Free Capitalist Network - Community Archive
Mises Community Archive
An online community for fans of Austrian economics and libertarianism, featuring forums, user blogs, and more.

Territoriality and Monopoly

This post has 62 Replies | 5 Followers

Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ Posted: Wed, Dec 2 2009 3:07 PM

In another thread, Adam Knott writes:

...I might refer to Rothbard's vision [for society] as "natural rights capitalism."   It is a capitalistic system with natural rights legal code.

...I might refer to Friedman's vision as "market based law provision."   It is a system that envisions law arising out of "consumer demand," this conceived mainly along traditional market/exchange lines.

...

If all people do not agree on either system---if there is not complete unanimity---then the question naturally arises as to the legal status of those not agreeing with the system in question (the legal status of outsiders, as defined by the AnCap legal code or system we are referring to).

If they are to be considered outlaws in the legal sense (not just the non-binding moral sense), then the legal system inflicts consequences which involve some form of coercion. 

If the outsiders are not considered outlaws in the legal sense, but are allowed to proceed unharmed, then we have some kind of legal coexistence.

Later he writes:

As a movement, libertarianism hasn't come to terms with how to approach monopolism versus polycentrism, and I believe that the notion of separating political association from geography will play a part in solving this dilemma, or at least moving us toward some form of libertarian future.

With the rise of the Internet, the idea is occurring to more and more people that social organization needn't necessarily be territorial.

Most arguments on the Mises forums seem to take for granted that whatever system (usually AnCap) will be applied universally within a given territory, and anyone in that territory who does not conform to that system will be a "criminal."

For what reasons does the legal system need to be universal across the enter span of a given territory?

  • | Post Points: 95
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

defacto legal systmes will be what they are. whether those that are realised are just or not is another question.

Here I quote David Friedman from his website:

My (very tentative) conclusion is that the normative universe, like the physical universe, exists. Certain ought statements are true, certain ought statements are false. Torturing small children for the fun of it really is wicked. I cannot go behind that and explain "ought" as derived from "is"--or "is" from "ought." Both are undefined terms, which I am confident that normal human beings understand. I can observe "normative facts" and try to form theories about them, just as I can observe physical facts and try to form theories about them. But I should not be surprised if other people form other theories in both cases.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 752
Points 16,735
Sage replied on Wed, Dec 2 2009 8:53 PM

AJ:
Most arguments on the Mises forums seem to take for granted that whatever system (usually AnCap) will be applied universally within a given territory, and anyone in that territory who does not conform to that system will be a "criminal."

Given these distinctions:

Normative rights: the claims that ought to be respected and protected.

Legal rights: the claims that a given legal institution officially announces it will respect and protect.

De facto rights: the claims that actually receive respect and protection in a given society.

As I see it, normative rights (i.e. justice) apply universally to all interpersonal relations. So anyone who violates normative rights is a criminal.

But whether normative rights are also legal and defacto rights is a different question. Here I agree with D. Friedman that competition in legal systems (i.e. institutions that provide dispute resolution) will tend to produce laws that are consistent with normative rights. In other words, anarchy will tend to be libertarian.

I am assuming here that objective morality is true. It seems this debate hinges on this point.

AnalyticalAnarchism.net - The Positive Political Economy of Anarchism

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 4,532
Points 84,495

A territory is either sovereign or other agents within it are. It follows that if there are sovereign people in that territory, then whatever system there remains there is now the universal law.

But if you look at it from a global perspective, the Earth is not a territory, it is an anarchy of nation-states, with some pure anarchy in-between (oceans, space, etc). These nation-states have their own internal law, but they also have multi-lateral law (international law) set by various precedents written in peace treaties and so on. The most important precedent is the Treaty of Westphalia, which defined the modern sovereign state into law.

So for example if American Catholics decide they are no longer going to obey to the laws of Massachusetts, then Massachusetts is no longer a sovereign territory. But Catholics in Massachusetts still have relations and conflicts with other citizens of the territory, and there is going to develop a body of law to regulate those relations, while, as members of the Catholic church, they will be bound by the internal law of the church on things such as marriages and general behavior.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 51
Points 615
Wade replied on Thu, Dec 3 2009 11:47 AM

AJ:

For what reasons does the legal system need to be universal across the entire span of a given territory?

It seems to me that on the one hand that it is taken for granted as you say and on the other hand it involves the concept of property rights.

It is taken for granted in the sense that most people haven't ventured in this direction enough to actually form an opinion or theory about it.  I'm speculating that most people are so used to a monopolistic legal system that they don't see how it could be any other way.  They have an intuition that something is wrong with the legal systems we have to day, so they go about trying to think of better legal systems, but fail to think of legal systems outside the realm of a monopolistic legal system.

It involves the concept of property rights in the sense that property rights implies that a legal system punishes those who attempt to steal or damage a piece of geography that is been legally owned by someone.  This idea could be considered a legal system across a given territory as presented in your question.  I don't think I need to dive into the reasons that people think the idea of property rights needs to exist.

In my view, markets only fail to perform when they aren't allowed to perform.  And one way in which the market is not allowed to perform is in the protection of property.  Lets say that a market emerged somewhere for the protection of property and in one instance a "protection provider" fails to protect some piece of property.  The consequences would not be legal consequences.  The consequences would be similar to other products and services in the free market when they fail to achieve consumer demands.  Possibilities include: damage to the reputation of the "protection provider" resulting in a loss in profit, consumers switching to a competing "protection provider" which might result in a restoration of control by the original property owner, etc...

What I have presented here certainly does not cover all of the issues associated with your question.  But I would like to pose another question:

If the market can provide protection of property, then why do we need a monopolistic legal system to protect property?

Only ideas can overcome ideas...

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 51
Points 615
Wade replied on Thu, Dec 3 2009 11:55 AM

AJ, do you think I should put this question into a new topic?  I think it might limit the scope of your question if people start responding to it.

Only ideas can overcome ideas...

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,209
Points 35,645
Merlin replied on Thu, Dec 3 2009 4:31 PM

AJ:
If all people do not agree on either system---if there is not complete unanimity---then the question naturally arises as to the legal status of those not agreeing with the system in question (the legal status of outsiders, as defined by the AnCap legal code or system we are referring to).

If you don’t agree with anyone, anytime, anywhere on anything, you just have to weight the pros and cons of forcibly making him change his mind, of peacefully trying to convince him to act differently or to just do nothing about it, and then you act according to your preferences. The “de facto” legal tradition of a society emerges out of the such judgments of all its members.

So, when at (least) I say that a system of un-legitimately violable property rights, based on homesteading and voluntary transfer of property (i.e. “anarchy” or “panarchy”) is to be preferred, I intend that a) most people would willingly cling to such standards of justice emanating out of property rights, if given a chance to, as it would turn out to be a preferable agreement to most people and that b) those disagreeing will be in no position to forcibly challenge this tacit concordat. Anyone wishing for anything more than this is an utopian and shall never find peace or satisfaction.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Fri, Dec 4 2009 9:30 PM

Sage:
I am assuming here that objective morality is true. It seems this debate hinges on this point.

I think it does hinge on that. I've always found your comments highly insightful, so perhaps you could define what you mean by objective morality. I don't find the concept to be immediately meaningful.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Fri, Dec 4 2009 9:33 PM

Stranger:
So for example if American Catholics decide they are no longer going to obey to the laws of Massachusetts, then Massachusetts is no longer a sovereign territory. But Catholics in Massachusetts still have relations and conflicts with other citizens of the territory, and there is going to develop a body of law to regulate those relations, while, as members of the Catholic church, they will be bound by the internal law of the church on things such as marriages and general behavior.

Interesting example. Does this mean that you believe there is no particular reason for law to be territorial? I couldn't nail down an answer from the rest of your post.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Fri, Dec 4 2009 9:50 PM

Wade:
 I'm speculating that most people are so used to a monopolistic legal system that they don't see how it could be any other way.  They have an intuition that something is wrong with the legal systems we have to day, so they go about trying to think of better legal systems, but fail to think of legal systems outside the realm of a monopolistic legal system.

I fully agree. This represents is a major paradigm shift that I think has taken many in the libertarian movement by surprise.

Wade:
If the market can provide protection of property, then why do we need a monopolistic legal system to protect property?

I don't believe we do need a monopolistic legal vision to protect property, and even if we did I don't see how it would be possible to enforce such a vision. The people who advocate this seem to believe that the supposed a priori nature of natural law will win enough of the thinking people over in the end. I find this doubtful in the extreme, not least because I've never seen a satisfying proof of any sort for any natural laws.

I think it's plain to see that the whole project of trying to "prove natural law" (and related endeavors) is nothing more than an effort to take a persuasive concept (natural rights) and add some kind of extra force to it. That's a natural tendency we humans have, as social creatures: we want others to share our views, and sometimes persuasion doesn't work well enough. There are ways to make arguments more persuasive, but I don't think invalid "proofs" rank high on the list.

So I guess we're back to debating "objective ethics," which is fine with me. I certainly agree to become an advocate of objective ethics if anyone can prove the concept to me, but I also expect objective ethicists to recant their position if I or anyone else can prove their defining notion of objective ethics wrong or incoherent.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 519
Points 9,645
jmorris84 replied on Fri, Dec 4 2009 10:10 PM

Sage:
Given these distinctions:

Normative rights: the claims that ought to be respected and protected.

Legal rights: the claims that a given legal institution officially announces it will respect and protect.

De facto rights: the claims that actually receive respect and protection in a given society.

What is the difference between Normative Rights and De facto Rights?

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

AJ:

I don't believe we do need a monopolistic legal vision to protect property,

Name another law other than property rights.  One that doesn't conflict with property rights, may rid property rights or in other words substitute property rights.  This is about justice.

AJ:

and even if we did I don't see how it would be possible to enforce such a vision.

It's not advocated as a utopia.

AJ:

The people who advocate this seem to believe that the supposed a priori nature of natural law will win enough of the thinking people over in the end.

It doesn't matter who is won over.  If the truth dies with the last person on this earth while everybody else lies - so be it.

AJ:

I find this doubtful in the extreme, not least because I've never seen a satisfying proof of any sort for any natural laws.

It doesn't matter what you think.

AJ:
 

I think it's plain to see that the whole project of trying to "prove natural law" (and related endeavors) is nothing more than an effort to take a persuasive concept (natural rights) and add some kind of extra force to it.

It doesn't matter.

AJ:

That's a natural tendency we humans have, as social creatures: we want others to share our views, and sometimes persuasion doesn't work well enough. There are ways to make arguments more persuasive, but I don't think invalid "proofs" rank high on the list.

It doesn't matter.

AJ:

So I guess we're back to debating "objective ethics," which is fine with me. I certainly agree to become an advocate of objective ethics if anyone can prove the concept to me,

You have a mind.  Figure out the world yourself.

AJ:

but I also expect objective ethicists to recant their position if I or anyone else can prove their defining notion of objective ethics wrong or incoherent.

Objective is a strawman and a red herring.

Name another law other than property rights.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 752
Points 16,735
Sage replied on Fri, Dec 4 2009 11:38 PM

AJ:
perhaps you could define what you mean by objective morality. I don't find the concept to be immediately meaningful.

I take it to mean that there are facts about what people ought and ought not to do. For elaboration I recommend checking out Long's article "The Basis of Natural Law." Can you point me to some articles defending your position?

AnalyticalAnarchism.net - The Positive Political Economy of Anarchism

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 342
Points 6,665

Objective ethics really rests on your goals. If your goal is to live, and live well, then there is an algorithm that can guide you to being socially moral. It's part of game theory, and it's called tit for tat (with random forgiveness). This algorithm has always bested every other algorithm in game theory. If your goal is not to live, then this is not the ethic for you. This does not deny the objective nature of the ethic, it only denies the goal. In other words, If you want to live, this is your objective ethic. I can not however say, "you should want to live". There is no should about it, simply kill yourself, or don't do things that are required for you to live, and become as dust for the rest of us to make use of.

I should note that it may very well be your ultimate goal to kill as many innocent people as you possibly can and that may include living in order to kill those people. Fine, but don't be surprised when those people you are trying to kill finally kill you.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Sat, Dec 5 2009 1:31 AM

Sage:

AJ:
perhaps you could define what you mean by objective morality. I don't find the concept to be immediately meaningful.

I take it to mean that there are facts about what people ought and ought not to do. For elaboration I recommend checking out Long's article "The Basis of Natural Law." Can you point me to some articles defending your position?

Thank you, Sage. I've read most of that article before, but as it says, "A full-scale defense of Natural Law theory, however, is a task beyond the scope of this article." Rothbard says something similar in TeoL, as does Hoppe. I am wondering where the full defense or proof is. As far as Long - who seems to me the most sophisticated defender of this type of theory - his approach seems to hinge on the concept of constitutive means, which is critically examined in this thread.

My position, as a position, is merely: If objective morality or objective ethics is a meaningful and valid concept, there should be a clear definition of it somewhere, followed by a clear proof. So far I have found all such arguments either incoherent, logically flawed, or too vague to debate. Since I merely await a clear definition and valid proof, there are no articles I can reference for that awaiting. However, I can point to specific articles and some threads where, in response to attempted proofs of natural law or other objective ethical theories, I have given concrete refutations stating my position viz a viz those theories.

For example, I posted critiques of Rothbard's self-ownership (continues below), Hoppe's argumentation ethics, and Rasmussen and Den Uyl's groundwork for natural rights. Also, I found Patrick O'Neil article Ayn Rand and the Is-Ought Problem quite relevant to the overall discussion.

As I await such a proof, I grow doubtful one exists, and I suggest that there is no need for a proof to back concepts that are already persuasive on their own, and that to attempt to prove the unprovable is unlikely to be healthy for the cause of libertarianism in general. I there is an need for an alternative, Mises's praxeological approach seems promising.

Sam Armstrong:
Objective ethics really rests on your goals. If your goal is to live, and live well, then there is an algorithm that can guide you to being socially moral.

Right, this is saying "Given that your goal is Y, you ought to do X." Like, "If you want to go to the supermarket, you ought to turn left at that gas station over there."

If this is what is meant by "objective ethics," then I am in agreement with it. It's just something akin to Mises's utilitarianism or consequentialism. But I think (hoping to be wrong) that most advocates of objective ethics mean something a little different from this.

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Sat, Dec 5 2009 1:37 AM

Merlin:

AJ:
Adam Knott: "If all people do not agree on either system---if there is not complete unanimity---then the question naturally arises as to the legal status of those not agreeing with the system in question (the legal status of outsiders, as defined by the AnCap legal code or system we are referring to)."

If you don’t agree with anyone, anytime, anywhere on anything, you just have to weight the pros and cons of forcibly making him change his mind, of peacefully trying to convince him to act differently or to just do nothing about it, and then you act according to your preferences. The “de facto” legal tradition of a society emerges out of the such judgments of all its members.

So, when at (least) I say that a system of un-legitimately violable property rights, based on homesteading and voluntary transfer of property (i.e. “anarchy” or “panarchy”) is to be preferred, I intend that a) most people would willingly cling to such standards of justice emanating out of property rights, if given a chance to, as it would turn out to be a preferable agreement to most people and that b) those disagreeing will be in no position to forcibly challenge this tacit concordat. Anyone wishing for anything more than this is an utopian and shall never find peace or satisfaction.

These are good points, especially the part I bolded. I'm also wondering, though, if you can articulate the reasons why such a legal system would need to be binding to everyone in a given territory.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

AJ:

My position, as a position, is merely: If objective morality or objective ethics is a meaningful and valid concept, there should be a clear definition of it somewhere, followed by a clear proof. So far I have found all such arguments either incoherent, logically flawed, or too vague to debate. Since I merely await a clear definition and valid proof, there are no articles I can reference for that awaiting. However, I can point to specific articles and some threads where, in response to attempted proofs of natural law or other objective ethical theories, I have given concrete refutations stating my position viz a viz those theories.

You haven't been ever able to refute natural law.  You simply refuse to explicitly accept what is good and just as opposed to what is bad and unjust.  The proof is in this self-evident axiom.  You use what you try to deny.  Don't act as if that's never been explained to you and you have never been referred to the writings covering this.  Don't be coy.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

AJ:

But I think (hoping to be wrong) that most advocates of objective ethics mean something a little different from this.

I've never seen anybody take something so simple and make not only a mound out of the mole hill but a mountain range larger than the Rocky's.  AJ - lol - you complicate everything so much....lol.  cheer up

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,209
Points 35,645
Merlin replied on Sat, Dec 5 2009 12:37 PM

wilderness:
You simply refuse to accept what is good and just as opposed to what is bad and unjust.

Wow, I haven't heard somthing like this since Toruemada:) Come on people, the very fact that the existence of natural right is ofet debated by libertarians (in this very blog), should proove that there is no such thing as a "universal, inehrent" ethical standard.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
  • | Post Points: 35
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

Merlin; how is disagreement on an issue proof that neither side is correct?

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

Merlin:

wilderness:
You simply refuse to accept what is good and just as opposed to what is bad and unjust.

Wow, I haven't heard somthing like this since Toruemada:) Come on people, the very fact that the existence of natural right is ofet debated by libertarians (in this very blog), should proove that there is no such thing as a "universal, inehrent" ethical standard.

Merely because somebody doesn't explicitly accept something doesn't define itself as a refutation.  A person sets out two oranges on the table says there are three.  They are absolutely wrong.

Axiomatically you affirm natural rights

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,491
Points 43,390

I axiomatically affirm the Torah is the word of God. Are you persuaded yet?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 3,011
Points 47,070

You affirm you exist by denying it. Convinced?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,491
Points 43,390

But I do not affirm the existence of natural rights by denying them.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 752
Points 16,735
Sage replied on Sat, Dec 5 2009 2:02 PM

AJ:
I am wondering where the full defense or proof is.

Answering that question is beyond the scope of this thread. Wink

But seriously, Long has said that his natural law theory is a work in progress, so there is no fully completed defense (yet).

AJ:
My position, as a position, is merely: If objective morality or objective ethics is a meaningful and valid concept, there should be a clear definition of it somewhere, followed by a clear proof. So far I have found all such arguments either incoherent, logically flawed, or too vague to debate. Since I merely await a clear definition and valid proof, there are no articles I can reference for that awaiting.

So you're saying that the burden of proof lies with the natural law theorist? If so, what do you make of Long's argument that the burden of proof rests with the opponents of natural law?

AJ:
Right, this is saying "Given that your goal is Y, you ought to do X." Like, "If you want to go to the supermarket, you ought to turn left at that gas station over there."

Long's ethics is hypothetical-imperative in this sense, except he argues that everyone has an ultimate end, eudaimonia. So given that everyone has the goal of eudaimonia, we can objectively say what they ought to do.

AJ:
I there is an need for an alternative, Mises's praxeological approach seems promising.

Well, Long's project is explicitly praxeological. See his Foundations of Libertarian Ethics seminar.

AnalyticalAnarchism.net - The Positive Political Economy of Anarchism

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

scineram:
But I do not affirm the existence of natural rights by denying them.

for yourself or for your interlocutor?

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 3,011
Points 47,070

scineram:
But I do not affirm the existence of natural rights by denying them.
By denying them, you claim ownership of yourself. You know the standard drill on this. You know you can't get anywhere due to the apriori nature.

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 342
Points 6,665

Sage:

Long's ethics is hypothetical-imperative in this sense, except he argues that everyone has an ultimate end, eudaimonia. So given that everyone has the goal of eudaimonia, we can objectively say what they ought to do.

This isn't necessarily true. Some people may very well may have as the goal of their life be that other people die. I would not be able to say to the person who is trying to set off a nuke right next to him in the middle of New York that he is objectively immoral, since his objective is to kill as many people as he possibly can. If his actual goal was to live, and it was of a higher priority than killing innocent people, then and only then could I say that his action is immoral, since he is clearly mistaken in his actions leading to his living.

I will however note that you and I probably do have as our goal our own lives, especially considering that evolution practically ensures that that is the case. And so it is for the vast vast majority of humans that we may say act immorally when they violate other's rights.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,209
Points 35,645
Merlin replied on Sat, Dec 5 2009 6:00 PM

nirgrahamUK:
Merlin; how is disagreement on an issue proof that neither side is correct?

That would happen in the very rare occurrence of one side claiming to speak something with which every human being should agree with, i.e. “natural right”, “inherently valid morality”, “build-in ethics”. Of course in other, more ‘modest’ discussions the argument is of no use.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

so disagreement on an issue is proof that neither side is correct because  ...... 

 

please fill in the blank.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,491
Points 43,390

Knight_of_BAAWA:

scineram:
But I do not affirm the existence of natural rights by denying them.
By denying them, you claim ownership of yourself. You know the standard drill on this. You know you can't get anywhere due to the apriori nature.

 

I already said I do not. Juan does, or was it you?

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Sat, Dec 5 2009 10:36 PM

Sage:

AJ:
My position, as a position, is merely: If objective morality or objective ethics is a meaningful and valid concept, there should be a clear definition of it somewhere, followed by a clear proof. So far I have found all such arguments either incoherent, logically flawed, or too vague to debate. Since I merely await a clear definition and valid proof, there are no articles I can reference for that awaiting.

So you're saying that the burden of proof lies with the natural law theorist? If so, what do you make of Long's argument that the burden of proof rests with the opponents of natural law?

Well, he is completely correct in saying that opponents of natural law (meaning very specifically those who aim to refute a particular conception of natural law as logically false) have a burden of proof, but so do proponents of natural law. The form of Long's argument is essentially as follows.

Premise 1: It seems to people that they are expressing more than subjective preference when they condemn something as immoral (moreover, our ordinary practices assume this to be true).

Premise 2: What seems to be (and what our ordinary practices assume) determines where the burden of proof lies: i.e., the burden of does not lie with proving what seems to be, but with proving something contrary to what seems to be.

Conclusion: The burden of proof is not on natural rights theorists, but on anyone proposing anything different from natural rights.

I certainly accept Premise 1, and I'm willing to grant Premise 2 for now. However, the conclusion does not seem to follow. The conclusion that is drawable seems more like the following:

Revised Conclusion: The burden of proof is on anyone who claims that people are only expressing subjective preference when they condemn something as immoral.

This I agree with, but I don't claim that people are only expressing subjective preference when they condemn something as immoral (that position is called emotivism). It follows from Long's premises that there is a burden of proof on emotivists.

However, it does not seem to follow from his premises that there is no burden of proof on objective ethicists or on natural rights theorists. After all, they assert something more than simply, "It is not the case that all condemnations of acts as immoral are simply expressions of subjective preference." In particular, I think most objective ethicists go further and actually assert that people are making objective ethical statements when they use moral language. But just because someone is not expressing a subjective opinion does not automatically mean they are making an objective statement either (let alone one that coincides with natural law). So the notion that objective ethics or natural law are a priori or logically irrefutable is something that I think does require proof.

Additionally, if we accept Long's Premise 2, then the fact that people's ethical intuitions differ and conflict, sometimes wildly (both in what "seems to be" for each individual, and what is practiced in society), seems to undermine the notion that there is no burden of proof on a specific conception of universal natural law or universal objective ethics.

Now even if the above is unconvincing, my own position qua position is not that of an opponent to objective ethics or natural law (i.e., I'm not arguing that they are false or don't exist), but that of one awaiting a coherent exposition. I have refuted specific conceptions of objective ethics and natural law, but there can always be more, so I can't say I am an opponent to those notions in general. I can't accept or reject a position until it is actually made clear.

Sage:

AJ:
Right, this is saying "Given that your goal is Y, you ought to do X." Like, "If you want to go to the supermarket, you ought to turn left at that gas station over there."

Long's ethics is hypothetical-imperative in this sense, except he argues that everyone has an ultimate end, eudaimonia. So given that everyone has the goal of eudaimonia, we can objectively say what they ought to do.

Does he argue that everyone's eudaimonia is the same?

Sage:

AJ:
I there is an need for an alternative, Mises's praxeological approach seems promising.

Well, Long's project is explicitly praxeological. See his Foundations of Libertarian Ethics seminar.

I'll be interested in hearing what he has to say. For now, though, I will have to leave this part to someone better versed in praxeology.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 752
Points 16,735
Sage replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 1:14 AM

Sam Armstrong:
This isn't necessarily true. Some people may very well may have as the goal of their life be that other people die. I would not be able to say to the person who is trying to set off a nuke right next to him in the middle of New York that he is objectively immoral, since his objective is to kill as many people as he possibly can.

Long argues here that rational agency requires language, which contains agent neutral values, which must be incorporated into our ultimate end (eudaimonia). So any action commits you to eudaimonia. So all actors (i.e humans) are committed to eudaimonia.

AJ:
Premise 1: It seems to people that they are expressing more than subjective preference when they condemn something as immoral (moreover, our ordinary practices assume this to be true).

I think this premise should be revised to "It seems to people that they are assuming an objective moral standard when they condemn something as immoral (moreover, our ordinary practices assume this to be true)." In which case your original conclusion would follow.

AJ:
So the notion that objective ethics or natural law are a priori or logically irrefutable is something that I think does require proof.

Since when does something being known prior to experience make it logically irrefutable? Just because a statement is a priori doesn't guarantee that it's true.

AJ:
my own position qua position is not that of an opponent to objective ethics or natural law (i.e., I'm not arguing that they are false or don't exist), but that of one awaiting a coherent exposition.... I can't accept or reject a position until it is actually made clear.

Fair enough. But remember that Long's point is that "the justifiability of accepting Natural Law as part of one's picture of the universe does not require that the positive case for Natural Law be established first." And also that the positive case for natural law (its principium essendi) is not the only way to justify our belief in it;  we can also rely on its principium cognoscendi "to be able to say what natural rights we have or what Natural Law requires of us."

AJ:
Does he argue that everyone's eudaimonia is the same?

Yes and no. Since there are both universal and particular aspects to flourishing, it would be similar in the universal aspects and different in the particular ones. For example, he quotes Cicero's hierarchy of four roles: human nature, individual nature, social role, and chosen role; each role can trump the next. So everyone would be similar in the human nature part, but different in the individual nature part (because particular talents and inclinations overrule social roles).

AnalyticalAnarchism.net - The Positive Political Economy of Anarchism

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 1:58 AM

Sage:
I think this premise should be revised to "It seems to people that they are assuming an objective moral standard when they condemn something as immoral (moreover, our ordinary practices assume this to be true)." In which case your original conclusion would follow.

It would follow, but there is one reason I have for questioning that people assume an objective moral standard: What is the definition of "objective moral standard"? Since I've seen that people usually have a very hard (or impossible) time defining this notion even on these forums, it makes me doubtful that people in general would assume it.

Practically speaking, it seems that people mean all sorts of things when the utter condemnation of an act as immoral. Some really mean "God doesn't like it," some mean "We don't like it," some mean it "It's unhealthy for you (and all of us)," or a combination of all of these.

Moreover, the moral standard people assume in different cultures and countries is different. If we apply Long's logic to all of those different cultures we end up with many different "natural laws" that all enjoy being on the good side of the burden of proof (for each respective individual).

Sage:

AJ:
So the notion that objective ethics or natural law are a priori or logically irrefutable is something that I think does require proof.

Since when does something being known prior to experience make it logically irrefutable? Just because a statement is a priori doesn't guarantee that it's true.

I don't mean that a priori implies logically irrefutable, just that some proponents of natural law seem to say that it is a priori, and some say it is logically irrefutable.

Sage:
But remember that Long's point is that "the justifiability of accepting Natural Law as part of one's picture of the universe does not require that the positive case for Natural Law be established first."

Well, I see natural law as a useful persuasive concept. The more I hear of Long's position, the more he seems to view it that way. But I know his views are always quite nuanced.

Sage:

AJ:
Does he argue that everyone's eudaimonia is the same?

Yes and no. Since there are both universal and particular aspects to flourishing, it would be similar in the universal aspects and different in the particular ones. For example, he quotes Cicero's hierarchy of four roles: human nature, individual nature, social role, and chosen role; each role can trump the next. So everyone would be similar in the human nature part, but different in the individual nature part (because particular talents and inclinations overrule social roles).

Interesting. I suppose I'd have to read/listen to more Long to evaluate this body of theory.

Can I ask what you see as the role of natural law (and/or the benefit of advocating it) for libertarianism?

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

AJ:

Sage:
But remember that Long's point is that "the justifiability of accepting Natural Law as part of one's picture of the universe does not require that the positive case for Natural Law be established first."

Well, I see natural law as a useful persuasive concept. The more I hear of Long's position, the more he seems to view it that way. But I know his views are always quite nuanced.

Long would do well to integrate Anthony De Jasay's insights here. Freedom must be presumed due to epistemological reasons.  Therefore, not only is it the case that arguing in favour of alternatives to Freedom/PrivateProperty  is performatively contradictory  (Hoppe) , but the presumption is in favour of Freedom/Private Property  (DeJasay) 

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 752
Points 16,735
Sage replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 11:15 PM

AJ:
It would follow, but there is one reason I have for questioning that people assume an objective moral standard: What is the definition of "objective moral standard"? Since I've seen that people usually have a very hard (or impossible) time defining this notion even on these forums, it makes me doubtful that people in general would assume it.

Again, I think Long's point is that we don't need a fully elaborated theory to justify our belief in natural law. People just need to understand that there are immutable moral principles that transcend culture and preferences; why can be left to the philosopher. So if our ordinary moral practices (e.g. condemning Nazism) commit us to believing in natural law, the burden rests with the opponents.

AJ:
Moreover, the moral standard people assume in different cultures and countries is different. If we apply Long's logic to all of those different cultures we end up with many different "natural laws" that all enjoy being on the good side of the burden of proof (for each respective individual).

I think the upshot is that each culture's ordinary practices would be on the good side of the burden of proof. Now these practices may be different and even incompatible, but this doesn't show that there are different conceptions of natural law. Presumably after applying the method of reflective equilibration we would be left with a single, unified theory.

AJ:
Can I ask what you see as the role of natural law (and/or the benefit of advocating it) for libertarianism?

This is a peculiar question. As I see it, libertarianism is a theory of justice. Natural law is a conception of justice. So natural law is the core of libertarianism.

AnalyticalAnarchism.net - The Positive Political Economy of Anarchism

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,209
Points 35,645
Merlin replied on Mon, Dec 7 2009 1:10 AM

nirgrahamUK:

so disagreement on an issue is proof that neither side is correct because  ...... 

 

please fill in the blank.

 

Is my english really that bad?

Protracted disagreement on an issue, in which one of the parties assumes to be speaking of something that is “self-evident” and “inherent”, is proof enough that it isn’t.

 

In our case, if “natural righters” assume that there is such a thing as an inherent moral code in all individuals, but debate over this topic has been raging from a long time and amid many individuals who otherwise share many values, this should be proof enough that there are indeed no “natural rights”, for a large minority (at least) feels whithin themselves no such thing.

 

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
  • | Post Points: 50
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

Merlin:
inherent moral code in all individuals,

the natural rights position is not typically 'intuitionist'.

Merlin:
but debate over this topic has been raging from a long time

I don't think that examining the length of time that a disagreement persists can shed any such definitive knowledge. maybe its a sign of how dense the party that doesn't get it is? or any number of other explanations... 

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

Sage:

Again, I think Long's point is that we don't need a fully elaborated theory to justify our belief in natural law.

That's not even Long's point.  That's what natural law is about:  it is the intellect grasping for what is (in reality).  Whether what is, is discovered in a person's heart, mind, spirit, and external world.  That's no small feat.  I hypothesize that humans will be learning about the universe for thousands of years to come in the future.  Imagine if there was more peace and thus liberty.  People would be active in more productive activities and the efficiency in production would lead people into realms yet unknown, some on the horizon now and some not even thought of yet, both in knowledge and application ie. technology, the way education is presented, etc...  In liberty, in other words, without coercion initiated upon people, again in other words, when natural law is derived from not arbritrary whims that incline to initiate coercion, each individual will be able to discover for him or her self what is, not only of the outside world but of the inner world of human nature.  This is the optimistic take on human nature.  I am optimistic that human's in liberty will prosper, grasp wisdom, and do well.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 3,011
Points 47,070

Merlin:
Protracted disagreement on an issue, in which one of the parties assumes to be speaking of something that is “self-evident” and “inherent”, is proof enough that it isn’t.
No, it isn't. Never underestimate the power of self-delusion.

  • | Post Points: 5
Page 1 of 2 (63 items) 1 2 Next > | RSS