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Post 40

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 - 9:37pmSanction this postReply
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Roderick Long also writes:

There seems to be a double standard here. When Objectivists are asked what will prevent a minarchic government from violating rights, they appeal to checks and balances, separation of powers, etc. -- in other words, to incentive structures. But when anarchists likewise appeal to incentive structures to explain what will prevent private security agencies from violating rights, what was supposed to be a good response when the minarchist said it suddenly becomes "no response" because an anarchist has said it. What's up with that?


"What's up" is that Long equates "market incentives" (i. e., money) with "checks and balances, separations of powers, etc." -- i. e., laws, which are enforced.

I submit that there's a big difference between the two "incentive structures" of cash versus FORCE.

The reason cash incentives (rather than force of law) won't "prevent private security agencies from violating rights" is because in the marketplace, the use of force will simply be guided by the highest bidder.

Is that a good idea?

Folks, take a long hard look at the people around you.

THAT'S "the marketplace" that, under anarchism, would be paying for the use of force -- completely unconstrained by any legally enforcable checks and balances, or separations of powers.

Reassured?

Well then, would the security agencies restrain themselves...thus alienating potential customers?

Or would they follow the profit-maximizing adage: "The customer is always right"?

Under such an "incentive structure," what kind of "security agency" would win -- and what kind would lose?



Post 41

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 - 10:05pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Bidinotto,

Your arguments against anarchism are persuasive, I've wrestled with these ideas for some time and cannot come to a complete understanding. You say:

" The reason cash incentives (rather than force of law) won't "prevent private security agencies from violating rights" is because in the marketplace, the use of force will simply be guided by the highest bidder.

Is that a good idea?

Folks, take a long hard look at the people around you.

THAT'S "the marketplace" that, under anarchism, would be paying for the use of force -- completely unconstrained by any legally enforcable checks and balances, or separations of powers. "

"Those people" are also the very same people that are voting for and enforcing as government employees all of the intrusive laws we are being subjected to today. There is no checks and balances against redistribution of wealth or providing parasitical "jobs" for every would be bureaucrat that wants one. All branches of our government feed from the same trough. Every government agency is another revenue collection agency. People engage in "group think", they see other groups as potential sources of wealth to be plundered. Our present government is broken. Somehow our constitution has not protected us from where we have sunk too. Where is the Objectivist Constitution to compare "no government" to?



Post 42

Wednesday, February 2, 2005 - 10:34pmSanction this postReply
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Mike,

These are the same issues I've wrestled with when trying to understand the anarcho-capitalist perspective.  It is overly optimistic (in a head-in-the-clouds kind of way), and seems to point to an imaginary "marketplace" where all its members are benevolent, rational participants.

We do not live in Galt's Gulch.  Under anarcho-capitalism, the gang with the most dollars rules the roost.  Not that such a scenario differs much from what is happening now, but at least we have legal checks and balances in place to remedy the worst offenders.

I cannot envision a society wherein the police and judges are bought and paid for.  Legally, anyway.




Post 43

Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 6:59amSanction this postReply
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Linz - Just wanted to say I love that term "Anarcho-Saddamite" - perfect! 



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Post 44

Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 7:14amSanction this postReply
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Mike,

It's true that the same people who would be the customers of private market-based "security" gangs are today's voters. Anarchists point to this fact and say, "So what's better about a democratically elected government? You criticize market-based security firms for being the paid agents of customers who may wish to violate somebody else's rights. But aren't governments subject to the same pressures for rights violations from the same clients, in their capacity as voters?"

Sure they are. But there's one big difference.

Unlike a profit-driven "security agency," a constitutionally limited government is hamstrung by a host of institutional and procedural barriers -- those checks and balances, separations and divisions of powers, etc., that act as brakes on runaway "democratic" impulses and the arbitrary exercise of power. And these institutional restraints are legally enforced. Changing or circumventing them is usually a big deal, often requiring new legislation, which must pass the hurdles of an often "gridlocked" political process: legislative battles and compromises, executive approval and judicial reviews. Not easy. Partisan fights occur constantly, with each faction serving as watchdogs, and creating obstacles for the others' exercise of power. But their fights occur civilly, around conference tables and in speeches on the floor of the legislature and at polling places. In a constitutionally limited government, the partisans don't arm themselves and then confront each other in the streets in order to decide who will have the final say, and whose customers are to dominate.

That's why the evils committed by constitutionally limited Western-style democracies are less frequent, flagrant, violent or extreme than those committed by regimes that are legally unconstrained, or by "private" gangs in places where legal enforcement has broken down (e. g., post-war Iraq). Iraq is an excellent example of anarchism in action: armed private gangs, each pledging and competing to serve the power interests of some constituency, and using unlimited force and violence against the others in order to succeed.

Nature abhors a vacuum; so does power. People need to observe rules in order to live together peacefully, and those who don't need to be compelled to do so. In the absence of a system of enforced rules, some people will always rush in to impose their own rules on everyone else. The only question is: Are those rules going to be set down and enforced by a civilized, peaceful procedure (as in the recent Iraqi elections), or is the rule-making to be left to "competition" among hired guns and mercenaries?

The utopian fantasies of anarchists require that people be very much better than they actually are. But read Madison and the other Founders, and you'll see that they were far more realistic about the power ambitions of their fellow men, and crafted governing institutions accordingly. Knowing that rule-enforcement power always would be exercised by somebody, their aim was to limit the exercise of that power -- not to toss it on the auction block to go to the highest bidder, as the anarchists prefer.

Given that anarchists can't even agree with each other on what constitutes "violations of rights," let's hope for the sake of all we value that they never get their wish.



Post 45

Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 9:55amSanction this postReply
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Game, set, match, Bidinotto.



Post 46

Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 10:41amSanction this postReply
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With regard to logic, Robert Bidinotto's quarrel is not with "contemporary philosophic convention" but with Aristotle. To suggest that a true conclusion cannot follow from false premises is to throw Aristotle's entire achievement in logic into the trash heap and to return to the pre-Aristotelean confusions of the Sophists that Aristotle worked so hard to untangle. I cannot continue any sort of philosophical conversation on that basis.



Post 47

Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 12:02pmSanction this postReply
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Regarding Long's post, immediately preceding, please note that it was the anarchist -- and not the dogmatic, insular, denunciatory, circle-the-wagons, elitist Objectivist -- who chose to cut off debate. (Yeah, I should of, but I didn't.)





Post 48

Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 1:21pmSanction this postReply
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Clarificatory note a tergo: I haven't denounced Objectivists as "dogmatic, insular, denunciatory, circle-the-wagons, elitist" (I wouldn't use "elitist" as a pejorative term anyway), and my decision to exit has nothing to do with anarchism/minarchism or with Robert Bidinotto personally; I just don't see how it's possible to continue a fruitful philosophical discussion once the basic principles of logic have been rejected.



Post 49

Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 1:47pmSanction this postReply
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Roderick, how does logic come to the conclusion that:

1. All frogs are birds.
2. All birds are amphibians

If you know 1.  Is false and 2.  is false, then how can you conclude that 3. is true based on 1. and 2. ?  You cannot.  That is not logic.

Just because 3.  happens to be true, does not mean that 1. and 2. were your logical basis for determining that 3. is true - that was actually based on different logic or methodology.  Therefore, this entire edifice is from the start invalid.

And on a rejection of this so-called "logic" you state you cannot argue with a person?  That is very funny.




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Post 50

Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 1:54pmSanction this postReply
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Roderick is actually right--in logic a true conclusion can follow from false premises. But there are other reasons why such a conclusion must be rejected. And those reasons are quite overwhelming. Among them is the fact that knowledge in the exact sense presupposes a valid process of gaining it. That valid process is not logic alone, but reason--the application of logic to experience. (See Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.)

Other reasons include the fact that those false premises themselves will independently combine with other false ones and even true ones to create a worthless tangle of falsehood that undermines any value the accidentally true conclusions and premises might have. This is in fact occurring with the "anarcho-capitalists."

The above is what I think my fellow Objectivists are driving at in answering Roderick, but they are compressing it too much.

(Edited by Rodney Rawlings on 2/03, 2:20pm)




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Post 51

Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 6:03pmSanction this postReply
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Rodney,

I admit to being puzzled. Based on Rand's definition of logic as "the art of non-contradictory identification," I must ask: What is "identification" apart from recognition of facts of reality? If the premises of a logical syllogism may include the false, the unintelligible, and the unreal, what exactly is that syllogism "identifying"?

If I were to accept your point (purely for the sake of argument), then are you saying that the more appropriate criticism of Long is not that his contention is "illogical," but "irrational" (contrary to reason)?

In either case, my overarching point--obvious, I thought--was that the philosophic grounds for accepting libertarianism (or anarchism, or any theory) must be rational--grounded in reality--and not simply "logical" in some strictly abstract, formal sense apart from factual experience. By that standard, Long's contention that libertarianism or anarchism can be validly derived from any old theory or premises at all, even false ones, remains irrational.

If he finds it impossible to debate someone who bridles at the "logic" of accepting conclusions based on false premises, then he should know I find it impossible to debate someone who divorces logic from reason, and both from reality.



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Post 52

Friday, February 4, 2005 - 8:40amSanction this postReply
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In either case, my overarching point ... was that the philosophic grounds for accepting libertarianism (or anarchism, or any theory) must be rational--grounded in reality--and not simply “logical” in some strictly abstract, formal sense apart from factual experience. 

And that is exactly what I am agreeing with. Remember Ayn Rand’s dictum “Check your premises”? She means that something can follow logically apart from the truth or falsity of the premises. That is, your supposed identification may be incorrect. Correct identification is obviously the first task before applying logic. I am definitely not agreeing with Roderick on that--I am agreeing with you, Robert.

A selected few of the libertarians’ false premises, when put together and interpreted a certain way, may end up with an opposition to price controls. But “philosophy is the wholesaler in human affairs.” The destructive effects of false premises in the field of philosophy are far worse--frankly, I’d rather have the price controls. And that is why Objectivists should not make common cause with anti-Objectivist libertarians.







Post 53

Friday, February 4, 2005 - 9:23amSanction this postReply
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Hear, hear. Our only quibble is over the interpretation of Rand's dictum, "Check your premises." To me, it means that premises lacking a factual basis in reality can't "identify" anything, and therefore cannot serve as building blocks in any chain of logic ("non-contradictory identification").

But whether that interpretation or yours is correct, we both agree that we shouldn't pretend that we can make an alliance with those who repudiate OUR premises.




Post 54

Friday, February 4, 2005 - 9:37amSanction this postReply
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Yes, I was speaking loosely re “Check your premises”--I might better have said “The implication of her statement is that something can follow logically apart from the truth or falsity of the premises.” What you say is absolutely right: “premises lacking a factual basis in reality can’t ‘identify anything, and therefore cannot serve as building blocks in any chain of logic.

 

Rand always wanted to emphasize the cognitive role of logic. Hence her wording.




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Post 55

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 - 5:37pmSanction this postReply
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A 'Rockwellian' criticism of O'ists is their lunatic fascination with a is a and what constitutes proper logic. The above is a great example. Yet when faced with the simple logic of Anthony Gregory and some others above you guys are completely lost. I see no evidence that many O'ists can follow even a simple argument. For example, Anthony said that anarchy is an ideal he doubts will ever pass but it does enable him to construct the correct world view. This is simply correct. Murder will always be with us but we don't have to agree with it.

Anthony, who ever you are. Thank you for shining a small light on this otherwise dark site. You won't earn many atlas points, but since when has truth ever been popular!

Actually we do live in an Anarchy. We only have a crime problem.




Post 56

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 4:35amSanction this postReply
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No 6,

I have gone out of my way to ensure you have enough Atlas Points not to be moderated. I did this for 2 reasons:

Firstly, unlike others at this site, I for one do enjoy your post, people should not be so quick to dismiss the entertainment value of an idiot.

Secondly, I did it out of mercy for the moderators, no one should have to read your post twice; both in the moderator queue and on the threads. There's a limit to a fools entertainment value - even one as expert as yourself.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 2/09, 4:36am)




Post 57

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 5:59amSanction this postReply
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You're a very fair man, George -- but you do have a weird idea of "entertainment."

;^)





Post 58

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 - 4:47pmSanction this postReply
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Why thank you George. You have made my day :-)



Post 59

Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 7:32amSanction this postReply
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I like this article, however, I am not sure it is correct to say that, "Murray Rothbard, who stole his ideas from Ayn Rand,"

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Rothbard to have been quite elderly by the time he met Rand, prior to which he was connected with Von Mises and had been publishing his thoughts on liberty for several decades.



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