Pfhorrest wrote:It is the latter. We would of course start out our society with some sort of agreement on what those universal rights were, but we could always revisit that later and decide that we were wrong and revise our understanding of what universal rights people have.
Historically, this would end up as lynch mobs, and Jim Crow laws (in large portions of the US - not so sure about the rest of the world, but it wouldn't surprise me either.)
I'm don't follow. Being able to say "we were wrong" leads to lynch mobs and Jim Crow laws, how? I don't see the connection there at all.
SO, you're arguing for an objective morality, but admit that you have no reason for this, and even admit that there is no way to prove if it is objective or not? Did I miss something?
I'm kind of trying not to go into this subject because J Thomas and I keep getting into it over and over and it's consumed several threads already, but what the heck.
I'm arguing that if there is any true morality then it must be an objective one, because a "relative good" is just something someone wants, in the same sense that a "relative truth" is just something someone believes, and mere wants and beliefs are importantly less than full-fledged goods and truths, in that a good is something it is correct
to want and a truth is something it is correct
And then I'm arguing that any argument over what is good, just like arguments about what is true, will come down to some base assumptions that something
is the correct answer to that type of question. Someone can always question that assumption (e.g. the solipsist who denies any reality beyond his
perceptions, the egotist who denies any morality besides his
desires), and then you have no way of really backing it up from deeper logical premises; but you can point out that without that assumption you're left saying "there is no answer", and that is just as much an assumption as its negation. We can only make assumptions one way or the other at this foundational level, so it comes down to mere pragmatic reasoning on which assumption should we choose to make: that there are some answers which we may not know yet but that we can try to find, or that there are no answers so we should just give up on it? For anyone interested in finding any answers that might be there, the first is the more pragmatic assumption to operate under; and for anyone uninterested in finding such answers, they've just excused themselves from the conversation so what do we care what they think?
Trasvi wrote:If your goal is to redistribute wealth, then just raise taxes on the rich and remove a few tax cuts.
My goal is not to redistribute wealth, but to prevent wealth from redistributing to the already-wealthy simply in virtue of them being wealthy; to prevent people from making money merely off of having more money. The litmus test is that if your business model wouldn't be feasible in a world where everyone was as rich as you, then you are somehow making money simply from having more money, not from actually doing something of intrinsic value to anyone which they would pay you for even if they were as rich as you. (E.g. all the things rich people pay poor people to do, and would want to pay for even if the poor people were all rich too). The goal is to cure that disease at its source, rather than just treating the symptom by taking from the rich and giving to the poor.
A simultaneous goal is maximizing liberty, i.e. minimizing coercion, and so the idea is to find a way to undermine the mechanisms by which wealth accumulates wealth by doing less
(e.g. not enforcing contracts, or at least certain kinds of them), by simply not supporting those mechanisms, rather than by actively punishing people who utilize them.
A tertiary, more abstract goal is to integrate this into a system founded on well-justified principles.
ijuin wrote:A contract in and of itself creates new obligations insofar as the contracting parties are willing to adhere to the agreement (i.e. "honesty"). Removing the ability to create such obligations would essentially entail the removal of the need for trust to exist between contracting parties
Honesty and trust do not create obligations; in fact just the inverse, if you have honesty and trust you don't need obligations. You need enforceable obligations when the other party's honesty can't be trusted. Under my system people would still be able to promise things to each other and live up to those promises if they are honest, or to accept promises if they are trusting; it simply wouldn't create any enforceable obligation to live up to those promises (thus discouraging their widespread use among strangers in the market). A contract would create an obligation to fulfill such promises, and I am explicitly saying "lets not make contracts, here are principled reasons why not to, and here are a bunch of beneficial effects that would follow from that..."
instead require that all dealings be resolved immediately (i.e. no time-separation between delivery of parts of the agreement). Unfortunately, in the real world, many dealings involve actions that take place over a span of time, and thus must be paid either in advance, upon delivery, or in installments.
I've been saying all over this thread that I see no problem with displacement of delivery in time or space, if that is what was bought and sold. This relates to the digital media discussion too. Form, substance, place, and time are all important aspects of a thing, and when you buy a thing you're buying it at least tacitly understanding what values of those variables are acceptable. "I want this quantity of this substance arranged in this form at this place and this time." If any of those variables has the wrong value, you're just not getting the thing you paid for. So I can trade you some money here and now for a house there and then just fine, without it being anything other than a simple trade.
neremanth wrote:Well, I certainly agree that a system of competing subscription justice services would work much better in a society such as yours than one such as ours, assuming that the elimination of rent does indeed as we are predicting lead to much greater economic inequality. It might even be a moderately bad thing in such a society instead of a terrible travesty of justice. Nevertheless, I do think that in the vast majority of democracies at least, including your thought experiment society, a single tax-funded not-for-profit justice provider operated, controlled or regulated by government is the most fair option.
The problem is that taxes per se are not possible under the principles of my thought experiment society, so we're looking for ways to make up for their loss. (And what exactly do you mean by "government" here separate from "justice provider"? A government is just an certain kind of organization of people, and the question at hand is how to fund such an organization without violating certain principles that look desirable to uphold).
Well yes, that was the point I was trying to make: that both the information and the medium it is encoded in are important, at least when you receive your purchase, and in the sense that there will be acceptable and unacceptable formats/media (not in the sense that there is only ever one acceptable medium). Still, the sandwich is very different to a comic. It's much easier to create a copy of the comic than a 'copy' of the sandwich, the cost of the preferred medium for receiving the comic is cheaper than the cost of the preferred medium for receiving the sandwich, and the 'copy' of the sandwich is consumed in order to be enjoyed (and the medium is perishable even if I decided not to eat the sandwich but just contemplate its beauty) so that the purchaser will likely be in the market for another 'copy' of the sandwich again in the near future.
Those are all technological limitations however, not differences in principle. Until quite recently it was as difficult to replicate an image as it was to replicate a sandwich, and in the future it may be as easy to replicate a sandwich as it is to replicate an image today.
I guess you could sell memory sticks with a copy of a comic on them under your proposed rules, I just don't think you could sell downloads, because then you're not selling a physical medium that contains the information.
Nobody has addressed the TCP-over-ping-pong-balls analogy yet. If I can sell you a stream of colored balls (which you intend to discard once transcribing the list of their colors into a different medium), why can't I sell you a stream of photons or electrons or whatever? Sure I'm not literally transmitting the same photons or electrons from my location to your location, but I'm paying someone to deliver them to you; there could just as well be a ping-pong-ball-network-service-provider who I could pay to stream colored balls to you out of their reserves in a certain pattern. And you're just going to throw away the photons or electrons when you're done with them, but how is that different from the ping-pong balls, or for that matter many postal letters? You got the information from the medium I sent it in and then discarded the medium after transcribing the information (or your machine did all this for you automatically), but there was still a medium involved.
neremanth wrote:Well, from your elaboration, I don't think that is the latter of the two alternatives I described (I don't think it's either of them, though it sounds to be closer to the latter, sure), but that's not important because I think I understand what you're saying now. (I'll note in passing that I agree that many - maybe even most - things are right or wrong independent of whether or not people believe they are wrong - I just don't believe that rights follow automatically from morality, I think that they are society's promises to an individual and are of course informed by morality, but not completely determined by it).
I'm curious to hear your elaboration on how you think my position is different from your second alternative, as I suspect that may partly explain our disagreement on the parenthetical matter of the relation between rights and morality.
I am concerned by the idea of different providers of justice offering different moral principles to their subscribers. I realise you'd probably have some overarching things that all providers had to include like it being wrong to kill someone (except in self defense etc etc), but I still think this could easily lead to great difficulties when there was a dispute between two individuals subscribed to different services when the services disagree about the morality of the disputed action. If Person A does something to Person B that Person B feels is wrong and has harmed them, and Person B subscribes to a service that agrees with that point of view while Person A subscribes to a service that says what Person A did was absolutely fine, then Person A's service has an obligation to protect Person A from retribution by Person B's service while Person B's service has an obligation to exact retribution on Person A, and those obligations are irreconcilable.
The idea was that the pressure to avoid having such conflicts with each other would force different justice providers to come to agreements on fair and impartial principles (in a way somewhat like the idea of having one kid slice the sandwich and the other kid pick their slice; if you're afraid of getting the short end of the stick, you are motivated to make sure the stick is cut evenly). And that pressure from their customers would ensure that those agreed-upon principles are widely acceptable to the populace.
I would not impose from outside the system any limits on what principles might be adopted, because I might be wrong in my ideal principles. I do of course have an idea of what the correct principles would be (which is mostly what we're talking about here), and if we were magically starting a new society with such a market of justice providers they would all be starting out with those principles, but then they would be free to work out corrections to them as necessary, based on independent arguments from non-authoritarian sources, the need to come to agreement with other providers to avoid conflict, and the need to appease their clients in order to stay in business.