A Moral Argument for Minarchy

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GE Morton
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 16th, 2018, 10:57 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 16th, 2018, 10:03 am

If society is natural then constraints are natural.
Oh, surely not. If human-imposed constraints are natural then everything else humans living in a society do must also be natural. You've just obliterated the distinction between "natural" and "artificial."
Which of those are rational and morally justifiable is the subject matter of political philosophy.
In other words, political philosophy must address the question of how we ought to live, that is, according to reason and morality.
No, those are not "other words" for what I said. The scope of the question, "How ought we to live?" is far greater than the scope of, "What constraints are justifiable?" Moreover, the former is seeking a positive prescription for a "good life;" the latter seeks no prescription, but only justifiable restrictions.
Is nature rational? Is nature moral?
No. Those adjectives apply only to the actions of humans or other sentient creatures.

Do you plan to ever address the argument of the OP?

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 16th, 2018, 11:00 am

If society is natural then constraints are natural.
I guess that means a law prohibiting, say, possession of marijuana is a law of nature. Right? :-)

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 16th, 2018, 2:51 pm

GE Morton:
Oh, surely not. If human-imposed constraints are natural then everything else humans living in a society do must also be natural.
Is there a society without human-imposed constraints? I think it evident that there are not. And so, how can it be, as you say, that humans are naturally social animals if the societies in which they live all have unnatural constraints on its members? It is not that everything humans do in society must be natural but if society is natural then some things must be. If nothing they do in society is natural then what does it mean to say that humans are naturally social animals?
The scope of the question, "How ought we to live?" is far greater than the scope of, "What constraints are justifiable?"
What does “justified by reason and morality” mean?
Is nature rational? Is nature moral?
No. Those adjectives apply only to the actions of humans or other sentient creatures.
You object to constraints because they are unnatural and yet you appeal to something unnatural, that is, reason and morality, to justify certain constraints while rejecting others. What is the standard, nature or reason and morality? You begin with a fictitious notion of nature and claim that this is the standard according to which constraints are unnatural and therefore to be rejected unless justified by something unnatural, but there is no shortage of examples in nature of dominance. Are alpha males unnatural? You appeal to principles, but there are no principles in nature, they are either human constructs or transcendent.


You say that freedom is the means to an end, the end being maximizing welfare for all persons, but you deny that we have obligations to others beyond not interfering with their rights. So, maximizing the welfare of all persons means leaving them to their own devices no matter what the condition of their lives may be. Maximizing the welfare of all persons means that children living in abject poverty must (for their own welfare?) continue to live in this way unless someone else voluntarily helps them. This notion of “welfare for all persons” would hold regardless of the percentage of the population that is without property or the good health necessary to work. Maximizing the welfare for all persons might then
mean that the labor of most people would benefit the few who have property or capital and who need not pay those who do the work more than enough to stay alive or not even that provided there are others who will do it. The welfare of all persons becomes the welfare of the few, those who have gained and can maintain property and those who have competitive skills that are in high enough demand to be paid more than subsistence wages. Fewer people making enough money to buy goods would precipitate a downward spiral with no end in sight. And all would revel because welfare has been maximized!

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 17th, 2018, 1:12 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 16th, 2018, 2:51 pm

Is there a society without human-imposed constraints? I think it evident that there are not. And so, how can it be, as you say, that humans are naturally social animals if the societies in which they live all have unnatural constraints on its members?
They don't have "unnatural" constraints on members. You're indulging in word play, committing a 4-term fallacy. "Natural" is contrasted with "artificial," and also with "unnatural." The former sense means "not human-caused;" the latter means "contrary to the laws of Nature."
Social constraints are not "unnatural;" but they are non-natural (i.e., artificial).
It is not that everything humans do in society must be natural but if society is natural then some things must be.
That does not follow, but some of the things humans do are, of course, natural (eat, sleep, breathe, etc.). Making laws is not one of those natural things they do.
If nothing they do in society is natural then what does it mean to say that humans are naturally social animals?
It means that they tend to seek out others of their species and form communities with them.
What does “justified by reason and morality” mean?
Yikes. If you don't know what those mean, I don't know how we can discuss these issues!
You object to constraints because they are unnatural . . .
Er, no. I do not object to constraints "because they are unnatural." Nor have I ever said any such thing. I said they are not natural, but that doesn't mean I object to them for that reason. Nor do I object to ALL constraints, even though those I consider acceptable are just as non-natural as those I don't.
What is the standard, nature or reason and morality?
Obviously reason and morality, since no (human-imposed) constraints are natural. They are products of human action, and therefore subject to the standards of reason and morality, which don't apply to natural phenomena.
You begin with a fictitious notion of nature and claim that this is the standard according to which constraints are unnatural and therefore to be rejected . . .
I made no such claims. In what way is my notion of nature "fictitious"?
. . . there is no shortage of examples in nature of dominance. Are alpha males unnatural?
Ah. Are you suggesting that constraints are natural because some people are naturally disposed to dominate others, and because that is natural, it is morally justifiable? Are you arguing for a "natural aristocracy"?
You say that freedom is the means to an end, the end being maximizing welfare for all persons, but you deny that we have obligations to others beyond not interfering with their rights.
We can have other obligations beyond that. E.g., if we have injured someone we have an obligation to make good the damages. If we bring children into the world we have obligations to provide for them. If we enter into a contract with someone we have an obligation to abide by its terms. If we make a promise we have an obligation to keep it. We do not, however, have a priori obligations to assume responsibility for everyone else's welfare. We do not arrive in the world burdened by an infinite set of unassumed obligations. But if you disagree, please supply an argument showing how such obligations are derived from moral first principles.
So, maximizing the welfare of all persons means leaving them to their own devices no matter what the condition of their lives may be. Maximizing the welfare of all persons means that children living in abject poverty must (for their own welfare?) continue to live in this way unless someone else voluntarily helps them.
That is correct. Either others help them voluntarily, in accordance with their own priorities and assessment of the worthiness of the cause, or some people force others to act in accordance with their own priorities and assessments. I.e., some people assume the role of masters and impose their will on others, making the latter slaves. Which, of course, violates the precept of equality of moral agency and status.
Maximizing the welfare for all persons might then mean that the labor of most people would benefit the few who have property or capital and who need not pay those who do the work more than enough to stay alive or not even that provided there are others who will do it.
Er, no, that is not what would mean. Everyone who works for payment benefits someone else; i.e., the person paying them. And it is not a "few" who have sufficient property or capital or pay for others' services. If you have ordered a burger lately from MacDonalds, bought a movie ticket, bought a six pack at the grocery store, you have paid workers for their services. If a worker has no skills that anyone else is willing to pay for he needs to improve them --- or rely on charity.
The welfare of all persons becomes the welfare of the few, those who have gained and can maintain property and those who have competitive skills that are in high enough demand to be paid more than subsistence wages.
You need to study some economic history, Fooloso. That Malthusian scenario has never occurred. It is a Marxist shibboleth. By 1900 the US became the first country in history a majority of whose people were not poor. That milestone was reached prior to any implementation of the Welfare State, prior to any labor legislation, or any attempt by the government to "manage" the economy. When the "War on Poverty" was launched in 1966 the US poverty rate had declined to 15%. It has not declined further since.

https://poverty.ucdavis.edu/sites/main/ ... ical_0.jpg

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Greta » April 17th, 2018, 3:14 am

If humans cared about being "natural" the world would be a very different place today, and many of us would probably already be dead. Whatever, humans are a part of nature whether we like or not. Anything deemed "unnatural" is simply humans extending the repertoire of what "nature" does.

There is no one-size-fit-all formula for the best way to order a society. Social democracy is highly effective in the small and advanced northern European nations but would be impossible in China. Watching the variant fates of China and India, it appears that a command economy reduces the chaos of high density populations. Important decisions are made in a more timely manner (or at all), but the tradeoff is increased corruption and inhumane practices.

It's also hard to miss how Iraq fell into chaos once the dictator, Saddam, was ousted, resulting in vastly worse standard of living for most Iraqis. So there are no simple answers to governance, no one-size-fits-all model or optimal style. Further, I see little evidence of ideology of any kind being helpful to good governance in recent times. In a complex global economy, fixed ideologies can detract from the ability to respond flexibly to rapidly changing circumstances.

Ideally the size of governments grow and retract according to changing circumstances rather than being locked into outdated notions developed for earlier times.

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 17th, 2018, 12:39 pm

Greta wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 3:14 am
If humans cared about being "natural" the world would be a very different place today, and many of us would probably already be dead. Whatever, humans are a part of nature whether we like or not. Anything deemed "unnatural" is simply humans extending the repertoire of what "nature" does.
I agree. Of course, everything that occurs in the universe is "natural." But that is a vacuous tautology.
There is no one-size-fit-all formula for the best way to order a society. Social democracy is highly effective in the small and advanced northern European nations but would be impossible in China. Watching the variant fates of China and India, it appears that a command economy reduces the chaos of high density populations. Important decisions are made in a more timely manner (or at all), but the tradeoff is increased corruption and inhumane practices.
Well, you need some criterion of effectiveness before making those judgments. And I think we need to resolve the moral issues before turning to pragmatics. Otherwise you may --- and probably will --- end up with a solution that is effective, according to your chosen criterion, but highly immoral, such as Fascism, Stalinism, Maoism, and the innumerable other tyrannies that have kept human history awash in misery and blood.

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 17th, 2018, 1:19 pm

GE Morton:
Is there a society without human-imposed constraints? I think it evident that there are not. And so, how can it be, as you say, that humans are naturally social animals if the societies in which they live all have unnatural constraints on its members?
They don't have "unnatural" constraints on members. You're indulging in word play, committing a 4-term fallacy. "Natural" is contrasted with "artificial," and also with "unnatural." The former sense means "not human-caused;" the latter means "contrary to the laws of Nature."
Social constraints are not "unnatural;" but they are non-natural (i.e., artificial).
You are avoiding the question:
What evidence do you have to support the claim that freedom is the natural condition of all humans? Certainly not empirical evidence. To put it differently, what is the concept of nature that Hobbes bases this claim on and why should we accept it?
The distinction between natural and artificial leads to the same problem as the distinction between natural and unnatural.
That does not follow, but some of the things humans do are, of course, natural (eat, sleep, breathe, etc.). Making laws is not one of those natural things they do.
I asked about building shelter. If building shelter is artificial then birds nests are artificial, “non-natural”. Any mammalian species that lives in society has constraints on the behavior of its members. If constraints are artificial, “non-natural”, then every social species of mammal lives in an artificial environment. There is ample evidence of primate culture, that is, socially determined behavior and practices. If culturally determined behavior is artificial then we need to rethink the distinction between natural and artificial.
It means that they tend to seek out others of their species and form communities with them.
This is a complete fiction. Social animals do not start out as solitary autonomous individuals who then at some point seek out others of their species. They are born and live in communities. They are social animals, not solitary, autonomous individuals who seek society.
What does “justified by reason and morality” mean?
Yikes. If you don't know what those mean, I don't know how we can discuss these issues!
Once again you miss the point. Your appeal to what is reasonable and moral is determined by the fiction you call the natural condition.

This discussion and another on Burke led me to reread Strauss’s “Natural Right and Man”. Yesterday I found the following statements:
Plato never discusses any subject - be it the city or the heavens or numbers - without keeping in view the elementary Socratic question, “What is the right way of life?” (156)

Classical political philosophy had taken its bearings by how man ought to live ... (178)


Political philosophy or political theory had been from its inception the quest for civil society as it ought to be. (319)
How this question was answered points to a major difference between ancient and modern political thought. Rather than start with an imagined natural condition of man, the ancients held that:
... the correct way of answering the question of the right order of society consists in taking one’s bearings by how men actually live (178)
You object to constraints because they are unnatural . . .
Er, no. I do not object to constraints "because they are unnatural."
Er, no. You claim that human beings are born free, that this is the natural condition of all humans, and so any constraints on them must be justified by reason and morality. Reason and morality must take this as the natural starting point from which any "artificial" constraint must be justified.
You begin with a fictitious notion of nature and claim that this is the standard according to which constraints are unnatural and therefore to be rejected . . .
I made no such claims. In what way is my notion of nature "fictitious"?
The “natural condition of human beings” is a fiction, an artificial, abstract, theoretical starting point, based on a bit of circular reasoning - man-made constraints are artificial therefore prior to such constraints human beings are in their natural (unconstrained) condition. It is a "natural condition" that is found nowhere in nature.
Ah. Are you suggesting that constraints are natural because some people are naturally disposed to dominate others, and because that is natural, it is morally justifiable?
I am suggesting that if you look at a variety of species in the natural world you will find some members dominating others. That is the natural condition of such species. To claim that the natural condition of human beings is freedom from domination is to either ignore nature or use the term in a contrived sense. I have asked you about this but you have not answered. The problem is compounded when you attempt to make a connection between the natural condition of human beings and moral justification - freedom for human beings is natural therefore any constraint on freedom requires moral justification. But what does this mean with regard to the natural condition of other animals? Here you seem to suggest that just because it is natural that does not mean it is morally justified. With regard to human beings what is reasonable and moral must be justified in light of their natural condition, but with other animals you question whether their natural condition is morally justified.
We do not, however, have a priori obligations to assume responsibility for everyone else's welfare. We do not arrive in the world burdened by an infinite set of unassumed obligations. But if you disagree, please supply an argument showing how such obligations are derived from moral first principles.
The problem is your assumption that our relationships to each other are properly determined by a priori obligations and abstract moral first principles. This is completely out of touch with flesh and blood human relationships, which are guided by such things as care and empathy not a priori obligations or abstract principles.
So, maximizing the welfare of all persons means leaving them to their own devices no matter what the condition of their lives may be. Maximizing the welfare of all persons means that children living in abject poverty must (for their own welfare?) continue to live in this way unless someone else voluntarily helps them.
That is correct. Either others help them voluntarily, in accordance with their own priorities and assessment of the worthiness of the cause, or some people force others to act in accordance with their own priorities and assessments. I.e., some people assume the role of masters and impose their will on others, making the latter slaves. Which, of course, violates the precept of equality of moral agency and status.
I need a minute to put on my muck boots to wade through this. In response to the problem of children in your society living in abject poverty unless they are helped by volunteers your concern it that you will be made a slave if you are compelled to help? Are you a slave because some of the money you pay in taxes goes to help those in need? What would be the consequences if the only help to those in need came from volunteer sources? How is welfare maximized if poverty is endemic throughout society?
Maximizing the welfare for all persons might then mean that the labor of most people would benefit the few who have property or capital and who need not pay those who do the work more than enough to stay alive or not even that provided there are others who will do it.
Er, no, that is not what would mean. Everyone who works for payment benefits someone else; i.e., the person paying them. And it is not a "few" who have sufficient property or capital or pay for others' services. If you have ordered a burger lately from MacDonalds, bought a movie ticket, bought a six pack at the grocery store, you have paid workers for their services. If a worker has no skills that anyone else is willing to pay for he needs to improve them --- or rely on charity.
Er, no, I am not talking about the present economy in which we find an extensive social safety net. I am talking about a society built on the notion of rights without obligations. I am talking about a society in which there is no requirement to pay anyone more than is necessary to find someone desperate enough to do the work. A society in which a significant percentage of the population cannot afford to order a hamburger let alone buy a movie ticket. A society in a downward economic spiral.
You need to study some economic history …
Indeed, it is advice that you would do well to follow.
By 1900 the US became the first country in history a majority of whose people were not poor.
Where did you get this information?
Poverty rates exceeded 60 or 70 percent at the beginning of the [20th] century. (Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin - Madison, https://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/d ... p99893.pdf).
Selecting a particular period in history shows us nothing other than at this particular period the poverty rate was low. Unfortunately for your argument the poverty rate during the period you selected was quite high.

There are a great many factors that contribute to the poverty rate. One significant factor in the United States is social security, which began in 1935 and was expanded to include disability insurance in 1956. Also in 1935 Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which created jobs for the unemployed and the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) to prevent unfair labor practices. The enactment of Medicare in 1965 has also helped reduce poverty.

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Greta » April 17th, 2018, 7:06 pm

GE Morton wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 12:39 pm
Greta wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 3:14 am
If humans cared about being "natural" the world would be a very different place today, and many of us would probably already be dead. Whatever, humans are a part of nature whether we like or not. Anything deemed "unnatural" is simply humans extending the repertoire of what "nature" does.
I agree. Of course, everything that occurs in the universe is "natural." But that is a vacuous tautology.
The above was not a tautology and certainly not "vacuous", which was just you jabbing me back without provocation. It's rather rich for someone to lash out, calling a notion "vacuous" when they are trying to devise optimal governance systems for a world without overpopulation, climate change or displacement of jobs and functions via automation.

You will earn a board warning for the uncalled-for rudeness like the above comment to me. I will include the contemptuous "Er no" responses to Fooloso and others which, when overdone as much as you have done here, is effectively baiting and trolling - the use of ostensibly correct language to deliver regular ad hominem attacks.
GE Morton wrote:
There is no one-size-fit-all formula for the best way to order a society. Social democracy is highly effective in the small and advanced northern European nations but would be impossible in China. Watching the variant fates of China and India, it appears that a command economy reduces the chaos of high density populations. Important decisions are made in a more timely manner (or at all), but the tradeoff is increased corruption and inhumane practices.
Well, you need some criterion of effectiveness before making those judgments. And I think we need to resolve the moral issues before turning to pragmatics. Otherwise you may --- and probably will --- end up with a solution that is effective, according to your chosen criterion, but highly immoral, such as Fascism, Stalinism, Maoism, and the innumerable other tyrannies that have kept human history awash in misery and blood.
Which numerical analyses do you require - an assessment of the level of chaos within the systems? Not realistic. If we had objective measures that worked in analysing systems as complex as societies there would be no debate.

By the same token, we don't need special criterion to notice that a sumo wrestler weighs more than a jockey. If one society has ten thousand people and another has ten million, and they have the same governance systems, which will be more chaotic?

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 17th, 2018, 7:40 pm

Greta wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 7:06 pm
GE Morton wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 12:39 pm

I agree. Of course, everything that occurs in the universe is "natural." But that is a vacuous tautology.
The above was not a tautology and certainly not "vacuous", which was just you jabbing me back without provocation.
The tautology referred to was not anything you said, but my own statement, "Everything that occurs in the universe is natural." I agreed with your comment.
You will earn a board warning for the uncalled-for rudeness like the above comment to me. I will include the contemptuous "Er no" responses to Fooloso and others which, when overdone as much as you have done here, is effectively baiting and trolling - the use of ostensibly correct language to deliver regular ad hominem attacks.
Sounds like you're making up rules as you go along, and being forced to re-define words to do it ("X is effectively Y"). You might try, as I suggested before, tackling the actual arguments, by challenging the premises of the OP or their logical link to the conclusion, instead of making threats.
If one society has ten thousand people and another has ten million, and they have the same governance systems, which will be more chaotic?
How is that relevant? Are you suggesting that immoral governance systems become justifiable if a society is "more chaotic"? I.e., the end (less chaos) justifies the means? Every tyrant in history has embraced that philosophy.

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Greta » April 18th, 2018, 12:41 am

GE Morton wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 7:40 pm
You will earn a board warning for the uncalled-for rudeness like the above comment to me. I will include the contemptuous "Er no" responses to Fooloso and others which, when overdone as much as you have done here, is effectively baiting and trolling - the use of ostensibly correct language to deliver regular ad hominem attacks.
Sounds like you're making up rules as you go along, and being forced to re-define words to do it ("X is effectively Y"). You might try, as I suggested before, tackling the actual arguments, by challenging the premises of the OP or their logical link to the conclusion, instead of making threats.
I operate by the spirit rather than the letter of the law, exercising judgement more like the French than the American legal system. Moderator warnings to those who debate in poor spirit are not threats; that is doing my job. The pre-warning stands.

I already made clear that your argument was dated and irrelevant by pointing out that you had ignored the most influential dynamics of our time - climate change and automation of the workforce. The choices regarding governance are limited today, dictated largely by convention and circumstance. Governments of the future may yet have very few flesh-and-blood employees - the "min-" while greatly expanding their intrusions.

Given that the US is stepping back and China is expanding its global influence, your hope to avoid a spread of large command governance appears remote. I would have preferred that the US had stayed focused instead of kicking repeated own goals because I personally far prefer our dodgy democracies to Chinese authoritarianism, but the US is moving away from its leadership role due to growing internal divisions.

It seems that countries with at least ostensible democratic processes are producing leaders who increasingly dig in to render the democracy nominal and effectively become autocrats. This seems to be happening due to increased populations and fear for the future. People appear to increasingly be seeking "strong man" leaders to represent them. As I've mentioned before, nations are increasingly shifting to a war footing.
GE Morton wrote:
If one society has ten thousand people and another has ten million, and they have the same governance systems, which will be more chaotic?
How is that relevant? Are you suggesting that immoral governance systems become justifiable if a society is "more chaotic"? I.e., the end (less chaos) justifies the means? Every tyrant in history has embraced that philosophy.
My point was, and is, entirely relevant and you cannot dispute the it either, which is why you countered with a simple appeal to extremes.

I'm assuming that you don't believe that government regulation per se is "immoral". Thus any debate must be about matters of degree. Yes?

Do you believe that a single system of governance is suitable for all societies, landscapes, cultures, demographics and population levels?

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 18th, 2018, 2:38 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 17th, 2018, 1:19 pm

You are avoiding the question:
What evidence do you have to support the claim that freedom is the natural condition of all humans? Certainly not empirical evidence. To put it differently, what is the concept of nature that Hobbes bases this claim on and why should we accept it?
No. I was responding there to a different comment, the one immediately preceding the response (the one asserting "unnatural" constraints on members). The answer to the above question is obvious: since constraints are not natural, but artificial, the natural condition of humans is without restraints, i.e., they are naturally free, just as are all other animals.
I asked about building shelter. If building shelter is artificial then birds nests are artificial, “non-natural”. Any mammalian species that lives in society has constraints on the behavior of its members. If constraints are artificial, “non-natural”, then every social species of mammal lives in an artificial environment. There is ample evidence of primate culture, that is, socially determined behavior and practices. If culturally determined behavior is artificial then we need to rethink the distinction between natural and artificial.
Yes we do. We have discovered that several other animal species engage in behaviors at one time thought to be exclusive to humans. Not only primates, but some birds and even octopuses not only use and in some cases make tools, but solve various problems in a non-instinctive, rational way. I would have no problem describing artifacts constructed by any animal from external materials "artificial" (spiders spin webs from internal materials, so they would not count). But these behaviors are not culturally determined. Many of the animals exhibiting them are not social, e.g., ravens and octopuses. Moreover, that a behavior is prevalent within a particular culture does not mean that it is culturally determined. It is only culturally transmitted. Most social animals do learn from one another, and what they learn depends upon what others in their social unit know.

The only constraints on the behaviors of other social animals imposed by other members of their own social group are those deriving from the "law" of self-defense. Social animals do not often attack other members of their community, but if attacked they will resist. I.e., they will "defend their rights." They do not force one another to do anything, or prevent them from doing anything they wish to do (other than violating others' rights --- seizing their food, attacking them or their mates or their their cubs). They are subject to no more constraints than those justifiable for humans (I exclude "eusocial" species such as ants and termites).
This is a complete fiction. Social animals do not start out as solitary autonomous individuals who then at some point seek out others of their species. They are born and live in communities. They are social animals, not solitary, autonomous individuals who seek society.
Oh, but they do precisely that. Yes, since most of our parents were social creatures most of us were born into a social setting. We are, nonetheless, "solitary autonomous individuals." Methinks you don't appreciate the structure of civilized societies and the nature of the bonds among their members. I suspect you imagine modern societies to be a kind of extended tribe, an "organic unity" of some sort. But they aren't. Civilized societies are not tribes, "teams," or "big happy families." They are not collectives or giant communes. They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals who happen, by accident of birth, to occupy a common territory. They have no common interests, no natural bonds, no shared personal histories, no overriding concern for one another's welfare, and no a priori obligations to one another. Civilized societies are societies of strangers --- a social form which does not exist among any other social species, and did not exist among humans until about 10,000 years ago. The only relevant community of which we are members at birth is the extended family. As we mature those bonds loosen and sometimes fall away; we become individuated, and we seek out relationships with others of like interests, like minds, or with whom some sort of relationship would be satisfying or advantageous to us in some other way. Those constitute our personal societies, the only one meaningful to most of us. The larger society is merely a backdrop, a stage upon which we choose and perform our own role in our own play. Unless it intrudes upon our performance we are indifferent to it (this is not true, of course, for those whose chosen role is to dominate or subjugate others). If those intrusions are too frequent or too onerous we emigrate to a more tolerant stage.

(more later)

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 18th, 2018, 6:11 pm

GE Morton:
The answer to the above question is obvious: since constraints are not natural, but artificial, the natural condition of humans is without restraints, i.e., they are naturally free, just as are all other animals.
Round and round we go. And you accuse me of word play. If we are by nature social animals then it is by nature that we live in society. Society is the natural condition of human beings. There is no evidence to support the claim that freedom is the natural condition of humans or other social animals. You still have not said what the concept of nature that Hobbes or you are basing this claim on or why should we accept it since there is no evidence of it.
If culturally determined behavior is artificial then we need to rethink the distinction between natural and artificial.
Yes we do.
Then the distinction between natural and artificial as it stands does not hold. To claim that constraints are artificial rather than natural is then not be a meaningful distinction.

Culture is, as I defined it, socially determined behavior and practices. As the following example shows, it is not just transmitted but determines behavior:
The second example comes from the work of Frans de Waal and Denise Johanowicz (1993), in this case exploiting the differences in social style between two macaque species. Rhesus macaques form social groups with rigid, “despotic” hierarchies, in which dominant individuals have disproportionate access to desirable resources and maintain their dominance through force or threats of force. Moreover, rhesus societies have high rates of aggression and low rates of reconciliation following fights. In contrast, stump-tailed macaques have more fluid hierarchies (with more tolerance of reversals of dominance), low rates of escalated aggression, and high rates of postfight reconciliation. In this study, rhesus and stump-tailed juveniles were combined into single mixed-sex groups (with sex ratios balanced between the species). Remarkably, over the course of months, rhesus assimilated the stump-tailed social style—eventually achieving, for example, equal rates of reconciliation—despite their being in the majority. Moreover, the acquired “stumptailed style” persisted when the rhesus were returned to larger, all-rhesus groups. (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b476/3 ... a2b842.pdf)
The only constraints on the behaviors of other social animals imposed by other members of their own social group are those deriving from the "law" of self-defense.
There is ample evidence of social hierarchy in many species. It cannot be explained away by the "law" of self-defense. An alpha male exerts dominance because it allows him to get what he wants. There is also evidence of escalating violence and killing. See, for example, the “Gombe Chimpanzee War”:
For several years I struggled to come to terms with this new knowledge. Often when I woke in the night, horrific pictures sprang unbidden to my mind—Satan [one of the apes], cupping his hand below Sniff's chin to drink the blood that welled from a great wound on his face; old Rodolf, usually so benign, standing upright to hurl a four-pound rock at Godi's prostrate body; Jomeo tearing a strip of skin from Dé's thigh; Figan, charging and hitting, again and again, the stricken, quivering body of Goliath, one of his childhood heroes. … (Jane Goodall, “Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe”.
A quick Google search found:

One pattern stood out pretty clearly: Lethal violence increased over the course of mammal evolution. While only about 0.3 percent of all mammals die in conflict with members of their own species, that rate is sixfold higher, or about 2 percent, for primates. Early humans likewise should have about a 2 percent rate—and that lines up with evidence of violence in Paleolithic human remains.
It’s not easy to estimate how often animals kill each other in the wild, but Gómez and his team got a good overview of the species most and least likely to kill their own kind. The number of hyenas killed by other hyenas is around 8 percent. The yellow mongoose? Ten percent. And lemurs—cute, bug-eyed lemurs? As many as 17 percent of deaths in some lemur species result from lethal violence. (See "Prairie Dogs Are Serial Killers That Murder Their Competition.") (https://news.nationalgeographic.com/201 ... e-science/)
And:
Which mammal is most likely to be murdered by its own kind? It’s certainly not humans—not even close. Nor is it a top predator like the grey wolf or lion, although those at least are #11 and #9 in the league table of murdery mammals. No, according to a study led by José María Gómez from the University of Granada, the top spot goes to… the meerkat. These endearing black-masked creatures might be famous for their cooperative ways, but they kill each other at a rate that makes man’s inhumanity to man look meek. Almost one in five meerkats, mostly youngsters, lose their lives at the paws and jaws of their peers. (https://www.theatlantic.com/science/arc ... es/501935/)
We are, nonetheless, "solitary autonomous individuals."

You repeatedly make assertions as if they are matters of fact but refuse to cite evidence. Once again, what evidence do you have that we are solitary autonomous individuals? Where do we find significant numbers of human beings born alone and living alone with only some individuals subsequently joining groups?
Methinks you don't appreciate the structure of civilized societies and the nature of the bonds among their members.
Methinks that what youthinks I don’t appreciate is irrelevant. Stick with what I say.
I suspect you imagine modern societies …
Here you go again, making assumptions and then arguing against them. We are not talking about the genesis of modern societies we are talking about the alleged natural state of human beings and how that squares with the fact that humans are social animals and not the only social animals. When all the evidence is against a claim and no evidence in support of it, it is time to drop the claim.

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Greta
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Greta » April 18th, 2018, 7:18 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 18th, 2018, 6:11 pm
We are, nonetheless, "solitary autonomous individuals."

You repeatedly make assertions as if they are matters of fact but refuse to cite evidence. Once again, what evidence do you have that we are solitary autonomous individuals?
Seemingly from Margaret Thatcher and Ayn Rand.

Tigers, sharks and centipedes could be fairly described as solitary autonomous individuals. Humans obviously are far from that, being mostly colonial dependent individuals, and increasingly becoming more dependent. Put most humans out in the wild as disparate individuals and they would almost certainly have a dramatically reduced life span and capacity to reproduce.

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 19th, 2018, 12:01 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 18th, 2018, 6:11 pm
GE Morton:
The answer to the above question is obvious: since constraints are not natural, but artificial, the natural condition of humans is without restraints, i.e., they are naturally free, just as are all other animals.
Round and round we go. And you accuse me of word play. If we are by nature social animals then it is by nature that we live in society. Society is the natural condition of human beings.
Yes. So far so good.
There is no evidence to support the claim that freedom is the natural condition of humans or other social animals.
I just gave you the evidence with my previous response. You seem to be relying on an unstated premise, i.e., that since we are naturally social animals we are naturally subject to (human-imposed) constraints. That premise is false. It does not follow that because we are naturally social, any relationship we might enter into, or anything that others do to us, in a social setting is also natural. That is a variant of the Fallacy of Division (what is true of a whole is true of the parts). Indeed, any constraints imposed by humans are artificial, by definition. We are no more "naturally" subject to constraints than we are "naturally" subject to murder, robbery, drunk drivers, sales pitches, or email spam. Since human-imposed constraints are not natural, by definition, then the natural condition of humans is freedom --- that being the only remaining alternative.
Yes we do.
Then the distinction between natural and artificial as it stands does not hold. To claim that constraints are artificial rather than natural is then not be a meaningful distinction.
Not so. Expanding the definition of "artificial" to include artifacts made by other animals does not alter its meaning for humans in any way. Human artifacts and practices remain artificial.
Culture is, as I defined it, socially determined behavior and practices. As the following example shows, it is not just transmitted but determines behavior:
Culture itself is a human artifact, i.e., artificial. And to make your "cultural determinism" case for humans you'll have to explain the many individual exceptions to any cultural characteristic or practice, easily found in any (civilized) culture. Not all Italians love opera, not all Scots love bagpipe music, not all Americans love football.
The only constraints on the behaviors of other social animals imposed by other members of their own social group are those deriving from the "law" of self-defense.
There is ample evidence of social hierarchy in many species. It cannot be explained away by the "law" of self-defense. An alpha male exerts dominance because it allows him to get what he wants. There is also evidence of escalating violence and killing. See, for example, the “Gombe Chimpanzee War”:
Chimpanzee wars are conflicts between troops, as are most intraspecies killings (or between solitary individuals in non-social species). Killings within troops are rare, though they do occur.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/201 ... ?beta=true
We are, nonetheless, "solitary autonomous individuals."
You repeatedly make assertions as if they are matters of fact but refuse to cite evidence. Once again, what evidence do you have that we are solitary autonomous individuals? Where do we find significant numbers of human beings born alone and living alone with only some individuals subsequently joining groups?
They don't have to be born alone (which is impossible) or living alone to be solitary, autonomous individuals. One can be alone in a crowd, if one is not engaged with it. They are solitary in the sense that they are individualized, not exemplars of a tribal identity, and autonomous in the sense that they are self-determined, not predictably driven, motivated, or even inspired by any cultural custom or imperative.
Here you go again, making assumptions and then arguing against them. We are not talking about the genesis of modern societies we are talking about the alleged natural state of human beings and how that squares with the fact that humans are social animals and not the only social animals.
Which issue has been resolved. That humans are social animals is not in dispute. The implication you are trying to draw from that fact --- that they are "naturally" subject to constraints --- does not follow.

My comments regarding the structure of civilized societies do have much to do with the central issues in this debate. You might give them some thought.

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 19th, 2018, 10:55 am

GE Morton:
There is no evidence to support the claim that freedom is the natural condition of humans or other social animals.
I just gave you the evidence with my previous response.
Unsubstantiated claims are not evidence.
You seem to be relying on an unstated premise, i.e., that since we are naturally social animals we are naturally subject to (human-imposed) constraints.
Right. You have agreed that we are by nature social animals and that society is the natural condition of human beings, and since there is no society without constraints, we are naturally subject to human imposed constraints, just as any other social animals is subject to the constraints of their society.
It does not follow that because we are naturally social, any relationship we might enter into, or anything that others do to us, in a social setting is also natural.
That is correct. I am not talking about any relationship we might enter into or anything that others do to us in a social setting. Again, you are positing something I have not said and then arguing against it. It is not that either all constraints are natural or none are natural.
Indeed, any constraints imposed by humans are artificial, by definition.
By the definition of the language game you are playing. Looking at nature tells a different story. But then you have already blurred the lines between natural and artificial so that the distinction is meaningless. If I point to other social animals who impose constraints on members of their society you will call that artificial just as you called a bird’s nest artificial.
Culture itself is a human artifact, i.e., artificial.
How can the culture of other primates be a human artifact?
And to make your "cultural determinism" ...
Determined and determinism are two different concepts. Do you not know that or are you just determined to keep on arguing?

Here are some points from the National Geographic link you posted:
Pruetz’s observations have revealed a daily life full of politicking. Chimpanzee communities are led by “alpha males” and coalitions of male allies, flanked by females and the young. While females strike out for new groups after reaching sexual maturity, males stay in their birth communities, jockeying for social dominance with displays and shifting alliances.

In early 2005, Pruetz and her team identified Foudouko as the alpha male—the one male to which all others pant-grunted, a sign of submission. His furrowed brow and imperious air led one research assistant to nickname him Saddam, after the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“Intra-group killing looks like it’s really about reproductive competition, [with] males killing other males,” says University of Minnesota’s Wilson. “The signals of reproductive competition are really quite abundant; the killings are just an extreme point.”
So your unsubstantiated claim about the “law” of self-defense is contradicted by the facts. Your unsubstantiated claim about constraints is contradicted by the facts.
They don't have to be born alone (which is impossible) or living alone to be solitary, autonomous individuals. One can be alone in a crowd, if one is not engaged with it. They are solitary in the sense that they are individualized, not exemplars of a tribal identity, and autonomous in the sense that they are self-determined, not predictably driven, motivated, or even inspired by any cultural custom or imperative.
Is this your new and improved version of the state of nature? You are either unawareness or refusal to acknowledge the extent to which you are culturally determined. The most obvious example is language. Language is not a neutral tool to be used however we want to communicate original thoughts. Language shapes the way we think. Another is that your thinking about such matters has been framed by Hobbes and Locke and their heirs, not you. Even the fact that you are talking about autonomy and self-determination shows how much your thinking is inherited and not autonomous or self-determined. This does not mean you cannot liberate yourself from such views, but you have not. You have accepted them by and large as correct.

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