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Estoppel - Argumentation Ethics - Aggression

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liberty student Posted: Thu, May 21 2009 12:56 AM

I have a problem with estoppel, it could be a problem only with my ability to understand it, as applied by Stephan Kinsella as part of argumentation ethics.  From wikipedia,

The "estoppel" theory of Stephan Kinsella draws on Hoppe's theory. Kinsella argues that an aggressor cannot coherently object to being punished for the act of aggression, by the victim or the victim's agents or heirs, i.e. he is "estopped" from withholding consent, because by committing aggression he commits himself to the proposition that the use of force is legitimate, and therefore, his withholding consent based on his right not to be physically harmed contradicts his aggressive legitimation of force.

I understand that the aggressor cannot claim a right to non-aggression, but I'm not sure that validates aggression against the aggressor.  I am not referring to self-defense, but punishment.

The problem I have (and could be totally wrong on) is that a particular action can transmute or nullify a principle.

I see this with anti-capitalists/mutualists sometimes, when people claim that you can steal from WalMart because WalMart is a state fiction (corporation) and because the state is illegit, then WalMart technically has no ownership.

But it seems to me that just because the state licenses something, doesn't invalidate the contract or the title to the property being licensed.  If that was so, it would be an internal contradiction, because if the state is illegit, then how can it legitimately transmute property titles from one form to another?  Surely they revert to their original form (if they ever left their original form at all).

I'm having trouble explaining this with regards to estoppel, but that if someone can create exception to the NAP by aggression, then does aggression invalidate non-aggression?

Anyone with me?

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liberty student:

I have a problem with estoppel, it could be a problem only with my ability to understand it, as applied by Stephan Kinsella as part of argumentation ethics.  From wikipedia,

The "estoppel" theory of Stephan Kinsella draws on Hoppe's theory. Kinsella argues that an aggressor cannot coherently object to being punished for the act of aggression, by the victim or the victim's agents or heirs, i.e. he is "estopped" from withholding consent, because by committing aggression he commits himself to the proposition that the use of force is legitimate, and therefore, his withholding consent based on his right not to be physically harmed contradicts his aggressive legitimation of force.

I understand that the aggressor cannot claim a right to non-aggression, but I'm not sure that validates aggression against the aggressor.  I am not referring to self-defense, but punishment.

The problem I have (and could be totally wrong on) is that a particular action can transmute or nullify a principle.

I see this with anti-capitalists/mutualists sometimes, when people claim that you can steal from WalMart because WalMart is a state fiction (corporation) and because the state is illegit, then WalMart technically has no ownership.

But it seems to me that just because the state licenses something, doesn't invalidate the contract or the title to the property being licensed.  If that was so, it would be an internal contradiction, because if the state is illegit, then how can it legitimately transmute property titles from one form to another?  Surely they revert to their original form (if they ever left their original form at all).

I'm having trouble explaining this with regards to estoppel, but that if someone can create exception to the NAP by aggression, then does aggression invalidate non-aggression?

Anyone with me?



Somewhat, yes.  I am only slightly lost since I haven't read up on estoppel, myself.

Sleep will probably make this topic easier to tackle.

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That is my problem.  I'm seeing the same contradiction, although I can't explain it as clearly (probably because I have only been thinking about this new one, estoppel, for a few days) and perhaps I am completely wrong.

We believe in non-aggression.  We would not commit aggression against someone who hasn't committed aggression.

But based on estoppel we would aggress against someone who committed aggression first, because their aggression invalidates any claim they have to not be aggressed against.

While I understand the aggressor cannot claim non-aggression is wrong, given that he is an aggressor himself, I do not necessarily see why his aggression validates me, or you, or someone else to use aggression against this individual.  In a sense, we're saying that if someone aggresses, then it's on like cheech and chong.  We can all aggress against them.

But my understanding of the non-aggression principle is not based on using aggression as punishment, regardless of the circumstance or justification provided by the guilty party.  Just as my understanding of property rights cannot be altered just because the state has become a licensor.

One further thought for people who understand estoppel well.  If someone aggresses, and that validates aggression as punishment, is this individual now a marked man, where anyone can aggress against him in perpetuity, because his one aggressive act invalidated his claim to non-aggression against himself now and in the future?

 

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The point is that any coercion against the initial aggressor has to be proportional, moreover, it would have to aimed at restitution, not retribution.

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GilesStratton:
it would have to aimed at restitution, not retribution.

Ok, that is huge.  Basically explains it all then.

Thanks Giles.

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liberty student:

GilesStratton:
it would have to aimed at restitution, not retribution.

Ok, that is huge.  Basically explains it all then.

Thanks Giles.

I was very pleased with myself until I realised you were being sarcastic.

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I understand that the aggressor cannot claim a right to non-aggression, but I'm not sure that validates aggression against the aggressor.  I am not referring to self-defense, but punishment.

It doesn't. It just means the aggressor has no leg to stand on if they do attempt to punish their punisher. It isn't about what courts will do as opposed to what they won't do: prosecute any attempt to make good the victim, within the bounds of proportionality. At least I understand it this way.

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liberty student:
I do not necessarily see why his aggression validates me, or you, or someone else to use aggression against this individual.

The key problem for me with regards to action vs. previously occurred (and not ongoing) aggression is of knowledge/uncertainty.

Every judicial judgement is subjective not only in its terms, but also in its verdict (i.e. guilty or not guilty). There is no objective proof that one can provide that an individual is an aggressor. Thus, while there me be some situations where it would be moral to aggress against an "aggressor" after the event; we can never practically experience any of these situations because we will be unable to say someone is indubitably guilty.

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Here was my short critique of the estoppel argument:

One of the more recent attempts to provide a foundation for punishment and proportionality has been what Stephen Kinsella calls ―the estoppel argument. Kinsella has summarized the estoppel argument as follows:

"I will thus seek to justify punishment exactly where it needs to be justified: at the point at which we attempt to inflict punishment upon a person who opposes the punishment. In short, we may punish one who has initiated force, in a manner proportionate to his initiation of force and to the consequences thereof, exactly because he cannot coherently object to such punishment. It makes no sense for him to object to punishment, because this requires that he maintain that the infliction of force is wrong, which is contradictory because he intentionally initiated force himself. Thus, he is estopped, to use related legal terminology, or precluded, from denying the legitimacy of his being punished, from withholding his consent."

The first thing to point out about this line of argument is that it seems to presume precisely what it must prove, namely, that the individual in question cannot or does not have a rational argument against punishment. It does not make sense to proclaim that the very act of the individual arguing implicitly justifies Kinsella‘s argument; that would be little more than a rhetorical trick. We must note that Kinsella‘s statement here simplifies the non-aggression principle and assumes it as a common starting point with the same meaning or implication to all parties. At best, his argument may intuitively make sense in that it would be hypocritical for someone to murder someone and then demand not to be murdered.

Yet the problem with this argument is that it falls prey to itself, via something we have pointed out already in our exposition of the issue of punishment and proportionality: veiled behind the rhetoric of the argument, the proponent of the estoppel argument is trying to claim that the initiation of force is wrong and that it is justified for them (or some other individual or group) to initiate force at the same time, because someone else has initiated force. In other words, it could equally be argued that the proponent of punishment is being a hypocrite because they are claiming the right (or the right of some 3rd party of punishment enforcers) to aggress (not in self-defense) while simultaneously trying to make a non-aggression argument. Hence, the proponent of the estoppel argument could likewise be ―estopped‖. While the estoppel argument is an attempt at justifying a particular view of justice by making use of consistency, it is not consistent itself.

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liberty student:
We believe in non-aggression.  We would not commit aggression against someone who hasn't committed aggression.

This statement, logically, leaves open the possibility of aggression against someone who has committed aggression.

liberty student:
But based on estoppel we would aggress against someone who committed aggression first, because their aggression invalidates any claim they have to not be aggressed against.

This provides, or attempts to provide, justification for using agression against someone who has committed aggression.  There is no contradiction from the first statement, as the first statement only deals with "someone who hasn't committed aggression."

As for being a "marked man", I would say, no.  It's closer to the two-fold restitution Rothbard calls for.  That is, if I steal $50 from you, you have every right to that $50 back, and further, I have no moral standing to stop you from taking an additional $50 from me.


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Kinsella:
It makes no sense for him to object to punishment, because this requires that he maintain that the infliction of force is wrong, which is contradictory because he intentionally initiated force himself.

What if the individual in question believes that his initiation of force was legitimate, but any attempt to coerce him would be illegitimate? Perhaps this is what Kinsella was addressing when he said that the aggressor cannot make a 'coherent' argument in his favor?

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I believe that the initial aggressor can be punished only proportionally to the aggressive act he commited. The "right" to engage in "self-defense" or "punishment" (it doesn't matter what the objective of the aggression is, because what it actually matters is the "proportionality" boundary) is property of the assaulted. He is in full liberty to do what he wants to his right. Every argument that the aggressor puts in his favor, should be voluntarily accepted or ignored by the rightful proprietor of the right.

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JackCuyler:
As for being a "marked man", I would say, no.  It's closer to the two-fold restitution Rothbard calls for.  That is, if I steal $50 from you, you have every right to that $50 back, and further, I have no moral standing to stop you from taking an additional $50 from me.

Could I also steal $50 from you? Could anyone take $50 from you, since your actions would preclude you from claiming the right to not be aggressed against? Where do you draw the line between two-fold restitution, and the 'marked man' situation that LS was worried about?

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liberty student:

One further thought for people who understand estoppel well.  If someone aggresses, and that validates aggression as punishment, is this individual now a marked man, where anyone can aggress against him in perpetuity, because his one aggressive act invalidated his claim to non-aggression against himself now and in the future?

He is a marked man while his action is not restituted to the victim.

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Well it seems like you guys have reached the classic dillema of: who exactly has the "right to punish"? Is punishment like a "commons" that anyone can "homestead" and thereafter it is "consumed" or "used up"? Is punishment the exclusive right of the victim to enforce (and what if the victim is dead)? Is punishment the exclusive right of a particular legal body or organization (and how would this meaningfully differ from the state as we know it)? Morever, there's the question of whether or not many so-called "punishments" in general may actually constitute unecessary initiations of aggression.

Personally, I've yet to see a fully satisfying answer to this. As far as I'm concerned, the vast majority of theories of punishment (violent punishment in particular) are like a huge hole in the non-aggresion principle. I'm tempted to simply say that noone officially has a "right to punish" and that there may very well be something wrong with the traditional notion of punishment altogether (by the very least, I fully reject all retribution theories). This puts my views on violence closer to that of Robert LeFevere and Roy Halliday, although I'm actually not a pacifist.

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The right to punish belongs to the victim. If I (and I wasn't the victim) punish the aggressor, then I will have to argue with the victim, to check if the punishment I gave "used up" some of his right of aggression to him, or not (this means that now I became a new aggressor).

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ivanfoofoo:

The right to punish belongs to the victim. If I (and I wasn't the victim) punish the aggressor, then I will have to argue with the victim, to check if the punishment I gave "used up" some of his right of aggression to him, or not (this means that now I became a new aggressor).

By "punish" do you mean "to enact violence on an offender, but for reasons other than self-defense"? Or do you mean "an attempt at either repossesion or restitution, in which violence is necessary only in conditions of escalation and explicit resistance"? My view would be closer to the latter - I support the right of victims (or 3rd parties contracted by victims) to engage in repossession and restitution, but I don't think the explicit use of violence is necessary in the process of reposession or restitution, except in rare circumstances in which there is escalation and an overt threat of violent resistance.

I do not support any form of death penalty or torture as punishment, however - it is dubious to me that these somehow are consistent with the non-initiation of aggression. For the most part, I do not think that violence is necessary for justice beyond explicit self-defense, and I categorically distinguish self-defense from violent punishment. Violent punishment, as traditionally concieved, seems to be a form of ex-post facto violence that is not necessarily the same thing as self-defense at all.

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By "punish" if refer to "an attempt at either repossesion or restitution, or to enact violence on an offender, given the proportionality of the aggression." I only support torture to torturers, and death penalty to murderers, to make myself clear. Given that, I do not "morally" support them, it's in the victim's decision what to do.

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Stephen replied on Thu, May 21 2009 9:56 AM

liberty student:
I understand that the aggressor cannot claim a right to non-aggression, but I'm not sure that validates aggression against the aggressor.  I am not referring to self-defense, but punishment.

liberty student:
I'm having trouble explaining this with regards to estoppel, but that if someone can create exception to the NAP by aggression, then does aggression invalidate non-aggression?

I know exactly what you mean. But, I don't think that punishment can be considered aggression. aggression is always invasive and initiatory. Punishment is a response. They are both a use of force, but they not moral equivalents. One can be justified and the other cannot, which is the entire point of the estoppel argument in the first place.

Also, the criminal implicitly consents to punishment because he demonstrates that he considers the use of force acceptable.

Thus A, because of his earlier action, is estopped from claiming that aggression is wrong. (And if he cannot even claim that aggression -- the initiation of force -- is wrong, then he cannot make the subsidiary claim that retaliatory force is wrong.) He cannot assert contradictory claims; he is estopped from doing so. The only way to maintain consistency is to drop one of his claims. If he retains (only) the claim "aggression is proper," then he is failing to object to his imprisonment, and thus the question of justifying the punishment does not arise. By claiming that aggression is proper, he consents to his punishment.

 

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ivanfoofoo:

By "punish" if refer to "an attempt at either repossesion or restitution, or to enact violence on an offender, given the proportionality of the aggression." I only support torture to torturers, and death penalty to murderers, to make myself clear. Given that, I do not "morally" support them, it's in the victim's decision what to do.

On a certain level, I support "the right of vigilantaism" in the sense of victims themselves having a right to repossess stolen property or to extract restitution. However, I do not support explicitly violent vigalantaism, and think that half the reason why organized defense of some sort becomes preferable is precisely because vigilantaism has tended to involve the perpetuation of a bunch of small-scale violent feuds, while organized defense provides the strength of numbers that makes violent resistance a futile endeavor for an offender. I would view a purely vigilantai justice system as impractical and perhaps sometimes a bit too much of a license to the arbitrary whims of victims to then go on to enact excessive and unecessary violence or destruction.

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Stephen Forde:

liberty student:
I understand that the aggressor cannot claim a right to non-aggression, but I'm not sure that validates aggression against the aggressor.  I am not referring to self-defense, but punishment.

liberty student:
I'm having trouble explaining this with regards to estoppel, but that if someone can create exception to the NAP by aggression, then does aggression invalidate non-aggression?

I know exactly what you mean. But, I don't think that punishment can be considered aggression. aggression is always invasive and initiatory. Punishment is a response. They are both a use of force, but they not moral equivalents. One can be justified and the other cannot, which is the entire point of the estoppel argument in the first place.

Also, the criminal implicitly consents to punishment because he demonstrates that he considers the use of force acceptable.

Thus A, because of his earlier action, is estopped from claiming that aggression is wrong. (And if he cannot even claim that aggression -- the initiation of force -- is wrong, then he cannot make the subsidiary claim that retaliatory force is wrong.) He cannot assert contradictory claims; he is estopped from doing so. The only way to maintain consistency is to drop one of his claims. If he retains (only) the claim "aggression is proper," then he is failing to object to his imprisonment, and thus the question of justifying the punishment does not arise. By claiming that aggression is proper, he consents to his punishment.

 

"Also, the criminal implicitly consents to punishment because he demonstrates that he considers the use of force acceptable."

Here's the problem: this very same argument can be used against the proponent of punishment or the punisher. They have clearly used force and they clearly think that the use of force is acceptable. This leads to an infinite regress and a potential defacto excuse for anyone's claim to a "right to punish". Punishment certainly *cannot* be absolutely categorically separated from aggression. Punishment in the form of inflicting physical harm or death onto someone is clearly a form of aggression. Someone who claims the right to shoot someone to death as "punishment" is just as prone to this form or type of argument as anyone else.

The estoppel argument thus reduces to this: because person A has inflicted physical harm or death onto person B, person A cannot have a reasonable objection to anyone else in the world inflicting physical harm or death on them. The way that the estoppel argument is phrased, this should be its implicit conclusion. 

On the other hand, if this is meant to be restricted to being exclusively a matter between person A and person B, we run into the problem of the fact that person B's ex-post facto violence on person A no longer is "self-defense" in any explicit sense, and if person B is dead, choosing their family as suddenly gaining a "right to punish" seems arbitrary and biased.

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JackCuyler replied on Thu, May 21 2009 10:04 AM

whipitgood:
Could I also steal $50 from you? Could anyone take $50 from you, since your actions would preclude you from claiming the right to not be aggressed against? Where do you draw the line between two-fold restitution, and the 'marked man' situation that LS was worried about?

As quoted by the OP, "Kinsella argues that an aggressor cannot coherently object to being punished for the act of aggression, by the victim or the victim's agents or heirs...."  I thought it quite clear, then, that Kinsella's estoppel theory involves only the victim and/or the victim's agents or heirs. 


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wilderness replied on Thu, May 21 2009 10:12 AM

Brainpolice:

I do not support any form of death penalty or torture as punishment, however - it is dubious to me that these somehow are consistent with the non-initiation of aggression. For the most part, I do not think that violence is necessary for justice beyond explicit self-defense, and I categorically distinguish self-defense from violent punishment. Violent punishment, as traditionally concieved, seems to be a form of ex-post facto violence that is not necessarily the same thing as self-defense at all.

    I see this difference in definition between self-defense and (violent) punishment.  I'm not sure though how somebody not initiating aggression is consistent with death penalty and torture.  That's a big leap in deciding how any individual will handle aggression, in other words, looks too modeled instead of relying on first hand accounts of the event.  

     I wouldn't even say the NAP and punishment are contradictions.  NAP and self-defense/punishment are two different concepts of context.  Stephen Forde gave good definitions in this thread.  NAP is not to initiate force.  Self-defense and punishment are not initiating force, for the answer to this is in your own post here - they are "ex-post facto".  Where's the conflict in this rational?

 

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wilderness:

Brainpolice:

I do not support any form of death penalty or torture as punishment, however - it is dubious to me that these somehow are consistent with the non-initiation of aggression. For the most part, I do not think that violence is necessary for justice beyond explicit self-defense, and I categorically distinguish self-defense from violent punishment. Violent punishment, as traditionally concieved, seems to be a form of ex-post facto violence that is not necessarily the same thing as self-defense at all.

    I see this difference in definition between self-defense and (violent) punishment.  I'm not sure though how somebody not initiating aggression is consistent with death penalty and torture.  That's a big leap in deciding how any individual will handle aggression, in other words, looks too modeled instead of relying on first hand accounts of the event.  

     I wouldn't even say the NAP and punishment are contradictions.  NAP and self-defense/punishment are two different concepts of context.  Stephen Forde gave good definitions in this thread.  NAP is not to initiate force.  Self-defense and punishment are not initiating force, for the answer to this is in your own post here - they are "ex-post facto".  Where's the conflict in this rational?

 

Here's how I would categorize the matter: I would contend that self-defense is not initating force, but the traditional notion of "punishment" has the initiation of force implied in it. That is, to me, a death penalty or to torture someone would be an initiation of force, whether it is called "punishment" or not. And to me, "ex-post-facto" violence is the initiation of force, while self-defense is something that takes place during the period in which the initial crime is taking place. 

To be clear, I am using Roy Hallidays definition of punishment as "the infliction of physical harm on an offender or their property because they are an offender, but for reasons other than self-defense". So, for example, if I steal your lighter and you proceed to simply shoot me in the head, that would be "punishment" by this definition. It would be ex-post facto, it would not be "self-defense" in any explicit sense, and it would consequentially seem to be a defacto initiation.  

The only kind of "punishment" I support is repossesion and restitution, although the way I categorize the matter this is outside of Halliday's definition of "punishment", since it is not meant to be for the purpose of inflicting harm on on offender; violence or incapaciation only comes into play in rare, escalated situations, not as a general rule. It is a "victim's side" approach to justice, which is to say that the emphasis is on making victims whole rather than simply inflicting harm on offenders or "punishment for the sake of punishment". I also generally don't support any kind of prison system as we'd commonly understand it.

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Stephen replied on Thu, May 21 2009 10:38 AM

liberty student:

I see this with anti-capitalists/mutualists sometimes, when people claim that you can steal from WalMart because WalMart is a state fiction (corporation) and because the state is illegit, then WalMart technically has no ownership.

But it seems to me that just because the state licenses something, doesn't invalidate the contract or the title to the property being licensed.  If that was so, it would be an internal contradiction, because if the state is illegit, then how can it legitimately transmute property titles from one form to another?  Surely they revert to their original form (if they ever left their original form at all).

liberty student:
That is my problem.  I'm seeing the same contradiction, although I can't explain it as clearly (probably because I have only been thinking about this new one, estoppel, for a few days) and perhaps I am completely wrong.

I think the error with the anti-caps is that they assume that because the state commits crimes, that it doesn't provide any legit services, such a registering an incorporation. And because of this they think they have a carte blanche to justify any adolescent position regarding any property the state touches, like stealing from Walmart (Which must also be a criminal entity. The state incorporated it, right?!). Another error is assuming that they have a right, as an uninvited third party, to punish a criminal entity. Shouldn't a victim get first dibs? Otherwise there may not be enough property left to the victim to claim as restitution. Even if one of the owners of Walmart did commit a crime against someone, they still wouldn't be justified in restitutional shoplifting since this would be ripping off some innocent owners as well. I'm sure there are more problems as well.

If, for the sake of argument, Kinsella has made an error, I don't think you could consider it the same error.

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Stephen Forde:
I think the error with the anti-caps is that they assume that because the state commits crimes, that it doesn't provide any legit services, such a registering an incorporation

Kinsella has argued quite convincingly that such errors are the result of a lack of any coherent theory of causality and liability, his own theory being praxeological.

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wilderness replied on Thu, May 21 2009 11:20 AM

Brainpolice:

wilderness:

Brainpolice:

I do not support any form of death penalty or torture as punishment, however - it is dubious to me that these somehow are consistent with the non-initiation of aggression. For the most part, I do not think that violence is necessary for justice beyond explicit self-defense, and I categorically distinguish self-defense from violent punishment. Violent punishment, as traditionally concieved, seems to be a form of ex-post facto violence that is not necessarily the same thing as self-defense at all.

    I see this difference in definition between self-defense and (violent) punishment.  I'm not sure though how somebody not initiating aggression is consistent with death penalty and torture.  That's a big leap in deciding how any individual will handle aggression, in other words, looks too modeled instead of relying on first hand accounts of the event.  

     I wouldn't even say the NAP and punishment are contradictions.  NAP and self-defense/punishment are two different concepts of context.  Stephen Forde gave good definitions in this thread.  NAP is not to initiate force.  Self-defense and punishment are not initiating force, for the answer to this is in your own post here - they are "ex-post facto".  Where's the conflict in this rational?

 

 

Here's how I would categorize the matter: I would contend that self-defense is not initating force, but the traditional notion of "punishment" has the initiation of force implied in it. That is, to me, a death penalty or to torture someone would be an initiation of force, whether it is called "punishment" or not. And to me, "ex-post-facto" violence is the initiation of force, while self-defense is something that takes place during the period in which the initial crime is taking place. 

To be clear, I am using Roy Hallidays definition of punishment as "the infliction of physical harm on an offender or their property because they are an offender, but for reasons other than self-defense". So, for example, if I steal your lighter and you proceed to simply shoot me in the head, that would be "punishment" by this definition. It would be ex-post facto, it would not be "self-defense" in any explicit sense, and it would consequentially seem to be a defacto initiation.  

The only kind of "punishment" I support is repossesion and restitution, although the way I categorize the matter this is outside of Halliday's definition of "punishment", since it is not meant to be for the purpose of inflicting harm on on offender; violence or incapaciation only comes into play in rare, escalated situations, not as a general rule. It is a "victim's side" approach to justice, which is to say that the emphasis is on making victims whole rather than simply inflicting harm on offenders or "punishment for the sake of punishment". I also generally don't support any kind of prison system as we'd commonly understand it.

   I personally don't see a need for a prison system either.  Of course much would have to change to bring the coercion level down cause if we let everybody that has committed a violent crime out of prison right now we as a society would have had to have serious considerations and planning to handle this potential influx of violence.  I'm also personally not for torture and not for the death penalty.  I do foresee a very squirmy criminal who murders and when approached by others to bring in for charges against him or her this squirmy criminal will not fight back.  Go through the proceedings and left to go free.  Then murders again.  This could continue until either this murderer is killed during self-defense or when people go to round him or her up he does fight back on that particular occasion and the people can kill him/her out of self-defense.

   Self-defense though has another inclination.  To think of it in terms of immediacy of the act restricts the concept of self-defense.  Somebody commits a murder everybody else is now in self-defense mode indefinitely.  Once the murderous act has been committed then the murderer is that - a murderer and everybody else has the right to self-defense indefinitely against this person.  Now this scenario leads into vigilantes roaming about looking for a bounty on this person's head.  They are all threatened now and all are committing self-defense.  The initial act of murder doesn't disappear it is current.  Doesn't matter when the news of the event reaches the ears of the community.  I could find out tomorrow about the murder and thus to me this murder is new and present whereas yesterday when the murder actually happened I had no idea about this murder and to me it never happened.

   So I see two directions to approach this at the moment.

 

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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DBratton replied on Thu, May 21 2009 11:27 AM

Brainpolice:
I'm tempted to simply say that noone officially has a "right to punish" and that there may very well be something wrong with the traditional notion of punishment altogether

It bothers me as well. The notion that some sequence of events can create a right to the future involuntary use of someone else's body strikes me as a good starting point for a justification of slavery.

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wombatron replied on Thu, May 21 2009 11:39 AM

wilderness:
Self-defense though has another inclination.  To think of it in terms of immediacy of the act restricts the concept of self-defense.  Somebody commits a murder everybody else is now in self-defense mode indefinitely.  Once the murderous act has been committed then the murderer is that - a murderer and everybody else has the right to self-defense indefinitely against this person.  Now this scenario leads into vigilantes roaming about looking for a bounty on this person's head.  They are all threatened now and all are committing self-defense.  The initial act of murder doesn't disappear it is current.  Doesn't matter when the news of the event reaches the ears of the community.  I could find out tomorrow about the murder and thus to me this murder is new and present whereas yesterday when the murder actually happened I had no idea about this murder and to me it never happened.

That depends on the nature of the murder, and the murderer.  A crime of passion, for example, will generally mean the perpetrator is not a continuing threat to others.  A serial killer, on the other hand, probably does (obviously there is a continuum problem here).  Also, such a "continuing self-defense" argument really only justifies either the "death penalty" (for lack of a better name), imprisonment of some sort, or exile.  Randy Barnett has an article here that discusses this issue, among other things.

Market anarchist, Linux geek, aspiring Perl hacker, and student of the neo-Aristotelians, the classical individualist anarchists, and the Austrian school.

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I think the problem here is how you are using the word aggression. Aggression has a negative connotation just like the word murder. It implies injustice. Talk in terms of force. Is force always wrong? No its not always wrong, as libertarians will likely bring up force is fine if used for self defense. Forced used for punishment asks the question is punishment always wrong? No punishment is not always wrong. If someone has stolen can I not punish the thief by taking back both my property, the interest I could have gained on the property while the thief was in possession of it, and the cost of justice. So in the interest of fairness I would say that someone who uses force illegitimately (an aggressor) should be punished to the degree that fairness would allow.

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twistedbydsign99:

I think the problem here is how you are using the word aggression. Aggression has a negative connotation just like the word murder. It implies injustice. Talk in terms of force. Is force always wrong? No its not always wrong, as libertarians will likely bring up force is fine if used for self defense. Forced used for punishment asks the question is punishment always wrong? No punishment is not always wrong. If someone has stolen can I not punish the thief by taking back both my property, the interest I could have gained on the property while the thief was in possession of it, and the cost of justice. So in the interest of fairness I would say that someone who uses force illegitimately (an aggressor) should be punished to the degree that fairness would allow.

I'm not objecting to repossession or restitution, but I'm defining "punishment" in a way that inherently has an implication of violence that is not in self-defense built into it. The act of repossession or restitution itself need not be a matter of "force" or "aggression" per se, for the purpose is victim's side. If we want to call repossession and restitution "punishment", that's fine, but I would contend that it becomes a violation of the NAP as soon as it becomes an explicit non-defensive or unecessary use of force in the process of repossession and restitution. If the offender complies, "force" isn't really necessary. It is only in conditions of escalation when an offender violently refuses to comply that violence might become necessary. So what I'm objecting to is really "punishment" in the sense of a pre-emptive rule of thumb to use force regaurdless of the circumstances. If the offender complies and you start beating him up anyway, it is hard to see how this isn't just you initiating aggression against their person.  

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GilesStratton:
I was very pleased with myself until I realised you were being sarcastic.

I wasn't being sarcastic.

"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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liberty student:

GilesStratton:
I was very pleased with myself until I realised you were being sarcastic.

I wasn't being sarcastic.

Glad to be of some help in that case.

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"

Bob Dylan

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liberty student:
I understand that the aggressor cannot claim a right to non-aggression, but I'm not sure that validates aggression against the aggressor.  I am not referring to self-defense, but punishment.

Well, aggression is initiatory. What we have rights against is the threat or use of initiatory physical force. So retaliatory force against an aggressor will not necessarily be aggression (although it could be if it is disproportionate).

But to get the the main point, assuming estoppel is a correct theory, from the fact that an aggressor can't coherently complain if his victim retaliates against him (in the same or equivalent manner) this doesn't necessarily justify the victim doing so. It doesn't necessarily mean the victim should. And even if such retaliation is morally optional for the victim, I don't see that it is the case that the aggressor being estopped is the sole necessary and sufficient condition for justifying responding in kind. Say B was raped by A. Does B have the right to rape A back simply because A can't coherently complain about it seeing as how he endorsed such behavior himself?

I say not necessarily for two reasons:

1) The use of aggression in some circumstance does not necessarily entail the aggressor accepting the use of aggression in any and all circumstances. Argumentation ethicists and estoppel proponents tend just assume that it does. In reality, AE and estoppel are much more limited than their proponents realize.

2) Being a virtue ethicist, for whom the obligation to respect rights (and in part their very conception) as well as our other moral obligations derive primarily (but not exclusively) from facts about the moral agent (what kind of person whould I be?), what conduct is virtuous or vicious for me is not entirely/solely dependent upon the actions of others. Sure, the initiation of violence against me justifies legally my using violence in return for the purposes of self-defense and acquiring restitution - to put a stop to the rights violation. But it doesn't justify atavistic and sadistic barbarism.

Yours in liberty,
Geoffrey Allan Plauché, Ph.D.
Adjunct Instructor, Buena Vista University
Webmaster, LibertarianStandard.com
Founder / Executive Editor, Prometheusreview.com

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Stephen replied on Thu, May 21 2009 12:20 PM

whipitgood:

Kinsella:
It makes no sense for him to object to punishment, because this requires that he maintain that the infliction of force is wrong, which is contradictory because he intentionally initiated force himself.

What if the individual in question believes that his initiation of force was legitimate, but any attempt to coerce him would be illegitimate? Perhaps this is what Kinsella was addressing when he said that the aggressor cannot make a 'coherent' argument in his favor?

Read section D, "Potential Defenses by the Aggressor." This is the second potential defense.

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Stephen replied on Thu, May 21 2009 12:28 PM

liberty student:
One further thought for people who understand estoppel well.  If someone aggresses, and that validates aggression as punishment, is this individual now a marked man, where anyone can aggress against him in perpetuity, because his one aggressive act invalidated his claim to non-aggression against himself now and in the future?

I would say he is 'marked', and that anyone can take a pound of flesh so long as there is enough left over for the victim, but once the criminal has been punished up to the limits of proportionality, any further would constitute aggression. But you already know and don't approve of my position.

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I need a drink and a comfy chair to sort through all of these responses.  Thanks folks, I am sure there is some more comfort and understanding within.

Re: Anti-caps, strictly for illustrative purposes.  I'd rather avoid that side debate right now.

"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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Stephen replied on Thu, May 21 2009 12:30 PM

ivanfoofoo:
The right to punish belongs to the victim. If I (and I wasn't the victim) punish the aggressor, then I will have to argue with the victim, to check if the punishment I gave "used up" some of his right of aggression to him, or not (this means that now I became a new aggressor).

Why?

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wilderness replied on Thu, May 21 2009 12:32 PM

wombatron:

wilderness:
Self-defense though has another inclination.  To think of it in terms of immediacy of the act restricts the concept of self-defense.  Somebody commits a murder everybody else is now in self-defense mode indefinitely.  Once the murderous act has been committed then the murderer is that - a murderer and everybody else has the right to self-defense indefinitely against this person.  Now this scenario leads into vigilantes roaming about looking for a bounty on this person's head.  They are all threatened now and all are committing self-defense.  The initial act of murder doesn't disappear it is current.  Doesn't matter when the news of the event reaches the ears of the community.  I could find out tomorrow about the murder and thus to me this murder is new and present whereas yesterday when the murder actually happened I had no idea about this murder and to me it never happened.

That depends on the nature of the murder, and the murderer.  A crime of passion, for example, will generally mean the perpetrator is not a continuing threat to others.  A serial killer, on the other hand, probably does (obviously there is a continuum problem here).  Also, such a "continuing self-defense" argument really only justifies either the "death penalty" (for lack of a better name), imprisonment of some sort, or exile.  Randy Barnett has an article here that discusses this issue, among other things.

   Yes, that's why I incline to my first possibility, which seemed to only allow for a squirmy criminal.  And a squirmy criminal is actually proof that a utopia is not the discussion here as much as many would rather strive for excellence in their lives than become deviant to a libertarian society.  I guess I didn't say which one I liked best, but this doesn't mean there could be something even better.  

     This also is very close to how I would deal with a cougar or wolf that kills somebody's cow or pet dog.  To round up a bunch of people to go after the animal after the fact is forgetting the nature of these animals to prey upon other animals.  I don't like seeing people get together and go off hunting these animals in retribution.  First of all they don't know if they actually killed the animal that did it.  Secondly it tends to turn into a let's kill all the wolves and cougars so we don't have to worry about this anymore mentality.  It disheartens me.  And I think a criminal during the act has degenerated into an animal nature and is no longer flourishing their human intellect.  This is no defense of insanity for they know what they are doing like any other animal and have not lost control of their actions (insanity pleas are a whole other issue that I don't want to tangent upon).

     So a criminal like any other animal at this point has violated rights and self-defense in no way counters NAP which is merely defining the non-initiation.  But a criminal has initiated force, but as you point out to go after them after the fact seems to open up a whole other ball of wax.  Now say this criminal lives next door.  I would not want to live next to somebody or deal with somebody that murdered and tends to become an animal.  And unlike the wolf, cougar, or roaming human-criminal I know who the murderer is.  They are in plain sight.  So if they don't leave, then I might have too or else the property line might turn into the North-South Korea border region.  I wouldn't sleep well otherwise.  So if they force me to move cause I know they killed somebody, but nothing can be done about it cause it's no longer a self-defense situation makes living uneasy there anymore so yes, I would move and feel that person forced me to move due to the threat I see. 

 

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
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Stephen replied on Thu, May 21 2009 12:34 PM

Thedesolateone:

liberty student:
I do not necessarily see why his aggression validates me, or you, or someone else to use aggression against this individual.

The key problem for me with regards to action vs. previously occurred (and not ongoing) aggression is of knowledge/uncertainty.

Every judicial judgement is subjective not only in its terms, but also in its verdict (i.e. guilty or not guilty). There is no objective proof that one can provide that an individual is an aggressor. Thus, while there me be some situations where it would be moral to aggress against an "aggressor" after the event; we can never practically experience any of these situations because we will be unable to say someone is indubitably guilty.

What if someone mugs you? Innocent unless absolutely proven guilty. You would still want to error on the side of caution?

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