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Resource for defining terms?

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QuisCustodiet Posted: Fri, Dec 7 2012 6:31 PM

One of my professors today criticized anarcho-capitalism in passing today when he said that no serious thinker believes the state to be indespensible because, according to my professor, nobody believes that it is possible to have a completely voluntary society.

Had had just wrote parenthetically on the board "force" next to the word "coercion". I raised my had an respectfully suggested adding the word "initiatory" before the word "force". He maintained that any use of force is coercive, even proportional defensive force, and declined to revise what he wrote.

So by "voluntary society" he meant a society in which no force of any kind is used by anyone. He gave a quick example before moving on: Not everyone is peaceful; some will develop a desire for world conquest. These conquestors need to be forced to stop if the society wants to survive. It would be necessary for this conquestor to be "coercively" subdued, and therefore, it wouldn't be a "voluntary" society.

I was one of the few kids paying attention (and thus even really understood our disagreement), so I didn't want to bang the pots and pans in class to bring attention to it. I waited until after class to talk to him. (Note: I recommend this unless the kids in your class are critical thinkers/intellectually curious, which they usually aren't in <300-level classes.) I told the professor that he misunderstood the definition of coercion that ancaps use, and now I'd like to send him a follow-up email with some definitions and an illustration of how the professor made a strawman in class. Nobody is saying that defensive force would never be necessary, nor that defensive force is coercive (at least I don't think so).

Suggestions?

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nicely done man!

as for your resources, you'd probably find some good stuff here...it seems pretty comprehensive:

http://mises.org/Community/forums/t/29329.aspx

 

I found it fromt the thread in the newbie section:

http://mises.org/community/forums/t/28958.aspx

 

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Thanks. Yeah, I have an article in mind to preempt the "free rider problem" objection (But Wouldn't the Warlords Take Over? by Bob Murphy), but what I really need is an ancap definition of coercion and of voluntary exchange. My professor and I agreed that it all comes down to how the two words are defined.

If you're interested, here is the site I was skimming for the best article to rebut possible objections. It's run by a member on the forums (Wheylous):

http://candlemind.com/projects/progclub/file/michael/getEducated.php?listID=16

But I still need definitions! Preferably from Rothbard, who was the only person he recognized when I rattled off a list of ancaps (Hoppe, Gerard Casey, David Friedman, Rothbard). Professor said Rothbard was "ignorant, ignorant, ignorant," not at all a serious thinker like Nozick.

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I'm going with Machinery of Freedom, which provides a definition of coercion on the bottom of page 59:

"I define 'coercion', for the purposes of this definition, as the violation of what people in a particular society believe to be the rights of individuals with respect to other individuals."

A Utilitarian, Friedman is, holding a far different view of anarcho-capitalism than Rothbard, but I really like his book and would suggest reading it if you haven't so far:

http://daviddfriedman.com/The_Machinery_of_Freedom_.pdf

Or the condensed 23-minute illustrated version on YouTube (my first exposure to his ideas):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTYkdEU_B4o

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Wheylous replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 10:28 PM

If it's a matter of semantics, you will not convince him. Just change what you are advocating.

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I just sent the email. I think I ended up doing that.

Mises.org posted an excerpt of The Ethics of Liberty in which Rothbard is criticizing Hayek's lame definition of coercion, in which Rothbard provided his own definition. Both his and Friedman's involved the violation of rights, so I argued that the two are arguing that the violation of rights is not necessary to maintain a free society.

I suggested a better (non-strawman) criticism of market anarchy, the "free-rider problem". Then I referred him to Chapter 2 ("Private Defense") of Chaos Theory.

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Wheylous replied on Fri, Dec 7 2012 11:28 PM

Ah, the free rider problem. The wonderful theory that when faced by an existential threat, people will prefer to die.

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AJ replied on Sat, Dec 8 2012 1:35 AM
Notice that David Friedman's definition of coercion basically just defines the word away, which I think is the best approach. What practically constitutes aggression or coercion (hence the NAP or voluntary interaction) in a given society simply depends on the prevailing attitudes of the people in that society. There are definite regularities and quasi-universals in moral sentiments, but no clean idealistic principles.
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Say hey, do you fellas know of any responses to the free-rider objection that take the "Kickstart" approach? It's the idea that military defense can be funded voluntarily in the same way that Kickstart.com funds projects (if we raise $1 million, let's say, we'll have a military defense of NYC for 6 months). I find this the single most convincing response to the objection, and it can be applied elsewere in a stateless society. Take Friedman's example of building a wall around a river in a farming community to protect against a flood.

Here is A Guy on YouTube making the case. This video (less than 4 minutes) is the first time I encoured this clever response:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHSTQ-Qyu50

Anyway, do you know of anyone who's made this case before? If not, someone on the Mises forums ought to.

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Actually, upon glacing at the comments on YouTube, apparently it's written about in Chaos Theory. I don't remember reading it there. Then again, I haven't read it since like August.

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Quis - you might find the first link here useful:

http://candlemind.com/projects/progclub/file/michael/getEducated.php?listID=28

Personally, I don't think defense would suffer from free-riders in a true time of need. Anyway, there are interests who actively want to protect the country such as infrastructure companies, banks, large businesses, and insurance companies.

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@Wheylous

Thanks.

If anyone's following along at home, my professor just emailed me back. He still says coercion is the use of force, not as the initiation of violence, and thus private rights enforcement/defense is coercive. You were right about the semantics thing.

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