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Inner Voice or Public Logic: Praxeology and Ethics

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Sage Posted: Fri, Mar 5 2010 11:03 AM

JAlanKatz:

Sage:
If you and I are both praxeologists, and we disagree about whether some proposition or statement is correct, how do we resolve that disagreement? We can yell, we can argue, we can try to find a logical flaw in one another’s thing, but in the end we have no way to resolve it except by fighting, by saying you’re wrong and I’m right. - Milton Friedman (quoted here)

Yes, well, I think Friedman was wrong about that, but the situation for praxeology is different from that in ethics.

Can you elaborate on this?

And what do you think of Long's discussion here, p.19-21? Here's the last paragraph:

Whatever else they may disagree on, Friedman and Mises agree that an a priori ethics is impossible. Those who defend the possibility of a rationally justifiable ethics, Mises contends, are essentially claiming that moral knowledge is “imparted to man by an inner voice, i.e., by intuition,” and fail to recognize that “with regard to the interpretation of the inner voice . . . no method of peacefully settling . . . disagreements can be found” (Mises 1985, p. 53). The parallel between Mises’s criticism of a priori ethics and Friedman’s criticism of Mises’s own a priori economics is striking—and should lead us to suspect that Mises has here fallen into Friedman’s own confusion between the private character of an “inner voice” and the public character of logic.

So given that Mises' rejection of a priori ethics is exactly analogous to Friedman's rejection of a priori economics, it would seem that praxeologists are committed to objective, a priori ethics.

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Sage:
So given that Mises' rejection of a priori ethics is exactly analogous to Friedman's rejection of a priori economics, it would seem that praxeologists are committed to objective, a priori ethics.

From what I understand about praxeological economics, the starting axiom is that "individuals act to increase their satisfaction" which I think is descriptive of behavior that Mises observed, or the conclusions he drew from thinking about the behavior of individuals.  This sort of descriptive axiom is the result of observations of action, applied to attempt to understand future action.  I have a hard time envisioning a morality based statement that could be applied as broadly as the action axiom.

"What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is no word, no thought, no concept. What he says is not what is meant, and what he means is unsayable." - Max Stirner, Stirner's Critics
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JAlanKatz replied on Fri, Mar 5 2010 11:25 AM

Sage:
Can you elaborate on this?

In the realm of economics, it is not possible to reasonably disagree on human action.  The only disagreement that Friedman could be talking about is in the logical steps of deduction.  If the people are reasonable, they will find the error one is making.  If one is unreasonable, he will act as Friedman suggests, but that person would thereby exclude himself from the community of economists.  Empirically, consider that, whatever else Alabama might be, it is reasonably good on gun rights.  Yet there has never been a shootout at the meetings of Austrian economists.

Sage:
So given that Mises' rejection of a priori ethics is exactly analogous to Friedman's rejection of a priori economics, it would seem that praxeologists are committed to objective, a priori ethics.

Analogies can be misleading.  To say that two things are analogous is not a guarantee that they are both true or both false.  In this case, though, it's irrelevant.  One could believe in objective ethics without believing that arguing about ethics is as useful as arguing about economics.

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Jackson LaRose:
I have a hard time envisioning a morality based statement that could be applied as broadly as the action axiom.

This is an argument from ignorance. Economics, properly constrained, is a sub-discipline of praxeology. Law can embody cultural or individual subjective preference, but praxeology applied to legal philosophy must remain value-free.

Democracy means the opportunity to be everyone's slave.—Karl Kraus.

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E. R. Olovetto:
Economics, properly constrained, is a sub-discipline of praxeology. Law can embody cultural or individual subjective preference, but praxeology applied to legal philosophy must remain value-free.

Yeah.  I think that's what I was getting at.

"What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is no word, no thought, no concept. What he says is not what is meant, and what he means is unsayable." - Max Stirner, Stirner's Critics
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I guess I didn't realize by "morality", you meant what I call "ethics". Do you understand a bit now what I meant by the ethical-aesthetical and moral-legal divide? See how ethics and morality get used interchangeably and the problems it causes?

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E. R. Olovetto:
Do you understand a bit now what I meant by the ethical-aesthetical and moral-legal divide?

Somewhat.  I think you are saying ethical statements are value propositions, whereas morals are treated in the absolute, right?

E. R. Olovetto:
See how ethics and morality get used interchangeably and the problems it causes?

Oh yeah, I've run into that problem before.

"What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is no word, no thought, no concept. What he says is not what is meant, and what he means is unsayable." - Max Stirner, Stirner's Critics
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Jackson LaRose:

E. R. Olovetto:
Do you understand a bit now what I meant by the ethical-aesthetical and moral-legal divide?

Somewhat.  I think you are saying ethical statements are value propositions, whereas morals are treated in the absolute, right?

I guess so, at least insomuch as we understand the human form of life. I wouldn't get hung up on considering a moral law being "absolute". People aren't homogeneous elements, with valuations we can subject to typical empirical testing. Our actions will be necessarily colored with out personal preferences, but the framework within which we strive is a different matter. Sorry if I can't explain it better for now. Reinach also called this "the essential laws of right".

 

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E. R. Olovetto:
People aren't homogeneous elements, with valuations we can subject to typical empirical testing. Our actions will be necessarily colored with out personal preferences

I'm with you so far.

E. R. Olovetto:
but the framework within which we strive is a different matter.

Would this be the "moral-legal" you were referring to?

 

"What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is no word, no thought, no concept. What he says is not what is meant, and what he means is unsayable." - Max Stirner, Stirner's Critics
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Jackson LaRose:

E. R. Olovetto:
but the framework within which we strive is a different matter.

Would this be the "moral-legal" you were referring to?

Yes, and again I am sorry that I can't offer a better explanation for now. The paper in the OP looks pretty good and I am going to have a read through it.

 

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E. R. Olovetto:
Yes, and again I am sorry that I can't offer a better explanation for now. The paper in the OP looks pretty good and I am going to have a read through it.

OK.

"What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is no word, no thought, no concept. What he says is not what is meant, and what he means is unsayable." - Max Stirner, Stirner's Critics
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Sage:

And what do you think of Long's discussion here, p.19-21? Here's the last paragraph:

Whatever else they may disagree on, Friedman and Mises agree that an a priori ethics is impossible. Those who defend the possibility of a rationally justifiable ethics, Mises contends, are essentially claiming that moral knowledge is “imparted to man by an inner voice, i.e., by intuition,” and fail to recognize that “with regard to the interpretation of the inner voice . . . no method of peacefully settling . . . disagreements can be found” (Mises 1985, p. 53). The parallel between Mises’s criticism of a priori ethics and Friedman’s criticism of Mises’s own a priori economics is striking—and should lead us to suspect that Mises has here fallen into Friedman’s own confusion between the private character of an “inner voice” and the public character of logic.

So given that Mises' rejection of a priori ethics is exactly analogous to Friedman's rejection of a priori economics, it would seem that praxeologists are committed to objective, a priori ethics.

Non sequitur.  Even if a rejection of a doctrine is unsound, it doesn't thereby follow that the doctrine in question is necessarily sound.

And anyway, Long is misrepresenting Mises' argument.  In that passage from Theory and History, chapter 3, Mises isn't even addressing a priori ethics as a whole.  He's specifically addressing intuitionism: "the traditional manner of dealing with ethical precepts" that common people, not philosophers, tend to adopt.  He's not saying ALL a priori ethical doctrines are intuitionist, or stem from an inner voice; much less does he dismiss natural law ethical doctrines for allegedly being "intuitionist."  He discusses natural law ethical doctrines, and their own inherent particular weakness, in an earlier section, where he marshals an entirely different argument (emphasis added):

 The chief accomplishment of the natural law idea was its rejection of the doctrine (sometimes called legal positivism) according to which the ultimate source of statute law is to be seen in the superior military power of the legislator who is in a position to beat into submission all those defying his ordinances. Natural law taught that statutory laws can be bad laws, and it contrasted with the bad laws the good laws to which it ascribed divine or natural origin. But it was an illusion to deny that the best system of laws cannot be put into practice unless supported and enforced by military supremacy. The philosophers shut their eyes to manifest historical facts. They refused to admit that the causes they considered just made progress only because their partisans defeated the defenders of the bad causes. The Christian faith owes it success to a long series of victorious battles and campaigns, from various battles between rival Roman imperators and caesars down to the campaigns that opened the Orient to the activities of missionaries. The cause of American independence triumphed because the British forces were defeated by the insurgents and the French. It is a sad truth that Mars is for the big battalions, not for the good causes. To maintain the opposite opinion implies the belief that the outcome of an armed conflict is an ordeal by combat in which God always grants victory to the champions of the just cause. But such an assumption would annul all the essentials of the doctrine of natural law, whose basic idea was to contrast to the positive laws, promulgated and enforced by those in power, a "higher" law grounded in the innermost nature of man. 

Yet all these deficiencies and contradictions of the doctrine of natural law must not prevent us from recognizing its sound nucleus. Hidden in a heap of illusions and quite arbitrary prepossessions was the idea that every valid law of a country was open to critical examination by reason. About the standard to be applied in such an examination the older representatives of the school had only vague notions. They referred to nature and were reluctant to admit that the ultimate standard of good and bad must be found in the effects produced by a law. Utilitarianism finally completed the intellectual evolution inaugurated by the Greek Sophists. 

But neither utilitarianism nor any of the varieties of the doctrine of natural law could or did find a way to eliminate the conflict of antagonistic judgments of value. It is useless to emphasize that nature is the ultimate arbiter of what is right and what is wrong. Nature does not clearly reveal its plans and intentions to man. Thus the appeal to natural law does not settle the dispute. It merely substitutes dissent concerning the interpretation of natural law for dissenting judgments of value. Utilitarianism, on the other hand, does not deal at all with ultimate ends and judgments of value. It invariably refers only to means.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Adam Knott replied on Wed, Mar 10 2010 11:54 PM

Sage:

And what do you think of Long's discussion here, p.19-21? Here's the last paragraph:

Whatever else they may disagree on, Friedman and Mises agree that an a priori ethics is impossible. Those who defend the possibility of a rationally justifiable ethics, Mises contends, are essentially claiming that moral knowledge is “imparted to man by an inner voice, i.e., by intuition,” and fail to recognize that “with regard to the interpretation of the inner voice . . . no method of peacefully settling . . . disagreements can be found” (Mises 1985, p. 53). The parallel between Mises’s criticism of a priori ethics and Friedman’s criticism of Mises’s own a priori economics is striking—and should lead us to suspect that Mises has here fallen into Friedman’s own confusion between the private character of an “inner voice” and the public character of logic.

So given that Mises' rejection of a priori ethics is exactly analogous to Friedman's rejection of a priori economics, it would seem that praxeologists are committed to objective, a priori ethics.

Sage:

The issue is whether in speaking about a priori, we are speaking about the content or the form of actions.

Mises's economics is a priori to the extent it only refers to the form of economic propositions, and not their material content:

"Praxeology is a theoretical and systematic, not a historical, science.  Its scope is human action as such, irrespective of all environmental, accidental, and individual circumstances of the concrete acts.  Its cognition is purely formal and general without reference to the material content and the particular features of the actual case.  It aims at knowledge valid for all instances in which the conditions exactly correspond to those implied in its assumptions and inferences."  (HA, 3rd rev. p.32)(emphasis added)

So Misesian praxeology is a priori because it refers only to categories of action without reference to the content of the particular action.

The objective, a priori ethics you are referring to, as I understand it, is one that refers to the content of the individual case.  (i.e., eating poisonous mushrooms is "objectively" immoral)   Mises would deny that an a priori ethics that tries to make universally valid propositions using "contentual" as opposed to "formal" reasoning, is possible.

He would not deny that an a priori science that studies "ethical actions" (actions of an ethical nature) is impossible.  Because it is possible to study such actions formally, without reference to any particular ethical action.

As Mises stated:

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..."  (UF, p.98)

The difference between what Mises had in mind, and what objective ethics has in mind, is a purely formal approach, versus an approach that tries to reach conclusions that refer to partcular content but  are still universally valid (i.e, eating poisonous mushrooms is "objectively" immoral).

It is important to realize that this conception of things didn't originate with Mises.  This view is essential to Menger's conception of theoretical exact science, which is Menger's term for praxeology:

"Strict (exact) laws of phenomena can never be the result of the realistic school of thought in theoretical research even if this were the most perfect conceivable and its fundamental observation the most comprehensive and most critical."

Menger's point is the same as Mises's.  To make universally valid, a priori propositions, the concepts must be stripped of material content:

"...with the assumption of strictly typical elements, of their exact measure, and of their complete isolation form all other causative factors, it (praxeology) does to be sure, and indeed on the basis of the rules of cognition characterized by us above, arrive at laws of phenomena which are not only absolute, but according to our laws of thinking simply cannot be thought of in any other way but as absolute.  That is, it arrives at exact laws, the so-called "laws of nature" of phenomena."  (Menger, Investigations, Book 1, Chapter 4)(emphasis added)

So the issue is whether in discussing the idea of an a priori ethics, we are talking about the attempt to arrive at an a priori "justification" for a set of concrete ethical norms, or, whether we are talking about a set of a priori propositions concerning actions of an ethical nature (actions directed toward another person) that are universally valid based on the beginning presuppositions and because the propositions do not refer to specific content.  Objective ethics is concerned with the former, praxeology with the latter.

Those that come through the Rothard school typically mis-conceive the nature of Mises's a priori system.  Hoppe makes the same mistake:

"Mises, however, although his idea of praxeology and his construction of an entire body of praxeological thought places him among the greats of the modern Western tradition of rationalism in the search for certain foundations, does not think that another claim of this tradition can be made good: the claim for certain foundations also in ethical matters.  According to Mises there exists no ultimate justification for ethical propositions in the same sense as there exists one for economic propositions." ("On the Ultimate Justification of the Ethics of Private Property")

Mises's system is based on a formal construct that derives from the phenomenon of action; aiming at ends.  The foundations of his system are certain because they are anchored in this phenomenon and deduced from it without reference to the concrete objects of action:

"Praxeology envisages the successful attainment of these goals though the scrutiny of human affairs from a specific point of view that recognizes the teleological and rational nature of human action.  This point of view makes possible the construction of chains of reasoning that are purely formal, in the sense that they refer to goods, services or factors of production only abstractly; they depend for their validity not on the specific objects with which human action may be concretely concerned, but only on postulated attitudes of men towards them." (Kirzner, The Economic Point of View, p.179)(emphasis added)

What Rothbard, Hoppe, Long, and others failed to consider, is whether there are actions of an ethical nature in contradistinction to actions aimed toward the market economy.  Rothbard supported the concept of human action and the logic of action to the extent it reached conclusions he was in agreement with concerning market phenomena.  But he abandoned and rejected the entire idea of human action in the realms of human action outside the market economy.  But this was a mistake, since there are obviously human actions (goal-directed actions) that traditional economics does not treat:

"The subject matter of economics came to be connected with the material things that are the objects of traffic in the market; it came to be linked peculiarly with the use of money in market transactions or with the special social relationships that characterize the market system.  Where writers came closest to the recognition that these criteria were only accidental characteristics of the affairs upon which economic analysis could be brought to bear, where they were able to glimpse the congenerousness of the specifically economic type of analysis with the underlying actions of men, they were unable to follow this clue to the conclusion to which it pointed."

"In finding the economic aspect of activities in general to consist in concern with the ends-means relationship, this conception too includes within its scope kinds of actions with which economics has had traditionally little to do."  (Kirzner, The Economic Point of View, p.183)(emphasis added)

So what has happened is that following Rothbard, most Austrian social theorists have conceived ethics as a contentual-oriented discipline, and economics via praxeology as a formal, logical, and deductive discipline.  They have concluded that praxeology as a discipline can shed no light on the subject realm of ethics.

"This procedure is perfectly proper for the formal science of praxeology, or economic theory, but not necessarily elsewhere." (EOL, p.12)

Then they ask, since economics is a priori, why can't ethics be a priori ?   And they simply don't realize or refuse to recognize, it is because one is based on formal reasoning while the other departs from formal reasoning and tries to arrive at a system of universally valid concrete norms of behavior (eating poisonous mushrooms is objectively immoral).

In other words, on the one hand they assert that praxeology doesn't apply to ethical phenomena, then, on the other hand they ask:  why can't ethics be a priori?

 

 

 

 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 4:24 AM

Adam Knott:
And they simply don't realize or refuse to recognize, it is because one is based on formal reasoning while the other departs from formal reasoning and tries to arrive at a system of universally valid concrete norms of behavior (eating poisonous mushrooms is objectively immoral).

Wrong, totally wrong. Massive strawman & non sequitur right there.

There is a difference between political philosophy & personal morality / ethics. One being universal (political philosophy) & the other being individual, both being objective however.

In Rothbard's writings he was putting forward a system / theory of political philosophy, folks like you then strawman him - much like that 'chimera' post... contending that he was trying to put forward a 'universal' objective value [and force it on others], within the 'individual' / personal ethics realm, which he was not. You and others don't make a distinction & that is epic fail.

"Libertarianism, then, is a philosophy seeking a policy. But what else can a libertarian philosophy say about strategy, about “policy”? In the first place, surely—again in Acton’s words—it must say that liberty is the “highest political end,” the overriding goal of libertarian philosophy. Highest political end, of course, does not mean “highest end” for man in general. Indeed, every individual has a variety of personal ends and differing hierarchies of importance for these goals on his personal scale of values. Political philosophy is that subset of ethical philosophy which deals specifically with politics, that is, the proper role of violence in human life (and hence the explication of such concepts as crime and property). Indeed, a libertarian world would  beone in which every individual would at last be free to seek and pursue his own ends—to “pursue happiness,” in the felicitous Jeffersonian phrase." - TEOL, chp 30

In addition; this - http://mises.org/misesreview_detail.aspx?control=307

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Grayson Lilburne:
It is useless to emphasize that nature is the ultimate arbiter of what is right and what is wrong. Nature does not clearly reveal its plans and intentions to man. Thus the appeal to natural law does not settle the dispute. It merely substitutes dissent concerning the interpretation of natural law for dissenting judgments of value. Utilitarianism, on the other hand, does not deal at all with ultimate ends and judgments of value. It invariably refers only to means.

In the natural law tradition, Mises has this wrong here, nature means intellect. (the rest of the human and the rest of the world, ie. reality).  Intellect is means to ends.  Intellect is deriving law out of the reality of circumstances with axioms and logical deductions.  To self-reflect and experience - what is being self-reflected upon and what is known in experience is nature, ie reality.  Human's are not isolated but are part of nature.  When a human self-reflects the human is self-reflecting upon nature but in this sense it is intellectually known that it is the nature of a human that is being reflected upon.

Conza did a good post of explaining the distinction between political and personal ethics.

There is a logical deduction of liberty, ie. the absence of initiated physical aggression and threat thereof, - politically - meaning what that means for each individual not having physical aggression initiated against him or her self.  Wars and battles, initiating physical aggression type, are not economical, prosperous, nor obviously peaceful.  To advocate making decisions to preemptive strike violates the NAP and then there is nothing left to distinguish between a libertarian and non-libertarian.  Or simply put, a civil or uncivil human being.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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Mises is right in that there can be no other way to decipher ethics, because they don't exist, they are simply preferences. The only thing which we should focus on is the most logical and least violent type of inherently violent preferences possible, however both are basically wrong because objective ethics cannot exist, Mises has the far more logical position as he admits that there is nothing decipherable or very real about them, merely one's consciousness.

Ethics are the final mysticism to be overcome by most people, but few actually do so.

"Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that hath gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it." -Thus Spake Zarathustra
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The Late Andrew Ryan:

Mises is right in that there can be no other way to decipher ethics, because they don't exist, they are simply preferences. The only thing which we should focus on is the most logical and least violent type of inherently violent preferences possible, however both are basically wrong because objective ethics cannot exist, Mises has the far more logical position as he admits that there is nothing decipherable or very real about them, merely one's consciousness.

Ethics are the final mysticism to be overcome by most people, but few actually do so.

^^^^ this is the kind of disinformation that always starts when strawman posts end up in threads.

edit:  And TLAR, I will try to discuss with you, if you're up to it, and though our last discussion was very healthy and I enjoyed it greatly it did end with me wondering if you conceive the difference between axiomatic and logical deductions.  It would be an honor to go through that once again, but if we don't have the terms down pat, then we may not reach the current discussion in this thread any time soon and it might be prudent to avoid a discussion in this thread on the topic as to not derail the thread.  Maybe we could private message?

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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Adam,

eating poisonuous mushrooms is aprior unethical?  Nowhere has Rothbard or any rational science of justice adhered to anything remotely near such.

It is because of praxeologic that the criminal as well as the innocent are known.  Natural law of human nature is able to make the distinction same as a praxeologic-economists is able to make the distinction between a socialist and free marketer.  And it is human action to reach the ends based on the means, meaning, a decision is made by each individual.  Which end does the individual want and what are the best means to such an end?  To remain innocent or become a criminal?  To form a socialist market or free market?  A choice is made it is human action.  Whether that choice is shared during any scientific investigation, ie when the economist refrains from being an entrepreneur, doesn't mean the economist doesn't shop around between various stores in the market, invest in stock, or own a business on the side of his or her studies; nor does the entrepreneur need to not investigate economist findings and make choices, ie. Peter Schiff, Jim Rogers, etc....

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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AJ replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 6:41 AM

The Late Andrew Ryan:
Mises is right in that there can be no other way to decipher ethics, because they don't exist, they are simply preferences.

I think to say that ethical views are "simply preferences" is stating the case a bit too strongly (which the opposition will nail you on), in that there are biological components to consider. It's especially unsettling at first glance to be told that all moral impulses are merely arbitrary, and it provokes unfavorable initial reactions. I think this type of reaction can be mitigated with a little more of a complete picture.

Rather than jump into yet-another-LvMI-ethics-discussion (for now Wink), I found a fascinating and intelligent debate on the issue here: The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth About Morality and What To Do About It

Although not particularly libertarian, the discussion touches on nearly all the perennial topics of the recent ethics threads here on the LvMI forums, and even noted panarchist Patri Friedman joins in (as does Silas Barta who often posts on the Mises blog).

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 6:48 AM

AJ:
I think this type of reaction can be mitigated with a little more of a complete picture.

Something those who ignorantly conflate political philosophy with personal ethics, undoubtedly need more of.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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If ethics are taken as rules of interpersonal conduct, what would preclude epistemological proofs/negative demonstrations like de Jasay's or Hoppe's?

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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wilderness:

Adam,

eating poisonuous mushrooms is aprior unethical?  Nowhere has Rothbard or any rational science of justice adhered to anything remotely near such.

Wilderness:  The Ethics of Liberty, p.32

 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

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Adam Knott:

wilderness:

Adam,

eating poisonuous mushrooms is aprior unethical?  Nowhere has Rothbard or any rational science of justice adhered to anything remotely near such.

Wilderness:  The Ethics of Liberty, p.32

 

For the reader's convenience... (bold and underline emphasis added)

"Suppose now that Crusoe is confronted with a choice of either picking berries or picking some mushrooms for food, and he decides upon the pleasantly tasting mushrooms, when suddenly a previously shipwrecked inhabitant, coming upon Crusoe, shouts: “Don’t do that! Those mushrooms are poisonous.” There is no mystery in Crusoe’s subsequent shift to berries. What has happened here? Both men have operated on an assumption so strong that it remained tacit, an assumption that poison is bad, bad for the health and even for the survival of the human organism—in short, bad for the continuation and the quality of a man’s life. In this implicit agreement on the value of life and health for the person, and on the evils of pain and death, the two men have clearly arrived at the basis of an ethic, grounded on reality and on the natural laws of the human organism."

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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wilderness replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 10:00 AM

Grayson Lilburne:
Adam Knott:

wilderness:
Adam,

eating poisonuous mushrooms is aprior unethical?  Nowhere has Rothbard or any rational science of justice adhered to anything remotely near such.

Wilderness:  The Ethics of Liberty, p.32

For the reader's convenience... (bold and underline emphasis added)

"Suppose now that Crusoe is confronted with a choice of either picking berries or picking some mushrooms for food, and he decides upon the pleasantly tasting mushrooms, when suddenly a previously shipwrecked inhabitant, coming upon Crusoe, shouts: “Don’t do that! Those mushrooms are poisonous.” There is no mystery in Crusoe’s subsequent shift to berries. What has happened here? Both men have operated on an assumption so strong that it remained tacit, an assumption that poison is bad, bad for the health and even for the survival of the human organism—in short, bad for the continuation and the quality of a man’s life. In this implicit agreement on the value of life and health for the person, and on the evils of pain and death, the two men have clearly arrived at the basis of an ethic, grounded on reality and on the natural laws of the human organism."

yes.  and?  That's not about politics or legal concepts.

edit:  Also.  I'll explain more.  If the end is "continuation and the quality of a man's life", then clearly the means of eating a poisonous mushroom is not going to achieve those ends.  The one man says that's poisonous.  The other man implicitly agreed to the end as he shifted from the mushroom to berries.  This interpersonal relationship was explained (ethics) and it involved a mushroom event.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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wilderness replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 10:52 AM

Adam Knott:
...

"Planning for Freedom" p. 140:

"However, the only thing that matters is whether or not the program concerned is fit to attain the ends sought. A bad program and a bad policy can never be explained, still less justified by pointing to the unsatisfactory conditions of its originators and supporters.  The sole question that counts is whether or not these policies can remove or alleviate the evils which they are designed to remedy." - Mises

So there are ends that are evil to "remove" and "alleviate"?  I know what Mises means.  I know what Rothbard means. 

There is a difference between personal ethics and political ethics (law in the legal sense of the concept).  There is a difference between economics and politic-justice.  There is a difference between "evil" in the moral sense and "evil" in the sense of not attaining the end that is sought due to bad means.  Yet what is the difference when they are both evil?  I guess it depends on the end being sought by a certain rational means.

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Adam Knott replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 11:01 AM

Hi Jon

Here's what I believe is the essential issue:

In social science we will not be able to escape or overcome the general phenomenon of causation, regardless of how each individual social thinker chooses to conceive of causation.  (exact laws, a priori propositions, constitutive means, etc....)

Social science ultimately returns to the relationship between some act A, and some consequence B, whether the consequence is conceived as following A or co-present with A.  Then the question becomes the precise nature of the relationship between act A and consequence B.

Both Menger and Mises are primarily if not exclusively focused on necessary relationships between A and B such that if A occurs, B must necessarily also occur.   To achieve a demonstration of such a necessary relationship, they are forced, by the laws of logic and the laws of thinking, toward a mode of reasoning that is more and more formal, and less and less referring to particular content.  This is necessary if one wants to arrive at the kind of praxeological knowledge both thinkers were primarily concerned with.

The law of marginal utility which asserts a necessary relationship between an actor's supply and his valuing with respect to that supply, does not refer to any particular good.  It is formal in nature, without respect to material content.

One need not be concerned with this kind of knowledge.  One can focus on empirical knowledge and empirical regularities.  But once one explicitly agrees to relinquish a claim to "apodictic certainty" in one's propositions, this entails a fundamental change in the nature of the propositions one can make.  This means that the relationship between A and B, strictly speaking, is characterized by the word "might."

A might lead to B.   B might be co-present with A.   Etc....

I'm not familiar with Jasay's demonstration, but I am familiar with Hoppe's.  Generally he provides two sets of consequences that follow or are co-present with arguing against a nonlibertarian ethic.  One consequence is performative contradiction, the other is the more drastic consequence of "not being able to do anything," etc...  Hoppe argues that if you do act X (arguing against a nonlibertarian ethic), then consequence Y will befall you (performative contradiction or not being able to do anything).   In his theory, he keeps this implicit, I assume, because, following Rothbard, he wants to avoid utilitarianism. 

Then the question becomes whether those two things must befall the individual who argues against libertarianism, or whether those things only might befall that person.

The general problem of all nonformal approaches to social phenomena is that on the one hand they seek to make statements about the relationship between two concrete events, and on the other hand, they seek to avoid using the conjunctive "might" to characterize the relationship between them.

For example, in the context of the current debate and discussion, Rothbard begins with a standard cause and effect conception of natural law:

"It also follows that when these various things meet and interact, a specifically delimitable and definable result will occur.  In short, specific, delimitable causes will have specific, delimitable effects." (EOL p.9)(emphasis added on "will")

This is intended to apply to the moral and ethical actions of individuals, so that on page 32 he writes:

"If Crusoe, on the other hand, had known of the poison and eaten the mushrooms anyway....then his decision would have been objectively immoral,..."

Rothbard is saying that knowingly eating poisonous mushrooms (act A) leads to or is co-present with the immorality of Crusoe (consequence B).

Eating poisonous mushrooms "will" make one immoral.  (not "might")

But if there are cases where Crusoe can knowingly eat poisonous mushrooms and not be considered immoral, then where "would have been" is written, this is not accurate, and the phrase "might have been"' is a more accurate characterization of the asserted relationship.  To be accurate, we cannot write "will" but instead must write "might."  But then does this convey the information that the social theorist wanted to convey ??

This is just one example of the principle at issue. 

It's not that Hoppe or anyone is precluded from attempting an epistemological proof that if someone acts against liberty in some fashion (act A), that some consequence B is sure to follow.  The question is whether when such a relationship between A and B is asserted either implicitly or explicitly, we can say that B must occur, or we are forced in to admitting that B might occur, but it also might not occur.

The fact that almost no social theory uses the word "might" to characterize the relationships between the actions and consequences it treats, tells me that social theorists want to say that doing A must lead to B.

But there are epistemological requirements of making such apodictically certain statements. 

This is the point Mises is trying to make.  To make apodictically necessary statements one must abandon all attempts to "prove" universal concrete values or ends.

But this is what Hoppe is trying to do:

"The answer, then, to the question of which ends can or cannot be justified is to be derived from the concept of argumentation." (A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, p.131)(emphasis added)

 

 

 

 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

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wilderness replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 11:16 AM

Adam Knott:

This is intended to apply to the moral and ethical actions of individuals, so that on page 32 he writes:

"If Crusoe, on the other hand, had known of the poison and eaten the mushrooms anyway....then his decision would have been objectively immoral,..."

Rothbard is saying that knowingly eating poisonous mushrooms (act A) leads to or is co-present with the immorality of Crusoe (consequence B).

But if there are cases where Crusoe can knowingly eat poisonous mushrooms and not be considered immoral, then where "would have been" is written, this is not accurate, and the word "might"' is a more accurate characterization of the asserted relationship.

That's an incorrect conclusion.  See my posts above.

 

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wilderness replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 11:29 AM

Another Mises quote:

"These considerations have an evident bearing on the widespread
tendency of the present age to appeal to the irrational. The
concepts rational and irrational are not applicable to ends at all.
Whoever wishes to pass judgment on ends may praise or condemn
them as good or evil, fine or vulgar, etc.
When the expressions
“rational” and “irrational” are applied to the means employed for
the attainment of an end, such a usage has significance only from
the standpoint of a definite technology. However, the use of means
other than those prescribed as “rational” by this technology can be
accounted for in only two possible ways: either the “rational”
means were not known to the actor, or he did not employ them
because he wished to attain still other ends—perhaps very foolish
ones from the point of view of the observer. In neither of these two
cases is one justified in speaking of “irrational” action." - Mises

--

One does pass judgment in accord with their actions are decision based, ie. human action.  According to Mises, and he's clarifying here what would be better stated terms of judgment instead of mislabeling action with the term irrational as human action is rational.  It all depends on the ends being sought and the use of means to meet such ends.  Do the means correctly meet those ends?  If not, then one might call those means immoral, evil, vulgar, incorrect, wrong, catastrophic, etc...  If yes, then one might call those means moral, good, fine, correct, right, prosperous, etc...  But either way, the means not fitting the end are rational, but may or may not be good, moral, correct, etc....

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wilderness:

Adam Knott:
...

"Planning for Freedom" p. 140:

"However, the only thing that matters is whether or not the program concerned is fit to attain the ends sought. A bad program and a bad policy can never be explained, still less justified by pointing to the unsatisfactory conditions of its originators and supporters.  The sole question that counts is whether or not these policies can remove or alleviate the evils which they are designed to remedy." - Mises

So there are ends that are evil to "remove" and "alleviate"?

No, Mises is not saying any ends are evil.  He's saying there are things which agents regard as "evils" (harmful things), and that agents regard removing or alleviating those things as ends.  The end is "to remove/alleviate the harmful thing", not the harmful thing itself.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Grayson Lilburne:

wilderness:

Adam Knott:
...

"Planning for Freedom" p. 140:

"However, the only thing that matters is whether or not the program concerned is fit to attain the ends sought. A bad program and a bad policy can never be explained, still less justified by pointing to the unsatisfactory conditions of its originators and supporters.  The sole question that counts is whether or not these policies can remove or alleviate the evils which they are designed to remedy." - Mises

So there are ends that are evil to "remove" and "alleviate"?

No, Mises is not saying any ends are evil.  He's saying there are things which agents regard as "evils" (harmful things), and that agents regard removing or alleviating those things as ends.

I don't know what you are saying.  You said no "ends are evil", but then say "regard... those things as ends."  Things as ends?  So they are ends that are regarded as things.  I don't know what you're saying.

Grayson Lilburne:
The end is "to remove/alleviate the harmful thing", not the harmful thing itself.

The end is to remove the harmful thing but not the harmful thing?  If the harmful thing is removed, then it is gone.  remove=now gone.

--

I don't know what you're saying, but my interpretation is there is a choice.  There is that which is evil according to what end an individual wants.  It is evil because it is not what the individual wants.  The means to avoid the evil are reasoned correctly or not.  I don't know if their means are evil, in other words, if their means are actually opposing their true intent, because even if such an individual tells me what they want and their actions persist to differ from what is logical.  Their actions differ from their verbal announcement, well, that could simply mean that the individual was lying and they are meeting their goal but they didn't want to tell me their true intent.  I may try to reason with the individual as to what means would correctly attain such a goal, but the person makes the choice and may find their means to be evil as they are not prosperous to their end.  It is a decision and their actions entail their choice.

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wilderness:

  There is that which is evil according to what end an individual wants.  It is evil because it is not what the individual wants.

Wilderness:

This is the point.

There is no basis for a designation of something as good, bad, evil, or immoral, outside of the wants of particular individuals. 

That is the crux of the disagreement between objective ethics and theoretical subjectivism:

"We originally want or desire an object not because it is agreeable or good, but we call it agreeable or good because we want or desire it; and we do this because our sensuous or supersensuous nature so requires.  There is, thus, no basis for recognizing what is good and worth wishing for outside of the faculty of desiring--i.e., the original desire and wish themselves."  (Epistemological Problems of Economics, p. 151, dictum of Jacobi)

In your two sentences above, you have basically stated the situation.

 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

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Adam Knott:

wilderness:

There is that which is evil according to what end an individual wants.  It is evil because it is not what the individual wants.

Wilderness:

This is the point.

There is no basis for a designation of something as good, bad, evil, or immoral, outside of the wants of particular individuals.

It is evil if the person wants to live, but the person chooses the wrong/evil means to attain the end of living.

Adam Knott:

That is the crux of the disagreement between objective ethics and theoretical subjectivism:

"We originally want or desire an object not because it is agreeable or good, but we call it agreeable or good because we want or desire it; and we do this because our sensuous or supersensuous nature so requires.  There is, thus, no basis for recognizing what is good and worth wishing for outside of the faculty of desiring--i.e., the original desire and wish themselves."  (Epistemological Problems of Economics, p. 151, dictum of Jacobi)

In your two sentences above, you have basically stated the situation.

I don't know what you're saying "basically stated the situation", but that's a good quote.

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AJ:
I think to say that ethical views are "simply preferences" is stating the case a bit too strongly (which the opposition will nail you on), in that there are biological components to consider. It's especially unsettling at first glance to be told that all moral impulses are merely arbitrary, and it provokes unfavorable initial reactions. I think this type of reaction can be mitigated with a little more of a complete picture.

Rather than jump into yet-another-LvMI-ethics-discussion (for now Wink), I found a fascinating and intelligent debate on the issue here: The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth About Morality and What To Do About It

I'll give it a go at some point (I really do have a huge reading list) but as for what you initially say, simply because something is an initial preference, doesn't make is a true ethic, even if you say that it is instilled into all men it is still your preference to enforce these, they are your preferences. It is universal that all men need to eat, but some do not. I'll take a look at the article as soon as I find time

wilderness:
edit:  And TLAR, I will try to discuss with you, if you're up to it, and though our last discussion was very healthy and I enjoyed it greatly it did end with me wondering if you conceive the difference between axiomatic and logical deductions.  It would be an honor to go through that once again, but if we don't have the terms down pat, then we may not reach the current discussion in this thread any time soon and it might be prudent to avoid a discussion in this thread on the topic as to not derail the thread.  Maybe we could private message?

I'd love to continue the discussion. I stopped replying because it got to the point where there simply seemed like an endless stream of quotes to statements which I could no longer remember the reason for saying.

"Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that hath gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it." -Thus Spake Zarathustra
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Grayson Lilburne:

wilderness:

Adam Knott:
...

"Planning for Freedom" p. 140:

"However, the only thing that matters is whether or not the program concerned is fit to attain the ends sought. A bad program and a bad policy can never be explained, still less justified by pointing to the unsatisfactory conditions of its originators and supporters.  The sole question that counts is whether or not these policies can remove or alleviate the evils which they are designed to remedy." - Mises

So there are ends that are evil to "remove" and "alleviate"?

No, Mises is not saying any ends are evil.

Maybe if I say this another way, because I truly didn't conceive what you said.  Ok.  Why I say Mises is discussing evil as an end.  When he states in the above quote:  "...remove or alleviate the evils which they are designed to remedy..." I read that the evils are what are to be remedied as the policies are designed to remove them.  The policies are means to remove an end (that Mises states is evil).

Grayson Lilburne:
He's saying there are things which agents regard as "evils" (harmful things), and that agents regard removing or alleviating those things as ends.

Right here you say "those things as ends".  So you designate "things" as "ends" that "agents regard removing or alleviating".  I mean so far in this post of mine, I'm repeating back what you said in order to point out that I know what you are talking about or how you came across.

Grayson Lilburne:
The end is "to remove/alleviate the harmful thing", not the harmful thing itself.

And here you repeated yourself.  You say the end is "....the harmful thing" (I know you added "to remove/alleviate" but that's not necessary for clarifications sake).  Then you finish the sentence with "not the harmful thing itself".  Ok.  You say the end is "the harmful thing" (I'll call this A), but then state "not the harmful thing" (I'll designate this as not-A).  You see why this didn't come across very clear?  You say the end is A, but not-A.  The end is the harmful thing, but not the harmful thing.  I'm not trying to be a stickler on logic to refute or affirm as in a debate.  I'm pointing out why that doesn't make sense and hope you see why.

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Adam Knott:
There is no basis for a designation of something as good, bad, evil, or immoral, outside of the wants of particular individuals. 

That is the crux of the disagreement between objective ethics and theoretical subjectivism:

Is that really the disagreement or is it misconceptions?  I think it's misconceptions.  The individual in self-defense has a want and uses means to attain a goal (self-defense).  The individual initiating physical aggression has a want and uses means to attain a goal (initiating physical aggression).  I designate the goal of both individuals as their actions.  The means to those goals can varying, ie. rationalizations, body, weapons, earth to stand on, etc....

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AJ replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 3:59 PM

The Late Andrew Ryan:
simply because something is an initial preference, doesn't make is a true ethic, even if you say that it is instilled into all men it is still your preference to enforce these, they are your preferences.

True, but people don't like to be told that their strongly held feelings are "mere" preferences with no backing of any kind (not even some kind of biological basis). That could almost lead people to feel like oddballs for having a strong moral urge about anything, and I don't think any argument that makes people feel that way (for having what are after all very normal emotions) is optimally effective for dispelling the myths at hand. Hence I think "preference" is just a bit too dismissive-sounding.

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AJ:

The Late Andrew Ryan:
simply because something is an initial preference, doesn't make is a true ethic, even if you say that it is instilled into all men it is still your preference to enforce these, they are your preferences.

True, but people don't like to be told that their strongly held feelings are "mere" preferences with no backing of any kind (not even some kind of biological basis). That could almost lead people to feel like oddballs for having a strong moral urge about anything, and I don't think any argument that makes people feel that way (for having what are after all very normal emotions) is optimally effective for dispelling the myths at hand. Hence I think "preference" is just a bit too dismissive-sounding.

I see where you're coming from and I agree for most issues, however I expect that people, when discussing ethics and challenging one another, should be prepared to here the most pivotal part of the issue. I would never use such language if we were not discussing ethics and I believed that the person would be directly alienated by such a statement

"Lo! I am weary of my wisdom, like the bee that hath gathered too much honey; I need hands outstretched to take it." -Thus Spake Zarathustra
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Conza88 replied on Thu, Mar 11 2010 7:11 PM

Adam Knott:

For example, in the context of the current debate and discussion, Rothbard begins with a standard cause and effect conception of natural law:

"It also follows that when these various things meet and interact, a specifically delimitable and definable result will occur.  In short, specific, delimitable causes will have specific, delimitable effects." (EOL p.9)(emphasis added on "will")

Rothbard is referring to political philosophy... 'natural law as science' is the section that quote is from.

Which makes this as obvious as night and day, because at the end of that natural law section we have:

"IT IS NOT THE intention of this book to expound or defend at length the philosophy of natural law, or to elaborate a natural-law ethic for the personal morality of man. The intention is to set forth a social ethic of liberty, i.e., to elaborate that subset of the natural law that develops the concept of natural rights, and that deals with the proper sphere of “politics,” i.e., with violence and non-violence as modes of interpersonal relations. In short, to set forth a political philosophy of liberty.

     In our view the major task of “political science” or better, “political philosophy” is to construct the edifice of natural law pertinent to the political scene." - Chp 5, TEOL (The Task of Political Philosophy)

Additionally (foot note to the text you quoted);

[3]See H.W.B. Joseph, An Introduction to Logic, 2nd rev. ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1916), pp. 407–9. For a hard-hitting defense of the view that causation states a necessary relation among entities, see R. Harre and E.H. Madden, Causal Powers: A Theory of Natural Necessity (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1975).

You should probably go do that.

Adam Knott:

This is intended to apply to the moral and ethical actions of individuals, so that on page 32 he writes:

"If Crusoe, on the other hand, had known of the poison and eaten the mushrooms anyway....then his decision would have been objectively immoral,..."

Rothbard is saying that knowingly eating poisonous mushrooms (act A) leads to or is co-present with the immorality of Crusoe (consequence B).

Eating poisonous mushrooms "will" make one immoral.  (not "might")

Wrong. You are again making the same mistake I mentioned above, that post which you & others ignored.

Chapter 6 - Crusoe Economics, Rothbard is dealing with the individual [personal] here,

"If Crusoe economics can and does supply the indispensable groundwork for the entire structure of economics and praxeology—the broad, formal analysis of human action—a similar procedure should be able to do the same thing for social philosophy, for the analysis of the fundamental truths of the nature of man vis-à-vis the nature of the world into which he is born, as well as the world of other men. Specifically, it can aid greatly in solving such problems of political philosophy as the nature and role of liberty property, and violence.[2]"

[2]Such seventeenth- and eighteenth-century constructs as “the state of nature” or “the social contract” were not wholly successful attempts to construct such a logical analysis. Such attempts were far more important than any actual historical assertions that may have been made in the course of developing these concepts.

Tell me, where any of your out of context quote deals with anything that is political, refers to violence, sphere of rights, aggression or criminality. No where - because he's talking about the individual here, personal ethics. Not political philosophy.

Once again, your post fails to make the distinction - as Rothbard has CLEARLY done, yet obviously not clear enough for some... or maybe he did, and those who continue to turn a blind eye should realise it is their failing, not his:

"For we are not, in constructing a theory of liberty and property, i.e., a "political" ethic, concerned with all personal moral principles. We are not herewith concerned whether it is moral or immoral for someone to lie, to be a good person, to develop his faculties, or be kind or mean to his neighbors. We are concerned, in this sort of discussion, solely with such "political ethical" questions as the proper role of violence, the sphere of rights, or the definitions of criminality and aggression. Whether or not it is moral or immoral for "Smith" — the fellow excluded by the owner from the plank or the lifeboat — to force someone else out of the lifeboat, or whether he should die heroically instead, is not our concern, and not the proper concern of a theory of political ethics.[5]" - Chp 20 TEOL


Rothbard's brief explication of objectivity within individual / personal ethics, can be seen as merely an aid to objective political philosophy.

The critical and unique facts about man and the ways in which he must live to survive—his consciousness, his free will and free choice, his faculty of reason, his necessity for learning the natural laws of the external world and of himself, his self-ownership, his need to “produce” by transforming nature-given matter into consumable forms—all these are wrapped up in what man’s nature is, and how man may survive and flourish. Suppose now that Crusoe is confronted with a choice of either picking berries or picking some mushrooms for food, and he decides upon the pleasantly tasting mushrooms, when suddenly a previously shipwrecked inhabitant, coming upon Crusoe, shouts: “Don’t do that! Those mushrooms are poisonous.” There is no mystery in Crusoe’s subsequent shift to berries. What has happened here? Both men have operated on an assumption so strong that it remained tacit, an assumption that poison is bad, bad for the health and even for the survival of the human organism—in short, bad for the continuation and the quality of a man’s life. In this implicit agreement on the value of life and health for the person, and on the evils of pain and death, the two men have clearly arrived at the basis of an ethic, grounded on reality and on the natural laws of the human organism.     

If Crusoe had eaten the mushrooms without learning of their poisonous effects, then his decision would have been incorrect—a possibly tragic error based on the fact that man is scarcely automatically determined to make correct decisions at all times. Hence, his lack of omniscience and his liability to error. If Crusoe, on the other hand, had known of the poison and eaten the mushrooms anyway—perhaps for “kicks” or from a very high time preference—then his decision would have been objectively immoral, an act deliberately set against his life and health. It may well be asked why life should be an objective ultimate value, why man should opt for life (in duration and quality).(5)

In reply, we may note that a proposition rises to the status of an axiom when he who denies it may be shown to be using it in the very course of the supposed refutation.(6) Now, any person participating in any sort of discussion, including one on values, is, by virtue of so participating, alive and affirming life. For if he were really opposed to life, he would have no business in such a discussion, indeed he would have no business continuing to be alive. Hence, the supposed opponent of life is really affirming it in the very process of his discussion, and hence the preservation and furtherance of one’s life takes on the stature of an incontestable axiom.

(5) On the value of life not depending on whether it is perceived as one of happiness, see Philippa R. Foot, Virtues and Vices (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), p. 41.

(6) Elsewhere, I have written: “if a man cannot affirm a proposition without employing its negation, he is not only caught in an inextricable self-contradiction; he is conceding to the negation the status of an axiom.” Rothbard, Individualism, p. 8. Also see R.P. Phillips, Modern Thomistic Philosophy (Westminster, Md.: Newman Bookshop, 1934-35), vol. 2, pp. 36-37

Look, when you're resulting to quoting massively edited sentences, out of context and attempting to refute a large part of the edifice of liberty - you're going to run into problems and err. My suggestion to you and others would be to put down your microscopes and get a "more complete picture".

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Conza88 replied on Sat, Mar 13 2010 11:03 PM

AJ:
biological basis

"Without using the terminology of natural law, psychologist Leonard Carmichael has indicated how an objective, absolute ethic can be established for man on scientific methods, based upon biological and psychological inquiry:

because man has an unchanging and an age-old, genetically determined anatomical, physiological, and psychological make-up, there is reason to believe that at least some of the "values" that he recognized as good or bad have been discovered or have emerged as human individuals have lived together for thousands of years in many societies. Is there any reason to suggest that these values, once identified and tested, may not be thought of as essentially fixed and unchanging? For example, the wanton murder of one adult by another for the purely personal amusement of the person committing the murder, once it is recognized as a general wrong, is likely always to be so recognized. Such a murder has disadvantageous individual and social effects. Or to take a milder example from esthetics, man is always likely to recognize in a special way the balance of two complementary colors because he is born with specially constituted human eyes.[29]"

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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AJ replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 3:08 AM

Conza88:

"Without using the terminology of natural law, psychologist Leonard Carmichael has indicated how an objective, absolute ethic can be established for man on scientific methods, based upon biological and psychological inquiry:

because man has an unchanging and an age-old, genetically determined anatomical, physiological, and psychological make-up, there is reason to believe that at least some of the "values" that he recognized as good or bad have been discovered or have emerged as human individuals have lived together for thousands of years in many societies. Is there any reason to suggest that these values, once identified and tested, may not be thought of as essentially fixed and unchanging? For example, the wanton murder of one adult by another for the purely personal amusement of the person committing the murder, once it is recognized as a general wrong, is likely always to be so recognized. Such a murder has disadvantageous individual and social effects. Or to take a milder example from esthetics, man is always likely to recognize in a special way the balance of two complementary colors because he is born with specially constituted human eyes.[29]"

Nice juxtaposition Stick out tongue

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