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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13682/beyond-is-and-ought/

Beyond Is and Ought

August 24, 2010 by

Hoppe has lifted the American libertarian movement out of decades of sterile debate and deadlock, and provided us a route for future development of the libertarian discipline. FULL ARTICLE by Murray N. Rothbard

{ 534 comments }

Kerem Tibuk August 24, 2010 at 9:08 am

“As a natural rightser, I don’t see any real contradiction here, or why one cannot hold to both the natural-rights and the Hoppean-rights ethic at the same time. Both rights ethics, after all, are grounded, like the realist version of Kantianism, in the nature of reality. Natural law, too, provides a personal and social ethic apart from libertarianism; this is an area that Hoppe is not concerned with.”

Unfortunately Rothbard was very mistaken here.

Hoppean “property theory” is not compatible with the natural rights Lockean/Rothbardian property theory at all.

And more importantly this Hoppean property theory, which bases and justifies private property not as a natural extension of human nature itself, but a tool to better society by resolving conflicts regarding rivalrous, scarce resources is only arbitrarily libertarian. There is no reason why this exact axiom could not call for a type of socialist society where “equality regarding property” is a goal consistent with the axiom that calls for “conflict resolution regarding scarce resources”.

Also this “argumentation ethics” is a laughable “proof” not to say the least.

When every human action undeniably proves that self ownership is an “is” proposition, why would anyone bother with arguments and this proving self ownership.

Even if there is no argument and one person hits the other on the head, this proves two parties own themselves because otherwise no human action is possible.

The biggest mistake that is being made when it comes to the concepts of “self ownership” and “property”, is taking the latter as the reference. Main concept is the “self ownership” and “property” is only a derivative concept of “self ownership”. That is why there is no place for a soul body duality in self ownership

No, “self ownership” is not a type of “property”, just the opposite, “property” is a logical conclusion, the extension of the fact that humans are self conscious and sentient beings that act purposefully.

The opposite of “self ownership” is not a “slavery” as many think, but a “being a puppet” which isn’t even possible.

How do you bridge the gap between “is” and “ought”?

Not the way Hoppe tries to do it and I am not even sure he even tries to do it.

Actually there is no gap.

Humans are self owners and if they do not mimic this natural situation when they are faced with the external and do not homestead and make an apple as if it was his kidney, then they can not survive.

This is as simple as that.

And since ethics is only relevant to living beings that have to make choices, we can easily say we can derive “ought” from “is”.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 9:24 am

” And more importantly this Hoppean property theory, which bases and justifies private property not as a natural extension of human nature itself, but a tool to better society by resolving conflicts regarding rivalrous, scarce resources is only arbitrarily libertarian. ”

Rare agreement :)

Peter Surda August 24, 2010 at 9:48 am

justifies private property …. by resolving conflicts regarding rivalrous, scarce resources is only arbitrarily libertarian

I have not read Hoppe’s arguments so I cannot say if you are attacking a strawman. However, as I elaborated recently, the “justifies” part is irrelevant. The argument is not an ought, it is an is. The point is not that property rights should resolve conflicts regarding rivalrous, scarce resources, but that it is impossible for them to do anything else. Rivarly and conflicts are synonyms, and without the existence of mutually exclusive alternatives there is no decision to be made and no human action can follow. “Property rights resolve conflicts in scarce resources” is a tautology. Now, it does not say what the distribution “should” look like (among other things, because that is an ought), but it invalidates lots of confusing arguments of IP proponents.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 9:57 am

I suggest you read Hoppe. “Social order” is his stated objective.

fundamentalist August 24, 2010 at 9:22 am

Locke, Hume and Kant invented the is/ought problem in philosophy through their misunderstanding, and often dishonest treatment of Aristotle according to Edward Feser in “The Last Superstition.” Philosophers since Hume have attacked a straw man version of Aristotle and natural law. If you give Feser a chance to explain the confusion and downright dishonesty, you’ll find a more sound foundation for ethics in natural law.

Beefcake the Mighty August 24, 2010 at 9:23 am

That paper sounds interesting; do you have a link available?

Stephan Kinsella August 24, 2010 at 9:50 am

Beefcake: google Feser, Hoppe, etc. But I think that was after he defected away from libertarianism.

Fundamentalist: can you please give a simple example of how you can derive an ought from an is, without surreptitiously sneaking in an ought?

Bala August 24, 2010 at 9:55 am

Stephan,

Before anyone answers your question, could you please explain what an “ought” is and where “oughts” originate from? Do “oughts” exist independent of a living being with a rational mind and a volitional consciousness? That’s very germane to the question, you see.

Stephan Kinsella August 24, 2010 at 10:11 am

An ought is any norm or moral rule. Saying you “should” do something. Please give it a try. Give me just one simple example.

fundamentalist August 24, 2010 at 10:14 am

I can’t, and do justice to Feser anyway. It takes Feser a while to explain how Hume et al misunderstood what natural law was saying. According to Feser the is/ought problem and most other problems of modern philosophy, including Kant, didn’t exist before modern philosophers started getting natural law wrong. And if you understand Aristotle and Aquinas correctly, the problems disappear.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Stephan,

In a big hurry to close the debate or take it in a direction desirable to you, are you?

This part

” An ought is any norm or moral rule. Saying you “should” do something. ”

addresses a small part of my question, i.e., the part about what “oughts” are. What you are yet to address is the rest of it.

Since you have used the phrase “moral rule”, let me reword my earlier question so that I may expect a clearer answer.

What are moral rules? What is morality? Where do moral rules and morality in general originate from? Who needs moral rules or morality? Why do these entities need morality? In other words, could these entities exist without moral rules/morality and not risk their very existence? In particular, are moral rules and morality related in any way to the nature of the entity that uses/has a need for moral rules/morality? What impact, if any, does this have on the moral rules themselves and how the using entity can/needs to figure them out? How do entities that use moral rules and morality evolve/figure out the moral rules?

With so many questions still left for you to answer, I see no room yet for examples from my side in the discussion. So, could I please have your answers first?

Jesse Forgione August 24, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Stephan,

Consider the statement: “You ought to value norms and moral rules.”

If “norms and moral rules” are valuable, they realize some end.

To deny the statement is to deny the existence of “norms and moral rules,” if they are the definition of “ought.”

Stephan Kinsella August 24, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Bala:

In a big hurry to close the debate or take it in a direction desirable to you, are you?

I asked for a simple example of a derivation of an ought from an is. You refuse to do so. The natural implication is you realize you cannot do it, so you evade and change the subject.

What are moral rules? What is morality? Where do moral rules and morality in general originate from? Who needs moral rules or morality? Why do these entities need morality? In other words, could these entities exist without moral rules/morality and not risk their very existence? In particular, are moral rules and morality related in any way to the nature of the entity that uses/has a need for moral rules/morality? What impact, if any, does this have on the moral rules themselves and how the using entity can/needs to figure them out? How do entities that use moral rules and morality evolve/figure out the moral rules?

Instead of answering a simple one you hurl back a bunch more to try to cloud the water. Moral rules are obviously rules of conduct–norms. Rules an actor may consult to decide how to act in a given situation, if he desires to act in accordance with the rule. Of course man’s nature is relevant, but not in the way natural lawyers think of it.

As I discuss in Slavery, Inalienability, Economics, and Ethics:

You wrote: “(2) Natural law theorists talk all the time about “the nature of man”, “the nature of things” etc.; just re-read the first chapters of Rothbard’s _The Ethics of Liberty_…”

Yes. And as Hoppe has pointed out, and as I agree,

Agreeing with Rothbard on the possibility of a rational ethic and, more specifically, on the fact that only a libertarian ethic can indeed be morally justified, I want to propose here a different, non-natural-rights approach to establishing these two related claims. It has been a common quarrel with the natural rights position, even by sympathetic readers, that the concept of human nature is far “too diffuse and varied to provide a determinate set of contents of natural law.”

Furthermore, its description of rationality is equally ambiguous in that it does not seem to distinguish between the role of reason in establishing empirical laws of nature on the one hand and normative laws of human conduct on the other.

See Hoppe’s Economics and Ethics of Private Property, at 313 (quoting Gewirth); also A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, note 7, p. 235.

Or as Hoppe elaborates elsewhere:

The relationship between our approach and a “natural rights” approach can now be described in some detail, too. The natural law or natural rights tradition of philosophic thought holds that universally valid norms can be discerned by means of reason as grounded in the very nature of man. It has been a common quarrel with this position, even on the part of sympathetic readers, that the concept of human nature is far “too diffuse and varied to provide a determinate set of contents of natural law” (A. Gewirth, “Law, Action, and Morality” in: Georgetown Symposium on Ethics. Essays in Honor of H. Veatch (ed. R. Porreco), New York, 1984, p.73). Furthermore, its description of rationality is equally ambiguous in that it does not seem to distinguish between the role of reason in establishing empirical laws of nature on the one hand, and normative laws of human conduct on the other. (Cf., for instance, the discussion in H. Veatch, Human Rights, Baton Rouge, 1985, p. 62-67.)

In recognizing the narrower concept of argumentation (instead of the wider one of human nature) as the necessary starting point in deriving an ethic, and in assigning to moral reasoning the status of a priori reasoning, clearly to be distinguished from the role of reason performed in empirical research, our approach not only claims to avoid these difficulties from the outset, but claims thereby to be at once more straightforward and rigorous. Still, to thus dissociate myself from the natural rights tradition is not to say that I could not agree with its critical assessment of most of contemporary ethical theory; indeed I do agree with H. Veatch’s complementary refutation of all desire (teleological, utilitarian) ethics as well as all duty (deontological) ethics (see Human Rights, Baton Rouge, 1985, Chapter 1). Nor do I claim that it is impossible to interpret my approach as falling in a “rightly conceived” natural rights tradition after all. What I claim, though, is that the following approach is clearly out of line with what the natural rights approach has actually come to be, and that it owes nothing to this tradition as it stands.

A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, note 7, p. 234-35; see also Economics and Ethics of Private Property, p. 313 n. 15.

See also EEPP, p. 313.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Stephan,

As I said, earlier, you are fundamentally dishonest and prove my accusation repeatedly.

” I asked for a simple example of a derivation of an ought from an is. You refuse to do so. ”

I said that before we try to derive an “ought” from an “is”, let is first define what we are talking of. So, I asked a number of questions that would help to clarify what ‘oughts” are and the nature of “oughts”.

Your repeated refusal to do so betrays your complete lack of understanding of the very concept “ought” and your refusal to grapple with it betrays your dishonesty.

The rest of your post is just meaningless babble (just using language that yoou have used in the past).

fundamentalist August 24, 2010 at 10:11 am

Beefcake, it’s a book, sorry.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 9:26 am

I agree. The “is-ought” dichotomy is a false one, something that can only be described as a deep philosophical blunder.

Jesse Forgione August 24, 2010 at 11:08 am

@Bala
Absolutely right. I was just talking about this on a previous thread.

Jesse Forgione August 24, 2010 at 11:33 am

In fact, I’m sorry if it’s a bit cheesy to re-post a comment, but it’s short, and it’s more relevant here than there:

Hume failed to derive an “ought” from an “is” because he was hung up on a Platonic concept of “ought” which is a fallacy in itself. He was trying to derive a mystical concept from reality, which is of course, contradictory. His “ought” is already, by definition, not based on reality (which is really to say, has no existence), so showing that they aren’t connected is an empty tautology.

This Platonic thinking (of abstractions having their own existence) is probably the root of the confusion over IP. Aristotle showed that physical reality is what exists, and abstractions are derived from it, and serve to represent aspects of it. To say that “ought” cannot be derived from “is” is really to say that there is no “ought” (which also explains the moral relativism of modern philosophy).

“Ought” is derived from what we are, for the same reason that the value of higher order goods is derived from the value of lower order goods.

I’ll add that any concept of “ought” that truly wasn’t based on “is” would be, by definition, completely irrelevant, if not destructive.

james b. longacre August 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I’ll add that any concept of “ought” that truly wasn’t based on “is”

can that even occur?

Jesse Forgione August 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Exactly. It can’t.
What I mean is that the attempt to form such a concept will be at best, completely meaningless, and at worst, lead to irrational and destructive behavior patterns (immoral actions).

Jesse Forgione August 25, 2010 at 7:01 am

@james b. longacre,

Actually, good point. Even a spurious “ought” necessarily refers to an “is.”

An “ought” is always a directive regarding action taken in reality, and always presupposes some end in reality.

So the real question for Stephen is:
Can you conceive of any “ought” that doesn’t contain an “is”?

“Please give it a try. Give me just one simple example.”

Stephan Kinsella August 24, 2010 at 10:14 am
fundamentalist August 24, 2010 at 10:15 am

PS, Feser provides a quick history of philosophy for those of us who didn’t specialize in it.

exile August 24, 2010 at 10:41 am

Feser had some awful critiques of Rothbard and he is about the last person I would suggest for a history of philosophy. I’ll agree though that there are serious problems with Locke, Hume and Kant, to the point where their writings are of limited interest outside of historical analysis.

fundamentalist August 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Exile, do you have any references or links? Feser is a philosopher specializing the philosophy of the mind, so I would be surprised to see him venture into economics. I would like to read it, though, if he did.

fundamentalist August 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Never mind! I just googled Feser and Rothbard, as Kinsella suggested and found this: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/08/rothbard-as-philosopher.html.

I have never been impressed with Rothbard as a philosopher, but that doesn’t detract from his brilliance as an economist for me. But if Feser is right about Hume, we can lay all of the blame for Rothbard’s failure at philosophy to Hume and his errors. Hayek, Mises, Rothbard and many others took Hume’s attack on natural law at face value.

Andrew August 24, 2010 at 11:07 am
Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 11:16 am

Can someone explain to me the logical reasoning how Hoppe (or Rothbard) manage to bridge the is/ought-gap? Statements like “if otherwise, society would vanish” are at best is-statements and do not allow to conclude any ought statements

Thank you!
Cheers!

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 11:20 am

Okay, some of you seem to claim that the is/ought gap is irrelevant. But then, at best, we libertarians would be social engineers, claiming to know the truth for society and making us independent of any criticism. I fear this is the reason why we austrians are sometimes falsely labeled a “sect”. So please can someone explain how Hoppe bridges the is/ought gap, or, why the is/ought gap is irrelevant in your view.
Thanks a lot!!!
liberal greetings

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 11:25 am

Hoppes arguments convinced me for over a year, I was a hard-core libertarian. Then doubts arose and finally I dicovered some of the flaws in Hoppe’s and Rothbards reasoning. I still am very sympathetic to libertarianism. But I think we should not fall into the pretence of knowledge and asume to know the ultimate truth of ethics.
I regard Hoppe and Rothbards attempts as nice, but afterall they did more harm than good for the libertarian movement, for their dogmatism and ignorance regarding non-analytical philosophy led to the labeling of us Austrian libertarians as a “sect”
Here some critices

http://praxeology.com/downloads/Praxeology%20and%20Ethics,%20Final%20PDF,Oct.6.2008.pdf

Raynor August 24, 2010 at 11:33 am

“But then, at best, we libertarians would be social engineers, claiming to know the truth for society and making us independent of any criticism. I fear this is the reason why we austrians are sometimes falsely labeled a “sect”.”

I agree. It would be best it stop conflating political philosophy with economic science.

“I regard Hoppe and Rothbards attempts as nice, but afterall they did more harm than good for the libertarian movement, for their dogmatism and ignorance regarding non-analytical philosophy led to the labeling of us Austrian libertarians as a “sect”

Luckily for us, we have Kinsella here to follow in their footsteps.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Raynor:

I don’t understand your last comment about Kinsella. I actually agree with Kinsella (and Hume) that you cannot derive an ought (i.e. “property rights are to be respected allways”) from an is-statement (i.e.”if property-rights are not respected, society will vanish” – this might be true economically, but has no value for our question here)

And by the way: all the analytical syllogisms that try to prove an objective ethics seem to base implicitally on other assumptions such as “life is good per se”. But the mere fact that living things seek to survive does not prove that life is of any objective value. It has only value for an observer/actor. Ethics , in my view, is purely subjective and we cannot constuct an objective ethics.
However, antropology and evolutionary science have shown that men naturally develop certain ethics and moral behaviours in order to survive. Yet this is a mere fact and does not prove that man ought(!) to follow any ethics

exile August 24, 2010 at 1:58 pm

You don’t understand Hoppe’s theory apparently. It doesn’t tell you that you ought to do anything. It also doesn’t really matter that you argue for a socialist “ethic” irrationally. When it matters is that you kill someone (or some other form of rights violation) then want to argue that the same can’t be done to you. Good luck trying to overcome that little performative contradiction thing.

Seattle August 25, 2010 at 1:40 am

And if your personal moral function puts your actions at a special status, and other people happen to agree? That’s how the state gets away with it.

tralphkays August 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I could not care less about AE, but the concept of ‘self ownership’ is a serious corruption of all of the terms used to describe it, and is an attack on private property rights. The proponents of ‘self ownership’ jump back and forth over the question of the ‘mind-body’ dichotomy as a way to confuse the issues. Note that they fall back to the position that a person owns their body when the impossibility of owning ones ‘self’ is established. They ignore that this position necessarily involves postulating a ‘self’ that is seperate from the ‘body’, a dubious philosophical proposition indeed. This is also a contradiction of their claim that owner and property can be the same entity, owning ones ‘body’ seperates the ‘self’ that does the owning from the ‘body’ that is owned. The ‘mind-body’ dichotomy is a red herring and adds nothing to the discussion. Their argument hinges on corrupting the meaning of concepts in such a way as to make them meaningless. Defining ‘owning’ as having exclusive right to use something does not suffice either, the word ‘use’ implies a ‘user’, just as the word ‘act’ implies an ‘actor’. Unifying the ‘act’ and the ‘actor’ as a single concept destroys a valuable distinction. Postulating ‘property’ that can also be ‘owner’ is likewise a corruption of the concepts. By definition some thing that is property cannot ‘own’ anything, if it did ‘own’ something then it could not in turn be ‘owned’. Self ownership means that the self is property, being property it cannot own anything, a complete contradiction. People are not property, people create the concept of property and apply it to their world.

exile August 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I’ve seen nonsense like this before. Just curious, how do you justify retaliation when someone harms your body without considering your body “property”?

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Let’s turn that question on its head. Why does the body have to be considered property in order to justify retaliation/restitution when somebody harms it?

exile August 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm

I would ask you for a definition of property, but I am aware you struggle with that.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Care to answer the question, or are you content to keep on dodging? Peter makes a good point. If Mr. Smith assaults Mr. Jones, why does Mr. Jones have to justify retaliation/restitution by defining his own body as property in order to do the same to Mr. Smith?

exile August 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Ironically, nobody has yet answered my question. The whole point of any ethico-legal system is justifying punishment, so it is just absurd to claim the right to exclude others from or retaliate to aggression yet refuse to assign the word “ownership”.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 7:15 pm

“…it is just absurd to claim the right to [...] retaliate to aggression yet refuse to assign the word “ownership”.”

This is only true if all political rights boil down to property rights. That’s a big claim, and it seems to me that the burden is on you to prove that this is so. What if the right to retaliate has nothing to do with “property” or “ownership” in certain instances?

exile August 24, 2010 at 7:35 pm

There’s copious amounts already written regarding your request, and you are a known habitual non-link-reader and anti-libertarian. The burden is on anyone involved in serious discussion to read citations (google Kinsella’s What Libertarianism Is for example), but it is obvious that you will not do so and be able to create valid arguments.

Speculate all you want that “the right to retaliate has nothing to do with “property” or “ownership” in certain instances”. It seems patently absurd to me, but feel free to show an actual example!

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 8:51 pm

“…you are a known habitual non-link-reader and anti-libertarian.”

I don’t read links because I don’t have the time or the inclination to read reams and reams of tendentious bullshit. Referring me to links tells me that you are incapable of arguing the position for yourself. Claiming that another has the obligation of reading reams of links is simply a way of trying to win a debate by overloading your opponent. Can’t you argue for what you believe by yourself?

As for being anti-libertarian; bullshit. I am a libertarian. I’m just not an anarchist, nor any form of objectivist (small ‘o’; meaning a believer that values can be proven objectively true or false).

“The burden is on anyone involved in serious discussion to read citations (google Kinsella’s What Libertarianism Is for example)…”

Hahahahaha!!!!! Stephan Kinsella is most certainly not somebody I consider an authority on “What Libertarianism Is”. Sorry.

“Speculate all you want that “the right to retaliate has nothing to do with “property” or “ownership” in certain instances”. It seems patently absurd to me, but feel free to show an actual example!”

Vito smacks me across the kneecaps with a baseball bat. I claim I have the right to restitution or retaliation. Why should I have to prove that I “own myself”, before I can claim this right? It seems to me that the burden here is on you.

Peter Surda August 24, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Why should you have to justify it? If there is no reason to object to person A hurting person B, why should there be objections for person B hurting person A back? In other words, why should different rules apply to each situation? Personally I consider the approach of self-ownership to be the most accurate, I just don’t want to use faulty logic to defend it.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm

“Personally I consider the approach of self-ownership to be the most accurate…”

I wouldn’t care one way or another, except for the problem case of a person selling himself into slavery. To me, a libertarian society that condones slavery, even voluntary slavery, is prima facie absurd, and if self-ownership implies voluntary slavery, then I consider this a reductio ad absurdem refutation of the concept of self-ownership. For that reason, I find the concept of “unalienability” to be useful here.

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Russ,

I had a few issues with the same thing until I read the following wonderful article by Stephen Kinsella:
http://mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_2.pdf

Put simply, all title transfers can be explained as mutual-abandonment contracts. I will place my property in your possession and abandon it if you place your property in my possession and abandon it. Once abandoned, the item becomes the property of the next “first” possesser of it, in this case the other party to the contract because the property was strategically abandoned for that purpose.
All issues of alienability disappear because it is impossible to abandon your body while you still occupy it.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Like I said, the issue wouldn’t bother me at all if it weren’t for the possibility of “voluntary slavery”. Granted, some interpretations of self-ownership explain how “voluntary slavery” is not permissible. The problem is, not everybody will buy into these interpretations, and will thus think that libertarianism sanctions “voluntary” slavery. And if it sanctions slavery, what won’t it sanction?

I understand the appeal of the concept of self-ownership; 1) it appeals to the monist in people, by unifying all libertarianism in one concept, and 2) it throws the property rights/human rights dichotomy in the faces of socialists by making all human rights derive from property rights. But I don’t see why it is absolutely necessary that the right to life must be derived from a form of property right. It seems to me, in fact, that the right to life must come first, to justify property rights.

Jay Lakner August 26, 2010 at 8:10 am

“Like I said, the issue wouldn’t bother me at all if it weren’t for the possibility of “voluntary slavery”.”

Well Stephan has destroyed that possibility completely by explaining that all title-transfers are simply property-abandonment agreements.

“The problem is, not everybody will buy into these interpretations, and will thus think that libertarianism sanctions “voluntary” slavery.”

That is not an argument.
That’s like saying that there is a problem with the non-aggression principle because some people might interpret it to mean pacifism. Or there is a problem with advocating non-interventionism because some people might interpret it as isolationism.
When people make these false interpretations, the solution is to educate them, not change the entire principle.

“But I don’t see why it is absolutely necessary that the right to life must be derived from a form of property right.”

Because human beings are a subset of the set of all scarce entities.

“It seems to me, in fact, that the right to life must come first, to justify property rights.”

Why? How?

First there are tangible entities, and human life is a subset of these. Property emerges as a result of the inherent scarcity of all tangible entities. Hence property is a result of the fundamental nature of existence.

How is it even possible to derive a concept like “right to life” from the objective reality of existence without first deriving the concept of “property”?

Bala August 28, 2010 at 2:10 am

Jay Lakner,

” First there are tangible entities, ”

No problem with this.

” and human life is a subset of these ”

I will not be one to dispute this.

” Property emerges as a result of the inherent scarcity of all tangible entities. ”

This is where, I guess, we depart. There is no “inherent” scarcity. All “scarcity” is the perception of living entities engaged in an attempt to take possession of tangible entities.

So, I see no sense in your claim

” Hence property is a result of the fundamental nature of existence. ”

Your fundamental terms are flawed. No wonder that your conclusions are erroneous as well.

Peter Surda August 28, 2010 at 2:57 am

There is no “inherent” scarcity. All “scarcity” is the perception of living entities engaged in an attempt to take possession of tangible entities.

Au contraire. Scarcity means (according to my attempts to define it), the existence of mutually exclusive options. It does not require living entities. Viruses, for example, are not considered living, but they have to deal with scarcity. Robots face the same issue.

tralphkays August 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Define what it is that considers the body to be its property first.

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 3:13 pm

tralphkays,

I’d have to disagree.

Where does it say anywhere that “property can’t own property”?
Can’t we just differentiate between different types of property?
In other words, can’t we simply say that property that undergoes complex thought processes and has the ability to communicate and make arguments may own property while all other property cannot?

As for the so-called “mind-body” dichotomy, I see no issues here. We just need to say that a collection of tangible entities arranged into the configuration of a living being that displays the abilities of complex thought, communication and argumentation is to be treated as an intelligent being. (And therefore owns itself and may own other property)

In my humble opinion, you are seeing contradictions where none exist.

tralphkays August 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Ignoring the contradictions doesn’t make them go away. Property is the word used to describe anything that is owned. Being owned necessarily eliminates the possibility of owning anything itself, else it would be free of of whatever owned it. This new use of the terms ‘property’ and ‘ownership’ fly directly in the face of these words definitions. All attempts to defend these new meanings suffer from the same contradiction, that something can both be itself and not itself at the same time.

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm

“Property is the word used to describe anything that is owned. Being owned necessarily eliminates the possibility of owning anything itself, else it would be free of of whatever owned it.”

I sense you’re getting muddled by the word “owned”.

Property is any tangible resource that one has the right to control.

We generally place things into two types of categories:
A) an entity that controls itself, and
B) an entity that cannot control itself.

I fail to see why A does not fit into the definition of property. An entity that controls itself is a tangible resource and there is something that has the right to control it – it has the right to control itself.

tralphkays August 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I sense you are getting muddled by the words “owned” and “property”. Like I said, ignoring the contradiction doesn’t make them go away. When you say “Property is any tangible resource that one has the right to control.” you are involving the exact same contradiction.

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Telling me I am ignoring a contradiction does not make it true.
I am telling you that there is no contradiction. And I have explained why.
You have not explained anything. You are just making the same assertion over and over again.
If I am contradicting myself, please specifically explain where and why.

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 5:15 pm

tralphkays,

I’ll try and make it easier for you. I’m going to break it down to fundamentals.

- Existence is composed of tangible entities.
- Some of these tangible entities act purposefully. Let’s call them “humans”.
- It is impossible for multiple humans to simultaneously use the same entity.
- If these humans choose mutual cooperation over conflict, a system needs to be devised to decide which humans may use which resources.
- This system is a “right to control” system in that it assigns each entity to a human who has that exclusive right.
- An entity which a human has the right to control is called “property”, and the language used to describe having the right to control an entity is that the human “owns” the entity.
- To determine who “owns” an entity, a process called “homesteading” is devised which assigns ownership to the earliest possesser of an entity.
- The very first entities to be homesteaded are the humans themselves, as they are tangible objects and each of them was the first “possesser” of themselves.

Now, you maintain that I’m contradicting myself. But I fail to see where my contradiction lies. Would you kindly point it out to me?

tralphkays August 24, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Jay, here are your contradictions: “- It is impossible for multiple humans to simultaneously use the same entity.” Here you talk about two seperate things, the humans, and the entities they use. That is the contradiction, every explanation so far has used the same argument, it is based on two things, and supposedly ends up with one thing. Then again you say “- An entity which a human has the right to control is called “property”, ” again you speak of two seperate things, the entity and the human. Finally, you say “- The very first entities to be homesteaded are the humans themselves, as they are tangible objects and each of them was the first “possesser” of themselves.” this statement presupposes your conclusion, it begs the question, it is a logical fallacy.

exile August 24, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Jay, action is purposeful behaviour, so it is redundant to say purposeful action. Anyhow tralphkays line of argument is ludicrous and I am glad you get it.

This article by Kinsella is really good: How We Come to Own Ourselves

http://mises.org/daily/2291

tralphkays August 24, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Using words that refer to relationships between things, to refer to a single thing is absurd, like speaking of the gravitational attraction of a single object in an otherwise empty universe.

exile August 24, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Uhh? People don’t act in a vacuum. Exchange or catallactics is not necessarily between two individuals. Read Mises on autistic exchange… I’m not sure what it is you think you are proving.

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 6:26 pm

There is no contradiction in identifying two distinctively different types of tangible entity.

A “human” is simply a tangible entity that acts purposefully.
A “non-human” is a tangible entity that does not act purposefully.

I define property as the right to control.

Yes, only humans can have the “right to control” anything. But that does not automatically imply that only non-humans have the “right to be controlled”.

Even human’s can be “controlled” by another. You can pick me up and throw me off a cliff. Humans are big chunks of tangible stuff just like non-humans. Every tangible thing in existence can have a controller.
Self-ownership simply states that the “rightful” controller of a purposefully-acting tangible entity (ie human) is itself.

There is no contradiction here.

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 6:44 pm

“Using words that refer to relationships between things, to refer to a single thing is absurd, like speaking of the gravitational attraction of a single object in an otherwise empty universe.”

Ok I see where you’re going wrong here.
Remember, property rights are exclusive rights.
So try to think about it in this way:
Self-ownership does not refer to the relationship of your own body to itself. It refers to the relationship that all other humans have to your body.

Beefcake the Mighty August 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm

T Ralph,

The term “self-ownership” is admittedly a bit nebulous, but I take it to be a short-hand (more-or-less) for signifying the control each person has over their mind and body as distinct from the control *other persons* can have over *that* mind and body (as well as the control they have over *their* minds and bodies). Other people can own me as say, a piece of meat or whatever, but only I own myself in the sense of exercising control over my corpus *as* a mind and body. Perhaps this view is no less nebulous than the one you’re opposing here, I don’t know; but I don’t see it as entailing any circularity either.

tralphkays August 24, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Thanks for finally conceding my point Jay, when you say “It refers to the relationship that all other humans have to your body.” My point has always been exactly this, nobody owns anyone, people are not property. It is however an entirely different thing to assert that there are only two possibilities, that someone else owns you, or that you own yourself. There is a third possibility, namely that people are not property, that their unique status is what gives rise to property in things, and that the question of property and ownership is one of a relationship between people (owners exclusively) and external things (property exclusively)

tralphkays August 24, 2010 at 8:28 pm

As I have been trying to point out (and as Jay affirmed), the terms “ownership” and “property” refer to relationships, and relationships require more than one. (although given the slow typing speeds of many here I suspect there are some who manage to have relations with themselves) Self ownership is akin to being able to multiply a single number, or be married all by yourself, the words lose all meaning when applied in such a fashion.

Beefcake the Mighty August 24, 2010 at 9:41 pm

“There is a third possibility, namely that people are not property, that their unique status is what gives rise to property in things, and that the question of property and ownership is one of a relationship between people (owners exclusively) and external things (property exclusively)”

This is an interesting way of viewing it, T Ralph, thanks.

Jay Lakner August 25, 2010 at 1:37 am

tralphkays,

I have not conceded any point.

As I’ve tried to point out, you have formed a misunderstanding of what “ownership” implies. You seem to think that ownership is a relationship between the owner and the thing being owned. IT IS NOT.

The relationship between an entity and an individual DOES NOT CHANGE by granting that individual property rights to that entity.
The only thing that DOES change is what others may do with that entity.
Hence there is no owner/property relationship. There is only a non-owner/property relationship.

This applies to ownership of ALL property, not just self-ownership.

Jay Lakner August 25, 2010 at 2:16 am

“This is an interesting way of viewing it, T Ralph, thanks.”

Interesting yes, but wrong. See my post above this one.

There is no contradiction to the concept of self-ownership because ownership does not describe the relationship between an owner and his property. Ownership describes the relationship between non-owners (ie everybody else) and property.
I never realised the erroneous way in which others viewed property until tralphkays explained his erroneous point of view. For that, at least, I am grateful to him.

Peter Surda August 25, 2010 at 3:33 am

Here you talk about two seperate things, the humans, and the entities they use.

It does not matter. Physical objects cannot be in two distinct states simultaneously, regardless of whether there are people involved. The “people” part comes in later, when you assume that people have free will and can make decisions. This is a two-step argument. In the first step, we establish the reality, in the second, peoples’ relationship to it. It is of course true that people are part of the reality, but I don’t see why this is relevant in this case.

tralphkays August 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Jay, interesting definition of ownership. You claim that “ownership” consists only of the non-ownership of others. Here is what you said “Hence there is no owner/property relationship. There is only a non-owner/property relationship. This applies to ownership of ALL property, not just self-ownership.” If I have no relationship at all to my property, and my ownership exists solely due to the “non-owner/property relationship” does that mean that I own all un-owned property? After all, the relationship of others to my property is identical to the relationship of others to un-owned property. As I have said before, the absurdity of “self ownership” is a logical contradiction and it is an attack on private property rights.

tralphkays August 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Jay said :”Hence there is no owner/property relationship.” This absurd statement would mean that one could “own”, period, without reference to any property. Likewise, it would mean that something could be “property” without an owner. Denying the existence of the relationship described by using words such as “ownership” and “property” destroys the meaning of these words. Using words which describe a relationship in reference to single things makes the words meaningless. Self ownership is akin to being able to multiply a single number, or be married all by yourself, the words lose all meaning when applied in such a fashion.

Jay Lakner August 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm

tralphkays,

I see you haven’t quite grasped the point I’m trying to make.

Let’s take an object X for example.

You have the ability to control X.
Now if we say you have the “right” to control X, has your relationship to X changed?
The answer is no.

Now if we say you do not have the “right” to control X, has your relationship to X changed?
If you respect this lack of control rights, then the answer is yes.

All property rights are negative rights. This means that assigning X to be your property only changes the relationship between X and all other parties who identify it as your property.

Hence you can own yourself without internal contradiction.
You have the ability to control yourself and you have the right to control yourself.
Others have the ability to control you, but they do not have the right to control you. It is their relationship to your body that has changed as a result of you declaring that you own yourself.

It is clearly nonsensical to say that the relationship between you and your body has changed as a result of declaring self-ownership because quite clearly it can’t. However, saying that you “own” yourself only changes the relationship between your body and everyone else because something they would normally have the ability to do, they no longer have the “right” to do. Whereas, in your case, something you have the ability to do (control yourself) you also have the right to do (and there is no change in your relationship to youself).

Do you follow what I’m trying to say or should I try to give a more clear example?

Jay Lakner August 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm

“If I have no relationship at all to my property, and my ownership exists solely due to the “non-owner/property relationship” does that mean that I own all un-owned property?”

You are the one you wishes to approach this subject from the standpoint of relationship. So I’m trying to work within your framework to demonstrate what is going on.

What is your relationship to an unowned resource?
You have the ability to control it.
You also have the right to control it. (Nobody owns it)
If you take possession of this resource, you then become it’s “owner”. ie it becomes your property.
What is now your relationship to this resource?
You have the ability to control it.
You also have the right to control it.
Has your relationship to this resource changed?
No.
What has changed?
The only thing that has now changed is that all other individuals, who recognise your property rights in this resource, may now no longer have the right to control this resource.

Hence acquiring “property” changes the relationship between non-owners and the property in question but does not change the relationship between the owner and this piece of property.

Jay Lakner August 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm

“This absurd statement would mean that one could “own”, period, without reference to any property. Likewise, it would mean that something could be “property” without an owner.”

You seem to have misinterpreted my meaning.
I was trying to explain that the relationship between an owner and their property is no different than that between a person and a tangible entity which is not anyone’s property. ie, Establishing “ownership” does not imply that there is now some new relationship between the owner of a tangible object and the object itself. All that it means is that the relationship between the object and all other individuals has been altered. (Given that those individuals recognise this property right)

tralphkays August 25, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Jay, you have now admitted that there is a relationship between owner and property, but earlier you said “Hence there is no owner/property relationship.” You contradict yourself, as you must with a circular concept such as self ownership. My point does not hinge on a change in the relationship, only on the existence of the relationship.

Stephan Kinsella August 25, 2010 at 8:57 pm

tralph: it is astonishing anyone would disagree with self-ownership. This has to be one of the stupidest criticisms I’ve ever heard. Self-ownership just says that you have the right to control your body, not someone else. It is just the opposite of slavery. Helloooo.

Russ the Apostate August 25, 2010 at 9:14 pm

“It [self-ownership] is just the opposite of slavery. Helloooo.”

Funny, I thought freedom was the opposite of slavery. If self-ownership is just the opposite of slavery, then why is it sometimes used to justify the idea of “voluntary slavery”, i.e. life-long indentured servitude? Helloooo.

tralphkays August 25, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Stephen, how nice of you to chime in, I was wondering what the champion of the idea that some things cannot, by their very nature, be owned would have to say about the idea that people, by their very nature, cannot be owned. I guess I know now. By the way, your criticism of my criticism certainly isn’t overflowing with brilliance.

Stephan Kinsella August 25, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Tralph: ideas are not scarce resources. That is why they are unownable. Bodies are scarce resources, so they can be owned. This is so elementary it is sad to have to point it out. The only question is: who is the owner of a person’s body? The libertarian answer is: himself (assuming he has not alienated rights to it by committing a crime). This is the opposite of slavery because it assumes people are self-owners, as opposed to being owned (even partially) by outsiders.

I address this briefly here and with derision because that’s all it deserves, and because I’ve talked about this elsewhere, e.g. in my How We Come to Own Ourselves, and What Libertarianism Is pieces, available at http://www.stephankinsella.com/publications

tralphkays August 25, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Stephen, I never said that it was because humans were not scarce that they could not be owned. Where is your proof that non-scarcity is the ONLY quality that can prevent something from being owned. You said “The only question is: who is the owner of a person’s body?”, how sad that you cannot see the age old philosophical debate over the mind-body split in that statement. Even sadder is your assumption that the only choice is ownership, and your inability to see another possibility.

Russ the Apostate August 25, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote:
“it is astonishing anyone would disagree with self-ownership. This has to be one of the stupidest criticisms I’ve ever heard.”

“This is so elementary it is sad to have to point it out.”

“I address this briefly here and with derision because that’s all it deserves..”

Wow, Stephan. I mean, I don’t agree with Ralph’s argument against self-ownership, but … damn! This is the sort of intellectual bullying we’ve come to expect from you. Is it really any wonder that some of us believe that AE is no more than a sophistic(ated) justification for saying “Anybody who disagrees with libertarianism is an irrational boob, who can be dismissed as beneath contempt”, when that is exactly how you, a believer in AE, behave? Apparently, although argumentation does require that one forego violence, it does not require civility, or require that one forego overweening arrogance. Way to represent libertarianism! You go, boooooy! OOH OOH OOH!!!

tralphkays August 26, 2010 at 12:24 am

Russ, thank you for your comment, it shows you to be a gentleman. I respect your disagreement with me, and am willing to change my own views if given good reason, but thus far I have heard only confused and contradictory arguments. I do have one little bone to pick with you, Stephens comments may be bullying, they certainly are not intellectual.

Jay Lakner August 26, 2010 at 2:55 am

tralphkays,

Are you being disingenuous? Or have you not yet grasped what I am saying?

The main problem with the way you’re thinking about this is that you treat ownership as some kind of positive right. You seem to be treating your ownership of an object to mean that gives you some kind right to that object that you previously did not have before. This is not true. Granting you the right to control an object does not change your relationship to that object because you already had the right to control that object. Granting “ownership” of an object only changes the relationship everyone else has to the object because they no longer have the right to perform actions they previously did have the right to perform.

If you find this confusing it is because you have failed to understand it.

Let me try to explain it in a different way.

All rights are rights to an action. There is no such thing as a right to an object.
If you own object X, all that means is that you have the right to perform actions that alter the integrity or momentum of object X.

If someone else owns X, and you respect their ownership of X, then you can say that your relationship to X has changed because you no longer permit yourself to perform actions that alter X. Actions you were once permitted to perform are no longer permitted.

However, if you are the owner of X then there is no change in your relationship to X because there is no change in the actions you can perform that alter X.

I don’t know how to put this more simply for you.

Saying that X is your property only has the effect of altering everyone else’s actions in relation to X. It does not alter the actions you may perform in relation to X. Hence your relationship to X does not change. It is only everyone else’s relationship to X that changes.

Hence the mind/body dichotomy does not exist for this case. You have the ability to control yourself, you have the right to control yourself, you are your own property. No contradiction in this statement exists because property rights are exclusive rights. That is, “ownership” meerly places restrictions on the actions others can perform to your body and does not in any way alter what actions your body can do to your body.

Surely by now you understand the argument I’ve put forth. If not, be honest, and I’ll try and explain it in a different way.

Jay Lakner August 26, 2010 at 4:11 am

tralphkays wrote:
“My point does not hinge on a change in the relationship, only on the existence of the relationship.”

Do you not see that if “upgrading” your relationship to an entity to “owner” makes no change whatsoever in your relationship to that entity, then the term “owner” does not in any way signify a relationship to that entity?

Bala August 26, 2010 at 5:00 am

Russ,

All I can say is WOW!!!!

Stephan Kinsella August 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

tralph:

“Stephen, I never said that it was because humans were not scarce that they could not be owned. Where is your proof that non-scarcity is the ONLY quality that can prevent something from being owned. You said “The only question is: who is the owner of a person’s body?”, how sad that you cannot see the age old philosophical debate over the mind-body split in that statement. Even sadder is your assumption that the only choice is ownership, and your inability to see another possibility.”

Frankly I don’t give a damn about the mind-body split or any of this irrelevant metaphysical nonsense. I know that bodies are scarce, and there can be contests over them. And as a libertarian, I favor the person whose body it “is” (or however you want to word it–I don’t care) being the one who has the say-so over it–not some outsider acting as his master. If you disagree with this you are no libertarian, and must favor some kind of slavery. So your quibble is what word is used to label this view–and I refuse to be drawn into a ridiculous handwringing semantical discussion about all this. It doesn’t matter.

tralphkays August 26, 2010 at 11:31 am

Jay, these are your statements in order: “Hence there is no owner/property relationship.” Then: “It is clearly nonsensical to say that the relationship between you and your body has changed as a result of declaring self-ownership because quite clearly it can’t.” And then: “Hence acquiring “property” changes the relationship between non-owners and the property in question but does not change the relationship between the owner and this piece of property.” Then finally: “Do you not see that if “upgrading” your relationship to an entity to “owner” makes no change whatsoever in your relationship to that entity, then the term “owner” does not in any way signify a relationship to that entity?” First there is no relationship, then there is, and then once again there is not. Like I said, a change in the relationship is not necessary for my point, neither does the nature of the relationship matter, only the existence of a relationship. What point is there in discussing this if you can’t choose a position and stick to it?

tralphkays August 26, 2010 at 11:42 am

Stephen, thank you for clarifying your position, I was mistakenly proceeding on the belief that the subject at hand was an attempt to logically and rationally derive a system of ethics, including property rights. I really have no problem with your faith based beliefs. I have great respect for the faiths of other people and would never use metaphysics to challenge their faith.

Jay Lakner August 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm

tralphkays,

I can clearly see why Stephan has “given up” trying to explain these things to some people. Based on the experience I’ve had with you so far, I would say his recent “hostile” comments could quite easily be justified. (I don’t know his history with you so I really can’t form an opinion on the matter. For some reason Russ can though…)

So let’s get down to the particulars…

I’VE NEVER SAID THAT OWNERSHIP SIGNIFIES A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE OWNER AND THAT WHICH IS OWNED. I HAVE BEEN VERY CLEAR ON THIS.

I have tried to point out that if an object has the title of “property”, then that does not in any way signify any relationship between yourself and the object.

Claiming an object to be your property signifies the following relationships:
- Your relationship to everyone else.
This is because you now have the right to exclude them from performing actions that alter the integrity or momentum of that object.
- The relationship of everyone else (who respect this property right) to the object.
These people do not permit themselves to perform actions they have the ability to perform.

Claiming an object to be your property does NOT signify a relationship between yourself and the object. Your relationship to the object is exactly the same as if the object was unowned. That is, the title “property” has no effect in this regard.

This is why self-ownership is NOT a contradiction. By claiming a body to be it’s own property, one is merely demonstrating that the body has the right to exclude all others from altering its integrity or momentum. There is no “relationship” being established by granting the body ownership of itelf because nothing is altered by doing this. The body had the ability to control itself and it had the right to control itself. What has changed by saying it “owns” itself? Only the relationship to other people. Not the relationship to itself.

tralphkays August 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Jay, I am sorry, but this statement baffles me :”Claiming an object to be your property does NOT signify a relationship between yourself and the object.” How is that possible? To claim something as your property you must be aware of its existence, that alone constitutes a relationship.

Jay Lakner August 26, 2010 at 1:50 pm

“To claim something as your property you must be aware of its existence, that alone constitutes a relationship.”

But the relationship is no different than if object is unowned and you are aware of its existence. “Awareness of existence” is the relationship here, not “ownership”. Just because every object you own you must also have an awareness of does not imply that every object you have an awareness of you must also own.

You have a relationship to every object in existence. Whether you personally “own” the object or not is irrelevant to this relationship.

Let’s take a simple example.

Crusoe is alone on an island. He has the ability to alter the integrity or momentum of anything he wants. He also has the right to alter the integrity or momentum of anything he wants.

Let’s say he sleeps in a cave. He does not “own” the cave because “ownership” means he has the right to exclude others from using the cave. Since no other people exist, “ownership” makes no sense.

Now Friday joins him on the island. Since both parties cannot simultaneously use (alter the integrity or momentum) of the same resource, the concept of “ownership” is required.
Crusoe informs Friday that he “owns” the cave. What does this mean? It means Crusoe now has the right to prevent Friday from using the cave. Has Crusoe’s relationship to the cave changed now that it is his property? No. He still has the exact same ability and right to the cave he had before Friday arrived. So does this “ownership” actually signify a special relationship between Crusoe and the cave? No.

So what does this ownership represent? It represents Crusoe’s relationship to Friday. (Crusoe is now justified in preventing Friday from using the cave) It also represents Friday’s relationship to the cave. (Friday knows that he cannot use the cave without Crusoe’s permission)

Crusoe also informs Friday of his (Crusoe’s) self-ownership. Once again, this does not signify a relationship between Crusoe and his own body. It only signifies a relationship between Crusoe’s body and Friday. Friday is now aware that Crusoe has the right to prevent Friday from using his (Crusoe’s) body.

tralphkays August 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Jay, once again you have contradicted yourself, you said: “Claiming an object to be your property does NOT signify a relationship between yourself and the object.” That is a very clear statement, no relationship whatever, an absolute statement. Then in your next post you say :”But the relationship is no different than if object is unowned and you are aware of its existence.” Again, a very clear statement that there is indeed a relationship. Make up your mind, and by the way, you have a lot of gall insulting me on this thread, I have patiently and politely put up with your dishonesty about your own statements.

Jay Lakner August 26, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Dishonesty??? OMG, and you say that I have “gall”.

You refuse to acknowledge the meaning behind the statements I make and try to pick at my words and show they can be interpreted otherwise.

“Jay, once again you have contradicted yourself, you said: “Claiming an object to be your property does NOT signify a relationship between yourself and the object.” That is a very clear statement, no relationship whatever, an absolute statement.”

The claim of ownership does not signify a relationship. That doesn’t mean there is no relationship between you and the object. The point is that there is no “special” relationship established by the term “ownership”. The relationship is exactly same as in the case if the object is unowned.

This is obviously my meaning. I can only interpret it as dishonesty to ignore what my meaning is and interpret it otherwise.

That is why I have been steadily become more aggressive towards you in these posts. You are purposely misinterpreting my statements. You know you’re doing it, I know you’re doing it, and hence the aggression.

It is obvious to everyone that I am not a good writer by any stretch of the imagination, but all that needs to occur is for the other party to understand what I mean. So rather than picking on the way I word things, how about addressing the argument I am making?

Jay Lakner August 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm

tralphkays,

Just on the off chance that you genuinely do no understand the argument I am making, I’m prepared to try this one more time.

As I’ve tried to point out, your error is in thinking that “owns” is a word that decribes your relationship to that which is owned. I’ve tried to explain that this is not true.

I’m going to use a simple example to explain why.

I (my body) am 3 metres from the chair.
“is 3 metres from” describes a relationship.

My body is gravitationally attracted to the chair.
“is gravitationally attracted to” decribes a relationship.

My body owns the chair.
This statement means “my body has the right to prevent other bodies from using the chair.” You can see that “owns” does not describe my relationship to the chair.

My body is 3 metres from my body.
Clearly a nonsensical assertion.

My body is gravitationally attracted to my body.
Once again nonsensical. Your body IS your body. How can it have a relationship with itself? It can’t.

My body owns my body.
This statement is not nonsensical. It means “My body has the right to prevent other bodies from using my body.”

The word “owns” does not describe your relationship to whatever you are applying it to. Hence self-ownership is not a contradictory concept.

Peter Surda August 27, 2010 at 8:29 am

tralphkays, apparently you have trouble with the concept of word’s meaning being dependent on the context.

mpolzkill August 27, 2010 at 8:53 am

What I’m seeing all over the place in these forums is some people working very hard to explain and define things and some people working very hard to misunderstand everything they say. I don’t find it to be a coincidence that the second group tends to include many members who defend some or many State actions.

tralphkays August 27, 2010 at 11:20 am

Jay, ownership is about the relationship between the owner and the thing owned, that ownership consists of the right to exclude others from using the property does not change that, in fact it defines the relationship to the property. You claim that going from using something without claiming ownership, to using it and claiming ownership results in no change in your relationship to the thing. What about the right to sell or barter this thing? That is a use that becomes possible only after I claim ownership, I cannot rightfully sell or barter anything unless I own it first. That is a change in my relationship to the property brought about by claiming ownership, but it is not the only one.

tralphkays August 27, 2010 at 11:39 am

Jay you claim that the arrival of Friday on the island does not change Crusoes relationship to the things he was previously using without owning. What about the change to Crusoes subjective valuation of the things he previously used but now owns, now that these things have an entirely new use, namely trade or barter? Would that not be a change in his relationship to these things? What about the necessity of identifying and delineating what he claims as property, isn’t that a new action in relation to these things? What about preparing himself to defend his claim of ownership relative to these things, isn’t that a change in his relationship to these things?

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm

tralphkays wrote:
“ownership is about the relationship between the owner and the thing owned, that ownership consists of the right to exclude others from using the property does not change that, in fact it defines the relationship to the property.”

I’m trying to point out that it clearly doesn’t. It only defines the relationship to other people … the people you can exclude.

tralphkays wrote:
“What about the right to sell or barter this thing? That is a use that becomes possible only after I claim ownership, I cannot rightfully sell or barter anything unless I own it first.”

“Selling” and “bartering” are actions. You can perform these actions irrespective of whether you or the other person thinks you “own” the objects in question or not.
So the first part of your second sentence above is actually false.

(actually, we have to tread carefully here because we have not agreed upon a specific definition of “selling” and “bartering”. I’m using a very general “exchange of goods” definition at the moment, but I usually define these concept far more specifically. However, it should be noted that any definition of selling or bartering that has “ownership” imbedded within it would make your argument circular)

In the second part of your sentence, you threw in the word “rightfully”.
(It was your use of this word that lead me to conclude that you were using an “exchange of goods” definition of “selling” and “bartering”)

So, in order for the first part to not be false, I’m going to assume you meant to say, “That is a use that becomes rightfully possible only after I claim ownership, …”

This is true. But this makes your argument circular.

“Ownership” grants you the exclusive “right” to control an object. Therefore, you cannot “rightfully” perform any action that alters the integrity or momentum of an object. Selling and bartering are actions that alter the integrity or momentum of objects.
So arguing that ownership is a relationship on the basis that it makes things rightfully possible to do that weren’t rightfully possible before is cirulcar reasoning because, by definition, ownership is the very thing that defines what is considered right and not right.

tralphkays wrote:
“That is a change in my relationship to the property brought about by claiming ownership”

So as you can see from my above reasoning, no it is not a change in your relationship to the object.

May I also suggest that you please be careful with your use of the word “property”. I know you meant “object” or “entity” in the above sentence (otherwise the sentence makes no sense!), but this may not always be so clear.

tralphkays wrote:
“Jay you claim that the arrival of Friday on the island does not change Crusoes relationship to the things he was previously using without owning. What about the change to Crusoes subjective valuation of the things he previously used but now owns, now that these things have an entirely new use, namely trade or barter?”

But they do not have a “new” use. The only way they can have a new use is if “ownership” is embedded in the definition of this “new” use. But that makes the argument circular. (see above)
I address trade and barter above, however I would like to add that the new ability to
exchange objects with Friday does not alter your relationship to the objects, it only alters your relationship to Friday (which previously didn’t exist).

tralphkays wrote:
“What about the necessity of identifying and delineating what he claims as property, isn’t that a new action in relation to these things?”

Nope. He could have done that before it was even his property. For example he could have ran scenario’s through his head well before Friday arrived and asked himself “if someone else gets stranded on this island, what do I absolutely need to keep?”

tralphkays wrote:
“What about preparing himself to defend his claim of ownership relative to these things, isn’t that a change in his relationship to these things?”

Nope. Once again, he could have done that before the stuff was his property.

My compliments on your attempts. But given that “ownership” is a right to exclude, I don’t see how it’s even possible to produce an example where the title of “ownership” to an entity makes any change to your relationship to that entity.

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Jay Lakner wrote:
“the new ability to exchange objects with Friday does not alter your relationship to the objects, it only alters your relationship to Friday (which previously didn’t exist).”

Re-reading my post, I see that I mucked up this bit. My apologies.

What I meant to say was:
The new ability to exchange objects with Friday is due to Friday’s presence. Yes you now have new actions available to you and hence your relationship to objects has changed, but this change is not due to these objects having the title “property”. It is due to the presence of another human.
That is, Friday’s arrival to the island is what changed your relationship to the objects, not your assigning these objects the title of “property”.

Stephan Kinsella August 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Tralph, who is “Stephen”? And to equate any value or beliefs with “faith” is just confused.

Jesse Forgione August 25, 2010 at 7:59 am

tralphkays,

“Owning” something is the exclusive right to control it.

You own yourself, not because you are “property” but because you are always the one directing your own actions.

If the idea of homesteading is confusing you, then think of it like this:

Private property is only the logical alternative to violence. In other words, non-violence means recognizing property rights.

Assume no property, i.e., that everyone has an equal claim on any object. That means that A may take what is in B’s possession without his agreement, and B may take it back without A’s (like animals).

Obviously in that situation, might makes right, and whoever is better at violence and theft will gain possession of the object concerned.

To the extent that I refrain from violence, I do not attempt to control what another already controls. Including when the object is “himself.”

james b. longacre August 28, 2010 at 5:11 am

“It is impossible for multiple humans to simultaneously use the same entity.”

can an entity be a pattern…of images,sounds etc??? if i press play at the same time you do to play the same sound pattern would that be simulaneoulsy using a same entity??

exile August 24, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Maybe you are struggling with the difference between direct control (blinking one’s own eyes) and indirect control (property in external things).

Again, how do you justify retaliation for someone interfering with the physical integrity of your body without the concept of self-ownership?

tralphkays August 24, 2010 at 4:19 pm

with the concept of self.

exile August 24, 2010 at 4:23 pm

You are trying to nix the part about having legitimate control over a physical thing (the body), i.e. the “ownership” part, though. Why wouldn’t I then have a say in all of the other things I don’t have legitimate control over?

tralphkays August 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Jay in regards to this: “Nope. He could have done that before it was even his property. For example he could have ran scenario’s through his head well before Friday arrived and asked himself “if someone else gets stranded on this island, what do I absolutely need to keep?” Are you saying that imagining something is the same as actually doing it?

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Ok you seem to have replied in the wrong spot …

But anyway.

The actions that involve the identifying and delineating what he claims as property can be done regardless of whether they are his property or not. His relationship to the objects has not changed. If we now say the objects are his property, this does not in anyway describe his relationship to those objects. It only describes his relationship to other people, specifically the actions he can prevent other people from performing.

tralphkays August 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Jay, I think I understand your points now, that is a very nice construct you have there, meaningless, but very nice. I see the attraction.

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

If you consider them meaningless then you clearly do not understand my points.

Your entire argument, that self-ownership is a logical contradiction, rests on the premise that “ownership” describes a relationship to the “owned “object.

If you could logically demonstrate this to me, then I would change my views and start arguing side by side with you against the concept.

However you have not done this.

As I have explained, “Ownership” gives you exclusive rights, ie they do nothing more than justify your ability to prevent other people from performing actions.

Thus, I have demonstrated that the fundamental definition of “ownership” does not describe your relationship to the “owned” object in question.

Hence, self-ownership is not a contradiction.

james b. longacre August 28, 2010 at 5:15 am

could one disown their fingers while attatched to their hand??

fundamentalist August 24, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I wasn’t aware of the long debates between Feser and anarcho-capitalists over Rothbard’s and Hoppe’s ethics. I caught up a little surfing the net today. I come down on Feser’s side of the debate. I can understand the desire to provide libertarianism with an ethical base, but I think Rothbard and Hoppe go far off course, and like Feser I think they make a number of mistakes. Unfortunately, followers of Rothbard and Hoppe want to declassify as libertarian anyone who disagree with them. I’m not sure why their goal is to exclude all but the most ideologically pure. It seems that their goal is to be as small as possible in numbers. Which is fine.

But I will continue to call myself a libertarian, as Mises and Hayek were, even though I don’t agree with the “ethics” of Rothbard and Hoppe.

exile August 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

“but I think Rothbard and Hoppe go far off course”

How?

fundamentalist August 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Primarily in making property an absolute. Even if you agree with their justification for property based on self-ownership, that does not require that property be absolute. That’s an unjustified leap in logic.

The is/ought problem only exists if one tries to discern oughts from what is. If that is the only option, then clearly one will fail to derive ought from any is that isn’t arbitrary. What Feser writes is that is/ought never was the option in natural law. Natural law discovers purpose and determines ought from purpose. A trivial example is that one ought to use a hammer to drive nails and not pull teeth.

A good intro to Feser’s natural law is is paper “Classical Natural Law Theory, Property Rights, and Taxation” at http://philpapers.org/rec/FESCNL. Separately, the book “Natural Law and the Theory of Property: Grotius to Hume” by Stephen Buckle.

exile August 24, 2010 at 4:04 pm

I don’t understand what it might mean to not “make property an absolute”. Read Hoppe’s 4 Critical Replies on “is statements”.

Peter Surda August 24, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Primarily in making property an absolute.

I haven’t read Hoppe so I am not sure if I’m interpreting this correctly, but in a way property is always absolute. No matter how you define the rules, they need to explain who’s claim is legitimate for all each possible situation.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm

@especially to EXILE:

Hoppe’s claim that anyone who engages in a debate has to [an ought-statement] accept the “no-agression-rule” is quite flawed anyways.

First objection It is obvious that one can argue with your oponent and still say
nobody possesses any rights. If someone were to say: “You cannot argue
that this natural right doesn’t exist, for if you do so, you
yourself wouldn’t have these rights and I could kill you in an instante.” Well, I
would simply reply , “yes I can argue so I just did” and thus I had argued.

I will explain why the whole word-play-logic of Hoppe is nonsene: it is similar to a situation in which three people are in the basket of a baloon that is about to crash. The balloon is too
heavy and one argues: “We are too many here, someone needs to go”. If Hoppe was in the basket, his claim would be: “You cannot argue that we are too many in the balloon, since the fact that you are still in our basket presupposes that it is just right with the three of us in here”. In other words: the presence of the one claiming that the basket is too heavy “contradicts” that one’s own claim, for obviously, if that person is still alive in the basket , they are not too many.
This is what Hoppe’s “logic” is all about. It is static (doesn’t include philosophy of paradoxa, system thinking and alike) and it is trapped in mere wordplay leading nowhere.

Second Objection: If natural rights are deduced from the ability to
argue, than deaf-mutes or otherwise disabled persons, insane people and
even very young babies would not possess such rights. Since even if “in
principle” humans are able to argue, “in principle” these disabled people are certainly not
able to argue. At least not more than any other mammal is able to argue.
In fact, someone needs to proof where exactly lies a difference between
insane humans and smart animals. As I fear, such a line is only drawable
if one sticks to religious natural law. Rothbard and Hoppe themselves tried to avoid such things…

Third objection: the libertarian principles proposed by Rothbard and Hoppe would lead to a society in which families would be forbidden!! Look, if individuals possess natural rights independently of culture then it would be illegal for parents to “govern” their children. Any interaction must be voluntary in a libertarian world. This leaves little room for parent-child-relationships. A father educating his son would be a criminal (even if he didnt use force, a mere taking of the child’s toy would be considered robbery)

exile August 24, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Hoppe’s claim that anyone who engages in a debate has to [an ought-statement] accept the “no-agression-rule” is quite flawed anyways.

Cite where he says that someone “has to accept” the NAP. I remember him mentioning how someone’s ability to argue that 2+2=5 does not make it so, so I’m pretty sure you are just off-base with this.

First objection It is obvious that one can argue with your oponent and still say
nobody possesses any rights. If someone were to say: “You cannot argue
that this natural right doesn’t exist, for if you do so, you
yourself wouldn’t have these rights and I could kill you in an instante.” Well, I
would simply reply , “yes I can argue so I just did” and thus I had argued.

Arguing by itself doesn’t have to take place in the context of a conflict over scarce things, so every instance of argument isn’t necessarily of legal interest. When you’ve been found to have murdered, you can’t make a coherent logical argument against retaliation, at least within a legal schema where “murder is wrong”.

It is static (doesn’t include philosophy of paradoxa, system thinking and alike) and it is trapped in mere wordplay leading nowhere.

Your balloon scenario makes no sense. Please include these things in an ethical theory and show why it is superior.

Re. #2: The term “natural rights” just creates confusion because of all the different ways it can be used. Anyways, the deaf objection is invalid because there are obviously non-verbal forms of communication.

#3 I won’t even get into, but I will just say that you are wrong on that too. =)

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 4:23 pm

again to exile:
you asked me where Hoppe brings forward an ought-statement: well, as I understand it, he tries to claim “noone who engages in an argument should be allowed to use force/agression” This, to me, is an ought-statement. Then he derives claims like governments should not exist, because they use agression. To me again ought-statements.
He tries to “deduce” his principal claim (the no-agression-rule) from mere facts or tautologies of verbal logic (is-statements). This, to me, is an unjustified bridging of the is-ought-gap.
But please, first, answer my objections above.

Thanks a lot

Allen Weingarten August 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm

I agree with Hoppe and Rothbard, that denying that humans act (or think) is a fundamental contradiction. However, I do not follow why this necessitates an ‘ought’. Suppose someone says something contradictory, and is pleased to do so. Even if this results in his death, he can counter with “I am pleased to die (or I want to pretend otherwise).” On what basis can we claim that someone cannot want to be contradictory, or wish to die?

My code, and heritage, oblige me to avoid contradiction and death. However, that is on the basis of certain presuppositions, rather than on the non-contradictory nature of logic.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Thanks for trying to answer my objections. Please read again my baloon-scenario and compare it to Hoppe: Hoppe claims it is a contradiction to argue “there is no natural right telling me not to attack others”, since the fact that I argue prooves that I accept the no-agression-principle.
My objection is: you can argue the above statement and still not(!) accept the no-agression-rule or even be a total socialist.

Okay, but please get into my points 2 and 3 they are actually more important. If you say that there are other ways for communicating , I would reply : granted! But then, natural right cannot be limited to humans, since animals certainly communicate!!!!! Hoppe’s claim rested on verbal communication, this is how he limits natural rights to humans. If you say, that in order to apply it to babies and disabled, the mere fact of non-vernal communication is enough, then how can exclude animals from having natural rights???? I think this shows where Hoppe’s argument leads to… : inconsistencies

@3:
here the same: what about children? Are they property of the parents or self-owners. If one or the other, what objective fact/principle leads to a shift from one state to the other? i.e. at what age does one own oneself and why is that scientifically proven to be objective? To me, libertarianism fails if applied to reality just in simple cases like families and child-treatment

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Why is it not possible to regard people with the inability to communicate as “non-human”?
Why do we have to regard a 1 year old baby as human?
A 1 year old doesn’t act purposefully. It is possible to devise a system whereby the parents (more notably, Mothers) “own” their child until they reach, say, four years old (or 6 or 10 or whatever abitrary number desired). After that the child is classified as “human”.
This is really an extension of the abortion argument.
Life begins at conception. Life external-to-another-being begins at birth.
But maybe the question we should be asking is not when “life” begins, but when does “humanity” begin? At what point in a child’s development do we regard them as now “acting purposefully”?

Many people would consider the above reasoning as an invalidation of AE. But is it really? Would a world where children are the property of their parents until age 10 really be so horrifyingly bad? Different, yes. Maybe repugnent to many. But then again, maybe not. I own my cat, but I don’t treat it cruelly. In fact, it has a much better life with me as its owner than it would out in the wild. There is much to consider on this topic but the first step is to throw out all your preconceived notions of how your believe things “should” be. I think most people are not capable of doing this.

(I’m just throwing the point out there for people to consider)

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 4:50 pm

all right, i agree, in reality it is a matter of degree and consent. This is actually my point , I want to highlight that it is not possible to construct any objective ethics like hoppe and rothbard want to build and then prescribe humantiy. Instead humans act morally anyways and it is culture, not science, that establishes the different degrees of ethical categories: property, freedom, rights, ectetera, these categories are not objectively natural but created and given by society.
Oh, but one objection: you say only humans act purposefully. I would strongly disagree: animals act purposefully as well, at least just as any baby or mentally disabled human does. the distincion, again, is purely cultural: we feel weird or strange, if compared to animals, for our culture does not like that. but the facts position us much closer to animal behaviour than some of us would like.

exile August 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Surely a “Hayekian” would have read Mises as well on what “separates men from beasts”. Now you are just grasping at straws.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 4:59 pm

okay, if that is so simple to you then answer: what seperates human from animals/beasts? (pleaso no religious answer like “we are created in the image of god”

exile August 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Read Human Action. There’s a pretty good answer within.

Hint: it isn’t about the image of god (but nice semi-strawman)

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm

“you say only humans act purposefully”

I never said this.

A prerequisite for being human is the ability to act purposefully. But that does not imply that everything that acts purposefully must be human.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Granted! ;) but then, any natural right theory that rests on the notion of “action” has to apply to animals also. There I see a contradiction in the Praxeological approach to ethics. If I rest my ethical theory on action and if I further assert that non only humans act, than any law that I conclude has to apply by necessity also to other acting beings. and if animals act(they do), then they would have rights. I think this leads into the absurd… Am I the only one seeing it here :) ?

Jay Lakner August 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Sure the line between purposeful action and non-purposeful action is ultimately arbitrary, however let’s ignore this for the mean time.

Purposeful action is not the only prerequisite for “rights” to emerge.
Communication is the other key ingredient.

Property rights cannot come into existence without mutual cooperation.
In order for cooperation to occur, some level of communication must also occur.

If acting being A meets acting being B and they both wish to utilise resource X, then there are 4 possible outcomes.
1. Both A and B prefer conflict over X more than cooperation.
2. A prefers conflict while being B does not.
3. B prefers conflict while A does not.
4. Both A and B prefer cooperation over conflict.

1 leads to a physical confrontation. The winner gets X. Survival of the fittest.
2 leads to A gaining X via coercion.
3 leads to B gaining X via coercion.
4 leads to A and B developing a system of “rights”.

If A and B are incapable of communicating, then outcome 4 cannot possibly occur.
The smarter animals, even if they did sufficiently “act purposefully”, still have not bridged the communication barrier with humans. Until such time occurs, animals cannot possibly have any real rights.

exile August 24, 2010 at 4:51 pm

“noone who engages in an argument should be allowed to use force/agression”

Hoppe claims it is a contradiction to argue “there is no natural right telling me not to attack others”

Maybe you should read Hoppe and cite directly, rather than misinterpreting him to suit your “argument”. Hoppe isn’t saying one has to accept any certain value structure. If you value your own “sanctity of life”, though, then you can’t coherently argue a socialist ethic. Unless you get this, there is really no point in me bothering with anything else you have to say on this.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm

exile: the whole consistently point is what i mean: you say, i cannot consistently claim to be a socialist and at the same time argue, for arguing would presuppose the right of each one of us to own his body right? but I do argue so! reality proves Hoppe wrong all the time. It is(!) possible to argue that way. It might be logically inconsistent, but this only applies to analytical logic in the aristotelian sense.
Get familiar with paradoxes, eastern logic, the law of the included middle, and such. There is more in philosophy than rothbard and hoppe. Again, I was a strong defender of hoppe my self for a long time, since a philosopher-friend opened my eyes.

exile August 24, 2010 at 5:03 pm

You can argue, but not coherently. Again, you can’t overcome the problem of performative contradiction. I’ve read plenty of philosophy away from mises.org. All you are doing is name-dropping and can’t say what specifically I don’t understand and why.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 5:10 pm

okay then in a nutshell: you agree that I can argue so, but you insist that such arguing would be contradictive. This is only true statically, i.e. within the defined system of the words we use for that proposition. If we accept circumstances and degrees than it is not contradictory anymore. Other authors have dealt with that (I think even here on mises org they critizised the flawed logic of Hoppe, I will try to look it up). But lets go to the core: if you say I contradict myself, okay. Even if this would be true, what then? What have you shown with that? You seem to try to derive derive an ought statement from that, am I correct? The whole purpose of Hoppe and your arguments seems to be establishing libertarianism, i.e. to construct ought-statements such as “you shall not steal, you shall not murder”. These ought statements derive from your logic, right? If not, why would you argue with me? And I merely say there you should be very very humble and careful. If you show me what sentences contradict themselves, you have not proven the NAP to be true, not at all! Arguing does not rest on the NAP- in fact most people only accept it partially, i.e. a discussion goes on as long as both can agree to the circumstances. if there is unequal balance of strenght or power, discussion is often seized and even replaced by violence. it all depends, nothing objective here

exile August 24, 2010 at 6:04 pm

okay then in a nutshell: you agree that I can argue so, but you insist that such arguing would be contradictive. This is only true statically, i.e. within the defined system of the words we use for that proposition. If we accept circumstances and degrees than it is not contradictory anymore.

Do you understand what I mean by “not able to coherently argue”? I don’t understand what you mean by “only true statically” or “accept circumstances and degrees”. If you want to define “coherent” as “illogical”, maybe your argument works. That definition doesn’t seem as useful as the normal one though. Isn’t language fun?

Other authors have dealt with that (I think even here on mises org they critizised the flawed logic of Hoppe, I will try to look it up).

Yeah, you really need to do better than just claiming people have flawed logic.

But lets go to the core: if you say I contradict myself, okay. Even if this would be true, what then? You seem to derive an ought statement from that, am I correct? Since the whole purpose of Hoppe and your arguments is to establish libertarianism, i.e. to construct ought-statements such as “you shall not steal, you shall not murder”. These ought statements derive from your logic. And I say there you should be very very humble and careful

All I really get from your incoherence is that you can’t craft valid theory (and maybe I get bored discussing things with you). If you understand praxeology vs. thymology it is easier to see why there is no ought being derived. Consider this analogy:

economic theory (a la Mises):econometrics::praxeological legal theory:libertarian jurisprudence

Recognizing that a certain means is best suited for achieving a given end, doesn’t mean I ought to not engage in using a fiat currency. A praxeological legal theory sits nicely besides Austrian economics, just we are dealing with involuntary transactions. The two reaffirm each other in the vision of the totality of human action.

Nothing Hoppe says tells me I ought not to steal. My thymological understanding of the character of other human beings (that they might devise ways of protecting their belongings or a legal code prescribing a certain type of punishment for theft) leads to my judgement on whether to steal or not. The continual process of decivilization arising from statism and civil legislation is due, in part, to people clinging superstitiously to outmoded forms of societal organization. It’s only IF you value peace and prosperity, THEN you do such and such.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 5:30 pm

I have read Human action twice, the problem is that Mises wrote it before modern cognitive science and complexity theory was developed. Therefore, his good arguments in the first section of Human action are unsatisfying. He does not establish a distinction between humans and animals that could be valid still. In fact, mises himself was quite more humble than the mises institute and rothbard was. mises talked about a developing or evolving conciousness and the possibility of other mental states as well. he left room for other acting beings (be it extraterrestrials or future humanoids)

exile August 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm

More pointless term-dropping from you, yawn. I would ask how modern cognitive science, complexity theory, or the possibility of extra-human intelligence, or what that would even have to do with anything I said, but I am not interested.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm

that seems to be representative for rothbardians. I almost feel ashame having called me the same thing for quite a while. The point in a nutshell: action is defined as purposeful behaviour. Well, humans act and animals certainly do as well. in fact, humans do not act only based on reason, but mostly on instinct and pathdepending routines or “algorithms”, this is what cognitive science and complexity theory has shown. the distinction between human action and dog action is one of degree not of category. therefore my chalange: why giving rights to men and not to dogs? the fact that you avoid an answer lets me guess you dont have one. I repeat , it is a very simple question: why giving rights to men, based on natural law and not to dogs? I fear that decision to reserve rights to men is quite arbitrary and cannot be established scientifically.

exile August 24, 2010 at 6:17 pm

LOL, I’m done here. Get back to me when you solve the human action algorithm and can predict behaviour.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 6:22 pm

this is ignorant. do you think the climate has conciousness? has the climate free will? no? why not? well, we cannot predict it.
it is similar with humans: we cannot predict individual behaviour , but there are patterns. it is complex but nonetheless determined. just as the climate is determined and complex, thus unpredictable. the climate has no free will. the humans seem to have the illusion of free will.

but anyways. you seem to avoid answers. a simple one: give me what you consider to be the characteristic that distinguishes man from animal

Beefcake the Mighty August 24, 2010 at 7:53 pm

“in fact, humans do not act only based on reason, but mostly on instinct and pathdepending routines or “algorithms”, this is what cognitive science and complexity theory has shown. the distinction between human action and dog action is one of degree not of category.”

Well, cognitive science and “complexity theory” (whatever that is) can only be said to show this if the very thing in dispute is assumed: that human action is nothing more than a correlate of observed biological motions. Otherwise the results of cognitive science (on this particular question) are unintelligible.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm

in order to boosten our discussion (we came away from the main topic a bit), let me ask two simple questions:

1) is Hoppe not trying to prove that it is scientifically wrong to engage in agression against someone’s property?

2) if so, how does he arrive to it without falling into the is-ought-trap?

I have read hoppe some years ago in german (I am german myself), so I know his argumentes, but I want to hear them from you in few-line syllogisms, for if it is not possible to sum up his view in such syllogism, it is not good logic. And furthermore, any argument that needs 100 pages to be understood well is dangerous for apriori reasoning. for there is too much room for possible flaws along the way. My opinion: he has never achieved to logically prove his claim and only hides that fact in insulting writing. THat is a pity because hoppe is a smart guy, but he discredited the austrian school with his style unfortunately

exile August 24, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Maybe you ought to just read Hoppe and quote him accurately, then try to muster up just one sentence that is a coherent argument against what he actually says instead of attacking strawmen you’ve erected and moaning about “insulting writing” and “his style”.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I have “Eigentum, Anarchy und Staat” in my hands here. There he claimed what I just said. Maybe he had abandoned his ideas for the english version, I dont know. But then, tell me what do you think? does hoppe try to establish a normative rule such as “noone should violate property rights of someone else?” I think he does, this is the only reason why he is able to claim that government is bad anyways. I give you an example of what I mean:

Proposition 1: In order to argue, people first need to agree the principle of non-agression, for argumentation is not argumentation if done by force

Proposition 2: Any scientist is arguing

Conclusion: there cannot exist something like value-free science. In fact, each scientist tacitly agrees to Proposition 1. The reason for that is Proposition 2.

Futher deduction: if any scientist who argues tacitly agrees to the non-agression principle, then it is a universal principal. Then, the state is just as crime against the universal principle. The state and crimes are “bad”, “unnatural” “scientifically wrong” etcetera.

I told you why this is flawed, but correct me, where my syllogism is incorrect. Please show me a better syllogism that actually proofs any ethical statement

exile August 24, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Proposition 1: In order to argue, people first need to agree the principle of non-agression, for argumentation is not argumentation if done by force

You are ridiculous. Cite where Hoppe says this (in English). You are just misstating what Hoppe has actually written in order to satisfy your fantasy argument.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 6:18 pm

no, please you do it. what is hoppe then saying? that should be easy, right?

exile August 24, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Are you having trouble using google to find his website? I’ve read him and understand his argument and know that you are utterly confused and misrepresenting it. If you are going to make claims, you need to back them up. Welcome to the big leagues.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm

i thought you have read hoppe yourself, but fine, you like making me upset ;) for you, i found a passage in three seconds supporting my posts from above:

“For only if everyone is free from physical aggression by everyone else could anything
first be said and then agreement or disagreement on anything
possibly be reached. The principle of nonaggression is thus the necessary
precondition for argumentation and possible agreement and
hence can be argumentatively defended as a just norm by means of a
priori reasoning.” ( http://mises.org/books/economicsethics.pdf , p.13)

So now it is your turn please to tell me: wasn’t I right the whole time saying that Hoppe makes a normative claim here?????????????????????? ;))

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 6:40 pm

http://www.anti-state.com/article.php?article_id=311

Here you see hoppes argument destroyed by austrian libertarians. That showed me to be humble: i was convinced of hoppes argument for a long time and than, puff, i realized he was wrong. imagine how much harm can be brought to society by philosophers claiming to have the truth apriori and then changing society.
afterall libertarian natural righters are not better than any other social engineers group. in my eyes even more harmful as they think they have the truth apriori and for always. Once and for all: i was one of you guys but i was scared. please read that article. it seems you do not count my words, so maybe you do count words from other austrians.
i persoanlly got depressed when i realized we know little, very little or even nothing. it is difficult to realize this. but better you begin early with that. dont become dogmatic like too many bitter libertarians … good night ;) here it is getting late

exile August 24, 2010 at 6:47 pm

“The principle of nonaggression IS thus the necessary precondition for argumentation and possible agreement and hence can be argumentatively defended as a just norm by means of a priori reasoning.”

Notice the big ‘ole IS in the IS statement. From this fact we can also say that a socialist ethic cannot be defended [coherently] as a just norm by means of a priori reasoning. Again, this does not mean you can’t babble on about 2+2 equaling 5 and not face reality (as you continually prove). All we really see is the fact that an Apriorische Rechtslehre (you said you speak German eh?) is possible to conceive of using libertarian ethics and impossible using socialist ethics. Nobody is telling you that you OUGHT to stop practicing bad science.

exile August 24, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Also, AFAIK Murphy/Callahan never responded to Kinsella’s response Defending Argumentation Ethics.

http://www.anti-state.com/article.php?article_id=312

Beefcake the Mighty August 24, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Murphy and Callahan are either too stupid or too dishonest to realize that many of their arguments in that paper can easily be applied to *any* form of liberalism, including the libertarianism they claim to support (or, at least in Callahan’s case, used to support).

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 2:16 am

Exactly! this is the crucial point! the criticism can indeed be applied to any liberalism or even to any belief system or ideology. but is this really an argument against their critique? i began to wandering after those arguments, since the only claim i heard of my fellow libertarians was that such critique could aplly to anything. Well, if so then there is only one solution: libertarianism is just as any political doctrine dependent on consensual definitions and it is only correct within that defined boundaries of the system leaving the “noise” (inconstistencies) aside. THis is what socialists do and what libertarians do.

@ Is- Ought. :
“The principle of nonaggression IS thus the necessary precondition for argumentation and possible agreement and hence[!!!]>strong> can be argumentatively defended as a just norm by means of a priori reasoning.”

See the sudden switch from the is to an out?

Beefcake the Mighty August 25, 2010 at 5:52 am

“Exactly! this is the crucial point! the criticism can indeed be applied to any liberalism or even to any belief system or ideology. but is this really an argument against their critique?”

That’s a fair point (although their particular critique of Hoppe has other flaws). My position would be, even if we confine attention to universalist ethics (eg, simply assume that an ethical system must apply to all of humanity and humanity alone), then Hoppe has made a great accomplishment in showing that only a libertarian ethic is an acceptable one. I.e., socialism and such must be rejected.

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 6:22 pm

From Kerem Tibuk August 24, 2010 at 9:08 am:

“Hoppean “property theory” is not compatible with the natural rights Lockean/Rothbardian property theory at all.”

How so?

“And more importantly this Hoppean property theory, which bases and justifies private property not as a natural extension of human nature itself, but a tool to better society by resolving conflicts regarding rivalrous, scarce resources is only arbitrarily libertarian.”

Try this: It is a natural extension of human (reasoning and justifying) nature itself, to value the avoidance of conflicts regarding rivalrous, scarce resources. Only a libertarian ethic is consistent with this natural human nature.

“There is no reason why this exact axiom could not call for a type of socialist society where “equality regarding property” is a goal consistent with the axiom that calls for “conflict resolution regarding scarce resources”.”

In fact there is. The aggressive action required to enforce such a society and social relationships could not be justified because it would firstly fail the formal universalizability requirement of reason. And it is the nature of rational man to demand a justification for such action.

“Also this “argumentation ethics” is a laughable “proof” not to say the least.”

So you say. But I see no one laughing – and each year, more and more prominent Libertarians and Misesians come out of the woodwork in express support of it.

“When every human action undeniably proves that self ownership is an “is” proposition, why would anyone bother with arguments and this proving self ownership.”

Yours is also at least an attempt at a proof of the validity of the principle of self-ownership. Why do you bother to put it forth?

“Even if there is no argument and one person hits the other on the head, this proves two parties own themselves because otherwise no human action is possible.”

No proof of anything can be given except via reasoned argumentation, which only acting man can perform. If a beetle eats a worm, this did not prove the two entities own themselves. It takes an ability to make an argument to argue that one owns his own body, and attempt to deny such a thing. But the act of any such denial must presuppose such a right to use one’s own body to make such a denial. This is how self-ownership is shown to be undeniable – by virtue of the fact that its very denial must presuppose it.

“How do you bridge the gap between “is” and “ought”?

“Not the way Hoppe tries to do it and I am not even sure he even tries to do it.”

Tell me how you would know that the way Hoppe tries to bridge the is/ought gap fails if you do not even know if he tries to bridge it? The fact is, even a modest familiarity with Hoppe’s thesis would allow you to know that he claims bridging that gap, should there be one, is unnecessary.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm

The principle of nonaggression is thus the necessary
precondition for argumentation and possible agreement and
hence can be argumentatively defended as a just norm by means of a
priori reasoning.”

The term norm indicates that Hoppe tries to establish a norm in an “objective” manner. This is flawed for he derives a norm (ought) from a logical truism (is).

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 8:08 pm

A norm, in this case, is a logically required implicit set of rules which, if not followed in practice, during the argumentation, render the argumentation impossible.

Justice is objective. Only when one claims one ought to be just, does one cross the boundary from the is to the ought.

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 6:38 pm

From Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 11:16 am:

“Can someone explain to me the logical reasoning how Hoppe (or Rothbard) manage to bridge the is/ought-gap? Statements like “if otherwise, society would vanish” are at best is-statements and do not allow to conclude any ought statements”

Hoppe claims the is/ought gap need not be bridged, and is simply irrelevant to his proof. His argument remains entirely in the realm of “is”, and depends in no way on an “ought”.

Justification is a logical and factual based activity. Performing one, demonstrates a preference for justice. One cannot justify an injustice, and one cannot justify a contradiction to any other presupposition of argumentation either. These are all “is” kinds of proposals. And these are the proposals constituent in Hoppe’s argument.

Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 6:45 pm

look for yourself. there is a reason why so few libertarian hardcore guys are taken seroously by philosophers. ever heard of the law of the included middle? search it, see that there is more to logic than verbal reasoning and be prepared to be humble again. i believe you certainly were humble. every libertarian is in the first place. but we seek to have solid arguments. thus we try to hang on to hoppe and rothbard. but they dont prove nothing in ethics. they wash away critical thoughts and scepticism… just be aware that there is more… hope you find it yourself

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Hayeakin wrote:
>look for yourself. there is a reason why so few libertarian hardcore guys are taken seroously by philosophers

Oh, that’s easy to explain!

A) Most “professional” philosophers are leftists: they want to steal stuff from other human beings; indeed, many of them depend for their livelihood on theft (AKA “taxes”). So, they have a personal reason not to take libertarians seriously, just like any other criminal.

B) Ever looked at what most “professional” philosophers say about each other, about their predecessors, etc.? There is nothing at all that they agree on. It is hard to come up with any proposition at all that is not viewed with contemptuous dismissal by a significant number of philosophers. So, why don’t they take hard-core libertarians seriously? Because they do not take anyone seriously.

Hayekian also wrote:
>ever heard of the law of the included middle?

Hmmmm… never heard of that one myself. Is it possible that you meant the law of *excluded* middle?

Dave Miller in Sacramento

exile August 24, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Include me in those excluding “Hayekian” from the group ‘those who ought to be taken seriously’.

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Thanks.

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 7:17 pm

From Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm:

@especially to EXILE:

“Hoppe’s claim that anyone who engages in a debate has to [an ought-statement] accept the “no-agression-rule” is quite flawed anyways.”

This is not his claim. He merely claims that non-aggression is the logical presupposition of argumentation undertaken in the pure pursuit of truth. One engaged in discourse, can be ignorant or dishonest, but the only kind of argumentation that can justify, rules this out.

“First objection It is obvious that one can argue with your oponent and still say
nobody possesses any rights.”

Hoppe does not claim that it is impossible for one to make a confused and self-contradictory proposal. He is claiming that some proposals are confused and self-contradictory, and these cannot be used in support of a justification.

“If someone were to say: “You cannot argue
that this natural right doesn’t exist, for if you do so, you
yourself wouldn’t have these rights and I could kill you in an instante.” Well, I
would simply reply , “yes I can argue so I just did” and thus I had argued.”

The point is, no one can argue anything without presupposing the right to do so. And it is logically incoherent to put forth a proposal to someone else, without presupposing their right to consider your proposal, and judge for themselves the truth and validity of it. You can still be confused or dishonest enough to claim otherwise, but nevertheless, one must be confused or dishonest to do so.

“I will explain why the whole word-play-logic of Hoppe is nonsene: it is similar to a situation in which three people are in the basket of a baloon that is about to crash. The balloon is too
heavy and one argues: “We are too many here, someone needs to go”. If Hoppe was in the basket, his claim would be: “You cannot argue that we are too many in the balloon, since the fact that you are still in our basket presupposes that it is just right with the three of us in here”. In other words: the presence of the one claiming that the basket is too heavy “contradicts” that one’s own claim, for obviously, if that person is still alive in the basket , they are not too many.
This is what Hoppe’s “logic” is all about. It is static (doesn’t include philosophy of paradoxa, system thinking and alike) and it is trapped in mere wordplay leading nowhere.”

Heh. AE justifies the libertarian ethic. How would a libertarian ethic resolve such a situation?

“Second Objection: If natural rights are deduced from the ability to
argue, than deaf-mutes or otherwise disabled persons, insane people and
even very young babies would not possess such rights. Since even if “in
principle” humans are able to argue, “in principle” these disabled people are certainly not
able to argue.”

In principle they are able to argue, because they are human. They are of a category of entity that justifies. A person swimming under water also cannot make a justification. Justice applies to him because, in principle, no one could justify shooting him while he swims because it applies to humans – the subject of the purpose of an ethic.

“At least not more than any other mammal is able to argue.”

Other mammal’s cannot argue because it is not in their nature at all to argue.

“In fact, someone needs to proof where exactly lies a difference between
insane humans and smart animals.”

Your own question belies your suggestion that the difference is not apparent. Insane humans are human. Smart non-human animals are not human. That is the difference.

“As I fear, such a line is only drawable
if one sticks to religious natural law. Rothbard and Hoppe themselves tried to avoid such things…”

And they could because these answers are already apparent enough to those not looking to confuse themselves.

“Third objection: the libertarian principles proposed by Rothbard and Hoppe would lead to a society in which families would be forbidden!! Look, if individuals possess natural rights independently of culture then it would be illegal for parents to “govern” their children. Any interaction must be voluntary in a libertarian world. This leaves little room for parent-child-relationships. A father educating his son would be a criminal (even if he didnt use force, a mere taking of the child’s toy would be considered robbery)”

You may benefit from reading Kinsella’s “How we come to own ourselves”.

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Paul Edwards wrote:
>The point is, no one can argue anything without presupposing the right to do so

Paul, I think this is where a lot of us disagree with Hoppe.

Take Euclid arguing with someone, trying to prove that there is no greatest prime number. Why does his presenting that argument presuppose that he has a *right* to present that argument? Perhaps he is sure he does *not* have a right to present that argument but he just goes ahead and does so anyway. People do that sort of thing, you know.

Of course, there are some people – such as Hoppe, it seems, and, I confess, myself – who are a bit obsessed with whether we have a right to do things, with whether we are acting according to norms which we’d like everyone to adhere to, etc. I think the world might be a better place if everyone had that level of scrupulosity.

But they don’t. And, the fact that they just go ahead and engage in actions without worrying about whether they have the “right” to do so seems to me unfortunate, but I see no contradiction.

I know many of you do see a contradiction. Well, to me, a contradiction is a rather well-defined thing: a logically valid argument according to the standard rules of deductive logic, as used, say, in math, which leads to a conclusion of the form A and not-A.

A lot of mathematical theorems employ such argumentation (“reductio ad absurdum”) very clearly and very successfully (e.g., the aforementioned Euclidean proof that there is no last prime). Show us all where Hoppe does this, in a way just as clear as a good mathematical proof, and you’ll have us convinced.

If not, not.

Dave

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Hi Dave:

“Take Euclid arguing with someone, trying to prove that there is no greatest prime number. Why does his presenting that argument presuppose that he has a *right* to present that argument? Perhaps he is sure he does *not* have a right to present that argument but he just goes ahead and does so anyway. People do that sort of thing, you know.”

Such an assumption of a right to make an argument is simply unavoidable. Let’s take your scenario further. Say as Euclid makes his presentation, one of the audience walks up and pokes him in the eye. Will he assume a right to protest? Yes – unavoidably so. Some things are so simple, they escape our detection. This point is one of them. Life is hard and complicated enough without us failing to recognize simple truths like this one.

“Of course, there are some people – such as Hoppe, it seems, and, I confess, myself – who are a bit obsessed with whether we have a right to do things,”

And yet how is it that you come to ask such questions – without first assuming a right to do so?

” with whether we are acting according to norms which we’d like everyone to adhere to, etc. I think the world might be a better place if everyone had that level of scrupulosity.”

You probably see the above as merely intuitively correct – but it is also fully grounded in objective fact and logic as well. If the prospect of coming to see this as true excites you, then hang tight and study Hoppe carefully, baby.

“But they don’t. And, the fact that they just go ahead and engage in actions without worrying about whether they have the “right” to do so seems to me unfortunate, but I see no contradiction.”

The contradiction is not in criminal action itself. The contradiction only arises in an attempt at a justification of criminal action.

“I know many of you do see a contradiction. Well, to me, a contradiction is a rather well-defined thing: a logically valid argument according to the standard rules of deductive logic, as used, say, in math, which leads to a conclusion of the form A and not-A.”

Indeed. I will assume you are down with the proposal that one cannot argue that he cannot argue – if i may propose another thing on which we probably agree.

“A lot of mathematical theorems employ such argumentation (“reductio ad absurdum”) very clearly and very successfully (e.g., the aforementioned Euclidean proof that there is no last prime). Show us all where Hoppe does this, in a way just as clear as a good mathematical proof, and you’ll have us convinced.”

Heh! Well he had make his argument in several places – some quite conveniently abbreviated. He has also issued a rebuttal to the more common complaints against it. Perhaps if you can provide more specific objections of your own, i can take a swack at them.

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Paul wrote to me:
> Such an assumption of a right to make an argument is simply unavoidable. Let’s take your scenario further. Say as Euclid makes his presentation, one of the audience walks up and pokes him in the eye. Will he assume a right to protest? Yes – unavoidably so.

No, probably not. If someone does that to me, I will not “assume” a “right to protest.” I just *will* hit him back. Hard.

Most people would do the same thing.

You and Hoppe are just assuming people choose to think in terms of rights. They do not have to. Many don’t. Most of us don’t at least some of the time.

Paul also wrote:
> Heh! Well he had make his argument in several places – some quite conveniently abbreviated. He has also issued a rebuttal to the more common complaints against it. Perhaps if you can provide more specific objections of your own, i can take a swack at them.

Sorry. My objection is that there simply never has been anything even remotely similar to an argument that employs the usual canons of deductive (or inductive) logic.

It’s not that Hoppe has presented a logical argument and that I am bothered by some detail of it that I can object to and that you can help clear up.

Rather, I have never seen any logical argument by him or anyone else on this matter anywhere.

No specific details to object to because there is no argument at all.

It’s a bit like asking me what particular aspect of the proof that 2 + 2 = 5 I object to. No specific detail, of course. There just is no such proof.

Dave

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 1:32 am

“Paul wrote to me:
> Such an assumption of a right to make an argument is simply unavoidable. Let’s take your scenario further. Say as Euclid makes his presentation, one of the audience walks up and pokes him in the eye. Will he assume a right to protest? Yes – unavoidably so.

“No, probably not. If someone does that to me, I will not “assume” a “right to protest.” I just *will* hit him back. Hard.”

You seem to be saying you would assume more than a right to complain then, but also a right to physically retaliate. Surely where there is a right to act violently, there is a right also to justify such an act? Or are you saying that your retaliation is not justified nor could it be, because you have no right to justify in the first place. Perhaps you are really saying justice is not a particular interest of yours.

“Most people would do the same thing.”

Perhaps most people would feel they could justify doing the same thing, and that is why they would do so. Yes. Most people implicitly recognize the right to justify their actions as a fundamental starting point of a just society.

“You and Hoppe are just assuming people choose to think in terms of rights. They do not have to. Many don’t. Most of us don’t at least some of the time.”

They don’t have to formally think about these rights. They simply will implicitly adopt them each time they truly engage in argumentation. Try to imagine the reaction you’d get if after debating an issue with a person, you poked him in the eye when the debate ended in disagreement. He would be surprised. Why. Because argumentation implicitly assumes the debate is decided in reason and facts, not violence.

Paul also wrote:
> Heh! Well he had make his argument in several places – some quite conveniently abbreviated. He has also issued a rebuttal to the more common complaints against it. Perhaps if you can provide more specific objections of your own, i can take a swack at them.

“Sorry. My objection is that there simply never has been anything even remotely similar to an argument that employs the usual canons of deductive (or inductive) logic.”

Gotcha.

“It’s not that Hoppe has presented a logical argument and that I am bothered by some detail of it that I can object to and that you can help clear up.

“Rather, I have never seen any logical argument by him or anyone else on this matter anywhere.

“No specific details to object to because there is no argument at all.”

Right.

“It’s a bit like asking me what particular aspect of the proof that 2 + 2 = 5 I object to. No specific detail, of course. There just is no such proof.”

Heh! You win, dude. I would not dream of attempting to convince someone that 2 + 2 = 5.

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 7:27 pm

From Allen Weingarten August 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm:

“I agree with Hoppe and Rothbard, that denying that humans act (or think) is a fundamental contradiction. However, I do not follow why this necessitates an ‘ought’.”

Hoppe does not make this argument.

“Suppose someone says something contradictory, and is pleased to do so. Even if this results in his death, he can counter with “I am pleased to die (or I want to pretend otherwise).” On what basis can we claim that someone cannot want to be contradictory, or wish to die?”

The importance of recognizing a contradiction is to see that one of the statements cannot be true. Furthermore, if statement A must be assumed true by the actor in the act of proposing NOT A, then we can know with apodictic certainty that A is true, and NOT A is false. This is the nature of Hoppe’s argument.

“My code, and heritage, oblige me to avoid contradiction and death. However, that is on the basis of certain presuppositions, rather than on the non-contradictory nature of logic.”

It is inherent in the act of providing an argumentative justification that one is constrained to avoid a contradiction and affirm life. He is alive and justifying – this is enough to demonstrate a preference for both, irrespective of code and heritage.

dr khantatat August 24, 2010 at 7:34 pm

““Can someone explain to me the logical reasoning how Hoppe (or Rothbard) manage to bridge the is/ought-gap? ”

There is no bridge. Without commenting on the merits of Hoppe’s argument, I just don’t think you understand it. There is no “ought.” The conclusion derived from the argument is that by arguing one demonstrates that a non-private-property ethic is invalid. It doesn’t say “therefore one ought to follow a private property ethic.”

see
http://mises.org/books/economicsethics.pdf
chapter 13

It seems to go without saying that if it is correct then of course one ought to do it, but Hoppe does not make this claim as part of his core argument (basically, as I understand it, that socialist ethics are incompatible with the presuppositions of argumentation, and that if something is incompatible with the presuppositions of argumentation it is wrong, then socialist ethics are wrong).

Stephan Kinsella August 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Dr. khantat:

It seems to go without saying that if it is correct then of course one ought to do it, but Hoppe does not make this claim as part of his core argument

Hoppe explains, p. 345 of EEPP:

Second, there is the logical gap between “is-” and “ought-state- ments” which natural rights proponents have failed to bridge successfully—except for advancing some general critical remarks regarding the ultimate validity of the fact-value dichotomy. Here the praxeological proof of libertarianism has the advantage of offering a completely value-free justification of private property. It remains entirely in the realm of is-statements, and nowhere tries to derive an ought from an is. The structure of the argument is this: (a) justification is propositional justification—a priori true is-statement; (b) argumentation presupposes property in one’s body and the homesteading principle—a priori true is- statement; and (c) then, no deviation from this ethic can be argumentatively justified—a priori true is-statement. The proof also offers a key to an understanding of the nature of the fact-value dichotomy: Ought-statements cannot be derived from is- statements. They belong to different logical realms. It is also clear, however, that one cannot even state that there are facts and values if no propositional exchanges exist, and that this practice of proposi- tional exchanges in turn presupposes the acceptance of the private property ethic as valid. In other words, cognition and truth-seeking as such have a normative foundation, and the normative foundation on which cognition and truth rest is the recognition of private prop- erty rights.

See also p. 407:

The reaction from the other Randian side, represented by Ras- mussen, is different. He has fewer difficulties recognizing the nature of my argument but then asks me in turn “So what? Why should an a priori proof of the libertarian property theory make any difference? Why not engage in aggression anyway?” Why indeed?! But then, why should the proof that 1+1=2 make any difference? One certainly can still act on the belief that 1+1=3. The obvious answer is “because a propositional justification exists for doing one thing, but not for doing another.” But why should we be reasonable, is the next come-back. Again, the answer is obvious. For one, because it would be impossible to argue against it; and further, because the proponent raising this question would already affirm the use of reason in his act of questioning it. This still might not suffice and everyone knows that it would not, for even if the libertarian ethic and argumentative reasoning must be regarded as ultimately justified, this still does not preclude that people will act on the basis of unjustified beliefs either because they don’t know, they don’t care, or they prefer not to know. I fail to see why this should be surprising or make the proof somehow defective. More than this cannot be done by propositional argument.

Rasmussen seems to think that if I could get an “ought” derived from somewhere (something that Yeager claims I am trying to do though I explicitly denied this), then things would be improved. But this is simply an illusory hope. For even if Rasmussen had proven the proposition that one ought to be reasonable and ought to act according to the libertarian property ethic, this would still be just another propositional argument. It can no more assure that people will do what they ought to do than my proof can guarantee that they will do what is justified. Where is the difference, and what is all the fuss about? There is and remains a difference between establishing a truth claim and instilling a desire to act upon the truth—with “ought” or without it. It is surely great if a proof can instill this desire. But even if it does not, this can hardly be held against it. It also does not subtract anything from its merit if in some or even many cases a few raw utilitarian assertions prove more successful in persuading anyone of libertarianism than it can do. A proof is still a proof and social psychology remains social psychology.

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 7:36 pm

From Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm:

“Granted! but then, any natural right theory that rests on the notion of “action” has to apply to animals also.”

Hoppe’s theory does not rest on the general notion of action, but on the presuppositions inherent in the very specific human act of argumentation.

“There I see a contradiction in the Praxeological approach to ethics. If I rest my ethical theory on action and if I further assert that non only humans act, than any law that I conclude has to apply by necessity also to other acting beings. and if animals act(they do), then they would have rights. I think this leads into the absurd… Am I the only one seeing it here ?”

There might be some merit to this, if it were not overlooking the importance of the specific act of argumentation which is specific to humans, in the performance of justification and the pursuit of justice. It is argumentation, not mere action, that allows us to justify and discuss norms that allow for peace and human cooperation.

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Paul wrote:

>Hoppe’s theory does not rest on the general notion of action, but on the presuppositions inherent in the very specific human act of argumentation.

Paul, again this is the point you are assuming that seems false to so many of us.

We just do not see why pursuing an action necessarily presupposes *anything*.

I understand that the Hoppean argument is not that the actor necessarily presupposes this consciously and explicitly in his own mind, but rather that it is *logically* presupposed.

But “logic” means something: e.g., Aristotelian logic, first-order predicate logic, etc.

And, I cannot see how any standard form of deductive logic reaches that conclusion.

The rules of inference of deductive logic are very well-defined and very rigid: show us a logical argument according to those rules (i.e., rules such as modus ponens, etc.) that reaches Hoppe’s conclusion.

Hoppe has not done so, and I am pretty sure no one can.

Dave

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Hi Dave:

“Paul wrote:

>Hoppe’s theory does not rest on the general notion of action, but on the presuppositions inherent in the very specific human act of argumentation.

“Paul, again this is the point you are assuming that seems false to so many of us.

“We just do not see why pursuing an action necessarily presupposes *anything*.”

Again, the particular action in question is the act of argumentation. It must necessarily presuppose a right to engage in it, because without such a right, no questions of rights may be raised at all. It is absurd to claim that you have an interest in justice, and yet claim a willingness to engage in the injustice of argumentation for the purpose of making proposals consistent with justice. You cannot justify absurdity – reason will not allow it. In participating in truth seeking argumentation, you affirm life, reason, truth and justice. It is a logical absurdity to suppose that one has not the right to engage in this action.

“I understand that the Hoppean argument is not that the actor necessarily presupposes this consciously and explicitly in his own mind, but rather that it is *logically* presupposed.”

Excellent!

“But “logic” means something: e.g., Aristotelian logic, first-order predicate logic, etc.

“And, I cannot see how any standard form of deductive logic reaches that conclusion.”

Is it possible to cast logic into doubt? Truth? One’s own existence? One’s ability to act or to argue? It is not. But why not? Because the act of making such proposals of denial, affirm them implicitly. You cannot argue that you cannot argue. I mean you can – but it would be a contradiction and false. This is how AE operates.

“The rules of inference of deductive logic are very well-defined and very rigid: show us a logical argument according to those rules (i.e., rules such as modus ponens, etc.) that reaches Hoppe’s conclusion.”

You will have to be satisfied with dealing in Hoppe’s form, which is quite valid, if not the form you are most conversant in.

“Hoppe has not done so, and I am pretty sure no one can.”

Can you show me how to use the rules of inference of deductive logic (i.e., rules such as modus ponens, etc.), such that I can prove to you that the statement: “I cannot make a proposal”, is a contradiction and false? If you can, you can translate all of Hoppe’s thesis into the format you are asking for yourself.

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Paul wrote to me:
>You will have to be satisfied with dealing in Hoppe’s form

No, Paul, I will not “have to be satisfied with dealing in Hoppe’s form” in the slightest. It is not part of standard logic, as you seem to be admitting, and I do not have to accept it.

Almost no one does.

I’m afraid you guys lose – you can try to invent a new type of logic, but *no one* has to go along with you, just as no one has to go along with Hegelian “dialectical” logic, Hayeakian’s “non-Western” logic, etc.

Paul also wrote to me:
>Can you show me how to use the rules of inference of deductive logic (i.e., rules such as modus ponens, etc.), such that I can prove to you that the statement: “I cannot make a proposal”, is a contradiction and false?

It is not a contradiction and it *may* not even be false, though, empirically, it probably is (“I cannot make a proposal” is not itself a proposal).

Dave

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 11:22 pm

What if I were to say “I cannot make a statement of fact”? I would say that this is a valid example of “performative contradiction”, yes? Granted, I’m not convinced that a person arguing with another without according him rights-status is a “performative contradiction”, as per Hoppe. I’m just saying that they do exist. In other words, I don’t think Hoppe & Co. are trying to come up with a new sort of logic. I just think they’re using the old sort incorrectly.

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 12:47 am

“I don’t think Hoppe & Co. are trying to come up with a new sort of logic.”

Correct. But many people have a great deal of difficulty with this sort of reasoning. Volumes are filled with self-contradictory babble, and their authors must almost certainly be quite oblivious to this fact.

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 1:03 am

Russ,

The problem is that the example that Paul gave quite clearly was not a performative contradiction and, quite clearly, neither is Hoppe’s. The new logic that Hoppe wants is the logic that claims that “logically” an actor is committed to a rights-claim that the actor is not in fact making. If you do not make a rights-claim, you do not make a rights-claim. QED

None of Paul’s or Hoppe’s alternative logic can change that.

Dave

Russ the Apostate August 25, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I’m sure that Paul will say that I am woefully confused here, but again, my understanding is that Hoppe & Co. are saying that an arguer must implicitly take certain things for granted (i.e rights of the co-arguer), or be guilty of a performative contradiction. In the example I gave above, “I cannot make a statement of fact”, I am stating a fact, and that contradicts my statement. So that is a performative contradiction. If in fact arguing did involve the assumption that your co-arguer has rights, then arguing that your co-arguer does not have rights would also be a performative contradiction. The problem here is, of course, that arguing assumes no such thing. The problem is not that Hoppe is trying to invent new logic. He’s simply trying to ascribe to arguing properties which it does not actually have.

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 12:41 am

I cannot imagine that you honestly find my use of the term “proposal” as “To put forward for consideration, discussion, or adoption” as a controversial or idiosyncratic use of the word, or that the claiming to be unable to make a proposal is not just such a thing. But in any case, we may replace the term with something else that helps you to understand my point:

“I cannot write a sentence.”
“I cannot make a statement.”
“I cannot act.”

If you cannot follow that someone purposefully making any of these statements makes a self-contradictory statement, then you won’t be doing any modus ponens with them any time soon either. And you will not be able to follow AE. That’s ok. Not everyone can.

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 12:51 am

Paul,

I replied below: it does not work. Hoppe loses.

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Russ,

“…my understanding is that Hoppe & Co. are saying that an arguer must implicitly take certain things for granted (i.e rights of the co-arguer), or be guilty of a performative contradiction.”

Let’s refine this a bit. The arguer must, and will implicitly take certain things for granted while participating in an argumentation. It is not that he will be guilty of a performative contradiction due to not doing so. It is impossible for him to not do so, and also remain participating in truth affirming argumentation. He only falls into a performative contradiction if and when he attempts to make proposals denying or contradicting such assumptions – assumptions which (again) he must unavoidably take for granted in making such a proposal in the first place.

” In the example I gave above, “I cannot make a statement of fact”, I am stating a fact, and that contradicts my statement. So that is a performative contradiction. If in fact arguing did involve the assumption that your co-arguer has rights, then arguing that your co-arguer does not have rights would also be a performative contradiction.”

This is correct.

” The problem here is, of course, that arguing assumes no such thing. The problem is not that Hoppe is trying to invent new logic. He’s simply trying to ascribe to arguing properties which it does not actually have.”

I was even able to wring out of Dave a small concession that truth seeking argumentation ruled out threats of violence. This means that participants must assume the right of each to be free of the threat of violence. Violence against what. Violence against each person’s property – their bodies. This is admitting a necessary assumption of a property right between those engaged in argumentation. Do you not agree, as David was able to do, that valid argumentation rules out threats of violence?

Russ the Apostate August 25, 2010 at 9:47 pm

“Do you not agree, as David was able to do, that valid argumentation rules out threats of violence?”

Let’s assume, for sake of argument (*grin*), that I agree. Let’s also assume that I am a socialist. What exactly would this boil down to? AFAICT, it boils down to the fact that I would be committing a performative contradiction while I am arguing for socialism. But so what?

1) All I would have to do to be a logically consistent socialist (i.e. not commit performative contradictions) would be to not argue for socialism, but simply vote/fight for it. If I only commit performative contradictions while arguing for socialism, then if I don’t argue for it, I’ve solved that problem.

2) I could also say that the rules of argumentation only apply to arguing, so that when not arguing, different rules should or can apply.

But, in fact, I don’t necessarily agree that valid argumentation rules out threats of violence. Let’s say that I am a slave-owner. I am trying to convince a slave that he should do his job. Maybe I argue thusly; 1) You love your family and don’t want to be separated from them; 2) if you don’t do what I want, I will sell you down the river, and you’ll never see your family again; 3) Therefore, you should do as I say. This coercion could be seen as a form of argumentation that explicity relies on rights violations. The logic itself certainly seems unassailable. So how, exactly, am I assuming that the slave has rights while making this argument?

So, I do not refrain from threats of violence while arguing because I believe that valid argumentation rules out threats of violence. I refrain from threats of violence while arguing because I think it is both immoral and uncivil to do so (except in cases of self-defense or the defense of others).

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 11:55 pm

Russ,

Russ the Apostate August 25, 2010 at 9:47 pm
“Do you not agree, as David was able to do, that valid argumentation rules out threats of violence?”

“Let’s assume, for sake of argument (*grin*), that I agree.”

Keep in mind it is not necessary for an individual to explicitly recognize as necessary that which nevertheless implicitly necessarily holds true. A socialist, whether he realizes it or not, will make the same assumptions as anyone else, if he is to perform an argumentation.

” Let’s also assume that I am a socialist. What exactly would this boil down to? AFAICT, it boils down to the fact that I would be committing a performative contradiction while I am arguing for socialism. But so what?”

Let us see what Hoppe says to the “so what” question:

“The reaction from the other Randian side, represented by Ras- mussen, is different. He has fewer difficulties recognizing the nature of my argument but then asks me in turn “So what? Why should an a priori proof of the libertarian property theory make any difference? Why not engage in aggression anyway?” Why indeed?! But then, why should the proof that 1+1=2 make any difference? One certainly can still act on the belief that 1+1=3. The obvious answer is “because a propositional justification exists for doing one thing, but not for doing another.” But why should we be reasonable, is the next come-back. Again, the answer is obvious. For one, because it would be impossible to argue against it; and further, because the proponent raising this question would already affirm the use of reason in his act of questioning it. This still might not suffice and everyone knows that it would not, for even if the libertarian ethic and argumentative reasoning must be regarded as ultimately justified, this still does not preclude that people will act on the basis of unjustified beliefs either because they don’t know, they don’t care, or they prefer not to know. I fail to see why this should be surprising or make the proof somehow defective. More than this cannot be done by propositional argument.”

______

“1) All I would have to do to be a logically consistent socialist (i.e. not commit performative contradictions) would be to not argue for socialism, but simply vote/fight for it. If I only commit performative contradictions while arguing for socialism, then if I don’t argue for it, I’ve solved that problem.”

LOL! Fortunately, that does not solve the problem, assuming it is a problem, that you still could not justify socialism. But yet the libertarian could always justify his libertarianism. Secondly, if the socialist remains consistent and abstains from engaging in justification, including demanding others justify their own violations against his own property, any private criminal would make short work of him. And good riddance. Heh!

“2) I could also say that the rules of argumentation only apply to arguing, so that when not arguing, different rules should or can apply.”

You could “say” this, but any proposition that you make, such as that, would be a contradiction to that which you demonstrate an implicit commitment to in the act of making such a proposition. All things justified once are for all times justified. Similarly, all things shown unjustiable remain forever more unjustified. The point of a justification is to know what actions we can justifiably engage in even and especially when we are no longer in the act of justifying.

“But, in fact, I don’t necessarily agree that valid argumentation rules out threats of violence. Let’s say that I am a slave-owner. I am trying to convince a slave that he should do his job. Maybe I argue thusly; 1) You love your family and don’t want to be separated from them; 2) if you don’t do what I want, I will sell you down the river, and you’ll never see your family again; 3) Therefore, you should do as I say. This coercion could be seen as a form of argumentation that explicity relies on rights violations. The logic itself certainly seems unassailable. So how, exactly, am I assuming that the slave has rights while making this argument?”

Your analysis doesn’t need a master slave relationship. Let’s simplify it: What if I tell you that if you do not agree with me on the validity of AE, i will have your family assassinated before the end of year (giving the required evidence that i could and would do this). Without fighting the hypo, we agree that it would be wise for you to tell me you agree with me. And in a sense, i have “reasoned” with you to this conclusion because you do not want your family assassinated. But at the same time, it should be apparent to you, that this was indeed not the sort of legitimate argumentation that justifies my position to you – as whether your family lives or dies is not relevant to the validity of my argument. To justify, you must do so on the basis of the force of the argument alone – We must both be able to agree to disagree. In other words, we must assume and respect each other’s property rights.

“So, I do not refrain from threats of violence while arguing because I believe that valid argumentation rules out threats of violence. I refrain from threats of violence while arguing because I think it is both immoral and uncivil to do so (except in cases of self-defense or the defense of others).”

That suits me fine, but I think my point also stands.

Russ the Apostate August 26, 2010 at 12:20 am

“Fortunately, that does not solve the problem, assuming it is a problem, that you still could not justify socialism.”

So? I thought that AE did not cross the is/ought “divide”, and thus doesn’t make value judgments? I thought all it did was “prove” that arguing against libertarianism involves a performative contradiction. I have shown that a socialist can easily avoid this problem.

“You could “say” this, but any proposition that you make, such as that, would be a contradiction to that which you demonstrate an implicit commitment to in the act of making such a proposition. All things justified once are for all times justified.”

No, I don’t think this sort of smuggled in categorical imperative is valid. Arguing is not the same as not arguing. All that arguing with another implies is that you accord them certain rights while arguing (and I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that it does imply this, which I don’t really agree with). It doesn’t necessarily imply anything about those times when one is not arguing.

“And in a sense, i have “reasoned” with you to this conclusion because you do not want your family assassinated. But at the same time, it should be apparent to you, that this was indeed not the sort of legitimate argumentation that justifies my position to you – as whether your family lives or dies is not relevant to the validity of my argument. To justify, you must do so on the basis of the force of the argument alone”

It’s true that your argument would not convince me that you are correct; it would just convince me to pretend to be convinced. But that’s not the same as my master/slave example. In my case, I may have convinced the slave that it is truly in his best interest to do what I say. So, argumentation doesn’t necessarily imply that I assume my co-arguer has rights.

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 1:30 am

From Russ the Apostate August 26, 2010 at 12:20 am:

>“Fortunately, that does not solve the problem, assuming it is a problem, that you still could not justify socialism.”

“So? I thought that AE did not cross the is/ought “divide”, and thus doesn’t make value judgments? I thought all it did was “prove” that arguing against libertarianism involves a performative contradiction. I have shown that a socialist can easily avoid this problem.”

You thought incorrectly regarding AE. What it demonstrates is that only the libertarian ethic can be justified, and that no other ethic or social system that contains proposals that contradict those of the libertarian ethic can be justified. Resolving to “avoid the problem” by abstaining from attempting to justify socialism only confirms the point of AE: socialism cannot be justified.

>“You could “say” this, but any proposition that you make, such as that, would be a contradiction to that which you demonstrate an implicit commitment to in the act of making such a proposition. All things justified once are for all times justified.”

“No, I don’t think this sort of smuggled in categorical imperative is valid.”

Assuming this statement of yours is shown to be true while we argue about it, when we are done arguing about it, will this statement cease to be true? How is it we can come to any useful conclusions – ever – when we are so predisposed to throwing logical roadblocks in the way of doing so? This is amazing.

“Arguing is not the same as not arguing. All that arguing with another implies is that you accord them certain rights while arguing (and I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that it does imply this, which I don’t really agree with). It doesn’t necessarily imply anything about those times when one is not arguing.”

If you do not attempt to justify a proposition because you know it cannot be justified, it cannot be justified. Simple.

>“And in a sense, i have “reasoned” with you to this conclusion because you do not want your family assassinated. But at the same time, it should be apparent to you, that this was indeed not the sort of legitimate argumentation that justifies my position to you – as whether your family lives or dies is not relevant to the validity of my argument. To justify, you must do so on the basis of the force of the argument alone”

“It’s true that your argument would not convince me that you are correct; it would just convince me to pretend to be convinced. But that’s not the same as my master/slave example. In my case, I may have convinced the slave that it is truly in his best interest to do what I say. So, argumentation doesn’t necessarily imply that I assume my co-arguer has rights.”

In both cases, agreement is obtained not because the person really agrees with the ultimate validity of the directive, but rather to avoid consequences logically tangential to the discussion.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 2:26 am

you are going in circles: i said above, like you, that hoppe said argumentation is the crucial factor. This would lead to the conclusion that babies and disabled persons dont have rights, sicne they are in principle not able to argue.
then you guys shifted the focus to action instead of argumentation and i said animals act too.
unfortunately you dont see the inconistencies of hoppe’s writing. of course, i thought for a while too that logic can only be done with strict categories/essences in the aristotelian sense. but the world is full of things sui generis of third kinds. a man is a man not because of objective facts but because we impose certain traits on him. there is no chair, no car no human. there are only entitites of matter whose properties (!) , if accumulated, make us label them such and such and this labeling is a social process of consens. there is nothing objective to it.

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 7:48 pm

From Hayekian August 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm:

“exile: the whole consistently point is what i mean: you say, i cannot consistently claim to be a socialist and at the same time argue, for arguing would presuppose the right of each one of us to own his body right? but I do argue so! reality proves Hoppe wrong all the time. It is(!) possible to argue that way. It might be logically inconsistent,”

What do you think you have proven here? That you can argue that 1 + 1 = 3? That this, and absurdities like it, is possible is not in question. AE does not prove that murder, rape and slavery are impossible. That would be ridiculous. It has only shown that none can be justified, just as one can only argue that 1 + 1 = 2, if one wishes to avoid a logical error.

” but this only applies to analytical logic in the aristotelian sense.

“Get familiar with paradoxes, eastern logic, the law of the included middle, and such. There is more in philosophy than rothbard and hoppe. Again, I was a strong defender of hoppe my self for a long time, since a philosopher-friend opened my eyes.”

You may have been an enthusiastic defender of Hoppe’s AE, but I am sorry, you could not have been a strong logical defender of it. You would have needed to understand it first.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 2:30 am

no, i understood the logic. but as i say it is only valid within a system of objectively defined essences in the aristotelian sense and only if one strictly sticks to analytical logic – leaving aside everything else. it was only when i encoutered other schools of philosophy that i realized this is too easy what we libertarians do.

oh, what does AE mean in this context? Austrian economics? I hope not, for AE has not proven any ethical standpoint whatsoever. let us seperate economics and ethics. if AE meanso something else,forget about my question

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 2:58 am

Sorry, AE = Argumentation Ethics.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 3:05 am

thanx. no need to be sorry for that. I was the one who didn’t know.
But talking about ethics: argumentation is not possible if the norms of AE are not fulfilled, this is Hoppe’s proof that any such argumentation would be contradicitve.

But here is his apparent ought: “the conversation/argumentation should prevail”. hoppe is of course right: IF i want to maintain the argumentation I must follow the rules, but only if I want to do so. The IF indicates the ought statement. Watch this video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1YXpBTUQg8&feature=related

(see especially sec. 50 and further)

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 4:14 am

okay i sounded a bit root. that was not my intention. i hope you guys understand that my purpose here is not hoppe-bashing. but i do have a strong feeling toward these issues since they lead nowhere. there is more to logic than the scholastical system or analytical logic. i personally have become a scepticist and more interested in complexity theory. their findings (abductive – not inductive nor deductive) satisfy me and most modern scientist when it comes to the question why people have ethics and morals. but noone would claim to have THE ethical system and prescribe it to others . okay, you say hoppe doesn’t do that, fine. he merely says what ethics is the correct one. but what would be the point of all this, if he wasnt to impose that libertarian system on society in the next step? maybe it is just paper… ink and paper and then we should leave it. i was too involved in these kind of debates. but it is hopeless, scholastics will not prove anything, just as they have not managed to prove the existence of the christian god either.
understand me right, my life is fine. it is even much better and calmer since i realized hoppe’s logic is flawed. i abandoned dogmatism and this sets one free

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 11:57 am

“okay i sounded a bit root. ”

Not at all.

“that was not my intention. i hope you guys understand that my purpose here is not hoppe-bashing.”

Understood.

“but i do have a strong feeling toward these issues since they lead nowhere. there is more to logic than the scholastical system or analytical logic. i personally have become a scepticist and more interested in complexity theory. their findings (abductive – not inductive nor deductive) satisfy me and most modern scientist when it comes to the question why people have ethics and morals. but noone would claim to have THE ethical system and prescribe it to others . okay, you say hoppe doesn’t do that, fine. he merely says what ethics is the correct one.”

Keep in mind, AE only covers political ethics. It has nothing to say about the larger question of morality unrelated to the valid use of violence. For instance, your intuition that perhaps murder is unjust, can be shown by AE, to be objectively correct. But your intuition about it being right to be polite to your grandmother, or to pray a certain way to your creator, cannot be established objectively by AE.

” but what would be the point of all this, if he wasnt to impose that libertarian system on society in the next step? maybe it is just paper… ink and paper and then we should leave it. i was too involved in these kind of debates. but it is hopeless, scholastics will not prove anything, just as they have not managed to prove the existence of the christian god either.

“understand me right, my life is fine. it is even much better and calmer since i realized hoppe’s logic is flawed. i abandoned dogmatism and this sets one free”

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 11:43 am

“thanx. no need to be sorry for that. I was the one who didn’t know.

“But talking about ethics: argumentation is not possible if the norms of AE are not fulfilled, this is Hoppe’s proof that any such argumentation would be contradicitve.”

Right, and assuming argumentation is occurring, then at that time and place, these norms are also assumed by the participants.

“But here is his apparent ought: “the conversation/argumentation should prevail”. hoppe is of course right: IF i want to maintain the argumentation I must follow the rules, but only if I want to do so. The IF indicates the ought statement. Watch this video”

Actually, I am very sympathetic to this view and have proposed it myself on occasion. Arguably, implied in argumentative justification is not only the participants’ valuing this activity, but also demonstrating a view that such an activity ought to be engaged in. It becomes, in this case an “is” statement that participants in argumentation implicitly claim an “ought”. However I am content to live with Hoppe’s formulation as well.

In any case, in my view, “ought” conclusions can only arise from “ought” premises, never from strictly “is” premises.

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 11:48 am

Also, for this, “IF i want to maintain the argumentation I must follow the rules, but only if I want to do so.”

I would say yes, AND, I will point out that Hoppe does not argue that one will or must value and participate in argumentation. Rather, one: argumentation must be engaged in, in order to justify anything, and two: if you engage in argumentation, it is because you value the act of justification.

One can choose not to justify at all, but this does not help him if he wishes to justify something.

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Re the earlier jousting over is/ought.

Let me lay out very simply the Humean argument that has so many of us convinced of the validity of the is/ought gap:

We note that the standard modes of deductive logic, whether Aristotelian, modern first-order predicate logic, or whatever your own fave, cannot have a substantive, non-logical term in the conclusion unless it is also present in one of the premises.

Take the classic:

Socrates is a man
All men are mortal.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

The terms “Socrates” and “mortal” already occur in the premises which is why they can occur in the conclusion.

Since “ought” is not a logical term (words such as “some,” “all,” “and,” “or,” etc.), this applies also to the term “ought.” “Ought” cannot occur in the conclusion of a valid deductive argument unless it also appears in one of the premises: in shorthand, you cannot derive an “ought” from an “is.”

This is simply an observation about the rules of inference in all of the standard forms of deductive logic, going back to Aristotle.

Anyone who wishes to credibly deny this has to show that all of us are mistaken in this observation about the rules of inference of deductive logic.

People have been trying to do so for more than two centuries: no one has succeeded.

It is hard to see that anyone ever will.

Dave

Bala August 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm

” People have been trying to do so for more than two centuries: no one has succeeded. ”

Oh!! That’s probably because deductive logic is not the tool to be used. “Oughts” come from purpose. That’s inductive, not deductive reasoning at work. You can’t disprove by deductive reasoning, that which is established by inductive reasoning. That’s one more reason why the “is-ought” dichotomy appears false to those like me.

I think a proper argument should start from defining “oughts” and answering the questions I have posed to Stephan (assuming you were referring to my jousting with Stephan). Short of this, you could end up “discussing” something based on a faulty understanding of the underlying concept.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 9:05 pm

““Oughts” come from purpose.”

How so? I think you are confusing oughts as “means” (i.e. ways which one can use to get what one wants) with oughts as “ends” (i.e. what one wants; “core values”). If you are considering “means”, then you can use inductive logic to determine that if you want Y, then X is the proper means by which to get Y. This determination of proper means is not a logical proof, but it’s good enough in practice. But if you are talking about “ends”, that is “core values”, then I don’t see how one can use either inductive or deductive logic to derive core values from facts. Values are categorically different from facts. I can’t see how you can derive one from the other, any more than you can squeeze orange juice from apples.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 9:28 pm

We are back to your concept of “core values”. That brings us back to your earlier discussion where I left you with some questions which we didn’t discuss further.

http://blog.mises.org/13401/defending-the-blackmailer/#comment-707152

Just trying to continue where we left off.

” Values are categorically different from facts ”

That does not mean facts do not influence values. To do so requires you to pre-suppose that values are by necessity divorced from reality. At least, it means that they can be thus divorced. I see serious problems in that notion, especially as regards the concept “value”.

For instance, poison kills. That is a fact. For a person who has chosen to act to sustain life, poison must necessarily rank lower on the value scale than food. To imply otherwise does not make sense to me.

I also think this discussion can only proceed if we agree on a definition of the concept “value”, especially since you are repeatedly using the term “core value”. What is a “core value” and how does a “core value” get to be a “core value”?

” think you are confusing oughts as “means” (i.e. ways which one can use to get what one wants) with oughts as “ends” ”

I am referring to “oughts” only as means. For instance, I am not saying that man “ought” to choose to act to live. I am saying that if he chooses to act to sustain life, there are a number of “oughts” he can’t escape from.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 10:04 pm

“That does not mean facts do not influence values….”

I don’t disagree with any of this.

“What is a “core value” and how does a “core value” get to be a “core value”?”

A “core value” is something that is not valued as a means to an end, but as an end in and of itself.

“I am referring to “oughts” only as means.”

Ah. I’m glad we clarified that. I think that most people who refer to the “is/ought” dichotomy are referring to “oughts” in the sense of “core values”; as ends in and of themselves, not as means. I agree that, given a “core value”, facts are indispensible in dertermining what the proper way to further that core value is.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Now I see why we have a lot of room for agreement. What you call “core value”, I call “purpose”. I too am glad that this is resolved between us.

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Well, Bala, you have a couple problems.

First, inductive logic does not give certain conclusions, only probable ones.

Take the standard example of inductive reasoning:

All swans that have ever been observed are white.
Therefore, all swans are white.

Perfectly good inductive reasoning. But the conclusion turned out to be false when the black swans Down Under were discovered.

Yet, most of Hoppe’s supporters seem to think he has shown his conclusion with certainty: inductive logic cannot do this.

The other problem is that inductive logic too is fairly well-defined: in essence, it consists of reasoning from specific limited pieces of data to general conclusions, conclusions about yet unobserved instances or yet unobserved causes.

Alas, the standard canons of inductive logic do not get you from an “is” to an “ought.”

I have a strong suspicion that you proponents of the Hoppean argument are using the word “logic” in an eccentric way, so that, to you guys, “logic” means something different than what that word has meant for centuries to logicians, mathematicians, scientists, etc.

I can’t stop you from doing that, of course, but you should be unsurprised that you are unable to convince most people to use the word “logic” in this new, eccentric way.

But, again, prove me wrong: give us the Hoppean argument, in either an inductive or deductive form, that follows the same rules of logical inference used in math, science, etc.

Hoppe has not done so; no one here has done so. I have suggested why I do not think anyone ever will.

You guys have offered us promissary notes that such an argument exists. Redeem those promissary notes. Show us the argument using only the usual rules of inductive or deductive logic.

I’m from Missouri: you have to show me.

Dave

Paul Edwards August 24, 2010 at 9:02 pm

“Yet, most of Hoppe’s supporters seem to think he has shown his conclusion with certainty: inductive logic cannot do this.”

Hopefully this is because most of his supporters don’t think he has derived an ought from an is – which Hoppe has explicitly denied doing.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 9:21 pm

It is my understanding that the idea is that a person who does not acknowledge the rights of a person he is arguing with is guilty of a “performative contradiction”. The problem is, rights in and of themselves are a normative concept; they belong to the vocabulary of ethics and/or politics. Acknowledging a person’s rights is a normative act; it involves values. Hoppe is thus saying that non-rights-based ethical systems are logically incompatible with the very nature of argumentation. If this isn’t trying to derive an ought from an is, I don’t know what is.

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 12:21 am

I see a recurring pattern of people attempting unsuccessfully, to accurately paraphrase Hoppe’s argument, and then arguing why such an argument fails or does something other than what Hoppe claims it to do. It has become my view that until people are willing to get familiar with his particular formulations of the concepts, to the point that they can repeat them with reasonable fidelity, the prospects of grasping his argument well enough to correctly paraphrase them remain distant and tenuous.

What i would suggest is to pull a paragraph or two, out of his thesis, word for word, and one by one, dissect and attempt to refute them directly. This exercise will help us all to either understand the argument and why it fails, or why it succeeds. In any event, we can be more certain to at least understand the argument.

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 1:13 am

Paul,

Again, you are assuming that we who are critics of Hoppe think he actually has an argument that can be dissected or refuted.

I don’t.

I think there is no there there.

Incidentally, I think Hoppe is a fairy bright guy who has written some interesting stuff. I do not despise or hate him as some people seem to.

I just think he succumbed to “word salad” on the issue under discussion.

Dave

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 1:50 am

I initially give people the benefit of the doubt that they have sincerely tried to understand, if still unsuccessfully, the thrust of Hoppe’s argument. But it is clear also that anyone, such as you, can in effect say: “Pythagoras has no argument – let us now measure the hypotenuse of the next triangle.” It is, however, quite another thing to demonstrate the ability to follow his argument, and then show why it fails – if it fails.

In any case, no one really loses. Some people will accept that A squared plus B squared equal C squared without understanding its proof. And others will be libertarians despite having no understanding of its objective logical justification.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Firstly, I am not a Hoppean. Secondly, let me address up the very syllogism you had used.

The problem with your entire train of reasoning is that it completely ignores the role of concepts in reasoning. In fact, it completely ignores the fundamental concept “definition”.

The point, simply, is that a definition includes all characteristics of that which is being defined, including the yet unidentified ones. When you use the definition “man” (I take it you are not referring to a particular concrete instance of a man), purpose is an attribute of the concept “man”. I do not need to specify it separately in the argument.

The “oughts” that you claim do not emanate from the syllogism because they are not “a logical term” in the syllogism are actually implicit in the concepts that you are working with. You cannot separate out the “oughts” from the concept “man”.

Your error stems from a fundamental error over the concept “definitions”. You seem to imply that only the characteristics stated explicitly in the definition ought to be used. That would be fundamentally flawed.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 9:25 pm

“When you use the definition “man” (I take it you are not referring to a particular concrete instance of a man), purpose is an attribute of the concept “man”.”

I think that, in Randian terms, this is an attempt to “smuggle in” your values into your definitions. In other words, you are attempting to smuggle in what you believe man’s purpose ought to be, in addition to what man really is. You are trying to smuggle an ought into your is.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 9:31 pm

” this is an attempt to “smuggle in” your values into your definitions. In other words, you are attempting to smuggle in what you believe man’s purpose ought to be ”

Not at all. I am only saying that the concept of a living being without purpose is a self-contradiction. The very difference between living and non-living things is that the former has purpose. The purpose is what makes them capable of “self-generated action”.

If at all there is smuggling, it is you trying to smuggle out the concept “purpose” from the definition of a living being.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I’ve met some fairly purposeless people in my time. But be that as it may be, even if we assume that people have “purpose” in general, that does not imply any specific purpose.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 10:05 pm

” that does not imply any specific purpose. ”

I never implied any specific purpose. Neither does my philosophy.

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Bala wrote to me:
> The problem with your entire train of reasoning is that it completely ignores the role of concepts in reasoning. In fact, it completely ignores the fundamental concept “definition”.
> The point, simply, is that a definition includes all characteristics of that which is being defined, including the yet unidentified ones. When you use the definition “man” (I take it you are not referring to a particular concrete instance of a man), purpose is an attribute of the concept “man”. I do not need to specify it separately in the argument.

Well… Bala, your problem here is that this is not how most people use the word “definition” (or have ever used it, as far as I know).

At any rate, I do not see that I have hitherto used the term “definition” in this discussion, so it is a bit odd that you say that this is the problem with my chain of reasoning!

Bala also wrote:
> The “oughts” that you claim do not emanate from the syllogism because they are not “a logical term” in the syllogism are actually implicit in the concepts that you are working with. You cannot separate out the “oughts” from the concept “man”.

Again, you are trying to create a new form of logic – this is not in fact how deductive (or inductive) logic has worked for the last two and a half millennia. The way you are “reasoning” is the type of “reasoning” used by Randians to “prove” that relativity is wrong, that the universe is finite, etc. That is why they are laughingstocks among technically well-educated people.

I’m sorry, but your assertions will convince no one who has actually learned deductive (or inductive) logic.

I fear you have been reading too much by Ayn Rand (or her followers) and too little on deductive logic as used, e.g., in modern mathematics.

Dave

Bala August 24, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Dave,

” Well… Bala, your problem here is that this is not how most people use the word “definition” (or have ever used it, as far as I know). ”

The number of people subscribing to a notion is not a proof of its correctness. Your appeal to authority betrays your inability to argue.

” Again, you are trying to create a new form of logic – this is not in fact how deductive (or inductive) logic has worked for the last two and a half millennia. ”

This statement, to me, betrays your complete failure to come to grips with how we, as humans, come to know what we know. Your epistemology seems rather non-existent.

” I fear you have been reading too much by Ayn Rand (or her followers) and too little on deductive logic as used, e.g., in modern mathematics. ”

The second part is only an attempt to argue by intimidation, smear and appeal to authority all rolled into one.

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 1:20 am

Bala wrote to me:
>The number of people subscribing to a notion is not a proof of its correctness. Your appeal to authority betrays your inability to argue.

Indeed. But when you propose to change the meaning of a common word (i.e., “definition”), the burden of proof is on you to convince all the rest of us English-speakers to alter the meaning of the word.

You have not met that burden.

I know, I know, this is how *Ayn Rand* wanted us all to use the word “definition.”

Did I mention that I do not accept Miss Rand’s elevation to divinity?

Dave

Bala August 24, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Just saw another error in your post. Your attempt at inductive reasoning is completely off-track.

” All swans that have ever been observed are white. Therefore, all swans are white. ”

This statement shows you trying to use inductive reasoning to “prove” rather than to “know”. That is your fundamental error. It is therefore incorrect on your part to blame inductive reasoning for your error.

In this particular case, what the observer is doing is actually forming the concept “swan”. He observes many entities that have specific features that differentiate them from all other entities in their surroundings. These could include the dimensions, colours, textures, behavioural traits, etc., of the entity under observation. Having done the task of differentiating all such entities from their surroundings, the observer then integrates them using the similarities among many of these entities (i.e., using their identity and the commonality of specific aspects of identity among all these entities) into a “unit”. A “unit” is one specific member of a larger class of entities that are mentally integrated based on certain conceptual common denominators.

Once the “unit” stage is reached, the observer is in a position to form a concept of the entity. This is when the “label” enters the picture. The label or what we call the name is just a term used to represent the entity that has been “known” by applying reason to the perceptual material provided by the senses. This is the stage at which the observer says “This is a swan”. By that, he is not inferring that the entity is a swan. Rather, he is engaged in the act of defining what the term “swan” represents.

It so happens that to a person who has seen only white swans, the concept “swan” includes the colour “white”. The day he sees another creature that looks similar in every other respect to that which he knows as a “swan” but is black in colour, he has 2 options
1. To create a new concept, say “swar” to denote the entity he now perceives
2. To delete the specification of “white colour” from the concept “swan” that he has formed

Which one to choose is actually a matter of convenience and usefulness, not of “truth”.

In sum, inductive reasoning is only a means to “know’, not to “prove”. That’s why you are completely wrong.

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 11:06 pm

No, Bala, that is *not* what I or most human beings were doing in supposing that all swans were white!

Look, your post sounds almost as if you were quoting directly from “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology” (I know you were not, but it sounds like it!).

Almost all human beings are not Objectivists; almost all of us do not think the way Miss Rand thinks we should think. This is most especially true of scientists such as myself: the sort of warmed-over Aristotelianism that you and the Randians offer up just did not work very well in science from the very beginning. (No, I am not accusing you of being a Randian, but you certainly got this from them somehow — there are way too many tell-tale turns of phrase that give you away).

Dave

Bala August 24, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Dave,

You are trying to squirm out of a corner you painted yourself into when you say this.

” No, Bala, that is *not* what I or most human beings were doing in supposing that all swans were white! ”

” Look, your post sounds almost as if you were quoting directly from “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology” (I know you were not, but it sounds like it!). ”

What if I was?

” Almost all human beings are not Objectivists ”

Fact well stated.

” almost all of us do not think the way Miss Rand thinks we should think. ”

How does this even connect to the previous statement?

” the sort of warmed-over Aristotelianism that you and the Randians offer up just did not work very well in science from the very beginning. ”

Assertions. That too rather unjustified ones.

How about picking my errors rather than use smear, intimidation and appeal to authority to push your point through?

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Bala wrote to me:
>[Dave]” the sort of warmed-over Aristotelianism that you and the Randians offer up just did not work very well in science from the very beginning. ”
>[Bala] Assertions. That too rather unjustified ones.

Sorry, Bala, all I have are assertions (or, sometimes, questions).

Bala also wrote:
>How about picking my errors rather than use smear, intimidation and appeal to authority to push your point through?

I’ve done so, several times. But my life is finite. To show you that the ideas you are proposing just do not and have not worked in science for the last five centuries would take me a very long time – I would have to teach you science.

That is not my obligation.

Rather, it is your obligation to learn something other than Objectivist dogma so that you will know that Objectivism is not true. You can start at various sites all over the Web (e.g., “Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature” jumps to mind); my old friend Murray Rothbard also has some postings on the Web about Rand.

But more importantly, learn real hard-core science, real hard-core mathematical logic, etc., and then you will not have to listen to my assertions at all.

You will know for yourself.

I cannot think for you. You have to do it yourself.

Dave

Bala August 24, 2010 at 11:51 pm

I have checked out ARCHN. It was so riddled with errors that it took just a few minutes to be off it forever. So much for your references.

And it looks like you just can’t stop arguing by intimidation and appeal to authority.

” learn real hard-core science, real hard-core mathematical logic, etc., and then you will not have to listen to my assertions at all. ”

I see that you have no intent to explain what you say but just want to make bald assertions. I guess we will have to go our ways.

Bala August 25, 2010 at 12:00 am

I just checked out ARCHN again. I thought it is time I threw back a few assertions.

ARCHN is complete nonsense. Their attack on axiomatic concepts is particularly laughable.

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 12:42 am

Bala wrote to me:
>I have checked out ARCHN. It was so riddled with errors that it took just a few minutes to be off it forever. So much for your references.

Ah, Bala, spoken like a true Randian!

The people at ARCHN do not claim to be infallible, you know. They do not claim they are error-free. A number of them have even dared to contradict me! The nerve of them, can you believe it???

And, I certainly do admire your lightning fast ability to detect errors – my errors, ARCHN’s errors, etc.

Why… I bet that, like so many Objectivists, if you learned a little bit (just a little itsy-bitsy, teeny, tiny bit) of physics, then you too could detect all of those horrible errors that that poor non-Objective Einstein guy made.

Bala also wrote:
>I just checked out ARCHN again. I thought it is time I threw back a few assertions.
> ARCHN is complete nonsense. Their attack on axiomatic concepts is particularly laughable.

And, that lightning-fast conclusion is, of course, axiomatic.

Dave

(And, if anyone thinks I am not earnest and deadly serious in responding to young Bala, let me assure you that I possess no sense of humor or irony at all. If you want someone with a sense of humor, take Stephan’s Objectivist friend, Diana Mertz Hsieh… please.)

mpolzkill August 25, 2010 at 7:17 am

Einstein!: if you’re in the need of some comedy, PD, watch Jay Lackner try to explain Einstein’s theories to Bala for about a month here:

http://blog.mises.org/11637/arguments-against-anarchy/

Peter August 26, 2010 at 7:43 am

In this case, though, Bala is entirely correct. If the person who first saw black swans had said “hey, look, a Swar!” — i.e., had called them something other than “swan” — Dave would undoubtedly now be arguing that of course swars and swans are different things! Swans are white!

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 2:35 am

THANK YOU ! GOOD COMMENT

RWW August 24, 2010 at 9:09 pm

I’ve never seen anyone define, in any meaningful way, what “ought” even means. For example, if I say, “You ought not initiate aggression,” what does this really mean? Any attempt I’ve encountered to explain such a statement is eventually circular.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 9:15 pm

That’s probably because “oughts” are a product of consciousness that evolve from a living being’s recognition of the nature of existence, including its own.

RWW August 24, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Nice nonresponse.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 10:39 pm

If you choose not to read the rest of my responses on this very thread.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 10:08 pm

“For example, if I say, “You ought not initiate aggression,” what does this really mean?”

I think it means that you would rather I didn’t initiate aggression, for whatever reason. Nothing more, nothing less. In other words, it is the making of the dictates of your super-ego into a categorical imperative for everyone else.

Stephan Kinsella August 24, 2010 at 10:28 pm

A similar problem plague the notion of rights.

I’ve struggled with this too. Best is can come up with is something along these lines: when we say someone has a right to (a scarce resource) X, we mean he has a right to control X, which is to say a right to use X so long as by acting he does not invade others property borders, and a right to grant, or to deny, permission to others to use X. This relies on the word “right” to define right, so it is more unpacking it and clarifying than a good definition.

Right itself means, I think, that with respect to a right to X, if you have such a right, it means that the legitimacy of the your use of force to defend X (which means: to prevent someone from using X, if you have refused to consent) cannot be coherently criticized.

I think this is the way to reduce rights-language: it gets down to some outside person not being able to mount a *coherent criticism* of the *legitimacy* (or rightness, or justice) of the rights-holder’s using force to protect the right. The definition does employ a normative or moral term–legitimacy–but it is not circular b/c this term is introduced by the outside critic himself. If he cannot coherently criticize the legitimacy of the enforcement action, then your acting as you would act if you did have the right, cannot be morally criticized. Which means you have the right.

I also discuss the nature of rights at p. 319 of my New Rationalist Directions in Libertarian Rights Theory.

See also my Punishment and Proportionality: The Estoppel Approach, et pass.

Also see: Manuel Lora, who writes, in this piece:

A person has a right to X (an action, a thing) if and only if the legitimacy of his use of force to keep or do X cannot be coherently criticized. So the normative tie is “legitimacy” and the standard is whether the force used to defend the right can be criticized coherently. [Stephan Kinsella was helpful in finding that definition of rights, which is paraphrased from James A. Sadowsky's "Private Property and Collective Ownership." That same article explains how self-ownership implies property rights.] An example: a thug comes into my house to kill me. His intention is obvious and I am in imminent danger. Since I have a right to my body (“right to life”) and the thug does not have a right to my body (thus, my “right to not be killed”), my use of force to keep my life is legitimate. Any criticism here would not be coherent. If C, a third party, adopts a pacifist stance where the complete use of deadly force is forbidden, then any attempt I make to use defensive force would be, in C’s view, illegitimate. But this would imply that I am not the owner of my own body (and would be a slave). Surely this cannot be right since I have a “more legitimate” claim to it than the thug: I was born in it, have lived in it longer, etc. Self-ownership gives rise to all rights. Of course, the pacifist himself has the right to not use force in his own defense.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 10:47 pm

” A similar problem plague the notion of rights. ”

I think your problem is primarily on account of your failure to understand “oughts”, the nature of living entities and what differentiates living from non-living entities. It is also because you are trying to “prove” that which can only be “known”. You face the problem because you fail to recognise that “rights” a moral concept – a construct of the intellect. Your statement

” if you have such a right, ”

betrays this. Rights can only be recognised, not had. They do not exist. We conjure them up because of moral considerations.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 11:01 pm

“Rights can only be recognised, not had. They do not exist. We conjure them up because of moral considerations.”

So rights, or “oughts”, or “purpose”, or “core values”, or whatever, are subjective? If so, I agree with you.

SK writes:
“Right itself means, I think, that with respect to a right to X, if you have such a right, it means that the legitimacy of the your use of force to defend X (which means: to prevent someone from using X, if you have refused to consent) cannot be coherently criticized.”

The problem here is that I don’t think that such a right can be coherently justified, either. If two peoples’ core values differ fundamentally, all they can do is agree to disagree, or fight.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 11:05 pm

” So rights, or “oughts”, or “purpose”, or “core values”, or whatever, are subjective? If so, I agree with you. ”

It all depends on what you mean by “subjective”. My main point is that “rights” are a moral concept. All concepts exist only in the minds of people. If that is what you mean by subjective, I am all with you.

Russ the Apostate August 24, 2010 at 11:15 pm

It seems that I agree with you, but based on your discussions with others here, I’m not sure. Sometimes it seems as though you are still arguing that the “correct” core values (i.e. the core values that people “ought” to have) can in some way be objectively determined. OTOH, sometimes it just seems as though you are arguing that everybody has core values. Yeah, everybody has core values. Even Heath Ledger’s Joker had certain core values (albeit very bizarre ones). I’m not sure that this proves much of anything, though.

Bala August 24, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Russ,

” Sometimes it seems as though you are still arguing that the “correct” core values (i.e. the core values that people “ought” to have) ”

No. I am not. I have been stating rather consistently that even the choice to choose one’s own life as the standard of value is a pre-moral choice. I would be in complete agreement with you if you said that there is no such thing as a “correct” core-value.

” can in some way be objectively determined. ”

I only say that each of us has a choice to make as to what our core-value is. Once we do that, reality (the laws of identity and causality) do the rest of the job. We are free to make our choices but not free to escape the consequences thereof.

Kerem Tibuk August 25, 2010 at 3:22 am

“Sometimes it seems as though you are still arguing that the “correct” core values (i.e. the core values that people “ought” to have) can in some way be objectively determined.”

They can but only for the living being who choses to continue living. So the issue is not evaluating every choice based on some objective scale, but once you make the choice of survival whether your following actions are CONSİSTENT or not. Of course if you do not choose life, ethics (actually anything) is irrelevant.

The major point people don’t get about natural rights ethics is that,

Ethics is only relevant to the living that has the ability to choose death, since ethics implies choice regarding a change in the future state and only living entities future state can change form “living to the dead” and since ethics implies choice only living beings that has the ability to make choice between death and life can be bound by ethics. Of course ethics also implies future uncertainty based on ignorance of the facts that shape the future.

Thus, no non living thing can have ethics, and no living thing that instinctively always chooses life (the other kind would be quickly extinct) can have ethics.

Also this means ethics boils down to survival of the individual living being.

A living being, that has the ability to choose death but never the less chooses life, must be consistent and thus choose actions that will only increase his probability of survival. Otherwise, choosing death and supposedly choosing life but not being consistent with this choice is no different then each other.

Peter Surda August 25, 2010 at 4:45 am

Kerem,

I am not sure I understand your last paragraph correctly, it has confusing stylisation. However, I think you are saying the same thing as Bala, so my retort will be the same as to him. From strictly logical point of view, you cannot choose life over death. Everyone dies anyway. The only thing that you can choose is how you live your life, and, to a certain extent, for how long. It does not follow that longer life is always preferable, because it requires a ceteris paribus. A lot of goals you might set to yourself have a detrimental effect on the length of your life, or might increase the risk of premature death. I dealt with this in earlier debates with Bala.

Freddy August 25, 2010 at 5:07 am

Kerem Tibuk
“They can but only for the living being who choses to continue living. ”

I think this line of reasoning leads nowhere. The choice to live has very few meaningful entailments. It’s like the choice to extend your arm. In isolation, this choice doesn’t entail anything, but if you look into someone’s brain you might see that his choice to extend his arm stems from a desire for tea which require him to reach for his teacup. Choices can not be analysed apart from desires, wants, ends and so forth. If a person has a desire for a specific lifestyle then he will make a lot of choices that reasonably can be said to be BOTH be consistent with his preferred lifestyle and the choice to continue living. However, what you want to do is to isolate such a choice of his and then tell him that he “logically” has made a choice that entail, in a hypothetical imperative sense, a Randian lifestyle or whatever. Such logic is demonstrably unsound; there is no entailment from what you call “the choice to continue living” to any very specific lifestyle an any meaningful sense. This line of reasong will not resolve any important ethical questions.

Kerem Tibuk August 25, 2010 at 5:30 am

” From strictly logical point of view, you cannot choose life over death. Everyone dies anyway. The only thing that you can choose is how you live your life, and, to a certain extent, for how long.”

Maybe I should rephrase it.

Instead of “choosing life”, “not choosing death” is more appropriate because “survival” is the de facto aim, purpose of all living organism by definition. A living organism not trying to survive is a living organism no more and it loses its categorical imperative regarding comparison to non living organisms.

What makes Ethics possible or relevant is the ability to be able to choose death, by actions necessarily leading to death which might be called indirect suicide.

If a living organism does not have the ability to choose death, this means the living organism does whatever it does to survive and its actions can not be judged good or bad. You can only say, the actions lead to its survival or its demise. Either the living organism is successful or not.

Humans on the other hand can and in fact do choose death. They may choose suicide out right and if they do Ethics is still irrelevant. A human choosing suicide, is a living organism no more let alone a human. Except for the ones who believe in the eternal soul, in that case they choose not death but a change.

But if they do not choose death, if their aim is to increase their probability of survival, then they have to be consistent with their actions. Otherwise it is no different than choosing death outright. This is what natural rights, rational ethics is, requirement of consistency.

Of course when I say survival, I use it in the ultimate sense. There are different qualities of survival, you can have a “good life” or a “bad life” in various degrees. But what differentiates “the good life” from “the bad life” is ultimately the length of the survival. Bad life tends to be short. That is the reason, people tend to stay away from the “bad life”. Every pain and suffering associated with “the bad life” are actually signals regarding the chances of survival. Humans feel pain, because pain signals the action associated with the pain decreases the chances of the organisms survival. Mental sufferings are similar to physical pain. Even boredom. Boredom increase your chances of death.

So survival might seem an easy enough concept but it is actually not. When you say survival people tend to think about the most basic necessities. Food, shelter, etc. While these are the basics, there are many factors that effect the probability of you future survival.

Everything an individual does to increase the probability of his survival is “good” and everything that he does that decreases his chances of survival is “bad”.

Sounds simple but to follow it is not. You need rationality to decrypt the above formula.

Peter Surda August 25, 2010 at 6:05 am

Kerem,

I am afraid you are avoiding the problem. No matter what you do, eventually death comes to all. Whether you contribute to the specific mode of death or not. You cannot choose life or death. You can only do that if you restrict the scope of the analysis to a relatively short period of time, for utilitarian purposes.

Even if you limit the question to the length of life, you still cannot avoid utilitarianism, as I demonstrated in a earlier answer to Bala. The example I used was when there was a choice between two gaussian probability distributions, first having lower variance and higher mean value for the length of life than the second. The logically consistent choice for a risk-friendly person would be to choose the lower mean higher variance option (thus having a higher probability of living a long life, but also a higher probability of premature death), and for a risk-averse person to choose the higher mean lower variance option (thus having a high chance of living to a moderate age, but a lower chance of either premature death or long life). Without making an assumption regarding the person’s attitude to risk, it is impossible to draw a conclusion which alternative is preferable.

Kerem Tibuk August 25, 2010 at 6:33 am

Peter,

I am not avoiding the problem, but you seem to be trapped in the circular.

“Even if you limit the question to the length of life, you still cannot avoid utilitarianism, as I demonstrated in a earlier answer to Bala. The example I used was when there was a choice between two gaussian probability distributions, first having lower variance and higher mean value for the length of life than the second. The logically consistent choice for a risk-friendly person would be to choose the lower mean higher variance option (thus having a higher probability of living a long life, but also a higher probability of premature death), and for a risk-averse person to choose the higher mean lower variance option (thus having a high chance of living to a moderate age, but a lower chance of either premature death or long life). Without making an assumption regarding the person’s attitude to risk, it is impossible to draw a conclusion which alternative is preferable.”

This makes no sense at all. If an action increases your chances for a long life, how can it also have a higher probability of a premature death?

Being risk averse has nothing to do with this issue. An action either increases you chances of survival or it decreases it. Sometimes the effect can be marginal but every action has a consequence.

Since we can not know all the possible variables that effect our survival all we can do is try to increase the probability the best we can.

Sometimes an action that seems risky is an action that can keep you a live. Take sky diving. On the face of it a person that chooses sky diving might be viewed as someone decreasing his chances of survival.

But this is not an objective and necessarily true statement. The excitement, the adrenalin rush is a necessary component of survival. Some one used to adrenalin rush and someone never experienced it would not act the same way faced with a real danger and that might make a difference one day. Or you can even consider the leisure part of sky diving dealing with your boredom and increasing your quality of life which in turn lengthens it.

Bala August 25, 2010 at 6:36 am

Peter Surda,

I’ve been thinking about this

” You cannot choose life or death. ”

for some time and was waiting for an opportunity to get back to you. Thanks for giving the same so soon.

The choice is not of life “over” death. The issue is what we choose as our “purpose” or as Russ would put it, what we choose as our “core value”. No one is denying that the choice of purpose/core value is arbitrary and pre-moral. The point, however, is that for a living entity with a volitional consciousness, the difference between the choices of “life” and “death” as the purpose/core value is that between existence and non-existence. Death is the natural state that any living being unless it chooses to act to sustain life. This inevitability of death in no way precludes the choice of life as the purpose of a living being.

J. Murray August 25, 2010 at 7:09 am

“You cannot choose life or death.”

Life, true.

Death? Not true. While you can’t chose to delay the inevitable, you can chose to speed the process up (suicide).

Peter Surda August 25, 2010 at 7:31 am
Peter Surda August 25, 2010 at 7:38 am

Bala,

No one is denying that the choice of purpose/core value is arbitrary and pre-moral.

Well, at least we seem to agree on something.

The point, however, is that for a living entity with a volitional consciousness, the difference between the choices of “life” and “death” as the purpose/core value is that between existence and non-existence. Death is the natural state that any living being unless it chooses to act to sustain life. This inevitability of death in no way precludes the choice of life as the purpose of a living being.

This makes no sense. I already explained, from objective point of view, the choice is unavailable, since death is present in all possible actions taken. For there it to be a difference between the choices “life” and “death”, you need to introduce subjective factors of evaluation, for example: attitude to risk, timeframe, whether you are introverted or extroverted, and so on, as I elaborated earlier. The alleged dichotomy life vs. death is completely insufficient for making objective decisions. You need to make additional assumptions. That’s the whole problem.

Peter Surda August 25, 2010 at 7:47 am

Oh and Kerem,

would it be accurate to summarise your post as that the choices you make in your life always include utilitarian premises? With that I would agree.

Russ the Apostate August 25, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Bala wrote:

“I have been stating rather consistently that even the choice to choose one’s own life as the standard of value is a pre-moral choice.”

I am still confused by your wording. I think your use of the phrase “pre-moral” is unusual. I would think that one’s choice of “core values” is the moral choice, not the “pre-moral” choice. Everything after that is simply pragmatics. How do I further my core values? What are the best means with which to achieve my chosen ends. At that point, all the moral choosing has already been done. I still think you’re confusing ends and means.

Bala August 26, 2010 at 4:57 am

Russ,

I used the phrase “pre-moral” after a lot of thought. As I see it, morality is a code of values guiding man’s actions in the face of alternatives. Forming a code of values involves “measuring” the value of each thing that we seek to value. Measurement requires a unit and a standard. What you call “core value”, I call “standard of value”. The standard of value, which is the basis of the hierarchy of values, necessarily precedes the formation of the hierarchy of values that I call the moral framework. Hence, I use the phrase “pre-moral”.

Take my own stated position, for instance. My standard of value is “my life”. To value my life (my existence as a living being) above all is an arbitrary choice. There is no compelling imperative for me to choose to value my life. I could just as well choose to end life. Once I choose to value my life and make it my standard of value, however, I am in a position to evaluate everything else in terms of the extent to which it betters or worsens my life. The outcome of such an evaluation would be my moral framework. So, the choice of the standard of value falls outside the moral framework.

If on the other hand we claim that something else drives the choice of the core value/standard of value, then that something is the real core value/standard of value and not the one we originally identified.

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 11:14 pm

RWW wrote:
> I’ve never seen anyone define, in any meaningful way, what “ought” even means.

Well, in practice, it tends to be a bit of a red herring. Show someone the consequneces of his action, how it fits in with values he already accepts, how other people will react, what it will show about the kind of person he is, how it ties in to values that almost all human beings find appealing, etc. and you may convince him to pursue or refrain from that action.

If not, then yelling at him that he “ought” to do it is not likely to have much effect.

That is the real point here: slick little proofs as to what one ought to do, such as various people advocate here, just do not work. The sorts of considerations I just gave often do work, and, when they do not, persuasion is probably just not possible.

Dave

Allen Weingarten August 26, 2010 at 1:23 am

That which follows from physical or logical science constitutes “is”; that which obligates behavior from one’s metaphysical outlook constitutes an “ought”. (By a “metaphysical outlook” I mean a view as to what constitutes ultimate being.)

PhysicistDave August 24, 2010 at 11:51 pm

I should clear up an earlier point. Paul made a mistake when he gave “I cannot make a proposal” as an example of a performative contradiction.

However, there are real performative contracitions: e.g., saying “I cannot say anything” is a peformative contradiction, if taken literally.

But the reason is trivial, and irrelevant to Hoppe’s argument.

The act of saying “I cannot say anything” is an empircal fact which happens to contradict the assertion being made. So, empircally, that assertion turns out to be false.

Hoppe is not relying on an explicit assertion; rather, he wants us to accept that an actor is implicitly or logically relying on a principle (i.e., a right) that the acotr is *not* claiming explicitly.

And, that’s the problem. Hoppe and his supporters repeatedly assert that the actor is doing this, but they have never been able to show it, and, indeed, it is quite certain that, in many cases, the actor does not intend such a rights-claim at all. Therefore, since the actor is not making an explicit statement of the claim that Hoppe needs, the Hoppeans need some new sort of logic to prove that “logically” the actor is making such a claim, even though the actor *really* is not.

And, it turns out, very few people find this new type of logic, in which the actor’s real claim is different from his “logical” claim, very convincing.

Dave

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 1:12 am

“Hoppe is not relying on an explicit assertion; rather, he wants us to accept that an actor is implicitly or logically relying on a principle (i.e., a right) that the acotr is *not* claiming explicitly.”

Correct. There are certain normative presuppositions associated with truth seeking, justificatory argumentation that are unavoidable.

“And, that’s the problem. Hoppe and his supporters repeatedly assert that the actor is doing this, but they have never been able to show it, and, indeed, it is quite certain that, in many cases, the actor does not intend such a rights-claim at all.”

It is not relevant what the actor actually intends when he makes the appearance of an attempt to make an honest argument. What is relevant is what is logically implied if he actually is attempting to make an honest, justificatory argument.

” Therefore, since the actor is not making an explicit statement of the claim that Hoppe needs, the Hoppeans need some new sort of logic to prove that “logically” the actor is making such a claim, even though the actor *really* is not.”

Let’s say you really and truly don’t believe you exist, and you say so. I cannot know if you are simply misinformed – which you would be, or lying. All i can say is this: if you are claiming to me that you don’t exist, then you must exist. It does not matter what claim you wish not to make – your making of any claim of any sort of all, makes certain facts indisputably true. It turns out that this is not only true of facts, but of norms as well. For you to make truth containing propositions, and have even the chance of me affirming the truth of these proposals based on the weight of the facts and logic behind them, you and I must both presuppose certain norms between us. This too is indisputable.

“And, it turns out, very few people find this new type of logic, in which the actor’s real claim is different from his “logical” claim, very convincing.”

It’s not really a new type of logic. But in any case, very few people recall or understood to begin with, the proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. This too is irrelevant to the validity of the proof.

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 1:47 am

Paul wrote to me:
>[Dave] “Hoppe is not relying on an explicit assertion; rather, he wants us to accept that an actor is implicitly or logically relying on a principle (i.e., a right) that the acotr is *not* claiming explicitly.”
>[Paul]Correct. There are certain normative presuppositions associated with truth seeking, justificatory argumentation that are unavoidable.

Okay, I am glad we agree on what Hoppe is saying.

The problem is that I (along with a lot of other people) do not agree that “[t]here are certain normative presuppositions associated with truth seeking, justificatory argumentation that are unavoidable,” although I do understand that this is Hoppe’s claim.

Now, I suppose that we could just leave it at the point that you and Hoppe have faith in this and I don’t, and never the twain shall meet.

However, you and Hoppe seem to think that this is not just a matter of faith but that you can *prove* it with *logic.*

And, if “logic” means the standard principles of deductive or inductive logic, you guys have just not tried to prove this at all. You just keep re-asserting it as an obvious logical truth.

Well… in terms of the traditional logic used in science and math, it is not.

As I pointed out above, the contradiction in some performative utterances *is* explainable by traditional logic, indeed trivial empirical observation. I say, “I can’t say a thing,” but my saying that creates an empirically observable fact which contradicts the statement: empirical reality contradicts the statement.

This is not true for Hoppe: his actor is not making an explicit statement that is empirically contradicted by his actions. Rather, Hoppe wants to claim that “logically” his actor is committed to rights-claims that the actor is not making explicitly.

That is the problem: whence this “logically”?

You and Hoppe cannot and have not used traditional deductive or inductive logic to justify this claim of the *actually* non-existent but supposedly logically-required rights-claim. Indeed, by normal empirical observations, the actor did *not* make the rights-claim in question, and that’s the end of the story.

I understand why, pragmatically, you do not want the story to end there, but the supposed rights-claim that is being “logically” (although not really!) made is just a fantasy. This rights-claim just does not exist in the actual arena of spacetime. It exists only in some make-believe arena that you guys think is required by “logic.”

Well… traditional logic does not logically require fantasies to be real.

This is very much like the medieval scholastics – e.g., Anselm’s “ontological proof” of the existence of God, or Bala’s proof of how concepts are formed (even though real humans do not do it that way, still Bala has “proof”!).

Fantasy has its place, but logic does not require it.

Again, show me wrong: I have spelled out the obvious sense is which simple empirical observation shows the error in a “performative utterance” such as “I can’t say anything.”

Do the same for Hoppe: show us the actual empirical observation that shows us that the actor is making a claim that he is not in fact making. Or show us in detail how, using the traditional canons of inductive or deductive logic, you reach Hoppe’s conclusion.

You can’t.

The burden here is not on me: I’m not making a substantive positive assertion. I am merely pointing out the trivially obvious empirical fact that neither you nor Hoppe has actually used traditional logic (modus ponens, etc.) to demonstrate the conclusion that you claim follows logically.

And, you never will provide such a demonstration. It cannot be done.

Dave

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 2:37 am

Paul wrote to me:
>[Dave] “Hoppe is not relying on an explicit assertion; rather, he wants us to accept that an actor is implicitly or logically relying on a principle (i.e., a right) that the acotr is *not* claiming explicitly.”
>[Paul]Correct. There are certain normative presuppositions associated with truth seeking, justificatory argumentation that are unavoidable.

“Okay, I am glad we agree on what Hoppe is saying.

“The problem is that I (along with a lot of other people) do not agree that “[t]here are certain normative presuppositions associated with truth seeking, justificatory argumentation that are unavoidable,” although I do understand that this is Hoppe’s claim.

“Now, I suppose that we could just leave it at the point that you and Hoppe have faith in this and I don’t, and never the twain shall meet.

“However, you and Hoppe seem to think that this is not just a matter of faith but that you can *prove* it with *logic.*

“And, if “logic” means the standard principles of deductive or inductive logic, you guys have just not tried to prove this at all. You just keep re-asserting it as an obvious logical truth.

“Well… in terms of the traditional logic used in science and math, it is not.”

Let’s say you are entirely correct, and have adequately and deductively demonstrated the correctness of your position, and the shortcomings of AE. Have you accomplished this stunning demolition via the use of “the traditional logic used in science and math”? Surely such an approach is required to prove any truth deductively. Or are you using another form of logic you seem to abhor? I’m not sure. I’ll go back and look for your modus ponens.

“As I pointed out above, the contradiction in some performative utterances *is* explainable by traditional logic, indeed trivial empirical observation. I say, “I can’t say a thing,” but my saying that creates an empirically observable fact which contradicts the statement: empirical reality contradicts the statement.

“This is not true for Hoppe: his actor is not making an explicit statement that is empirically contradicted by his actions. Rather, Hoppe wants to claim that “logically” his actor is committed to rights-claims that the actor is not making explicitly.

“That is the problem: whence this “logically”?

“You and Hoppe cannot and have not used traditional deductive or inductive logic to justify this claim of the *actually* non-existent but supposedly logically-required rights-claim. Indeed, by normal empirical observations, the actor did *not* make the rights-claim in question, and that’s the end of the story.”

The question is, did he engage in argumentation for the purpose of coming to an agreement on a truth? This is both a logical and empirical question. If so, it is impossible that he could rely on threats of violence, or coercion. In fact he must have relied on a cooperative interaction that necessitated recognition of individual and equal rights between him and his interlocutor. Rights that allowed for at least an agreement that there is disagreement. It is impossible to engage in such a kind of argumentation without such an assumption. I have no idea how your modus ponens would help you to further understand this point, but you seem to be making your own points without it as well, so there may be hope.

“I understand why, pragmatically, you do not want the story to end there, but the supposed rights-claim that is being “logically” (although not really!) made is just a fantasy. This rights-claim just does not exist in the actual arena of spacetime. It exists only in some make-believe arena that you guys think is required by “logic.”

“Well… traditional logic does not logically require fantasies to be real.”

And are your arguments and rebuttals here all steeped in the format of your traditional logic? Is this how we can see your argument succeeds in showing that Hoppe’s argument fails?

“This is very much like the medieval scholastics – e.g., Anselm’s “ontological proof” of the existence of God, or Bala’s proof of how concepts are formed (even though real humans do not do it that way, still Bala has “proof”!).

“Fantasy has its place, but logic does not require it.

“Again, show me wrong: I have spelled out the obvious sense is which simple empirical observation shows the error in a “performative utterance” such as “I can’t say anything.””

What amount of violence or coercion could i threaten against you that would help to show you that you are wrong? As we engage in this argumentation, i notice that none of us has yet resorted to such threats, and it has occurred to me that this must be some kind of oversight on both our parts. If honest argumentation does not preclude such threats, if normative assumptions of physical autonomy of each participant in argumentation are not of necessity actually in place, it must be quite odd that none of us has used threats of violence to solidify our arguments and make agreement between us more likely. Or no… perhaps we both, even you, implicitly understand the necessary norms associated with true argumentation. You recognize them enough to respect them in action, if yet you contradictorily dismiss them in word, in the same breath. Life is already complicated enough, to not see the simple things in life.

“Do the same for Hoppe: show us the actual empirical observation that shows us that the actor is making a claim that he is not in fact making. Or show us in detail how, using the traditional canons of inductive or deductive logic, you reach Hoppe’s conclusion.”

Perhaps a threat of violence is in order to carry home the correctness of AE. Hopefully it is obvious to both of us that this would, rather than advance the argumentation, instead terminate it.

“You can’t.

“The burden here is not on me: I’m not making a substantive positive assertion. I am merely pointing out the trivially obvious empirical fact that neither you nor Hoppe has actually used traditional logic (modus ponens, etc.) to demonstrate the conclusion that you claim follows logically.”

The burden is on you to explain why threats of violence are not valid means of argumentation. Explain why we have not yet been making them, and why they are absurd in the context of a truth seeking argumentation. Go ahead and use your modus ponens to show why it makes sense that we have not yet bothered to threaten each other to win this debate. Nor have we even had to point out to each other the absurdity of the idea that a threat of violence might add weight to our arguments.

“And, you never will provide such a demonstration. It cannot be done.”

Freddy August 25, 2010 at 3:17 am

Paul Edwards
“In fact he must have relied on a cooperative interaction that necessitated recognition of individual and equal rights between him and his interlocutor. Rights that allowed for at least an agreement that there is disagreement.”

The problem for Hoppe is that this is simply not true. On a daily basis you probably enter many discussion where you do not have a right to decide the object of the discussion. If you have a discussion with your boss for example, then you can recognize both that you do not have equal rights and that the discussion is still perfectly meaningful as long as you believe that can influence the decisions being made. Hoppes argument actually amounts to the assertion that power (that someone has the right to decide the object under discussion) makes debate meaningless, which is a false statement.

Further problems for Hoppe is that his position is in the end quite circular; non-aggression is relative to an initial appointment of rights. There are billions of ways to assign rights that still make discussion perfectly meaningful. To take a simple example: In some countries you have property rights along with rights for all men to walk through forests and pick berries and mushrooms. Is this a true right? Thus, who is initiating aggression is dependent on the assignment of rights, so there is no point in using the non-aggression axiom to decide the matter. Further on, discussion is perfectly possible whether we have a right to walk through someone else’s forest or not, so again, how could Hoppe possible believe that the answer to how the rights should be appointed can somehow be related to the preconditions of discussion? In the end Hoppes argument is very weak, there are preconditions for argumentation that can be said to have reasonable implications, but they are far weaker than Hoppe thinks.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 4:03 am

exactly, good comment, freddy

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Freddy,

Paul Edwards
“In fact he must have relied on a cooperative interaction that necessitated recognition of individual and equal rights between him and his interlocutor. Rights that allowed for at least an agreement that there is disagreement.”

“The problem for Hoppe is that this is simply not true.”

That sounds like a big problem.

” On a daily basis you probably enter many discussion where you do not have a right to decide the object of the discussion. If you have a discussion with your boss for example, then you can recognize both that you do not have equal rights and that the discussion is still perfectly meaningful as long as you believe that can influence the decisions being made.”

The point of AE is slightly different and is therefore unaffected by this observation. The point: any attempt to demonstrate by correct fact and valid logic, the truth of a proposition requires the assumption of certain norms. It is not necessarily your boss’s intention to use strictly the force of argumentation to modify your view. He may simply be telling you what you need to do to keep your job. This is not argumentation in the sense we are speaking – and to the extent that it is, it is because you have understood that since he pays your salary, there is merit to following directives important to him.

” Hoppes argument actually amounts to the assertion that power (that someone has the right to decide the object under discussion) makes debate meaningless, which is a false statement.”

The crucial question is: are you both free to agree to disagree. If so, it is argumentation and the rules of argumentation Hoppe elaborates are in play. If disagreement is implicitly not allowed, then argumentation that justifies, has been hampered.

“Further problems for Hoppe is that his position is in the end quite circular; non-aggression is relative to an initial appointment of rights. There are billions of ways to assign rights that still make discussion perfectly meaningful. To take a simple example: In some countries you have property rights along with rights for all men to walk through forests and pick berries and mushrooms. Is this a true right? Thus, who is initiating aggression is dependent on the assignment of rights, so there is no point in using the non-aggression axiom to decide the matter. Further on, discussion is perfectly possible whether we have a right to walk through someone else’s forest or not, so again, how could Hoppe possible believe that the answer to how the rights should be appointed can somehow be related to the preconditions of discussion? In the end Hoppes argument is very weak, there are preconditions for argumentation that can be said to have reasonable implications, but they are far weaker than Hoppe thinks.”

Well, to borrow an answer from Walter Block, I don’t know what to say to that. Tell me, what normative preconditions do you think must be assumed by participants in justificatory argumentation, if any.

Freddy August 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Paul Edwards:
“The crucial question is: are you both free to agree to disagree. If so, it is argumentation and the rules of argumentation Hoppe elaborates are in play. If disagreement is implicitly not allowed, then argumentation that justifies, has been hampered.”

Yes, but you are conflating to things. Debate and and action upon what is debated. If I argue with my boss whether this or that piece of code should go into the software, I am perfectly at liberty to vent my opinion. But I have not the right to finally decide the matter, and I don’t need the right in order to argue. I am furthermore free to argue that I should have the right to decide what code should be used and even though I don’t decide that either. This is a parallel to the situation you’re in under the current political system. The point is, we can argue in the presence of power where we are perfectly free to agree or disagree, but not free to act upon what we believe is true, but where debate still is perfectly meaningful. This situation occurs daily in our life, and the situation is contrary to Hoppes assertion that arguments are meaningless in the presence of power. And even if power precludes debate it may not be illegitimate, if I enter your home and want to debate my right to enter you’re house, then you are free to use you’re power to shut down any argumentation and throw me out. Thus, the norms presupposed by argumentation are in fact much much weaker than Hoppe asserts.

Regarding the second part of my post, it just puts Hoppes theory to a simple test. First we note that non-aggression is relative to our rights theory. Let’s stipulate two possible appointments of rights

1) If you own a forest you have the right to throw any wanderers out of your forest.
2) If you own a forest all men still have a right to walk through it, that is, total control of the forest is not a right possible to acquire.

If 1 is true, a wanderer in your forest is initiating aggression. If 2 is true, you are initiating aggression when you try to throw him out. This implies that there is no point in using non-aggression to decide the matter because non-aggression itself rests on what is right.

If we furthermore ask ourself whether we can decide the matter by looking at the precondition of debate we realize that the question does not make sense at all. We can have perfectly valid debates in both systems, so pondering hidden assumption in the act of arguing something seem to take us absolutely nowhere. Hoppes theory does not seem to resolve anything when put to simple practical tests.

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 12:30 am

From Freddy August 25, 2010 at 2:32 pm:

Paul Edwards:
“The crucial question is: are you both free to agree to disagree. If so, it is argumentation and the rules of argumentation Hoppe elaborates are in play. If disagreement is implicitly not allowed, then argumentation that justifies, has been hampered.”

“Yes, but you are conflating to things. Debate and and action upon what is debated. If I argue with my boss whether this or that piece of code should go into the software, I am perfectly at liberty to vent my opinion. But I have not the right to finally decide the matter, and I don’t need the right in order to argue.”

Sure, the point of that kind of discussion is not to attempt to come to some ultimate agreement on truth. Your boss wants to know if you can convince him he is mistaken on a path of action. He is less concerned about convincing you he is not mistaken. I recognize there is a difference between the final action plan, and obtaining full agreement on the wisdom of that action. This is all tangential to our discussion.

” I am furthermore free to argue that I should have the right to decide what code should be used and even though I don’t decide that either. This is a parallel to the situation you’re in under the current political system. The point is, we can argue in the presence of power where we are perfectly free to agree or disagree, but not free to act upon what we believe is true, but where debate still is perfectly meaningful. This situation occurs daily in our life, and the situation is contrary to Hoppes assertion that arguments are meaningless in the presence of power.”

I am keenly interested to see you quote Hoppe that suggests anything anywhere near to the thrust of “arguments are meaningless in the presence of power”. This is why I feel it is such a great idea to adopt his wording initially, so that off-beat statements like this one, that are not part of the thesis don’t get folded into the discussion.

” And even if power precludes debate it may not be illegitimate, if I enter your home and want to debate my right to enter you’re house, then you are free to use you’re power to shut down any argumentation and throw me out. Thus, the norms presupposed by argumentation are in fact much much weaker than Hoppe asserts.”

Again, this is not relevant to Hoppe’s thesis, which starts with the simple premise that actors are voluntarily engaged in argumentation, rather than we begin with some property violation and then proceed with some pretense of engaging in argumentation.

“Regarding the second part of my post, it just puts Hoppes theory to a simple test. First we note that non-aggression is relative to our rights theory. Let’s stipulate two possible appointments of rights

“1) If you own a forest you have the right to throw any wanderers out of your forest.
2) If you own a forest all men still have a right to walk through it, that is, total control of the forest is not a right possible to acquire.

“If 1 is true, a wanderer in your forest is initiating aggression. If 2 is true, you are initiating aggression when you try to throw him out. This implies that there is no point in using non-aggression to decide the matter because non-aggression itself rests on what is right.”

This is just adding layers of unnecessary complexity to the discussion which cannot help, and can only obscure the insights revealed in Hoppe’s thesis. Start at a simple beginning – what if two people are voluntarily engaged in an argumentation. What, are, the necessary presuppositions for this to occur and proceed?

“If we furthermore ask ourself whether we can decide the matter by looking at the precondition of debate we realize that the question does not make sense at all. We can have perfectly valid debates in both systems, so pondering hidden assumption in the act of arguing something seem to take us absolutely nowhere. Hoppes theory does not seem to resolve anything when put to simple practical tests.”

I do feel for you. Not sure if i can help.

Freddy August 26, 2010 at 2:07 am

Paul Edwards
“Start at a simple beginning – what if two people are voluntarily engaged in an argumentation. What, are, the necessary presuppositions for this to occur and proceed?”

Freedom of speech is the basic general presupposition. No one should be intimidated to think in specific ways. In some arguments about truth nothing is going to be acted upon so disagreement doesn’t matter. Sometimes action is required and then someone will be overruled if there is disagreement. Let’s assume the argument is about something that is going to be acted upon. We have already shown that argument in the presence of power doesn’t have to be any problem at all for the argument. So unrestricted freedom to act upon what the participants believe is true can not be presupposed by argument.

Let’s take the simple I gave. The wanderer and the forest owner meet in the wood. They voluntarily start a conversation about whether the wanderer has a right to be there. You say this obscure Hoppes theory, I’d say the resolution of a simple example would be a great vindication of Hoppes theory. They start their conversation by giving their reasons for being right. The wanderer claim that a right to control access to the forest cannot be acquired, you can only acquire a right to cultivate the forest and to harvest the fruits of this labour. The owner claims this to be unreasonable, he is the owner of the forest in the same way he is the owner of his garden and the same rights apply. The interesting thing about Hoppe is that those arguments can never matter. It is the fact that they have an argument at all that decides the matter. Hoppe correctly claims that we need right to resolve the matter. However, it is glaringly obvious from the example that argumentation is consistent with any appointment of rights, they can argue their case no matter who is right. The truth of the matter simply cannot be contained in the conditions for having the argument. If it is, it needs to be shown in a very specific way, not just asserted. And there is in Hoppes argument no hint to as how this should be done.

Bala August 25, 2010 at 5:13 am

Dave,

” Bala’s proof of how concepts are formed ”

That was not a proof. That apart, if what I said is that ridiculous, how about laying out how, in your esteemed opinion, esteemed because it is that of a Physicist, human beings form concepts?

Paul Edwards September 10, 2010 at 6:06 pm

From Freddy August 26, 2010 at 2:07 am:

Paul Edwards
>“Start at a simple beginning – what if two people are voluntarily engaged in an argumentation. What, are, the necessary presuppositions for this to occur and proceed?”

“Freedom of speech is the basic general presupposition. No one should be intimidated to think in specific ways.”

Check.

” In some arguments about truth nothing is going to be acted upon so disagreement doesn’t matter. Sometimes action is required and then someone will be overruled if there is disagreement. Let’s assume the argument is about something that is going to be acted upon. We have already shown that argument in the presence of power doesn’t have to be any problem at all for the argument.”

“ So unrestricted freedom to act upon what the participants believe is true can not be presupposed by argument.”

The thesis is the opposite – that argumentation presupposes certain norms that must restrict violent property incursions by one participant on the other.

“Let’s take the simple I gave. The wanderer and the forest owner meet in the wood. They voluntarily start a conversation about whether the wanderer has a right to be there. You say this obscure Hoppes theory, I’d say the resolution of a simple example would be a great vindication of Hoppes theory.”

This doesn’t, per se, obscure the theory, if you recognize that we don’t need to discuss volumes on the history of the real estate in question, and the resources on it, to get to the root of the issue. That is: that both participants are already agreeing to the exclusive and cooperative use of scarce and rivalrous resources – starting with their own bodies – to argue and justify to get to a truth regarding rights of use of other scarce resources is the necessary and sufficient starting point. It demonstrates an implicit acknowledgement of private property in their own bodies and rights not to have those bodies physically incurred up on by the other.

” They start their conversation by giving their reasons for being right.”

And before this, they start by assuming a right to give their reasons for being right. That is, they mutually assume for each other, a right not to be physically accosted just because they are attempting to justify their position.

” The wanderer claim that a right to control access to the forest cannot be acquired, you can only acquire a right to cultivate the forest and to harvest the fruits of this labour.”

But this is unnecessary analysis. Do you not agree that the wanderer – in attempting to justify his view on property in forest – already claims a right to exclusive control of his own physical body, without someone else threatening aggression against it, and a right also to exclusively consume resources necessary to live (no two people can eat the same specific food twice) – again without threats of aggression? Obviously he does. In justifying any view, he has already conceded and assumed as ultimately justified peaceful cooperative action, and a right to exclusive control of scarce and rivalrous resources (property), including alienable property. All that is left is to understand the ultimate basis of of how this assumption of property emerges. And it does not take much to notice that this assumption of property necessarily emerges from recognizing a best objective claim to such resources which is the homesteading principle.

” The owner claims this to be unreasonable, he is the owner of the forest in the same way he is the owner of his garden and the same rights apply. The interesting thing about Hoppe is that those arguments can never matter. It is the fact that they have an argument at all that decides the matter. Hoppe correctly claims that we need right to resolve the matter.”

Yes, and these rights are not like rocks we discover on the road. They are not discovered like that, or given to us, by some powerful “holder”, or “creator” of rights. They are assumed – by ourselves, and others mutually – and they are most clearly assumed in the cooperative action of justification.

” However, it is glaringly obvious from the example that argumentation is consistent with any appointment of rights, they can argue their case no matter who is right.”

Absolutely – argumentation almost implies disagreement, or at least it implies the possibility of disagreement. But the point is, they cannot even attempt to arrive a honest agreement – they cannot engage in honest truth pursuing argumentative justification, without assuming certain norms between themselves first.

” The truth of the matter simply cannot be contained in the conditions for having the argument. If it is, it needs to be shown in a very specific way, not just asserted. And there is in Hoppes argument no hint to as how this should be done.”

Getting to the truth of who has a right to exclusive use of a particular scarce and alienable resource is a matter of demonstrating superior objective links that were created by specific actions at specific times – yes. But the above fact is still ultimately justified in the fact that it is implicit and presupposed in the act of argumentation.

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 1:59 am

Paul,

Let me give a relevant historical example here.

You know of Andrew Wiles’ historic proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem back in the ‘90s?

Wiles claimed to have a logically airtight proof, but when other mathematicians went through it, they found apparent gaps. Wiles confidently claimed that filling in these gaps was straightforward, and that he had, in essence, left those as trivial “exercises for the student.”

In all but one case, that turned out to be correct.

But, in that one case, Wiles could not fill in the tiny details of the logic.

He had to admit, publicly, that the proof was wrong because of that one tiny gap.

The story has a happy ending. Working with his student Dick Taylor, Wiles later discovered an alternative approach in which he really could fill in all of the tiny little logical details so that the whole (new) proof could be shown valid by the methods of traditional deductive logic.

I do not think it unfair to make the same demands of Hoppe: you and he claim that you do not need new, fake “logic” to prove Hoppe’s conclusion, that it follows from the traditional logical rules of inference?

Fine. Show us all the details.

Or be honest enough, as Wiles was, to admit that you do not have a logical proof.

I know that most people unschooled in math or natural science will think I am being unfair here: surely one or two weak spots in a proof are okay?

No, a logical proof is only as strong as its weakest step. If you cannot spell out the details, you have no proof.

This is one of the reasons we technical people tend not to take the humanities/socal-science people seriously: their real purpose is to keep the dumb students out of the science labs where they could hurt themselves!

Dave

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 2:48 am

In the act of participation in argumentation, you implicitly confirm the points of AE you take exception to. You respect all the norms of argumentation Hoppe points out are necessary, even while disputing their necessity. Your refutation of AE is riddled with self-contradiction, even as you stipulate the need for scientific logic, because your refutation depends on the very assumptions you claim are unnecessary. I cannot do no more than to point this out. If it strikes you as bald unsubstantiated assertion, then so be it. I think we’ve hit all the high points of the argument by now.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 4:36 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tm0Uq08xXhY

it is funny and hopefully makes some of you wonder

newson August 27, 2010 at 11:49 pm

great videos, those. thanks.

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 4:58 am

Paul wrote to me:
>You respect all the norms of argumentation Hoppe points out are necessary, even while disputing their necessity.

And…????

Look, I respect American norms about clothing while disputing their necessity. I know perfectly good and well that humans can and do follow other norms for clothing than we do. The fact that I (sometimes) choose to abide by certain norms does not in the slightest prove that I accept that those norms are necessary.

Paul also wrote to me:
>Your refutation of AE is riddled with self-contradiction…

Where’s the beef?

Show us explicitly the self-contradiction, Paul. You keep saying there is a self-contradiction — show us.

A contradiction means there is a logical deduction through which one can, by the standard rules of logic, deduce both A and not-A from the premises.

Show us the contradiction, in detail, the way a student would in a class on modern logic — i.e., truth tables, two-column proofs, whichever of the standard methods you like best.

You haven’t.

You can’t.

It’s all just a fake.

Prove me wrong, Paul.

Spell out the logic, using the normal rules of deductive logic, that result in a contradiction.

In all honesty, I do not think you have any familiarity with the laws of deductive logic and really do not understand what I am asking for.

Let me guess: you have never taken any advanced math courses (i.e., beyond diff. equs.)?

Dave

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm

i fear you never get an answer… i really hope misesU guys would become more humble…

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Dave,

Paul wrote to me:
>You respect all the norms of argumentation Hoppe points out are necessary, even while disputing their necessity.

“And…????”

Heh. And. You respect them out of necessity as long as your purpose is to participate in justificatory argumentation. You cannot avoid respecting them, and while you are busy adhering to these norms in order to make your argument, the content of your arguments is that these norms are not necessary.

“Look, I respect American norms about clothing while disputing their necessity.”

The difference is you can still dress out of the norm and be dressed. You simply cannot argumentatively justify anything without respecting the norms of argumentative justification. Try it: threaten me with violence and claim it advances your argument. You’ll feel something strange come over you – a realization that some norms truly are necessary for real argumentation to take place.

“I know perfectly good and well that humans can and do follow other norms for clothing than we do. The fact that I (sometimes) choose to abide by certain norms does not in the slightest prove that I accept that those norms are necessary.”

Paul also wrote to me:
>Your refutation of AE is riddled with self-contradiction…

“Where’s the beef?”

You have yet to threaten violence against me to advance your argument. Me too against you. Do you not realize there is more than mere coincidence or negligence on our parts behind this? It is because we implicitly recognize that argumentation demands the absence of threats. It is the nature of argumentation. It demands the assumption of certain norms. You want to see a truth table to help you to grasp this or see it proven. Heh! Funny.

“Show us explicitly the self-contradiction, Paul. You keep saying there is a self-contradiction — show us.”

I think it may be impossible to demonstrate to a walking, talking contradiction when he falls into his contradictions. But anyways: When you claim there are no necessary norms to argumentation, while staunchly and diligently implicitly assuming just those norms out of necessity, while you argue against their need – is a contradiction. You are showing us, Dave.

“A contradiction means there is a logical deduction through which one can, by the standard rules of logic, deduce both A and not-A from the premises.”

Yeah.

“Show us the contradiction, in detail, the way a student would in a class on modern logic — i.e., truth tables, two-column proofs, whichever of the standard methods you like best.”

Oh i think i’ll give you a truth table. That should do the trick here. After all – you have made all of your own very compelling arguments and rebuttals via the use of truth tables, two-column proofs, and all the other formal methods of logic and mathematics. Or not? Hah!

Allen Weingarten August 25, 2010 at 4:40 am

To Paul Edwards: If as you say Hoppe’s argument remains entirely in the realm of “is”, then Rothbard appears to disagree by writing “the fact/value dichotomy can be transcended: the search for facts logically implies that we adopt certain values or ethical principles.”

Perhaps you and Rothbard are saying that *there is a logical implication to adopt ethical principles, but not a proof that this must be done*. If so, I concur that this is one of the many reasons to advocate those principles. However, some bloggers have argued against this article precisely because they thought it claimed to derive the “ought” from the “is”.

In other words, reality may lead people to infer a moral perspective, but that cannot constitute an imperative, or the “ought” realm would have no higher an ontological status than does the “it” realm. Note that when someone says ‘I must not murder, because God commands it’ he means something much more than it is illogical or ineffective to engage in murder.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 12:47 pm

good one! ;) the whole article is called beyond is and ought, claiming in there that hoppe managed to bridge that gap. and yet, when we ask for a proof they say hoppe never meant to leave the is-realm…. almost funny if it wasn’t so serious. a lot of nice scholars learn kindergarten-logic from hoppeans. this is dangerous

Stephan Kinsella August 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm

The awareness of the is-ought gap helps one to formulate normative rules and arguments therefor, as Hoppe does, that do not make the logical fallacy of just going from ought to is. And it enables you to see, and explain why, the is-ought gap does not matter. It does not mean we can ignore it or violate it, in our reasoning.
See my post http://blog.mises.org/13682/beyond-is-and-ought/comment-page-1/#comment-717761 above.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm

okay, i will check it out Stephan. Thank you !

Allen Weingarten August 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Heyekian: Thanks, but although you and I agree, I wish I knew whether Paul Edwards is saying that Hoppe does or does not derive the ought from the is.

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Allen,

“To Paul Edwards: If as you say Hoppe’s argument remains entirely in the realm of “is”, then Rothbard appears to disagree by writing “the fact/value dichotomy can be transcended: the search for facts logically implies that we adopt certain values or ethical principles.”

It is possible Rothbard attributed something to Hoppe’s thesis that Hoppe himself did not. However the meaning of the word “transcend” can approximately be assumed the following:

1. to rise above or go beyond the limits of
2. to triumph over the negative or restrictive aspects of : overcome
3. to be prior to, beyond, and above (the universe or material existence)

Hoppe’s argument negates the importance of the is/ought issue by proving the objective justification of a political ethic by remaining entirely in the “is” realm. This can be considered transcending the is/ought issue within this context.

Rothbard may be saying that argumentation also demonstrates that the arguers implicitly claim that one ought to justify, and act in accordance with justice, and this seems not a bizzare or careless extrapolation of Hoppe’s thesis. It does not mean, in my opinion that an ought has been derived from an is, however. Rather, Rothbard’s comments can most charitably be understood to claim that AE derives not only “is” from “is”, but “ought” from “ought” in the same stroke. That would be my read on it.

“Perhaps you and Rothbard are saying that *there is a logical implication to adopt ethical principles, but not a proof that this must be done*. If so, I concur that this is one of the many reasons to advocate those principles. However, some bloggers have argued against this article precisely because they thought it claimed to derive the “ought” from the “is”.”

I think Rothbard may have been saying that an “ought” is being derived from an “ought”.

“In other words, reality may lead people to infer a moral perspective, but that cannot constitute an imperative, or the “ought” realm would have no higher an ontological status than does the “it” realm. Note that when someone says ‘I must not murder, because God commands it’ he means something much more than it is illogical or ineffective to engage in murder.”

Perhaps this is the logic:

1. Arguers believe actions should be justified to engage in them – this is why they justify.
2. Aggression cannot be justified.
3. Ergo, one should not engage in aggression.

Something like that.

Hoppe spends his efforts on showing 2 to be true. Rothbard may be filling in with 1 and 3.

Allen Weingarten August 25, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Paul, I respect your views, but am asking a different question.

You say “It is possible Rothbard attributed something to Hoppe’s thesis that Hoppe himself did not” in which case we would no longer be discussing Rothbard’s view, which remains unclear. Similarly, it is unclear whether by “transcend” Rothbard means it does or does not derive the ‘ought’ from the ‘is’. So let us forget about him, especially since you write “I think Rothbard may have been saying that an “ought” is being derived from an “ought”.”

Then you say “Hoppe’s argument negates the importance of the is/ought issue” which does not appear to say that Hoppe has (or has not) derived the ‘ought’ from the ‘is’. So let us forget about Hoppe.

Kindly then answer my simple question, ‘Do you Paul Edwards claim that we can derive the ‘ought’ from the ‘is’?’

Allen Weingarten August 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Paul, let me clarify (in case definitions are unclear), what I mean by “is” and “ought”. That which follows from physical or logical science constitutes “is”; that which obligates behavior from one’s metaphysical outlook constitutes an “ought”. (By a “metaphysical outlook” I mean a view as to what constitutes ultimate being.)

If you reject the above, I hope you will offer your own definitions.

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Allen,

“Paul, let me clarify (in case definitions are unclear), what I mean by “is” and “ought”. That which follows from physical or logical science constitutes “is”; that which obligates behavior from one’s metaphysical outlook constitutes an “ought”. (By a “metaphysical outlook” I mean a view as to what constitutes ultimate being.)

“If you reject the above, I hope you will offer your own definitions.”

I think this is fine. Would the following be valid based on this:

Valid is from is:

All arguers justify.
We are arguers.
Therefore we justify.

and…

Ought from ought:

All arguers implicitly assume justice ought to prevail.
We are arguers.
Therefore we implicitly assume justice ought to prevail.

Both are at least valid, if not correct. Do you agree?

Invalid is from ought:

You ought to like all girls.
She is a girl.
Therefore, you like her.

Invalid ought from is:

You like all girls.
She is a girl.
Therefore, you ought to like her.

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Allen,

“Paul, I respect your views, but am asking a different question.

“You say “It is possible Rothbard attributed something to Hoppe’s thesis that Hoppe himself did not” in which case we would no longer be discussing Rothbard’s view, which remains unclear.”

Good point.

” Similarly, it is unclear whether by “transcend” Rothbard means it does or does not derive the ‘ought’ from the ‘is’. So let us forget about him, especially since you write “I think Rothbard may have been saying that an “ought” is being derived from an “ought”.””

Ok. (That’s just my impression that this is what he’s driving at, btw.)

“Then you say “Hoppe’s argument negates the importance of the is/ought issue” which does not appear to say that Hoppe has (or has not) derived the ‘ought’ from the ‘is’. So let us forget about Hoppe.”

I feel we’re getting amnesia quickly. :)

“Kindly then answer my simple question, ‘Do you Paul Edwards claim that we can derive the ‘ought’ from the ‘is’?’”

Nope. I claim no “ought” can be derived from an “is”. Except that “is” that is an “ought”. That is, I am open to the argument that it is an “is” sort of fact that those engaged in justificatory argumentation are committed to the “ought” of only engaging in actions that can be justified. This might follow from assuming that the ultimate reason why men justify in the first place is to determine the path of action that is justified and ought to be followed.

But the narrow answer to your narrow question is no – no “oughts” come from “is”.

Allen Weingarten August 25, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Paul, thanks. You say that no “ought” can be derived from an “is”, so I am pleased to agree with you once again.

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 12:38 am

Allen,

It is always a pleasure to have a chat with you. It seems to me that in the distant past, we had many great discussions.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 4:40 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3QZ2Ko-FOg&feature=related

hey, they are funny but not bad at all. please take you 3 minutes ;) this one is about hume

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 5:28 am

Paul Edwards wrote to me:
>Let’s say you are entirely correct, and have adequately and deductively demonstrated the correctness of your position, and the shortcomings of AE. Have you accomplished this stunning demolition via the use of “the traditional logic used in science and math”? Surely such an approach is required to prove any truth deductively. Or are you using another form of logic you seem to abhor? I’m not sure. I’ll go back and look for your modus ponens.

Paul, *I* do not claim to have a logically valid deduction proving an important, substantive, conclusion. You and Hoppe are making such a claim.

All that I am claiming is to note some simple empirical facts: notably, you and Hoppe have *not* presented anything remotely resembling a logical deduction according to the rules normally used in deductive logic. Either you guys are inventing your own logic (as I suspect) or you think you are using deductive logic because you are ignorant of deductive logic (also a real possibility). I am of course leaving out numerous other possibilities that I think unlikely – that you and Hoppe are following the Platoinic path of the “noble lie,” for example.

I understand that you would like to shift the burden of proof to me. But you can’t. You guys are making the significant claim, not me. I am simply observing that you have failed to deliver.

Paul also wrote to me:
> The question is, did he engage in argumentation for the purpose of coming to an agreement on a truth? This is both a logical and empirical question. If so, it is impossible that he could rely on threats of violence, or coercion.

That is obviously and trivially false. I had teachers in the public schools who sincerely engaged in discussions with me aimed at finding the truth. Yet, the schools existed, the teachers were paid, I was compelled to attend school, etc. as the result of “threats of violence, or coercion.”

This illustrates the sort of problem with Hoppeans: repeated statements that are plainly and obviously false but that everyone is expected to accept.

Paul also wrote to me:
> And are your arguments and rebuttals here all steeped in the format of your traditional logic? Is this how we can see your argument succeeds in showing that Hoppe’s argument fails?

Nope. Paul, I am not making any complicated argument against Hoppe. There is no need or point to that. I am merely noting, again and again and again ad nauseum, that he has made no argument himself in terms of the standard canons of deductive (or even inductive) logic.

A simple observation.

Paul also wrote to me:
> The burden is on you to explain why threats of violence are not valid means of argumentation.

Not at all. That is not the Hoppean argument. Everyone has always acknowledged (from time immemorial, no doubt) that the canons of logic are the standard rules of inference of logic, not violence. But to jump from that to arguing that anyone who initiates coercion somehow demolishes his ability to argue is obvious nonsense. Yeah, you cannot use violence as a logically effective form of argument. But you can argue logically and use violence “on the side” without invalidating your argument. Happens all the time. Fermat was a government official: that does not invalidate the logic of his mathematical arguments in the slightest.

Again, if you and Hoppe tried to spell out his argument in logical detail whether using the Aristotelian logic of terms or using modern first-order predicate calculus, all this would become painfully obvious.

But neither of you will attempt to do that – probably because neither of you possesses the basic knowledge of the machinery of logic.

Nothing I can do about that except to point out ad nauseum that Hoppe and you have merely claimed that a logical argument exists without ever actually giving us that fictitious argument in one of the forms accepted in the discipline of logic.

And, I would bet a great deal that you never will.

Perhaps, if you would come clean about your knowledge (or lack of knowledge), say, of first-order predicate logic, we could move ahead and clarify what you know and do not know.

I honestly think one of the main problems with the Hoppeans is that none of them have even a modest acquaintance with the actual intellectual discipline of deductive logic.

Dave

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Dave:

>Let’s say you are entirely correct, and have adequately and deductively demonstrated the correctness of your position, and the shortcomings of AE. Have you accomplished this stunning demolition via the use of “the traditional logic used in science and math”? Surely such an approach is required to prove any truth deductively. Or are you using another form of logic you seem to abhor? I’m not sure. I’ll go back and look for your modus ponens.

“Paul, *I* do not claim to have a logically valid deduction proving an important, substantive, conclusion. You and Hoppe are making such a claim.”

Nor do you do, then, have a logically valid deduction proving that an important substantive conclusion has not been provided. So we shall assume your rebuttals are merely the sounds of leaves rustling in the wind. Fine – as I suspected.

“All that I am claiming is to note some simple empirical facts: notably, you and Hoppe have *not* presented anything remotely resembling a logical deduction according to the rules normally used in deductive logic.”

No. There is no refuting a praxeological argument with mere reference to empirical facts. If you cannot defeat theory with theory, we are done. I’m sure you’re better at physics.

“Either you guys are inventing your own logic (as I suspect) or you think you are using deductive logic because you are ignorant of deductive logic (also a real possibility). I am of course leaving out numerous other possibilities that I think unlikely – that you and Hoppe are following the Platoinic path of the “noble lie,” for example.”

“I understand that you would like to shift the burden of proof to me. But you can’t. You guys are making the significant claim, not me. I am simply observing that you have failed to deliver.

Paul also wrote to me:
> The question is, did he engage in argumentation for the purpose of coming to an agreement on a truth? This is both a logical and empirical question. If so, it is impossible that he could rely on threats of violence, or coercion.

“That is obviously and trivially false. I had teachers in the public schools who sincerely engaged in discussions with me aimed at finding the truth. Yet, the schools existed, the teachers were paid, I was compelled to attend school, etc. as the result of “threats of violence, or coercion.””

Wow.

“This illustrates the sort of problem with Hoppeans: repeated statements that are plainly and obviously false but that everyone is expected to accept.

Paul also wrote to me:
> And are your arguments and rebuttals here all steeped in the format of your traditional logic? Is this how we can see your argument succeeds in showing that Hoppe’s argument fails?

“Nope. Paul, I am not making any complicated argument against Hoppe. There is no need or point to that.”

Yes. We are done.

“I am merely noting, again and again and again ad nauseum, that he has made no argument himself in terms of the standard canons of deductive (or even inductive) logic.

A simple observation.

Paul also wrote to me:
> The burden is on you to explain why threats of violence are not valid means of argumentation.

“Not at all. That is not the Hoppean argument. Everyone has always acknowledged (from time immemorial, no doubt) that the canons of logic are the standard rules of inference of logic, not violence. But to jump from that to arguing that anyone who initiates coercion somehow demolishes his ability to argue is obvious nonsense.”

Your understanding of AE appears to be regressing.

” Yeah, you cannot use violence as a logically effective form of argument.”

This is a normative statement by the way. Are you certain of it – has this been proven by your formal logic? What does your “first-order predicate logic” have to say about this? Come now, impress us with at least one instance of formalized notation to show us all your insight into formal deductive reasoning and how it would illuminate this discussion. Hah!

” But you can argue logically and use violence “on the side” without invalidating your argument. Happens all the time. Fermat was a government official: that does not invalidate the logic of his mathematical arguments in the slightest.”

That a valid argument was presented under threat of violence, is not the point. The point is to understand that the purpose of argumentation is to attempt to arrive at and agree on truth, or to agree to disagree, and that a certain set of norms must be in play to accomplish this purpose.

“Again, if you and Hoppe tried to spell out his argument in logical detail whether using the Aristotelian logic of terms or using modern first-order predicate calculus, all this would become painfully obvious.

“But neither of you will attempt to do that – probably because neither of you possesses the basic knowledge of the machinery of logic.

“Nothing I can do about that except to point out ad nauseum that Hoppe and you have merely claimed that a logical argument exists without ever actually giving us that fictitious argument in one of the forms accepted in the discipline of logic.”

“And, I would bet a great deal that you never will.

“Perhaps, if you would come clean about your knowledge (or lack of knowledge), say, of first-order predicate logic, we could move ahead and clarify what you know and do not know.

“I honestly think one of the main problems with the Hoppeans is that none of them have even a modest acquaintance with the actual intellectual discipline of deductive logic.”

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Paul wrote to me:
>Your understanding of AE appears to be regressing.

Paul, what on earth does the Hoppean nonsense have to do with Austrian economics??????

You will find no hint of the Hoppean silliness in Menger, Mises, or Hayek (or indeed Kirzner, Liitlechild, etc.). Indeed, nothing Murray wrote until late in his life hints at the Hoppean silliness either.

Hoppe studied under the socialist Habermas. The Hoppean nonsense is an attempt to import Habermas’ idiotic “discourse ethics” into libertarianism. It was nonsense when promulgated by the criminal Habermas and it remains nonsense when prmulgated by the non-criminal Hoppe.

No doubt Hoppe is a more decent human being than the evil Habermas. But, the Habermasian clap-trap is not and never has been part of Austrian economics.

Dave

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 5:43 am

Paul,

Let me again use an example to try to clarify things. I am not sure that it is clear that I am *not* claiming that Hoppe has made some subtle logical error or suffered from some unfortunate logical oversight. Rather, my claim is that his argument is no more logic than, let us say, Lady Gaga’s latest extravagnza is logic. Hoppe’s argument does not even bear a “family resemblance” to deductive logic.

A while back I got in a discussion on the Web with a fellow who, finding out that I had a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford, insisted on telling me his brilliant solution to the problems in superstring theory.

His solution was “folds.” He added that did not “have the math” to work out the details: he informed me that this was my job.

I tried to explain to him that the word “folds” was not a solution to the many serious mathematical and physical problems involved in superstring theory.

All to no avail. This guy was so ignorant of math and science that he had no inkling of how far the word “folds” was from anything that could reasonably be called a scientific theory.

I am having the same experience with you and the other Hoppeans here. It is not that Hoppe has an erroneous logical argument. Rather, what he presented is so far from being a logical argument, in terms of the discipline of deductive logic, that it does not even pass the laugh test.

The Hoppean argument consists of various obviously false empirical claims (e.g., the claim that *any* use of coercion necessarily invalidates an argument, to which there are uncounted counter-examples) combined with grossly bizarre misunderstandings of how deductive logic works.

Paul, what is your educational and professional background? Do you have any idea how first-order predicate calculus works, any idea of what Lowenheim-Skolem is, etc.?

I suspect the answer is “No.”

It would explain a lot.

Dave

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Okay, even if we assume the hoppeans are right, i.e. that it is possible to show that any person not sticking to the AE-rules is contradictory, what does that mean to you? I believe this is a crucial point.
Do you :
1) mean that then people ought(!) to follow the AE-rules? Here I would see the debated is-ought gap, and I would claim Hoppe is a social engineer of the same type he critizises. But of course there is another possibility:
2) mean that it is merely an is-statement having showed the contradictory matter of a person arguing “there are no objective ethics”? If so, then you dont derive an ought from that is-statement. Okay, if we would follow that, then what? Isn’t the whole point of Hoppe’s argument, to be normative(!) in the end? I.e. isn’t his objective to make ought-statements such as “you shall not use force”? If not, what is your whole point? you can of course try to claim: “your violent behaviour is logically contradictive”, but who would care?? It is just very ivory-towerish to me

PhysicistDave August 25, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Hayekian wrote:
>If not, what is your whole point? you can of course try to claim: “your violent behaviour is logically contradictive”, but who would care?? It is just very ivory-towerish to me.

And, that is what makes this whole debate (and the whole Hoppean argument) pretty hilarious.

Imagine: some vicious murderer is about ready to slit your throat. You somehow get him to listen to the Hoppean argument and he is convinced and meekly says he is sorry and will not slit your throat because that would logically prevent him from arguing with you.

Somehow… I do not think so.

The real purpose of the Hoppean argument is to bolster the spirits of guys like Paul who somehow think it strengthens the case against robbers and murderers to prove hat they are committing a logical error.

That too is pretty weird: if you are not motivated to oppose robbers and murderers because of the robbing and killing, why on earth would you be motivated upon learning that they are logically contradictory? Robbing and murdering seem on the face of it much more egregious than a simple self-contradiction!

For what it is worth, Hoppe stands in a long tradition of pursuing this remarkably silly type of approach: look into David Gauthier, for example, who has churned out a while lot of nonsense along similar lines. Of course, most of Gautheir’s fellow philosophers see that he is wrong, just as most can see that Hoppe is wrong, but the perverted social norms in the discipline of philosophy somehow prevent them from crying out loud and clear that it is obvious nonsense and should be simply ignored and/or ridiculed.

Dave

Beefcake the Mighty August 25, 2010 at 6:05 pm

“Imagine: some vicious murderer is about ready to slit your throat. You somehow get him to listen to the Hoppean argument and he is convinced and meekly says he is sorry and will not slit your throat because that would logically prevent him from arguing with you.”

What is the point of such idiotic statements? You could substitute any ethical theory for Hoppe’s here, what point do you think you’re making?

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 6:27 pm

our point is crystal clear: we point out that indeed all(!) ethical theories fall into the is-ought trap and hoppe’s is not any better. You cannot derive from a scientific description of the world (is) any normative propositions (oughts). the latter can only be established consensual in that we agree to behave in accordance to certain constraints. but if i dont agree, then there is no objective(!) standard, but different opinions. afterall, libertarianism is an opinion. a good one! i like it, but it is scientifically not superior to any other ideology

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 12:53 am

From Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 6:27 pm:

“our point is crystal clear: we point out that indeed all(!) ethical theories fall into the is-ought trap and hoppe’s is not any better. You cannot derive from a scientific description of the world (is) any normative propositions (oughts). the latter can only be established consensual in that we agree to behave in accordance to certain constraints. but if i dont agree, then there is no objective(!) standard, but different opinions.

“afterall, libertarianism is an opinion. a good one! i like it, but it is scientifically not superior to any other ideology”

This is the classic NULL statement: libertarianism is a good philosophy, but entirely based on subjective opinion and therefore no better than any other (even contradictory) ideology. Rape and murder: bad. Rape and murder: just fine. Take your pick; both philosophies are founded in the same subjective basis.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 2:53 am

What then is scientifically the definition of “god” or “bad”? Rape and murder are “bad” only in the context of society, there is no objective badness in there, unless you first define what bad is and than show me strictly, that murder falls into the category of bad. I agree they are not only opinions but philosphies. But there pluralism prevails. There are many political philosophies and it is impossible to prove that one is the “right” one and others arent. Just as you cannot prove that christianity is more correct than hinduism or islam

Of course, I think it is “bad”. But if your debates inlcude these unscientific categories, no wonder noone out there takes natural-rightes seriously. Okay, there are bette

Peter August 26, 2010 at 8:26 am

Hayekian: why don’t you, for the sake of education, take on the position that “rape and murder are good”. I, on the other hand, believe that “rape and murder are bad”. Your job is to convince me that you’re right and I’m wrong. How are you going to go about it?

mpolzkill August 26, 2010 at 8:31 am

“How are you going to go about it?”

Grossman can do it for most rape and murder, piece of cake. He’ll just assert that the victims were supporting (or at least not running away from) a regime that isn’t as “free” as his regime.

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 2:53 am:

“What then is scientifically the definition of “god” or “bad”? Rape and murder are “bad” only in the context of society, there is no objective badness in there, unless you first define what bad is and than show me strictly, that murder falls into the category of bad.”

That was my error. For “bad” I should have used the word “unjust”. For “good”, “just”. It may be that good and bad are purely subjective, not sure – but just and unjust are indisputably objective.

” I agree they are not only opinions but philosphies. But there pluralism prevails. There are many political philosophies and it is impossible to prove that one is the “right” one and others arent. Just as you cannot prove that christianity is more correct than hinduism or islam”

We disagree.

“Of course, I think it is “bad”. But if your debates inlcude these unscientific categories, no wonder noone out there takes natural-rightes seriously. Okay, there are bette”

Very few “out there” would not claim that they are in favor of justice, and against injustice. Their problem, like yours, is that their understanding of these words is too unclear and confused. They do not really know exactly what they are for and against.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm

So educating my child (i.e. a human being, that is in principle able to argue) is unjust?

In the education of my baby I might take a rock away (“robbery”) that my baby had found on the grass while doing a picknich (the rock didn’T belong to anybody, so it was the property of my baby). I might further “coerce” my baby to go into the car when we want to drive home, even though my baby does not consent to it. I am a caring father but I might use all kinds of (not very violent) coercions in order to educate my children. If you argue “scientifically” from a hoppean standpoint that this is wrong and contradicts libertarianism, then I cannot help you guys.

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 12:48 am

“…what point do you think you’re making?”

Heh!

Hoppe’s Four Critical Replies will be ageless and always answer these things:

“…It is surely great if a proof can instill this desire [to act upon the truth]. But even if it does not, this can hardly be held against it. It also does not subtract anything from its merit if in some or even many cases a few raw utilitarian assertions prove more successful in persuading anyone of libertarianism than it can do. A proof is still a proof and social psychology remains social psychology.”

____

“… but then asks me in turn “So what? Why should an a priori proof of the libertarian property theory make any difference? Why not engage in aggression anyway?” Why indeed?! But then, why should the proof that 1+1=2 make any difference? One certainly can still act on the belief that 1+1=3. The obvious answer is “because a propositional justification exists for doing one thing, but not for doing another.” But why should we be reasonable, is the next comeback. Again, the answer is obvious. For one, because it would be impossible to argue against it; and further, because the proponent raising this question would already affirm the use of reason in his act of questioning it. This still might not suffice and everyone knows that it would not, for even if the libertarian ethic and argumentative reasoning must be regarded as ultimately justified, this still does not preclude that people will act on the basis of unjustified beliefs either because they don’t know, they don’t care, or they prefer not to know. I fail to see why this should be surprising or make the proof somehow defective. More than this cannot be done by propositional argument.

“Rasmussen seems to think that if I could get an “ought” derived from somewhere (something that Yeager claims I am trying to do though I explicitly denied this), then things would be improved. But this is simply an illusory hope. For even if Rasmussen had proven the proposition that one ought to be reasonable and ought to act according to the libertarian property ethic, this would still be just another propositional argument. It can no more assure that people will do what they ought to do than my proof can guarantee that they will do what is justified. Where is the difference, and what is all the fuss about? There is and remains a difference between establishing a truth claim and instilling a desire to act upon the truth—with “ought” or without it. It is surely great if a proof can instill this desire. But even if it does not, this can hardly be held against it. It also does not subtract anything from its merit if in some or even many cases a few raw utilitarian assertions prove more successful in persuading anyone of libertarianism than it can do. A proof is still a proof and social psychology remains social psychology.”

newson August 26, 2010 at 1:58 am

to physicist dave:
i liked the succinct summary of economic basics on your blog. one question re: alchien and allen, have you read this critique?
http://mises.org/journals/scholar/Kjar.pdf

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Hoppe addresses a similar question in “Four critical replies”

“… but then asks me in turn “So what? Why should an a priori proof of the libertarian property theory make any difference? Why not engage in aggression anyway?” Why indeed?! But then, why should the proof that 1+1=2 make any difference? One certainly can still act on the belief that 1+1=3. The obvious answer is “because a propositional justification exists for doing one thing, but not for doing another.” But why should we be reasonable, is the next comeback. Again, the answer is obvious. For one, because it would be impossible to argue against it; and further, because the proponent raising this question would already affirm the use of reason in his act of questioning it. This still might not suffice and everyone knows that it would not, for even if the libertarian ethic and argumentative reasoning must be regarded as ultimately justified, this still does not preclude that people will act on the basis of unjustified beliefs either because they don’t know, they don’t care, or they prefer not to know. I fail to see why this should be surprising or make the proof somehow defective. More than this cannot be done by propositional argument.

Rasmussen seems to think that if I could get an “ought” derived from somewhere (something that Yeager claims I am trying to do though I explicitly denied this), then things would be improved. But this is simply an illusory hope. For even if Rasmussen had proven the proposition that one ought to be reasonable and ought to act according to the libertarian property ethic, this would still be just another propositional argument. It can no more assure that people will do what they ought to do than my proof can guarantee that they will do what is justified. Where is the difference, and what is all the fuss about? There is and remains a difference between establishing a truth claim and instilling a desire to act upon the truth—with “ought” or without it. It is surely great if a proof can instill this desire. But even if it does not, this can hardly be held against it. It also does not subtract anything from its merit if in some or even many cases a few raw utilitarian assertions prove more successful in persuading anyone of libertarianism than it can do. A proof is still a proof and social psychology remains social psychology.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm

okay, but then at least you agree that you chose option 2), right? that is, you said all your reasoning cannot be used to establish any oughts? okay, than have fun basing a legal or social system (anarcho-capitalism) on such a base. If it is not prescriptive, what do you want to do with it?
your comparison with 1+1=3 is flawed, for caculus was never meant to give you ought-statements. math works pretty well for solving formal problems, thats it.

but what is your whole point with hoppe’s ethic, if not, ultimately you want to say to people: “you ought to be non-violent”?
I am really not getting it

Russ the Apostate August 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm

“I am really not getting it”

Hoppe’s purpose is to supply an argument to the effect that anyone who argues against libertarianism is contradicting himself, performatively. IOW, he’s just come up with a way to argue that anyone who argues against libertarianism is irrational. The implication is, of course, that if you want to be rational, you must be a libertarian. Strictly speaking, it’s not saying that you should be a libertarian, or that you should want to be rational. So while it is strictly speaking not making a value assertion, the only way you can avoid it making a value assertion is by not caring about logical contradiction or irrationality, which makes you seem…. well, irrational.

In short, AE is a very tricksy (and of course, ultimately flawed) attempt at intellectual terrorism.

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm

fine than! I think we can finally agree on something. Even if Hoppe’s reasoning was purely deductive and flawless, all he could come up with is what you said:

“anyone who argues against libertarianism is irrational.”

Fine I can live with that, I do not consider me a rationalist, rather a constructivist in epistemology and also a scepitcist. But if your “logic” only applies to rationalists, then it is not universal and thus just as good as the equally-non-universal socialist ethics or any other ethical system.

Russ the Apostate August 25, 2010 at 6:28 pm

I think that you are giving away too much to Hoppe & Co. I do not consider it irrational to argue against libertarianism, per se, since I consider libertarianism to be a value system and thus arational, not irrational.

Stephan Kinsella August 25, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Hayekian, this is silly. See my quotes in http://blog.mises.org/13682/beyond-is-and-ought/comment-page-1/#comment-717761

“The reaction from the other Randian side, represented by Ras- mussen, is different. He has fewer difficulties recognizing the nature of my argument but then asks me in turn “So what? Why should an a priori proof of the libertarian property theory make any difference? Why not engage in aggression anyway?” Why indeed?! But then, why should the proof that 1+1=2 make any difference? One certainly can still act on the belief that 1+1=3. The obvious answer is “because a propositional justification exists for doing one thing, but not for doing another.” But why should we be reasonable, is the next come-back. Again, the answer is obvious. For one, because it would be impossible to argue against it; and further, because the proponent raising this question would already affirm the use of reason in his act of questioning it. This still might not suffice and everyone knows that it would not, for even if the libertarian ethic and argumentative reasoning must be regarded as ultimately justified, this still does not preclude that people will act on the basis of unjustified beliefs either because they don’t know, they don’t care, or they prefer not to know. I fail to see why this should be surprising or make the proof somehow defective. More than this cannot be done by propositional argument.”

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 2:45 am

Honestly, my objection is not silly, Mr Kinsella,first, I said that EVEN IF Hoppeans succeed in showing that violent humans have objectively acted “wrong” or “unscientifically” or “contradictive” it would not matter. So I am not giving in to Hoppe, I still think his arguements are silly and static [just in brief: I can perfectly agree to the non-agression-rule in the discussion but not considering it any universal norm]Okay, but remaining in the Gedankenexperiment (thought experiment) that Hoppe was rigth, than your claim would be that acting on 1+1=3 would be irrational. However, there is difference between acting on irrational or wrong scientific propositions (as the math example) and acting on “wrong” ethical standards. The former will not serve you well in achiving goals (building a bridge) while the latter might help your survival (in case you starve to death on the great plains of kansas, nobody around and the only way to survive is to steal corn from the field).

Funny enough than: acting non-rational in the Hoppean framework can be very rational when dealing with the biological or social problems of the real world.

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 1:38 am

“In short, AE is a very tricksy (and of course, ultimately flawed) attempt at intellectual terrorism.”

Sorry, just got to say: LMAO!

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 1:02 am

From Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm:

“okay, but then at least you agree that you chose option 2), right? ”

Yup.

“that is, you said all your reasoning cannot be used to establish any oughts? okay, than have fun basing a legal or social system (anarcho-capitalism) on such a base. If it is not prescriptive, what do you want to do with it?”

Let’s say people decide that regardless of AE’s possible inability to prescribe an “ought”. That it prescribes what is just is adequate, as long as people value justice and believe that we ought to live according to that which is just. All AE does is prove that only libertarianism can be justified. It doesn’t say you ought to live according to principles of justice. Maybe that’s up to individuals to figure out for themselves.

“your comparison with 1+1=3 is flawed, for caculus was never meant to give you ought-statements. math works pretty well for solving formal problems, thats it.”

It only works well if one decides to adhere to the rules of mathematics. Just like justice.

“but what is your whole point with hoppe’s ethic, if not, ultimately you want to say to people: “you ought to be non-violent”?
I am really not getting it”

I think i have quoted Hoppe’s answer to this (four critical replies) about three times on this page. Have a look at it. It answers your question better than i can.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 9:58 am

Hoppes anwer is unsatisfying. I have read it but obviously he assumes an induction to be universal. As an philosopher he should know that his induction leaves room for future criticism, yet he says that doesn’t matter. This to me is dogmatic.
Look, his induction in short: “I have proven that in order to engage in an argument, any argues has tacitly to acknowledge the truth of AE” Then he induces: “If one agrees with the AE in an instant – the discussion – one will always agree with that AE”

This is simply flawed reasoning. I can agree to his AE in an conversation with him, but that does not mean I have always to agree with AE – unless he is smuggling an ought into his “reasoning”. Oh, and what if a smart guy finds out more flaws in Hoppes reasoning in the future, things that will even convince you Hoppean guys? Then, according to Hoppe that shouldn’T matter, because in the hopeean logic system a once established truth remains a truth even if proven wrong, right?

You simply asume to much, you asume you know everything, but it is logically impossible to know every objection against hoppe a priori. Therefore you cannot be certain that he hasn’t overlooked something (so, even if I said that hoppe seems right now, he might be proven wrong tomorrow – of course I think Hoppe is already proven wrong, but this is not the point here). Just be humble, learn science and forget about wasting your time in the ivory tower

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 10:09 am

I said: “I can agree to his AE in an conversation with him, but that does not mean I have always to agree with AE” What I mean is that I can think A is adequate in situation X but A is not adequate in situation Y. Of course, 1+1=2 in Situation X and Y, but with regards to “just” it is fine to say. AE is just in conversations but irrelevant in other situations, like collecting taxes.
This is by the way not at all different from Rothbard who says: killing is “unjust”, but killing as self-defense is not “unjust”. In other words, Hoppe would say, AE is “just” in normal situations but in defense situations it is irrelevant.
So, obviously Hoppe’s logic is not self-sufficient but need hermeneutics, and descriptions of circumstances, culture and preconditions. It is not universal but specific. At best, his ethics hold true for conversations, but they do not prove taxation to be unjust, nor murder to be unjust objectively..

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 9:58 am:

“Hoppes anwer is unsatisfying. I have read it but obviously he assumes an induction to be universal.”

Deduction.

” As an philosopher he should know that his induction leaves room for future criticism, yet he says that doesn’t matter. This to me is dogmatic.”

Deduction.

“Look, his induction in short: “I have proven that in order to engage in an argument, any argues has tacitly to acknowledge the truth of AE”

Oh brother. His deductive argument is nothing like this.

“Then he induces: “If one agrees with the AE in an instant – the discussion – one will always agree with that AE”

Deduces. And this is not it.

“This is simply flawed reasoning.”

If that were his reasoning, it would certainly be flawed.

” I can agree to his AE in an conversation with him, but that does not mean I have always to agree with AE – unless he is smuggling an ought into his “reasoning”.

“Oh, and what if a smart guy finds out more flaws in Hoppes reasoning in the future, things that will even convince you Hoppean guys? Then, according to Hoppe that shouldn’T matter, because in the hopeean logic system a once established truth remains a truth even if proven wrong, right?”

Holy smokes. A flawed deductive proof can be shown false by a superior deductive rebuttal. Grossly misunderstanding a proof does not qualify as a sound refutation of it, however.

“You simply asume to much, you asume you know everything, but it is logically impossible to know every objection against hoppe a priori. Therefore you cannot be certain that he hasn’t overlooked something (so, even if I said that hoppe seems right now, he might be proven wrong tomorrow – of course I think Hoppe is already proven wrong, but this is not the point here). Just be humble, learn science and forget about wasting your time in the ivory tower”

Oh, alright.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Come on ;) his AE argument is deductive, I never said something else, but then he switches to induction (!!) when he claims the followng:

1) AE applies to argumentation (AE itself is established deductively, of course)
2) Induction: Hoppe assumes that AE has to apply also to every other situation of interacting man.

The step from one to two is induction, not deduction! He starts from a particular case (argumentation as a type of action) and tries to apply it to the whole set (all kind of human [inter]-actions)

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 5:09 pm

“no one can argue anything without presupposing the right to do so. ”

Okay, consider a justly codemned prisoner, he is condemned ny the legal system to be silent all the time. The prisoner himself agrees to the legal code in his country although he doesn’t like it. But still, he agrees that the punishment was justly. what then, if the prisoner decides to talk out loud and argue about anything? he is (1) arguing and at the same time (2) not(!) presuposing that he has the right to argue.

Is that clear to you? it is possible to argue whist believing that you do not have the right to argue. Argumentating does not presuppose the right to do so, since in our case argumentation was possible even though(!) the prisoner thought he has no right to do so.

Paul Edwards August 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Hayekian:

“no one can argue anything without presupposing the right to do so. ”

“Okay, consider a justly codemned prisoner,”

But how was he possibly justly condemned? Who obtained the right to speak out and condemn him, and how? From where did the right to argue in favor of condemning this man arise? The answer is, the right to justify and condemn was necessarily assumed. It cannot be derived from any other source. The analysis of your hypotheticals have to start at the beginning, in order to accurately and correctly analyze this subject.

Chew on the above, and see if you think it nullifies the rest of your hypo.

” he is condemned ny the legal system to be silent all the time. The prisoner himself agrees to the legal code in his country although he doesn’t like it. But still, he agrees that the punishment was justly. what then, if the prisoner decides to talk out loud and argue about anything? he is (1) arguing and at the same time (2) not(!) presuposing that he has the right to argue.

“Is that clear to you? it is possible to argue whist believing that you do not have the right to argue. Argumentating does not presuppose the right to do so, since in our case argumentation was possible even though(!) the prisoner thought he has no right to do so.”

Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 9:57 am

“no one can argue anything without presupposing the right to do so. ”

Again for you:
Is a prisoner, who agrees not to have the right to argue in his cell [if that was the punishment] engaging in a performative contradiction when he argues: “I have no justification for arguing” ??
It is clear to me that this is perfectly okay:

1. The prisoner agrees to not(!) having the right to argue
2. The prisoner argues
Hence, arguing does not(!!!!!!!) pressupose the right to do so

Understood??????

scineram August 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm

You need to watch the Locke and Hobbes video! All libertarians in fact. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-buzVjYQvY

Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm

please, what was first, the egg or the chicken? as you don’t know you start assumptions about chickens from the mere fact that they exist and deal with it. you start right into the situation. alike, i do the same: i just asume that a prisoner is “justly” imprisoned.
But I do not even claim his imprisonment is objectively justified, this is not my point. It is only “just” in his cultural context (as I do not believe in natural rights you could have guessed that with “just” I mean consensual, cultural perceived convictions, not objective truths).

So again then, better stated: consider a person that in his cultural environment was considered to have done a crime and this person agrees that his action is considered a crime in his culture. so this person agrees that he is “justly” imprisoned.

Then it goes on as above:
“he is condemned ny the legal system to be silent all the time. The prisoner himself agrees to the legal code in his country although he doesn’t like it. But still, he agrees that the punishment was justly. what then, if the prisoner decides to talk out loud and argue about anything? he is (1) arguing and at the same time (2) not(!) presuposing that he has the right to argue.

“Is that clear to you? it is possible to argue whist believing that you do not have the right to argue. Argumentating does not presuppose the right to do so, since in our case argumentation was possible even though(!) the prisoner thought he has no right to do so.”

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 1:15 am

From Hayekian August 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm:

“please, what was first, the egg or the chicken? as you don’t know you start assumptions about chickens from the mere fact that they exist and deal with it. you start right into the situation. alike, i do the same: i just asume that a prisoner is “justly” imprisoned.”

You will flounder in confusion if you do not strip things down to their barest essentials and analyze them from there.

“But I do not even claim his imprisonment is objectively justified, this is not my point. It is only “just” in his cultural context (as I do not believe in natural rights you could have guessed that with “just” I mean consensual, cultural perceived convictions, not objective truths).”

I did not actually know that you did not believe in natural rights. Am i correct to infer from this that you do not consider yourself a libertarian?

In this case, it will be hard for us to discuss things, as from your perspective, the terms “just”, and “justice”, as you understand them, have meaning, even if that meaning is somewhat “fluid”. But to me, these terms, as you understand them, are perfectly meaningless. This fundamental difference is not surmountable.

“So again then, better stated: consider a person that in his cultural environment was considered to have done a crime and this person agrees that his action is considered a crime in his culture. so this person agrees that he is “justly” imprisoned.”

In any case, my objection stands: how is it that individuals obtained the ability and right to consider anything, much less pass a verbal declaration in respect to such considerations? How do they do this? Again, they can do nothing more than assume such a right, irrespective of their lack of an explicit understanding of justification and justice.

“Then it goes on as above:
“he is condemned ny the legal system to be silent all the time. The prisoner himself agrees to the legal code in his country although he doesn’t like it. But still, he agrees that the punishment was justly. what then, if the prisoner decides to talk out loud and argue about anything? he is (1) arguing and at the same time (2) not(!) presuposing that he has the right to argue.

“Is that clear to you? it is possible to argue whist believing that you do not have the right to argue. Argumentating does not presuppose the right to do so, since in our case argumentation was possible even though(!) the prisoner thought he has no right to do so.”

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 2:35 am

Paul:
> “You will flounder in confusion if you do not strip things down to their barest essentials and analyze them from there.”

ME: Acutally science has several ways in dealing with things, you are talking about reductionism. moderln complexity theory studies emerging phenomena,i.e. propoerties of water that are independent of the properties of the constituting atoms, ant hives, neural networks etcerear. There, linear-causality is not all that strong in explaining things, instead, paradoxa, non-linear causality, feedback holism and a lot more has entered the debate. I just point out that science has a lot more than analysis and linear math to it.

Paul:
>”I did not actually know that you did not believe in natural rights. Am i correct to infer from this that you do not consider yourself a libertarian?”

ME: OKay, good that we talk about it. It seems that this is the base for our misunderstanding, alhtough I have pointed it out several times (when saying that libertarianism is not objective but just another good opinion). Look, you did a very bad deduction there! How can you deduce that I am not a libertarian from my scepticism? It is true that I don’t believe in natural rights, the term “believe” that we both used explains it all: it is a belief system, not science. But here comes the funny thing: I am a libertarian. ;) how is that possible? Well for me that stands outside of science. I am humble and more in the tradition of Hayek, i.e. I feel that liberalism is good,but it is my opinion and I will not follow the footstep of lenin and Marx who tried to prove their ideology scientifically. I am afraid you cannot…
Hoppe is almost marxist in that and Rothbard as well, unfortunatelly. What do you guys want with natural rights? claiming that you scientifically know how a legal system should be constructed and then change society in that way? What if you then find a flaw in your reasoning as will happen again and again, just as it did to marx and lenin. “Ooops, sorry, we just chnged society, but you are right afterall guys,” the state is not bad, it is just a cultural means of organizing things, unefficient and dangerous if to big and totalitarian, but it is not evil, as we found out that evil is no scientific category.”

PAUL:
>”In this case, it will be hard for us to discuss things, as from your perspective, the terms “just”, and “justice”, as you understand them, have meaning, even if that meaning is somewhat “fluid”. But to me, these terms, as you understand them, are perfectly meaningless. This fundamental difference is not surmountable.”

I hope you can still discuss with someone who doesnt share your believe-systesm, who isnt christian or whatever religion you are, who does not believe in giants in the case you did, and so forth. But indeed, it is difficult to discuss when people dont have the same meening for things. But here, our problem is even worse: I say just is what people consider to be just and you say just is an objective category. The latter, however, is only true in a closed logical system of syllogisms, but not if applied to the real world. there justice has a meaning that is established through dominant opinion and it is subjective always (as I can be against the dominant opinion, of course)

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 3:57 am

Plus: my point was crystal clear: it is possible at the same time to 1) argue and to 2) believe that you do not have the right to argue. He can even argue that he has not the right to argue when he is imprisoned.

But it would be better if someone just dealt with my other simple objection: the change of the static framework into a dynamic one, i.e. my claim that it is possible to agree to the AE in an argumentation but to disagree in all other instances to it.

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 3:57 am:

“Plus: my point was crystal clear: it is possible at the same time to 1) argue and to 2) believe that you do not have the right to argue. He can even argue that he has not the right to argue when he is imprisoned.”

To attempt to justify, one must also assume that making such a justification is itself ultimately justified. Once a person grasps the purpose behind the argumentative justification, one recognizes that one cannot be made, without the actor making it, assuming he is justified in making it.

“But it would be better if someone just dealt with my other simple objection: the change of the static framework into a dynamic one, i.e. my claim that it is possible to agree to the AE in an argumentation but to disagree in all other instances to it.”

It would have the same illogical and unjustified status, as finding a person innocent in the trial room, but executing him when it is over anyways. Simply incoherent, arbitrary and without reason.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 1:15 pm

??? But you have different rules of conduct at home than in your office! Alike, I can see AE being okay for argumentation, but not okay for other things. Rothbard says agression is bad, but agression against a criminal is okay. How is that any different to what I say??????? I

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 5:46 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 1:15 pm:

“??? But you have different rules of conduct at home than in your office! Alike, I can see AE being okay for argumentation, but not okay for other things. Rothbard says agression is bad, but agression against a criminal is okay. How is that any different to what I say??????? I”

The application of violence against a violent criminal is not necessarily aggression. Responsive proportional violence is just. For this, see Kinsella’s Estoppel essays.

Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 6:00 am

If the non-agression-principle is supposed to be a universal one, it is universal. But then there cannot be exceptions like self-defense. If it is not universal, as I claim, then there can be exceptions.

I say it is not universal: breaking the non-agression rule in non-argumentations is okay.
You say it is universal. breaking the non-agression rule in non-argumentations is nont okay. But if I am being attacked it is a non-argumenation-situation. Following Hoppe I would stand still and get killed, since I would logically contradict myself if I was to use force.

Paul Edwards August 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm

From Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 6:00 am:

“If the non-agression-principle is supposed to be a universal one, it is universal. But then there cannot be exceptions like self-defense. If it is not universal, as I claim, then there can be exceptions.”

Violent self-defense is not an exception to the non-aggression principle. It completes the principle. There is no right to one’s property, without the right to physically and coercively defend one’s property. Aggression is only the initiation of violence.

“I say it is not universal: breaking the non-agression rule in non-argumentations is okay.”

There is a terminological issue to overcome here. To be clear, you are saying initiating violence in non-argumentation is ok. But you cannot give a reason why this should be the case. You implicitly accept a libertarian norm as necessary while engaged in the activity of proposition making – specifically, proposing that there are situations outside of argumentation where it could be ok to ignore those same norms – but yet you cannot give a reason for such an exception. It is exactly like standing up in a court of law and saying that we must use evidence and reason to determine someone’s guilt, but then to further argue that outside the courtroom, after all is said and done, we can still execute the person even found innocent in court. No reason can be given for inconsistent actions such as these – no justification can be given.

“You say it is universal. breaking the non-agression rule in non-argumentations is nont okay. But if I am being attacked it is a non-argumenation-situation. Following Hoppe I would stand still and get killed, since I would logically contradict myself if I was to use force.”

This is not the upshot of AE. For a verbal defense of violent defense and retribution, consistent with AE, you read Kinsella’s work on Estoppel.

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 12:21 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 2:35 am:
Paul:
> “You will flounder in confusion if you do not strip things down to their barest essentials and analyze them from there.”

“ME: Acutally science has several ways in dealing with things, you are talking about reductionism. moderln complexity theory studies emerging phenomena,i.e. propoerties of water that are independent of the properties of the constituting atoms, ant hives, neural networks etcerear. There, linear-causality is not all that strong in explaining things, instead, paradoxa, non-linear causality, feedback holism and a lot more has entered the debate. I just point out that science has a lot more than analysis and linear math to it.”

I am talking about reducing the issue to its simplest forms, within the context of human action, and purpose. For instance, if we want to talk about the implications of supply and demand on prices, we need not get into details of rice harvesting technology.

Paul:
>”I did not actually know that you did not believe in natural rights. Am i correct to infer from this that you do not consider yourself a libertarian?”

“ME: OKay, good that we talk about it. It seems that this is the base for our misunderstanding, alhtough I have pointed it out several times (when saying that libertarianism is not objective but just another good opinion).”

You like libertarianism, sort of in the way you like a particular color or flower, but it’s just your opinion, naturally. On the other hand, you say of yourself: “I do not believe in natural rights”. That sounds like something other than a libertarian perspective, but let’s see what else you have to say:

“Look, you did a very bad deduction there!”

A simple yes or no answer would suffice. Unless you care to explain how one who does “not believe in natural rights” is still a libertarian.

“How can you deduce that I am not a libertarian from my scepticism?”

Because you claim you “do not believe in natural rights.” Just a crazy reaction i guess.

“It is true that I don’t believe in natural rights, the term “believe” that we both used explains it all: it is a belief system, not science.”

Hmmm. I see…

“But here comes the funny thing:”

There’s more?

“I am a libertarian. how is that possible? Well for me that stands outside of science. I am humble and more in the tradition of Hayek, i.e. I feel that liberalism is good,but it is my opinion and I will not follow the footstep of lenin and Marx who tried to prove their ideology scientifically. I am afraid you cannot…”

Heh. Well, firstly, Hayek was hardly a libertarian, so your natural rights skepticism is certainly in line with the tradition of Hayek. Secondly, lots of people believe in natural rights who do not think the validity of their convictions can be logically deduced. But you consider yourself a “non-natural rights subscribing Hayekian libertarian.” Wonderful contradiction – I like it.

“Hoppe is almost marxist in that and Rothbard as well, unfortunatelly.”

Yeah. It’s pretty well established that both Hoppe and Rothbard have always teetered on the edge on Marxism.

” What do you guys want with natural rights? claiming that you scientifically know how a legal system should be constructed and then change society in that way? What if you then find a flaw in your reasoning as will happen again and again, just as it did to marx and lenin. “Ooops, sorry, we just chnged society, but you are right afterall guys,” the state is not bad, it is just a cultural means of organizing things, unefficient and dangerous if to big and totalitarian, but it is not evil, as we found out that evil is no scientific category.”

I do not foresee that one day we will find that it was wrong all along to claim that it was an injustice to aggress against others property. But I’m bold and brash in that. I understand your need for a more timid perspective on all of this.

“PAUL:
>”In this case, it will be hard for us to discuss things, as from your perspective, the terms “just”, and “justice”, as you understand them, have meaning, even if that meaning is somewhat “fluid”. But to me, these terms, as you understand them, are perfectly meaningless. This fundamental difference is not surmountable.”

“I hope you can still discuss with someone who doesnt share your believe-systesm, who isnt christian or whatever religion you are, who does not believe in giants in the case you did, and so forth.”

I can do all of this. However, when I detect an individual is committed to his own special brand of aggression, while enthusiastically denouncing particular details of some other tyrant’s aggressive plans, I lose interest. I just sense they are not looking to be persuaded by me. And I have zero interest in hearing from them.

” But indeed, it is difficult to discuss when people dont have the same meening for things. But here, our problem is even worse: I say just is what people consider to be just and you say just is an objective category.”

Yes. When I was young I had only an intuition, and empirical anecdotal evidence, that mob rule, or popular rule, was generally criminally unjust rule. It seemed, in those days, pretty clear that what was popular belief, could usually be safely assumed to be wrong. Since then Hoppe has proven that democracy is the criminal institution we have often intuitively seen it to be. And in great detail, he has shown how and why. I admit such proofs appeal to me.

” The latter, however, is only true in a closed logical system of syllogisms, but not if applied to the real world. there justice has a meaning that is established through dominant opinion and it is subjective always (as I can be against the dominant opinion, of course)”

I don’t see life this way at all. And the logical implication of your comments is as follows:

1. justice has a meaning that is established through dominant opinion
2. I can be against the dominant opinion, of course
3. Ergo, I can be against justice.

It pains me to say it, but you are drowning in a sea of confusion and contradiction. On the one hand, you seem to want to suggest justice is important to you. On the other, you formulate for yourself a philosophy in which justice can have no better foundation than what drives the latest fashion trends.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 12:58 pm

So, libertarianism for you is a religion linked to the belief in natural rights? You either believe in natural rights, then you are a “true” libertarian or you don’t and then you are not?

Interesting! This shows to me again how religious-like we libertarians are sometimes. I actually understand your view, as I was claiming the same thing for a while: I was defending Rothbard, saying that Hayek was not libertarian. But actually it is like this: Hayek is not libertarian in Rothbard’s ethical system, or in Rothbard’s definition of libertarianism.

However there can be other systems of libertarianism, for instance the “atomistic” view that does not allow children to be educated by their parents, since parents “govern” their children, make orders and even steal the children’s stuff. From the perspective of this “atomistic” libertarianism [atomistic I say because it reduces society to the ultimate unit and not allowing for family-coercion] Rothbard would not be a real libertarian as he was a defender of a family.

Therefore, within the definitions of your [and Hoppe's] system I would not be a libertarian, fine! But I prefer liberty to oppression and in that I can probably claim I am a libertarian. But I do consider that libertarianism doesn’t need to be without contradiciton in order to be defended as a political opinion. In fact a lot in the real world is contradictive, just consider 20th century physical findings or what eastern philosophy and science have to say about the same thing. Nice to read about Max Planck in that respect, but that takes us off topic.

Conclusion: I can label mysel a libertarian, meaning that I like and defend liberty as a political opinion, yet I can be humble at the same time and do not need to claim that other people’s opinions [that is what political opinions are] are scientifically wrong!
[of course, we can analyze ethics in a descriptive manner, describing it and explain how it arose in mankind, but prescriptive, or normative, ... I don't think this is possible]

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 6:08 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 12:58 pm:

“So, libertarianism for you is a religion linked to the belief in natural rights? You either believe in natural rights, then you are a “true” libertarian or you don’t and then you are not?”

I think that there are certain ideas that libertarians hold true, that non-libertarians do not. Whether we label them natural rights, individual rights, or property rights, the libertarian tends to subscribe to ideas like these. If people who do not subscribe to such ideas are also libertarians, then the word loses its meaning – it seems to me.

“Interesting! This shows to me again how religious-like we libertarians are sometimes.”

Not sure. I just like to restrict a definition of a word or two in our vocabulary so they can continue to mean something.

“I actually understand your view, as I was claiming the same thing for a while: I was defending Rothbard, saying that Hayek was not libertarian. But actually it is like this: Hayek is not libertarian in Rothbard’s ethical system, or in Rothbard’s definition of libertarianism.”

And you now no longer subscribe to Rothbard’s ethical system, or definition of libertarianism – you are more Hayekian now – but would like to still claim to be a libertarian. Fine, I guess. I just think it serves only to confuse things. But whatever.

“However there can be other systems of libertarianism, for instance the “atomistic” view that does not allow children to be educated by their parents, since parents “govern” their children, make orders and even steal the children’s stuff.”

Really. I suppose such a system would empower the latecomers and social workers to claim the right to control and raise these tyrannized children – since they will still require some discipline from someone.

“From the perspective of this “atomistic” libertarianism [atomistic I say because it reduces society to the ultimate unit and not allowing for family-coercion] Rothbard would not be a real libertarian as he was a defender of a family.”

So even a form of government that forcibly takes children from their parents is considered a libertarian order now. This goes even beyond Hayek.

“Therefore, within the definitions of your [and Hoppe's] system I would not be a libertarian, fine!”

I suppose not.

” But I prefer liberty to oppression and in that I can probably claim I am a libertarian.

“But I do consider that libertarianism doesn’t need to be without contradiciton in order to be defended as a political opinion. In fact a lot in the real world is contradictive, just consider 20th century physical findings or what eastern philosophy and science have to say about the same thing. Nice to read about Max Planck in that respect, but that takes us off topic.

“Conclusion: I can label mysel a libertarian, meaning that I like and defend liberty as a political opinion, yet I can be humble at the same time and do not need to claim that other people’s opinions [that is what political opinions are] are scientifically wrong!”

“Wrong” is a strong word here. Hoppe constrains his conclusion only to claim that all ethics contradictory to the libertarian ethic are unjustifiable. I think that is humble enough.

“[of course, we can analyze ethics in a descriptive manner, describing it and explain how it arose in mankind, but prescriptive, or normative, ... I don't think this is possible]“

Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 5:55 am

Paul, please try to see that there is not always A or B but often times C,D, E…. as other possibiliites. When I claim that Rothbard and HOppe’s libertarianism would forbid parents to educate their children, since parent-children relationships base on a slight form of coercion, than it does not(!!!!!) follow, that I endorse state ownership of our children or that I endorse that children should be educated by streetworkers/social workers/teachers or whoelse.

I merely say that if Rothbard and HOppe would take their radical libertarianism seriously they would need to forbid families altogether. Nowhere did I say that state’s should educate our children, instead it follows from Hoppe’s “logical” argument that nobody(!) could educate children! The minute a women gives birth to a baby the baby had to be convinced of everything. You cannot deal with the baby without his or her consent.

So, stop telling nonsense (such as I endorse state-education) and try to deal with that argument! But I tell you, the minute you totalitarian HOppeans come to get my children, I will defend myself !!! ;)) [don't want to be root, but I want my freedom and dislike social engineers, be it socialist or Hoppeans]

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm

You said:
I don’t see life this way at all. And the logical implication of your comments is as follows:

1. justice has a meaning that is established through dominant opinion
2. I can be against the dominant opinion, of course
3. Ergo, I can be against justice.

Yes, of course! ;) as there is no objective justice, but instead justice is a variable to be filled by the actual social belief system I can be against that specific justice. In an islamic country I would be against the Sharia law / justice.

Look, your argument by the way is strange. I make a syllogism similar to yours, that each austrian should have no problem to attack as nonsense: [I just change "justice" by "value", both being subjective categories. Maybe that explains my opinion]

1. value has a meaning that is established through (individual) opinion
2. I can be against that opinion, of course
3. Ergo, I can be against value.

This is silly , I hope you see it. It does not follow that someone is against the concept(!) of value, it merely said that the person differs with the content of place and time, i.e. the specific valuation giving by others.
Alike, I cannot be against the concept of justice but against certain “justices” or ethical systems. Both, value and ethical systems are subjective

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 1:11 pm:

“You said:
>I don’t see life this way at all. And the logical implication of your comments is as follows:

1. justice has a meaning that is established through dominant opinion
2. I can be against the dominant opinion, of course
3. Ergo, I can be against justice.

“Yes, of course! as there is no objective justice, but instead justice is a variable to be filled by the actual social belief system I can be against that specific justice. In an islamic country I would be against the Sharia law / justice.”

So this makes sense to you, you agree with it, and all is well. But then you say …

“Look, your argument by the way is strange.”

It may be strange, but yet you agree with its conclusion.

” I make a syllogism similar to yours, that each austrian should have no problem to attack as nonsense: [I just change "justice" by "value", both being subjective categories. Maybe that explains my opinion]

1. value has a meaning that is established through (individual) opinion
2. I can be against that opinion, of course
3. Ergo, I can be against value.

I will admit that this is pretty meaningless. But then again, the words “value” and “justice” are not as similar to me as they are to you. Value is connected to the vague fact that humans have preferences, often conflicting. To me, justice specifically makes reference to that which can be justified – independently of popular opinion, and independent of individual preferences. There is an infinite way to make this syllogism meaningless. But the original form of it reveals the perfect arbitrariness of your conception of the word “justice”.

“This is silly , I hope you see it. It does not follow that someone is against the concept(!) of value, it merely said that the person differs with the content of place and time, i.e. the specific valuation giving by others.”

“Alike, I cannot be against the concept of justice but against certain “justices” or ethical systems. Both, value and ethical systems are subjective”

Yes, but you are elaborating my point. I am not meaning to claim you are against the concept of justice, but rather that you have no particular concept of justice, or that that concept is very fluid in your mind. You may agree with one aspect of one “certain ‘justice’ “, but disagree with another form of “justice”. Justice to you is like a car or a girl – you may like one, but not another.

Justice to me is something specific, it is bound up in that which can be justified. Not all popular and coercive social intuitions, laws and conventions can be justified. On the contrary – many cannot. And because of this, they do not fall within my definition of the realm of “justice”.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm

WHAT ABOUT MY OBJECTION WITH THE CHILDREN? PLEASE ANSWER THAT ONE!
IN BRIEF AGAIN:

1)Hoppe’s AE-principle concludes that it is contradictory to defend the possibility of coercion: The non-aggression principle is the only ethical system one can logically defend, right?

2)Family-relationships, as a matter of fact, use coercion: parents “steal” property of their children – for instance when the child finds a stone in the field that does not belong to nobody – without consent. They command the children to do this and that. It is a governing relationship of the parents toward the children

From 1) and 2) we need to conclude that family relationships are logically not defendable then. The only world compatible with Hoppe’s is an atomistic one in which we need to convince our own children please not to eat rocks or insects, for we are not allowed to take that property away from them. Families would be outlawed, parents would go into prison, for they would lose their natural right of self-ownership (of course, strictly and scientifically proven by Hoppe) the minute when they “force” the child to leave the playground.

Please, I don’t want to live in such a world ;) So, how do you deal with that?

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 3:04 pm:

“WHAT ABOUT MY OBJECTION WITH THE CHILDREN? PLEASE ANSWER THAT ONE!
IN BRIEF AGAIN:

“1)Hoppe’s AE-principle concludes that it is contradictory to defend the possibility of coercion: The non-aggression principle is the only ethical system one can logically defend, right?

Initiated coercion. Correct.

“2)Family-relationships, as a matter of fact, use coercion: parents “steal” property of their children – for instance when the child finds a stone in the field that does not belong to nobody – without consent. They command the children to do this and that. It is a governing relationship of the parents toward the children”

There is a short essay by Stephan Kinsella (How We Come to Own Ourselves), here: http://mises.org/daily/2291

I endorse it. Someone is going to have to make decisions for children until they are competent to do it for themselves. Parents have the best claim to that privilege and responsibility.

“From 1) and 2) we need to conclude that family relationships are logically not defendable then. The only world compatible with Hoppe’s is an atomistic one in which we need to convince our own children please not to eat rocks or insects, for we are not allowed to take that property away from them. Families would be outlawed, parents would go into prison, for they would lose their natural right of self-ownership (of course, strictly and scientifically proven by Hoppe) the minute when they “force” the child to leave the playground.”

Survival is one of the presuppositions of argumentation. No norm that would preclude survival can be justified. Abandoning children because not doing so would be construed as some form of property violation would ensure the demise of children and the non-survival of human kind – and so would be incoherent and unjustifiable. Parenthood is therefore completely justified and libertarian.

“Please, I don’t want to live in such a world So, how do you deal with that?”

Kinsella elaborates further.

Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 7:20 am

You said: “someone is going to have to make decisions for children until they are competent to do it for themselves.”

Oh, of course, and then somebody has to do decisions for disabled persons as well, and for the sick ones and the mentally ill ones and maybe even the poor ones, or even for the ones who just do not wish to “govern” themselves? All the sudden you come up with a new NORMATIVE statement: “someone is going to HAVE TO MAKE decisions for children”
Aha?!?!! Is that well deduced form your Hoppean totolitarian standpoint? I say it again: I do not want your theocracy, sorry, Hoppeocracy! I just want that society can evolve without too much social engineering. I do not want socialists or libertarians taking away my right to educate my children. If you ever come and get mine, I will defend myself even if that is “contradictory”. I do not care about aristotle or Hoppe, I care about my loved ones and that is it. And certainly I do not want to shape whole societies like you radical hoppean totalitarists want.

Please, give up your ambitious undertaking, learn that with two or three syllogisms you cannot explain the world. Don’t be so hyprocritic.

Paul Edwards August 30, 2010 at 2:28 am

From Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 7:20 am:

“You said: “someone is going to have to make decisions for children until they are competent to do it for themselves.”

“Oh, of course, and then somebody has to do decisions for disabled persons as well, and for the sick ones and the mentally ill ones and maybe even the poor ones, or even for the ones who just do not wish to “govern” themselves? All the sudden you come up with a new NORMATIVE statement: “someone is going to HAVE TO MAKE decisions for children””

Do you think that the existence of children, or those who are unable to look after themselves weakens the validity of the libertarian ethic? Do you think that suggesting that children may have limited rights due to their specific nature suggests that similar exceptions may logically be made for the poor, or perhaps the lazy as well? I’m not sure you are saying this or not. In fact, I don’t know what the thrust of your apparent objection is. Some people have limited rights because they are limited in their ability to take on responsibilities. Some people lose their rights because they have infringed on the rights of others. The point is, rights are based in reason. There is a reason people must assume rights for themselves and others. And there are reasons why such rights must be assumed limited or forfeit.

“Aha?!?!! Is that well deduced form your Hoppean totolitarian standpoint?”

Your absurd interpretation of libertarianism and Hoppe’s proof of it, at this stage, leads me to conclude we are going nowhere very fast with this discussion.

” I say it again: I do not want your theocracy, sorry, Hoppeocracy!”

Even if you didn’t want it, which would assume first you understood it, all you can claim is it is not suitable to your tastes, but is neither objectively more or less justifiable to your own preferred brand of social structure. It is on par with telling me you do not want a blue Toyota corolla – but rather you want a red civic. Well it is good that you know what you want. It is too bad you do not think a political structure requires more than a mere expression of personal preference.

“I just want that society can evolve without too much social engineering. I do not want socialists or libertarians taking away my right to educate my children.”

You don’t want libertarians taking away your right to educate your children? Wow. Great point, and I agree. And I do not want checker players taking away my right to stare at the moon either. Anything else we don’t want?

” If you ever come and get mine, I will defend myself even if that is “contradictory”. I do not care about aristotle or Hoppe, I care about my loved ones and that is it. And certainly I do not want to shape whole societies like you radical hoppean totalitarists want.”

Good. And let’s keep our eyes open for totalitarian checker players as well.

” Please, give up your ambitious undertaking, learn that with two or three syllogisms you cannot explain the world. Don’t be so hyprocritic.”

Ok. But it is the rogue checker players who are the real hypocrites. Watch out for them.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 3:07 am

Okay, if noone comes up with it, I have to…:
I am a person who agrees to the non-agression-principle in my conversations but not as a universal objective principle. Hoppe makes a wrong induction claiming that if someone agrees to an implicit rule in certain circumstances, that he has to do that in ALL circumstances. That is flawed induction.

So, there can exist people who say “agression in discussion is bad, but I think the state should be able to collect money by force”.
I see no performative contradictin there

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 3:07 am:

“Okay, if noone comes up with it, I have to…:

“I am a person who agrees to the non-agression-principle in my conversations but not as a universal objective principle. Hoppe makes a wrong induction claiming that if someone agrees to an implicit rule in certain circumstances, that he has to do that in ALL circumstances. That is flawed induction.”

First, Hoppe’s reasoning is deductive. Secondly, his argument has nothing to do with whether a person “agrees” in the psychological sense, to any rule in any circumstance at all. The argument is that during argumentation, certain norms simply must logically be presupposed – whether the participants explicitly understand this and “agree” with it, or not.

“So, there can exist people who say “agression in discussion is bad, but I think the state should be able to collect money by force”.
I see no performative contradictin there”

There is one there, nevertheless.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Well, Hoppe’s argument for AE is deductive, but the application(!) of his findings to all other human situation and circumstances is certainly induction(!). He draws the wrong conclusion that if a person agrees to AE in a particular circumstance, that this means he cannot disagree with it in other circumstances. This is induction and it is flawed.

So, I still see no contradiction in claiming “I agree to AE in its proper place, that is in argumentation as even the name indicates, but I disagree with it being a universal principle for all human conditions and circumstances”

Paul Edwards August 26, 2010 at 5:40 pm

From Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm:

“Well, Hoppe’s argument for AE is deductive, but the application(!) of his findings to all other human situation and circumstances is certainly induction(!). He draws the wrong conclusion that if a person agrees to AE in a particular circumstance, that this means he cannot disagree with it in other circumstances. This is induction and it is flawed.”

His argument is not about agreeing with AE. It is an observation that argumentation itself presupposes – logically necessarily implicitly assumes – a libertarian norm. This is irrespective of what any arguer is explicitly aware of or has a psychological agreement with. Therefore, it would be a contradiction to propose any norm contradictory to this norm. So no norm contradictory to the libertarian norm, can be justified. That is the long and the short of it.

“So, I still see no contradiction in claiming “I agree to AE in its proper place, that is in argumentation as even the name indicates, but I disagree with it being a universal principle for all human conditions and circumstances”

Irrespective of what you agree with or disagree with regarding how universal AE is, it is logically impossible for you to propose a norm that contradicts the libertarian norm, without falling into contradiction.

Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 6:05 am

Claiming that an ARGUMENTATION-Ethics would be universal and would hold true in all situations that are non-argumentation-situations, is 1) purely inductive 2) purely flawed and 3) purely totalitarian, constructivist, hypocritic. I repeat, the minute you guys want to establish your theocracy , o sorry, Hoppeocracy, not allowing to educate my chrildren, I will get my gun. And then I do not care if you prove me “logically wrong” if I defend myself against your divine, “just”, logically superior and “correct” dogma.

Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 6:16 am

You say: “it is logically impossible for you to propose a norm that contradicts the libertarian norm, without falling into contradiction.”

Okay, I say “I propose the norm that parents should educate their children”. The implication of “education” impies that I use a slight form of coercion and power over my children.

Following your “logic”, I cannot logically propose the norm of education then. Instead, the only logically consistent thing here would be: “as nobody can propose a norm that is against the AE, I can only propose the norm that NOBODY should educate their children. Children are free for they are in principle able to argue. Parents have to stand still if their youngborn crawls away. No education allowed in this totalitarian libertarian world, sorry guys. All we parents we would logically contrdict ourselves… ”

Once more: Go ahead, try to impose your theocracy laws and I get my gun (“totally contradictory” of course)
This is a waste of time, I fear. WE should all get back to work and try to do the best to our closest friends and loved once, don’t play social engineers, you all!

Paul Edwards September 10, 2010 at 6:54 pm

From Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 6:16 am:

>You say: “it is logically impossible for you to propose a norm that contradicts the libertarian norm, without falling into contradiction.”

“Okay, I say “I propose the norm that parents should educate their children”. The implication of “education” impies that I use a slight form of coercion and power over my children.”

This is correct. This is not necessarily aggressive.

“Following your “logic”, I cannot logically propose the norm of education then.”

Your suggesting this a second time does not make it less absurd.

” Instead, the only logically consistent thing here would be: “as nobody can propose a norm that is against the AE, I can only propose the norm that NOBODY should educate their children. Children are free for they are in principle able to argue. Parents have to stand still if their youngborn crawls away. No education allowed in this totalitarian libertarian world, sorry guys. All we parents we would logically contrdict ourselves… ”

I cannot force you to read Kinsella’s “How we come to own ourselves”, which might go a long way to helping you here. But if you sincerely wish to understand why i call your objection absurd, you really should.

“Once more: Go ahead, try to impose your theocracy laws and I get my gun (“totally contradictory” of course)
“This is a waste of time, I fear. WE should all get back to work and try to do the best to our closest friends and loved once, don’t play social engineers, you all!”

Yeah.

Freddy August 26, 2010 at 4:51 am

Hayekian:
“I am a person who agrees to the non-agression-principle in my conversations but not as a universal objective principle.”

I think the best way to clear up the matter is to introduce a distinction between freedom of speech and freedom of action. We know from our daily experience that we can debate things that imply action whether we have a right to decide this action or not. Thus, argument in the presence of power is possible and meaningful, and the presuppositions for argumentation can therefore not rule out power over actions. Therefore a democracy for example can not logically be ruled out by the preconditions of discussion.

Hayekian August 26, 2010 at 9:49 am

@ Peter said:
“Hayekian: why don’t you, for the sake of education, take on the position that “rape and murder are good”. I, on the other hand, believe that “rape and murder are bad”. Your job is to convince me that you’re right and I’m wrong. How are you going to go about it?”

ME: Look, Peter, why should I do this? You cannot argue that rape or murder are good, just as you cannot argue rape or murder is bad scientifically. You can do so in a legal discurs, of course. But this is consensus, hermeneutics and cultural studies, at best metaphysics, but it doesn’t prove anything in an objective manner. So when you claim “murder is scientifically bad” and I say i disagree, I do not mean that “murder is scientifically good”. There is a third possibility: it is neither good, nor bad per se, neither A nor B. Human societies, culture, evolutionary psychology working in our brains and social systems determines what we consider as being bad or good. And i guess you agree with me that what we consider good or bad has changed over the millenia. There is nothing objective to it, it is subjective and any attempt to freeze a current believe system such as anarcho-capitalism and claim it to be scientifically the only valid one is at odds with subjectivism. Ethics is just as value a subjective category. Please try to get it, don’t you see how Hoppe is trying in ethics what Marx tried in economics? Creating an objective measurement of value/ethics, although they are subjective.

scineram August 26, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Since justification is necessarily through argumentation, and argumentation is only possible while the participants are awake, it follows that sleeping cannot be justified without being caught in a performative contradiction.

BOOM!!

newson August 26, 2010 at 11:55 pm

i think the performative contradiction would be if the dreamer were to say “i am asleep”.

scineram August 27, 2010 at 11:17 am

So AE proves the ‘I am not aggressing now” axiom?

Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 7:32 am

In multivariate logic, a proposition is not true or false; instead, it is justified or flawed. A key difference between justification and truth is that the law of excluded middle doesn’t hold: a proposition that is not flawed is not necessarily justified; instead, it’s only not proven that it’s flawed.
Consider that for Hoppe… don’t be so hipocritic, at best his reasoning is not yet proven to be flawed

Paul Edwards August 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm

From Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 7:32 am:

“In multivariate logic, a proposition is not true or false; instead, it is justified or flawed.”

And does this apply to other logic as well?

“A key difference between justification and truth is that the law of excluded middle doesn’t hold: a proposition that is not flawed is not necessarily justified; instead, it’s only not proven that it’s flawed.”

Can you clarify for us the epistemological status of the above statement? Is it flawed? Or merely not yet proven flawed. If it is the former, I shall disregard it. If it is the latter, then I propose we all withhold admitting it is validity until it is proven valid. Which is impossible, according to the contents of the proposition itself.

“Consider that for Hoppe… don’t be so hipocritic, at best his reasoning is not yet proven to be flawed”

And how about 1 + 1 = 2? Not yet proven flawed? I dare say it certainly is not. But then, what truth ever is.

Hayekian August 28, 2010 at 5:05 am

“Can you clarify for us the epistemological status of the above statement? Is it flawed? ”
No, science does not work that way. We probably never reach final certainty. But it works pretty well with hypothesis and assumptions, pattern recognition and so forth. Complexity science and its epistemological bases might be interesting for you in this regard

Paul Edwards August 29, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Hayekian:

“No, science does not work that way. We probably never reach final certainty.”

But then applying this to itself, you are not certain it is true. So possibly we do sometimes reach final certainty. Right?

“But it works pretty well with hypothesis and assumptions, pattern recognition and so forth. Complexity science and its epistemological bases might be interesting for you in this regard”"

I think i didn’t make my point clear. You seem to be saying we never can know if some proposition is true or false, all we can know at best is that something has not yet been shown to be false. But then i ask you to apply this knowledge to itself, by asking: “and do we know this is true, or is it just not yet shown false?” My point? Your own comment is caught in a self-contradiction – if it is true, then we don’t really know it is true. But if we don’t really know it is true then it could be false. If it is false then there are things that can be known to be true. Your statement carries no epistemological weight.

Peter Surda August 30, 2010 at 2:06 am

The example you provide is not a self-contradiction, rather it is a paradox, due to being self-referential.

Paul Edwards August 30, 2010 at 2:36 am

From Peter Surda August 30, 2010 at 2:06 am:

“The example you provide is not a self-contradiction, rather it is a paradox, due to being self-referential.”

If it is true, we cannot know it is true. Meaning, for all we know, it is false. If it is false, then it is false. It carries the epistemological weight equivalent to the rustling of leaves in the wind.

Peter Surda August 30, 2010 at 3:11 am

You are tricked by the intricacies of language and fail to see the actual argument. The argument isn’t about the attitude to logic, it is about the attitude to reality. If I was to rephrase more accurately, it would be “The only thing we can be sure about is logic. We cannot confirm any theory about the state of the world that we live in”.

Paul Edwards August 31, 2010 at 2:30 am

From Peter Surda August 30, 2010 at 3:11 am”

“You are tricked by the intricacies of language and fail to see the actual argument. The argument isn’t about the attitude to logic, it is about the attitude to reality. If I was to rephrase more accurately, it would be “The only thing we can be sure about is logic. We cannot confirm any theory about the state of the world that we live in”.”

Really? I have a theory that you and I exist and think and act and argue, and that a universe and world exists that allows these things to be true. I claim these facts are in respect to the state of the world that we live in, and are also true a priori. Do you really think you can dispute them without flaunting your contempt for logic – the one thing you almost seemed to have some faith in?

Peter Surda August 31, 2010 at 4:25 am

That’s not a theory, that are assumptions.

Paul Edwards August 31, 2010 at 11:22 am

From Peter Surda August 31, 2010 at 4:25 am:

” That’s not a theory, that are assumptions.”

Oh? And within the context of this discussion, this distinction matters how? Recall the point: truth statements with apodicticly certain content regarding practical questions, cannot deny the possibility of apodictly certain statements about practical questions. Such statements represent a contradiction, and as such must necessarily be assumed false.

Peter Surda August 31, 2010 at 4:18 pm

You are mixing logic and empiricism (= logical positivism). The statement that I presented assumes they are distinct.

tralphkays August 27, 2010 at 9:59 am

Good luck converting people to libertarianism by explaining that rape is only a property crime, in some cases it is only simple trespass, and is not even actionable after the fact. Declaring people to be property does not lead to freedom.

Hayekian August 27, 2010 at 10:04 am

Good point, I actually thoght the serf-owenship argument was good, even though I considered Rothbard and Hoppe’s arguments as still far away from “truth”. But you make me think about it more and more, indeed, treating people as property themselves (instead of refering to the CONNECTIONS between people and objects as property) might lead to something we libertarians don’T actually want.

Russ the Apostate August 27, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Exactly. If people can be owned by themselves, it follows that people can be owned, period, and then it follows that people can be owned by others. But if we do not consider people to be ownable, period, the whole problem is avoided. Of course, then we have to come up with something other than a property rights justification for why people have a right not to be killed, raped, etc. That may be off-putting to those with a monistic mindset, or those who like the idea of all rights being derived from property rights because it offends lefties. But there’s no real problem, otherwise. After all, we do have the old formulation of “the right to life, liberty and property” to fall back on.

Peter Surda August 27, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Exactly. If people can be owned by themselves, it follows that people can be owned, period, and then it follows that people can be owned by others.

It does not. Sufficient vs. necessary conditions. Don’t mix them.

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Russ wrote:
“Exactly. If people can be owned by themselves, it follows that people can be owned, period, and then it follows that people can be owned by others.”

Non-sequitur.

Read the link I gave you ages ago. All title-transfers are mutual-abandonment contracts.
If the only way to own an object is to possess it while it’s unowned, then you cannot ever possibly own another living human because a human cannot abandon their own living body.

Hayekian August 28, 2010 at 5:09 am

“if the only way to own an object is to possess it while it’s unowned, then you cannot ever possibly own another living human because a human cannot abandon their own living body.”

If people cannot be owned than I do not own my children or little babies either. and as they are capable of argumentation in principle, I cannot educate them.
I would like to remind my fellow “libertarian” social engineers here in this block once more, that I would defend my children against any Hoppean ;) , regardless of whether or not they prove me “performatively contradictive”

Bala August 27, 2010 at 10:17 am

tralphkays,

You truly warm the cockles of my heart.

mpolzkill August 27, 2010 at 10:24 am

Last thing in the world *I* want to do: use certain words once I determine the baggage they carry with some people. I never say “capitalism” in front of lefties.

james b. longacre August 31, 2010 at 5:10 am

“You are tricked by the intricacies of language and fail to see the actual argument….

how is one tricked??

“, that are assumptions.” is “that are assumptions” an intricacy???

tralphkays August 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I am curious, is excluding others from using something sufficient to define ownership? If I wander around using force and coercion to prevent others from using things, but do not use them myself, is that establishing my ownership? Seems like a pretty useless kind of ownership.

james b. longacre August 31, 2010 at 5:13 am

using force and coercion to prevent others from using things, but do not use them myself, is that establishing my ownership? Seems like a pretty useless kind of ownership.

unless you think they can use it against you. that doesnt seem very worthless.

tralphkays August 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Further, excluding others from using something, without force or coercion has never been sufficient to establish ownership either. I can build a fence which keeps others from reaching a certain piece of land, however if I do not use that land I do not own it, at best I own the fence and the land it sits on.

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

“Ownership” gives you the “right” to exclude others. This “right” needs to be recognised by others in order for “ownership” to exist.

Like I said much earlier, since multiple humans cannot simultaneously use the same resource, a system of property rights is required for peaceful cooperation. Now if the human’s involved value conflict over cooperation, then there will be no “ownership” at all … just a bunch of thugs running around doing whatever they want.

The libertarian position is based on the concept of homesteading. But I agree, there are no strict guidelines and there are many areas where the lines between property and non-property are blurry. But this has no bearing on the debate about self-ownership.

tralphkays August 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Of course it does.

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I don’t see how. There really aren’t any “blurry lines” in self-ownership.
Either self-ownership is a logical contradiction or it isn’t.
Based on the defintions of ownership I have supplied (and you have agreed with to some extent), it isn’t.

You are going to have to provide a different definition of ownership if you wish to demonstrate self-ownership to be a contradiction.

Earlier you wrote:
“ownership is about the relationship between the owner and the thing owned, that ownership consists of the right to exclude others from using the property does not change that, in fact it defines the relationship to the property”

I see you are trying to formulate a definition of property along the lines of “relationships”. But I should point out that the right to exclude other people from using an object does not define your relationship to the object, it defines your relationship to other people.

Consider he following:
A has the right to prevent B from performing an action to X.
This statement does not describe the relationship between A and X, or the relationship between B and X. It only describes the relationship between A and B.

Hayekian August 28, 2010 at 5:20 am

” if I do not use that land I do not own it”
hm.. sounds almost marxist to me.. : if a capitalist doen’t use his wealth it is not owned by him, but should be owned by the proletariate ;)
See what I mean? There is an implicit ought in your statement. You seem to advocate that someone ought to use its property. SO am I not allowed to buy-and-forget something?

ElwoodPDowd August 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Hayekian the common law understanding of how things become owned is based on first use and actually requires continued use. If you buy something and forget about it, then it does indeed after a certain amount of time become un-owned again. This is not marxist, it is the basis of ownership in capitalism, we have gotten so used to ownership by governmental decree that most people have forgotten the basics of non-coercive ownership.

Peter Surda August 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm

The precise definition of scarce has been a source of great confusion. I see it is still present. Therefore I present my take. It means the existence of mutually exclusive options. It does not mean that multiple people cannot cooperate and jointly exercise one of those options. The existence of mutually exclusive options combined with the desire of people to exercise them results in a necessity to decide which options take precedence. Since only people can make decisions, you can reinterpret the question as to who should be the one making the decision. Obviously, if one person makes the decisions, others can’t. If there is only one person, the whole endeavour makes no sense and has no effect. It appears trivial, yet it looks like a lot of people have trouble with it.

Unlike Jay, who seems to have the urge to separate “cooperation” vs. “violence”, I think it is already an “ought”. Therefore, I consider “the guy with the bigger stick decides” also an implementation of property rights. A really crappy one but still it is a rule for making decisions.

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Peter Surda wrote:
“I consider “the guy with the bigger stick decides” also an implementation of property rights. A really crappy one but still it is a rule for making decisions.”

You are correct. I’ll try to keep that in mind when I form my arguments from now on. Thanks Peter. :)

Hayekian August 28, 2010 at 5:23 am

“Unlike Jay, who seems to have the urge to separate “cooperation” vs. “violence”, I think it is already an “ought”. Therefore, I consider “the guy with the bigger stick decides” also an implementation of property rights. A really crappy one but still it is a rule for making decisions.”
Exactly, Hayek talks about how property rights emerged in groups of hunter-gatherers in a similar way (Hayek:”The fatal Conceit”)

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 4:58 pm

The comments on this thread seem to be broken.

Russ the Apostate August 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Jay Lakner wrote:
“But this is exactly the same relationship one has with an unowned object.

You have the right to use an unowned object.
You have the right to use an object you own.”

You forgot a few things. First, there is another possibility, so the list should be modified as follows:

You have the right to use an unowned object.
You have the right to use an object you own.
You do not have the right to use an object owned by someone else.

Next, you forgot that if you use an unowned object, then by that act of homesteading, you have effectively made yourself the owner. So, the first item is rendered superfluous, and the list now shrinks back down to two items:

You have the right to use an unowned object.
You have the right to use an object you own.
You do not have the right to use an object owned by someone else.

So, ownership does describe a special state between the owner and the owned. It is a relationship.

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Russ wrote:
“Next, you forgot that if you use an unowned object, then by that act of homesteading, you have effectively made yourself the owner.”

Using an unowned object does not automatically mean you are the owner of that object. Other people need to recognise your ownership rights in order for them to exist. And why do you assume that ownership is decided via homesteading? Your argument, in order to be valid, needs to apply regardless of the system of property rights being implemented.

What about Crusoe situations? Crusoe doesn’t “own” anything until someone else arrives on the island. Yet he has the right to use any resource he wants. The act of using a resource doesn’t immediately render it his property. If there is nobody to exclude, ownership is meaningless.

Lastly, when contemplating a future use of an unowned resource, you know that you have the right to use it even though you do not own it at present. Even if the act of using it will “make yourself the owner”, this doesn’t alter the fact that prior to owning it you did in fact have the right to use it.

Russ the Apostate August 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Jay,

Crusoe situations are pathological cases. In that case, the whole concept of ownership is rendered moot.

At any rate, I fail to see how any of this makes a difference. Ownership is still a relationship; a special, privileged state between the owner and the object owned. The owner has the right to do whatever he wants with the owned object (barring doing something that violates the rights of others, of course). Nobody else has this privilege with respect to the owned object.

A clue that ownership is a relationship is the fact that most languages that I am aware of use the same grammatical case for possession and for familial relationships. “This is my sister.” “This is my computer.” The possessive or genitive in either case denotes a special tie, or relationship, between the subject and object of the sentence.

Bala August 27, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Russ,

” A clue that ownership is a relationship….. ”

Your clues are obvious to a rational thinker but not to advocates of particular religions.

Jay Lakner August 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Russ,

Apart from your reference to my Crusoe point (which ignored the prime purpose of that point), you pretty much completely ignored my demolition of your last argument.

Now you reassert the very thing under dispute and offer a different argument.

This is disappointing Russ. I expected a formidable challenge from you.

Russ wrote:
“Ownership is still a relationship; a special, privileged state between the owner and the object owned.”

“Ownership” does not describe any special, privileged relationship to the object owned.
You have the ability to alter the integrity or momentum of the object.
Everybody else has the ability to alter the integrity or momentum of the object.
Where’s this privilege?

However, ownership does give you the right to prevent other people from performing actions that alter the integrity or momentum of the object. So ownership gives you a special, privileged relationship to everyone else.

Ownership means the right to exclude others. Nothing more.

Russ wrote:
“A clue that ownership is a relationship is the fact that most languages that I am aware of use the same grammatical case for possession and for familial relationships. “This is my sister.” “This is my computer.” The possessive or genitive in either case denotes a special tie, or relationship, between the subject and object of the sentence.”

Yes the metaphors littered throughout human language. Aren’t they colourful? Do you think they lend any weight to your argument? Do you think I should chew on it for a while longer?

Seriously though, all one needs to do is look at the fundamental definition of “ownership” to realise that saying “this is my computer” really means “I have the right to exclude other people from performing actions that alter the integrity or momentum of this computer”.
This does not describe my relationship to the computer. It describes my relationship to everyone else.
The problem is that everyone has it drummed into their head from an early age that there is a special relationship between you and your property that it sounds crazy to suggest otherwise. In light of the definition of ownership, it is clear that this relationship is nothing more than an illusion. Ownership of an object does little more than describe your relationship to everyone else.

Bala August 27, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Jay,

” You have the ability to alter the integrity or momentum of the object.
Everybody else has the ability to alter the integrity or momentum of the object.
Where’s this privilege? ”

Where did Russ refer to the “ability” to alter whatever? The privilege is in the moral status.

Jay Lakner August 28, 2010 at 7:31 am

Bala,

With my “ability” statements I was showing what the actual relationship between a person and an entity was. I felt this was necessary to demonstrate that introducing the word “owns” does not alter this.

Let’s look at a simple situation. First I will describe the relationships.

A has the ability to alter X.
B has the ability to alter X.

Now, let’s introduce “ownership” into the mix.

A owns X.

Now, lets reword the above statement in terms of the definition of “owns”.

A has the right to prevent B from using X.

Has the relationship between A and X been altered? No.
What has been altered? The relationship between A and B.
Therefore, “ownership” does not describe a relationship between the owner and that which is owned.

Hayekian August 28, 2010 at 8:55 am

Exactly. I would suggest Randall Holcombe “Economic foundations of government”. he deals with the emergence of property rights in it: people that are valued by the dominant ones are rewarded “rights” by that dominant actor. The right then is a formal relationship between the individuals ensuring that A can exclude others from the use of the ressources that are his “property”

Bala August 27, 2010 at 8:28 pm

” Seriously though, all one needs to do is look at the fundamental definition of “ownership” to realise that saying “this is my computer” really means “I have the right to exclude other people from performing actions that alter the integrity or momentum of this computer” ”

Does your having a right mean that others should act or have the right to act to protect your right? If you fail to protect your right, why should retaliatory action after the act of violation be considered legitimate? Why should someone else’s action to retaliate on your behalf, once again after the violation, be considered legitimate?

Just trying to say that I find your attempt to redefine “property” rather funny.

Hayekian August 28, 2010 at 5:15 am

“If you fail to protect your right, why should retaliatory action after the act of violation be considered legitimate?”
This is a totally new question. Maybe it isn’t legitimate at all ? ;))
I find the definition of Jay about property good and in accordance with other theories “property rights approacu” for instance

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