Why Respect Rights?

Continuing the discussion from below, I have two questions. I assume that many people reading this blog fall into either the minarchist or the market anarchist camp, and this first question is directed at you.

Why ought I respect your rights to life, liberty, and property?

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Uh... your comment, wasn't

Uh... your comment, wasn't it?

"People didn?t reject communism because they suddenly realized it was immoral. People rejected communism because it failed as an economic system"

My comment doesn't imply

My comment doesn't imply that money is all that matters as a personal value. Only that lack of proper incentives as a direct result of absence of markets was the primary cause of Communism's failure.

Misha; Am I correct to say

Misha; Am I correct to say that you desire a minimum of government power in the world, and specificlly, in your own life?

Doesn't it seem strange that someone claiming to desire a smaller government, would hold morality is such contempt,IE: (morality itself is absurd) when in fact morality is the largest tool we have available to minimize the power and influence, and in fact the need for, government?

(Granted, this does nothing for or against the argument of an objective morality, but one point at a time)

Bithead, Yes, you are

Bithead,

Yes, you are correct that I desire a minimum of government power in the world and in my own life.

I don't hold morality in contempt; rather, I find those who constantly speak in terms of morality at the expense of economics, consequentialism, and pragmatism to be frustrating.

I disagree that morality is the largest tool we have available to minimize the power, influence, and need for government. People didn't reject communism because they suddenly realized it was immoral. People rejected communism because it failed as an economic system and there were clearly better alternatives.

So, Misha, what you're

So, Misha, what you're saying then is money is all that matters? (sigh)

People didn?t reject communism because they suddenly realized it was immoral. People rejected communism because it failed as an economic system and there were clearly better alternatives.

No, Misha; Taken as a whole, they rejected it over a long exposure period... some 78 years, in all. Some caught on faster than others, and provided some border guards with some target practice. IN other cases, it provided a good deal of chatter on the news services about how some nuts tried to float a 51 chevy truck across the ocean.

One generally does not take such risks for financial gain alone.

"People didn't reject

"People didn't reject communism because they suddenly realized it was immoral. People rejected communism because it failed as an economic system [...]"

You know why it failed economically, don't you?

It has to do with morality.

So, Misha, what you?re

So, Misha, what you?re saying then is money is all that matters? (sigh)

Of course not. Why would you ever think I believe that?

What else would I have to

What else would I have to base such a statement on, save what you've written?

i suppose the default would

i suppose the default would be the, err, reverse golden rule (have others do unto you as...), but i'm not completely sold on that.

i guess my problem is that the question deals with the nature of aggression, a term i think is very unclear in its meaning. some rights i think should be respected others do not, and vice versa. i'm not a big fan of the NAP.

perhaps you should respect those rights (at least those we can agree are covered by such a doctrine) because it results in better consequences then if we didn't.

An individual should respect

An individual should respect another's rights because the benefit of doing so exceeds the costs. By submitting to the "order" of society, one gains great benefits from the division of labor that the extended order provides. An individual may rely on indirect exchange with other individuals rather than having to provide for all their own needs, which greatly increases everyone's wealth, prosperity, quality of life, life expectancy, etc. The "costs" of such an arrangement for the individual is merely to refrain from such antisocial behavior as murder, theft, rape, i.e. actions that infringe on others' liberty. In short, an individual participating in "society" should respect the rights of others, because doing so ensures his own prosperity - and that of others.

Yes, but if you can get away

Yes, but if you can get away with violating someone's rights and still reap the benefits of living in society, wouldn't that be the way to go?

I would say no. If you know of a way to violate other people's rights and get away with it, the fact that your society is still functioning well (assuming it is) is a result of other people not knowing about or not taking advantage of this method. If you carry it out and succeed, those other will either learn of your method, or find their motivation to refrain from it diminished by your example. Eventually, your example will become widespread and the value of living in that society will be diminished.

But won't that happen anyway without your example? Other people won't refrain forever. Yes, but you'll enjoy the benefits of living in a good society for a while longer if you don't start the ball rolling right now.

Of course, if this degradation has already happened, your society is screwed anyway and your own rights aren't going to be very safe whatever you do. Time to fix the society or find a better one.

Because if you don't, my

Because if you don't, my friends will kick your ass.

You only have rights if an authority figure exists to grant them. God, gov, etc. I have no reason to believe any god exists, and politicians exist for my entertainment. Therefore, I think we should give up on the notion of rights, and concentrate on the consequences of actions, because what is designated a right is arbitrary.

A right is not going to stop someone from killing, stealing, whatever, because the only people who believe in rights are the ones who respect them.

You're not going to disrupt my pursuit of life, liberty, and property becuase (in most cases) it's not in your best interest to do so, and even when it might be, rocking that boat is risky.

Maybe rights are what we call the seemingly impractical human drive to play nice.

"Yes, but if you can get

"Yes, but if you can get away with violating someone?s rights and still reap the benefits of living in society, wouldn?t that be the way to go?"

Actually, yes it would. But most of us don't. Because that's how we evolved.

"Respecting rights" is a successful survival tactic. It's going to be easier for those who play nice instinctively than those who have to choose to at every occasion.

Another related factor is that it is more rewarding (feels better) to succeed in an honorable way. By honorable, I mean in a way you would respect should someone else succeed by using the same tactics.

Because, when we respect the

Because, when we respect the rights of others, and allow others to accept the consequences of their actions, society self-organizes to allow the greatest freedom, happiness, etc as determined by it's citizens and their choices.

Now, the reason we rely on rights instead of trying to analyze the outcome of an action teleologically is that we will never have complete knowledge of the future and there are many ways to skew the facts on potential results of actions. Also, an unfavored minority may be undervalued as to their choices and decisions.

Rights are bright-line ethical guideline that can be used to directly and relatively easily, to determine whether the autonomy of the individual, and thus thier actions as a free agent in society's self-organizing system, have been curtailed, thus introducing unnecessary inefficiency to system, which translates into human suffering, now and in the future.

Because I am likely to kill

Because I am likely to kill you if you don't, and vice versa.

I agree completely with

I agree completely with Titus, with one addition: in general, it's good for business to respect the rights of others, but that's because people talk to one another, which means if you disrespect Titus's rights, after his friends (and/or Titus) kick(s) your ass, they will talk to their other friends, and people might be a bit wary of doing business with you in the future.

Not only is an armed society a polite society, but a trading society is a polite society. Mutual interdependence is a wonderful thing. Self sufficiency leads to violence, particularly national self sufficiency.

"perhaps you should respect

"perhaps you should respect those rights (at least those we can agree are covered by such a doctrine) because it results in better consequences then if we didn?t. "

What we do does not depend on what Jonathan does.

"An individual should respect another?s rights because the benefit of doing so exceeds the costs."

Situations can easily be constructed where the benefits you describe can be had by rights violators without the costs you describe.

Because if you don?t, my friends will kick your ass.

That's a reason for appearing to respect your rights, not a reaso to respect them.

Jonathan,

You should respect rights because being a predator is incompatible with your best destiny as a consequence of your nature. Part of it is that you will be able to connect with other individuals in ways that the perfectly prudent predator will never be able to, and this is a value appropriate to your nature.

What we do does not depend

What we do does not depend on what Jonathan does.

what do you mean?

We have a saying on Wall

We have a saying on Wall Street:

You can either eat well or sleep well, but not both.

But without respecting other people's rights to life, liberty, and property, you can do neither.

"That?s a reason for

"That?s a reason for appearing to respect your rights, not a reason to respect them."

Good enough for me.

That reminds me of an acting class I took years ago. I was having a hard time "getting" an exercise, and the teacher threw up his hands and said, "It doesn't matter if you get it or not. Just convince me that you do. That's acting."

>>You should respect rights

>>You should respect rights because being a predator is incompatible with your best destiny as a consequence of your nature. Part of it is that you will be able to connect with other individuals in ways that the perfectly prudent predator will never be able to, and this is a value appropriate to your nature.

What if I'm a sociopath? Then my being a prudent predator IS compatible with my best destiny as a consequence of my sociopathic nature. Hence the Great Stalin, who lived a long and prosperous life and acheived his full potential.

>>But without respecting other people?s rights to life, liberty, and property, you can do neither.

Mass murderers of all sorts often live long, happy, and prosperous lives. Churchill, Harris, Truman, etc. murdered hundreds of thousands of people, but since they were clever about it and had good PR, they died as heroes at an old age.

Murder and plunder can be very profitable in both the short and long term. That's why there's so much of it.

You should respect rights

You should respect rights because being a predator is incompatible with your best destiny as a consequence of your nature.

Please elaborate. What is my best destiny?

Most Americans believe they

Most Americans believe they have rights beyond life, liberty, and property. A right to education, a right to medical care, a right to a "living wage."

Maybe that's a better question - who are we, as anarcho-whatevers, to dictate to others what qualifies as a right?

Why do I have the right to smoke pot, but not the right to get fed, even if I'm starving to death? Why do I have the right to tell dirty jokes, but not the right to medical aid, even if my life depends on it?

I pretty much agree with Ben

I pretty much agree with Ben W above, but let me elaborate a bit. The future being mathematically unstable, there is no way to be completely sure, especially at the small scale individual level, what the outcome of a particular action might be, in any kind of long run. You never know if you can "get away with it" on a long-term basis.
So a fairly consistent application of "non-invasion" will lead to the best possible outcome, over the long term, given what we know about the world.
This is assuming that you do not have a state-apparatus to protect you from the consequences of invasion. However, even if you do, this apparatus will degrade everyone's prosperity, to the point where it may well reduce your long-term happiness as well.
The case for anarchism is basically that in such a world, invasion of property and person will be minimized, because the time horizon in which someone might recieve negative conseqences from such invasion is as small as possible, and thus we each have the best possible opportunity to reach the greatest possible happiness.
i.e. in a minarchism, there are still people who would have a perpetual interest in trying to "get away with it", at least in the short term.
Under anarchism, these situations would be minimized and scattered - that is, it would not always be the same people who found themselves in such a position.

I pretty much agree with Ben

I pretty much agree with Ben W above, but let me elaborate a bit. The future being mathematically unstable, there is no way to be completely sure, especially at the small scale individual level, what the outcome of a particular action might be, in any kind of long run. You never know if you can "get away with it" on a long-term basis.
So a fairly consistent application of "non-invasion" will lead to the best possible outcome, over the long term, given what we know about the world.
This is assuming that you do not have a state-apparatus to protect you from the consequences of invasion. However, even if you do, this apparatus will degrade everyone's prosperity, to the point where it may well reduce your long-term happiness as well.
The case for anarchism is basically that in such a world, invasion of property and person will be minimized, because the time horizon in which someone might recieve negative conseqences from such invasion is as small as possible, and thus we each have the best possible opportunity to reach the greatest possible happiness.
i.e. in a minarchism, there are still people who would have a perpetual interest in trying to "get away with it", at least in the short term.
Under anarchism, these situations would be minimized and scattered - that is, it would not always be the same people who found themselves in such a position.

Jonathan, Your best destiny

Jonathan,

Your best destiny is to fully employ your faculties in pursuit of your own well being. And I'm saying that there are important values appropriate to you nature that are simply inaccessible to a human predator.

Lets take a counterfeiter as an example of a predator. If you produce perfect counterfeit money then you can have all the houses, cars, or toys you want but you will also find that there are important values appropriate to your nature that you can't buy with counterfeit values. And you can't have them while you're passing counterfeit values.

I'm not saying the counterfeiter must be haunted, but I am saying that he is stunted. He's made a grave error in arranging his hierarchy of values which prevents him from apprehending the greater satisfactions he is capable of.

"You never know if you can

"You never know if you can ?get away with it? on a long-term basis."

You never know whether you can get away with crossing the street on a long-term basis. It's a risk to be managed and your life is at stake. The risk of being caught violating rights is a managable risk like any other.

And if you're a politician

And if you're a politician you can be pretty confident that you can get away with violating rights on a long term basis since that's precisely what your constituents want and expect you to do. You'll be richly rewarded and even venerated for violating rights.

The great thing about theft by politics is that almost nobody wants to catch you, virtually everyone is aiding and abetting.

"what do you mean?" I'm

"what do you mean?"

I'm saying that whether or not others respsect Jonathan's rights or produce other desirable consequences does not depend on whether he respects their rights.

"Good enough for me. That

"Good enough for me.

That reminds me of an acting class I took years ago. I was having a hard time ?getting? an exercise, and the teacher threw up his hands and said, ?It doesn?t matter if you get it or not. Just convince me that you do. That?s acting.?"

This amounts to saying there is no reason for anyone not to rob you if they can get away with it.

Because you want others to

Because you want others to respect yours.

I?m saying that whether or

I?m saying that whether or not others respsect Jonathan?s rights or produce other desirable consequences does not depend on whether he respects their rights.

that doesn't seem right. if someone doesn't respect my rights i am unlikely to reciprocate.

"This amounts to saying

"This amounts to saying there is no reason for anyone not to rob you if they can get away with it."

You're forgetting what I was referring to. I initially said:

"Because if you don't (respect my rights), my friends will kick your ass."

you responded:

"That?s a reason for appearing to respect your rights, not a reason to respect them.?

to which I said "good enough for me."

Meaning, it's going to be difficult to "appear" as if you're respecting my rights without actually respecting my rights.

Maybe you can help me out - how could someone disrespect my rights in a way that would appear is if my rights are being respected?

I suppose you could steal from me without me noticing, but I'll likely notice eventually. And again, that's very hard to do. Harder than, say, earning it honestly.

"I suppose you could steal

"I suppose you could steal from me without me noticing, but I?ll likely notice eventually. And again, that?s very hard to do. Harder than, say, earning it honestly."

The Prudent Predator might no work hard at all at theft, he could just wait and take advantage of any golden opportunity that falls in his lap.

Unbeknownst to you, one of your supposed friends is a Prudent Predator (PP). His behavior has always been examplary for tactical reasons, but he's willing to take your money if the golden opportuinty presnts itself. You buy a handful of quick pick lottery tickets and pocket them without looking at them. He buys a couple. Later the two of you are watching TV and the lottery drawing is about to happen so you put your put your handful of tickets on the table, but suddenly the phone rings and you have to take a call in the other room.

The winning numbers are called and the PP looks and finds that you had the winning ticket, worth $300 million. He can swap it with a losing ticket in his pocket and there is no way you'll ever know.

Is there any reason why he shouldn't steal the $300 million from you?

"Why do I have the right to

"Why do I have the right to smoke pot, but not the right to get fed, even if I?m starving to death? Why do I have the right to tell dirty jokes, but not the right to medical aid, even if my life depends on it?"

You are not entitled to expropriate that which does not belong to you. You have the right to smoke pot, but you don't have the right to smoke my pot. You have the right to try to feed yourself, but you don't have the right to force me to feed you. Etcetera.

From today's local paper, after Kerry's visit, too young men were heard...

"[...] reciting their favorite lines from John Kerry's speech at the University of Charleston.

"Health care is not a privilege. It's a right," Safcsak, 22, and Hughart, 20, said in unison.

"That's profound, man," Hughart added. "Kerry?s got an exciting message that plays very well to West Virginians."

Health care at somebody else's expense is not a right. It's theft. It's the violation of rights, enforced by the government.

Because if you don't, I'll

Because if you don't, I'll impale you and set you up on the tower as a warning to others.

Or maybe just put you in the spiky box. In the spiky box you will hurt with pain.

"Alfred Bekker"

(PS. No, I am not Baron Blood. See, I am in this wheelchair. I cannot be the resurrected walking corpse Baron Blood. He didn't have a wheelchair. Ha, ha! You have been talking to the superstitious peasants in the village! They are all superstitious fools! Shall we go and inspect the basement, now?)

You ought to respect my

You ought to respect my rights because you're a human animal, and the essential charcteristics of such subsume such VALUES. If instead, you were a Bengal tiger, you ought not respect my rights, and you likely wouldn't.

Just because some humans can act in opposition to their natures and get away with it does not invalidate the value of acting like a human.

"Man is the only animal that

"Man is the only animal that can sink below his nature."

You go, Rich.

Mike: For the record, I

Mike:

For the record, I agree. But my question is who are we to tell people what they are entitled to? There has to be (and is) a reason to behave this way. How do we know health care isn't a right?

The notion of rights clouds the argument. Instead of saying we don't have a right to health care (which just makes us look like insensitive assholes), we should explain how universal health care is counter productive. Forget about rights, because people will define them however they please.

Kennedy:

The reasons my friend shouldn't steal my winning ticket (respect my property) are

1. he'd have to live with the guilt if he did
2. I would be so incredibly grateful for his honesty I'd split the money with him
3. If I ever found out, he'd lose me as a friend

Which means, he'd probably take the money.

But it really doesn't matter, because you proved my point. If appearing to respect my rights means there's a 1 in a billion chance that I'll get royally screwed, I'll take my chances. Most likely, said friend is going to have to spend his life respecting my rights if he wants to appear as if he's respecting my life.

titus, 1. According to you

titus,

1. According to you there's nothing really wrong with what he did. Why should he feel guilty if he holds that same enlightened attitude?

2. He could probably get a lot of gratitude from you at a much cheaper price, say by giving you $1 million out of "his" winnings.

3. He could well prefer the $300 million to your friendship, but there's no way you're going to find out anyway. There were no witnesses, it was a simple switch. He's smart, he wouldn't do it if there was any chance of being caught and he's way to smart to ever confess.

Let's assume that he's not going to feel any guilt about stealing because like you he recognizes that there really is no right or wrong, and (perhaps unlike you) he's outgrown any irrational aversion to stealing. Let's assume that instead of having your gratitude for leaving your $300 million intact he'd prefer to take the bulk of the money and buy $1 million of gratitude from you. Let's assume he knows he has more chance of getting hit by a bus next time he crosses the street than he has of getting caught in this simple theft.

Asuuming all this, why shouldn't he steal your money?

Which means, he?d probably take the money.

If the same golden opportunity presented itself to you, would you take his money? Why not?

"For the record, I agree.

"For the record, I agree. But my question is who are we to tell people what they are entitled to? There has to be (and is) a reason to behave this way. How do we know health care isn't a right?"

What do you mean, "who are we"? We are who decide these things. There isn't some magic tribunal in the sky which hands down laws pertaining to every aspect of human existence. There isn't even a committee in Washington with a really great filing system pertaining to it. To a significant extent we are making it up as we go along, though a lot of it gets stacked on the work of those perspicacious others who have gone before.

For the record, I don't think you do agree. You couldn't agree and then ask the question which indicates you haven't got it.

Rights that are commonly cited as being genuine to the human condition are "life", "liberty", and "the pursuit of happiness". You've heard of 'em, maybe. Tacking "health care" on to that list kind of throws the whole thing out of whack. Health care is a product of human ingenuity, like soap, or book ends, or Harleys, or Van Goghs. Saying you have a "right" to health care is as ludicrous as saying you have a right to a Van Gogh.

"Again, what are you so

"Again, what are you so worried about?"

To be a predator would make it impossible for me to attain values far greater than anything I could possibly steal. And these values are not unique to me, they are appropriate to all men.

We are who decide these

We are who decide these things. There isn?t some magic tribunal in the sky which hands down laws pertaining to every aspect of human existence. There isn?t even a committee in Washington with a really great filing system pertaining to it. To a significant extent we are making it up as we go along, though a lot of it gets stacked on the work of those perspicacious others who have gone before.

You just conceded the entire argument to titus. If there is no magic tribunal in the sky handing down laws and deciding what is a right and what isn't, and if instead, we are the ones who decide what will be called a right, then you have absolutely no basis for saying that "Health care at somebody else?s expense is not a right." If people decide that health care at somebody else's expense is a right, then it is a right, period.

If FDR comes along and says, "screw this Bill of Rights crap and this life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness crap and this private property rights crap - we need a new Bill of Rights and new freedoms to replace those old crappy freedoms," and enough people agree with him, you just lost the rights game.

Yep, it all comes down to

Yep, it all comes down to who has the most power. In an objective sense, they are Right.

That's why political murder is like a religious sacrament: it uplifts the murderer while proving the inferiority of the victim. Kill enough people and get away with it, and you become a legendary hero, like Churchill.

Again, JTK needs to come up with an argument that would convince Stalin that it was in his best interests to stop robbing and murdering. If he can, then we might have the basis for an "objective morality" other than Might Makes Right.

As someone whose subjective morality involves despising murderers, rapists, and thieves, it would please me greatly to know that these people were objectively evil. But the evidence I have to date often supports the opposite conclusion.

"You just conceded the

"You just conceded the entire argument to titus. If there is no magic tribunal in the sky handing down laws and deciding what is a right and what isn?t, and if instead, we are the ones who decide what will be called a right, then you have absolutely no basis for saying that ?Health care at somebody else?s expense is not a right.? "

Wrong. Morality is a consequence of your nature and while your nature is not received from "on high", it is received - you are not it's author.

There is no magic tribunal in the sky which decides whether you are a man or a fish. You are the one who gets to decide what you call yourself. You may in fact call yourself a fish. But you cannot be a fish.

You are free to discover and acknowledge that you are a man, but you are not free to be anything else. Likewise you are free to discover and acknowledge morality, morality is a consequence of your nature, but you are not free to define morality any more than you are free to define your nature.

If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Four. There is no magic tribunal in the sky that decides that tails are not legs or what you must call tails, and yet a tail is not a leg and there's nothing you can do about that.

"Again, JTK needs to come up

"Again, JTK needs to come up with an argument that would convince Stalin that it was in his best interests to stop robbing and murdering."

Nonsense, if you couldn't persuade Stalin the world was round would that be evidence that it wasn't? Would it mean the world wasn't round for Stalin?

Micha: Bless you.

Micha:

Bless you.

Kennedy:
"If the same golden opportunity presented itself to you, would you take his money? Why not?"

Would you, with your absolute, difinitive moral code?

Mike: You didn't understand

Mike:

You didn't understand my post. You also talk about human nature as if we're all the same, which is odd for a Libertarian.

Kennedy:

You could try to prove to Stalin that the world is round. You could show him evidence.

You can prove to me that absolute morality exists. All you have to do is show me evidence. You haven't done that yet. I suspect that's because you can't, because there is no proof. Which is why you have to ignore my questions, since apparently in your absolute definitive moral code, thinking you're right is better than being right.

For evidence of an objective

For evidence of an objective morality:

Universality - every society has gotten the basics of morality the same - do not murder your neighbor, do not take his personal possessions, etc. Lenin, Stalin, etc. knew their means were wrong, they mistakenly believed that using the wrong means could lead to a better end. Stalin was described as suffering psychological illness. He was not paranoid of course, there really were people out to get him. He could not enjoy his power and wealth.

The obvious objection to my universality statement is that there are differences in morality between societies - for example, certain Moslem cultures believe it is OK to kill the infidel, while Western culture holds that only military actors in a state of war have license to kill. I would say that while everyone knows that gravity will pull you done, very few people understand the exact conditions in which one can fly. Morality is discoverable and objective like physics or economics. We just haven't figured it all out yet.

You could try to prove to

You could try to prove to Stalin that the world is round. You could show him evidence.

And if he doesn't buy the argument, what then? There are still people who don't belive the world is round even though the the evidenceh as been presented. Does that mean the world is not round for them as long as you don't convince them?

"You can prove to me that absolute morality exists. All you have to do is show me evidence."

That's not the only way to prove something, you can also prove something by demonstrating that the logical alternative is necessarily false.