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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 9:06 pm 
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I saw an article picking holes in the NAP with arguments of varying strength, and I thought I saved the link for yov's perusal but I didn't. But there were a couple points that made an impression.

The first was the argument of pollution equaling aggression, which already came up in this thread.

The second was that NAP does not prohibit starving your three-year old child to death. Now, my first reaction was "Surely you jest." But as I thought about I realized that no, it actually doesn't. The NAP defines aggression as the initiation of force to take property away others away from them. It does not condemn withholding property from others, no matter how desperately they need it or how superfluous it is to the current owners. After all, what claim does the child have to the food you own?

Which, in a nutshell, is why I don't consider the NAP to be sufficient as a core moral principle.

This is not to imply that people who identify as libertarian would cheerfully starve their own children to death (although they seem to be OK with other actions that end up with people starving). It's just that if you find starving your children to be morally wrong, it must be under some other rule.

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PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2015 9:13 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
The second was that NAP does not prohibit starving your three-year old child to death. Now, my first reaction was "Surely you jest." But as I thought about I realized that no, it actually doesn't. The NAP defines aggression as the initiation of force to take property away others away from them. It does not condemn withholding property from others, no matter how desperately they need it or how superfluous it is to the current owners. After all, what claim does the child have to the food you own?



That is....a super interesting point. I must ponder........

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 2:49 am 
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Frelga - Was it the second result in a Google search for "NAP libertarian"? That refers to both your points, amongst others.

http://www.libertarianism.org/blog/six-reasons-libertarians-should-reject-non-aggression-principle

Reading through this and some other results made me realize a little more why I struggle with libertarianism as a world view: it seems geared towards protecting the haves at the expense of the have nots. Given the uneven history of our world and how selective the lining of the haves' pockets have been, libertarianism can seem an overly convenient version of "I got mine".

As for my own morals, I don't have them neatly defined. But as of right now, both Thomas Inman's summary of the Hippocratian Oath and the Golden Rule plays a part.


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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 1:02 pm 
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This is one of the issues with trying to come up with a moral or ethical principle of universal application. Even if you are someone who believes in natural rights which are absolute above and beyond the law (as the writers of the U.S. Constitution did, for example), there is a point where you will run into some sort of balancing exercise. The point that the article makes on risk is a very good one – polluting someone’s land is in theory a violation of their property rights, but there’s a whole spectrum of behaviour between simply driving past their house and actually dumping waste in their front garden.

While I am someone who believes in human rights – as I think pretty much everyone in western countries will to some degree – I also think that many policy positions respectful of human rights can also be justified on utilitarian grounds. This is sort-of what John Stuart Mill argues in On Liberty when he discusses the harm principle. For example, he defends freedom of speech and opposes censorship on the basis that it leads to benefits for society through debate and the promotion of good ideas.

(BTW, if you are interested in exploring liberal ideas and their growth and have not read On Liberty, it is a fairly short and very-readable book and remains hugely important in western political thought to the development of positions across the political spectrum).


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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 1:35 pm 
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Griffon64 wrote:
Reading through this and some other results made me realize a little more why I struggle with libertarianism as a world view: it seems geared towards protecting the haves at the expense of the have nots.


I find this common view more than a little frustrating. It is akin to saying that belief in freedom of speech is "geared towards protecting" neo-Nazis or that freedom of religion is "geared towards protecting" dangerous cults. Noting that Nazis and cults benefit a lot more from these freedoms than, say, you or me, is not the same as saying that the point of defending these liberties is because we like Nazis and cults. The point of defending these liberties is an entirely moral one, not a pragmatic one, since the overwhelming majority of our society would rather not see a neo-Nazi rally going down main street. But we accept that honest respect for human liberty is going to come with allowing some behaviors most of us would rather not exist.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:35 am 
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yovargas wrote:
Frelga wrote:
The second was that NAP does not prohibit starving your three-year old child to death. Now, my first reaction was "Surely you jest." But as I thought about I realized that no, it actually doesn't. The NAP defines aggression as the initiation of force to take property away others away from them. It does not condemn withholding property from others, no matter how desperately they need it or how superfluous it is to the current owners. After all, what claim does the child have to the food you own?



That is....a super interesting point. I must ponder........

This topic came up in a conversation with my son, and I wondered if you ever came to any conclusion.

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‘There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’
‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:20 pm 
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My conclusion is that the world is too damn complicated to ever come up with real conclusions. :beard:

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:09 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
My conclusion is that the world is too damn complicated to ever come up with real conclusions. :beard:


My conclusion is that the above sounds like a cop-out if I ever heard one. :twisted:

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:03 pm 
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Perhaps............but in my experience there's pretty much no moral guideline that some clever philosopher can't puncture with a similar "but that would allow X and X is obviously awful!" scenario. So what's the answer? To give up on moral guidelines? But that would allow X and X is obviously awful!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 12:39 am 
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The answer might be that the X is so repugnant to you that you can't accept a rule that allows it. Or that more than one guideline is required. After all, the Torah contains 613 commandments and even the most basic set has seven. ;)

Eta: how's this one for size: that which is hateful to you do not do unto others?

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‘There’s no greys, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’
‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 1:19 am 
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Frelga wrote:
The answer might be that the X is so repugnant to you that you can't accept a rule that allows it.


But that's the point I was making - every rule (or set of rules) has some X that is "so repugnant you can't" allow it. And having more than one guideline doesn't help for when those inevitably collide, since then what? You need a third guideline to resolve the difference? Or, since we're discarding the guideline based on our feeling of repugnant glitches, we could just ditch the guidelines and go by our gut feelings of what is or isn't "repugnant". But, of course, that has always led to things that end up being repugnant.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:24 pm 
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Why not: act in a way that ensures that, if every man acted this way, it would be for the best of all.

Kant's categorical imperative (in one formulation): So act that your will can regard itself at the same time as making universal law through its maxims.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:11 pm 
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Kant's maxim, at least as its summary was presented to me in philosophy class, always struck me as profoundly useless. Depending on how you frame it, it would count vast swaths of normal human behavior as "immoral". Like, I'm here to my software support job. If every human decided to get a job in software support, it would be very, very bad for all, therefore jobs in software support are immoral.

I'm sure that must be a misunderstanding of the intended principle because if that was what Kant meant, nobody would've ever taken him seriously at all.

(I've legitimately heard the imperative specifically used as an argument against homosexuality. If every human was exclusively homosexual, it would destroy humanity, therefore being exclusively homosexual is immoral. It's a pretty dumb argument, IMO.)

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:59 pm 
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Yes, that is a complete misunderstanding of the principle. Totally, utterly.

You are working in a job which suits your abilities. If every human being would do so- better or a worse world?

You love whom you choose to. If every human would do so: better or worse for others?

It is not so much about the actual job - obviously not everybody can have the same job- but the principle of having a job and the fact that if possible, this principle will allow people to work in those jobs where their abilities can benefit to as many persons as possible. It is not your behavior per se but the principle behind it that should be able to become a universal principle at the moment when your decision is based on it.

So, if you were the only fertile man alive left and the survival of humanity would depend on you- yes I that particular context being homosexual might be considered as immoral.

Kant poses the imperative alongside some other moral principles , but it's midnight after all.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:43 pm 
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yov, I think you are being way too literal. And I think you kinda know it.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:53 pm 
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JewelSong wrote:
yov, I think you are being way too literal. And I think you kinda know it.


Not sure what you mean. :scratch:

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 12:55 am 
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The recent Epipen controversy is one of those situations that makes me think "yeeeeeaah, that laissez-faire capitalism thing has some pretty serious problems".

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:42 am 
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yovargas wrote:
The recent Epipen controversy is one of those situations that makes me think "yeeeeeaah, that laissez-faire capitalism thing has some pretty serious problems".


On the other hand, the owner of the Epipen can raise the price because the government guarantees their intellectual property rights. Someone else can't simply manufacture the same product and sell it more cheaply in competition.

Which isn't to say that intellectual property rights are a bad thing. But policy decisions need to be made around how, exactly, the protections work.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 5:37 am 
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An excellent point. This situation wouldn't really be possible in a libertarian-style near-zero-intervention type gov.

I have, of late, been becoming less and less sympathetic to many aspects of intellectual property rights.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 3:45 pm 
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Maybe if patents expired after a certain level of profit had been made from them (probably partly related to the amount of money invested in creating the device or drug that was patented)? That might discourage this kind of gouging, among other benefits.

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