A small, specific question about libertarianism

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Griffin
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Griffin » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:07 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
Griffin wrote:
but adults in a modern society understand that their existence is largely facilitated by good fortune and the kindness of others, and that they have duties as well as rights.
And most libertarians would readily agree with that (everyone I've ever met, at least). So I'm not sure what your point is, here.
You've disagreed twice already in this very post, AND you brought it up in the first place...


Cite please? Because I'm pretty sure you're either making stuff up or just not bothering to read stuff. Maybe you're just using a definition of owe that means nothing in the context of this conversation, like was suggested. In which case, stop, that definition is meaningless, since suddenly we "owe" jupiter for catching meteors, while the second stronger definition implies we don't.

nitePhyyre wrote:Unless you are some sort of anarcho-primitivist and live some form of palaeolithic lifestyle, you're damn right you do.

Bullshit. You may believe this, but you can't act as if this is some sort of unassailable truth that should be obvious to everyone when it very much isn't.

elasto wrote:Whether or not you consented to the exchange, it happened, and therefore you do have some form of moral obligation.

So stiffing that scam artist was immoral. Right. I'm sorry but no, if reality worked this way it would be a mess. Psychology works this way, yes, but morality doesn't - a gift is a gift, and if another person gives you a gift without you agreeing to something in return, that does not leave you with a moral obligation (though perhaps a social one if you wish to retain good standing and not look like a dick).

I think the moral good of "paying it forward" is completely removed from whether or not people have done something for you first. It is simply the act of doing good for others that is a moral act, and I'd arguing doing it solely because you are obliged to actually makes it less so.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:48 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Shockingly homosexual couples are different to heterosexual couples and have a different set of issues, fortunately sitting bored out of your mind while your partner is either shoe or handbag shopping isn't one of them.

Yeah, those darn men and their shoe shopping. What are they like?
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby AtlasDrugged » Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:34 am UTC

elasto wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:No, you don't. If you've paid your debts in full, you have a clean slate. Its completely ridiculous to claim that by virtue of living in the same society as someone, I owe them anything. What claim do they have to my lifesblood? You can't owe someone something if you never consented to the exchange.

Whether or not you consented to the exchange, it happened, and therefore you do have some form of moral obligation.

Normally it's not owed to a specific person - normally it's done on a sort of 'pay it forward' basis. Let's take public roads as a simple example: People from before you were born paid their taxes in order to invest in a road system - a road system that you personally benefit from whether you yourself drive or not (eg. your food is cheaper than it otherwise would be if roads did not exist and hauliers everywhere had to transport all their goods across dirt tracks.)

The deal (whether you like it or not) is that people before you invested in public roads that benefited you, and, likewise, your tax money will be used to benefit those around you and also benefit people not yet born.

In case the concept is not familiar to you, it's generally known as 'society'.


Drop the condescension.

The idea of committing someone to an exchange against their will in this kind of a priori way is immoral in itself. Assuming your initial premises are correct though, there still remain a number of questions. What about when my money is used on things that clearly do not benefit me? On what basis does the government get to decide what benefits me? Even if it does benefit me, why does the government control its execution? To take an example, let's say I know you want to cut the grass in your garden. Without asking you, I take a lawnmower and do it myself. Am I owed anything by you? If so, what further assumptions are you making to determine the extent of that repayment?

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby lalop » Tue Jun 12, 2012 3:39 am UTC

Griffin wrote:Libertarians tend to believe that one of the most important rights is the right to be able to choose the society you want to live in - that so long as you avoid damage other societies, or preventing people from leaving your society to seek another one, you should have the right to come to consensus about the rules you wish to live under.

Essentially, that society is an agreement, and it's rules should not forcefully applied to those who can have no influence over their creation, unless there's a seriously important reason why this shouldn't be so. (the military is one of those important reasons, for many libertarians)

The states rights thing is an inherent outgrowth of that - the belief that those who live in a given society are the ones who should be able to govern it's rules. Obviously, we all live in the same "society", on some level - but it's hard to believe that, socially, Vermont is the same society as Texas but not the Canadians living just over the border.


If this reasoning is really used, I don't see how it doesn't apply to the state itself. Not everyone in north Vermont will be in the same society as in south Vermont, and so on.

Rather, "states rights" seem to stem from the notion that a 300 year old document is the infallible rule of the land and should be obeyed at all costs. Fortunately, that 300 year old document isn't all bad, but it could easily be worse.


folkhero wrote:In the view of some libertarians (me included) just going about your daily life can be an aggressive act if you don't take reasonable precautions to prevent yourself from spreading disease. This means that if you have a very dangerous and contagious disease, and you don't voluntarily go into quarantine , then the state can legitimately put you into one to prevent your aggression of spreading the contagion. If you refuse to voluntarily get a vaccine that is safe, and effective at preventing a dangerous disease then the government can legitimately mandate it.


Could be me, but I find this an extremely broad definition of "violence" or "aggression". Firing someone can cause equally severe harm to them, but I doubt the libertarian would call this "aggression".

The vaccine case is even worse, because it might not even be necessary. If enough people are vaccinated around you, then it doesn't matter if you are or not - and yet such refusal is construed "aggression" anyway. And I don't see why this same reasoning can't be applied to other things that are classically non-libertarian. If you refuse to get health insurance, then there's the real possibility of causing ill to your family and friends; therefore, government can legitimately mandate it, etc.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby nitePhyyre » Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:20 am UTC

Griffin wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Unless you are some sort of anarcho-primitivist and live some form of palaeolithic lifestyle, you're damn right you do.
Bullshit. You may believe this, but you can't act as if this is some sort of unassailable truth that should be obvious to everyone when it very much isn't.
The reality is that every advance, every discovery, every invention would be impossible without the advance, discovery, or invention that necessarily preceded it.

There is no PC without the transistor, there is no transistor, without semi-conductors, there are no semi-conductors without eletrical theory, etc, etc... all the way back to fire.
Spoiler:
Or perhaps stone tools. Does anyone know what we used first?
You may not like it, but, unless you have an objection other than being disgusted by the idea that you are anything but a self-created master of your own destiny or swearing, it doesn't matter whether you like it or not. Facts are facts.

And if you DO have a better objection, WTH didn't you just write it here in the first place?
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Zamfir » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:08 am UTC

Spoiler:
nitePhyyre wrote:Or perhaps stone tools. Does anyone know what we used first?

Stone tools date back millions of years, even stones wih moderate adaptations from their original shape. Fire is less clear, but widespread use is only a few hundred thousand years old, and even then not all hominid remains show evidence of fire use. But I think the evidence suggests that Homo Sapiens and its closest relatives branched off from some already fire-using variety of Homo, so fire use would be baked in our evolutionary history.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Impeach » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:43 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:Unless you are some sort of anarcho-primitivist and live some form of palaeolithic lifestyle, you're damn right you do.
No, you don't. If you've paid your debts in full, you have a clean slate. Its completely ridiculous to claim that by virtue of living in the same society as someone, I owe them anything. What claim do they have to my lifesblood? You can't owe someone something if you never consented to the exchange.
Everything you think, everything you know, everything you do, it is all shaped by the world around you. We're talking about 10-20 thousand years of human development and discovery. How can anyone ever pay that back? In this context was does 'paying it back' even mean?


What in god's name are you on about? Is there even any practical purpose of going here? What relevance do our 10-20 thousand year old ancestors have? Let's learn from the past and use that knowledge in the present, not try to figure out how to pay the sumerians back just because the laws of physics caused their actions to physically influence the earth.

nitePhyyre wrote:I don't know how you did it, but I believe you have managed to take the absolute worsts of capitalism and merge them with the absolute worsts of communism into a single system.
Glad I'm not the only one thinking it. Still, its interesting to see a brand of libertarianism that is simply impractical, rather than impractical and absolutely logically incoherent.


I really don't see this as the case. To me, libertarianism (coupled with not being an evil person) is a merger of the BEST of those two systems. I'm speaking only about my view of libertarianism, and not whatever specific libertarian system that you have identified and rejected. In a properly working capitalist system (not this corporatist serfdom crap we have right now) people are free to conduct business as they see fit. They are free to set up telephone wires and everyone else is free to pay for the electricity they provide. I highly doubt that they would see it fit to not get around to doing so. When people are not worried about the fact that citizens in this country cannot own their own land or even mow a fucking lawn for money, without the government FORCING themselves upon us, they may even choose to redistribute their own wealth (possibly in the form of labor) to their community. Example? (in)famous libertarian the Ronpaul, who preformed free medical care for those who could not afford it, We libertarians don't want everyone to act like assholes, we merely recognize that nobody is aloud to force their own idea of non-asholery on other people. Shit happens, people die, stuff breaks, and feelings get hurt. I consider it a fool's errand to try and change that through law.

Zamfir wrote:Ormurin, what if people do not agree with you? You claim to have a right to secede, others say you don't. What determines who is correct?

You reject the law as method to decide this question, and you also seem to reject the right of the strongest as arbiter. You appeal to 'rights', but those rights are apparently not the rights that were laid down in the law. Where do those rights come from? No one ever showed them to me, I never signed for them. Can I disagree with them?

In particular: I never agreed to 'rights' that allow my neighbour to start a new country. Why does that not count?


Maybe it's just because I already think this, but it seems fairly obvious what he is arguing. Humans have the right to their bodies, but not to other people's bodies. From this it follows that we have the right to do whatever we please with our bodies, but not with other people's. That is why Ormurin rejects both concepts. You CAN try to make the argument that you don't have this right, simply because nobody said so, but I would advice against it. Self ownership is clearly a right and anyone who disputes this is essentially making an attempt on your life.

Zamfir wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:We can argue about this until we're blue in the face, but since we're starting from different epistemeological positions, we're not going to get anywhere*.


Yeah, that's possible. At the same time, I am hardly the only person who's not convinced about the attraction or viability of microstates. I don't think centralized government on a scale of dozens of millions of people is a good thing. But we've got it vaguely working, and for all its downsides it solves at least some issues.

After all, on the surface your proposal would create safe havens for criminals, it would bankrupt my pension fund, end the economic safety net my government currently provides, make it impossible to regulate polluting or dangerous industry near me. Just to name a few examples.

So whether you like it or not, you'll have to convince people like me, who don't feel it in their bones, or believe it's sacrosanct. Unless you consider force, which seems both unlikely and against your own principles. And I don't think righteousness will be enough to sell it, you'll need to sell that it's workable as well.


Well I am glad we agree that an enormous and centralized government is not the way to go but we seem to have different opinions of the current system. I cannot just shake off "all its downsides," considering what some of them are. Did you know that it is now legal for US citizens to arrested and detained INDEFINITELY, without ever being charged with a crime or seeing the inside of a courtroom? Or what about this? A series of executive orders issued by Reagan, which allowed the federal government, in the event of a national emergency, to nationalize..... well, everything has just been reissued by Obama with one slight change: these actions no longer require a state of emergency. (I can provide the actual laws from whitehouse.gov if anyone wants them) This seriously must be addressed and I think a good direction to approach this from would be one of staunch libertarianism, but for laws like these, it shouldn't just be libertarians who say "What happens next = you WILL NOT detain me without a trial..... The two values are equal, you get to decide what the left half looks like. Will I die? Maybe. Will you? Maybe."


Oh, and what's with my not being aloud to say my candidate's name on this website? That's rather petty.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Azrael » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:23 pm UTC

Impeach wrote:Oh, and what's with my not being aloud to say my candidate's name on this website? That's rather petty.

It's a joke. You remember jokes, don't you?

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Impeach » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:46 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
Impeach wrote:Oh, and what's with my not being aloud to say my candidate's name on this website? That's rather petty.

It's a joke. You remember jokes, don't you?


Actually no. I'd never seen that before.

Oh and yes people, I wrote "aloud" when I meant "allowed." It's quite embarrassing and I do apologize.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Griffin » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:30 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:
Griffin wrote:The reality is that every advance, every discovery, every invention would be impossible without the advance, discovery, or invention that necessarily preceded it.

There is no PC without the transistor, there is no transistor, without semi-conductors, there are no semi-conductors without eletrical theory, etc, etc... all the way back to fire. You may not like it, but, unless you have an objection other than being disgusted by the idea that you are anything but a self-created master of your own destiny or swearing, it doesn't matter whether you like it or not. Facts are facts.


At no point did I disagree with ANY of this. Of course those are facts! Entirely irrelevant facts that have absolutely nothing to do with the claim you're trying to make! I'm still waiting on an actual explanation on why this means I owe anybody or any collective anything at all. Beyond "YOU DO BECAUSE IT IS TRUE", because that's not actually an argument.

You keep putting out facts, but facts don't mean anything unless you actually connect them to your argument, something you are continually failing to do.

Because as near as I can tell from the cloudy logic of what you are saying, we have some fucking obligation to the sun we've got to repay, and I've got no goddamn clue what it is or how we're supposed to do it.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby lalop » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:19 am UTC

Griffin wrote:You keep putting out facts, but facts don't mean anything unless you actually connect them to your argument, something you are continually failing to do.

Because as near as I can tell from the cloudy logic of what you are saying, we have some fucking obligation to the sun we've got to repay, and I've got no goddamn clue what it is or how we're supposed to do it.


This connection is impossible, unless the is-ought gap is to be breached, something which seems like it's not going to happen anytime soon.

When it comes to it, moral presumptions like ownership, debt follow only from people assuming them to be true. If you really want to (as you just did) dismiss that all the things in your life made only possible by others implies debt, then you can, because the connection can never actually be made. This road leads nowhere besides confirmation of prior beliefs, however.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby elasto » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:08 am UTC

AtlasDrugged wrote:Drop the condescension.

Apologies. It wasn't called for. I guess I was in a bad mood at the time or something!

The idea of committing someone to an exchange against their will in this kind of a priori way is immoral in itself.

Perhaps. But what we in the West have been given by prior generations is so ridiculously generous that it's just plain blindness not to see it, and just plain ingratitude not to look to pay it forwards - to bestow kindness on the generations to follow us just as was bestowed upon us.

Assuming your initial premises are correct though, there still remain a number of questions. What about when my money is used on things that clearly do not benefit me? On what basis does the government get to decide what benefits me?

Clearly it's impractical for any of us to go through a national government's budget item by item, work out what proportion of our taxes go on that particular thing and have any kind of line-veto. The best we can do, in general, is to seek to elect the person whose views closest match our own and then empower them to make decisions on our behalf. Sometimes we will agree with their decision and sometimes we won't. That's just life. If they screw up too badly (in our opinion) then we elect a new guy to undo what the last guy did wrong and do things differently.

To take an example, let's say I know you want to cut the grass in your garden. Without asking you, I take a lawnmower and do it myself. Am I owed anything by you? If so, what further assumptions are you making to determine the extent of that repayment?

Yes, if I wanted the grass cut and was unable to do it myself, I'd say I do owe you a repayment in kind.

The easiest way to determine the extent of the repayment is to judge it on time and money expended. If you spent an hour of your time cutting my grass, saving me an hour of my time, I should do something for you that saves you an hour of your time so that you are made whole. And if it doesn't cost me an hour of my time to do so, that's win-win! For example, if it would take me an hour to cut my grass, but it only took you half an hour, and it'd take you an hour to do your tax return, and would only take me half an hour to do so, that's win-win! That's the whole basis of the free market in fact - just with money being used as an intermediary placeholder instead of social obligation. (I use the term 'social obligation' since I agree the term 'moral obligation' carries an unnecessary degree of philosophical baggage.)

Some sacrifices that previous generations made are almost impossible to properly value - eg. when people willingly joined up to prevent your country being invaded by a psychotic dictatorship at enormous personal cost - both economic (lost wages; lost career) and being injured or killed. We should both seek to repay them - by ensuring they get a decent pension in perpetuity - and honouring them and their memory by being likewise inspired to acts of self-sacrifice in our daily lives.
Last edited by elasto on Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:12 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Griffin » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:10 am UTC

People can, in fact, provide reasons for oughts. They are usually followed by "because it will"s based upon agreed upon goals or preceded by "if you then"s based on prior beliefs. And finally, it's not much of an is-ought gap since we are discussing something being claimed to be an "is" - if you and nitePhyyre are willing to dial it back to "ought", that would probably make the first bit a little easier, instead of blithely assuming its come inarguable truth that everyone must by default accept - that 'facts are facts'.

This road leads nowhere besides confirmation of prior beliefs, however.

Which road? Asserting that you are completely correct without evidence or argument or reason or any attempts to work towards common goals or from common beliefs in arguing your point? Or saying that another argument is unjustified?
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby lalop » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:46 am UTC

Griffin wrote:it's not much of an is-ought gap since we are discussing something being claimed to be an "is"


Debt is hardly an "is", unless a common, and physical "is/state of affairs" definition is applied. You two dispute that definition, and hence it's become an "ought".

To be more clear, does x leave you in debt, or not? As long as this is up for debate, debt certainly is not an "is", anymore than the number of lalajakalas is an "is". Rather, the first question is what a lalajakalas "ought" to be. Perhaps (as in this case), you can agree on what a lalajakalas does, but not who or what is a lalajakalas in the first place.

Griffin wrote:any attempts to work towards common goals or from common beliefs in arguing your point?


Actually, this: does not work when the belief being disputed is too basic or when the common beliefs are too disjoint.

In this case, the notions of "property" and "debt" are highly basic and it's obvious that the beliefs are disjoint. He thinks that your dependency on the rest of the human race implies a debt. You think this implication is invalid. Boom, difference in "ought" is there and cannot be surmounted by any evidence due to is-ought gap.

Hence, this road leads nowhere besides confirmation of prior beliefs.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby nitePhyyre » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:24 am UTC

Griffin wrote:At no point did I disagree with ANY of this. Of course those are facts! Entirely irrelevant facts that have absolutely nothing to do with the claim you're trying to make! I'm still waiting on an actual explanation on why this means I owe anybody or any collective anything at all. Beyond "YOU DO BECAUSE IT IS TRUE", because that's not actually an argument.

You keep putting out facts, but facts don't mean anything unless you actually connect them to your argument, something you are continually failing to do.

Because as near as I can tell from the cloudy logic of what you are saying, we have some fucking obligation to the sun we've got to repay, and I've got no goddamn clue what it is or how we're supposed to do it.
Actually what I am saying is that if anyone reads "we owe the sun for life", or, "we owe Jupiter for being a meteor shield", or
Griffin wrote:you owe everything about yourself to the greater society
or
EdgePenguin wrote:We all owe our lives to lots of things that predate us and were not of our making; sanitation, vaccination, agriculture, the evolutionary conditions that led to humanity and the astronomical conditions that kept Earth safe enough from cosmic nastiness long enough for that evolution to take place. Humility is called for.
And thinks that "owe" means "debt that has to be repaid" they fail at life, because that would be a wildly absurd interpretation. It would make absolutely zero fucking sense.

If your interpretation cannot possibly make sense, and you know there is another possible interpretation, then it is obviously the other one. In that case, only a moron, or, someone being deliberately obtuse would cling to their first nonsensical interpretation.

In other words, when someone says 'you owe everything about yourself to the greater society' what they are saying is 'you would not have the things you do without the massive support structure behind you.' They probably also mean 'so if you are willing to reap all the rewards of our support structure, pay it forward or you are a selfish douche', but that isn't strictly necessary.

You clearly don't understand what points the 'modern day nanny-statists' are making. I suggest you go here, and try to understand the subtle differences.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby lutzj » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:26 pm UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:In other words, when someone says 'you owe everything about yourself to the greater society' what they are saying is 'you would not have the things you do without the massive support structure behind you.' They probably also mean 'so if you are willing to reap all the rewards of our support structure, pay it forward or you are a selfish douche', but that isn't strictly necessary.


I just don't get how benefits created by people in the past create an obligation to people in the present/future. Keep in mind as well that those past people that created all of our technology and infrastructure generally did so out of self-interest.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Zamfir » Wed Jun 13, 2012 5:56 pm UTC

lutzj wrote:Keep in mind as well that those past people that created all of our technology and infrastructure generally did so out of self-interest.

That doesn't sound true to me. People generally like to create lasting things for the next generations, they derive pride and satisfaction from it. And social norms can enforce that even stronger. For example, there's a huge church near my house that was started in the 13th century and reconstructed or expanded in most centuries since. Same for the market place, and the city hall, etc. That's hardly rare, every town with a bit of history has such buildings that were consciously built for the ages, at great cost.

On a personal level people like to leave a meaningful inheritance to their kids. Moeny or the farm or a house, most business owners I know dream of leaving their company to their kids, and some huge companies were built that way. Heridatary nobility is an extremely common form of government, deeply rooted in a similar tradition. Cesare Borgia killed his elder brother, in the knowledge that his father would then try to pass the papacy to him :)

On a more abstract level, artists or scientist like to work for the benefit of future generations, sometimes even at relatively meager wages. And other people are willing to support such people, on similar grounds of creating something for lasting

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Griffin » Wed Jun 13, 2012 6:35 pm UTC

lutzj, you don't understand. But its finally become clear (and would have become clearer if he'd actually responded to any of my questions to determine if this was the case from the very beginning of when this stupid argument stated) what the situation is.

When he says "owe", he doesn't actually mean owe, is in the word that people use, or the things people use it for, or its definition in the dictionary, he means a very special definition of owe that is both utterly irrelevant to anything this conversation was about, unique to him and perhaps a few other people, and utterly meaningless.

I believe he has taken the classic shortening of "we owe thanks" or "we owe gratitude" towards those who came before us, which is simply "we owe this to them", and failed to realize what exactly the duty/obligation implied by that statement is (namely, gratitude).

niitePhyre, why don't you actually DEFINE your owe for us, so we know your personal definition and can put this argument behind us.

Because seriously, owe meaning "debt to be repaid or obligation" is the only meaning! So, if you're using it to mean something else, which you clearly are even though we've had to drag the admission out of you, you should REALLY try to actually let us know what you mean and then justify why its true.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby lutzj » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:48 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:
lutzj wrote:Keep in mind as well that those past people that created all of our technology and infrastructure generally did so out of self-interest.

That doesn't sound true to me. People generally like to create lasting things for the next generations, they derive pride and satisfaction from it...


I'd consider a desire for prestige or accomplishment a sort of self-interest. Very few people created great works of art or made scientific breakthroughs without wanting their name attached; for Michelangelo, "making the world better for posterity" was merely a nice side benefit that came with "making tons of money," "being famous," "pleasing God," and "having a nicer ceiling to look at." Leaving gifts to one's own children is even more obviously done out of a desire to maintain one's name and reputation, as well as to perpetuate genes.

Even the existence of a few brilliant, purely-altruistic people in history does not put an obligation on modern people, because altruism is done without expectation of reciprocation by definition. Such acts are also in a tiny minority; I'd bet that you and I have benefited far more from the total sum of selfish acts than the sum of altruistic ones.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Zamfir » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:57 pm UTC

If other people give you money and status if you create works for the generations, than your generation as a whole is still encouraging itself to create lasting works. If you stretch the concept of 'self interest' far enough, it just means 'with a reason'.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby lutzj » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:11 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:If other people give you money and status if you create works for the generations, than your generation as a whole is still encouraging itself to create lasting works. If you stretch the concept of 'self interest' far enough, it just means 'with a reason'.


I'm trying to at least hold myself to the slightly-narrower definition of "with a self-serving reason." Carnegie and Vanderbilt put their names onto the universities they funded for good reason. There is a lot of anonymous giving, but most of that consists either of people who are wealthy enough that the utility of a given sum of money has diminished for them, or those who give due to strong religious or ideological convictions. People who give things away to other people derive more personal utility from the act of giving than their donations are worth to themselves, and almost never give under the expectation that their giving should be reciprocated.

If people don't spell out what they expect in return for their contributions ("use this money to help the people of my hometown," "name the new hospital in my honor," etc.), then there is no reason to assume that an obligation exists. And even if there was an implicit, vague expectation on the part of earlier generations to pay them back, it doesn't make sense that this debt be owed to unrelated third parties such as people in the present or future.

And this analysis is only even necessary for the tiny portion of things people have done that did not materially benefit themselves or their direct descendants.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby EdgePenguin » Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:57 pm UTC

Bloody hell, seems the comment I left kicked of a whole mini thread.

nitePhyyre wrote:Actually what I am saying is that if anyone reads "we owe the sun for life", or, "we owe Jupiter for being a meteor shield", or
Griffin wrote:you owe everything about yourself to the greater society
or
EdgePenguin wrote:We all owe our lives to lots of things that predate us and were not of our making; sanitation, vaccination, agriculture, the evolutionary conditions that led to humanity and the astronomical conditions that kept Earth safe enough from cosmic nastiness long enough for that evolution to take place. Humility is called for.
And thinks that "owe" means "debt that has to be repaid" they fail at life, because that would be a wildly absurd interpretation. It would make absolutely zero fucking sense.

If your interpretation cannot possibly make sense, and you know there is another possible interpretation, then it is obviously the other one. In that case, only a moron, or, someone being deliberately obtuse would cling to their first nonsensical interpretation.

In other words, when someone says 'you owe everything about yourself to the greater society' what they are saying is 'you would not have the things you do without the massive support structure behind you.' They probably also mean 'so if you are willing to reap all the rewards of our support structure, pay it forward or you are a selfish douche', but that isn't strictly necessary.


I think nitePhyyre fairly accurately continues the point I was making; nobody thinks you should have to write out a cheque to the blind forces of evolution, or send a thankyou card to all nearby giant stars for not going supernova. It is about acknowledging with your words and actions that you only were able to reach your present state because of forces much larger than yourself, both natural and human.

Paying it forward is a moral obligation, but it is also a practical one. Without at least the same leg up as you got, how can the next generation be expected to make a similar incremental improvement to human society? Furthermore, because of the all-pervasive low hanging fruit problem (we solve the easiest problems first, as this gives us the fastest returns, but that only leaves harder problems) each generation should ideally have more left for them by the previous generation in order to maintain the pace of progress.

There is a backlash to this in present western society that extends far beyond libertarianism. Copyright is another example; for centuries, great works have diffused amongst the population freely - and even did so in the early copyright era, after a short amount of time and/or the author's death - allowing the next generation to take this, manipulate it, and build on it. Entrenched powers have no decreed this shall stop, and we see copyright being granted extensions fast enough that works currently copyrighted can expect never to enter the public domain. The generation that produced them was quick enough to take what came before, but are pissily refusing to pass anything on to those who come after, and are doing so with the same indignant cries of 'my property!' that often motivate libertarian arguments.

(I am aware not all liberarians are in favour of very grabby IP laws; what I am saying is that the blinkered focus on property and its exchange as the core issue in everything is a common motivation between libertarians and copyright lobbyists)

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Griffin » Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:15 am UTC

And I argue that's all a load of bollocks. Our moral obligation to help others is completely independent of whatever came before us and brought us here. If I were sired by a rapist, I would be under no obligation to help future rapists, I would hope.

We have a moral system that's perfectly capable of encouraging us to help both those around us and those yet to come without invoking the ghosts of the past to do it, or claiming that a favour done for us mandates a moral obligation in return. (Especially with how often and quickly such 'obligations' lead to corruption, cronyism, and people getting manipulated into all sorts of terrible things)

The obligation seems artificial and extraneous - I do not owe the people who stole this land from the natives, the man who raped my great-*-grandmother, or the man who created the company I purchased this computer from (since I have given him my money already). Yes, I would not be here talking to any of you right now without them, but nothing of what they did was done for me.

I agree about the moral and practical concerns of creating a system and acting in our own lives in a way that will make things better for people in the future, but I think your argument as to why that's a moral concern is completely senseless for obvious reasons, and, beyond that, it's still entirely inaccurate to say we "owe" our ancestors if the reality of your claim is that we owe our children for the actions of our ancestors.

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[/spoiler]

A libertarian would probably go further and say that in a functioning free market, the best way to help others is almost always to help ourself. I'm not sure if they'd generally argue that's necessarily true of future generations, as I've heard a few argue that helping people who are alive now is of significantly more importance than helping people that might be alive in the future, and I guess I can see the reasoning there.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:14 am UTC

Griffin wrote:A libertarian would probably go further and say that in a functioning free market, the best way to help others is almost always to help ourself.


Problems where self-interested actions produce the best good for everyone are morally trivial. There is no moral system that will not recommend such courses of action. The only problems that actually are morally challenging are those in which self-interest and altruism produce outcomes that are different.

Griffin wrote:We have a moral system that's perfectly capable of encouraging us to help both those around us, [...] or claiming that a favour done for us mandates a moral obligation in return.


Mutual exchange is pretty much the basis for how society functions. Someone doing a favour for you may not motivate a moral obligation to do so, but it certainly motivates an extremely strong social obligation to do so, even if the favour is unrequested, or for that matter, unwanted (eg. charities are much more successful at receiving donations if they give you an unsolicited gift first... you're far more likely to donate even if you promptly go and throw their gift in the garbage).

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby MinotaurWarrior » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:08 am UTC

hawkinsssable wrote:2. (negative) liberty is instrumentally valuable: Liberty is a great thing because it's so important to human well-being. Freedom is a big element of individual well-being, so if we want people to be happy, we'd better make sure we protect their right to liberty. On a larger scale, the free market is awesome and efficient and drives much-needed innovation. Government intervention, on the other hand, is inefficient and stifles innovation. People would be better off if we just let the market take care of things like education, housing, medicine, etc.


I consider myself more libertarian than not, but only as libertarian as libertarianism serves a set of other, higher goals. In particular, I do believe that there are such things as national public goods, such as a vaccinated populace, a highway system, and a defense force. However, I believe in a more limited set of public goods than most liberal democracies provide. For example, when it comes to healthcare, I believe in things such as treating infectious disease in an attempt to stop its spread, or providing mental health services to prevent murders and other disruptive acts, but I do not believe that ending your discomfort or preventing you from being disabled should count as a public good (at least not at the national level).

My view on what is and is not a public good:
Spoiler:
In general, my views on what is and is not a public good are shaped by an explanation of the predator-prey relationship between lions and the much larger herds of buffalo they hunt, contained in Richard Dawkin's The Selfish Gene. If all buffalo universally agreed to stampede towards lions, instead of away from them, buffalo would soon be rid of their predators, and all buffalo would benefit greatly from this security. But they do not do this. There are complicated reasons why they never will, but it is simple to demonstrate that, if they began to charge at lions, this behavior would soon disappear. In a population of aggressive buffalo, the buffalo who abstains from these charges, or merely hangs back, away from the action, benefits fully from the charges (the rest of the Buffalo will still be able to kill the lions) but does not risk injury from, say, tripping over the mangled corpse of a trampled lion, and thus sustaining injuries and possibly being removed from the mating pool. Eventually, the buffalo genetically predisposed to abstain from aggressive charges would out number those who are predisposed to participate in the charges, and the whole system would fall apart. What separates humans from buffalo, and societies from herds, is that we have the capacity to recognize public goods (getting rid of lions or infectious diseases) and take measures to force them into being (legal compulsion). Anything which is a good for the entire public is a public good, and it should be within the power of the state to force citizens to participate in the establishment of public goods. Most libertarians seem to agree with this principle when it comes to the public good of, say, a police force that enforces property rights, but many seem to disagree with these principles when it comes to other public goods. On the other hand, many who subscribe to other political philosophies try to use legal compulsion in cases where it clearly is not a public good, and would merely provide some good for some small select portion of society.


One other area where I seem to disagree with many libertarians, is in that I believe that all forms of pollution are absolutely and clearly forms of aggression against property, and thus should be illegal. Unless you own the bodies of water you're dumping chemicals into, and the bodies of water those bodies of water feed into (and so on), you do not have the right to put harmful chemicals in that water. This works on the same principles as vandalism, and similar rules would be used to distinguish peeing in the ocean from dumping toxic waste, as are used to distinguish leaving a greasy handprint from spray-painting on a window.

Otherwise, I believe that the Libertarian system would be the best for humanity from a utilitarian perspective. I believe that we would be better off if we ended our prohibition on drugs, took government entirely out of marriage, allowed for freer contract negotiations, ended the state-funding of special-interest programs, never participated in an aggressive war, et cetera. I support the goal of eliminating vast portions of the government to enhance negative liberty, though I would insist that this process is done carefully.

I do not believe that liberty is the highest human virtue, and if there was an omniscient machine capable of determining the perfect solution to all of life's problems, I would gladly submit to it's determinations and abandon my freedoms. If we returned to prior conditions, I would gladly support whatever government is best suited for those conditions. Under the conditions of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, I would likely support a system of egalitarian bands or perhaps traditionalist tribes, and not support property rights or free markets. I merely think that Libertarianism is the best system for our current situation.

When it comes to the issue of these "Libertarian communes", I think the whole idea is rather silly. Certainly such a thing should be permitted, but I sincerely doubt that it would emerge as a major phenomenon. Far more likely, a wide variety of different entities would provide all the non-public goods usually associated with states. You might live in a housing development with private rules about personal conduct and property use, have a variety of insurance policies, donate to charities, and so on, but I see very little reason why these services would all be merged and you would live in a housing development owned by your insurance-charity organization. Service providers in free markets generally tend to specialize.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby EdgePenguin » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:12 am UTC

MinotaurWarrior wrote:For example, when it comes to healthcare, I believe in things such as treating infectious disease in an attempt to stop its spread, or providing mental health services to prevent murders and other disruptive acts, but I do not believe that ending your discomfort or preventing you from being disabled should count as a public good (at least not at the national level).


The vocal desire to abandon sick people to their fate is one of the reasons, in my experience, that libertarian belief systems are subject to such ridicule. It is quite deserved as far as I am concerned.

In general, my views on what is and is not a public good are shaped by an explanation of the predator-prey relationship between lions and the much larger herds of buffalo they hunt, contained in Richard Dawkin's The Selfish Gene. If all buffalo universally agreed to stampede towards lions, instead of away from them, buffalo would soon be rid of their predators, and all buffalo would benefit greatly from this security. But they do not do this.


You've utterly failed to understand Dawkins. He was refuting the exact argument you are using here; organisms do not have to be selfish. This pop biology works (sort of) for buffalo, but fails utterly to explain the fact that an ant hill under attack will, for many species, deploy suicide attacks. The *gene* is selfish, the organism does not have to be. Hence the title of the book.

In any case, even if nature did work the way you falsely believe it does, an argument from nature is not valid.

One other area where I seem to disagree with many libertarians, is in that I believe that all forms of pollution are absolutely and clearly forms of aggression against property, and thus should be illegal. Unless you own the bodies of water you're dumping chemicals into, and the bodies of water those bodies of water feed into (and so on), you do not have the right to put harmful chemicals in that water. This works on the same principles as vandalism, and similar rules would be used to distinguish peeing in the ocean from dumping toxic waste, as are used to distinguish leaving a greasy handprint from spray-painting on a window.


Most libertarians believe that. Basically all land in western countries is owned (or protected by the government) and pollution still goes on regardless. So this is yet another shoddy idea in practice.

Otherwise, I believe that the Libertarian system would be the best for humanity from a utilitarian perspective. I believe that we would be better off if we ended our prohibition on drugs, took government entirely out of marriage, allowed for freer contract negotiations, ended the state-funding of special-interest programs, never participated in an aggressive war, et cetera. I support the goal of eliminating vast portions of the government to enhance negative liberty, though I would insist that this process is done carefully.


The distinction of 'negative liberty' is highly dubious and not really recognised outside libertarian circles. What it amounts to, when you ask enough questions is a belief in freedoms you value and a dismissal of ones you don't. You want to smoke weed, and have gay friends - but neither you nor anyone near you has trouble paying for their medical care. Essentially, your politics is not based on a higher principle so much as a rationalisation of brutal selfishness.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Ormurinn » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:06 am UTC

EdgePenguin wrote:
MinotaurWarrior wrote:For example, when it comes to healthcare, I believe in things such as treating infectious disease in an attempt to stop its spread, or providing mental health services to prevent murders and other disruptive acts, but I do not believe that ending your discomfort or preventing you from being disabled should count as a public good (at least not at the national level).


The vocal desire to abandon sick people to their fate is one of the reasons, in my experience, that libertarian belief systems are subject to such ridicule. It is quite deserved as far as I am concerned.


I've... never observed this. Minotaur is actually correct that ending/ameliorating human suffering isn't an intrinsic good - it doesn't provide a direct benefit to people, and if some selfish git doesn't want to have to pony up cash to a health insurer, he shouldn't be forced to by men with guns. I can be pro NHS while being anti-extortion.

Theres also the related argument that theres a lot of healthcare that's better provided by private suppliers. I'm livid at the government for selling off the NHS in the way it did, but I'd be all in favour of a decentralized system of co-operatives, insurance funds and friendly societies. Like it or not, the NHS in it's current incarnation is doomed if we keep insulating people from the cost of their own healthcare.

EdgePenguin wrote:
One other area where I seem to disagree with many libertarians, is in that I believe that all forms of pollution are absolutely and clearly forms of aggression against property, and thus should be illegal. Unless you own the bodies of water you're dumping chemicals into, and the bodies of water those bodies of water feed into (and so on), you do not have the right to put harmful chemicals in that water. This works on the same principles as vandalism, and similar rules would be used to distinguish peeing in the ocean from dumping toxic waste, as are used to distinguish leaving a greasy handprint from spray-painting on a window.


Most libertarians believe that. Basically all land in western countries is owned (or protected by the government) and pollution still goes on regardless. So this is yet another shoddy idea in practice.


Makes perfect sense when you realise that the government and big business are effectively one organism now. In a libertarian system you wouldn't get another deepwater horizon, because the government wouldn't socialise mistakes through limited liability.

EdgePenguin wrote:The distinction of 'negative liberty' is highly dubious and not really recognised outside libertarian circles. What it amounts to, when you ask enough questions is a belief in freedoms you value and a dismissal of ones you don't. You want to smoke weed, and have gay friends - but neither you nor anyone near you has trouble paying for their medical care. Essentially, your politics is not based on a higher principle so much as a rationalisation of brutal selfishness.


Theres a pretty legitimate distinction. People have the right to be left alone, broadly, if they're not hurting anyone. Theres no legitimate reason marijuana should be illegal if smoked in private because the act of smoking it has effects only on those who have consented to do so. Theres no reason homosexuality should be illegal either, for the same reason.

Lets say I propose a right to toys - the government will take some money out of everyone's pay, and use it to buy toys at christmas for children. You don't see a distinction between granting one set largesse by taking from others, and consenting to leave people to their own business?

How about a scenario where you're walking down saffron lane and six blokes turn up and have a vote on whether you should have your wallet, or they should? Why is this suddenly ok if you scale it up to the level of a nation and have the money involved be used to buy healthcare?

I'm pro NHS for reasons of pragmatism - its the best we can do with society in the state it's in, it's best from an individual perspective and a utilitarian one, and the people of the U.K if asked to vote on it's existence would almost unanimously vote for it. that doesn't change the fact that from a rights-based perspective it's morally dubious
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:25 am UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Makes perfect sense when you realise that the government and big business are effectively one organism now. In a libertarian system you wouldn't get another deepwater horizon, because the government wouldn't socialise mistakes through limited liability.

Isn't that exactly the wrong example? Nearly every company would indeed have gone bankrupt from such costs, and then limited liability would have shielded the company's owners from further claims. But BP happens to be one of the very few companies (or legal entities at all) that can actually pony over dozens of billions without bankruptcy.

Compare that to small businesses. Even without limited liability, their owners will not be able to pay such amounts. The bankruptcy of the company will just cascade to bankruptcy of the individual owners. If you also abolish individual bankruptcy, then the owners will be in debt for the rest of their lives, but they will still not pay the full cost.

If you think a full liability for the damage is required to prevent such accidents, then the ironic conclusion would be that only governments, big business, and billionaires should be allowed to drill for oil.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Ormurinn » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:51 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:Makes perfect sense when you realise that the government and big business are effectively one organism now. In a libertarian system you wouldn't get another deepwater horizon, because the government wouldn't socialise mistakes through limited liability.

Isn't that exactly the wrong example? Nearly every company would indeed have gone bankrupt from such costs, and then limited liability would have shielded the company's owners from further claims. But BP happens to be one of the very few companies (or legal entities at all) that can actually pony over dozens of billions without bankruptcy.

Compare that to small businesses. Even without limited liability, their owners will not be able to pay such amounts. The bankruptcy of the company will just cascade to bankruptcy of the individual owners. If you also abolish individual bankruptcy, then the owners will be in debt for the rest of their lives, but they will still not pay the full cost.

If you think a full liability for the damage is required to prevent such accidents, then the ironic conclusion would be that only governments, big business, and billionaires should be allowed to drill for oil.


I believe in full liability for damages, because to do otherwise amounts to stealing from the taxpayer to pay for business's mistakes. You've missed the alternate conclusion from this, which is that full liability would lead to much more stringent safety precautions - because the cost of failure would be so much higher. That'd drive up oil prices, but hey, its running out anyway.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Charlie! » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:01 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:ending/ameliorating human suffering isn't an intrinsic good - it doesn't provide a direct benefit to people
:|

I think you can figure out all the obvious things I'd say about this if you re-read it 5 times.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby EdgePenguin » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:17 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
EdgePenguin wrote:
MinotaurWarrior wrote:For example, when it comes to healthcare, I believe in things such as treating infectious disease in an attempt to stop its spread, or providing mental health services to prevent murders and other disruptive acts, but I do not believe that ending your discomfort or preventing you from being disabled should count as a public good (at least not at the national level).


The vocal desire to abandon sick people to their fate is one of the reasons, in my experience, that libertarian belief systems are subject to such ridicule. It is quite deserved as far as I am concerned.


I've... never observed this. Minotaur is actually correct that ending/ameliorating human suffering isn't an intrinsic good - it doesn't provide a direct benefit to people, and if some selfish git doesn't want to have to pony up cash to a health insurer, he shouldn't be forced to by men with guns. I can be pro NHS while being anti-extortion.


The guy who is refusing to pony up cash has his property protected by men with guns. The idea that taxation is violence, but that somehow the control of property is not, is absolutely ridiculous.

Theres also the related argument that theres a lot of healthcare that's better provided by private suppliers. I'm livid at the government for selling off the NHS in the way it did, but I'd be all in favour of a decentralized system of co-operatives, insurance funds and friendly societies. Like it or not, the NHS in it's current incarnation is doomed if we keep insulating people from the cost of their own healthcare.


Easily solvable - put a sin tax on food. Cigarettes and alcohol now pay for the health damage they cause, and some. If you want to help your local NHS hospital stay solvent, go and spark up :)

Makes perfect sense when you realise that the government and big business are effectively one organism now. In a libertarian system you wouldn't get another deepwater horizon, because the government wouldn't socialise mistakes through limited liability.


There is no evidence for that assertion. Often individuals and small companies do not have the funds to fight larger ones. The idea that the courts are a level playing field isn't supported by reality.

Theres a pretty legitimate distinction. People have the right to be left alone, broadly, if they're not hurting anyone. Theres no legitimate reason marijuana should be illegal if smoked in private because the act of smoking it has effects only on those who have consented to do so. Theres no reason homosexuality should be illegal either, for the same reason.

Lets say I propose a right to toys - the government will take some money out of everyone's pay, and use it to buy toys at christmas for children. You don't see a distinction between granting one set largesse by taking from others, and consenting to leave people to their own business?

How about a scenario where you're walking down saffron lane and six blokes turn up and have a vote on whether you should have your wallet, or they should? Why is this suddenly ok if you scale it up to the level of a nation and have the money involved be used to buy healthcare?


I do not accept this distinction, because you are drawing an arbitrary line. What does 'left alone' mean? Does a person left alone no longer have the protection of the state? Because that is a sort of Mad Max economy there. Whoever has the biggest guns owns everything.

What you are really saying is that 'freedom X is intrinsic and natural and a basic human right, whereas freedom Y is not. To leave a person alone means enforcing freedom X but not Y' and then defining X and Y for your own material benefit.

I'm pro NHS for reasons of pragmatism - its the best we can do with society in the state it's in, it's best from an individual perspective and a utilitarian one, and the people of the U.K if asked to vote on it's existence would almost unanimously vote for it. that doesn't change the fact that from a rights-based perspective it's morally dubious


It is morally dubious to impose moderate taxes on rich people (who live a very comfortable life in this country) in order to treat children for cancer? No, its a moral no-brainer. Its an obvious good thing. The fact that libertarians have invented a false distinction between kinds of freedom that benefit them and kinds that don't (even though both require enforcement, at cost to the taxpayer, on all people regardless of their consent) isn't going to sway the vast majority of people, who are more sensible.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:23 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:I believe in full liability for damages, because to do otherwise amounts to stealing from the taxpayer to pay for business's mistakes. You've missed the alternate conclusion from this, which is that full liability would lead to much more stringent safety precautions - because the cost of failure would be so much higher. That'd drive up oil prices, but hey, its running out anyway.

Except that BP is fully liable for the damages. They were not bankrupted, so limited liability doesn't come into play.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby EdgePenguin » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:28 pm UTC

I found the video clip that to me sums up the problem with libertarian views on healthcare. Pertinent bit starts at 1:40

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-j ... -a-success

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Ormurinn » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:36 pm UTC

EdgePenguin wrote:The guy who is refusing to pony up cash has his property protected by men with guns. The idea that taxation is violence, but that somehow the control of property is not, is absolutely ridiculous.


So to you theres no distinction between theft and self defense?

EdgePenguin wrote:
Theres also the related argument that theres a lot of healthcare that's better provided by private suppliers. I'm livid at the government for selling off the NHS in the way it did, but I'd be all in favour of a decentralized system of co-operatives, insurance funds and friendly societies. Like it or not, the NHS in it's current incarnation is doomed if we keep insulating people from the cost of their own healthcare.


Easily solvable - put a sin tax on food. Cigarettes and alcohol now pay for the health damage they cause, and some. If you want to help your local NHS hospital stay solvent, go and spark up :)


So we're going to solve a problem caused by a bottom down, unresponsive approach to healthcare with... a bottom down, unresponsive tax system. What about those people who can eat "sin tax" food without adverse health effects? What about the fact that the government's idea of a balanced diet actually causes diabetes (too many carbohydrates)?

EdgePenguin wrote:
Makes perfect sense when you realise that the government and big business are effectively one organism now. In a libertarian system you wouldn't get another deepwater horizon, because the government wouldn't socialise mistakes through limited liability.


There is no evidence for that assertion. Often individuals and small companies do not have the funds to fight larger ones. The idea that the courts are a level playing field isn't supported by reality.


I know. It's government favouritism towards large companies that causes that imbalance. I'm not actually sure what you're arguing here. Are you in favour of limited liability?


EdgePenguin wrote:
Theres a pretty legitimate distinction. People have the right to be left alone, broadly, if they're not hurting anyone. Theres no legitimate reason marijuana should be illegal if smoked in private because the act of smoking it has effects only on those who have consented to do so. Theres no reason homosexuality should be illegal either, for the same reason.

Lets say I propose a right to toys - the government will take some money out of everyone's pay, and use it to buy toys at christmas for children. You don't see a distinction between granting one set largesse by taking from others, and consenting to leave people to their own business?

How about a scenario where you're walking down saffron lane and six blokes turn up and have a vote on whether you should have your wallet, or they should? Why is this suddenly ok if you scale it up to the level of a nation and have the money involved be used to buy healthcare?


I do not accept this distinction, because you are drawing an arbitrary line. What does 'left alone' mean? Does a person left alone no longer have the protection of the state? Because that is a sort of Mad Max economy there. Whoever has the biggest guns owns everything.

What you are really saying is that 'freedom X is intrinsic and natural and a basic human right, whereas freedom Y is not. To leave a person alone means enforcing freedom X but not Y' and then defining X and Y for your own material benefit.


No, yours is the arbitrary distinction. Theft is wrong - except when done on a large scale by majority vote. I'm absolutely saying freedom x is a right, and "freedom" y isn't, because the latter isn't a freedom. Its an obligation we put on the whole of society to benefit a certain group.

I'm pro NHS for reasons of pragmatism - its the best we can do with society in the state it's in, it's best from an individual perspective and a utilitarian one, and the people of the U.K if asked to vote on it's existence would almost unanimously vote for it. that doesn't change the fact that from a rights-based perspective it's morally dubious


It is morally dubious to impose moderate taxes on rich people (who live a very comfortable life in this country) in order to treat children for cancer? No, its a moral no-brainer. Its an obvious good thing. The fact that libertarians have invented a false distinction between kinds of freedom that benefit them and kinds that don't (even though both require enforcement, at cost to the taxpayer, on all people regardless of their consent) isn't going to sway the vast majority of people, who are more sensible.[/quote]

Its an obvious good thing to a utilitarian. It's an obvious crime if we're speaking from natural rights. I have more sympathy for your position than your imaginary libertarian one here, but the actual libertarian position is pretty much "why shouldn't individuals be allowed to choose to give their money an alternate healthcare provider?"

What if the state runs a gardening service everyone is obliged to pay for? You can opt out of benefitting from the government run one, and pay again for a private gardener, but if you don't pay for the government run gardener, then the government funded murderers will kill you.

You're comparing pretty mch the best example of a public healthcare system with some hypothetical nightmare instance of a libertarian one. What do you say to the fact that healthcare would be cheaper in a libertarian system (unless you want to argue with all of economics ever)?

I'm receptive to the argument that healthcare isn't a free market (you can't shop around for life-saving time critical surgery, startup costs are immense etc) and as long as we're stuck with a state I'm happy to admit that Healthcare is one of the things it can do not-terribly - but it's hardly ideal. Look at the parking at the Royal infirmary for instance :p

Charlie! wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:ending/ameliorating human suffering isn't an intrinsic good - it doesn't provide a direct benefit to people
:|

I think you can figure out all the obvious things I'd say about this if you re-read it 5 times.


Sorry - a direct benefit to people other than those being treated was the phrasing I intended to use.
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby leady » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:47 pm UTC

EdgePenguin wrote:It is morally dubious to impose moderate taxes on rich people (who live a very comfortable life in this country) in order to treat children for cancer? No, its a moral no-brainer. Its an obvious good thing. The fact that libertarians have invented a false distinction between kinds of freedom that benefit them and kinds that don't (even though both require enforcement, at cost to the taxpayer, on all people regardless of their consent) isn't going to sway the vast majority of people, who are more sensible.


its not a moral no-brainer though or obviously a good thing for two obvious reasons

a) any consistent system of morality that allows for forceful redistribution also has deeply unpleasant end consequences. If I have failing kidneys and you have two perfectly healthy ones you are "rich" to me and I am morally justified in taking one at the point of a gun. If you try to put a line anywhere in that continuum its arbitrary, pretty much like the current system (i.e. rich is defined as anyone with more, and the correct level of forceful redistribution appears to be the level that the vast majority are on the take - 80th decile in the Uk...)

b) its not even obvious it has the best outcome for society - sure it has the best outcome for the immediate recipients (not unsuprisingly) but the opportunity cost is hidden. One example in the UK is that the whole of the welfare system system takes like £200bn per year and is about 70% of the tax burden. Thats 15 fusion reactors per year, which one success has the potential to save billions of lives indirectly...

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:52 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Natural Right

Define this.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby EdgePenguin » Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:55 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:
EdgePenguin wrote:The guy who is refusing to pony up cash has his property protected by men with guns. The idea that taxation is violence, but that somehow the control of property is not, is absolutely ridiculous.


So to you theres no distinction between theft and self defense?


You have decided that one is self defence and the other theft. Justify that.

So we're going to solve a problem caused by a bottom down, unresponsive approach to healthcare with... a bottom down, unresponsive tax system. What about those people who can eat "sin tax" food without adverse health effects? What about the fact that the government's idea of a balanced diet actually causes diabetes (too many carbohydrates)?


Got any evidence for that?

I know. It's government favouritism towards large companies that causes that imbalance.


Any evidence for that either?

No, yours is the arbitrary distinction. Theft is wrong - except when done on a large scale by majority vote. I'm absolutely saying freedom x is a right, and "freedom" y isn't, because the latter isn't a freedom. Its an obligation we put on the whole of society to benefit a certain group.


Theft is defined by property, and property is a creation of governments (enforced with tax money). To say that taxation is inherently theft is therefore self-evidently ridiculous.

Its an obvious good thing to a utilitarian. It's an obvious crime if we're speaking from natural rights.


Property isn't a natural right. It exists because states enforce it.

I have more sympathy for your position than your imaginary libertarian one here, but the actual libertarian position is pretty much "why shouldn't individuals be allowed to choose to give their money an alternate healthcare provider?"


Why shouldn't individual 5 year olds pay for their own cancer treatment? me

What if the state runs a gardening service everyone is obliged to pay for? You can opt out of benefitting from the government run one, and pay again for a private gardener, but if you don't pay for the government run gardener, then the government funded murderers will kill you.


The state runs several gardening services. It is why the green spaces in our cities are not overgrown with weeds. We are obligated to pay for it.

So you are saying that not only is publicly funded cancer treatment for 5 year olds an 'obvious crime' - but public parks are too? Do you like anything? Are kittens an abomination because they can't get jobs?

You're comparing pretty mch the best example of a public healthcare system with some hypothetical nightmare instance of a libertarian one. What do you say to the fact that healthcare would be cheaper in a libertarian system (unless you want to argue with all of economics ever)?


If it is a fact, you should have no trouble producing evidence for it (rather than a fairly shaky appeal to authority). The US system is closer to the libertarian ideal than ours, and costs substantially more whilst producing roughly equivalent outcomes (unless you do as US conservative pundits do and cherry-pick bad stats such as prostate cancer 5 year survival rates)

I'm receptive to the argument that healthcare isn't a free market (you can't shop around for life-saving time critical surgery, startup costs are immense etc) and as long as we're stuck with a state I'm happy to admit that Healthcare is one of the things it can do not-terribly - but it's hardly ideal. Look at the parking at the Royal infirmary for instance :p


To be honest, that is your most sturdy argument so far.

leady wrote:its not a moral no-brainer though or obviously a good thing for two obvious reasons

a) any consistent system of morality that allows for forceful redistribution also has deeply unpleasant end consequences. If I have failing kidneys and you have two perfectly healthy ones you are "rich" to me and I am morally justified in taking one at the point of a gun. If you try to put a line anywhere in that continuum its arbitrary, pretty much like the current system (i.e. rich is defined as anyone with more, and the correct level of forceful redistribution appears to be the level that the vast majority are on the take - 80th decile in the Uk...)


We've had the NHS here since 1948, and as yet we have managed to sidestep the moral hazard of state-enforced organ harvesting.

b) its not even obvious it has the best outcome for society - sure it has the best outcome for the immediate recipients (not unsuprisingly) but the opportunity cost is hidden. One example in the UK is that the whole of the welfare system system takes like £200bn per year and is about 70% of the tax burden. Thats 15 fusion reactors per year, which one success has the potential to save billions of lives indirectly...


Fusion reactors can't save anyone, seeing as a commercially viable one has yet to be demonstrated. Furthermore, the NHS is not funded out of the welfare system (most of which is pensions anyhow). I think you need to do some more research.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby leady » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:10 pm UTC

EdgePenguin wrote:
We've had the NHS here since 1948, and as yet we have managed to sidestep the moral hazard of state-enforced organ harvesting.

Fusion reactors can't save anyone, seeing as a commercially viable one has yet to be demonstrated. Furthermore, the NHS is not funded out of the welfare system (most of which is pensions anyhow). I think you need to do some more research.


Indeed we (the UK) have drawn an arbitrary line, but if we are going to debate subjective majority morality then thats got a whole new set of issues (not least that in most subjective morality systems, there further arbitrary objective morals. The rule of the majority is moral bar these circumstances - arbitrary all the way down.)

You know that latter point isn't really a point about nuclear fusion I hope - just an example for people to relate to. The point is that you can't prove a forced action is the most optimum for anyone bar the immediate recipient.

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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Ormurinn » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:47 pm UTC

EdgePenguin wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:
EdgePenguin wrote:The guy who is refusing to pony up cash has his property protected by men with guns. The idea that taxation is violence, but that somehow the control of property is not, is absolutely ridiculous.


So to you theres no distinction between theft and self defense?


You have decided that one is self defence and the other theft. Justify that.


Resisting the police when they come to take you from your land is self defense, because you are defending yourself and your property. That property, assuming you live and work upon it, investing into it your labour product, is rightfully yours - you have a more legitimate claim to it than anyone else.

Taking things that don't belong to you is theft. My life is pretty much the most fundamental unit of posession, it belongs to me, and to no-one else. The government claims the right to take approximately 40% of it (on average) over the course of my life, and take 100%, through imprisonment or murder, if I refuse.

Heres a source for the Food Pyramid; http://www.marksdailyapple.com/diabetes ... z1y9S7XTKe

EdgePenguin wrote:
No, yours is the arbitrary distinction. Theft is wrong - except when done on a large scale by majority vote. I'm absolutely saying freedom x is a right, and "freedom" y isn't, because the latter isn't a freedom. Its an obligation we put on the whole of society to benefit a certain group.


Theft is defined by property, and property is a creation of governments (enforced with tax money). To say that taxation is inherently theft is therefore self-evidently ridiculous.


So, to be clear, your position is that people don't have any rights except the ones they're granted by the states. I don't have a right to life - unless the government grants me one. I don't have the right to bodily autonomy - after all, the government stops people harvesting my organs, therefore whether or not I posess my own organs is down to the state. Property isn't a natural right after all.

What I am about to say may seem inflammatory to you, and i hope you understand that isn't my intention. Are you a fascist? Once again, don't take offence, I've had some really good, positive discussions with fascists. I ask because your position seems to be that everything in the nation is owned by the government, even down to your own body, your work, your property - and you get to use it only because the state lets you. Thats one of the founding principles of fascism.

EdgePenguin wrote:Why shouldn't individual 5 year olds pay for their own cancer treatment? me


Why shouldn't you buy me a go-kart? Lesser magnitude of benefit to me, but same principle.

What if the state runs a gardening service everyone is obliged to pay for? You can opt out of benefitting from the government run one, and pay again for a private gardener, but if you don't pay for the government run gardener, then the government funded murderers will kill you.


The state runs several gardening services. It is why the green spaces in our cities are not overgrown with weeds. We are obligated to pay for it.

So you are saying that not only is publicly funded cancer treatment for 5 year olds an 'obvious crime' - but public parks are too? Do you like anything? Are kittens an abomination because they can't get jobs?

EdgePenguin wrote:
You're comparing pretty mch the best example of a public healthcare system with some hypothetical nightmare instance of a libertarian one. What do you say to the fact that healthcare would be cheaper in a libertarian system (unless you want to argue with all of economics ever)?


If it is a fact, you should have no trouble producing evidence for it (rather than a fairly shaky appeal to authority). The US system is closer to the libertarian ideal than ours, and costs substantially more whilst producing roughly equivalent outcomes (unless you do as US conservative pundits do and cherry-pick bad stats such as prostate cancer 5 year survival rates)


If you're actually attempting to argue that competition between service providers doesn't lead to price decreases and/or quality increases in a competitive market then you're the one making extraordinary claims that require citations.

Here you go, anyway; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_marke ... and_demand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_equilibrium en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_market
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Re: A small, specific question about libertarianism

Postby Nem » Mon Jun 18, 2012 1:55 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:That property, assuming you live and work upon it, investing into it your labour product, is rightfully yours - you have a more legitimate claim to it than anyone else.


Well, that's factory owners fucked then.


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