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Author Topic: What's so special about the NAP?  (Read 18517 times)
fergalish
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June 17, 2012, 04:32:53 PM
 #1

So I started a discussion about what I perceive as profiteering in another thread, and realized that there is a comparison with libertarianism and the Non Agression Pact.  I define profiteering as selling at the maximum price you think your customers will pay; as a genuine free market would fully endorse. One forum user, evoorhees, states:

It is natural, moral, legitimate, efficient, and productive to seek the highest profit one can obtain, so long as one doesn't resort to fraud, deception, trickery, or theft in order to obtain it.

So I wondered, why stop at profiteering? Why should fraud, deception or trickery somehow not be permitted?  Please read that thread for more info there.  Here I just want to discuss the analogy with NAP which, hopefully, is fairly obvious as follows.

Libertarians want there to be a minimum of laws, in fact, as I understand, there should be only one: do no violence unto others (where violence is understood to include such things as theft or damage, which implicitly defines such a thing as private property).

Well, why no agression? Life is violent by nature - just ask any lion or gazelle; each and every one of us should be obliged to take adequate steps to defend ourselves and those who do not... well... too bad, they were warned. The thief cannot be blamed if that ferrari happened to be there, with the keys in the ignition; the bandit cannot be blamed if the rich man was travelling dark lonely streets without bodyguards; the large-scale farmer cannot be blamed if his small-scale neighbor left his farm unguarded while he was ill.  And so on.

A society could have lots of laws, or a few laws, or none. What's so special about having just one law, the NAP? Like I say, life is violent, so people should all be prepared for violence. You can't defend the NAP by appealing to civilisation or that mankind has subjugated its violent nature, because then you're implicitly justifying any other laws that civilisation chooses to enact, or any other behaviors that mankind chooses to subjugate.

Indeed, a violent person should be praised for helping the society learn how to defend itself and become even more resilient to external agression.  A bit like hackers getting paid to show banks where their weaknesses are.

If you want people to be as free as possible, then stopping at "no agression" seems a bit arbitrary.  It's certainly not written in the stars or the rocks.  What gives?
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ShireSilver
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June 17, 2012, 05:54:51 PM
 #2

So I started a discussion about what I perceive as profiteering in another thread, and realized that there is a comparison with libertarianism and the Non Agression Pact.  I define profiteering as selling at the maximum price you think your customers will pay; as a genuine free market would fully endorse. One forum user, evoorhees, states:

It is natural, moral, legitimate, efficient, and productive to seek the highest profit one can obtain, so long as one doesn't resort to fraud, deception, trickery, or theft in order to obtain it.

I would point out that seeking the highest profit one can obtain might mean charging as little as possible in order to gain sales volume. The price of one item in one sale does not determine the total profit of an entire operation.

So I wondered, why stop at profiteering? Why should fraud, deception or trickery somehow not be permitted?  Please read that thread for more info there.  Here I just want to discuss the analogy with NAP which, hopefully, is fairly obvious as follows.

Most followers of the Non Aggression Principle believe that fraud is the moral equivalent of the initiation of force. Shortening it down to NAP is just shorthand. But that's a long discussion.

"The initiation of force and fraud is wrong." is one fairly standard way of saying it.

Libertarians want there to be a minimum of laws, in fact, as I understand, there should be only one: do no violence unto others (where violence is understood to include such things as theft or damage, which implicitly defines such a thing as private property).

Many of us are fine with violence - as long as it is in defense.

The thief cannot be blamed if that ferrari happened to be there, with the keys in the ignition; the bandit cannot be blamed if the rich man was travelling dark lonely streets without bodyguards; the large-scale farmer cannot be blamed if his small-scale neighbor left his farm unguarded while he was ill.  And so on.

These seem pretty silly to me. The non-aggression principle does allow you to defend yourself, and it puts the blame in the appropriate place. The ferrari thief is wrong as he is aggressing. The bandit is aggressing. The large scale farmer is aggressing. It is the initiation of force that is aggression.

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June 17, 2012, 07:24:13 PM
 #3

The NAP is a sort of like the Golden Rule.  Yes - its nice but if you come against an organisation that doesn't believe in it, its worthless.

fergalish
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June 17, 2012, 07:30:16 PM
 #4

The thief cannot be blamed if that ferrari happened to be there, with the keys in the ignition; the bandit cannot be blamed if the rich man was travelling dark lonely streets without bodyguards; the large-scale farmer cannot be blamed if his small-scale neighbor left his farm unguarded while he was ill.  And so on.

These seem pretty silly to me. The non-aggression principle does allow you to defend yourself, and it puts the blame in the appropriate place. The ferrari thief is wrong as he is aggressing. The bandit is aggressing. The large scale farmer is aggressing. It is the initiation of force that is aggression.
You think it's silly, but that's how the natural world is. A lion would proudly take possession of a cheetah's kill. The ferrari owner is to blame as he stupidly left a very desirable and valuable piece of property undefended. Likewise the rich man, and the small farmer. The thief and bandit are not to blame because, given the society where this takes place, where violence and theft are to be expected, if they had not performed the acts of 'theft' and 'violence', someone else would have.

I'm talking about "true libertarianism" in which even the NAP is rescinded. You are truly free to do whatever you want. Rescinding laws until you're left with only the NAP is arbitrary. Give me a good logical argument why libertarians insist on maintaining a NAP, and yet insist on rescinding lots of other laws.  Or, alternatively, why libertarians insist on creating the NAP, yet refuse to create other laws.

Of course, people would still have the right to defend themselves; foolish is the bandit who attacks the rich martial arts expert travelling dark lonely streets without bodyguards and foolish is the thief who steals a ferrari with the remotely activated defense systems, and so on.
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June 17, 2012, 10:01:06 PM
 #5

The NAP is contradictory, and thus logically nonsensical.

The NAP either is enforced, in which case it's useful, but not just the NAP, or it's not enforced, in which case it is truly the NAP, but useless.

Stop fantasizing about nonsensical impossible things.
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June 17, 2012, 11:21:28 PM
 #6

The thief cannot be blamed if that ferrari happened to be there, with the keys in the ignition; the bandit cannot be blamed if the rich man was travelling dark lonely streets without bodyguards; the large-scale farmer cannot be blamed if his small-scale neighbor left his farm unguarded while he was ill.  And so on.

These seem pretty silly to me. The non-aggression principle does allow you to defend yourself, and it puts the blame in the appropriate place. The ferrari thief is wrong as he is aggressing. The bandit is aggressing. The large scale farmer is aggressing. It is the initiation of force that is aggression.
You think it's silly, but that's how the natural world is. A lion would proudly take possession of a cheetah's kill. The ferrari owner is to blame as he stupidly left a very desirable and valuable piece of property undefended. Likewise the rich man, and the small farmer. The thief and bandit are not to blame because, given the society where this takes place, where violence and theft are to be expected, if they had not performed the acts of 'theft' and 'violence', someone else would have.

I'm talking about "true libertarianism" in which even the NAP is rescinded. You are truly free to do whatever you want. Rescinding laws until you're left with only the NAP is arbitrary. Give me a good logical argument why libertarians insist on maintaining a NAP, and yet insist on rescinding lots of other laws.  Or, alternatively, why libertarians insist on creating the NAP, yet refuse to create other laws.

Of course, people would still have the right to defend themselves; foolish is the bandit who attacks the rich martial arts expert travelling dark lonely streets without bodyguards and foolish is the thief who steals a ferrari with the remotely activated defense systems, and so on.

Libertarians believe social organisation should be based on a moral philosophy, rather than some arbitrary rules made by a privileged class. Basically, people just want to be free to live their lives. To have an environment where this is possible, everyone must respect each others person and property. In other words: free to do as you will as long as you don't infringe on another's freedom.

Hence the 2 tenants of Libertarianism:
1. The non-aggression principal.
2. The principal of self ownership.

These are not "laws", but moral axioms, according to which people should adhere in order to achieve a free society. Basically, don't hit, don't steal.

It is the Libertarian view that all social ills are a consequence of the violation of these principals. In particular, the failure of society to apply this morality (which most people adhere to in their day-to-day personal lives) to the government, which hash been given a free pass to violate these principals (taxes, laws, etc). Nothing virtuous comes from the initiation of force or theft. Once people learn that the government is nothing but, institutionalised aggression and theft, hence immoral, we can progress to a truly free society.

Of course, Hawker and FirstAscent will tell you that a free society is impossible, because they believe that people need to be controlled with force for society to function; thus NAP is immoral.
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June 17, 2012, 11:24:43 PM
 #7

The NAP either is enforced, in which case it's useful, but not just the NAP, or it's not enforced, in which case it is truly the NAP, but useless.

I'm not sure how you think the NAP is not enforceable. It's not pacifism, it's just not initiation of force. If you initiate force upon someone, they're perfectly justified in returning that force right back at you.

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FirstAscent
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June 17, 2012, 11:32:21 PM
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The NAP either is enforced, in which case it's useful, but not just the NAP, or it's not enforced, in which case it is truly the NAP, but useless.

I'm not sure how you think the NAP is not enforceable. It's not pacifism, it's just not initiation of force. If you initiate force upon someone, they're perfectly justified in returning that force right back at you.

So? How does that accomplish anything? It basically says: "Hey, I can fight and injure you and steal from you, or I can choose not to, and you can return the favor, or not."

Wow. That's profound.
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June 17, 2012, 11:39:20 PM
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The NAP either is enforced, in which case it's useful, but not just the NAP, or it's not enforced, in which case it is truly the NAP, but useless.

I'm not sure how you think the NAP is not enforceable. It's not pacifism, it's just not initiation of force. If you initiate force upon someone, they're perfectly justified in returning that force right back at you.

So? How does that accomplish anything? It basically says: "Hey, I can fight and injure you and steal from you, or I can choose not to, and you can return the favor, or not."

Wow. That's profound.

And yet... It's taken this long for people to come to that realization. Funny, huh?

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FirstAscent
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June 17, 2012, 11:44:04 PM
 #10

The NAP either is enforced, in which case it's useful, but not just the NAP, or it's not enforced, in which case it is truly the NAP, but useless.

I'm not sure how you think the NAP is not enforceable. It's not pacifism, it's just not initiation of force. If you initiate force upon someone, they're perfectly justified in returning that force right back at you.

So? How does that accomplish anything? It basically says: "Hey, I can fight and injure you and steal from you, or I can choose not to, and you can return the favor, or not."

Wow. That's profound.

And yet... It's taken this long for people to come to that realization. Funny, huh?

As I said, it accomplishes nothing. If it accomplishes nothing, then it has no significance, and is the absence of any type of thing at all. At least you realize that.
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June 17, 2012, 11:51:52 PM
 #11

As I said, it accomplishes nothing.

Saying a thing does not make it true. The NAP accomplishes quite a bit. It establishes a moral framework to build a society around.

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FirstAscent
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June 18, 2012, 12:06:30 AM
 #12

As I said, it accomplishes nothing.

Saying a thing does not make it true. The NAP accomplishes quite a bit. It establishes a moral framework to build a society around.

As I said, either the NAP is law, and applied consistently, in which case a single body enforces it, or it is, as I said, nothing, and accomplishes nothing.

Reread every post I've made in this thread.
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June 18, 2012, 12:13:09 AM
 #13

As I said, it accomplishes nothing.
Saying a thing does not make it true. The NAP accomplishes quite a bit. It establishes a moral framework to build a society around.
As I said, either the NAP is law, and applied consistently, in which case a single body enforces it, or it is, as I said, nothing, and accomplishes nothing.

Gravity is a law. Who enforces Gravity?

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June 18, 2012, 12:16:17 AM
 #14

As I said, it accomplishes nothing.
Saying a thing does not make it true. The NAP accomplishes quite a bit. It establishes a moral framework to build a society around.
As I said, either the NAP is law, and applied consistently, in which case a single body enforces it, or it is, as I said, nothing, and accomplishes nothing.

Gravity is a law. Who enforces Gravity?

I think you'll have a tough time detailing your poor analogy. But go ahead and try. If you don't, I will not accept your analogy.
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June 18, 2012, 12:41:15 AM
 #15

I will not accept your analogy.

I don't expect you will. When arguing with a wall, expecting the wall to understand you will only end in disappointment.

But on the off chance that you might open your mind a little and let the light shine in, or that someone else reading this will be enlightened by it, I will make my analogy.

Gravity is a natural law. It states that objects attract each other in proportion to their mass.
The NAP is also a natural law. It states that no person has the right to initiate force against another person.

Natural laws need no enforcement, they enforce themselves.
Jump off a building, and Gravity enforces itself.
Attack an armed person, and the NAP enforces itself.

You can avoid suffering the consequences of these laws for a time, by using aerodynamics or attacking unarmed people instead of armed ones, respectively, but you cannot fly forever, and eventually, you will run up against someone armed, and willing to defend themselves.

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June 18, 2012, 01:58:06 AM
 #16

You can avoid suffering the consequences of these laws for a time, by using aerodynamics or attacking unarmed people instead of armed ones, respectively, but you cannot fly forever, and eventually, you will run up against someone armed, and willing to defend themselves.

I guess that just sucks for you when that bigger, badder, meaner, and better armed gang of thugs runs up against you before they run up against an even bigger, badder, meaner and better armed entity.

You see, gravity is intrinsic to the Universe at the microscopic level. Your NAP and the solution you explained might work at the macro level after numerous individual samples are aggregated into an average, but at the micro level, it's woefully deficient at imparting fair treatment to all.
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June 18, 2012, 02:17:12 AM
 #17

I'm talking about "true libertarianism" in which even the NAP is rescinded. You are truly free to do whatever you want. Rescinding laws until you're left with only the NAP is arbitrary. Give me a good logical argument why libertarians insist on maintaining a NAP, and yet insist on rescinding lots of other laws.  Or, alternatively, why libertarians insist on creating the NAP, yet refuse to create other laws.

Of course, people would still have the right to defend themselves; foolish is the bandit who attacks the rich martial arts expert travelling dark lonely streets without bodyguards and foolish is the thief who steals a ferrari with the remotely activated defense systems, and so on.

Maybe some suggest the NAP should be a law, but I just use it as a way to live and a way to determine who I want to avoid.

And my (current) chosen way to live allows me to chose whether to defend or not. I don't have an obligation.

Regarding property, I consider things mine to the extent that I can defend them. I don't buy property (houses, land) because I don't think I can defend it well enough (own it well enough) to be worth the cost.

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June 18, 2012, 02:28:27 AM
 #18

You can avoid suffering the consequences of these laws for a time, by using aerodynamics or attacking unarmed people instead of armed ones, respectively, but you cannot fly forever, and eventually, you will run up against someone armed, and willing to defend themselves.

I guess that just sucks for you when that bigger, badder, meaner, and better armed gang of thugs runs up against you before they run up against an even bigger, badder, meaner and better armed entity.

You see, gravity is intrinsic to the Universe at the microscopic level. Your NAP and the solution you explained might work at the macro level after numerous individual samples are aggregated into an average, but at the micro level, it's woefully deficient at imparting fair treatment to all.

But the government does so much better?

It actually is one of those bigger, badder, meaner, and better armed gangs of thugs. Why would you be happy about them smacking you around and taking your money? Wouldn't you be happier if you hired guards to protect you, instead of people kicking in your door and screaming "I'm here to protect you!"?

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June 18, 2012, 02:55:15 AM
 #19

It actually is one of those bigger, badder, meaner, and better armed gangs of thugs. Why would you be happy about them smacking you around and taking your money? Wouldn't you be happier if you hired guards to protect you, instead of people kicking in your door and screaming "I'm here to protect you!"?

Thank you for showing the absurdity of your argument.

1. They don't smack me around and take my money.
2. I would not be happier hiring guards to protect me. Absurd.
3. They don't kick in my door and scream.
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June 18, 2012, 03:06:19 AM
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It actually is one of those bigger, badder, meaner, and better armed gangs of thugs. Why would you be happy about them smacking you around and taking your money? Wouldn't you be happier if you hired guards to protect you, instead of people kicking in your door and screaming "I'm here to protect you!"?

Thank you for showing the absurdity of your argument.

1. They don't smack me around and take my money.
2. I would not be happier hiring guards to protect me. Absurd.
3. They don't kick in my door and scream.

I see. So, because it works on this particular micro scale, because you don't see them steal your money, because you'd rather let someone else pick who defends you, and because you've never been the subject of a raid, you assume this is true for everyone?

Ever tried telling the tax man "no"?

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