Rights

For Libertarians, There Is Only One Fundamental Right

All further "rights" are simply applications of our basic right not to be aggressed against.

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So, libertarians, how many rights do people have? One (say, the right to life, albeit with countless applications)? Three (life, liberty, and property)? Or an unlimited number (the right to do this, that, and the other, ad infinitum)?

Because part of any strategy to achieve a fully free society presumably includes persuading non-libertarians to be libertarians, formulating a clear answer to my question seems worthwhile. The simpler the answer the better (other things equal), because getting people to think about moral and political philosophy, especially when we appear to be challenging the reigning view, is tough enough without needlessly making it tougher.

For that reason, I would like it to be the case that we have only one right—a right that could account for what at first glance appear to be other distinct rights. The challenge is to make that case. Fortunately for me, Roderick Long does this in "Why Libertarians Believe There Is Only One Right."

Long begins by noting that the libertarian philosophy strikes some non-libertarians, particularly advocates of the welfare state, as "weird." He cites one critic who complains that libertarians see rights violations all around while denying the existence of welfare rights. Long comments:

The unspoken subtext is: why on earth would anyone believe this? To the non-libertarian, libertarianism seems simply weird in its insistence that people have, on the one hand, no welfare rights at all—and on the other hand, property rights so robust that nearly every law on the books stands in violation of them. Libertarianism, in its apparent stark and fanatical focus on negative rights above all else, irresistibly reminds non-libertarians of the contending schools of Presocratic philosophy, intemperately insisting that everything was water, or fire, or motion, or rest.

But appearances can be misleading—and are in this case, Long writes. Libertarianism "derives not from an alien set of values, but rather from a quite ordinary set of values coupled with a recognition of the logical implications of those values." (Long emphasizes that his intention in this paper is not to demonstrate the truth of libertarianism but only to show that libertarianism isn't "especially puzzling or mysterious"—certainly an effort worth making.)

jumpinjimmyjava/Flickr

Mainstream libertarians, Long writes, "believe that there is, fundamentally, only one right: the right not to be aggressed against. All further rights are simply applications of, rather than supplements to, this basic right." (I state what I see as the basis of the nonaggression obligation here.) Long sets out a positive and a negative thesis.

Positive Thesis: "we have a right not to be aggressed against." (He uses "aggression" in the non-normative sense to mean simply initiatory force.)

Negative Thesis: "we have no other rights."

Thus we have only one right. Long acknowledges that while not everyone accepts the Positive Thesis, nevertheless "it is attractive and … there is nothing mysterious about embracing it." The Negative Thesis, however, is apt to provoke outrage.

First we need to be clear on what we mean by a right. Long writes: 

To have a right is to have a moral claim against another person or persons; but not every such moral claim is a right. My having a right to be treated in a certain manner involves, at least, other people having an obligation so to treat me; but it must involve more than this, for not every such obligation has a right as its correlate. I have an obligation to be polite to my associates and grateful to my benefactors, but they have no right (except metaphorically) to my politeness or my gratitude….

The obligations that are correlated with rights differ from other obligations in being legitimately enforceable. … Only if a moral claim is a right may you use force as a means of securing my compliance.

Teasing out the implications, Long says a right has two parts. The first is the obligation that other people have to treat the right-holder in a particular way. The second part is the right-holder's legitimate authority to compel others to act that way (Long calls this the "permissibility component").

We perhaps are not surprised to learn that the positive and negative theses are intimately related: "The Positive Thesis turns out to entail the Negative Thesis (at least with the help of some truistic auxiliary premises)." Thus it makes no sense for someone to embrace the Positive Thesis without also embracing the Negative Thesis, although may non-libertarians think they can do so.

How is the Negative Thesis entailed by the Positive Thesis? Long: "The possibility of accepting the Positive Thesis while rejecting the Negative Thesis is precluded by the logical structure of the concepts involved. If people have a right not to be aggressed against, then people have a right not to be subjected to any initiatory use of force." This is a tautology of great consequence.

If people had rights in addition to the right to be free from aggression, that would indicate that they had enforceable claims against others whose alleged rights violation did not entail the use of aggressive force. [If it did entail the use of aggressive force, we would be back to the Positive Thesis and would not be talking about an additional right.] That would in turn indicate that the one whose alleged other right is violated could legitimately use force to compel others to act in a certain way. [Remember, that's an important part of what it means to have a right.] But since by stipulation those others had not used aggressive force, the force used against them in defense of the alleged other right would itself entail aggression.

In other words, Smith's right to be free from aggression would clash with Jones's proposed other right. That is incoherent, unless we dump the right not to be aggressed against—which would open up a horrendous can of worms. Long explains:

If an activity involves no use of force, then there can be no right to suppress it by force, since such a use of force would be aggression, and so would violate the obligation component of the right not to be aggressed against. And if an activity involves a non-initiatory use of force, then once again there can be no right to suppress it by force, since such a use of force would violate the permissibility component of the right not to be aggressed against. Hence the only activity whose forcible suppression is consistent with the right not to be aggressed against, is aggression itself…. Thus if aggression is the only activity whose forcible suppression is permissible, then refraining from aggression is the only activity whose performance may legitimately be compelled. It follows that by recognizing a right not to be aggressed against, we have thereby ipso facto ruled out the existence of any other right.   

This exposes a fatal flaw in the theory of positive, or welfare, rights. Moreover, Long adds, it demolishes the "frequent charge that libertarians recognize too few rights." Since the concept of a right implies that people must not violate them, "every time we add a right here, we ipso facto subtract a right there; the total quantity of rights can thus be rearranged, but not increased. Perhaps libertarians recognize the wrong rights; but it makes no sense to complain that they recognize too few."

This piece originally appeared at Sheldon Richman's "Free Association" blog.  

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  1. On the whole this single right makes more sense than the impossible to define “natural rights” idea.

    1. This explains much.

    2. Natural rights do no need to be defined. People can’t be expected to prove they are free. The burden of proof is on those who would rule over others. They’re the ones who need to justify their actions.

  2. To me welfare enables the portion of people who would otherwise be productive. That’s the problem with welfare. I don’t mind some sort of safety net for persons truly in dire need of it but the cold hard truth is too many functional and potentially productive people are on the dole. It shouldn’t be a ‘right’ but seen as a ‘here’s a couple of bucks for a few months until you figure things out’.

    Or else you’re in danger of giving to much credit to welfarism and treat it as a means to an end. It gets so bizarre you get articles like this (I forget who linked to it last week) where having welfare means more entrepreneurship:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/pol…..al/388598/

  3. I disagree on the “one” right. If there is only one, it is self ownership. The NAP derives from it.

    1. You are correct. If the one right is the nonaggression principle, then why would so many libertarians be pro-abortion. Abortion is by it nature an incredibly aggressive action against one of the participants in that procedure. It is impossible to reconcile NAP with being pro-abortion.

      Now self-ownership and self-determination can be reconciled with a libertarian stance, including the common stance on abortion.

      Therefore I think you are are correct and Sheldon is hopelessly wrong.

      1. If the fetus is not a person, then the abortion is not an act of aggression any more than slaughtering a chicken for dinner is. The acts necessary to forcibly prevent and/or punish the abortion are indisputably aggressive.

      2. Pro choice people don’t see abortion as aggression against another person because they don’t see the embryo/fetus as a person.

        1. That’s not accurate at all. I don’t think it is relevant whether the fetus is a person or not, because I have the right to control my own uterus, and I get to decide who uses it.

          The fact that the fetus would die without my uterus isn’t my problem. The fetus does not have a positive right to use my body as a life support system. To claim that it does is essentially the same argument that progressive make that someone else’s “need” gives them a positive right to free medical care.

          If there was a fully grown conscious adult attached to me by an umbilical cord, I would still have the right to cut that cord, even if he would die as a result.

          1. Hazel, if you invited someone onto your yacht, when you were out at sea would you have the right to toss that person off the yacht? After all, it’s your yacht.

              1. OK. Gulfstream G-III, airforce guy. Planes aren’t big enough to accommodate most of my orphan monocle-polishers, however.

            1. I suppose if that person bit you in the stomach and began sucking out vital nutrients, then perhaps you would have the right to toss them off.

              1. No, RPM, you might have a case to press in court, or to restrain them and take them to the next port. Murder, not so much.

                1. You’d have the right to blow a hole in their head, so why wouldn’t hurling them off the boat work just as well?

                  Or is self defense no longer an option? I guess I should just let someone hurt me until I’m dead, and then let my family take it to court?

                  I think you’re going with a less violent option because we’re talking about a fetus, instead of a violent madman. I understand that, BigT. I was just making a joke. A dry joke, but a joke none the less.

            2. I didn’t invite them onto the yacht. They were a stow-away.

              1. Only if you were raped.

                1. Nobody has sex thinking “I am now entering a contract to potentially lease my womb to a third party.”

                  Nevermind that I could have been using protection, which would pretty much be equivalent to a no entry sign. Protection isn’t 100% effective, but it does show a deliberate intention NOT to get pregnant.

            3. Hazel, if you invited someone onto your yacht, when you were out at sea would you have the right to toss that person off the yacht?

              As a matter of fact, yes. They have no right to the use of HazelMeade’s yacht. The invite merely allows the privilege of the use of her yacht. And, as it is hers, the privilege may be rescinded at any time for any reason. It may not be moral, but it is within the Ethics of Liberty.

              The right to life does not impose any obligation upon others, whatsoever, to provide the means to sustain life. Otherwise, it would be a positive right that necessarily violates the NAP by imposing an enforceable obligation upon others to give up some portion of their Rights to Life, Liberty, or Property to exercise it.

              1. If I invited them onto my yacht, yes I would be obligated to return them to shore. However, having sex ISN’T an invitation to inhabit my uterus.

        2. Well isn’t that convenient?

          Like I said libertarians can claim pro abortion if the “one right” is self ownership, but if the “one right” is the NAP, then the libertarian stance must consider abortion as an interaction between two parties, one of whom is being very aggressive.

          1. Yes, trespassing in my uterus is a pretty big aggression.

            1. The fetus is only trespassing due to your actions which is not in trespassing. If you choose to engage in sexual intercourse then one reaction from that is you can get pregnant. The fetus did not consciously choose to be in your uterus. Again, your actions put that fetus there.

              If by your actions you cause someone to do something, you can not then charge them with the crime that your actions led them to commit.

              Using the yacht analogy, it would be more akin to you forcing someone on your yacht, then changing your mind later and throwing them overboard.

              You sound as if you want to go through life with no repercussions. You stated that no one think that if they engage in intercourse that they might lease their uterus to a baby. I disagree and think that you should definitely think about that. Babies aren’t delivered by the stork after all.

              Wanting to go through life with no reactions to your actions except those reactions that you approve of is a very childish and naive way to be. You sound exactly like the liberals who want everything to be free because by golly, they are special and deserve it just as much as the person who worked for it.

              1. This is the elephant in the room concerning the libertarian debate on abortion. If;

                1: We presume that a fetus is a person and

                2: That person was conceived not by rape

                Then the relationship of dependency was wholly created by the mother, without the consent of the child, and she has a responsibility to continue it. For the yacht analogy like you said, it would be akin to forcing (not asking) a person onto you yacht and then claiming that your property rights allow them to be thrown overboard. For the transfusion analogy it would be akin to giving someone a poison that make them dependent on your particular blood (for nine months), and then denying them access to it because of perceived self ownership.

      3. abortion is something we could argue about forever. we dont really know what human (or any kind of) life is, much less when it begins. arguing about it rather than blowing up abortion clinics is the best we can do for now

    2. I agree with robc, self ownership is the more fundamental.

    3. Exactly. All rights flow from self ownership.

    4. I’ve always thought that was true. If you begin from self-ownership and derive property rights from that you don’t paint yourself into as many philosophical corners as you do just assuming a right to be free from aggression. After all, it’s a little clearer to say that (to pull from a post downthread) that fraud and assault are both crimes against property (or violations of the right to ownership) than to say that fraud is aggression. You have to really bend the definition of “aggression” in order to make it work within what libertarians generally agree are universal rights, especially when you hit stuff like nonviolent crimes.

    5. No, and I’ve explained this to other libertarians for years. Even if you have a very complete & robust conception of ownership, it fails to encompass freedom of movement. It doesn’t explain how someone who’s blocking your driveway, or someone who locks you in a room that you entered voluntarily, is violating any right you should have. It doesn’t detract from any of your rights of ownership of your body or of your car. Your body in the room, your car in your driveway, are at your complete disposal, but obviously you should be able to get out of there, so something’s missing!

      I’m sure you can think of other rights you should have that self-ownership would not entail. For example, what if you can’t get messages to others because someone is drowning them out audio- or radio-wise? Your intended audience doesn’t even know you’re there, although they might want to hear from you if they could.

      I also think you can conceive of many cases wherein analysis on the basis of self-ownership can’t resolve a dispute as to rights, yet you would understand a right as desirable to resolve it.

      1. I think you guys have hit the nail on the head vis the issues with this article. While the notion that positive and negative rights exclude each other is obvious, I am not as convinced that libertarians dont embrace a constelation of overlapping rights. Attempting to choose one and defining it as the sources of all the others produces serious abuses of language.

      2. Fair enough.
        I think self-ownership is one of the basic principles, however, if you can make a good argument I could be convinced there are others. I’m not sure if freedom of movement is quite the right formulation though.

        You certainly aren’t free to go wherever you want, whenever you want.
        So it has to be more of a freedom from confinement.

        The car in the driveway can be thought of as a contractual issue. Say roads come with certain conditions on their use and one of those is not blocking people’s driveways. In a market anarchy, you would probably call the manager of the roads in your subdivision or the HOA or whatever, and have him towed for violating the road sharing agreement.

        One might be able to make an analogy to other similar situations.

  4. Nice try. But libertarians support laws against lots of things that don’t fall under the common meaning of “aggression”, such as embezzlement, perjury, and fraud.

    1. Good point. That’s why I think robc was correct that self ownership is more basic. Aggression violates a persons autonomy but so does fraud.

  5. Well, whoopee, Captain Circular. That’s like saying you have only 1 rule: Don’t break the rules.

    1. First rule of being a libertarian is that there are no rules! Anarchy!

    2. I mean there’s nothing about categorizing all the rules as a single rule that has any information content, that explains a single case, that simplifies things at all, or that is helpful in any way I see. It’s like the end result of all of mathematics in its quest for greater degrees of generaliz’n: a single concise statement that encompasses all that’s been stated more specifically, and is of no practical use.

  6. You know who else was historically aggressed against?

    1. Poland?

    2. Every human forced to use fiat currency?

    3. The Jooooooos.

  7. I accept the “one right” framework, which also leads me away from mainstream libertarians on foreign policy. If you see people being aggressed against, what do you do? Do you resist aggression only on you own behalf?, just your family’s, just your neighbors’? How big is your neighborhood?

    1. You know what you don’t do? Kidnap people and force them to fight the battle for you. If they’re volunteer, fuck em, they signed up. Next time they’ll demand a better contract.

      1. This.
        If people want to organize a Lincoln brigade and go fight in what they see as the right fight then fine, but don’t draft me or my dollars

        1. We haven’t had the draft for like 40 years, this hardly seems like a relevant criticism.

          1. There doesn’t have to be a draft for the government to spend money on pointless foreign wars.

            1. And you don’t need wars for the government to spend money on the military so grumbling about red herrings like the draft and taxation is pointless in this context. You should be against any military at all if taxation is the concern. If so, kudos for consistency.

    2. The further you get from your neighborhood the less familiar you are with the particulars of any conflict and more likely to make things worse in the long run by trying to right the situation.

    3. “what do you do? ”

      As an autonomous individual you decide what you are going to do. Don’t make decisions on other’s behalf.

    4. This is how a group of libertarians can have people who are strict noninterventionists and “world-police” types and still be ideologically consistent. Some people feel you have a moral obligation to stop the violations of others’ rights, some don’t. The tricky bit comes when you commit national military forces to those fights, because you’re making decisions about group property, in effect. Unless the members and the funding are both strictly voluntary you’re getting into tricky territory.

      1. I think the noninterventionist argument is more utilitarian than deontological: experience shows that intervening militarily in foreign affairs, more often than not, results in the world being worse off. Of course, even noninterventionists believe that a country should intervene where its interests are implicated. Unfortunately, this begs the question of what is in a country’s “interest.” It’s a complicated question with no easy answers.

        I’d like to think I’m a foreign policy realist: in general, we should not intervene militarily, but there may come times when it’s necessary to do so. Each event requires careful analysis.

        1. Yes. And that’s the problem with dogmatism. There are exceptions to just about everything.

        2. “the noninterventionist argument is more utilitarian than deontological”

          Sorry to be pedantic, but the noninterventionist view is consequentialist, not utilitarian! other than that, well put.

    1. The only thing they’re “ending” is public knowledge of their illegal blanket surveillance.

    2. Ok, totally believable. Just like guys I knew in high school who got dumped by girlfriends, but they weren’t mad, man, because they were like totally about to break up with those bitches anyway and they were like already talking to this really hot chick they met at the mall.

    3. I wonder where that AP exclusive came from.

    4. Scene: A well lit board room. Several men in expensive suits are sitting around an oaken meeting table, open file folders littering the space in front of them.

      NSA Man 1: “On the docket for today; the phone spying program. We’re taking a look at the future of this program, and where it will lead.”

      NSA Man 2: “We’re getting lots of juicy stuff, sir. Sex tapes, scandalous information, blackmail fodder, all sorts of things. It’s quite lucrative.”

      NSA Man 1: “Is there anything we can use to dissuade those piss-ant congressmen from snooping into our affairs?”

      NSA Man 2: “Oh my, yes. You wouldn’t believe the stuff those dirty fuckers get up to.”

      NSA Man 3: “Er. . .guys? Maybe we should consider, you know, not doing any of that? Aren’t there bits of the constitution that say we’re not supposed to do this stuff?”

      NSA Man 1 and NSA Man 2 give NSA Man 3 piercing, angry glares.

      NSA Man 1: “You’re fired.”

  8. Picked up the local free paper and noticed Sheldon Richman had a letter in the Letters to the Editor section. Usually just use the paper for fire starter or to pick up dog poop so hadn’t noticed if he was a regular contributor. Seldom ever read it since it’s pretty much a bunch of extreme left wing loons either bawling about living in a red zone or demanding for every thing under the Sun to tightly regulated or made illegal.

    Since only a few hundreds people live in this entire county I have to wonder if Richman lives near here. Perhaps the Missoula area, it’s full of socialist control freaks who lose sleep knowing there’s free citizens up here managing to escape their totalitarian control. They’ve been known to frequently send letters to the little paper in question.

  9. I remain suspicious of non-aggression as the ultimate right for a number of reasons–some of them practical. It simply doesn’t translate well into average people’s experience. And I’m really not interested in a libertarianism that we can only enjoy once everyone has read the right books and understands it the same way. There’s already a movement for that–it’s called “Objectivism”.

    I want to live in a more libertarian society in my lifetime, and I’m not willing to wait until the majority becomes rational.

    There are better more easily palatable and accessible ways to offer the same thing. The ultimate right is personal autonomy. The only right is the right to make choices for ourselves. Every single one of our rights right is reducible to a right to make a choice. I have the right to choose what I say. I have the right to choose my own religion. I have the right to choose to own a gun, etc. Every crime is a violation of someone’s right–to make a choice for themselves. Rape is a crime because the victim’s right to make a choice was violated. Consuming cannabis is a crime because…no good reason.

    1. You’re not going to live in a more libertarian society in your lifetime. Look around you. Are laws being repealed en masse, are govts not putting future generations on the hook for current consumption? Ken, I like your honesty and earnestness, but it seems to me we should just rush the other side of the boat and capsize it. I sure as hell wouldn’t follow me if I were suggesting that, though.

      1. My mother was born in a world where the President had co-opted the American communist party platform, the Nazis dominated Europe, black people weren’t allowed to attend public schools, where American citizens of Japanese ancestry, women and children included, were rounded up and held under armed guard in desert camps for the crime of being of Japanese ancestry, and where women chose their “careers” in high school from the following menu: teacher, nurse, or secretary.

        I was born in a world where communism dominated Eastern Europe, and Central and Southeast Asia, and where the thought of gay marriage or recreational marijuana ever being legal was a pipe dream, and where every generation being conscripted to fight in a war was considered pretty much a default assumption.

        My grandmother almost lived to be a hundred. Most of the black people over 35 she met when she was growing up had been born slaves.

        I have another four or five decades to live. I think you’re being irrationally pessimistic.

        1. I hope so, Ken. I’d love to be wrong. My argument is that when you have a society built upon debt, with mulitple parties having claim to the same debt, you aren’t going to see liberty arise out of that situation. I hope that humans can work through this gordian knot, but I don’t do see how it’s possible. I never underestimate the power debt has when it comes to corrupting the human spirit. When it’s all said and done, yeah, maybe.

          1. If we’re going up against something like a natural law, the natural law will win.

            We’re not going to violate the laws of gravity forever. If we continue to ignore it, we are gong to crash.

            In some ways, isn’t Greece better off now than they were when they were making their debt problems worse? Their misbehavior needed to be corrected.

            Our debt problems will be resolved one way or the other, too. The reason to do so with fiscal discipline is so we can avoid having fiscal discipline imposed on us by the market. We won’t have many choices to make about priorities if fiscal restraint is imposed on us by the market.

            But the fear shouldn’t be that our debt problems will never be resolved. We can’t ignore gravity forever. Gravity will eventually assert itself. And when it does, won’t that be a good thing if it corrects our misbehavior? Just like the housing market crashing was a good thing. The scary thing would have been if it had kept on going like it was even longer. That market needed a correction.

            China went through an extremely painful transformation into a more capitalist society–but that was a positive development, wasn’t it? It moved them into a positive direction. When we have to make the necessary changes, that’ll be a good thing, too. I hope we avoid a lot of the painfulness through willing fiscal restraint, but the good news is that our debt problems will be resolved. And when they are, won’t that be a positive step in the right direction?

            1. How many people died as China went from authoritarian to quasi authoritarian control? I’m not saying all is doomed. I’m saying it may not, probably won’t, happen in our lifetimes. This is the moment we were given in history: the collapse of central banking. How long and how painful the recovery is depends on us. I’m a firm believer in free will and will put my money where my mouth is when it counts. Curious, Ken, how would this, in the best case, unwind itself and lead to a freer socieity?

              1. How will the cutting off the credit of our drunken sailor government lead to a freer society?

                It will make it harder for the government to spend so much.

                The people who will suffer the most are the people whose livelihoods depend on government spending.

                That’s the only way such irresponsible spending will ever get cut off.

                There will never come a time when the government is so flush with cash to spend that it will decide to cut spending. There will come a time when there is no more blood in the turnip, and the credit markets will cut us off. Suddenly, servicing our existing debt will become so expensive, there won’t be any way to continue spending like we had. That’s what happened to Greece, and if we keep spending like we are, that’s what’s going to happen to us, someday, too.

                If it weren’t for Europe and some of the rest of the world being in such sorry shape, it might be happening right now. Fortunately (or unfortunately), we’re the prettiest horse in the glue factory right now, and so everyone is treating our currency like a safe haven.

                Someday, willingly or unwillingly, we’ll balance our budget–just like Greece. And the government will control a much smaller portion of the economy than it does now. That’s a terrible outcome if you depend on the government for your livelihood.

                For those of us who don’t, that will be great news. Like falling housing prices are good news for people with good credit who are looking to buy.

    2. I mean, it’s good kerygma, but the dogma is IMO the principle of self-ownership or the right to property. But I agree that it’s tough to explain that in an elevator pitch. That’s why I like the “don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff” deal, because it’s easy to understand, everybody can get behind it, and it still encapsulates the core principles of liberty. It’s also a good segue into, “If I told you I’d take money from you if you let someone smoke on your property, you’d think that I was crazy, right? So why is it ok for the government to do that?”

      1. That’s why I like the “don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff” deal, because it’s easy to understand, everybody can get behind it, and it still encapsulates the core principles of liberty.

        On a personal level, I accept that this is mostly true. However, once you introduce middlemen under the veneer of social authority people don’t realize that they are indirectly hurting people and taking their stuff, using the Government’s agents as their proxy. The people then, assuming the best ;P, do not realize their transgressions because, after all, they aren’t doing it themselves.

    3. Choice is necessary but not sufficient. But it’s obvious that rights entail choice, because it’d be absurd if they didn’t.

      1. How is “choice” not sufficient?

        Every right is reducible to a choice, and no further reduction is possible beyond it.

        Name a right that isn’t a choice.

        In what way is “choice” insufficient?

        1. You’re conflating the concept of a right with the question you were addressing of determining what “ultimate right(s)” should be. Of course a right is going to involve choice, or could fairly be said to be a choice. The question is what choices should persons be allowed to have.

          Something about this topic seems to invite tautology. Maybe it’s because nobody wants to think seriously about it.

          1. What are you talking about not thinking seriously about it?

            If individual rights are fundamental to libertarianism, and rights are really choices, then I don’t see how libertarianism can be fully described without a direct reference to the freedom of individuals to make choices for themselves.

            I don’t see the NAP as doing that directly or effectively.

            If the whole world lived by the NAP, I’m sure it would be a libertarian paradise compared to what we have now. I just think there are some fundamental and essential things about libertarianism that the NAP doesn’t emphasize adequately.

            I also think the idea that people should be free to make choices for themselves is easier for average people to get their heads around. As I’ve stated elsewhere, the word “aggression” means different things to different people. “Being free to make choices for ourselves” doesn’t really have that problem.

            When people say, “You don’t REALLY think people should be free to make choices for themselves, do you?”, it’s often because they’re afraid of libertarianism. It isn’t always just because they don’t understand what we’re talking about. When people scratch their heads after hearing about the NAP, it’s often because they don’t understand what the hell we’re talking about.

            1. You’re right, NAP doesn’t do that.

              When people say, “You don’t REALLY think people should be free to make choices for themselves, do you?”, it’s often because they’re afraid of libertarianism.

              I don’t think I’ve ever heard internally quoted bit that said seriously, just sarcastically.

              When people scratch their heads after hearing about the NAP, it’s often because they don’t understand what the hell we’re talking about.

              Usually it’s because they don’t see it as being violated except by criminals. They consider the current law to be the baseline that defines who’s the aggressor. So the taxes you owe belong to the taxing entity, etc.

              1. They see drug dealers, terrorists, capitalism, big business, etc. as “aggression” and they want the government to put a stop to the “aggressors”. If that means the drug war, the NSA recording all of our phone calls, the regulation of the economy, etc., then…why the hell are libertarians saying they’re against “aggression” again? Why are libertarians trying to protect the “aggressors”?

                If the average person needs a whole background of work to understand what the hell we mean by “aggression” and why, then it isn’t an effective way of framing the argument.

                Grokking “We should all be free to make choices for ourselves” requires very little effort.

  10. I don’t have to give someone a political philosophy book to read to understand that our rights are the right to make choices for ourselves. I don’t even need to use a big word like personal “autonomy”. Everybody understands wanting to make choices for themselves–all God’s creation struggles for autonomy. Meanwhile, there is no part of people being free to make choices for themselves that doesn’t jibe with libertarianism. Meanwhile, what we mean when we say that individuals should be free to make choices for themselves is fairly unambiguous.

    In the new world of anti-libertarian “micro-aggressions”, how confusing is it for the uninitiated to hear that libertarians are defined by their fundamental stance against “aggression”? Is there anything libertarians aren’t willing to do to stop terrorist aggression? Those are just two examples of the problem of talking about “aggression”, and that’s just off the top of my head.

    1. Every crime is a violation of someone’s right–to make a choice for themselves.

      Then you fall right into the liberal trap of claiming that the poor don’t have rights because they don’t have the means to make certain choices.

      1. I think it’s true that being poor is defined, in fact, as having very few choices, and I agree that when the left tries to limit the choices available to the poor, they’re necessarily and always exacerbating the problem of poverty.

        1. This is not liberals’ intent, and it’s not their result either except in convenient but feeble and unproven hypotheses about how welfare states work. Any social welfare state will be imperfect, and you will always point to the imperfections as evidence that no social welfare state is the best option–something you aren’t entitled to claim with that set of data.

          1. “This is not liberals’ intent, and it’s not their result either”

            Intent is completely beside the point.

            When Barack Obama supports a racist drug war against the poor–because smoking marijuana is bad for them–and it results in all sort of suffering by the poor?

            Barack Obama’s alleged good intentions don’t count for shit.

            And it doesn’t matter if liberals intend for the minimum wage to be racist–it just matters whether it makes it harder for young black males to get a rudimentary work history at a critical time in their lives.

            It doesn’t matter whether liberals intend for rent control laws, in places like San Francisco and New York, to make it so hard for poor people to find decent and affordable housing. What matters is that their rent control laws make it so hard for poor people to find decent and affordable housing.

            It doesn’t matter whether liberals intend to keep poor children trapped in miserably awful public schools. The fact is that their support for the teachers’ unions means the choices of their parents are getting sold down the river.

            1. Liberals are right there with you on the absurdities and brutalities of the drug war and our criminal justice system. As I said, an imperfection does not necessarily imply that most of modern civilization should be dismantled. And whatever poorly designed rent policies there may be, it’s at least plausible that affordable housing in San Francisco and New York is not available because of simple supply and demand. I don’t have philosophical crises over problems like these; on the contrary, as a liberal I see such problems as simply in need of a solution. Again with the fallacy: public schools aren’t performing to some arbitrary measure of optimality, thus all public schooling should be scrapped. Doesn’t follow. The most rational approach is to fix what’s wrong, whether it be those all-powerful soul-destroying teachers unions, or perhaps the more realistic issue of misallocated resources in schooling, and politicians who don’t like to spend money on anything that doesn’t involve jailing or shooting people (those things libertarians say are the only legitimate functions of government–do you still not get this irony?).

              1. “Liberals are right there with you on the absurdities and brutalities of the drug war and our criminal justice system.”

                A week and a half ago, Barack Obama said it should be our lowest priority.

                He could have reclassified it at any time over the past five years–and didn’t.

                Barack Obama sics the IRS on the working poor if they don’t pony up for health insurance.

                Fuck Barack Obama, and fuck his “good” intentions, too.

                1. I disagree with the president that criminal justice reform is low on our priorities list. I’d put it maybe at number 2 or 3.

                  1. Tony|3.29.15 @ 1:20PM|#
                    I disagree with the president that criminal justice reform is low on our priorities list.”

                    Goody for you. You defend the guy who puts it somewhere south of getting a haircut, and lie about it.

              2. Tony|3.29.15 @ 1:01PM|#
                “Liberals are right there with you on the absurdities and brutalities of the drug war and our criminal justice system.”

                And they’re over there on the opposite side when it comes to doing anything about it.
                Why, just ask that lying POS in the White House; ‘why the rush’?

                1. “And they’re over there on the opposite side when it comes to doing anything about it.”

                  In Los Angeles, the liberals won’t even let fast food restaurants open in poor neighborhoods!

                  The liberals won’t let them choose to eat cheeseburgers! Why would they let them choose to smoke (or sell) ganja?

                  In New York City, the liberals don’t want to let people choose to buy large cups of soft drinks!

                  They want to choose what poor people eat!

                  Why would the liberals let them choose to smoke or sell marijuanica?

                  Tony’s an idiot. He doesn’t respond to this stuff–because there is no response.

                  He believes what he believes for no apparent reason–and he’s sure of it, too!

                  He’s an idiot.

              3. You can’t claim supply and demand on a product that is entirely regulated by the government.

                Supply and demand are distorted heavily by government intervention. If you imagine the market as a rubber sheet, then government intervention is both a thumb pressing in various places, and a knife cutting holes. Sometimes everything in a given area rolls towards the one heavily subsidised product, and sometimes an entire section just falls through the holes caused by terrible burdensome regulation.

                There’s nothing natural or free about a government controlled market. This is just typical progressive claptrap about the free market being the cause of all the worlds ills.

          2. The left’s supposed “good intentions” don’t count for shit, and the fact that the consequences of their “good intentions” are so well demonstrated and so well known means that the left’s intentions aren’t really good at all. The simplest explanation is that because their power is directly related to the number of poor and suffering out there, they have a vested interest in keeping as many people poor and suffering as possible.

            That is one of the reasons why progressives are so obsessed with denying the poor as much choice in their own lives as they possibly can. If poverty is about having very few choices, and progressives thrive on the proliferation of poverty, then why would progressives want poor people to have the freedom to make more choices for themselves?

            1. I’m for giving the poor more money and not prying into their private lives. More choices, less intrusion. I don’t know what other liberals you’re referring to.

              1. Tony|3.29.15 @ 1:02PM|#
                ‘I’m for giving the poor *somebody elses’* money and not prying into their private lives.”

                Yeah, your thuggery has been noted.

              2. If you’re not for letting them choose to smoke or sell marijuana…

                If you’re not for letting them choose their own non-teachers’ union school…

                If you’re not for letting the working poor choose not to buy health insurance…

                If you’re not for letting them choose to work for whatever employers are willing to pay…

                If you’re not for letting them choose to pay whatever they want for rent…

                Then you’re not for letting the poor make choices for themselves.

                And if you support someone like Barack Obama, who opposes letting the poor make choices for themselves in each and every one of these ways, then you’re not for letting the poor make choices for themselves either.

                That’s the difference between rich and poor: The rich get to make all those choices for themselves, and the poor don’t. If you support denying the poor the same choices as the wealthy on these issues, then you’re supporting keeping the poor poor.

                And shame on you.

              3. Tony, I don’t know how you can achieve this.

                Give other people’s money to the poor and then turn a blind eye to what they do with it?

                Yeah. Sounds a totally rational and functional plan.

              4. I’m for giving the poor more money and not prying into their private lives. More choices, less intrusion. I don’t know what other liberals you’re referring to.

                And this is moronic because you completely fail to understand the consequences of your position. If your ‘throw money at the poor’ idea has any chance of actually working you cannot allow ‘more choices’. You have to specifically limited choice to the poor to encourage choices that use their acquired funds in an efficient manner. If those funds are ‘public funds’ than the ultimate arbiter of how they are spent is not the poor. The public has an active interest in how those funds are to be used because there’s an expectation of an outcome. The poor have absolutely zero right to privacy when it comes to redistributed money because it is specifically not about giving them ‘more choices’. It’s almost attempting to achieve an outcome, and that requires a specific limitation of the poor’s actions. A system that ignores that will always be blatantly broken, corrupt, inefficient and ultimately unable to survive in the long-term. It’s almost like your position is more based on your emotional response to problems rather than any logical cost-benefit analysis.

                ‘More money for the poor’ or ‘not prying in their private lives’. Guess what, you can’t have both and have a stable or efficient system of redistribution. Pick one.

              5. I’m for giving the poor more money and not prying into their private lives. More choices, less intrusion.

                And of course, you get to define whatever is considered “private.”

                Much like the game you play with science.

          3. It’s cute that you pretend it’s not the intent of the policies you advocate.

    2. I don’t have to give someone a political philosophy book to read to understand that our rights are the right to make choices for ourselves. I don’t even need to use a big word like personal “autonomy”.

      Well, the right to make choices for ourselves presupposes personal autonomy, but…

      The problem with the phraseology is that it is missing a caveat and will lead to the same fundamental misunderstanding as with the phrase, “the right to live our lives as we see fit.” Libertarians will generally understand that the caveat is understood, but non-libertarians rarely (never?) do.

      Without a caveat to the effect of, “without aggressing against the equal rights of others,” non-libertarians will almost always hear (it is understood to them), instead, a concluding phrase to the effect of, “with no regard for anyone else.”

      For example, without the caveat, non-libertarians generally hear your definition, “the right to make choices for ourselves,” with the concluding phrase, “without regard to anyone else,” or something to that effect. Thus, in their minds, you are saying that libertarianism means that everyone is free to make any choices they want, including raping aborted fetuses, ’cause… Liberty!

      1. I spoke to this below.

        I thought I mentioned it earlier above, too.

        The statement that rape is a crime because the victim’s right to make a choice was ignored or violated, it’s really just a restatement of the assertion that each of us should be free to make choices for ourselves.

        There’s nothing new to add. You just say it over and over again until it finally sinks in with them.

        If there were anything to add, it might be, “If government has any legitimate purpose, it is to protect our rights”, but that’s really just another restatement of “Each of us should be free to make choices for ourselves”, isn’t it?

        I appreciate that there are people out there who are afraid of free people making choices for themselves–even apart from legitimately criminal activity. But that’s precisely where I want the dividing line. I want all the people who think that people should be free to make choices for themselves on one side, and everyone who doesn’t on the other.

        I do not believe there is any more concise, inclusive, and definitive statement of libertarian thought than the statement, “Each of us should be free to make choices for ourselves”. It is fundamental to every individual right–because every right is fundamentally a right to make a choice. I don’t think libertarianism is reducible to anything smaller, and I think that statement covers every aspect of libertarian thought.

        1. Libertarians with fundamentally opposed positions on abortion both agree that “each of us should be free to make choices for ourselves”. It’s what they both base their positions on. It’s what makes both of their opposing positions libertarian.

  11. I also only recognize one right

  12. In the good old days before our trolls were so boring, we would have had White Indian here explaining this “one right” thing is why no one can own property.

    1. I always liked that guy, was it Gaius Marius?, who was arguing–as a purely intellectual construct–that what we really need to do was reconstitute 13th century Christendom.

      1. That sounds hilariously ridiculous. What did his position entail?

        1. It was long and convoluted, and it wasn’t religious in nature, per se.

          I’ll have to dig it up out of the archives.

          But it was highly intellectual, too, which made it even more hilarious.

          It’s like, Jesus, all the parts fit together–but how could you come to that conclusion?

      2. Yes, that guy had his medieval philosophy on lockdown

        He was given a classically-epic shout out in a Tim Cavanaugh post, where someone noted that he had racked up a 650+ thread-count

        Whatever you thought of his ideas, he was at the very minimum very articulate, polite, and a high-quality banterer. He always referred to people as “Mr, or Ms” when possible.

        1. sorry – that second link seems jacked. it was a sitecomber list of his H&R contributions

          The guy’s blog is still here

    2. See my comment below. If we have to torture the term “aggression” enough to encompass insufficient search for owners (or proof of prior non-ownership) before our own acquisition or use of property, then that begins to leave the White Indians of the world plenty of openings for their rants.

      Aggression implies intention against another (or deliberate recklessness in the face of likely injury to others). In situations where such is clearly the case, you can apply the NAP cleanly. But whenever people execute some care not to trespass against or harm others, yet trespass or harm is the result, force is sometimes necessary to get them to stop, or to make other parties whole. To me, it is easier to make sense of this if you rely on an idea of self-ownership that extends to one’s property, and couple that with a general prohibition of aggression against other sentient beings (directly, or via their property). Each idea reinforces the other, but neither seems sufficient, in my eyes, at least, to stand as the single source of “rights.”

      1. Thanks

        This speaks directly to the point that theoretical-Gambol-douche always made…. that they were in fact the *purist* libertarian by acknowledging that ‘non-aggression’ meant that all property was invalidated by its root in the ‘original sin’ of acquisition.

        i don’t worry so much about having a theoretical system which relies on a perfect set of first principles from which all else is derived. I think simply saying that non-aggression and strong-property rights/self-ownership are essential to the functioning of a free society is more than enough.

  13. If an activity involves no use of force, then there can be no right to suppress it by force, since such a use of force would be aggression, and so would violate the obligation component of the right not to be aggressed against.

    All right, bring on Libertopia. Then, I can go back to stalking that sweet, lovely girl who works at my local Target.

  14. Thus if aggression is the only activity whose forcible suppression is permissible, then refraining from aggression is the only activity whose performance may legitimately be compelled.

    Now, is the application of a micro-force all that is allowed when suppressing a micro-aggression, or is any level of force permissible when combating this latent injustice?

  15. The basic right is self-ownership not non-aggression.

    The NAP is a fine enough principle, but it requires defining what counts as aggression. Imagine a man walking across a field. Another man jumps out of the bush and clubs him over the head. You might think that Man B is the aggressor until you find out that Man A was trespassing on private property. And then you might change you mind if you find out that Man B stole the property through eminent domain.

    If self-defense is permitted, then you need to decide where the “self” ends. If it is to include personal property, then you need to know who is the legal owner of the property. Which means you already need a pre-existing system of private property right.

    The NAP is really a statement of how human relations ought to work ONCE you’ve defined their rights in advance. Disputes must be resolved through courts, not with violence. But the rights themselves come from somewhere else. This it is self-ownership that is primary, since our rights to property extend from our right control the product of our own labor.

  16. This means the right not to be aggressed against by other people. “Aggression” by nature, unlucky parentage, or any other misfortune–to these you say tough shit. Not because there is any fundamental moral difference between extracting the taxes to pay for programs that respond to human aggressors and those that pay to address other problems people may have, but because it’s nice and simple and lets billionaires keep all their money and lets you guys off the hook for all the preventable misery in the world that isn’t caused by a thug who wants your wallet. Even decently intelligent libertarians can see that there are problems in defining “initiatory aggression.” (Is walking on someone else’s lawn aggression, but shooting the trespasser is fine because it’s not initiatory? Does this really form an adequately complete ethics?)

    1. Party on Tony’s lawn!

    2. …”Aggression” by nature, unlucky parentage, or any other misfortune–to these you say tough shit.”…

      At one time, I thought you actually had some twisted logic to what you post. Now I know it’s nothing other than word-salads from a blithering idiot.

    3. “This means the right not to be aggressed against by other people. “Aggression” by nature, unlucky parentage, or any other misfortune–to these you say tough shit.”

      Incidentally, y’all, this is the kind of “logic” I was talking about above when I wrote:

      “Meanwhile, what we mean when we say that individuals should be free to make choices for themselves is fairly unambiguous.

      In the new world of anti-libertarian “micro-aggressions”, how confusing is it for the uninitiated to hear that libertarians are defined by their fundamental stance against “aggression”?

      It can work the same way on the conservative side of the equation. Why aren’t you libertarians willing to use the NSA monitor our phone calls to protect our rights against terrorist aggression?

      “Aggression” has an esoteric meaning to libertarians that doesn’t necessarily carry over to regular use by regular people.

      On the other hand, “People should be free to make choices for themselves” means exactly what it says to just about everyone. You may have to add that rape is criminal because the victim didn’t get to make a choice, but that’s a restatement of “People should be free to make choices for themselves”.

      1. And being in poverty means your choices are extremely limited. You would contend that limiting the choice a billionaire has in his disposal of excess wealth is worth protecting with taxpayer money, but protecting the vital choices of a poor person who would spend part of that wealth for his own ends is not. No reasoning leads us here, just arbitrary semantic games that curiously always conspire to protect the luxuries of the rich while ignoring the basic needs of the poor.

        1. Tony|3.29.15 @ 1:18PM|#
          “And being in poverty means your choices are extremely limited.”

          One choice might be getting *out* or poverty, but lefty ignoramuses miss that one. Right, lefty ignoramus?

        2. “but protecting the vital choices of a poor person who would spend part of that wealth for his own ends is not.”

          See my post above, Tony.

          You oppose school choice–don’t you?

          You oppose letting parents choose any school they want for their children–even if their vouchers are still being paid for by the taxpayers–don’t you?

          You’re the one who opposes letting poor people make choices for themselves.

          That’s you.

          Not a billionaire.

          You.

        3. Toe (may I call you Toe?), what’s your opinion of someone who lives in poverty by choice? Say, the person who actively refuses to go work?

        4. There aren’t enough rich people around to pay for all the choices that poor people would like to have. You have to move well into the middle class to come up with the money for all the things you want to provide.

          But poor people benefit from the property rights regime. Lots of people besides billionaires benefits from property rights. It’s how we stop being poor. The system of having property rights is far more beneficial than the money you would obtain by taking money from billionaires.

          1. “There aren’t enough rich people around to pay for all the choices that poor people would like to have.”

            It isn’t about billionaires.

            Progressives like Tony are already doing everything they can to deprive poor people of the ability to make choices for themselves.

            Tony won’t even let them go to the school of their choice.

            Why say that the poor don’t have choices because they don’t have money.

            Tony doesn’t want people with money to be free to make choices for themselves either, but let’s not get distracted.

            Tony doesn’t want poor people to be free to make choices for themselves–that have nothing to do with their lack of money.

            Tony does not believe in school choice.

            If the poor want to go to a different school, Tony says no–even if, like under a voucher system, the rich would be paying for it! Tony doesn’t care who’s paying for it. He just cares that the poor are forced to go to school wherever Tony says they have to go. Or rather, as long as they poor aren’t choosing for themselves where their kids go to school, he’s happy. That choice should be made by the government–not the poor.

            1. True enough.

              I like how ACA supporters are keen to denounce how not getting contraception via your employer limits choice.

              But they are oblivious to how being forced to receive your compensation in the form of health insurance limits choice in a far greater way.

              One takes a few dollars a month out of one’s pocket, the other takes hundreds.

              Nevermind that the ACA also limits one’s choices of health insurance plans. So (A) your being forced to get paid in health insurance, and (B) the nature of that health insurance is restricted by all sorts of government mandates. Also (C) anything not mandated is likely to not be included to keep costs down. So you’re basically stuck with a cookie cutter plan that specifies exactly what health care you can get, unless you want to pay out of pocket.

    4. Shockingly, the guy who’s worldview revolves around ‘might makes right’ while stating irrational and inconsistent positions derived from his emotional responses might not be the best judge of what constitutes an ‘adequately complete ethics’.

    5. lets billionaires keep all their money

      So you acknowledge that it is “their” money?

  17. Even with self ownership there will be fuzzy lines around the edges. Children don’t have self ownership, some would argue drugs remove the ability to choose. I don’t think its a difficult problem but that’s where the philosophy will be attacked. That the poor don’t have ownership because they are being controlled or something therefore we must control the controllers. Some will never buy self ownership because they choose to be obtuse.

  18. I don’t see any room in this golden-axiom system to deal with property issues. Suppose I come across an unlocked car with the keys in the ignition. I wait for hours and nobody comes to drive it away. I take a look at it, and see dust and accumulation that suggests it might have actually been parked for a day or two. I can’t find the registration, or any personal papers or possessions that might identify an owner. But I need to get somewhere out of town, so I just decide to drive it away. A couple of days later, the actual owner appears on the scene, and reports his car stolen. The cops find me driving the car in the next town over and use force (or the threat of it), to get me to pull over, whereupon they put the handcuffs on me and impound the vehicle. Where was the aggression here, which justified the police’s use of force? Now you can say that I should have assumed an owner, even if I could find nothing to identify that person, and that I should have known that taking the car would be an “aggression” against the assumed owner, thus justifying some force being used against me in the future. But for me, the whole incident amounts to a sad misunderstanding, with no aggression against anyone else intended, and certainly no damage to the owner’s property, much less any violence visited on the car’s owner. (concluded in reply post)

    1. (continued from main-level post, above)

      In a world where non-aggression is the ONLY right, are we obligated to find prior owners, whom we can compensate in a voluntary bargain, before acquiring ANY property? Are we absolved from our responsibility not to to initiate force against others if we make every possible effort to prove that property is unowned before we use or acquire it? If we are going to have only one fundamental axiom, I personally find the right of self-ownership, out of which can be derived rights to both life and property, to be a more solid foundation, as it neatly deals with the situations where no real or intended “aggression” occurs, yet force is necessary to end or redress the trespass. I do agree with Richman and Long, however, in that the number of actual rights that we have are very few in number, probably countable on one hand with a couple of fingers missing. I am, nevertheless, leery of exercises that seek to prove that the “illusion” of many rights flows from a single source. While I feel that non-aggression is certainly AT the source, I am not convinced that it IS the source: that it is necessary, in other words, but not sufficient. So far, I haven’t found any situations that lie outside of a system based on self-ownership AND non-aggression.

      1. dude you cant steal cars in LiberTopia, either.

      2. “Where was the aggression here, which justified the police’s use of force?”

        “Aggression” by the police is legitimate and justifiable only if and when it’s used in to protect someone’s rights.

        That is, if and when it’s used to protect someone’s right to make a choice for themselves.

        A property right is the right to make a choice about who uses the property in question and how that property is used.

        If you take something that doesn’t belong to you, you’re violating the owner’s right to make the choice about who uses that property and how it’s used.

        If government has any legitimate function at all, it is to protect our rights. We have a police force to protect our rights from criminals. We have a criminal court system to protect our rights from the police. We have a civil court system to protect our property, as well. All of these legitimate functions of government are justified in their use of “aggression” if and when they are legitimately protecting our rights.

        You’re correct that “aggression” isn’t the word or justification we’re looking for.

        Our rights are our right to make choices for ourselves. Protecting that ultimate right to autonomy as the legitimate function of government is the justification we’re seeking for legitimate government “aggression” in all cases.

        1. Part of the problem with NAP is that it’s more of an anarchist concept–and it doesn’t really fly in a small-state libertarian context. It’s like an anarchist social contract, and that can’t help but be self-contradictory somehow.

          1. I’d say it is the other concepts that are contradictory. The NAP or self-ownership is fully consistent. Heck, it’s logically consistent throughout the universe and throughout time. There’s no social contract required. Other political philosophies require a variety of exceptions to justify how rulers get to rule.

            1. Why is it alright for the government to arrest, prosecute, and cage perpetrate aggression against criminals under the NAP?

              Please explain it to me in a way that doesn’t sound anything like a social contract.

              1. In exactly the same way it’s alright for private citizen to defend himself and exactly the same way a victim can go exact justice for himself.

                As far as caging someone, that wouldn’t fly. Restitution (which can include retribution) would. You’re forcing other people to pay for prison, including the victim himself.

                1. “In exactly the same way it’s alright for private citizen to defend himself and exactly the same way a victim can go exact justice for himself.”

                  Again, are we talking about anarchy, here?

                  I’m talking about justifying the “aggressive” actions of the state.

        2. If you take something that doesn’t belong to you, you’re violating the owner’s right to make the choice about who uses that property and how it’s used.

          That is not entirely true. Abandonded property reverts to a state of being unowned. It is not mine, but, as long as it can be sufficiently shown to be unowned, I can claim it without violating anyone’s rights.

          1. In the case you’re talking about, if I understand properly, you’re saying that the car doesn’t belong to the person who abandoned it anymore–in which case you’re not really violating the previous owner’s rights because he presumably abandoned his right to make the choice about who uses that property and how it’s used when he abandoned the car.

            That’s fundamentally different from saying that theft is crime–but it isn’t because theft violates the owner’s right to make the choice about who uses it and how it’s used.

            The rule still stands. That’s what theft is, and that’s why theft is a crime.

            Property rights are the right to make choices about who uses your property and how it’s used, and theft is a crime because the thief violates the owner’s fundamental right to make those choices.

            …just like a rapist violating his victim’s right to make a choice is why rape is a legitimate crime.

            …just like someone choosing to smoke marijuana is not a legitimate crime because each of us has a fundamental right to make such choices for ourselves.

            1. In the case you’re talking about, if I understand properly, you’re saying that the car doesn’t belong to the person who abandoned it anymore–in which case you’re not really violating the previous owner’s rights because he presumably abandoned his right to make the choice about who uses that property and how it’s used when he abandoned the car.

              You miss the point.

              Rather, you made a clear statement: “If you take something that doesn’t belong to you, you’re violating the owner’s right to make the choice about who uses that property and how it’s used.” (emphasis added)

              I simply provided a description of a situation where taking something that does not belong to me does not violate the owner’s rights, in anyway, since the property I appropriated is unowned.

    2. Property comes from a system that protects all parties’ self-ownership i.e. the right not be aggressed against, when dealing with scare or rivalrous resources. The NAP is a corollary of self-ownership.

      “Aggression” means initiating use of force, and all violation of property must ultimately boil down to force against another person, for how else would you prevent the owner from using or accessing his property? In this case you’ve literally prevented the owner from using his car when he wants to.

      Now the remedy would involve something proportionate, essentially restitution to restore to the original state — including state of being between parties before the incident of force — as best as possible, so that would include compensation for time lost, etc. Basically consider your world line where the incident happened and another world line where the incident didn’t happen and what sort of restitution, capped at some nominally proportionate way, would be necessary to make up the difference between those two world lines.

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  20. The thing is, I don’t think rights can be something that you need other people to provide you with.

    And the “right not to be aggressed against” is one of those things. You need people willing and able to beat up and/or kill other people for you, people willing to imprison people. Those people who will be aggressive to others, simply because they can.

    As an example, just the other day we had a bunch of black people upset about Mike Brown beating up a white guy on our local St. Louis mass transit system.

    Should he have pulled out a gun and gone all Bernard Goetz on them?

    1. The Free Staters believe that just a few of them should dictate the rights to the entire population of a state. The “free citizens” of NH appear to be rejecting that idea….as have the free staters themselves who are years overdue.

  21. So, according to this thesis, we have but one fundamental right, but it is entirely dependent upon everyone else to provide it for us.

    A libertarian collective.

    Brilliant!

    A circle may be a polygon with infinite sides, but that does not mean you should try to build a wheel that way.

  22. Give Mercedes-Benz a chance

  23. Attempts to simplify complex subjects are always suspect.

    The free staters were quoted today as “hey, if you want to start a business in your backyard, be my guest”….

    What a crock? So I’m allowed to start a foundry in my yard – like they did in China? (they have evolved past that now). How much noise can I make? If my neighbors have sensitive ears, eyes or noses, does that matter? How much trash and junk can I pile up with my backyard business?

    Laws and societal norms have evolved over many hundreds of years. Pretending that a better idea is to remove all of them is foolish.

    No one can deny that gubment always sucks – largely because many decent people stand on the sidelines and let those who sell out cheaper occupy office. Yeah, it sux but it sure beats having some Libertarian allowing my neighbor (not his) to run a kennel for pit bulls.

    1. What’s wrong with your neighbor running a kennel for pit bulls? You scared, bro?

    2. Laws and societal norms have evolved over many hundreds of years. Pretending that a better idea is to remove all of them is foolish.

      Libertarians don’t want to “remove them all”, libertarians want to change the way such rules are determined.

      Whether someone can build a foundry in their backyard shouldn’t be determined by a zoning board, it should be determined by private owner’s associations and the private sale of easements. Why? Because the zoning board is subject to lobbying, rent seeking, and corruption, because the people who make decisions don’t have to pay the price.

      In a libertarian society, you’d likely be better protected from the kinds of nuisances you worry about. In fact, that’s the reason more and more people move into gated communities governed by HOAs.

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