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Why is Economic Self-Interest a Right?

charleslb
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6/6/2011 4:52:16 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Well, I'll preface my questions by responding to a question of nihilistic Cody. Cody, you've asked me to define the word "justice", fair enough, we should all be prepared to specify the definitions of our terms in a philosophical discussion. Justice, and doing justice, is quite simply expressing and establishing by your actions the right & proper respect for the ontologically intrinsic sanctity of life, and for the equal humanity/dignity of other persons. Justice is respecting and actualizing the rights that persons inherently and inalienably possess by virtue of their ontological sanctity and inborn humanity. Justice is duly respecting the role and potential of one another in the elegant bigger picture of the holistic interdependence of society and life. Justice is behaving and interacting with the world so as to bring all of the above, all of the sanctity and humanity and integrity and potential in the world to fulfillment. Justice is fulfilling such values in the microcosm of oneself, and merging them back into the macrocosmic world, into the larger unity of reality. Justice is the innermost organic order of existence that conduces to and makes all of this incumbent upon us. Practicing justice is simply living in harmony with said organic order.

Now then, for me "freedom", the one and only value that you apparently recognize, although being a nihilist I don't suppose you'd call or consider it a value, is a facet of justice, is one of those rights inhering in our humanity, is a condition necessary for the fulfillment of our potential, and for the proper functioning of the organic order of the world. Freedom, then, is de rigueur value precisely because it's part and parcel of justice and reality, and human beings can't enjoy a happy and "spiritually" healthy existential lot without a good degree of it. That is, our very happiness and well-being as human beings is a matter of being able to participate in the process of creative self-realization that is the fundamental nature of existence, that is our own fundamental nature. And, after all, we can't very well do this adequately and satisfyingly if we don't have a fair measure of freedom. Ergo, yes, freedom is axiologically sine qua non, a fundamentally necessary value and component of all reality and of the transcendental justice of reality.

So then, there's no disconnect or antithesis whatsoever when it comes to justice and freedom. Rather, they're wedded and indivisible traits of reality that human life can't be satisfactory, authentic, and noble without partaking of. But then this isn't the case in your worldview, the worldview of nihilistic free-marketeers, so my question to you is this, what, in your eminently rationalistic philosophy, is the nature of freedom that makes it not merely something desirable, but rather something human beings should have.

Further, what is the nature of a human being that he should have freedom. That is, if you're a moral nihilist who rejects any notion of people having a moral entitlement and claim to anything as airy-fairy as human dignity, if you're a moral nihilist who bases everything on the principle of self-interest, then what, I ask, what entitles people to pursue their self-interest in an unencumbered and free fashion?

Mm-hmm, what makes self-interest and the freedom to follow one's self-interest a should proposition, an I ought to be allowed to proposition, as opposed to merely an I want to proposition? Not so fast now, I know that you think this is a ridiculously easy one, and sure, for obvious reasons, people often very much want to be left to their own devices to freely pursue self-interest, but why should they be? How, for a nihilist, does an I want become elevated into an ought? Isn't establishing such an ought actually quite hard for nihilists?

But still crucial for society, for in a truly nihilistic state of nature wouldn't we have a rather Hobbesian situation in which the strong would simply successfully act upon their own selfish self-interest, and trample on the self-interest of the rest of us? That is, no one would respect anyone else's self-interest, only his own, unless there's some "moral" ought or right that that mandates we respect our neighbor's self-interest.

Or do you simply rationalize, in some cold and convoluted utilitarian fashion, that respecting the self-interest of others ultimately benefits my own, therefore a mutual respect based on a larger and more "enlightened" understanding of self-interest is all that's required to induce me to refrain from behaving like a gluttonous thug and to recognize some boundaries vis–à–vis my fellow man's self-interest?

Well, this is nice and neat in theory, but in the real world why would a gluttonous thug like Henry VIII, for example, abide by such an "enlightened" concept of self-interest in his interactions with his subjects? If you're at the top of the heap and can do whatever you please to satiate your self-interested appetites, i.e. if you're in a superior position to act on your individual self-interest with impunity, with immunity from having to show any consideration for the self-interest of others, then why would, or should you do so?

And certainly in a society in which people are free to be utterly self-interested some individuals would rise to the top of the heap, would set themselves up in a position to be self-interested with virtual impunity, to be able to ride roughshod over other people's interests. So, again, I ask what is there in your philosophy that inheres in our humanity, or in the nature of self-interest, that would entitle people to righteously shout to a Henry VIII: "Hey, I have right to my self-interest too, your majesty!" Why shouldn't ole Hank just retort: " ‘Right', what pray tell is a ‘right', and from whence does your ‘right' to have your own self-interest catered to come?"

So, were back to the question, why is self-interest to be recognized as an equal right that we all possess? Why should genuinely and utterly self-interested capitalists, for example, behave in an egalitarian manner in regard to other people's self-interest? How can you claim for self-interest that it's an inviolable ought that we should all bow to and respect in a spirit of non-aggression? If self-interest has no moral force, and in the big bad real world alpha individuals aren't inclined to respect it in a principled fashion, then what is its theoretical legitimacy and practical efficacy, its justness and feasibility grounded in?

I fear that self-interest would not be such a real or efficient guarantor of justice and a decent quality of life for all. A libertarian capitalist society would perhaps maintain a form of order, rather than degenerate into abject anarchy in the negative sense of the word, but the order it maintained would be the order of a few self-aggrandized individuals who no longer need to show much regard for the right of self-interest of lesser men and women. Nope, without "moral" principles to empower them, the ordinary citizens of society have no standing to claim their freedom to be self-interested egoists. Sure, they could try to launch an uprising to take their freedom by force anyway, but without a moral compass their rebellion would only lead to the installation of a new set of oligarchs. How do you morally flesh out the principle of self-interest and your concept of personal liberty if you reject the very idea of morality, if you reject the very word?

At any rate, even if libertarians did manage to create a "nice", idyllic free-market society, the idea of everyone being a drab little capitalist is painfully dreary. If I were cryonically suspended and woke up in a hundred years to find myself in such a society, I'd say put me back to sleep again until it crumbles from its lack of a solid foundation of moral principles.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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6/6/2011 4:54:48 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Conclusion

Any anti-altruistic, self-interest thumping free-marketeers out there are welcome to answer my questions and criticisms. You might also find this video edifying.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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6/6/2011 5:28:21 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Here's an amusing little clip that makes a sage point. Btw, it occurs to me that the Ferengis of Star Trek have the ultimate free-market capitalist society, is that what humankind's socioeconomic evolution is supposed to be headed for in the philosophy of libertarians?!

Yep, the Ferengi are the archetype of the consummate capitalist, and their civilization is the quintessential paradigm of a society in which the only principle that's recognized is self-interest. Mm-hmm, I think I'll start calling free-marketarianism Ferengi-nomics !
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Fabian_CH
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6/6/2011 5:29:06 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Well, I haven't read any of your post, but I can answer the title question.

Because economic self-interest is the only way for you to survive by your own doing. If you say you have no right to pursue economic (or any kind) self-interest, what you are really saying is that you have no right to survive except by the charity of others, which then further would imply that your life belongs to others, to keep or dispose of as they please. Are you willing to claim that?
"What are we doing? Do we want to feed a starved humanity in order to let it live? Or do we want to strangle its life in order to feed it?"
- Andrei Taganov, We The Living (Ayn Rand)
charleslb
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6/6/2011 5:40:18 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 5:29:06 PM, Fabian_CH wrote:
Well, I haven't read any of your post, but I can answer the title question.

Because economic self-interest is the only way for you to survive by your own doing. If you say you have no right to pursue economic (or any kind) self-interest, what you are really saying is that you have no right to survive except by the charity of others, which then further would imply that your life belongs to others, to keep or dispose of as they please. Are you willing to claim that?

If you had taken just a little time & trouble to actually read the post you'd know that your answer doesn't go deep enough. For, given your answer, the question then simply becomes, "Why, in the morally nihilistic philosophy of free-marketarians who emphasize self-interest to the exclusion of any other principle, do human individuals have an inalienable 'right' to survive?" Sure, we naturally desire to survive, but why is that desire a right? Why then do I have the right, sans any morality in the universe, to actively pursue my survival and other selfish interests? Aren't nihilistic free-marketarians merely apotheosizing self-interest into a right without calling it such, and without offering any cogent ethical reason why it's a right? Okay, why don't you try reading the post, and then see if you can provide some more substantive answers.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Fabian_CH
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6/6/2011 5:43:54 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 5:40:18 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/6/2011 5:29:06 PM, Fabian_CH wrote:
Well, I haven't read any of your post, but I can answer the title question.

Because economic self-interest is the only way for you to survive by your own doing. If you say you have no right to pursue economic (or any kind) self-interest, what you are really saying is that you have no right to survive except by the charity of others, which then further would imply that your life belongs to others, to keep or dispose of as they please. Are you willing to claim that?

If you had taken just a little time & trouble to actually read the post you'd know that your answer doesn't go deep enough. For, given your answer, the question then simply becomes, "Why, in the morally nihilistic philosophy of free-marketarians who emphasize self-interest to the exclusion of any other principle, do human individuals have an inalienable 'right' to survive?" Sure, we naturally desire to survive, but why is that desire a right? Why then do I have the right, sans any morality in the universe, to actively pursue my survival and other selfish interests? Aren't nihilistic free-marketarians merely apotheosizing self-interest into a right without calling it such, and without offering any cogent ethical reason why it's a right? Okay, why don't you try reading the post, and then see if you can provide some more substantive answers.
Hah, that's for the nihilists to answer. Meanwhile, unless you are a nihilist to, you've got a question to answer yourself. Let me repeat:

Are you willing to claim that?

I think that's very substantive, and I won't let you get away with avoiding an answer on account of your own creative writing skills.
"What are we doing? Do we want to feed a starved humanity in order to let it live? Or do we want to strangle its life in order to feed it?"
- Andrei Taganov, We The Living (Ayn Rand)
Fabian_CH
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6/6/2011 5:51:58 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Oh, and if I may add, I find it very interesting how your posts always just happen to be right about 8000 characters plus one paragraph of conclusion. I hope you may forgive me for suspecting that you are actually very much capable of limiting the words ou write, and just choose not to write in a more understandable way.

If you are under the assumption that this way of writing makes you look more intellectual, you are hrribly mistaken. Believe me, I know. I come from a place where complicated writing is considered good style, where it's considered a great skill to express oneself in long, complicated sentences that address many different issues (God knows, I've carried over this tendency way too much into my English writing) - pretty much the opposite of the way you're supposed to write in English. But ot even in German would your stuff be considered any more intelligent.

So I guess my message is: Don't make it more complicated than it has to be. Don't simplify beyond necessity, oh hell no, but try at least to be understood.
"What are we doing? Do we want to feed a starved humanity in order to let it live? Or do we want to strangle its life in order to feed it?"
- Andrei Taganov, We The Living (Ayn Rand)
charleslb
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6/6/2011 6:15:37 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 5:29:06 PM, Fabian_CH wrote:
Well, I haven't read any of your post, but I can answer the title question.

Because economic self-interest is the only way for you to survive by your own doing. If you say you have no right to pursue economic (or any kind) self-interest, what you are really saying is that you have no right to survive except by the charity of others, which then further would imply that your life belongs to others, to keep or dispose of as they please. Are you willing to claim that?

No, this isn't the only thing that my viewpoint reduces to at all. Firstly, I don't sign on to your economic individualism and egoism. My view, rather, is that no man is an ontological, mental, social, or economic island. We are not, in the first place, these atomized individuals and disconnected economic monads that your thinking implies. No one truly goes it on his own, in any existential, or for that matter economic sense. That is, none of us actually survives strictly by his own efforts alone. Even when there were "mountain men" who led a supremely self-sufficient existence in the wilderness, they would periodically come into a trading post to barter and buy goods produced by others. Yep, even the mountain men were not totally self-dependent and were involved in what you might call an economically co-dependent relationship with their fellow human beings. The more that people recognize this mutually-dependent nature of our existence, and ground their social structures in it, the better.

So no, human beings do not in fact have the ability or right to survive as the utterly asocial, private economic agents your philosophy portrays them to be. And no, it's not a matter of people having a right to live by the charity of others, it's a matter of having a right to have your presence and participation in the mutually-dependent gestalt of society and life recognized and respected. And no again, this doesn't mean that one's life "belongs to others to keep or dispose of as they please". What it means, rather, is that everyone's well-being is dependent on everyone else, and everyone has a responsibility to everyone else. And yes, a responsibility that includes being there for others, as a society, and with "charity", in their time of need. Come now, people can be charitable to one another without this meaning that they own one another and have some kind of a prerogative to do as they will with the lives of others. You're merely engaging in an extreme reductionism, and no, reductionism is not always the same thing as good, trenchant reasoning.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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6/6/2011 6:18:25 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 5:51:58 PM, Fabian_CH wrote:
Oh, and if I may add, I find it very interesting how your posts always just happen to be right about 8000 characters plus one paragraph of conclusion. I hope you may forgive me for suspecting that you are actually very much capable of limiting the words ou write, and just choose not to write in a more understandable way.

If you are under the assumption that this way of writing makes you look more intellectual, you are hrribly mistaken. Believe me, I know. I come from a place where complicated writing is considered good style, where it's considered a great skill to express oneself in long, complicated sentences that address many different issues (God knows, I've carried over this tendency way too much into my English writing) - pretty much the opposite of the way you're supposed to write in English. But ot even in German would your stuff be considered any more intelligent.

So I guess my message is: Don't make it more complicated than it has to be. Don't simplify beyond necessity, oh hell no, but try at least to be understood.

You remind me of the ironic fact that some of the worst anti-intellectuals are intellectuals.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Ragnar_Rahl
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6/6/2011 6:50:51 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Which one of the several vague definitions you gave is what you want?

Your argument that since your version (whichever one it is) of justice requires freedom it doesn't contradict it doesn't follow. It can still contradict its requirement, that would just disprove your idea.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
charleslb
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6/6/2011 9:59:51 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 6:50:51 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
Which one of the several vague definitions you gave is what you want?

Your argument that since your version (whichever one it is) of justice requires freedom it doesn't contradict it doesn't follow. It can still contradict its requirement, that would just disprove your idea.

You seem to be of the view that justice and freedom aren't compatible values, something that I don't agree with at all. I'll just suggest a closer rereading of the original post to clarify what is actually the fundamental compatibility of justice and freedom. I'd be interested to know if most libertarians have a problem reconciling justice and freedom?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Ragnar_Rahl
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6/7/2011 12:52:56 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 9:59:51 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/6/2011 6:50:51 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
Which one of the several vague definitions you gave is what you want?

Your argument that since your version (whichever one it is) of justice requires freedom it doesn't contradict it doesn't follow. It can still contradict its requirement, that would just disprove your idea.

You seem to be of the view that justice and freedom aren't compatible values, something that I don't agree with at all.

I don't believe that, but then again, my version of justice is not yours, whatever yours is-- I regard justice as the application of second-order causality and further to human action. That is, if you are the cause of my food, and I need you to continue, it is just that I find a way to cause you to continue. If you are the cause of a gun pointed at me, it is just that I find a way to cause you to stop causing that. If you are respecting my rights, I must not cause you to stop-- and if I am disrespecting your rights, it is just that you disrespect mine, causing me to stop whether by causing my surrender or death. If I fail to give you adequate cause to feed me, it is just that you not feed me.

Obviously there are a lot of sorts of causation here-- sufficient, necessary, incentivization (contributory)...

I'll just suggest a closer rereading of the original post to clarify what is actually the fundamental compatibility of justice and freedom.
Did I incorrectly summarize your argument? The one I summarized simply doesn't work. A "Close reading" of some 12000 characters is something you have failed to adequately incentivize, it is not just that I do it.

I'd be interested to know if most libertarians have a problem reconciling justice and freedom?
What's to reconcile given my definitions?
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Fabian_CH
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6/7/2011 10:47:32 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 6:18:25 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/6/2011 5:51:58 PM, Fabian_CH wrote:
You remind me of the ironic fact that some of the worst anti-intellectuals are intellectuals.
Hey, there you go! :) Great job, just one sentence, and it isn't even that long!
"What are we doing? Do we want to feed a starved humanity in order to let it live? Or do we want to strangle its life in order to feed it?"
- Andrei Taganov, We The Living (Ayn Rand)
Cody_Franklin
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6/7/2011 11:23:35 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 4:52:16 PM, charleslb wrote:
Well, I'll preface my questions by responding to a question of nihilistic Cody. Cody, you've asked me to define the word "justice", fair enough, we should all be prepared to specify the definitions of our terms in a philosophical discussion. Justice, and doing justice, is quite simply expressing and establishing by your actions the right & proper respect for the ontologically intrinsic sanctity of life, and for the equal humanity/dignity of other persons. Justice is respecting and actualizing the rights that persons inherently and inalienably possess by virtue of their ontological sanctity and inborn humanity.

This poses a problem for a couple of reasons: first, we're back to the problem of discussing intrinsic values, whose legitimacy as an ontological claim I have challenged several times on various grounds, and will continue to challenge. Second, you're trying to claim rights as moral properties, but are reducing those properties to non-moral attributes like one's membership card in homo sapiens. There is no reason to conclude from the bare fact of one's humanity that one has either intrinsic value or a moral claim to rights.

Justice is duly respecting the role and potential of one another in the elegant bigger picture of the holistic interdependence of society and life. Justice is behaving and interacting with the world so as to bring all of the above, all of the sanctity and humanity and integrity and potential in the world to fulfillment.

How can you know what someone's "potential" is?

And, if "interdependence" means that the actualization of someone else's potential is only possible by some equal sacrifice on you part, is it morally obligatory to perform the sacrifice?

Justice is fulfilling such values in the microcosm of oneself, and merging them back into the macrocosmic world, into the larger unity of reality. Justice is the innermost organic order of existence that conduces to and makes all of this incumbent upon us. Practicing justice is simply living in harmony with said organic order.

Now then, for me "freedom", the one and only value that you apparently recognize, although being a nihilist I don't suppose you'd call or consider it a value

I recognize it as a value. I also recognize that all values are inherently subjective.

is a facet of justice, is one of those rights inhering in our humanity, is a condition necessary for the fulfillment of our potential, and for the proper functioning of the organic order of the world. Freedom, then, is de rigueur value precisely because it's part and parcel of justice and reality, and human beings can't enjoy a happy and "spiritually" healthy existential lot without a good degree of it. That is, our very happiness and well-being as human beings is a matter of being able to participate in the process of creative self-realization that is the fundamental nature of existence, that is our own fundamental nature. And, after all, we can't very well do this adequately and satisfyingly if we don't have a fair measure of freedom. Ergo, yes, freedom is axiologically sine qua non, a fundamentally necessary value and component of all reality and of the transcendental justice of reality.

First: whether people need freedom to self-actualize is irrelevant to whether they have a right to it. To make such conclusions from these premises is a non sequitur. I agree with your conclusion, but for different reasons.

Second, by what mechanism do you measure out the "appropriate" amount of freedom? Furthermore, how can you justify freedom as a value without granting people economic freedom, which is what capitalism is?

So then, there's no disconnect or antithesis whatsoever when it comes to justice and freedom. Rather, they're wedded and indivisible traits of reality that human life can't be satisfactory, authentic, and noble without partaking of. But then this isn't the case in your worldview, the worldview of nihilistic free-marketeers

Well, because justice isn't really a thing per se. It's an essentially-contested concept for which debate consists of simply giving definitions and supporting reasons in light of which one would be well-served to accept a particular definition. In the case of your definition, I have no reason to affirm your conception of justice.

so my question to you is this, what, in your eminently rationalistic philosophy, is the nature of freedom that makes it not merely something desirable, but rather something human beings should have.

There's no reason that humans "should" have freedom in the moral sense. Either they do have freedom, or they don't have it. Society sucks when everyone is a slave, though.

Further, what is the nature of a human being that he should have freedom. That is, if you're a moral nihilist who rejects any notion of people having a moral entitlement and claim to anything as airy-fairy as human dignity, if you're a moral nihilist who bases everything on the principle of self-interest, then what, I ask, what entitles people to pursue their self-interest in an unencumbered and free fashion?

The fact that people argue. Say we're debating face-to-face. That we're debating assumes that argumentation is the best means of resolving our dispute. Additionally, it assumes that you require some kind of consent or agreement on my part so that the dispute may be closed. Presupposing the necessity of my consent and agreement in turn entails presupposing nonaggression, inasmuch as we've agreed that discourse is the best tool for arbitration, rather than force. Assuming nonaggression in turn entails certain preconditions: self-ownership and freedom from external restraint, i.e. freedom from coercion. By engaging in argument, we have afforded each other those rights--self-ownership and freedom. This is why two people cannot truly argue that one of them should become a slave. The act of arguing assumes that both are free men. Of course, you could choose, as any aggressor does, to cease argument and commence with the use of force; however, it is at this point that you are affirming force as the best tool for arbitration, which in turn affirms the right of others to employ force against you to close disputes.

In other words: so long as you're committed to communicative rationality, you cannot reject freedom and self-ownership.

Mm-hmm, what makes self-interest and the freedom to follow one's self-interest a should proposition, an I ought to be allowed to proposition, as opposed to merely an I want to proposition? Not so fast now, I know that you think this is a ridiculously easy one, and sure, for obvious reasons, people often very much want to be left to their own devices to freely pursue self-interest, but why should they be? How, for a nihilist, does an I want become elevated into an ought? Isn't establishing such an ought actually quite hard for nihilists?

I don't rely on ought propositions--that's the trick.
Cody_Franklin
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6/7/2011 11:23:39 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 4:52:16 PM, charleslb wrote:
But still crucial for society, for in a truly nihilistic state of nature wouldn't we have a rather Hobbesian situation in which the strong would simply successfully act upon their own selfish self-interest, and trample on the self-interest of the rest of us? That is, no one would respect anyone else's self-interest, only his own, unless there's some "moral" ought or right that that mandates we respect our neighbor's self-interest.

If the strong are going to aggress against the weak, then it doesn't matter what kind of moral code you have, because the strong wouldn't respect it anyway; ergo, your contention here doesn't affect my argument.

Or do you simply rationalize, in some cold and convoluted utilitarian fashion, that respecting the self-interest of others ultimately benefits my own, therefore a mutual respect based on a larger and more "enlightened" understanding of self-interest is all that's required to induce me to refrain from behaving like a gluttonous thug and to recognize some boundaries vis–à–vis my fellow man's self-interest?

My answer came in the last post.

Well, this is nice and neat in theory, but in the real world why would a gluttonous thug like Henry VIII, for example, abide by such an "enlightened" concept of self-interest in his interactions with his subjects? If you're at the top of the heap and can do whatever you please to satiate your self-interested appetites, i.e. if you're in a superior position to act on your individual self-interest with impunity, with immunity from having to show any consideration for the self-interest of others, then why would, or should you do so?

I hope you realize how large a misstep it is to use King Henry VIII as an example of evil self-interest against an anarchist.

And certainly in a society in which people are free to be utterly self-interested some individuals would rise to the top of the heap, would set themselves up in a position to be self-interested with virtual impunity, to be able to ride roughshod over other people's interests.

Not really. That's just an assumption that you're making. There's literally no warrant in any of what you just said--it's just your self-assured assertion that such will be the case.

So, again, I ask what is there in your philosophy that inheres in our humanity, or in the nature of self-interest, that would entitle people to righteously shout to a Henry VIII: "Hey, I have right to my self-interest too, your majesty!" Why shouldn't ole Hank just retort: " ‘Right', what pray tell is a ‘right', and from whence does your ‘right' to have your own self-interest catered to come?"

Again, I answered this in the prior post--communicative rationality argument.

So, we're back to the question, why is self-interest to be recognized as an equal right that we all possess? Why should genuinely and utterly self-interested capitalists, for example, behave in an egalitarian manner in regard to other people's self-interest?

I never said that people should behave in an egalitarian manner. I think egalitarianism is an awful doctrine. If I stand to knock my competitor out of business by upping my production capacity and lowering the cost of my product, I'm going to do it, because it'll increase market share, and will thereby increase revenue. That's in no way egalitarian (the egalitarian response probably being to refrain from knocking him out of business, maybe even increasing production costs and pricing to give him a bigger market share), but it's definitely self-interested, not to mention great for consumers.

How can you claim for self-interest that it's an inviolable ought that we should all bow to and respect in a spirit of non-aggression? If self-interest has no moral force, and in the big bad real world alpha individuals aren't inclined to respect it in a principled fashion, then what is its theoretical legitimacy and practical efficacy, its justness and feasibility grounded in?

Thieves aren't really inclined to respect other people's property. By stealing, however, the thief has affirmed force, rather than rationality and trade. Consequently, his affirmation of force may be returned with force on the part of others.

I fear that self-interest would not be such a real or efficient guarantor of justice and a decent quality of life for all.

Actually, the market is responsible for the relatively high standard of living we currently enjoy (and that even the poor enjoy, to a significant degree).

A libertarian capitalist society would perhaps maintain a form of order, rather than degenerate into abject anarchy in the negative sense of the word, but the order it maintained would be the order of a few self-aggrandized individuals who no longer need to show much regard for the right of self-interest of lesser men and women. Nope, without "moral" principles to empower them, the ordinary citizens of society have no standing to claim their freedom to be self-interested egoists. Sure, they could try to launch an uprising to take their freedom by force anyway, but without a moral compass their rebellion would only lead to the installation of a new set of oligarchs. How do you morally flesh out the principle of self-interest and your concept of personal liberty if you reject the very idea of morality, if you reject the very word?

Morality isn't really necessary. Everything that morality claims to achieve on a macro level, like nonaggression, can be achieved through politics. Everything else, like drug use or sex before marriage, is a matter of personal taste. Even murder isn't banned for moral reasons. We rationalize it that way, but murder is really banned because it's impractical to have a society with no penalty for indiscriminately slaughtering people. The moral condemnation of murder is secondary.

At any rate, even if libertarians did manage to create a "nice", idyllic free-market society, the idea of everyone being a drab little capitalist is painfully dreary. If I were cryonically suspended and woke up in a hundred years to find myself in such a society, I'd say put me back to sleep again until it crumbles from its lack of a solid foundation of moral principles.

Okie dokie.
charleslb
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6/7/2011 4:45:04 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/7/2011 11:23:35 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:

The fact that people argue. Say we're debating face-to-face. That we're debating assumes that argumentation is the best means of resolving our dispute. Additionally, it assumes that you require some kind of consent or agreement on my part so that the dispute may be closed. Presupposing the necessity of my consent and agreement in turn entails presupposing nonaggression, inasmuch as we've agreed that discourse is the best tool for arbitration, rather than force. Assuming nonaggression in turn entails certain preconditions: self-ownership and freedom from external restraint, i.e. freedom from coercion. By engaging in argument, we have afforded each other those rights--self-ownership and freedom. This is why two people cannot truly argue that one of them should become a slave. The act of arguing assumes that both are free men. Of course, you could choose, as any aggressor does, to cease argument and commence with the use of force; however, it is at this point that you are affirming force as the best tool for arbitration, which in turn affirms the right of others to employ force against you to close disputes.

This whole line of reasoning rather reminds me of the ole ontological argument for God. You know, the argument that claims that merely speculating about the perfection of God concedes and proves God's existence. Well, although I'm not an atheist, and like many other people with a religious worldview, I find the ontological argument to be tautological in the negative sense of the word. Sure, such tautological arguments could also be called deductive, to use a word with more positive connotations, but despite their deductive and technical validity, they're still circular and argumentationally gratuitous.

Come now, the fact that people argue doesn't at all imply that they accept that argumentation is the best method for resolving a dispute. People may argue because they're civilized individuals, because they've been socialized to be verbal rather than thuggish, and because they're of an intellectual bent of mind. Further, one might argue merely to express oneself, or to win over listeners in a social conversation or an audience in a public discussion. One may have no interest whatsoever in hearing his interlocutor cry uncle or acknowledge his agreement with one's position.

As for the way you casually string together various right-libertarian doctrines, for example linking non-aggression and self-ownership, the linkage may hold good in your philosophy, but it needn't exist outside of it. Believing that people should be non-aggressive toward one another can easily be grounded in different philosophies that don't share ultra-egoistic concepts such as libertarian self-ownership. Non-aggression, for example, can be derived from ethical-religious worldviews, such as my own, that advocate the sanctity of life.

And what's more, there certainly have been other proponents of forms of non-aggression in history who've had no notion whatsoever of libertarian self-ownership, such as Mohandas Gandhi who actually subscribed to a philosophy of nonpossession (aparigraha), the view that we shouldn't think in egoistic terms of ownership, period. Gandhi held that thinking in egoistic categories such as self-ownership is a block to our growth into a higher self-awareness and ethicality.

Well, I wholeheartedly share this Gandhian view, and have no use for the libertarian doctrine of self-ownership. But also, like Gandhi, I do hold that non-aggression is the best principle by which human beings can settle their issues and organize their social lives. So there, you have an example of the fact that non-aggression and self-ownership are not inextricably empirically or philosophically connected.

As to the question whether according to a strict logic they must be connected, I don't agree that this is so. Again, non-aggression may just as well be justified and mandated by the idea that everyone underlyingly shares a common sacred nature, and that everyone is interconnected and therefore not to be viewed and treated in an oppositional fashion. In other words, not only can there quite easily be a logical disconnect between non-aggression and the individualism of self-ownership, one can actually educe non-aggression from a point of view that's diametrically opposed to self-ownership!

So, the upshot is that your libertarian version of the ontological argument isn't at all as solid as you might like to assume. When you're using it to argue to the choir it might succeed quite handily, but using it with a critically-minded non-libertarian would be like a theologian trying to convince a Daniel Dennett with the original ontological argument.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Cody_Franklin
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6/7/2011 5:20:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/7/2011 4:45:04 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/7/2011 11:23:35 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
The fact that people argue. Say we're debating face-to-face. That we're debating assumes that argumentation is the best means of resolving our dispute. Additionally, it assumes that you require some kind of consent or agreement on my part so that the dispute may be closed. Presupposing the necessity of my consent and agreement in turn entails presupposing nonaggression, inasmuch as we've agreed that discourse is the best tool for arbitration, rather than force. Assuming nonaggression in turn entails certain preconditions: self-ownership and freedom from external restraint, i.e. freedom from coercion. By engaging in argument, we have afforded each other those rights--self-ownership and freedom. This is why two people cannot truly argue that one of them should become a slave. The act of arguing assumes that both are free men. Of course, you could choose, as any aggressor does, to cease argument and commence with the use of force; however, it is at this point that you are affirming force as the best tool for arbitration, which in turn affirms the right of others to employ force against you to close disputes.

This whole line of reasoning rather reminds me of the ole ontological argument for God. You know, the argument that claims that merely speculating about the perfection of God concedes and proves God's existence. Well, although I'm not an atheist, and like many other people with a religious worldview, I find the ontological argument to be tautological in the negative sense of the word. Sure, such tautological arguments could also be called deductive, to use a word with more positive connotations, but despite their deductive and technical validity, they're still circular and argumentationally gratuitous.

Come now, the fact that people argue doesn't at all imply that they accept that argumentation is the best method for resolving a dispute.

If they didn't think it was better than force, they would use force.

People may argue because they're civilized individuals, because they've been socialized to be verbal rather than thuggish, and because they're of an intellectual bent of mind.

In other words, because they think rational communication is superior to force?

Further, one might argue merely to express oneself, or to win over listeners in a social conversation or an audience in a public discussion.

Why would you care about winning them over when you could point a gun in their face and make demands unless you thought that discourse was superior to force as a method of interaction?

One may have no interest whatsoever in hearing his interlocutor cry uncle or acknowledge his agreement with one's position.

Not what I mean. I mean that he has to acknowledge agreement to argue is necessary. I could point a gun at you and demand that you agree, but I don't. I argue with you, and you argue back. The different ways of interacting presuppose different things. Engaging in argument presupposes that your body is yours. Engaging in force presupposes that I'm fine in doing whatever is within my power, and that you may do to me whatever is within yours.

As for the way you casually string together various right-libertarian doctrines, for example linking non-aggression and self-ownership, the linkage may hold good in your philosophy, but it needn't exist outside of it. Believing that people should be non-aggressive toward one another can easily be grounded in different philosophies that don't share ultra-egoistic concepts such as libertarian self-ownership. Non-aggression, for example, can be derived from ethical-religious worldviews, such as my own, that advocate the sanctity of life.

The sanctity of life doesn't really mean much without self-ownership. If you don't own your body, I can beat, rape, and kill you if I feel like it, because your body is just as much mine as yours. The thing about my argument is that it doesn't tell you what you "should" or "shouldn't" do. It merely tells you what's physically and logically possible, which means that it justifies nonaggression in a coherent fashion (i.e. one that doesn't rely on vacuous normative prescriptions)

And what's more, there certainly have been other proponents of forms of non-aggression in history who've had no notion whatsoever of libertarian self-ownership, such as Mohandas Gandhi who actually subscribed to a philosophy of nonpossession (aparigraha), the view that we shouldn't think in egoistic terms of ownership, period. Gandhi held that thinking in egoistic categories such as self-ownership is a block to our growth into a higher self-awareness and ethicality.

Then he's plainly wrong. You can't avoid self-ownership. Performing any action requires exercising unilateral control over your body. Typing this post requires you exercise self-ownership. He was spiritualistic, I'm not. He makes lofty ethical claims. I think they're bogus.

Well, I wholeheartedly share this Gandhian view, and have no use for the libertarian doctrine of self-ownership. But also, like Gandhi, I do hold that non-aggression is the best principle by which human beings can settle their issues and organize their social lives. So there, you have an example of the fact that non-aggression and self-ownership are not inextricably empirically or philosophically connected.

Only if you accept a philosophy as true because Gandhi says it's true. I think it's philosophically illegitimate to endorse nonaggression without self-ownership, because, in the absence of moral truth, one cannot expect nonaggression if no one can be said to own oneself.

As to the question whether according to a strict logic they must be connected, I don't agree that this is so. Again, non-aggression may just as well be justified and mandated by the idea that everyone underlyingly shares a common sacred nature, and that everyone is interconnected and therefore not to be viewed and treated in an oppositional fashion.

Well, you can also justifying it by plainly saying "it's bad, therefore don't do it". It's a justification, sure--the question isn't whether something can be justified one way or another, but whether it can be coherently and legitimately justified. My justification is an effective one--yours has plenty of logical holes, like the whole "intrinsic value" problem we've previously debated.

In other words, not only can there quite easily be a logical disconnect between non-aggression and the individualism of self-ownership, one can actually educe non-aggression from a point of view that's diametrically opposed to self-ownership!

Ethically, moral truth is farcical. Politically, I have no reason to refrain from aggression if you don't have a property claim to your own body.

So, the upshot is that your libertarian version of the ontological argument isn't at all as solid as you might like to assume. When you're using it to argue to the choir it might succeed quite handily, but using it with a critically-minded non-libertarian would be like a theologian trying to convince a Daniel Dennett with the original ontological argument.

The point is that the act of argument itself requires certain presuppositions about human interaction. You have to assume self-ownership and nonaggression to make any argument or proposition. You run into a contradiction if you try to argue against self-ownership, for example, because you're presupposing by arguing the very thing against which you're trying to argue.
Cody_Franklin
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6/7/2011 5:21:40 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
A good explanation, actually...

Hans-Hermann Hoppe explains:

Argumentation does not consist of free-floating propositions but is a form of action requiring the employment of scarce means; and that the means which a person demonstrates as preferring by engaging in propositional exchanges are those of private property. For one thing, no one could possibly propose anything, and no one could become convinced of any proposition by argumentative means, if a person's right to make exclusive use of his physical body were not already presupposed. It is this recognition of each other's mutually exclusive control over one's own body which explains the distinctive character of propositional exchanges that, while one may disagree about what has been said, it is still possible to agree at least on the fact that there is disagreement. It is also obvious that such a property right to one's own body must be said to be justified a priori, for anyone who tried to justify any norm whatsoever would already have to presuppose the exclusive right of control over his body as a valid norm simply in order to say, "I propose such and such." Anyone disputing such a right would become caught up in a practical contradiction since arguing so would already imply acceptance of the very norm which he was disputing.
rarugged
Posts: 172
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6/7/2011 5:53:08 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
It's easy to criticize (albeit you do it terribly). Why don't you put forth your own advocacy of an ideal system, clear and simple, and let us argue that?

Socialists never seem to be able to say why their system is better, and resort to attacking others'.
If Jesus came back tomorrow, a cross would be the last thing he would want to see.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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6/8/2011 2:00:20 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/7/2011 5:53:08 PM, rarugged wrote:
It's easy to criticize (albeit you do it terribly). Why don't you put forth your own advocacy of an ideal system, clear and simple, and let us argue that? ...

Apropos of your challenge here I would suggest that you read the following post: http://www.debate.org...
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Greyparrot
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6/8/2011 2:05:38 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/6/2011 9:59:51 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/6/2011 6:50:51 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
Which one of the several vague definitions you gave is what you want?

Your argument that since your version (whichever one it is) of justice requires freedom it doesn't contradict it doesn't follow. It can still contradict its requirement, that would just disprove your idea.

You seem to be of the view that justice and freedom aren't compatible values, something that I don't agree with at all. I'll just suggest a closer rereading of the original post to clarify what is actually the fundamental compatibility of justice and freedom. I'd be interested to know if most libertarians have a problem reconciling justice and freedom?

I've always wondered exactly what your interpretation of justice is.
Greyparrot
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6/8/2011 2:07:34 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 6/8/2011 2:05:38 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
At 6/6/2011 9:59:51 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 6/6/2011 6:50:51 PM, Ragnar_Rahl wrote:
Which one of the several vague definitions you gave is what you want?

Your argument that since your version (whichever one it is) of justice requires freedom it doesn't contradict it doesn't follow. It can still contradict its requirement, that would just disprove your idea.

You seem to be of the view that justice and freedom aren't compatible values, something that I don't agree with at all. I'll just suggest a closer rereading of the original post to clarify what is actually the fundamental compatibility of justice and freedom. I'd be interested to know if most libertarians have a problem reconciling justice and freedom?

I've always wondered exactly what your interpretation of justice is.

I meant to say I now understand you use it liberally to enforce your interpretations of rights.