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Animal Cruelty vs Property Rights

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Voievod Posted: Mon, May 5 2008 2:39 AM

In a Libertarian society does anyone have the right to take an animal away from a person if they are physically abusing the creature?

Nowadays, animal workers can take away pets of the owner doesn't feed them, beats them or hurts them in any other way. What would be the case under Libertarianism?

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 I would have to say no because animals would not have rights in a libertarian society.  Forcing the owner to give up the animal would be the same in a libertarian society as forcing owner of a yard to give it up because he does not keep the grass in perfect shape.  I am obviously against animal abuse, but just because I believe it is wrong does not justify breaking into somebodies house and taking their property (animal) away because I think it is wrong. 

I guess if somebody is beating an animal and abusing it, it is their right to do so.  I am not sure what they would get out of hurting an animal except a waste of time and money but if they want to, it is not anyone else's place to stop it, especially by coercive means. 

 

Just my opinon...

 

A have a question similar to this:  In our current pseudo-free state,  Should Dog-Fighting be legal or illegal?

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BWF89 replied on Mon, May 5 2008 2:01 PM

Animals are property and have no rights as such.

Although under the system of anarcho-capitalism your private defense agency or insurance company might have their own laws against animal cruelty.

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This thread is poorly named. Either animals are property, or they are not, in which case they are self-owners. Whatever the case, there's no versus involved. Property rights reign supreme either way.

-Jon

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Solredime replied on Thu, May 8 2008 10:32 AM

Also, if an animal owner neglects the animal (doesn't feed it, etc.), I guess they're effectively allowing them to be homesteaded. Although if they're on their property you'd still need permission to get there, or else you're trespassing.

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wombatron replied on Thu, May 8 2008 11:04 AM

Fred Furash:

Also, if an animal owner neglects the animal (doesn't feed it, etc.), I guess they're effectively allowing them to be homesteaded. Although if they're on their property you'd still need permission to get there, or else you're trespassing.

 

 I would disagree with you here.  Unless the animal is a self-owner, it is property, and the owner's right to the animal would be absolute.  The title to your car doesn't expire merely because you let it rust.

Of course, there are moral aspects to this as well, but that's another story entirely.

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Solredime replied on Thu, May 8 2008 11:19 AM

Well I'm just applying the idea I read about on the children discussion to animals. Since parents are guardians and not full properietors of children, if they neglect them, they can be homesteaded (adopted).

Can't we apply the same principle here? Rather than treating animals as full property, we could say that they had at least some sort of minimal rights with regards to neglect. Besides, the only people to suffer in this case would be those that neglect and abandon their animals by not feeding them (on purpose), etc. I don't see why lifeforms in general can't have a different sort of property status (guardianship) from non-living objects.

I'll have to think more about this though, as I'm not sure if its consistent with my other views.

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wombatron replied on Thu, May 8 2008 11:42 AM

Fred Furash:

Well I'm just applying the idea I read about on the children discussion to animals. Since parents are guardians and not full properietors of children, if they neglect them, they can be homesteaded (adopted).

Can't we apply the same principle here? Rather than treating animals as full property, we could say that they had at least some sort of minimal rights with regards to neglect. Besides, the only people to suffer in this case would be those that neglect and abandon their animals by not feeding them (on purpose), etc. I don't see why lifeforms in general can't have a different sort of property status (guardianship) from non-living objects.

I'll have to think more about this though, as I'm not sure if its consistent with my other views.

 

 I'm not sure that the same principle applies.  Human beings have rights because of their essential nature.  To have rights, an animal would have to be a rational animal whose nature did not conflict with that of humanity (Rothbard's old "alien vampire" example).  Perhaps borderline animals, such as bottlenose dolphins and great apes, could have rights similar to those of children, though.

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CShirk replied on Thu, May 8 2008 4:40 PM

I would say if you want to abuse an animal, well go ahead, it is your property after all and animals - being property (or resources depending on your point of view - have no rights. But, you had better be prepared to reap the consequences. Cats will claw you or a dog might bite you. I would say then that if you do abuse animals government should have no obligation to protect you from your stupidity if you get hurt.

 

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Well, I've been thinking about this, and perhaps there ought be no law. However, because I believe that animals are neither persons nor property, but another category of being, one I'm not prepared to fully define here, I think perhaps animal cruelty should be a defense for one who removes an animal from its current master, even if to do so that one harmed the master. In other words, government forces cannot be brought to bear against you for animal cruelty, but your protection from the law, in regards to that animal, is reduced.

It basically means, if you're torturing your dog and I knock you over and take the dog, I can cite your abuse of the dog as a defense against both civil and criminal proceedings against me.

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Ego replied on Thu, May 8 2008 5:55 PM

What's really the difference between the government doing it and a private citizen doing it?

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Ego:
What's really the difference between the government doing it and a private citizen doing it?
 

It is not the purpose of human government to protect animals, but humans. Governments must be deontological in their ethics of action, while acknowledging, in justice, that each action has a certain moral character when a human performs it. For instance, when I save the animal at the torturer's expense, this is a compassionate act. One might not think me any worse a person for it, but rather a courageous and compassionate one. It is expected that I will act when these virtues are called for, if I be a virtuous person. However, the state cannot act with virtue, for it has no virtues. It is an organized fiction maintained by both the individual governors and the governed. Such a collective fiction, such a terrible repository of force, must be run according to strict, well-defined and very simple deontological rules. That being said, I will admit this idea is still very raw.

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Ego replied on Thu, May 8 2008 6:30 PM

Ultimately, the state is simply a collection of individuals. Are you saying that tax-funded individuals shouldn't be the ones to step in and protect animals? I don't think the government should be tax-funded, so perhaps that's where the confusion lies.

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Well, a whole 'nuther can o'worms here, but I'm a single tax guy, myself. That is, a land tax semi-geolibertarian type. But then, we don't tend to view the land tax like Austrian folk tend to view taxes in general.

I agree that the government is a collection of individuals. However, the real difference is, if the man torturing the dog kills you defending himself and his possession of the dog, then he has committed no crime. He has every right to defend himself and his interests to whatever degree, until he violates the rights of another to do so. However, if he killed someone trying to enforce a law against him, this would be added to his list of crimes.

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Bostwick replied on Thu, May 8 2008 10:12 PM

wombatron:
 I would disagree with you here.  Unless the animal is a self-owner, it is property, and the owner's right to the animal would be absolute.  The title to your car doesn't expire merely because you let it rust.

Actually it does. Squatting is a legitimate method for creating ownership, though it is neglected under our false statist definition of property.

 

Peace

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Bostwick replied on Thu, May 8 2008 10:14 PM

Ego:

What's really the difference between the government doing it and a private citizen doing it?

Everything.

 

JCFolsom:

It basically means, if you're torturing your dog and I knock you over and take the dog, I can cite your abuse of the dog as a defense against both civil and criminal proceedings against me.

I'm going to have to agree. No jury would convict this person. But if people were to steal cattle being raised for food they would be convicted.

 

 

Peace

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Bostwick replied on Thu, May 8 2008 11:12 PM

JonBostwick:

I'm going to have to agree. No jury would convict this person. But if people were to steal cattle being raised for food they would be convicted.

I should add that law is not something that libertarians divine and then send down to the masses. Law is interpersonal, and thus flows from society.

Libertarianism is necessarily a populist movement.

 

 

Peace

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Byzantine:

JonBostwick:

Actually it does. Squatting is a legitimate method for creating ownership, though it is neglected under our false statist definition of property.

 

Hmm.  Doesn't this just boil down to whoever has enough machetes to keep from being driven off by the other machete-wielding gang?

 

Perhaps if we extended it to include animals and what not. But as you can only squat on abandoned land, the required second party for a machete battle is lacking.

Ultimately, whoever has the most machetes does get to decide what the legal system is; but if you believe that honest people outnumber the dishonest there is no reason to be concerned.

 

Peace

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LanceH replied on Fri, May 9 2008 6:25 PM

Animals have no rights? So the owner can torture them to satisfy his own warped desires? That's gross.

A domesticated animal is a slave, yes, but even slaves should have certain inalienable rights. Amongst these is the right to humane treatment by the owner.

As to who will enforce these rights, anyone should be able to intercede on the animal's behalf. Most people detest cruelty in any form. The ASPCA gets plenty of donations. If a man drags a girl into his house to rape her, all of us would want to beat his door down to protect her. So give animals a break too.

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wombatron replied on Wed, May 14 2008 7:55 PM

 

LanceH:

Animals have no rights? So the owner can torture them to satisfy his own warped desires? That's gross.

A domesticated animal is a slave, yes, but even slaves should have certain inalienable rights. Amongst these is the right to humane treatment by the owner.

As to who will enforce these rights, anyone should be able to intercede on the animal's behalf. Most people detest cruelty in any form. The ASPCA gets plenty of donations. If a man drags a girl into his house to rape her, all of us would want to beat his door down to protect her. So give animals a break too.

 Rights are derived from the fact that human beings have the capacity for rationality, and also that respecting rights is a constitutive part of one's eudaimonia.  Animals do not have rights, because they are not rational and their natural end does not require them to respect rights.  Animals are, therefore, capable of being owned fully and completly.  If you are opposed to what someone is doing to their animals, you can boycott them, etc.  However, anyone "interceding on the animal's behalf" would be violating the NAP. 

Whether or not the abuse of animals is moral or not is a completely different question.  I myself am opposed to it.

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Curlz31 replied on Thu, May 7 2009 2:59 AM

The anti-Animal Rights aura here is despicable and anti-intellectual.

You can't arbitrarily apply rights to humans and then deny ANY to other animals.

All animals, including homo sapiens, evolved via the same process. The only differences that can be stated accurately are those objectively observed.

You can't simple make idiotic statements like "animals don't rationalise". "Rationalise" is just a word, like all other words, created by humans for the purpose of communication.

And i'll just add that if I saw any of you pouring gas on your dog and setting it alight, I'd pull out my gun and blow your brains out of your skull with a nice big smile on my face.

Animal Rights and Libertarianism are completely consistent. Anyone who can't see that is just making excuses for their own convenience. Exactly what the statists do.

Have a nice day.

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Curlz31:
You can't arbitrarily apply rights to humans and then deny ANY to other animals.

Rights are not arbitrary.  They are derived from the capacity to be rational.

Curlz31:
You can't simple make idiotic statements like "animals don't rationalise". "Rationalise" is just a word, like all other words, created by humans for the purpose of communication.

Why is the statement idiotic?  Because animals do rationalize?  Because humans do not rationalize?  Because rational thinking is not a good measure of determining the capacity to have and uphold rights?

Before tossing around a word like idiotic, you had best define your own position.

Curlz31:
And i'll just add that if I saw any of you pouring gas on your dog and setting it alight, I'd pull out my gun and blow your brains out of your skull with a nice big smile on my face.

And that is why you are not a libertarian.

Curlz31:
The anti-Animal Rights aura here is despicable and anti-intellectual.

What is anti-intellectual is your emotive argument.  The standard for discourse here is higher than that.

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JonBostwick:

wombatron:
 I would disagree with you here.  Unless the animal is a self-owner, it is property, and the owner's right to the animal would be absolute.  The title to your car doesn't expire merely because you let it rust.

Actually it does. Squatting is a legitimate method for creating ownership, though it is neglected under our false statist definition of property.

The car, or the animal, must surely have been abandoned prior to the re-homesteading. Not using your car for a while, or not feeding your dog for a while doesn't cut it .

Austrians do it a priori

Irish Liberty Forum 

 

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You can't simple make idiotic statements like "animals don't rationalise". "Rationalise" is just a word, like all other words, created by humans for the purpose of communication.

Actually I think the above is an idiotic statement. It is a word, meant to express/refer to something. So no, it isn't "just" a word in the sense that it refers to something in the world.

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Conza88 replied on Thu, May 7 2009 4:40 AM

Essentially, the situation I see potentially evolving in a Libertarian Society...

I believe there would be "pro animal" groups if you want to call them. Organizations like the R.S.P.C.A etc that monitor and get calls about the misuse and treatment of animals.

If people believe there is abuse occurring they could contact the Animal Protection Organization, who then contacts the owners and request an inspection. If refused they could then put a notice out on the person, add them to a online animal abuse suspect list, and keep a database on all others who are known to be abusive. If the owner wishes to remove themselves from the list, they could attempt to prove they are not abusing their animals.

Animal breeders and sellers can check in with this organization before selling to a prospected buyer to make sure the animal won't be abused.

In the written contract for sale, they could also stipulate they will be allowed access in 6 months time to check on the health of the animal.

In terms of the argument put forward, "what would you do" - if I was present I would try negotiate and buy the dog from the owner who is about to harm it. Bribes would also suffice. Alternatively, if that does not work and he refuses and attempts to harm it.. (burn it to death) I'd use force, steal the dog and accept the consequences.

The consquences being compensation for his property that was stolen. i.e the Dog. This would only happen if the dog owner wants to take you to court. In all likelyhood the organizations / agencies would have clauses / contracts with the individual against animal abuse.

Charities could exist that go around rescuing and buying animals from their owners, putting them into good and better homes. As well as providing the market with easy sources to make sure the abusive owner is never sold another animal again.

I think, kind of outlays like this are much better than the "vulgur libertarianism" of straight up. eg. "Yeah, the animal is his property. He can burn it if he wants." - It really isn't the answer anyone wants to hear. And whilst being 'tough', I really don't think that anyone here could stand by and literally not say anything in such a situtation...

But really why is there even a situation like this? The State is the main culprit. Welfarism no doubt plays it's role and warfarism too. (See: US solider throwing a puppy off a cliff) A lot of problems stem from broken homes, problems in the family. Marriage breakups, stress from taxation, divorce courts, easy money, easy morals, public education... yada yada. So in a Libertarian society, long term - this really wouldn't be a problem, except very marginally.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Curlz31 replied on Thu, May 7 2009 4:56 AM

liberty student:
Rights are not arbitrary.  They are derived from the capacity to be rational.

1. "Rational" is just a word created by humans for the purpose of communication. A word has no value in and of itself. It has no objective, measurable meaning. Its dictionary definition is subjective.

2. Even within the realm of subjectivity, by your definition the mentally retarded, babies and children have no rights.

 

liberty student:
And that is why you are not a libertarian.

Well I guess your definition of a libertarian is anyone who fawns over Murray Rothbard.

The man was intelligent but with serious flaws. Think for yourself. Stop turning "Ethics of Liberty" into your faith Bible.

 

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Curlz31 replied on Thu, May 7 2009 5:29 AM

What I find hysterical about many of you is that you make the same mistake in "begging the question" on overall philosophy that John Maynard Keynes makes when he talks about the swings of under and overinvestment in the "free market".

Keynes ignores the reality of the situation and proceeds to use his initial assertions as the basis for everything he writes.

Before looking at philosophy you must look at the facts of the universe.

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Conza88:
Alternatively, if that does not work and he refuses and attempts to harm it.. (burn it to death) I'd use force, steal the dog and accept the consequences.

This is aggressive force - a rights violation. Does this mean you are arguing that the animal does indeed have rights?

Other than that part I thought your post was excellent.

The difference between libertarianism and socialism is that libertarians will tolerate the existence of a socialist community, but socialists can't tolerate a libertarian community.

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My dear Curlz - how wonderful to discover another being on this forum who also agrees with the concept of animal rights. You know, it would be just great if you joined the protection agency that I have set up. More details on this post:

FreedomIsYellow:

Currently I'm occupying a house which was built on the previous property of a great number of ants, caterpillars and spiders. Obviously, having realised the error of my ways I would like to return what is quite rightfully theirs. I won't destroy my house but just leave it to be homesteaded by them when I move out.

My real passion are the Antelope of Southern Africa whom I have great interest in. I plan to start a protection agency in that area which will defend, voluntarily, all of these self-owned animals - from Wildebeest to Springbok. Naturally any aggression of these animals can be repelled with force, so I will kill any humans, leopards, lions, hyenas etc which transgress the Non Agression Principle and attempt to murder these great creatures.

Of course, these predators will lose a nutrition source - that is obvious. But surely this means that they will have to divert their resources into different methods of food production rather than murder of other animals? I fully anticipate seeing newly vegetarian lions setting up homesteads and farming plots, and possibly even engaging in trade with other animals eventually as they realise the benefits of free trade and the NAP. Maybe they will eventually become my clients too.

 

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FreedomIsYellow:
Of course, these predators will lose a nutrition source - that is obvious. But surely this means that they will have to divert their resources into different methods of food production rather than murder of other animals? I fully anticipate seeing newly vegetarian lions setting up homesteads and farming plots, and possibly even engaging in trade with other animals eventually as they realise the benefits of free trade and the NAP. Maybe they will eventually become my clients too.

Am I thick, or is it quite obvious that you are joking?

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Can anyone honestly see people respecting another's 'right' to torture their pets?  It seems like something that is almost universally deplored.

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Mingy Jongo:

Can anyone honestly see people respecting another's 'right' to torture their pets?  It seems like something that is almost universally deplored.

Nope, people are immoral creatures, so of course they would not respect another person's rights to do what they want with his or her own property.  I mean they cannot even allow others to smoke a plant.

At most, I think only 5% of the adult population would need to stop cooperating to have real change.

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Thedesolateone:
Am I thick, or is it quite obvious that you are joking?

Please do pardon my little reductio ad absurdum :P

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Conza88 replied on Thu, May 7 2009 10:08 AM

Thedesolateone:

Conza88:
Alternatively, if that does not work and he refuses and attempts to harm it.. (burn it to death) I'd use force, steal the dog and accept the consequences.

This is aggressive force - a rights violation. Does this mean you are arguing that the animal does indeed have rights?

Other than that part I thought your post was excellent.

Yes I would probably use just enough force (if it was necessary) to save the innocent harmless dog from being abused/killed. I would never mean to harm the owner though. I guess threats could be used - "I'll film you doing it and put it up on youtube. Send it to the local news networks. I'll tarnish your name in this town so that no-one will sell you anything." Is one possibility. Hahah, but this is all rather out there in lifeboat territory I think & the list of possible 'what ifs'  and 'it depends' tend to keep on growing.

Ultimately, let's assume I stole the dog. His property. I didn't injure the owner in the process. Animals have no right to self ownership, as far as I can see.

But yes, the owner can now take me to court if he chooses. It is a rights violation. But I'm not arguing the animal has rights. I'm just saying I'd probably be willing to accept the consequences of such actions.

There are a few good examples in here:

Jonah Goldberg and the Libertarian Axiom on Non-Aggression by Walter Block

I remember reading a better article on lewrockwell sometime ago by Walter Block or Murray Rothbard or someone - scenario's were stipulated were utilitarian considerations were addressed. i.e A man has a button that can end the world, are you justified in using force to stop him? Very vaguely from memory it went on about, whether it could be deemed if that was an initiation or threat of violence against you. And thus people would be justified in using force to stop him, from memory the argument was 'yes'.

But then it moved onto; what if aliens (Haha, I hope I find this article) came down and said "this one person has to be killed, in order for the rest of the world to survive." Then it went on too outline, that if someone volunteered to murder that one person to save the world, IF their relatives or next of kin decide to take the murderer to court... Ultimately, those whose lives have been saved would more than likely chip in too pay the compensation, or restitution or whatever it is called - to the next of kin. The person killed may have been the families bread winner etc. But as with Rothbard's Punishment and Proportionality the rights violator, gives up his rights to the degree he violates anothers. So he could be put to death for saving the world... if the victim's families so choose. Which they really wouldn't.. I mean, he saved their lives too.

It's late and I probably haven't made my point as clear as it should be. Drawing it back to the 'dog' argument. Oh well.

Anyway, thanks for the compliment. I'm still fairly new to Austrian Economics (a year? But only recently started paying much more attention to it. Tried to think this one through some what and for some reason I can't help but feel that it's partially intellectual wankery. Haha.. although most of the above mystery article, I have been unable to find, was in response to some lifeboat scenario's. So bare with me. Stick out tongue

Mingy Jongo:

Can anyone honestly see people respecting another's 'right' to torture their pets?  It seems like something that is almost universally deplored.

Just wondering aloud.. domesticated animals or pets are a kind of bi-product of civilization? Back in hunter gather days, food was scarce so you'd eat the animals - not take them in and feed / domesticate them?

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Curlz31:

liberty student:
Rights are not arbitrary.  They are derived from the capacity to be rational.

1. "Rational" is just a word created by humans for the purpose of communication. A word has no value in and of itself. It has no objective, measurable meaning. Its dictionary definition is subjective.

 

 

"Objective" and "measurable" are also just words, without objective, measurable meanings. Their dictionary definitions are subjective.  That being said, you and liberty student are humans, I presume.  He is using the word "rational" to communicate an idea to you.  While I agree that the word has no value in and of itself, in the context of communication between humans, it does. You can quibble about his choice or words, or you can actually comment on his meaning.


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Curlz31:

1. "Rational" is just a word created by humans for the purpose of communication. A word has no value in and of itself. It has no objective, measurable meaning. Its dictionary definition is subjective.

2. Even within the realm of subjectivity, by your definition the mentally retarded, babies and children have no rights.

This is a cop out.  Explain why a dog has rights that a fish does not.  Explain to me how a dog is the same as a mentally retarded person, or a fully capable person.

If you want to play the "words means nothing game", then please leave the forum and spare us your immeasurable and valueless words.

I'll repeat, this forum has a higher standard for discourse, my suggestion is that when you are in a state of ignorance or conflict, check your premises, and thus far, you have not provided any premise for debate.

Curlz31:
Well I guess your definition of a libertarian is anyone who fawns over Murray Rothbard.

This is a strawman.  If I was, it is irrelevant.  You have not challenged my position except to say all words are subjective.

Curlz31:
The man was intelligent but with serious flaws. Think for yourself. Stop turning "Ethics of Liberty" into your faith Bible.

This is a continuation of your strawman.

I know you from RPF.  The way you act towards others there isn't acceptable here.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Conza88:
But yes, the owner can now take me to court if he chooses. It is a rights violation. But I'm not arguing the animal has rights. I'm just saying I'd probably be willing to accept the consequences of such actions.

It's not possible to build a libertarian society if you can't fit your values within the NAP.  That is to say, if you are ok with the NAP 95% of the time then it doesn't work.  You can't choose when to violate rights and still claim to be a libertarian.

I'm not implying that you *MUST* embrace the NAP, but if you plan not to, then it is probably best to make that clear and explain you are using a different ethical system because lifeboat scenarios are no different than welfare.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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