In Defense of Ethical Hypotheticals

Bobvis doesn't like ethicists or their silly questions. I can't argue with his disdain for ethicists—especially bioethicists, who seem to exist solely for the purpose of retarding medical progress—but I do think that two hypothetical questions he dismisses as useless actually have value.

The first is the classic trolley problem (the fat man version). I find this problem valuable as an illustration of the incoherence of moral intuition. It's very difficult to argue that moral intuition is reliable when it's not even internally consistent.

The other:

Would you save a single human baby from a burning building or the last copy in the world of all the works of Shakespeare?

I like this one because it illustrates the breakdown of lexicographically-ordered preferences. There are a lot of platitudes involving lexicographically-ordered preferences, like the one about not putting a price on life. This is harmless, if mildly obnoxious, when people just say it for signalling purposes. But it's harmful to base policy decisions on that sort of nonsense (e.g., environmental regulations with a marginal cost of $10 million per year of life saved).

That said, I find this particular question somewhat unsatisfying, as it provides an opportunity for self-styled literati to engage in masturbatory rhetoric about the pricelessness of great literature. I want to watch them squirm as they're forced to admit that yes, you really can put a dollar value on life.

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Murder is wrong

The insistence that you should never kill an innocent, regardless of the consequences, amounts to a lexicographic preference that places first priority on the number of people you kill, and only second priority on the number of people who get killed by others.

Let's piece this apart.

The insistence that you should never kill an innocent

What "insistence"? He's talking about morality. The specific relevant claim is, roughly, that if you kill someone then you are guilty of having killed that person, but if someone else kills twenty people, then you are not guilty of having killed those people. It is wrong, then, for you to commit an act of killing, but it is not wrong for you merely to exist while simultaneously someone else commits an act of killing - or many acts of killing. It may be preferable to a random person that you kill one person than that someone else kill twenty people since, from the point of view of that random person, the former minimizes his own probability of being killed. But that is a completely separate issue from the issue of what it is or is not morally wrong for you to do. It merely confuses matters to confuse what a random stranger would prefer (he would prefer to minimize total deaths) with what actions on your part it would take to make you guilty of something.

amounts to a lexicographic preference that places first priority on the number of people you kill, and only second priority on the number of people who get killed by others

Rather, pretty much the definition of committing an evil act is oneself committing that act. What other people do, however bad that is, does not cause oneself to be in the wrong. It doesn't even get to the point of being a lexicographic ordering: the total number killed, if they are not killed by you, simply doesn't enter into the equation when classifying you as guilty or innocent.

Meanwhile, at the same time, a random person will of course prefer that you kill one person, rather than someone else kill twenty, because it will minimize his own chance of being killed.

These are two separate issues, and the following two points are entirely compatible with each other:

a) It is preferable (from an appropriately defined vantage point) that you kill one person (as compared to someone else killing ten people)

b) It is wrong to kill one person but it is not wrong to exist while simultaneously someone else kills ten people.

Deontology

Context:

But since I know many libertarians read this blog, I’ll give three applications that pose challenges to libertarians – in particular, those libertarians who base their beliefs on a dogged attachment to deontology or inviolable natural rights.

Specifics:

Suppose you fall out the window of your 20th story condo. On the way down, you catch hold of horizontal flagpole on the 19th floor. You could swing over and break through a window of someone else’s condo, or you could let go and plummet to your death. Which do you choose? And more importantly, how should the law treat your action? I think the answers are clear: you should break into the condo, and the law should require you to pay compensation for the broken window (and any other damage that results). But I’ve actually heard deontological libertarians argue that you should respect the 19th floor condo owner’s property rights come what may.

This doesn't make deontology wrong. If it's correct, it makes some specific beliefs of specific deontologists wrong. Deontology is a general approach to morality. It has no specific content by itself. A deontologist might well agree on the right to use property in an emergency.

Even if it is shown that anarchy leads to a much larger overall amount and severity of rights violations than a government, deontological anarchists must oppose the creation of a government because it legitimizes some of those violations. In essence, they adopt a lexicographic ordering that places first priority on minimizing legitimized rights violations, while placing second priority on all other rights violations.

Surely that is incorrect. Who says they prioritize minimizing "legitimized" rights violations? Isn't it more likely that they merely refuse to suppress the anarchistic consequence of their principles? Such refusal to suppress certain consequences is the opposite of prioritization. It is those who want to sacrifice certain rights that others may be better defended - who for example want to establish a minimal state in order to bring law and order to society - who are guilty of prioritization.

An evenhanded deontologist libertarian will surely oppose all rights violations, including but not limited to the creation of a government. Therefore (if his principles happen to lead to anarchy) he will advocate anarchy along with all other logical consequences of his principles (but not in preference to them).

This position commits them to supporting anarchy regardless of what consequences may occur, including consequences that impinge severely on individual rights the anarchists themselves hold dear. For instance, what if anarchy resulted not in the nicely balanced and competing protection agencies that anarchist libertarians imagine, but instead in a Hobbesian state of war?

But surely the position commits them to supporting anarchy and also, with no greater or lesser fervor, supporting peace and individual rights. You could with equal justice say that the position commits them to supporting individual rights regardless of what consequences may occur, including the rise of the state. Deontological anarchism doesn't prioritize creation of anarchy, it merely includes it, it derives it as one (but hardly the only) logical consequence of their principles.

In fact, isn't the one who is prioritizing, the one who recommends that certain violations be accepted that others might be better opposed? Isn't the flaw of the deontologists - if there is a flaw - not that they prioritize one right over another, but that they refuse to prioritize and also refuse to suppress, and therefore advocate anarchy because they insist on evenhandedly and universally and without preference applying their principles, and refuse to suppress the anarchistic consequence of their principles?

A deontologist might well

A deontologist might well agree on the right to use property in an emergency.

By what rule or standard is the deontologist making this exception? What defines an emergency?

Let me quote something you wrote in another thread:

Philosophy that has to prune itself in order to avoid diverging from what philosophers already understand to be morality is not guiding anyone - it is being guided by an extraneous understanding of morality. Meanwhile, philosophy which boldly applies the logic of its own assumptions - as Peter Singer has - produces results which are wrong.

Does this not apply perfectly to deontologists failing to follow through the logic of their own assumptions in cases of "emergency"?

Ask him, not me

By what rule or standard is the deontologist making this exception? What defines an emergency?

You would have to ask the hypothetical deontologist. Deontology is a general approach and if we imagine a hypothetical deontologist, we have not thereby imagined any specific content to his deontology.

Does this not apply perfectly to deontologists failing to follow through the logic of their own assumptions in cases of "emergency"?

Who says they are failing to adhere to the logic of their own assumptions? You seem to have specific assumptions in mind - but deontology as such is not identical with any specific assumptions.

Let us review what a deontologist is. From wikipedia:

Deontological ethics or deontology (Greek: δέον (deon) meaning 'obligation' or 'duty') is an approach to ethics that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of actions themselves, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions.

I do not think that it is at all hard to imagine someone considering the case of the emergency condo trespass by the falling man and feeling, intuitively, that "surely it is quite all right for this man to use the condo in case of emergency." I myself feel that intuition. And I am not conscious of performing a consequentialist calculation here. I am not conscious of looking to the future and comparing the consequences. Rather, it simply, immediately, feels all right if a person in dire need trespasses on property. Similarly, if someone suddenly loses his balance and in a panic he reaches out and grabs my shoulder, I think that's quite all right, though if he were to grab my shoulder in some other circumstance I might object. If you find this unlikely, try this on: malicious intent is important in deciding the degree of wrongness, and someone in dire emergency who grabs for support seems entirely free of malicious intent. Malicious intent is not a consequence. So an assessment based on the presence or absence of malice is not consequentialist.

You might argue, "but really, you surely feel this way on account of the consequences". Maybe. But the same could be said of any of a deontologist's positions. Maybe on some level, unacknowledged by the deontologist, he feels the way he does about rights and property because of the consequences. I would imagine that consequentialists believe that on some level everyone is a consequentialist. There is nothing special about this particular case. Admittedly it is pretty obvious that allowing the man to use the condo has good consequences. But the same can be said of individual rights and of property.

I wouldn't consider myself a deontologist, but I have good things to say about it, which I might some day write down if I can get my thoughts in order.

Who says they are failing to

Who says they are failing to adhere to the logic of their own assumptions? You seem to have specific assumptions in mind - but deontology as such is not identical with any specific assumptions.

And the same can be said of the consequentialist. Depending on how you define the terms, on what level of abstraction you choose to look at them, and how much content you decide to give them, the two competing normative theories suffer from the same sorts of problems.

When you fall back on intuition as a justification for exceptions to moral theories, you become vulnerable to your own criticism of Peter Singer. And I repeat:

Philosophy that has to prune itself in order to avoid diverging from what philosophers already understand to be morality is not guiding anyone - it is being guided by an extraneous understanding of morality. Meanwhile, philosophy which boldly applies the logic of its own assumptions - as Peter Singer has - produces results which are wrong.

Quoting me at me again

And the same can be said of the consequentialist.

In which case that particular line of attack against which I was defending (or its mirror) would not work on consequentialism. I.e., in attacking consequentialism, it would be erroneous to identify consequentialism as such with specific ends.

Depending on how you define the terms, on what level of abstraction you choose to look at them, and how much content you decide to give them, the two competing normative theories suffer from the same sorts of problems.

Well, actually just here I defended deontology against a particular attack. If, as seems likely, consequentialism can also be defended against the same line of attack, then what we have here uncovered is not problems in both, but problems in neither. I.e., not this particular purported problem, anyway - though there might be alternative lines of attack.

It may be that the two competing theories - or rather, specific incarnations of them - suffer from problems, but I haven't actually uncovered any right here. I do have a fundamental problem with consequentialism which is not dependent on any specific ends. But that I will leave for another time.

When you fall back on intuition as a justification for exceptions to moral theories, you become vulnerable to your own criticism of Peter Singer.

In that quote I was attacking the idea that moral philosophers have an important role to play as moral guides, which is a specific claim about moral philosophy that someone made in a paper linked in another discussion. In my comments here I am not trying to defend deontologists as having an important role to play as moral guides. In that quote I say that philosophy that prunes itself in response to outside understanding of morality is not guiding anyone. But I am not, here, saying that deontology is guiding anyone.

Values and Ethics

I recommend Marc Hauser's book "Moral Minds" for his discussion on your first point. On the second, the real question -- which is the real question of ethics -- is which is more complex and complexifying? A single person is highly complex, but so are the works of Shakespeare. In fact, those works are a complex representation of the person Shakespeare, so to lose those works is to lose a human being in a real sense. More, we lose the ability of those plays to contribute to the ongoing complexification of humanity. If the person we are saving is another Shakespeare, one could perhaps argue for the person, but the fact is that most people are not going to contribute all that much to overall society. The fact is, any given human being is not infinitely valuable. Further, some human beings are in fact more valuable than others (as life insurance proves). If you really want to know which you should save, have an insurance company cover both the plays and the person involved. Whichever the insurance company gives the most coverage to is the more valuable. (This analysis should annoy almost everyone on the Left -- never mind that their inhuman ideology has historically slaughtered hundreds of millions of people, and starved even more to death.)

Rigid adherence to a

Rigid adherence to a principle can produce unattractive results (I don't think I even have to mention that this isn't a problem unique to deontology). When the hypotheticals come at us, we're forced to choose between consistency and our first instinct. I favor consistency. But that's just a personal preference.

Must we choose though? We can always insert a qualification in our initial principles: rights violations are bad, except in situations S1, S2, etc. Now that's a bit weaselly, but what's formally wrong with it? Assuming moral anti-realism, the original principle "rights violations are bad" was woven out of whole cloth, i.e. it relates to nothing objective. If one's willing to allow that creation, why should they care if we instead create the slightly altered principle: rights violations are bad, except in...

Because there's something displeasing in that ad hoc improvisation. We prefer simple, universal principles, even when they're entirely subjective. This is, ultimately, another subjective preference, but it seems to be so widely shared that maybe we can just pretend it's objective: things should be simple and universal.

As to the utility of moral hypotheticals, they are, like anything, useful or not depending on the goals you have. I find them amusing, a fun way of discovering just what my own gut tells me about certain situations. But that's because I'm introspective--others not sharing this fascination with me, or with themselves, may find no use for them. They're also useful for convincing people to adopt the policies you want, as Brandon demonstrates.

Also, count me as a Shakespeare skeptic.

Science

We can always insert a qualification in our initial principles: rights violations are bad, except in situations S1, S2, etc.

Or, as with a scientific theory that has been falsified, we can replace the initial principles with a new set that more closely matches the moral reality we are attempting to describe.

Now that's a bit weaselly, but what's formally wrong with it?

The example you gave (qualifications) is similar to adding epicycles to defend a theory that is becoming obsolete. That is indeed a problem, but it is not adjusting the principles per se that is a problem, but adjusting them by adding epicycles.

Assuming moral anti-realism, the original principle "rights violations are bad" was woven out of whole cloth, i.e. it relates to nothing objective. If one's willing to allow that creation, why should they care if we instead create the slightly altered principle: rights violations are bad, except in...

Alternatively: assuming moral realism, but also assuming that humans are fallible and might get it wrong on their first try, then there is nothing wrong with altering the principles in itself. It's what we did with physics that got us to where we are today. We need to be careful about how we alter the principles - epicycles may retard scientific progress - but alteration may still be necessary.

We prefer simple, universal principles, even when they're entirely subjective. This is, ultimately, another subjective preference, but it seems to be so widely shared that maybe we can just pretend it's objective: things should be simple and universal.

That, I think, may be a mistake. If morality concerns humans but not rocks, then morality is biological. Biology concerns some of the most complex stuff in the universe. If morality is biological, it might well be complex.

Morality

The example you gave (qualifications) is similar to adding epicycles to defend a theory that is becoming obsolete. That is indeed a problem, but it is not adjusting the principles per se that is a problem, but adjusting them by adding epicycles.

I agree entirely; the problem with epicycles is it makes the theory more complex and less aesthetically appealing. If the alteration to the theory produced a principle that is as simple as the original, then there's no problem, at least, from the aesthetic viewpoint.

To wit, if our moral principle was:

P: Killing things is wrong.

An acceptable adjustment would be:

P2: Rights violation is wrong.

As these are both simple principles.

But an unacceptable adjustment would be:

P3: Killing things is wrong, except for in the following cases: C1, C2, C3, etc.

As this is messy, like the theory of epicycles.

It is the latter form of adjustment I referred to, which was unclear in my prior comment.

If morality concerns humans but not rocks, then morality is biological. Biology concerns some of the most complex stuff in the universe. If morality is biological, it might well be complex.

If morality supervenes on biological facts, then I agree it is likely complex. But a morality so defined is not, in my experience, what moral realists believe in. The laws (some) moral realists believe in exist apart from biological facts--and the moral realist, I imagine, expects such rules to be as simple as other universal fundamentals. Thermodynamics and the like.

On the other hand, let's say morality is just an evolutionary production, with no external relation. If so, I agree it's probable that such morality is complex--I think it's near certain. But, at the same time, I stand by my comment that most people have a taste for simple universality (this explains, I hypothesize, why moral hypotheticals showing us a wrinkle in our up-to-that-point seemingly simple beliefs, are seen as problematic). I don't know the why for this taste, but that's my general impression.

These two tastes conflict--at once, our moral gut feelings are unsystematic due to their complex evolutionary production, but at the same time, we wish they were simple.

Hence we find ourselves always looking for a simple theory to explain all our moral instincts, and we always fail.

Why a theory should be parsimonious

Very often, I've encountered people claiming that making parsimonious theories is a kind of aesthetic hubris (*), after all what should the world be simple or fit an appealing model. It's really not, the principle of parsimony is the humblest principle ever, among many explanation, it chooses the one which maximizes information entropy, hence ignorance.

Probably stating the obvious here, but it's a good thing to keep in mind.

(* minarchists for example, defending their half baked, "except for" morality, theists as well)

Parsimony is especially

Parsimony is especially important in ethics relative to other disciplines, for ethics (for the realist) is not merely an explanation of the way thing are nor how they work, but an instruction manual for how persons should act when encountering unfamiliar situations. When the exceptions to the rule become too numerous or complex, you begin to lose any value in having a rule in the first place; the exceptions are as unfamiliar as the novel situations.

I don't think there's

I don't think there's anything to be gained by confounding these two senses of the term "ethics": the "instruction manual" sense and the "explanation" sense. Ethical explanations may be very complex, but nonetheless, as an instructional manual, ethical propositions should be streamlined. That's no different from using 22/7 as a standin for pi, or assuming Euclidean geometry in the real world, technically false, but true enough to work with. Just because simplicity is useful for the practical implementation of lessons--the instrution manual--of a field of study does not mean parsimony has anything to say about the original explanation of the phenomena under study.

Ethics

Just as the primary goal of an individual in a social setting who behaves well, is to avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of ostracism and abuse, so is the primary goal of a professional who engages in ethical behavior to avoid losing customers (or worse, being sued by them) while at the same time avoid being taken advantage of by customers. An ethical service provider is trustworthy and reliable and retains customers on that account, while at the same time maintaining profitability.

There is no way a philosopher in his study is going to know better than people actually engaged in a business, exactly what behavior provides the optimal balance between losing customers and losing profits per customer.

In a profession such as medicine which is protected by the state, the market signals are largely absent, and in this context service providers are apt to lose their way - since they have lost the guidance of the marketplace. Power corrupts. But getting help from ethicists is like the blind leading the blind.

A role for abstraction

There is no way a philosopher in his study is going to know better than people actually engaged in a business, exactly what behavior provides the optimal balance between losing customers and losing profits per customer.

The same can be said about economists. Though they may understand the mechanism of the market and the behavior of firms from an abstract level, they don't necessarily make good entrepreneurs, lacking tacit Hayekian knowledge.

But getting back to philosophers - what sort of market actor is better equipped to deal with questions regarding the proper way to treat animals than a professional philosopher?

What sort of market actor is better equipped to deal with questions regarding the spontaneous order of the marketplace than a professional economist?

Economists are scientists

The same can be said about economists.

1) An economist's predictions can in principle be tested. It was pointed out earlier that philosophers of morality are in a different position - how exactly is their output going to be tested? While I actually can think of ways of testing the output, I'm almost certain that whether philosophers accepted my tests would depend on whether they happened to share my views, and so then we would come full circle.

2) Fine, let us suppose that economists can only answer certain questions and not others (not the ones that businessmen need answering to get rich). This is saying that they are expert only in certain matters pertaining to the economy and not in other matters. Which is precisely what I was saying about philosophers of morality. As to what exactly they are expert in, why, clearly, they are expert in the philosophy of morality, just as philosophers of language are experts in the philosophy of language. This argues against the essay which prompted my comments - the essay which declared that philosophers should be treated as the experts in morality.

But getting back to philosophers - what sort of market actor is better equipped to deal with questions regarding the proper way to treat animals than a professional philosopher?

A farmer.

A farmer answers the

A farmer answers the question of how to treat animal in order to achieve specific results, fat juicy and flavorful meat, lack of diseases, high yield, etc. If you want to have pets for example, you should treat them differently and ask a pet trainer.

My view maybe somewhat restrictive, especially if you include metaphysics in philosophy, but I think a philosopher does not answer positive questions but normative questions. It does not say which action we should take to achieve a specific goal, but what specific goal we should seek for themselves, it deals with ultimate ends, not means. Philosophical deontology also deals with ends, as it lists a set of actions that we should seek to avoid.

Farmers are in a position

I am not saying that a farmer's profession is animal ethics. I am saying that because of his proximity to the animals and to one aspect of the relationship between humans and other species (we eat them - same as they eat each other) he is in a much better position to understand this than the philosopher, who because of his relative distance has little real basis for his opinions. What philosophers have is dreams, and on this foundation of dreams they build more dreams, and we have little reason to be confident in any of this. What the farmer has is contact with reality, and on this foundation of reality he at least has a chance of building an accurate understanding. (Philosophers of course also contact reality, but a different part of it, so if I want to understand the ethics of teaching and the ethics of writing, I will turn to philosophers before I will turn to farmers.)

There can be expected to be more wisdom in the farmer who wrings a chicken's neck prior to cooking it than there is in the theories of a utilitarian as they pertain to animals. Those theories are based on utilitarianism, which is false. So utilitarians do not connect to reality, but instead connect to falsehood. They build theories on falsehood. Farmers at least connect to reality. A theory can be expected to be no better than its foundation. Someone who deals with animals and who builds a theory (however informal) on these interactions, has more to go on than someone who does not deal with animals but, instead, deals with falsehood, believes falsehood, and builds theories on top of falsehood.

I think a philosopher does not answer positive questions but normative questions

Everyone answers moral questions all the time. Human morality is a product of human interaction with other humans: it is a kind of compromise or ceasefire which humans reach with each other. In essence, each party to this compromise refrains from predating on the other parties to the compromise in exchange from those other parties also refraining.

The primary morality-discovering activity, then, is conflict resolution between people. Out of this primary activity, certain patterns may arise. Here's where philosophers come in. They notice certain patterns, and then they pick some of these patterns and turn them into objects of worship, and then start deriving things from those objects of worship. However, invariably they get it wrong. I don't think any moral philosopher has it exactly right. They simplify too much, they go too far in their speculations. Kant's moral imperative does indeed capture fairly well certain features of morality, but it has its limits.

It is as if economists observed how the actual economy works, developed a simplistic theory of it (perfect competition), and then declared that any departure from perfect competition was a flaw in the economy. No: the flaw is not in the departure from perfect competition, the flaw is in taking a simplistic theory of the economy too seriously.

Philosophers observe how actual morality works, they develop simplistic theories of it (e.g. utilitarianism), and then they declare that any departure from utilitarianism is a flaw. No: the flaw is not in the failure of realized morality to exactly match utilitarianism, the flaw is in taking a simplistic theory of morality too seriously.

The work of philosophers is derivative. The activity of people engaging in conflict resolution is primary. When there is a mismatch, chances are good that it is the philosophers who are wrong, not the people whose conflict resolutions philosophers are after all basing their theories on.

Ethics as a Parlor Game.

To wit, if our moral principle was:
P: Killing things is wrong.
An acceptable adjustment would be:
P2: Rights violation is wrong.
As these are both simple principles.
But an unacceptable adjustment would be:
P3: Killing things is wrong, except for in the following cases: C1, C2, C3, etc.

Reductionism is not a neutral process as it both adds and takes away value. Or you can go the other way and add qualifications. Killing is wrong except if you kill an animal for food, C-1, or if you kill another human to stop him from killing someone else without justification, C-2, or if you are both soldiers and there is a battle and he is on the other side and is not surrendering,C-3, or if you are trying to relieve the pain of a cancer patient and you accidentally have to give a fatal dose of pain relievers to give pain relief,C-4. Or the person has been condemned to death by a court of law and you are the executioner, C-5.

I think what you should say is that murder is wrong. Killing is not wrong. But A- ha you could say that eating animals is wrong, self defense is wrong, war is wrong ,the death penalty is wrong and euthanasia is wrong. It is your choice.
Consequentialism and deontology are stand alone internally consistent systems. The winner of the parlor game is the player with the most powerful logic. The only trouble is that in real life the two bleed over into one another. Thus you must select your own personal first principles, making a mockery of strict deontology.

So try reductionism. If you reduce murder to violation of rights you face similar difficulties. What if there is a contract that the people who control a certain area agree everyone should abide by? You happen to come by and assert that the only right you accept is the nonaggression principle in order that you won't have to violate anyone’s rights and no one will violate your's. This includes murder but also theft. Further you recognize no government and will pay no taxes. The nonaggression principle is not obviously a first principle like the principle that murder is wrong.

The basis of this principle ,the right not to be murdered, creates a rule that requires you not to murder others. Just because you abstain from governing or taxing others this does not exempt you from government or taxation if you are present in a common area controlled by people believe that just laws and taxes can be had as long as there is representation or democracy. Even if there is a king or dictator in control you still have no automatic right to noncompliance of any tax or law that you think is a violation of your right not to be aggressed upon, though you would have a stronger right not to be murdered.

If a person visits the territory of a group which has consented to government and taxation and he disagrees that he should be bound by the laws of the area he is free to leave. A person is not a law unto himself. There is no place on earth where self ownership is complete. If there are no formal laws there are customs and beliefs that are enforced.

If you seduce the mayor’s teenage daughter you will be jailed. If you seduce the chieftain’s daughter you may be boiled in a pot. There is nowhere where you can do anything you want as long as you convince yourself that it is not a violation of the nonaggression principle
Dave

If you seduce the teenage

If you seduce the teenage daughter and get jailed, you'd still be in your right and the mayor would be wrong and evil.

The fact that crime exist doesn't mean that rights don't. Just because you can't safely use your rights doesn't mean you don't have them. Rights are not defined by what you can do, but what people ought not stop you to do. You are confusing two very different things.

As for accepting the rules of a place you visit, you are absolutely right as long as the people making the rule do have a legitimate jurisdiction, which can only come from the unanimous consent of all property owners. Democratic governments do not have that.

Freedom is Good

In a free country you get agency to mostly select your own principles. That is why freedom is good. You get more rights. This is no small thing if you read about pre-modern societies.

Dave

As I Said

See above