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Catastrophic Moral Horrors and Libertarianism

Kinesis
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1/19/2013 1:33:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Here's a Libertarian political theorist offering what I think is an entirely consistent response to somebody posing a particular thought experiment to her:

"I think there"s a good case to be made that taxing people to protect the Earth from an asteroid, while within Congress"s powers, is an illegitimate function of government from a moral perspective. I think it"s O.K. to violate people"s rights (e.g. through taxation) if the result is that you protect people"s rights to some greater extent (e.g. through police, courts, the military). But it"s not obvious to me that the Earth being hit by an asteroid (or, say, someone being hit by lightning or a falling tree) violates anyone"s rights; if that"s so, then I"m not sure I can justify preventing it through taxation."

http://www.volokh.com...

In fact, I don't think she goes far enough, but she's still admirably more consistent than many Libertarians would be when faced with such a dilemna. How would Libertarians on this site respond, do you all agree with this? Do you think that faced with the destuction of mankind, rights ought to take priority over saving the human species?
Lordknukle
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1/19/2013 1:41:23 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
She is not a Libertarian.

I think it"s O.K. to violate people"s rights (e.g. through taxation) if the result is that you protect people"s rights to some greater extent (e.g. through police, courts, the military).

That's just another way of saying "for the greater good," which no true libertarian supports.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Kinesis
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1/19/2013 1:44:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/19/2013 1:41:23 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
She is not a Libertarian.

I think it"s O.K. to violate people"s rights (e.g. through taxation) if the result is that you protect people"s rights to some greater extent (e.g. through police, courts, the military).

That's just another way of saying "for the greater good," which no true libertarian supports.

That's why I said she didn't go far enough, but the point is unaffected by this - being a consistent Libertarian doesn't enable you to start taxing people for the prevention of humanity's extinction.
OMGJustinBieber
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1/19/2013 1:47:47 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
It seems to me like libertarians would need to make an exception to their general principles here. Given the ensuing catastrophe, accumulating the funds needed to stop the asteroid becomes the top priority as its purely a matter of survival.
Lordknukle
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1/19/2013 1:48:21 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/19/2013 1:44:19 PM, Kinesis wrote:
At 1/19/2013 1:41:23 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
She is not a Libertarian.

I think it"s O.K. to violate people"s rights (e.g. through taxation) if the result is that you protect people"s rights to some greater extent (e.g. through police, courts, the military).

That's just another way of saying "for the greater good," which no true libertarian supports.

That's why I said she didn't go far enough, but the point is unaffected by this - being a consistent Libertarian doesn't enable you to start taxing people for the prevention of humanity's extinction.

Most libertarians agree that taxation for national defence is a valid function of the government. Blowing up an asteroid (with our current technology), involves sending up a bunch of nukes and hoping all goes well. That's a function of national defence.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Lordknukle
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1/19/2013 1:49:49 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Furthermore, libertarians =/= anarchists. Libertarians believe that those things that can't be provided by the private sector should be provided by the public sector. Since it's very unlikely that the private sector would send a bunch of nukes onto an asteroid, destroying the asteroid becomes a function of government.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Contra
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1/19/2013 1:53:25 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/19/2013 1:48:21 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
At 1/19/2013 1:44:19 PM, Kinesis wrote:
At 1/19/2013 1:41:23 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
She is not a Libertarian.

I think it"s O.K. to violate people"s rights (e.g. through taxation) if the result is that you protect people"s rights to some greater extent (e.g. through police, courts, the military).

That's just another way of saying "for the greater good," which no true libertarian supports.

That's why I said she didn't go far enough, but the point is unaffected by this - being a consistent Libertarian doesn't enable you to start taxing people for the prevention of humanity's extinction.

Most libertarians agree that taxation for national defence is a valid function of the government. Blowing up an asteroid (with our current technology), involves sending up a bunch of nukes and hoping all goes well. That's a function of national defence.

That would be my response. Ensuring national security is a legitimate function for the government, so fulfilling this function would be Constitutional, valid, and would protect individual rights and lives.

I would prefer to cut spending to fund this national security interest though.
"The solution [for Republicans] is to admit that Bush was a bad president, stop this racist homophobic stuff, stop trying to give most of the tax cuts to the rich, propose a real alternative to Obamacare that actually works, and propose smart free market solutions to our economic problems." - Distraff

"Americans are better off in a dynamic, free-enterprise-based economy that fosters economic growth, opportunity and upward mobility." - Paul Ryan
Contra
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1/19/2013 1:57:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/19/2013 1:49:49 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Furthermore, libertarians =/= anarchists. Libertarians believe that those things that can't be provided by the private sector should be provided by the public sector. Since it's very unlikely that the private sector would send a bunch of nukes onto an asteroid, destroying the asteroid becomes a function of government.

Assuming we had anarchy, what would happen to nukes? How would America (or Canada) protect themselves against nuclear attacks from China, or aircraft from Iran, etc?

Where would the nuclear missiles, tanks, fighter jets, RPGs, or any military equipment go? We need a non-interventionist foreign policy, as well as a strong national defense and we should protect our sovereignty, but eliminating the state, and national security functions, I don't see how this is possible.
"The solution [for Republicans] is to admit that Bush was a bad president, stop this racist homophobic stuff, stop trying to give most of the tax cuts to the rich, propose a real alternative to Obamacare that actually works, and propose smart free market solutions to our economic problems." - Distraff

"Americans are better off in a dynamic, free-enterprise-based economy that fosters economic growth, opportunity and upward mobility." - Paul Ryan
Kinesis
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1/19/2013 2:05:58 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Guys, I'm not referring to the broader political movement, I'm referring to the philosophical view that violating people's property rights is inherently immoral (the non aggression principle) regardless of the consequences. If you think rights can be overridden by some greater social good (the protection of society) I'm not taking about you.
Lordknukle
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1/19/2013 2:07:12 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/19/2013 1:57:40 PM, Contra wrote:
At 1/19/2013 1:49:49 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Furthermore, libertarians =/= anarchists. Libertarians believe that those things that can't be provided by the private sector should be provided by the public sector. Since it's very unlikely that the private sector would send a bunch of nukes onto an asteroid, destroying the asteroid becomes a function of government.

Assuming we had anarchy, what would happen to nukes?

They would very likely be nationally diffused. That way, conflict within a country would very be heavily minimized due to mutually assured destruction.

How would America (or Canada) protect themselves against nuclear attacks from China, or aircraft from Iran, etc?

They same way that they would now.. with further nuclear retaliation.

Where would the nuclear missiles, tanks, fighter jets, RPGs, or any military equipment go? We need a non-interventionist foreign policy, as well as a strong national defense and we should protect our sovereignty, but eliminating the state, and national security functions, I don't see how this is possible.

They would fall into the hands of private defence corporations all around the country. That way, the power would be diffused between many different corporations, thus making sure that domestic internal conflict is not likely to happen. On the other hand, if somebody were to nuke the U.S. in that case, retaliation would be likely be much more severe.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Kinesis
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1/19/2013 2:07:46 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/19/2013 2:01:04 PM, Mirza wrote:
Exceptions are preferred. You choose the far lesser evil in this case.

I don't see where the greater evil is, if you hold a purely rights based perspective. You seem to hold a hybrid rights/utilitarian view that's probably not coherent.
Lordknukle
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1/19/2013 2:07:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/19/2013 2:05:58 PM, Kinesis wrote:
Guys, I'm not referring to the broader political movement, I'm referring to the philosophical view that violating people's property rights is inherently immoral (the non aggression principle) regardless of the consequences. If you think rights can be overridden by some greater social good (the protection of society) I'm not taking about you.

So.... anarchy?
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Kinesis
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1/19/2013 2:11:13 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/19/2013 2:07:54 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
At 1/19/2013 2:05:58 PM, Kinesis wrote:
Guys, I'm not referring to the broader political movement, I'm referring to the philosophical view that violating people's property rights is inherently immoral (the non aggression principle) regardless of the consequences. If you think rights can be overridden by some greater social good (the protection of society) I'm not taking about you.

So.... anarchy?

Well it does lead to that, yes, but many Libertarians don't want to commit (Nozick being the most obvious example). They hold implicit utilitarian assumptions even while denying utilitarianism as a philosophy.
Lordknukle
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1/19/2013 5:11:27 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/19/2013 2:11:13 PM, Kinesis wrote:
At 1/19/2013 2:07:54 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
At 1/19/2013 2:05:58 PM, Kinesis wrote:
Guys, I'm not referring to the broader political movement, I'm referring to the philosophical view that violating people's property rights is inherently immoral (the non aggression principle) regardless of the consequences. If you think rights can be overridden by some greater social good (the protection of society) I'm not taking about you.

So.... anarchy?

Well it does lead to that, yes, but many Libertarians don't want to commit (Nozick being the most obvious example). They hold implicit utilitarian assumptions even while denying utilitarianism as a philosophy.

Then say anarchy. Over here, "libertarianism" means something completely different.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Thaddeus
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1/20/2013 10:45:19 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Anarchist input; I make no claims about its morality, but the situation is unchanged from any other tax.
I am very confident that in such an example the money to prevent such a disaster could easily be raised without force.
Kinesis
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1/20/2013 10:59:14 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 10:45:19 AM, Thaddeus wrote:
Anarchist input; I make no claims about its morality, but the situation is unchanged from any other tax.
I am very confident that in such an example the money to prevent such a disaster could easily be raised without force.

I disagree, because trying to raise money for an anti-meteor defense system would be a clear public goods problem. Assuming the project was extremely costly no one person would have nearly enough funds to significantly impact the overall chance of successfully constructing it. Therefore, nobody has a significant incentive to pay and collectively, not enough funds might be raised.

It's a possibility as least - and not that implausible either.

Don't try to change the hypothetical - assuming we didn't have enough funds to construct it by relying on the voluntary sector, would you still be against taxing involuntarily?
Noumena
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1/20/2013 5:12:52 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 10:59:14 AM, Kinesis wrote:
At 1/20/2013 10:45:19 AM, Thaddeus wrote:
Anarchist input; I make no claims about its morality, but the situation is unchanged from any other tax.
I am very confident that in such an example the money to prevent such a disaster could easily be raised without force.

I disagree, because trying to raise money for an anti-meteor defense system would be a clear public goods problem. Assuming the project was extremely costly no one person would have nearly enough funds to significantly impact the overall chance of successfully constructing it. Therefore, nobody has a significant incentive to pay and collectively, not enough funds might be raised.

It's a possibility as least - and not that implausible either.

Don't try to change the hypothetical - assuming we didn't have enough funds to construct it by relying on the voluntary sector, would you still be against taxing involuntarily?

Assuming the world would blow up, sure. I don't see any similarity between that and the normal functions that States tax to provide i.e., roads, courts, defense. Force isn't requisite.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
Franz_Reynard
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1/20/2013 5:29:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Taxes and rights are not immutably connected. Taxes exist to, for all intents and purposes, fund a government. Government exists as an institution to promote a society that most members of that society prefer (in other words, to protect them from people who do not desire such a society).

That opens a funny question about Libertarians -- their worldview, given that it's entertained by a minority, is a violation of society's rights. Hehe.
Noumena
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1/20/2013 6:41:05 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 5:29:54 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
Taxes and rights are not immutably connected. Taxes exist to, for all intents and purposes, fund a government. Government exists as an institution to promote a society that most members of that society prefer (in other words, to protect them from people who do not desire such a society).

That opens a funny question about Libertarians -- their worldview, given that it's entertained by a minority, is a violation of society's rights. Hehe.

Wut.

Libertarian: stop taxing and violating my rights.
Statist: but doing so would violate my rights!!!

Lol @statism.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
Lordknukle
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1/20/2013 8:30:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 5:29:54 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
Taxes and rights are not immutably connected. Taxes exist to, for all intents and purposes, fund a government. Government exists as an institution to promote a society that most members of that society prefer (in other words, to protect them from people who do not desire such a society).

That opens a funny question about Libertarians -- their worldview, given that it's entertained by a minority, is a violation of society's rights. Hehe.

I've also wondered how somebody can justify a "society" having rights that an individual doesn't. Mathematically, it's purely infeasible since you're assuming that the result is somehow greater than its constituents. Logically, the definition and justification for "society" is purely arbitrary, i.e., how many people are in a society? Why aren't I my own society?
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Franz_Reynard
Posts: 1,227
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1/20/2013 8:34:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 6:41:05 PM, Noumena wrote:
At 1/20/2013 5:29:54 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
Taxes and rights are not immutably connected. Taxes exist to, for all intents and purposes, fund a government. Government exists as an institution to promote a society that most members of that society prefer (in other words, to protect them from people who do not desire such a society).

That opens a funny question about Libertarians -- their worldview, given that it's entertained by a minority, is a violation of society's rights. Hehe.

Wut.

Libertarian: stop taxing and violating my rights.
Statist: but doing so would violate my rights!!!

Lol @statism.

I was with you until the Lol.

How do you figure either is any more right than the other? Indeed, a statist pays for the protection of his or her rights through taxes, whereas a libertarian considers taxes a violation of his or her rights. I see no fault in either worldview, but I just don't see libertarians winning, given they will always be a minority.
Noumena
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1/20/2013 9:08:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 8:34:09 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
At 1/20/2013 6:41:05 PM, Noumena wrote:
At 1/20/2013 5:29:54 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
Taxes and rights are not immutably connected. Taxes exist to, for all intents and purposes, fund a government. Government exists as an institution to promote a society that most members of that society prefer (in other words, to protect them from people who do not desire such a society).

That opens a funny question about Libertarians -- their worldview, given that it's entertained by a minority, is a violation of society's rights. Hehe.

Wut.

Libertarian: stop taxing and violating my rights.
Statist: but doing so would violate my rights!!!

Lol @statism.

I was with you until the Lol.

How do you figure either is any more right than the other? Indeed, a statist pays for the protection of his or her rights through taxes, whereas a libertarian considers taxes a violation of his or her rights. I see no fault in either worldview, but I just don't see libertarians winning, given they will always be a minority.

If being in the minority is your only argument I only have "argumentum ad populum" to say.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
Franz_Reynard
Posts: 1,227
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1/20/2013 9:17:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 9:08:56 PM, Noumena wrote:
At 1/20/2013 8:34:09 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
At 1/20/2013 6:41:05 PM, Noumena wrote:
At 1/20/2013 5:29:54 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
Taxes and rights are not immutably connected. Taxes exist to, for all intents and purposes, fund a government. Government exists as an institution to promote a society that most members of that society prefer (in other words, to protect them from people who do not desire such a society).

That opens a funny question about Libertarians -- their worldview, given that it's entertained by a minority, is a violation of society's rights. Hehe.

Wut.

Libertarian: stop taxing and violating my rights.
Statist: but doing so would violate my rights!!!

Lol @statism.

I was with you until the Lol.

How do you figure either is any more right than the other? Indeed, a statist pays for the protection of his or her rights through taxes, whereas a libertarian considers taxes a violation of his or her rights. I see no fault in either worldview, but I just don't see libertarians winning, given they will always be a minority.

If being in the minority is your only argument I only have "argumentum ad populum" to say.

Well, in terms of society, "argumentum ad populem" is all there is.

Or, are you suggesting that everyone supports their political perspectives with scientific theory?

Surely, you must realize that in terms of "society" the "population" is all there is. :)
Noumena
Posts: 6,047
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1/20/2013 10:40:23 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 9:17:18 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
At 1/20/2013 9:08:56 PM, Noumena wrote:
At 1/20/2013 8:34:09 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:

I was with you until the Lol.

How do you figure either is any more right than the other? Indeed, a statist pays for the protection of his or her rights through taxes, whereas a libertarian considers taxes a violation of his or her rights. I see no fault in either worldview, but I just don't see libertarians winning, given they will always be a minority.

If being in the minority is your only argument I only have "argumentum ad populum" to say.

Well, in terms of society, "argumentum ad populem" is all there is.

Not really. Not only are you opening the way to relativism (incoherency) but there are obvious alternatives. Rights theory, utilitarianism, etc. Not saying any of them are correct, just that they exist as clear alternatives.

Or, are you suggesting that everyone supports their political perspectives with scientific theory?

Not scientific theory since that operates on unstated presumptions on its own. Philosophy is what I had in mind. You know, logic, ethics, political philosophy, all that good stuff.

Surely, you must realize that in terms of "society" the "population" is all there is. :)

The "population" makes up society but is far from the standard by which it's measured. In fact I really have no idea how you came to that conclusion.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
Franz_Reynard
Posts: 1,227
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1/20/2013 10:51:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 10:40:23 PM, Noumena wrote:
At 1/20/2013 9:17:18 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
At 1/20/2013 9:08:56 PM, Noumena wrote:
At 1/20/2013 8:34:09 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:

I was with you until the Lol.

How do you figure either is any more right than the other? Indeed, a statist pays for the protection of his or her rights through taxes, whereas a libertarian considers taxes a violation of his or her rights. I see no fault in either worldview, but I just don't see libertarians winning, given they will always be a minority.

If being in the minority is your only argument I only have "argumentum ad populum" to say.

Well, in terms of society, "argumentum ad populem" is all there is.

Not really. Not only are you opening the way to relativism (incoherency) but there are obvious alternatives. Rights theory, utilitarianism, etc. Not saying any of them are correct, just that they exist as clear alternatives.

Or, are you suggesting that everyone supports their political perspectives with scientific theory?

Not scientific theory since that operates on unstated presumptions on its own. Philosophy is what I had in mind. You know, logic, ethics, political philosophy, all that good stuff.

Surely, you must realize that in terms of "society" the "population" is all there is. :)

The "population" makes up society but is far from the standard by which it's measured. In fact I really have no idea how you came to that conclusion.

Both rights theory and utilitarianism are famously relativist.

So is political philosophy.

Ethics and logic aren't, but they're rather irrelevant to rights. They have no ethical, nor logical foundation. Consider what role they play on a global level.

I came to the conclusion that the population is the standard by which society is measured, because the population is the entire composition of society. If there is anything else, please enlighten me.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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1/20/2013 10:55:35 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
That "libertarians" are ideologically impelled to engage in rationalization on such a question speaks quite self-damningly for itself, ergo for once I'll reserve my critical comments.
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.
Noumena
Posts: 6,047
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1/20/2013 10:59:13 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 10:55:35 PM, charleslb wrote:
That "libertarians" are ideologically impelled to engage in rationalization on such a question speaks quite self-damningly for itself, ergo for once I'll reserve my critical comments.

If the *only* way to save the life of a gay, indigenous, pinko was to sell your labor to a greedy capitalist, would you do it?

Hurr durr it says something about communism that you're ideologically impelled to engage in rationalization on such a question.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
Noumena
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1/20/2013 11:03:59 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 10:51:01 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
At 1/20/2013 10:40:23 PM, Noumena wrote:
Not scientific theory since that operates on unstated presumptions on its own. Philosophy is what I had in mind. You know, logic, ethics, political philosophy, all that good stuff.

Surely, you must realize that in terms of "society" the "population" is all there is. :)

The "population" makes up society but is far from the standard by which it's measured. In fact I really have no idea how you came to that conclusion.

Both rights theory and utilitarianism are famously relativist.

Utilitarianism maybe but rights theory is the epitome of social deontology. So how exactly do you come to that conclusion?

So is political philosophy.

Ethics and logic aren't, but they're rather irrelevant to rights. They have no ethical, nor logical foundation. Consider what role they play on a global level.

I'm pretty sure rights theorists would beg to differ. While I disagree with the a posteriori nature of rights theories (based on "human nature" or whatever), I definitely don't see why there can't be some rational foundation.

I came to the conclusion that the population is the standard by which society is measured, because the population is the entire composition of society. If there is anything else, please enlighten me.

My own methodology revolves around discourse/argumentation ethics as proposed by Habermas and Hoppe. The norms presupposed by argumentation and discourse are the standard by which I generally judge and critique whatevs I'm looking at.

Justification presupposes argumentation.
Argumentation presupposes certain norms (self ownership, free speech, etc.).
Those norms are necessarily a justified ethic of interpersonal relations.
: At 5/13/2014 7:05:20 PM, Crescendo wrote:
: The difference is that the gay movement is currently pushing their will on Churches, as shown in the link to gay marriage in Denmark. Meanwhile, the Inquisition ended several centuries ago.
Franz_Reynard
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1/20/2013 11:08:02 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/20/2013 11:03:59 PM, Noumena wrote:
At 1/20/2013 10:51:01 PM, Franz_Reynard wrote:
At 1/20/2013 10:40:23 PM, Noumena wrote:
Not scientific theory since that operates on unstated presumptions on its own. Philosophy is what I had in mind. You know, logic, ethics, political philosophy, all that good stuff.

Surely, you must realize that in terms of "society" the "population" is all there is. :)

The "population" makes up society but is far from the standard by which it's measured. In fact I really have no idea how you came to that conclusion.

Both rights theory and utilitarianism are famously relativist.

Utilitarianism maybe but rights theory is the epitome of social deontology. So how exactly do you come to that conclusion?

Social deontology refers to rules, laws, etc, which are entertained and enforced by the majority, not by those that hold an ethnical worldview founded on a logical ideal.

So is political philosophy.

Ethics and logic aren't, but they're rather irrelevant to rights. They have no ethical, nor logical foundation. Consider what role they play on a global level.

I'm pretty sure rights theorists would beg to differ. While I disagree with the a posteriori nature of rights theories (based on "human nature" or whatever), I definitely don't see why there can't be some rational foundation.

Oh, there could, but they're more contingent on norms and mores than they are logic and rationality.

Consider the First World compared with the Third World.

I came to the conclusion that the population is the standard by which society is measured, because the population is the entire composition of society. If there is anything else, please enlighten me.

My own methodology revolves around discourse/argumentation ethics as proposed by Habermas and Hoppe. The norms presupposed by argumentation and discourse are the standard by which I generally judge and critique whatevs I'm looking at.

Justification presupposes argumentation.
Argumentation presupposes certain norms (self ownership, free speech, etc.).
Those norms are necessarily a justified ethic of interpersonal relations.

That specific ethic is contingent on those interpersonal relations, or, more specifically, the perspectives of whoever is involved in those interpersonal relations.

Ergo, if no one relating is rational, then nothing exchanged between them will be founded on reason.