On First Principles

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In a recent conversation with Facebook ” Anarcho”-Capitalists I’ve been asked to provide an explanation of my beliefs starting from “First Principles”. As my initial answer didn’t seem to be enough, the same question was later posted, once more, in a location I couldn’t access1. I think this deserves an explanation on why it is entirely the wrong kind of question to ask when trying to understand Libertarian Socialism.

The confusion I believe starts from the way the Propertarians start to build their worldview. From what I understand about this point (and of course, I may be wrong – but concise information on this is not easy to find online) they declare a few particular normative propositions as inviolable or “true”, call them axioms or “first principles” and then build their ethical system from there. There’s no clear agreement on this but the axiom of Self-Onwership seems to be the primary basis on which the ideology is built. There are others like the Non-Aggression principle (Also called Zero-Aggression principle. NAP or ZAP) which may follow from Self-Ownership or may be asserted standalone.

I won’t go into details on why those “first principles” are flawed at the moment (soon though). The point is to explain why such propertarians expect someone to state their first principles initially so that they may grasp the concept. They just can’t contemplate a different way to reach a social framework than by starting from such “axioms” and when Anarchists point out that we don’t have any, they are unable to compute, as can be seen from the quote (from the discussion I linked above)

The implication is that logic is optional. She’ll deny it, of course, and say that she’s just not doing logic in the way that the oppressive capitalists demand, but it still amounts the the notion that logic itself is seen as a kind of oppression. It’s a religion.

The obvious flaw in this reasoning is that it is asserted that those first principles are the result of pure logic and therefore impossible to be flawed (thus the label of “axiom”). Of course if one starts from this assumption it is understandable that when someone else denies the necessity of “axioms” to base a socioeconomic theory on, they can be seen as denying logic itself.  But this is merely begging the question.

And this is where the biggest problem lies in this perspective. Using scholasticism (i.e. pure logic) to understand reality has been discredited for a while now and empiricism and inductive reasoning took its place. No matter how perfect one’s logic can seem, it’s very likely that some small errors or wrong assumptions have entered into it at some point, therefore leading to the wholly wrong results. Without empiricism thus, it impossible to find logical errors as there is nothing to compare the results with.

Thus (many? most? Well me at least.) Libertarian Socialists reject this perspective in favour of what has been shown to actually work in understanding and predicting reality. Science and Materialism. Talking for myself here, I find no reason to start from a principle of self-ownership (even if it wasn’t inconsistent) when I have the far better option to start from a (meta?)ethical question: “What bring the best results for the maximum amount of people?”. Starting from this question and then using scientific knowledge (on how humans behave and how human societies tend to work) we can try to compile a socioeconomic system which will achieve this result.

Adding a “first principle” such as the NAP or self-ownership would thus only come into the picture if it followed from the original question. Looking at it this way, one could call the Anarchist opposition to hierarchy and authority as a sort of “first principle” but not in the same absolute way as the AnCap ones are asserted but simply as means to an end.

And this is in the end why it’s completely misguided to ask an Anarchist what their “first principles” are. The most likely answer would be “Why do I need them?” and this is a perfectly valid response. To preempt those who would express the sentiment that having “First Principles” is obvious: It is not. The burden of proof is on people who assert that such principles are necessary to prove why this is so. An argument from obviousness just does not cut it as it’s far from obvious to me and many others.

I get the impression that people who assert that such first principles are necessary, are those who saw them expressed somewhere and immediately latched onto them as something that made obvious sense. Yes, it may make obvious sense but this does not make it an absolute or an objective fact of reality. There’s always the chance that there’s holes in the reasoning, or it does not make sense in some contexts. What I’m trying to say that even if something is making sense, it still does not validate the concept of “first principle”. This is akin to saying that because the golden rule makes sense, the Christian god exists.  It simply does not follow.

It is similarly  flawed thus to accept only a different set of first principles in order to counter your own ideology. It’s like a Christian asking someone trying to explain evolution to him, to first state which other deity they assert instead of the Christian god. A perfectly valid answer to both questions is still “None.”

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  1. h/t @Noor for letting me know and posting the discussion somewhere public []

240 thoughts on “On First Principles

  1. Heya,

    The game uses the proprietary Torque engine, so it's not in the Penny Arcade or Hothead Games folks power to open-source the engine. Oh well.

    1. "You've just said that correct morals (Equality and Freedom) are necessary for someone to achieve their morals ("values").

      This obviously makes no sense. "

      I'm not sure why you think that makes no sense. I don't think you understand morality very much. Values cannot be evaluated *outside of the system*. They can only be evaluated in a coherentist manner: on whether they are a coherent part of one's value-system, or a dissonant part. I know that equality and freedom are good values to hold because they enhance the expression of all my other values. I know that I shouldn't go around killing people because hiding from punishment (to name only one consequence) makes it harder for me to fulfill my values.

      You've already discussed the ethical perspective on murder, and it's a complement to that: but it does not replace it.

      "You need to explain why one should prefer have a desire to promote Equality and Freedom (i.e. Anarchism). "

      I've already told you why.

      "You cannot argue that without equality there is no society. This is simply a swap of definition and not an argument for anything."

      Are you seriously saying that a social value should be maintained when it destroys society itself? If I didn't know you were serious, I'd think you're trolling me.

      Besides, you only took *one* part of my arguments and commented on that. Why didn't you try to refute the other parts?

      1. I'm not sure why you think that makes no sense.

        Because it's cyclical reasoning.

        Again, our argument boils down to the fact that you think morality can exist in isolation which I reject. There's no point in continuing this discussion until this is resolved.

        Are you seriously saying that a social value should be maintained when it destroys society itself?

        Society didn't destroy itself. You simply defined it away. What is there, much like we have now is still a society. However If your argument is that a value only gets a positive moral evaluation when it promotes a "better society" then you're making a utilitarian argument.

  2. I am not a utilitarian–I have a mix of pragmatism and moral realism, but I'm liking the Austrian style less and less . Another observation from this: "You don't start from first principles. That right there makes you unintelligible and random."

    It reminds me of when the religious are unable to grasp any other source of ethics than the commandments/bible, and so they accuse the nonbeliever out of doing things from random impulses.

    I'm also willing to bet there will be a link to Mises' Human Action, or something else about praexology, in the comments section here.

    1. I am not a utilitarian–I have a mix of pragmatism and moral realism

      Can you expand on that? Where do your ethics and normative propositions spring from?

      1. My idea of 'morality' (distinct from 'ethics' which is more about social rules) is more individualist– basically "an individual ought to do what will best help him achieve his values", based on self-interest. Which is essentially Randian moral realism, but it's also pragmatist as in that it's about doing what will work (at achieving your goals). So if you're hungry, you know for a fact that eating an apple will fulfill your goal of a full stomach, therefore it follows that you ought to eat an apple, which makes it a 'moral' decision.

        But unlike Rand (I have a love-hate relationship with her ideas these days and I definitely find Objectivism to be a cult) I hold that it's almost always in the individual's self-interest to say, help others. I do reject any notion of self-sacrifice as nonsense, because in that case you're still doing it because you want to sacrifice, and thus it fulfils your own goals.

        Freedom is freedom to have as many viable alternatives to achieve your rational values, and systemized control interferes with that. It's obviously not freedom if you have to choose between a few pre-selected masters. ("An"caps get this exactly right when it comes to the voting system today, but with capitalist bosses it totally passes over their heads.)

        1. "an individual ought to do what will best help him achieve his values", based on self-interest.

          Hmm, I think you may not realize that an individual will always do what will best help him achieve his desires ('values' is a bit ambiguous) based on his beliefs, so there's no 'ought' really involved. You're simply describing reality. The real ethical question is what desires ought someone have. And unfortunately you cannot deduct this from moral realism without begging the question (Rand tried and failed).

          So my question is, why do you think that people ought to prefer anarchist principles such as mutual aid and direct action over material self-interest and greed? You cannot answer this by claiming that people ought to do what will fulfill their own desires as this does not suggest any particular path.

          1. "The real ethical question is what desires ought someone have."

            Any 'ought' must be in pursuit of a goal, otherwise it becomes meaningless. I ought to do something only if I want to achieve a goal.

            If you desire to live, you ought not to have a desire to take poison. If you want to achieve a long-term goal of living, that determines what your short-term values ought to be. If you want a healthy society (which is the same as individuals being free and equal, and able to achieve their values), you ought to prefer mutual aid and such for now.

            I'm in agreement with what Franc said above, also.

          2. Any 'ought' must be in pursuit of a goal, otherwise it becomes meaningless. I ought to do something only if I want to achieve a goal.

            In the grand scheme of things yes, but the ultimate goal must always be to have a "healthier society" as you said. This is the goal of utilitarianism, just expressed differently. But in general no, you don't need to consider a goal in order to assign moral value to a desire. You can do simply on the basis of whether that desire will tend to fulfil or thwart other desires. So you can morally condemn having the desire to kill others not because you have a goal related to it but because killing thwarts the desires of those who are being killed.

          3. If you want a healthy society (which is the same as individuals being free and equal, and able to achieve their values), you ought to prefer mutual aid and such for now.

            Then you simply admitted that your preference for anarchist principles does come from utilitarianism because that's what (I assume?) having a healthy society means.

          4. "In the grand scheme of things yes, but the ultimate goal must always be to have a "healthier society" as you said."
            "Then you simply admitted that your preference for anarchist principles does come from utilitarianism because that's what (I assume?) having a healthy society means."

            Why should I care about a healthy society at all unless I recognized that it would help me achieve my own individual values, which brings it down to simply me achieving my goals?

            "This is the goal of utilitarianism, just expressed differently."
            Not when you define it as 'maximum happiness for the maximum number of people.'

            That's basically suppressing an individual's self-interest on the basis of an arbitrarily-determined 'greater good.'

          5. Why should I care about a healthy society at all unless I recognized that it would help me achieve my own individual values, which brings it down to simply me achieving my goals?

            None of us can escape, by regressing our desires back enough, to reach the conclusion that we do what we do simply because we wish to achieve our goals and if you regress one more step, you wish to achieve your goals because you wish happiness. None of us can avoid this. However we say that we have a utilitarian basis is by the ways that we try to satisfy our individual egoism.

            Someone who says that the best way to satisfy their ego is by promoting the maximum happiness for the maximum amount of people is a utilitarian, not because he sacrifices his own ego but because he recognises that he's part of the whole.

            Not when you define it as 'maximum happiness for the maximum number of people.'

            Sure. This is what a "healthy society" translates as.

            That's basically suppressing an individual's self-interest on the basis of an arbitrarily-determined 'greater good.'

            Not at all. It's individuals recognizing that by espousing and promoting desires which bring about happiness to others, they indirectly help themselves. You don't ask for people to sacrifice their self-interest, you ask them to modify it in a way that it is fulfilled by acts which promote the greater happiness. And this is in their interest qua happiness.

          6. "None of us can escape, by regressing our desires back enough, to reach the conclusion that we do what we do simply because we wish to achieve our goals and if you regress one more step, you wish to achieve your goals because you wish happiness. None of us can avoid this. However we say that we have a utilitarian basis is by the ways that we try to satisfy our individual egoism."

            I agree with the entire first part. But that refers to the individual achieving his happiness, there is no 'society' that attempts to achieve an 'ultimate goal' of happiness.

            "This is what a "healthy society" translates as."

            You can't calculate happiness/satisfaction/'health' for a group as a whole– only for the specific individuals within it. I think the issue here is that you're treating a society like it was a group of people and this 'society' has its own goals, defined by whatever the maximum number of people want.

          7. Not at all. I'm simply saying that the best result, the "healthy society" we should strive for, would be a society in which the maximum amount of individuals were capable of each achieving whatever brings them into a state of happiness. As such, I don't have to calculate anything, I simply have to think of which societal organization would bring this result.

            Again, I'm not treating "society" as a solid block. I'm saying that since your goal is to have the maximum amount of individuals able to achieve their values, you are effectively saying that you wish to have the maximum amount of individuals able to achieve happiness. And this is a utilitarian argument.

  3. db0, If you're looking for info on how the propertarian view is often shaped, this video is often referred to concerning the topic: http://tinyurl.com/yh3ygkq

    I don't consider myself a utilitarian. The basis for my political beliefs is a desire for each individual to have the most liberty possible. This leads to some kind of "law of equal liberty" or "zero-aggression principle", though I think the former is a better way of framing it.

  4. Yeah, I've seen this already a while ago. However this vid presupposes those first principles and doesn't argue for them. For example it claims that private property is your past because it follows from self-ownership.

    1. Yes, the video bases things on the idea that the only alternative to self-ownership is to be owned by someone else. I think that's the key. Perhaps there's an unacknowledged premise that everything, including humans, must be owned? So without the concept of ownership (which is conflated with a specific property standard) there is no other way the video justifies individual autonomy.

      1. Yeah, however the video has not first explained why self-ownership is a valid concept in the first place but rather tried to argue from a reductio ad absurdum. Unfotunately this reduction fails as it is based on a false dichotomy.

  5. I don't consider myself a utilitarian. The basis for my political beliefs is a desire for each individual to have the most liberty possible.

    Ok, and my next question would be:"Why do you desire each individual to have the most liberty possible?"

    1. Because it's required for maximum flourishing, and to do otherwise would offend my sense of justice. Also, I'm unlikely to enjoy maximum liberty if oppression of anyone is acceptable.

      1. Ok, I'm doing a bit of the devil's advocate here to make me understand your position and hopefully to help you also express it more clearly. Don't take my questions as disagreement.

        Because it's required for maximum flourishing

        What does this mean?

        and to do otherwise would offend my sense of justice

        Your sense of justice as well comes from your morals. To assert that it's your sense of justice that forces you to accept a normative proposition is akin to saying that your morals define your morality.

        Also, I'm unlikely to enjoy maximum liberty if oppression of anyone is acceptable.

        That is an acceptable proposition. You're actually just one step behind utilitarianism with this as you're basically saying that you support the best result for the most people (i.e. utilitarianism) for selfish reasons. But nobody can avoid those "selfish reasons" in the first place as all of us are Egoists (in the Stirnerian sense)

        1. I started using the term "flourishing" after reading a Roderick Long article that I can't find now. I use the word flourish to mean something like getting the most out of life or realizing one's potential as much as possible. This would include happily living by one's values. The freedom to explore, question, and create are required for this to be possible. In an authoritarian world, people are set to dominate the lives of others instead of having the autonomy to exert maximum control over their own lives.

          >Your sense of justice as well comes from your morals.

          True. "To do otherwise would offend my sense of justice" is an answer to the question you asked but not a detailed one. Since everyone's existence is based on the meaning they make for their lives, to invade this liberty is an unjust usurpation of rightful power.

          I don't really find that "the best result for the most people" is a descriptive enough statement to base principles on. It requires detailing what counts as good moreso than other statements of principle, and it sounds like it could imply that majoritarian rule is more important than consent.

          1. I use the word flourish to mean something like getting the most out of life or realizing one's potential as much as possible[…]

            So if I'm grokking you right, you're using wish to promote the maximum potential for each human right?

          2. Since everyone's existence is based on the meaning they make for their lives, to invade this liberty is an unjust usurpation of rightful power.

            That does not follow and nor did you address my contention that your phrasing implies circular reasoning.

          3. I'm not sure what doesn't follow. If one starts with the principle that everyone is entitled to make the meaning for their lives (which I think is proven well enough by the existence of individual reasoning power), infringing on their liberty to do so would be unjustly taking power from them.

          4. (which I think is proven well enough by the existence of individual reasoning power)

            Not really. The fact that we're resonable does not inherently prove that we should be making the meaning for our lives. This needs to be argued.

          5. I don't really find that "the best result for the most people" is a descriptive enough statement to base principles on[…]

            It was a basic statement, not a detailed explanation of utilitarianism and its application. Obviously one wishes to define what they mean to a larger degree. But no, I don't think it implies what you think it does if a consensual agreement would bring greater happiness than a majoritarian decision.

  6. "Hmm, I think you may not realize that an individual will always do what will best help him achieve his desires ('values' is a bit ambiguous) based on his beliefs, so there's no 'ought' really involved. "

    There is, insofar as there are rational ways to achieve them, and irrational ways to achieve them.

    "The real ethical question is what desires ought someone have. And unfortunately you cannot deduct this from moral realism without begging the question (Rand tried and failed)."

    Deduce values? That's not possible. Our values are part of our nature. We can choose to pursue companionship or to want to get shelter or not, but the existence of those needs is as "chosen" as the fact that we have two eyes (sure, you can try to blind yourself, but all you're doing is crippling yourself- the analogy I hope is obvious).

    Rand is besides the point here. Don't straw man moral realism on the basis of Rand.

    "So my question is, why do you think that people ought to prefer anarchist principles such as mutual aid and direct action over material self-interest and greed?"

    Because equality and freedom as important values for the individual as part of society. Without them, there is no point of living in society in the first place. And yes, these are necessary corollaries to our more primary values like the need for shelter, food, security, and so on. We ought to prefer anarchist principles because adopting any other implies contradiction between one's basic needs and one's supposed social needs.

    1. There is, insofar as there are rational ways to achieve them, and irrational ways to (not) achieve them.

      What is rational is always moral? No. A rational act can be perfectly immoral just as an irrational act can be moral. Unless you wish to imply that whatever you morally condemn is irrational (like Rand did) which is not how rationality is defined.

      1. I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. Are you saying that trying to fulfill a value rationally is not necessarily as good as trying to fulfill it irrationally? Or something else?

        1. I'm saying that the rationality of a desire (you still use the ambiguous "value" I see) is not the defining factor of the moral condemnation of said desire. We don't condemn an act of killing because it was rational or irrational but because it killed someone, i.e. because it thwarted that person's all future desires.

          Obviously we wish to also promote the desire that someone should accept all of his belief after examining them rationally and thus make rationality a moral good but this will not help us assign any other moral values.

          1. "I'm saying that the rationality of a desire (you still use the ambiguous "value" I see) is not the defining factor of the moral condemnation of said desire."

            I don't know what "the rationality of a desire" means. Desires (what I call values) are innate and are not subject to evaluation from *outside the system*.

            "We don't condemn an act of killing because it was rational or irrational but because it killed someone, i.e. because it thwarted that person's all future desires."

            From an ethical standpoint, yes. You are mixing up morality (the individual's value-judgments) and ethics (the rules of a society or group within society). From an ethical standpoint, your reasoning makes perfect sense (i.e. it is very rational): we should not permit people to kill others because doing so thwarts that person's future desires, and we naturally should rally against the invader. But you haven't said anything about the morality of the situation.

            "Obviously we wish to also promote the desire that someone should accept all of his belief after examining them rationally and thus make rationality a moral good but this will not help us assign any other moral values."

            Once again, that can only be true if you consider that trying to fulfill a value rationally is not necessarily as good as trying to fulfill it irrationally. You have yet to support that implicit premise.

          2. I don't know what "the rationality of a desire" means. Desires (what I call values) are innate and are not subject to evaluation from *outside the system*.

            Yes. Yes they are. All moral evaluations only make sense within a social context. This is why I'm saying that having the desire to eat is neither good or bad. It just is.

          3. "Yes. Yes they are. All moral evaluations only make sense within a social context."

            Evaluations of what? Values, or actions? On both cases you're wrong: it makes no sense to evaluate values within any external context (you are again confusing morality with ethics), and it is perfectly sensible to morally evaluate one's actions even when one is outside of society.

            It seems to me that all our arguments are proceeding from sharply divergent fundamental premises. It would be more fruitful to discuss those first, rather than to keep arguing piecemeal.

            "This is why I'm saying that having the desire to eat is neither good or bad. It just is."

            Once again, I think you are confused. I have been saying that since the start.

          4. Evaluations of what? Values, or actions?

            Desires for actions that can exist.

            On both cases you're wrong: it makes no sense to evaluate values within any external context (you are again confusing morality with ethics), and it is perfectly sensible to morally evaluate one's actions even when one is outside of society.

            Nope. It's perfectly ridiculous to morally evaluate one's actions outside the context of society as morals are explicitly about human interaction and how it ought to be done in order to have a working society. It is unfortunately you who have decided on some weird way of working on moral values regardless of society who are not understanding morals.

          5. "morals are explicitly about human interaction and how it ought to be done in order to have a working society."

            Once again you're confusing ethics and morality. There's no point in discussing if you can't keep the difference between desires and rules straight!

          6. Once again you're confusing ethics and morality. There's no point in discussing if you can't keep the difference between desires and rules straight!

            I don't care to maintain arbitrary rules. I go with what makes sense and how these terms are used contemporary.

          7. If you're not going to use clear terms, then there's no point in discussing an issue that relies very heavily on having clear terms. There is a sharp distinction to be made between rules and what you call desires. Whatever you want to call that distinction, that's what I'm referring to when I say "ethics and morality."

          8. You simply call all those biological needs that every human cannot avoid as "morals". You somehow include freedom and equality in those even though humans CAN avoid them. In short, you simply seem to be arbitrarily bundling rules that you like together into the "morals" package and asserting that they are the starting point.

          9. No, I did not choose them "because I like them." You persist in simply denying the justification I provided earlier as to why equality and freedom contribute to a coherent system of values. Naysaying is not an argument.

          10. I already refuted that comment of yours. A value is judged on the basis of whether it is a coherent part of one's value-system. This is not a circular statement, as it can obviously sometimes prove that a value is invalid. You never refuted any explanation I made, therefore you have not proven your point in the general nor in the particular. That's all I'm gonna say about it.

          11. And again we go back to the part where I reject the idea that moral values can be decided in isolation of society. And round and round we go.

          12. It seems to me that all our arguments are proceeding from sharply divergent fundamental premises. It would be more fruitful to discuss those first, rather than to keep arguing piecemeal.

            True, you are under the impression that one can decide on moral values in isolation. I find this absurd. A hermit living alone in a deserted island can do whatever he wishes and he can achieve neither moral praise or condemnation. Please explain how a moral value would be assigned to any of his actions and what it would be based on.

            If you say that it will be based on whether he's going about "rationally" then I'll pre-emptively argue that you're either arguing against crazy people or you're simply arguing that anything you don't like is irrational.

          13. "If you say that it will be based on whether he's going about "rationally" then I'll pre-emptively argue that you're either arguing against crazy people or you're simply arguing that anything you don't like is irrational."

            Why are you straw manning me?

            Irrational does not = crazy
            Irrational does not = anything I don't like

            Irrational means a reasoning that fails to adhere to reality in some way, by failing to follow proper epistemic principles. Do you understand this?

          14. I said "I'll pre-empt". I said "If". If neither of these are your argument then don't make them and argue your point.

            Irrational means a reasoning that fails to adhere to reality in some way, by failing to follow proper epistemic principles. Do you understand this?

            This will only shape his beliefs and knowledge. Please explain how that would shape his desires and what would make them moral or not.

          15. I never said that they "shaped his desires." There are some desires that we manufacture to some extent. Certainly the desire for organized religion is one, although it arises from, once again, an innate property of humans. The only way to evaluate whether those desires are moral or not is by the test of internal consistency, as I've been repeating over and over.

          16. All of our desires that have to do with interaction with other humans are manufactured. This is why all of them have a moral value. And this is the point! The ones that are not shaped, the ones thaty we have via biological needs have no moral value as it makes no sense to assign one to them. It will not lead us to anything.

            If you disagree, please explain how starting from a human in isolation and knowing only that he wants food and shelter, you can reach the result that equality and freedom must be promoted. You can't because equality and freedom make no sense outside of a social context.

          17. I've never stated that equality and freedom were not social in nature. I've stated that, like all other values, the evaluation of the rational ways to fulfill them does not depend on the existence of other minds.

            Values have no moral value apart from whether they contribute to a coherent whole or go against it.

          18. We do not talk about the rational way to fulfill them. FIRST you need to argue why you should have a desire to fulfill them in the first place. THIS is the moral part of the question, not the implementation. Why ought we to desire equality and freedom?

          19. You are mixing up morality (the individual's value-judgments) and ethics (the rules of a society or group within society).

            I am not mixing them up. There is no explicit difference. Individual value-judgements make no sense outside of a societal context. Morals only come into play through interactions with other humans. For a hermit in a deserted island, there are no moral values.

          20. "Morals only come into play through interactions with other humans"

            Wrong. One's actions can be rational or irrational whether other humans exist or not.

            "For a hermit in a deserted island, there are no moral values. "

            Wrong. Values are innate.

          21. Ok, I expected you'd believe this. I think it's absurd but anyway. I've posted a comment above for you to state your case.

            This is a very Objectivist argument btw and one I and others have debated in the past. See the comments on the link.

          22. Which part of it is "absurd"? The point about values being innate, which you virtually already agreed to, or the point that actions can be rational or irrational regardless of the presence of other human beings, which follows logically from having a need and having ways to fulfill it. When I am hungry, I should eat nutritious foods, whether other people exist or not.

            To say otherwise IS "absurd." To evaluate an action is not a magical process that requires a number of minds in order to exist.

            And how is this a "very Objectivist argument"? I am talking about basic concepts here. I am talking about facts. I am tired of you associating me with Objectivism for saying the word "rationality." Objectivists do NOT believe that values are innate. Objectivists do NOT believe that justice is innate. These are major differences.

          23. If you read the link I gave you, you'd notice that you're making the exact same argument with an Objectivist. Unless you want to argue that's he's not. Also The argumentation you're making I've only seen coming from them.

            . When I am hungry, I should eat nutritious foods, whether other people exist or not.

            And you've already agreed that this action has no normative value. Eating when hungry is what everyone wants to do. It's neither good or bad. It's the way we go about doing it in a social context that is good or bad.

            To say otherwise IS "absurd." To evaluate an action is not a magical process that requires a number of minds in order to exist.

            Yes it does but there's nothing magical about it. We morally evaluate actions on the basis of other humans, not on the bases of our self.

          24. No I do not! If I am hungry and want to eat, I don't rely on other humans to tell me what I should eat! If a million people told you to eat rat poison, you still wouldn't do it! Why do you persist in this ridiculous argument?

          25. You can eat whatever you wish but the moral evaluation of what you chose to eat only makes sense in the context of other humans. So if you're isolated, it does not matter if you eat meat or vegetables every day. It gets no moral evaluation. However within a social context eating meat every day might be deemed "bad" when doing so would mean that there's not enough food for others.

          26. Once again, you are confusing rules with desires. I wish you would stop doing that.

            Of course the rules (such as making sure that other people have enough food to satisfy their own needs) depend on a social context. That's what the word *means*. But the fact that I am satiated or not, eating healthily or not, does not at all depend on other people's opinions.

          27. Yes, but starting from this point does not lead us anywhere. At best you can say that people need to eat and need shelter. But once you notice that people also need social interaction then you have to decide what form this social interaction ought to take and you cannot figure this out by looking at humans in isolation!

            The natural rules you're talking about are descriptive. We're talking about prescriptive rules. You have not managed to cross the is/ought threshold.

          28. "Yes, but starting from this point does not lead us anywhere. At best you can say that people need to eat and need shelter."

            No… it leads us to looking at how these values can be fulfilled rationally, as well as the errors people commit in trying to do so. That is the whole area of morality. It's a vast area which leads us in many different directions.

            "But once you notice that people also need social interaction then you have to decide what form this social interaction ought to take and you cannot figure this out by looking at humans in isolation!"

            I never denied that. What I did was deny that the fact that there is a rational answer depends on the existence of other minds.

            "The natural rules you're talking about are descriptive. We're talking about prescriptive rules. You have not managed to cross the is/ought threshold."

            At no point in this discussion did the is/ought "threshold" come up until now. You're bringing this up for no apparent reason. When I say the word "rules," I mean nothing more than the rules that people set up in their groups or as a society as a whole in order to make society function better (whatever their motives are).

          29. No… it leads us to looking at how these values can be fulfilled rationally, as well as the errors people commit in trying to do so. That is the whole area of morality. It's a vast area which leads us in many different directions.

            Looking at how those values can be fulfilled rationally is not an area of morality. I can fulfill them rationally by stealing. I can fulfill them rationally by growing food. I can fulfill them rationally via getting at the top of the capitalist class and buying whatever I want. The rationality of the action will not lead one specific person to the same moral evaluation as you. This is the trap that Ayn Rand felt in and she ended up calling everyone who disagreed with her irrational.

            Rather the way to figure out the moral evaluation of the action is to look what brings the best rational result in aggregate. I.e. What brings the best possible result for the maximum amount of people. And This is rational as well since we recognise that we too are part of the whole. And this is a Utilitarian argument.

          30. Could you please explain how one can fulfill values rationally by stealing? My bet is, you can't.

            "The rationality of the action will not lead one specific person to the same moral evaluation as you."

            I never said moral evaluations were universal, either. You are the one who brought it up! Funnily enough, you mention Rand AGAIN, and Rand would DEFINITELY not agree with me on that point!

            I am getting fucking sick and tired of you mentioning Rand.

            "Rather the way to figure out the moral evaluation of the action is to look what brings the best rational result in aggregate. I.e. What brings the best possible result for the maximum amount of people."

            Once again you are confusing social rules with desires. You can't keep your own story straight! I've had enough of this. Decide what the fuck you believe before trying to argue it.

            And also, you know very well that utilitarianism doesn't work, since I already explained this to you before: you can't make inter-subjective comparisons. Period. "What brings the best possible result for the maximum amount of people" is something that cannot, IN THEORY OR IN PRACTICE, be calculated, because there's no way for us to measure or compare the intensity of desires in each individual.

            I will leave the discussion on that note. The format of your comments threads is very confusing: everything is parceled out, this seems to totally nullify the possibility of coherent discussion. There are basic premises that we need to clarify before everything else, but it seems to be absolutely impossible when everything is divided in ten sub-sections. This has reminded me why I don't like to comment on your blog.

          31. Could you please explain how one can fulfill values rationally by stealing? My bet is, you can't.

            I have the desire to eat. I have the desire to keep my money. I do not believe I will get caught. Therefore it's rational to steal in order to fulfil my desire to eat and keep my money.

          32. You're simply saying that it's not rational because I say so.

            Based on the person's beliefs and desires, the action is perfectly rational.

          33. And also, you know very well that utilitarianism doesn't work, since I already explained this to you before: you can't make inter-subjective comparisons. Period. "What brings the best possible result for the maximum amount of people" is something that cannot, IN THEORY OR IN PRACTICE, be calculated, because there's no way for us to measure or compare the intensity of desires in each individual.

            I've countered you before on this. You didn't continue that discussion either.

          34. If you find a way to measure desire and compare those measures, then please go win your Nobel Prize… otherwise there is nothing left to discuss.

          35. I don't have to measure desires. I only have to figure out which desires we should be promoting and which not.

          36. The format of your comments threads is very confusing: everything is parceled out,

            The format of the comments is made so that each point has it own thread rather than get the same thing but only in the same comment split by dozens of blockquotes. The discussion would not be any more coherent then.

          37. I never denied that. What I did was deny that the fact that there is a rational answer depends on the existence of other minds.

            Again, this is not about the implementation. You're a step too far. First you need to figure out the question to the answer and some questions only make sense in a social context.

          38. When I say the word "rules," I mean nothing more than the rules that people set up in their groups or as a society as a whole in order to make society function better (whatever their motives are).

            You keep jumping between talking about humans in isolation and human societies. You keep jumping between biological rules and societal rules. One is something that all humans must follow if they wish to avoid certain results, the other is a way that people ought to follow if they wish to avoid certain results. The first one is not debatable. The second one is!

          39. Once again, that can only be true if you consider that trying to fulfill a value rationally is not necessarily as good as trying to fulfill it irrationally. You have yet to support that implicit premise.

            I will once you explain how you go about "fulfilling a value irrationally". Are you talking about crazy people?

    2. Deduce values? That's not possible. Our values are part of our nature.

      I'm talking about desires not "values" which is ambiguous. To get companionship or shelter are not 'values', they are desires. But you are true that as humans, due to evolutionary psychology, we have some particular desires which have greater priority than everything else: food, shelter, friendship, and the absence of pain. Therefore fulfilling our desires for those 4 first tends to make us happier as they keep us alive. However this does not say anything on how we should achieve those or what the moral way to do so is. So trying to feed oneself is neither moral or immoral, it just is a fact of reality. How one tries to feed himself is what deserves a moral value.

      Rand is besides the point here. Don't straw man moral realism on the basis of Rand. That's crass.

      Stop accusing others of straw-manning at the drop of a hat. It's annoying. I only used her to point out that as the primary proponent (creator?) of what you call moral realism, she failed to deduct actual moral values from the facts of human life. She failed to connect is and ought as she wished. If you think you've managed it, well and good, explain it and don't bring up Rand if you wish.

      1. You seem to be going all over the place, semantically. But yes, of course we do not automatically know how to fulfill "desires." That's where rationality comes in. Since you seem to be denying this in your other answer, I'm not sure where you're going exactly.

        1. No Francois, I'm not "going all over the place", you simply can't grasp what I'm saying.

          But yes, of course we do not automatically know how to fulfill "desires." That's where rationality comes in.

          No. This is where beliefs and knowledge come in. Obviously the best way to have acquire beliefs and knowledge is via rationality but this does not colour the desires.

          1. … so you do admit that rationality, by informing our beliefs and knowledge, does give us the standard on which to evaluate actions? Thank you for the concession… ?

          2. Concession to what Francois? That achieving beliefs and knowledge rationally is superior to achieving them irrationally? I never argued against this.

            Such beliefs and knowledge do not give us a standard to evaluate actions. I only gives us a standard to evaluate beliefs and desires.

          3. "Such beliefs and knowledge do not give us a standard to evaluate actions. I only gives us a standard to evaluate beliefs and desires."

            Values (that is to say, what you call desires) cannot be evaluated by an outside standard. Only actions can.

          4. Sorry, above comment should have said: "It only gives us a standard to evaluate beliefs and knowledge"

            Values (that is to say, what you call desires) cannot be evaluated by an outside standard. Only actions can.

            Why not?

          5. Because most of them are innate, and not the result of human action. We've already gone through this (with the shelter, food, absence of pain, etc… examples).

          6. Yes, but you failed to explain how a desire for widespread freedom and egalitarianism are also included in those "values".

          7. I have not failed to do so. I pointed out more than once how freedom and equality are optimal values.

            "Because equality and freedom as important values for the individual as part of society. Without them, there is no point of living in society in the first place. And yes, these are necessary corollaries to our more primary values like the need for shelter, food, security, and so on. We ought to prefer anarchist principles because adopting any other implies contradiction between one's basic needs and one's supposed social needs."

            "Equality and freedom are important values because they are necessary for the individual to express his values within the larger social context. If I am not free, then I am unable to act as I determine is best, and I am also in a society where there is no equality. If I am not equal to all, then there is no society to begin with, and we are therefore inevitably caught in an atomistic dog-eat-dog struggle which gets in the way of me expressing my values, and inevitably leads to slavery as well."

            You have not refuted these facts. You have merely ignored them and said I didn't present any facts (although admittedly you did whine about me saying that equality is necessary for society, even though Proudhon proved this 150 years ago). This is disingenuous.

          8. I have not ignored them. I've explained that your whole argument is based on circular reasoning or flawed arguments. In fact, this whole thread basically started from me pointing out the weakness of your arguments. To tell me that I've been "ignoring them" is as ridiculous as you can get.

          9. Db0, why are you lying? You know I like you and I appreciate what you have to say. What's the point of lying? You've never pointed out any circularity in my arguments. In fact, you've never brought out the word "circular" except to claim that you proved beforehand that my arguments were circular.

          10. Francois, why do you think I'm lying. Just do a search on the comments for the words "circular" or "begging" and you'll find all the times I've brought this up and why?

          11. Actually, I did. The only instances I found were you saying you already proved I was being circular. And I've already refuted your sole comment that attempted to prove anything close to that.

    3. Because equality and freedom as important values for the individual as part of society. Without them, there is no point of living in society in the first place.

      This does not follow. How do you decide that equality and freedom are important parts of society? And even if they are important, there's still a point in living in a society which does not have them, as otherwise we wouldn't be here talking about this would we?

      1. "How do you decide that equality and freedom are important parts of society?"

        No, I said they are important values for the individual to have *when he considers himself as part of society*. I am not saying anything about society and its parts. An individual may agree with the ethics of this or that part of his society or he may not, to some degree.

        Equality and freedom are important values because they are necessary for the individual to express his values within the larger social context. If I am not free, then I am unable to act as I determine is best, and I am also in a society where there is no equality. If I am not equal to all, then there is no society to begin with, and we are therefore inevitably caught in an atomistic dog-eat-dog struggle which gets in the way of me expressing my values, and inevitably leads to slavery as well.

        "And even if they are important, there's still a point in living in a society which does not have them, as otherwise we wouldn't be here talking about this would we?"

        In any society, I am free to a certain degree, and I am equal to my fellows to a certain degree. Total freedom and total equality, as well as total slavery and total inequality, are impossible extremes. The more a value is expressed, the more it sustains the other values in the hierarchy.

  7. "Again, our argument boils down to the fact that you think morality can exist in isolation which I reject. There's no point in continuing this discussion until this is resolved."

    That is a ridiculous position, but I am willing to argue it since you seem to seriously believe it.

    Start a new thread where you explain how I can only evaluate my own actions when there are other minds present. (is this a magical effect where the minds can be anywhere on the planet, or do they have to be close to me for the magic to operate?)

    "Society didn't destroy itself. You simply defined it away. What is there, much like we have now is still a society."

    Insofar as we have a certain degree of equality, society still exists to that degree. But surely you're not going to argue that our society is perfectly cohesive.

    "However If your argument is that a value only gets a positive moral evaluation when it promotes a "better society" then you're making a utilitarian argument."

    No… I have already explained to you why freedom and equality should be valued. It's not a utilitarian argument: like all other values, they have to be evaluated on the basis of how well they permit the expression of my values as a whole.

    1. Start a new thread where you explain how I can only evaluate my own actions when there are other minds present. (is this a magical effect where the minds can be anywhere on the planet, or do they have to be close to me for the magic to operate?)

      You can evaluate your own action but you can't evaluate them morally. You can only evaluate them descriptively. You can only say. "If I wish to be in ataraxia (i.e. absense of pain) I need to eat. I wish to be in ataraxia, therefore I ought to eat". To jump from that to "everyone ought to be able to eat" is a utilitarian argument because the reason you wish everyone to be able to eat is so that everyone ought to be in ataraxia, i.e maximize happiness for the maximum amount of people.

      1. "Everyone ought to be able to eat" is an ethical statement (i.e. a statement about what rules should apply to society). Therefore it is not relevant to the subject of ME evaluating MY OWN ACTIONS.

        1. You evaluating your own actions without a social context is not morality. It only because morality when you evaluate your actions in relation to other humans.

    2. Insofar as we have a certain degree of equality, society still exists to that degree. But surely you're not going to argue that our society is perfectly cohesive.

      You do not have "some degree of equality". You have equality or you don't. I will certainly not argue that a society is not a society unless it's perfect.

        1. I don't deny it. I deny your assertion that having flawed moral values that are rational "destroys society"

    3. No… I have already explained to you why freedom and equality should be valued. It's not a utilitarian argument: like all other values, they have to be evaluated on the basis of how well they permit the expression of my values as a whole.

      In that case, then striving for power is a far better better moral value as when you're the most powerful person in the world, you can express your values better as a whole.

      And this is why I explain that you cannot morally judge desires on what benefits you personally. From this perspective greed and sociopathy become just as "moral", if not more than equality and freedom.

      1. That is a preposterous statement, because you assume that one may instantly become the most powerful person in the world, thus reaping the benefits with no inconveniences or drawbacks on the way there. There's no way I would want to value being the most powerful person in the world, because that would mean severely curtailing everything I want to do, even if this was a remotely achievable goal.

        "And this is why I explain that you cannot morally judge desires on what benefits you personally. From this perspective greed and sociopathy become just as "moral", if not more than equality and freedom."

        Same fallacy. You assume that greed and sociopathy are compatible with my other values, and help them form a coherent whole. This is pure nonsense.

        1. But that's the point Francois, while becoming powerful is something that you can decide to do only for yourself, requiring equality and freedom is something you need to convince others to do with you. You need to explain what your argument is in convincing others that equality and freedom are good when their beliefs are not the same as yours.

          The way I see it, you're still making a utilitarian argument even though you don't want to admit it. You're still saying that people should promote equality and freedom are good because they bring the best result for the maximum amount of people but you simply phrase it in a way that it makes it sound individualistic rather than aggregate. You simply say "promoting equality and freedom will make your life better once everyone else starts promoting equality and freedom as well" and that is just fine but the end result is that you're saying "You should promote equality and freedom for all because such a result is the best for each individual of the whole, including you"

  8. "The obvious flaw in this reasoning is that it is asserted that those first principles are the result of pure logic and therefore impossible to be flawed"

    That's a big jump and does not follow from Kyle's comment that Noor's thinking is a-logical.

    "What bring the best results for the maximum amount of people? … we can try to compile a socioeconomic system which will achieve this result"

    Only each individual can answer this question for him or herself. Hence voluntaryism.

    "Adding a “first principle” such as the NAP or self-ownership would thus only come into the picture if it followed from the original question"

    And yet it does follow from your question. Or it can.

    "And this is in the end why it’s completely misguided to ask an Anarchist what their “first principles” are. The most likely answer would be “Why do I need them?”"

    You've missed the point. I asked my question (in the facebook thread) in order not to prove you guys are wrong, but simply to create the opportunity to learn from you guys. In other words, to open a channel for communication and understanding.

    Even if you decimate the propertarian position, you still have not made the case for libsoc. I'm still keep the channel open tho.

    Noor, you continue to fail to impress me with your reason. Comparing me to a religious fanatic is just stupid. You've overshot the landing again.

    1. That's a big jump and does not follow from Kyle's comment that Noor's thinking is a-logical.

      Since Kyle's comment was put forth following from Noor's comment that "anyone who doesn't start from your approach is being random" it's not a big jump at all. It's the only interpretation. Kyle just said that if one does not start from your approach, they are not being logical.

    2. Only each individual can answer this question for him or herself. Hence voluntaryism.

      Nope. Individual rational actions can lead to an irrational collective result. Simple game theory. We can better answer this question via co-operation.

    3. And yet it does follow from your question. Or it can.

      Just because it can, doesn't mean it should. Trying to formulate "First Principles" from my question would be a flawed approach.

      You've missed the point. I asked my question (in the facebook thread) in order not to prove you guys are wrong, but simply to create the opportunity to learn from you guys. In other words, to open a channel for communication and understanding.

      And I've explained that your question was misguided in the first place. This too counts as communications and trying to explain my position for you. I'm not trying to decimate your position here, I'm trying to explain why you're trying to understand LibSocs from the wrong perpective. It's like asking evolutionary biologists "Ok, if evolution rather than God was responsible for humans after all, which God created evolution?". It's entirely the wrong question to ask.

    1. I think what dbzero is trying to say is that "negative freedom" is not enough, because under capitalism some individuals have all the power (bosses) and others have to "voluntarily" serve them. At least that's my summary of the provided link.

  9. This is a link precisely on this point going into all the details one would need to understand why voluntarism is not enough. I'm not asking you to read a book, I'm asking you to read a short FAQ answer explaining precisely the question you asked.

    If you find that this is not enough, then I'll be glad to discuss it further but I'm not going to be writing the same answers for every AnCap that wants to learn. If I were to do that, I'd never do anything else. This is why we needed an FAQ in the first place!

  10. A good resource for you and Francois on what morality is would be the relevant entry in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-defini… . I also highly recommend the article on metaethics.

    "Moral" and "morality" are some of those words that have way too many meanings, some of which are only subtly different (or at least enough that we unintentionally equivocate between meanings). Nevertheless, I think Francois's definition is highly nonstandard. While I haven't read in-depth on particular moral theories, I don't know of anyone besides Rand and her followers (or ex followers, as the case may (?) be), who talk about the morality of actions performed by an individual in perfect isolation. There are no objectively "correct" definitions, so the best strategy is to use words in the way that the majority in the relevant subject area use them (just for comprehension purposes), so their choice to use the terms "moral" and "morality" in this way is puzzling to me. Francois, when we say that morality isn't concerned with the actions of individuals in isolation, what we mean is that said application of the term is nonstandard to the point that we balk when we see it used in that way. It's like arguing with someone about the existence of God, where the "theist" defines God to be a toaster.

    But to comment more about the substance underlying some of you guys' argumentation above, I think that Francois is illegitimately smuggling things into "rational", such as rights, none of which have yet been argued for. Is it rational to steal in order to eat? Not if one believes that behaving rationally entails respecting others' rights, which I THINK is probably what Francois believes. I believe this was hinted at when he talked about respecting people's freedom and equality. The problem is what it means to behave rationally at all, which can be a very difficult thing to try to explain. It certainly involves goals, but there is no rule universally inherent to the concept that deals with respecting rights. Additionally, the rights presumably being assumed here are very specific ones, not just anything that have historically been called "rights", so there's the additional requirement that those specific rights be argued for.

  11. If the ideal is to benefit the most people, or all people, the individuals that make up that group have to benefit. I think that's why a lot of people prefer to start with basic principles which could be applied to all interaction, at an individual or any sized group level.

    1. But basic principles don't just appear out of thin air. One must first argue why they're good principles to have in the first place and this counters them being "first"

  12. When going further than our basic needs (food, shelter and friends), then it becomes very difficult to tell. Most of the time, each person themselves doesn't really know if they benefit.

    1. Friends, what kind of shit is that? Fucking friends.

      Anyways, I think it's pretty obvious that since benefit is subjective both to circumstances and the interpretation of the individual, one would think that maximizing the individual's freedom to persue that which benefits him would optimize his chances at attaining benefit. Basic principles for interaction are guidelines for maximizing freedom for individuals.

      Unless you don't think it's true that maximizing freedom of action is to the overall benefit of the individual these principles are logically crucial. If that's the case, go ahead and say they are bunk because that is the assumption that justifies all those ethics.

      1. Friends, what kind of shit is that? Fucking friends.

        Unless you're one of the very few humans with imbalanced brains, friends and related social interaction are really fucking necessary

        1. Nobody has ever needed friends and you have no factual basis for saying they would. You could maybe make a case for social interaction, but that isn't what you said.

          1. Are you for real? I believe I have a pretty strong solid basis in psychology to say that humans need friendship to maintain emotional balance. Hell, that's one of the things most people who are not in ideological binders can see as self-obvious.

          2. How did I miss this one? Yeah, that's for real. It is definitely not self obvious. If you want to explain the self obviousness go ahead.

      2. one would think that maximizing the individual's freedom to persue that which benefits him would optimize his chances at attaining benefit.

        Yes. However one needs to maximize positive freedom, not negative freedom in order to achieve this. And you cannot maximize the former with your principles, only the latter.

        1. Positive and negative freedom, that's a bunch of baloney. I haven't stated my principles so I don't know where you get off saying they don't maximize freedom.

          1. That's a bunch of baloney.

            You must have been the leader of your debate team…

            I haven't stated my principles so I don't know where you get off saying they don't maximize freedom.

            I'm pretty positive that they don't. Especially seeing as you're coming from an obvious right-libertarian site.

          2. Come on, positive and negative are just opposing language use. The terms don't even have any meaning.

            You're making assumptions based on faith, not fact. I'm from Detroit.

  13. You start from an utilitarian perspective. You have people trying to find ways to maximize human happiness and discover the way to do this via the scientific method. We can figure out what our biological and psychological needs are to achieve the absence of physical and emotional pain and then figure out a way for every living human to be able achieve this trivially. This will require a whole sociopolitical system which is built around this concept.

    All humans will benefit from this. There is no point in speaking about minorities or majorities as it's impossible that there will be any minority which will not benefit from the capacity to trivially fulfil their needs of food, shelter and non-emotionally painful social interaction.

    Food and Shelter is easy but once you try to figure out how to achieve emotional ataraxia (lack of pain), you quickly discover a few human interactions that cause emotional issues. Hierarchies and domination of human-over-human is one such interaction. Therefore a society which need to avoid emotional pain trivially, needs to have a trivial way for every human to be able to avoid being dominated by another human. This will include physical domination, such as in your example of killing the store keeper to steal his stuff.

    Once you've covered the basics,you then proceed to trying to achieve the maximum capacity for luxuries for all and allow each to pick the ones that will further increase their subjective happiness.

  14. You're making assumptions based on faith, not fact. I'm from Detroit.

    -.-

    "Site" as in "Website"

    1. I thought I was on your website.

      Anyways, you want to change the topic and answer points with shit like "You're dur debate team" or do you want to talk about principles here?

      1. And like I said, how is being "unrestrained" not the same thing as "having the power and resources to act to fulfill one's own potential"?

          1. So by being restrained, the unrestrained person lacks access to resources. Got it.

          2. Err,no, they're not restrained in the negative sense. They are not forcibly prevented from doing stuff.

            But of course given your stubborn refusal to recognise the two types of liberty, you're stuck in a loop of your own devising.

          3. If they aren't forcibly being prevented from doing things, why do they not have access to resources, bud?

            I thought you were the one that devised a loop when you attempted to posit that there were two types of liberty.

          4. If they aren't forcibly being prevented from doing things, why do they not have access to resources, bud?

            Because they've been hoarded by others, bud.

          5. How do you hoard something without restraining others from accessing it?

          6. You assert some first principles such as homesteading and private property rights and then call "initiation of force" when someone tries to use what you've laid a claim to but don't use yourself.

            But you're right, at the end of the day, you can't hoard without practically restraining others. But then again, any ownership rights entails some kind of restriction (i.e. you can't use the same house that I'm living in) so in the end you must accept that there are various restrictions to having a working society.

            Positive freedom is not about the restrictions which will always exist however, but rather about the actual opportunities each human has.

          7. I don't advocate any property rights that are based on claim or use.

            Well I'm glad we've come to agree on the liberty issue, I was beginning to think this was all for nothing.

            Well you can look at like maximizing oppurtunities or you can look at it like minimizing restrictions, I personally don't see the point in nitpicking over a slight difference in language use.

            Anyways, I don't see how you're going to criticize asserting a first principle when you have ones of your own and they aren't vastly different from the ones you knock in your article.

          8. Well you can look at like maximizing oppurtunities or you can look at it like minimizing restrictions

            Given a difficult environment, maximizing opportunities might require increasing restrictions.

          9. Anyways, I don't see how you're going to criticize asserting a first principle when you have ones of your own and they aren't vastly different from the ones you knock in your article.

            Care to elborate?

          10. About principles, I can only say something about yours that I've seen. Didn't you say that you support a system which brings about the greatest benefit or oppurtunity for the most people?

            If one holds that one phrase as a standard, various principles are going to be produced logically. "Hoarding" where a minority controls a majority or at least disproportionate amount of resources is going to be out. If property is deemed to reduce benefit or oppurtunities for most people, property is out. If forced interaction is deemed to benefit only a small minority of people, then forced interaction is out. If a state which both forces interaction and enforces property rights does not benefit the greatest amount of people, a state is out.

          11. Didn't you say that you support a system which brings about the greatest benefit or oppurtunity for the most people?

            Only because that would maximize happiness but yeah.

            If one holds that one phrase as a standard, various principles are going to be produced logically.

            Sure. I've always held that the phrase we need to start from is "what would create the greatest hapiness for the largest amount of humans". This is the utilitarian start.

          12. The principles that lead you to reject property, forced interaction and whatever else are all logically derived from your fundamental ideal that you have applied to society. They are not just rules in and of themselves.

            A right libertarian, or whatever you call them, has a very similar ideal. But rather than apply benefit and oppurtunity to the collective, he applies it to the individual which would then logically apply to a collective of any size.

          13. This is incorrect. The right-libertarians can either take a utilitarian approach or they can outright start from the principles themselves. They will assert some of them as immutable axioms of human existence (such as self-ownership) and from them they will build the whole edifice of their social system.

            And while right-libertarians exist which start from a utilitarian approach and discover their "first principles" from that, the utilitarian approach nevertheless remains a collective approach, not an individualist.

          14. They have more choices than that. I don't think they are correct if they believe their principles are axioms. I subscribe to most of the same principles myself but I don't accept them in and of themselves, they are justified by something larger and more basic.

            The utilitiarian approach may have to be collective based, I don't know. I don't think the principles have to be based on utility though.

          15. You would be wrong if you think most, if not all, don't start axiomatically. In fact, you're one of the very few who claims you don't. This is why I've written posts like this.

            If the principles are not based on utility, what are they based on?

          16. Well I hear you there, I butt heads with libertarians all the time over that stuff.

            I thought the principles were based on maximizing freedom, which is supposed to give the individual the highest potential to thrive (which could be in any way, nothing specific). I guess that would entail giving him a greater ability to utilize but I don't know if that makes it based on utility.

          17. he applies it to the individual which would then logically apply to a collective of any size.

            This is refuted by game theory.

          18. Game theory my ass. All game theory proves is that an individual can act towards the collective's benefit without benefiting himself. It doesn't prove that it is implicit.

          19. Err no. Game theory shows that cooperation action has a greater aggregated benefit for individuals than defection. It shows that rational self-interest can have an irrational collective result.

          20. That sounds like an argument against egoism (or maybe it's egotism, I can never remember. The Stirner shit you run into once in a while, you know what I mean you've probably read the shit.) but not individualism.

          21. It is generally accepted by right libertarians that, politically speaking, no individual is going to ever benefit from forced interactions. The NAP comes out of this, it is not just a rule on its own.

            A right libertarian will generally accept that the individual is going to only be guaranteed the benefit of his own actions, and not the actions of others. This is where property comes from and could be justified by claim, use, need, labor or whatever else is out there depending on the libertarian.

            To make an aside note about property, I find that nearly every form of property out there implicitly violates the NAP with regards to whatever justification it is based on. I also find that at least in rhetoric the average communist/socialist actually advocates property rights (including the LTV people) but either applies it selectively or illogically.

            All I'm trying to say is that the ideals are so similar in whatever form of libertarian that the principles have to be nearly identical as well. We all have them.

          22. It is generally accepted by right libertarians that [..] no individual is going to ever benefit from forced interactions. The NAP comes out of this, it is not just a rule on its own.

            But the NAP is inconsistently applied, because it is frequently used as an excuse to argue for the initiation of violence on trespassers or generally those who violate private property rights. I would have no problem with the NAP if it was a non-violence and self-defence principle but it isn't.

            PS: Please reply to the individual comments I'm making for each point you want to argue. This is the point of splitting my comments: To avoid excessive blockquotes to address each point. Don't just take the last comment and dump all your points in that one.

          23. First of all, I didn't put the words "politically speaking" in there for nothing.

            That the NAP is inconsistently applied is not a problem with the NAP. It is a people problem, not a principle problem.

            I don't really have the attention span to sort through a bunch of different comments, that's why I like to do it in one shot.

          24. It's not that the NAP is not consistently applied. It's that it's too vague to be consistently applied.

          25. It's not vague. If there is gray area to it, it is because the ideals that it is based on can change. Which is not an NAP problem, that's a difference of ideals problem.

          26. A right libertarian will generally accept that the individual is going to only be guaranteed the benefit of his own actions, and not the actions of others. This is where property comes from and could be justified by claim, use, need, labor or whatever else is out there depending on the libertarian.

            This does not follow. An individual does not have to be guaranteed the benefit only of his own actions. What he's guaranteed will depend primarily on the kind of society he wishes to form. Perhaps the Right-Libertarians would prefer a society where an individual is guaranteed only the benefit of his own actions but this does not make this either universal nor leads to a principle for all humans. Only for those who would like to live in such a society.

            Furthermore, private property does not even follow from that, as what would naturally follow would be a possessive ownership system, not one where "sticky" property prevails, for wage-labour, rent and interest negate the individual from guaranteeing the benefit of his own actions.

          27. Well that's the thing with ideals, dude. They are something that may not exist but one might want to try to bring about. An individualist will probably want the individual to retain the product of his labor, or whatever the property may be based on. That he does not now or at any time retain the product of his labor does not mean it wouldn't benefit him.

            Possession with an ethical right is property, whether you call it possession or property makes no difference. The individual can benefit from wage, rent, interest and all that other stuff.

          28. I'm not challenging the part where an individual should receive the product of his labour, this is the main point of socialism after all. What I'm challening is whether people should receive only the product of their labour (as opposed to a collective pooling for example) and whether that is some kind of universal principle. It may be an ideal, but it only applies to crass individualists.

            I won't argue for possession VS priv. property here as we're already having this discussion on another thread. I will only say that an individual does not benefit from the existence of wages, rent and interest, especially when one has the ideal you just proposed, where they are supposed to retain the product of their labour.

          29. Why would the individual recieve a portion of a collective pooling unless she was interacting with the collective?

            I've personally destroyed the "an individual does not benefit from the existence of wages, rent and interest," argument many times.

          30. To make an aside note about property, I find that nearly every form of property out there implicitly violates the NAP with regards to whatever justification it is based on.

            Seeing as the NAP is pretty much useless as a moral rule due to its vagueness, I don't really see this as a large concern

            I also find that at least in rhetoric the average communist/socialist actually advocates property rights (including the LTV people) but either applies it selectively or illogically.

            Socialists actually advocate possessive ownership rights, not private property rights.

          31. I don't agree that it's vague. Is there something you aren't clear on?

            That's the same thing dude.

          32. I don't agree that it's vague. Is there something you aren't clear on?

            I don't think so

            That's the same thing dude.

            Not at all. That's why I gave you a link explaining why they're different.

          33. Oh, I see where your wires are crossed. You think that the NAP is supposed to be a moral guideline. Actually, it's more like a logical extension of a more basic ideal or maybe ideals.

          34. All I'm trying to say is that the ideals are so similar in whatever form of libertarian that the principles have to be nearly identical as well. We all have them.

            Well, first of all it's unlikely that right-libertarians and libertarian socialists have the same ideals. Second, the main contention I have with first principles is that many right-libertarians don't accept them because they think they consequentially lead to the ideal. They accept them because they sound good or because they're an axiom and they will continue sticking by them even when shown that they are incapable of reaching the ideal.

            Perhaps you're not one of them, but in that case, they are not "first" principles for you and therefore the OP is not directed to you either.

          35. I don't understand what makes the huge difference.

            I agree with your main contention, but I don't see why that makes those principles invalid.

            They are probably my principles, but they are not the foundation of my political philosophy.

          36. My contention is not to make the principles invalid. It merely assaults the concept of "first principles" itself. I've made other posts to explicitly attack those principles which I find invalid or misguided.

          37. I thought you were the one that devised a loop when you attempted to posit that there were two types of liberty.

            I didn't simply attempt to.

            But why do I bother? At this point I don't think you're being simply obtuse, you seem more and more like a troll…

          38. Well maybe some people think a troll is a guy who calls out baloney when he sees it, and some people think a troll is a dude whose response consists of a wiki article and then refuses to talk about the subject any more.

          39. Well some people give their own comments the thumbs up by telling others that they've shown the person they are debating the conundrums of their statements, and some people just click the thumbs up button.

          40. What a nice display of spin. You'd make a good PR person.

            I think the better option are those people who don't feel desperate enough to give the thumbs up to their own comments. Either by clicking buttons or by bragging to their friends for approval.

          41. Reminds me of a "top 10 stressful jobs" list I read the other day. About half the jobs on the list would be eliminated or non-stressful if capitalism and/or the state were abolished, but two that caught my eye were "corporate executive" and "public relations person". You know, cause having to actually answer for the bad things your company does is stressful, which considering some of the things corporations do makes sense!

          42. Thanks.

            I don't really have an opinion about what people do with their comments, it has no affect on anybody.

            I don't agree that in certain environments more restraint would lead to more oppurtunities. I guess it would depend on the scenario and what you categorize as restraint though.

          43. The simplest scenario would be the case of a famine caused by a natural disaster which would require restraint on the amount of food people consume so that everyone has enough to eat. This would allow those who would otherwise starve (i.e. if they left food distribution to market forces) to fulfil the rest of their desires.

          44. That's kind of a lifeboat scenario there. The NAP comes into that situation perfectly fine in my opinion.

            I don't agree that restraint is automatically going to benefit the collective.

          45. This discussion is not about the NAP. Furthermore I don't see why a lifeboat situation requires a change in general principles anyway.

            I also didn't say that "restraint is automatically going to benefit the collective". I said that "Given a difficult environment, maximizing opportunities might require increasing restrictions. "

          46. I don't know man, you're the one saying that a principle is alright in one situation and not in another. I mean you either think there should be restraint or you think there shouldn't be restraint.

            You make the mistake a lot of muties make here where they let best interest dictate politics, forgetting the fact that many people don't wish to act in their own best interests.

      2. Once you make an argument stronger than "bunch of baloney" I'll have counterpoints to fit.

  15. I didn't read anything.

    I've already proved that your ideas of "positive" and "negative" are total BS because they mean the same thing.

    1. I didn't read anything.

      Obviously. You do seem like the kind of person who first speaks and then thinks indeed.

      Pretty soon you're going to start telling me what I really believe…

      I've already proved that your ideas of "positive" and "negative" are total BS because they mean the same thing.

      You seem to have a very relaxed definition of "proof".

      1. Hey, I'll get back to you bud, but in the last couple days I've gotten the entire freesteader membership pissed at me on one thread and I've been tied up with it. I would respond to all this right now but my wife wants me to watch Dexter with her and I have to keep things straight around the homestead here.

    1. Did you see that thread dude? I went about 12 pages deep with those guys, there were going bonkers.

    1. Ideals can be things like, "interactions should only be for a mutual benefit," or, "the individual should retain the product of his labor," or, "interaction should be voluntary."

      The NAP on the other hand could be summed up the same way, "the individual should not aggress," but its crux (is that the word I want?), "aggress", is completely void of meaning without the other ideals such as those listed. Without that meaning, it has no moral value.

  16. Perhaps, but not here.

    Why would the individual recieve a portion of a collective pooling unless she was interacting with the collective?

    Because…he's interacting with the collective, as in, being a part of it?

  17. It's is in fact very vague as what is "initiation" and what is "aggression" are not well defined and in fact redefined according to the ideals the NAP is linked to. And that makes it vague. I've explained why in my other post which I've already linked you to.

    1. I don't see how changing the ideals that you apply to the NAP makes the NAP vague. If the NAP is vague, it is because the ideals are vague.

  18. We're not talking about individualism. We're talking about the idea that "what is good for the individual is good for the collective"

  19. So you say that it is in order to maximize freedom. This only begs the question: "Why do we need to maximize freedom?". If the answer is because it brings the maximal utilitarian result, then you're making an utilitarian argument.

    1. Well a quality life is going to be in the eye of the beholder, most importantly in the eyes of the individual living that life. If he has the whole world open to him, and has any sort of action or endeavor open to him then it's only himself that can hold him back.

      In regards to the rest of society, you try to find a political system where the limits of the individual's freedom are only where an action would impose upon another individual.

  20. I mean you either think there should be restraint or you think there shouldn't be restraint.

    I think we should maximize happiness. Whether I'm for more or less restraint follows from that in combination with the material circumstances of the situation.

    1. You just ignore that less restraint yields more oppurtunity, and that happiness is completely subjective to the individual?

    1. All being part of a collective implies is that you have been categorized as a member of a group. We can both be white guys, or gay, or whatever, and it doesn't mean that we've interacted before.

  21. You don't "apply your ideals to the NAP". The NAP is defined by the ideals it is combined or spawned from.

    The NAP, by itself, is vague because it says a shallow "Thou shalt not initiate aggression" which tells us nothing unless we define what "inititate" is and what "aggression" is via some superseding ethical system. I just explained that in my posted article. Are you going to make me retype my arguments in my comments now?

    1. Isn't that what I just meant?

      The ideals would define what actions would be aggressive. By the way, it is, "aggress" or, "initiate force". Initiate aggression is redundant.

  22. If that's what you think individualism implies, then that's been countered by game theory. And round and round we go.

    Just before you were saying that I'm making an argument against egoism and not individualism and now you're telling me that this is what individualism implies. So what is it?

  23. Starting a new thread for this comment

    Well a quality life is going to be in the eye of the beholder, most importantly in the eyes of the individual living that life. If he has the whole world open to him, and has any sort of action or endeavor open to him then it's only himself that can hold him back.

    You're not avoiding the utilitarian grounding. You're only obscuring it so that it looks like you're not making it. You's in effect saying that you wish maximize freedom for all humans so that they have the maximal opportunity to choose the path to maximize their happiness. Another way to phrase the same thing would be to say that You wish to maximize happiness (i.e utilitarianism) by maximizing opportunity. And you will maximize opportunity by maximizing freedom.

    1. I don't know, because in the end I don't care whether a person is happy, healthy or acted in their own self interest. I just care whether or not they had the liberty to do so if they had wanted to. None of my political beliefs are based on whether happiness or oppurtunity is increased, they are based on whether or not liberty is maximized.

      Am I in effect maximizing happiness or oppurtunity, or at least its potential? Maybe, I've never cared to examine it that way mainly because I don't see what it matters.

      But like occurs in your example of extreme circumstances, making political decisions based on oppurtunity can lead to reduced liberty. I don't reduce liberty.

  24. Starting a new thread for this comment

    In regards to the rest of society, you try to find a political system where the limits of the individual's freedom are only where an action would impose upon another individual.

    I'm assuming you're speaking about negative freedom again. But this kind of political system will not maximize opportunities as you expect. Especially not when combined with private property rights.

    But perhaps you have another idea in mind.

    1. LOL, I never talk about negative freedom. Is it really negative freedom when the "restraint" in that case is there only to allow another individual more freedom, oppurtunity? I would think the two would cancel each other out then to create some sort of neutral freedom. That's the idea, anyways.

      I don't really advocate private property rights as one usually thinks of them. My own ideal is that the individual should retain the product of his labor. This leads my "ancap" buddies to call me a socialist from time to time, and of course I still get called a capitalist by those on the left. I don't agree with either party.

  25. Yes I did. To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure if your argument was really that bad or if you were consciously trying to discredit the NAP via an argumentum ad absurdum.

  26. You make the mistake a lot of muties make here where they let best interest dictate politics, forgetting the fact that many people don't wish to act in their own best interests.

    False. In the end, everyone acts in their own self-interest. It just may not be in their own material self-interest, but it's in their psychological self-interest nonetheless.

    The mistake of thinking that everyone is acting in their material self-interest is a common mistakes of neo-classical (and all variants) economists and those who believe them.

    1. That's funny coming from a dude whose objection to wages is completely based on material benefit.

  27. As long as you're saying "The individual should…" you're making a normative proposition. You cannot avoid this by making this normative proposition so vague as to be meaningless without other propositions to combine with.

    1. You don't think the context dictates the meaning pretty obviously? I always thought it was obvious.

      Anyways, yeah, it is as you say. But if aggress isn't clear in and of itself you only need to look at the other basic ideals of libertarianism to clarify. It's not exactly biblical law here.

  28. I thought about that one while I was at work today, and I probably should have put that differently. That statement works on rights or ability more than good or benefit.

    My bad.

  29. Seriously, I don't even have to argue this. If you think you're correct in considering that humans do not require friendship for emotional balance, feel free to continue thinking so. I'll let anyone reading this make their own conclusions on which of us has more basis in reality.

    1. That the answer is subject to the opinion of readers leads me to think that emotional balance requiring friends is something that depends on the individual.

  30. "What is rights for the individual is rights for the collective" or "What is ability for the individual is ability for the collective"? Both of these sentences are nonsensical.

    1. No, it goes the collective doesn't have a right unless the individuals of that collective have that right. Likewise for ability.

  31. And in that case, as I said in my article, the NAP is either useless as utilitarian ethics have a better arguments for physical violence and when combined with Right-Libertarian ethics or axioms, (i.e. private property), due to their unrestrained subjectiveness, becomes nothing more than "It's aggression because I say so"

    1. I don't agree that their subjectivity is unrestrained. There are a variety of justifications for private property, but they are not infinite.

  32. Since when? I only read porn and cereal boxes bud. It's just a categorization dude.

  33. The answer is not subject to the opinion of readers. You may think what you will for yourself but if you want to convince anyone else, you'd better be making an argument powerful enough to counter the plainly obvious of everyday life for the vast majority of humans. .

    And if you have a practical mindframe and wish to see what you suggest become reality, i.e. and are not just armchair theorizing and wasting my time about impossible concepts, you need to convince that vast majority of humans.

  34. LOL, I never talk about negative freedom. Is it really negative freedom when the "restraint" in that case is there only to allow another individual more freedom, oppurtunity? I would think the two would cancel each other out then to create some sort of neutral freedom. That's the idea, anyways.

    Just because you don't talk about it doesn't mean you can avoid distinguishing on what kind of freedom you mean. Furthermore, "opportunity" is again tied to what kind of freedom you're talking about. The opportunity that negative freedom provides is not the opportunity that positive freedom provides.

    Those two freedoms are indeed separate because they do not "cancel each other out" as in some kind of theoretical space of linguistic concepts mixed with physics. Those two liberties are separate precicely because at some point they run counter to each other, for as one increases, the other decreases. For example, by providing the negative freedom to accumulate more than one can you, you oppose the positive freedom of others to live a decent life without bosses and landlords.

    So while that may be "the idea, anyways", in practice things don't work like that.

  35. I don't really advocate private property rights as one usually thinks of them. My own ideal is that the individual should retain the product of his labor.

    The problematic point is not there. This is not the crucial difference between socialists and capitalists as in theory they support the same thing. The problematic point is about how ownership of the means of productions is defined. Is it via occupancy and use as socialists propose? Lockeanist? Georgist? Legalist? This is the primary question you must answer to figure out to which camp you belong.

    In short, do you think that rent, profit via wage labour and interest and unethical or not?

  36. We've already been through this. You say you want to maximize freedom and I've asked you why this is important. Your answer was about quality of life which I've used to try and explain why you're using a utilitarian reasoning after all. At this point you either need to explain why my analysis is wrong or concede the point. Stomping your foot and saying that "you don't care" just in order to avoid a conclusion you're uncomfortable with is not really and argument.

    This matters because if your support of freedom is in order to maximize utility, then you have enough an open mind to recognise that the kind of freedom and the situation a society is may not actually be conductive to maximizing utility.

    If however you're supporting freedom on principle, without examining the reasoning behind such support, then you're stepping in the problems I've explained in my original article above and also counter your own claim that you do not follow "first principles", making you inconsistent and seemingly confused on what your position actually is.

  37. The answer is not subject to the opinion of readers. You may think what you will for yourself but if you want to convince anyone else, you'd better be making an argument powerful enough to counter the plainly obvious of everyday life for the vast majority of humans. .

    And if you have a practical mindframe and wish to see what you suggest become reality, i.e. and are not just armchair theorizing and wasting my time about impossible concepts, you need to convince that vast majority of humans.

  38. Starting a new thread for this comment

    No, it goes the collective doesn't have a right unless the individuals of that collective have that right. Likewise for ability.

    A collective doesn't have rights. It doesn't exist as an entity outside of the collection of individuals. However for this quote to make sense I think you're referring to your comment here.

    The principles that lead you to reject property, forced interaction and whatever else are all logically derived from your fundamental ideal that you have applied to society. They are not just rules in and of themselves.

    Which leads me to explain that never said that my utilitarian start was ever supposed to be applied to the society and not the individual. In fact, it supposed to be applied to the individuals only as a society is only a group of individuals. What I am saying is that I give far more weight to the ideal that provides the best benefit collectively rather than those which provide the best benefit individually as the latter may bring a far worse result as game theory predicts.

  39. Starting a new thread for this comment

    I don't agree that their subjectivity is unrestrained. There are a variety of justifications for private property, but they are not infinite.

    I didn't say that they are infinite. I said it was unrestrained. As in, what is good is picked practically out of a hat (a priori axioms etc) or alternatively from internally inconsistent "axioms" such as self-ownership. It is not restrained by utilitarian considerations.

  40. Starting a new thread for this comment

    I don't agree that their subjectivity is unrestrained. There are a variety of justifications for private property, but they are not infinite.

    I didn't say that they are infinite. I said it was unrestrained. As in, what is good is picked practically out of a hat (a priori axioms etc) or alternatively from internally inconsistent "axioms" such as self-ownership. It is not restrained by utilitarian considerations.

  41. Therefore your argument that "my wires are crossed" is wrong.

    As for why not being clear without other propositions is bad, I've already explained in my other article as in my other comments to you like this one.

  42. You just ignore that less restraint yields more oppurtunity,

    As I said, this depends on the situation.

    and that happiness is completely subjective to the individual?

    I don't ignore this. I recognise that to maximize happiness one must maximize opportunity which can only happen by maximizing equality as well as freedom. I.e. by maximizing positive liberty

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