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Objectivism Digest, Vol 11, Issue 1

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      Today's Topics:

      1. Re: cultural requirements for a free political system
      (James A. Donald)
      2. Re: government financing (Adam Victor Reed)
      3. Re: Objectivists in SF-Bay Area? (Ralph Blanchette)
      4. Re: government financing (Jeff Olson)
      5. my new jazz CD (AchillesRB@...)
      6. David Friedman's critique of Ayn Rand (William Dwyer)


      ----------------------------------------------------------------------

      Message: 1
      Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2004 12:53:25 -0800
      From: "James A. Donald" <jamesd@...>
      Subject: Re: OWL: cultural requirements for a free political system
      To: objectivism@...
      Message-ID: <40190245.10271.8850233@localhost>

      --
      On 28 Jan 2004 at 8:24, Eyal Mozes wrote:
      > James Donald states that anarcho-capitalism would function
      > well in a culture in which "natural law crimes" are "totally
      > uncontroversial", and in which "for ordinary routine crimes
      > there would be no disagreement".

      In all cultures and societies without exception natural law
      crimes are uncontroversially punishable (which does not mean
      they get punished in practice), and non natural law crimes
      controversially punishable.

      For example even in societies which enforced slavery, the hero
      of the saga when enslaved does a Sampson.

      --digsig
      James A. Donald
      6YeGpsZR+nOTh/cGwvITnSR3TdzclVpR0+pr3YYQdkG
      B7DiGOf6M6YP9kjja5e/modJgdN9Jw4tRV8yvFop
      4d4WucmCIzN6ckoGK/P79TpSrZrxdAfJRL42aOpO6



      ------------------------------

      Message: 2
      Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 12:19:22 -0800
      From: Adam Victor Reed <areed2@...>
      Subject: Re: OWL: government financing
      To: objectivism@...
      Message-ID: <20040131121922.A15366@...>
      Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

      David Friedman writes that as far as he "could tell, the defensible
      Objectivist positions took two closely related forms:

      1. Government is entitled to initiate force if doing so serves man's
      life qua man.

      2. Rights are a derivative rather than primary concept, so if you can
      show that respecting a right does not serve man's life qua man the
      "right" vanishes like a soap bubble. Hence any purported initiation of
      force, by government or anyone else, that actually serves man's life
      qua man is, by definition, not an initiation of force.

      .... Under either argument, the Objectivist case against taxation
      ultimately depends on the same sort of consequentialist arguments as
      the Objectivist case for monopoly government."

      Indeed. It is an elementary fact of logic that every argument grounded
      in facts of reality leads to conclusions that are valid only within
      the scope of those facts from which its conclusions are derived. The
      conclusions "vanish like a soap bubble" outside the scope of the facts
      on which the argument is based. To apply the conclusions outside that
      scope is a _scope violation_, an error in logic. (For reasons that I
      discuss in more detail in my article on Objectivist Epistemology and
      Object-Oriented Programming in JARS 4(2)251-84, Rand referred to this
      error as "intrinsicism".)

      For this reason, Objectivist ethics is strictly consequentialist.
      Objectivist consequentialism, unlike the alleged "consequentialism" of
      the utilitarians, is agent-relative rather than collective. In fact it
      is the utilitarians who depart from strict consequentialism - from
      basing ethics on the consequences of action for the agent - when they
      use collective rather than individual good as their standard for the
      evaluation of consequences.

      In the course of my conversation with Roy Childs and Murray Rothbard on
      the above, Childs was eventually convinced (and Rothbard was not
      convinced) that the argument for anarcho-capitalism in Roy's famous
      letter to Rand _suffered from scope-violations ("intrinsicism")_, and
      that the issue cannot be resolved without grounding in actual facts of
      reality, both historical and current. And one of those facts is that in
      a society with competing defense agencies, "defense agencies" whose law
      was based on false beliefs would be able to compromise, as an
      unavoidable cost of avoiding conflict, the objective rights of
      individuals subscribing to "defense agencies" whose laws were otherwise
      based on ethical fact.

      Adam Reed
      areed2@...

      Context matters. Seldom does *anything* have only one cause.


      ------------------------------

      Message: 3
      Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 16:13:12 -0500
      From: "Ralph Blanchette" <ralph_blanchette@...>
      Subject: OWL: Re: Objectivists in SF-Bay Area?
      To: "OWL" <objectivism@...>
      Message-ID: <Sea2-DAV6bUNcywslS700013998@...>
      Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

      On 1/30/04 Jeanine Ring wrote:

      > I am wondering if anyone on this list
      > knows on any philosophical discussion groups, formal
      > or informal, in the San Francisco Bay Area- whether
      > devoted specifically to Objectivism or simply serious
      > about ideas and open to a Randian perspective.

      Check out http://www.objectivists.org/

      I got my lead from:
      http://www.objectivistcenter.org/community/local-clubs.asp
      where you may find other possibilities.

      --Ralph


      ------------------------------

      Message: 4
      Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 17:37:34 -0800
      From: "Jeff Olson" <jlolson@...>
      Subject: Re: OWL: government financing
      To: "objectivism" <objectivism@...>
      Message-ID: <001401c3e864$28778140$822f5142@jlolson>
      Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

      David Friedman distills the "defensible Objectivist positions" for a
      government monopoly of force to the following:

      <<1. Government is entitled to initiate force if doing so serves man's
      life qua man.

      2. Rights are a derivative rather than primary concept, so if you can
      show that respecting a right does not serve man's life qua man the
      "right" vanishes like a soap bubble. Hence any purported initiation of
      force, by government or anyone else, that actually serves man's life
      qua man is, by definition, not an initiation of force.>>

      These two seem collapsible into essentially the same claim, except
      that the first lacks the second's overt butchery of logic and of the
      English language. In any case, I think David has correctly identified
      the basic premises of the Objectivist "government monopoly"
      argument -- that is, the rightfulness of initiating force by a special
      kind of agent (government) is a logically necessary claim by
      minarchists -- but I suspect that few if any Objectivists would be
      willing to explicitly accept that premise.

      There are some fairly obvious, if not insoluble, problems with the
      argument that a particular kind of agent can rightfully initiate
      force. For one, it in effect re-introduces the "Divine Right of
      Kings" -- establishing superior rights for one or more individuals in
      violation of the Objectivist dictum that all individuals possess equal
      rights. Secondly, it implicitly defeats its own intended goal of
      establishing the justness of an exclusive monopoly, since if it is in
      principle rightful to initiate force if it "serves man's life qua
      man," then that same principle could apply to the actions of
      individuals in contravention of a government monopoly. Also, anyone
      might justifiably appeal to that principle in order to render their
      own rights-violating actions "non-initiatory."

      As David insightfully pointed out, "...the Objectivist case against
      taxation ultimately depends on the same sort of consequentialist
      arguments as the Objectivist case for monopoly government."

      Yet I doubt the above will give much pause to Objectivist proponents
      of government monopoly, since they are already well-acquainted -- and
      seemingly quite satisfied -- with this kind of logical mess.

      Best,

      Jeff






      ------------------------------

      Message: 5
      Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 20:53:07 EST
      From: AchillesRB@...
      Subject: OWL: my new jazz CD
      To: objectivism@...
      Message-ID: <1cc.18ca2dc5.2d4db603@...>
      Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"

      Greetings, all!

      I have a new CD just released that some of you may be interested in
      purchasing. It is a jazz duo, consisting of myself on trombone and
      Ben Di Tosti on piano, and the music ranges from ballads to swing
      to jazz waltzes. Most of the 13 songs are standards such as "It's
      Been a Long, Long Time," "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Stardust," and
      the like, but one of the pieces is a takeoff on "The Swan" from
      Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals," and another is my original,
      "The Hazards of Loving You."

      To read more about the CD, including endorsements from people
      such as Dave Brubeck and Bill Watrous, and to hear some brief
      audio clips from the CD, go to this web address:

      http://www.gemtone.com/

      and click on the link for Ben Di Tosti and Roger Bissell or on the
      link for The Art of the Duo.

      The website accepts only credit cards through PayPal, so if you
      want to order the CD but would rather save several dollars and
      send me a check or money order, let me know via email, and
      we'll work out the details.

      Best to all,
      Roger Bissell, musician-writer


      ------------------------------

      Message: 6
      Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2004 01:37:57 -0800
      From: "William Dwyer" <wswdwyer@...>
      Subject: OWL: David Friedman's critique of Ayn Rand
      To: <Objectivism@...>
      Message-ID: <001301c3e8a7$13cbc650$6501a8c0@billd>
      Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"

      In what follows, I reply to an argument by David Friedman against
      Rand's theory of government. Before proceeding, I would like to say
      that it is a pleasure to have David contributing to the OWL list. One
      doesn't have to agree with him, but his points are always well thought
      out and cogently argued.

      In David's book, _The Machinery of Freedom_, he writes: "Either the
      things the government does but forbids its competitors from doing are
      coercion, in which case it is coercing private citizens, or they are
      not coercion, in which case it coerces the private protective agencies
      by forbidding them to do the same (non-coercive) things. Either way,
      Rand's government must be coercive in order to work...." (p. 141)

      There is a sense in which this argument is true and a sense in which
      it is not. I think it is important that these two senses be
      distinguished.

      If a government (or protective agency) has the right to arrest and try
      a suspect for murder (say), and enforce its verdict by placing him
      behind bars, then it is obvious that no other agency can have an equal
      right to enact a similar process of justice and enforce it ~if doing
      so conflicts with the government's verdict~, which must be considered
      final (unless subject to an appeals process, which would itself result
      in a final verdict).

      In forbidding another agency from interfering with its decision, the
      government cannot regard such forbiddance as coercive. Because it
      must view its own decision as just, it must consider any attempt to
      contravene it as unjust and therefore as itself coercive. In forcibly
      preventing another agency from interfering with its decision, it must,
      therefore, regard its own act of force as defensive rather than
      coercive.

      But there is no argument against another agency's having an equal
      right to ~initiate~ the process of adjudication and to enforce its
      decision, provided it adheres to the government's guidelines. It is
      in this sense that the government cannot justifiably prohibit
      competition between different protective agencies without resorting to
      coercion. However, I do not regard this as a criticism of Rand's
      theory of government.

      Since we already have competing security agencies and arbitrators, I
      see no reason why, under Rand's theory, we couldn't have competing
      police agencies and courts. But they would have to uphold the
      government's laws and abide by its procedural and enforcement
      regulations. In thus being subject to the government's guidelines,
      these agencies would be considered ~an arm of the government~ -- an
      extension of its legal system -- not a competitor of it.

      An unauthorized act of retaliatory force on this view would be one
      that disregards the government's laws and regulations -- one that is
      performed without due process -- i.e., without sufficient warrant or
      justification according to the government's standards of prosecution
      and enforcement.

      For example, suppose I suspect you of stealing $1000 from me, but lack
      sufficient evidence to confirm my suspicions. And let us say that you
      did ~in fact~ steal $1000 from me. If I invade your property and take
      back my $1000, I would be committing a crime -- a coercive act -- not
      because I had no right to the $1000 that I took from you, but because
      I had no right to reclaim it without sufficient evidence that it was
      my money.

      I would be subject to prosecution not only for appearing to steal
      $1,000, but also for failing to adhere to the government's standards
      of evidence and proof, should it eventually be discovered that the
      money is mine. This kind of "private" or vigilante justice cannot be
      tolerated by a rational legal system.

      Moreover, for this very reason, any agent of retaliatory force must be
      certified as understanding the legal guidelines governing its use, for
      if he did not, he would be acting blindly in a manner no different
      from someone who resorts to retaliatory force based simply on an
      unconfirmed suspicion or a private hunch.

      The certification requirement would not be coercive, because what
      constitutes coercion (and retaliatory force) would be defined by the
      government's laws and regulations. The government would need to
      ensure that these laws and regulations are understood by a prospective
      defense agency in order to allow it to use retaliatory force. In
      other words, the government would have to ~license~ a defense agency
      before the agency is allowed to enforce the government's laws.

      David criticizes Rand's proposed method of voluntary government
      financing (in which the government would charge for the use of its
      courts), arguing that such financing would be inadequate to fund
      national defense, because the government would have to charge more
      than competing private courts, which are not in the business of
      providing national defense, in which case, it would be underbid by
      these courts, and driven out of business.

      But, again, since the competing courts would be certified by the
      government, they would be considered governmental, not private,
      tribunals. The same would be true for licensed defense agencies
      which, while they would be competing with each other, would be the
      only ones authorized to enforce the government's laws. If someone
      were to use unauthorized force in order to redress a wrong, he would
      be acting against the law and would be subject to arrest by the
      victim's defense agency.

      To return to my example, if I invaded your house in order to reclaim
      my $1000, you could have me arrested by your defense agency for taking
      money from you without sufficient justification, even if you had in
      fact stolen my money. By the same token, if I did have sufficient
      evidence that you stole my money, then I could, of course, have you
      arrested by my defense agency. The point is that all such acts of
      retaliatory force would have to be done in accordance with the
      government's enforcement guidelines, not in accordance with someone's
      arbitrary, private judgment.

      So how would national defense be handled by such a government? It
      would have to be funded by a different mechanism than the purchase of
      protection from a defense agency -- e.g., by simple voluntary
      contributions, contingency agreements, government lotteries, fees for
      voting privileges, or perhaps by a combination of such methods.

      National defense is often presented as a classic public good in which
      it is impossible to exclude free riders, namely, non-paying
      beneficiaries. Hence, it is argued that in order to eliminate free
      riders, coercive funding or taxation is required. What is too often
      overlooked is that while taxes may eliminate free riders -- people who
      receive the value of something they don't pay for -- it creates
      ~forced~ riders -- people who are forced to pay for something they
      don't value (or don't value as much as the amount they are forced to
      pay for it).

      If one has to make a choice, which is worse: free riders or forced
      riders? Clearly, forced riders, because they are denied freedom of
      choice! Yet, it is always the free-rider argument that carries the
      day in discussions of public goods, such as national defense.

      However, in a semi-rational world -- one in which statism or religious
      fanaticism did not dominate a country -- there would be little need
      for national defense. Does California require military protection
      from Nevada; or Minnesota, from Wisconsin? Does the United States
      worry about being attacked by Canada, or Canada by England? If the
      rest of the world were no worse politically than the U.S. or the
      semi-rational West, there would be little need for a standing army.

      Still, it may be important to maintain one, simply as insurance, which
      could be done by any of the voluntary methods described above.
      Moreover, if a national emergency were to arise in which military
      action required increased funding, there would almost certainly be a
      groundswell of voluntary support, making coercion by the government
      unnecessary.

      -- Bill






      ------------------------------

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      End of Objectivism Digest, Vol 11, Issue 1
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