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Mises Science of Ought

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wilderness Posted: Sat, Mar 13 2010 7:54 PM

Liberalism

This is for those that visit the forum that have consistently conflated personal ethics with political-ethics.  And have therefore also conflated economics with political-ethics, as well as, law in the legal sense of the term.  It is not that human action does not partake with politics.  Yet it is another thing to suggest that there is no politics and that human action has nothing to do with content whatsoever.  Praxeology doesn't study the content of means to ends, but this doesn't mean that there are not contextualized means and ends to study with the axiom of human action always active in such a pursuit.

"In the Prefaces of both the second (1963) and third (1966) editions of his magnum opus, Human Action , Mises wrote that the advocates of the freedom philosophy should reclaim "the term 'liberal'. . . because there is simply no other term available to signify the great political and intellectual movement" that ushered in modern civilization by fostering the free market economy, limited government and individual freedom. It is in this sense that "liberalism" is used throughout this book." [Preface written by Bettina Bien Greaves to the book Liberalism by Mises]

Mises advocated liberalism as it "signif(ies) the great political and intellectual movement".

 

"Liberalism does not say that men always act intelligently, but rather that they ought, in their own rightly understood interest, always to act intelligently. And the essence of liberalism is just this, that it wants to have conceded to reason in the sphere of social policy the acceptance that is conceded to it without dispute in all other spheres of human action." [Mises; p. 5]

Mises saying people "ought... always to act intelligently."

 

"Liberalism is not a completed doctrine or a fixed dogma. On the contrary: it is the application of the teachings of science to the social life of man." [Mises; p. 3]

A science of ought.

 

"Liberalism is a doctrine directed entirely towards the conduct of men in this world." [Mises; p.

Mises is writing a book on how the conduct of men in this world ought to be scientifically speaking.

 

"Liberalism has always had in view the good of the whole, not that of any special group. It was this that the English utilitarians meant to express-although, it is true, not very aptly-in their famous formula, "the
greatest happiness of the greatest number." Historically, liberalism was the first political movement that aimed at promoting the welfare of all, not that of special groups."
[Mises; p. 4]

He is advocating liberalism which he writes "has always had in view the good of the whole".  He is writing about all of society.  It's a political book on what he values and says it is a science of ought for the whole of society (he says men) and says how the conduct of men ought to be using science.  He says it is a "great political and intellectual movement", because  the whole of society (again he says men, but I assume he means women too) "ought... always to act intelligently."

 

"Liberalism is not a policy in the interest of any particular group, but a policy in the interest of all mankind. It is, therefore, incorrect to assert that the entrepreneurs and capitalists have any special interest in supporting liberalism. Their interest in championing the liberal program is exactly the same as that of everyone else." [Mises; p. 12]

Liberals are not only capitalists nor only entrepreneurs, but it's interest champions "everyone else" too - "all mankind".

 

"The program of liberalism, therefore, if condensed into a single word, would have to read: property, that is, private ownership of the means of production (for in regard to commodities ready for consumption, private ownership is a matter of course and is not disputed even by the socialists and communists). All the other demands of liberalism result from this fundamental demand.  Side by side with the word "property" in the program of liberalism one may quite appropriately place the words "freedom" and "peace." [Mises; 19]

Mises saying Liberalism is a science of ought for all mankind can be condensed to property and side by side with the terms freedom and peace.

 

"...liberalism has outgrown that of the older liberalism, that it is based on a deeper and better insight into interrelationships, since it can reap the benefit of the advances that science has made in the last decades. Freedom and peace have been placed in the forefront of the program of liberalism... liberals have not wanted to give the appearance, through the omission of these principles, that they in any way acknowledged the justness of the objections raised against them." [Mises; p. 20]

Liberalism, being a political-ethic, can benefit from the advances of science in order to have better insight into interrelationships, and liberals advocating freedom and peace to so because of the objections raised against them are NOT just.

 

"The liberal thinks otherwise. He is convinced that victorious war is an evil even for the victor, that peace is always better than war. He demands no sacrifice from the stronger, but only that he should come to realize where his true interests lie and should learn to understand that peace is for him, the stronger, just as advantageous as it is for the weaker." [Mises; p. 24]

The liberal in which Mises says is for all mankind and that being a science all men ought to follow states war is evil even for the victor because what all mankind ought to know scientifically is that peace is... the stronger and advantageous.  Again - war is evil and peace is always better.

 

"Human actions become good or bad only through the end that they serve and the consequences they entail."[Mises; p. 24]

Human actions, praxeologically speaking, become good or bad through the end...  This quote basically reads for itself.

 

"As the liberal sees it, the task of the state consists solely and exclusively in guaranteeing the protection of life, health, liberty, and private property against violent attacks. Everything that goes beyond this is an evil. A government that, instead of fulfilling its task, sought to go so far as actually to infringe on personal security of life and health, freedom, and property would, of course, be altogether bad." [Mises; p. 52]

Anti-gov't people may forgive Mises here on his gov't view, but Mises states here John Locke's natural rights of life, health, liberty, and private property are to be protected by the gov't and if infringed by gov't that is bad.  Mises advocating natural rights of the natural law of human nature.  And as a science of ought for all mankind it is these natural rights that are to be protected and "everything (a universal proposition by the great logical thinker Mises) that goes beyond this is an evil".  Well, science has moved beyond Mises here as gov't has been logically been conceptualized as not necessary.

 

"This question cannot be treated exclusively in reference to alcoholism, morphinism, cocainism, etc., which all reasonable men acknowledge to be evils." [Mises; p. 53]

Now I am able to conceive that Mises is talking about personal ethics, and being the reasonable man Mises was he states these acts of humans are evil.  He knows the difference between personal and political ethics because he argues further in this part of the book that the state need not intervene to stop what Mises calls evils.  I personally don't know if these are evil.  Maybe bad, but bad might simply be evil.  Yet Mises outrightly calls them evil.

Mises is using a science of ought, ie. Liberalism, in which all mankind ought to always act intellectual, protect natural rights (via a gov't which is simply an extension of individuals), advocates that the advances in science can make better interrelationships, ie. ethics, which in terms of the book also entail political ethics of what all mankind ought to do in accord with science.  Though he makes some personal ethical comments about alcoholism, etc... being evil, and I know he was for gov't but science has moved on [though it seems that it has been sorted out that Mises would be fine with a voluntary gov't].

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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bloomj31 replied on Sat, Mar 13 2010 8:03 PM

Human actions become good or bad only through the end that they serve and the consequences they entail."[Mises; p. 24]

I thought it was the means and not the ends that mattered?

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Giant_Joe replied on Sat, Mar 13 2010 8:38 PM

bloomj31:

Human actions become good or bad only through the end that they serve and the consequences they entail."[Mises; p. 24]

I thought it was the means and not the ends that mattered?

Depends who you ask.

 

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wilderness,

You've managed to misinterpret every single one of those passages.  I don't have time right now to explain to you each and every way you've done so.  And anyway, I doubt you'd ever change your mind on the subject.  Fortunately for the sake of other readers, I don't really need to address all your backwards-bending attempts to extract a moralist interpretation of Mises' thought, since Mises himself was no obscurantist.  All I need do is again quote the following:

 

 

"It must be emphasized again: there is no such thing as a scientific ought."



The above sentence is short, simple, direct, and crystal clear.  Yet I know you will unleash a torrent of sentences to insist that, even though he denied scientific oughts, he also somehow accepted scientific oughts at the same time.  I can only trust that readers will accept Mises' own unambiguous words directly asserting his own position on the matter, over your spurious inferences from unrelated passages.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Conza88 replied on Sat, Mar 13 2010 11:27 PM

Grayson Lilburne:
I don't have time right now to explain to you each and every way you've done so.

When you do, I'd be interested in the response.

Grayson Lilburne:
"It must be emphasized again: there is no such thing as a scientific ought."

"The planners pretend that their plans are scientific and that there cannot be disagreement with regard to them among well-intentioned and decent people. However, there is no such thing as a scientific ought. Science is competent to establish what is. It can never dictate what ought to be and what ends people should aim at. It is a fact that men disagree in their value judgments. It is insolent to arrogate to oneself the right to overrule the plans of other people and to force them to submit to the plan of the planner. Whose plan should be executed? The plan of the CIO or those of any other group? The plan of Trotsky or that of Stalin? The plan of Hitler or that of Strasser?

When people were committed to the idea that in the field of religion only one plan must be adopted, bloody wars resulted. With the acknowledgment of the principle of religious freedom these wars ceased. The market economy safeguards peaceful economic co-operation because it does not use force upon the economic plans of the citizens. If one master plan is to be substituted for the plans of each citizen, endless fighting must emerge. Those who disagree with the dictator's plan have no other means to carry on than to defeat the despot by force of arms." ~ Planned Chaos, pg 10

Now this time with context:

"The eugenists pretend that they want to eliminate criminal individuals. But the qualification of a man as a criminal depends upon the prevailing laws of the country and varies with the change in social and political ideologies. John Huss, Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei were criminals from the point of view of the laws which their judges applied. When Stalin robbed the Russian State Bank of several million rubles, he committed a crime. Today it is an offence in Russia to disagree with Stalin. In Nazi Germany sexual intercourse between "Aryans" and the members of an "inferior" race was a crime. Whom do the eugenists want to eliminate, Brutus or Caesar? Both violated the laws of their country. If eighteenth century eugenists had prevented alcohol addicts from generating children, their planning would have eliminated Beethoven.

It must be emphasized again: there is no such thing as a scientific ought. Which men are superior and which are inferior can only be decided by personal value judgments not liable to Verification or falsification. The eugenists delude themselves in assuming that they themselves will be called to decide what qualities are to be conserved in the human stock. They are too dull to take into account the possibility that other people might make the choice according to their own value judgments. [28] In the eyes of the Nazis the brutal killer, the "fair-haired beast," is the most perfect specimen of mankind."

What do you believe he is referring to here? Seems to me that it's an attack on others using "personal ethics" i.e their own take on what is right and wrong and imposing that on others, no? So that when he says there are no "scientific oughts", it means that it's not scientific at all to impose your personal value judgments on others. Which it clearly isn't.

So do you believe Mises acknowledged the difference between political philosophy, and personal ethics? Yes, or no?

It sure seems like he did to me, as from various other passages in Planned Chaos. There is this from Liberalism though:

"No words need be wasted over the fact that all these narcotics are harmful. The question whether even a small quantity of alcohol is harmful or whether the harm results only from the abuse of alcoholic beverages is not at issue here. It is an established fact that alcoholism, cocainism, and morphinism are deadly enemies of life, of health, and of the capacity for work and enjoyment; and a utilitarian must therefore consider them as vices.

But this is far from demonstrating that the authorities must interpose to suppress these vices by commercial prohibitions, nor is it by any means evident that such intervention on the part of the government is really capable of suppressing them or that, even if this end could be attained, it might not therewith open up a Pandora's box of other dangers, no less mischievous than alcoholism and morphinism.

Whoever is convinced that indulgence or excessive indulgence in these poisons is pernicious is not hindered from living abstemiously or temperately. This question cannot be treated exclusively in reference to alcoholism, morphinism, cocainism, etc., which all reasonable men acknowledge to be evils." - Mises, Liberalism, p 53

He considers it to be evil, his personal ethics, but he makes the distinction - that in regards to political philosophy, he wouldn't impose violence on anyone else, it gives no reason at all for the state to do so either. And that is where the Nazi's, the planners go wrong.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Conza88:
As does Adam Knott and others in his & their ignorant attempts of interpreting Rothbard.

Even if true, what does that have to do with this?  Please let's leave the team sports attitude out of it.

Conza88:

Grayson Lilburne:
And anyway, I doubt you'd ever change your mind on the subject

Pot calling the kettle black?

I've changed my mind, and admitted I was wrong openly on these forums.  Have you?

Your two quotes only amplify the fact that, contra wilderness's title to this thread, there is no such thing as a Misesian science of "ought".

Conza88:
Do you believe Mises acknowledged the difference between political philosophy, and personal ethics? Yes, or no?

Yes.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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filc replied on Sat, Mar 13 2010 11:48 PM

Any time someone is making a utilitarian argument, they are arguign ethically. I don't see how it could be stated otherwise.

Look if our goal was to enslave the vast majority of people then the right thing to do for that goal would be an economic model that supports that. Some type of collectivism. (Ethically)

On the flip side, if our goal is to support individual freedom, and further increase one's economic possibilities then Austrian Economics would be the right thing to do. (ethically)

People confuse themselves if they think no ethics are involved or do not exist. Ethics exist in the very root of Human action as a set of guidelines directing actions. It is because Mises, and myself, and Wilderness, prefer economic freedom to slavery that we have ethics. That preference is the ethical one. Ethics are always involved. You cannot presume that all socialists want socialism for the wellbeing of men. Some socialists want it for control and power, and to them it's the ethical way of doing it.

Likewise for Mises, liberalism is the ethical way of fostering economic prosperity, and I agree with him. I am utilitarian to. Smile

Am I bad? Sad

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filc,

Mises' utilitarianism is different from what people usually think of regarding that term.

Roderick Long:

"you might think that if someone says economics implies utilitarianism, it sounds like they think that economics implies a positive ethical theory — because we usually think of utilitarianism as a particular ethical theory, a theory that says that certain things are objectively good. The standard versions of utilitarianism, like John Stuart Mill's version, assert that a certain goal — human welfare, happiness, pleasure, satisfaction — is intrinsically valuable and worth pursuing, objectively so. And then our job is to pursue it.

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

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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For background on this discussion read this recent thread.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Sage replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 12:02 AM

Grayson Lilburne:
"It must be emphasized again: there is no such thing as a scientific ought."

So do you adhere to the fact/value dichotomy? If so, what do you make of Putnam's arguments against it?

AnalyticalAnarchism.net - The Positive Political Economy of Anarchism

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Conza88 replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 12:07 AM

Grayson Lilburne:

Conza88:
As does Adam Knott and others in his & their ignorant attempts of interpreting Rothbard.

Even if true, what does that have to do with this?  Please lets leave the team sports attitude out of it.

That's why I edited it out. Before I saw your response btw. What does it have to do with this? Well you have nothing but praise for the exact same styled attempts from others.

Grayson Lilburne:

Conza88:

Grayson Lilburne:
And anyway, I doubt you'd ever change your mind on the subject

Pot calling the kettle black?

I've changed my mind, and admitted I was wrong openly on these forums.  Have you?

You've admitted you were wrong, and changed your mind on this subject? Where?

Grayson Lilburne:
Your two quotes only amplify the fact that, contra wilderness's title to this thread, there is no such thing as a Misesian science of "ought".

Not in personal ethics.. Yet, I don't believe that was ever suggested. Was it?

Grayson Lilburne:

Conza88:
Do you believe Mises acknowledged the difference between political philosophy, and personal ethics? Yes, or no?

Yes.

Oh good... and do you? What about the rest of the post?

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Telpeurion replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 12:08 AM

Filic, I am also a utilitarian. A hedonist, or whatever one wishes to call me. I am not sure, but my unscientific survey of this forum reveals that a majority are beholden to some 'natural rights' view, because utilitarianism seems too weak a foundation to them. I am often confused about "natural rights", since it has always seemed to me simply utilitarianism dressed up in religious sanctimony. Their argument boils down to "God wants us all to be free." or some other supernatural appeal to authority. Do I misunderstand?

This is apparently a Man Talk Forum:  No Women Allowed!

Telpeurion's Disliked Person of the Week: David Kramer

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To be clear, I am not saying that Mises did not have his own personal moral "oughts".  Every man who doesn't suffer from a pathological condition does.  However, to Mises, moral "oughts", like all values, are unanalyzable givens, and thus are not objects of science.

"Concrete value judgments and definite human actions are not open to further analysis." (Human Action)

Science, to Mises, does not concern itself with value judgments ("ought" statements), but only what he called "existential propositions" ("is" statements).

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Sage:
So do you adhere to the fact/value dichotomy?

Yes, as did Mises:

"PROPOSITIONS asserting existence (affirmative existential propositions) or nonexistence (negative existential propositions) are descriptive. They assert something about the state of the whole universe or of parts of the universe. With regard to them questions of truth and falsity are significant. They must not be confounded with judgments of value.

Judgments of value are voluntaristic. They express feelings, tastes, or preferences of the individual who utters them. With regard to them there cannot be any question of truth and falsity. They are ultimate and not subject to any proof or evidence."

Theory and History, Chapter 1

Sage:
If so, what do you make of Putnam's arguments against it?

I'm not familiar with them.  Can you paraphrase them for me?

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Conza88:
You've admitted you were wrong, and changed your mind on this subject? Where?

I didn't mean on this subject.

Conza88:
Not in personal ethics.. Yet, I don't believe that was ever suggested. Was it?

Do you suppose Mises believed in scientific "oughts" in political philosophy?

Conza88:
Oh good... and do you?

Yes.

Conza88:
What about the rest of the post?

What do you mean?

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Conza88 replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 12:28 AM

"One common philosophic objection to natural law ethics is that it confuses, or identifies, the realism of fact and value. For purposes of our brief discussion, John Wild's reply will suffice:

In answer we may point out that their [natural law] view 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…. The young plant whose leaves are withering for lack of light is not nonexistent. It exists, but in an unhealthy or privative mode. The lame man is not nonexistent. He exists, but with a natural power partially unrealized. … This metaphysical objection is based upon the common assumption that existence is fully finished or complete. … [But] what is good is the fulfillment of being.[30]

After stating that ethics, for man as for any other entity, are determined by investigating verifiable existing tendencies of that entity, Wild asks a question crucial to all non-theological ethics: "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.[31]

David Hume is the philosopher supposed by modern philosophers to have effectively demolished the theory of natural law. Hume's "demolition" was two-pronged: the raising of the alleged "fact-value" dichotomy, thus debarring the inference of value from fact,[32] and his view that reason is and can only be a slave to the passions.

In short, in contrast to the natural-law view that man's reason can discover the proper ends for man to follow, Hume held that only the emotions can ultimately set man's ends, and that reason's place is as the technician and handmaiden to the emotions. (Here Hume has been followed by modern social scientists since Max Weber.) According to this view, people's emotions are assumed to be primary and unanalyzable givens.

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.[33]

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."[34]

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.[35]

We have seen from our discussion that the doctrine of natural law — the view that an objective ethics can be established through reason — has had to face two powerful groups of enemies in the modern world: both anxious to denigrate the power of man's reason to decide upon his destiny. These are the fideists who believe that ethics can only be given to man by supernatural revelation, and the skeptics who believe that man must take his ethics from arbitrary whim or emotion. We may sum up with Professor Grant's harsh but penetrating view of

the strange contemporary alliance between those who doubt the capacity of human reason in the name of scepticism (probably scientific in origin) and those who denigrate its capacity in the name of revealed religion. It is only necessary to study the thought of Ockham to see how ancient this strange alliance is. For in Ockham can be seen how philosophic nominalism, unable to face the question of practical certainty, solves it by the arbitrary hypothesis of revelation. The will detached from the intellect (as it must be in a nominalism) can seek certainty only through such arbitrary hypotheses.

The interesting fact historically is that these two anti-rationalist traditions — that of the liberal skeptic and the Protestant revelationist — should originally have come from two … opposite views of man. The Protestant dependence upon revelation arose from a great pessimism about human nature … The immediately apprehended values of the liberal originate in a great optimism. Yet … after all, is not the dominating tradition in North America a Protestantism which has been transformed by pragmatic technology and liberal aspirations?[36]"

Notes:


[30]
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 cart 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.

[31] Ibid., p. 12. For more on a defense of natural law ethics, see John Wild, Plato's Modern Enemies and the Theory of Natural Law (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953); Henry Veatch, Rational Man: A Modern Interpretation of Aristotelian Ethics (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1962); and Veatch, For An Ontology of Morals.

[32] Hume 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. See Philippa R. Foot, Virtues and Vices (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 99–105.

[33] A. Kenneth Hesselberg, "Hume, Natural Law and Justice," Duquesne Review (Spring 1961): 46–47.

[34] Ibid.

[35] David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, quoted in Hesselberg, "Hume, Natural Law, and Justice," p. 61. 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 achieve them. 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." Ibid., pp. 61–62.

For some doubt whether or not Hume himself intended to assert the fact-value dichotomy, see A.C. MacIntyre, "Hume on 'Is' and 'Ought," in W.D. Hudson, ed., The Is-Ought Question (London: Macmillan, 1969), pp. 35–50.

[36] George P. Grant, "Plato and Popper," The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science (May 1954): 191–92.

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Conza, It's a forum, not a journal, so you don't need to comprehensively source your quotes.  But could you at least type the word "Rothbard" at the top of your quote bombs, so as to not bewilder the uninitiated?  Thanks.

Rothbard:

David Hume is the philosopher supposed by modern philosophers to have effectively demolished the theory of natural law. Hume's "demolition" was two-pronged: the raising of the alleged "fact-value" dichotomy, thus debarring the inference of value from fact, and his view that reason is and can only be a slave to the passions.

In short, in contrast to the natural-law view that man's reason can discover the proper ends for man to follow, Hume held that only the emotions can ultimately set man's ends, and that reason's place is as the technician and handmaiden to the emotions. (Here Hume has been followed by modern social scientists since Max Weber.) According to this view, people's emotions are assumed to be primary and unanalyzable givens.

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.

The inconsistency Rothbard believes Hesselberg has discovered in Hume's theory is simply not there.  In Hume’s construction, the social order is a means to the end of human happiness. And, as Rothbard himself recognizes, 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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Conza88:
In answer we may point out that their [natural law] view identifies value not with existence but rather with the fulfillment of tendencies determined by the structure of the existent entity.

From the mere fact that a class of being has a certain tendency, it does not follow that a member of that class ought to fulfill that tendency.  The human body has an inherent tendency to degenerate; we are hardwired to age and die.  For a geneticist to discover a way to safely undo that hardwiring would be in direct contravention of our nature.  Are we to stand in his way?

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Conza88 replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 1:31 AM

Grayson Lilburne:

Conza88:
You've admitted you were wrong, and changed your mind on this subject? Where?

I didn't mean on this subject.

But you did, when you said what you did to wilderness.

Grayson Lilburne: "And anyway, I doubt you'd ever change your mind on the subject."

That's what promoted my response. Since I doubt you'd ever change your mind on the subject either. Hence, pot calling kettle black. But hey, who knows.. we're all intellectually honest here, right? If anything, I didn't think your comment was of 'the sporting attitude'.

Grayson Lilburne:

Conza88:
Not in personal ethics.. Yet, I don't believe that was ever suggested. Was it?

Do you suppose Mises believed in scientific "oughts" in political philosophy?

And what precisely do you mean by "oughts" in political philosophy?

Grayson Lilburne:

Conza88:
What about the rest of the post?

What do you mean?

The other questions that weren't answered... stuff that actually had to do with the analysis. Or I guess you agreed with it, so felt no need?

Grayson Lilburne:
Conza, It's a forum, not a journal, so you don't need to comprehensively source your quotes.  But could you at least type the word "Rothbard" at the top of your quote bombs, so as to not bewilder the uninitiated?  Thanks.

The reason I stopped doing that because several people, including an admin/moderator ignorantly believed I was making or attempting to make an appeal to authority. So to stop that false assumption, I decided to stop openly stating who I was quoting and instead leave the arguments, but with links for the curious person to follow. I'm sorry, it appears I can't please everyone.

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Rothbard:

After stating that ethics, for man as for any other entity, are determined by investigating verifiable existing tendencies of that entity, Wild asks a question crucial to all non-theological ethics: "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.

It seems that Wild would have us believe that he has discovered an apodictic law... not a praxeological, mathematical, or mechanical law; but an apodictic psychological law that says  that every being who comprehends the tendencies of the human species, and who comprehends that he himself is a human, MUST feel a specific, determinate urge.  It baffles me that anyone would find that convincing.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Conza88:

But you did, when you said what you did to wilderness.

Grayson Lilburne: "And anyway, I doubt you'd ever change your mind on the subject."

That's not what I said to you.

Conza88:

Grayson Lilburne:

Conza88:
Not in personal ethics.. Yet, I don't believe that was ever suggested. Was it?

Do you suppose Mises believed in scientific "oughts" in political philosophy?

And what precisely do you mean by "oughts" in political philosophy?

I'm talking about the subject of this thread.  Do you think there is a Misesian science of "ought"?  Do you agree with wilderness regarding the thesis implied in the title of his thread?

Conza88:
The other questions that weren't answered... stuff that actually had to do with the analysis. Or I guess you agreed with it, so felt no need?

Did you go back and add more to your post?

Conza88:
The reason I stopped doing that because several people, including an admin/moderator ignorantly believed I was making or attempting to make an appeal to authority. So to stop that false assumption, I decided to stop openly stating who I was quoting and instead leave the arguments, but with links for the curious person to follow. I'm sorry, it appears I can't please everyone.

I doubt not noting the author of your quotes pleases anybody.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Conza88:
Seems to me that it's an attack on others using "personal ethics" i.e their own take on what is right and wrong and imposing that on others, no? So that when he says there are no "scientific oughts", it means that it's not scientific at all to impose your personal value judgments on others. Which it clearly isn't.

You seem to think Mises might see a Nazi about to bayonet a Jew and object, "Don't do that; it's unscientific!"  No.  He's not saying that violent actions are "unscientific".  He's saying that, since there is no such thing as a scientific "ought", central planners are incorrect in assuming that their plans are not subject to disagreement.  A plan may be completely sound regarding questions of fact.  But someone STILL might disagree with the plan, due to an issue of value.

Mises:
No words need be wasted over the fact that all these narcotics are harmful. The question whether even a small quantity of alcohol is harmful or whether the harm results only from the abuse of alcoholic beverages is not at issue here. It is an established fact that alcoholism, cocainism, and morphinism are deadly enemies of life, of health, and of the capacity for work and enjoyment; and a utilitarian must therefore consider them as vices.

Again, Roderick Long...

"By "utilitarianism" Mises means something like simply giving people advice about how to achieve the goals they already have. So you're not necessarily endorsing their goals, but utilitarianism says that really the only real role for any kind of evaluation is simply to talk about means to ends, because you can't evaluate the ends."

Alcoholism, cocainism, and morphism are vicious, not absolutely, but relative to anyone who happens to have certain ends.  The utilitarian simply advises that alcoholism, cocainism, and morphism run counter to the ends of just about any auditor; he does not refer to absolute ends irrespective of the individual's own ends.

Every thing in the remaining two paragraphs fit the same bill as this last one.  By "vices" and "evils", Mises obviously means things that are destructive (counter to individual ends), not wicked (counter to some universal/metaphysical end). 

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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I hope this makes Mises' position even more crystal clear:

"There is no such thing as a normative science, a science of what ought to be."

Ludwig von Mises, Theory and History, Chapter 3

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Furthermore, Rothbard himself recognized Mises' denial of any "science of ought".  Rothbard disagreed with Mises; but he knew he had no interest in misinterpreting or misrepresenting the man.  In fact, he published a paper which aggressively denounced another scholar for claiming Mises accepted normative science:

In an article on Ludwig von Mises,' Professor R. A. Gonce has performed

remarkable feat: (...) he has attributed a fusion of the is and the 

ought to one of the most uncompromising champions of Max Weber's stern 

call for Wertfreiheit in the social sciences. 

[...]

In several chapters on "value", Mises offers a virtually running attack on 

the concept of natural law and of the idea that science or reason can know 

the good.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Grayson Lilburne:
"By "utilitarianism" Mises means something like simply giving people advice about how to achieve the goals they already have. So you're not necessarily endorsing their goals, but utilitarianism says that really the only real role for any kind of evaluation is simply to talk about means to ends, because you can't evaluate the ends."

I think you've allowed Long to sweep you away with him. Mises was intimately aware of what 'Utilitarianism' means to moral/ethical philosophers. Does anyone doubt that fact? So he classed himself openly as a Utilitarian, though Long says he is not that kind of utilitarian.  why? 

Are we to believe that Mises was the first of a new movement of utilitarian who were so not utilitarian that to say they were utilitarian leads you to foolishly believe they have a philosophical approach to ethics other than complete denial?

 

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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Grayson Lilburne:
You've managed to misinterpret every single one of those passages.

No.  I haven't.  It's in black in white.  All I did was requote Mises.  Your argument is with Mises - not me.

Also:

Francois Facchini:
Thomism [ie. natural law] consequently it links methodological subjectivism and ontological objectivism (Maki 1990, p. 295) and gives us the means to rectify our beliefs. It is ontological objectivism that enables us to affirm that we can have knowledge of economic phenomena that transcends our prejudices, opinions, and preconceptions about the world.

Transcending ones own prejudices, opinions, and preconceptions.  Curious thought.

That link is exactly why I have advocated that I am not of the objectivist nor the subjectivist stance and to say otherwise is a red herring.  There an intellectual way around that red herring debate.  I've been saying that and it would be suggestive to take heed and maybe even wonder how that is possible.

Grayson Lilburne:
"It must be emphasized again: there is no such thing as a scientific ought."

Good thing Conza gave the context to that, because it might have appeared that Mises contradicted himself when he said this taken from my OP:

"Liberalism does not say that men always act intelligently, but rather that they ought, in their own rightly understood interest, always to act intelligently. And the essence of liberalism is just this, that it wants to have conceded to reason in the sphere of social policy the acceptance that is conceded to it without dispute in all other spheres of human action." [Mises; p. 5]

Liberalism says men ought to always act intelligently.

"Liberalism is not a completed doctrine or a fixed dogma. On the contrary: it is the application of the teachings of science to the social life of man." [Mises; p. 3]

Liberalism is a science

Liberalism is therefore a science that says men ought to always act intelligently.  Liberalism is about natural rights which is a science that is intellectual because that's what natural law recognizes.  Natural law of human nature is about reality, and is intellectually comprehensible by all people.

"As the liberal sees it, the task of the state consists solely and exclusively in guaranteeing the protection of life, health, liberty, and private property against violent attacks. Everything that goes beyond this is an evil." - Mises

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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filc:
It is because Mises, and myself, and Wilderness, prefer economic freedom to slavery that we have ethics.

Spot on!

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bloomj31 replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 8:32 AM

Wilderness, I'm no Lilburne in terms of being well read or whatever  but it does look like you're bending these words over themselves to make them say what you want them to say.

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bloomj31 replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 8:36 AM

Because look, he uses the word ought, ok.  He says people ought to act intelligently.  Then he says liberalism is an application OF science to the social actions of man.  Ok, so you've taken these two and conjoined them and now he's saying "men ought to act intelligently and acting intelligently is what liberalism is all about and, by the way, liberalism is a science (which isn't what the quote says) so clearly it's scientifically shown that men ought to act intelligently."

What I think he's saying is that people who believe in liberalism also believe that man acts intelligently (for the most part) and that because of this, all men (or at least most) are capable of recognizing certain basic things about human social activity.  I don't think that he's saying that morals and science become fused though.  In other words, I think he's saying that liberalism takes the scientific approach to trying to ask "how should man act towards his fellow man?"  but isn't itself a science.  It's a creed.  It's a set of beliefs that at least tries to be scientific.  

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Grayson Lilburne:
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.

OP:
"Human actions become good or bad only through the end that they serve and the consequences they entail."[Mises; p. 24]

Then Mises disagrees with Hume.  Or maybe there are misconceptions.  I go for the latter.

Grayson Lilburne:
To be clear, I am not saying that Mises did not have his own personal moral "oughts".  Every man who doesn't suffer from a pathological condition does.  However, to Mises, moral "oughts", like all values, are unanalyzable givens, and thus are not objects of science.

Politics is not personal oughts, and Mises liberalism is a political stance.  So I suggest taking a leap out of the personal and not derail the thread and consider what the OP is about which is liberalism - a political stance.

OP:
"Liberalism is not a policy in the interest of any particular group, but a policy in the interest of all mankind.

"...liberalism has outgrown that of the older liberalism, that it is based on a deeper and better insight into interrelationships, since it can reap the benefit of the advances that science has made in the last decades. Freedom and peace have been placed in the forefront of the program of liberalism..." - Mises

Liberalism being a science that can benefit from the advances of science to attain deeper and better insight into interrelationships, ie. ethics, because liberalism is a policy in the interest of all mankind.

 

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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Grayson Lilburne:
A plan may be completely sound regarding questions of fact.  But someone STILL might disagree with the plan, due to an issue of value.

Nobody is arguing against "an issue of value".  Nobody has.  To think otherwise is the continual misrepresentation of anothers argument, especially when the misrepresentation has already been point out, and such a misrepresentation follows obviously from misconceptions:

OP:
"The liberal thinks otherwise. He is convinced that victorious war is an evil even for the victor, that peace is always better than war. He demands no sacrifice from the stronger, but only that he should come to realize where his true interests lie and should learn to understand that peace is for him, the stronger, just as advantageous as it is for the weaker." [Mises; p. 24]

A liberal is an individual of liberalism which Mises states is a science of ought (already quoted that), and he states here "peace is always better".  Mises being the intellectual that he is is familiar with logic, including Cohen's intro. to Logic book in which Mises promoted as the first book an individual ought to read before getting into economics.  "Always" is logically understood as a universal.  It doesn't mean that war never happens.  But the ethical proposition of peace is always better is Mises pointing out that 'peace is universally better'.  It is a logical deduction based on reality, ie. prosperity is better than destruction, peace is better than war, property is better than property violations, etc....

Shifting from personal to political topics is a shift in conceptual apprehension.  It is a logical category error to conflate or philosophically confuse the two.

Grayson Lilburne:
Every thing in the remaining two paragraphs fit the same bill as this last one.  By "vices" and "evils", Mises obviously means things that are destructive (counter to individual ends), not wicked (counter to some universal/metaphysical end).

That's all it could possibly mean.  Natural law is only individually realized, because only individuals possess an intellect that is not only able to comprehend but to conceive.  Here is your continual major misconception about what another person is stating in their argument.

Yet.  Saying that, the individual is not living in their own bubble and is partaking of a reality that is more than the individual.  There is a reality of exchanges and relationships, a natural world even, that exists outside of the individual.  Therefore I do not go as far to say that what an individual says or does is isolated and buffered from a larger reality.  The individual is part of a larger reality, but all interpretations of this larger reality obviously only happens within the intellect of any singular individual.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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bloomj31:

Because look, he uses the word ought, ok.  He says people ought to act intelligently.  Then he says liberalism is an application OF science to the social actions of man.  Ok, so you've taken these two and conjoined them and now he's saying "men ought to act intelligently and acting intelligently is what liberalism is all about and, by the way, liberalism is a science (which isn't what the quote says) so clearly it's scientifically shown that men ought to act intelligently."

ok.  I see what you are saying.  When I say liberalism is a science, I am not being very clear, I concede that.  But what I am saying is obviously this:

OP:
"Liberalism is not a completed doctrine or a fixed dogma. On the contrary: it is the application of the teachings of science to the social life of man." - Mises

Liberalism is not a dogma but applies science.  That's why I say liberalism is a science.  All sciences, including the natural sciences, ALL OF THEM are open to revision.  That's what science does.  It changes with new knowledge.  The principles don't change, but the theories to interpret the principles and facts do change.  I discuss that in the next post more. 

And to ask what liberalism is, this 'thing' that applies science, is to therefore take note of all that liberalism, even according to Mises as that is the center piece here in this thread.  And what is liberalism.  It is a 'thing' that applies science to the social life of man.  It states that all mankind ought to act intelligently.  When all mankind acts intelligently what will they do according to liberalism.  They will adhere to natural rights.  They will know peace is always better than war.  This is not to state that individuals don't have choice that is human action, and that's what liberty is essentially defined as too for in liberty humans essentially do act with mechanical, non-choice extorted forces applied to their actions.  And therefore all mankind ought to act intelligently, as opposed to what?  Brutish.  Or in ways that adhere to the evils of war or promote the violations of property.  All counter to what Mises states liberalism is supposed to be about and advocates.  So when all mankind acts the way Mises says they OUGHT to act and apply science, even the advanced sciences that will benefit interrelationships, ie. ethics, then such an individual is not running counter to liberalism but is heeding and practicing as much as contingently possible.

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bloomj31:
What I think he's saying is that people who believe in liberalism also believe that man acts intelligently (for the most part) and that because of this, all men (or at least most) are capable of recognizing certain basic things about human social activity.

indeed

bloomj31:
I don't think that he's saying that morals and science become fused though.  In other words, I think he's saying that liberalism takes the scientific approach to trying to ask "how should man act towards his fellow man?"

should is ought

bloomj31:
but isn't itself a science.  It's a creed.  It's a set of beliefs that at least tries to be scientific.

Science in Aristotelian terms is knowledge.  Liberalism saying all mankind ought to be intelligent is synonymous with saying all mankind ought to acknowledge the science when it is present.  Mises himself, I quoted, stated that with the advances in science interrelationships can benefit and that's what liberalism is all about, it's part of it's stated agenda.

Will all political action be able to follow logical deductions to the end when confronted with all situations?  Will a court of law be able to premise a principle and then logically deduct from that premise in a way that doesn't change over time?  Of course not.  With new knowledge principles are interpreted differently.  The principles do not change.  They never change.  It is the knowledge and therefore the theory that interprets the extant circumstances in the real world and applies the principles in accord with what people know at that time in history.  That, I didn't expect, to be quarrelsome, but it seems to be.  But why?  What is the counter-argument to that?

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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bloomj31 replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 9:30 AM

It's not really that I'm trying to counter your argument per se I just already see where you might be going with this.  This is going to turn into a anarcho capitalism is clearly the only system compatible with a scientific understanding of how man ought or should relate to his fellow man and as such, liberalism must inevitably progress to anarchism and thus Mises would've been an anarchist today had he lived this long and been able to continue to see the progression of "knowledge" to its logical ends.

If, however, you are simply stating that liberalism (or classical liberalism) as it's called now, is a smart political platform because it tries its best to be consistent with what we can understand through a scientific approach to understanding human action then I really have no problem with what you're saying.

 But somehow I see this ending up as an argument against the state because the state ought not to exist scientifically speaking because it's necessarily an impediment to constructive human behavior.

I also see this as the ongoing effort by anarchists to prove that Mises was an anarchist or at least would have been.   

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bloomj31:
It's not really that I'm trying to counter your argument per se I just already see where you might be going with this.  This is going to turn into a anarcho capitalism is clearly the only system compatible with a scientific understanding of how man ought or should relate to his fellow man and as such, liberalism must inevitably progress to anarchism and thus Mises would've been an anarchist today had he lived this long and been able to continue to see the progression of "knowledge" to its logical ends.

throw that out.  this thread isn't about that really.

bloomj31:
If, however, you are simply stating that liberalism (or classical liberalism) as it's called now, is a smart political platform because it tries its best to be consistent with what we can understand through a scientific approach to understanding human action then I really have no problem with what you're saying.

well, that's all I'm saying.

bloomj31:
But somehow I see this ending up as an argument against the state because the state ought not to exist scientifically speaking because it's necessarily an impediment to constructive human behavior.

I also see this as the ongoing effort by anarchists to prove that Mises was an anarchist or at least would have been.

this thread is really not about that.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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bloomj31 replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 9:38 AM

Alright well then I agree with you.

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nirgrahamUK:
I think you've allowed Long to sweep you away with him.

I knew Mises was no simple-and-pure Benthamite before reading Long's quote: it is obvious from Mises' insistences throughout his works that he doesn't believe in scientifically discoverable ends.

nirgrahamUK:
Mises was intimately aware of what 'Utilitarianism' means to moral/ethical philosophers. Does anyone doubt that fact? So he classed himself openly as a Utilitarian, though Long says he is not that kind of utilitarian.  why? 

For the reasons which both Long and I have marshaled.  I think you've allowed the popular conception of a word to sweep you away with it.  Mises uses very non-common definitions of many words ("causality" as only mechanistic, non-teleological causation; "entrepreneur" as acting man with regard to ANY degree of uncertainty; "rational" in the sense that all actions, even rain dances, are rational; etc)  So it should be no surprise that he has his own distinctly Misesian conception of utilitarianism.

Furthermore he has outright explained that " the writings of many earlier champions of Eudaemonism, Hedonism, and Utilitarianism are in some points open to misinterpretation" because they insert material, specific ends into the notion of happiness, while, to Mises, the properly scientific conception of happiness is purely formal ("that which one desires" or "relief from felt uneasiness"), a notion which Mises believes the early writings of Eudaemonism, Hedonism, Epicureanism, and Utilitarianism were groping toward.

Human Action:

"In this sense we speak of the subjectivism of the general science of human action. It takes the ultimate ends chosen by acting man as data, it is entirely neutral with regard to them, and it refrains from passing any value judgments. The only standard which it applies is whether or not the means chosen are fit for the attainment of the ends aimed at. If Eudaemonism says happiness, if Utilitarianism and economics say utility, we must interpret these terms in a subjectivistic way as that which acting man aims at because it is desirable in his eyes. It is in this formalism that the progress of the modern meaning of Eudaemonism, Hedonism, and Utilitarianism consists as opposed to the older material meaning and the progress of the modern subjectivistic theory of value as opposed to the objectivistic theory of value as expounded by classical political economy. At the same time it is in this subjectivism that the objectivity of our science lies. Because it is subjectivistic and takes the value judgments of acting man as ultimate data not open to any further critical examination, it is itself above all strife of parties and factions, it is indifferent to the conflicts of all schools of dogmatism and ethical doctrines, it is free from valuations and preconceived ideas and judgments..."

I take it by quoting and responding to this...

Roderick Long:
"By "utilitarianism" Mises means something like simply giving people advice about how to achieve the goals they already have. So you're not necessarily endorsing their goals, but utilitarianism says that really the only real role for any kind of evaluation is simply to talk about means to ends, because you can't evaluate the ends."

...that you take issue with it.  However, what Long says above about Mises' conception of utilitarianism is proven completely correct by this from Theory and History:

"Utilitarianism, on the other hand, does not deal at all with ultimate ends and judgments of value. It invariably refers only to means."

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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wilderness:

Grayson Lilburne:
Every thing in the remaining two paragraphs fit the same bill as this last one.  By "vices" and "evils", Mises obviously means things that are destructive (counter to individual ends), not wicked (counter to some universal/metaphysical end).

That's all it could possibly mean.  Natural law is only individually realized, because only individuals possess an intellect that is not only able to comprehend but to conceive.

Natural law?  Are you now saying that Mises not only accepted normative science, but that he also embraced natural law doctrine?!

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Mises says that utilitarianism doesnt involve judging whether people 'ought' to get pleasure from (or ought to desire) various ends that they do. but it does involve judging what they do (or propose to do) in light of what will give them pleasure, or more formally, what they really want.

so yes, he does deny a science of oughts of value (or ultimate ends). that people should value prosperity, that people should value health, that they should value freedom etc. bunk he says. that doesn't mean he is not a utilitarian in the classic sense.

asno, he does not deny a science of political or inter-personal oughts. he is a classical liberal. and a utilitarian moralist. He says given that he values prosperity and health, and given that others do to, (or profess to, he notes they always propogandise their political schemes with reference to these) his wertfrei knowledge of economics leads him to diagnose bad acts from good acts.

 

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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Saan replied on Sun, Mar 14 2010 11:03 AM

Telpeurion:
Their argument boils down to "God wants us all to be free." or some other supernatural appeal to authority. Do I misunderstand?

 

I think that is oversimplified, but yes natural rights are metaphysical no doubt.  It is an ethics question, and ethics are subjective.  Some ethical models bring about slavery, some bring about liberty, some bring about melancholy.  The natural rights argument boils down to the same thing all arguments of this nature boil down to.  Why am I alive and what should I do with my time?  

Non-aggression makes the most sense to me.  Don't force me and I won't force you.  If I try and prove my way is right and ought to be, then I am a hypocrite.  My way is mine and your way is yours. I only need to follow one rule to remain consistent.  Coercion is not allowed.

 Criminals, there ought to be a law.

Criminals there ought to be a whole lot more.   Bon Scott.

 

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