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Why I don't believe in the non-aggression principle.

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Positive Agorist Posted: Mon, Apr 30 2012 3:03 PM

 

 

I originally posted this to my tumblr and someone suggested that I post it to the Mises forums so that the responses could change my mind. I doubt it, but I'm doing it anyway.

I used to be one of those “aggression/threats are inherently immoral” type of libertarian, but I’ve come to think that the argument is unpersuasive and fallacious, and that consequentialist arguments are the only valid ones. Here’s a few reasons why.

In a talk titled Libertarianism and Humility, Milton Friedman gave the following example. Suppose there is a man about to jump off a bridge in order to commit suicide. Of course, you try your hardest to persuade him not to, but suppose you couldn’t. Are you justified in using coercion to stop him?

Whether aggression feels justified often depends on how serious the consequences are/how extreme the circumstance is. Suppose market anarchism was unworkable and everyone knew this (I don’t believe this, but just suppose), and there was no state. I would feel justified in going from house to house, taking payment by force to fund a legal and defence monopoly - if that was the price for avoiding chaos and societal collapse. In short, the argument from the NAP doesn’t work against minarchists.

It might be a moral wrong to use force in one circumstance, but it doesn’t follow that this standard can be applied to all others. See Stefan Molyneux’s Against me argument in which he makes this fallacy of removing context from an act of aggression. I see similar decontextualisation (not a real word, but it should be) in Hans Hermann Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics - the idea that by engaging in debate you are conceding certain libertarian ethical prescriptions. The fallacy is the same: just because you hold this value in the context of a debate, it doesn’t make you inconsistent for holding a different value in a different context. (It’s also an appeal to hypocrisy, which is an ad hominem fallacy)

I think this extends to the broader point that deontology matches our intuitive morality better for small scale situations and consequentialism for larger scale ones. When there is little to be lost, we prefer principles, but when a policy can affect society’s aggregate utility, you can’t apply that same deontological morality.

Another fallacy in the Against me argument is saying that, “if you wouldn’t coerce me, you’re a hypocrite to think anyone else should”. This is another fallacy of decontextualisation. For example, I wouldn’t like to become a builder, it’s a line of work that I wouldn’t enjoy, but it doesn’t make me hypocritical if I hire builders. I support the idea of a legal system based on private defence agencies and private arbitrators, but does it make me a hypocrite if I would personally not want to work for a private court or defence firm? In the same way, if someone is uncomfortable with personally coercing you, it doesn’t make them a hypocrite if they advocate you being taxed.

NAP-based arguments against taxation, for example, rely on thought experiments which rely on how “moral” things seem on the surface. The problem is that there are many things that seem wrong on the surface, that end up being morally justified. Is it morally justified to ether a person, knock them out, cut open their body, let their blood spurt out and cut out a body part? Almost everyone would intuitively say no. But what if the body part was diseased and this person had consented to the operation? Thought experiments are often intuition pumps, and don’t help in deciding whether something is desirable or not.

Someone might say, “people need to be free to choose, otherwise there’s no virtue in people doing the right things.” But that doesn’t apply to the potential coercer. Coercion doesn’t destroy choice, it just shifts it from the coerced to the coercer - so “free choice” justifications (also known as “virtue ethics”) for the non-aggression principle fall short. I may be taking away any possible “virtue” from the person’s choice if I coerce the person not to commit suicide, but isn’t there “vice” in me choosing not to prevent something considered highly undesirable from happening?

In Friedman’s example of the man trying to commit suicide, the consequences are extreme, which is why most people don’t feel their moral intuitions strongly points towards leaving the person alone (even if that is the conclusion you come to) - and which is why we can’t use the NAP per se as an argument against statist economic policies, because the consequences are huge, affecting hundreds of millions of people.

Slogans like “taxation is theft” are also contextual. “Theft” relies on an idea of who the legitimate owner is. In a communist society, everything produced is common property, so hoarding stuff for yourself is theft, relative to communist property norms. The fruits of your labour being commonly owned is theft, relative to libertarian property norms. When you say “taxation is theft” you are assuming libertarian property norms. In the same way a private defence agency might enforce libertarian property norms, agents of the state that enforce taxation are just enforcing a certain set or property norms, and so can’t be said to be objectively committing theft.

I agree with Friedman that the belief that complex societal problems can be solved with simple, sweeping moral principles is believing that difficult problems have easy answers.

If you’re still not convinced, David Friedman (son of Milton and an anarcho-capitalist economist) has also written an excellent addition to his book The Machinery of Freedom arguing against deontological libertarian arguments.

 

 

"The direct use of physical force is so poor a solution to the problem of limited resources that it is commonly employed only by small children and great nations." - David Friedman

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The NAP is derived from what is just and unjust under libertarian ideology. It is not the starting point.

Cheerio!

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Positive Agorist:
Suppose market anarchism was unworkable and everyone knew this (I don’t believe this, but just suppose), and there was no state. I would feel justified in going from house to house, taking payment by force to fund a legal and defence monopoly - if that was the price for avoiding chaos and societal collapse. In short, the argument from the NAP doesn’t work against minarchists.

That is one of the biggest non sequiturs I've seen in a while.

 

It might be a moral wrong to use force in one circumstance, but it doesn’t follow that this standard can be applied to all others.

NAP does not disagree with this.

 

See Stefan Molyneux’s Against me argument in which he makes this fallacy of removing context from an act of aggression.

Obviously whether a problem arises or not hinges on your definition of "aggression."  If you define it as most adeherents to NAP do (as, generally, "initiation of force"), then context is included.  (Much like "murder" versus "killing".)  (See “'Aggression' versus 'Harm' in Libertarianism" for more on this.)

 

I see similar decontextualisation (not a real word, but it should be) in Hans Hermann Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics - the idea that by engaging in debate you are conceding certain libertarian ethical prescriptions.

Quite a few libertarians/NAP adherents have issues with Hoppe's ethics.

 

The fallacy is the same: just because you hold this value in the context of a debate, it doesn’t make you inconsistent for holding a different value in a different context. (It’s also an appeal to hypocrisy, which is an ad hominem fallacy)

Huh?  It sounds like you're saying that one can be said to abide by a principle...even if one doesn't abide by the principle in different circumstances.  In other words, you're redefining the entire concept of "principle".  The whole point is that it doesn't change regardless of the context.  That's why it's a "principle" and not a "recommendation based on circumstance".

 

Positive Agorist:
I think this extends to the broader point that deontology matches our intuitive morality better for small scale situations and consequentialism for larger scale ones. When there is little to be lost, we prefer principles, but when a policy can affect society’s aggregate utility, you can’t apply that same deontological morality.

Why not?

 

Another fallacy in the Against me argument is saying that, “if you wouldn’t coerce me, you’re a hypocrite to think anyone else should”. This is another fallacy of decontextualisation. For example, I wouldn’t like to become a builder, it’s a line of work that I wouldn’t enjoy, but it doesn’t make me hypocritical if I hire builders.

How in the hell is entering into a voluntary contract with someone the same as forcing them?  That's like...the exact opposite, in fact.

 

I support the idea of a legal system based on private defence agencies and private arbitrators, but does it make me a hypocrite if I would personally not want to work for a private court or defence firm?

No...why would it?

 

Positive Agorist:
In the same way, if someone is uncomfortable with personally coercing you, it doesn’t make them a hypocrite if they advocate you being taxed.

...It's really interesting that you would ask this question when you're the one who brought up deontology.  The answer is found in the reason the person is uncomfortable coercing you.  If I hire someone to build a house for me, it's not because I find it morally or ethically challenging to engage in building the house.  It's because I find it physically challenging...or I just don't know how.  That's completely different from the argument Molyneux is making when he appeals to the average person who wouldn't stick a gun in your ribs and demand money.

Most people aren't going around mugging people not because they don't know how...but because they have moral and ethical issues with it.  Molyneux's argument (I have to assume, as I haven't seen the video) is that someone who won't do it personally because they find it morally wrong to extort, but then has no probablem when someone else does the extorting on their behalf...is not being consistant.  Extortion is extortion.  If you find it wrong in a moral and ethical context, then it should make no difference who is committing the act.  (Unless of course you believe in one set of morals for some people and another set for others...like "I need to follow the Ten Commandments, but the king is morally right in whatever he does.")

Now granted, there may be people who do not find it morally wrong to put a gun in your face and demand your property.  Obviously these people are not included in the that particular argument.

 

NAP-based arguments against taxation, for example, rely on thought experiments which rely on how “moral” things seem on the surface. The problem is that there are many things that seem wrong on the surface, that end up being morally justified. Is it morally justified to ether a person, knock them out, cut open their body, let their blood spurt out and cut out a body part? Almost everyone would intuitively say no. But what if the body part was diseased and this person had consented to the operation? Thought experiments are often intuition pumps, and don’t help in deciding whether something is desirable or not.

I've never heard of anyone saying an act that didn't involve aggression violated the non-aggression principle.  If you could find some examples of people doing this (as you are alleging here is the case), I'd be interested to see them.

In other words, I guarantee you if you were to have created a thread and simply asked "Is it morally justified to ether a person, knock them out, cut open their body, let their blood spurt out and cut out a body part?"  The immediate "answers" you would have gotten would have been clarification questions asking you about the circumstances under which this took place.  Because the act itself is irrelevant to the litmus test of NAP...obviously the issue the "non-aggression principle" is concerned with is...surprise surprise...whether aggression took place.

So again.  How do you define "aggression"?

I'll play your game your way:

"The problem is that there are many things that seem wrong on the surface, that end up being morally justified. Is it morally justified to ether kill a person? Almost everyone would intuitively say no. But what if the person was on an operating table and it was the doctor attempting a risky life-saving surgery that inadvertently ended the person's life? Thought experiments are often intuition pumps, and don’t help in deciding whether something is desirable or not."

Now if instead of the word "kill" I had used the word "murder", many people would have stopped me and said it was a false premise...because they would argue that what occured was not congruent with the understood definition of "murder".  This is what you are doing with the word "aggression".  You're pretending "aggression" (in the context of "non-aggression principle") is completely synonymous with "violence" or "force".  And again, this is NOT the case in the understanding of adherents to NAP.

In other words...you tell me...Is there any possible circumstance under which it is morally and ethically justified to murder someone?

 

Positive Agorist:
Someone might say, “people need to be free to choose, otherwise there’s no virtue in people doing the right things.” But that doesn’t apply to the potential coercer. Coercion doesn’t destroy choice, it just shifts it from the coerced to the coercer - so “free choice” justifications (also known as “virtue ethics”) for the non-aggression principle fall short. I may be taking away any possible “virtue” from the person’s choice if I coerce the person not to commit suicide, but isn’t there “vice” in me choosing not to prevent something considered highly undesirable from happening?

So bascially, might makes right?

 

In Friedman’s example of the man trying to commit suicide, the consequences are extreme, which is why most people don’t feel their moral intuitions strongly points towards leaving the person alone (even if that is the conclusion you come to) - and which is why we can’t use the NAP per se as an argument against statist economic policies, because the consequences are huge, affecting hundreds of millions of people.

So basically, whatever most people "feel", makes right?

 

Slogans like “taxation is theft” are also contextual. “Theft” relies on an idea of who the legitimate owner is. In a communist society, everything produced is common property, so hoarding stuff for yourself is theft, relative to communist property norms. The fruits of your labour being commonly owned is theft, relative to libertarian property norms. When you say “taxation is theft” you are assuming libertarian property norms. In the same way a private defence agency might enforce libertarian property norms, agents of the state that enforce taxation are just enforcing a certain set or property norms, and so can’t be said to be objectively committing theft.

So basically, whatever the majority says, goes?  (aka, mob rule)?

 

I agree with Friedman that the belief that complex societal problems can be solved with simple, sweeping moral principles is believing that difficult problems have easy answers.

I still have no idea where you're going with this Friedman example.  Friedman's conclusion in that example was that "no, you are not justified" in ultimately preventing the man from committing suicide.  Your own example disagrees with your conclusion.  So I have no idea why you are introducing it....

Milton Friedman - Self Interest & Self Ownership

 

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Do you believe in self ownership?

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Well done, JJ.  yes

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Welcome to the Mises forum, Positive Agorist. smiley

Positive Agorist:
I used to be one of those “aggression/threats are inherently immoral” type of libertarian, but I’ve come to think that the argument is unpersuasive and fallacious, and that consequentialist arguments are the only valid ones. Here’s a few reasons why.

First off, I'm assuming that by "argument" you implicitly mean argumentation from deductive logic. With that said, I actually consider the deontological argument to be more persuasive than the consequentialist/utilitarian argument. In fact, one could say that all moral arguments are ultimately deontological - they just differ as to their premises. Given the is-ought problem, all morality is subjective. So it comes down to which premises are held and whether the posited conclusions are deductively valid from those premises.

In other words, "aggression/threats are inherently immoral" is invalid, because nothing is inherently immoral. It's all a matter of opinion. But that doesn't mean that one can't hold the opinion that aggression/threats are immoral.

Positive Agorist:
In a talk titled Libertarianism and Humility, Milton Friedman gave the following example. Suppose there is a man about to jump off a bridge in order to commit suicide. Of course, you try your hardest to persuade him not to, but suppose you couldn’t. Are you justified in using coercion to stop him?

Given the above, there's no objective answer to that question, and there are potentially infinite subjective answers. My own answer is that no, I'm not justified in using coercion to stop him. It's his life, not mine, and if he wants to end it, who am I to stop him?

Positive Agorist:
Whether aggression feels justified often depends on how serious the consequences are/how extreme the circumstance is. Suppose market anarchism was unworkable and everyone knew this (I don’t believe this, but just suppose), and there was no state. I would feel justified in going from house to house, taking payment by force to fund a legal and defence monopoly - if that was the price for avoiding chaos and societal collapse. In short, the argument from the NAP doesn’t work against minarchists.

The argument from the NAP doesn't work against anyone who doesn't hold the NAP as a premise (which it must be). However, minarchists who claim to believe in the non-aggression and self-ownership principles are not consistently following them in advocating a minimal state, as such would require aggression (including violations of self-ownership) to sustain itself.

Positive Agorist:
It might be a moral wrong to use force in one circumstance, but it doesn’t follow that this standard can be applied to all others. See Stefan Molyneux’s Against me argument in which he makes this fallacy of removing context from an act of aggression. I see similar decontextualisation (not a real word, but it should be) in Hans Hermann Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics - the idea that by engaging in debate you are conceding certain libertarian ethical prescriptions. The fallacy is the same: just because you hold this value in the context of a debate, it doesn’t make you inconsistent for holding a different value in a different context. (It’s also an appeal to hypocrisy, which is an ad hominem fallacy)

Hoppe's argumentation-ethics argument concerns a performative contradiction. He claims that the self-ownership-denying opponent, in simply arguing against self-ownership, is nevertheless acting in a way that presumes self-ownership. So unless you think performative contradictions are instances of the tu quoque fallacy, I don't see how that characterization holds.

Positive Agorist:
I think this extends to the broader point that deontology matches our intuitive morality better for small scale situations and consequentialism for larger scale ones. When there is little to be lost, we prefer principles, but when a policy can affect society’s aggregate utility, you can’t apply that same deontological morality.

I'd like to offer a clarification here. "Larger-scale situations" often involve moral dilemmas. For example, suppose I and many other people are at a shopping mall when an armed man comes in and goes on a shooting rampage. I myself am unarmed, but I happen to be next to a gun shop. Should I take a gun and ammunition from there in order to defend myself and others from the shooter?

My own answer would be yes, but that doesn't mean I don't think taking the gun and ammunition wouldn't be a form of aggression. In my opinion, it still would be - namely, it would be theft. So I think I should be prepared to pay restitution for any damages I caused against the gun-shop owner, if he decides to prosecute me for my theft. (Here I'm assuming I'd return the gun once it's all over, so the permanent theft would only involve any ammunition I expended.)

On the other hand, I take issue with your phrase "society's aggregate utility". How exactly do you think this can be measured? As a follower of Austrian-school economics, I understand that utility per se is subjective - that is, it can't be objectively measured.

Positive Agorist:
Another fallacy in the Against me argument is saying that, “if you wouldn’t coerce me, you’re a hypocrite to think anyone else should”. This is another fallacy of decontextualisation. For example, I wouldn’t like to become a builder, it’s a line of work that I wouldn’t enjoy, but it doesn’t make me hypocritical if I hire builders. I support the idea of a legal system based on private defence agencies and private arbitrators, but does it make me a hypocrite if I would personally not want to work for a private court or defence firm? In the same way, if someone is uncomfortable with personally coercing you, it doesn’t make them a hypocrite if they advocate you being taxed.

IIRC, Molyneux is attacking this form of argument: "It is moral for a person to commit X type of aggression against another." If the argument is instead, "It is moral for set/class Y of people to commit X type of aggression," then that begs the question: why only those people and not any others (let alone everyone)?

With that said, I'm not sure whether Molyneux is doing a very cogent job in his attack. There's a difference between something being permissible - i.e. it's presumed that others will not interfere if one does it - and something being obligatory - i.e. it's presumed/required that people will do it. (Please note, of course, that anything deemed permissible carries a reciprocal obligation, namely the obligation to not interfere.)

Positive Agorist:
NAP-based arguments against taxation, for example, rely on thought experiments which rely on how “moral” things seem on the surface. The problem is that there are many things that seem wrong on the surface, that end up being morally justified. Is it morally justified to ether a person, knock them out, cut open their body, let their blood spurt out and cut out a body part? Almost everyone would intuitively say no. But what if the body part was diseased and this person had consented to the operation? Thought experiments are often intuition pumps, and don’t help in deciding whether something is desirable or not.

With all due respect, I think here you're attacking a straw man in place of the actual NAP. Obviously a surgical operation does not constitute aggression, as it presumably has the consent of the patient. This consent is critical to the libertarian notion of aggression.

For example, in a neighboring thread, I remarked on how neighboring kids will sometimes run through my back yard. Did I explicitly give them consent to do so? No. But I don't consider them to be trespassing, so I'm implicitly consenting to what they're doing. As it's my property they're running through, it's up to me to say whether them running through it constitutes aggression.

Positive Agorist:
Someone might say, “people need to be free to choose, otherwise there’s no virtue in people doing the right things.” But that doesn’t apply to the potential coercer. Coercion doesn’t destroy choice, it just shifts it from the coerced to the coercer - so “free choice” justifications (also known as “virtue ethics”) for the non-aggression principle fall short. I may be taking away any possible “virtue” from the person’s choice if I coerce the person not to commit suicide, but isn’t there “vice” in me choosing not to prevent something considered highly undesirable from happening?

I don't think all types of coercion could even be said to shift choice from the coerced to the coercer - here I'm really talking about threats. Threats simply change the perceived circumstances for people. On the other hand, shifting choice from the coerced to the coercer means that choice is destroyed to some extent for the coerced, doesn't it?

Regardless, I think there's an important distinction to make - between causing something undesirable and not preventing something undesirable. Those two things are in no way the same.

Positive Agorist:
In Friedman’s example of the man trying to commit suicide, the consequences are extreme, which is why most people don’t feel their moral intuitions strongly points towards leaving the person alone (even if that is the conclusion you come to) - and which is why we can’t use the NAP per se as an argument against statist economic policies, because the consequences are huge, affecting hundreds of millions of people.

On the one hand, I don't think that trying to persuade a person to not commit suicide is the same thing as leaving him alone. There's a difference between not doing anything at all and using violence (aggressive or not). On the other hand, I don't understand your reasoning here for why the NAP per se can't be used as an argument against statist economic policies. Can you please explain?

Positive Agorist:
Slogans like “taxation is theft” are also contextual. “Theft” relies on an idea of who the legitimate owner is. In a communist society, everything produced is common property, so hoarding stuff for yourself is theft, relative to communist property norms. The fruits of your labour being commonly owned is theft, relative to libertarian property norms. When you say “taxation is theft” you are assuming libertarian property norms. In the same way a private defence agency might enforce libertarian property norms, agents of the state that enforce taxation are just enforcing a certain set or property norms, and so can’t be said to be objectively committing theft.

Strictly speaking, in a Marxian communist society (which is what I assume you're referring to), only means of production (capital goods) are common property, while consumer goods are personal property.

Objectively speaking, of course, there is never any theft. So "taxation is theft" is invalid in that sense, as it presumes an objective quality to theft that doesn't exist. However, "taxation is theft" is really intended to point out that taxation satisfies the intuitive and/or "common-law" conditions for theft.

Positive Agorist:
I agree with Friedman that the belief that complex societal problems can be solved with simple, sweeping moral principles is believing that difficult problems have easy answers.

I don't see how the self-ownership and non-aggression principles necessarily provide easy answers to difficult problems.

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Good, the quicker you get ethics out of the realm of political theory, economics, and sociological thinking the better.  Get rid of all these insane theororetical and abstract examples.

Just be sure you aren't thinking about "the economy" or "the market" as some other fixed idea / thing and appying a nonsense utilitarian outlook to things

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Conza88 replied on Tue, May 1 2012 10:50 AM

Re: "In a talk titled Libertarianism and Humility, Milton Friedman gave the following example. Suppose there is a man about to jump off a bridge in order to commit suicide. Of course, you try your hardest to persuade him not to, but suppose you couldn’t. Are you justified in using coercion to stop him?"

You are standing in the path on an onrushing boulder, completely unaware of your fate. In a second, this massive rock will hit you, and you will die. (Let us stipulate the truth of this supposition). Instead, however, I push you out of its path, and into safety. The only trouble is, as a result of it, although I have saved your life, I also broke your arm.

Now, if you are a reasonable sort of person, you will be grateful to me. Instead, you insist upon sticking to the literal letter of libertarian law, and sue me for damages for the injury you have sustained. After all, I did initiate a violent act upon your person, which resulted in an injury. If this is not assault and battery, you argue, then nothing is. How shall the libertarian judge rule?

One possibility is to hold me innocent of this charge. This could be done by adding up the two acts, the life saving and the arm breaking, and deciding that the former is far more important than the latter. So much so that the one ought to be in effect "subtracted" from the other, and since the result would be a "positive" (I contributed more to your life by saving it than I cost you through the injury you sustained), I would be let off scott free. The point here is that I committed not two acts, but only one: saving-your-life-and-injuring-you, and that this complex but single act is not one of initiatory aggression.

A difficulty with this line of reasoning is that you might have been standing in the way of the boulder as part of a suicide attempt. You regarded the situation where you are dead far more highly than the one where you are alive, but debilitated. We may assume you wanted to end your life because of bodily malfunctions like a broken arm, and now I have worsened your welfare, not improved it.

Another problem is that these really are two separate acts. It is certainly possible that I could have pushed you out of death’s way without breaking your arm. To call it two separate acts is really to fudge: this would only be done in order to achieve the common sense result we all presumably want: to find me innocent of bodily harm.

No, the only proper libertarian judgment is that I am indeed guilty of a battery upon your person. My motives may have been exemplary, but my act, strictly speaking, was in violation of your property rights in yourself. I might well be let off with a light sentence, given the extenuating circumstances, but guilty I am.

======

Consider a drunken A, who is standing at the edge of a bridge, ready to jump. B, a friend of hers, forcibly grabs A, and saves her from suicide. According to our analysis, B is guilty of a battery, and even of a (short bout of) kidnapping, given that B follows up his act of life saving by restraining A from further attempts to harm herself until she sobers up. But now what? Suppose that when she wakes up the next morning, cold stone sober, A still wants to kill herself. According to the logic of the argument of the Goldbergs (and Friedmans) of the world, B may restrain her from so doing for the rest of her life. This is the role accorded Goldberg to the state. After all, if it is justified to use violence against a person to save her life, and this works in the short term, why not for the long run? When life is placed at the core of a political philosophy, not the non-aggression axiom, this all follows from the laws of logic.

Something else is inferable as well. Goldberg is really a paternalist. For drinking alcohol, using addictive drugs and smoking cigarettes are all slow ways of committing suicide. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet or an automobile without a seat belt, hang gliding, rodeo riding, football playing, boxing, are all ways of risking it. There is a paternalist continuum between Goldberg on the "right" who is willing to utilize initiatory aggression against innocent people for very limited good purposes, and your typical leftist who is willing to do precisely the same thing on a wider scale. It is only the libertarian who stands four square in favor of the non-aggression axiom.

If you really think saving your friend’s life is important because the desire for suicide is only temporary, then you ought to be willing to pay a relatively small penalty if this friend then turns around and sues you for battery, or kidnapping. The problem with the Goldberg variation (sorry, I couldn’t resist) is that he wants a freebie: to initiate violence against an innocent person with no risk of punishment whatsoever.

Nice try, Mr. Goldberg. But if this is the best you can do, you had better consider renouncing your views, and becoming a libertarian.

~~ Walter Block, http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/block1.html

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You reject the concept of the non-aggression principle which has an individual context.  You justify your rejection of the non-aggression principle using a context of society.  I find it ironic you even made a contextual argument.  I suggest you reconcile your views with a proper construction of two separate concepts.  Society + NAP.  Society presumes individuals whereas the NAP presumes individual.

I think even Block's argument above which takes a common libertarian toe the line approach misses this point.  Block correctly accounts for the value of life but when he goes into a suicide scenario he clearly overlooks the presumption of life in society.  If someone wants to exit society the burden is upon them to end their life in a manner where the act does not effect others.  Similar to trespassing, it is the obligation of a trespassor to provide notice not the trespassee.  It is ridiculous to argue a trespass occurred when no notice has been given and no reasonable person would presume a trespass is about to occur.

Furthermore a suicide has to occur somewhere which is not accounted for in any of these suicide scenarios.  What does the property owner have to say about people committing suicide.

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hashem replied on Tue, May 1 2012 12:16 PM

@OP:

By definition, if the NAP is valid, then that follows which is derived logically. Notice, the P in NAP is for principle. If the NAP is valid, then you're wrong de facto.

If the NAP isn't valid, please prove it.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Conza88 replied on Tue, May 1 2012 12:49 PM

Yep and as was mentioned earlier:

  1. Self-ownership
  2. Original appropriation

=> NAP.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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I'm still unconvinced regarding the criticisms of Hoppe's Argumentation Ethics and the idea that the NAP is implied by argument. I've read the threads John James posted above (as well as some threads within them), but still don't see a uniform flaw noticed by its critics (reading most of the criticisms of Hoppe's Argumentation Ethics, in this article), which isn't to say that the absence of such uniformity makes Hoppe's argument correct, but that such absence does seem telling as it pertains to alleged flaws in Hoppe's argument.

In response to the critics, Hoppe (at the end of that PDF)  replies that most of his critics have misrepresented or misunderstood his argument (e.g. Friedman stating, verbatim, that nobody, including Hoppe, has ever argued about the truth of propositions, since there are no completely libertarian societies [...] based on the idea that one must live in a libertarian society (libertarians cannot even come to a consensus as to what a libertarian society is; if Friedman's argument here is what Hoppe actually said, then Hoppe's argument would be meaningless) in order to argue [Friedman's representation of what Hoppe's second proposition in his Ethics is]. Friedman takes it that Hoppe's second proposition, as Friedman represents it, is a conclusion based on historical fact). Hoppe summarizes his argument in unambiguous terms at the end of every article (I think it's the same one: On the Ultimate Justification of the Ethics of Private Property) where I've read him present his Argumentation Ethics:

The structure of the argument is this: (a) justification is propositional justification- a priori true is-statement; (b) argumentation presupposes property in one's body and the homesteading principle- a priori true is-statement; and (c) then, no deviation from this ethic can be argumentatively justified- a priori true is-statement.

No proposition above requires one to argue in a libertarian society (and it certainly doesn't imply that one cannot say anything that is true if he is a slave as some critics argue in that article above); it only states that, insofar as one is capable of justification, he must do so using argument and that argument requires his exclusive control of his body (implied in this is the homesteading principle). The argument states that, while one can of course act contradictory to the argument (as surely as one can state 2+2=5) such actions are argumentatively unjustifiable. The conclusion drawn from these two a priori propositions is that one cannot argue that either of the two propositions is false without presupposing their validity in argument. As such, Hoppe argues, the NAP -as well as private property rights as a normative construct- is axiomatically valid as any argument to the contrary requires argument for aggression which is contradicted by the proposition-maker who assumes the validity of private property rights. 

Regarding Bob Murphy and Gene Callahan's critique, they seem to fall in the same judgment as Friedman: while both critiques concede that Hoppe's proposition (a) is an is-statement, neither critiques present Hoppe's argument in is-statements, but attempt to instead falsify the is-statement with ought-statements. Hoppe takes great care to note the different nature involved between is-statements and ought statements and states that it is impermissible to derive an ought-statement from an is-statement. Says Hoppe:

The proof also offers a key to an understanding of the nature of the fact-value dichotomy: Ought statements cannot be derived from is-statements. They belong to different logical realms. It is also clear, howeer, that one cannot even state that there are facts and values if no propositional exchanges exist, and that this practice of propositional exchanges in turn presupposes the acceptance of the private property ethic as valid. In other words, cognition and truth seeking as such have a normative foundation, and the normative foundation on which cognition and truth rest is the recognition of private property rights.

As such, Friedman's and Murphy/Callahan's critiques, insofar as they attempt to falsify is-statements with ought-statements, is logically inappropriate/irrelevant.

From here, Murphy/Callahan continue that (emphasis added): 

In the previous section we argued that, even if one grants the basic validity of Hoppe’s approach, he has still not made the case for universal, full self-ownership in the libertarian sense. At best, all Hoppe has proven is that it would be a performative contradiction for someone to deny in an argument that his debating opponent (and perhaps those in the same "class") own the body parts (such as eyes, brain, and lungs) necessary for debate, for the duration of the debate. This is a far cry from showing that it would be a contradiction for someone to deny the libertarian ethic.

The question is: how can one deny the libertarian ethic, but for argumentation? If one were to physically deny one's profession of a libertarian ethic (e.g. someone punches another in the face for no reason thereby implicitly denying the libertarian ethic Hoppe establishes) he would have to presuppose his exclusive ownership of his body- at least of his fist. Further, once it is conceded that one can justifiably homestead scarce goods (as Murphy/Callahan do in that article), there cannot possibly be a restriction in the homesteading process -without contradiction- except for a self-imposed one.

Murphy/Callahan, again: But now we move on to a more fundamental objection to Hoppe’s argument: One is not necessarily the rightful owner of a piece of property even if control of it is necessary in a debate over its ownership. 

But how did this person acquire this property, appropriate it such that it is under his control, but for first demonstrating exclusive control in his person by means of which he obtained this property? 

Murphy/Callahan, again: 

If not, then it must not be true, after all, that one needs to own his body in order to debate. This is obvious; Thomas Paine wrote the first portion of The Age of Reason while imprisoned, the famous "Birdman of Alcatraz" submitted scholarly articles to journals while serving time for murder, and the imprisoned Timothy McVeigh certainly tried to justify the bombing to which he had confessed, in correspondence with Gore Vidal. Indeed, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Hans Hoppe were denied their rights to self-ownership, yet they managed to advance plenty of arguments.

Except, Tom Paine, Birdman, McVeigh, Mises, Rothbard, and Hoppe did not lose ownership (exclusive control) of their bodies by virtue of the fact that they wrote what they wrote; the fact that these figures are capable of argument demonstrates that they maintain exclusive control over their bodies during argument. I cannot insert myself into someone such that I can control what they do as if it were my own body: at most, I can only force someone to do something by physically manipulating their body (which demonstrably shows that I do not exclusively control their body, by necessity, due to my need to force them to argue [if this is even possible]). Only an actor can will his own body into motion by succuming to force exerted on his body or by actively pursuing that end which he values most by virtue of his action. 

It is also disappointing to read Murphy/Callahan end their critique with a quote by Mitchell Jones who argues in the symposium in which they reference (and to which they subscribe), to which I link in the first paragraph of this post, that the existence of slavery invalidates the truth of any proposition made by a slave according to Hoppe's argument. Hoppe clarifies explicitly:

[Argumentation Ethics] is purely intellectual in nature, like logical, mathematical, or praxeological proofs. Its validity -as theirs- can be established independent of experiences. Nor is its validity in any way affected, as several critics -most notoriously Waters- seem to think, by whether or not people like, favor, understand or come to a consensus regarding it, or whether or not they are actually engaged in argumentation. As considerations such as these are irrelevent in order to judge the validity of a mathematical proof, for instance, so are they beside the point here.

As such, it seems that critiques made by Murphy/Callahan were made by critics and addressed by Hoppe almost 20 years before the arguments were made by Murphy/Callahan.

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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Neodoxy replied on Tue, May 1 2012 3:42 PM

"Good, the quicker you get ethics out of the realm of political theory, economics, and sociological thinking the better.  Get rid of all these insane theororetical and abstract examples."

This.

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Clayton replied on Tue, May 1 2012 4:18 PM

@OP: I also reject the NAP as a final criterion of morality. It simply isn't, though I think the counter-arguments you've given are not persuasive. The NAP simply isn't consistent with human nature - a parent grabbing his child by the arm and yanking him out of the street by force is an example of where NAP is simply incongruous with human nature. Clearly, the parent is justified and clearly he is "aggressing" against the child since the same action could certainly be prosecuted at law as assault if done against an adult.

I really like your observation about decontextualization but I think you're also guilty of it. In this article, I argue for a conception of law (and morality) that is grounded in fully contextual thought-experiments. What do we mean when we say that "aggression is immoral", that is, when does it matter whether it is immoral or not? Well, the point at which it matters is the point at which we are in a post hoc dispute over the action. During the action, the fact that is aggression or immoral is not relevant even if it is true since the situation is tactical at that point and all that matters is my ability to defend myself against you - game theory (consequentialism) is the correct tool for analyzing such situations.

But it is a mistake to apply the same sort of reasoning to post hoc disputation - such as a lawsuit - that would apply during a tactical situation. For example, noting that "I could beat you up and take what I want from you" is not a serious legal argument - the whole point of a lawsuit is to settle a dispute without resorting to violence so threats of violence during the dispute are self-refuting. Put up or shut up.

So, I think that you need to go back and contextualize your arguments in the form of a real legal dispute between two (presumably peer) disputants. Once you do this, then you will see that law (and morality) is a kind of "social technology" by which we are able to settle disputes in a more efficient manner by examining the grand scientific experiment of human history to see what kinds of settlements to this sort of dispute have tended to work and what kinds have not.

The bully scenario (Leviathan, Mafia, slumlords, etc.) is an imbalance of power that prevents the application of the social technology of law and morality by turning a dispute into an "autistic exchange" - in Misesean terminology. The statist mistakes this failure mode of law/morality as an argument against the use of normative arguments in the settlement of disputes and proof that we have to settle for some form or other of consequentialism. In my view, this failure mode deprives the rest of us of valuable knowledge regarding the settlement of disputes that could be had if these settlements were arrived at through bilateral bargaining on the basis of legal precedent and moral arguments rather than unilateral imposition of the victor's terms. In other words, it's in your own interest (consequentialist argument) for customary law (rather than statutory imposition) to be as widely practiced as possible.

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It's easier to contend that NAP by myself cannot define what is Libertarian and what isn't. In fact, if one follows NAP to the letter then one can't technically use force to defend property either, yet we would all conclude that property rights are essential for personal liberty. NAP is part of set of principles, that when taken in context to the others (such as personal sovereignty or self-ownership) then it functions well.

"The power of liberty going forward is in decentralization.  Not in leaders, but in decentralized activism.  In a market process." -- liberty student

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 Get rid of all these insane theororetical and abstract examples.

 

I have to say, I totally disagree with your assertion that something that is abstract should be discarded. By your logic, algorithms, mathematics, personal values, and introspection should be discarded. We should all become mechanicist drones. Sorry, I prefer the human universe that doesn't discard that which makes our lives worth living.

"The power of liberty going forward is in decentralization.  Not in leaders, but in decentralized activism.  In a market process." -- liberty student

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ladyattis:
In fact, if one follows NAP to the letter then one can't technically use force to defend property either, yet we would all conclude that property rights are essential for personal liberty.

I was considering this line of thought the other night; but how can one be said to own property if he cannot defend it from invasive acts committed by others?

 

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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That's why NAP by itself isn't the one stop for libertarian theory. This is why I have to headdesk every time someone tries to shoehorn property rights into NAP, when it makes no such claims or notions within its definition. I feel like summoning the cyborg zombie of Kurt Godel to strangulate every thin libertarian that tries this crap with me.

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ladyattis:
That's why NAP by itself isn't the one stop for libertarian theory. This is why I have to headdesk every time someone tries to shoehorn property rights into NAP, when it makes no such claims or notions within its definition.

How is "aggression" defined then?

 

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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Aggression - any act that is hostile or forceful. Ex. Johnny was aggressive with his date last night since he wouldn't leave his hand to himself.

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The subjectivistic manner in which aggression is therefore defined dilutes the signifigance of the NAP, if not pushing back the questioning another step: how does one define hostile or forceful? Further, the example you provide could be interpreted to imply a violation of property rights (Johnny nonconsensually placing his hands on the body of his unfortunate date).

If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore. HHH

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ladyattis:

Aggression - any act that is hostile or forceful. Ex. Johnny was aggressive with his date last night since he wouldn't leave his hand to himself.

It's nice that you define aggression that way, but it is not the definition that most libertarians are using when they discuss the NAP.  From wiktionary on aggression:

 

Noun

aggression (plural aggressions)

  1. The act of initiating hostilities or invasion.
  2. The practice or habit of launching attacks.
  3. Hostile or destructive behavior or actions.

The first definition is what libertarians use when discussing the NAP.  The one you use is certainly common, especially in everyday speech, but it is not the common definition for libertarians (and especially in regards to the NAP).

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ladyattis:

That's why NAP by itself isn't the one stop for libertarian theory. This is why I have to headdesk every time someone tries to shoehorn property rights into NAP, when it makes no such claims or notions within its definition. I feel like summoning the cyborg zombie of Kurt Godel to strangulate every thin libertarian that tries this crap with me.

Aggression - any act that is hostile or forceful. Ex. Johnny was aggressive with his date last night since he wouldn't leave his hand to himself.

Hostile toward what?  Forceful of whom?

Individual rights, justice, and aggression do collapse into property rights.

As Kinsella points out:

"The nonaggression principle is also dependent on property rights, since what aggression is depends on what our (property) rights are. If you hit me, it is aggression because I have a property right in my body. If I take from you the apple you possess, this is trespass — aggression — only because you own the apple. One cannot identify an act of aggression without implicitly assigning a corresponding property right to the victim."

 

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Sorry if these have already been addressed:

Another fallacy in the Against me argument is saying that, “if you wouldn’t coerce me, you’re a hypocrite to think anyone else should”. This is another fallacy of decontextualisation. For example, I wouldn’t like to become a builder, it’s a line of work that I wouldn’t enjoy, but it doesn’t make me hypocritical if I hire builders. I support the idea of a legal system based on private defence agencies and private arbitrators, but does it make me a hypocrite if I would personally not want to work for a private court or defence firm? In the same way, if someone is uncomfortable with personally coercing you, it doesn’t make them a hypocrite if they advocate you being taxed.

The question is whether I think it's ethical to tax the person. Saying that you wouldn't work for a company but you would hire them is not the same thing. The same thing would be "I don't believe it's ethical to do the jobs that company does and I wouldn't hire them to do the jobs either."

 Is it morally justified to ether a person, knock them out, cut open their body, let their blood spurt out and cut out a body part? Almost everyone would intuitively say no. But what if the body part was diseased and this person had consented to the operation?

They'd say no because they haven't thought the matter through. Just as if you asked someone "Have you ever eaten DNA" they'd be like "Heck no!" until you point out that all plants/vegetables have DNA in them.

 Coercion doesn’t destroy choice, it just shifts it from the coerced to the coercer

Actually an essential point. That's why talk of "freedom" is pointless - your freedom from coercion limits my freedom to initiate coercion. Hence why I dislike anarchist talk of "freedom." You cannot increase freedom, strictly speaking. You can increase people following a natural rights system, but not freedom through institutionalization.

In Friedman’s example of the man trying to commit suicide, the consequences are extreme, which is why most people don’t feel their moral intuitions strongly points towards leaving the person alone 

Why are you assuming his argument is correct? Delving into it a little more deeply and expanding the scenario quickly breaks the argument down.

Slogans like “taxation is theft” are also contextual. “Theft” relies on an idea of who the legitimate owner is. In a communist society, everything produced is common property, so hoarding stuff for yourself is theft, relative to communist property norms. The fruits of your labour being commonly owned is theft, relative to libertarian property norms.

True. Nice point.

and so can’t be said to be objectively committing theft.

Also true. You also can't objectively say that rape is illegal, but we can all agree it is. Correct? The point, thus, is to propose that libertarian property norms are more pleasant than others.

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If someone wants to exit society the burden is upon them to end their life in a manner where the act does not effect others.  Similar to trespassing, it is the obligation of a trespassor to provide notice not the trespassee.

Hah! Love it :P

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hashem replied on Tue, May 1 2012 10:34 PM

Interacting with people physically without (i.e. prior to) their consent isn't necessarily aggression—a lot of just basically accepted touch is unrequested. The example of Jonny and his date could demonstrate this. The example of siblings, and normal people who are still comfortable with touch. So maybe saving a baby from death in the street isn't aggression, we just are too dumb to piece together the proper argument for it.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Clayton replied on Wed, May 2 2012 1:21 PM

 So maybe saving a baby from death in the street isn't aggression, we just are too dumb to piece together the proper argument for it.

Again, if we contextualize aggression (I really like that term, h/t to OP), nothing is aggression unless somebody complains. If I hit you, and you don't sue me, then it wasn't aggression. The only point at which the question of aggression arises is the point at which somebody complains. It's not likely that my child will file a lawsuit against me if I pull him out of the way of oncoming traffic but perhaps my in-laws don't like the way I did it and thought I was rougher than necessary. They might sue me claiming that I assaulted - aggressed against - my child. If I had done the exact same thing to an adult who then sued me, I would definitely be guilty of assault even if I had the intention of saving his life. Intentions don't matter in law, only actions.

So, my point stands: there are many forms of aggression that are tolerated as a part of the human condition. On a deeper analysis, it's not really aggression so much as dual-law that is at issue here - one body of law that depends on who you are (privilege) and another body of law that does not (law proper). The State is the aggrandization and universalization of dual law. However, dual-law is inherently discoordinating to the social order so the universalization of dual-law leads directly to the breakdown of society, cf Soviet Russia.

The Non-Aggression Principle is one way of saying "there should be absolutely no dual-law (privilege) whatsoever". While I agree with the sentiment, I think that stated without qualification, it is just Utopian building-of-castles-in-air (to mix metaphors). First, it doesn't matter whether I think there should or shouldn't be any dual-law, it is a question of what are the facts of human nature on this point. Second, we don't need to say "there should be absolutely no dual-law whatsoever" in order to say what the consequences of universal dual-law are (social breakdown) and to say that less dual-law is preferable to more dual-law because dual-law is progressively erosive of the social order (more dual-law results in more discoordination of the social order).

In its defense, I will say that the NAP is a great first-order approximation of free-market law. 99% of statist bullshit can be summariliy dismissed with a casual application of basic NAP analysis. But once you get into the question of how the social order itself is structured (can/do societies really adopt NAP as a fundamental social norm?), things get more complicated and clinging to NAP as a final criterion of legality/morality is detrimental.

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Excellent post, Clayton!  Bookmarked.

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Clayton:
If I had done the exact same thing to an adult who then sued me, I would definitely be guilty of assault even if I had the intention of saving his life.

I'm confused, is there a case you can reference?

Clayton:
Intentions don't matter in law, only actions.

What makes you say this?

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Clayton replied on Wed, May 2 2012 3:43 PM

I'm confused, is there a case you can reference?

We had a famous case here in Oregon (I want to say 20 years back?) where a patron of a restaurant began choking on his food. Another patron came over and performed the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the food, saving the man's life. In the process, one of the choking victim's ribs was broken or fractured. He later sued the guy who performed the Heimlich maneuver and won. No, I don't know the case number and can't you point you to a legal journal, you'll have to do that legwork on your own. This was the basis of the analogy I gave above.

Even though I sympathize with the public outrage that surrounded the decision, I can't say the ruling was incorrect. Performing an action on another person's body that they did not ask you to perform is a very serious matter and I think you should be liable for any damage you cause, even in the process of saving their life. On the most extreme application of this reasoning, you could say that even if no harm was done, physically impeding or seizing a person - even for the purpose of saving their life - could be considered battery.

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K, after doing some research I think what you're talking about might now be covered by Good Samaritan Laws which exist in every state.

They do vary though and they're not a license to be reckless or cause grievous bodily injury.

From GA's Good Samaritan Law:

"Any person, including any person licensed to practice medicine and surgery 

pursuant to Article 2 of Chapter 34 of Title 43 and including any person 
licensed to render services ancillary thereto, who in good faith renders 
emergency care at the scene of an accident or emergency to the victim or 
victims thereof without making any charge therefore shall not be liable for 
any civil damages as a result of any act or omission by such person in 
rendering emergency care or as a result of any act or failure to act to 
provide or arrange for further medical treatment or care for the injured 
person. "
 
Not sure about injuring someone while pulling them out of the way of a moving vehicle yet.  I apologize for the weird spacing this website is being crazy again.
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nothing is aggression unless somebody complains

Reads very similar to a position I have asserted in property conversations...  "anything beyond self is a claim."

Since we are having a candid conversation about aggression I wish to make a point about coercion that I object to.

Death of Coercor >---->------->------>  Force >----->----->-----> | <----<-----<------< Resistance <------<-------<--------< Death of Coercee

If R > F submission does not occur so everything left of center does not apply to the concept of coercion.

If the coercee dies, submision does not occur so everything off the scale to the right does not apply to the concept of coercion.  I suppose we could label both ends of the scale some form of conquest where force totally eliminates resistance or vice versa.

Coercion is when F > R and a coercee submits to a coercor.

The concept of coercion is submitting by not resisting force when F > R > R=0.

I agree coercion does not eliminate choice. One chooses to apply force.  One chooses to resist.  One chooses to cease applying force.  One chooses to cease resisting force.  Choice is always present however the concept of coercion is ex post facto choice, specifically after a choice has been made to submit.  If the concept of coercion includes claiming threats of force how does one account for any personal responsibility to perceive threats or morally discern credible threats? 

The concept of coercion morally justifies the act of submitting without any regard or consideration for that which one submits to.  I strongly object to a belief it is ok to submit to anything so long as F> R > R=0.
 

Hah! Love it :P

To be clear.  As soon as I witness evidence of societies comprised of dead individuals economically interacting with societies of living individuals I might be inclined to change my position the abstract concept of society does not include a presumption of life.

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zclasaris replied on Sun, Feb 24 2013 7:25 PM

 

Whenever you tear an idea from its context and treat it as though it were a self-sufficient, independent item, you invalidate the thought process involved. If you omit the context, or even a crucial aspect of it, then no matter what you say it will not be valid . . . .

A context-dropper forgets or evades any wider context. He stares at only one element, and he thinks, “I can change just this one point, and everything else will remain the same.” In fact, everything is interconnected. That one element involves a whole context, and to assess a change in one element, you must see what it means in the whole context.

The Philosophy of Objectivism lecture series

Leonard Peikoff,
The Philosophy of Objectivism lecture series, Lecture 5

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zclasaris replied on Sun, Feb 24 2013 7:26 PM

 

Whenever you tear an idea from its context and treat it as though it were a self-sufficient, independent item, you invalidate the thought process involved. If you omit the context, or even a crucial aspect of it, then no matter what you say it will not be valid . . . .

A context-dropper forgets or evades any wider context. He stares at only one element, and he thinks, “I can change just this one point, and everything else will remain the same.” In fact, everything is interconnected. That one element involves a whole context, and to assess a change in one element, you must see what it means in the whole context.

The Philosophy of Objectivism lecture series

Leonard Peikoff,
The Philosophy of Objectivism lecture series

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Clayton:

I'm confused, is there a case you can reference?

We had a famous case here in Oregon (I want to say 20 years back?) where a patron of a restaurant began choking on his food. Another patron came over and performed the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the food, saving the man's life. In the process, one of the choking victim's ribs was broken or fractured. He later sued the guy who performed the Heimlich maneuver and won. No, I don't know the case number and can't you point you to a legal journal, you'll have to do that legwork on your own. This was the basis of the analogy I gave above.

Even though I sympathize with the public outrage that surrounded the decision, I can't say the ruling was incorrect. Performing an action on another person's body that they did not ask you to perform is a very serious matter and I think you should be liable for any damage you cause, even in the process of saving their life. On the most extreme application of this reasoning, you could say that even if no harm was done, physically impeding or seizing a person - even for the purpose of saving their life - could be considered battery.

Clayton -

 

How do you know that the choking patron did not indicate his desire for assistance by displaying the choking symbol? If he did, then that was an incorrect ruling. However, even if he did not, the choking patron might not have been able to explicitly indicate his desire for help. The other person made an assumption. It would have been entirely reasonable in the court proceedings to ask that if the choking patron could have indicated his desire for help would he.

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Meistro replied on Sun, Feb 24 2013 9:18 PM

I suppose you could also say giving someone a congratulatory slap on the back is also an assault, but then you would have to totally ignore social customs and common sense. 

 

... just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its own - Albert Jay Nock

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dude6935 replied on Mon, Feb 25 2013 2:18 PM

Clayton:
Again, if we contextualize aggression (I really like that term, h/t to OP), nothing is aggression unless somebody complains.

So, my point stands: there are many forms of aggression that are tolerated as a part of the human condition.

This is a contradiction. How can aggression be both 'defined by complaint' and tolerated? Doesn't a complaint necessarily imply intolerance?

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gotlucky replied on Mon, Feb 25 2013 2:42 PM

tolerate

 

Verb
  1. Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.
  2. Accept or endure (someone or something unpleasant or disliked) with forbearance.

 

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dude6935 replied on Mon, Feb 25 2013 3:55 PM

Actually, I think Clayton is using two different forms of the word "aggression". In the first case he is referring to aggression that is 'defined by complaint'. In the second case he is referring to aggression as the naked 'initiation of force'.

I agree that morality cannot be determined by the naked initiation of force in some cases. If we define aggression as the untolerated initiation of force (or whatever wording gives proper consideration to complaints), then the issue is solved. We don't need a new moral theory, just a tweak in the ongoing quest for perfection.

I guess that makes this version of NAP a posteriori? Was the a priori nature of NAP the main objection to begin with? I think so..

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