Comments on: Some Principles Free Markets and Social Justice Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:02:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: Libertarians and War: A Bibliographical Essay — The Libertarian Standard Thu, 21 Mar 2013 02:49:34 +0000 […] Matt Zwoliski in “Libertarianism, Self-Defense, and Innocent Shields” and Chartier in “Some Principles,” attempted to bring the issue back to basic fundamentals to guide debate. My own article, […]

By: Danny Frederick Thu, 29 Nov 2012 08:36:00 +0000 You actually show how the group choice is reducible to individual choices. But I suppose it depends what we mean by ‘reducible.’ The group choice is reducible in the sense that it can be explained or analysed in terms of individual choices. But it is not reducible in the sense that, if a group chooses ‘p & q’ then there are some individuals who choose ‘p & q.’

Still, I think your point against Gary is a good one. Where there is a collective decision, a group is responsible. But the individuals in the group are also responsible – at least, in so far as they do not withdraw from the group because of the decision. However, in Gary’s defence I suggest that he was not thinking of genuine collective decision-making but of cases in which people are blamed for decisions in which they took no part, just because they belong to the same group as the people who did take part in the decisions.

By: Nicholas Geiser Wed, 28 Nov 2012 18:36:00 +0000 Dear Professor,

You write in #2 that:

“Ascribing collective guilt is never acceptable… [because] unjust acts are committed by particular people who are themselves responsible for their own actions. Groups don’t make choices or shoulder blame, so it’s unacceptable to denounce some people because of the misdeeds of others.”

One of your premises here is that groups don’t make choices. I know this is a common argument among libertarians, but a simple thought experiment seems to show that it isn’t true. Suppose we have a group of three people, A, B, and C. The group is choosing (by a majority-vote decision rule) whether to support policy “p” and “q”. A and B support “p”, and A and C support “q.” But now the group supports “p and q”, even though only B, the individual member, supports “p and q.” It seems that the group choice is irreducible to the choices of the individuals within the group, which would show that groups can make choices in the proper sense of the term. It is very possible that I am misunderstanding something here, but this seems to refute your premise.

By: Eckhart Wed, 28 Nov 2012 17:43:00 +0000 Like others in the comments, I take issue with #3. But for me it isn’t so much as bigotry or prejudice per se, but the devaluation of “the other.” Although it bleeds over into race and nationality, it is the most human of instincts to try to protect the group we identify with against the other group. We see it in everything from sports (seriously, Raiders fans are jerks . . .) to politics (If the other party wins it will be a disaster), etc. And that feeling absolutely subverts rationality and comprehensive goals.

In the issue at hand, I agree that it doesn’t help to call one side or the other bigots or prejudiced. But to say that they are pursuing comprehensible goals without irrationality is a step way too far.

By: Un enfoque libertario sobre la violencia « Disenso Wed, 28 Nov 2012 12:13:18 +0000 […] principios Gary Chartier Publicado originalmente en: Some Principles | Bleeding Heart Libertarians, […]

By: MARK_D_FRIEDMAN Wed, 28 Nov 2012 06:19:00 +0000 I’m with you, my man. The point that Steve Horwitz made a few posts ago about distinguishing between “anti-state” and “pro-liberty” is key. Given a choice between living in a liberal democracy (which is anathema to all libertarians) and disordered anarchy (where various tribes simply try to kill each other and take each other’s stuff), I will take the former, big ugly warts and all. And, contra Rothbard, not all states are equally bad. I also agree that the role of philosophers is to get beyond the knee-jerk “black/white,” argument by definition style of reasoning–to see the complexities that make the hard cases, well…hard.

By: Sean II Wed, 28 Nov 2012 05:54:00 +0000 Indeed I think it must go into the calculation. We’re supposed to be pro liberty here, not pro-democracy, and certainly not pro-Wilsonian ethnic self-determination.

What the Palestinian people need is a nice hot bath of reason and a clean, fresh set of individual rights. A shiny new coercive apparatus with which to make tyranny and war is the very last thing they need. I don’t want them to succeed in gaining a state because I know it would be a humanitarian disaster, and I wouldn’t wish that fate upon them.

I’m embarrassed I didn’t get around to emphasizing this point sooner, and I’m sorry to see this whole discussion seems to be dying out now.

Anthony really roused the ranks with a lot of classic libertarian rhetoric, saying “Zionsim is statism, murder is murder – don’t talk to me about context, don’t talk to me about counter-factuals, don’t speak to me of messy, real-world moral compromises and hard choices between competing wrongs.”

I used to be that kind of libertarian myself. If my niece asked me to tell her about history I would have said something like “Well, 12,000 years ago there was the neolithic revolution. Since then everybody has pretty much been a slave expect maybe not for a few years in Saga Iceland, plus a few more in the American West. Also, the difference between Churchill, Hitler, and Stalin is purely one of style and degree.”

Technically true and perfectly idiotic. Deductively sound, and utterly useless. These are things the grown-up libertarian must take care to avoid.

By: MARK_D_FRIEDMAN Tue, 27 Nov 2012 17:38:00 +0000 I think this is a useful thought exdperiment. I think the broader, philosophical point that it illustrates is that rights are not absolute, including the rights of innocent civilians [see my earlier comment on how defining “innocence” is not so simple]. I, and I think most libertarians, subscribe to the so-called deontological constraint: it is wrong to kill an innocent person even to save five other equally innocent ones. But few would say: it is wrong to kill one to save 5 billion. Somewhere we drawn the line [I don’t claim to know exactly where].

The same idea shows up with respect to property rights. Imagine an affluent society where great wealth has been accumulated in a morally pristine way, i.e. no force or fraud and no illicit state assistance. Sadly, the only way to save certain innocent members of this society (those born with severe developmental disabilities, for example) from starvation is to tax each wealthy person $1 and then redistribute it to the truly needy.

So, too, I think in war. If the difference between life in nation A (fighting a purely defensive war) if it prevails, and life under nation B (the aggressor) if it prevails is horrendous (e.g. death camps), the deontological constraint is relaxed. Now, if nation A winning the war also dramatically improves life in nation B for its citizens (in the long run), that also goes into the calculation.

By: Sean II Tue, 27 Nov 2012 14:02:00 +0000 In thinking about this further, I’m now more concerned with one thing that was not on list, than I am with anything on it. I think (or hope) that most libertarians would agree with the following:

6. Whatever procedural limits one sets to control it, force used in collective self-defense can ultimately be judged ONLY in relation to the society it is intended to protect or establish.

One way to apply the concept in our present case is this: imagine we find out somehow that tomorrow morning, one side in the Israel-Palestine dispute will step forward and unilaterally surrender. We don’t know yet which side it will be. If Israel capitulates, there will be a Palestinian state from Gaza to the Golan. If the Palestinians call it quits, Israel will dispense with Hamas, Fatah, & the PA in favor of directly rule over the whole lot. For the time being we have only our imagination to use, in working out how things may develop in one case or the other.

First let’s say it’s the Palestinians who surrender. What would the new state of greater Israel look like?

Well, most everything we libertarians hate about Israel is a direct result of its behavior in the conflict. Take that conflict away, and Israel becomes one more European style welfare state with a mixed-economy, except in this case it would include something Europe hasn’t seen in a while: a large, disenfranchised ethnic minority. To be fair, let’s assume nothing immediately changes in this respect, and that Palestinians in the new state continue to suffer discrimination, racial profiling, and even isolated pogroms from non-state actors in Israeli society. But let’s also assume they ONLY use non-violent methods to fight back.

Given peace, and time, I believe – indeed I am convinced – that the liberalism (both latent and blatant) in Israeli society would quickly go to work clearing the blemishes, and mending the scars. I believe Israel would pass through a kind of civil rights era, not unlike that which changed the Unites State 50 years ago. I expect it would become fashionable among young people to have Palestinian friends, Palestinian cultural tastes, etc. I doubt it would take longer than a generation, if that, before we were talking about the success of the “Israeli model”, and before Jason Brennan was writing some paper about how the Palestinian case proves that voting rights are not the foundation of liberty.

Now let’s consider what would happen if Israel surrenders instead.

Our very best case scenario is that the new Palestinian state would come to resemble Jordan. That’s still a major step down in liberalism, but I will admit, not a complete disaster. But how likely is that? How many people here think we would end up getting best case scenario under Palestinian rule?

Out worst case lies somewhere between revolutionary Iran and Afghanistan circa 1999. But however you imagine things on day one in Greater Palestine, it almost doesn’t matter, because the most probable feature of that society will be its tendency to stagnation. Day one will look a lot like day 1001, because there is no source of liberal values to drive progress. The resulting society would be traditional, highly religious, misogynistic, and if it’s like most other Arab states, it would somehow manage to combine instability with a lack of dynamism. It’s only too easy to imagine a dictatorship or a junta or a clerical council taking over in a matter of months. Indeed, it’s quite likely that Palestinians would end up with the same lack of voting rights under their own rule, as they would have as mere denizens of the Israeli state!

Simply put: I believe the first scenario is clearly and obviously better for BOTH Israelis and Palestinians, and the second scenario is good for no one. These beliefs and expectations are a huge part of what has driven me to argue so intensely this past week, and they stand at the heart of my disagreement with Anthony Gregory and others. I believe he and his many supporters are simply ignoring an obvious and crucial qualitative difference between the two societies involved in this conflict, even as they strangely insist on applying ideal-world libertarian morality to the everyday details of the conflict. I believe they are so caught up in the presently-existing power disparity between Israel and Palestine, that they’ve forgotten to think about what would happen if the Palestinians got even a small fraction of the power they crave.

They’ve taken the big picture of libertarianism and hung it where it doesn’t belong…inside the door of one of history’s filthiest outhouses.

By: MARK_D_FRIEDMAN Tue, 27 Nov 2012 00:17:00 +0000 I think you are mixing up guilt for purposes of punishment, and moral responsibility. You can have the latter without qualifying for the former. A civilian worker who makes bombs used in a naked war of aggression, has some responsibility, even if much less than the leaders, but they are not completely innocent unless they have absolutely no choice.

I totally subscribe to the idea that we can’t kill one innocent person to save 5, 50, 500, 5000, 50,000… other innocents [I do think the line gets drawn somewhere]. But this is not necessarily the right moral impulse when the person to be sacrificed in not completely innocent and is a cog in a massive killing machine.