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A friendly introduction to Hoppe's Argumentation Ethics

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Gumdy Posted: Fri, Dec 30 2011 9:29 PM

This argument is very, very often distorted, and misunderstood.

I hope this introduction will help clear things up: http://argumentationethics.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/argumentation-ethics/

From it: 

 

Not bad! We have now shown that argumentation must presuppose each person owns its own body. The denial of this is a performative contradiction. But wait… before we can go and calmly smoke whatever we want, knowing we justifiably own our body, we must first also deal with the question of conflicts over external, rivalrous resources. That’s what we’ll be smoking.

 
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tunk replied on Fri, Dec 30 2011 10:36 PM

Very engaging writing, nicely done.

I admit I haven't gone over Hoppe's stuff yet, but I do have some questions. First, I can see how, in order for an argument to take place, you must respect my right to self-ownership and I must in turn show you the same respect. But what happens once we stop arguing? Don't we then lose the ability to claim rights to our bodies? That's to say, if you want to argue with Bob, he can justifiably demand that you not violently assault him, but what if you don't want to argue with him? What rights can he demand in that case.

And, perhaps this question is related: I can see how trying to argue against the NAP is self-contradictory, but I don't see how that establishes that the NAP is true. Again, it might be true that if you want to argue, you should not violent someone else's person, but how does this establish the NAP as a true, justifiable statement with normative force? It seems more like the NAP is just a means to the end of arguing.

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Wheylous replied on Fri, Dec 30 2011 10:45 PM

It seems more like the NAP is just a means to the end of arguing.

All libertarians wanna do is argue! cheeky

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Gumdy replied on Sat, Dec 31 2011 6:14 AM

Hi tunk,

 

But what happens once we stop arguing? Don't we then lose the ability to claim rights to our bodies? That's to say, if you want to argue with Bob, he can justifiably demand that you not violently assault him, but what if you don't want to argue with him? What rights can he demand in that case.

 

 

None. Neither rights nor the NAP objectively exist in and of themselves (Is-Ought Dichotomy). Ethics concerns itself only with what is justified and justification takes place only in the course of an argument. If someone would decide to violate your self-ownership Argumentation Ethics shows us he will not be able to justify his actions, as he will be trapped in self contradiction. 

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NAA, not NAP! xD

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Gumdy replied on Sat, Dec 31 2011 9:51 AM

NAAPoA (Non-Agreession Apriori of Argumentation) :-)

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Wheylous replied on Sat, Dec 31 2011 10:00 AM

Alright, but how do we explain the gap from "you can own property so that you may survive during argumentation" to "you may own ginormous expanses of land"? Moreover, why specifically the right-lib definition of property?

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I think you (and Hoppe) fail to make the case for universalizability and against arbitrariness, which is not the same thing as a double standard.  For example, that a red light means stop and a green light means go is arbitrary because it could be otherwise without changing the function of traffic lights.  Regarding universalizability, it only holds within the context of the argument.  When I pressupose the norms of argumentation, I don't presuppose them for all individuals in the world, only those involved in discourse.  So while I can't argue against self-ownership universally, I can do so with distinction: "eskimos are not self-owners because they are subhuman" - I might be wrong, but I haven't wrapped myself up in any sort of performative contradiction.

And regarding performative contradictions, its worth repeating from another post of mine that contradictions can never actually be performed, they can't exist in nature, ever.  Whats happening is the expression of 2 separate propositions, both of which cannot be simultaneously true.  The reason why I am on Hoppe's side on this, is that I think that act, the one of expressing 2 propositions which are mutually exclusive, is something not permitted in argumentation, which is why it cannot be justified.  So its not because its an attempt to justify a contradiction, but rather because its an attempt to assert something without any way to justify it.

Finally, just because I can't justify a slavery norm doesn't mean that therefore a non-slavery norm is justified.  That justification needs to happen on its own, and is still subject to criticism.  There is difference between being justifiable and being justified, and all AE does is address the former.  

Also, and you seem to be aware of this but I'm just pointing it out, this whole thing is operating in the bracketted context of argumentation.  It shouldn't ever be taken as approaching moral realism, because its just not equipped to handle that kind of metaphysical baggage.  And outside of argumentation (which is stipulated in a way to make these conclusions meaningful), one is still free to do as one wishes.   

 

they said we would have an unfair fun advantage

"enough about human rights. what about whale rights?" -moondog
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Gumdy replied on Sat, Dec 31 2011 12:59 PM

from "you can own property so that you may survive during argumentation" to "you may own ginormous expanses of land"?

I'm not sure where you got statement 1? (or statement 2)

I'll just say a few things about homesteading.

You can see that ArgEthics grounds homesteading as an act that serves a practical usage, allowing conflicts to be peacfuly resolved. Imagine someone fenced a small circle of land and then proclaimed everything *outside* the circle to be his own. Since the earth is a sphere this is mathematically correct, he just fenced the rest of the earth. This "fence" however does not serve as an objective evident link to anyone who wants to make use land somewhere in the world (forgetting this also includes previously homesteaded land) An abnormal "marking", such as "fencing" Alaska is thus not homesteading as it cannot serve as an evident link of ownership.

"why specifically the right-lib definition of property?"

Please forgive me, as I'm not specifly familiar with the left-lib definition. I would note that the definition of "usage" as a standard (syndicalists) is subjective and so cannot serve as an objective link to a resource, only a change of physical characteristics can. If as years go by, entropy slowly turns the neglected property to be a part of nature- it is faire gain once more.

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Gumdy replied on Sat, Dec 31 2011 1:39 PM

Hi Mika,

First,

...it only holds within the context of the argument.

Of course everything is only relevant in as far as actors engage in argument. Rocks don't have rights, clouds don't have rights, dead bodies don't have rights. It is only when conscious people start to argue that the question of ethics and rights arises. This by no means weakens the argument! To the contrary, this is precisely the basic starting point any such argument must take. You and I are now engaged in argument. We assume claims must be jusfied, True is better that false, ext.

I have adressed some of these points in the second post. I will quote:

Second [objection]-

What you say may be relevant for the actual participants in argument, but it is not relevant to a third party. When I’m speaking to you, I can’t logically say I own you body, but, I can say I own someone else’s body with no contradiction. Imagine two slave owners talking to each other.

You must remember, we are talking about dispute resolution. When one say’s “I own someone’s body“ he is really saying, I prefer unjustified violence to discourse in some cases. One cannot justify such a claim in an argument, which presupposes  justification has nothing to do with force of violence (and everything to do with content). True, one can, however, babel as much as he wants, If he were to act on his beliefs he then could not justify his actions in argument. Actual violent actions can’t be justified, only the NAP.

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This is a issue that I never considered before, but the difference between an individual being capable of rational thought and believing an individual is capable of rational thought is significant:

Imagine that it turns out eskimos are robots left on this planet by a bunch of aliens millenia ago, yet you and I are completely unware of this fact.  We are having an argument where I try to justify the keeping of eskimo slaves and you make the case that I cannot justify such a position...yada yada yada.  

It seems to me that, assuming AE is correct, you would have a valid case in this argument - even though the premises we are operating under are completely false, the performative contradiction still occurs because I am trying to justify a norm while presupposing its falsehood.  Now if I were aware that eskimos were robots, or even if they weren't and just believed it to be the case, I wouldn't be presupposing that eskimos are people anymore than I would be when I argue that its ok for me to own cats, dogs, and iPhones.

I think that you would also have to come to the conclusion that slavery norms in previous centuries were justifiable (not necessarily justified, though) in terms of AE because blacks were viewed as lesser men than whites, barbarians lesser than Greeks, and so on.  

 

they said we would have an unfair fun advantage

"enough about human rights. what about whale rights?" -moondog
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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 11:44 AM

There is overwhelming evidence that blacks can engage and discourse and understand property. A belief to the contrary can be shown to be false, even in past centuries. It is therefore indefensible to believe otherwise (and to deny true is better than false would void the debate and imply a contradiction). There is overwhelming evidence eskimos have free will, and are not robots as well.

Regarding a distinction between the NAP being the only norm justifiable and not being justified- I don't think it is substantial. Argumentation implies seeking a non-violent norm- and only one nonviolent consistant norm exist.

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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 12:03 PM

How is the following norm contradictory/non-justifiable/non-universizeable: "Every loser in a chess game is (ought to be) the winner's slave." ?

 

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 12:11 PM

If you'll write on paper and put it in a bottle there is no implied contradiction with presupposition of argumentation (there is no argumentation).

If you want to argue over the use of someone's body and then propose such an arbitrary norm you are inconsistent with argumentation, as this cannot be justified (please read the article if you haven’t).

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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 12:23 PM

Gumdy:

If you want to argue over the use of someone's body and then propose such an arbitrary norm you are inconsistent with argumentation, as this cannot be justified (please read the article if you haven’t).

I won the chess game, you lost it, and I'm arguing (with you) that, therefore, you are my slave. How am I inconsistent with argumentation?

 

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 12:32 PM

It doesn't matter if it's black/white, white/black, jews/christians, it is arbitrary. just something you say. Since we are arguing, I don't agree with this claim. what justification for such a distinction you have?

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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 12:41 PM

Gumdy:

what justification for such distinction you have? 

My purely subjective valuation/judgment/preference of chess's ability to determine who should be enslaved by whom. What justification do you have to disagree with my claim?

 

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 1:09 PM

If you hold subjective preference to be justification we cannot resolve our argument by discourse. Only if objectively justify our claims can we do so. To argue an arbitrary subjective statement is justified simply isn't consistent with the presupposition of discourse.

 

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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 1:32 PM

What preferences other than subjective could anyone possibly hold? What objective justification do you have for claiming that you are not my slave or that you ought not to be one? More importantly, how am I performing a contradiction by arguing that you are, or ought to be, my slave?

 

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 1:47 PM

"What preferences other than subjective could anyone possibly hold?"

You are proposing to make a distinction between us, because you subjectively prefer though I do not. You have no objective justification for it. Do you deny claims need to be justified, or you can just say whatever you want? If every subjective, arbitrary claim is legitimate, we cannot argumentatbly resolve our disputes. (have you read the article?)

"What objective justification do you have for claiming that you are not my slave or that you ought not to be one?"

Since we presuppose argumentative propositions should have justification, and your proposed "chess" distinction has no justification, if you hold it you are claiming justification is not needed, which contradicts what is logically presupposed if we aim to resolve ownership by means of discourse.

"More importantly, how am I performing a contradiction by arguing that you are, or ought to be, my slave?"

Because you are denying justification for propositions is required there by not allowing our dispute to be peacefully resolved base on propositions- which is the point of the argument.

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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 1:59 PM

Gumdy:

"What preferences other than subjective could anyone possibly hold?"

You are proposing to make a distinction between us, because you subjectively prefer though I do not. You have no objective justification for it. Do you deny claims need to be justified, or you can just say whatever you want? If every subjective, arbitrary claim is legitimate, we cannot argumentatbly resolve our disputes. (have you read the article?)

But my claim is perfectly justifiable. I believe that a world in which good chess players own everyone else is better than any alternative. I subjectively value the norm more than any other. Who are you to reject my justification as not legitimate? Who annointed you with the exclusive power to make objective valuations such as these? How is your valuation of my subjective valuation any less subjective? Please answer the question above.

Since we presuppose argumentative propositions should have justification, and your proposed "chess" distinction has no justification, if you hold it you are claiming justification is not needed, which contradicts what is logically presupposed if we aim to resolve ownership by means of discourse.

So says you. My justification looks perfectly legitimate to me. I do have a justification. Btw, please note that: (1) we are arguing, (2) I claim that you are, or ought to be, my slave, and (3) I have yet to perform a contradiction.

 

 

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 2:13 PM

Man...

But my claim is perfectly justifiable. I believe...

You're missing the point. If you deny claims need objective justification, and what I want or believe is justified- and so you can be logically claimed- how can argumentation resolve disputes?

So says you. My justification looks perfectly legitimate to me.

pure subjective thaught is not justification, to claim so is voiding the argument. (argumentation is not free floating isolated statements. it has underling norms as it is a practicle activity)

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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 2:30 PM

Gumdy:
If you deny claims need objective justification, and what I want or believe is justified- and so you can be logically claimed- how can argumentation resolve disputes?

Define "objective" justification. You again avoided answering my question: "What preferences other than subjective could anyone possibly hold?"

pure subjective thaught is not justification, to claim so is voiding the argument. (argumentation is not free floating isolated statements. it has underling norms as it is a practicle activity)

What is justification?
Let me simplify things and cut to the chase. Each of us can be perfectly logically consistent and yet we could arrive at opposing claims if we start from different premises. Where do you get your premises and how are they more "objective" than mine? The whole ArgEth argument boils down to: "If you presuppose that no one should be anyone's slave, then you can't argue that I should be your slave without contradicting yourself." Ground-breaking!
 
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I didn't mean to suggest that it is reasonable to believe that eskimos, blacks and barbarians are less than human.  The point was that holding such a belief allows an individual to suggest a norm that would appear to be arbitrary from your perspective, but would be universalizable from his.  Its completely within the bounds of argumentation that those involved hold incorrect beliefs, in fact, it could be necessary - how could an argument arise if both parties already agree?  And by holding a belief I mean actually holding it, not just saying it.  Its not a denial that truthood is better than falsehood because it is believe that the position itrue.  

The distinction between being justifiable and being justified is similar to the difference between proving that something can't be x and proving that it must be y.  Given (x or y), if not x, then y; this is a sound syllogism.  Where AE is different from this, is that the valid justification of a norm might not exist at all, regardless of the existence of the norm itself.  Even if we accept that there is no third way regarding norms (its either NAP or everything else), we cannot come to the conclusion that the inability to justify any non-NAP norm constitutes a logical proof of the NAP.  

To be honest, I don't believe that any norms can be justified outside of a means-end analysis.  AE basically says: "if norms in general were able to be justified, these norms in particular wouldn't be eligible."    

 

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:11 PM

 

z123,

Please be more civil while attacking something you obviously haven't taken the time to read. If it wasn't so, I wouldn't have minded. This is directly referred to in the article. Please take a few minutes to read it in order to know what your attacking.

What preferences other than subjective could anyone possibly hold?"

This is at the beginning. Arguers, by engaging in discourse, a form of interaction, demonstrably show their preference to resolve a conflict without violence. Please read the article. to deny this would void the argument.

What is justification?

A fact that is intersubjectivly ascertainable, and both arguers should acknowledge as true.

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:17 PM

 

I didn't mean to suggest that it is reasonable to believe that eskimos, blacks and barbarians are less than human.  The point was that holding such a belief allows an individual to suggest a norm that would appear to be arbitrary from your perspective, but would be universalizable from his.  Its completely within the bounds of argumentation that those involved hold incorrect beliefs, in fact, it could be necessary - how could an argument arise if both parties already agree?  And by holding a belief I mean actually holding it, not just saying it.  Its not a denial that truthood is better than falsehood because it is believe that the position itrue.  

The distinction between being justifiable and being justified is similar to the difference between proving that something can't be x and proving that it must be y.  Given (x or y), if not x, then y; this is a sound syllogism.  Where AE is different from this, is that the valid justification of a norm might not exist at all, regardless of the existence of the norm itself.  Even if we accept that there is no third way regarding norms (its either NAP or everything else), we cannot come to the conclusion that the inability to justify any non-NAP norm constitutes a logical proof of the NAP.  

To be honest, I don't believe that any norms can be justified outside of a means-end analysis.  AE basically says: "if norms in general were able to be justified, these norms in particular wouldn't be eligible."    

mika- leave asside the semantical distinictions- Only NAP is compatible with argumentation (all others don't) and so it is presupposed in argumentation, a resolution of conflict in argumatation therefore can only logically use the NAP. This is the QED, no need for other words. no norms are objectivly justified as they don't objectivly exist.
 
As far as holding false belifes-it can happen.
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AJ replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:22 PM

Ultimately the Argumentation Ethics proponent will admit that it only purports to show that "there can be no other objective ethics than the NAP," which of course devolves into a non-statement if there are no objective ethics. 

It's an argument intended for people who already believe in objective ethics. Since "objective ethics" is an incoherent notion (because "objective value" is), Argumentation Ethics would at best be a tool for convincing people who already buy into the objective ethics nonsense. Unfortunately, it fails even at that, due to equivocation.

Hence Argumentation Ethics is fatally flawed twice over.

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:46 PM

Long on outrage, short on arguments.

The claim of AE is that the NAP is presupposed in argumentation and so denying it is a contradiction. It shows this preety clearly, there is a reason why the NAP is coherent and intuitive.

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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:49 PM

Gumdy:

Please be more civil while attacking something you obviously haven't taken the time to read.

? I (and others) have read and debated plenty (more than enough) on ArgEth over the last couple of years, thanks. Search the forums. 

This is directly referred to in the article. Please take a few minutes to read it in order to know what your attacking.

The article adds nothing to the old, known ArgEth proposal.

Arguers, by engaging in discourse, a form of interaction, demonstrably show their preference to resolve a conflict without violence. Please read the article. to deny this would void the argument.

How about two people peacefully eating cereal together? Wouldn't they be presupposing peaceful consumption of cereal by doing so? Would one of them be performing a contradiction if he suddenly smacked the other on the head with a spoon? I just introduced Cereal Ethics as proof of NAP. QED.

What is justification?

A fact that is intersubjectivly ascertainable, and both arguers should acknowledge as true.

A justification is a fact? Aren't you performing a fallacy (begging the question) by demanding that arguers must agree a priori as a precondition for them to have a "proper" argument? Why can't I argue (attempt to convince you) that you are, or ought to be, my slave? Perhaps I'm persuasive, and I'll convince you.

Finally -- and not that I need this -- what if we both agreed before the chess game that the winner would legitimately enslave the loser? Or what if we lived in a society where chess was intersubjectively valued/preferred as a legitimate determinant on who could/must enslave whom? Wouldn't you be contradicting yourself if you argued against being enslaved after you lost?

 

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:49 PM

 

Ultimately the Argumentation Ethics proponent will admit that it only purports to show that "there can be no other objective ethics than the NAP," which of course devolves into a non-statement if there are no objective ethics. 

It's an argument intended for people who already believe in objective ethics. Since "objective ethics" is an incoherent notion (because "objective value" is), Argumentation Ethics would at best be a tool for convincing people who already buy into the objective ethics nonsense. Unfortunately, it fails even at that, due to equivocation.

Hence Argumentation Ethics is fatally flawed twice over.

 

reading you'r post- very unimpressive, complete strawman.

Reminds me of this.

 

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AJ replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:53 PM

Gumdy:
reading you'r post- very unimpressive, complete strawman.

Gumdy, 3 minutes earlier:
Long on outrage, short on arguments.

I rest my case.

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 3:55 PM

 

How about two people peacefully eating cereal together? Wouldn't they be presupposing peaceful consumption of cereal by doing so? Would one of them be performing a contradiction if he suddenly smacked the other on the head with a spoon? I just introduced Cereal Ethics as proof of NAP. QED.

 
coaporation praxeologicly does presupposes a common goal:

We state that trade is mutually beneficial, because by choosing  to trade both willful participants demonstrate their preference for the post-trade state of affairs over the pre-trade state of affairs. Otherwise we wouldn’t have voluntarily traded. Underling every voluntary human corporation is such a common goal. What goal, then, is implied by choosing to argue as means to resolve a conflict? Well, it means participants demonstrably wish to resolve their dispute without resorting violence. It also means they civilized man.

So we say that violence-aversion, i.e achieving peaceful conflict resolution is the presupposition or demonstrated preference of the participants of an argument. The act of Argumentation, presupposes the norm of peaceful conflict resolution. An actor participates in an argument by speaking- expressing certain propositions (by use of sound, hands ext.). An argument is nothing but an exchange of propositions. Thereby, it is by the very act of expressing a proposition that one demonstrates his preference to resolve the given conflict without the use violence.

 

Discourse, but not other kinds of interaction presuppose the NAP (such as coaporating to kill someone).

 

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tunk replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 6:53 PM

Gumdy,  your efforts are valiant but in vain, I think. Most people on this forum are committed to an unflinching belief that anyone talking of  "objective" morality is some kind of wild nutcase, even though there are sound reasons for taking that position. (Including some, in my opinion, presented by Ayn Rand and her followers.) The attempt to convince anyone here is probably futile.

z1235:
How about two people peacefully eating cereal together? Wouldn't they be presupposing peaceful consumption of cereal by doing so? Would one of them be performing a contradiction if he suddenly smacked the other on the head with a spoon? I just introduced Cereal Ethics as proof of NAP. QED.

Impatient, crude mockery like this is a case in point.

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The sad thing, tunk, is that they don't even understand what the word objective means. >_>

Because definitions can only be subjective, right?

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Alright, RD, what is "objective"?

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Gumdy replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 7:36 PM

Thank you. I think Ayn Rand type arguments are not throughly analytic (like Hoppe's). I don't think "norms" are self evident and exist objectivly. They are however a part off human acition, and this is what AE points to. Norms are presupposed in actions and to deny this is to deny human action. Argumentation Ethics is another part of praxeology.

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Alright, RD, what is "objective"?

Wheylous, I'm not willing to get into an argument about this. That being said, objective means "that is or belongs to what is presented to consciousness, as opposed to the consciousness itself; that is the object of perception or thought, as distinct from the perceiving or thinking subject."

So the definition of objective is objective, as well as any moral theories, regardless of whether they are right or not. The socialist theory of altruism is an objective theory.

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z1235 has forgotten Nir's Regression theorem of anti-chess property.

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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z1235 replied on Sun, Jan 1 2012 9:28 PM

Good find, nir. Good times. smiley

 

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Ha, we go way back. Nostalgia ftw.

Also I think anyone wrestling with hoppe's AE would benefit from DeJasays writings on the necessity of presuming freedom

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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