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Proving Natural Law

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hashem replied on Sat, Jun 20 2009 10:34 PM

ROTHBARD PROVES NATURAL LAW; REFUTES HUME:

Nature: "If apples and stones and roses each have their specific natures, is man the only entity, the only being, that cannot have one? And if man does have a nature, why cannot it too be open to rational observation and reflection? If all things have natures, then surely man's nature is open to inspection."

Man's Nature: "Man's reason is objective, i.e., it can be employed by all men to yield truths about the world. To ask what is man's nature is to invite the answer. Go thou and study and find out!" "The fact of man's reason does not mean that error is impossible...No man is omniscient or infallible -- a law, by the way, of man's nature." "The critical and unique facts about man and the ways in which he must live to survive -- his consciousness, his free will and free choice, his faculty of reason, his necessity for learning the natural laws of the external world and of himself, his self-ownership, his need to "produce" by transforming nature-given matter into consumable forms -- all these are wrapped up in what man's nature is, and how man may survive and flourish."

Natural Law: That body of rules which man is able to discover by use of his reason. "The view that an objective ethics can be established through reason." "The observable behavior of [humans] is the law of their natures, and this law includes what happens as a result of interactions. The complex that we may build up of these laws may be termed the structure of natural law."

Right Reason (Morals and Ends): "Ends can also be apprehended by reason as either objectively good or bad for man" "[T]here is therefore room for the concept of right reason, reason directing man's acts to the attainment of the objective good for man." Moral conduct is therefore conduct in accord with right reason: "If it is said that moral conduct is rational conduct, what is meant is that it is conduct in accordance with right reason, reason apprehending the objective good for man and dictating the means to its attainment." "For the ends themselves are selected by the use of reason; and right reason dictates to man his proper ends as well as the means for their attainment."

Natural Law of Ethics: The law of what is good and bad for man. "The natural law ethic decrees that for all living things, "goodness" is the fulfillment of what is best for that type of creature; "goodness" is therefore relative to the nature of the creature concerned...In the case of man, the natural-law ethic states that goodness or badness can be determined by what fulfills or thwarts what is best for man's nature" "The natural law, then, elucidates what is best for man -- what ends man should pursue that are most harmonious with, and best tend to fulfill, his nature...For in natural-law ethics, ends are demonstrated to be good or bad for man in varying degrees; value here is objective -- determined by the natural law of man's being." "This is the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law...demonstrating that this or that action tends to man's real happiness, and therefore very justly concluding that the performance of it is a part of the law of nature; or, on the other hand, that this or that action is destruction of man's real happiness, and therefore that the law of nature forbids it."

"One common philosophic objection to natural law ethics is that it confuses, or identifies, the realism of fact and value. In answer we may point out that [natural law] identifies value not with existence but rather with the fulfillment of tendencies determined by the structure of the existent entity. Furthermore, it identifies evil not with non-existence but rather with a mode of existence in which natural tendencies are thwarted and deprived of realization."

"Existence is. . . not a property but a structuralized activity. Such activities are a kind of fact. They can be observed and described by judgments that are true or false: human life needs material artifacts; technological endeavors need rational guidance; the child has cognitive faculties that need education. Value statements are founded on the directly verifiable fact of tendency or need. The value or realization is required not merely by us but by the existent tendency for its completion. From a sound description and analysis of the given tendency we can infer the value founded upon it. This is why we do not say that moral principles are mere statements of fact, but rather that they are "founded" on facts."

"Ethics, for man as for any other entity, are determined by investigating verifiable existing tendencies of that entity, [but] why are such principles felt to be binding on me? How do such universal tendencies of human nature become incorporated into a person's subjective value scale? Because 'the factual needs which underlie the whole procedure are common to man. The values founded on them are universal. Hence, if I made no mistake in my tendential analysis of human nature, and if I understand myself, I must exemplify the tendency and must feel it subjectively as an imperative urge to action.' The ethics of natural law...recognizes prescriptive moral laws but asserts that these are founded on tendential facts which may be described.... Goodness...must...be conceived dynamically as an existential mode, the realization of natural tendency. In this view, the world is not made up of determinate structures alone, but of determinate structures in an act of existing which they determine toward further appropriate acts of existing.... No determinate structure can be given existence without determining active tendencies. When such a tendency is fulfilled in accordance with natural law, the entity is said to be in a stable, healthy, or sound condition-adjectives of value. When it is obstructed or distorted, the entity is said to be in an unstable, diseased or unsound condition-adjectives of disvalue. Goodness and badness in their ontological sense are not phases of abstract structure, but rather modes of existence, ways in which the existential tendencies determined by such structures are either fulfilled or barely sustained in a deprived, distorted state."

ON HUME AND NATURAL LAW:

"Professor Hesselberg has shown, however, that Hume, in the course of his own discussions, was compelled to reintroduce a natural law conception into his social philosophy and particularly into his theory of justice, thus illustrating the gibe of Etienne Gilson: 'The natural law always buries its undertakers.' For Hume, in Hesselberg's words, 'recognized and accepted that the social...order is an indispensable prerequisite to man's well-being and happiness: and that this is a statement of fact.' The social order, therefore, must be maintained by man. Hesselberg continues:

But a social order is not possible unless man is able to conceive what it is, and what its advantages are, and also conceive those norms of conduct which are necessary to its establishment and preservation, namely, respect for another's person and for his rightful possessions, which is the substance of justice....But justice is the product of reason, not the passions. And justice is the necessary support of the social order; and the social order is necessary to man's well-being and happiness. If this is so, the norms of justice must control and regulate the passions, and not vice versa.

Hesselberg concludes that 'thus Hume's original 'primacy of the passions' thesis is seen to be utterly untenable for his social and political theory, and . . . he is compelled to reintroduce reason as a cognitive-normative factor in human social relations.' Indeed, in discussing justice and the importance of the rights of private property, Hume was compelled to write that reason can establish such a social ethic: 'nature provides a remedy in the judgment and understanding for what is irregular and uncommodious in the affections' -- in short, reason can be superior to the passions."

"Hesselberg adds perceptively that Hume's sharp ought-is dichotomy in the earlier chapters of Hume's Treatise stemmed from his restricting the meaning of "reason" to finding pleasure-pain objects, and determining the means to. But, in the later chapters on justice, the very nature of the concept compelled Hume 'to assign a third role to reason, namely its power to judge actions in terms of their suitability, or conformity or disconformity, to man's social nature, and thus paved the way for the return to a natural law concept of justice'...For some doubt whether or not Hume himself intended to assert the fact-value dichotomy."

"David Hume is the philosopher supposed by modern philosophers to have effectively demolished the theory of natural law. Hurne in fact failed to prove that values cannot be derived from facts. It is frequently alleged that nothing can be in the conclusion of an argument which was not in one of the premises; and that therefore, an "ought" conclusion cannot follow from descriptive premises. But a conclusion follows from both premises taken together; the "ought" need not be present in either one of the premises so long as it has been validly deduced. To say that it cannot be so deduced simply begs the question."

IN SUMMARY:

Everything has a nature, so does man. The nature of man can be discovered by use of his reason. Natural laws are discovered by reason, and the observable behavior of man is his nature. Right reason is that which directs man's acts to the attainment of the objective good for man. Goodness is the fulfillment of what is best for each creature. (Broken wings on a bird are not good -- it cannot fulfill the tendencies which it's nature requires of it). In natural law, value is objective as ends are demonstrated to be good or bad for man. Hume's own theory of justice was shown to rest on Natural Law.

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hashem:
ROTHBARD PROVES NATURAL LAW; REFUTES HUME:

 

Thanks Hashem

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 6:50 AM

Harry Felker:

hashem:
ROTHBARD PROVES NATURAL LAW; REFUTES HUME:

 

Thanks Hashem

It had to be done! ;) Next: Natural Rights as an Extension of Natural Law.

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zefreak:

The debate has been about ethics, so I don't see how Ontology entered into this. I am fairly certain everyone here is an Ontological realist. The whole discussion has been about the validity of the fact-value dichotomy. Juan rejects it, and refuses to formulate an actual proof that values can be derived from and justified by facts. Do you have a position regarding it?

Ontology enters the picture when the nature of subjective and objective can be variously defined.  Even if two people supposedly pronounce they are "ontological realists", whatever that even means, cause I'm not sure that's even concrete enough. 

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Good post Hashem.  Looks like Rothbard and I agree.  Demonstrating what is good or not is an old concept and Rothbard is undoubtedly mirroring a concept and observation that has been around and thus demonstrated for centuries.

To use scientific terminology, I am an experiment and my actions due to free-will either shows my experiment followed my hypothesis or not.  I think following natural law is good and my life is the experiment that has repeatedly shown that my hypothesis in valuing natural law works, is good.  The experiment has been a complete success.  Billions of other people are demonstrating the success of not murdering, raping, and stealing.  Leads to societies that are much more productive and fulfilling so we, individually, can concentrate our time on the beautiful events that are removed from such struggles.Smile

And this is how ethics is a science.

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 8:47 AM

wilderness:
Demonstrating what is good or not is an old concept and Rothbard is undoubtedly mirroring a concept and observation that has been around and thus demonstrated for centuries.

Yes, definitely! A significant portion of that material is quoted or reworded from previous sources. With 17 and 19 footnotes respectively, he cited almost double that many sources.

wilderness:
And this is how ethics is a science.

You are correct in that too. Man's nature is observed, and what is good or bad for man is demonstrated objectively in the same way as it is clearly observed that broken wings are not good for birds, considering their nature.

wilderness:
Ontology enters the picture when the nature of subjective and objective can be variously defined.

Ontology in The Ethics of Liberty:

1. Henry B. Veatch, in his For an Ontology of Morals: A Critique of Contempora y Ethical Theory (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1971), p. 7, states: "Recourse must be had to an older notion than that which has now come to be in fashion among contemporary scientists and philosophers of science. . . . Surely in that everyday world of common-sense existence in which, as human beings, and for all of our scientific sophistication, we can hardly cease to live and move and have our being, we do indeed find ourselves constantly invoking an older and even a decidedly common sense notion of "nature" and "natural law." For don't we all recognize that a rose is different from an eggplant, and a man from a mouse, and hydrogen from manganese? To recognize such differences in things is surely to recognize that they behave differently: one doesn't expect of a man quite the same things that one does of a mouse, and vice versa. Moreover, the reason our expectations thus differ as to what various types of things or entities will do, or how they will act and read, is simply that they just are different kinds of things. They have different "natures," as one might say using the old-fashioned terminology."

2. Joseph Cropsey "A Reply to Rothrnan," American Political Science Review (June 1962): 355. As Henry Veatch writes, in For an Ontology of Morals, pp. 7-8: "Moreover, it is in virtue of a thing's nature-i-e., of its being the kind of thing that it isthat it acts and behaves the way it does. Is it not also in virtue of a thing's nature that we often consider ourselves able to judge what that thing might or could be, but perhaps isn't? A plant, for example, may be seen to be underdeveloped or stunted in its growth. A bird with an injured wing is quite obviously not able to fly as well as others of the same species. . . . And so it is that a thing's nature may be thought of as being not merely that in virtue of which the thing acts or behaves in the way it does, but also as a sort of standard in terms of which we judge whether the thing's action or behavior is all that it might have been or could have been."

3. Contrast John Wild, in "Natural Law and Modem Ethical Theory," Ethics (October 1952): 2, who says: "Realistic ethics is founded on the basic distinction between human need and uncriticized individual desire or pleasure, a distinction not found in modern utilitarianism. The basic concepts of so-called "naturalistic" theories are psychological, whereas those of realism are existential and ontological."

4. Wild, "Natural Law," pp. 4-5. Wild continues on p. 11: "Existence is. . . not a property but a structuralized activity. Such activities are a kind of fact. They can be observed and described by judgments that are true or false: human life needs material artifacts; technological endeavors need rational guidance; the child has cognitive faculties that need education. Value statements are founded on the directly verifiable fact of tendency or need. The value or realization is required not merely by us but by the existent tendency for its completion. From a sound description and analysis of the given tendency we can infer the value founded upon it. This is why we do not say that moral principles are mere statements of fact, but rather that they are "founded" on facts." On pp. 2-4, Wild says: "The ethics of natural law . . . recognizes prescriptive moral laws but asserts that these are founded on tendential facts which may be described. . . . Goodness. . . must. . . be conceived dynamically as an existential mode, the realization of natural tendency. In this view, the world is not made up of determinate structures alone, but of determinate structures in an act of existing which they determine toward further appropriate acts of existing. . . . No determinate structure can be given existence without determining active tendencies. When such a tendency is fulfilled in accordance with natural law, the entity is said to be in a stable, healthy, or sound condition-adjectives of value. When it is obstructed or distorted, the entity is said to be in an unstable, diseased or unsound condition-adjectives of disvalue. Goodness and badness in their ontological sense are not phases of abstract structure, but rather modes of existence, ways in which the existential tendencies determined by such structures are either fulfilled or barely sustained in a deprived, distorted state."

For more on a defense of natural law ethics, see John Wild, Pluto's Modern Enemies and the Theory of Natural Law (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953); Henry Veatch, Rational Man: A Modem Interpretation of Aristotelian Ethics (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1962); and Veatch, For An Ontology of Morals.

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scineram replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 9:02 AM

Natural law is a silly mysticism. The Divine Rights of Kings were simply replaced by the Natural Rights of Man after the so called Enlightenment.

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scineram:

Natural law is a silly mysticism. The Divine Rights of Kings were simply replaced by the Natural Rights of Man after the so called Enlightenment.

Since your post is vacuous leaving reason left with nothing to grapple with, then it seems your first sentence dismissal is based on something from the heavens or hells quite possibly, and your second sentence is at best a narrow historical entertainment.

 

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Can you define 'natural law'? I believe that lots of ethicists define 'natural law' differently than others. For example, the below following quotes define 'natural law' as simply 'ethics grounded by biology'.

hashem:
For don't we all recognize that a rose is different from an eggplant, and a man from a mouse, and hydrogen from manganese? To recognize such differences in things is surely to recognize that they behave differently: one doesn't expect of a man quite the same things that one does of a mouse, and vice versa. Moreover, the reason our expectations thus differ as to what various types of things or entities will do, or how they will act and read, is simply that they just are different kinds of things. They have different "natures," as one might say using the old-fashioned terminology.

hashem:
A plant, for example, may be seen to be underdeveloped or stunted in its growth. A bird with an injured wing is quite obviously not able to fly as well as others of the same species. . . . And so it is that a thing's nature may be thought of as being not merely that in virtue of which the thing acts or behaves in the way it does, but also as a sort of standard in terms of which we judge whether the thing's action or behavior is all that it might have been or could have been.

 

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Natural law of human nature are universal standards of conduct.

What other ways are there to define 'natural law'?Smile

It is grounded in biology due to I as a human am biological.  It takes reason to understand what conduct fulfills the teleological pursuit of happiness (quality, flourishing).  Here's a good mises blog that I would read from the beginning to get an idea on natural law and human nature.

 

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wilderness:
It is grounded in biology due to I as a human am biological.  It takes reason to understand what conduct fulfills the teleological pursuit of happiness (quality, flourishing).  Here's a good mises blog that I would read from the beginning to get an idea on natural law and human nature.

Thanks for the link Wilderness

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"ROTHBARD PROVES NATURAL LAW; REFUTES HUME:

 

..."

 

Doesn't all of this hinge on a rather outmoded positivist view of nature?

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 10:17 AM

scineram:
Natural law is a silly mysticism. The Divine Rights of Kings were simply replaced by the Natural Rights of Man after the so called Enlightenment.

You are severely uneducated on this topic. Allow me to help:

"In the controversy over man's nature, and over the broader and more controversial concept of "natural law," both sides have repeatedly proclaimed that natural law and theology are inextricably intertwined...The believer in a rationally established natural law must, then, face the hostility of [the group] suspecting that God and mysticism are being slipped in by the back door. The statement that there is an order of natural law, in short, leaves open the problem of whether or not God has created that order; and the assertion of the viability of man's reason to discover the natural order leaves open the question of whether or not that reason was given to man by God. The assertion of an order of natural laws discoverable by reason is, by itself, neither pro -- nor anti-religious."

"It is indeed puzzling that so many modern philosophers should sniff at the very term "nature" as an injection of mysticism and the supernatural. An apple, let fall, will drop to the ground; this we all observe and acknowledge to be in the nature of the apple (as well as the world in general). Two atoms of hydrogen combined with one of oxygen will yield one molecule of water-behavior that is uniquely in the nature of hydrogen, oxygen, and water. There is nothing arcane or mystical about such observations. Why then cavil at the concept of "nature"? The world, in fact, consists of a myriad number of observable things, or entities. This is surely an observable fact. Since the world does not consist of one homogenous thing or entity alone, it follows that each one of these different things possesses differing attributes, otherwise they would all be the same thing. But if A, B, C, etc., have different attributes, it follows immediately that they have different natures. The observable behavior of each of these entities is the law of their natures, and this law includes what happens as a result of the interactions. The complex that we may build up of these laws may be termed the structure of natural law. What is "mystical" about that?"

"Surely, there is nothing outri or mystical about the fact that men differ from stones, plants, or even animals, and that the above are crucial differences between them. The critical and unique facts about man and the ways in which he must live to survive -- his consciousness, his free will and free choice, his faculty of reason, his necessity for learning the natural laws of the external world and of himself, his self-ownership, his need to "produce" by transforming nature-given matter into consumable forms-all these are wrapped up in what man's nature is, and how man may survive and flourish."

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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i find that intruiging, what are the rival views of nature?

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 10:19 AM

Lord Shore-Twilly:
Doesn't all of this hinge on a rather outmoded positivist view of nature?

It would seem as though the burden of proof is on your my friend.

 

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nirgrahamUK:
i find that intruiging, what are the rival views of nature?

This should prove interesting....

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 10:20 AM

Anarcho-Mercantilist:
Can you define 'natural law'?

I already did. Did you miss it?

hashem:
Natural Law: That body of rules which man is able to discover by use of his reason. "The view that an objective ethics can be established through reason." "The observable behavior of [humans] is the law of their natures, and this law includes what happens as a result of interactions. The complex that we may build up of these laws may be termed the structure of natural law."

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scineram:
Natural law is a silly mysticism. The Divine Rights of Kings were simply replaced by the Natural Rights of Man after the so called Enlightenment.
Unsupported blatant assertion; rejected as such.

 

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hashem:

Lord Shore-Twilly:
Doesn't all of this hinge on a rather outmoded positivist view of nature?

It would seem as though the burden of proof is on your my friend.

 And what am I to prove, that positivism is out moded? Or that Rothbard's argument is steeped in positivism?

I think it is pretty clear that observation of ''nature' places a lot of faith in the perceptive powers of the observer, the ability of that observer to shield his analysis of these observations from unintentional bias, etc. While not wishing to sound too much like a post-modernist, as I accept the value of scientific method, there is a lot to say for accepting the relativity of our judgement, and that naturally casts some doubt upon whether even after considerable investigation one can be assured of accurately analysing 'natural laws' that govern human behaviour. And, it is worth noting that if you accept that such laws even exist, then burden is actually upon your shoulders to prove it.

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 11:07 AM

Lord Shore-Twilly:

hashem:

Lord Shore-Twilly:
Doesn't all of this hinge on a rather outmoded positivist view of nature?

It would seem as though the burden of proof is on your my friend.

 And what am I to prove, that positivism is out moded? Or that Rothbard's argument is steeped in positivism?

You are to prove your objection. Strictly, that "all of this hinge on a rather outmoded positivist view of nature". Good luck. I'll be looking forward to your points in a trillion years once you've read half the stuff Rothbard even cited.

Rothbard will not be defeated with a mere one-liner. I have presented arguably the most authoritative account of natural law as outlined by Rothbard who himself cited more sources than any of us here are likely to even know about on the topic. The man didn't just come up with this stuff, and who will doubt that he thoroughly understood every objection anyone here is likely to come up with?

Lord Shore-Twilly:
And, it is worth noting that if you accept that such laws even exist, then burden is actually upon your shoulders to prove it.

I have. If you doubt it, then quote the part you object to, list your objections, and present your proof. Otherwise, give up.

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hashem:

Anarcho-Mercantilist:
Can you define 'natural law'?

I already did. Did you miss it?

I said that some ethicists define 'natural law' differently than other ethicists. You merely cited Rothbard's notion of 'natural law'. Did you read wilderness' post?

You can neither prove nor disprove 'natural law' without clarifying what you mean by 'natural law'.

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 11:27 AM

Anarcho-Mercantilist:
You can neither prove nor disprove 'natural law' without clarifying what you mean by 'natural law'.

I have both defined and proved natural law. If you disagree, then quote the portion you disagree with, list your objections, and present your proof. Until then, Rothbard stands as the unchallenged beacon of natural law.

Or you can save yourself some time by realizing that there is hardly anything you are likely to come up with which Rothbard has not thoroughly considered and destroyed. He wasn't your typical intellectual. Imagine how surprising it would be if you actually came up with a logical objection that he's never considered. Rothbard is water-tight. I don't know of a more systematic author.

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hashem,

Rothbard failed to refute Hume.

From my post Morality, Reason, and Passion:

As discussed and concurred with by Rothbard, A. Kenneth Hesselberg countered that Hume, in his own writings, inconsistently resorts to normative natural law. Hume states that man’s happiness depends on a social order. Hesselberg notes that the way a social order can be attained and preserved can only be found through contemplation of natural law. Therefore, according to Hume’s own theory, concludes Hesselberg and Rothbard, reasoning from natural law is needed for choosing ends. 

While Rothbard is my intellectual hero, I must here differ with him. In Hume’s construction, the social order is a means to the end of human happiness. And, as Rothbard himself states, Hume recognizes the value of natural law in choosing means. And, nowhere in his construction, does Hume ever promote the use of natural law to choose the end of human happiness; it is only promoted for choosing the means of social order. 

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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hashem:
If you disagree, then quote the portion you disagree with, list your objections, and present your proof.

Good luck with that... I tried to get giles to say anything, he did not...

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In answer we may point out that [natural law] identifies value not with existence but rather with the fulfillment of tendencies determined by the structure of the existent entity.

When such a tendency is fulfilled in accordance with natural law, the entity is said to be in a stable, healthy, or sound condition-adjectives of value.

Goodness is the fulfillment of what is best for each creature. (Broken wings on a bird are not good -- it cannot fulfill the tendencies which it's nature requires of it). In natural law, value is objective as ends are demonstrated to be good or bad for man.

What do you mean by "objectively good" for a creature? Do you simply mean happiness or well-being? If so, then it isn't true. Well-beingness can be zero-sum. What is 'good' for a male does not imply 'good' for a female. For example, assume that a wife has cheated on her husband. The wife's 'well-being' increased but the husband's 'well-being' decreased. Is the wife's 'well-being' more 'objectively good' than the husband's, or vice versa?

Do you believe in evolution? If so, then it is impossible to discern where a creature functions "as its best." A wingless bird may be an advantage in certain habitats, because it may have increased fitness and reproductive capacity.

An organism's nature is modifiable. A plant can grow bigger with hydroponics or aeroponics. Does that mean that it is 'unnatural' for plants to grow on soil?

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 12:11 PM

@Lilburne: Still, Rothbard's objective Natural Law stands, as Hume did not preempt Rothbard. The most likely attempt would have been the fact-value dichotomy, which was shown to be irrelevant to Natural Law in the later part of my presentation of Rothbard's Natural Law. People tend to assume that natural law requires subjective value statements, but it is generally due to their lack of understanding of the nature (hah) of natural law.

Maybe Rothbard did not "refute" Hume, but he showed that Hume required Natural Law for social order, and social order for man's happiness.

hashem:
For Hume, in Hesselberg's words, 'recognized and accepted that the social...order is an indispensable prerequisite to man's well-being and happiness: and that this is a statement of fact.' The social order, therefore, must be maintained by man. Hesselberg continues:

But a social order is not possible unless man is able to conceive what it is, and what its advantages are, and also conceive those norms of conduct which are necessary to its establishment and preservation, namely, respect for another's person and for his rightful possessions, which is the substance of justice....But justice is the product of reason, not the passions. And justice is the necessary support of the social order; and the social order is necessary to man's well-being and happiness. If this is so, the norms of justice must control and regulate the passions, and not vice versa.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 12:21 PM

Anarcho-Mercantilist:
What do you mean by "objectively good" for a creature?

Quote Rothbard if you can, as I can only blur the clarity with which Rothbard has already explained it. As far as I understand then, if "Goodness is the fulfillment of what is best for each creature," then hydropaunics are good for plants to the extent that they enable the plant to fulfill its natural tendencies (I guess grow leaves, a root system, photosynthesis etc).

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Anarcho-Mercantilist:
Well-beingness can be zero-sum. What is 'good' for a male does not imply 'good' for a female.

I agree with you, AM.  Rothbard's problem when he writes this...

"The natural law, then, elucidates what is best for man -- what ends man should pursue that are most harmonious with, and best tend to fulfill, his nature...For in natural-law ethics, ends are demonstrated to be good or bad for man in varying degrees; value here is objective -- determined by the natural law of man's being." "This is the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law...demonstrating that this or that action tends to man's real happiness, and therefore very justly concluding that the performance of it is a part of the law of nature; or, on the other hand, that this or that action is destruction of man's real happiness, and therefore that the law of nature forbids it."

... is that, in ethics, he eschews the methodological individualism that he promotes in economics (in his MES).  A law that describes the actions which tend toward the good of mankind is not necessarily a law that describes actions which will likely promote the interests of an individual man; and much less is it a law the prescribes the right actions of an individual man.  Rothbard has not managed to bridge the men/man divide, much less the is/ought divide.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 12:35 PM

Lilburne:
Rothbard has not managed to bridge the men/man divide, much less the is/ought divide.

He does not attempt to bridge that divide as he explains that the dichotomy is outside the bounds of objective Natural Law. In natural law, ends are demonstrated objectively to be good or bad.

Lilburne:
in ethics, he eschews the methodological individualism that he promotes in economics (in his MES).

Yes, he points this out himself in the piece you quoted, but you failed to quote the whole passage:

The natural law, then, elucidates what is best for man-what ends man should pursue that are most harmonious with, and best tend to fulfill, his nature. In a significant sense, then, natural law provides man with a "science of happiness," with the paths which will lead to his real happiness. In contrast, praxeology or economics, as well as the utilitarian philosophy with which this science has been closely allied, treat "happiness" in the purely formal sense as the fulfillment of those ends which people happen- for whatever reason-to place high on their scales of value. Satisfaction of those ends yields to man his "utility" or "satisfaction" or "happiness. Value in the sense of valuation or utility is purely subjective, and decided by each individual. This procedure is perfectly proper for the formal science of praxeology, or economic theory, but not necessarily elsewhere. For in natural-law ethics, ends are demonstrated to be good or bad for man in varying degrees; value here is objective -- determined by the natural law of man's being, and here "happiness" for man is considered in the commonsensical, contentual sense. As Father Kenealy put it:

This philosophy maintains that there is in fact an objective moral order within the range of human intelligence, to which human societies are bound in conscience to conform and upon which the peace and happiness of personal, national and international life depend.

And the eminent English jurist, Sir William Blackstone, summed up the natural law and its relation to human happiness as follows:

This is the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law . . . demonstrating that this or that action tends to man's real happiness, and therefore very justly concluding that the performance of it is a part of the law of nature; or, on the other hand, that this or that action is destruction of man's real happiness, and therefore that the law of nature forbids it."

In other words, in praxeology, happiness is observed when an end placed high on a subjective value scale is achieved. In natural law, happiness is that which has been objectively determined to be good for man.

Like I said earlier, "Imagine how surprising it would be if you actually came up with a logical objection that he's never considered."

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hashem:
, "Imagine how surprising it would be if you actually came up with a logical objection that he's never considered."

Reisman has over certain economic issues, but thats for another time perhaps. (p.s. big Rothbard fan here)

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 1:03 PM

nirgrahamUK:

hashem:
, "Imagine how surprising it would be if you actually came up with a logical objection that he's never considered."

Reisman has over certain economic issues, but thats for another time perhaps. (p.s. big Rothbard fan here)

I seek the truth so if Reisman is right, then I submit to his findings. But I could barely hold my own in a debate over economic laws as compared to this natural law debate.

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As much as Rothbard was/is impressive & has been vital for the development of libertarian thought (as well as my own & other's introduction to it), it seems counter-intuitive to hang upon each & every one of his words as being gospel, a'la Rand w/ The Objectivists (although, not nearly with such fervor, I admit). 

Natural law seems to be great & all, but it also seems to be a giant rationalization that doesn't entirley stand-up to scrutiny, despite my own hope that it would, whenever I go over it.   

For instance, self-ownership seems to conflict with biology in that when a person is born, they are not instantly a sovereign with no one else having ownership of their body, as the parents are required to produce & raise the newly born person, which entails ownership up until a certain biological point (which could be puberty, but usually, it's through a legally defined age, such as 18 or 21, but many families obviously can take care of an adult as a child beyond such legally defined ages). 

Despite this objection (which probably isn't new, so I apologize if I'm necro-arguing a refuted point), I do agree with the concept of self-ownership, but in light of new knowledge and/or arguments, cannot entirley hold it nor natural law to be absolute :\

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It's custodianship/guardianship, not ownership, nitro.

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Juan replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 1:26 PM
I think that saying "natural law" is that which fits man's nature may be problematic and is not going to stop the nihilists/sophists from parroting their credo.

A different approach is needed.

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

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'natural law' might mean law derivable from material facts of nature, is>ought type thing.

or it could be in contrast to 'artificial/arbitrary law'. it is hard to pose that the laws of logic, e.g. non-contradiction etc, are material facts of nature, though certainly material expresses them, perhaps 'natural law' is just this kind. are there law's of chess, that rooks can only travel horizontally, this isnt a material law, it is a 'law of chess' . im just thinking out loud here.

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Knight_of_BAAWA:

It's custodianship/guardianship, not ownership, nitro.

Thanks, I figured I was just forgetting something.  Not a good objection in of itself, but I still stand by that natural law may not be the end all be all.

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Juan replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 1:44 PM
Nir:
'natural law' might mean law derivable from material facts of nature, is>ought type thing.

or it could be in contrast to 'artificial/arbitrary law'.
Yes, I always understood natural law to mean a legal (for lack of a better word) system not created top down by coercion, but existing as the consequence of voluntary interaction.
it is hard to pose that the laws of logic, e.g. non-contradiction etc, are material facts of nature,
Indeed. But on the other hand the laws of logic are not man-made and can't be avoided so they still qualify as laws of nature IMO.
perhaps 'natural law' is just this kind.
Yes.

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 1:56 PM

Natural Law is quite literally the laws of nature. What are those laws? "Go thou and study, and find out!"

I guess one doesn't expect to demolish natural law theory by merely asserting that "it seems fishy" or especially by admitting that he hasn't studied it thoroughly.

hashem:
Nature: "If apples and stones and roses each have their specific natures, is man the only entity, the only being, that cannot have one? And if man does have a nature, why cannot it too be open to rational observation and reflection? If all things have natures, then surely man's nature is open to inspection."

Man's Nature: "Man's reason is objective, i.e., it can be employed by all men to yield truths about the world. To ask what is man's nature is to invite the answer. Go thou and study and find out!" "The fact of man's reason does not mean that error is impossible...No man is omniscient or infallible -- a law, by the way, of man's nature." "The critical and unique facts about man and the ways in which he must live to survive -- his consciousness, his free will and free choice, his faculty of reason, his necessity for learning the natural laws of the external world and of himself, his self-ownership, his need to "produce" by transforming nature-given matter into consumable forms -- all these are wrapped up in what man's nature is, and how man may survive and flourish."

Natural Law: That body of rules which man is able to discover by use of his reason. "The view that an objective ethics can be established through reason." "The observable behavior of [humans] is the law of their natures, and this law includes what happens as a result of interactions. The complex that we may build up of these laws may be termed the structure of natural law."

Nitroadict:
it seems counter-intuitive to hang upon each & every one of his words as being gospel

Just the ones that are true Wink. Insomuch as they are true, to me they are gospel. TEoL is my bible.

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Juan replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 2:11 PM
The quesion hashem is,

Why 'should' a criminal not engage in criminal acts if those acts further his self-interest ?

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hashem replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 2:14 PM

Juan:
The quesion hashem is,

Why 'should' a criminal not engage in criminal acts if those acts further his self-interest ?

This is where rights come into play. And yet one cannot claim to believe in rights if he first rejects natural law. Rights are derived from the natural law. Morover, an act cannot be considered a crime, nor the person a criminal, without a theory of rights.

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