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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5497/van-dun-on-argumentation-ethics/

Van Dun on Argumentation Ethics

August 22, 2006 by

The brilliant and erudite Belgian libertarian legal theorist Frank Van Dun has a powerful, rich and provocative draft article: Comment on R.P.Murphy’s & Gene Callahan’s Critique of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics [Note: updated version, in PDF, here: Argumentation Ethics and the Philosophy of Freedom]. It’s a response to recent criticism of Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s argumentation ethics.

Van Dun is well-suited to join the fray, having himself written on this topic before, as he explains in his draft comment. For more on Van Dun, see:

Apparently Van Dun has a wealth of libertarian writing in Dutch; it’s high time we have some English translations.

***

Update: See the entry Kim Davies on the Transcendental Foundations of Ethics.

{ 11 comments }

Person August 22, 2006 at 11:48 am

Came across this little gem in the Van Dun reply to M/C:

“…that argumentation is between one person and another, between an ‘I’ and a ‘You’, and also that the success or force of the argumentation does not depend on who is the ‘I’ and who is the ‘You’.”

It just made me think about how Stephan Kinsella always tries to respond to my arguments by finding something about me, or how he claimed Murphy and Callahan “were not libertarians” and “were ethical skeptics” in his reply to them on this topic.

Richard Garner August 22, 2006 at 12:18 pm

Suppose that a slave is instructed to go to Hoppe and argue that he, the slave, does not own himself. Where is the performative contradiction in this?

Stephan Kinsella August 22, 2006 at 12:40 pm

Well, clarify your query. First, is it, or is it not, *genuine* argument? This matters.

Second, clarify what exactly the slave is saying. Is he saying he does not actually own himself; or legally; or that he consents to the relationship with some master; or that he agrees that he “should” be dominated by the master? What exactly is the slave saying?

Richard Garner August 22, 2006 at 6:06 pm

Well, clarify your query. First, is it, or is it not, *genuine* argument? This matters.

Does it even need to be an argument? A slave, one day, comes up to Mr Hoppe, and says, “Mr. Hoppe, my Master has instructed me to tell you that he owns me.”

Second, clarify what exactly the slave is saying. Is he saying he does not actually own himself;

Sure, he is saying that somebody else owns him.

or legally;

Well, I had in mind, when thinking of the scenario, some period in ancient Roman history, so perhaps, yeah, we could say legally. I’m not sure of the relevance.

or that he consents to the relationship with some master;

Consents is a tricky question, since this might depend on whether you are using a moralised notion of consent or not. However, suppose that this wasn’t the result of some voluntary slave contract a la Nozick, but instead was imposed against the slave’s will. What difference does that make?

or that he agrees that he “should” be dominated by the master?

Whether he agrees or not may well be irrelevent to the question of whether or not he is a slave.

What exactly is the slave saying?

He is saying that he does not own himself. If he is a slave, a person owned by another person, this statement is true.

Paul Edwards August 22, 2006 at 7:40 pm

Richard,

“Does it even need to be an argument? A slave, one day, comes up to Mr Hoppe, and says, “Mr. Hoppe, my Master has instructed me to tell you that he owns me.”"

Yes. It needs to be an argument. The question is can anything other than self-ownership be justified, and a justification must take place during argumentation.

“Sure, he is saying that somebody else owns him.”

What do you think this would prove? Hoppe is not claiming the slave is not considered to be a slave by his owner, by others or by the slave himself. So the slave’s confirming this fact verbally is not in question nor is it relevant. The question is: is slavery of non-aggressors justifiable? This slave’s statement of his condition of slavery does nothing to answer this question.

“…suppose that this wasn’t the result of some voluntary slave contract a la Nozick, but instead was imposed against the slave’s will. What difference does that make?”

Slavery imposed against the non-aggressing slave’s will is unjustified, whereas slavery imposed against a criminal is or may be justified.

“Whether he agrees or not may well be irrelevent to the question of whether or not he is a slave.”

And whether or not he is a slave is definitely irrelevant to the question of whether slavery can be justified.

“He is saying that he does not own himself. If he is a slave, a person owned by another person, this statement is true.”

The statement may be true in the sense that he is treated as a slave and viewed as a slave by others and even himself. This is however, irrelevant to whether his being a slave is justified.

I’d elaborate on why a slave saying he is a slave is irrelevant to a justification of slavery, but van Dun does this pretty well in his article. Do a search on “slave” in the text and read the surrounding paragraphs.

Stephan Kinsella August 22, 2006 at 8:41 pm

R. Garner:

First, I endorse and hereby incorporate by reference Paul Edwards’s comments to you (how’s that for some lawyer-talk!).

NSK: Well, clarify your query. First, is it, or is it not, *genuine* argument? This matters.

RG: Does it even need to be an argument? A slave, one day, comes up to Mr Hoppe, and says, “Mr. Hoppe, my Master has instructed me to tell you that he owns me.”

Hoppe’s argument is that argumentation presupposes the libertarian ethic, and that therefore if you engage in argument and propose something non-libertarian then you are contradicting yourself.

So the contradiction plays out only when there is (a) genuine argumentation (of the type that presupposes libertarian principles); and (b) someone who proposes a non-libertarian ethics.

In your case, it is not clear whether this is argumentation. Apparently the Master ordered the slave to say those words, and if he is being ordered, presumably he is not free to really change his mind and accept Hoppe’s counterarguments. HOw is it an argument?

If we somehow assume the Master gave the slave permission to be totally free to argue and to accept whatever conclusion he believes right, solely on the force of the aguments made, then I suppose it might be an argument. So. Suppose this is so, and the slave, call him “num-nuts,” says, “Master owns me.” Is this proposing a non-libertarian ethic?

Why would it be? It might be a (legal) fact that in this community Master owns num-nuts. Num-nuts is then just stating the truth. How is this proposing a non-libertarian ethic?

Now, let me go ahead and answer teh rest of the hypothetical you should have posed, if you had really understood argumentation ethics.

Suppose Num-nuts says, “I am owned by Master, and this is right and good; and it’s okay for some people to own others, even if they didn’t do anything wrong to the owner.” (See why I called him Num-nuts? I think ahead.)

In this case, it is obvious that Num-nuts’ status as a slave is irrelevant to whether there is a contradiction or not. If it is a genuine argumment, it merely means his master gave him permission to argue. And if he is a slave and says slavery is okay, he is actually consenting to his enslavement, so it’s not really enslavement! Now, you might say, well, he is not really consenting, he is forced to agree to this proposition–hey, if that’s the case, it’s not really argumentation and we are back to square one. For your hypo to work you have to assume the slave is free to say what he really believes and is not coerced. Which means, if he defends slavery, he’s not a slave. Which means, Num-nuts pro-slavery comments in the argument are no different than if the Master or some other free person utters them.

So all we have is a person S engaging in argument, saying “Slavery is justifiable.” His status as slave is irrelevant to whether there is a contradiction or not (in fact, as noted above, he really can’t say he is okay with slavery and be a slave; he is just a willing masochist). Moreover, even if he were somehow still a slave, it still does not affect whether his statement is a contradiction or not. The only question is whether the libertarian ethic is presupposed by the activity or argumentation or not. That is the only question really. And to answer this, it is utterly irrelevant whether the parties to a genuine argument are “really” slaves, or not. What matters is whether argumentation presupposes the libertarian ethic as justified.

NSK: Second, clarify what exactly the slave is saying. Is he saying he does not actually own himself;

RG: Sure, he is saying that somebody else owns him.

Since you apparently do not understand the nuances here, or are unwilling to engage them, I”ll assume here you mean the slave is merely stating a legal fact: that under the legal system, his Master has a legal right to administer force to the slave to induce him to do what the Master wants. IN this case, there is no contradiction at all because the slave is not saying he supports slavery.

RG: Well, I had in mind, when thinking of the scenario, some period in ancient Roman history, so perhaps, yeah, we could say legally. I’m not sure of the relevance.

Right, that’s become clear.

RG: Consents is a tricky question, since this might depend on whether you are using a moralised notion of consent or not. However, suppose that this wasn’t the result of some voluntary slave contract a la Nozick, but instead was imposed against the slave’s will. What difference does that make?

It makes no difference at all. What I was getting at was the nature of Num-nuts’ statement: was he merely recognizing a legal fact (he is owned), or was he endorsing it? HE apparently is only doing the former, which means he is not engaging in contradiction.

NSK: or that he agrees that he “should” be dominated by the master?

RG: Whether he agrees or not may well be irrelevent to the question of whether or not he is a slave.

Well, if he agrees, he is arguably consenting so it not a slave, is he? But even if you are right: it does not matter whther it is relevant to the question of whether he is a slave, because as I explained above, it does not matter whether he is a slave or not, for purposes of determining whether his statements are a dialogical contrdiction or not. If he engages in genuine argument, somehow (whether he is a slave or not), then if he asserts a non-libertarian ethic, he is engaged in a contradiction. Why? Because the argument preuspposes the libertarian ethic as justifiable.

If you disagree then you only disagree with the latter statement, and that is what you should focus on.

RG: He is saying that he does not own himself. If he is a slave, a person owned by another person, this statement is true.

Yes. And irrelevant.

Geoffrey Allan Plauche August 24, 2006 at 9:41 am

It seems to me that Hoppe’s argument only works, if at all, for people who think that the purpose of argumentation is only to discover truth and/or only for those engaging in “genuine” argumentation. For anyone not engaged in “genuine” argumentation – that is, for anyone seemingly arguing but really just trying to persuade others over to his or her own point of view – there would be no performative contradiction in espousing a non-libertarian point of view. Also, hypothetically, what about people who do not believe that the purpose of argumentation is only to discover truth but rather and primarily to persuade (i.e., as a more effective (in the long run) and less costly and less risky means than violence)? They already know the truth afterall (via intuition, revelation, feelings, their superior intellect, or what have you).

I still don’t see why a master and his slave can’t have a “genuine” argument. Let’s say we have a particularly intellectual slave-owner and he likes to keep philosophers as slaves, to gain from their wisdom and have debates with them. It seems to me that he very well can have an argument with his philosopher slave. They could have arguments about topics that the slave-owner allows to be discussed. And even if the slave-owner allows the topic of slavery to be debated, they could argue about that. Maybe the slave-owner would win such an argument, maybe he wouldn’t; and let’s say for the sake of argument that he would lose against the superior arguments of his philosopher-slave, recognize this, and then proceeds to free all of his slaves. I’d say an argument took place. But even if he won the argument – let’s say because his philosopher-slave, for whatever reason, didn’t come up with very good arguments against slavery – I would say that an argument took place. It seems to me that as long as the slave-owner allows the slave control over his own person for the purpose of debating and it is clear to both parties that there will be no repercussions to the slave for whatever arguments he may make in the course of the debate, that genuine argumentation (and no performative contradiction) will have taken place even though during the course of the debate the slave-owner sincerely believed that he justifiably owned the slave. In short, it seems that control, not ownership, of one’s person during the course of the debate and an absence of punishment for anything that may be said during the course of the debate, are all that is needed for “genuine” argumentation.

Stephan Kinsella August 24, 2006 at 10:22 am

Plauche:

It seems to me that Hoppe’s argument only works, if at all, for people who think that the purpose of argumentation is only to discover truth and/or only for those engaging in “genuine” argumentation. For anyone not engaged in “genuine” argumentation – that is, for anyone seemingly arguing but really just trying to persuade others over to his or her own point of view – there would be no performative contradiction in espousing a non-libertarian point of view.

So what? The fact that there are uncivilized criminals is no disproof of a normative claim. Hoppe’s claim is only that one cannot actually ever justify a non-libertarian norm; and that only a libertarian norm is justified. Of course only those who care about justification–those who engage in genuine argumentation–even care about this. But so what? This comment of yours actually further bolster’s Hoppe’s case. You are basically saying that the only way to avoid the contradiction is to not genuinely argue. That in effect means that if and to the extent you are really engaged in argument, you are demonstrating your acceptance of the underlying libertarian norms and cannot contradict yourself by arguing against them.

Also, hypothetically, what about people who do not believe that the purpose of argumentation is only to discover truth but rather and primarily to persuade (i.e., as a more effective (in the long run) and less costly and less risky means than violence)? They already know the truth afterall (via intuition, revelation, feelings, their superior intellect, or what have you).

If and to the extent they are engaged in genuine argumentation they have to be open to hearing the other side’s reasons and potentially changing their mind based on the force of the others’ ideas alone. In any event, these people cannot atually engage in genuine argument and deny the libertarian ethic, since a genuine argument is required to justify anything, and also presupposes the libertarian ethic.

I still don’t see why a master and his slave can’t have a “genuine” argument. Let’s say we have a particularly intellectual slave-owner and he likes to keep philosophers as slaves, to gain from their wisdom and have debates with them. It seems to me that he very well can have an argument with his philosopher slave. They could have arguments about topics that the slave-owner allows to be discussed.

Let’s suppose a master M and slave S can have a genuine argument. If so this is only if and to the extent the Master in effect frees the slave so as to be free from the threat of coercion if he refuses to accept the Master’s propositions. The Master himself would have to recognize at least his own right to control his body, and to be able to homestead resources in order to have an argument, and to be able to survive in order to have one; and he would have to recognize the value of a conflict-free mode of interacting; and he would have to recognize the value of justifying propositions and being able to engage in the activity of justifying; and he would have to value the assignment of property rules that permit conflicts to be avoided. Given all this, Rothbardian and Austrian reasoning shows that his only choice is to accept the libertarian “first use” rule of property assignment. This is the only one that fulfills all the requirements above.

And even if the slave-owner allows the topic of slavery to be debated, they could argue about that.

Sure; the master would, in asserting his right to own the slave, be contradicting his other necessarily held view that the libertarian ethic is justified. So he is contradicting himself.

Maybe the slave-owner would win such an argument, maybe he wouldn’t

Of cousre he wouldn’t, since slavery is unjustified and unjustifiable, and becuase (and *just* because) it contradicts the ethic presupposed in argumentation as such.

; and let’s say for the sake of argument that he would lose against the superior arguments of his philosopher-slave, recognize this, and then proceeds to free all of his slaves. I’d say an argument took place.

Sure. O, Happy day.

… I would say that an argument took place. It seems to me that as long as the slave-owner allows the slave control over his own person for the purpose of debating and it is clear to both parties that there will be no repercussions to the slave for whatever arguments he may make in the course of the debate, that genuine argumentation (and no performative contradiction) will have taken place even though during the course of the debate the slave-owner sincerely believed that he justifiably owned the slave.

The question is not whether a slave can argue. The question is this: if and when there is a genuine argument, do the participants presuppose the libertarian ethic? This is really the only question. If they do, then anyone who proposes a non-libertarian ethic contradicts himself–whether he is the slave, master, or dog-catcher.

In short, it seems that control, not ownership, of one’s person during the course of the debate and an absence of punishment for anything that may be said during the course of the debate,

But the participants demonstrate their *preference* for argumentation *as an activity* and they demonstrate their *preference* for this *conflict-free mode of interacting*. They demonstrate their recognition of the undeniable fact that propositions can only be justified argumentatively, and that they *should be* justified argumentatively. They recognize the value of argumentation; and the factual (conflict-free, control-recognizing) aspects of argumentation); and thus recognize the value of people having control over their properties. They recognize, moreover, the value of rules that assign ownerhsip of title to scarce resources at least sufficient to permit them to have survived long enough to argue and to control enough resources to engage in the argument. This means that they cannot advocate a property rule that “no one is permitted to use property”, because if this were followed argumentation would not be possible. Yet if they cannot consistently advocate this, they also cannot advocate any collective ownership rule, because it woudl be the same thing. They also cannot advocate that there be NO rule; and they cannot advocate a PARTICULARISTIC rule since by arguing they accept univeralizability.

So what is left? Here we have it that no participant in genuine argument can without contradiction (a) deny the value of conflict-free interaction; (b) deny the value of rules that permit some use of scarce resources sufficient to avoid conflict sufficient to permit the participants to engage in argument and to survive long enough to have done this; (c) deny that it is good that some individuals are property owners so that the argument can proceed (even if both arguers are slaves, there has to be some independent, sovereign owner who permits the slaves to argue; if the slaves are prisoners being punished for a crime, then there is an argumentive distinction between master and slave; if not, then whatever basis underlies the presupposed ownership of the ultimate “master” consenting to the argument, must apply also to the slave(s)); (d) argue that there be no property rules; (e) argue that there be a collectivist property rule where everyone owns everyone else; (f) argue for a late-comer rule; (g) argue for particularistic rules.

Given all this, it is obvious that the ONLY rule that is compatible with these argumenative restrictions is the unvarnished, unlimited libertarain first-use appropriation rule. For only this one is compatible with the body-ownership rule presuspposed by the arguers. Only this one solves conflicts. Only this one is not particularistic, and universalizable. Only this one avoids the nihilism of advocating NO property rule.

Geoffrey Allan Plauche August 24, 2006 at 11:44 am

Stephan, I think you have misinterpreted, misunderstood, or overlooked some important points in my argument.

Notice that you quote the following line of mine: “Maybe the slave-owner would win such an argument, maybe he wouldn’t.”

But not this one immediately following it: “But even if he won the argument – let’s say because his philosopher-slave, for whatever reason, didn’t come up with very good arguments against slavery – I would say that an argument took place.”

I do think that slavery is unjustifiable, but that is a separate issue from the quality of the arguments put forth by the slave-owner and his philosopher-slave. The slave-owner could win an argument over the justness of slavery if his philosopher-slave provides weaker arguments than he does. You’re conflating the truth of the conclusions with the strength of the arguments and assuming, contrary to the stipulations given in my example, that the parties in the argument provide the best possible arguments for their positions.

You say: “The question is not whether a slave can argue.”

But this precisely is the question. If a slave can argue, genuinely argue, then genuine argumentation takes place. This question and the question you insist on are in fact related.

You say: “slavery is unjustified and unjustifiable, and becuase (and *just* because) it contradicts the ethic presupposed in argumentation as such.”

But I don’t see that you, or Hoppe, or Van Dun, have established this.

You say: “Let’s suppose a master M and slave S can have a genuine argument. If so this is only if and to the extent the Master in effect frees the slave so as to be free from the threat of coercion if he refuses to accept the Master’s propositions.”

In effect? It seems like you are talking about control here, not self-ownership. This is, I think, where you, Hoppe, and Van Dun go wrong. You conflate self-ownership with control. The slave may “in effect” be free (for the purpose of debating only) when his owner grants him the control necessary to engage in argumentation and promises that he will not be punished for speaking freely. But this does not establish that the slave must not be a slave, i.e., that he must have self-ownership, in order to engage in argumentation; it does not by itself establish that the slave must be set free in the sense of being released from his bondage in order for genuine argumentation to occur. In other words, this does not get you from the ethics of argumentation to libertarian self-ownership. Something else beyond the ethics of argumentation is needed to generalize the conditions necessary for genuine argumentation beyond argumentation to human activity in general. And something more is needed beyond that to establish that not merely control is needed but that self-ownership is true and people should therefore and on that basis be left in control of themselves.

Van Dun is correct on page 6 of his essay that I would performatively contradict myself if I claim that an argumentatively justified conclusion is justified only within the context of argumentation itself, but this is not what I am claiming. If you or I successfully argue that libertarian self-ownership is justified, its justification is not limited to the context of our argument. I am merely arguing that the argument that the ethics of argumentation by itself establishes the justification of libertarian self-ownership fails.

I’ll grant you that if in the course of argumentation the slave-owner finds himself unable to defeat the anti-slavery arguments of his philosopher-slave, then should he refuse to free his slave he would be engaging in a performative contradiction: namely, professing to engage in argumentation, which presupposes certain normative commitments, and then refusing to respect said commitments when he loses the argument. This performative contradiction stems not from the claim that argumentation presupposes libertarian self-ownership and that therefore he cannot simultaneously claim to own slaves and engage in argumentation without contradiction; rather, it stems from the fact, stipulated in my example here, that he has lost the argument – having failed to refute his slave’s anti-slavery argument – and then refuses to respect the commitment he made in engaging in argumentation to accept conclusions of the winning argument.

If one wants to restrict the meaning of “genuine” argumentation to something that requires self-ownership, one has to make implicit or explicit (historically mostly implicit as far as I can tell) assumptions that are not justified by argumentation ethics itself but rather form the justificational foundations of argumentation ethics and which themselves still need to be justified. Argumentation ethics cannot stand alone. To be effective, it must be situated within a broader and deeper philosophical and ethical theory.

Geoffrey Allan Plauche August 24, 2006 at 12:05 pm

I would like to add, by way of clarification, that I do not think that merely winning an argument is enough to bind the loser to the conclusions of the winning argument. Again, it is possible to have a true conclusion but bad arguments for it, and one could lose an argument on such grounds. It would be perverse if the ethics of argumentation entailed that those who are less intelligent, logical, educated, or are for whatever reason not good arguers, would have to accept slavery as justified if they could not refute it. There are many bad arguments for libertarianism, but their proponents are not thereby obligated to accept statism. This is yet another reason why the ethics of argumentation cannot stand alone.

Stephan Kinsella August 24, 2006 at 12:16 pm

Plauche:

Stephan, I think you have misinterpreted, misunderstood, or overlooked some important points in my argument.

And one just “doesn’t do” this, in an argument, right? It’s not … permitted? by the … rules of argumentation? :)

I do think that slavery is unjustifiable, but that is a separate issue from the quality of the arguments put forth by the slave-owner and his philosopher-slave.

YOu can never justify that which is not justifiable.

The slave-owner could win an argument over the justness of slavery if his philosopher-slave provides weaker arguments than he does. You’re conflating the truth of the conclusions with the strength of the arguments and assuming,

Silly me, I would think an argument’s strength comes from its being correct.

Could someone also “win” the side of an argument contending that A is not A; or that 1 + 1 = 3?

You say: “The question is not whether a slave can argue.”

But this precisely is the question. If a slave can argue, genuinely argue, then genuine argumentation takes place.

Er, okay. How does that show the argument does not presuppose the libertarian ethic?

You say: “slavery is unjustified and unjustifiable, and becuase (and *just* because) it contradicts the ethic presupposed in argumentation as such.”

But I don’t see that you, or Hoppe, or Van Dun, have established this.

In any case, it is unrelated to whether a slave is part of a genuine argumet. The identity or legal status of the participants has nothing to do with anything. Whatever is presupposed is presupposed, by virtus of its being argumentation, not because of who the participants are.

You say: “Let’s suppose a master M and slave S can have a genuine argument. If so this is only if and to the extent the Master in effect frees the slave so as to be free from the threat of coercion if he refuses to accept the Master’s propositions.”

In effect? It seems like you are talking about control here, not self-ownership.

Ownership is just the right to control.

This is, I think, where you, Hoppe, and Van Dun go wrong. You conflate self-ownership with control.

Self-ownership is the right to control one’s body. If we are speaking of legal rights, then we are speaking of legal ownership. If we are speaking of libertarian (“natural”) rights, we are speaking of natural ownership. It’s just terminology.

If the legal system permits A to own B, even though B is innocent of any crime, then the legal owner of B is A. We libertarians woudl say this is unjust, *because* A is the “real” owner of his body–by “real” we mean, he is the one who has the (moral) right to control his body, even thoguh this right is not legally recognized.

The slave may “in effect” be free (for the purpose of debating only) when his owner grants him the control necessary to engage in argumentation and promises that he will not be punished for speaking freely.

Okay…

But this does not establish that the slave must not be a slave, i.e., that he must have self-ownership,

He must have the right to control his body to participate in the debate. THe master’s granting him freedom to debate means giving him the right to control his body.

in order to engage in argumentation; it does not by itself establish that the slave must be set free in the sense of being released from his bondage in order for genuine argumentation to occur.

THe point is that the master has to presuppose a variety of normative principles which *imply* that he cannot justify the proposition “I should own the slave”.

I’ll grant you that if in the course of argumentation the slave-owner finds himself unable to defeat the anti-slavery arguments of his philosopher-slave, then should he refuse to free his slave he would be engaging in a performative contradiction: namely, professing to engage in argumentation, which presupposes certain normative commitments, and then refusing to respect said commitments when he loses the argument.

NOtice here, though, how strange and … bloodless an alienated your argument is (I think it suffers from what Van Dun criticizes as the mere “academic” way of viewing argumentation): you yourself as a libertairan have admitted you think slavery is wrong. For wahtever reason–you must have some basis for this view. and you necessarily think that it is better than any counterclaims. So the slave could just put forward your argument, whatever it is; and he would then win.

… So… are we done, then? Have you conceded, or not? I think you are confused because you accept something yet you don’t want to accept it at the same time.

This performative contradiction stems not from the claim that argumentation presupposes libertarian self-ownership and that therefore he cannot simultaneously claim to own slaves and engage in argumentation without contradiction; rather, it stems from the fact, stipulated in my example here, that he has lost the argument – having failed to refute his slave’s anti-slavery argument

HE faield to refute it because he is wrong. I don’t see this as some stupid game theory exercise, wehre everything is infinitely and forever debatable and uncertain. I don’t harbor the illusion that you can “win” an argument if you are wrong. What standard are you using? Some litigator-lawyer standard?

If one wants to restrict the meaning of “genuine” argumentation to something that requires self-ownership,

Genuine argumentation is conflict free, by its nature. It requires each participant have control of his body–and, vis-a-vis each other, the right to control. Surely you can see this. It also requires them to be alive, and to control something more than just their bodies–some external resources. This means the participants endorse also the rule that people should be permitted at least sometimes to use scarce resources and in a conflict-free way. This implies, as I argued in last post, that only the full-fledged libertarian homesteading norm is compatible with argumentation.

To be effective, it must be situated within a broader and deeper philosophical and ethical theory.

Interesting–you say this statement *in the context of an argumentation*. It’s like trying to deny the significance of the limb you are standing on.

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