|Glenn wrote, |
So, aren't you saying that this person should "turn himself in"? Suppose the victim decides that paying back "the loan" is insufficient, and that the perp should be arrested. Is he morally obligated to turn him self in then? Why is what my victim decides the standard for what I should do? What I should do is make the victim whole, not turn myself in just because he decides that I should be in custody.
If a person has a "right" to their property and one has a "moral principle" that they should not steal another person's property which they are obliged to follow, then, when placed in an emergency situation, how is it that the "moral principle" and/or the other person's "right" "simply doesn't apply"? This is where I get confused. Because the context is different, and moral principles are context dependent. For instance, it's wrong to lie, but not if doing so is necessary to protect your child form a kidnapper. The principle of honesty doesn't apply in the latter case, because the context is different. Similarly, the principle of rights doesn't apply when respecting it deprives you of your highest values.
By Bill’s logic, “If I have a right against your stealing my food, then you are obligated to abstain from stealing it. Therefore, if you are not obligated to abstain from stealing it, then I do not have a right against your stealing it.” By saying that my victims had no right against being robbed, I simply meant that I was not obligated to abstain from robbing them. That doesn't mean that they would not be justified in defending themselves. In this situation, there is a genuine conflict of interest. My interests conflict with theirs, so they would be as justified in trying to stop me from robbing them as I would be in trying to rob them. Moreover, the law should side with the victims, not with the perpetrator, because the purpose of a legal system is to defend people against the initiation of force, and it is I who am initiating force, not my victims.
So, not only will the victims have to contend with the marauding couple, they will also have to swallow the notion that they do not have a right against the mal-prepared, murdering thieves! And it is the victims, by this logic, who will face charges later for putting up a fight—which they had no right to do—against the couple that found themselves bereft of obligations due to their “emergency.”
How does someone else's "emergency" affect my right to my property? No, as indicated above. To say that I would have "a right" to take your property if my life depended on it is simply to say that I would be "justified" in taking it. It is not to say that you must allow me to take it. You would be equally justified in defending your property against my attempt to take it. Once again, what exists here is a genuine conflict of interest.
If your emergency means you have the "right" to take my property, does that mean I no longer have the right to defend it?
Kurt's point is excellent: The Objectivist ethics is not about physical survival bereft of values as the ultimate end, for according to Objectivism, suicide is proper if you have nothing left to live for. But the assumption in the emergency scenario is that you do have something to live for, and that in order to preserve your life (or your wife's), you must initiate force against another human being. There is no reason whatsoever why I should give up a life that I value in order to abstain from initiating force. I have absolutely nothing to gain by doing so.
"Ok if it is what you describe, say I have to kill someone to get the food, or take some medicine they have but I didn't bring and they would die - then I am sacrificing their life for mine - I am living on the life of another - and I don't think I could do that to anyone, period." Remember Objectivism talks about man's life qua man. The Objectivist ethics is not about physical survival as the ultimate end.