beings.[3]We could not conceive of human beings who do not act purposefully, who have no ends in view that they desire and attempt to attain. Things that did not act, that did not behave purposefully, would no longer be classified as human.

It is this fundamental truth—this axiom of human action—that forms the key to our study. The entire realm of praxeology and its best developed subdivision, economics, is based on an analysis of the necessary logical implications of this concept.[4] The fact that men act by virtue of their being human is indisputable and incontrovertible. To assume the contrary would be an absurdity. The contrary—the absence of motivated behavior—would apply only to plants and inorganic matter.

Note how achieving a desired end does not require extensive thought or contemplation. If I get angry and punch a guy, I am doing so because, at that moment, I desired to see my fist in that guy's head more than any alternative. Afterwards, perhaps in the principle's office, I may regreat that decision, however that does not mean that it was not a purposeful action.

The entire realm of Austrian Economics branches out from this axiom. Unfortunately, the axiom and subsequent implications have been twisted around to justify not only free market capitalism but anarcho-capitalism.

For the thread, see this link.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, a bit more of a reply. Proposition 4 smuggles in a set of assumptions about justification and claims. In order to validate that line, you have to introduce some axioms about justification and claims. But let's see if we can repair at least a bit of his argument. We can restate 1 as "Rational humans act so as to gain value", thus eliminating nutty people from the discussion. Claim 2 could be stated as "each man must determine what his values are, and discover what values enhance his achievement of his ultimate purpose". Claim 3 might be Smith's nicely articulated point that man's fundamental choice (existence, for example) cannot be rationally justified since that would presuppose a standard that is higher that the choice to live. I really don't understand what the intended point of 3 is (and I doubt he does either). Now to leap to where he seems to want to go, perhaps he could restate the claim as "No person's ends are intrinsically of greater value than any other person's ends". But that would be a consequence of a simpler statement -- value is not intrinsic. Value is value to someone, for their purpose.

Claim 5 is multiply wrong. Actions are incapable of presupposing anything. At best, you might say "In acting in some way, it is probable that the actor presumes that the goal is related to his ultimate purpose". We might try restating 6 as "You cannot always know with certainty whether your choice to act in a particular way will lead to a greater gain in value for another person than if you choose not to act". Now statement 7 smells to high heaven of altruism: I can't come up with anything that corrects his error. This is a good example of the error in not including the for whom in judging value.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The entire realm of Austrian Economics branches out from this axiom.
This is just an aside to the thread, but I think you should check out what Menger said about values -- very different from Mises. Secondly, the question of how people behave (economics) is separate from the question of how they ought to behave.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is just an aside to the thread, but I think you should check out what Menger said about values -- very different from Mises. Secondly, the question of how people behave (economics) is separate from the question of how they ought to behave.

Perhaps I wasn't clear. The axiom of human action is how people act. Whenever I do something, I do it in order to, subjectively, improve my situation. There is no rational thought required. When I walk, I do so because during that split second I valued taking a step greater than standing still. This leads to the law of marginal utility, supply and demand, etc.

As you correctly pointed out, how people ought to to behave is indeed seperate from economics. The question anarchists ask is whether or not a government of any form can morally regulate what people do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The question anarchists ask is whether or not a government of any form can morally regulate what people do.

In order for a man to live he has to be able to take a specific kind of action - a self sustaining action. Man's rights arise from this fact and thus are not arbitrary. The principles of proper human interactions are also not arbitrary. For a rational being to live without violating other rational being's rights to life (rights of the same kind he possesses) requires certain rules if you will - in other words nature must be obeyed. That is the purpose of the law.

Law derived from the specific nature of man and the specific nature of man's reality, the specific actions he must be free to take in order to sustain his life - is objective, is uniform, is universal.

Those regulations of what people can and can not do come from objective standards derived from reality and are not subjective. Those restrictions are not only moral but absolutely necessary.

As it was pointed out already, anarchy does not support uniformity of law. Therefore, it does not support the idea of justice in which a man would be subjected to one uniform, clearly identified law derived from nature and in case of him violating it (which means violating other man's rights) - subjected to specific, known to him in advance punishment (based on severity of the violation).

A proper, central, voluntarily funded, limited to only one function - protection of human rights, central monopoly power is necessary to assure the uniformity and objectivity of law. Since the regulations are moral - the enforcement of those regulations is also moral - and like I mentioned absolutely necessary.

This whole argument that human actions can not be objectively justified comes from the denial of the specificity of reality. It is equal to denying that existence exists uninfluenced by man's consciousness.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, this is an interesting thread! There are some more things I'd like to comment on when I have a bit more time, but for now:

Donny With An A from the Austrian Economics forum wrote the following "proof" that there is no need for a government. I'd like to hear your reaction.
Gwah. I don't see how he could possibly align that "proof" with Austrian economics (as I understand it) or any form of objective philosophy. 1) seems fine to me, but I don't see how it is relevant nor do I agree with anything else. Some of it is salvageable, though...

And thanks for the link to that thread :)

Those regulations of what people can and can not do come from objective standards derived from reality and are not subjective. Those restrictions are not only moral but absolutely necessary.
"Absolutely necessary"... Are you saying that every rational person will be worse off if there is no government to enforce uniform and objective law? Why/how?

As it was pointed out already, anarchy does not support uniformity of law. Therefore, it does not support the idea of justice in which a man would be subjected to one uniform, clearly identified law derived from nature and in case of him violating it (which means violating other man's rights) - subjected to specific, known to him in advance punishment (based on severity of the violation).
Here's one question I have (not directed solely to you, ~Sophia~): isn't it a necessary part of the pro-government argument that rational men morally must comply with uniform and objective law of the government (and that they are better off for doing so)?
  • if the police come with a search and arrest warrant, you morally must allow them to confiscate whatever the legal documents state and not resist/evade arrest?
  • if a jury convicts you, an innocent person, of violating a uniform and objective law, it is immoral to go on the lam?
  • if a jury acquits a person you know to be guilty, it is immoral to take the law into your own hands and mete out the justice the government missed?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Absolutely necessary"... Are you saying that every rational person will be worse off if there is no government to enforce uniform and objective law? Why/how?

Without enforcement rules are only in principle, rights are only in principle.

For a man to be free to take all the necessary actions to sustain his life - the initiation of force must be dealt with, properly according to objective law. Force is a direct threat to individual rights and it must therefore be put under restraint via carefully defined limitations. There can not be 'free market of force'. That is why you need a government.

There will never be a society in which everyone is rational; in which everyone recognizes and respects individual human rights. That is Utopia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...