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Post 20

Monday, July 11, 2005 - 9:38pmSanction this postReply
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Dayaamm Mike!

Ya got me! (bonk) That "angel" instead of "angle" is so funny that I am going to leave it.

LOLOLOLOL...

Michael




Post 21

Monday, July 11, 2005 - 10:21pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

"Also, I agree that I did not see the word "forced" in your dictionary quote (which is why I added it), but I did not see "voluntary" either."

Every one of those definitions involved a peaceful transaction. Ayn Rand's trader principle is one of my fondest principles of objectivism. Didn't she also warn about allowing people to change the definitions of words to something they weren't? You just set off an alarm. I really don't think eminent domain can be justified in any but the most dire of circumstances. I'm certainly not going to be convinced by calling it a "sale". Of any kind. Like, you mug somebody, then take a dollar out of their wallet and throw it back at them. Come to think of it, for most people who are the victims of eminent domain, they've probably paid more in taxes in their lifetime than what they were paid for their own property. So, they bought their property from themselves and gave it to the government. Let's call it a gift. FORCED GIVING. Now there's a concept! Let's call it Christmas!

Going back to your earlier post:

"I want to stress that this is a very restricted and well-defined instance of one right (the right of the government of citizens to have a physical seat) superceding another (the right of an individual to own one particular stretch of land) by freely elected officials. I do not support democracy being used against well defined individual rights."

I'm a little confused by this. It seems like you defined a new right "government of citizens to have a physical seat" superceding the right of one particular individual and then said you didn't support democracy being used against well defined individual rights. I think when you go to the realm of "rights superceding rights" one of them ain't a right.



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Post 22

Monday, July 11, 2005 - 10:32pmSanction this postReply
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There is no such thing as a 'collective right' - so there is no conflict of rights, only the violation of one's...



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Post 23

Monday, July 11, 2005 - 11:09pmSanction this postReply
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Mike,

This issue boils down to what the nature of government derives from. If you believe that rights are intrinsic to reality, then that will lead you to posit no government whatsoever. If you believe that rights are derived from ethics that are derived only from the rational thought of individuals and no other consideration, then a case for no government whatsoever could also be made (mainly as evil would not be regarded as a practical problem).

If you believe that rights are derived from ethics that are derived from the full nature of man, which includes reason plus emotions - including the possibility and/or insistence of some individuals of forcibly interfering with the values/rights of other individuals and making horrible destructive emotion-based choices - then some government becomes necessary.

Once the necessity of a government for a society of individuals is established, the government's requirements for basic existence become a type of "entity" right. This is practically the same criteria used for individual rights (individual life being the basic standard for individuals - and for the entity, the individual entity's existence being the basic standard).

That man is a rational but also emotional being capable of power lust, this is precisely why government "rights" like eminent domain need to be tied to extremely clear rational limitations and definitions, just like individual rights need to be.

In the case at hand of (I cannot stress this enough) rationally limited eminent domain, the right of an individual to own property is not annulled. His right to own a particular piece of property needed for the basic existence of a government is (and nothing else, except emergencies like war and natural disasters). Due compensation for appropriation ensures that his right to own any other property he is able to purchase on the market as a substitute continues.

Thus one right did not cancel the other. It superceded it (was more important) with respect to a specific piece of land only.

In my view, there is no such thing as an automatic (ontological) right - something inherent in reality. (What "rights" did Tarzan have all alone in the jungle?) Rights are social conventions based on ethics.

If some rights are inalienable, this is because some very great men have made them so in documents based on their own ethics - not nature - and current men and women continue to agree.

Michael




Post 24

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 4:47amSanction this postReply
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Ownership of land by a government is not necessary. Historically, many governments have operated out of borrowed, rented, or leased facilities.

Eminent domain is theft. How the loot is used doesn't change the fact.



Post 25

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 4:51amSanction this postReply
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The concept of rights does not apply alone on a desert island or alone in the middle of the jungle. Yes, rights only exist in a social context. But when that social context exists then rights are inalienable — they are determined by the nature of man and the nature of the world he finds himself in.

An alienable right is a contradiction in terms.



Post 26

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 6:03amSanction this postReply
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Rick,

You can state:
Yes, rights only exist in a social context. But when that social context exists then rights are inalienable — they are determined by the nature of man and the nature of the world he finds himself in.

An alienable right is a contradiction in terms.
But tell that to a dictator if you are a citizen - that you have inalienable rights. He will show you just how alienable they are when he locks you up, tortures you, confiscates your property, terrorizes your family and kills you (unless you bribe him - now hows that for alienation of a "right"?). Hell, under him you don't even have the "inalienable" right to life.

Saying that he violated your rights is word games. You have to depose him in the name of wanting to have rights, not rights that already exist. They don't exist under him.

I repeat, rights derive from ethics. In the USA they were drawn up into a document that makes them enforceable. Without that capacity to be enforced, they simply do not exist.

We probably disagree.

Michael



Post 27

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 7:58amSanction this postReply
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MSK,

A "right" is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man's freedom of action in a social context.

A right defines the moral authority to act not the ability to act.

One acts, in a social situation, with moral authority or without moral authority. Your dictator acts without. If you resist him you are acting with moral authority. If you resist you are defending your rights. If what you claim were so, then social interaction would be an amoral, "might makes right", win-lose, survival of the strongest.

The concept of individual rights is so prodigious a feat of political thinking that few men grasp it fully — and two hundred years have not been enough for other countries to understand it.

Nor evidently some Objectivists.



Post 28

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 8:59amSanction this postReply
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Agree, Rick - is amazing how so few seem yet to grasp that eminent domain is antithical to individualism, that it is a collectivist mindset putting into practice Lenin's "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need", where 'need' trumps rights... further, government as an 'entity' is a legal fiction - there is no concrete existant called government, only a group of individuals acting in concert, forcing their way over others...



Post 29

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - 9:55amSanction this postReply
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I'm going to stick this one out.

It was Ayn Rand herself who said that morality ends where a gun begins.

So what moral authority are you guys talking about with a dictator? The only one I see is ethics, and he don't give two hoots and a holler for that. Intrinsic moral authority? Something that just is? He laughs at it right before he shoots you. From the "Creator who endows such things," as is given and/or implied in the founding documents of the USA? He shrugs it off and cuts the preachers some slack to keep the rabble occupied.

If you want any kind of "moral authority" even to exist, you have to get rid of the dictator - violently if needed.

You can have and keep your moral authority without possibility to act. All of it. That's a nice comfortable thing to be able to postulate in a country like the USA, where the issue doesn't even exist like where I've seen.

I will have none of it.

I want my morality reflected in practice - like it is in the USA - and in this reality.

I repeat, rights are a social convention based on ethics, not some commandment from some noumenal "moral realm." Their concrete form in reality, not in the armchairs of you gentlemen, is in a document that is endorsed by the leaders of a society, accepted by its citizens and backed up by courts and official armed law enforcement if needed.

Without that endorsement and sanction and practical implementation, there are no rights. Just armchairs. That is, until the thugs carry them off.

Michael



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Post 30

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 8:42amSanction this postReply
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My reasoning goes like this: A citizen of a legal system is committed to the proper ways of securing individual rights (against domestic or foreign criminals). Thus, if justice can only be achieved with a citizen's support--testifying in court, selling property at the market price--then such cooperation may be required of a citizen; his or her citizenship constitutes an implicit promise to honor such a requirement from those administering the system of which he or she wants to be a part. In eminent domain cases if the property can be bought, it should be, yes, just as if a witness comes forth to testify, no subpoena is necessary. But if no one offers to sell, then a taking may occur, following proper procedures that guarded against mischief. Anarcho-libertarians, so called, will face the very same problem if they want to find a place to conduct a trial or carry out the incarceration of a convicted criminal. All their so called anarchism and "privatization" of law will not avoid these difficulties--the avoidance they claim they manage is predicated on assumptions that are dubious, namely, that all will give immediate consent to everything needed for the adjudication of disputes. But disagreeable parties will be found, just as in a minarchist system, despite the promise implicit in being a participant in the system. (I should add that this does not entail taxation but it does commit every citizen to support the administrators efforts to generate a fee-based support for the legal order and its administration.)



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Post 31

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 9:19amSanction this postReply
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Tibor, you just wrote:
But disagreeable parties will be found...
That is where we strongly agree on a very fundamental issue. That is part of man's nature - the possibility of anyone at anytime becoming a "disagreeable party" (in all senses). That is precisely what the anarchists ignore or make light of.

How do you accommodate "disagreeable parties" in reality? Typical anarchist answer: you don't need to - or the ever magic catch-word, retaliation (try keeping that up only after you have been hit real hard each time).

Thugs (and "disagreeable parties") form gangs and organizations. Then they come after innocent people. They use guns and other arms. This is a fact and must be countered for rights to exist at all. Thus government (limited government that is) is a necessity based on mans full nature, not just his rational capacity.

Michael




Post 32

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 1:19pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

Yes, morality ends at the point of a gun. What that means is that the one who points the gun no longer has the sanction of morality for his actions.

When (if) you act to get rid of the dictator, are you acting morally? Are you acting rightfully? How can you possibly think that once a dictator points a gun there no longer is morality, there no longer are any rights?

Rights (morality) is determined by the nature of man and the nature of the world he finds himself in — NOT by the actions of any individual or group of individuals.

If rights are just a "convention", how do you decide who has what rights? Majority vote? Superior force?

Rights are conditions of existence required by man's nature for his proper survival.



Post 33

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 1:22pmSanction this postReply
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Tibor,

You would be right if that was part of what you agreed to when you joined the legal system.



Post 34

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 1:26pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

Wow, that's quite a desperate leap there! Tibor's "disagreeable person" was someone who simply refused to sell what he owned. Somehow you've managed to convert that into someone who actively violates the rights of others.

I think that qualifies as equivocation.



Post 35

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 2:08pmSanction this postReply
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Yes - there seems to be strong confusion between Rights and Privileges... the first are inherent within the nature of being human - the second are grants fron the state, and may be taken away at any time...

and further, what if the thugs be the government itself - which is what is the case in eminent domaining, stealing another's property for a 'need' of the collective, the government...as communistic an idea as any...




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Post 36

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 - 3:41pmSanction this postReply
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Rick,

Maybe I did put too much in the "disagreeable person" thing - sorry. It was not meant to mislead, although logically it could be extended to include what I mentioned. Still, I don't want to put words in the mouth of anyone - much less a man of Tibor Machan's stature - and on looking it over, I admit that I pushed the concept further than I should have. Apologies also to Tibor.

I will look harder at his texts as I still think we have many points in common.

But I think you and I are always going to disagree (including Robert M). I do not find any rights at all inherent in man's nature. All I find inherent basically are a bunch of capacities with specific natures (like cognition, two arms and two legs, digestion, etc.), a birth-growth-death cycle, and physical survival requirements (like food, shelter, etc.). Not much else.

I easily see people surviving the world over and throughout history without any rights at all, so what survival are you talking about? "Proper" survival, whatever that means? Oops - there we go with a value judgment.

The monkey-wrench in the works, of course, is volition. That is where a need for ethics - in order to guide choices - arises. Good and evil. Proper and improper. That kind of thing. So, now about your term "proper survival." Hmmmm...

Are rights needed for "proper" survival? Nope. Ethics are.

How about "proper" (ethical) survival giving rise to social rights (since all rights are social in nature) as being the correct logical sequence? That sounds a lot better to me.

Once a society is formed, rights arise from the ethics that are practiced.

To give a small breakdown in the philosophical chain of priority (most important or fundamental first, then going in descending order):

Metaphysics - Fundamental. Grandaddy of it all. Existence. The whole basic context for any specific thing. Axioms (when intertwined with epistemology).
Epistemology - Reason. Less fundamental than metaphysics, but intertwined with it for conscious conceptual beings, as consciousness both exists and perceives existence.
Ethics - Specific only to conscious conceptual beings, who by nature have volition. Rational selfishness - good and evil, proper and improper.
Politics - Specific only to groups of conscious conceptual beings with volition (meaning the possibility of choosing the good and proper, but also the evil and improper). Rights, capitalism and enforcement of both (government).

That's my take.

This discussion is getting boring, though. Instead of dealing with the issues I mention, principally the derivation of rights from ethics, all I get now is repetitions of the same old intrinsic "rights are inherent to man" metaphysical party line. Constant repetition is not proof of anything and I am not a parrot. Braaaaawk!

Michael



Post 37

Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 5:16pmSanction this postReply
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Rick Pasotto writes: "I doubt you can point to any libertarian who has defended theft of any kind. You are confusing concern with the process of protecting rights with the rights themselves. Libertarians criticize not only this specific New London taking but all usage of eminent domain. Any disagreement is about the best way to stop eminent domain."

Hear, hear! I like Pasotto's other comments on this thread as well.



Post 38

Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 6:34pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,
So, now about your term "proper survival." Hmmmm...
Sorry, Michael, that is not my term. All the words I put in italics in this thread are direct quotations from Ayn Rand. I figured that anyone who was familiar with her works would immediately recognize them as such so there was no need to explicitly attribute them.



Post 39

Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 6:35pmSanction this postReply
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Thank you, Anthony.



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