Thursday, August 30, 2012

Slightly more cogent thoughts on libertarianism, feminism, and Atheism+

Atheism+ (including skepticism, and feminism) and its possible intersection with libertarian thought:

This is obviously a post in response to another blog, the link is below.  These are my thoughts after sitting down having come home from work and re-reading the post by Stephanie Zvan on Free Thought Blogs.  The thoughts and opinions (unless otherwise indicated) are mine, and probably mine alone.

I am, I think obviously, not the exact intended audience of Stephanie Zvan's post about "Legitimate Differences of Opinion," though I do consider myself to have a legitimate difference of opinion with her (and many other people in and out of the skeptic/atheist/and skeptical-atheists communities) with regards to social justice.  This is similar to my last 3+1 part series of posts in a way, and honestly I do not expect the end to be different (though I hope it is).

As the post was motivated on Almost Diamonds, 'what happens when we disagree?'  The suggestion is that skeptical inquiry can solve the disagreement.  I certainly agree that this could work in regard to truth claims.  I am not sure I agree with skepticism being capable of resolving value judgements.  Stephanie Zvan herself points this out here, saying this:
"So, if you start to insist that everyone should be treated exactly equally, you either get to make that a value statement or – which can be basically dismissed as “well, I disagree with you, I have different values” – or you're making a truth claim, in which case you need to be. . . if you're going to be the skeptical part of Atheism+ – and this actually goes for the humanism too, because that's one of their values – you need to not be resistant to the heaps of data that we can then put in front of you to demonstrate that treating people equally is not actually treating people equally, and it's not getting equal outcomes." Stephanie Zvan in response to Debbie Goddard
I understand that she was saying that deciding to make something a value statement means it can be dismissed by simple disagreement.  That does not make the disagreement illegitimate.  The other option, of comparing to the 'heaps of data' about outcomes is also something of a false comparison.  There has never been a libertarian society in the classical libertarian sense (though we could argue that places like Texas or Luisiana are something like a Libertarian society in the political party sense, though again only imperfectly), and so it is impossible to have sampled one.  I would imagine (though I am no social scientist, of any stripe) that this also makes it challenging to control for a society which for all intents and purposes does not exist in a study of outcomes of different methods used in different cultures.

I have yet to complain about Atheist+, nor have I ever claimed the label 'equity feminist' before, but I do think of my self as a feminist whose philosophy is based on negative liberties of individuals within a society (as opposed to positive liberties and/or group liberties positive or negative), and I fail to see a reason to treat men and women differently as these rights apply to them.  This is, in essence, the difference between a libertarian view of rights and a liberal view of rights (as the terms are understood in colloquial use in the USA).  In that sense, which I suspect is what is meant by 'equity feminist' when it says that the rights are due to self-ownership (which is a core of voluntarist thought) then I am one I suppose, though I do not think the label is particularly useful or informative.  For instance, I agree entirely with this section regarding women's rights and self-ownership from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  This last paragraph of the section is where I think the major disagreement between libertarian-leaning people and progressive liberal-leaning people in the atheist movement comes in:
"Same treatment under the law does not guarantee same outcomes. Classical liberal or libertarian feminists hold that women's rights are not violated when citizens exercise their rights in ways that create unequal outcomes (Epstein 2002, 30). A woman's rights are violated only when she is interfered with coercively, that is, when there is, or is a threat of, forced loss of freedom, property or life (which does not serve as just restraint or compensation)."--Amy R. Baehr, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
This is not to say, that I think I disagree with anything in that statement, or that I think you (Stephanie Zvan, or any other reader of this) thinks I disagree with this statement.  I believe the disagreement here is now a question of a value judgement.  I agree that equal treatment does not guarantee equal outcomes and I think that this is acceptable.  It is not a level playing field and never will be, and I think that this is acceptable.  Those two things are not truth claims except in the most trivial sense.  In that way, this is obviously open to the same attack that this is a 'dogmatic position' in the same way people accuse you (and others) of holding dogmatic positions.  It is a position arrived at based upon ones values, which are within that value system are tautologies.

As to an evidenced based defense of libertarian thought on feminism, which is the closest part of this related to the blog post that spawned this wall of text:
Libertarians have historically been (and still are) pro gay marriage equality , pro women's rights to make medical decisions regarding reproductive health (though there is a 'pro-life/anti-choice' wing of the Libertarian party spawning from the same religious thought that it usually comes from), for the legalization of prostitution (as an example, though searching for news coverage of libertarian politicians frequently brings up the political parties support for legalizing prostitution since its formation in the early 1970s and the problems it has caused them), and other sex work, including the production and distribution of pornography. Libertarians support these ideas with the express aim of making the prostitutes lives better (and less dangerous) while simultaneously preserving freedom of expression.  As I suspected, it is difficult to find (at least in a reasonable amount of time) studies which show the distinct effect of liberalizing obscenity laws, or the effect libertarians have had on the public debate over GLBT rights or abortion rights.  The reason is probably because the effect is proportional to the size of the source, and libertarians are not a large minority, nor are they geographically homogeneous (or in the case of the US political party, ideologically homogeneous). 

What libertarianism does not do is take away the freedom of association, this is the basic freedom which allows people to be bigots.  When bigots commit fraud or assault or any other other crimes motivated by bigotry, the crime and not the motive for it is what a libertarian philosophy demands be punished.  The only effective voluntarist punishment for persons holding bigoted views (but not otherwise 'breaking a law') is to not associate with the person (or people).  This is commonly held by non-libertarians to be an insufficient response.  You are certainly free to not include libertarians in your group as a result of this (if the libertarian understands their own worldview, they will not try and make you aside from talking to you about why they think you are wrong to do so).

feminism, atheism, libertarianism?

This is what I have posted, so far, here, note that this is a link to the blog Almost Diamonds, by Stephanie Zvan, not a direct link to my post.
The link to the source for the 'equity' feminist description is here, which is a link to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
I will make a longer comment about these things later.

----(the posted comment starts here)----
I have never described myself as an 'equity feminist',  nor am I banned here (or anywhere else that I know of), but I do hold what are usually thought of as classically libertarian views.  I do see these views as being left out of Atheism Plus, by at least some definitions.  I am not sure that this matters to me as I will do what I was doing before A+ came along with regards to social justice issues with probably very few changes.

"I’m sure there will plenty to critique on method."  This is what I have time to do right now, since this is not my day job (and it is the middle of the workday here).  I will try and get to this part "Equity feminists, give me data" later, though to be honest I am not sure how much data exists on the topic (pertaining to the claims you would like to examine or in general).  This is in part at least because libertarian (classic or the more Republican-esque variety in the US) is not a particularly common philosophy, and it has not (so far as I know) been the dominant philosophy in any society large enough to compare to the US.  Given what I am guessing will be a few (if any) sources of data I presume could be found to compare to, does the progressive view simply declare victory on the issue (either due to lack of evidence or lack of abundant evidence)?

"..the only morally significant source of oppression of women is the state" from 'Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  The corresponding truth claim suggested is this:
"Is there coercive interference outside the state that leads to the oppression of women?"
This completely ignores the modifier 'morally significant.'  This may be because it is much harder to treat the original statement as a testable truth claim (without an a priori agreed upon moral standard for both parties).  In any event, they are different statements, and the test methodology would need to be correspondingly different.

Again, quoted from 'Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Some equity feminists see a nonpolitical role for feminism, helping women to benefit from their freedom by developing beneficial character traits or strategies for success, or navigating among their increasing options."  The corresponding truth claims: 
"Do laws that treat women differently than men grant special privileges instead of or beyond protecting from coercive interference?
Does developing “beneficial character traits or strategies for success” eliminate any coercive interference so that no state (or local proxy for the state, given the scope of recent discussions) intervention is required?"
I think that at least the first of these is a perfectly fine question to ask, and is the corresponding truth claim to the position given.  The second statement about 'beneficial character traits, etc.' suffers from the same problem as the first truth claim.  The two 'sides' are probably using different criteria (and metrics) of beneficial, success, and moral.  Skepticism is certainly a good method for arguing about consequences, and sometimes for arguing about intent leading to consequences (where they are correlated, or totally uncorrelated), but this fits (in my opinion) in the middle ground where 'both sides' will end up yelling past one another.

"Other equity feminists are socially conservative and argue that, while the state should not enforce them, traditional values function as bulwarks against state power and produce independent and self-restraining citizens."  Before I get to the corresponding suggested truth claims, this implies that the previous group of feminists are not socially conservative and that socially conservative people would like to limit state power in favor of self-restraint.  I do not know what the source of the first implication is (and have not had the time to read all of the entry, let alone the sources, in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy that was linked to) but I do not think this point has much bearing on what follows other than as an indication of the potential bias of the writer.  The same could be sad for the mention of conservatives wanting to limit state power, though this is also true of classical liberal and libertarian philosophy.  Now, the corresponding suggested truth claims:
"Do “traditional values” decrease state power?
Do they promote “independent and self-restraining citizens?"
This suffers the (by now) usual problem of vague definitions which are not necessarily agreed upon by equity feminists and gender feminists.

I want to make a longer comment on the topic, but I am still composing it.  In the mean time I would like to address a few of the comments made here (rather than the post):
'Tis Himself (#1): Not all libertarians think the government is the only coercive thing in existence (or necessarily even the *most* coercive thing) but they do all (to a greater and lesser extent) find government coercion morally objectionable.  Having things you would rather being doing might be coerced behavior, but unless you feel you are being coerced immorally it is not the same comparison.
Tige Gibson (#2): Libertarianism is not 'right or left' in essence.  It is anti-authoritarian which is typically a different variable since there are authoritarian left and authoritarian right philosophies (and their opposites).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The sad (but not unexpected) conclusion

The Sad but not surprising conclusion of this conversation has been reached, at least for now:

These is my follow up to the comments I received from the most recent round of responses and about the conversation its self.  I am uninterested in comments on this post (thus they are not enabled for this post); if you (who are reading this) have comments regarding the previous posts, which regard the actual discussion, feel free to make them there.  What follows really is in the hopes that dalillama (promethics) understands what I think is wrong with their position.  It is already outside of the discussion its self, which as I indicated in the last post must end if dalillama (promethics) could not agree to to ground already conceded, since the conversation had therefore ceased to be rational and in good faith (if indeed it ever was).

-------------Below this is purely for the edification of people following the discussion---------------

After days of failing to identify (or address) the moral claim of a zero aggression or a nonaggression principle, dalillama (promethics) had this to say, "All of them [NAPs] suffer from the same flaws, and can be dealt with equivalently. The consequentialist version fail because the consequences of such a principle are not what the proponents of it claim."  This needs to be 'unpacked' slightly to be completely examined.  All of the NAPs have a common idea, and this is obvious since I can put them all into one category (i.e. NAPs), that part of this statement is tautologically true.  That all arguments in this category suffer from a flaw which allows for dismissal is certainly possible, though I would point out that dalillama has failed to do this given numerous opportunities.  That does not of course mean it can not be done (though I am currently unaware of how to show the morality of using aggression, within the the definitions I have defended, against peacefully resisting moral agents to compel compliance with my wishes (or those of a group of people which might or might not contain myself or the individual to be compelled).  Then we have the argument about construction come up again.  I have already said I am not defending deontological of consequentialist constructions directly (largely because I do not care, but also on a technicality) because emergent behavior is very rarely what the rule-maker intended and also does not always behave in the way the rule-maker would expect.  This is not a flaw of the rules or the rule-maker, but a consequence of complex interactions.  Certainly rules can be tweaked to change outcomes (which is the idea of consequentialist ethics) but one would need to see the outcomes from a set of rules (and presume they knew that changing X would cause Y), this has not occurred, and I have argued that with a free market as the interaction mediator that a direct causal relationship would be very hard to proscribe (though it might be possible to see after the fact) which is due to the ideas of value and demand which are harder to manipulate proscriptively.  The fact that an idea is untested is also not a flaw with the idea, it is in fact not a flaw.

"You also failed to offer solutions in the original discussion which sparked this."   I moved the discussion off of the FTB forum at your request, and addressed the topic you proposed.  The only person who was arguing about the practicality of how to achieve social change was Jadehawk.  I, correctly pointed out that I was not talking about practicality.  I have made the same observation to you.  My original interjection into the argument was actually just a correction about what libertarian thought was, since I believed (and maintain) that 'Tis Himself presented an incomplete description
of the view in his caricature of libertarian thought.  The conversation, on my end at least, was never about telling anyone in that forum, or this one, what to do or how to do it.
"Your alleged commitment to social justice is made meaningless by your unwillingness to work towards it."  We obviously have different definitions of 'work towards,' because I consider a personal commitment and a change of personal actions to be work towards social justice.  You are correct that I will not do more than tell (and by 'tell' is used in a loose sense that includes economic and social pressure) others that they are being bigoted unless they are going to commit an immanent act of violence against someone (in which case I will attempt to intervene).  I do not think anyone deserves any more from me than that without other factors being involved, the commitment to nonaggression is the base level of my respecting others rights (not the sum total of my actions or expectations).

"As far as your other points, you have consistently refused to even acknowledge reality, let alone explain how your utopian fantasies would actually work in the real world. You can make up as much as you like about how things would work in magical voluntarist fairyland, but that has no bearing on reality, nor does it in any way address real world problems or solutions." I am not sure that I spoke very much about anything other than the meta-ethic in question, which as I have already pointed out does not say much about the 'reality' since it is a lens one looks at the world with, and not the world its self.  I gave you several opportunities to explain why the very basic moral stance I asserted was flawed.  Your answer that you do not like its consequences is certainly enough for you to decide to not follow the meta-ethic I have laid out, but it has no bearing on your ability to show a flaw (or the existence of a flaw) in the ethic its self.  I have not said definitely how things will work out, though I have pointed to reasonable supposition.  I have pointed you a moderately well fleshed out meta-ethic.  It of course has not had the thousands of years of polish and development of statist cultures since it has not been tried in any real scale.  I was also not pointing out that society needed to be voluntarist-dominant (though I did point out that other philosophies can exist within a voluntarist society but the opposite is not obviously true).  I would also like to point out that because an experiment is a thought experiment (which is basically what voluntarism is at this point) does not mean it 'has no bearing on reality or that it does not address real world problems or real world solutions.'  All it means is that it is not being tried (with the caveat that it does sort of occur in small scales currently).

"You are clearly coming from an extraordinarily sheltered situation, and have little to no conception of either history or current events."  I disagree, but then I am aware of who I am and what my understanding of life as a member of a minority group, current events, and history are, and you are not.  I do not feel compelled to enlighten you, nor do I really care what your opinion of me personally or my demonstrated (to your satisfaction) level of mastery of any particular subject is.

"I have no further time to waste with you until you are able to separate discussions of reality from philosophical wankery." This would be less humerous if it did not come from an 'ethics with foresight' blogger…  As it stands, you may flounce away if you so choose (since that is what I asked you to do if you could not or would not address the points I indicated in the last blog post, which you failed to do).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The usual objections, a failure of imagination...

What is probably my last response to promethics, who is dalillama, unless something completely unexpected occurs:

You requested my clarifications initially, but this is probably the last time I will respond to you unless you address the topic at hand, namely can people who subscribe to a meta-ethic based on a zero agression or NAP principle be interested in solving social justice problems, and acknowledge the points you have conceded (some of which are addressed again in the point by point responses).
  1. You have not yet acknowledged that the NAP you listed is one of several, each with a slight variation in philosophy emanating from the wording of the different NAPs; some of these groups are considered libertarian.  Some of these variations were listed in the very source you cited (and then ignored).
  2. a)  You have yet to demonstrate that it is moral to use violence against a peaceful person to force compliance with your goal.
    b)  You have yet to demonstrate at what threshold it becomes moral for a group of people to decide to deny other people's liberties.
  3. You have yet to establish that voluntarist ideas do not lead to the moral goods you see as goals, despite my explaining to you that some of us are interested in rectifying problems of social justice.
  4. You have yet to successfully identify a faith based claim I have made or an instance of 'magical thinking' I have made regarding a moral claim.  I am not Murray Rothbard, I am not Ludwig von Mises, and I am not defending their every word or thought (in fact, aside from the Mises constructed NAP I do not think I have referenced any of their words).
  5. Despite it being pointed out to you that libertarians can (and do) explain the distinction between economic and physical force within their ethical system, you have yet to retract your statement to the contrary (which you have made 3 times just to me).  Despite my explaining to you the thought process behind dealing with externalities to a moral choice, you still claim that 'libertarians' ignore externalities.
Further, I think there is another misunderstanding on your part.  Many of the ills that seem to bother you are related to corporate behavior, but corporations are state sanctioned agencies operating within limited liability laws which exist to promote investment in corporations.  A voluntarist society has, in general, no limited liability laws.

So, in short, you can stop confusing 'libertarians' with people who have read a Rand novel and start acknowledging that there is a meta-ethic (which you are free to disagree with) that does provide a grounding which allows for concern over social justice, or you can continue to claim no 'libertarians' have ever tried to explain to you why your views of libertarian thought are limited (and in several places flatly incorrect) and simply be lying.  In the case that you acknowledge that you were mistaken, this conversation can continue.  If you can not acknowledge these points, then our discussion is not in good faith (and the disingenuous responses have not been from me), and I have no interest in having a discussion with you.

What follows are the point by point responses to your concerns:

"Then what the hell is it [the NAP] for?" --promethics, who is dalillama
It is a personal commitment to moral behavior, like most meta-ethics.  It is a textbook example of a worldview.  It also happens to have some consequences that follow from it which usually leads to a distaste for government regulation of behavior.  So, in summation, it is a personal choice that limits personal behavior in a way that allows for good faith interactions with others (who do not necessarily have the same worldview).  This probably would have an emergent effect on society, the emergent effect was not a goal that then allowed for the creation of an NAP (it was the other way around).

"If you are opposed to proposed workable solutions to a problem and have no workable solutions of your own to offer, you are opposed to solving that problem. So far, you have offered no workable solutions to any of the problems I've outlined, while attacking the solutions that are working. This means, in practice, that you are opposed to those problems getting solved. " --promethics, who is dalillama
No, I am opposed to the government imposing solutions (which I explained).  I have not offered 'solutions' because of two things.  First, the actual topic of our discussion so far as I understand it is not 'what are libertarian solutions to X' but rather "Taken as it stands, it [the NAP] will inevitably serve to defend and entrench privilege, while denying the oppressed any ‘legitimate’ recourse" [from your blog post] which is what I have been addressing, since that was your contention (and basically what we had agreed to discuss).  If you can rationally discuss this (see above), I will consider changing topic and continuing this other discussion with you when we are done with the current one.  Second, I do not think that all marginalized groups will ever get to a point where they no longer consider themselves marginalized, in any system of government (or society) short of totalitarian regimes.  This does not mean I would not like to raise the quality of life of these marginalized groups, or that I think we can not rid ourselves (or our society) of some of the common forms of bigotry.

"If your morality is opposed to pragmatic problem solving, then it is worthless; why should I take it any more seriously than biblical morality, which has a similar set of arbitrary rules which prohibit many forms of useful problem solving to no benefit to anyone? Based on this, I am ignoring all but one of t he further moral claims which you make. I will continue to address the empirical problems with your article." --promethics, who is dalillama
Again, you misunderstand.  Being opposed to pragmatic solutions whose methods violate my personal morals simply means I am not an objectivist.  There are many 'useful' methods of solving many problems that you would consider immoral (I presume), and the same is true for me.  The difference is that I include compelling (through force, or the threat of force) behavior of the unwilling in that list.  You have thus far merely ignored the points which simply disagree with your utilitarian views.

In regards to moral positions not being a priori: "This is untrue. See the first post in my blog for an outline of why." --promethics, who is dalillama
As purely a pedantic point, you clearly do not mean your first blog post.  Then in your second post, you assert that objective moral standards exist based on outcomes (though I note that you do this after declaring that your meta-ethic is already utilitarian and consequentalist).  Now, I am not arguing about consequentalist versus deontological constructions of ethics (which I have already said), but utilitarian views are in my opinion inherently immoral because they allow you to take an immoral action to achieve a moral goal which 'outweighs' the harm of the action.  In my objective moral standard, all actions (without regard to the goal) are what are judged to determine the superiority or inferiority of a moral action or choice (this is not an unusual voluntarist view).

"It is a large presumption that such a market could exist in the first place. Everyone hiring the best private security they can afford rapidly turns to warlordism." --promethics, who is dalillama
Again, it is not a stretch to imagine a free market for insurance, a DRO is an insurance company.  Without restriction the market will just be more populated.  It is also unlikely to turn into 'warlordism' because of several factors, the easiest to grasp is that violence is expensive (both to commit and to receive) and businesses who overly focus on the violent options open to them will not have a customer base who can afford what they must charge, and their competitors will.

About the false dilemma you posed in the last round of responses: "I have not. The reality is that most people have an extremely limited selection of employers, and in the absence of a social safety net, very little time to hold out for a better offer." --promethics, who is dalillama
You did in fact propose a false dilemma for all the reasons I discussed before.  Your assertion that the options you left out do not exist because 'most people have limited choices' is not sufficient to claim more options than the three you listed exist do not exist.  Further, there is not necessarily an absence of a social safety net in a voluntarist society, in the same way that unions can exist.  Again, look into mutualist thoughts on the matter, though mutualists are not capitalists in the same form as 'most libertarians' (using libertarian loosely).

"I did not say 'self-regulating.' I said that regulations, in addition to unions, are needed to solve these problems. By this, I mean regulations imposed by the state. As you have pointed out, expecting industries or unions to self-regulate is futile." --promethics, who is dalillama
I said 'self-regulation' and I did not imply that it was futile.  Perhaps you could explain what I said that was misunderstood.  I did say that with a state, and half a century (in the US, longer or shorter in some other places) of money and effort (rather a lot of both), the problem persists (and not on a small scale). 

"The question was : If you are destitute because your employer has been paying you insufficient wages to meet your cost of living, how do you afford insurance premiums?" --promethics, who is dalillama
That might have been the question you intended to ask, but it is not what you asked.  This particular question, however, I have already answered at least in part.  The full 'answer' would be re-writing a lot so I will simply say the following: without a tax burden a person would be expected to take care of themselves somewhat, but community is still expected to help if the person asks for help (this is an application of the so called 'platinum rule').  This does not guarantee that no one will starve to death or die from exposure, and I have never claimed that it did.

"Once again, this is warlordism. Whoever can hire the DRO with the most force in a region becomes the de facto government. Anyone who wants to change it will have to hire their own heavily-armed DRO, and then everybody gets the joys of living on a battlefield. This is a bad plan." --promethics, who is dalillama
This is not 'warlordism' for the simple reason that violence is expensive.  Also the DRO with the most force is probably not a lot more forceful than its near competitors.  You misunderstand how insurance works, a DRO is an insurance company.  Without a state, the insurance company has to subsume a way of enforcing third party decisions but that can not be its focus or it will not be cost effective.  As to 'living on a battlefield,'  without limited liability everyone in 'the battlefield' gets to reclaim damages from you which will almost certainly be ruinously expensive, thus creating a self incentive to limit mayhem.
The problem of 'but what about the poor, and the staggering success of the social safety net': "Blatantly untrue. In most of Western Europe, private charity is a minimal part of the economy, because there have been social safety nets put into place to take up the slack that private charity never has." --promethics, who is dalillama
Are you claiming that in Western Europe that there are zero deaths from starvation or exposure?  Are you suggesting there is zero poverty?  Does it occur to you that there is only one pile of money for any particular person and that taken as tax (which is rather high in these examples) leaves less for charity in the pile, so of course charity will be low?  In the US, where taxes are lower, the percentage that goes to charity is higher, but that is not really the point.  Is it moral to take something person A made and give it to person B because several other people agree person B should have it (and thus not person A)? 

"Although this is a foundational claim of Austrian School capitalism, it remains a faith claim. Von[sic] Mises himself stated that he did not accept that his theories could be empirically falsified, which once again puts him on the same level as the bible. Scientific economists do not use as an axiom the idea that economic institutions will simply arise wherever there is need." --promethics, who is dalillama
I made no claims about which school of capitalist thought I was referencing.  'Scientific economists,' which I do not think is a label any of them wear, have adopted some tenets of Austrian economics; the core differences between Austrian economics and the others are in the theory behind value and if there exists a situation where demand can be artificially depressed (for instance Keynesian economics says yes to the second idea, while Austrian economics says that value decreases to match demand, and thus no to the second idea).  Your objection to Austrian economics has no bearing on my defense of voluntarism.  I have also made no claim as to the veracity of von Mises's statements other than the NAP I chose to defend (and the rationale of that choice I have already explained, twice).

Your rebuttal about education completely ignores the Japanese and Chinese systems as well as the very thriving 'black market' solutions in all of the countries I mentioned (which are obviously not obeying a government standard).  I hope we can agree that the existence of the 'black market' solutions means that the demand for a different (and inherently unregulated) product exists.

Spontaneous order derived from a free market: "Provide evidence that this will occur. In the past, failure of governments has not resulted in this outcome." --promethics, who is dalillama
Specialization of skills in the labor market is a simple example of market driven spontaneous order.  Store shelf inventory is a simple example of market driven spontaneous order.  Without these two (and I think they are sufficient to make my point) everyone could always choose to be whatever the highest paying lowest effort kind of laborer was (since in the US there is no central planning agency for your career), and a store on one side of town might have only apples while a store on the other side of town has only oranges and in both events everything would be fine (except that it clearly does not work).  In the other extreme, when these decisions are made centrally they do not track demand very closely (see black market demand for goods which are not in and of themselves illicit in communist countries).  The fact that these markets self adjust to follow demand is spontaneous order driven by a free market.  In the US at least, no one is dictating that you can not strive to be a factory worker or police officer, no one tells Walmart that they must have X% apples per store and Y% oranges.  We have roughly the number of factory workers and police officers that are demanded (which sometimes means layoffs or shortages as the market adjusts, since people are not distinctly interchangeable).  Walmart rarely is very far off in knowing how many apples and oranges to stock in a given store (since commodities are easier to swiftly interchange, and they typically do not care if they sit in a warehouse awaiting re-allocation).

"I'm aware that libertarians don't like to think about externalities, but that does not address the fact that they occur, and must be dealt with." --promethics, who is dalillama
I think you might have read something different then, because the paper I linked to explicitly discusses how libertarians think about externalities, not why they do not.  Also, I explained how voluntarists think about externalities (in general), now why they do not.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Caveat Emptor

Replies to promethics, regarding this.

Before I get to the replies from promethics, who is dalillama, two things:


I provided several examples of different NAPs, in an effort to point out that voluntarism, and by extension libertarianism are not monolithic (as you might imagine when discussing a group of people's ethics).  The NAP does not predict an outcome, or really try and shape an outcome for society (or a person).  The model 'this is what I want society to be, so we should change that' is not what voluntarism is.  That method might work, and is capable of co-existing peacefully within a voluntarist society with other kinds of communities. The take away message from this series of responses is that the buyer should always beware.  The fact that people fall for snake oil salesmen is not anyone's fault but their own if the opportunity to know better exists (and it does).


I see this presented a lot 'against' libertarian (and in this case voluntarist) views, including in your responses:
  1. Person A believes that the government can solve problem X with a given policy Q.
  2. Person B believes that the government can not solve problem X with policy Q.
  3. Person A accuses person B of being opposed to solving problem X.
There are of course alternate versions of this.  In this one, I have argued that libertarians (and voluntarists in a more general sense) are (or can be) concerned with social justice issues.  You have said that 'this government policy' or 'that government policy' solve the problem.  I do not believe that you have evidence of the causal relationship, but that has little to do with my not wanting to solve some social justice issues.  I will make a further statement, just because you have something the government could do that would result (always) in a moral good, voluntarists would still be opposed to the government doing it.  This is not because they disagree about the moral goodness of the outcome or necessarily that the government could arrive at the moral good, but that it would use means which are immoral in order to get to the moral good.

Now, to the point by point responses:

"Right here, I'm afraid we have a fundamental disconnect. The existence of natural rights is a faith claim on its face, and arguments based upon such a claim are intrinsically fallacious. The definition of what constitutes a 'natural' right is entirely arbitrary, and all manner of contradictory things have been claimed to fall into this category by varoious[sic] people, with no empirical way to differentiate their claims."--promethics, who is dalillama
The differences in construction have nothing to do with our discussion, they were provided as background.  All moral positions, at their grounding are arbitrary.  This does not make them faith claims.  There are no a priori moral stances (though some anarcho-capitolists would disagree with this, but I am not one of them), and there is no absolute judge of moral systems beyond the moral agent.  This does not mean I am proscribing moral relativism.  For instance, I think my meta-ethic superior to yours in moral outcomes and potentially social and economic outcomes, but I have not tried to change your moral system to comply with mine even if I do condemn yours.  In the event that 'my' system where the norm, yours would still be free to exist.  I did not claim to support either the deontological or consequentalist constructions, but chose one similar to the NAP you appeared to have a problem with but not containing the loaded word 'legitimate' which I specifically objected to.

"This is a very large presumption, and is typical of libertarian arguments. You assume that such things will magically occur by themselves, but have no concept of how this would happen. This is not a way to construct viable policy." --promethics, who is dalillama
It is not a large presumption that in a market which includes dispute resolution, prevention, and enforcement that there will be options aside from one's employer for instance.  If you can demonstrate that it is moral to compel violence against someone acting peaceably but going against your will, by all means, do so.  If you can demonstrate that it is moral to restrict who is allowed to make contracts with other people (possibly in plural) when the contract does not involve using violence against people who are not directly involved, do so.  I am not arguing for a 'viable construction of policy', because I am not trying to impose policy.

"When the options are 1)work for a company that trats[sic] you like a slave, 2) work for a different company that treats you like a slave or 3) starve on the streets, the idea of freely consenting to the labor contract in question is a joke." --promethics, who is dalillama
If the contract in condition one or two is acceptable to the worker, why do you get to say otherwise?  Option three completely ignores the other option I gave, which is related to option two.  In short, you have presented a false dilemma.
"The demonstrable fix for this, which has worked where tried, unlike the libertarian plan, is a combination of strong unions, and regulations regarding what types of contract conditions are and are not acceptable. Workers' cooperatives are also a powerful addition to the mix where implemented. Unions and regulations have resulted in enormous improvements in working conditions in many countries, while laissez-faire has accomplished it in none." --promethics, who is dalillama
I gave this option of worker organization in my reply to you.  Unions and industries self regulating exist already (in a nominally laissez-faire environment), the problem persists.  Unions and industries self regulating will continue to exist in a voluntarist society.  Worker conditions also improve greatly when a company must retain workers from competition.  If you simply attempt to regulate adequate conditions into existence, in the best case you will get the minimally adequate conditions you enforce, and little or nothing more.  As an example, look at any right-to-work state entry level employee where your suggestion for policy is in place.

"Using what money, from what source? " --promethics, who is dalillama
Any form of compensation that the insurance company or DRO wants to accept.  This could be something like bitcoin for instance.  It might be a bank note, it could be a commodity or consumable good.

"So, in what way is this meaningfully different from a government? The only immediately apparent difference is that these DROs lack any means of enforcing their decisions, making them no recourse at all."--promethics, who is dalillama
A DRO is not a government because it is not a monopoly on force in any geographic location.  A DRO does enforce its decisions through arbitration, and force.  If the DRO you are thinking of contracting with has a reputation of never being able to enforce its will, you will not offer very much money for the contract.

"What does this mean? If you can't agree on a court system you have no 'legitimate' recourse? What happens when a company or individual always refuses to agree to a court with any of their accusers? What if they are only willing to use a court that they control? In reality, the situation you describe has existed in the past, among many of the Norse and some Celtic societies among others. Do you know what happened when people couldn't agree on a court? Something called a blood feud. " --promethics, who is dalillama
If at no point the aggrieved person's insurance company never agrees to a court, they take a financial loss but have already compensated the aggrieved (according to their previously agreed upon contract).  If the person accused of causing said grief's insurance company never agrees to a court, they take a financial loss.  In both cases the people actually involved in the 'crime' got what they contractually paid for, and two companies had an argument over one owing the other damages.  In the case that someone 'gets away' with some kind of crime they will still suffer from their insurance company probably never dealing with them again (which probably results in a financial loss of higher rates with a competitor).  Also, forgive my skepticism of the idea that the Celts or Norse had the idea of risk mitigation and insurance.  Third party resolution is of course an old idea, but when the reputation of the third party is how they make their living (and it is not an imposed reputation) it is in their financial interest to continue to have at least the image of being fair.

"This is simply untrue. Debts to the company store have been recognized by the U.S. and state governments, and many governments of other countries, as well as the municipal governments of the company towns themselves, which often consist directly of corporate officers." --promethics, who is dalillama
This is a non sequitur.  I am not discussing which states agree to which debts (and they do not all agree to honor all debts).
"Charity has historically been and remains wildly insufficient to care for the number of destitute who presently exist, let alone new ones created by bucking the company." --promethics, who is dalillama
This is not a problem solved under any political system.  Totalitarian governments will claim to solve it.  Democracies have the means to solve it any time they choose to.  Voluntarism dictates that if you want to help, then help.  No one will stop you, but you are not owed other people's things just because you want them.
"Unions, as I noted above, are a way to fight these phenomena, but trying to organize one will lead to at minimum the consequences I noted in my article, and in many cases direct legal consequences as well, depending on local law, as well as extrajudicial violence by representatives of the company." --promethics, who is dalillama
Unions (can) exist in a voluntarist society.  Direct legal consequences, and 'extrajudicial' violence are both handled the same way I have already described.

"Faith claim once again. There have been many decades for such a thing to occur, but the only financial institutions that appear in these areas are payday lenders, who charge usurious interest on tiny loans. There is no regulatory monopoly on banks or credit unions; anyone is free to start one any time. All it takes is capital, and people who know how to run a bank. So, money and education, which are in very short supply in these areas because of the existing redlining." --promethics, who is dalillama
It is not a faith claim to point out the foundational premise of capitalism is the foundational premise of capitalism, it is a tautology.  You have made a false equivalence argument.  There can not have been decades for this to occur when there have not been decades of a modern banking system and a lack of fiat currency, or state regulation manipulated by industry lobbying.  There is in fact a regulatory monopoly on banking and credit unions, and currency which differs slightly depending on which sate you happen to be standing in.  That you do not acknowledge it does not make it less true.  Also, if it were the case that people with an education, and capitol, were free to do as they choose in this geographic location (and they do not need to live in said area, or ever go there), and they recognize a segment of the market that is underserved then at least some of them are likely to try and serve it.  Banking is just about the surest way to make money since the invention of money as a surrogate for goods.  Can you imagine a racists glee at making what is essentially free money off of people (s)he despises  and then using it to oppress them in some other way (lobbying for voting regulation for a timely example).  This is essentially what the pay-day loan companies are.  They do not have to compete with a commercial banks for their customers, and so everyone suffers.

"This is true only if you agree that such things as the Community Reinvestment Act are valid acts of government, which appears to contradict your earlier statement that “A financial institution is in a voluntarist society totally free to not service some geographic region." --promethics, who is dalillama
I think you have been confused.  A democracy can do anything the majority decides it can do.  This includes 'the Community Reinvestment Act' or anything else.  A voluntarist society does not have state necessarily tied to a geographic location, or a state at all.  In that way, there is no contradiction because 'any law you want to name other than the NAP' can not be imposed except by people who are choosing to live in a community who all agree to abide by it.  These people are typically called mutualists.

"Faith claim. People routinely do things which lower their earning potential for a variety of motivations. Greed is not the be all and end all of human endeavour[sic]." --promethics, who is dalillama  
You presume that value only applies to money.  If people act in a way that costs them money but gains them something else, this is still acting in their interest, it is still 'greed' that is the motivator.  People acting against their interest, like setting themselves on fire as a form of protest, do also happen but it is very rare.  So, no, this is not a faith claim it is another tautology of capitalism which hinges on you understanding that a market value applies to things other than money.

"I used this as an example of social coercion/aggression. This is an act of aggression which harms and restricts the liberty of others, but is AFAICT allowed by your ethical system. You claim that it will wither by itself through the magic of voluntarism, but you offer no mechanism for this." --promethics, who is dalillama
This is kind of a slippery statement.  Someone being hateful or bigoted, or simply ignorant can cause harm which is not necessarily violent or economic.  The caveat to this is that an emperor has no intrinsic powers that the praetorian does not posses.  The person being harmed is free to try to cause social or economic harm to the offending person within voluntarist ethics.  I did not claim it would wither or that voluntarism had a magic cure.  I claimed it was immoral (within voluntarism) to impose a solution on someone who is unwilling to accept it.  I would also further claim that (within voluntarism) it is immoral to take resources from someone without their consent to do anything (even if that thing is unquestionably good and perfectly efficient).

"Once again, we know what happens when schools are set up willy nilly without standards. It is not a hypothetical question. Right now there are dozens of non-accredited colleges in the U.S., which offer degrees not worth the electrons they're printed with. Non-accredited primary schools are mostly creationist bible academies teaching no facts whatsoever. When there are no standards for education, the overall quality of education goes down, and when there is no public education many people simply never receive any, because they are priced out of the market and unable to afford school. This ultimately harms everyone since a populace with a minimum education is needed to sustain a technological society. " --promethics, who is dalillama
Those schools are actually a fantastic example.  They operate right next to admittedly better schools because they fill a market niche.  People clearly want to pay these schools money for a diploma, though I would like to point out (as sort of a pedantic point) the diplomas are not printed 'with' electrons.  You argue that when there are no standards for education the quality goes down, and I would point you to developing nations as the obvious counter example to this.  On the other side you can look at how much money is spent on American public education and ask why it does not compete with for example South Korea.  China has a population with people who never go beyond what Americans would consider a grade-school level education (and not a particularly honest education at that) and they are clearly sustaining a technological society or they would not be building iPhones for Americans (the same is true of South Korea though their education system is a bit better across the board).  There are also countries like Japan where part of the primary education is completely voluntary.  You could never show up, come in and take a university entrance exam (and if you did well) move on.  All of these countries also have a thriving private education enterprise which is not very strictly controlled by their respective governments (and in some cases is completely black market).  As to American problems, like creationists teaching their children garbage, there is very little you are going to do about that short of taking the kids away from the parents.

"This is exactly what has been done, yes. The Civil Rights act of 1964, the Community Reinvesment Act of 1977, for example, outlaw certain types of marginalization, although enforcement of the latter has been spotty, leading to somewhat less effectiveness. There have also been massive public and private resources devoted to convincing people not to marginalize others, which has resulted in a generation which polls routinely show to be more tolerant of ethnic and sexual minorities than any other in American history. It works." --promethics, who is dalillama
There are no such things as public resources, the idea that they are different pies that you can take slices from is incorrect.  It is especially wrong when one part of the pie controls the currency  (and what it is worth) that is acceptable exchange for the rest of the pie.  I also did not say this had not been done, or that it did not in some ways work (it clearly has).  I said taking resources from person A without their consent is theft, without regard to who takes the resources.  The tyranny of the majority does not make it more moral.  The fact that the majority decided to take the money to do something 'good' also does not make it not theft.

"Following that moral stance will not, in fact, result in the outcomes which proponents claim it will. If it does not result in the desired outcomes, it is useless as a standard of behavior. " --promethics, who is dalillama
The NAP (depending on which one you are following) leads to the outcome of not violating the NAP.  It leads to the outcome of committing zero aggression, within the definitions of aggression used.  The fact that this is not the behavior you or that I might desire does not come in to it.

'"Regime' in this context means 'a set of conditions under which a society acts.' " --promethics, who is dalillama
There is no 'society acts' in a voluntarist group.  The collective does not decide anything.  The order is spontaneous, the conditions are market generated and influenced (and influenceable).  If you want to live in a marxist commune, for example, no voluntarist will stop you.

"The trolley problem, in addition to being a useless thought experiment, has no relevance whatsoever to the topic of economic externalities, or for that matter to the discussion of economic coercion. You have still not addressed how the two situations are different." --promethics, who is dalillama
As stated in the link I provided, the trolley problem solution (amongst other things in said paper) is an example of the way voluntarists (and libertarians more specifically) reason with problems of choice containing externalities.  This is the 'libertarian' definition of an economic choice.  Also I did provide an explanation, though I clearly used words that caused you to disregard the explanation, so I will try again.  When someone is denied an economic opportunity, like food, (because they can not afford it), this is not the fault of the person with the good that is desired by that person, who is under no moral obligation to trade below the market value for a good if they do not want to.  If that person dies, it is not the fault of the last business to not sell them food, but a confluence of events which lead to the final lack of food killing them.  When a person puts a gun to someone else's head and compels an action, they have violated consent (and are already violating the NAP), if they pull the trigger they are now liable for damages claims from anyone who was harmed by the financial ripples of this.  Both cases are sad, one of them is a morally permissible action (or series of actions) and the other is a morally wrong choice (within the NAP at least).  I am obviously not arguing for however your meta-ethic works.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant

A reply to the blog post "Flaws of Libertarianism, Part 1:NAP" in response to the request to do so by Dalillama in a thread at 'Whose Liberty Are We Talking About?':

First, a warning:

This is going to be long, but I am going to try and address each of your points of contention, so bear with me.  The take-away message is simple though, initiation of violence against peaceful people is immoral.  If in every situation that is the guiding meta-ethic you are a voluntarist.

The NAP:

Libertarians like to talk a lot about what they call the Non Aggression principle, which they define as prohibiting “… the initiation or threatening of violence against a person or legitimately owned property of another. “ --wiki
This is the NAP for a kind of libertarianism, though not the kind I intend to defend as self consistent.  The reason is that the above NAP for the Libertarian political stance which uses state enforcement (which you address later), which I do not believe is consistent with voluntarism or even its own NAP.  It is also fair to state that there are several competing formulations of the NAP, each with subtle differences.  To that end, I would like to provide a few more slightly nuanced NAPs:

The NAP is an “ethical stance which asserts that "aggression" is inherently illegitimate. "Aggression" is defined as the "initiation" of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property.” --von Mises Institute

"The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships. ... In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use." --Ayn Rand

"the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others" -- John Stuart Mill
These are some of the NAPs from various subgroups which all consider themselves to be voluntarist, and some of them consider themselves to be libertarians.  There are two major constructions here, which look similar but have a fundamental difference.  One is a consequentalist construction and the other is the so called deontological construction.  Von Mises is using a natural rights (deontological) construction,  libertarian thinkers like David Friedman promote the consequentalist construction.  I will, for the purposes of this response be using the von Mises NAP.  It seems very like the one you provide, with a crucial difference.  The word legitimate is loaded, and implies an outside imposition on claims of possession.

Taken as it stands, it will inevitably serve to defend and entrench privilege, while denying the oppressed any ‘legitimate’ recourse.”--from the blog of Dalillama
The idea that a voluntarist community inevitably does anything in particular is somewhat flawed.  The idea is that every interaction which does not violate the NAP and which is consensual is allowed.  This means for instance polycentric law, and a market for both enforcement and arbitration.  What spontaneous order emerges from this is hard to say.  It is certainly possible that in pockets of some indefinite size privilege will be entrenched to some degree, though presumably the victimized do have recourse, with more options than are currently available.

“...these types of coercion are enshrined into law, and defended by the full (physical) force of the state and society at large (since private violence is acceptable under the NAP in case of threats to legally owned property)” where these types refers to “Economic and social coercion can be tools of tyranny...” -from the blog of Dalillama
This is again, a half-truth.  First, I think we can agree that so long as the right of consenting parties to freely associate is respected that the idea of social pressure can never be removed entirely.  If it is not respected, then again social pressure is being abused, but without any recourse.  Economic pressure (or coercion) again is a result of respecting the rights of consenting parties to freely enter into contractual agreements.  This means that if a contract is not consensual, there has been a violation and the aggrieved party can seek restitution.  This can obviously go a few different ways.  The mosts preferred route in the case is this: If the one-sided contract is theft for instance, the usual voluntarist recourse is a form of insurance.  A person contracts with an insurance company as protection against theft, fraud, etc.  In the event that they are victim to these things, they are then given restitution by the insurance company.  The insurance company then contracts with (or is also) a Dispute Resolution Organization who attempts neutral third party arbitration between the insurance company (or more directly the aggrieved party) and the person (or persons) who have committed a breach of contract.  The DRO and the thief or thief’s insurance company (who are contractually obligated to protect them from claims of theft) negotiate on a court they find mutually acceptable and from that point ‘justice’ proceeds similarly to the way you imagine it does.  At every stage of this  route, the ‘justice’ was merely a series of executed contractual obligations triggered by the breaking of what is seen as contractual law.  The aggrieved received renumeration (or had a DRO enforce the contract which showed renumeration was owed) efficiently and then the problem of what to do with the thief ceased to be his/hers.  In the event that the aggrieved catches the theft in progress, and that the item being stolen is in some way physical (has location and is something which can be held in exclusion i.e. not intellectual property) then the aggrieved is within their rights to try and not become the victim of theft.  This can (and probably would) include violence, but it might not.  In the event that it does include violence, it need only be sufficient to the cause (meaning not necessarily deadly force) and should be proportional to the potential crime.  For instance, you own two apples.  It is all you own, if someone takes your two apples you will die.  Someone comes along and steals one apple.  You try and stop that person short of killing them, in the event that they succeed they have not killed you, but they have done you a lot of harm so violence short of killing is almost certainly defensible.  If on the other hand the person tries to steal both apples, you would be justified in simply killing them in the attempt (because that is what they tried to do to you).  Now, you have killed an apple thief, and the apple thief's wife and children sue you for harm against their family, but you never settle on a court which is mutually acceptable (which means there is no upper threshold that the wife and children consider acceptable to pursue the matter) and ‘justice’ is done, or you go into a court both parties have agreed to and abide by the resolution (again as an execution of contract law).

The company town:

There are a few objections to this, first the precise idea of property rights (for example mineral rights for a piece of land) are not specified in voluntarism and there are actually several schools of thought ranging from there being no such thing as property ownership outside of use, to ownership  based upon possession.  In the case of ownership based on use, the company town can not exist.  In the case that property is based on possession, it can and so in that framework I will respond, though I would point out that both kinds of community can exist (peacefully) within the voluntarist framework without the exclusion of the other.  The problem of the company town is solved in the same way it has historically been solved, laborers are free to organize and resist being oppressed and laborers are free to leave when they find the contract of their employment no longer to their benefit.  You might think ‘Aha, “just leave” is an invalid argument, the company town might be all that exists’ and in that bizarre hypothetical you would be correct.

They have no money to leave town, because they’re in debt to the company store. Anyone who offers them shelter or assistance is subject to the same treatment. This means that, practically speaking, the company threatens their lives if they disobey; they will be thrown out to freeze or starve, and there is no recourse for them.” -from the blog of Dalillama
Being destitute is not a phenomenon exclusive to voluntarist societies, and it is handled in a similar fashion.  There will be people who are charitable, there will be organizations whose sole mission is charity.  Further, the debt to the company store is probably not recognized as legitimate by anyone other than the company, and the dispute would need to go through arbitration like any other contractual dispute.  If all of the miners/factory workers etc. are displeased with their jobs there is the very real problem for the employer of retention, since in a free market the employer must be operating close to the margin to compete.

Redlining consists of financial institutions simply refusing services to certain areas, which are largely inhabited by black people.” -from the blog of Dalillama
The simplest rebuttal to this is to point out that without a government backed monopoly this simply does not work in a free market.  A financial institution is in a voluntarist society totally free to not service some geographic region, if the need for a financial institution exists in that area someone will fill it.  The lack of competition could cause unfavorable rates for example, but again if there is enough need competition will appear.  The permanent cycle of poverty you mention is easily stopped in a democracy any time a majority of the voters will it.  In a voluntary society it is self correcting purely from greed if no other motive.

The problem of sexism:
First, I have already discussed why the ethics surrounding voluntarism do not distinguish between people and so what is ethical treatment of a woman is ethical treatment of a man. There is a lot to unpack in your complaint (none of which referenced the NAP I might add).  First, schools and universities (etc.) survive in their current form through the artificial monopoly of accreditation.  Without which there will certainly be schools of poor quality and schools which have a higher quality.  There will be a commensurate spread of costs (since it is all market driven).  If a school is incapable or unwilling to serve 50% of the population as possible constituents (or even to effectively market to them that it could serve their interest) then its market value will likely fall.

Second, the wider issue of popularly held beliefs and attitudes are not changed by adopting a political framework.  People carry the baggage with them to different frameworks, so presuming that a meta-ethic (which says nothing about this baggage) has any causal effect upon the baggage is flawed.  Once in a society which contains marginalized groups (which is any society) there are a few ways of attempting to ‘fix’ the problem.  One could outlaw marginalization, one could spend time and resources to convince people individually or in groups that they should not marginalize others, or one can accept that people are tribal and try and create a system which has as much social mobility as possible.  I think we both agree that the first option does not work either to change the situation or to alleviate the concerns of the marginalized (except superficially).  The second option might work eventually, it has the benefit of alleviating concerns because there is a show that something is being done (though again, if a majority of people wanted it done in a democracy it would occur) but requires resources of time, effort, and material goods (mostly to pay for the time and effort) which must be taken from somewhere.  Where do the resources come from, the marginalized group?  The last option may or may not solve the problem.  It has the bonus of directly harming no one, but it is unlikely to make anyone feel good about what is being done (since it requires that individuals take responsibility for when they are causing harm rather than spreading the blame around), it is also no extra cost to the marginalized or people who are not guilty of marginalization.

A list of things 'Dalillama' asserts, and my responses to them:

  • The NAP fails to account for reality.  The NAP is a moral stance, which is not an observation of reality, and this charge is there for absurd on the face of it.
  • Most libertarian (though for this purpose I am only really defending voluntarist) principles fail to account for reality.  There are only two (one with the other nested inside of it) principles to libertarianism, and I have addressed why the other does not fail to account for reality.  This by definition can not be correct.
  • You use the phrase ‘under a libertarian regime’ which at least in voluntarist ethics has no meaning.  There is no regime without a state, and to have a state violates the NAP.  In the looser sense that a Libertarian (the political party in the US) regime might do what you accuse it of, that is mostly in relation to its ‘Republican-ness’ rather than its ‘libertarian-ness‘ but even that I think is an overstatement.
  • Libertarians insist that this is different from a gun to the head, but are unable to explain how, except that they declare it so.” -from the blog (and other writings) of Dalillama  The full explanation of the differences between a direct action and allowing something which is occurring to continue is very long, but I will address you claim more directly.  There are libertarian (though in this case you should probably search with either the phrase voluntarist or anarcho-capitalist) solutions to the trolley problem which address the reasoning behind the distinction.  The short form of the answer is that externalities are not the fault of people who did not create the externalities, and thus the person (or people) owed restitution are owed by the madman who set the trolley problem in motion, not the bystander who might or might not help.  This paper studies some of these things (though it is not the focus of the paper), but it does reference some of the resources you might be looking for. 

"Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant" --Tacitus