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Sunday, March 14 - 3:00pmSanction this postReply
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Excellent article!

Individual rights are born of the conditions of our existence as humans - but they only arise in a social context - there has to be another person. And they only arise in the context of an interacton between 2 or more people. So it is not a surprise that the nature of the interaction is at the heart of this issue.

Force, fraud, and theft are all forms of interation that you don't choose to be subjected to. The robber is pointing the gun at you and saying, "Give me your money or I'll shoot you." If you had been raised on some distant world that only knew free trade and had nothing, not even in its fiction or history that resembled a rights violation, you would be bewildered, and you might say to the robber, But that isn't a very good offer. I already have the status of not being shot and being shot isn't something I want. What else do you have to offer for my money?" But he isn't offering, he's demanding. He isn't trading, he's taking.

It is in this context - at this level - that we need to frame the issue of volition/choice. There are poor souls that choose to have pain inflicted on them - masochists. There are people that out of neurotic levels of free-floating guilt will give away their money. But those are their choices. Force, in this context is an abrogation of another's choice. Of course it needs to be understood that it must be a choice they could make. I don't have the choice to tell an employer he can not fire me if that is his want. I don't own the right to the job and so his firing me isn't force. Bill's description of the employee/employer situation is exactly right - it is a matter of accurately parsing what choices a person has (what do they own that they can trade or not).

There could be no more elequent understanding of property rights than to imagine the rich, extraordinary and complex boundaries that exist around each one of us that mark where my rights stop and where another person's begin. Not just in our present, but it also includes all that is possible that could be done... with anyone. It could be an idea for a new communications device that moves beyond today's cell phone, and an inventor with nothing but his thoughts puts it on paper and approachs people with capital and people with special skills and a complex arrangement involving shared ownership, royalties, patent rights, and profit participation could create an economic base that ended up interacting with boundaries of millions of people - each person voluntarily making choices to interface with another as NewCell owners, stockholders, partners, employees, subscribers, vendors, vendor employees, etc.

It is all back to whether the person is choosing. And with force, the choice is forced and the heart of this is that break between the person's choice flowing from their goals or from the person exercising the force and against the victim's goals.

Bill has it right where he locates this at the level of being "self-directed" - it is at that level where we are first causes of our actions. But where Bill says, "...a sense in which one is 'coerced' if and only if one’s action is interfered with" is not how I would phrase it. Someone could be stealing small things I might or might not notice as missing. I would call that coersion because of the mechanism employed in the 'interaction' - the mechanism of theft is to act against the way I would choose to act if had been allowed to be self-directed. Force is alway acting against the combination of choice and that self-directed aspect of our being. Choice requires awareness and secret theft and sneaky fraud deprive us at that level. Pointing the gun, or pulling the trigger interfere at the action level. Choice and action can't be separated. Both are required for us to exist. Both are components of individual rights.



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Sunday, March 14 - 3:13pmSanction this postReply
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Doesn't a rights dispute require at least three parties? In a society of two, the parties can try to reason with each other and speak in terms of rights. But if there is an unsettled dispute, the only option is to resort to force, in effect, war. To whom other than rhetorically do the parties complain?

When there is a third party the aggrieved parties can then appeal to the third party which can judge the situation based upon the facts within the context of the parties' rights.



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Sunday, March 14 - 5:39pmSanction this postReply
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I said, "...they only arise in the context of an interacton between 2 or more people." I think they arise with as few as 2 people, and obviously, a single person can imagine what rights situations might exist if he weren't alone.

But I'd agree that it takes 3 or more people for a more practical and effective environment for observing individual rights.



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Sunday, March 14 - 6:18pmSanction this postReply
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Steve, thanks for the approbation and the compliment. You write,
But where Bill says, "...a sense in which one is 'coerced' if and only if one’s action is interfered with" is not how I would phrase it. Someone could be stealing small things I might or might not notice as missing. I would call that coersion because of the mechanism employed in the 'interaction' - the mechanism of theft is to act against the way I would choose to act if had been allowed to be self-directed.
I was using action in its broader, generic sense, as Rand does in her article "Man's Rights" in which she states, "The concept of a right pertains only to action -- specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men." (VOS, p. 94) A person whose property is stolen, even when he is not aware of it, has had his freedom of action interfered with, because he acts in determining the disposition of his property; when that disposition is interfered with, his action is interfered with.

- Bill
(Edited by William Dwyer on 3/14, 10:03pm)




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Monday, March 15 - 2:09pmSanction this postReply
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Ted: "Doesn't a rights dispute require at least three parties? In a society of two, the parties can try to reason with each other and speak in terms of rights. But if there is an unsettled dispute, the only option is to resort to force, in effect, war. To whom other than rhetorically do the parties complain?"

Your use of the phrase "to whom do the PARTIES complain" assumes that both parties to a dispute would want to complain about the status quo. This is generally not the case.The party to the dispute that is satisfied with the status quo generally does not desire any dispute resolution.

So, one of the two parties resorting to a third party to resolve a dispute, against the other party's objection, is also a "resort to force, in effect, war". So this veiled argument for minarchism just outsources the question of an individual's right to defend themself against aggression, and does not take into account that the complaining party may be seeking to perpetrate an injustice, and the third party they may hire might not act justly, and thus perpetrate an act of aggression.

 Thus, hiring someone to protect your rights is not fundamentally different than protecting your rights personally. There is no magic bullet, no way to ensure that the government you want to protect you might not turn on you and inflect an even greater injustice than the one you wish to resolve. The only sure approach is to convince enough of your neighbors to embrace the NIOF principle so that when you defend your rights personally or via a proxy, they will support your right to do so, and when you aggress on others either personally or via a proxy, they will not support that lest they be the next victim of aggression.




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Monday, March 15 - 3:25pmSanction this postReply
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Veiled argument for Minarchism? You protest too much.

(Edited by Ted Keer on 3/15, 4:20pm)




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Monday, March 15 - 4:20pmSanction this postReply
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The Concept of Rights and the Social Context


The concept of rights as such only arises in a political, i.e., a social context. It is only in the real or imagined context of parties to a dispute appealing to some outside third party that one party can meaningfully complain that his rights are being violated and that the third party should find in his favor. (This is not to say that a person's moral rights disappear if he becomes stranded with only one other person. This is to say that the idea of rights itself could not arise if there were not some prior knowledge of a wider social context in which the political concept of rights could be identified.) If there were only two parties in the world and there were a dispute between them, then the first could speak of the other's interest, but if they did not agree and one party initiated force, what would the second do? Would the second party, beyond threatening to defend himself, then say, "Well, now you are violating my rights and I am going to appeal to" . . . blank out?

Epistemologically, the concept of rights requires the concept of some objective outside party to which one can make an argument based on a moral principle. Moral principles are necessary. But they alone without knowledge of a social-political context are not sufficient for the identification of the concept of rights.

Of course, if you want to ignore the context in which the concept is formed, and say that we already have the concept, so, academically, we can look at two parties on a desert island and say that the one has violated the rights of the other, we can ignore the fact that concepts develop, and simply take them for granted. Not that that would help the party whose rights had been violated if no external arbiter ever intervened. But that is a naive and ultimately pernicious view of what concepts are which Objectivism rejects. Objectivism doesn't take concepts, like values, as causeless givens. It asks and always asks under what circumstances they can arise.

Neither capitalism nor egoism nor minarchism nor romanticism is the essence of Objectivism. Anarchists may think that the essence of Rand is her politics, but compared to the essential nature of her epistemological method, which anarchists necessarily do not comprehend, her politics and her stands on other more concrete issues amount almost to mere accidents in the Aristotelian sense. Objectivism is the rejection of package deals and of stolen and floating and frozen concepts. Without the analysis of the contextual origin of individual concepts there is no such thing as Objectivism. The concept of rights would never arise if there were not some (potentially objective) third party to which at least one of the parties of a dispute could appeal.

Of course we all live in society. It is difficult for us to step back and imagine what it would be like to have no disinterested party to appeal to in the case of a dispute. We become used as children to complaining that a sibling or peer has violated our rights by the age of three, before the age at which we form permanent memories that will last to adulthood. Just as it requires a very deep focus to understand why it doesn't make sense for an indestructible being to have values, it requires an intellectual leap to understand that if two people had grown up on an island without the knowledge of the existence of any other persons, it would not make sense for one to add on top of the fact that he does not want the other to take his food, that doing so was a violation of his rights. There would be no context under which the differentiation between not simply wanting the other to do something enough to resort to force and viewing the other's actions as a criminal act could be made.

For one castaway to accuse the other of violating his rights (rather than just doing something he would fight to prevent) would make as much sense as one lifelong castaway accusing the other of speaking a foreign language if the other started speaking in tongues. There would be confusion, but the identification of the uncomprehended speach as a foreign language would be impossible. There would never have been any circumstance under which to differentiate the idea of a foreign language from mere babble. The concept rights is like the concept foreign language. It cannot arise without the experience of an outside party.



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Monday, March 15 - 6:24pmSanction this postReply
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Ted, I agree with nearly everything you said, but you carry it too far. Other than the fun of dancing on a head of a pin there is no reason to spend much time talking about a society of just two people. But if we did, they could choose to make up rules and live by them. True it would technically be a minarchy (unless one is the government and the other the citizen), but with a scale of 2 and with no other options what is one to do. Imagining that these two people have never heard of the existence of another person isn't necessary to this question at hand. Rights exist no matter how many people are around (or not) but don't become of interest till that second person comes into the picture, and then the third person seems useful - theoretically - but actually, at a population of three there still isn't enough for the specialization of labor needed to have a government. Think of a small tribe or a small village... how many people are needed till a minimal government structure can be put in place?



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Monday, March 15 - 6:42pmSanction this postReply
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Me sorry for take serious deep topic. Not fair me think anyone care and me make hurt them brain. You smart, why bother think about where idea come frum? Where ideas frum not matter! They just here like miracle and if we smart we not axe stoopid questions.



Post 9

Monday, March 15 - 6:56pmSanction this postReply
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Steve: "Other than the fun of dancing on a head of a pin there is no reason to spend much time talking about a society of just two people."

Hmm, for a more...realistic? historically grounded? form of that idea, I'm reminded of Isabel Paterson's God of the Machine...instead of using 2 people versus however many, she puts it in terms of land and mobility, and how once property and production extended beyond hand-to-mouth subsistence, the need grew for third-parties arose to manage the "dynamo." (If I haven't hacked that up too much for an top-of-my-head suggestion.)



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Monday, March 15 - 10:31pmSanction this postReply
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Steve: "Think of a small tribe or a small village... how many people are needed till a minimal government structure can be put in place?"

Theoretically, two ought to suffice. As soon as someone gets it into their head that they have the right to coerce others, allegedly for those other people's own good, and invents some concept to justify said coercion -- labeling themself king or emperor, or claiming a God-given right to do so -- you've got a government.

In practice, this doesn't happen until more people are involved, since at such small scales the morally abhorrent justification for implementing such tyranny is easily seen.

When you get thousands or millions of people, then delegating the theft and oppression while hiding who benefits becomes easier.



Post 11

Monday, March 15 - 11:09pmSanction this postReply
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Jim,

Are you advocating anarchy? I assume that is where you are coming from, since you make statements that imply any form of government is going to be tyranny, theft, and oppression.





Post 12

Tuesday, March 16 - 3:44pmSanction this postReply
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I don't think there is anything tyrannically coercive about painting double yellow lines fairly down the middle of the road.

Drive wherever you want, but when you do, drive on the agreed upon side of the road.

That can be 'government.' To me, that points to a class of issues that are reasonably and harmlessly(to freedom)addressed by 'government.' One would have to turn the gain up on their tyranny radar beyond MAX to find any hint of tyraany in the requirement (suggestion, really) to drive on one side of the road, as opposed to willy-nilly all over it, like in Bangladesh(where the only traffic law is called 'physics.')

We could also have that without a 'drive on the left' party pointlessly battling it out with a 'drive on the right' party.

Unfortunately, we can't seem to have it without a 'drive only these kinds of cars' party battling it out with a 'drive whatever kind of car you want' party.

regards,
Fred




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Post 13

Tuesday, March 16 - 5:17pmSanction this postReply
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Steve -- I would be delighted with a minarchy that would stay that way. It would be a heck of an improvement over what we endure now. But, they don't seem to stay that way. Minarchy doesn't seem to be a stable system over longish historical periods.

Pure anarchy theoretically be quite difficult to achieve, much less maintain, though the fledgling U.S. during the Revolution and then under the Articles of Confederation came pretty close.

I've advocated over and over here to try edging closer and closer to anarchy, starting with the easy stuff and saving the hardest stuff for last.

If it turns out that we can only privatize Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and eliminate the national debt by selling off all the land and buildings owned by the U.S. and eliminate foreign aid and .... (repeat list until we're down to 1% or so of the current spending by the federal government) -- and then make all taxes voluntary donations for services one can opt out of -- close enough to anarchy for me.



Post 14

Tuesday, March 16 - 5:21pmSanction this postReply
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Fred: "I don't think there is anything tyrannically coercive about painting double yellow lines fairly down the middle of the road."

Especially if it's a privately owned toll road.

I've got no problem with people who own an asset setting terms and conditions and rules for others who want to use their asset. It's more the enormous scope of public assets -- the UNNECESSARY scope of assets that could easily be privatized -- that I object to.



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Tuesday, March 16 - 9:14pmSanction this postReply
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Jim,

You're not against the enforcement of a uniform body of laws, are you? If you're not, wouldn't that constitute a government? Don't we need a uniform body of laws in order to avoid civil war?

- Bill



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Tuesday, March 16 - 9:40pmSanction this postReply
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Jim, was the Louisiana Purchase illegitimate?

Given that the purchase was made, until such time as private parties should wish to acquire all the land of the Louisiana Purchase at some reasonable rate, would it not be legitimate for the land to be held in public trust, so long as it was responsibly administered by private enterprises, at the highest bid?





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Wednesday, March 17 - 8:47amSanction this postReply
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Bill --

I am in favor of having a uniform body of "laws" strictly limited to addressing NIOF violations. This does not necessarily imply a government, at least not in the sense that the word government is used now, nor does it imply a monopoly on the use of protective force against aggression, nor does it imply "laws" in the sense we use that term now.

For example, one possibility (among many possible arrangements) would be to have a dozen different personal protection provider agencies, all competing for customers and none able to compel anyone to join their service, all sit down and negotiate a common set of rules/laws/minimal contractual protections against aggression, applicable to anyone who subscribed to their service.

Thus, if you chose to sign up with one of these providers for a contractual term (let's say an annual contract with provisions for renewal if you were satisfied with their service), they would guarantee your personal safety against being robbed, murdered, raped, assaulted, or other aggressions, and your property would receive similar anti-aggression protection.

If a customer from one of the dozen other participating providers aggressed against you, that person would have voided their contract with their agency to not engage in NIOF violations, and your agency could act to arrest them and enforce the mutually agreed upon provisions for redressing such aggression.

Obviously, you would have outlaws who did not sign up with any agency, and used the equivalent of Second Amendment rights to protect themselves.

And, it is probable that you would have rival competing associations of agencies that failed to come to a common agreement on the NIOF terms, similar to how we currently have a patchwork of monopoly governments that each have their own partially mutually incompatible forms of governance, though with some common grounds, with an uneasy peace broken by periodic acts of warfare.

Obviously, any geographic area that managed to achieve a common agreement among all major providers would have a competitive advantage over areas with a less stable arrangement of competing coalitions, with the likely outcome that people would immigrate to the more stable geographic locales.

This is just one example of a functioning near-anarcho-capitalistic arrangement. I would imagine other, probably better, arrangements could be formulated.



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Wednesday, March 17 - 8:50amSanction this postReply
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Ted, what do you mean by "illegitimate"?

Do you mean the purchase was outside the powers granted the U.S. federal government by the Constitution?

Do you mean that France did not own the land they were selling?

Or do you mean something else?



Post 19

Wednesday, March 17 - 11:22amSanction this postReply
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Jim, in post 17 you said, This is just one example of a functioning near-anarcho-capitalistic arrangement. I would imagine other, probably better, arrangements could be formulated." Your description would better fit the structure we have seen on and off in Somalia, than the anarchy utopia that could live only in fantasy. Take a look.

"...one possibility (among many possible arrangements) would be to have a dozen different personal protection provider agencies [war lords and organized gangs], all competing for customers [victims] and none able to compel anyone to join their service [who is going to stop the compulsion? The gangs have more incentive to divy up areas than fight with each other!], all sit down and negotiate a common set of rules/laws/minimal contractual protections against aggression, applicable to anyone who subscribed to their service." [criminal organizations often have meetings to form non-aggression pacts against one another - none are binding]

"Thus, if you chose to sign up with one of these providers for a contractual term (let's say an annual contract with provisions for renewal if you were satisfied with their service) [i.e., agree to the terms of extortion], they would guarantee your personal safety against being robbed, murdered, raped, assaulted, or other aggressions [from their competitors], and your property would receive similar anti-aggression protection." [protection racket].

"If a customer from one of the dozen other participating providers aggressed against you, that person would have voided their contract with their agency to not engage in NIOF violations, and your agency could act to arrest them and enforce the mutually agreed upon provisions for redressing such aggression." [gang warfare - there is no higher court with authority to appeal to for the person accused of aggressing]

"Obviously, you would have outlaws who did not sign up with any agency, and used the equivalent of Second Amendment rights to protect themselves." [???? - there is no constitution, no government with a monopoly of law based upon the constitution, no single set of laws - but some poor smuck that tries to defend himself in this land of organized thuggery is an "outlaw"?]

"And, it is probable that you would have rival competing associations of agencies that failed to come to a common agreement on the NIOF terms, similar to how we currently have a patchwork of monopoly governments that each have their own partially mutually incompatible forms of governance, though with some common grounds, with an uneasy peace broken by periodic acts of warfare." [The agreement upon the NIOF terms is pure fantasy - they came into being and are guaranteed by what? Blank-out. It is a form of cultural relativism to brand all governments as the same - and not recognize the fact that some forms of government are the enemies of NIOF and of peace while others are not.]




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