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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/10229/mises-and-argumentation-ethics/

Mises and Argumentation Ethics

July 5, 2009 by

My buddy Vijay Boyapati mused in an email whether Mises had anticipated the eventual development of argumentation ethics. “Here he has a little discussion here which really reminds me a lot of Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics:”

Any kind of human cooperation and social mutuality is essentially an order of peace and conciliatory settlement of disputes. In the domestic relations of any societal unit, be it a contractual or a hegemonic bond, there must be peace. Where there are violent conflicts and as far as there are such conflicts, there is neither cooperation nor societal bonds. Those political parties which in their eagerness to substitute the hegemonic system for the contractual system point at the rottenness of peace and of bourgeois security, extol the moral nobility of violence and bloodshed and praise war and revolution as the eminently natural methods of interhuman relations, contradict themselves. For their own utopias are designed as realms of peace.

As Vijay observed, “In a way it feels like a ‘macro’ version of Hoppe’s more ‘micro’ argumentation ethics.” (See my post Revisiting Argumentation Ethics.)

{ 19 comments }

Josh July 5, 2009 at 7:04 pm

If there is one thing sillier than hermeneutics, it has to be argumentation ethics.

Mises was an Austrian economist. Nothing more; nothing less.

Matthew July 5, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Not every use of the word “contradiction” is a sign of the influence or development of arg ethics.

RWW July 5, 2009 at 7:58 pm

I have to second Josh’s comment. I doubt Mises would have approved of this vain search for a supposed objective system of ethics.

Bruce Koerber July 5, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Divine Economy Consulting
Sunday, July 05, 2009

Free Market Economics Is Not “Individualism.”

People benefit from the mutually advantageous cooperation that is a part of the market process. Here is what Ludwig von Mises said about it:

“The greater productivity of work under the division of labour is a unifying influence. It leads men to regard each other as comrades in a joint struggle for welfare, rather than as competitors in a struggle for existence. It makes friends out of enemies, peace out of war, society out of individuals.” Socialism by Ludwig von Mises, p. 261

Xavier Méra July 5, 2009 at 8:47 pm

This extract certainly looks like a first step toward Hoppe’s argumentation ethics. Thanks for pointing it out. Silly or not, that is another question.

Tom Woods July 5, 2009 at 8:48 pm

So are we reduced to, “Hey, sure, you want to be a thug and get your way through violence. That’s just your thing, though. It’s not cool with me. Plus, it’s super inconvenient for everyone if you keep murdering people”?

Jeremy L. July 5, 2009 at 9:01 pm

This similarity reflects the tradition of German language philosophy shared by both Mises and Habermas (originator of argumentation ethics). They both explicitly acknowledge enormous debts to Kant.

2nd Amendment July 5, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Libertarians don’t initiate violence, but once violence has been initiated against a Libertarian, you can be sure that the Libertarian will respond in kind and “payback” the agressor capital and insterest.

Libertarians are not wimps and if someone is violently attacked then he should defend violently.

2nd Amendment July 5, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Libertarians don’t initiate violence, but once violence has been initiated against a Libertarian, you can be sure that the Libertarian will respond in kind and “payback” the agressor capital and insterest.

Libertarians are not wimps and if someone is violently attacked then he should defend violently.

Matt_R.L. July 6, 2009 at 4:48 am

Tom Woods wrote:

“So are we reduced to, “Hey, sure, you want to be a thug and get your way through violence. That’s just your thing, though. It’s not cool with me. Plus, it’s super inconvenient for everyone if you keep murdering people”?”

Tom,

Your post is a curious one. I’m in what I think is a rather well-populated camp among libertarians: a group which defends natural rights but which, at the end of the day, isn’t itself sure the logic behind natural rights holds up. The reasoning in your post takes the ambivalence of myself and others and makes it positively nefarious (or at least grossly illogical). Essentially what you seem to be saying is: “How could you reject arg. ethics or nat. rights — if you do, we’re left with nothing of substance.” That may be so, but the potential repercussions of their rejection should not be grounds for us to cling to them for dear life. If they hold up under scrutiny, then excellent. If they don’t, we shall have to make recourse to other lines of argument. But for the sake of logic we should not let hope and fear be the foundation of our beliefs.

Jason Gordon July 6, 2009 at 6:59 am

MA state motto 1775: ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem

Mises is pointing out the inherent hypocrisy here by restating the following principle: non facias malum ut inde fiat bonum

If argumentation ethics is essentially the logical deconstruction of complex hypocrisy, this can properly be seen as such.

Gene Callahan July 6, 2009 at 8:54 am

“My buddy Vijay Boyapati mused in an email whether Mises had anticipated the eventual development of argumentation ethics.”

Yes, and it made him split his sides laughing.

Era July 6, 2009 at 11:12 am

“Where there are violent conflicts and as far as there are such conflicts, there is neither cooperation nor societal bonds.”

This sounds more like Thomas Hobbes than argumentation ethics to me.

Russ July 6, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Matt_R.L. wrote:

“”How could you reject arg. ethics or nat. rights — if you do, we’re left with nothing of substance.” That may be so, but the potential repercussions of their rejection should not be grounds for us to cling to them for dear life.”

Exactly. What if libertarianism is founded on argumentation ethics and natural rights? What then happens if somebody comes along with the idea that arguing with someone doesn’t necessarily presuppose they have rights, or rediscovers the naturalistic fallacy? Then your bases are demolished, and the structure on top of the foundation comes crashing down, too.

RWW July 6, 2009 at 5:27 pm

What if libertarianism is founded on argumentation ethics and natural rights?

It’s not. It’s founded on the personal preferences of liberals (in the classical sense), which are best satisfied by a truly free market.

Russ July 6, 2009 at 9:42 pm

@RWW:

I didn’t mean that libertarianism (or liberalism in the classical sense) can truly be objectively based on either argumentation ethics or natural rights theory. I simply meant that, if we tried to base liberalism on either foundation, and those foundations were undermined (which I believe they can be), our opponents could then say that liberalism has been intellectually demolished and should be thrown on the scrap heap of history.

In other words, I agree with you, for the most part.

Peter July 7, 2009 at 6:38 am

I’ve taken to carrying around a hammer, and whenever anybody tells me they don’t believe they have such a thing as “rights”, I hit them on the head with it.

(Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer…)

RWW July 7, 2009 at 9:52 am

What a typical non-sequitur, Peter. If I defend myself, it shows that I have personal values, not objective rights.

Andrew March 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm

If their exists only personal preference and not universal preference, than isn’t that a universally true (or false) statement about preferences? And if we deny that their exists universal preferences, or universally preferably behavior, (or norms, or ethics or whatever), then isn’t that itself either a personal or universal preference? and it being a statement wanting to be valid universally, admit that their must be a universally valid ethic? “Universally preferable behavior does not exist” is either a true or false statement about universally preferable behavior is it not? Then in stating ethics do not exist, one is affirming the existence of ethics. By saying there are no valid and objective norms, you are making a valid statement about objective norms. (making your statement about the non-existence of valid norms, invalid) On the other hand, if your statement about objective norms is not an objectively true statement, or that of personal preference, or subjective experience, than it does not invalidate any objective norm, or carry weight. Actually I myself am skeptical of ethics, thanks to robert murphy, but Id appreciate a response.

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