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Re: The Legality of Discrimination

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  • Nadav Har'El
    ... But the people of Germany were relatively free to choose many different courses of action. They could have even chosen to wage another war against france,
    Message 1 of 26 , Apr 16, 2003
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      On Wed, Apr 16, 2003, Shlomi Fish wrote about "Re: The Legality of Discrimination":
      > Free? Germany was enslaved to France and had to pay an enormous tax to
      > compensate it for the war. Consult every post-WWI history book to learn
      > that.

      But the people of Germany were relatively free to choose many different
      courses of action. They could have even chosen to wage another war against
      france, if they wanted. But that doesn't explain why they chose to be
      anti-semitic, because your claim is that being anti-semitic was against
      their own interests, and therefore they wouldn't chose it. I wish it were
      so simple...

      > > In 2000, when I was in the "millenium" mood, I tried to calculate how many
      > > people were killed in the last millenium by human-inflicted disasters (such
      > > as wars, religious persecutions, etc.). The number I came up with: 500,000,000!
      > > That's half a billion people murdered by their fellow men in 1,000 years.
      > >
      >
      > I know. It usually came up with governments and other authorities who
      > tried to enforce "morality" down people's throat. Not out of the actions
      > of individuals.

      This is true, though in a large part of history, it's not exactly clear
      what is a "government" or "authority", and what is a collection of men who
      voluntarily (driven by some shared belief) got together in order to do their
      mayhem (e.g., crusades, pogroms, etc.).

      It's too easy to say that all the evils you see are caused by a leader
      telling his followers to do bad things, and that in a "free state" you
      wouldn't have such leaders. But unfortunately, saying this is wrong. Very
      wrong. In a free state, local leaders are free to build up their own groups
      of followers, and even their own militias, and if the "good" militias of
      this state are not strong enough, they will not be able to stop the "bad"
      leader when he is strong enough and starts the "bad" acts (killing, lynching,
      robbing, or whatever).

      The word "local" in the above paragraph can vary in locality: for example
      in the US there were whole states where "bad" things (e.g., lynching) were
      done without being punished. In some countries there are neighborhoods or
      even cities where the local gang leaders have acquired so much strength that
      the official government can't do anything about it. Looking at the whole world
      (which in some respects can be called a "free state" because there are hardly
      any laws that effect the whole world), the whole world cannot do anything
      about renegade countries set out to destroy the world and/or make their
      own people miserable (see: U.N. and Iraq).


      > > > Perhaps not. I'm not entirely familiar with Historical anecdotes.
      > > Those who don't listen to history, are doomed to repeat it :)
      > History repeats itself, but not exactly. There's a limit to how much room
      > I can fill my mind with useless details. Otherwise, it becomes too crowded
      > and I can't recall the more important things.
      >
      > I think applied logic is more important than knowing every historical
      > detail. With applied logic one can analyse current affairs, using reason
      > and idealism alone.

      Let me tell you why I think learning history *is* important.

      I consider myself a scientist. And as such, I believe the scientific process
      should be followed.

      In the scientific process, it is not enough to make conjectures or invent
      theories (such as "humans are by nature good" or "LFC is a good form of
      government") - you must also set out to prove your theories.

      Now, proof of a scientific theory can be of two types:

      The first type of proof is a proof based on mathematics or logic: starting
      with axioms, you use the rules of logic to arrive with the required
      conclusion. This is the kind of proof you seem to prefer. But such proofs
      of theories in the area of political-science are almost impossible. We don't
      have any obvious set of axioms, and we don't have any encompassing
      mathematical models to model the behavior of individuals or groups.
      When such proofs exist for certain issues, they are wonderful, but
      unfortunately they don't exist for most political issues. I dare you find
      a mathematical proof that "drugs should be legal", for example (just to
      take one example you repeated several times). Don't forget that you'll need
      to base your proof on axioms that nobody will be able to contradict.

      The second type of proof is by experimentation, as is done in physics. You
      make up a theory, and check that in all known experiments the theory stands.
      You also make predictions for experiments not yet done, and see if your
      predictions succeed.
      But when dealing with theories in politics, we obviously cannot do direct
      experiments. Most researchers (not named Lenin, etc.) cannot try their
      political theories on a country. This is why to build your theories, you
      have to look at experiments already done by others, i.e., countries that
      now exist or have existed in the past. If someone tells me of a political
      idea, and can't demonstrate how it worked in practice in some country -
      or at least that it wasn't shown to be a spectacular failure in some country -
      this someone is not a serious philosopher/political-scientist/whatever.

      Let me give you an example: when Marx, and later Lenin, came up with their
      theory of how Communism would be a perfect political system, their ideas
      seemed plausible. These ideas were never tested before, and they "seemed"
      to be based on sensible conjectures like "people are good", "equality is
      important".
      But Lenin's experiment to prove his theory, spanning about 70 years and
      done on hundreds of millions of human guinea-pigs (where needless to say,
      the Helsinki Decleration was not exactly followed), was a spectacular failure.
      It not only failed to prove Lenin's conjectures, you might even say that it
      proved the opposite conjectures (through "reductio ad absurdum").
      But the important thing is that if somebody now "re-invents" the idea of
      Leninism, there is no need to try this sorry experiment again - we can
      immediately tell this guy: "no, this idea will fail, and we have an experiment
      to prove this". This is why knowing history is important.

      > > So what? The situtation is still better than it was in the late 50s.
      > > Nobody said the anti-segregation laws resulted in a perfect society, any
      >...
      > Granted the laws helped a bit. However, I believe that:
      >
      > 1. Public Education.

      This idea was hopeless when the education system itself was run by the
      same racists and with the same ideas of segregation that the federal
      government was trying to uproot in the first place.

      Before the education system could be used to promote the federal government's
      ideals, the federal government had to control it first. And this wasn't
      easy - and went against the tradition in the U.S..

      > 2. Organization and self-arming by Blacks and white people who supported
      > them. Self-protection

      Luckily, the blacks that followed your advice, like the "Black Panthers",
      "Nation of Islam", and so on, did not win over the heart of most blacks,
      and the gun-free ideas of people like Rev. Martin Luther King jr. became
      more accepted.
      If it wasn't so, I'd hate to think what the U.S. would look like now. Most
      likely it would be torn by civil war between blacks and whites, and both
      blacks and whites would have been much worse-off than they are right now.

      > 3. Enforcement of Laws that prevented public discrimination

      Exactly. But this is what you said originally they shouldn't do :)

      Note that here "public" doesn't mean "federal-government-run". The "public"
      in a complex organization like the United States has several levels - federal,
      state, city, corporation, and so on. In this context, "public" should
      basically mean any setting where people find themselves in without a real
      choice to be somewhere else.

      > Let's suppose you have N militias where N > 5. If one militia goes corrupt
      > (all of its members? Very unlikely), then the other N-1 militias can fight
      > it. Like I said I don't believe in a free man destroying himself and
      > becoming corrupt suddenly. A good man with a good philosophy and a lot of
      > ideology will never go corrupt. You seem to have quite a lot of distrust
      > of people? Why?

      How is what you describe different from the situation in many countries
      before modern times, where local chiefs, princes, warlords, shoguns, or
      whatever you'd want to call them fighting each other constantly? None of
      them though they were corrupt - they were always under the impression that
      their group was "right" and the other group was "wrong" and only a battle
      will settle this issue.

      --
      Nadav Har'El | Thursday, Apr 17 2003, 15 Nisan 5763
      nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
      Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |"Do you want to restart Windows now or
      http://nadav.harel.org.il |wait for the next crash?"
    • Shlomi Fish
      ... 1. I was mainly talking about a free and enlightened individual rather than a free society. 2. It seems we disagree if Germany was free enough, or had
      Message 2 of 26 , Apr 27, 2003
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        On Thu, 17 Apr 2003, Nadav Har'El wrote:

        > On Wed, Apr 16, 2003, Shlomi Fish wrote about "Re: The Legality of Discrimination":
        > > Free? Germany was enslaved to France and had to pay an enormous tax to
        > > compensate it for the war. Consult every post-WWI history book to learn
        > > that.
        >
        > But the people of Germany were relatively free to choose many different
        > courses of action. They could have even chosen to wage another war against
        > france, if they wanted. But that doesn't explain why they chose to be
        > anti-semitic, because your claim is that being anti-semitic was against
        > their own interests, and therefore they wouldn't chose it. I wish it were
        > so simple...
        >

        1. I was mainly talking about a free and enlightened individual rather
        than a "free" society.

        2. It seems we disagree if Germany was free enough, or had the conditions
        to sport a fully liberal whereabout. Let's drop this case.

        > > > In 2000, when I was in the "millenium" mood, I tried to calculate how many
        > > > people were killed in the last millenium by human-inflicted disasters (such
        > > > as wars, religious persecutions, etc.). The number I came up with: 500,000,000!
        > > > That's half a billion people murdered by their fellow men in 1,000 years.
        > > >
        > >
        > > I know. It usually came up with governments and other authorities who
        > > tried to enforce "morality" down people's throat. Not out of the actions
        > > of individuals.
        >
        > This is true, though in a large part of history, it's not exactly clear
        > what is a "government" or "authority", and what is a collection of men who
        > voluntarily (driven by some shared belief) got together in order to do their
        > mayhem (e.g., crusades, pogroms, etc.).
        >
        > It's too easy to say that all the evils you see are caused by a leader
        > telling his followers to do bad things, and that in a "free state" you
        > wouldn't have such leaders. But unfortunately, saying this is wrong. Very
        > wrong. In a free state, local leaders are free to build up their own groups
        > of followers, and even their own militias, and if the "good" militias of
        > this state are not strong enough, they will not be able to stop the "bad"
        > leader when he is strong enough and starts the "bad" acts (killing, lynching,
        > robbing, or whatever).
        >

        It is very unlikely to happen. In an LFC environment:

        1. Bad people will find it more and more difficult to survive without
        changing their beliefs for the better. Most people will quickly become
        more and more enlightened and simply laugh at the evil leaders'
        irrationalities.

        2. Good militias, police and other benevolent forces like that will
        flourish in a free environment, much more than the equivalent ones backed
        up by unlawful elements.

        Remember that LFC is not a "dog eat dog" environment or an anarchy.

        > The word "local" in the above paragraph can vary in locality: for example
        > in the US there were whole states where "bad" things (e.g., lynching) were
        > done without being punished.

        Again, the U.S. was not a free state back then, and still isn't to a large
        extent.

        > In some countries there are neighborhoods or
        > even cities where the local gang leaders have acquired so much strength that
        > the official government can't do anything about it.

        These countries are not free states. If they converted into LFC, these
        gang leaders would be driven out or eliminated.

        > Looking at the whole world
        > (which in some respects can be called a "free state" because there are hardly
        > any laws that effect the whole world),

        The whole world is not a free state because any given person is living in
        one country or the other, which is itself not a free state.

        > the whole world cannot do anything
        > about renegade countries set out to destroy the world and/or make their
        > own people miserable (see: U.N. and Iraq).
        >

        Like I said, your point is invalid.

        >
        > > > > Perhaps not. I'm not entirely familiar with Historical anecdotes.
        > > > Those who don't listen to history, are doomed to repeat it :)
        > > History repeats itself, but not exactly. There's a limit to how much room
        > > I can fill my mind with useless details. Otherwise, it becomes too crowded
        > > and I can't recall the more important things.
        > >
        > > I think applied logic is more important than knowing every historical
        > > detail. With applied logic one can analyse current affairs, using reason
        > > and idealism alone.
        >
        > Let me tell you why I think learning history *is* important.
        >
        > I consider myself a scientist. And as such, I believe the scientific process
        > should be followed.
        >
        > In the scientific process, it is not enough to make conjectures or invent
        > theories (such as "humans are by nature good" or "LFC is a good form of
        > government") - you must also set out to prove your theories.
        >
        > Now, proof of a scientific theory can be of two types:
        >
        > The first type of proof is a proof based on mathematics or logic: starting
        > with axioms, you use the rules of logic to arrive with the required
        > conclusion. This is the kind of proof you seem to prefer. But such proofs
        > of theories in the area of political-science are almost impossible. We don't
        > have any obvious set of axioms, and we don't have any encompassing
        > mathematical models to model the behavior of individuals or groups.
        > When such proofs exist for certain issues, they are wonderful, but
        > unfortunately they don't exist for most political issues. I dare you find
        > a mathematical proof that "drugs should be legal", for example (just to
        > take one example you repeated several times). Don't forget that you'll need
        > to base your proof on axioms that nobody will be able to contradict.
        >

        We can't build an exact mathematical proof, but we can still use logic,
        reason and facts to conjure a good proof. We can analyze the arguments,
        and see where each one is true or false. It is a Neo-Tech claim that one
        can deduce anything starting from logic and the biological nature of men
        and women. Nothing else is required.

        I cannot give an exact proof that drugs should be legal. But there are
        many arguments, statistics and facts to back it up, and I could not find a
        good argument against it, that I was not able to nullify.

        > The second type of proof is by experimentation, as is done in physics. You
        > make up a theory, and check that in all known experiments the theory stands.
        > You also make predictions for experiments not yet done, and see if your
        > predictions succeed.

        Correct.

        > But when dealing with theories in politics, we obviously cannot do direct
        > experiments. Most researchers (not named Lenin, etc.) cannot try their
        > political theories on a country. This is why to build your theories, you
        > have to look at experiments already done by others, i.e., countries that
        > now exist or have existed in the past. If someone tells me of a political
        > idea, and can't demonstrate how it worked in practice in some country -
        > or at least that it wasn't shown to be a spectacular failure in some country -
        > this someone is not a serious philosopher/political-scientist/whatever.
        >

        Like I said, a complete Laissez-Faire Capitalism environment was never
        enacted yet. There were always small or large deviations (probably very
        large). I can note to some close cases and show that they are good enough.

        Nevertheless, Ofir here believes we can invalidate LFC just because some
        Game-Theoretic Models prove it is not stable. You should have a talk with
        him as well.

        > Let me give you an example: when Marx, and later Lenin, came up with their
        > theory of how Communism would be a perfect political system, their ideas
        > seemed plausible. These ideas were never tested before, and they "seemed"
        > to be based on sensible conjectures like "people are good", "equality is
        > important".
        > But Lenin's experiment to prove his theory, spanning about 70 years and
        > done on hundreds of millions of human guinea-pigs (where needless to say,
        > the Helsinki Decleration was not exactly followed), was a spectacular failure.
        > It not only failed to prove Lenin's conjectures, you might even say that it
        > proved the opposite conjectures (through "reductio ad absurdum").
        > But the important thing is that if somebody now "re-invents" the idea of
        > Leninism, there is no need to try this sorry experiment again - we can
        > immediately tell this guy: "no, this idea will fail, and we have an experiment
        > to prove this". This is why knowing history is important.
        >

        I'm not completely ignorant of history. If someone tells me a historical
        fact, I will not forcibly try to forget it. But I believe I can analyze
        enough new data based on what I already know.

        > > > So what? The situtation is still better than it was in the late 50s.
        > > > Nobody said the anti-segregation laws resulted in a perfect society, any
        > >...
        > > Granted the laws helped a bit. However, I believe that:
        > >
        > > 1. Public Education.
        >
        > This idea was hopeless when the education system itself was run by the
        > same racists and with the same ideas of segregation that the federal
        > government was trying to uproot in the first place.
        >
        > Before the education system could be used to promote the federal government's
        > ideals, the federal government had to control it first. And this wasn't
        > easy - and went against the tradition in the U.S..
        >

        Public education need not necessarily be done by the education system. It
        can be done by volunteers. It can be done by commercials and ads. It can
        be done by messengers.

        > > 2. Organization and self-arming by Blacks and white people who supported
        > > them. Self-protection
        >
        > Luckily, the blacks that followed your advice, like the "Black Panthers",
        > "Nation of Islam", and so on, did not win over the heart of most blacks,
        > and the gun-free ideas of people like Rev. Martin Luther King jr. became
        > more accepted.
        > If it wasn't so, I'd hate to think what the U.S. would look like now. Most
        > likely it would be torn by civil war between blacks and whites, and both
        > blacks and whites would have been much worse-off than they are right now.
        >

        I don't know too much about the "Black Panthers" and friends. However,
        the right to bear arms and to organize a militia and to protect oneself
        against violence is a constitutional right. Everywhere. Anytime. The
        Blacks in America had a right to protect themselves against lynches.

        I'm not saying they should have attacked innocent white persons. That is
        initiatory force. But they could certainly protect themselves.

        > > 3. Enforcement of Laws that prevented public discrimination
        >
        > Exactly. But this is what you said originally they shouldn't do :)
        >
        > Note that here "public" doesn't mean "federal-government-run". The "public"
        > in a complex organization like the United States has several levels - federal,
        > state, city, corporation, and so on. In this context, "public" should
        > basically mean any setting where people find themselves in without a real
        > choice to be somewhere else.
        >

        OK. But let's suppose I want to join a small private firm and it rejects
        me because I'm a Jew/Woman/Black/White/Male/whatever. I can simply try
        somewhere else. The discrimination is of no concern to the public good.

        I agree that the distinction between private and public is not always
        straightforward. However, a private entity can exercise discrimination,
        while a public one probably must not.

        > > Let's suppose you have N militias where N > 5. If one militia goes corrupt
        > > (all of its members? Very unlikely), then the other N-1 militias can fight
        > > it. Like I said I don't believe in a free man destroying himself and
        > > becoming corrupt suddenly. A good man with a good philosophy and a lot of
        > > ideology will never go corrupt. You seem to have quite a lot of distrust
        > > of people? Why?
        >
        > How is what you describe different from the situation in many countries
        > before modern times, where local chiefs, princes, warlords, shoguns, or
        > whatever you'd want to call them fighting each other constantly? None of
        > them though they were corrupt - they were always under the impression that
        > their group was "right" and the other group was "wrong" and only a battle
        > will settle this issue.
        >

        Those countries were not fully Capitalistic, communication was sporadic,
        and these militias were not voluntary, competing or private. Each locality
        had its own monopoly of a militia, and that was it. In an free country, it
        is possible that in a given area, several militias will co-exist, none of
        them harmful.

        I again refer you to the Neo-Tech Constitution for a very brief definition
        of what is constitutional:

        http://www.neo-tech.com/advantages/advantage83.html

        Regards,

        Shlomi Fish


        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
        Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
        Home Page: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/

        An apple a day will keep a doctor away. Two apples a day will keep two
        doctors away.

        Falk Fish
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