Rebirth of Reason

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Monday, July 23 - 7:54amSanction this postReply
In the Dissent forum topic thread, Anarchism, in my post #19 and Steve Wolfer's post #20, the topic of objective law came up.  Ayn Rand cited ancient Rome as an example of a society with objective law: the law was publicly announced and consistenly enforced.  For Rand, the evils of collectivist government begin not with their draconian laws but with subjective, plastic, whim-based enforcement: the law becomes whatever a government worker with power says it is. 

I would like to suggest a clearer set of definitions.  Rather than "objective" law, the word "absolute" is correct.  Objective refers to that which is beyond the perceiver, the external world, in contrast to the subjective, that which is personally experienced and not generally sharable by direct means.  That much is fine.  However, I point out also that more formally, the objective is that which is both rational (logical; logically inferable, reasoned or reason-able; rational, "analytic") and empirical (experiential, sensible, experimental, "synthetic").   In that sense, absolute law is not objective because there is no way to predict advance what new laws will be passed or old ones abolished. 

Another distinction is between "civil" law and "bench-made" law. In America, we generally separate civil law (torts) from criminal law.  But most other places (including Louisiana), "civil" law refers to what Ayn Rand called objective law: all the laws are written down in detail and the courts only apply the case to the law.  In English practice  (including America, mostly), we have bench-made law: the court applies the law to the case. The legislature traditionally made broad statements and the courts interpreted the law for each case.  This is what Ayn Rand called "subjective" law; she was opposed to it. 

(Note that when conservatives complain about "judicial activism" they are advocating against the Anglo-American judicial tradition and calling for the mode of law found in France and Brazil.)

All of that is aside from "Objectivist" law, what most people here would like to have called "objective" law, that based on a proper definition of rights.  What we have mostly called "objective" law is really absolute law and is generally very far from Objectivist law. 

Anti-Trust is perhaps the sine qua non of subjective law from our perspective.  However, as this paper
and this paper
and this paper
show, the standards are publicly available and consistently enforced. 

Note that I am not defending anti-trust laws, I only point out that in the last 50 years, the great body of law and enforcement demonstrates that these laws are absolute, not subjective.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 7/23, 7:57am)

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