Libertarian History/Philosophy

A Libertarian Society Owes Itself More Than Non-Aggression

To treat people as ends, not means, is a libertarian issue.


If I were compelled to summarize the libertarian philosophy's distinguishing feature while standing on one foot, I'd say the following: Every person owes it to all other persons not to aggress them. This is known as the nonaggression principle, or NAP.

What is the nature of this obligation?

The first thing to notice is that it is unchosen. I never agreed not to aggress against others. Others never agreed not to aggress against me. So if I struck you and you objected, you would not accept as my defense, "I never agreed not to strike you."

Even an explicit agreement rests on an unchosen obligation. Let's say you lent me five dollars, I refused to repay the loan, and when you demanded repayment, I said, "Why am I obligated to repay the money?" You would probably reply, "Because you agreed to repay me." If I replied, "True, but when did I agree to abide by my agreements?," what would you say? If you said that failure to repay constituted aggression, and I replied that I never agreed not to aggress against you, we'd be back where we started.

Of course this would point the way to absurdity — an infinite regress of agreements to keep my agreements. We would get nowhere. There has to be a starting point.

If I were to ask, "Why do we owe it to others not to aggress against them," what would you say? I presume some answer rooted in facts would be offered because the alternative would be to say this principle has no basis whatsoever, that it's just a free-floating principle, like an iceberg. That would amount to saying the principle has no binding force. It's just a whim, which might not be shared by others. In other words, if a nonlibertarian demands to know why he is bound by the unchosen NAP, libertarians will have answers. Their answers will differ—some will be more robust than others—but they will have answers. At least I hope so.

Now if we have an unchosen obligation not to aggress against others and that obligation is rooted in certain facts, this raises a new question: Might the facts that impose the unchosen obligation not to aggress also impose other obligations? If one unchosen obligation can be shown to exist, why couldn't the same foundation in which that one is rooted produce others?

To the question "Why do we owe it to others not to aggress against them," I would respond along these lines: because we individually should treat other persons respectfully, that is, as ends in themselves and not merely as means to our own ends. But some libertarians would reject that as too broad because it seems to obligate us to more than just nonaggression. They might answer the question this way: "Because one may use force against another only in defense or retaliation against someone who initiated the use of force." But this can't be sufficient because it amounts to a circular argument: To say that one may use force only in response to aggression is in effect merely to restate the nonaggression principle. One shouldn't aggress because one shouldn't aggress. But the NAP can hardly justify itself.

So we need a real justification for the NAP, and the one I've offered seems like a good start. The NAP is an implication of the obligation to treat persons respectfully, as ends and not merely as means. Of course this also requires justification. Why should we treat other persons respectfully?

Many libertarians, though certainly not all, approach the question of just conduct—specifically, as it relates to the use of force—from egoistic considerations, such as those provided by Ayn Rand. They say we should never aggress against others because doing so would be contrary to our self-interest: the dishonesty required by a life of injustice would be psychologically damaging, and we'd eventually run out of victims.

Socrates and Plato saw a problem with the first part of this answer. If one could act unjustly toward others while appearing to be just, could unjust conduct serve one's self-interest? Egoistic libertarians can be asked the same question. What if you could lead an unjust life with a guarantee of the appearance of justice? Must dishonesty be damaging? The same people who would say yes to that question, however, would also say that a person who spins a complicated web of lies to keep the Nazis from learning he is harboring Jews in his attic won'suffer such damage. If that person can escape harm, why not the unjust liar? Saying that one set of lies is for a good cause doesn't strike me as an adequate answer. How would a good cause save someone from the harm of "faking reality"?

So it seems that a simple self-interest model doesn't take us where we want to go: to the unchosen obligation to respect people's freedom, or more broadly, to treat persons as ends and not merely as means. I would be a little uneasy if a libertarian told me that it is only his self-interest that prevents him from clubbing me on the noggin and making off with my wallet.

And yet, self-interest still might provide an answer. Roderick Long tackles this problem in his extended essay "Reason and Value: Aristotle versus Rand" (PDF). What Long shows, to my satisfaction at least, is that Rand's notion of self-interest as expressed in her nonfiction essays is too flimsy to support the libertarian prohibition on aggression and the general injunction to treat people respectfully. To be more precise, Long shows that Rand's explicit writings on ethics are a tangle of at least three different and inconsistent defenses for the nonaggression principle (one of them Kantian — how's that for irony?).

Before we get to this, however, we must invoke an important distinction that Long emphasizes: instrumental versus constitutive means to an end. An instrumental means is external to the end. A constitutive means is intrinsic to the end; we can't imagine the end without it. Long uses the example of a man dressing up for evening out (where "dressing up" includes a necktie). Shopping for a tie is an instrumental means. Wearing the tie is a constitutive means — it is part of what we mean by "dressing up." One can dress up without shopping for a tie, but one cannot dress up without wearing a tie.

We can look at justice, which includes respect for other persons' rights, in both ways. Does respect for their rights serve our self-interest merely because we would earn good reputations and others will cooperate with us? (This is Thomas Hobbes's position.) Or is respecting their rights also a constituent of living a good human life? The answer is crucial. In the first case, one's self-interest could be served by acting unjustly so long as one could appear to be just. In the second case, one could not flourish by acting unjustly even if one could go undetected. As Socrates suggested, it is preferable to live justly with a reputation for injustice than to live unjustly with a reputation for justice.

Long shows that Rand has both instrumental and constitutive elements in her nonfiction writing on ethics; in some places she says a person's goal should be survival, while in other places she speaks of survival "qua man." It isn't entirely clear whether individuals should aim at the longest possible life regardless of the type of life or at a particular type of life regardless of its length. (Her novels appear to take the latter position — suicide is even contemplated by heroic characters.) If it's the first, then violating someone's rights might occasionally be to one's self-interest. Imagine that at 4 a.m. you pass an alley in a deserted part of town where a man is passed out and a hundred-dollar bill is sticking out of his pocket. The chances of getting caught are zero. Do you take the money? If not, why not? An instrumental model of justice should say to take the money. A constitutive model would not.

It might be said that a rational person acts on rational principles even if in particular cases his or her self-interest is not served. But Long points out that such "rule egoism" ends up being no egoism at all, since the rule is followed regardless of its consequences. This approach is deontological, not teleological, as Rand would want it. So the reply is inadequate.

What are the grounds for accepting the constitutive model of virtue, including justice? Turning to Aristotle, Long writes,

For Aristotle, a human being is essentially a logikon animal and a politikonanimal.…

To be a rational animal is to be a language-using animal, a conversing animal, a discursive animal. And to live a human life is thus to live a life centered around discourse.

Our nature as logikon is thus closely allied with our nature as politikon. To be apolitikon animal is not simply to be an animal that lives in groups or sets up governments; it is to cooperate with others on the basis of discourse about shared ends.…

Being politikon is for Aristotle an expression of being logikon; just as logikonanimals naturally conduct their private affairs through reason rather than through unreflective passion, so they naturally conduct their common affairs through public discourse and rational persuasion, rather than through violence.…

Thus, Long adds, "To violate the rights of others, then, is to lessen one's humanity.… To trample on the rights of others is never in our self-interest, because well-being cannot [quoting Aristotle] 'come about for those who rob and use force.'"

One's goal is to flourish by achieving excellence in those things that make one human — Aristotle says that "the task of man is a certain life, and this an activity and actions of soul withlogos." One cannot flourish if one lives in a nonhuman way. If this sounds like Rand, it's because her fictional characters understand it, even if her nonfiction essays do not express it unambiguously.

Long concludes,

A truly human life, then, will be a life characterized by reason and intelligent cooperation. (Bees may cooperate after a fashion, but not on the basis of discourse about shared ends.) To a logikon animal, reason has value not only as an instrumental means to other goals but as an intrinsic and constitutive part of a fully human life; and the same holds true for cooperation. The logikon animal, insofar as it genuinely expresses logos, will not deal on cooperative terms with others merely because doing so makes others more likely to contribute instrumentally to the agent's good; rather, the agent will see a life of cooperation with others as an essential part of his own good.

Aristotle's book on friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics beautifully elaborates on this point.

If this is right, we owe respect to others' humanity, via respect for their rights, because the activity manifesting that respect is a constituent of our own flourishing as logikon and politikonanimals. We owe it to ourselves to owe it to others. This Aristotelian insight points to an interpersonal moral realm in which the basic interests of others meld in important ways with our own. "To the extent that we are logikon animals," Long writes, "participation in a human community, together with a shared pursuit of the human good, is a constitutive part of a truly human life."

But does this show that we owe anything more than nonaggression? It seems so. We abstain from aggressing against others because, as logikon and politikon animals, we flourish by engaging the humanity of other individuals. Clearly, abstaining from aggression is not the only way to engage their humanity, just as aggression is not the only way to deny their humanity. Thus these Aristotelian considerations entail the obligation to treat others respectfully broadly.

One last question remains: Is this obligation broadly to treat other persons as ends and not merely as means a libertarian matter? It is, at least in this way: The obligation broadly to treat other persons as ends and not merely as means is validated by the same set of facts that validate the nonaggression principle. Nonaggression is simply one application of respect. Thus a libertarian society in which people generally thought that nonaggression was all they owed others would be a society that should fear for its future viability qua libertarian society.

Finally, I'm sure libertarians do not have to be reminded that nonaggressive affronts against persons may be responded to only in nonaggressive ways. Neither governmental nor private force may be deployed to counter peaceful offenses. Why not? Because the rule of proportionality dictates that force may be used only to meet force. In other words, some obligations are enforceable and others are not.

(While thinking about this article, I profited mightily by conversations with Gary Chartier.)

This column originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

NEXT: Remy: Happy (Tax Day Edition)

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  1. Every person owes it to all other persons not to aggress them.

    You do realize you’re aggressing against us by having your articles run to three pages? :-p

    1. You do realize you’re aggressing against us by having your articles run to three pages?

      You know, now that you mention it, every time I see that “1 2 3 Next Page” at what I thought was the end of the article, I come away with a distinct feeling of having been aggressed against . . .

      1. I feel aggressed against when I click on a headline and get a miserable link with HuffPost.

        1. You do know Breitbart started that pub, don’t you? Do you prefer his other pubs?

    2. On Easter no less.

      1. The celebration of a man’s death by slow, suffocating torture? Oh. Three pages seems about right, then.

        1. One page per day, eh?

          Does that make Richman the impenitent thief on the cross?

        2. We celebrate the death of a Jew by eating ham.

          1. Do you think he’d prefer us to eat Jew?

            1. I’ll start with Sarah Silverman.

              1. Gina Gershwin?

                Okay. This is taking a turn for the black.


                1. Ahem. That’s dinner with Gershwin, not Gershwin for dinner.

              2. I’m more of an Alona Tal man, myself, but to each his own.

            2. “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
              Ritual cannibalism.

              1. So that’s how they found out that pig tastes like people.

          2. Our ham was from city bbq and is truely a gift from God. Or the Easter bunny. Whomever is more powerful.

            1. God causes tornadoes and decides which people are spared. He also collects the dead bodies of those he decided not to.

              The Easter Bunny just finds creative ways to deliver delicious candies.

              Hmm, still not sure which is more powerful.

                1. I’ll be in my bunk. With tgis picture and my ham.

            2. I think the pig might have had something to do with it.

              1. I have 60 pounds of split pig on the pit that’s about half an hour from ready. Good thing the kids are here because I’ll never get it off the grid by myself.

        3. The celebration of a man’s death by slow, suffocating torture? Oh. Three pages seems about right, then.

          Yep, felt like I was up there on the cross next to him.

    3. The funny thing is you have hit upon a legitimate point. How exactly is aggression defined? For the NAP to really be effective, everyone has to agree on a similar (if not exactly the same) definition. For some people, cheating and lying is considered aggression. Others disagree. In a society molded around the NAP and only the NAP, this could become a major issue.

      1. It’s the same problem with all ethics. All moral codes all subjective including NAP. At the end of the day might makes “right”. NAP could only be the ruke of the land if you have the power to enforce it. Now most of that power could come from persuasion but, human nature being what is, some would no doubt have to come from the barrel of a gun which if only used ro enforce NAP could be considered self-defense or defence of others.

        1. Sorry for the typos but on my android any post over a sentence is too cumbersome to spell check.

          1. Is posting from cell phones a violation of the NAP? 😉

        2. As far as persuasion goes, people are going to buy it or not. There are no gods. There are no Natural Laws. There are no Universal Moral Truths. You either agree with me how we should behave as a society or not. And if we have enough poitical power whether it be through numbers or guns we win for now. If statist have more political power they win for now. As I said Might makes right. Ethics as is bullshit and a waste of time.

          1. Thank you for saying that. Totally agree.

          2. There are no Universal Moral Truths.

            You are claiming one by making that statement.

            1. If they exist, where do they come from?

              1. Apparently from your keyboard or smart phone in this particular instance.

                1. Touche’

                  1. But is there is no universal moral truths a universal moral truth or just a universal truth?

          3. Natural law exists because human beings are conscious animals who have a nature in the same way that apple trees have a nature. Our nature is that we are social, ambitious, and “greedy” in the Randian sense.

            The degree to which positive law reflects the natural law is not only the degree to which positive law is moral, but also the degree to which it will allow the human beings living under it to flourish due to the invisible hand. The outcome of the capitalism/communism conflict in the 20th century demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt how a system that even gives lip service to natural law and freedom is massively superior to an arbitrary law built on utopian fantasies about people as blank slates.

            1. Reading back over the comments now. So far this is my favorite.

              I would also add that it is foolish to try and objectively prove that abstract concepts exist.

              What we should go for is a system that best accommodates human nature and allows wealth and happiness to flourish to the greatest degree possible.

              As you point out, what has been demonstrated empirically is that the more freedom, the stronger are property rights, the better that is accomplished.

              1. I’m just regurgitating Rothbard’s argument from Ethics of Liberty as best I remember it.

                Prior to reading him and Rand, Natural Law was just another one of those hazy, hand-waving bits of political bs for me like the state-enabling social contract or the divine right of kings.

            2. Naturally, humans can produce things and steal things. How does human nature demonstrate the immorality of stealing?

              1. What an odd question.

                Stealing demonstrates the immorality of stealing by harming a human being. It leads to a life that isn’t flourishing in the Aristotelian sense.

          4. There is a UMT, initiating force is always immoral.

            1. Says who? You and I might say that is true but a lot of people don’t believe that. Just saying something doesn’t make ir true which is wht you need a more rational argument than it’s “natural” or that major religions agree. So what. That isn’t an argument.

          5. How do you know there is no God? I would argue that if there is a universal morality that it can only come from God. I would also say that violating the NAP is a sin. Any thoughts?

        3. Moral codes dealing with actions between two individuals are not subjective but objective. It is action which only effect an indivdual that are subjective. In other words the answer to the question “is morality subjective or objective” is , yes.

  2. How to justify the NAP?

    Hmmmm. Because other people are not my property and aggressing them would be trespassing?

    It seems to me the real question is from whence comes self-ownership.

    I did not slog through the article yet, that was just off of the top of my head.

    1. I quit 3/4 through the first page. I am afraid this is the last article by Richman because he turned himself into tiger butter.

        1. Against tigers? That would be specieist, right?

  3. Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.

  4. Richman’s last piece on the subject was so riveting, I’m glad he decided to expand on it and run with it. I just wish he’d write more on Iran’s nuclear program. Maybe a book…

  5. Happy Easter everyone.

    1. Happy Easter, sir and to all.

  6. Self preservation is a perfectly fine reason to promote the NAP, because the alternative is the legitimacy of aggression, which could mean anything from thievery to genocide. It’s that simple.

    I really belive that trying to go beyond that like Richman is doing, and trying find some kind of natural morality to grasp onto to justify not only the NAP but also some sort of golden rule that you should be nice and respectful to everyone, is counter intuitive. No one reads the Greek moralists, and most don’t think they are relevant today. Most people simply aren’t going to grasp it anyway, and many of the people that do are going to reject it as dubious. Hell, I don’t understand half of what Richman is trying to say here. So you’re esentially handcuffing the NAP to a reasoning that I doubt most will accept.

    For example, when asked about the man with the $100 bill sticking out of his pocket, the only reason I could think of why I wouldn’t take it was “because of my religion”. I also recognize that most don’t subscribe to the morality that my religion promotes. That’s my personal choice, but I find it extremely doubtful that most people would choose to not take that money.

    1. In short; if adherence to a morality that dictates personal respect is necessary for a society to accept the NAP, I don’t think we’ll ever live in a society that accepts the NAP. I don’t have that kind of faith in humanity. But I don’t think that morality is necessary to live in a society based on the NAP. Personal survival, manifested in a willingess to repay aggression with vilence is what’s necessary, IMO. This piece is simply Richman justifying his own personal morality and IMO doesn’t really belong on Reason. It would be like me writing an op-ed here about hoe my religion is meches really well with the NAP.

      1. You mean like the articles by Judge Napolitano that are regularly posted here? What’s wrong with reason running op-ed pieces?

        1. Nothing with op-ed pieces regarding libertarianism. Op-ed pieces about personal opinions of how libertarians should treat people respectfully, in accordance with your (and by your I mean Richman’s) personal moral standards seem a little innapropiate IMO.

          1. So there is something inappropriate about sharing ideas on a free forum that promotes free speech and free thought?

            You know they don’t need your permission to post anything they want, right?

            1. Well, how about we just take this comment, and relate it back to my comment.

              Unless I need to get your permission to post an opinion in the comments section of a free forum that promotes free speech and free thought.

            2. He was just pointing out the oddity of Richman’s stance about libertarianism – I must have missed the part where he said the Reason Foundation should be prohibited from publishing this…sheesh, lighten up man!

        2. Napolitano’s pieces tend to be a little more coherent because he’s religious and his morality is easy to nail down. Richman thinks he’s struck on a universalism to surpass all others, like a freshman philosophy student who thinks he’s undermined the sages with his first essay. Except Richman’s been writing the same shit for a decade, and it was never insightful in the first place.

          1. Richman thinks he’s struck on a universalism to surpass all others, like a freshman philosophy student who thinks he’s undermined the sages with his first essay.

            Wow, you really put my emotion into words on that. Thanks.

          2. I’ve certainly not been on the Libertarian wagon for a decade, but that’s insightful. Does he try to justify using the law to force people to be respectful to each other, implying that’s a libertarian principal? I’m getting mixed messages when I read his stuff.

            1. He never comes right out and advocates for a state solution, although it is the only logical implication of his arguments some of the time.

    2. I wouldn’t take it because I’m not a thief. It wouldn’t enter my mind. In fact, I may even tell the goof his money is hanging out of his pocket.

      The consequences – ie shame in front of friends and and family, being arrested, or punched out – of getting caught make it not worth it.

      1. So you wouldn’t take it because of the consequences? In Richman’s scenerio, there was 0% chances of being caught.

        1. There’s never a zero percent chance of being caught. Also, one must live with his own conscience.

          I’ve found, through trial and error, that my own conscience judges me far more harshly than any law.

          1. No sarcasm here when I say that I’m glad to hear it.

            Sure, there are no zero percent chance scenerios of being caught, but there are certainly many near zeros, such as Richman’s. I’ve been in a room full of people who cheat on a test because we were all on the “honor” system while the professor was away, while I refrained. I also know alot of otherwise decent people who pirate movies and songs online because they won’t get caught, when morally it’s the same thing as taking that $100 bill. We also live in a society that steals trillions of dollars every year and redistributes it, because they know there is no consequence of doing so.

            While I’m glad that a few people like you exist, I’m convinced through my interactions with people, that you’re in the minority.

            1. Being in the minority does not mean one’s moral outlook should be scrapped. If we don’t hold ourselves to higher standards then what gives us a leg to stand on when trying to lead by example?

            2. I think by and large, most people are good and wouldn’t take the money. Maybe because in your mind there’s never a zero percent chance of being caught. Could be a hidden camera prank, etc. But it could also be that humans have empathy and can put themselves in the man’s position and would not want to lose $100 themselves. I think the example you give of cheating on a test is a little different because the students may not agree with the imposed sanctity of the test. Taking tests is not an activity that is necessary for humans to survive and get along. The piracy example is better because that is stealing from someone.

              1. The test example really stuck with me, and I remembered it years later. We took and “honor code” pledge when we were granted admission to the college. Essentially everyone made a contract with the college, so essentially everyone was stealing GPA points in cheating. It had a real impact on how I view the collective morality of our society. And there’s other things. The job I got in college at about the same time was a freight position at Home Depot. I got the job because literally the entire prior freight team was fired for stealing. There’s also the fact that the greater portion of our society (all societies) are fine with stealing so long as the government does it.

                So I just don’t have that kind of faith in humanity. I think most people (members of my religion included) have very malleable moralities.

              2. Cheating on a test IS stealing from those who don’t cheat.

                1. Copying does not equal stealing.

              3. Adam,
                I’m not sure you are correct that most people are good. I think it is more accurate to say most people are mixed bags.

                Especially when under stress. Many of the “good” people we see will conveniently abandon morals when stressed.

                It is easy to be good when things are going well.

            3. “I also know alot of otherwise decent people who pirate movies and songs online because they won’t get caught, when morally it’s the same thing as taking that $100 bill.”

              Let me first point out that I make a living by creating intellectual property; I write software that I sell on a licensed basis. I am definitely benefiting from IP.

              But as others have noted, by “stealing” a non-physical arrangement of information, e.g. an idea (which is what IP is), I am not depriving the owner of that idea.

              IP is just a specific arrangement of information ?- be that ones and zeros or letters in an alphabet. If I arrange a pile of rocks on the beach in a specific sequence that is original, do I own that arrangement? I would argue that, if it’s my beach and my rocks, then I own THAT particular arrangement yes… but I don’t own the concept, that immaterial sequence of information that allows one to recreate the arrangement. And yet this is what IP is; it’s a monopolistic protection on an idea. Anyone could have stumbled upon that sequence, at least in theory.

              The only reason you “own” that particular arrangement is because the government grants you a monopoly on it. If I copy that info, I don’t deprive you of income from it, at least not necessarily. Look at the open source software business model, there’s still plenty of money to be made even if others copy (and reproduce) the work. There are other free-based business models as well. Advertising is the first to come to mind.

        2. No. I wouldn’t take it period.

          The next part I wrote are secondary considerations.

      2. Back when $100 was a lot of money to me, I had a night job at a gas station near a bunch of hotels. A drunk walked in to buy more beer and while paying he fumbled a $100 bill that landed on the face of the register where I knew he couldn’t see it. I handed it back to him automatically. It wasn’t a conscious decision.
        Like you say, it didn’t enter my mind.

      3. You don’t take it, because that is what you would expect from others if the situation were reversed.

        Every philosophy has a “root” declaration that you must accept as fact. Any two year old can always ask “but why” (as Sheldon does).

        For the NAP it’s liberty. I worship freedom. That means I want it maximized. If it’s maximized for me I must accept it must be maximized for others. Why would other’s agree to respect my rights if theirs are less?

        So, the NAP allows everyone the most rights (liberty) possible by allowing me (and others) to do anything I wish provided what I do doesn’t violate the rights of others in doing so.

        It doesn’t require any further justification than that.

        1. The problem with the Golden Rule is people much more nefarious than Richman refuse to recognize it. For someone who has the power to carry out an act of aggression, asking “why” to the Golden Rule is a perfectly acceptable question to legitimize that aggression, apart from some other reason to refrain.

          If, for example, there’s a man with the physical capability and desire to rape a woman, or a conqueror with the armies to subjugate a People, and there’s not an answer to that “why” (such as some compelling religious or moral answer, or the ability to deliver violence back) I doubt you’re going to convince those people to refrain.

          And there’s also the potential for ambiguity with it. I’ve heard appeals to the Golden Rule and “what if the situation were reversed” in referal to justification for welfare, for example.

          1. Can you give me a philosophical ideology where I can’t ask why to your initial premise?

            1. No I can’t. There are certainly religious ones (because Allah/God/gods/Buddah/Flying Speghetti Monster says so), but I can’t think of any philosophical ones. That’s why I’m saying that the only way I believe that the NAP will be enforced on a societal scale is to meet force with force. The rapist chooses not too because there’s a substantial chance he’ll get shot by the chick or imprisoned. The conqueror keeps his troops at home because there’s a substantial chance he’ll meet defeat.

              In the case of stealing the $100 bill, absent some sort of threat of force or religious/moral dogma, most are going to pocket it. If the Golden Rule keeps you on the straight an’ narrow, I’m not being sarcastic or snarky when I say that’s great. You’re the exception to the rule.

              1. most are going to pocket it.


                I doubt even a simple majority. I’d say 20% might take it.

                1. I think you’re pretty optimistic. You may be right, but I know ALOT of people that pirate movies and music, and that’s substantively the same thing. Most of society is fine with using the government to shake down the producers for their gain too, and that’s no different. I think that more than anything shows that if there’s no threat of return force, most people have no qualms about stealing.

                  1. most are going to pocket it.

                    That part.

                    It appears to simply be projection. Whether it is or not, only you can say, but the assumption you’re making hasn’t been supported by any of your arguments, you’re simply insisting that it is so.

                    but I know ALOT of people that pirate movies and music, and that’s substantively the same thing.

                    No it isn’t. In the 100 bill case, there is only one 100 dollar bill, the owner is deprived of it when you take it, in the case of movie piracy, the data is copied, and the owner loses only “potential revenue” whatever that is, as many people who pirate things may not buy them.

                    All else aside, they are clearly not substantively the same at all.

                    1. True, and not the point.

                    2. And by the way, I said it was true in order to avoid a long discussion about copyright.

                      There are many cases where it is fact, yours to copy. Backing up is an example. Fair use another.

                      The more accurate phrasing is, it’s not yours to transfer to someone else.

                    3. Pirating aside (which I do consider stealing) the majority of people in this country are fine with stealing so long as it’s done under by the government and hence no threat of return force. That factoid alone proves that it’s not projection, and that I think is the issue that’s really at hand here.

                    4. “That factoid alone”

                      Again, because apparently you’re fucking retarded sockpuppet, that’s an assertion, not a “factoid” and all you’ve done is insist it was true.

                  2. I think that more than anything shows that if there’s no threat of return force, most people have no qualms about stealing.

                    Regardless of whether people will do right without the threat of force, the NAP provides threat of force.

                    1. I don’t understand. How does the NAP provide the threat of force? Simply subscribing the NAP isn’t going to get you out of a confiscaatory tax scheme or a carjacking. You have to have the ability and willingness to actually return force to do that. That’s true on an individual and societal scale. If enough people were willing to repay an unfair tax scheme with violence, then that tax scheme wouldn’t be possible.

                      Really all I’m saying here (as was the opening sentance of my first paragraph) is that I’m convinced that self preservation will be the only reason that the NAP gets accepted on a societal leval, if it ever does. I don’t see people every responding en masse to an abstract argument like Richman’s.

                    2. I don’t understand. How does the NAP provide the threat of force?

                      The NAP doesn’t say I cannot use force. The NAP says I can’t initiate it. The beauty of the NAP is that it works even if only one of the two parties follow it.

                      I follow the NAP. I will not initiate force upon you, because it would be immoral to do so. You do not follow the NAP, and you STILL do not initiate force against me, because you know if you do, I’ll kick your ass (and it’s moral for me to do so).

                      …the NAP DOES allow for the threat of force. (Perhaps you are being hung up on the word “provide”. Okay, it doesn’t “provide” the threat of force but it does “provide for” [allows] the threat of force.)

              2. Sadly, P, I think, more than anything, you’re giving us insight into your thought process that, frankly, was better kept to yourself.

                I’m not trying to cheap shot you, but that’s really how it looks.

                1. Say wuhhh?

                  Or; what is it about my thought process that you disagree with?

              3. And out of those people who would pocket it, most would find a justification for it, whether religious or moral.

                From the idea that the person who had the $100 was rich and stingy or had cheated others or belonged to an ethnic group who had robbed and cheated others.

                They may justify it also by saying they needed it more, their children needed it more, they would do more good with it, or that they couldn’t help themselves.

      4. So if your children, you and your wife were starving at home – having spent your last dime on a cancer treatment for a member of your family – you would not steal some apples from an orchard?

        Would you steal some coal that fell beside the train tracks (company property and land)?

        I say any rational person WOULD. Especially with a low chance of being caught.

        Are you the “one”? Maybe it’s time for a new holiday?

        A famous religious figure said that he (and all of us) – if we were born on the Somali coast where virtually every male became a pirate and even rapists of young women, that he (and we) would likely also have become that.

        Either you believe that or not. Or, you simply believe that because you were born”lucky” that your morals are better…

        1. 1. I have insurance. I would not be spending my last dime on medical treatments. It’s called, being responsible. You, on the left, should try it.

          2. No, I would not steal. Beg, perhaps, not steal.

          3. Your moral relativism may help you sleep at night, but it doesn’t make you any less of a shitbag.

          1. Easy to be “ethical” while feeding with your silver spoon. Self-Righteous, for sure.

            You do know insurance companies here turn down MANY life saving treatments, don’t you? Oh, and if you are very poor there is no way you can afford insurance other than very high deductible – which puts you back in the very same place.

            If you and your ancestors were not willing to steal, you would not be alive today. The folks in concentration camps who didn’t steal from the kitchen were among the first to go. Same goes with folks who sat home instead of making war on the other tribes and stealing their resources.

            Is your name Spanish or Portugese? Either one would likely mean that your people stole, plundered, etc. to advance you to the present day….

            There are certainly far more descendants from the Mayflower (who stole the indians corn as a first move), than there are of the indians.

            Get real.

            1. You really are an immoral disgusting pig.

              That’s the left for you. A philosophy that justifies theft. You really are vile.

              1. Oh, come, you must have enjoyed the chuckle when it became apparent that he didn’t recognise youe name. Keep it in mind for later when he derides the source as if he knew it.

                1. I can see it now:

                  “Francisco d’Anconia blew up his own copper mine in a book, therefore you’re racist and everything you say is invalid.”

              2. Worst part is they don’t even view it as theft, because none of them believe anyone owns anything besides the Federal Government.

                That is, until you try to take their welfare away. Suddenly, *their* property exists.

    3. Another fine answer for not taking the $100 is “because it’s not mine”. I think others would prefer something other than a strictly utilitarian view for their moral system. But, I could be wrong.

    4. Why wouldn’t I take the money? Because it does not belong to me.

      I once found a money clip with a few hundred dollars in it lying on the floor in a common area in my office.
      I put it in my pocket. I went into the cafeteria where a bunch of my co-workers were gathered. I told them I needed a 100 bill and would anyone take my 20’s in return for it.

      Several people offered and produced bills but one guy started digging around in all of his pockets and panicking. Before he could say anything I walked over to him and handed him the money clip.

      I am not bragging here. I really don’t see that as anything special. The notable part of the story was his confusion. He knew I was an atheist and just could not grasp why I would not keep the money.
      I joked and told him I had already stolen all the money and eaten all the babies for my weekly quota.

      1. So it sounds like you in practice actually DO agree with what Richman wrote here.

      2. I think that’s great that you and I share a moral abhorrence against theivery. Most don’t, and I simply don’t think Richman made a compelling (or understandable) enough argument to change most people’s minds. The only solution I see as reliably working is to meet force with force. Call me a cynic.

        1. There is no one moral code that the entirety of humanity will ever agree on. Every person has their own subjective set of moral values. That’s freedom right there. You can’t force others to believe what you believe, it just doesn’t work that way.

          1. I agree 100%, which is why I think Richman’s view here is wrong. The only way the NAP will be accepted on a societal level is if we invoke it in a utilitarian way in appeal to the survival instinct of humanity. In other words, foce must be met with force.

            1. I’m missing something here I think. You agree that people can’t be forced to believe things then suggest that force should be used to make people believe things?

              1. No not at all. I’m saying that the only way to get people to not agress against others (on a macro scale) is for at least a substantial minority to be ready to use force back. It doesn’t have anything to do with making them accept a common belief system or morality, it just has to do with them not wanting to die while trying to harm others.

                1. Well that hasn’t worked out for humanity yet, I can’t see why it all of a sudden would. Killing in self-defense is currently, and as far as I know always has been, protected by law. Many people own weapons capable of lethality and are willing to kill in self-defense. Murderers still exist.

                  1. Yes, murderers still exist, but I’m talking about on a macro, governmental scale. While we (our society) of course have problems with the occasional cop gunning down the squirt gun holding kid, we don’t tolerate the government murdering us like we tolerate the government stealing from us via our widespread and all encompassing tax system. Why is that?

                    Because we (as a society) don’t view that as a legitimate function of the government, and we’re armed enough to put a stop to it if it happened. In societies that DO view that as legitimate (say, societies that view the genocide of a minority as acceptable) it’s permitted, and societies that are disarmed, it’s likely to happen by the government anyway. I think that stopping governmental aggression happens when 1: a society (or a substantial minority) recognize the aggression as illegitimate and 2: is armed and motivated enough to put a stop to it. I’m simply not convinced that you’re going to be able to convince the majority of society to play nice with the NAP, especially with reasoning as complex and as abstract as Richman uses here. Using reason to halt government aggression certainly hasn’t worked out for humanity yet either.

              2. You persuade belief but force comlpliance.

            2. I disagree. I think you’ll find, by and large, most people already agree with the NAP. Aside from criminals, the only serial offender is Government, which is just a natural byproduct of us ceding the monopoly of force to them.

              1. But our government is representative. More people voted for the current POTUS, for example, than any other candadite and he was the strongest voice for redistribution. And on a planet wide scale, our government is probably one of the least confiscatory. Most modern proponents of macro thievery promote Social Democracy. They can do that because the majority of the world’s population supports it. So I really don’t understand how you can say that most people agree with the NAP.

                1. So I really don’t understand how you can say that most people agree with the NAP.

                  Because by giving the monopoly of violence to government, they’ve absolved themselves of the crime, in their minds.

                  They’ll vote to have someone else go out there, steal your shit, kill your dogs/etc, but generally they won’t commit the crimes themselves. Sadly, this also reflects just what type of people Law Enforcement generally tend to be: Thugs.

                  Yes, it’s basically a hack, but it is what it is.

                  1. I don’t think people have absolved themselves of the crime, I think that they simply hold the personal benefit of redistribution worth the gunning down of tax resistors.

                    That sounds harsh, but if you took the average citizen aside, explained the NAP and gave them the choice of either supporting the NAP or continuing to support mild distribution via taxation, and told them they had to choose one or the other, what do you think they would choose?

                    Even if you gave them a true story about the IRS gunning down some poor schmo, I doubt you’d get the average citizen to say that we should disband the IRS or halt all of our welfare programs. I really don’t think that the average person is as ignorant or as complacent in the moral ramifications of our tax system as you’d like to think.

              2. I think you’ll find, by and large, most people already agree with the NAP. Aside from criminals, the only serial offender is Government, which is just a natural byproduct of us ceding the monopoly of force to them.

                I agree. The biggest challenge we face is in discrediting the government as a legitimate monopolist on the use of force (at least, among the general public.) Unfortunately, given what many have already accepted, this is an uphill battle.

                1. What if we just give it another name? You can’t start a conversation about how to establish a relatively peaceful society without finding something resembling government along the way.

        2. Call me a cynic.

          You are a cynic.

      3. The real problem with the NAP is one of definitions. For instance, I don’t believe lying or cheating is aggression necessarily. I won’t engage in those practices due to my belief that a free society needs to be based ultimately on respect.

        The NAP is a great foundation. it ain’t the house though.

        1. Agreed. Like all other moral systems, the NAP was thought up by humans and thus will never perfectly cover everything.

          1. Honestly I don’t think yhe intent was to cover everything. And that is part of what makes it so beautiful. It is wonderfully simple.

            “An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age”

            1. For my part, I’ve seen plenty of people who do believe it covers everything.

              1. And those are the people that confuse me.

          2. Can you give an example of what it doesn’t cover?

            1. Warty?

              Nope, nevermind.

        2. “I don’t believe lying or cheating is aggression necessarily.”

          I think the more important question is not whether you see these tgings as right or wrong but whether you believe in government interference in these matters.

      4. Vacationing in Los Angeles my father left his money purse in a Chinese restaurant. The panic in his eyes when he realized it as we drove off was crazy. Don’t blame him. His was carrying $3000.

        Could you imagine the relief when the waiter had taken and held the purse for him? Every single dollar was still there.

        My father gave him $100.

        1. A while ago my brother and I were at a gas station in Newport Beach. A man in a Mercedes Benz parks and gets out to walk into the store, dropping a money clip of $400.

          My brother sees this and immediately picks it up and walks in after the guy to give him the money. The guy sneers at him and says he’s surprised he didn’t steal it. And that was that, not even a thank you. Some people, eh?

          1. I would have said “I still can asshole”

          2. “You look like you need it more than I do,” would have been a lovely response.

        2. Your dad carries a purse ?

          1. It’s European!

      5. So, upon getting his money back all the man could think to say was ‘but you’re a godless atheist, what moral impulse could someone like you possibly have for returning my money?'”

        Good thing I’m wearing boots.

        *to be read in the voice of The Old Man from A Christmas Story during Ralphie’s melodramatic imaginings

    5. Self preservation is a perfectly fine reason to promote the NAP.

      Slave owners could justify slavery through self preservation. All I’m trying to point out is that there’s really no way to get from an is to an ought in a neat way.

    6. Most people simply aren’t going to grasp it anyway, and many of the people that do are going to reject it as dubious.

      Morality is always going to be fundamentally intuitive and selfish–at the basest level, you don’t kill your neighbors because bad things will happen to you if you do. That’s why even when we’re fall-down drunk and incapable of high-level reason, most of us don’t turn into sociopaths raping and murdering everyone we meet.

      But that base level isn’t the most meaningful one or the “true” one. Once we accept that human beings aren’t blank slates but instead have a nature–genetic, psychological, spiritual, whatever you want to call it–it becomes clear why we have higher level moral rules beyond intuition or authoritarian states & religion.

  7. You know, you could have made this much shorter by simply typing “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should be a universal law” and then referring readers to anything by Kant. I mean, that seems to be what you’re going for here.

  8. It’s pretty simple to me: if we all have equal rights, only the NAP can satisfy all rights simultaneously and equally.

    Imagine if everyone had equal rights to bash each other at will: only the strong would win. That’s hardly equal.

    One objection is that the clever can outwit the dim. But cheating is also agression. And if it doesn’t involve cheating, then it’s still voluntary on all sides, and not agression.

    There, three paragraphs!

    1. Exactly how is cheating aggression?

      1. The same way that fraud is aggression – it facilitates a transaction under false pretenses.

      2. Exactly — it removes the voluntary aspect from transactions — how can you voluntarily agree to something youdon’t know?

        1. Yeah, but here is the problem. Perhaps I don’t believe dishonesty is aggression. You agreed to deal with me, you knew in some corner of your mind that there was a chance I was lying to you. Doesn’t that make it voluntary? You didn’t have to trade with me in the first place. I certainly didn’t force you to trade with me.

          Of course, I believe dishonesty is bad, but I’m trying to highlight the problem with the NAP. Mainly that it relies on definitions that not everyone agrees on.

          1. I believe the NAP is the foundation of libertarian ethic, but I don’t think it is the only part of libertarian ethic. It is great for what it does; establishing a foundation for a worldview.

          2. There are always differences in knowledge, but intentionally hiding that knowledge, ie fraud or lying, is aggression.

            Suppose you have a car for sale, “as is”. If I am too dumb to look under the hood and see if there is an engine, that’s my problem. But if you say you’ve lost the key and can’t open it up, but assure me there is an engine there, you have lied. If you simply tell me to guess, then I am a fool for trusting that there is an engine.

            If I sell my house, “as is”, and say there are no termites to the best of my knowledge, and you believe me, it’s your fault for thinking that means I had an inspection recently. If I show you inspection papers which I forged, it’s my fault for lying to you.

            Of course there are grey areas. That’s when we call on society to settle the dispute.

          3. gotta call BS on this one.

            saying “not all believe fraud is wrong” is like saying “not all believe murder is wrong”.

            i really dont understand the impulse to give ‘dont murder’ a pass as a social norm, but force fraud to prove its innate. that is what i call a doublestandard.

  9. This article is sophistry; The NAP follows from property ownership, namely, self-ownership. To violate that ownership by aggression would necessarily leave yourself open to such violation, which I believe is a Bad Thing.

    1. ^This. See my first comment.

      If we don’t own ourselves, then how do we work out who owns who? With force, thats how. Might makes right.

      That would not be civilized or a society I want to live in.

      See: Almost every society on earth.

      1. Oh, I forgot this bit.

        We already give lip service to this principle in the form of ‘legitimate governments govern with the consent of the governed’.

        1. suthenboy, the nuance is that its non-arbitrary might that creates right. Not blind might.

          The fact you can sneak into someone’s house and take their stuff is arbitrary. They could just as easily do the same to you, or even prevent you if they knew when you came and shot you with a gun.

          A strong man can beat a baby, but a baby may grow up and be far stronger and beat the man up.

          Between humans, conditions of superiority are based on arbitrary states of class, wealth, gender, parentage, age, and especially dumb luck.

          nonarbitrary might is right, but this leads to equality, not disparity.

          Its really only thru the expansion of consciousness that ppl realize the arbitrary nature of their advantage over peers, and the triviality of their ‘strengths’. Its not me thats so awesome, its the talents i was born with.

          i think all rational thoughtful ppl come to a deep understanding of this, their own nothingness. it is the most true perspective on human life. if you are really honest with yourself, what do you think a retard who passed thru your life at some point, would do with your life if he had your nature, nurture, and opportunity? something drastically different? we are the sum of our choices, not the sum of our privilege.

      2. Yeah, I read that after my initial comment.

        It appears that Richman evades any discussion of Property.

        For a site called Reason

        1. Drink!

          (it is a bit early in the day – maybe it could be sacramental wine?)

          1. A Bloody Mary woukd seem appropriate for Easter if you like them.

          2. There’s a time of day that’s too early to drink?

      3. This pretty close to right.

        The NAP depends upon a proper definition of rights and property. And that depends on self-ownership, which is necessary for justice.

        Any society that says that rights are decided by democracy or majority rule is just endorsing might-makes-right. Rights have to be founded on a non-arbitrary fixed principle, precisely so they can be real rights. Rights that depends on the whims of others are not rights. The only principle that is consistent with a just society is self-ownership.

        1. Self-ownership may be necessary, but it is certainly not sufficient, for liberty. For example, what if you’re locked in a room? You still have yourself at your complete disposal, but you don’t have your liberty. Similarly if someone parks across your driveway entrance. So you at least have to add freedom of movement to the necessary criteria.

          1. That’s kind of a red-herring; you don’t own yourself if you are being physically prevented from being able to exercise your free will.

            1. That‘s a red herring. There are always physical restraints, many human-imposed, against many exercises of my free will. I’m not locked in somebody’s room, but I’m locked out of various places I might want to enter. Either way, it’s their lock and their restraint against me, but one is a depriv’n of what you’d understand as my proper liberty, and the other is not.

  10. Completely OT:

    I just had a screaming match with a traffic “cop” on my way home from an Easter sunrise service at the beach.

    Around here, we have these people who work for the city who wear these sort-of uniforms and drive these sort-of police cars that have yellow or green lights instead of red and blue. They show up to direct traffic, help out at accidents, assist stranded motorists, stuff like that.

    So anyway, we’re headed home, and up ahead, I can see one of these guys standing in the road with his little lightsaber, directing traffic into and out of the parking lot of a large Catholic church. As I’m approaching (doing maybe 45), he’s moving his lightsaber in this vague, up-and-down/circular/I’m-having-a-stroke motion. Now around here, when a traffic cop wants to stop traffic in one direction, he makes eye contact with the driver at the head of the movement to be stopped and holds up his hand, palm facing forward, in the universal gesture for “stop” (you know, the gesture that would be recognized by aliens, even ones without hands as we know them). Then, when it’s your turn to go, he waves you on with his hand or his wand.

    So as I get closer, still unsure as to what he’s trying to communicate but wanting to err on the side of caution, I slow down. When I get to the intersection, moving at a crawl now, it truly looks like he’s waving me through. I’m about to squirt on through the intersection when he yells “stop!”, at which point I slam on my brakes.

    1. . . . so now he comes stalking toward my car, yelling. Naturally I roll down my window and call him a fucking idiot, what are you trying to do, get run over, etc. After a moment or two of the yelling, he says, “let me see your license.”

      I ask him: “Are you an actual police officer?”

      He says, “I am a sworn law enforcement officer!”

      I’m like 99 percent sure he’s full of shit, and that he has no power whatsoever to detain me or arrest me, but 99 percent isn’t 100 percent. Either way, he’s got a radio with which he can presumably (and quickly) summon someone who can arrest me. So I hand him my license, he walks off for a couple seconds, speaks into his mic, then hands me back my license and waves me through without another word.

      The only part of the encounter I feel bad about is that my daughter was with me. She’s a teen, though, and pretty unflappable, and we had a good laugh about it afterward. And she agreed that it definitely looked like we were being waved through the intersection.

      So like I say, completely OT, but I just wanted to vent to a group of people who I’m sure would’ve reacted similarly.

      1. Your story reminded me of a car that I almost t-boned yesterday.

        Driving down a 5-lane highway in VA (one of those with a center “turning” lane and 2 lanes of highway traffic either direction). Speed limit is 45 or 55, whatever; I’m doing a safe speed of roughly 60, keeping speed with traffic. 2012-ish jetta suddenly decides she’s had enough waiting, pulls out in front of my car and the guy travelling next to me. He dives into the turning lane to avoid her; I barely shed enough speed to not avoid totaling both our cars. Then this bitch flips the other dude and I off for honking at her.

        Made me want to violate some NAP.

        1. Made me want to violate some NAP.

          Well I’m glad you were on the ball. Sounds like if you’d been fiddling with your radio or looking at your phone, you’d have hit her. Being t-boned in a Jetta would not have worked out too well for her.

        2. Sounds like Virginia Beach. Half the drivers there evidently think they’re fighter pilots. Had a young-ish guy there last summer follow me into a parking lot and threaten to kick my ass for “only” doing the speed limit in the slow lane. “Which looks worse when you hit an old man with a cane, if you win or if you lose?”

          1. Yeah; I have zero problem with people travelling at exactly the speed limit if they’re either in the slow lane or weather conditions will only permit such as a safe speed.

            It’s when people get 3-deep side-by-side on the Interstate travelling roughly 5 below the speed limit that I start to get a little irritated. Or worse, the asshole that rides the passing lane at 10 below the speed limit, then speeds up when you try to pass him.

            1. I’m right there with you, every word. Probably the biggest thing that drove me out of Chesterfield, VA was nobody could get up to the speed limit on Route 10. Three clear, dry lanes going my way, all traveling at 42 in a 55 and will not get over.

                1. What is this, “a 55”?

                  I’ve heard the expression used elsewhere, but almost universally “a (insert number)” means a speedzone with the number representing the limit.

                  Though I suspect you must be having a laugh because you live in one of the Northern plains states and the speed limits are set at Mach numbers.

                  1. Yes. Here the limit on secondary roads is 70.

                    I really don’t miss the east at all.

                    1. A 55 mph limit is reasonable for the local route with the terrain, traffic and weather conditions where I described. Where I am now the main traffic hazards are drunk teens on Fridays and Saturdays, and deer at night.

    2. Glovesie strikes again!

  11. What’s with the obsession with Rand? She does not typify the libertarian position. She did not consider herself a libertarian, and pretty much disliked them. We are repeatedly criticized as libertarians for her positions by leftists. Still this guy repeatedly references her as source for libertarian ideology. STOP IT ALREADY!

    1. But Ayn Rand once said that something something something.


    2. As you probably noticed, we’re not exactly in Richman’s wheel house discussing the fundamentals of libertarian philosophy.

      1. Some of us are. I’m looking forward to reading that Roderick Long article.

    3. Whether many libertarians like or not, Rand is associated with their movement. The question is whether when push comes to shove, they will disown her–similar to what Paul Ryan did in the last election. My guess is that they will.

      1. The question is whether when push comes to shove, they will disown her

        You do realize Ayn Rand never identified as a libertarian, bitterly rejected the label and the people who embraced it, and pretty much “disowned” them as part of her movement, right?

        1. Of course I do, but she died over 30 years ago and the libertarian movement has evolved in many ways. Cato’s CEO is and has been strongly associated with ARI, Objectivist share the stage with libertarians advocating similar causes, and many young Objectivist are also active in libertarian causes.

          My point was that many libertairans in public life have a strong philosophic basis for their ideas and will abandon Objectivist principles with the slightest push. I believe it is a valid point.

          1. ..libertarians in public live DO NOT have a strong…

          2. My point was that many libertarians in public life (do not) have a strong philosophic basis…

            Most people in public life spend very little time contemplating their morals or philosophy of life. It would not be surprising at all for a libertarian in public life to do the same.

            1. Philosophy is hard, and it takes sustained thought, at least for me. Richman’s article is a good example. Some of his arguments, I think, are wrong headed in misinformed, but I need to think about them in order to a coherent response. By the time I have formed a coherent response, the thread here will be dead, so I won’t post. But I will have thought through the his arguments and will have compared it to my understanding. For that reason, I appreciate his efforts for at least attempting to make a philosophical stand.

          3. many libertairans in public life (do not) have a strong philosophic basis for their ideas and will abandon Objectivist principles with the slightest push.

            That’s mainly because Objectivist principles aren’t inherent to libertarianism. There are utilitarian libertarians as well as deontological libertarians (the utilitarian/deontological rift in libertarianism breaks along similar lines), and even the deontologicals don’t necessarily share all of Rand’s Objectivist principles – they sometimes reach the same or similar conclusions through different reasoning. It’s not that certain libertarians are abandoning Objectivist ethics for the sake of convenience, it’s that they didn’t share them in the first place. Doesn’t make them any more right or wrong than Rand, but when you break it down that way it’s fairly obvious why there are fundamental differences that Rand herself made a bigger deal about than anyone. An ironic but apt parallel is protestant vs orthodox vs catholic Christianity. Three theological schools all believing the exact same things about the fundamental aspect of spiritual salvation, but with irreconcilable rifts over the specifics.

          4. You forgot to mention that the whole deal has been bought and sold by the Kochs, who also own this site – and has been advanced as their mouthpiece for avoiding regulations on the resource extraction and refining which they “just happen” to make tens of billions on.

            Coincidence? You decide. My parents, luckily, instilled a bit more logic in me than to buy that one…..

        2. I believe that all Objectivists are libertarians with a small “L” as was Ayn Rand. There is libertarian political philosophy and then there is The Libertarian Political Party. Ayn’s objections and concerns were mostly regarding the anarchist strains of the philosophy; though she did think the Party was confused and culturally premature.
          She was all about philosophy and fundamentality and Libertarians (certainly at that time) were not.

      2. Rand played a role in getting me to Libertarianism. Then again, so did Progressivism.

        So take that for what it’s worth.

        1. Same here, though the latter served more as goad than guide.

      3. Rand had some great ideas, wonderful methods, and an intolerance for intellectual impurity that was positively maniacal. Still, her personal flaws should not reflect on her professional work any more than it should for any other philosopher.

        1. Still, her personal flaws should not reflect on her professional work any more than it should for any other philosopher.

          Many on the left would look at that statement and scratch their heads, because they truly believe ad hominem arguments to be true and valid.

        2. and an intolerance for intellectual impurity that was positively maniacal.

          And this is why I’m not a true Objectivist.

          1. Ditto. Or at least I don’t agree that some of her conclusions are necessarily the very best solutions. Far better than the prevailing intellects of her time, but not the perfection Objectivists typically endow her ideas with.

          2. As always, Heinlein got their first.

            In “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, Prof De la Paz says he is a ‘rational anarchist’. When asked if he is is a Randite, He says, “No, but I can live with them.”

        3. ” it should for any other philosopher”

          Two points here:
          Firstly, her fame is as a fiction writer. We’d do wrong to label her as much of anything else.

          Also, the fact that her fictional “world” has never been tried (ala Marx, William James, Hamilton, Madison and even Franklin) – means it has absolutely no bearing on real life other than the false meaning that people attribute to it.

          I consider myself a thinker and philosopher from way back (read tens of thousand of pages from these founders, etc.) and yet I could not even stomach one chapter of the fiction writer. Not because I disagree with her POV, just because it’s not readable. Or, maybe there is a secret code…

          It’s fitting, on Easter, that we also mention her vehement hate of Christians and others who have faith. She considers that perhaps the ultimate weakness….I guess she’s like Marx in that case.

          1. It’s fitting, on Easter, that we also mention her vehement hate of Christians and others who have faith. She considers that perhaps the ultimate weakness….I guess she’s like Marx in that case.

            I never met Rand, but judging from what she wrote, she was more into hating various ideas rather than individuals pers se. If she hated Christianity and other religions, it was because of the altruistic nature of their moral premises and their reliance on faith as a means to knowledge – both of which she considered antagonistic to Man’s nature as a rational being. Anything inconsistent with reason or logic was detrimental, because she considered reason to be Man’s only reliable means of knowing and acting upon reality.

            But it wasn’t having faith or even acting on it which she considered to be the “ultimate weakness.” Rather it was acting out of faith (or feelings) and willfully ignoring the logic of one’s rational mind. For her the ultimate weakness was a sort intellectual cowardice – the failure to face facts of reality, if you will.

            1. Who really gives a shit who she hated?

              Just cause someone hates (insert whatever here) doesn’t make any ideas they may have had any worse.

              1. Apparently Craiginmass does – or was your question rhetorical?

                But you are correct, of course – her feelings toward others or her opinions of them are irrelevant to the validity of her ideas.

                1. It was rhetorical. The only people that race/hate bait are usually progressives; you must conform to the hive or your ideas are invalid!

                2. In the reasonable and logical world I live in – which has proven itself over and over again in measurable results, what a person thinks and how they live DOES relate to the validity of their ideas and ideals.

                  I guess we have a disconnect on that one – sorta like David Vitter, Larry Craig, Haggard and friends.

                  Would you then suggest that Haggards was a fine preacher and fella who you can listen to about life and the evils of being gay and drugs…while he was having gay sex and doing meth?

                  1. Would you then suggest that Haggards was a fine preacher and fella who you can listen to about life and the evils of being gay and drugs…while he was having gay sex and doing meth?

                    Have you ever given consideration to the thought that just perhaps he was relating his firsthand experience?

                    I don’t know who this dude is, and don’t really care. Just asking.

                    1. Very Famous religious preacher in CO who was part of the big right wing machine – who was anti-gay, etc. until he was caught doing meth and meeting regularly with a gay prostitute.

                      Ted Haggard. Look him up. He even rated getting some documentaries about him.

                      Same goes with many hundred of those who tell us how to live.

                  2. In the reasonable and logical world I live in – which has proven itself over and over again in measurable results, what a person thinks and how they live DOES relate to the validity of their ideas and ideals.

                    So if someone like Hitler makes the statement that the Earth is round, then that statement must be wrong because Hitler was a “bad guy”? So the validity of a statement depends on who it is that utters it? Please.

                    1. We are not talking about the physical world, but about the ethical and moral questions of being human.

                      Your example doesn’t hold much weight unless we asked Hitler whether disabled people were owed a life by the rest of society.

                      All those people – and even the church – that supported Hitler – did moral and ethical wrongs by doing so. They took the easy road – we might say they took that $100 instead of getting beat up.

                      The proper question about the $100 would also include what happens if you don’t steal it. Steal $100 or your kid dies? Steal $100 or you die? Steal $100 or 10 other people die?

                      The infamous trolley problem. There is no right answer. This is one of the amazing things about our minds and life. It’s possible that there is more than one path to “being right”.

              2. It means a lot because she felt she has to expound on it rather than to just simply state her own POV and move on. In other words, she had to hang her hat on billions who she calls “weak” in order to feel strong – and, of course, looking at her life and any real world examples of her fictional “best world there is”, doesn’t give any good examples either.

                She actually speaks like a communist “I am against God”….that’s exactly the tack the commies took.

                “It doesn’t take much intelligence to KNOW that there is not a God”.
                “It is a sign of psychological weakness”.
                “I regard it as EVIL to…take the ideal of God to explain the universe”.

                Truth be told, I am more on her side of the fence. However, my take is that many who accept her fictional world may not be….

        4. She equated “intellectual impurity” with irrationality or logical inconsistency – and quite often with deliberate intellectual dishonesty.

    4. I concur phillman. I know someone who is an Objectivist and he barely regards libertarianism. To him it’s just a ‘thought.’

      1. I know someone who is an Objectivist who regards himself as a libertarian (myself).

        Just because Rand herself considered the two as incompatible out of a personal dislike for the movement doesn’t mean everyone else has to.

        1. Perhaps, but from what he tells me a ‘true’ Objectivist doesn’t conflate the two.

          1. Late response, I know.

            You can break the Objectivist movement into two rough camps divided along the two main groups advancing the philosophy:

            The Ayn Rand Institute, who are those people who would say a “true Objectivist” would never do X, Y, Z, whatever. In my opinion, they are closed-minded and dogmatic, and generally not the nicest people.

            Contrasted with that is The Atlas Society, who view Objectivism as an open philosophy with room to grow, not necessarily set down in full by the intellectual might of Ayn Rand, never to be changed. They are generally open-minded, and seem like pretty nice people.

            I fall into the latter group, as I suspect many people who enjoy both the philosophy of Objectivism and libertarianism do.

      2. Speaking as one (anyone but an Objectivist would think so, anyway), a lot of Objectivists need to get over Rand’s stick up their asses and welcome allies where they find them. Reveling in defeat, isolation and persecution for their own sake is nothing more than beating the martyr’s drum.

          1. Thank you. I was uncomfortable with a couple things about my job with that post. Nice to see it read reasonably well.

    5. I think Rand’s biggest problem with libertarianism was the inclusion of the anarchists.

    6. She does not typify the libertarian position. She did not consider herself a libertarian, and pretty much disliked them.

      She could consider herself anything she liked – doesn’t make it so. Libertarianism is first and foremost a political philosophy. The political aspects of Rand’s philosophy are definitely libertarian – whether she was comfortable with the idea or no. The major difference is that she based her political philosophy on an explicit moral philosophy, epistemology and metaphysics, which are often at odds with other libertarian thought.

  12. Boy there were some bad calls in soccer yesterday. Sunderland and FC Dallas each caught a break. The former getting a penalty that wasn’t and latter not getting one that was deserved.

    1. I don’t care how it happens when Chelsea lose – it always puts a big smile on my face.

      1. Let’s hope it happens mid-week, too. 🙂

        1. Oh hell yes. If they win CL again I will be sick.

    2. Jeez, first man purses, now soccer.
      This is America, you filthy Canuck.

      1. I think RJF resides in the European part of Canuckistan.

  13. One of the formative influences on my political thinking was a little pamphlet entitled “the myth of natural rights“. It makes a pretty solid case that there is no objective morality – and, as the title suggests, there are no “natural rights”.

    You might stop a would-be murderer with some sort of physical or social deterrence. However, “nature” does nothing whatsoever to stop him. Case in point: if Jews in Nazi Germany had a “right to life” and Hitler still managed to kill six million of them, then it should be clear that natural rights are worthless as protective devices. A bulletproof vest may stop a slug, but a “natural right” sure won’t.

    So it is with our cherished non-aggression principle: it doesn’t do squat to protect anyone against aggression. It’s a myth. You and I may like the NAP and wish that everyone would abide by it, but that doesn’t give it objective reality.

    When a libertarian asserts that there’s a natural right to life, what’s really going on is he’s insisting people shouldn’t kill each other – but to give his argument greater intellectual heft, he asserts that it’s “nature” doing the insisting. There’s no truth to that; “nature” insists on nothing of the sort.

    1. You might stop a would-be murderer with some sort of physical or social deterrence. However, “nature” does nothing whatsoever to stop him.

      Humans, being part of nature, with their “social or physical deterrence,” pretty much counter your sophistry.

      1. Humans, being part of nature

        Many people disagree and believe humans to be separate from nature. These are the same people who would willingly ban dihydrogen monoxide because it sounds scary and evokes an emotional reaction.

        1. That would make for a great “man on the street” late night bit.

          I’d set the over/under at 40% being in favor of a gov’t ban.

          1. About the same as the “is heaven real”? question – I think 60% of folks agree.

            “58% of Republicans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years”

            Seems like that 40% figure should be larger.

    2. AHAHAHAHAHAH! From the “book” you read:

      He contrasts these with “REAL rights,” which are those rights “actually conferred and enforced by the laws of a State or the customs of a social group.” (Pg. 2) By way of contrast, “natural rights are imaginary rights.”

      So, “real rights” are those endowed by a Government, and “natural” rights are fake. Got it.

      This guy’s a fucking moron.

      1. And by that definition, real rights don’t stop a person from killing anyone either.

        The only point worth agreeing with is that there is no objective morality.

        1. I’m not sure I’d agree with that, either. I think that organized religion provides a shortcut to a … peaceful? path of morality without the effort of thinking through things; I find a lot of my own morals coincide with the intended results of organized religion’s, and that leads me to consider that perhaps there is a “correct” morality; either way, I wouldn’t declare myself to -know- that as a fact.

          Which means there’s sure as hell no way that I could consider legislating it.

          1. Ah, but which organized religion? Also, for it to be objective then all of your moral values would need to coincide exactly.

            1. Hey, I just said I’m not sure that I’d agree with that. As for which, pick any of the Big Three.

              Since I haven’t read the book, I can’t really pick out anything else to make fun of in it; however, I’m sure this guy is just full of bullshit.

              1. This guy is just preaching his religion: statism.

              2. I’m just tryin to help you out here. I highly suspect that, aside from the statement that there is no objective morality, this guy is full of bullshit as well.

        2. you are conflating enforcement with morality.
          the basic premise of religious ideals is that an omnipotent being will, by virtue of overpowering force, reward all virtue and punish all vice.

          thus the idea of rights not being ‘real’ is false. its just not enforced on a timetable they care to respect.

          as for atheism, he makes a very solid argument, but then again those atheists also have to disbelieve even in the notion of ‘pay it forward’ and karma. these ideas are very tempting to homo sapiens.

          moral relativism is really only feasible to atheist determinists who think like dana scully. dont exist unless i see it, feel it, prove it. no karma, no destiny. no nothin’.

      2. Didn’t read it but he may just be stating it as a fact without judgement to value or legitamacy? Not looking to start a semantics argument about “rights”, but at the ebd if the day what you can do (without threat of punishment) is whatever thise that hold the most power say you can do (Might makes right( There is a difference between recognizing that and condoning it.

    3. No one said that natural rights are protective devices. Natural rights are worthy of protection.

      1. By Natural Rights you mean of course the right to free birth control, a right to a “living” wage, right to not be offended, the rights of workers to own the means of production. That sort of thing right? Or are you talking about a different set of rights that you believe in.

        1. Natural rights are derived from the principle that we are free to act without needing permission or obeying orders, so long as we don’t harm the life, liberty or property of others.

          That’s opposed to the Neanderthal principle of might make right, from which everything the left supports is derived.

          1. In short: progressives are primitives.

            1. “progressives are primitives”

              I can come up with all sorts if nasty things to say about progressives, most of the expletives. Still have to find a way to convince them they are wrong. Talking about Natural Rights is only going to get you the response I facisciously gave above concerning all of the fake rights they have made up.

              1. Still have to find a way to convince them they are wrong.

                And you never will, because liberty doesn’t get them free shit. Understanding that wealth redistribution and property rights conflict with one another is something they must come to on their own. Most never will, because it will get them kicked out of the hive.

                1. There’s always the next generation:)

              2. Still have to find a way to convince them they are wrong.

                It’s impossible to convince a religious zealot that their faith may be misplaced.

          2. While I agree with the first principle I’m not sure how it can be “proved” as a “natural” right. Actually I know that it cannot. And while the second principle may very well be unjust, it’s quite frankly the only one whereby the first principle could ever be the law if the land.

            1. And when I’m talking about the second principle “Might” is political power which includes the ability to convince the majority you are correct. Ir is not solely the province of military might.

              1. Might does not make right.

                Might’s only legitimate purpose is to protect right.

                1. The point is that what we define as rights are things that agree on. There is no independent “source” that defines what “rights” are. And that even if we can agree what rights are without the “might” to defend them they may as well not exist.

                  1. There is no independent “source” that defines what “rights” are.

                    Sure there is. Under the NAP, you have as many rights as your little brain can think up. The limit to your imagination is that your right cannot infringe upon the rights of others.

                    So, demanding the “right” to free healthcare cannot possibly be a right as it requires the action (against their will) of another.

                    1. I’m not criticizing NAP as a principle. I’m simply pointing out that NAP’s desirabilty as a rule of law is subjective. I’m saying there is no independent “authoritative” source that says that NAP is the “best” policy. It is our opinions that it is. That makes a difference in how you debate it with others.

                    2. I’m saying there is no independent “authoritative” source that says that NAP is the “best” policy.

                      Agreed. But is there for any philosophy?

                      I put it to you though, if liberty is your ultimate source of gratification, you will be hard pressed to find a better first principle.

                    3. We are in agreement. I think when I say “might makes right” people often see that as condoning that as a principle. But all I’m really saying is that is that is the political reality. Political power defines policy regardless as how “right or wrong” those without power believe it is. What is right is subjective. To gain political power one must convince the majority you are right.

                    4. Why I make this point is the only way to convince people that NAP is the way to go is to convince them that it is in their best interest in comparison to alternatives. This is subjective. The problem I have is when people try and make these ethical arguments based on some arbitrary determination that this way is more “natural” or more “moral”. I find that a waste of time because “natural” and “moral” are subjective terms that change over time.

          3. “Natural rights….so long as we don’t harm the life, liberty or property of others”

            Yeah, and YOU get to decide whether we do…eh?

            That sounds like a better definition.

            1. Take your meds Mary.

    4. Individual rights are based upon objective reality in so far as man obtains all his values for sustaining his life by his reasoned thought and the freedom to act based upon his reasoned thought. Without that freedom a man will die. To argue against freedom is to argue against life.

      1. “Reasoned thought” I think is where problem of objectivity comes into play.

    5. More entertaining than, but just as true as, Rollins’ booklet is “Natural Law, or Don’t Put a Rubber on Your Willy” by RAW.

  14. Man – son of man – buy the flame of ever-life
    (yours to breathe and breath the pain of living): living BE!
    Here am I! Roll the stone away
    from the dark into ever-day.

    There was a rush along the Fulham Road
    into the Ever-passion Play.

  15. sure that sounds nice.

    I still wouldn’t want this guy in charge of *anyone’s* foreign policy.

    also, I’m assuming none of this applies to one’s slave-orphan-monocle-polishers. or government workers.

  16. All morality flows from power. Might is right. Sheldon’s idea of respect, as a foundational virtue is somewhat correct, but only within a certain light.

    Certainly not the light he proposed. We are not bound to give each other social respect. this is a disgusting assumption that leads to all manner of politically correct bullshit.

    we refrain from aggressing each other because we respect the inherent power we each have to nonarbitrarily harm each other. Respect arises from nonarbitrary power to harm (or help).

    Respect their power, because might is right. Respect as in accurately assess, and properly fear, and give properly wide berth. Not respect as in tolerate their opinion or smile politely. more like respect the danger of mother nature, as a force to be reckoned with.

    Thus we dont respect a mosquito, we squash it on a whim. That’s the non-arbitrary power dynamic between a human and a tiny insect. Nonarbitrary might is right.

    1. Now a really buff guy’s ability to kill a baby is strictly arbitrary. Maybe that baby will grow up and be stronger some day. Your ability to rob a house is based on the owner not knowing your arrival and not shooting you with a gun. Arbitrary conditions.

      NAP is the child of unbridled might. its a dynamic based on the power balance between 2 or more entities. you dont need to (meaningfully) respect a single mosquito, but you do have to respect the whole ecosystem. its crash can end you, can end all of humanity. thus lesser lifeforms dont merit zero respect, just diminished. It works for higher lifeforms too, such as aliens, and gods, who merit more respect than a fellow homo sapien and would morally have positive rights in relation to you.

      We have a positive right to kill a cow (that we own) and eat it. We have a positive right to kill a cow (in the wilderness, unowned) and eat it. It doesnt look positive when compared to other humans, but when compared to the cows own right to live its life as it sees fit, its most certainly is.

      rights exist between entities of power. the smaller 1 entity is relative in power, the closer to outright objectification is morally justified by the superior. when its smallness winks out of existence, it may as well be an inanimate rock without moral color. it can’t be ‘wronged’. thats a full assumption of positive rights, no more 2 entities, just 1.

      At perfect equilibrium of power for 2 entities, only negative rights exist.

      1. You sure did use a lot of words to say, “Might Makes Right.”

  17. IMO Richman gets himself tangled up a bit (even though his conclusion is not too bad). I think he gets tangled up because he doesn’t address some important key components of NAP/ZAP, such as empathy and reciprocity. There is a strong drive in human nature that pushes most of us to choose Golden Rule-like reciprocity.

    We usually think about treating others as we want to be treated. We don’t tread on others since we don’t want them to tread on us. We practice this kind of positive reciprocity every day.

    Empathy constantly motivates us to do things for others, and to avoid causing harm. Positive reciprocity is a better social strategy than bullying force. NAP/ZAP works.

  18. NAP is the smallest ruleset that can be enforced by symmetric retaliation. Enforcing the NAP just means that people who initiate force against others expose themselves to force being initiated against them.

    That is, instead of trying to justify “don’t initiate force against others” (which is hard), justify “it’s A-ok to retaliate against force with force”. This is a much simpler universality argument (since the aggressor obviously is ok with the acceptability using force in the first place).

    1. As Ayn Rand would say: he himself has set the terms by which he wishes to deal with others and cannot logically object if others deal with him on the same terms.

  19. I cannot take seriously a discussion of the origins and implications of NAP that does not mention Hoppe’s argumentation ethics.


  20. Also, society cannot owe itself anything because society does not exist. Each individual person exists.

    1. “Each individual person exists.”

      Tulpa may provide evidence to the contrary.

      1. I was about to ask, what about sockpuppets?

  21. Isn’t this post sort of a ripoff of one the Jason Brennan wrote last week on Bleeding Heart Libertarians?

  22. There sure are a lot of long winded bloviating sockpuppets here today.

  23. It is less about aggression and more about competition vs cooperation. Both are valid responses to situations with other people. Depending upon the circumstances we elect to do one or the other. Where we run into trouble is when the choice is taken from us by some government force. The amount of force the government is able to apply to get the individual to comply to its mandates is the question to be debated.
    Aggression is merely the outward frustration exhibited when neither competition or cooperation has yielded desired results.
    The argument about whether a person has agreed to honor his agreements is superfluous. Once an agreement is made he is bound to honor it – period. That is the basis of civil law.

    1. The argument about whether a person has agreed to honor his agreements is superfluous.

      Of course. The idea of honoring it is implicit in the idea of making an agreement or contract.

  24. Actually, much aggression has already been allowed and acted upon by many of the commenters here who consider themselves “libertarian”.

    Since these “libertarians” don’t believe that words mean anything – and therefore that they cannot aggress upon an individual, society or group – they’ve forgiven themselves in bulk as they go about committing their misdeeds.

    According to them, not only are contrary opinions worthy of cursing and bullying, but when a 300 LB football players corners (but doesn’t touch) a 100 lb woman and shouts at her and berates and even threatens her – that is NOT aggression.

    Amazing. Really. Fantastic!

    1. According to them, not only are contrary opinions worthy of cursing and bullying, but when a 300 LB football players corners (but doesn’t touch) a 100 lb woman and shouts at her and berates and even threatens her – that is NOT aggression.


    2. If he prevents her from leaving, he has initiated force.

      1. Oh, she won’t know that until she tries! Let’s take another example of the “if I didn’t touch, it’s not violence or aggression” theme which is put forward here.

        Let’s say the Kochs (who own this place) decide they want to spend 1/10 of their fortune (maybe 8 billion) on cartoons, movies, publications and internet sites which make Jews look like rats, etc – or, for that matter, any other group. According to the “persons of reason and logic” on the Hate Crime comments here, this is free speech….in fact, it’s “free speech” if the Kochs wanted to buy 100 cinemas and show their movies about jews, italians, muslims or whoever….

        But, according to many here, this is not aggressive nor violent. And, if it incites violence, it’s only the fault of the people who went to the movies….no blame whatsoever falls on the Kochs.

        I tell you this much. The write has a point in the subhead – which is really the #1 objective of true liberals and progressives:
        “To treat people as ends, not means”. That’s the outlooks of liberals such as myself….as opposed to “The Kochs should be able to plunder the resources of our nation and pollute the air because they have more money and influence”.

        See the difference? It’s very confusing to someone looking for “logic and reasons”.

        I suspect the name and bylines here are simply to fool some people who then mistakenly think the same old, same old……is somehow now backed up by “Reason”.

        1. So your alternative it to prosecute “thought crime”, eliminate freedom of expression and base your policies on emotion?

          Try harder Mary. Take your meds.

          1. No Zzz-Quil for me tonight. She puts me to sleep.

        2. ” “The Kochs should be able to plunder the resources of our nation …”.

          By selling people Quilted Northern toilet paper! THE DASTARDLY EVILS?!?

          “…and pollute the air because they have more money and influence”

          Because the $100m they spent trying to *cure cancer*, or the same dumped into science education like *funding departments of Chemical Engineering @ MIT* or the TV program NOVA, or awful pollute-y things like the NYC Ballet, or the Opera, or the Kansas Philharmonic, these things are all part of their EVIL SCHEME TO DESTROY THE EARTH

          I can understand a teenage retard believing the bullshit you spout, Mary – but seriously, you’re an adult. Grow the fuck up already.

          1. C’mon, you must know I’ve seen their sponsorships!

            Not gonna educate you, but vast amounts of their sponsorships have to do with exactly which candidates are supported – through their many orgs. Too many to even name….they are great at injecting themselves into every piece of the society, and even greater at paying people off to spout their ideals (CATO, this pub, etc.)

            Do the math. Please let me know how much they give away to causes which hurt their profits. It doesn’t cost them a dime in their business to add more to the “cure cancer, instead of PREVENT IT” pie.

            Based on your “logic” the Priest that abuses children should be forgiven because, after all, look at all the fine and good things he has done.


            Fact: The Kochs rely largely on “the commons” – that is, leases, federal land, common resources, our laws and military which defend them, our ports, navigation, roads and all the other aspects of our civil soceity.

            Fact: They spend the largest amount of their money, time and influence making sure OTHERS pay the tab as opposed to them.

            Sorry, but facts are facts. They certainly are not like Buffet….

            1. The more of your pablum I read, the more I am convinced that you spend your days smearing yourself with your own shit in a room with newspaper over the windows and walls covered in pictures of random events with bits of yarn between them, each of those leading back to a blown up picture of the dollar bill and “ILLUMINATI” written in giant block letters on it.

              In other words, you are clearly pants on your head bugshit fucking nuts.


    4. When did Mary get out?

      1. It’s not Mary. He’s been around now for a few weeks. He’s just another Tony-style strawman-burning progressive.

        1. Its Mary.

          Mary is the one with the “victim complex” who thinks she was “bullied”by showing up here and being a shit throwing monkey.

          This shit throwing monkey has same victim complex.

          Ergo, Mary.

          1. I know it’s easter, but this is ridiculous. Mary?

            I’m a bit insulted. But I don’t take it personally.

            As dead old dads says, those with nothing better to say often…well, often talk like many of you.

            1. It is of course just as plausible that there’s more than one ‘Screamingly Retarded’ person in the universe.

              1. Each retard is a special snowflake.

                1. This should be a bumper sticker.

  25. Sheesh, why can’t it be because people get along best that way? Most people are taught it as very young children, so I don’t see why it requires any more analysis than very young children are capable of understanding.

    1. Problem is the mind, and, well, spirit, or consciousness, that thinks that because it’s on top and has the wide overview, that it’s supposed to be the boss, while nothing could be further from the truth. The Will, “gut feelings,” desire, is what motivates us. The brain’s job is to just be there for the Will to use to figure out how to meet our needs in the most efficient, pleasant, and fun way.

    2. It doesn’t. But consider trying to make it work from the perspective of the owners of this site (Kochs) and others. They have to bend it to make it palatable to the right…..

      and to do so, they must, as a famous quote goes:
      “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

      Very simply put. They start with the world view of selfishness and then must try to wrap morality and ethics around it – which does not fit. It can’t. A simple look at slavery would tell children, as you say, that something about “market based” isn’t right.

      1. Selfish?

        You are the one advocating denial of basic human rights, for your own ends.

        1. It would seem that the right to clean air, water and land would be among the most basic. Can you, in all seriousness, deny that the Kochs (owners of this and much of the media) deny that to people?

          Let’s take it down to a really simple example. I own a uranium mine and processing plant. As with all mines to date, I am sloppy and pile up the mine tailings for future generations to deal with. The same goes with the waste and operations of my plants – as I “privatize the gains and socialize the losses” by lobbying the regulators to take my waste or allow me to store it on site forever.

          By doing this, I made a 800 million over the last ten years – for me as owner. BUT, if I would have spent more money and time on cleanup and equipment, I would only have made 300 million, but there would be 20,000 fewer cancer cases caused by my sloppiness over the next 25 years.

          Which one is more libertarian? Making the big bucks – ala the Kochs, or spending as much as possible to avoid pollutants?

          Easy question, it seems. 300 million is certainly enough for my happiness although maybe I can’t buy a brand new Gulfstream V every year. I’ll have to wait until every two years. But how does that weigh against disease and death?

          The biggest problem here is that much of the damage done happens over years, decades and even centuries. But the profits are immediate.

          1. Yeah, because it’s in the best interests of a company to kill people.

            Mary, please, go to the medicine cabinet and take the pill. You are a raving lunatic without it.

            1. Easier than a logical answer…..I’m sure.

              Yes, it was cheaper for GM not to address those ignition switches or Ford the Pinto and thousands of other examples.

              You really can’t be that ignorant about history…

              1. GM did not address the ignition switches because they were granted legal immunity along with their government bailout.

                I’m guessing you were all for that bailout weren’t you. The market had eliminated the company not meeting the needs of the consumer, and you people, the progressives, allowed them to survive…and now you have the audacity to bitch about them being shitbags.

                You idiots slay me.

                1. Bailouts are way above my pay grade. I do know the GW Bush and his friends did push for it and sign it…

                  Whether or not the Kochs were for it probably depends on their financial connections or lack of. If they thought they’d be able to buy up a lot of the property at bankruptcy prices, they’d be against it.

                  What I am “for” and “against” doesn’t matter much since my political activism consists of one vote…mine. And, where I live, that hardly matters anyway.

                  Personally, I dislike American cars. It’s been that way for decades. I like some of the trucks and vans, though, although a lot of them have foreign engines, etc.

                  Pretty much a world economy these days. Again, above my pay grade.

                2. You failed to address the Ford Pinto and many other similar situation – or even the “libertarian right” fight against car safety standard (they were always anti-nader) – such standards have saved millions!

                  But, according to free marketers, Joe Six pack should be free to buy a car where his whole family incinerates when it’s bumped in the back…if it saves him $1,000 up front.

      2. “A simple look at slavery would tell children…”

        “…This is the ideal role of man in relation to his/her Government”
        / Progressive

  26. Good lord Sheldon. I’ve read your work many times. Your stuff is always thick but never deep. It’s evident that you have passion…and sometimes little else. This is one of those times.

  27. Let’s just define “aggression” as everything a libertarian appreciates as intolerable (cheating, fraud, taxes, etc.). The non-bad-stuff principle. Then shout down anyone else who proposes other bad stuff that should be actively mitigated as an evil statist. Voila, libertarianism.

    1. “Because Sodas that are Too Large are just as bad as Personal Assault on Your Person”

      ‘water terms down to meaninglessness – Voila!= Progressive Liberalism’

      1. Ah, now you are just starting to grok it!

        So, as your words indicate, there are many many ways as well as relative powers of subjects involved.

        It IS therefore possible that a billionaire using his “speech” to make people hate each other is even worse than me shoving you out of the way to get to my doctors appointment in time. While I don’t condone either, an enlightened system does place values on things such as public health, spreading of hateful propaganda, etc. – only because they are a means of making people much happier and healthier.

        No one of sound mind would argue that it would not be great if people were better behaved, healthier, etc…without being prodded. But old habits and instincts die hard.

        Therefore, it is unfortunately true that many many people in our current societies DO “know better” than the individual. Among these people are engineers, doctors and many others.

        1. I assume you think you’ve qualified yourself to be among the ‘prodders’.

          Good luck with that, Mary.

          1. that ain’t no “mary” I see when I look down in the shower…….

            Also, if I was Mary I’d probably take exception to my Doc sticking his finger far up my arse…..

            But, whatever, if you want to think of me in that way – that’s really stuff for other web sites!

            1. Show us on the doll where the 300lb football player touched you, Mary.

          2. No way I’d tell someone else how to live. Either they follow my example or not…on their own. Although I’m not a Christian, I do believe that we are all imperfect and it’s generally not in good taste to assume we are more righteous than the next person.

    2. Let’s just define “aggression” as everything a libertarian appreciates as intolerable (cheating, fraud, taxes, etc.). The non-bad-stuff principle.

      Every non-retard can acknowledge injustice. It takes a progressive to rationalize moral exemptions for thieves and murderers as long as that criminal wears a special costume or gets a 51% approval rating from an arbitrary grouping of people.

  28. Why does this clueless jerkwad have a column on Reason? And it’s the same damn column as last week.

    “I’m a sophomoric twit who wants to pontificate on the One True Libertarian Faith.”

    I don’t need a seeming intern trying to school me on philosophy.

  29. Richman raises an interesting question and then provides a completely unconvincing answer.

    The way I look at it is this:

    – Everyone has subjective values to which they attach different levels of importance
    – Some people attach the highest importance to freedom
    – If freedom is your highest value, the NAP is the most effective rule-of-thumb for maximizing freedom

    For me, the NAP is not a statement of moral philosophy, much less a comprehensive statement of moral philosophy. It’s a means to an end, and the end is freedom.

    The advantage is that people with different moral philosophies who value freedom (e.g. Objectivists, Christian libertarians, subjectivist individualists) can agree on the NAP as political agenda even if they don’t agree on, say, whether rights are God given and whether egoism is good or bad.

    1. Only people whose highest value is to dominate or be dominated aren’t best served by a free society.

    2. For me, the NAP is not a statement of moral philosophy, much less a comprehensive statement of moral philosophy. It’s a means to an end, and the end is freedom.

      Objectivists would say that a moral philosophy is itself also a means to an end.

      1. For me, the NAP is not a statement of moral philosophy, much less a comprehensive statement of moral philosophy. It’s a means to an end, and the end is freedom.

        No it’s moral philosophy. The NAP posits a moral truth and makes a comment on the nature of morality. Whether you agree with the NAP or not is irrelevant, it’s patently false to say that it’s not moral philosophy. If you persist in disagreement then you don’t know the meaning of philosophy.

  30. What libertarian society? You mean the one growing ever more distant as the voter demand a bigger and fatter government teat? The up and coming generation thinks Somolia is fine example of libertarianism. Have you even started dealing with that?

  31. Entirely too long a piece, and it misses the simple truth that validates the NAP: once one (be it individual or state) starts down the slope of violation of the NAP, there is ever more violence to try to balance the original act. The only way to avoid violence is to not agress in the first place.

  32. Assertions of “Owing” and “Should” but no mention of the individual assessments of perception regarding values, priorities, risks and rewards that humans use to choose to their behavior…just assertions that are intended to end the debate by asserting that we “owe” it to each other.

    NO! That is not how human action works. If there is a justification, that holy grail of righteousness quested after by folks who think it changes reality, then that justification MUST lie in the perceived value individuals consider when faced with a choice to be aggressor, or not. The fact of that choice cannot be nullified by edict.

    Principles are just one kind of tool that every human uses to help them make decisions in the face of uncertain knowledge and limited perspectives. There are MANY such tools.

    When devotion to the use of a particular tool becomes more valued by choosers of that tool than the results:
    1. That tool has become a tenet of a faith-based belief system.
    2. Others will see the tool does not provide a desirable value in all cases and will choose different tools to satisfy that lack.

    NAP cannot be the choice of folks who lack the required faith in it. Human Action doesn’t change for others just because one’s faith makes choices deterministic for them, personally.

    Folks who are unwilling or unable to grasp the system of perceived value by which humans choose actions are unlikely to ever stumble on ways to alter those perceptions of value which others are adhering to.

    1. I’m trying to decide what dressing would be best on your word salad. Maybe we should bash your brains in and use what flows from the wound….? Does anyone perceive value in that?

  33. But the NAP can hardly justify itself.

    Actually the NAP is a self-evident proposition. It’s universal and at the very core of human empathy. The injustice of aggression is the bedrock of morality and whether you believe morality is objective or not, you can’t deny it’s universality.

    1. Well, okay, except liberals would argue that a drive to help the suffering would also be at the core of human empathy. And, unlike libertarians, liberals would be willing to use force to compel people to relieve the suffering of the less fortunate.

      1. Which is of course why libertarians and “liberals” will never agree on anything.

      2. That willingness to use force indicates nonrecognition of the NAP. Charity at the point of a gun isn’t charity.

        1. Sure, but that doesn’t matter to liberals. They don’t care whether it’s voluntary charity or “social responsibility” enforced at gunpoint.

          Ultimately, it’s a question of values. Do you value freedom most, as libertarians do? Or are you willing to sacrifice freedom to alleviate suffering, as liberals advocate?

  34. The reason the NAP is “right” is because if you impose your will against another, that sends a logical message that they can impose their will on you against your will. And that is by definition undesirable to you, therefore, using correct logic, you have to abide by the NAP. Now you CAN ignore the conclusions and just not abide by the NAP and impose your will on another without any repercussions. That is certainly possible and is common, but that would be objectively “wrong.”

    1. That is exactly right. If it’s not logically consistent and universal in it’s application in all times and places and contexts, then it’s not a moral truth. The fact that the NAP is logically consistent and universally applicable allows us to say that it objectively exists and it’s objectively true.

      1. And the objectivity has implications of its own in the case of what a third party should do when witnessing unjust or “wrong” acts. I phrased the example above using a “subjective” scenario, in terms of right/wrong acts being imposed on you. But really what I should have said was, a third person witnesses two individuals and one of them is imposing their will on the another. Now objectively, they are equal in their rights in the third person’s eyes and therefore the third person can actually observe the wrongness of one individual imposing their will on the other AND he is justified to intervene on the wrongness, perhaps with force. I think this has implications in terms of whether you have a right to use force to stop a crime happening to another person.

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