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Does "intent" matter in the NAP?

quarterexchange
Posts: 1,549
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2/21/2013 9:31:34 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I was talking to a friend of mine, and he claims he's successfully refuted the NAP since if it's okay to use force in self defense or the defense of others, all aggressors simply have to do is claim they "intend" to defend other people. He goes on to say that since Libertarian/NAP positions aren't necessarily based on what we think is "reasonable", because reasonable is subjective, then we also can't use evidence to make a "reasonable" conclusion of whether an aggressor is lying (AKA Lincoln claiming the Civil War was about freeing the slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation).

I'm an intellectual light-weight, I've only been a voluntarist for a few months after coming off several years of Neo-Conservatism, and he's thought about this more than I have. Can somebody help me understand what's wrong with his argument, if there's anything wrong with his argument?
I don't discriminate....I hate everybody.
OMGJustinBieber
Posts: 3,484
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2/21/2013 9:40:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
He goes on to say that since Libertarian/NAP positions aren't necessarily based on what we think is "reasonable", because reasonable is subjective, then we also can't use evidence to make a "reasonable" conclusion of whether an aggressor is lying (AKA Lincoln claiming the Civil War was about freeing the slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation).

Attempts at undermining rationality is self defeating. You can't draw any universally valid conclusions after declaring reason subjective; nothing really follows from it. You could just as well say "reason is subjective, therefore Nigel Thornberry is the 87th President of the United States."

We can't use evidence because reason is subjective? Really? That can't be his best.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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2/21/2013 10:53:14 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I think your friend is confusing moral theory and arbitration. NAP theory would say that violence is justified only in cases of actual defense; theoretically, this precludes any objection about tyrants claiming that their use of force was defensive when it really wasn't. What your friend is after is the legal implementation of the NAP, since, ostensibly, a libertarian society modeled on the NAP is more or less a legal construct. In this world, we could imagine a tyrant trying to justify preemptive warfare on the basis of proactive defense against a potential aggressor.

Personally, I don't find the objection compelling. More than anything, this problem isn't particular to the NAP. People operate all the time in weird grey zones in which both blame as such and the magnitude of blame are difficult to determine. Evidence is sparse or covered up, witness accounts come into conflict or contradict themselves, extenuating circumstances are revealed in the middle of a trial, etc. If one has a legal system, period, one is going to have this problem; however, this would not, for any legal scholar, present a problem with the principles on which a body of law is founded. In other words, if your friend's argument is that the NAP permits people to do bad things without reprimand (since we can't "reasonably" conclude that someone is lying), then he probably wouldn't permit any legal system to exist, given that any body of law will contain something of the form "norm + exception", of which the NAP is a simple example.
royalpaladin
Posts: 22,357
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2/21/2013 10:55:59 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/21/2013 9:40:01 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
He goes on to say that since Libertarian/NAP positions aren't necessarily based on what we think is "reasonable", because reasonable is subjective, then we also can't use evidence to make a "reasonable" conclusion of whether an aggressor is lying (AKA Lincoln claiming the Civil War was about freeing the slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation).

Attempts at undermining rationality is self defeating. You can't draw any universally valid conclusions after declaring reason subjective; nothing really follows from it. You could just as well say "reason is subjective, therefore Nigel Thornberry is the 87th President of the United States."

We can't use evidence because reason is subjective? Really? That can't be his best.

So you don't think that rationality is culturally determined?
OMGJustinBieber
Posts: 3,484
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2/21/2013 11:03:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 2/21/2013 10:55:59 PM, royalpaladin wrote:
At 2/21/2013 9:40:01 PM, OMGJustinBieber wrote:
He goes on to say that since Libertarian/NAP positions aren't necessarily based on what we think is "reasonable", because reasonable is subjective, then we also can't use evidence to make a "reasonable" conclusion of whether an aggressor is lying (AKA Lincoln claiming the Civil War was about freeing the slaves after the Emancipation Proclamation).

Attempts at undermining rationality is self defeating. You can't draw any universally valid conclusions after declaring reason subjective; nothing really follows from it. You could just as well say "reason is subjective, therefore Nigel Thornberry is the 87th President of the United States."

We can't use evidence because reason is subjective? Really? That can't be his best.

So you don't think that rationality is culturally determined?

We're gonna get into a mess here because I don't know your conception of rationality. You just need to explain a little.