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Libertarianism, Positive Obligations, Morality vs Ethics

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ChroMattic Posted: Tue, Mar 23 2010 5:20 PM

I've learned a lot from these forums and the mises.org website in general these past few months, and for this, and other, reasons I'm extremely grateful. Now that I've gotten this out of the way, I have a few questions regarding the Libertarian ethos.

Libertarians do not believe in positive obligation (if Walter Block is right). The fundamental building block of Libertarianism is the Non-Aggression Axiom/Principle (NAP)(again, feel free to correct me at any point if I'm wrong, I want to learn). 

With these two stipulations, my questioning is going to delve into when it is okay (and I'm not really sure what I mean by "okay" I guess "good", "moral", or "morally justifiable") to violate this principle. Obviously one is allowed to violate it in self defense or in defense of property (should gentler means fail), but my questioning regards other people.

If a family member is threatened (but you aren't in anyway) is it justified to violate the NAP? To attack those who are threatening your family? I think the answer is a clear yes, not because of positive obligation... but for something else. I know its covered in the Libertarian ethics, but what is it that makes it okay to violate the NAP in protection of other individuals? Does it still apply to individuals we do not know?

Let me put it differently: There is an evil dictator who is going to kill 1 Million people, and you have the opportunity to shoot him (consequence free, in terms of your own safety/well being). To do so would violate the NAP, but he obviously shows no regard for the NAP. Is it morally justified, or even a violation of the NAP, to take his life to prevent the life of 1 million others from being taken? I'm not asking whether you have a positive obligation to do this (the answer is a resounding: no (or at least I think)), but whether you are violating your ethos by taking this action?

What about the situation where someone is a past murderer, and you come across him (he is no threat to you at that moment). What does the NAP say in that situation? Take him captive, bring him to the police? What if this man murdered your family, are you in violation of the NAP to take his life? Please, tell me if I'm using the NAP in situations where it does not apply, I'm here to learn.

Finally, the situation is set up thusly: Lets say a man steals property from you and your family and enslaves you (no one will ever find out about this) and you work and work for this man. One day he dies and his son takes over (you and your family are still alive, and you have children now too) and keeps you enslaved and makes you work the property (it is farmland). Are you justified in taking the land back in this case? Are you justified in killing the son? Lets extrapolate this further. 100 years from the point of enslavement your descendants are still working for the original enslaver's descendants; is it still justifiable for your family to take back your property (assuming for the moment that slavery isn't the moral issue)? At what point does an illegitimate claim to property become legitimate, if ever? If an illegitimate claim is never legitimate, than does that not obligate us to go back and only allow people who legitimately (whatever that means) claimed property to be able to dispense this property?

I'm lost here, and I'd like to be found if at all possible, thank you.

"It has been well said that, while we used to suffer from social evils, we now suffer from the remedies for them."

F.A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty

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Spideynw replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 5:27 PM

I am sure in a free society the NAP would be violated plenty of times.  It would be up to the victim and the aggressor to determine a resolution to the conflict.  That could include getting an arbitrator and an investigator to help out.

At most, I think only 5% of the adult population would need to stop cooperating to have real change.

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Sage replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 5:30 PM

ChroMattic:
Libertarians do not believe in positive obligation (if Walter Block is right). The fundamental building block of Libertarianism is the Non-Aggression Axiom/Principle (NAP)

Block is wrong. Libertarians take the NAP to rule out the enforceability of positive obligations. As Long writes:

Because libertarians acknowledge only negative and not positive rights, critics often assume that libertarians must also, bizarrely, acknowledge only negative and not positive obligations. But of course libertarians acknowledge both kinds of obligations. It’s just that libertarians understand negative obligations to rule out the enforceability of positive obligations; the ban on positive rights derives from conceptual constraints inherent in our negative obligations, not from any privileging of negative obligations over positive ones. (The libertarian is not, for example, committed to regarding freedom from aggression as more important than any other value.)

ChroMattic:
If a family member is threatened (but you aren't in anyway) is it justified to violate the NAP? To attack those who are threatening your family?

Defensive coercion does not violate the NAP.

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think of the usual justice investigation.  in the civil society today usually the question is asked:  Who initiated the physical aggression? (emphasis given).  In a just society the scientific evidence can be collected, the perpetrator found, etc.... (the CSI stuff if that show's still on TV).  For the most part, in everyday life the people I meet are innocent and understand who initiated coercion and who didn't.  The gov't places itself outside of the usual going-on's of current civil society.  It follows different rules.  The bigger the gov't, then the more individuals in the society who are living a life that follows different rules.  When the distinction between mine and thine degenerate to the point of not only interventionism but socialism, then clear, logical lines of boundaries become hazy and vague.  Justice is sacrificed in the name of all kinds of special pleading.

Ask who initiated the physical aggression and don't forget to ask yourself:  Is it a threat?  These all can be haggled over by interested individuals as to 'was it a threat or not' and 'who really initiated it', and that's why natural law is experienced in the real world.  The knowledge that any given individual has, supported by logic (or illogic but logic none-the-less), therefore will pass judgment on the conflict over scarcity.  It always happens, because the resolution over the conflict doesn't simply include any witnesses or armchair natural law theoreticians.  The resolution in the conflict is being judged by the very individuals challenging and struggling each other over the scarce good. 

The conflict and any preventive measures for any potential conflicts (knowing the difference between thine and mine for instance) will either be settled by violence or reasonable people communicating to avoid or minimize any potential disputes.  So the question of who's right in the dispute for any reasonable individual is to (1) figure out these conflicts; (2) stop them from happening again if necessary by containing or expelling the perpetrator(s) in some way; (3) the optimal goal is to minimize conflict.  To avoid any potential or actual conflicts that only perpetuate harm rather than elevate harm.  Basically civil society, from what I gather, demands safety and voluntary exchanges in the free market.  Now to maintain that demand and avoid any errors that may deviate from such a demand seems to be what some people choose, ie. due to their present actions.  And if people want to tear society apart, well, I think those that desire to sustain justice look to prevent that from happening cause it is about self-defense even if you are stepping in to stop somebody from initiating physical aggression against a family member.

I think that's a good start.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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Conza88 replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 11:04 PM

Sage:
Block is wrong.

I don't think so.

Could you back that up please? I fail to see how what Long has said refutes / contradicts what Walter has. (It would be a good idea for the OP, or you to outline this)

Or how you are taking to mean "positive obligations".

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filc replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 11:20 PM

Sage:
Defensive coercion does not violate the NAP.

offtopic but The term defensive coercion seems oxymoronic to me. Either your coercing or defending. One is an aggressor, the other is a defender. You cannot have both defenders, and both aggressors. 

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filc:

Sage:
Defensive coercion does not violate the NAP.

offtopic but The term defensive coercion seems oxymoronic to me. Either your coercing or defending. One is an aggressor, the other is a defender. You cannot have both defenders, and both aggressors. 

Hi filc,

Coercion and aggression aren't the same thing; the latter is always the former, but the former is not always the latter.  Coercion is control via force, which can include forcing a mass-murderer onto the gallows or a burglar out of your house at gunpoint.  Aggression is initiation of force.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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filc replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 11:38 PM

Yea that makes sense I guess.

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Conza88 replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 11:56 PM

ChroMattic:
Obviously one is allowed to violate it in self defense or in defense of property (should gentler means fail), but my questioning regards other people

It's not being violated. In self defense you have not initiated the threat of / and or physical aggression.

ChroMattic:
If a family member is threatened (but you aren't in anyway) is it justified to violate the NAP? To attack those who are threatening your family? I think the answer is a clear yes, not because of positive obligation... but for something else. I know its covered in the Libertarian ethics, but what is it that makes it okay to violate the NAP in protection of other individuals? Does it still apply to individuals we do not know?

The Right to Self Defense - MNR

...

Furthermore, if every man has the right to defend his person and property against attack, then he must also have the right to hire or accept the aid of other people to do such defending: he may employ or accept defenders just as he may employ or accept the volunteer services of gardeners on his lawn.

How extensive is a man's right of self-defense of person and property? The basic answer must be: up to the point at which he begins to infringe on the property rights of someone else. For, in that case, his "defense" would in itself constitute a criminal invasion of the just property of some other man, which the latter could properly defend himself against.

...

It follows that defensive violence may only be used against an actual or directly threatened invasion of a person's property – and may not be used against any nonviolent "harm" that may befall a person's income or property value.

...

Defensive violence, therefore, must be confined to resisting invasive acts against person or property. But such invasion may include two corollaries to actual physical aggression: intimidation, or a direct threat of physical violence; and fraud, which involves the appropriation of someone else's property without his consent, and is therefore "implicit theft."

Thus, suppose someone approaches you on the street, whips out a gun, and demands your wallet. He might not have molested you physically during this encounter, but he has extracted money from you on the basis of a direct, overt threat that he would shoot you if you disobeyed his commands. He has used the threat of invasion to obtain your obedience to his commands, and this is equivalent to the invasion itself.

It is important to insist, however, that the threat of aggression be palpable, immediate, and direct; in short, that it be embodied in the initiation of an overt act. Any remote or indirect criterion – any "risk" or "threat" – is simply an excuse for invasive action by the supposed "defender" against the alleged "threat." One of the major arguments, for example, for the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s was that the imbibing of alcohol increased the likelihood of (unspecified) people committing various crimes; therefore, prohibition was held to be a "defensive" act in defense of person and property. In fact, of course, it was brutally invasive of the rights of person and property, of the right to buy, sell, and use alcoholic beverages.

ChroMattic:
Let me put it differently: There is an evil dictator who is going to kill 1 Million people, and you have the opportunity to shoot him (consequence free, in terms of your own safety/well being). To do so would violate the NAP, but he obviously shows no regard for the NAP. Is it morally justified, or even a violation of the NAP, to take his life to prevent the life of 1 million others from being taken? I'm not asking whether you have a positive obligation to do this (the answer is a resounding: no (or at least I think)), but whether you are violating your ethos by taking this action?

So this person has not killed anyone yet? We're assuming they are going (might) kill, or give orders to kill people? And as such, can justifiably be killed?

"I propose another fundamental rule regarding crime: the criminal, or invader, loses his own right to the extent that he has deprived another man of his. If a man deprives another man of some of his self-ownership or its extension in physical property, to that extent does he lose his own rights.[5] From this principle immediately derives the proportionality theory of punishment – best summed up in the old adage: "let the punishment fit the crime."Devil"

If he's killed someone, he in turn - loses his right to life. As such, there would be no initiation of violence. The issue becomes, if he turns out to be innocent - then whoever killed him, is now to be deemed a murderer - and liable as such.

Radical Privatization and other Libertarian Conundrums by Walter Block

Block, Walter. 2002. “Radical Privatization and other Libertarian Conundrums,” The International Journal of Politics and Ethics, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 165-175

"Libertarianism is limited to political philosophy; it does not include ethics [here he means personal morality / ethics. Essentially though, political philosophy is a subset of ethics]. It takes no view whatsoever as to the moralitv of pornography, prostitution, homosexuality, gambling, drugs, etc. It states only that, given that these acts take place between consenting adults, they should not be proscribed by law. When prohibited they are victimless crimes, and thus should be legalized.

...

Even more narrowly, libertarianism may properly be construed solely as a theory of punishment. If someone uses coercion, then it is proper to utilize physical force against him, with the goal of rectifying the injustice, compensating the victim, as much as possible7.

ChroMattic:
What about the situation where someone is a past murderer, and you come across him (he is no threat to you at that moment). What does the NAP say in that situation? Take him captive, bring him to the police? What if this man murdered your family, are you in violation of the NAP to take his life? Please, tell me if I'm using the NAP in situations where it does not apply, I'm here to learn.

Who were the victims next of kin etc? How do you know he was a murderer? Has he already been "dealt" with? i.e the grieving family, accepted money / his remorse and forgiveness? Or is he still at large? Read the self defence article, touches on this.

ChroMattic:
Finally, the situation is set up thusly: Lets say a man steals property from you and your family and enslaves you (no one will ever find out about this) and you work and work for this man. One day he dies and his son takes over (you and your family are still alive, and you have children now too) and keeps you enslaved and makes you work the property (it is farmland). Are you justified in taking the land back in this case? Are you justified in killing the son? Lets extrapolate this further. 100 years from the point of enslavement your descendants are still working for the original enslaver's descendants; is it still justifiable for your family to take back your property (assuming for the moment that slavery isn't the moral issue)? At what point does an illegitimate claim to property become legitimate, if ever? If an illegitimate claim is never legitimate, than does that not obligate us to go back and only allow people who legitimately (whatever that means) claimed property to be able to dispense this property?

Reparations, yeah. Burden of proof rests with the person making the claim though.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Stephen replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 12:09 AM

@ the OP

I'm going to answer the questions from the standard Rothbardian POV.

ChroMattic:

If a family member is threatened (but you aren't in anyway) is it justified to violate the NAP? To attack those who are threatening your family? I think the answer is a clear yes, not because of positive obligation... but for something else. I know its covered in the Libertarian ethics, but what is it that makes it okay to violate the NAP in protection of other individuals? Does it still apply to individuals we do not know?

Let me put it differently: There is an evil dictator who is going to kill 1 Million people, and you have the opportunity to shoot him (consequence free, in terms of your own safety/well being). To do so would violate the NAP, but he obviously shows no regard for the NAP. Is it morally justified, or even a violation of the NAP, to take his life to prevent the life of 1 million others from being taken? I'm not asking whether you have a positive obligation to do this (the answer is a resounding: no (or at least I think)), but whether you are violating your ethos by taking this action?

The use of force for defensive purposes is not a violation of the NAP. This is true with regard to both self-defense and defense of another person. This is true because the potential victim can grant others agency, that is, the right to act as his proxy.

ChroMattic:
What about the situation where someone is a past murderer, and you come across him (he is no threat to you at that moment). What does the NAP say in that situation? Take him captive, bring him to the police? What if this man murdered your family, are you in violation of the NAP to take his life? Please, tell me if I'm using the NAP in situations where it does not apply, I'm here to learn.

This would just be serving justice to a criminal. It would not constitute aggression. It only becomes aggression if the justice is more than proportional.

ChroMattic:
Finally, the situation is set up thusly: Lets say a man steals property from you and your family and enslaves you (no one will ever find out about this) and you work and work for this man. One day he dies and his son takes over (you and your family are still alive, and you have children now too) and keeps you enslaved and makes you work the property (it is farmland). Are you justified in taking the land back in this case? Are you justified in killing the son? Lets extrapolate this further. 100 years from the point of enslavement your descendants are still working for the original enslaver's descendants; is it still justifiable for your family to take back your property (assuming for the moment that slavery isn't the moral issue)? At what point does an illegitimate claim to property become legitimate, if ever? If an illegitimate claim is never legitimate, than does that not obligate us to go back and only allow people who legitimately (whatever that means) claimed property to be able to dispense this property?

The property legitimately belongs to the slaves or their descendants. The current owners are completely innocent of the crimes of their ancestors. They are however, in possession of property whose title was not legitimately begot unto them. It ought to have been given to the slaves as compensation for the crimes visited upon them, and assuming that they would have passed it on to their descendants, it rightly belongs to them now.

If you want to sort all this out, you should read The Ethics of Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard.

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Zavoi replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 12:40 AM

Sage:
Block is wrong. Libertarians take the NAP to rule out the enforceability of positive obligations.

This seems like quibbling. Block, and others like him, are concerned only with enforceable obligations, not because they think that nothing else is important, but because that's just what the scope of their inquiry is. Libertarianism isn't supposed to be an all-encompassing worldview that influences every single action you make.

Conza88:
Who were the victims next of kin etc? How do you know he was a murderer? Has he already been "dealt" with? i.e the grieving family, accepted money / his remorse and forgiveness? Or is he still at large? Read the self defence article, touches on this.

Do you think that the victim's next-of-kin (or any living person, for that matter) has the standing to forgive or accept reparation from the murderer? I can't imagine many people wanting to be a position such that someone else can forgive your murderer after you're already dead.

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ChroMattic:

Libertarians do not believe in positive obligation (if Walter Block is right).

This proposition is false. Libertarianism holds that obligations are created by voluntary agreement (contract). Every agreement (contract) creates a right for one party and an obligation for the other party (and the reverse). When you agree to sell me a cheeseburger for $10, I have a right to a cheeseburger and you have an obligation to give me a cheeseburger (also, you have the right to my $10 and I have the obligation to give you $10). Helping families and strangers isn't an obligation (unless you agree to it); it is a duty. Obligations are legally enforceable, but duties are not. When someone fails to do their duty they are morally blameworthy, but not a criminal. Vices are not crimes.

I hope that helped.

filc:

Sage:
Defensive coercion does not violate the NAP.

offtopic but The term defensive coercion seems oxymoronic to me. Either your coercing or defending. One is an aggressor, the other is a defender. You cannot have both defenders, and both aggressors. 

Suppose I hire Hitman A to kill Hitman B. Next, I hire Hitman B to kill Hitman A. They both agree to the job and search each other out. They meet in an empty warehouse and draw their weapons when they see each other...

"I cannot prove, but am prepared to affirm, that if you take care of clarity in reasoning, most good causes will take care of themselves, while some bad ones are taken care of as a matter of course." -Anthony de Jasay

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Conza88 replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 1:01 AM

Zavoi:

Conza88:
Who were the victims next of kin etc? How do you know he was a murderer? Has he already been "dealt" with? i.e the grieving family, accepted money / his remorse and forgiveness? Or is he still at large? Read the self defence article, touches on this.

Do you think that the victim's next-of-kin (or any living person, for that matter) has the standing to forgive or accept reparation from the murderer? I can't imagine many people wanting to be a position such that someone else can forgive your murderer after you're already dead.

That's exactly why most people would write into their will, what they want done to their 'killer' (should they ever be unfortunate enough to be done in).

Say however - the family bread winner was killed. The wife lost her husband and the children their father. I believe the wife can justifiably enact punishment - (up to the "maximum proportional level") but she may consider it more in line with justice, or beneficial to not support the "eye for an eye", but instead - the killer should work / provide as much monetary support for them as possible.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Thank you for the responses, if I could verify an answer it would be Stephen's an Conza88's, so thank you both for your help.

Funny thing, I've had the PDF for The Ethics of Liberty loaded for a long time, just haven't gotten around to it yet...

"It has been well said that, while we used to suffer from social evils, we now suffer from the remedies for them."

F.A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty

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Zavoi replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 1:16 AM

Conza88:
Say however - the family bread winner was killed. The wife lost her husband and the children their father. I believe the wife can justifiably enact punishment - (up to the "maximum proportional level") but she may consider it more in line with justice, or beneficial to not support the "eye for an eye", but instead - the killer should work / provide as much monetary support for them as possible.

Sure, if that's what the will said, but otherwise, the victim's own wishes must take precedence over anyone else's, or else their self-ownership is incomplete.

What about a case where someone is killed without a will? I'd say that the default should normally be the maximum proportional level of punishment, and anyone who tries to prevent someone from carrying this out would be aggressing against that person.

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Conza88 replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 3:44 AM

Zavoi:
Sure, if that's what the will said, but otherwise, the victim's own wishes must take precedence over anyone else's, or else their self-ownership is incomplete.

Yes.

Zavoi:
What about a case where someone is killed without a will? I'd say that the default should normally be the maximum proportional level of punishment, and anyone who tries to prevent someone from carrying this out would be aggressing against that person.

I'd say it lies in the next of kin. Wife, immediate family etc. Those admittedly, I'm not particularly clear on this. Have we got any works / more in depth analysis from anyone?

I'm trying to remember a passage from Rothbard - somewhere, where he mentions 'the dead shouldn't be able to hold sway over the living' ? Anyone know what I'm referring too?

ChroMattic:

Thank you for the responses, if I could verify an answer it would be Stephen's an Conza88's, so thank you both for your help.

Funny thing, I've had the PDF for The Ethics of Liberty loaded for a long time, just haven't gotten around to it yet...

No worries. This may also help clear up your question about "morality" "good" "bad" etc.

"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

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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wilderness replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 12:17 PM

ChroMattic:
Thank you for the responses, if I could verify an answer it would be Stephen's an Conza88's, so thank you both for your help.

Funny thing, I've had the PDF for The Ethics of Liberty loaded for a long time, just haven't gotten around to it yet...

That's where you'll find your answers.  I basically went off of the knowledge that that book offers and others in this thread seem to not detract from what that book offers either.  If anything remember initiating and threat which that book covers, too.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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wilderness replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 12:19 PM

Conza88:

Zavoi:
What about a case where someone is killed without a will? I'd say that the default should normally be the maximum proportional level of punishment, and anyone who tries to prevent someone from carrying this out would be aggressing against that person.

I'd say it lies in the next of kin. Wife, immediate family etc. Those admittedly, I'm not particularly clear on this. Have we got any works / more in depth analysis from anyone?

Homesteading

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Sage replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 1:21 PM

Conza88:
Could you back that up please? I fail to see how what Long has said refutes / contradicts what Walter has. (It would be a good idea for the OP, or you to outline this)

Or how you are taking to mean "positive obligations".

By positive obligations I mean positive moral duties towards other people. My point is that the NAP only rules out enforceable positive obligations; it doesn't rule out unenforceable ones.

Zavoi:
This seems like quibbling. Block, and others like him, are concerned only with enforceable obligations, not because they think that nothing else is important, but because that's just what the scope of their inquiry is. Libertarianism isn't supposed to be an all-encompassing worldview that influences every single action you make.

Yes, this would be the thin/thick debate. Thinlib argues that libertarianism is only concerned with rights, with what is enforceable, whereas thicklib argues that justice has commitments beyond merely opposing rights-violations.

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Conza88 replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 4:34 PM

Sage:

Conza88:
Could you back that up please? I fail to see how what Long has said refutes / contradicts what Walter has. (It would be a good idea for the OP, or you to outline this)

Or how you are taking to mean "positive obligations".

By positive obligations I mean positive moral duties towards other people. My point is that the NAP only rules out enforceable positive obligations; it doesn't rule out unenforceable ones.

You ignored the Block part, but never mind that. Any examples to make it clearer for me?

Sage:

Zavoi:
This seems like quibbling. Block, and others like him, are concerned only with enforceable obligations, not because they think that nothing else is important, but because that's just what the scope of their inquiry is. Libertarianism isn't supposed to be an all-encompassing worldview that influences every single action you make.

Yes, this would be the thin/thick debate. Thinlib argues that libertarianism is only concerned with rights, with what is enforceable, whereas thicklib argues that justice has commitments beyond merely opposing rights-violations.

Justice has commitments beyond merely opposing rights-violations? Some examples would be good.

Thanks.

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I converted Long's paper to PDF (link).

If there are "positive obligations", are there "negative obligations"?

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

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Sage replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 6:36 PM

Conza88:
Any examples to make it clearer for me?

An unenforceable duty to contribute to charity, for example, does not contradict the NAP.

Conza88:
Justice has commitments beyond merely opposing rights-violations? Some examples would be good.

Take the example of strategic thickness and racism: thicklibs argue that libertarians should oppose racism, even if it doesn't violate any rights, because a racist society is unlikely to stay libertarian; without a widespread respect for individual personhood, people in a racist society are more likely to do things that do actually violate rights.

For more on this see Charles Johnson's "Libertarianism through Thick and Thin".

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*gives Sage a brownie*

This debate probably won't go well.

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Sage:

Conza88:
Any examples to make it clearer for me?

An unenforceable duty to contribute to charity, for example, does not contradict the NAP.

Conza88:
Justice has commitments beyond merely opposing rights-violations? Some examples would be good.

Take the example of strategic thickness and racism: thicklibs argue that libertarians should oppose racism, even if it doesn't violate any rights, because a racist society is unlikely to stay libertarian; without a widespread respect for individual personhood, people in a racist society are more likely to do things that do actually violate rights.

For more on this see Charles Johnson's "Libertarianism through Thick and Thin".

Can you answer my question? ^^

Is a society that allows racism or, more accurately, one that legally enforces rights of free association, a racist society?

I guess if we're rolling up the cannons here is Block's Plumb-Line Libertarianism: A Critique of Hoppe.


 

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We do understand that Sage is arguing about non-legal social justice, correct?

I mean I teach my son to love others.  I don't teach him to hate other people of color.  Essentially that's what I think Sage is saying.  If a community decides upon this spontaneously, then such a community exists too.

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Conza88 replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 9:07 PM

Sage:
An unenforceable duty to contribute to charity, for example, does not contradict the NAP.

Sage:

Conza88:
Justice has commitments beyond merely opposing rights-violations? Some examples would be good.

Take the example of strategic thickness and racism: thicklibs argue that libertarians should oppose racism, even if it doesn't violate any rights, because a racist society is unlikely to stay libertarian; without a widespread respect for individual personhood, people in a racist society are more likely to do things that do actually violate rights.

I understand now, thank you. I believe this is conflating political philosophy, with personal ethics. Whether someone opposes racism, or not, whether they should contribute to charity or not - is a personal affair. More or less, those who make arguments for or against are in the general ethicist sphere, no longer political philosophy. The whole 'thick' / 'thin' divide seems to me to be due to the ignorance of this fact.

Libertarianism is neither left, nor right. Imo, it's just the authors beliefs in what will happen when people are given the freedom to act, some think the masses will move towards "conservatism", the others.. whatever you want to call it. But both sides are trying to capture or make use of the label.

Both should have nothing to do with Libertarianism and essentially don't.

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wilderness:

We do understand that Sage is arguing about non-legal social justice, correct?

WTF is that supposed to mean? =)

It is just so incoherent having an "unenforceable claim", or whatever this is about. I had totally forgotten about this thick/thin silliness when I devised my "ethical-aesthetical vs. moral-legal divide" thing.

I mean I teach my son to love others.  I don't teach him to hate other people of color.  Essentially that's what I think Sage is saying.  If a community decides upon this spontaneously, then such a community exists too.

I'm married outside of my race. My wife likes a bit of theory but isn't as serious as me. I remember our talk one day about how this sort of thing is kind of a "leap of faith".

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E. R. Olovetto:

wilderness:

We do understand that Sage is arguing about non-legal social justice, correct?

WTF is that supposed to mean? =)

Plauche used that word in an article of his.  It has to do with the example I gave.  I could pull it out.  Maybe the term is older than Plauche and he was only using it in accord with a concept that was around all the way back to Greece as far as I know.  I'll check into it, quote it, and link it in this thread when I get time which won't be til tomorrow.

E. R. Olovetto:

I mean I teach my son to love others.  I don't teach him to hate other people of color.  Essentially that's what I think Sage is saying.  If a community decides upon this spontaneously, then such a community exists too.

I'm married outside of my race. My wife likes a bit of theory but isn't as serious as me. I remember our talk one day about how this sort of thing is kind of a "leap of faith".

Right.  Now say some community members move in.  They talk at church, the community shin-dig, or at the orange stand.  They share their disgust with people of other color.  It's all innocent cause nobody's property has been violated.  Yet some community members find it outrageous.  So next time somebody sees them at the community cookout they walk up to them and during a civil discussion bring up the race factor.  It's turns out they do hate colored people.  The other community finds discontent in that and probes them further.  Asks them why?  And challenges them to not share that kind of talk around here.  Maybe enough people go up to them in time and share their mind with them.  They don't like how they think of colored people, ie. red, yellow, pink, doesn't matter.  It's not good.  They don't like it.  They don't want their kids around that kind of talk.  The community pulls back from them.  They don't even socially ostracize them.  They're still invited to community cookouts, etc....  But these newcomers can feel the heat.  People are more withdrawn when they are around them.

Done.  Community spoke.  It's not a violation of rights, but it's a spontaneous effort to deter through disassociation.

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Conza88:
I understand now, thank you. I believe this is conflating political philosophy, with personal ethics. Whether someone opposes racism, or not, whether they should contribute to charity or not - is a personal affair. More or less, those who make arguments for or against are in the general ethicist sphere, no longer political philosophy.

right.  it's a personal ethic.  not a political philosophy.

Conza88:
The whole 'thick' / 'thin' divide seems to me to be due to the ignorance of this fact.

For as long as I've been here I've never gotten into that thin/thick divide.  It's arbitrary and therefore in my eyes it is only a subtle divide and conquer.  I'm not saying by anybody intentionally but it is an unintended consequence that for now doesn't cause any pain or anything but in the long run, who knows, arbitrary anything can come back and bite anybody in the butt.

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Angurse replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 10:48 PM

E. R. Olovetto:
Is a society that allows racism or, more accurately, one that legally enforces rights of free association, a racist society?

Yes. I think the point trying to be made is that a racist libertarian society, won't stay libertarian for very long. Although, I'm sure another thick libertarian could make the case that a libertarian society would collapse if it was built alongside "multi-cultural values" or what have you as well.

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Sage replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 10:57 PM

Conza88:
I believe this is conflating political philosophy, with personal ethics. Whether someone opposes racism, or not, whether they should contribute to charity or not - is a personal affair. More or less, those who make arguments for or against are in the general ethicist sphere, no longer political philosophy.

Right, so this is the thinlib position. On the other hand, thicklib argues that because of the different types of thickness, opposing racism, for example, is not merely a personal affair, but is connected to justice.

E. R. Olovetto:
I had totally forgotten about this thick/thin silliness when I devised my "ethical-aesthetical vs. moral-legal divide" thing.

Do you happen to think that the moral-legal is objective, but that the ethical-aesthetical is subjective?

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E. R. Olovetto:

Angurse:

E. R. Olovetto:
Is a society that allows racism or, more accurately, one that legally enforces rights of free association, a racist society?

Yes. I think the point trying to be made is that a racist libertarian society, won't stay libertarian for very long. Although, I'm sure another thick libertarian could make the case that a libertarian society would collapse if it was built alongside "multi-cultural values" or what have you as well.

This is just a basic misunderstanding of what libertarianism is. Man's inherent zoological differences are not so vast such that civilization built on division of labor must segregate participation. link

My question was, "Is it acceptable to exclude people from my upscale restaurant who wear shorts and tank tops?"

Sage:
E. R. Olovetto:
I had totally forgotten about this thick/thin silliness when I devised my "ethical-aesthetical vs. moral-legal divide" thing.

Do you happen to think that the moral-legal is objective, but that the ethical-aesthetical is subjective?

I'll answer this after you answer my questions. My distinction is drawn along other lines anyhow.

edit: Here is my post from over 6 months ago that BP never responded to:

E. R. Olovetto:


Brainpolice:


Thats not an explicit contribution to a negative condition, its total non-contribution, the community has in no way made his life any worse. So its simply not oppression. Such behaviour seems to be no worse than protesting and ostracism, comparable to protesters scaring off/ blocking customers from a business, thus negatively contributing (which actually seems worse) Or businesses refusing to serve an admitted racist, sexist,... etc. The tactics are in the same line.


"The community" doesn't do anything. But the specific individual that refuses to sell food to them is *explicitly* contributing to making their life worse. I see this as undeniable. It is oppression to refuse to sell products to people who's very survival depends on them simply because those people belong to a particular racial identity group.


I am honestly still confused what thick libertarianism is supposed to be after skimming through this again.

I guess a single person could be modestly "oppressive" on their own. In realistic situations, where is the impact without a "community of oppressors"? Isn't a community of anti-racists doing effectively what they oppose? (By anti-racist or racist I mean people who would not sell a loaf of bread at their standard price based on their skin color or that person having been branded a racist, not someone who merely dislikes a race or racists).

Correct me if I am wrong. This means that the NAP is somehow on equal footing or below whatever stance like anti-racism to a "thick". I would be tempted personally to kick someone out of my store if I hear them having a racist rant in line. This is standard right of free association stuff, like putting up a "no blacks" sign. But what do thick anti-racists suggest you do? Write down the guys name from his credit card and send it off to the local anti-racist boycott consortium? Where is the tolerance threshold or required level of proof? Will there be reeducation camps? If I refuse to join ARBC and advertise that I am happy to serve racists will you boycott me too? How much time and money are you willing to spend on combating counterfeit anti-anti-homo ID cards?

I don't like the use of oppression either... maybe de facto aggression or marginalization suits you better. To me, using these would have to mean a consortium of diversity nuts or some other extreme example. I think the best means is only using these tactics when actual crimes are being committed.


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Angurse replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 11:23 PM

E. R. Olovetto:
This is just a basic misunderstanding of what libertarianism is. Man's inherent zoological differences are not so vast such that civilization built on division of labor must segregate participation. link

It doesn't just come down to issues of race, its a much narrower view of what is required to create and maintain a free society, necessary cultural and societal issued along with the NAP.

E. R. Olovetto:
My question was, "Is it acceptable to exclude people from my upscale restaurant who wear shorts and tank tops?"

Acceptable how? (I'd probably say "sure" to any reason though.)

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Conza88 replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 11:38 PM

Sage:
Right, so this is the thinlib position.

I think the "thicklib" label works in more ways than one. Wink

Sage:
On the other hand, thicklib argues that because of the different types of thickness, opposing racism, for example, is not merely a personal affair, but is connected to justice.

The "left thicklibs" & "right thicklibs" can argue amongst each-other all you want - you're both wrong. Throw out all the "isms" you want too, ageism, sexism, multiculturalism..

Now why is it more than a personal affair? And what kind of "justice" are you talking about? Surely not the natural law -> natural rights -> natural justice kind.

Please try and do better than the "racist libertarian society" argument. For starters, libertarians see two classes only (the rulers vs. the ruled), and I see that postulate (racist libertarian society) much like the "let's say someone has a monopoly on a resource [as a starting point]". And we're also to contend that this society of 'libertarians' has fallen for polylogism? lol.

I believe the market will sort it out. If an individual discriminates against someone due to their race, that's their right - it is their property and they can do what they want with it. I'd consider them a fool who obviously has issues - but so what? Go start protesting and a campaign of ostracism. (Hehe).

To extend the use of "justice' beyond rights and libertarianism - makes it meaningless imo.

Could you provide an example of "justice" being obtained then, outside of "rights" / the NAP ? Cheers.

Or is this only really about trying to frame / cloak real libertarianism - in the garments, words and rhetoric of the chosen "wing" - that the speaker / author / presenter intends and wants to address? Sure seems like it to me.

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Sage replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 1:19 AM

Conza88:
Please try and do better than the "racist libertarian society" argument.

Why? It seems decisive to me.

Conza88:
If an individual discriminates against someone due to their race, that's their right - it is their property and they can do what they want with it.

This is the moralist fallacy: conflating rights with what is right. Just because people have the right (i.e. a legitimately enforceable claim) to discriminate on the basis of race does not entail that it is morally permissible for them to exercise that right.

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 1:53 AM

Sage:

Conza88:
Please try and do better than the "racist libertarian society" argument.

Why? It seems decisive to me.

Haha, I guess I have a higher standard? i.e something more than a mere fantastical assertion.

Sage:

Conza88:
If an individual discriminates against someone due to their race, that's their right - it is their property and they can do what they want with it.

This is the moralist fallacy: conflating rights with what is right. Just because people have the right (i.e. a legitimately enforceable claim) to discriminate on the basis of race does not entail that it is morally permissible for them to exercise that right.

No, it's not a fallacy at all. Your fallacy is conflating political philosophy, with personal ethics. There is nothing universal about the latter, it is individual. How you can then somehow inject the concept of "justice" is beyond me.

Substituting in one ism for another, in what should make things clearer...

Conza88:
If an individual discriminates against someone due to their age, sex, colour of eyes, the way they look, their culture, accent, scent, or style, that's their right - it is their property and they can do what they want with it.

Sage:
This is the moralist fallacy: conflating rights with what is right. Just because people have the right (i.e. a legitimately enforceable claim) to discriminate on the basis of their age, sex, colour of eyes, the way they look, their culture, accent, scent, or style - does not entail that it is morally permissible for them to exercise that right.

Seriously? lol. And what is morally permissible? What's the standard here? The theory of justice?

Questions you didn't address:

  • Now why is it more than a personal affair? And what kind of "justice" are you talking about? Surely not the natural law -> natural rights -> natural justice kind.
  • And we're also to contend that this society of 'libertarians' has fallen for polylogism?
  • Could you provide an example of "justice" being obtained then, outside of "rights" / the NAP ?
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Conza88 replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 2:07 AM

Angurse:
It doesn't just come down to issues of race, its a much narrower view of what is required to create and maintain a free society, necessary cultural and societal issued along with the NAP.

And what are those issues exactly? Seems to me to be pretty irrelevant. If you're assuming a libertarian society - then ah.....

"Previously, it had been easy to dismiss as unrealistic Jean Raspail's anti-immigration novel The Camp of the Saints, in which virtually the entire population of India decides to move, in small boats, into France, and the French, infected by liberal ideology, cannot summon the will to prevent economic and cultural national destruction. As cultural and welfare-state problems have inten- sified, it became impossible to dismiss Raspail's concerns any longer.

However, on rethinking immigration on the basis of the anarcho- capitalist model, it became clear to me that a totally privatized country would not have "open borders" at all. If every piece of land in a country were owned by some person, group, or corporation, this would mean that no immigrant could enter there unless invited to enter and allowed to rent, or purchase, property. A totally privatized country would be as "closed" as the particular inhabitants and property owners desire. It seems clear, then, that the regime of open borders that exists de facto in the U.S. really amounts to a compulsory opening by the central state, the state in charge of all streets and public land areas, and does not gen- uinely reflect the wishes of the proprietors.

Under total privatization, many local conflicts and "externality" problems-not merely the immigration problem-would be neatly settled. With every locale and neighborhood owned by private firms, corporations, or contractual communities, true diversity would reign, in accordance with the preferences of each community. Some neighborhoods would be ethnically or economically diverse, while others would be ethnically or economically homogeneous. Some localities would permit pornography or prostitution or drugs or abortions, others would prohibit any or all of them. The prohibitions would not be state imposed, but would simply be requirements for residence or use of some person's or community's land area. While statists who have the itch to impose their values on everyone else would be disappointed, every group or interest would at least have the satisfaction of living in neighborhoods of people who share its values and preferences. While neighborhood ownership would not provide Utopia or a panacea for all conflicts, it would at least provide a "second-best" solution that most people might be willing to live with." - Nations by Consent, MNR

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Angurse replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 4:07 AM

Conza88:
And what are those issues exactly? Seems to me to be pretty irrelevant. If you're assuming a libertarian society - then ah.....

Very good. Given the model you've presented its workability requires a near uniform respect for private property. Something that not even libertarians agree on. So obviously everyone realizes that there are certain parameters and institutions necessary for a free society. A thick(er) libertarian would argue that even with an initial near-uniform respect for property, some communities, acting in accordance with their preferences, wouldn't continue being libertarian for very long. I believe Roderick Long gave the example of Nazi Libertarians, while conceivably possible, doesn't seem likely to respect others liberties for very long. Same for racists, etc... And then there is the conservative counter-argument...

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 6:55 AM

Angurse:
Given the model you've presented its workability requires a near uniform respect for private property.

"Respect" - individuals can "disrespect it", then they meet Mr/s. property owners PDA... More importantly, yeah a libertarian society (your base assumption before you go play the fantastical "race card") - so your "argument" is kaput.

Not very convincing / sound at all. Seriously - are there no arguments better than, what really amounts too - "in the future libertarian society, my assumption is that if they don't have this [my] cultural outlook / perspective, they won't stay libertarian for long?" lmao..! Big Smile

But even if you think that is the case, great - condemn it, ostracize these people, campaign against them - whatever, just don't label yourself as being a libertarian whilst you're doing it - because it has nothing to do with libertarianism.

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Angurse replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 10:18 AM

LOL!

You are just assuming that there will be (effective) PDA's, if a culture doesn't respect private property, it doesn't matter.

Conza88:
Not very convincing / sound at all. Seriously - are there no arguments better than, what really amounts too - "in the future libertarian society, my assumption is that if they don't have this [my] cultural outlook / perspective, they won't stay libertarian for long?" lmao..! Big Smile

Are you even reading me? I'm not making any argument, I'm pointing out the (one of) thick libertarian argument, why you continue to defend thin libertarianism from me is quite baffling. However, your point of "not very convincing/unsound" is completely hollow, as you've presented NOTHING to refute anything. If you want a better understanding of it read Chris Sciabarra, Gary North, or even Rand.

Conza88:
But even if you think that is the case, great - condemn it, ostracize these people, campaign against them - whatever, just don't label yourself as being a libertarian whilst you're doing it - because it has nothing to do with libertarianism.

That makes no sense, it's libertarianism incorporated into a broader ("thick") commitment. You are either a libertarian or you're not, the label doesn't just turn off (assuming your aren't violating the NAP, of course).

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