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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"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." If people decide that health care at somebody else's expense is a right, then it is a right, period."

I realized, after I finally climbed into bed last night, that the way I wrote it was weak, and open to the interpretation that you've put on it. Kennedy has addressed some of it, and praise Allah for that.

Obviously, we don't make up most of the world as we go along. However, we do get to discover all the various aspects of the world, and, on an ongoing basis, work what we learn into new concepts. It is in the sense of discovery that I rather ineptly said "we make it up as we go". There are immutable laws, but those laws are not written on some slab in a rotunda somewhere. We have to discover them. Just as someone "discovered" gravity, so did someone discover "morality" and "rights." These things existed before they were discovered, but not until an adequate conceptual base was put in place by exploring humans, could they be described and analysed.

Health care is not a thing that existed as part of the human universe, waiting to be discovered. Rather, it was something that was invented, like the internal combustion engine was invented.

Morality wasn't invented. It comes into existence at the instant of the creation of conciousness. As soon as a single creation can say "I", and differentiate everything else as being "not I", there are moral questions.

"Why ought I respect your

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

Because if you don't then me and my friends aren't going to respect yours.

" Kennedy has addressed some

" Kennedy has addressed some of it, and praise Allah for that."

To paraphrase Al Swearengen: "Don't call me Allah!"

"Because if you don?t then

"Because if you don?t then me and my friends aren?t going to respect yours."

No, again, that's only a reason for Jonathan to make it appear as if he respects your rights.

Kennedy: I said: "You could

Kennedy:

I said:
"You could try to prove to Stalin that the world is round. You could show him evidence."

You replied:
"And if he doesn?t buy the argument, what then?"

Then at least you would have shown Stalin more respect than you've shown me. Thanks a bunch.

>>That?s not the only way to

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

Ok, now maybe we're getting somewhere. Are you proposing that we attack the statement "Stalin's actions aren't objectively immoral" and show that it's hosed?

How do we go about demonstrating that the Stalin-style "I'm hard as &*^% steel, I've got the power" morality is OBJECTIVELY wrong, not merely distasteful to us?

We want to go from:

- We find Stalin's actions despicable
- The Universe doesn't prevent Stalin from achieving his objectives
- People who resisted Stalin died horribly and recieved no heavenly reward (AFAIK) for resisting
- Stalin lived a long and proseperous existence

to:

- Stalin's actions are objectively immoral

Show me how this is done -- spell it out. I would very much like to have something stronger than "because it irritates me" to explain why statist murder/plunder is not OK. Right now that's all I have.

I've been civil. I'm not

I've been civil. I'm not equipped to respect individuals for no reason, that's simply not possible.

We find Stalin?s actions

We find Stalin?s actions despicable

How did you get *there*? Why do you find them despicable?

An asteroid could wipe out the human race; are asteroids despicable?

Asteroids likely to hit the

Asteroids likely to hit the Earth make me unhappy. They aren't despicable since they aren't self guiding. For me to consider someon/something despicable, he/she/it would have to be both doing things I disliked intensely (large scale murder/theft) and have the capability to choose to stop doing such things. Intelligent guided Earth-colliding asteroids I would likely find despicable.

I guess by "We find Stalin's actions despicable" I mean "We dislike Stalin's actions intensely. We would have preferred that Stalin had taken up automobile repair rather than mass murder."

Why does the fact that

Why does the fact that Stalin can choose cause you to evaluate him in a different light than the asteroid? Yes, he could be nice instead. So what? You'd prefer not to be killed by either. Aren't preferences just preferences?

Aha. For something to be

Aha. For something to be either subjectively or objectively immoral it has to be a decison-making system. Subjective morality is thus SLIGHTLY more than mere preferences: it is a set of preferences about decision-making systems. Is this an ok definition?

Menacing Asteroids + negative preferences = unpleasant force of nature

Stalin + negative preferances = subjectively immoral being

Clearly we're not going to be able to show the objective immorality of Stalin using preferences. Stalin seemed to like Stalin's preferences, as did some of his friends, like Beria. (shudder) Stalin dislikes our preferences, we dislike his. How to resolve? Stalin's answer is to shoot us. Now we're dead, and he doesn't have to listen to us complain about his preferences.

"Aha. For something to be

"Aha. For something to be either subjectively or objectively immoral it has to be a decison-making system. Subjective morality is thus SLIGHTLY more than mere preferences: it is a set of preferences about decision-making systems."

In the absence of objective morality, why would you attach any special significance to your preferences about agents with choice? Without objective morality Stalin can't be any more or less right or wrong than the asteroid.

What reason would you have for call one despicable but not the other?

So you are saying that your

So you are saying that your disapproval of Stalin and the asteroid is essentially the same, that you don't have any special disapproval of one that doesn't apply to the other, and that you simply yous different words to signal that one had choice?

Yep. That's it exactly.

Yep. That's it exactly.

It seems to me to just be a

It seems to me to just be a linguistic artifact. "Despicable" just conveys the meaning that the entity in question had some choice in the matter, and that's all.

Put another way: I would use words like "awful" and "bad" to descible both Stalin and asteroids, but reserve words like "evil" and "despicable" for Stalin.

I can't (and don't) claim that my choices of who is despicable and who isn't have any universal validity. If someone were to come up to me and say "Stalin is cool, he helped me murder a bunch of people and take their stuff", I would have difficulty arguing against that on empirical grounds. (I would, of course, consider that someone to be "bad" and "despicable" as well.)

Why do you use the language

Why do you use the language of morality when you don't believe in it?

Why do you use the nym "T.J. Madison" when your political philosophy can't have anything to do with the principles Jefferson and Madison championed?

>>Why do you use the

>>Why do you use the language of morality when you don?t believe in it?

The problem seems to be that understanding of moral nihilism is rare enough to make communication in a non-objective morality framework difficult. This has led me to use language sloppily when in the presence of those who are not fellow Disciples of Azathoth. For this I apologize.

>>Why do you use the language of morality when you don?t believe in it?

I can work to advance liberty and resist murder and plunder without believing such notions are objectively right or wrong. All that is necessary is for me to like liberty and dislike murder sufficiently to be mobilized to take action.

"T. J. Madison" is basically leftover from my old constitutionalist days. That was back before an unpleasant discussion with Dr. Palmer led me to realize some of the fundamental problems with using the Constitution to advance liberty. A very sad thing -- Dr. Palmer despises me now -- but very enlightening as well.

Soon I will be moving over to a more secure communications system, and the nym -- which can be fairly easily traced to me -- will be abandoned.

> Why ought I respect your

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

Why does one ask such a question, when one obviously requires their respect in his *own* case?

The person who demands an answer to such a question -- to stay his hand from initiated-force -- is a hypocrite.

Titus> You also talk about

Titus> You also talk about human nature as if we?re all the same....

There is not a single sentient entity which has ever lived which has desired to be assaulted or robbed (by definition those terms indicate lack of consent).

"I can work to advance

"I can work to advance liberty and resist murder and plunder without believing such notions are objectively right or wrong."

What do those terms even mean without morality? What's the difference between killing and murder without morality? What does plunder mean without morality?

"The problem seems to be

"The problem seems to be that understanding of moral nihilism is rare enough to make communication in a non-objective morality framework difficult."

Regardless of what others may understand I don't see why it would be difficult to speak of your preferences without invoking moral language.

Clarification: for me,

Clarification: for me, murder = killing people for reasons I dislike. Since the set of killings which bother me is roughly the same as the set of killings you consider to be objectively morally unjustifiable, normally this difference in terminology isn't an issue.

Similarly, plunder = movement of stuff for reasons I dislike. Movement of stuff that decreases overall liberty bothers me, because I like Liberty for Everyone(tm) -- it's my personal preference. As it turns out, the set of actions which you would consider "violation of property rights" and the set of actions I would consider "plunder" are essentially the same.

It basically boils down to "I work against things I dislike, and for things I like." These likes and dislikes are somewhat arbitrary, somewhat based in evolutionary biology, and somewhat based on culture. As it happens, my preferences correspond to your moral codes. Hence I'm here talking to you rather than the commies.

Now I dislike the notion that there is no objective morality, but I like empiricism and internal consistency more, so I'm stuck with moral nihilism (for now.)

"Clarification: for me,

"Clarification: for me, murder = killing people for reasons I dislike. Since the set of killings which bother me is roughly the same as the set of killings you consider to be objectively morally unjustifiable, normally this difference in terminology isn?t an issue. "

Why should those sets coincide? It makes no sense for you to forgo slitting a stranger's throat for $100 when the risk of discovery is low enough, why would you dislike such killing in the absence of morality?

"Clarification: for me,

"Clarification: for me, murder = killing people for reasons I dislike. Since the set of killings which bother me is roughly the same as the set of killings you consider to be objectively morally unjustifiable, normally this difference in terminology isn?t an issue. "

Why should those sets coincide? It makes no sense for you to forgo slitting a stranger's throat for $100 when the risk of discovery is low enough, why would you dislike such killing in the absence of morality?

It makes plenty of sense for

It makes plenty of sense for me to forgo killing somebody risk-free for $100. I prefer the continued existence of Some Random Guy to my possession of his $100. I don't see how killing Some Random Guy and moving $100 from his pocket to mine will advance liberty. I like -- have strong preferences for -- liberty, both mine and Some Random Guy's.

The reason our notions of murder/plunder coincide is that we're both seeking to enhance liberty. You're seeking to enhance liberty because you consider human liberty to be a part of some objective moral order. I'm seeking to enhance liberty because I just like it. It's like my preference for sex and mint chocolate chip ice cream, only 1000x stronger. The idea that "murder" and "plunder" are "bad" follow logically and empirically from the preference (me)/moral imperative (you) of advancing liberty.

But I consider the goal of advancing liberty to be essentially arbitrary, whereas you do not.

JTK, Wrong. Morality is a

JTK,

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.

If you read Mike Soja's comments to which I was responding, you would see that Mike already conceded that we are in fact the authors of our own morality. To wit, Mike wrote:

"We are who decide these things...To a significant extent we are making it up as we go along..."

It appears that everyone arguing in favor of objective morality is basing this belief on some understanding of human nature. Yet it would help your argument if you strictly defined what you mean by the term "human nature" and why morality is a necessary consequences of this nature.

Mike, Morality wasn?t

Mike,

Morality wasn?t invented. It comes into existence at the instant of the creation of conciousness. As soon as a single creation can say ?I?, and differentiate everything else as being ?not I?, there are moral questions.

But are there moral answers? Doesn't it seem strange to you that morality exists independently of ourselves (yet, coincidentally, in came into existence precisely the same moment humans did), but that we have no evidence for it other than our own feelings?

How can we know that morality came into existence when you claim it did? Just as you fervently believe that private property rights are an absolute moral necessity, so too the socialist believes that universal health care is an absolute moral necessity. With what evidence can we resolve this disagreement? What evidence can the libertarian point to other than economic consequentialist analysis to convince the socialist of his position? Conversely, what evidence might the socialist try to use to convince the libertarian, other than appeals to emotion or consequentialism?

JTK, The question is: Why

JTK,

The question is: Why shouldn?t he violate your rights as long as he can make it appear that he has not?

Why should you? You are not worried about repercussions from God, and you are not worried about repercussions from man, so what are you worried about?

Again, as I said before, this is a problem for all moral codes (excluding religious ones), not just ethical subjectivism.

"You know why it failed

"You know why it failed economically, don?t you?

It has to do with morality."

- excellent.

I think one the problems people are facing in this discussion is that they are trying to divorce consequence from morality.

David, Universality, i.e.

David,

Universality, i.e. something that has been true for all societies throughout history, is not evidence of an objective morality. It could just be coincidence. Or, it could be something that even you don't believe is moral -- i.e. every society in recorded history has had some form of slavery, where those in power or with authority were able to live at the expense of those without power and authority. Or, it could be something that is absolutely necessary for a society to exist; for example, some social mechanism to prevent widespread murder and lying. But even this is not evidence of an objective morality; just because some mechanism is required for society to exist does not mean that anyone who acts contrary to this mechanism is acting immorally. For example, every society must have some mechanism to reproduce itself, else it will not exist for very long. But that doesn't mean that homosexuals or heterosexuals who decide not to have children are acting immorally, for society will contine just fine so long as enough people are having children. Additionally, even if we could think of some act that could be performed by an individual alone and would destroy society (perhaps the use of nuclear weapons is one such example), that still isn't evidence of an objective morality, for the person could simply say "I don't care about society or whether I live or die. I wish to commit suicide and I'm going to take as many other people with me when I go." We could describe his actions as anti-social, but since he doesn't care about society's survival, on what grounds can we say his actions are immoral?

"I don?t really care what he

"I don?t really care what he truly thinks as long as he keeps up the appearance."

This isn't just about what he thinks.

The question is: Why shouldn't he violate your rights as long as he can make it appear that he has not?

"No, again, that?s only a

"No, again, that?s only a reason for Jonathan to make it appear as if he respects your rights."

I don't really care what he truly thinks as long as he keeps up the appearance.

In the absence of morality

In the absence of morality why would you value his liberty more than $100 in your pocket? Why would anyone take you at your word when your professed valuations make no sense in light of your professed moral nihilism?

If not $100, how much money would it take to make you prefer slitting his throat?

"Again, as I said before,

"Again, as I said before, this is a problem for all moral codes (excluding religious ones), not just ethical subjectivism."

It's not a problem for the moral code of the Prudent Predator, that code holds that it is good for the individual to rape, murder, or steal when he can get away with it, because it profits him.

Moral problem sovled. Why don't you embrace that solution?

"Why should you? You are not

"Why should you? You are not worried about repercussions from God, and you are not worried about repercussions from man, so what are you worried about?"

I already gave my answer in this thread Micha, what's your's?

>>In the absence of morality

>>In the absence of morality why would you value his liberty more than $100 in your pocket?

It's essentially just an arbitrary personal preference. It's just a scaled up version of why I don't rent Rocky V again -- I wouldn't enjoy it at all. But some people do enjoy it, and they become muggers.

>>Why would anyone take you at your word when your professed valuations make no sense in light of your professed moral nihilism?

Because although my preferences are arbitrary, they are empirically stable. Smart money is on me not going on a killing spree.

>>If not $100, how much money would it take to make you prefer slitting his throat?

Ok, lets say I have the opportunity to kill Bill Gates and steal billions of dollars from him. Can I use Gates' billions to advance liberty better than Gates can? Probably not. I'm I "richer" than I was before? Not really -- I've got all the material conforts needed to satisfy my rather modest desires. Bill Gates's liberty is reduced to zero by my killing him. None of these things satisfy my arbitrary aesthetic preferences.

Constructing a scenario where I would take actions that would violate your moral code will be very difficult, because my fundamental arbitrary preference (liberty) is very similar to one of the core axioms of your moral system (also liberty?)

Let's back up. I want to know how your moral code is any less arbitrary than my system of preferences. I want to see the empirical foundations of this moral code, and why I should accept it. Let's start at the top, near the fundamental axioms: we both seem to think that human freedom is Really Darn Important. I think it's important because of my arbitrary preferences. You seem to believe that the "rightness" of sentient freedom is inherent in the empirically observable universe.

This implies that any unbiased observer examining the universe long enough should eventually find enough evidence to support your conclusion. I want this stash of evidence. When it appears in front of me I will cheerfully abandon my position and accept yours. Beck will probably say something like, "About damn time, you stupid ^&%$ punk." And we'll be done.

JTK, you correctly point out

JTK, you correctly point out that the relativist/nihilist position prevents us from morally condemning the Prudent Predator. You also correctly point out that there is no fundamental reason why us nihilists shouldn't become PPs. What you miss is that there is no fundamental reason why we SHOULD become PPs either. "Rational self-interest" is an arbitrary preference too. It's very popular, since those who lack this preference are at a disadvantage from an evolutionary biological standpoint. But it's ultimately just a preference like any other.

I just happen to value "total human liberty" over "rational self-interest." This preference is AFAIK arbitrary, which is why I'm not surprised that there are so many Prudent Predators out there.

I already gave my answer in

I already gave my answer in this thread Micha, what?s your?s?

Your "answer" was incomprehensible to me; something about "destiny" and "my nature". I do not know what those terms mean in the context you were using them, nor did I understand your vague reference to an inability "to connect with other individuals in ways that the perfectly prudent predator will never be able to."

Again, what are you so worried about?

No one is extending rights

No one is extending rights to the 'thing' healthcare but to the individuals who receive it.

As for things as yet uninvented - who knows whether we will or not? It is perfectly reasonable to conceive of the possibility that something will come along that we will agree people have a right to access. Private property is an invention after all.

"But are there moral

"But are there moral answers? Doesn't it seem strange to you that morality exists independently of ourselves (yet, coincidentally, in came into existence precisely the same moment humans did), but that we have no evidence for it other than our own feelings?"

Morality co-exists with rationality. Do you doubt rationality exists? From whence sprang it? Likewise, so did morality. And, strange as it may sound, morality is the mechanism by which rationality propels itself. Morality is the tracks upon which the train of rationality runs. Morality is the troposphere in which the hot air balloon of logic balances. Morality is...

"How can we know that morality came into existence when you claim it did?"

It's only been observed as a component of the cosmology of self-concious beings.

"Just as you fervently believe that private property rights are an absolute moral necessity, so too the socialist believes that universal health care is an absolute moral necessity. With what evidence can we resolve this disagreement?"

"Private property" is an extension of self. It is an aspect of the logical development of "I" and "not I". The extension of self is why people feel so violated when their property is burgled. Without a concept of private property, it is very likely that humans can't progress very far down the path toward civilization. "Private property" denotes a particular relationship between the self and world. Destroy that relationship and you'll destroy part of the self. (Maybe the whole self.) "Health care" is just a thing. Extending "rights" to things leads to an immediate absurdity. How can we have a right to something which hasn't been invented, yet?

The Highest Values Cannot Be

"No one is extending rights

"No one is extending rights to the 'thing' healthcare but to the individuals who receive it."

That's absurd. You presume to deliver the 'thing' healthcare to the person who receives the "right" to it, don't you? Where do you think the 'thing' healthcare comes from? Who is going to pay for the 'thing' that you plan to bestow? Contrast that with other rights. Does your right to life come out of anyone's pocket? Does your right to free speech cost anyone a nickel? Free speech doesn't belong to any particular individual, yet everybody owns it. "Healthcare" belongs to the doctor who has worked and invested in learning how to deliver it. To deliver a "right" to healthcare you either have to force the doctor to give his services away, or you have to force other people to pay him to deliver his services to those who can't pay. Since the latter is more likely, your "right" to healthcare is actually depriving people of their right to dispose of their money as they see fit.

"The Highest Values Cannot

"The Highest Values Cannot Be Stolen."

The Highest Values Do Not Result in Anything Being Stolen

So, did anyone have

So, did anyone have objection to my answer?

"So, did anyone have

"So, did anyone have objection to my answer?"

You are correct that it is common to all men that they wish not to be stolen from. The point is made about men sharing a common nature; though men can prefer being stolen for to something they consider worse they can't simply prefer to be stolen from to not being stolen from.

"So, did anyone have

"So, did anyone have objection to my answer?"

Not me. It was so good I half expected the duck to come down.

And what have I written

And what have I written which indicates that I believe money is all that matters?

"The duck"?

"The duck"?

"The duck"? A Native

"The duck"?

A Native American spirit guide, one of the more formidable (quite often found near the top of authentic totem poles) of many, but largely ignored in the daily lives of all but the more stalwart adherents to 'Iti Quwagis Laigi A Dugi' (literally: "It Quacks Like a Duck"). The Duck, or Kawonu, was said to "come down" when certain secret words were spoken, and was usually associated with the accumulation of wampum. In some ceremonies, The Duck's human spirit representative, or host, would perform a raw type of Socratic song and dance, usually ending with: "Kawonu dikaneisdi huhu tsolani hilayui tlaigoliga nahiyui tsugasawodv kalisetsi ugetsasgv kanasdatsi elohinodohiyigesesti usdinvnohiulohisdi utsesadiasuio", which translates loosely as, "The Duck says the Great River of Rights runs through all of us. Don't forget your paddle."

A late entry here. I note

A late entry here.

I note that no one (unless I've missed something) has yet mentioned Hoppe's argumentation ethics. Although I have lots of problems with some of Hoppe's positions, I find his argumentation ethics to be the most compelling philosophical justification available for respecting others' rights. Essentially, he claims that the institution of civil argument itself requires the acceptance of certain implicit premises by the arguers, and that violating others' rights requires that one act inconsistently with those premises; so there is no logically consistent way to argue for a rights violation.

I'm oversimplifying here; those interested should go to Hoppe's site and read his papers on the subject. His position requires, I think, much less handwaving than arguments from "human nature" or "highest values", and produces the same conclusions.