The Instigator
HandsOff
Pro (for)
Losing
20 Points
The Contender
Patrick_Henry
Con (against)
Winning
30 Points

Truly free individuals are not required to do anything for the benefit of others.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/24/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,646 times Debate No: 2892
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (10)

 

HandsOff

Pro

Truly free individuals are not required to work or contribute in any way for the benefit of their fellow citizens. They are free to do as they wish, for whatever cause they find worthy, as long as they do not undermine the same freedom to which others are entitled. Truly free individuals are free to help others if they so choose and are free to enter into agreements with others for personal or mutual benefit. But such actions are not compulsory in a truly free society.
Patrick_Henry

Con

I am boxed in by the topic of this debate, so if you will humor me I would like to expand my con argument into the following, "Truly free individuals are not required to do anything for the benefit of others in a free society." I think it matches your argument and it would actually allow me to better debate you. You'll see through the following argument why I feel this way.

Truly free individuals cannot be members of any society.

A common misunderstanding of John Locke's Second Treatise on Government is that the Natural Law, which he described as "The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one : And reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions." From this phrase, Thomas Jefferson lifted the statement, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," which has replaced the true law of nature that was wholly described by Locke in the first chapter of his Second Treatise

John Locke goes on to further explain the conduct and carrying out of this natural law. Crime and punishment in the state of nature comes from each person being their own magistrate. It assumes that reason governs all individuals, which would be pretty fantastic, and it also assumes that if one persons life is ended, that another person will take it upon themselves to provide that punishment."Every man, in the state of nature, has a power to kill a murderer, both to deter others from doing the like injury, which no reparation can compensate, by the example of the punishment that attends it from everybody, and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal" John Locke goes on to further explain, "By the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon on, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed." A bit later he tacks on rather dramatically, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed."

However, John Locke goes on to explain even more, that even in the state of nature that "each transgression may be punished [with death], and with so much severity, as will suffice it to make an ill bargain to the offender, give him cause to repent, and terrify others from doing the like." So, as Life and Health are supposedly a right by natural law, a lot can be done that is a forfeiture of your rights.

According to Locke, to be a free individual requires, quite literally, a dedication to the enforcement of justice, which is an indication that it is not a choice to doll out justice, but an obligation. This is not an agreement, it is dictated by reason and to not doll out justice is likewise a violation of the natural law, which is a forfeiture of your rights.

To address my expanded debate topic, which you are more than welcome to choose to ignore…

A free citizen is a citizen of a free society. A free individual has no fellow citizens. Therefore, they cannot be obliged to any debt to them. The phrase "social contract" is thrown around an awful lot in discussions of political thought, so I will attempt to steer away from it. I will just describe what is often meant by it, and it will more likely resemble John Locke's arguments than others who are well known for it, such as Hobbs and bunch of French intellectuals who never bothered consulting reality until reality put their heads on the block.

At any rate, in theory a state of nature exists. Locke, who benefited from the patronage of the Earl of Salisbury after installing a drain to remove fluid from the Earl's abdomen was a great proponent of the American frontier and wilderness. The Earl was very involved in the development of the Virginia colony. This wilderness inspired Locke, and was often used as an example of his state of nature. This is frequently used as an example by him, and it is unfortunate that I suspect that there is no where a person may go to find themselves in a state of nature. I guess, historically, a state of nature also existed a long, long, time ago. In Locke's Second Treatise he develops the argument that people tend to migrate away from the state of nature into what he describes as a "civil society." This civil society relies on the social contract, which is the notion that a government governs with the consent of the governed. This was viewed as a "radical" idea when it developed, however historically every government has governed with the consent of the governed. Unrest of an appropriate magnitude always leads to revolution, however John Locke's Second Treaties was developed and published as a justification for the Glorious Revolution, and the "consent of the governed" was meant to indicate that good ol' William and Mary did have a right to the throne, because that James guy just didn't have consent.

So, with that back ground in mind, the notion of a civil society as an alternative to the state of nature was born. It was also considered by Locke to be inevitable. What Locke literally said of the civil society, is;

"Where-ever therefore any number of men are so united into one society, as to quit everyone his executive power of the law of nature, and to resign it to the public, there and there only is a political or civil society. And this is done, where-ever any number of men, in the state of nature, enter into a society to make one people, one body politic, under one supreme government, or else when any one joins himself to, and incorporates with any government already made: for hereby he authorizes the society, or which is all one, the legislative thereof, to make laws for him, as the public good of the society shall require to the execution whereof, his own assistance (as to his own decrees) is due. And this puts men out of a state of nature into that of a common-wealth, by setting up a judge on the eath, with authority to determine all controversies and redress the injuries that may happen to any member of the commonwealth; which judge is the legislative, or magistrates appointed by it. And where-ever there are any number of men, whoever associated, that have no such decisive power to appeal to, they are still in the state of nature."

So, a free society is one that does its best to serve the life, health, and to protect the property of the individuals in it, but by joining it you are expected to give up your rights to the state of nature and the natural law. So, if you are participating in a society, whether a free society or not, you must give up certain rights which you were entitled to, and consent to the rule of the law or society.

Should you wish to give up this civil society, you are more than welcome to. However, by using roads, or schools, or anything that is created in any way by funding which comes from the civil society is a statement of your intentions to continue to participate in a civil society. So, to be a truly free individual, you must leave behind all benefits of our civil and free society. One cannot be a free individual in a civil society. Such a thing cannot, and does not exist. Pretensions of being a free individual is actually harmful to a civil society. It is not that a free individual is coerced into being a member of our society, individuals choose to participate. They are free to be members of a civil society, but to become a free individual they must exit our society. To exit our society, is to remove any debt of obligation to that society, and then their only obligation is to reason and to the enforcement of the natural law.

This argument is part of the essence as to why I am a secessionist, and not a libertarian. Libertarian ideals are founded in a misunderstanding of what it means to be "free." Secession is a fracturing of a civil society into separate civil societies.
Debate Round No. 1
HandsOff

Pro

"to become a free individual they must exit our society. To exit our society, is to remove any debt of obligation to that society"

In other words, society requires nothing of truly free individuals. So it follows that you agree with my premise that truly free individuals are not required to do anything for the benefit of others. What now?

I like your discussion though. I agree with you that truly free individuals do not exist in any society today-- "free" or otherwise. First of all, for individuals to be truly free in a society, each would have to be given the choice of whether or not to enter into the "social contract" of which Locke wrote. A truly free individual cannot be born into such a contract or subjected to it by any force other than that of his own free will. If he were to (for his own motives) enter into such a contract and hope to preserve his classification as a "truly free individual," it would require that he have the option to void or renew the contract if the terms of the contract were to change. If an individual voluntarily consents to terms which can change without his consent, he has, in effect, used his right of free will to forfeit his rights and free will altogether. At this point (and in all cases where he is forced into such a contract) he ceases to be truly free, and society can and will require all sorts of things from him, and for the benefit of whomever it sees fit.

Can one be truly free in nature without choosing to enter into agreements with others to help protect his freedom? In the short term possibly-- if he had the means to adequately defend himself and his property from others. In the long-term, an individual will be wise to voluntarily enter into a social contract. But again, he does not so with the interest of others in mind. His only motive is to secure protection for himself, his property, and his personal freedoms.

I believe the above scenario is about as close as an individual can get to being "truly free" in a society. It would require that the social contract provide us with just a few vital services, namely a justice system, military and police force. It is what I and most libertarians see as the perfect social contract-- a very limited government, restricted for the purpose of protecting only those most basic rights to life, property and liberty. Do we propose anarchy, as so many claim? Absolutely not. Do we want to live in a society that is as close to "truly free" as possible? Guilty as charged.
Patrick_Henry

Con

"In other words, society requires nothing of truly free individuals. So it follows that you agree with my premise that truly free individuals are not required to do anything for the benefit of others. What now?"

To be fair, your lifting a part of my argument from the portion of my argument that is replying to what I thought would make a better topic of debate for the purposes of your intent.

A civil society does not have any "truly free individuals" within it. They are not in any way able to exist in the same area. A civil society violates the laws of nature, and a "truly free individual" is a criminal within the civil society. So, it is not that a society requires nothing of "truly free individuals," the society does not and cannot recognize "truly free individuals" as for a civil society to allow an individual to be their own magistrate and executioner is to violate the social contract of mutual protection of property, life, health and liberty.

According to Locke, and others, consent to a civil society is not given by a conscious choice, or a contract. Consent is implied by action. To own property within, to use services provided, whether it be as primitive as a bucket and a well, or complicated an interstate highway system, these services are the creation of the civil society, even if they are privately owned and to use them is to consent to the laws that govern them, and their society.

The difficulty that you are having with my argument is that when the civil society changes its law, it does not mean that your obligation to them is over. Even if the civil society has no method of representation, it is not a tyrannical obligation. You joined with the civil society, you have benefited in some way from the civil society, and now that the civil society has changed its rules, you, as a member of that society also much change. It is not a matter of free will, because it is not a matter of consent. You were born into this civil society before you were capable of consent, this civil society helped to facilitate your growth, your education, and from time to time, I bet you've found yourself in a publically funded medical facility. The only matter of consent is that you may leave, or you may decide to be truly free at the risk of becoming a criminal in that civil society.

You were never in the state of nature. You have never been "truly free." To think that you one day woke up and consented to be in this civil society is obnoxious. This society has cared and provided for you from the moment of your birth. If it changes, you may change, leave, or become criminal. You do no justice to this society when you whine and complain about it asking too much of you, after it has already given you so much. Specifically, all that you have. You may have worked to get where you are, but your property, your wealth, your personal safety have all been aided by this society.

I call this civil society a "free society" because seldom is your speech punished, your freedom to believe is protected, and we only restrict freedom of travel if you've been criminal in some fashion. You are allowed to own whatever you can legally purchase, and whatever you can afford to maintain taxes on as necessary. You are allowed to own your ideas with both patients and copyrights. These are some of the freedoms which your civil society maintains for you. Freedoms that you would have no guarantee to in the state of nature.

A civil society is as compromise so that we all don't have to run around willy nilly, insuring that our right to own is maintained by constantly improving our land, or adding value to the things that we possess, while also having to form lynch mobs and posses to hunt down and destroy people that we have decided are violating the natural law. Note the natural law has no system of trial, or popular rule, so these mobs naturally are going to hunt down and destroy an innocent person every once and a while, which is such a contradiction of natural law, that it's usually better to have a civil society that tries to enforce a justice that involves trials and appeals.

"Can one be truly free in nature without choosing to enter into agreements with others to help protect his freedom?"

No, one cannot be truly free in the state of nature. The state of nature only works if everyone in the state of nature is doing their best to serve the natural law. The state of nature must be fiercely maintained, otherwise it will in almost every cause lead to despotism. Not all social contracts are good. In a state of nature, or a state of anarchy, (which ever you want to call it) some industrious person like me will kill people who are inconveniencing him. Eventually, I'll realize that I could kill people to gain things as well. After a while, I will become concerned about a mob of offended individuals coming to enforce the natural law upon me, so I will find likeminded individuals who don't mind killing people, and it becomes a despotism. The society that we build will have a social contract, it will be a civil society, but it will not be a free society like the one that you are enjoying now.

So, if you don't work your butt of maintaining by reason the laws of nature, someone is going to create a social contract around you, so no. You're not free in the state of nature. You are obliged to maintain and enforce the laws of nature. You are only free in absolute isolation. To sum it up: "Dispense of responsibility, and in the moments when you know no fear, you may taste freedom." –John Day

You and most other individuals who claim to be libertarians are selfish fools. You look at this society that protects you from things which are so far removed from it that you cannot accurately imagine them, and call it tyrannical because you pay a tax to support this society and you think it is unreasonable to have to give back a portion of your success that you only have only achieved because of the state of nature. It is your civil societies fault, because the philosophy behind our Constitutional Republic was well understood by everyone who created it, and seldom studied by anyone living today.

As you attempt to weaken your society, and make it closer to "truly free," you are enabling the loss of all of your rights and freedoms that are currently maintained by the society. There is more to a society than justice, military might, and someone to enforce justice. Historically since the beginning of recorded history, there has always been more to every society than the bare bones that you suggest. The only form of government that is possible when the only tools of civics available are the sword or the lash is going to be a very brutal government.

"You stole this persons property, and it cannot be recoved."
"I stole bread because I was starving!"

Open and shut case, but how long will a society function with strict enforcement of all property laws, without any other option to pursue to feed yourself when you are starving because of crime? This social contract won't last very long, as eventually individuals living within it are going to demand and eventually will receive a government that pays greater attention to the other tenants of the natural rights, the life and health parts specifically.

The Natural Rights of Man were four things, life, health, liberty, property. If you want to ignore the first two, which may have been written in an order of importance, and build a civil society that ignores them as well, you are not going to have a long lived or successful society.

That's the fundamental problem with libertarians. They're too selfish to understand that by serving the civil society, by paying taxes, by supporting expansive programs to house, feed, and cloth others, and to provide for the retirement and disability of all… They're actually serving themselves and their own interests.
Debate Round No. 2
HandsOff

Pro

"You joined with the civil society, you have benefited in some way from the civil society, and now that the civil society has changed its rules, you, as a member of that society also much change."

I don't disagree with that, but it is, nevertheless, an unfortunate indicator of how freedom is a mythe in our society. You're probably all for it, because every rule change seems to take us further from individual freedom and closer to socialism.

"The only matter of consent is that you may leave, or you may decide to be truly free at the risk of becoming a criminal in that civil society. If it changes, you may change, leave, or become criminal."

Again, I don't disagree with that, but it is, nevertheless, an unfortunate indicator of how freedom is a mythe in our society.

"You do no justice to this society when you whine and complain about it asking too much of you, after it has already given you so much."

I totally disagree. You are essentially recommending that we stifle our right to protest in response to injustices on the part of the majority.

"The state of nature must be fiercely maintained"

I wish you believed that, but this statement is contrary to your philosophy. I submit that I am the one who believes this, and that you do not. I want members of society to remain as close to the state of nature as possible (as close to being "truly free" as possible) by limiting government to the protection of only the most basic rights, freedoms and protections. This would offer adequate protection while ensuring minimal intrusion. You want to offer a system that gives people MORE than that to which they are naturally entitled.

"Dispense of responsibility, and in the moments when you know no fear, you may taste freedom." –John Day

Yep. I agree. We disagree only on HOW MUCH responsibility one has toward his fellow man. I say it is limited only to respecting his fellow man's basic rights in exchange for the same. That is all. It stops there. No law of nature requires you give any of your property up so it can be given directly to another individual. Again, I'm not in favor of anarchy, but just the bare minimum government would require to guaranty natural rights-- not to create new ones, as you do by mentioning that one of man's natural rights is that of "health." Unless you are medically treating yourself, this right would require another individual to tend to you.

"You and most other individuals who claim to be libertarians are selfish fools."

This is just mean, so I wanted to point that out.

"you think it is unreasonable to have to give back a portion of your success"

Nope. As I mentioned I have no problem giving up that which is needed to uphold my natural rights."

"As you attempt to weaken your society, and make it closer to "truly free," you are enabling the loss of all of your rights and freedoms that are currently maintained by the society."

You imply that more freedom for the individual weakens society. If so, it would follow that less freedom for the individual would result in a stronger society. I thought you were a liberal. This philosophy reeks of communism.

"eventually individuals … are going to demand and eventually will receive a government that pays greater attention to the other tenants of the natural rights, the life and health parts specifically."

Oh, they already have-- by majority mob rule. They've even gone beyond asking government to pay greater attention to their natural rights. They have enlisted government to improve upon "natural rights," to include the right to another's time, energy, property and services.
Patrick_Henry

Con

So far as the points where you think you are in agreement with me are concerned, it is unfortunate that the members of our civil society have chosen to build a myth about their government rather than accept the true meaning behind it. A free society is not a society of complete individual freedom. Yet children hark in the hallways of their schools, "It's a free country," to justify doing what they want, and usually only when it breaks a rule, or harms another. Political philosophy, especially pertaining to the civil society, social contract, and usually anything else that involves notions of citizenship, responsibility, service, and sacrifices. One of the hardest things to do when conducting an education in philosophy is stamping out the assumptions made by the student prior to their education in order to ensure a broad understanding of the issue.

"Freedoms" are not a myth in your society. I noted many freedoms that you are allowed to enjoy specifically because of your society. Absolute freedom can never exist, and never will exist, in any society. If this is the freedom you long for, you may likely only find it in death or insanity.

"You are essentially recommending that we stifle our right to protest in response to injustices on the part of the majority."
And to where you disagree with me, I think you've misunderstood me. I do not ask you to stifle your protest, I ask you to better direct your protest. You do not even live in a society of majority rule. You do live in a society where majority votes often decides who leaders, however very little business at the local, county, state and especially the national level gets done by general referendum. Most of the affairs of every level of government you remain ignorant of. You complain of a march towards socialism, in spite of evidence that suggests contrary. Socialism does not threaten your life, health, liberty, or possessions, capitalism does. The majority does not attempt to hurt you, the few who you have never met who conspire behind closed doors with your elected officials hurt you. Some of the smarter ones even convince you a terrible idea is grand and glorious. Some of them just convince your elected officials, and when they can't be convinced, they're bribed and if that doesn't work, they're compelled with fear or replaced.

"The state of nature must be fiercely maintained"

I feel as if when you lifted that phrase that I may understand how the Bible feels when it's taken out of context. The "State of Nature" is not a civil society. But the State of Nature too must be maintained. Locke probably meant state as in a kind of political organization, not as in how nature is doing, or a natural state of things. I was explaining that even without the bonds required by a civil society, that in the State of Nature an individual is still not free of obligation. I told you a scenario of how if the enforcement of the state of nature slips, a social contract, such as despotism typically forms.

You're asking for a civil society to enforce as much of the Natural Law as possible. In a civil society with rapid transportation, communication, and such a variety and high frequency of trade, regulation is required. If you look at American history during the 19th century, you will see hundreds of examples where new federal laws had to be written in order for the civil society to remain civil. There are many ways, and I mean many ways possible to cheat others out of their natural rights of life, health, liberty and possession.

"Naturally entitled." Is very loaded phrase. Thinking like that leads to notions of predestination, or the favor of the gods, and any number of things that people have used to rationalize why they are a king.

Also, these are not "my philosophies." I am a student of philosophy, not a believer of philosophy. In Greek, philosophy means a "Love of Wisdom." I take that term literally. While Socrates wrote nothing himself, I learned from him in is lack of satisfaction with answers. However, this doesn't mean I don't understand the answers.

"Dispense of responsibility, and in the moments when you know no fear, you may taste freedom." –John Day

I think you misunderstand, its "dispense of responsibility", not "be less responsible." In isolation, complete and total is the only time an individual can be "truly free." Again, the "Law of Nature" exists in the "State of Nature." The "State of Nature" however requires participation in maintaining the natural law. The quote means that to be free means that to be free means to have no responsibility, and to be without fear.

I have mentioned no part of the Natural Law that Locke himself did not create. In its originality, it was "Life, health, liberty, and possessions." I didn't just make it up. It's been in writing for almost four hundred years now. So, you've just been reading the wrong books.

What you think the social contract ought to be is "these people are going to enforce the Laws of Nature for me so I don't have to worry about it." The social contract is the ascension from the State of Nature to a civil society where we put all that barbarism of mobs and murders without trial behind us. You want the State of Nature, but you yourself are too lazy to want to maintain the Natural Law.

"You and most other individuals who claim to be libertarians are selfish fools."

It might be mean, but it's true. I truth does not always have to be polite. I explained why it is foolish to be a Libertarian, and I will explain again shortly. Considering you frequently accuse me of socialism or communism after I explained to you that I'm a pragmatist, and after I give you a specific example of how I would construct a tyranny or an oligarchy out of the state of nature, you still think I'm a proponent of socialism or communism. At least my statement is accurate.

"You imply that more freedom for the individual weakens society."

Lifting part of my argument again… I listed many ways in which your society provides freedoms. What you are asking for is a return to the State of Nature, with perhaps the minimal amount of participation involved by the average person. This will lead to an arise of new governments and social contracts. Warlords will be born, and maintain themselves by projects of terror, construction, or enforcing new laws or rules. It's exactly what happened in Afghanistan when they returned briefly to the "State of Nature" after the Taliban lost control.

If you make it possible for people to oppose the social contract, if you make it possible for them to become a defacto provider, dictator, commander, president, or whatever, you're enabling the destruction of a society that you belong to. Trust me, if there's anything I understand it is how to utilize a power vacuum.

Your belief in mob rule being in opposition to your "Natural Rights" is silly. Mobs are almost always led and encouraged, and for the last thirty years your "rights" have been more threatened by people you likely supported. The funny thing about political philosophy is that if you treat it like a science, and don't allow God to be a philosophical answer the statement "We have rights because we are created with them" becomes very silly. The only way that you or anyone else has rights is if you fight for them. In the last eight years the Bill of Rights has been categorically weakened by the Bush Administration to the point where Cruel and Unusual is A-Okay, The Writ of Haebeus Corpus is no longer important if someone decides your dangerous, you are no longer promised a trial as a non-military personal member, and the 9th amendment was completely shat upon, and that's the really important on.

There is no such thing as a truly free individual, not in the State of Nature, and Not in a Civil Society. Therefore everyone is obliged to maintain some part of the social order.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
Yes, but you are not saying this country did not have the means to defend itself. So your analogy is bad.

Also, an abundance of land speaks on only to land availability. I think you just tried to use it to imply that we were a wealthier nation a few hundred years ago.

Can you honestly and directly answer these two questions: Do you think the reason working Americans must now give up 40-60% of their incomes(ie: their time, which really means their lives)is a fair price to pay in exchange for the protection of basic freedoms, when can probably be had for a fraction of that price? Do you think it's fair that this social contract has been expanded by majority rule to include (and require payment for) all sorts of entitlements that go well beyond providing the minimal protections required for men to be free (which I believe to be the original intent of the social contract)?
Posted by Patrick_Henry 8 years ago
Patrick_Henry
There was also a time in this nation's history where we did not maintain a standing army and a time when wealth was so abundant, we literally gave away our land.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
Patrick,
There was a time in this country's history when there was no federal income tax and social services were almost nonexistent. So you don't need to rely on my claims for evidence that your slippery slope argument is sham. Warlords??? Yeah, I remember all those warlords before the liberals took over. Give me a break. Truly funney. That's good stuff, realy.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
Patrick,
I did want the topic stand as it was to make a larger point with which you are dead on. I will get to this later this afternoon.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
Why don't you accept the debate and take a few days to consult you own reasoning?
Posted by Patrick_Henry 9 years ago
Patrick_Henry
I'll accept later when I've got time to write an argument. I should probably brush up on my Locke while I'm at it.
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Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by liber-t 8 years ago
liber-t
HandsOffPatrick_HenryTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by PreacherFred 8 years ago
PreacherFred
HandsOffPatrick_HenryTied
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Total points awarded:03