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Author Topic: Objections to the non-aggression principle  (Read 5225 times)
Luther
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February 18, 2012, 02:27:46 AM
 #1

Libertarians seem pretty confident in their reasoning ability, but I'm yet to be convinced. In particular, I have two major objections to the non-aggresion principle:

We must coerce people into respecting each other's rights.
In a completely free society, we must assume the potential of infinite diversity. If we don't, our prejudices would prevent us from respecting the uniqueness of everyone's needs. This would make society quite unfree by definition.

Some people won't want to respect the rights of others.

Therefore, individual rights must be enforced by coersion.

(If you bring up the idea of "provocation", please define exactly what you think that word means. To me, the NAP is about the same as pacifism, and it's too easy to redefine provocation to suit one's argument.)

Aggression is fundamental to survival.
If someone needs food, and has no way to get it without killing or stealing, why shouldn't he do so? Without this basic survival instinct, humans would not have survived long enough to invent property rights.

Finally, if government is so inherently evil, how does it arise in the first place?

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February 18, 2012, 05:37:31 AM
 #2

Conclusion: "Rights" are a fiction. "Evil" is only what we don't prefer as individuals.

The Communists say, equal labour entitles man to equal enjoyment. No, equal labour does not entitle you to it, but equal enjoyment alone entitles you to equal enjoyment. Enjoy, then you are entitled to enjoyment. But, if you have laboured and let the enjoyment be taken from you, then – ‘it serves you right.’ If you take the enjoyment, it is your right.
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February 18, 2012, 07:29:01 AM
 #3

The NAP = Dont Touch My Shit

Hawker
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February 18, 2012, 08:48:03 AM
 #4

The NAP = Dont Touch My Shit

And when you get sick, the NAP doesn't apply because the new rule is "Heal me and no I haven't bothered saving up for your meds."

Most NAP advocates are actually freeloaders.  They don't want to contribute to society when they don't need it.  And they stay quiet about the times they take the benefits of living is a well organised society.

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February 19, 2012, 04:44:03 PM
 #5

Conclusion: "Rights" are a fiction.

Nothing could be more true.

There is non-fiction, which is a body of facts about the way nature works, and a body of facts about that which has happened.
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February 19, 2012, 06:09:37 PM
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If you are wearing a watch and I take it from you, am I the aggressor or are you? Well, if you took the watch from me yesterday and I'm just getting my property back, then you're the aggressor. If it was always your watch then I'm the aggressor. See, you can't talk about the non-aggression principle in a vacuum. The other side of the coin is property rights, which tells us who exactly the aggressor is.
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February 19, 2012, 09:11:45 PM
 #7

We must coerce people into respecting each other's rights.
In a completely free society, we must assume the potential of infinite diversity. If we don't, our prejudices would prevent us from respecting the uniqueness of everyone's needs. This would make society quite unfree by definition.

By infinite diversity, you are referring to individual rights. Why are you claiming individual rights have infinite diversity? They may have infinite interpretations depending on infinite instances of disputes, but just because two people disagree on a right does not mean the disagreement cannot be resolved. It is between the two responsible parties to resolve disagreements. Creating government means a one-size-fits-all solution which destroys all demand for private contract resolution institutions, and also prevents innovation in this theoretical industry which could exist if not for government.

Rights are a construct created by man to relate to his fellow man. The tribe, through social interactions, agrees on the rights of it's members. They meet another tribe with slightly different rights, but the amazing thing is how similar they are! This is because to survive, one set of rights is better than another. For example, if the chief has the right to have his way with any female in the tribe, lots of strong young boys will start popping out and the tribe will gain strength. Rights are arbitrary, but survival is based on choosing the best set of rights for your current circumstance.

Americans live in an empire which has oppressed foreigners by stealing the value of their labor through fiat currency. Bitcoin enthusiasts should fully understand the implications of a world reserve currency controlled by a centralized entity. Imagine if every barrel of oil had to be purchased in bitcoins then converted to local currencies. Bitcoin holders would be pretty happy! Well imagine further if you could control the volume of bitcoins in circulation? Holy shit you have more power than anything in the world. The US has more power than anything in the world right now because of their world-wide reserve fiat currency.

Aggression is fundamental to survival.
If someone needs food, and has no way to get it without killing or stealing, why shouldn't he do so? Without this basic survival instinct, humans would not have survived long enough to invent property rights.

I have to agree with this point, but if he tries to kill for food, he may be killed himself. He is initiating aggression and that cannot be justified morally, but that would not stop him or anyone else if that was the ONLY option. But let's ratchet up the scenario, what if without a $75,000 hospital procedure you will die, is it then justified to steal? Of course not. Will people do it to survive? Yes. The question is how should we address this concern we have of starving people. Should we try to find a real sustainable solution to the problem, or should we force every person to throw in some money to give to people who need food. If you look at the result today in any meaningful way, you will see that force is not working as hunger in America has increased significantly.

Finally, if government is so inherently evil, how does it arise in the first place?

The body of people in society share the same moral principles and government enforces those principles. At first government serves the people, but the opportunity to take control and exploit the vast reserves of power government has is just too hard to pass up. Eventually nefarious entities gain control of the power center and all hell breaks loose (a few decades or centuries later). Once the body of people line their moral philosophy based on universal ethics, government is exposed as the fraud it is and can be cast aside. Until that happens let's learn the ways of peaceful interaction, and let's constantly expose the violence that is often hidden in interactions.

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EhVedadoOAnonimato
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February 20, 2012, 04:29:35 PM
 #8

We must coerce people into respecting each other's rights.

....

To me, the NAP is about the same as pacifism

That's not an objection against the NAP. Are you sure you read enough about it? NAP != pacifism.

You may use proportional force to repeal or punish an initiation of aggression (violation of rights).

Aggression is fundamental to survival.
If someone needs food, and has no way to get it without killing or stealing, why shouldn't he do so? Without this basic survival instinct, humans would not have survived long enough to invent property rights.

This is wrong.

First, it was our collaborative nature that helped our species to survive long enough. Most people would not kill or hurt other human beings because of food, even in primitive times, they would rather get together to hunt or collect. If they were to behave as you say they should then our species would probably be extinct already.

And second, no, you don't need to violate people's rights to eat.
In practically most modern societies, if you are in such a desperate need, people will help you out.
And if you live in a society which is such in a bad shape that people can't even afford to help an individual in famine, then you're probably not the only one who's screwed there. It is not by allowing robbery (that is, penalizing the few that produce something and helping those who don't) that such awfully poor society will get out of its misery.

Finally, if government is so inherently evil, how does it arise in the first place?

Because evil people exist, and most important, because most people (you included, apparently) fall for its "propaganda", believing it to be a necessary institution, while it is not. (I was among those one day too, of course, but then I ran out of excuses Wink)
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February 20, 2012, 04:33:14 PM
 #9

You may use proportional force to repeal or punish an initiation of aggression (violation of rights).

So funny. For about the hundredth time in about the past six months, who exactly agrees that you may use proportional force? What if your neighbor doesn't buy into NAP?
Luther
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February 20, 2012, 04:48:03 PM
 #10

This isn't true. You are confusing aggression with violence.
So educate me. What's the difference?

Finally, if government is so inherently evil, how does it arise in the first place?

Power in numbers.

People come together for one reason or another and then refuse to separate after the goals are achieved. Once the system is in place, certain individuals realize they can take advantage of it to achieve power without production. People accept it because responsibility is difficult work.
Well, sometimes those goals are ongoing. For example, public goods, like infrastructure, need maintenence. Society always needs some people in positions of power. People just need to know when to revolt.

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EhVedadoOAnonimato
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February 20, 2012, 04:53:21 PM
 #11

For about the hundredth time in about the past six months, who exactly agrees that you may use proportional force? What if your neighbor doesn't buy into NAP?

Is this an "ethical" or "practical" question?

For ethical learning, search for Hans Hermans Hoppe texts. He has some good texts on the ethics of private property.

If you want to imagine how things could work without a monopoly on justice, I suggest the first part ("Private Law") of this text: http://mises.org/books/chaostheory.pdf
There are many mores besides this one, of course. It is particularly interesting to read about ancient societies which have had decentralized justice systems, like medieval Ireland or Iceland.


Learning this will obviously require some effort of yours. If you were simply expecting someone to answer all your doubts with a forum post, then good luck, you'll have to keep trying.
Luther
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February 20, 2012, 04:59:07 PM
 #12

If you are wearing a watch and I take it from you, am I the aggressor or are you? Well, if you took the watch from me yesterday and I'm just getting my property back, then you're the aggressor. If it was always your watch then I'm the aggressor. See, you can't talk about the non-aggression principle in a vacuum. The other side of the coin is property rights, which tells us who exactly the aggressor is.
This would seem to make the NAP irrelevent: It's completely subsumed by whatever system of property we use.

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chrisrico
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February 20, 2012, 05:18:10 PM
 #13

To me, the NAP is about the same as pacifism, and it's too easy to redefine provocation to suit one's argument.

Then I think you fundamentally misunderstand the non-aggression principle. My understanding of the way the NAP is generally accepted is that it allows for the use of violence in response to violence, but only to an extent that is necessary to put an end to the initial violence. So, just because someone steals a thing from you, it doesn't give you the right to kill them. You would however be completely justified taking it back. If they tried to use violence to prevent you from doing so, then you are justified in defending yourself. After all, how could they possibly be more justified using violence to defend your thing that they possess than you are in taking it back?

If someone needs food, and has no way to get it without killing or stealing, why shouldn't he do so? Without this basic survival instinct, humans would not have survived long enough to invent property rights.

In order for there to be no way to get food without aggression (if we assume theft or trespassing is the initiation of force), all of the following must be true:
  • There is no unclaimed property
  • There is no way for you to hunt/gather without trespassing
  • Your labor was worth absolutely nothing to anybody
  • Nobody will charitably give you food or a way to get it

While you could come up with a thought experiment where all that is true, I find it highly unrealistic that this scenario occurs (edit... a chronically unemployed person's labor is not worth zero, it's just worth less than the legal minimum wage. Think about it.)

The only valid objection I've heard to the non-aggression principle is that the definition of force or violence is disputed. As a response to this, I would merely say that a stateless society provides a better way to come to agreement on the definition of violence than through the use of a state.
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February 20, 2012, 05:18:31 PM
 #14

If you want to imagine how things could work without a monopoly on justice, I suggest the first part ("Private Law") of this text: http://mises.org/books/chaostheory.pdf

Obviously, you have missed the 200 page threads where this subject has been debated to death. Tell me now, if private law is the order of the day, why would one have to hire courts or protection that adheres to NAP? Who exactly says that one must hire firms which adhere to NAP?
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February 20, 2012, 05:43:09 PM
 #15

If you want to imagine how things could work without a monopoly on justice, I suggest the first part ("Private Law") of this text: http://mises.org/books/chaostheory.pdf

Obviously, you have missed the 200 page threads where this subject has been debated to death. Tell me now, if private law is the order of the day, why would one have to hire courts or protection that adheres to NAP? Who exactly says that one must hire firms which adhere to NAP?

I avoid huge threads, yes. And you obviously have not read what I've suggested you to.

If "private law" is what's practiced in a society, then by definition the NAP is being respected as all laws would be contractual.
Please, just read about the subject instead of complaining "nobody explains it to me".
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February 20, 2012, 05:46:40 PM
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If you want to imagine how things could work without a monopoly on justice, I suggest the first part ("Private Law") of this text: http://mises.org/books/chaostheory.pdf

Obviously, you have missed the 200 page threads where this subject has been debated to death. Tell me now, if private law is the order of the day, why would one have to hire courts or protection that adheres to NAP? Who exactly says that one must hire firms which adhere to NAP?

I avoid huge threads, yes. And you obviously have not read what I've suggested you to.

If "private law" is what's practiced in a society, then by definition the NAP is being respected as all laws would be contractual.
Please, just read about the subject instead of complaining "nobody explains it to me".

There is no contract between you and some random person you've never met. There is simply no guarantee that NAP would be the order of the day. I have had this discussion a hundred times. Most people here want NAP to be a reality so badly that they fail to objectively see its faults.

Dream on.
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February 20, 2012, 05:50:50 PM
 #17

We need government so everyone can keep their primal urges to themselves and we can have a large functioning society. I don't think a civilization can exist without a government. History shows that people always needed a government. Some probably are going to argue this and it's okay. On the global scale of things, these people don't matter anyway because they are just a bunch of pissed off ignoramuses. Thank your government that you have any rights at all.

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February 20, 2012, 06:24:31 PM
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There is no contract between you and some random person you've never met. There is simply no guarantee that NAP would be the order of the day. I have had this discussion a hundred times. Most people here want NAP to be a reality so badly that they fail to objectively see its faults.

Dream on.

You clearly don't understand it. Just read the first half of the tiny book I pointed you to. Read about how decentralized justice systems have worked in ancient societies.
Educate yourself. The "faults" you think you're raising have been refuted by many important writers already.

I say you don't give a shit about learning, all you want is to carry on purposeless discussions. If you really wanted to learn anything, you'd have already figured out that's not through forum discussions that you'll learn much (particularly in a forum that is about a technology, not economy or ethics).
EDIT: Well, actually forums may be useful. They are useful to solve punctual doubts, or to get pointers to more extensive knowledge somewhere else, as I'm try to provide here. But you must want to follow such pointers.
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February 20, 2012, 06:35:11 PM
 #19

There is no contract between you and some random person you've never met. There is simply no guarantee that NAP would be the order of the day. I have had this discussion a hundred times. Most people here want NAP to be a reality so badly that they fail to objectively see its faults.

Dream on.

You clearly don't understand it. Just read the first half of the tiny book I pointed you to. Read about how decentralized justice systems have worked in ancient societies.
Educate yourself. The "faults" you think you're raising have been refuted by many important writers already.

I say you don't give a shit about learning, all you want is to carry on purposeless discussions. If you really wanted to learn anything, you'd have already figured out that's not through forum discussions that you'll learn much (particularly in a forum that is about a technology, not economy or ethics).
EDIT: Well, actually forums may be useful. They are useful to solve punctual doubts, or to get pointers to more extensive knowledge somewhere else, as I'm try to provide here. But you must want to follow such pointers.

I have read portions of your document - the section entitled "Private Law". There is nothing new there that hasn't been discussed here. Point number 1: U.S. states aren't analogous, as they operate under the umbrella of the Federal Government. Point number 2: Using the diverse set of world nations is analogous, and I have pointed out that very fact in other threads. The ultimate libertarian "contract law" experiment is the world, and it is rife with problems, wars, takeovers, complete disregard for contracts, power plays, allies ganging up on others, and, believe it or not, the only model under which nuclear arms have been used against others.
chrisrico
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February 20, 2012, 06:46:42 PM
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The ultimate libertarian "contract law" experiment is the world, and it is rife with problems, wars, takeovers, complete disregard for contracts, power plays, allies ganging up on others, and, believe it or not, the only model under which nuclear arms have been used against others.

Those things are behaviors of states, entities which have geographic monopolies on the initiation of violence. There is no realistic analog to a state in a stateless society. Yes, as a property owner I would have a "monopoly on the initiation of violence" on my property, but it is a very limited monopoly, both in size and scope. However, you are correct that statism, the current societal paradigm, "is rife with problems, wars, takeovers, complete disregard for contracts, power plays, allies ganging up on others, and [...] the only model under which nuclear arms have been used against others".
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