The Instigator
GregVCross
Pro (for)
Tied
3 Points
The Contender
Stephen_Hawkins
Con (against)
Tied
3 Points

Voluntaryism is correct.

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/13/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,314 times Debate No: 52331
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (20)
Votes (2)

 

GregVCross

Pro

Here is the wikipedia description of it, which I agree with completely. My position is that wide-spread adoption of Voluntaryism would makes society function more efficiently and increase average, median, and net welfare.

Voluntaryism (or sometimes voluntarism), is a libertarian philosophy which holds that all forms of human association should be voluntary.[1] The principle most frequently used to support voluntaryism is the non-aggression principle (NAP). It is closely associated with, and often used synonymously with, the anarcho-capitalist philosophy.

Many voluntaryists base their thinking on the ideas of voluntaryist philosophers Murray Rothbard and Robert LeFevre. Rothbard maintained, first, that every government "presumes to establish a compulsory monopoly of defense (police and courts) service over some geographical area. So that individual property owners who prefer to subscribe to another defense company within that area are not allowed to do so"; and, second, that every government obtains its income by stealing, euphemistically labeled "taxation". "All governments, however limited they may be otherwise, commit at least these two fundamental crimes against liberty and property."[2]

http://en.wikipedia.org...
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

Thank you to my opponent for setting up this debate. I assume the first round is for acceptance and outlines, as my opponent spent the first round defining key terms and expanding the position he defends. However, I will make clear my position. I will be arguing first from a Hobbesian perspective that certain human relationships - that is, the rules of human relationships - cannot be voluntary, because they are forced upon us at birth and are part of our development of persons. For example, I shall argue that language, such as 'right', 'wrong', and 'just', are for the vast majority of us are constructed by society.

Secondly, I shall argue from a modern liberal perspective that positive freedoms, being as valuable as negative freedoms, sometimes require the minor infringement of one person's liberties to maximise another.

Finally, I shall argue that all forms of social interaction involves implicit, or tacit, coercion by the fact that reputation is power, in another Hobbesian form. With any of these three arguments, of course, the resolution is negated, but I shall use these three prongs to outline my argument.

I look forward to my opponent's opening speech.
Debate Round No. 1
GregVCross

Pro

Thanks. I like the two avenues you have decided on to argue the issue. You have adeptly expressed your opinion and intent. I think that your second avenue, from the modern liberal perspective of negative rights, is the more effective one, so I will address the other one next round

I reject the idea of negative freedom as useful concept for determining which political policies or structures would make "society function more efficiently and increase average, median, and net welfare."1 (my original assertion) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes negative freedom as "the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints." Essentially if one is suggesting that the government should provide for one's negative freedom, by means of forcibly ceasing the wealth of its citizens, one is suggesting that the government should make everyone poorer in the long run by slowing economic growth.

It is clear to a rational mind that "Less government interference in the economy leads to greater rates of economic growth, ceteris paribus." is a rule to which there are, at most, a few exceptions during the history of post-industrial human society. Accurately representative indices of economic freedom correlate very highly with rates of economic growth when controlling for other variables in panel data analysis on economic growth.2 Moreover it is evidenced everyday everywhere around you. Very often where you see the government saying what can and can't be done or by whom, you see massive inefficiency, often due to artificially monopolistic markets, which would see much more competition if the government stay out of it. "Stay out of it Nick Lachey!"3

This begs a discussion of crony-capitalism and regulatory capture (I will save for next round). Given those two sources of evidence I think it is fair to say that the following is an accurate description of reality. When there comes to be an authority, in a certain physical domain (land for instance), that claims the right to decide upon the rules which govern human interaction(laws), that authority should be either A. an individual consciousness or B. a voluntary association of consciousness's. It is inherent in the nature of conscious being that they will be more satisfied if they don't feel forced into obeying unnecessary rules. Why? Because conscious intelligence will naturally desire to explore "What is possible!?" and try to maximize the answer to that question. They do so all while simultaneously attempting to actualize a previously or newly discovered possibility.

The human condition is the presence of obstacles, barriers, and constraints. The only state in which a being can lack all of those is a state where said being has no unaccomplished goals. There is perhaps an infinitesimally small percentage of conscious beings on record who appear to have achieved such a state on a philosophical and fundamental level. Even those must exploit the laws of reality to preserve their existence.

Source links in the comments.
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

I shall build my case quickly, and attempt to address my opponent as I go. Then, I'll address solely my opponent's economic argument next round.

Firstly, my opponent accurately defines negative freedom. It describes - and not prescribes - an absence of restraint. No negative freedom can be forcibly given, it logically follows. Negative liberty is, for example, freedom to buy healthcare. Your negative freedom is restricted by any government activity, though, because government activity coerces you into doing a certain action.

So, take the example of, say, a parent who wanted a boy but got a girl, so leaves the child in a bin outside the clinic to die. A gruesome example, but an example of what happens when we have only negative liberty. In voluntarism, all actions here was voluntary. No-one was coerced into an action. Yet this is clearly wrong. Clearly, the child deserves a better life than this. This alone is so obvious to me that I cannot think of any moral justification or principle PRO can establish which is more likely. The child deserves positive liberty - a freedom to be raised up happily and enjoy greater freedom in later life - and our distaste of coercion should be trumped by our moral decency, and so voluntarism, which bans coercion, is unjustified.

Now I shall make my Hobbesian case. Voluntarism requires all bonds to be voluntary. Therefore, any coercive bond is banned in voluntarism. But what if coercion is essential to all relationships? Coercion is the persuasion of someone by the use of power. Yet, as Hobbes reminds us, "Reputation of power, is power"[1]. Consider any relationship with someone else. They always involve some power being exacted by an individual over another - whether is is reputation of power, or natural powers (personal skills), or a peron's friends, or a perosn's servants all make someone more powerful, and able to get more from negotiating a contract. We must ask - if there is coercion when robbers threatens to harm you by killing you, is there coercion when a capitalist threatens to harm you by taking your job? Society is a contract, contracts made up of many power relations. Teacher-student power relations; employer-employee relations; parent-child; all relations involve power and implicit coercion, as a threat to your happiness always exists. I do not claim the threat is explicit, but it is more maliciously subtle and tacit. We are shocked when power relations are explicitly represented by the gun, but the implicit power dynamic is so ingrained in society we are not surprised when it is used.

The meaning of words like 'good' and 'evil' are dependent on where you live. If so, it makes sense that this is partly determined by culture. But even our underlying culture is then involuntarily determined for us. Voluntarism rests on the assumption it is possible to have only voluntary relationships. Yet if even our culture is involuntarily thrust upon us, voluntarism cannot be sound.

I look forward to PRO's response.

Debate Round No. 2
GregVCross

Pro

I am embarrassed by my previous response because I confused positive and negative freedom. But, somehow the confusion didn't prevent me from making useful arguments so I will take pride in that. I said "I reject the idea of negative freedom as useful concept for determining which political policies or structures would make 'society function more efficiently and increase average, median, and net welfare.' " I meant to say positive freedom. my argument that when governments attempt to make policies which guarantee positive freedoms, they must remove negative and/or positive freedom somewhere else. The empirical evidence shows that this results in a net reduction of positive freedom, in the long run, because there is almost always a net negative impact on economic and technological growth when government attempts to guarantee positive freedoms.

I think my contention that wide-spread adoption of Voluntaryism would make society function more efficiently and increase average, median, and net welfare, is equivalent to saying that Voluntaryism is correct because the generally accepted definition is that Voluntaryism is a libertarian philosophy which holds that all forms of human association should be voluntary. I am not attempting to argue that it should be voluntary because of any objective moral truth or that adoption of voluntaryism will guarantee utopia. I think it is uncontroversial that, all else being equal, an increase in mean, median, or net welfare is something that should happen.

CON wrote "The child deserves positive liberty - a freedom to be raised up happily and enjoy greater freedom in later life - and our distaste of coercion should be trumped by our moral decency, and so voluntarism, which bans coercion, is unjustified." based on the prevalent definitions of "deserve" I agree with this. This word "deserve" I think is the crux of the issue. Deserve is define as 1. Having worth, merit, or value; useful or valuable. I would not dispute that a child has worth merit and value. The question is "At what cost?" Regardless of your acceptance of my conclusions about the economic superiority, you must accept that there will be some cost to providing for that positive freedom. If we are going to have fallible people making decisions weighing the costs against the value of providing for myriad positive freedoms, they will make mistakes. If this is done in an authoritarian manner, it will be more centralized and therefore more mistakes will be made. Centralization of such decision making tends to lead to worse results because less information is considered. Authoritarian governments, and power structures tend to be more centralized because those with the authority are emotionally attached to the status quo, and decentralization threatens to erode their authority. I am going to postpone the Hobbesian argument until next round. Bring the heat!

Stephen_Hawkins

Con

As stated, I’ll spend this round arguing against the economics of voluntarism. As such, I apologise but I must assume everyone’s familiarity with S&D graphs.



This basic supply and demand tells us that the equilibrium occurs when the price of a good is £12, and 7 goods are traded. This is most efficient point because the most trades take place. However, is it the most equitable?

Normally, yes. However, what if there is, say, a positive externality? Suppose the good is vaccine patents, which is clearly linked with better health standards. Though the supplier is the patent owner, and the demand are medical companies, third parties (civilians for example) who want more sales to occur are ignored, as they are neither buyers nor sellers. If we account for the third party, the demand graph looks like this:




When we ignore the social benefit, we can see the Private Market Benefit (PMB). When we account for third parties, we can see the Social Market Benefit (SMB).



My opponent’s argument is that voluntarism “would make society function more efficiently and increase … welfare”. Voluntarism necessarily means that only a PMB equilibrium can be reached. However, a PMB equilibrium is necessarily worse than a SMB equilibrium. Indeed, the textbook case of market failure is when externalities are not taken into account.[1]

To put this argument less graphically and more intuitively: a good costs its market price. However, the market price does not take into account the social price (e.g. pollution, or destabling property rights, or congestion, or more violent populace). Therefore, the ‘true’ cost of a good is its market price + social price. A purely voluntary market does not account for the social price, however, and so is a less efficient and less equitable system than voluntarism.

I simply shall spend the rest of this round cross-examining my opponent. Firstly, he states “all else being equal, an increase in mean, median, or net welfare is something that should happen.” I ask if he is familiar with Swift’s Modest Proposal’s conclusion that, as eating the Irish and selling their children would improve net welfare in Ireland in his time, it was a travesty we did not embark on such a policy.

Secondly, I ask a more general question: if he is “not attempting to argue…because of some objective moral truth”, why should we promote welfare? If I do not value others’ welfare, why should we promote it?

Finally, I think my opponent misrepresents me slightly. I simply stated that [coercively] appropriating a loaf of bread from the rich to stop a poor family starving is morally just – there are of course costs. The rich family lacks a loaf of bread. My opponent asks rhetorically “at what cost?” comes this redistribution. I must admit I do not know what cost makes this act unjust, and hope my opponent can enlighten me.

I pass over to my opponent for his next round.

1 - http://www.s-cool.co.uk...

Debate Round No. 3
GregVCross

Pro

Last round I quoted CON and I said I agreed with the following statement "The child deserves positive liberty - a freedom to be raised up happily and enjoy greater freedom in later life..." given the prevalent definitions of the word deserve. I meant to only include this part, not the part after the elipses. My apologies. I will make less errors in the future.

Before we proceed, I need to clarify exactly what my prescription is for future forms of government or lack thereof. I do not think hastily transitioning to large scale anarchy is a good idea. I think I am a relatively sane person and as such I am not eager to venture carelessly into that particular great unknown. I think basically, you are saying that the government should make everyone’s lives better and by whatever means necessary. I am saying that I agree with that but that the best means for doing that is that the government should cautiously but vigorously decentralize authority and deregulate the economic association of individuals. until eventually, the process gives rise to various entirely voluntary societies. I am also saying that even if we somehow cannot get all the way there, in the long run, more people will live better lives sooner. What I am not saying is that we should completely abandon the concept immediately and everywhere. I am saying the earth is vast and resources abound. Technology is daily going places few ever imagined it would 20 years ago. There is no legitimate, sane reason that a few hundred organizations have ultimate authority over all the land. I love ideas like what should be called semi-secession, like when counties secede from a state to create a new state(subordinate government). Hell, I'd be happy if we could just get some border counties switch states. The more we can subdivide government, or even just legal authority, the better and more fairly government will function. As a result of this opinion, I am also for shifting powers and responsibility's downward to lower level governments, in general. I am less confident in trusting the state and local governments with military responsibilities for what I think are obvious reasons.


Con made strong arguments using the concept of externalities. Because of length constraints I will just start to address them, Externalities are one of the most important concepts in the field of economics. "In economics, an externality is the cost or benefit that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit.[1] "

One example of a negative externality is a tax. A tax is a cost of doing business that a party does not choose to incur, in the sense that if you don't want to risk going to jail, you need to pay your taxes.

Another such example is the massive disincentive to work and educate oneself provided by the massive welfare systems many governments have. An even more important example are the existence of severe welfare cliffs in the payout structures of welfare systems particularly in the USA.

Stephen_Hawkins

Con

I am going to spend this round defending my arguments I mad. I will first defend my economic arguments, then my political arguments.

Firstly, my opponent claimed that taxes are a negative externality. This comes from a poor definition of the term externality. To use a strict definition, "A negative externality is a cost that is suffered by a third party as a result of an economic transaction."[1] Or, "third party (or spill-over) effects arising from the production and/or consumption of goods and services for which no appropriate compensation is paid."[2] Clearly, as taxpayers are the second party (the buyer), and compensation is given, they are not an externality. Similarly, disincentivization to work is done to the buyer, not the seller, and is a case of moral hazard, not externalities. The rest of my economic argument was not touched upon.

Nor did my opponent answer my questions: one way to increase the 'average' welfare is to remove those who are below average, by selling those people. Eating family's starving children would also suffice, as Swift aptly noted. My opponent does not state his position on such actions. Nor does he explain how the costs of stopping a child from starving to death by taking a loaf of bread is larger than the benefit of saving a child's life. Both essential problems to his arguments: why is it that making all acts voluntary is more important than the happiness and welfare of children and others?

My opponent, moreover, did not address my Hobbesian arguments. Firstly, reputation of power is a form of power, and as one cannot negotiate without bringing that reputation to the table, then all negotiations involve power. Moreover, eloquence is power, as there is a skill in public speaking and negotiating, as any debater knows. As such, some people will be able to get more out of the same trade than others, because they have more power when it comes to negotiation. These factors come together to arbitrarily favour one kind of person - one who is a naturally strong speaker and has a good or fearful reputation - over anyone who lacks the feared reputation or isn't a naturally strong speaker. Furthermore, even the world we live around isn't something we 'consent' to. We are hugely defined by our culture, something we have no choice in. If we are to be say all things must be voluntary, then even our relationship with society must be. Yet this is impossible. My Hobbesian case seeks to show that the concept, the ideal, of coercion-free societies is impossible, not just undesirable.

All these arguments must addressed. I shall rebut my opponent's argument against positive liberty in my final round, and summarise the debate in it. I look forward to my opponent's concluding remarks.


1 - http://www.economicsonline.co.uk...
2 - http://tutor2u.net...
Debate Round No. 4
GregVCross

Pro

CON wrote"My opponent’s argument is that voluntarism “would makesociety function more efficiently and increase … welfare”. Voluntarism necessarily means that only a PMB equilibrium can be reached. However, a PMB equilibrium is necessarily worse than a SMB equilibrium. Indeed, the textbook case of market failure is when externalities are not taken into account.[1]"

This is incorrect because in an entirely voluntary society there could be voluntary government-like organizations that would take into account externalities and attempt to achieve SMB equilibrium. Any regulation or moderation that is done by a government could plausibly be done by a voluntary government-like organization.


CON wrote "one way to increase the 'average' welfare is to remove those who are below average, by selling those people. Eating family's starving children would also suffice, as Swift aptly noted."

I wrote "all else being equal" in an attempt to preclude such options. I should have been clearer.

CON wrote "if he is “not attempting to argue…because of some objective moral truth”, why should we promote welfare? If I do not value others’ welfare, why should we promote it?"

Because promoting welfare of all is likely to promote your welfare.

CON wrote "Firstly, my opponent claimed that taxes are a negative externality. This comes from a poor definition of the term externality. To use a strict definition, "A negative externality is a cost that is suffered by a third party as a result of an economic transaction.""

I admit that taxes are not an externality I meant to say taxes cause externalities. Even by this definition I can show that they can and do have negative externalities. If a person A pays tax to government B, they have less money to spend and invest and therefore will usually spend and invest less, costing those whom they would transact with missed business.

CON wrote "Voluntarism requires all bonds to be voluntary. Therefore, any coercive bond is banned in voluntarism."

Voluntaryismholds that all forms of human association should be voluntary. Should be voluntary not must be or can be. Voluntaryism does not claim that it is possible to achieve a situation where every association is voluntary,merely that it is an ideal to strive for.

Con wrote "Coercion is the persuasion of someone by the use of power." That is a definition of coercion. In the context of voluntaryism the definition is more specific to mean persuasion by the use of force.

Voluntarism rests on the assumption it is possibleto have only voluntary relationships. Yet if even our culture is involuntarily thrust upon us, voluntarism cannot be sound.

Clearly it is possible on a small scale to have only voluntary relationships. If I and a friend move to a remote location and have a voluntary relationship and no others, then we only have voluntary relationships. Excellent job. I apologize for my haphazard approach. I procrastinated too much. I would love to revisit this debate with you or anyone else. Cheers!
Stephen_Hawkins

Con

In this final round, I am going to very quickly summarise the debate as I saw it.

My opponent argued in favour of the political philosophy called voluntarism - that "all forms of human relationships should be voluntary". My opponent believes it is best because it promotes the net welfare of society, if all human interactions are voluntary. He has stated that this benefits us economically.

I have argued against my opponent's case in three respects. Firstly, I have shown using externalities that my opponent's political system will bring about a sub-optimal distribution of wealth. I fear my opponent does not completely understand how the economic consequences of his argument would even come about, because in the final round he is still not grasping the concept of externalities, mixing up negative externalities with opportunity cost.

Secondly, I have argued from a 'ought implies can' perspective to say that it is impossible that all acts are to be voluntary - my opponent even agrees, says that " Voluntaryism does not claim that it is possible to achieve a situation where every association is voluntary,merely that it is an ideal to strive for." Frankly, then, voluntarism makes such a generous exception for itself that it becomes something other than voluntarism.

Finally, I have argued that it is undesirable to hold my opponent's moral defence of voluntarism. While he argues that we ought to be maximising the average welfare of society, he says that killing those with below-average welfare in society - a clearly Swiftian solution that would certainly work in increasing average welfare - does not fall under the purview of a moral act, because we must act to maximise average welfare "all else being equal". Yet this begs the question: what else being equal? If I argued that we must maximise welfare, unless it breaks a Kantian imperative, or if I argued that we must make all acts voluntary, except when letting people act voluntarily reduces maximum welfare, I am clearly making the exception the rule. My opponent implicitly agrees that a bare-faced voluntarist society would be morally disastrous to society.

In these three respects, I believe I have negated the resolution. I look forward to hearing the impressions of the judges, and thank my opponent for taking part.
Debate Round No. 5
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wrichcirw 2 months ago
wrichcirw
@Daktoria:

You do realize that PRO has burden, right?
Posted by wrichcirw 2 months ago
wrichcirw
DISCLOSURE: I was asked by SH to read this debate. I'm glad I did, his arguments were (almost disturbingly, but not quite) mirror images of my own thoughts on this topic.

RFD:
https://docs.google.com...

While I find many aspects of PRO"s arguments compelling, I ultimately come into this debate with a strong bias for CON. I agree that rather critical aspects of our existence, such as our birth, are not voluntary, and I have strong reservations against Rothbard"s concept of "perfect competition in security" (i.e. non-monopolistic).

Conclusion

This was a great debate topic, and I applaud PRO for attempting to defend what I consider to be indefensible. As it is though, coherency was a major criteria for how I would have scored this debate. Kudos to PRO for ponying up to his own mistakes, but it unfortunately led to a rather poor reading experience of his arguments. I was looking for hard counters to CON"s arguments, and did not see any until the closing, and ultimately I did not find them convincing. I was convinced of the winner upon reading the opening round, and did not see any reason to change my mind after reading all of PRO"s rounds.

Had I scored this, arguments/S&G CON, conduct PRO as I thought it was noteworthy enough that he was so open about his mistakes as to award conduct for it, even though CON"s conduct was exceptional.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 3 months ago
Stephen_Hawkins
If I remember correctly, the glitch is that if you are not on the original link (http://www.debate.org...) but instead on (www.debate.org/.../1/comments) for example, it will crash the graphs as they cannot reference themselves right.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 3 months ago
Stephen_Hawkins
I should say, on the first Supply and Demand graph, it is at "10 and 7 trades, not 12 and 7 :P
Posted by GregVCross 3 months ago
GregVCross
The graphs don't show up for me. I guess you have to just put them here? I
Posted by GregVCross 3 months ago
GregVCross
Nope sounds great. Any thing that isn't against their rules and helps make arguments is good with me.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 3 months ago
Stephen_Hawkins
My next round will be a bit graph intensive, is that a problem?
Posted by GregVCross 3 months ago
GregVCross
by post industrial, I meant post-industrial revolution.
Posted by GregVCross 3 months ago
GregVCross
the formatting messes it up. not sure how to get around it other than use a url shortner

http://goo.gl...
Posted by GregVCross 3 months ago
GregVCross
http://www.aessweb.com...(1),%20105-116.pdf
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 2 months ago
wrichcirw
GregVCrossStephen_HawkinsTied
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments. Had I scored this, arguments/S&G CON, conduct PRO as I thought it was noteworthy enough that he was so open about his mistakes as to award conduct for it, even though CON"s conduct was exceptional.
Vote Placed by Daktoria 3 months ago
Daktoria
GregVCrossStephen_HawkinsTied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Interesting debate. Con makes quality retorts about the issues of birth and freedom of speech. I've actually seen and made these arguments myself, but I've never seen them respectfully engaged. They usually get dismissed as ridiculously impractical by awkward anti-intellectualism. Con also acknowledges Pro's shift from deontological to utilitarian reason. However, the Kantian "ought implies can" argument is controversial. Kantian thought necessitates acting without contradiction, but "ought implies can" suggests that those who can ought to do more than those who can't. In other words, it engages in anti-elitist slavery which subordinates the autonomous faculties of elites to non-elites. Hobbesian perspectives are also incompatible with Kantian perspectives since power politics directly contradict between actors. All and all, while Pro was all over the place and seemed to split hairs between "should" versus "must" or "can", Con didn't quite close the argument.