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.

1 comment:

promethics said...

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).
All of them 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.
have not offered 'solutions' because of two things.
You also failed to offer solutions in the original discussion which sparked this. Your alleged commitment to social justice is made meaningless by your unwillingness to work towards it. 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. You are clearly coming from an extraordinarily sheltered situation, and have little to no conception of either history or current events. I have no further time to waste with you until you are able to separate discussions of reality from philosophical wankery.

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