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Libertarian ethics

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MisguidedThoughts Posted: Wed, Oct 20 2010 10:04 PM

I want to see how the community here of mises.org "breaks down" in terms of ethical affiliation. From what I've seen it seems as though most people here believe in something resembling Rothbard's idea of natural rights with a few non-cognitivist moral nihilists and and even fewer objectivists. I happen to be a non-cognitivist. So, what about you guys?

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Out of those choices, I would classify myself as an Objectivist, but I disagree with Rand on more than a few things. I do think the subject of morality needs to be explored/explained more than most natural rights and Objectivist thinkers have to date.

Life and reality are neither logical nor illogical; they are simply given. But logic is the only tool available to man for the comprehension of both.Ludwig von Mises

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My views on ethics may at least partly resemble a form of pragmatism. I'm not a moral nihilist, but I don't believe in natural rights either. I support the concept of rights as a politically enforcible realm of ethics. I don't think ethics needs a metaphysical foundation to be an epistemologically valid and meaningful realm of discourse, and I think normativity is an inescapable element of all domains of knowledge that cannot be disentangled. 

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I am a Misesian utilitarian.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Autolykos replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 5:52 AM

My $0.02:

Every moral system depends on one or more premises.  At least one premise must concern something being immoral.  Strictly speaking, premises cannot be provided by logic itself, so they are accepted or rejected on non-logical grounds -- emotions, instincts, etc.

I personally believe that nearly all human beings are born equipped with certain "moral instincts" that arose through evolution.  Our conscious moral systems are our attempts at understanding and making sense of them.

So in one sense, you could say I'm a moral nihilist.  But in another, I'm a natural-rights theorist.  My personal morality follows from the Non-Aggression Principle.

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GooPC replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 7:37 AM

Every moral system depends on one or more premises.

The premise that underlies every discussion of ethics is that of self ownership and peaceful interaction. It’s contradictory to convince me that I don’t own myself while you engage with me in a voluntary debate that presumes I have self ownership.

This is why I believe that natural rights are objectively true and ought to be followed by every person.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_ethics#Libertarian_approaches

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 7:53 AM

"Nevertheless, by coming out with a genuinely new theory (amazing in itself, considering the long history of political philosophy) Hoppe is in danger of offending all the intellectual vested interests of the libertarian camp. Utilitarians, who should be happy that value freedom was preserved, will be appalled to find that Hoppean rights are even more absolutist and "dogmatic" than natural rights. Natural rightsers, while happy at the "dogmatism" will be unwilling to accept an ethics not grounded in the board nature of things. Randians will be particularly upset on the satantic immanual kant and his "synthetic a priori".

Randians might be mollified, however, to learn that Hoppe is influence by a group of German Kantians (headed by mathematician Paul Lorenzen) who interpret Kant as a deeply realistic Aristotelian, in contrast to the Idealist interpretation common in the U. S.

As a natural rightser, I don't see any real contradiction here, or why one cannot hold to both the natural rights and the Hoppean rights ethic at the same time. Both rights ethics, after all, are grounded, like the realist version of Kantianism, in the nature of reality. Natural law, too, provides a personal and social ethic apart from libertarianism; this is an area Hoppe is not concerned with." - MNR, pg2
 

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Grayson Lilburne:
I am a Misesian utilitarian.

Does the "Misesian" qualification add any specific distinctions?

If not, it still sounds cooler. yes

"I'm not a fan of Murray Rothbard." -- David D. Friedman

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I'm a moral nihilist. I argue for anarcho-capitalism using welfarist (e.g., wealth-maximization, consequentialism) rhetoric.

"I'm not a fan of Murray Rothbard." -- David D. Friedman

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I. Ryan replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 8:02 AM

StrangeLoop:

Does the "Misesian" qualification add any specific distinctions?

It isn't just a qualification to normal utilitarianism, but is actually totally different.

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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I. Ryan:
It isn't just a qualification to normal utilitarianism, but is actually totally different.

If it were "totally different," then it would no longer need to be called utilitarian. It'd be a bit absurd to claim that a term like "Rothbardian libertarian" is totally different from normal libertarianism; it's, instead, a qualification.

But, rather than quibbling on that issue, could you enlighten me on what the philosophy actually is?

"I'm not a fan of Murray Rothbard." -- David D. Friedman

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 8:36 AM

GooPC:
The premise that underlies every discussion of ethics is that of self ownership and peaceful interaction. It’s contradictory to convince me that I don’t own myself while you engage with me in a voluntary debate that presumes I have self ownership.

This is why I believe that natural rights are objectively true and ought to be followed by every person.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_ethics#Libertarian_approaches

While I have great respect for Hoppe and his argumentation ethics, I see it as being necessarily limited to arguments.  In other words, why would I need to convince that you don't own yourself when I can just steal your stuff, beat you, and/or shoot you?

Furthermore, even if denying self-ownership leads to a logical contradiction, that in no way means that violating self-ownership is necessarily wrong.

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 8:44 AM

"In other words, why would I need to convince that you don't own yourself when I can just steal your stuff, beat you, and/or shoot you?"

Are you going to claim that your actions are justified? If not, well congrats - then you'd at least be consistent... all the way to jail or whatever the PDA is going to do with you [via their clients wishes of course]. Are you going to continue to initiate violence? Well then you'll probably end up dead in a gutter. (And if you've shot & killed someone who is innoceant, that's probably where you belong)

"My entire argument, then, claims to be an impossibility proof. But not, as the mentioned critics seem to think, a proof that means to show the impossibility of certain empirical events so that it could be refuted, by empirical evidence. Instead, it is a proof that it is impossible to propositionally justify non-libertarian principles without falling into contradictions."

For whatever such a thing is worth (and I'll come to this shortly), it should be clear that empirical evidence has absolutely no bearing on it. So what if there is slavery, the Gulag, taxation? The proof concerns the issue that claiming such institutions can be justified, involves a performative contradiction. It is purely intellectual in nature, like logical, mathematical, or praxeological proofs." - Hoppe, pg 8

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 8:52 AM

Conza88:
"My entire argument, then, claims to be an impossibility proof. But not, as the mentioned critics seem to think, a proof that means to show the impossibility of certain empirical events so that it could be refuted, by empirical evidence. Instead, it is a proof that it is impossible to propositionally justify non-libertarian principles without falling into contradictions."

For whatever such a thing is worth (and I'll come to this shortly), it should be clear that empirical evidence has absolutely no bearing on it. So what if there is slavery, the Gulag, taxation? The proof concerns the issue that claiming such institutions can be justified, involves a performative contradiction. It is purely intellectual in nature, like logical, mathematical, or praxeological proofs." - Hoppe, pg 8

Ah, so der gute Professor is right there with me.  +1 internet for him! :)

Still, the thrust of my question was that a person doesn't have to convince others that his moral system is correct in order for him to act on it.  And again, are violations of self-ownership inherently and necessarily wrong?

Edit: I see you edited your own post.

Conza88:
Are you going to claim that your actions are justified? If not, well congrats - then you'd at least be consistent... all the way to jail or whatever the PDA is going to do with you [via their clients wishes of course]. Are you going to continue to initiate violence? Well then you'll end up dead in a gutter. (And if you've shot someone who is innoceant, that's where you belong) yes

This is entirely separate from proving that violations of self-ownership are inherently and necessarily wrong.  I think you're making an argumentum ad baculum here.

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I. Ryan:

It isn't just a qualification to normal utilitarianism, but is actually totally different.

How so? 

The state is not the enemy. The idea of the state is. 

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I. Ryan replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 8:55 AM

StrangeLoop:

But, rather than quibbling on that issue, could you enlighten me on what the philosophy actually is?

AdrianHealey:

How so?

To put it as concisely as possible, for most people, self-interest should lead to social-interest. For most people, dividing labor is more efficient than not, which means that, for most people, other people doing well means them doing well. You should want other people in society to do well, simply because you want to do well. No matter how far away somebody lives, how low their social status is, how poor they are, how annoying they are, how stupid they are, and so on, if they are in the division of labor, they are helping you. It isn't anything other than this which led to us having compassion for total strangers.

Ludwig von Mises:

The essential teachings of utilitarian philosophy as applied to the problems of society can be restated as follows:

Human effort exerted under the principle of the division of labor in social cooperation achieves, other things remaining equal, a greater output per unit of input than the isolated efforts of solitary individuals. Man's reason is capable of recognizing this fact and of adapting his conduct accordingly. Thus social cooperation becomes for almost every man the great means for the attainment of all ends. An eminently human common interest, the preservation and intensification of social bonds, is substituted for pitiless biological competition, the significant mark of animal and plant life. Man becomes a social being. He is no longer forced by the inevitable laws of nature to look upon all other specimens of his animal species as deadly foes. Other people become his fellows. For animals the generation of every new member of the species means the appearance of a new rival in the struggle for life. For man, until the optimum size of population is reached, it means rather an improvement than a deterioration in his quest for material well-being.

Notwithstanding all his social achievements man remains in biological structure a mammal. His most urgent needs are nourishment, warmth, and shelter. Only when these wants are satisfied can he concern himself with other needs, peculiar to the human species and therefore called specifically human or higher needs. Also the satisfaction of these depends as a rule, at least to some extent, on the availability of various material tangible things.

As social cooperation is for acting man a means and not an end, no unanimity with regard to value judgments is required to make it work. It is a fact that almost all men agree in aiming at certain ends, at those pleasures which ivory-tower moralists disdain as base and shabby. But it is no less a fact that even the most sublime ends cannot be sought by people who have not first satisfied the wants of their animal body. The loftiest exploits of philosophy, art, and literature would never have been performed by men living outside of society.

Moralists praise the nobility of people who seek a thing for its own sake. "Deutsch sein heisst eine Sache um ihrer selbst willen tun," declared Richard Wagner, and the Nazis, of all people, adopted the dictum as a fundamental principle of their creed. Now what is sought as an ultimate end is valued according to the immediate satisfaction to be derived from its attainment. There is no harm in declaring elliptically that it is sought for its own sake. Then Wagner's phrase is reduced to the truism: Ultimate ends are ends and not means for the attainment of other ends.

Moralists furthermore level against utilitarianism the charge of (ethical) materialism. Here too they misconstrue the utilitarian doctrine. Its gist is the cognition that action pursues definite chosen ends and that consequently there can be no other standard for appraising conduct but the desirability or undesirability of its effects. The precepts of ethics are designed to preserve, not to destroy, the "world." They may call upon people to put up with undesirable short-run effects in order to avoid producing still more undesirable long-run effects. But they must never recommend actions whose effects they themselves deem undesirable for the sole purpose of not defying an arbitrary rule derived from intuition. The formula fiat justitia, pereat mundus is exploded as sheer nonsense. An ethical doctrine that does not take into full account the effects of action is mere fancy.

Utilitarianism does not teach that people should strive only after sensuous pleasure (though it recognizes that most or at least many people behave in this way). Neither does it indulge in judgments of value. By its recognition that social cooperation is for the immense majority a means for attaining all their ends, it dispels the notion that society, the state, the nation, or any other social entity is an ultimate end and that individual men are the slaves of that entity. It rejects the philosophies of universalism, collectivism, and totalitarianism. In this sense it is meaningful to call utilitarianism a philosophy of individualism.

The collectivist doctrine fails to recognize that social cooperation is for man a means for the attainment of all his ends. It assumes that irreconcilable conflict prevails between the interests of the collective and those of individuals, and in this conflict it sides unconditionally with the collective entity. The collective alone has real existence; the individuals' existence is conditioned by that of the collective. The collective is perfect and can do no wrong. Individuals are wretched and refractory; their obstinacy must be curbed by the authority to which God or nature has entrusted the conduct of society's affairs. The powers that be, says the Apostle Paul, are ordained of God. They are ordained by nature or by the superhuman factor that directs the course of all cosmic events, says the atheist collectivist.

Two questions immediately arise. First: If it were true that the interests of the collective and those of individuals are implacably opposed to one another, how could society function? One may assume that the individuals would be prevented by force of arms from resorting to open rebellion. But it cannot be assumed that their active cooperation could be secured by mere compulsion. A system of production in which the only incentive to work is the fear of punishment cannot last. It was this fact that made slavery disappear as a system of managing production.

Second: If the collective is not a means by which individuals may achieve their ends, if the collective's flowering requires sacrifices by the individuals which are not outweighed by advantages derived from social cooperation, what prompts the advocate of collectivism to assign to the concerns of the collective precedence over the personal wishes of the individuals? Can any argument be advanced for such exaltation of the collective but personal judgments of value?

Of course, everybody's judgments of value are personal. If a man assigns a higher value to the concerns of a collective than to his other concerns, and acts accordingly, that is his affair. So long as the collectivist philosophers proceed in this way, no objection can be raised. But they argue differently. They elevate their personal judgments of value to the dignity of an absolute standard of value. They urge other people to stop valuing according to their own will and to adopt unconditionally the precepts to which collectivism has assigned absolute eternal validity.

The futility and arbitrariness of the collectivist point of view become still more evident when one recalls that various collectivist parties compete for the exclusive allegiance of the individuals. Even if they employ the same word for their collectivist ideal, various writers and leaders disagree on the essential features of the thing they have in mind. The state which Ferdinand Lassalle called god and to which he assigned paramountcy was not precisely the collectivist idol of Hegel and Stahl, the state of the Hohenzollern. Is mankind as a whole the sole legitimate collective or is each of the various nations? Is the collective to which the German-speaking Swiss owe exclusive allegiance the Swiss Confederacy or the Volksgemeinschaft comprising all German-speaking men? All major social entities such as nations, linguistic groups, religious communities, party organizations have been elevated to the dignity of the supreme collective that overshadows all other collectives and claims the submission of the whole personality of all right-thinking men. But an individual can renounce autonomous action and unconditionally surrender his self only in favor of one collective. Which collective this ought to be can be determined only by a quite arbitrary decision. The collective creed is by necessity exclusive and totalitarian. It craves the whole man and does not want to share him with any other collective. It seeks to establish the exclusive supreme validity of only one system of values.

There is, of course, but one way to make one's own judgments of value supreme. One must beat into submission all those dissenting. This is what all representatives of the various collectivist doctrines are striving for. They ultimately recommend the use of violence and pitiless annihilation of all those whom they condemn as heretics. Collectivism is a doctrine of war, intolerance, and persecution. If any of the collectivist creeds should succeed in its endeavors, all people but the great dictator would be deprived of their essential human quality. They would become mere soulless pawns in the hands of a monster.

The characteristic feature of a free society is that it can function in spite of the fact that its members disagree in many judgments of value. In the market economy business serves not only the majority but also various minorities, provided they are not too small in respect of the economic goods which satisfying their special wishes would require. Philosophical treatises are published--though few people read them, and the masses prefer other books or none--if enough readers are foreseen to recover the costs.

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 9:18 AM

"Still, the thrust of my question was that a person doesn't have to convince others that his moral system is correct in order for him to act on it. "

And I answered it.

"This is entirely separate from proving that violations of self-ownership are inherently and necessarily wrong."

Are you claiming that you have a right to threaten or initiate physical aggression?

"I think you're making an argumentum ad baculum here."

Think better. Think punishment theory, estoppel approach.

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I don't know about natural rights, I am sort of undecided. I am only slightly more about ethics then utility, I have always thought that a good ideology aligns both together. I like Friedman over Rothbard in some aspects.

Freedom has always been the only route to progress.

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Ryan; how does this differ from 'normal utilitarianism'? I'm relatively aware of Mises his vision of utilitarianism. What I fail to see is how this is so radically different from traditional utilitarianism. It's different from act-utilitarianism, for sure. But rule-utilitarianism didn't originate with Mises, but has a firm historical relevance. I don't see Misesian utilitarianism to be that radically different to be honest. 

 

The state is not the enemy. The idea of the state is. 

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 9:35 AM

Conza88:
"Still, the thrust of my question was that a person doesn't have to convince others that his moral system is correct in order for him to act on it. "

And I answered it.

I agree that you provided a response to my question.  However, I don't see how that response answered it.  You haven't given me a reason why one needs to convince another person that aggression is okay (i.e. not morally wrong) before engaging in aggression against that other person.

Conza88:
This is entirely separate from proving that violations of self-ownership are inherently and necessarily wrong."

Are you claiming that you have a right to threaten or initiate physical aggression?

I am personally claiming no such thing.  Just so we're clear.

What I'm saying is that the evaluation of (particular) violations of self-ownership as right or wrong cannot be proven correct.  The evaluation is entirely subjective.  Does that make better sense?

Conza88:
"I think you're making an argumentum ad baculum here."

Think better. Think punishment theory, estoppel approach.

Is there a need to slip in an ad hominem argument there?  Have I made any against you?

Sorry but I'm not familiar with punishment theory of the estoppel approach thereof.  I'll look over that paper when I have time.  Thanks for linking to it.

Anyway, my point was that you seemed to be arguing that "it is true that X is wrong because, if you were to commit X, you would be punished for doing so".  If I'm not making a straw man here, then this argument is a classic form of the argumentum ad baculum, which is a kind of argumentum ad consequentiam.

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I. Ryan replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 9:37 AM

AdrianHealey:

Ryan; how does this differ from 'normal utilitarianism'? I'm relatively aware of Mises his vision of utilitarianism. What I fail to see is how this is so radically different from traditional utilitarianism. It's different from act-utilitarianism, for sure. But rule-utilitarianism didn't originate with Mises, but has a firm historical relevance. I don't see Misesian utilitarianism to be that radically different to be honest.

Then what is traditional utilitarianism?

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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I. Ryan:
Then what is traditional utilitarianism?

 

Good question. I would say that there isn't really a 'traditional utilitarianism', just as there is no 'contemporary utilitarianism'. Rule-utilitarian and Act-utilitarian (especially Bentham) ideas have been around quite some time. People like Adam Smith and, especially, David Hume fit in the rule-utilitarian tradition. I'll grant that Mises was really clear in defending his position on utilitarianism; but he himself acknowledged that he was part of a bigger tradition - a statement I tend to agree with. I'm not disagreeing that much with you; I only disagreed with the statement that it was radically different (or how did you formulate it?) Mises fits within a bigger philosophical tradition imo. 

The state is not the enemy. The idea of the state is. 

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 9:46 AM

"You haven't given me a reason why one needs to convince another person that aggression is okay (i.e. not morally wrong) before engaging in aggression against that other person."

Excuse me & why do you think I would I need to?

"What I'm saying is that the evaluation of (particular) violations of self-ownership as right or wrong cannot be proven correct.  The evaluation is entirely subjective.  Does that make better sense?"

It would be a case by case basis, is that what you are getting at? i.e evaluation of the facts of what happened in that particular case. I understand that. It however does not render an axiomatic-deductive objective ethics within the political philosophical sphere (ie. Libertarianism - which determines rights and the proper role of violence in society) obselete.

"Leoni (1961) provides a theoretical framework on which we can build an answer to this question. We offer a sketch of his theory. In a market, economic operators regard prices to be ultimate data upon which they base their calculations and actions, fully realizing that these are flexible to some extent, but quite fixed for a particular transaction. By analogy, Leoni suggests that legal operators regard legal norms to be the ultimate data upon which they base their actions, fully realizing these are flexible to some extent, but fixed for a particular adjudication. Extending the analogy, Leoni notes that the economist does not regard prices to be fixed at all, but subject to immutable rules of distribution acting on contingent facts. Likewise, the proper legal theorist does not regard legal norms to be fixed, but subject to immutable rules of argumentation acting on contingent facts of cases within particular cultural contexts. Indeed, the direction of causation of these social elements is often misapprehended. It is the offers to buy and sell in the market that causes prices (the norms of the market) to settle into relative fixity; they are not fixed before agents enter the market, though it appears that way to most economic agents. Likewise, it is the advancing of legal claims in an adjudicative setting and hearing the arguments on both sides that determines the outcomes of proceedings; and the outcomes of many proceedings thereby establish legal norms. It is not the case that legal norms are fixed before legal agents advance their arguments, although it appears that way to lawyers who learn legal norms in law school and then apply them to cases to guess how judges will rule on cases.

But does this mean that legal norms could be anything at all? No, and a number of libertarian theorists have explained why.

As Hoppe pointed out, by rationally advancing your claim against another, you are implicitly claiming that your claim is rationally defensible to a greater extent than your opponent’s: “…any ethical proposal, as well as any other proposition, must be assumed to claim that it is capable of being validated by propositional or argumentative means.” (Hoppe 1993, Ch. 10) All who make claims; or who criticize torts, crimes, legislation, laws, and judicial decisions—in short, all who debate legal norms—implicitly hold that there is a standard against which these decisions are to be measured..." - The Role of Subscription-Based Patrol and Restitution in the Future of Liberty, Gil Guillory

 

"Thanks for linking to it."

No worries. I'd also recommend New Rationalist Directions in Libertarian Rights Theory - Kinsella

"If I'm not making a straw man here"

You are.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 10:00 AM

Conza88:
You haven't given me a reason why one needs to convince another person that aggression is okay (i.e. not morally wrong) before engaging in aggression against that other person."

Excuse me & why do you think I would I need to?

Well, my original question was, "why would I need to convince that you don't own yourself when I can just steal your stuff, beat you, and/or shoot you?"  The word "why" there indicates a request for a reason.  So if a reason isn't given in a response to that question, or the response is that no reason can be given, I wouldn't say that the response answered it.  Would you?

Conza88:
"What I'm saying is that the evaluation of (particular) violations of self-ownership as right or wrong cannot be proven correct.  The evaluation is entirely subjective.  Does that make better sense?"

It would be a case by case basis, is that what you are getting at? i.e evaluation of the facts of what happened in that particular case. I understand that. It however does not render an axiomatic-deductive objective ethics within the political philosophical sphere (ie. Libertarianism - which determines rights and the proper role of violence in society) obselete.

No, sorry.  That's not what I'm getting at.

I'm not talking about a hypothetical libertarian society at all.  My statements were not context-specific in that regard.  Does it help to substitute "mental evaluation" for "evaluation"?

Conza88:
Thanks for linking to it."

No worries. I'd also recommend New Rationalist Directions in Libertarian Rights Theory - Kinsella

Great, thanks again.

Conza88:
"If I'm not making a straw man here"

You are.

Okay, then can you help me understand what you were really arguing?  Because what you're calling a straw man is my understanding of what you wrote.

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AdrianHealey:

 

Ryan; how does this differ from 'normal utilitarianism'? I'm relatively aware of Mises his vision of utilitarianism. What I fail to see is how this is so radically different from traditional utilitarianism. It's different from act-utilitarianism, for sure. But rule-utilitarianism didn't originate with Mises, but has a firm historical relevance. I don't see Misesian utilitarianism to be that radically different to be honest. 

 

AdrianHealey:

 

Ryan; how does this differ from 'normal utilitarianism'? I'm relatively aware of Mises his vision of utilitarianism. What I fail to see is how this is so radically different from traditional utilitarianism. It's different from act-utilitarianism, for sure. But rule-utilitarianism didn't originate with Mises, but has a firm historical relevance. I don't see Misesian utilitarianism to be that radically different to be honest. 

 

It's different because it's individualistic and value-free.

 

The standard versions of utilitarianism, like John Stuart Mill's version, assert that a certain goal — human welfare, happiness, pleasure, satisfaction — is intrinsically valuable and worth pursuing, objectively so. And then our job is to pursue it.

Clearly Mises can't mean that. Since Mises thinks that there are no objective values, when Mises embraces utilitarianism he can't be embracing the view that human welfare is an objective value. What Mises means by "utilitarianism" is a little bit different from the kind of utilitarianism that people like John Stuart Mill advocate. By "utilitarianism" Mises means something like simply giving people advice about how to achieve the goals they already have. So you're not necessarily endorsing their goals, but utilitarianism says that really the only real role for any kind of evaluation is simply to talk about means to ends, because you can't evaluate the ends."

-Roderick T. Long

For Mises, the reason why liberalism can give "blanket" advice is that there is a "harmony of interests".   The overriding concern of humanity is secular well-being: greater abundance, health, security etc. Now, regardless of whether one only is concerned for the secular well-being of himself, for his immediate family, for his community, for his country, or for the world as a whole, economic science shows that the secular well-being of whichever portion of humanity is concerned with would be much better promoted by a liberal social order than by any other order.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Conza88 replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 10:26 AM

"Well, my original question was, "why would I need to convince that you don't own yourself when I can just steal your stuff, beat you, and/or shoot you?""

You don't need to & hence:

"Are you going to claim that your actions are justified? If not, well congrats - then you'd at least be consistent... all the way to jail or whatever the PDA is going to do with you [via their clients wishes of course]."  Way ahead of you.

"My statements were not context-specific in that regard.  Does it help to substitute "mental evaluation" for "evaluation"?" -""What I'm saying is that the mental evaluation of (particular) violations of self-ownership as right or wrong cannot be proven correct.  The evaluation is entirely subjective."

So you're saying the mental evaluation, without the attempts at verbal and argumentative justifications? lol.

"Because what you're saying is a straw man looked like what you were arguing to me."

lol. If you read the estoppel approach it might be more clear, or even Rothbard's Punishment and Proportionality.  In essence, to the extent you violate someone elses rights, you lose them yourself. Hence: "Are you going to continue to initiate violence? Well then you'll probably end up dead in a gutter. (And if you've shot & killed someone who is innoceant, that's probably where you belong)"

So it's not at all: "it is true that X is wrong because, if you were to commit X, you would be punished for doing so".

"As can be seen, the heart of the idea behind legal estoppel is the idea of consistency. A similar concept, “dialogical estoppel,” can be used to justify the libertarian conception of rights, because of the reciprocity inherent in the libertarian tenet that force is legitimate only in response to force. The basic insight behind this theory of rights is that a person cannot consistently object to being punished if he has himself initiated force. He is (dialogically) “estopped” from asserting the impropriety of the force used to punish him, because of his own coercive behavior. This theory also establishes the validity of the libertarian conception of rights as being strictly negative rights against aggression, the initiation of force.15"

That's merely what I was referring to, although not explicitly. I apologise, I believe I've assumed too much about your base knowledge.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Grayson Lilburne:
I am a Misesian utilitarian.

As am I.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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DMI1 replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 10:35 AM

Natural Righter here.

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Grayson Lilburne:

It's different because it's individualistic and value-free.

That would mean that there weren't utilitarian theories that weren't individualistic and value free; a notion I'm not convinced of. It's true that John Stuart Mill his utilitarian had a more specific notion about what people ought to achieve, but this wasn't (or, to the very least, not as) true for Bentham. (Pushpin and Poetry...) Obviously; Bentham had other problems; one being that he was more of an almost cardinal act-utilitarian. 

Grayson Lilburne:
For Mises, the reason why liberalism can give "blanket" advice is that there is a "harmony of interests".   The overriding concern of humanity is secular well-being: greater abundance, health, security etc. Now, regardless of whether one only is concerned for the secular well-being of himself, for his immediate family, for his community, for his country, or for the world as a whole, economic science shows that the secular well-being of whichever portion of humanity is concerned with would be much better promoted by a liberal social order than by any other order.

It is true that the notion of value-free is used more consistently than any other philosopher before (as far as I know). Older philosophers who had a rule-utilitarian notion (like Hume or Smith) combined this often with other moral theories. I'm not that convinced that the notion of 'individualistic' is that revolutionary; but I can't comment in full on that one. 

In any case; I still see no real reason to call it that 'radically different'. Mises was working within a established tradition - which was actually led astray by the people who coined the term (Mill and Bentham) - and was (probably) the most consistent and clear defender of it up until that time. (Obviously; Hazlitt's 'foundations of morality' really improved upon Mises.) 

The state is not the enemy. The idea of the state is. 

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scineram replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 10:53 AM

I would say non-cognitivist. I agreed with argumentation ethics before it was pointed out to me to be wrong.

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AdrianHealey:
In any case; I still see no real reason to call it that 'radically different'.

I would agree that that would be an exaggeration (although I don't think Ryan used the word "radically").  I would say "importantly different".  You're right that Mises was indeed working in an established tradition: one that he himself said extended all the way back to Epicurus.

The historical role of the theory of the division of labor as elaborated by British political economy from Hume to Ricardo consisted in the complete demolition of all metaphysical doctrines concerning the origin and the operation of social cooperation. It consummated the spiritual, moral and intellectual emancipation of mankind inaugurated by the philosophy of Epicureanism. It substituted an autonomous rational morality for the heteronomous and intuitionist ethics of older days. Law and legality, the moral code and social institutions are no longer revered as unfathomable decrees of Heaven. They are of human origin, and the only yardstick that must be applied to them is that of expediency with regard to human welfare. The utilitarian economist does not say:Fiat justitia, pereat mundus. He says: Fiat justitia,ne pereat mundus. He does not ask a man to renounce his well-being for the benefit of society. He advises him to recognize what his rightly understood interests are. (Human Action, Chapter 8, Section 2)

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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All the way back to me? smiley  woot yes

Haha, jk.  I admittedly just picked this name because it sounded cool. 

But, according to Conza's description, I would say I am a utilitarian.

In States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for evil. Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. ... In short, a law everywhere and for everything!

~Peter Kropotkin

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Grayson Lilburne:

AdrianHealey:
In any case; I still see no real reason to call it that 'radically different'.

I would agree that that would be an exaggeration (although I don't think Ryan used the word "radically").  I would say "importantly different".  You're right that Mises was indeed working in an established tradition: one that he himself said extended all the way back to Epicurus.

The historical role of the theory of the division of labor as elaborated by British political economy from Hume to Ricardo consisted in the complete demolition of all metaphysical doctrines concerning the origin and the operation of social cooperation. It consummated the spiritual, moral and intellectual emancipation of mankind inaugurated by the philosophy of Epicureanism. It substituted an autonomous rational morality for the heteronomous and intuitionist ethics of older days. Law and legality, the moral code and social institutions are no longer revered as unfathomable decrees of Heaven. They are of human origin, and the only yardstick that must be applied to them is that of expediency with regard to human welfare. The utilitarian economist does not say:Fiat justitia, pereat mundus. He says: Fiat justitia,ne pereat mundus. He does not ask a man to renounce his well-being for the benefit of society. He advises him to recognize what his rightly understood interests are. (Human Action, Chapter 8, Section 2)

The world was 'totally', apparently. :)

In any case; than there is no more difference in opinion, I would say. 

The state is not the enemy. The idea of the state is. 

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 11:51 AM

Conza88:
You don't need to & hence:

"Are you going to claim that your actions are justified? If not, well congrats - then you'd at least be consistent... all the way to jail or whatever the PDA is going to do with you [via their clients wishes of course]."  Way ahead of you.

Well, I guess that is an answer to the question, albeit an oblique one.  So I suggest answering more directly in the future.  I also got hung up on the following part about "[going] all the way to jail or whatever the PDA is going to do with you".  That and its obliquity apparently lead me to miss it.  Sorry about that.  No need to be snarky, though.

Conza88:
So you're saying the mental evaluation, without the attempts at verbal and argumentative justifications? lol.

What I'm talking about is a person believing that something is right or wrong absent any prior premises.  For example, one can believe that violating self-ownership is wrong a priori.  But can he or anyone else prove that belief to be correct or incorrect?  No.

I guess both "evaluation" and "mental evaluation" weren't good terms to use.  Sorry for the confusion.

Conza88:
lol. If you read the estoppel approach it might be more clear, or even Rothbard's Punishment and Proportionality.  In essence, to the extent you violate someone elses rights, you lose them yourself. Hence: "Are you going to continue to initiate violence? Well then you'll probably end up dead in a gutter. (And if you've shot & killed someone who is innoceant, that's probably where you belong)"

[Snipped interesting quote.]

That's merely what I was referring to, although not explicitly. I apologise, I believe I've assumed too much about your base knowledge.

No problem.  I understand the concept now, but can you or anyone else prove or disprove the proposition "it is true that estoppel is right"?  My point is that you have to assume the notion of estoppel as a premise.  You can't use it to prove the notion that "it is true that X is wrong" in absolute (i.e. premise-free) sense.

Finally, how does laughing at me help me to understand your position?  Or is that not your goal here?

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

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I guess I am a moral nihilist, or at least close to one.  I try to stay away from the word "nihilist", because I am not a nihilist, but moral nihilist probably describes me closely enough.  I don't know too much about the definitions of these different ethical philosophies, but I'm somewhere between moral nihilism, moral relativism, and ethical subjectivism.

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I. Ryan replied on Thu, Oct 21 2010 12:11 PM

Jonathan M. F. Catalan:

I guess I am a moral nihilist, or at least close to one.  I try to stay away from the word "nihilist", because I am not a nihilist, but moral nihilist probably describes me closely enough.  I don't know too much about the definitions of these different ethical philosophies, but I'm somewhere between moral nihilism, moral relativism, and ethical subjectivism.

Can you explain what "moral nihilist" means?

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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Can you explain what "moral nihilist" means?

I don't know if I should bold certain statements next time or what... as I wrote,

I don't know too much about the definitions of these different ethical philosophies...

But, I did check the definition on Wikipedia before posting that.  Wikipedia says,

Moral nihilism (also known as ethical nihilism or amoralism), is the meta-ethical view that nothing is moral or immoral.

I disagree with that.

For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is neither inherently right nor inherently wrong.

If my interpretation of the word "inherently" is correct, then I agree with that.

Moral nihilism must be distinguished from ethical subjectivism and moral relativism, which do allow for moral statements to be true or false in a non-objective sense, but do not assign any static truth-values to moral statements.

My thought process: "Oh OK, then I guess I am probably closer to an ethical subjectivist."  The article goes on to categorize moral nihilists as moral skeptics, and I am not a moral skeptic.

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Moral nihilism would claim that moral statements are not truth-evaluable. Thus, asserting that "murder is immoral" has no factual content. There are not morals, out there in the world, awaiting our discovery. Furthermore, assigning morality to subjective fancy seems a poor maneuver, and it undercuts the powerful thrust most people assume morality has.

"I'm not a fan of Murray Rothbard." -- David D. Friedman

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StrangeLoop:
Furthermore, assigning morality to subjective fancy seems a poor maneuver

We so badly need a "roll eyes" smilie.

Morals are values, values are subjective.  It really doesn't get a lot more complicated than that.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Thus, asserting that "murder is immoral" has no factual content.

I believe that morals are factual insofar as the individual is concerned.  An individual might really believe murder to be immoral.

EDIT:  Not to rekindle the utility argument, but this seems to undermine your case.  Utility is subjective, as well.  Does that mean there is no such thing as utility?

Furthermore, assigning morality to subjective fancy seems a poor maneuver, and it undercuts the powerful thrust most people assume morality has.

So?  What if I don't believe morality has a "powerful thrust"  (whatever that is).

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