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Question about private rights enforcement policies: coercion?

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When did Rothbard define "threat"?

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gotlucky replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 12:50 PM

Are you kidding me?

"[The] invasive use of physical violence or the threat thereof against someone else's person or (just) property".

Do you know what "thereof" means?

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 12:53 PM

I'm wondering what QuisCustodiet's real point is with this thread.

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gotlucky replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 12:55 PM

I can never tell with him.

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@gotlucky

You're claiming Rothbard used this definition of "threat"

An expression of intent to injure or punish another. (Emphasis added)

But you haven't demonstrated that Rothbard said "threat" means an expressed threat.

I'm saying Jack the Ripper's existence threatens the invasive use of physical force.

and @Autolykos

I started off not knowing the answer to my question, but at this point I'm convinced. A "voluntary alternative" to our statist system today, i.e. anarcho-capitalism with private defense agencies, would still be involuntary. But I didn't start the thread to debate, I started to really to ask the question.

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And by debate I mean try to nudge someone in the direction of a previously-held view; to persuade.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 1:39 PM

QuisCustodiet:
I started off not knowing the answer to my question, but at this point I'm convinced. A "voluntary alternative" to our statist system today, i.e. anarcho-capitalism with private defense agencies, would still be involuntary. But I didn't start the thread to debate, I started to really to ask the question.

Quite frankly, I'm not sure whether to believe you when you say that you started off not knowing the answer to your question. But by your apparent reasoning and semantics, a "voluntary" system of protection is impossible.

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gotlucky replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 1:57 PM

QuisCustodiet,

I honestly can't tell if you are being intentionally dishonest or just obtuse. This is not hard stuff to understand, but I will walk you through step by step:

Here is Rothbard's quote:

[The] invasive use of physical violence or the threat thereof against someone else's person or (just) property.

Let us first insert the meaning of "thereof":

[The] invasive use of physical violence or the threat [of that] against someone else's person or (just) property.

Now let us insert each definition of threat from wiktionary:

[The] invasive use of physical violence or the [an expression of intent to injure or punish another] [of that] against someone else's person or (just) property.

We can see that fully inserting the first definition does not quite make sense as "of that" already covers much of what he is referring to. So we must crop it off at "expression of intent":

[The] invasive use of physical violence or the [expression of intent] [of that] against someone else's person or (just) property.

Now let us work with the second definition:

[The] invasive use of physical violence or the [an indication of iminent danger] [of that] against someone else's person or (just) property.

Again, fully inserting the definition does not make sense, so we crop it to "indication":

[The] invasive use of physical violence or the [indication] [of that] against someone else's person or (just) property.

For the third and final definition:

[The] invasive use of physical violence or the [a person or object that is regarded as a danger; a menace] [of that] against someone else's person or (just) property.

Again, this does not make sense unless we crop it. In order to be charitable to your reading, we must crop it to "person that is regarded":

[The] invasive use of physical violence or the [person that is regarded] [of that] against someone else's person or (just) property.

Here is the problem, QC. No matter how you read it, the agent in question must be against someone else's person or (just) property. Mere existence is not being "against" someone else. Whichever person you think is a threat, you have to demonstrate how that person is a threat to someone's person or rightful property.

You keep claiming that JtR is a threat to this woman, but if we are to use Rothbard's own quote, JtR must be a threat against her person or property. His mere existence is not a threat against her. All you can show is that she regards his as a danger, but that completely disregards any possible interpretation of that quote by Rothbard.

Furthermore, if you have ever read any Rothbard whatsoever, you would know that many times he has defined the NAP, aggression, and coercion. Here is another such example from For a New Liberty:

The libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. This may be called the "nonaggression axiom." "Aggression" is defined as the initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else. Aggression is therefore synonymous with invasion.

Notice the phrase "of the use or threat of physical violence"? Notice how he contrasts the word "use" with the word "threat"? Furthermore, notice how he says that "aggression is therefore synonymous with invasion"? Do you think that JtR is invading others by his mere existence? In other words, he doesn't have to actually act against others in any way for him to be invading them?

Your position is ridiculous. It has no bearing on what Rothbard actually wrote. If you want to self-congratulate yourself for agreeing with yourself, so be it. But please do not be dishonest about the way you do it. You have to redefine the whole English language in order to make your position tenable.

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@Autolykos

But by your apparent reasoning and semantics, a "voluntary" system of protection is impossible.

Right.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 2:40 PM

So then what's your real point? That anarcho-capitalism is therefore no better or worse than statism?

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No, just that a voluntary system of protection is impossible.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 2:56 PM

... By your apparent definition of "voluntary", that is.

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So when anarcho-capitalists say that there's a voluntary alternative to statism, they're wrong. There is no voluntary system of protection.

EDIT: This post was written to clarify my earlier one before the latest post by Autolykos.

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gotlucky replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 2:57 PM

What do you mean by voluntary?

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 2:59 PM

QuisCustodiet:
So when anarcho-capitalists say that there's a voluntary alternative to statism, they're wrong. There is no voluntary system of protection.

EDIT: This post was written to clarify my earlier one before the latest post by Autolykos.

Not necessarily - it depends on the definition of "voluntary" being used.

But suppose we agree with you. So what?

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Done of your own volition. It's already been established that we disagree. I have to get to other things, so I'm getting off the forum.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 3:01 PM

QuisCustodiet:
Done of your own volition.

By that definition, giving your money to someone who demands it while putting a gun to your head is also "voluntary".

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@Autolykos

But suppose we agree with you. So what?

So nothing. Like I said, I didn't start the thread to try to persuade anybody of anything.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 3:01 PM

And like I said, I'm not sure whether to believe you there.

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@Autolykos

Alright. Done of your own free will.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 3:03 PM

What difference do you see between "free will" and "done of your own volition"?

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The word "free" as in uncoerced. We already disagree. I'm giving up on "libertarianism" the philosophy.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 3:09 PM

Why are you suddenly giving up on it?

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gotlucky replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 3:10 PM

I don't think he ever supported it.

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Blargg replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 6:24 PM

Seemed like an interesting question, but wow, a hostile discussion.

I understood the core question to be, if many people buy protection from having their property rights violated, does this implicitly validate those that violate it, and does this create a perverse incentive for such violations? Another way of capturing this is to look at the amount of protection people "have" to buy as variable, and ask at what level is it a sign of something else that's out of whack. If people had to build their houses of steel and employ security guards, is that just the normal way, or is something else broken that "needs" fixing?

I notice that implicit above is the idea that the general state of things should be a certain way, and there's someone to blame or put the cost on, rather than each person simply making individual choices given the circumstances. From this perspective, if this were a general problem, people could collaborate to attempt to lower the crime rate so that they didn't need steel houses. Perhaps they'd find that the providers of steel houses were in collusion with those breaking in, or in collusion with those who report crimes and having them describe things as worse than they are.
 

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Dec 13 2012 11:18 AM

Still waiting to hear why you're "giving up on 'libertarianism' the philosophy", QuisCustodiet.

Also, I'll ask you this: do you see any difference between threat and risk?

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RagnarD replied on Thu, Dec 13 2012 2:22 PM

If someone buys an insurance/rights enforcement policy in an anarcho-capitalist society,
can the purchase really be said to be voluntary?

With the policy, there is less of a chance that the buyer’s rights will be violated.
Because of this threat to his rights, he buys the policy. So isn’t that coercive?

Yes, there is an inherent threat of coercion in any society, and the potential for accidents
to happen even as a solitary person.  Is paying for health insurance to guard against an
accident, even if you caused the accident, voluntary?  In a perfect world with perfect knowledge
insuring against accidents wouldn't be necessary, but neither of those conditions are true.  You
seem to be saying that in order for private protection to be voluntary it would have to be
purchased in the absence of any need for protection.

Imagine our planets surface was bombarded by meteors millions of times more than it is at present and that a large threat to life on the planet was property damage,or being injured or killed by a meteor.  Would meteor damage insurance be voluntary?

The fence you are erecting to qualify voluntariness is too high, in the absence of some
supernatural event some level of criminal activity and right violations by criminals is a fact of
life.  Given the definitions inherent in your arguement no private right protection is not
voluntary, however neither is eating dinner because you are hungry. 

Even if I accept your definitions that does nothing to change the benefits of private protection
agencies over government protection.  With private protection everyone if free to choose the level
of protection they desire, or to choose risk, rather than piling onto the inherent coerciveness of
life by forcing people to purchase protection from an agency with no incentive to really protect them with no possibility of determining what is the proper level of protection.  Even calling the natural threats caused by the universe "coercion" does nothing to lessen the injustice of creating more coercion.

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idol replied on Thu, Dec 13 2012 5:29 PM

QuisCustodiet:

If someone buys an insurance/rights enforcement policy in an anarcho-capitalist society, can the purchase really be said to be voluntary?

With the policy, there is less of a chance that the buyer’s rights will be violated. Because of this threat to his rights, he buys the policy. So isn’t that coercive?

With this logic, water bottle companies are coercive because people get thirsty. The purchase of the insurance enforcement policy is voluntary because he does not have to buy from a specific company or from any company at all, and so different companies are competing to best provide him with the goods he desires. You wouldn't say that today's private bodyguards are "coercing" their employers just because their employer feels threatened by other people. 

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Stupid stomach coercing me into finding a way to get food.

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No. This was addressed earlier in the thread. I see this as one of the great unanswered questions posed to libertarians.

What is free will? Does it really exist?

At this time, I don't know if it does. But since hunger isn't an agent, there's nothing a law can do to outlaw it without violating the NAP (i.e., making people feed each other or else).

My question was specifically about protection against agents who threaten to violate your rights. If there were no agent in the universe who would even consider violating any of your rights, you wouldn't buy protection.

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idol replied on Thu, Dec 13 2012 9:14 PM

Imagine you are an entrepreneur. You realize that, in your neighborhood, there has been a series of break-ins. Seeing an opportunity, you hire a couple dozen trained bodyguard and map out an effective way to quickly reach different parts of your neighborhood. You design an alarm that can be easily installed into homes. Finally, after investing maybe 10,000 of your own dollars and hundreds of hours of your time, you advertise your company throughout the neighborhood.


Does everyone need to contract you? No. Does anyone need to? No. If you've done a bad job either setting up your security or advertising your company, or you are charging millions, it's unlikely that anyone will contract you. If they decide not to, they are just as well off as before. If they decide to, they do it because they feel that they benefit.


Would it be fair to call you coercive? Did you force anyone to do anything? No. In fact, you spent a lot of time and money trying to improve both their lives and yours as well so you really can only be considered benificent. 

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If they decide to, they do it because they feel that they benefit.

No, they'd be doing it because they don't want their houses broken into. 

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So no, I don't see how it's voluntary (i.e. not coerced).

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idol replied on Thu, Dec 13 2012 10:34 PM

QuisCustodiet:

If they decide to, they do it because they feel that they benefit.

No, they'd be doing it because they don't want their houses broken into. 

That is a benefit.

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idol replied on Thu, Dec 13 2012 10:39 PM

The only way it would make sense to call it coercion is if the person offering the security is also the one breaking into people's homes. 

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cab21 replied on Thu, Dec 13 2012 11:33 PM

A is a threat

B sells a policy protecting against threats

unless A and B are a team, and A and B are a threat, then B is not a threat and a relationship with B is not coercive

B is not working with A, and B would offer the trade if A did not exist.

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To apply that to another case, it wouldn't be coercive in your view for someone to sleep with a girl who was roofied by someone else at a party, even if she never would have slept with him without having been drugged.

Discussed here: http://mises.org/Community/forums/t/32171.aspx

I think I'm just gonna be a utilitarian. It's a lot easier to defend the benefits of more freedom and capitalism than any of this "voluntaryist" philosophy. David Friedman's criticisms of NAP libertarians in Machinery of Freedom are formidable, particularly the ray gun/flashlight scenario and the enraged misanthropic shooter scenario.

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RagnarD replied on Fri, Dec 14 2012 1:53 PM

Cab21: Excellent simplification of the core issue

QuisCustodiet:  I really don't see how this situation shows any flaw in private protection.  That's not to say there aren't any, I'm still not 100% convinced, though I strongly lean that way.  I could only see this as a criticism of private protection if the alternative were a 100% controlled society, i.e. everyone is locked in their own little rooms alone until an angel is called to let them out to use the bathroom, and you're obviously not arguing for that. 

If a car company charges extra for airbags are they coercing you?  Sure we call them accidents but assume there were no accidents, that all car wrecks were the result of someone intentionally ramming other cars, would the seller of airbags be complicit in coercion?  How does this differ from Private Rights enforcement?

 

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Autolykos replied on Fri, Dec 14 2012 2:13 PM

QuisCustodiet:
What is free will? Does it really exist?

I'd say that depends on what your definition of "free will" is. (No, I don't mind sounding like a broken record. cheeky)

QuisCustodiet:
At this time, I don't know if it does. But since hunger isn't an agent, there's nothing a law can do to outlaw it without violating the NAP (i.e., making people feed each other or else).

What's your definition of "agent" anyway?

QuisCustodiet:
My question was specifically about protection against agents who threaten to violate your rights. If there were no agent in the universe who would even consider violating any of your rights, you wouldn't buy protection.

That raises the question of how anyone would (or could) ever know whether there's any agent in the universe who'd even consider violating any of his rights. If you deem that knowledge to be impossible, then you must logically treat every agent in the universe as always being "coerced", at which point "coercion" becomes meaningless (i.e. loses distinction, as it's impossible to not be "coerced").

I'll ask you a third time: why are you giving up on "'libertarianism' the philosophy"?

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Autolykos replied on Fri, Dec 14 2012 2:17 PM

QuisCustodiet:
I think I'm just gonna be a utilitarian. It's a lot easier to defend the benefits of more freedom and capitalism than any of this "voluntaryist" philosophy. David Friedman's criticisms of NAP libertarians in Machinery of Freedom are formidable, particularly the ray gun/flashlight scenario and the enraged misanthropic shooter scenario.

Do you think that whatever you're calling "the benefits of freedom and capitalism" are objective facts?

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