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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 12th, 2018, 12:24 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 10th, 2018, 11:28 am
I doubt many philosophers would nominate "How ought we to live?" as the fundamental question of political philosophy.
Then you are not as well read in political philosophy as you might like to think. Leo Strauss (What is Political Philosophy, Liberalism Ancient and Modern, Natural Right and History,The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis, Hobbes's Critique of Religion and Related Writings, Locke’s Doctrine of Natural Law, and many many more ) is an important figure in the revival of ancient political thought. Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue) is another.
I did not claim that NO philosophers would hold that view. Moreover, I would deny that Strauss does. But perhaps we can dispense with this tangential issue this way --- instead of claiming that the role of government is the "fundamental" question for political philosophers, suppose I revise it to say it is an "important" question for political philosophers (nothing in the argument of my essay depends upon it being the "fundamental" question). Will that do?
That is why it is a very good question. It is the questions that drive philosophy, not some particular answer however general.
Of course questions drive philosophy, just as they drive science. But not all questions posed by philosophers are good questions --- questions that beg other other questions, for example (as does your proposed question).
There is no particular way in which "we" ought to live.
But you have offered one - in a free society in which everyone can do whatever they want provided they do not interfere with the right of others to do the same.
A characterization of a free society is not a prescription for how anyone ought to live. Indeed, it precludes any such prescription. Unless you construe all moral universals as prescriptions for how people ought to live --- which would be a misleadingly broad construal of the purpose of moral philosophy.
Sorry for the misconstrual. But I don't think it matters much for the issue at hand.
It does not matter only if one thinks that what we ought to do is whatever we wish to do. I don't agree.
The issue at hand at that point was, What is the fundamental question for political philosophers? Neither "how one ought to live" or "how one wishes to live" are (in my view) good answers to that question.
Aristotle, at that point, is speaking of what we all do, not what we ought to do.
That is correct. He proceeds to the question of what we ought to do based on this basic human motivation. What we ought to do is what is most conducive to getting what we seek, that is, what is good.
And "the good" is "that at which all things aim." I.e., whatever end is sought in an action is a "good."
Er, no. Something is not good simply because it is sought.
Yes, it is. All ends of action are goods. What Aristotle is seeking is the "chief good," the highest good, which he argues must derive from the "function" of Man, which is to act as a rational creature, and do so well. His arguments for so prioritizing goods are weak; indeed arbitrary.
We ought to seek the things that are good, which means we need to consider the question, what is good, and from this the question of the good life.
Goodness is not an independent property of things. There is no specific property, "goodness," which some things possess in various measures and other things lack. To say "X is good" means one of two things: 1) X performs or functions as intended, e.g., a "good watch" is one that keeps correct time; a "good movie" is one that entertains. Or it means 2) "(Someone) enjoys or desires X." The latter meaning, of course, is subjective and relative to agents. What he will count as a "good life" (or even a good movie or meal) will differ for every moral agent. In trying to derive a "highest good" from human nature Aristotle commits the naturalistic fallacy.
Politics is the process of formulating public policy. A public policy is one implemented by law, i.e., by government.
That is true but that is not the whole of political life, that is, not the whole of politics, according to Aristotle.
You're right; it is not. But Aristotle's ideal society does not describe any modern society, or even his own.
Er, no. You’ve got it backwards. What I described is an encroaching oligarchy. Immunity to “brainwashing” is conferred by education, by teaching people to search out the facts and think clearly and critically, and by a free press rather than one owned by and solely in the hands of plutocrats.
No, Fooloso. An oligarchy is rule by a privileged few. It is a form of government. The "oligarchy" I suspect you have in mind does not rule anybody. And many would argue that public education is itself "brainwashing." Though nearly universal, it has failed spectacularly in teaching people to search out facts and think critically. About 75% of Americans, for example, believe some sort of pseudoscience.

https://wayback.archive-it.org/5902/201 ... g07-08.htm
As you know, the United States is not a simple democracy, but rather a representative democracy or democratic republic. We vote for our representatives, who were originally conceived of as a natural aristocracy, intended as a buffer against the tyranny of the masses. The problem is that government has become business by other means, with many of our representatives bought and paid for. Since Citizens United money talks, but hides itself in dark places from public view. The answer is an informed electorate. But Trump and his plutocratic cronies have stifled making public research findings at the EPA and are doing all they can to replace a free press with a propaganda machine.
You're not addressing the issue: Given that the electorate is misinformed, and given that informing them is unlikely to happen any time soon (due to the machinations of your "oligarchy"), will you still allow them to vote? Or must decision-making be entrusted to an "enlightened cadre"?
There are no "opinion makers."
Opinion makers are not brainwashers, they influence opinion in various ways - fear, emotions, patriotism, moral outrage, and misinformation.
Politicians of all stripes have indulged in those tactics since time immemorial. So do preachers, professors, writers, and the man next to you on the barstool. Anyone who engages in any kind of social interaction will influence others and be influenced by them.
The more that information comes under the control of a few - what is kept from us, what is fed to us that is not true, and what is gathered from us, the greater the risk. If you cannot see that there is nothing I can say to give sight to the blind.
Your premise is false. Information is not coming "under the control of a few." The Internet has, in fact, enlarged the sources of information enormously. How many radio stations Sinclair owns is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Since when do you get to constrain the relevant meaning of terms?
Since this thread is devoted, and presumably, your comments are directed to critiquing the OP, then you need to use the term as it is used in that argument. E.g., a constraint in the sense of a restriction of liberty imposed by force. That is what the essay is examining.
Er, you jumped from my initial question regarding the constraints on members of a society, which I posed in reference to the larger question of how we ought to live, over your question of how does "society" impose those constraints, other than via government, and in response to my explaining how society does this, you claim that no other form of constraint other than restraint or a punishment, threatened or imposed by force has any moral significance, because they involve no violations of rights.
Yes. The essay is about the morality of using force against moral agents. "Constraints" that do not involve force are outside the scope of the argument.

Fooloso4
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 12th, 2018, 1:41 pm

GE Morton:

A characterization of a free society is not a prescription for how anyone ought to live.
Either you are merely describing a free society, in which case you are making no claims about the superiority of a free society over others, or you have already decided that a free society is the kind of society we ought to live in.
Indeed, it precludes any such prescription.
It requires both prescriptions - our obligations, and proscriptions - our constraints.
Unless you construe all moral universals as prescriptions …
I have said nothing about moral universals.
Yes, it is. All ends of action are goods.
If one wants to live then drinking poison to slake your thirst is not good even though you will no longer be thirsty. Murdering, raping, and stealing are not “goods” simply because they may be an end sought by someone.
What Aristotle is seeking is the "chief good," the highest good, which he argues must derive from the "function" of Man, which is to act as a rational creature, and do so well. His arguments for so prioritizing goods are weak; indeed arbitrary.
The chief or highest good does not derive from the “function” of man but from the nature of man. It is not that man is to act as a rational creature but that man is a rational creature, that is part of his nature. It is because he is a rational creature that he can act prudently. It is in light of his chief good he must evaluate whatever it is that he may desire as good. There is nothing weak or arbitrary about it and simply claiming that it is without saying why it is is empty.
Goodness is not an independent property of things.
That is true.
To say "X is good" means one of two things: 1) X performs or functions as intended, e.g., a "good watch" is one that keeps correct time; a "good movie" is one that entertains. Or it means 2) "(Someone) enjoys or desires X."
You have forgotten: 3) X is beneficial, for example, something that promotes health and happiness and virtue (power and excellence).
In trying to derive a "highest good" from human nature Aristotle commits the naturalistic fallacy.
Aristotle is not claiming that the good is a property of human nature. The "chief good" for man is ‘eudaimonia’.
But Aristotle's ideal society does not describe any modern society, or even his own.
Of course not! The question of the best polis is not a matter of describing an existing polis.
An oligarchy is rule by a privileged few. It is a form of government.
What I said was “an encroaching oligarchy”. The danger is that it become the de facto government.
The "oligarchy" I suspect you have in mind does not rule anybody.
I suspect you have no idea what I have in mind.
And many would argue that public education is itself "brainwashing."
Yes, they would, and in some cases they might be right. What I said, however, is “teaching people to search out the facts and think clearly and critically”. It is evident that our educational system has not achieved this for large parts of the population. It should also be obvious that putting an incompetent plutocrat is charge of the department of education will not improve the situation, but will bring us closer to an oligarchic government. To be clear, I do not think this will happen, but then again, I never thought that Trump would be president or once elected he would win out over reasonable Republicans. But he is, at least for the moment, winning, in large part by attrition of members of the pre-Trump Republican party. But the rule of law may be his undoing.
About 75% of Americans, for example, believe some sort of pseudoscience.
Is that a problem for a free society? Shouldn’t people be allowed to believe whatever they want without regard to facts if they so wish? If you answer that it is a problem then you have helped make my case.
You're not addressing the issue: Given that the electorate is misinformed, and given that informing them is unlikely to happen any time soon (due to the machinations of your "oligarchy"), will you still allow them to vote?
It’s not up to me, but yes, they should be allowed to vote. Any suggestion to the contrary came from your misrepresentation of what I actually said.
Or must decision-making be entrusted to an "enlightened cadre"?
You are creating a story here that does not follow from what I actually said.
Politicians of all stripes have indulged in those tactics since time immemorial. So do preachers, professors, writers, and the man next to you on the barstool.


Thank you for making my point. They are all opinion makers, except for the guy on the barstool, except in the unlikely event that he has become the President of the United States (He has been described as the guy on the barstool). Truth is stranger than fiction.
Anyone who engages in any kind of social interaction will influence others and be influenced by them.
It is a matter of the extent or reach of influence.
The Internet has, in fact, enlarged the sources of information enormously.
This is a bit naive. There is a great deal of information that is readily available but it requires the ability to distinguish facts from “fake news” ( a term that Trump has effectively co-opted in an effort to confuse the public into believing that legitimate journalism cannot be trusted and propaganda can). The overturning of “net-neutrality” means that what you have access to is not free from corporate and government control (with the lines between them becoming increasingly blurry under a president who packs his cabinets with corporate plutocrats intent on dismantling the agencies they oversee). Facebook and Cambridge Analytica should also keep anyone from being too sanguine about what the internet means for the free flow of information.
How many radio stations Sinclair owns is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
It is the television stations that are the most problematic. There is still a large percentage of people (including the President) who get their news from television.
Since this thread is devoted, and presumably, your comments are directed to critiquing the OP, then you need to use the term as it is used in that argument. E.g., a constraint in the sense of a restriction of liberty imposed by force. That is what the essay is examining.
Er, no. Sorry, but you do not get to control the use of terms. My critique of the OP is that it is predicated on certain unexamined assumptions that should be examined if we are to discuss the role of government in a free society. My critique is that it is based on an impoverished notion of political life.

Gertie
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Gertie » April 13th, 2018, 2:58 pm

GE
Moral theories and rules do have an aim, a purpose, however: to maximize welfare for all persons living in a social setting. Freedom is not an end in itself; it is a necessary condition for reaching that goal.
OK. This we can agree on as a shared starting position.

Your formulation then goes on to prioritise individual freedom at the expense of all other factors which contribute to people's well-being. All other necessary and desirable conditions. Which is why its an extreme ideological position which smacks of personal bias (which we all have, and it's easy to kid ourselves we've avoided it).

And if you applied it in the real world it would have disastrous effects for the well-being of many people, contradicting your stated moral goal.

Lets look at those who might not be able to compete at pursuing their goals as well as others. (Yours is a competitive model for societies). Because of their different starting positions, their abilities, or circumstances which befall them. Any existing imbalance in power, without mitigating mechanisms, will naturally escalate over time, for individuals and generationally as power (or lack of it) is passed down. And it's this power which is what often grants people the means to pursue their individual goals.

So for example if you can buy yourself healthcare, you can deal with health problems which might restrict your ability to pursue your goals. If you can't, then you don't have the same freedom. In reality your system restricts people's freedoms in such a way. It also ignores the fact that good healthcare in itself is a necessary condition for people's welfare, being in pain is not conducive to maximising your welfare.

So there are two key problems -

Individual freedom isn't the only criterion for achieving the stated moral goal of maximising welfare, and a more sophisticated and balanced view is more likely to achieve the goal.

Even within the terms you set, your model would result in increasing power imbalances, in practice restricting the freedom of many to pursue their goals. Calling tax-paying billionaires the 'slaves' of the destitute doesn't change that.

GE Morton
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 13th, 2018, 8:51 pm

Gertie wrote:
April 13th, 2018, 2:58 pm
Moral theories and rules do have an aim, a purpose, however: to maximize welfare for all persons living in a social setting. Freedom is not an end in itself; it is a necessary condition for reaching that goal.
OK. This we can agree on as a shared starting position.

Your formulation then goes on to prioritise individual freedom at the expense of all other factors which contribute to people's well-being.
Yes. Necessary conditions always take priority over contingent or contributing factors.
All other necessary and desirable conditions.
There are no other logically necessary conditions, that I know of. Moreover, any "desirable" condition which involves improving the welfare of some at others' expense instantly frustrates the goal, which is to improve the welfare of all persons in the moral field. This is required also by the Equal Agency postulate. The implication of this is that only allowable methods for improving welfare are those that satisfy the Pareto criterion.
And if you applied it in the real world it would have disastrous effects for the well-being of many people, contradicting your stated moral goal.
It would initially reduce the welfare of persons now benefiting from disallowable methods of improving it, just as the welfare of a thief is reduced when he is caught and forced to surrender his loot.
Lets look at those who might not be able to compete at pursuing their goals as well as others. (Yours is a competitive model for societies). Because of their different starting positions, their abilities, or circumstances which befall them. Any existing imbalance in power, without mitigating mechanisms, will naturally escalate over time, for individuals and generationally as power (or lack of it) is passed down. And it's this power which is what often grants people the means to pursue their individual goals.
That is all true. But you need some argument for why these natural inequalities (in natural assets, fortuitous circumstances) require mitigating. (This is the argument of which Nozick noted there is a "surprising dearth").
So for example if you can buy yourself healthcare, you can deal with health problems which might restrict your ability to pursue your goals. If you can't, then you don't have the same freedom. In reality your system restricts people's freedoms in such a way. It also ignores the fact that good healthcare in itself is a necessary condition for people's welfare, being in pain is not conducive to maximising your welfare.
Moral theories address limitations on freedom imposed by other moral agents, not limitations imposed by Nature or existential circumstances. Nature and fate are amoral. Or if you think the latter should be addressed then you need, as mentioned above, some argument for mitigating natural inequalities which does not contradict the universality requirement ("all persons") and the Equal Agency postulate. (I agree, BTW, that one ought to aid others when one can do so without violating those constraints).

My "system" imposes no limitations on anyone's freedom, other than the constraint not to violate others' rights. No one's natural or circumstantial limitations are created or aggravated by persons adhering to my "system." They would suffer the same limitations if those others did not exist.
Individual freedom isn't the only criterion for achieving the stated moral goal of maximising welfare, and a more sophisticated and balanced view is more likely to achieve the goal.
Individual freedom is not a criterion of achieving the goal, but a necessary condition for achieving it. As I mentioned, to the extent a person is not free, means and opportunities to improve his welfare otherwise available to him are denied to him, not by fate or Mother Nature, but by other moral agents. Thus he cannot maximize his welfare. Hence to advocate limits on freedom is to thwart the goal at the outset.
Even within the terms you set, your model would result in increasing power imbalances, in practice restricting the freedom of many to pursue their goals. Calling tax-paying billionaires the 'slaves' of the destitute doesn't change that.
You'll have to elaborate on what constitutes a "power imbalance" and explain how, say, Bill Gates' or the Koch brothers' billions restrict others' freedom.

GE Morton
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 14th, 2018, 1:41 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 12th, 2018, 1:41 pm

Either you are merely describing a free society, in which case you are making no claims about the superiority of a free society over others, or you have already decided that a free society is the kind of society we ought to live in.
It is both a description and a recommendation. But that description of a society says nothing about how anyone ought to live --- other than, trivially, that each person ought to live as he chooses. A free society is one whose members are free. To say that Alfie is free is not to say anything about how he ought to live.
It requires both prescriptions - our obligations, and proscriptions - our constraints.
Setting forth constraints likewise says nothing about how anyone should live, other than, trivially, that he ought to respect those constraints.
If one wants to live then drinking poison to slake your thirst is not good even though you will no longer be thirsty. Murdering, raping, and stealing are not “goods” simply because they may be an end sought by someone.
You're confounding the two meanings of "good." The poison example invokes meaning #1 (something that functions as intended). If the drinker desires to live the poison will not accomplish the goal sought, hence it is not a good, in that sense. If the drinker intends suicide, on the other hand, it is a good in that sense, and also in sense #2 (something desired). With the murdering/raping example you're confusing the adjective "good" with the noun "good." A good (noun) is an end of action; the thing sought by acting. Murdering/raping are not ends, but actions. They are good in sense #1 if they accomplish the ends sought. "Good" and "evil" are, of course, also used to mean (morally) right or wrong. Murdering may be good in both sense #1 and #2 (it accomplishes a desired objective and is desired by the actor), but not good in the sense of morally right.
You have forgotten: 3) X is beneficial, for example, something that promotes health and happiness and virtue (power and excellence).
Those are goods only if the actor desires them, and because he desires them.
An oligarchy is rule by a privileged few. It is a form of government.
What I said was “an encroaching oligarchy”. The danger is that it become the de facto government.
Well, I see no danger of that. Can you outline a plausible mechanism by which that might transpire?
The "oligarchy" I suspect you have in mind does not rule anybody.
I suspect you have no idea what I have in mind.
I assumed you meant the usual "progressive" rogue's gallery, i.e., "the rich," corporate CEOs, bankers, stock brokers, persons affiliated with Heritage or Cato, etc. If that is inaccurate, please correct me.
What I said, however, is “teaching people to search out the facts and think clearly and critically”. It is evident that our educational system has not achieved this for large parts of the population. It should also be obvious that putting an incompetent plutocrat is charge of the department of education will not improve the situation, but will bring us closer to an oligarchic government.
Well, I think you need to address why that failure occurred, which has been occurring since long before any "plutocrat" was in charge of the Dept. of Education. Indeed, the role of that department, while contributing to the failure, has been minor. But this is another topic which should have a thread of its own.

Is that a problem for a free society? Shouldn’t people be allowed to believe whatever they want without regard to facts if they so wish? If you answer that it is a problem then you have helped make my case.
Of course people should allowed to believe what they want. That doesn't mean schools should peddle nonsense (or politically correct dogmas) because some people prefer it to facts.
This is a bit naive. There is a great deal of information that is readily available but it requires the ability to distinguish facts from “fake news” . . .
That has always been required, for all information sources.
The overturning of “net-neutrality” means that what you have access to is not free from corporate and government control (with the lines between them becoming increasingly blurry under a president who packs his cabinets with corporate plutocrats intent on dismantling the agencies they oversee). Facebook and Cambridge Analytica should also keep anyone from being too sanguine about what the internet means for the free flow of information.
The very structure of the Internet precludes its being controlled by anybody other than government, which would require the massive effort China has mounted. Privacy issues are another matter, of course.
Er, no. Sorry, but you do not get to control the use of terms. My critique of the OP is that it is predicated on certain unexamined assumptions that should be examined if we are to discuss the role of government in a free society. My critique is that it is based on an impoverished notion of political life.
Well, if you don't use terms as they are used in the OP then you are not critiquing the OP. But please spell out what assumptions you think need to be examined. What richer notion of political life would undercut my argument? Which of the premises would it refute?

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 14th, 2018, 4:44 pm

GE Morton:
But that description of a society says nothing about how anyone ought to live --- other than, trivially, that each person ought to live as he chooses.
You must have a very different concept of the phrase ‘ought to live’ than I do. Live in a society that does not allow you freedom to live as you choose and then see if you still think it is trivial. It is not so trivial that many people live and die by the motto: Live Free or Die.
A free society is one whose members are free. To say that Alfie is free is not to say anything about how he ought to live.
A free society is one in which it has been determined that its members ought to be free, that Alfie ought to be free to live as he sees fit.
You're confounding the two meanings of "good."
You misunderstood what Aristotle meant and then claim I am confounding two meaning of “good”. He did not mean that:
And "the good" is "that at which all things aim." I.e., whatever end is sought in an action is a "good."
I gave some examples of why that is not the case. It is you who confounded the two meanings.
Well, I see no danger of that. Can you outline a plausible mechanism by which that might transpire?
I have given you several examples of how it is happening.
I assumed you meant the usual "progressive" rogue's gallery, i.e., "the rich," corporate CEOs, bankers, stock brokers, persons affiliated with Heritage or Cato, etc. If that is inaccurate, please correct me.
The most effective way in which to correct you would be to keep you from making assumptions and instead attend to what I have actually said.
Well, I think you need to address why that failure occurred, which has been occurring since long before any "plutocrat" was in charge of the Dept. of Education.
I do not need to address a problem that you brought up but did not address:
And many would argue that public education is itself "brainwashing."
If you read what I said instead of looking for points you think you have a chance of arguing against you would see that I said that putting an incompetent plutocrat is charge of the department of education will not improve the situation. Not improving a situation does not mean being at fault for causing the situation.
Of course people should allowed to believe what they want. That doesn't mean schools should peddle nonsense (or politically correct dogmas) because some people prefer it to facts.
“Politically correct dogmas” cuts both ways. The Texas state board of education has an enormous influence on the content of textbooks not only in Texas but across the country. What students learn about science (particularly evolution) and history has more to do with the religious and political convictions of the board than with facts.

You have avoided the issue. Why shouldn’t schools peddle nonsense if that is what parents want? Why not let them choose what they want their children to learn? Why should students be forced to go to school at all? Even home schooling is an imposition on freedom.
That has always been required, for all information sources.
It is required if one is to be properly informed, but a significant percentage of the population believes the information that is being targeted specifically to them via social media. More information does not mean better information. It is one thing to say that we have a responsibility to distinguish between reliable information and disinformation, it is quite another to recognize that a significant percentage of the population does not do this and it affects us all.
The very structure of the Internet precludes its being controlled by anybody other than government, which would require the massive effort China has mounted.
How does the structure of the internet preclude control of content by anyone other than the government? The information we receive via the internet is through an internet provider and directed largely through search engines. The increasingly blurred lines between corporations and government exacerbates rather than relieves potential problems.
What richer notion of political life would undercut my argument? Which of the premises would it refute?
You can start with what I have already said.

GE Morton
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 14th, 2018, 7:09 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 14th, 2018, 4:44 pm
GE Morton:
But that description of a society says nothing about how anyone ought to live --- other than, trivially, that each person ought to live as he chooses.
You must have a very different concept of the phrase ‘ought to live’ than I do. Live in a society that does not allow you freedom to live as you choose and then see if you still think it is trivial. It is not so trivial that many people live and die by the motto: Live Free or Die.
Oh, please. I doubt that anyone else would have read the quoted statement that way. What is trivial is drawing the conclusion, "one ought to live as he chooses" from the description I gave of a free society. It is that deduction that is trivial, not the substance of the claim. It was a statement about a statement, not a statement about the world. E.g., saying "the sun shines" is trivial. THAT the sun shines is not trivial.

You might try reading it again: "But that description of a society says nothing about how anyone ought to live --- other than, trivially, that each person ought to live as he chooses."

(more later)

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 14th, 2018, 8:05 pm

GE Morton:
Oh, please. I doubt that anyone else would have read the quoted statement that way. What is trivial is drawing the conclusion, "one ought to live as he chooses" from the description I gave of a free society.
You seem to have lost track of the argument. I said:
Either you are merely describing a free society, in which case you are making no claims about the superiority of a free society over others, or you have already decided that a free society is the kind of society we ought to live in.
You are doing your best to avoid what is at issue. You are not just describing a free society, you are, as you said, making a recommendation.You either presuppose or have concluded that a free society is the kind of society we ought to live in. Everything else follows from your answer to the question of how we ought to live, that is, free.

GE Morton
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 14th, 2018, 11:02 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 14th, 2018, 8:05 pm

You are doing your best to avoid what is at issue. You are not just describing a free society, you are, as you said, making a recommendation.You either presuppose or have concluded that a free society is the kind of society we ought to live in.
Er, yes, of course. But (correctly) describing a society as "free" says nothing about how anyone in that society lives, or should live. That Alfie is free tells him nothing about how he should live, and tells us nothing about how he actually lives. Being free is a necessary condition for choosing a desired lifestyle; it is not a feature or component of anyone's lifestyle.
Everything else follows from your answer to the question of how we ought to live, that is, free.
Nothing about anyone's lifestyle follows from the fact that they are free; nor do any moral imperatives --- no "oughts."

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 15th, 2018, 11:02 am

GE Morton:
Er, yes, of course.
Of course? As if this fundamental question of political philosophy need not even be asked!
That Alfie is free tells him nothing about how he should live …
Alfie is free because he lives in a society that has determined that living free is the way people ought to live.

It is as if you went to the doctor and she said you should take better care of yourself but you ignored her advice because she did not say what you should do. Specifics regarding what you should do in order to take better care of yourself do not even arise unless you acknowledge that you should take better care of yourself.
Nothing about anyone's lifestyle follows from the fact that they are free …
If they were not free their “lifestyle” would not include many of the things it does include only because they are free.
… nor do any moral imperatives --- no "oughts."
A moral imperative is an ought, but not all oughts are moral imperatives.

You seem unable to recognize this as a fundamental question of political philosophy, so I will leave it there.

GE Morton
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 15th, 2018, 12:12 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 15th, 2018, 11:02 am
GE Morton:
Er, yes, of course.
Of course? As if this fundamental question of political philosophy need not even be asked!
"Of course" to, "You are not just describing a free society, you are, as you said, making a recommendation.You either presuppose or have concluded that a free society is the kind of society we ought to live in."

Yes, that is what I'm doing. But as I said, that we live or ought to live in a free society says nothing about how any person ought to live, other than we ought not interfere with others' freedom.
That Alfie is free tells him nothing about how he should live …
Alfie is free because he lives in a society that has determined that living free is the way people ought to live.
Er, no. Alfie is free because he was born free; that is the natural condition of all humans. Humans can interfere with other humans' freedom, but they don't create it and can't increase it. Keep in mind here that the type of freedom at issue, and the type typically contemplated with the term "free society," is political freedom, i.e., freedom from restraints imposed by moral agents, particularly government; not freedom from the laws of Nature or the workings of fate.
If they were not free their “lifestyle” would not include many of the things it does include only because they are free.
Yes, that's true. But that doesn't contradict my statement that nothing can be concluded about their lifestyles from the fact that they are free.
You seem unable to recognize this as a fundamental question of political philosophy, so I will leave it there.
"This" referring to what question?

You began this tangent by arguing that the fundamental question of political philosophy is, "How ought we to live?" I disagreed, saying that was a question for ethics generally, not political philosophy, though not a very good one. You then argued that because I assume and favor a free society, I am myself giving an answer to how that question.

Well, OK. If all you had in mind with "How people ought to live" was that they should be free, then I'll go along with question.

Now, perhaps you can address the actual argument of the OP.

GE Morton
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 15th, 2018, 12:56 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 14th, 2018, 4:44 pm

A free society is one in which it has been determined that its members ought to be free, that Alfie ought to be free to live as he sees fit.
Is this supposed to contradict my statement? Yes; a free society is one whose members do not restrict one another's freedom, except to prevent impending or rectify previous violations.
You misunderstood what Aristotle meant and then claim I am confounding two meaning of “good”. He did not mean that:
And "the good" is "that at which all things aim." I.e., whatever end is sought in an action is a "good."
I gave some examples of why that is not the case. It is you who confounded the two meanings.
Yes, that is what he meant at the beginning of his discussion. But he later argues that goods can be ranked, with the highest good being "the good for man." But they can't be ranked, not across agents. What is considered a "good," or has value (in the second sense) is subjective and relative to agents. Goods can be ranked only within the value hierarchy of a given agent. There is no "good for man;" there are only goods for Alfie, goods for Bruno, etc.
I assumed you meant the usual "progressive" rogue's gallery, i.e., "the rich," corporate CEOs, bankers, stock brokers, persons affiliated with Heritage or Cato, etc. If that is inaccurate, please correct me.
The most effective way in which to correct you would be to keep you from making assumptions and instead attend to what I have actually said.
Well, perhaps I missed it. Can you spell out of whom this "encroaching oligarchy" consists, if not the devils I mentioned?
“Politically correct dogmas” cuts both ways. The Texas state board of education has an enormous influence on the content of textbooks not only in Texas but across the country. What students learn about science (particularly evolution) and history has more to do with the religious and political convictions of the board than with facts.
I agree with you, in essence. The solution is to separate school from state, so that politicians have no role to play in it. Instead parents choose a school for their kids from among a plethora of private institutions with different educational philosophies, different curricula, different emphases, based on their own preferences and judgments and their kid's interests and capacities. The State has no business being in the education business in the first place.
Why shouldn’t schools peddle nonsense if that is what parents want?
They should, if the school is private and the parents are paying the bills.
Why not let them choose what they want their children to learn?
That is precisely what we should do.
Why should students be forced to go to school at all? Even home schooling is an imposition on freedom.
They shouldn't.
What richer notion of political life would undercut my argument? Which of the premises would it refute?
You can start with what I have already said.
That is not an answer to the question. Which premises would it refute?

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 15th, 2018, 4:54 pm

GE Morton:
Er, no. Alfie is free because he was born free; that is the natural condition of all humans.
Er, no. No one is born free. We are all born dependent upon and subject to the will of others. The natural condition of all humans is in society, each of which allows its members varying degrees of freedom.

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?

GE Morton
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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by GE Morton » April 15th, 2018, 9:36 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
April 15th, 2018, 4:54 pm

Er, no. No one is born free. We are all born dependent upon and subject to the will of others.
Yes. Infants are born dependent and children are subject to the will of their parents and other adults. I'm sure Hobbes would concede that.
The natural condition of all humans is in society, each of which allows its members varying degrees of freedom.
Humans are naturally social animals, but there is nothing natural about any constraints some of them choose to impose upon others. Indeed, most of those constraints are imposed to further the imposer's interests, or are simply arbitrary and irrational. "Society," BTW, is not a moral agent and does not impose any constraints. If constraints are imposed they are imposed by specific persons within the society.
What evidence do you have to support the claim that freedom is the natural condition of all humans?
Normally the adjective "natural" is meant to contrast with "man-made." "Natural" constraints are those imposed by Nature, i.e., by the laws of physics, biology, etc. Constraints imposed by other humans are not "natural;" they are artificial, volatile, and largely arbitrary. Humans are not "naturally" subject to any particular human-imposed constraints --- but because every society includes persons determined to impose their wills on others, and most of us live in a social setting, most of us are, unfortunately, subject to some. Which of those are rational and morally justifiable is the subject matter of political philosophy.

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Re: A Moral Argument for Minarchy

Post by Fooloso4 » April 16th, 2018, 10:03 am

GE Morton:
Yes. Infants are born dependent and children are subject to the will of their parents and other adults. I'm sure Hobbes would concede that.
Hobbes is not here to concede anything. The question is how do you defend the claim that we are born free if we are born dependent?
Humans are naturally social animals, but there is nothing natural about any constraints some of them choose to impose upon others.
There can be no society without constraints. If society is natural then constraints are natural. If society is not natural then any appeal to what is natural would be relevant to the structure, organization, and management of something unnatural.
Indeed, most of those constraints are imposed to further the imposer's interests, or are simply arbitrary and irrational.
Even if that were the case it does not mean they are unnatural unless you are claiming that nature is a rational order.
Normally the adjective "natural" is meant to contrast with "man-made."
The problem is that nothing man makes would be natural. Building shelter would not be natural. Would a bird’s nest be unnatural? A beaver’s dam?
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.

Is nature rational? Is nature moral?

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