Consistency and liberty

I said in this comment that the problem with most libertarians is that they are not consistent (I include myself in that). And in one of the longest posts I have ever written, I actually questioned the definition of libertarianism. Further, on more than one occasion, I have talked about (in the comments section) “the fatal flaw” in the libertarian argument – making it work. This post elaborates on these issues. Since I don’t have convincing answers to any of these questions, I will probably play the devil’s advocate throughout.

“Pakistan needs a Beant Singh,” Swami writes. And he is right. The moment I say this, the idea that I am a “libertarian” suffers a jolt. I have previously supported police/ military action in Punjab, Kashmir, the North East, the Naxal belt, and even understand why the LTTE has to be crushed regardless of the ethnic conflict between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The reason why these scenarios are different from a regular murder, theft, bank heist etc is – the latter incidents are part and parcel of any normal society whereas the former represent the complete breakdown of the constitutional machinery – law and order – the writ of the government. This position implies that the “right to life” is meaningless in cases where the “protector” is no longer in control of the situation. My only concession here would be that the citizens who are caught in the zone where a government can no longer protect them have the moral right to arm themselves for their own protection, even if it is against government forces. I am simply extrapolating from “morality ends where the gun begins” – politics is to society what ethics/ morality is to an individual.

Whether you are an anarchist (people who don’t believe that the government has the moral right to exist) or a minarchist (people who believe in a limited government), or something in between, you subscribe to the broad philosophy of libertarianism. And, therefore, need to have a coherent, practical position on two main issues – the right to life, and the right to property.

Right to life: Morality
The moral position is not a problem unless you have to convince some utilitarians or consequentialists who make arguments like- “That’s right – basic utilitarianism. But I doubt killing 300 million Americans would prevent the death of >300 million others,” in response to my statement – “In that case the murder of a hundred million can be justified if it saves a billion” (see the comments on this post), or the only people whom I hate more than the consequentialists – those who believe in “positive liberty.”

Wait. Did I say a moral position is not a problem? Of course, if you are a natural rights libertarian – some one who believes that man has the “right to life” by the mere fact of his being born (if you want a neatly constructed proof that demolishes any other idea – try “self-ownership”, the Rothbardian argument), then the “right to life” is inalienable, inviolable. But what about voluntary slavery, or kinks that involve consent?

Austrian economist and libertarian theorist Walter Block actually puts forth a case for voluntary slavery in his Journal of Libertarian Studies paper (pdf)

Various definitions of inalienability include non-relinquishability, non-salability, and non-transferability. What does this mean with regard to the right to life or liberty? If this right is non-transferable, then I cannot confer it on you, that is, I cannot make a gift of myself to you; I cannot voluntarily agree to be your slave. If it is non-salable, then I cannot sell myself to you as a slave.

However, the following scenario will illustrate a problem. You are a rich man who has long desired to have me as a slave, to order about as you will, even to kill me for disobedience or on the basis of any other whim which may occur to you. My child has now fallen ill with a dread disease. Fortunately, there is a cure. Unfortunately, it will cost one million dollars, and I, a poor man, do not have such funds at my disposal. Fortunately, you are willing to pay me this amount if I sign myself over to you as a slave, which I am very willing to do since my child’s life is vastly more important to me than my own liberty, or even my own life. Unfortunately, this would be illegal, at least if the doctrine of inalienability (non-transferability) is valid. If so, then you, the rich man, will not buy me into slavery, for I can run away at any time, and the forces of law and order will come to my rescue, not yours, if you try to stop me by force.

Some people may find it revolting, but the case of the German cannibal Armin Meiwes who ate a man who consented to being eaten is a very interesting one – both morally as well as legally-

Armin Meiwes (born December 1, 1961) is a German man who achieved international notoriety for killing and eating a voluntary victim he had found via the Internet. After Meiwes and the victim jointly attempted to eat the victim’s severed penis, Meiwes killed his victim and proceeded to eat a large amount of his flesh. Because of his deeds, Meiwes is also known as the “Rotenburg Cannibal.”

Or take a more common case which also deals with consent, that of sadomasochism, something is often depicted comically on film and television, but is of a very serious nature. FIA president Max Mosley got caught up in a scandal last year-

Max Mosley, the motor racing chief and son of the wartime British fascist leader, sat in silence yesterday as the High Court was played a tape of him at a sex party, yelling in German while an “Aryan” woman pleaded for mercy.

Mr Mosley, who is suing the News of the World for invading his privacy, insisted that he was the last person to find Nazi role-play erotic because it brought back memories of his parents, Sir Oswald and Lady Diana Mosley.

He said he had been taking counter-surveillance precautions after being tipped off that there was a plot to discredit him, but was unaware that one of the women at his sadomasochism party had smuggled in a video camera on behalf of the Sunday newspaper.

Ergo (he’s an Objectivist, I am not), in a post and podcast dealing with such (but not these, specifically) possible scenarios says that libertarianism is absurd and that “libertarians are not champions of freedom but destroyers of it.” Needless to say, though I have a few problems of my own with the ideology, I don’t agree with such a sweeping statement.

Whatever your views, the fact is you cannot simply brush these cases aside as lifeboat scenarios or rare occurrences – they are neither. The reason these cases pose problems is because they involve consent. Would you lock every masochist and every person who wants to be enslaved or wants to die in an unorthodox fashion in a mental institution? Where does society draw a line? Where will society (and by society I mean government – its nature is irrelevant) step in and save a man from himself?

Right to life: Legality
That was the moral position. Now the legal one. How inalienable is your “right to life”? If you suffer from a communicable disease, does society have the right to quarantine you, or kill you against your will? If you are not mentally stable (how is that decided?), at what point will society forcibly commit you to an institution? Another argument, a thought experiment – the “ticking time bomb scenario” that even someone like Alan Dershowitz has given his approval to-

The ticking time bomb scenario is a thought experiment that has been used in the ethics debate over whether torture can ever be justified.

Simply stated, the consequentialist argument is that nations, even those such as the United States that legally disallow torture, can justify its use if they have a suspect in custody whom they feel sure possesses critical knowledge, such as the location of a time bomb or a weapon of mass destruction that will soon explode and cause great loss of life.

I concede that this is a lifeboat scenario, but the use of torture is all too common the world over. Even Kautilya has no great reservations against it (refer to his Arthashastra)[wikisource]-

Those whose guilt is believed to be true shall be subjected to torture… (emphasis mine)

Both these examples, however, are from consequentalist positions, and therefore would be a no-no in my book.

Then there is the question of punishment for crimes, and particularly the death penalty. What, or how, would society go about it? On punishments as such, I don’t support those that are purely meant to set an example to others, or that are a form of vendetta. The only position I support is this – “the punishment should fit the crime”. Death penalty – I am philosophically against it, though the chances of putting a wrong man to death is also a very valid reason. In cases of “crimes” – intentionally causing grievous injury or death to others – prison is the way to go. For every other crime, there are alternatives available – see the comments on this post.

Right to property
I have written enough about intellectual property rights. But the fact is they are controversial, and a coherent “moral” argument – either for or against is necessary. Utilitarian arguments are irrelevant as far as I am concerned, though they can be used to test the theories out in the real world.

The main question however is what right to property is moral, and what isn’t. Except for some left-libertarian schools (like the Mutualists – economist George Reisman calls it a philosophy for thieves, and if they don’t allow for contracts as a means of transferring property rights, I have to agree with him), homesteading, production and contracts are considered to be valid modes of establishing a right to property by the two major libertarian schools I am sympathetic to (and the only ones I am reasonably knowledgeable about) – the minarchists, as well as the anarcho-capitalists. Airwaves too can be homesteaded – cellular communication, satellite telephony, DTH services etc etc can operate on the first come, first serve principle and once all frequencies are occupied, they may be transferred just like any other property is. Questions however remain, at least as far as I am concerned, about the status of rivers, seas, oceans, space etc. How do you homestead them, and how do you enforce the right?

Now the legal question; there are only two. The first is – are property rights subject to certain limitations? If the man who owns the plot next to mine builds a skyscraper on it, can I dig a thousand foot pit on my plot of land causing his building to collapse just to spite him? Or can I start a discotheque or theater or brothel in a residential neighborhood? I don’t know about the first case, but Rothbard has written a bit about the second – he has said that even inconveniences can be homesteaded. In “Law, Property Rights, and Air Pollution” (pdf), he writes-

Most of us think of homesteading unused resources in the old-fashioned sense of clearing a piece of unowned land and farming the soil. There are, however, more sophisticated and modern forms of homesteading, which should establish a property right. Suppose, for example, that an airport is established with a great deal of empty land around it. The airport exudes a noise level of, say, X decibels, with the sound waves traveling over the empty land. A housing development then buys land near the airport. Some time later, the homeowners sue the airport for excessive noise interfering with the use and quiet enjoyment of the houses.

Excessive noise can be considered a form of aggression but in this case the airport has already homestead X decibels worth of noise. By its prior claim, the airport now “owns the right” to emit X decibels of noise in the surrounding area. In legal terms, we can then say that the airport, through homesteading, has earned an easement right to creating X decibels of noise. This homesteaded easement is an example of the ancient legal concept of “prescription,” in which a certain activity earns a prescriptive property right to the person engaging in the action.

On the other hand, if the airport starts to increase noise levels, then the homeowners could sue or enjoin the airport from its noise aggression for the extra decibels, which had not been homesteaded. Of course if a new airport is built and begins to send out noise of X decibels onto the existing surrounding homes, the airport becomes fully liable for the noise invasion.

It should be clear that the same theory should apply to air pollution. If A is causing pollution of B’s air, and this can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then this is aggression and it should be enjoined and damages paid in accordance with strict liability, unless A had been there first and had already been polluting the air before B’s property was developed. For example, if a factory owned by A polluted originally unused property, up to a certain amount of pollutant X, then A can be said to have homesteaded a pollution easement of a certain degree and type.

Rothbard also covers the case of “nuisances” such as “excessive” noise-

Excessive noise is certainly a tort of nuisance; it interferes with a person’s enjoyment of his property, including his health. However, no one would maintain that every man has the right to live as if in a soundproofed room; only excessive noise, however vague the concept, can be actionable.

In a sense, life itself homesteads noise easement. Every area has certain noises, and people moving into an area must anticipate a reasonable amount of noise. As Terry Yamada ruefully concedes:

An urban resident must accept the consequences of a noisy environment situation. Courts generally hold that persons who live or work in densely populated communities must necessarily endure the usual annoyances and discomforts of those trades and businesses located in the neighborhood where they live or work; such annoyances and discomforts, however, must not be more than those reasonably expected in the community and lawful to the conduct of the trade or business.

In short, he who wants a soundproof room must pay for its installation.

Refer to Rothbard’s paper for more on homesteading and some ingenious arguments on how to deal with air pollution etc while keeping busybodies (like the greens) and governments out of the whole affair. Also read his book “For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto” (I haven’t read it yet completely – only chapters one and two – but it is a devastating assault on the legitimacy of the State).

The second question on right to property is the violation of the “Castle Doctrine” by law enforcement (public or private). What is the standard of evidence that would be used to break into my house? Is suspicion that I am assembling a nuclear device good enough (should it be disallowed)? Or that I am conducting an experiment that would create a black hole (again, should it be disallowed)? What about the standard “to save a life” argument? If the standard is not high enough, governments like those in the US can commit mischief in the name of upholding the law. Or is it simply inviolable? Ergo makes a good point here (refer to the podcast) – the right to property is derived from the right to life. So if I violate someone else’s right to life on my property, the hierarchy of rights means that the right to property is not inviolable. That leaves us with the standard of evidence, and since every philosopher (including Rand) seems to do it, we can simply say its a technical matter which is part of the philosophy of law.

“The Fatal Flaw”
I simply don’t know “how” a libertarian government (for the minarchist) and a state with no State (for the anarchist) will ever come into existence. Do we wait for it to happen? Has such a state of affairs ever existed for an extended period of time? I once gave the example of Kashmir. Say, the Indian government withdraws from Kashmir saying all you libertarians – come, take this over. What next? Geopolitics plays a major role in this world, and always has for over 2,500 years; the state would simply be crushed by the three surrounding countries – India, Pakistan and China. This is one of the fatal flaws. Another example. The Indian government actually has minimal control over a belt that extends from Nepal to Kerala – its infested by Naxals. For all purposes, its basically anarchy out there. The same is the case as far as Swat valley in Pakistan is concerned. One gang withdrew, another has taken over. This is an argument against anarchism. If the anarchist however plans to wait till all governments worldwide dismantle themselves, that’s asking for too much.

And the same is the case with the Randian philosophical renaissance. Morally, there is nothing much wrong with her philosophy. But waiting, expecting that the whole world will one day give up on altruism, is expecting too much. Her’s is a minarchist idea. Those minarchists who are simply interested in a limited government but don’t bother with philosophy too don’t seem to have a bright future. Nothing as far as people’s opinions and intellectual depth suggests that the world, or certain countries of the world are ready for anything even resembling a small government. Will it happen in a 100 years time? No. 500? I don’t know.

Other flaws deal with issues that libertarians typically support. If drugs are available in plenty, and so are arms, what effect will it have on society? Further, the issue of immigration. If I am not mistaken, both Mises and Rothbard changed their position from free immigration to a restricted one. The “why” is not too difficult to imagine. Consider a democratic society. And consider immigrants from a country hostile to that country entering in droves. A point will come, when, depending on the size of the country, the demographics will change. Something similar has already happened in Assam, India due to migration from Bangladesh (the other side of which I explored yesterday). You could have a bloodless coup of sorts.

The question simply is this – what is the point of dreaming about an ideal society if the chances of achieving it, due to any number of reasons, are nearer to zero than anything else?

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Comments

  • Francois Tremblay  On February 23, 2009 at 2:12 am

    * No murder or torture can be justified- whether it “saves” anyone else or not- unless it is justified by one’s right. If you have no right to do it, then there can be no justification for murder or torture, no matter how many trillions of people you claim to “save.”

    * A body is not of the kind of thing that can be owned, therefore there is no “self-ownership” and one cannot “sell himself.” That is a contradiction in terms.

    * “Society” has no right to quarantine you, or kill you against your will, or do anything else, unless its component individuals have that right. If a person has the right to quarantine you, or kill you against your will, then “society” has the right to do so: it has no rights above and beyond those of the individuals that compose it.

    * Mutualism “allows for contracts as a means of transferring property rights,” unless these “property rights” are fictional or illogical (such as “transferring one’s responsibility” vis-a-vis production or crime).

    * The rules used to determine when one can “break into your house,” like all other social rules, are the rules determined by the society you participate to (be it a small group, a city, or a worldwide syndicate). They are either based on individual agreement or they are bankrupt.

    * A no-State situation will come into existence when the people want to make it happen. Not before.

    * If drugs are available in plenty, then price will go down (this is simple economics).

    * There is no such thing as “immigration.” Revise your premise.

    * “What is the point of dreaming about an ideal society if the chances of achieving it, due to any number of reasons, are nearer to zero than anything else?”
    Do you ever hope or have dreams about anything? If so, you already know the answer to this (it’s a transformative experience and it changes the way you think and behave). If not, then I’m sorry.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On February 23, 2009 at 3:45 am

      # “No murder or torture can be justified- whether it “saves” anyone else or not- unless it is justified by one’s right.”
      Assuming you are referring to the ticking time bomb scenario, what do you mean by “justified by one’s right.” That there are circumstances in which some people have the right to engage in murder and torture?

      # “A body is not of the kind of thing that can be owned, therefore there is no “self-ownership” and one cannot “sell himself.” That is a contradiction in terms.”
      I assume you have read Rothbard’s explanation of what it means. From his “For A New Liberty”-

      The most viable method of elaborating the natural-rights statement of the libertarian position is to divide it into parts, and to begin with the basic axiom of the “right to self-ownership.” The right to self-ownership asserts the absolute right of each man, by virtue of his (or her) being a human being, to “own” his or her own body; that is, to control that body free of coercive interference. Since each individual must think, learn, value, and choose his or her ends and means in order to survive and flourish, the right to self-ownership gives man the right to perform these vital activities without being hampered and restricted by coercive molestation.

      While Block’s thesis may be debatable, denying “self-ownership” means denying man’s “right to life.” If an individual does not have to right to his own life, then who does?

      # ““Society” has no right to quarantine you, or kill you against your will, or do anything else, unless its component individuals have that right. If a person has the right to quarantine you, or kill you against your will, then “society” has the right to do so: it has no rights above and beyond those of the individuals that compose it.”
      If you note, this question is in the section “Right to life: Legality.” That is, it is meant to deal with legal issues surrounding the relationship between the individual and the State (in minarchy), or the individual and “society” (in anarchy). The answer I seek is – given the relationship, is it legal for “society” to indulge in the activities I speak about. This is, effectively, a question relating to the philosophy of law. If you answer the way you did, my question would be the same, the only difference being I would replace “society” with “another individual.” I hope you get the drift.

      # “The rules used to determine when one can “break into your house,” like all other social rules, are the rules determined by the society you participate to (be it a small group, a city, or a worldwide syndicate). They are either based on individual agreement or they are bankrupt.”
      This again is a question of standards of evidence. Its possible they might change with context, but then it doesn’t help “the right to property” does it. If I were member of cannibalistic collective in the Amazon, neither “right to life” nor “right to property” would make any sense except within that context. And that’s why I am specifically referring to it in a libertarian context – in particular w.r.t. a minarchy, and w.r.t. anarchy.

      # “If drugs are available in plenty, then price will go down (this is simple economics).”
      And so would the price of arms. I am not talking economics here, but the state of society. I assume that when people dream of living in a libertarian society, they are dreaming of a good life. Taking recourse to the statist argument – hard drugs are bad, and guns kill – you could end up with a society where armed gangs and drug addicts will roam freely. I shouldn’t be making utilitarian arguments, but there is this theory that relaxed standards tend to attract “customers” of a “lower quality” disproportionately. Is this an argument against libertarianism per se? No, probably not. But it should be kept in mind nevertheless.

      # “There is no such thing as “immigration.” Revise your premise.”
      What is the implicit assumption you resort to when you say this? Of course immigration exists. In a minarchy it would matter. And in a minarchy which follows some sort of voting as a practical means of governance, immigration will have substantial impact. Rothbard went on to suggest it even impacted anarcho-capitalism. He changed his views on the issue. I think even Mises did. His views from 1919

      Mises, who favored the free immigration ideal, said fears of majority displacement in a mixed economy were “justified.” “As long as the state is granted the vast powers which it has today,” he wrote in 1919, “the thought of having to live in a state whose government is in the hands of members of a foreign nationality is positively terrifying.”

      # “unless these “property rights” are fictional or illogical”
      I haven’t read much about it. The only thing I know is Mutualism believes in the labor theory of value, and that it doesn’t accept “absentee landlord-ism.” I don’t know what you mean by fictional, but if someone has legitimately acquired a piece of property, and he is not allowed to rent it – the contract won’t be enforced, then that is immoral in my books.

      • Francois Tremblay  On February 23, 2009 at 5:54 am

        “Assuming you are referring to the ticking time bomb scenario, what do you mean by “justified by one’s right.”

        What I mean is that, if one has the right to murder or torture, then one has that right regardless of how many people it “saves,” and that if one does not have such a right, then one does not have it regardless of how many people it would “save.”

        “While Block’s thesis may be debatable, denying “self-ownership” means denying man’s “right to life.” If an individual does not have to right to his own life, then who does?”

        There is no such thing as a “right to life” because life is a priori to any conception of morality or society. To declare a right to life is about as meaningful as declaring a right to be human or a right to be made of atoms.

        “The answer I seek is – given the relationship, is it legal for “society” to indulge in the activities I speak about.”

        I do not believe in “law,” therefore I cannot answer that question.

        “If you answer the way you did, my question would be the same, the only difference being I would replace “society” with “another individual.””

        Any other individual has the same rights as you do. If they have the right to quarantine or murder you, then you have the right to quarantine or order them. If they do not, then you do not.

        “And that’s why I am specifically referring to it in a libertarian context – in particular w.r.t. a minarchy, and w.r.t. anarchy.”

        That was also was I was specifically referring to. Otherwise I would have talked about “law.”

        “I assume that when people dream of living in a libertarian society, they are dreaming of a good life. Taking recourse to the statist argument – hard drugs are bad, and guns kill – you could end up with a society where armed gangs and drug addicts will roam freely.”

        Please don’t be offended, but you seem to have some big aberrations about drugs and guns.

        “Of course immigration exists.”

        I don’t believe in the concept of “immigration.”

        “The only thing I know is Mutualism believes in the labor theory of value, and that it doesn’t accept “absentee landlord-ism.””

        Correct on both counts.

        “I don’t know what you mean by fictional, but if someone has legitimately acquired a piece of property, and he is not allowed to rent it – the contract won’t be enforced, then that is immoral in my books.”

        Then your values differ significantly from mine and those of other mutualists. You value the exploitation of people who don’t own land, and I value the lack of exploitation.

        • Aristotle The Geek  On February 23, 2009 at 10:40 pm

          # “There is no such thing as a “right to life” because life is a priori…”
          “Right” is a moral concept which comes into play only when man is part of a group. “Life” – man’s existence – is a self evident fact; the “right to life” is not. On Robin Crusoe’s island, “there would be no such thing as a ‘right to life’,” but when Friday comes into the picture, the nature of man’s existence necessitates the derivation of the “right to life.” So its not as trivial as you make it out to be – they are two completely different concepts – one is a fact, the other is a derived moral position.

          # “What I mean is that, if one has the right to…”
          # “Any other individual has the same rights as you do. If they have the right to”
          # “That was also was I was specifically referring to.”
          Question begging. What is the “source” of such a right? There are two kinds of rights, two bases – ethical, and political (and this includes economics). If you make a statement like “if one has the right to…” you have to explain how that right comes into being. My questions are based on the principle that there are certain rights that a society/ government is duty bound to defend. And the answers need to be in that context. If you don’t agree with the above principle, then, naturally, the questions have no context as far as you are concerned.

          # “I do not believe in ‘law'”
          What is law-in-quotes supposed to mean? Legislation? Rules imposed by others? What is it that you don’t believe? Whether you live in a minarchist society, or an anarchist one, laws will always be necessary regardless of your “belief”. All contracts and their “enforcement” are part of law; all coercion is subject to law. Law is not the subject matter of “belief.” What “law” is is open to debate to some extent – a code to protect natural rights; customs; agreements etc.

          # “I don’t believe in the concept of ‘immigration.'”
          “Belief,” again. Immigration is not some God you believe in or choose to deny instead. It is a “factual” phenomenon of people moving from one place to another – currently states and countries. I don’t know if your belief is based on the nature of your ideal society or the present one, but regardless of whether you are a full blooded statist, or a minarchist, or an anarchist, or Robinson Crusoe, if “alien” people move into your territory, they are “immigrating.” In the end, society/ government is all about force. The more people there are in a particular society who subscribe to a common ideology, the more the chances that they will try to impose it on their neighbors. If the Chinese sent 500 million people to the US today, in 10 years time, they could annex the country. If member of a satanic cult start buying huge chunks of property in a particular locality in an anarchist society, they would wield an influence over the locality. This is the principal I am talking about. You can choose not to “believe.”

          # “Please don’t be offended, but you seem to have some big aberrations about drugs and guns.”
          Remnants from the days of following “conventional logic” and the fact that I don’t have first hand experience of either. This is not an argument against market economics, but about the practical problems one might face on the way to a libertarian society/ state. If some country does want to try the experiment, the fact that it would be a “haven” as compared to other countries means it would (in theory) attract a disproportionate number of addicts and criminals. This argument is similar to the geopolitical one. Of course it depends on what kind of libertarianism the state practices, but this is something that needs to be considered.

          # “Then your values differ significantly from mine and those of other mutualists. You value the exploitation of people who don’t own land, and I value the lack of exploitation.”
          I don’t believe in the exploitation theory – that people who don’t own land are somehow being exploited. Any wealth I create out of my activities are mine. And I should be able to earn my living as a landlord if I own vast tracts of property or hundreds of skyscrapers. A society will always have exceptional people as well as non-exceptional ones, and capital formation, property, banking, wealth etc will necessarily happen without exploitation. If you impose egalitarianism, you are acting just like the communists – against human nature. In this regard, my values do differ significantly from yours.

          • Francois Tremblay  On February 24, 2009 at 3:03 am

            “but when Friday comes into the picture, the nature of man’s existence necessitates the derivation of the “right to life.””

            What exactly is being defended and why?

            “Question begging. What is the “source” of such a right?”

            The source of rights and all other political concepts is man’s mind: our innate sense of justice and our rational desires.

            “My questions are based on the principle that there are certain rights that a society/ government is duty bound to defend.”

            I do not believe that duty exists or that government should defend anything. I do agree that there are things that society as a whole must defend, if it is worth calling a society at all. Otherwise it is nothing more than a flock of non-associated human beings.

            “What is law-in-quotes supposed to mean? Legislation?”

            The concept of law, legislation, yes.

            “What “law” is is open to debate to some extent – a code to protect natural rights; customs; agreements etc.”

            If you call any agreement a “law” then we agree: but then you have stretched the term so greatly that it might as well not mean anything. Why not just say “agreement”?

            “It is a “factual” phenomenon of people moving from one place to another – currently states and countries.”

            I don’t believe that “countries” actually exist, therefore what are people moving to and from? What is your actual criterion to determine when “immigration” exists? Distance? Race?

            “if “alien” people move into your territory”

            A human being is a human being, regardless of where he was born.

            “If some country does want to try the experiment, the fact that it would be a “haven” as compared to other countries means it would (in theory) attract a disproportionate number of addicts and criminals.”

            Therefore, by your logic, Switzerland should be a haven for criminals, and Amsterdam should be a haven for drug addicts.

            Switzerland’s intentional homicide rate is twice as low as the US, and Amsterdam’s marijuana and heroin consumption rates are two and three times lower than that of the US respectively.

            Not an argument, of course (one would need to study rates in all sorts of societies before drawing a conclusion), but something to consider.

            “I don’t believe in the exploitation theory”

            Then you speak a different conceptual language than I do, and discussion on this issue is not likely to lead anywhere.

            “And I should be able to earn my living as a landlord if I own vast tracts of property or hundreds of skyscrapers.”

            No, you shouldn’t be able to earn money on the back of people who didn’t have enough capital to buy land thanks to the land and money monopolies of the State.

            “A society will always have exceptional people as well as non-exceptional ones, and capital formation, property, banking, wealth etc will necessarily happen without exploitation.”

            Then let it happen- without exploitation.

            “If you impose egalitarianism, you are acting just like the communists – against human nature. In this regard, my values do differ significantly from yours.”

            How is it a denial of human nature to state that no human being should exploit another?

            • Aristotle The Geek  On February 25, 2009 at 5:37 am

              # “What exactly is being defended and why?”
              “Right to life” is a moral defense of man’s “life” itself as also the right to exercise his free will in a non-coercive atmosphere. The reason it is being defended is because the very nature of the phenomenon we call “life” demands that man has to have freedom of thought and action in order to “live.”

              # “The source of rights and all other political concepts is man’s mind.”
              Not that source. I mean what is the source of the right to torture, murder, quarantine etc. What you are essentially saying is – “others have the right to kill you, maim you etc etc, if you have similar rights.” Since rights are a political concept derived from the nature of reality, where from does the right to quarantine and murder arise from? This is purely a legal question, and your view of law is one dimensional, as was mine till a few months back. Will come to that.

              # “I do agree that there are things that society as a whole must defend, if it is worth calling a society at all.”
              Precisely. And that’s why I say that a “duty” exists. Its about things like – would the society stand still if a man murders someone else in front of everyone, or is raping someone in his house etc. I use society and government interchangeably to cover the entire spectrum of libertarian thought, and it was this aspect that I was referring to, as also law, when I was talking about standards of evidence.

              # “The concept of law, legislation, yes.”
              # “Why not just say ‘agreement’?”
              Legislation is just one kind of law, and it is essentially a diktat; not something I support. There are other ways to create “laws.” One of them is customs/ traditions that are formed over a long period of time. Then there is the Aristotelian formulation of that which is “just in itself”. Then natural laws, and law that is a code that people in a particular area/ state/ country agree to be bound by as a matter of reciprocity.

              Can’t simply call it “agreements” because of these variations. Further, people don’t kill each other just because the law says they shouldn’t, or they agree on the subject; its because they think killing is morally wrong. Such aspects need to be considered when talking about “law”.

              My questions were technical ones based on jurisprudence and dealt with “law” in all the above forms – except legislation. Legislation is bad law.

              I am not too well-versed in jurisprudence – the philosophy of law. Sauvik writes on the subject sometimes – see if you can find something there. He once recommended Bruno Leoni’s “Freedom and the Law” on the subject of jurisprudence.

              # “What is your actual criterion to determine when “immigration” exists? Distance? Race?”
              Immigration is migration into a particular area; emigration is migration from a particular area; it has nothing to do with race, specifically. Two factors, however, are involved – distance (moving across the street is not migration), and culture. A few thousand years of recorded history is proof that “culture” which asserts itself in many forms – nationalism, sub-nationalism, ethnicity, language etc etc cannot be ignored. I think you are talking in terms of your ideal society, the way you keep using “believe.” Take a look at the political realities and you will know that immigration exists, and has always existed throughout history. So do countries. If immigration sounds politically incorrect, use the word migration.

              # “A human being is a human being…”
              And an Osama is an Osama, a Stalin is a Stalin, and a Pol Pot is a Pol Pot. Doesn’t mean that I will entertain them.

              # “Therefore, by your logic, Switzerland should be a haven for criminals, and Amsterdam should be a haven for drug addicts.”
              Depends on whether a Pablo Escobar can run a huge drugs operation in Amsterdam, and if one can buy Kalashnikovs, rocket launchers, howitzers, and grenade launchers on the open market in Switzerland.

              # “No, you shouldn’t be able to earn money on the back of people who didn’t have enough capital…”
              You are assuming that everyone who doesn’t own land is in that position because of the State, and that everyone who does is too. That is a pretty big assumption to make.

              # “Then you speak a different conceptual language than I do.”
              # “Then let it happen…”
              # “How is it a denial of human nature…”
              Yes, because I associate “exploitation” with Marx. He blamed everything on the capitalists and assumed that a product’s “value” comes solely from labor forgetting that value is a subjective term. I too doubt if we can come to an agreement on this. It is my firm belief that communism is a flawed ideology.

              • Francois Tremblay  On February 25, 2009 at 7:02 am

                ““Right to life” is a moral defense of man’s “life” itself as also the right to exercise his free will in a non-coercive atmosphere.”

                So it’s a right to exercise your free will, not a right to biological life.

                “Not that source. I mean what is the source of the right to torture, murder, quarantine etc.”

                No such right exists that I know of.

                “This is purely a legal question”

                Then I have absolutely no interest in it.

                “Precisely. And that’s why I say that a “duty” exists.”

                No such thing exists.

                “Can’t simply call it “agreements” because of these variations.”

                Any social rule not based on agreement is worthless.

                “Immigration is migration into a particular area; emigration is migration from a particular area; it has nothing to do with race, specifically. Two factors, however, are involved – distance (moving across the street is not migration), and culture.”

                So your criteria are distance and culture? How do you define culture?

                We can keep circling the rabbit hole for weeks and weeks on this one.

                “Take a look at the political realities and you will know that immigration exists, and has always existed throughout history. So do countries.”

                I don’t believe in any such fantasies.

                “And an Osama is an Osama, a Stalin is a Stalin, and a Pol Pot is a Pol Pot. Doesn’t mean that I will entertain them.”

                They are all human beings. We deny it and keep denying it at our own peril.

                “Depends on whether a Pablo Escobar can run a huge drugs operation in Amsterdam, and if one can buy Kalashnikovs, rocket launchers, howitzers, and grenade launchers on the open market in Switzerland.”

                Well then go and see for yourself. Are they?

                “Yes, because I associate “exploitation” with Marx. He blamed everything on the capitalists and assumed that a product’s “value” comes solely from labor forgetting that value is a subjective term. I too doubt if we can come to an agreement on this.”

                I never said “value comes solely from labour.” You are once again projecting your own misgivings on me. It does not appear you are interested in a two-way conversation as much as disproving a particular ideology (communism?).

                • Aristotle The Geek  On February 26, 2009 at 12:19 am

                  # “So it’s a right to exercise your free will, not a right to biological life.”
                  Why would you say that? I said “‘Right to life’ is a moral defense of man’s ‘life’ itself as also the right to exercise his free will in a non-coercive atmosphere.” I am not a grammarian, but “as also” is something like “and,” or “plus”; at least that’s the way I have been using it all these years. It covers both cases.

                  # “You are once again projecting your own misgivings on me…”
                  I am doing no such thing. You used the word “exploitation,” and I am writing about what that word means to me. And when I wrote about the “value” part, I expressly said that it relates to Marx, and that “he believed.”

                  # “It does not appear you are interested in a two-way conversation as much as disproving a particular ideology (communism?).”
                  A conversation is only useful if it serves some purpose. I wrote this post because I wanted to point out some problems in the libertarian ideology – morality and well as legality – when it came to borderline cases. If you comment based on your world view where most phenomena are fantasies, and others are those which you have no interest in, I don’t think that answers any of my questions. I really don’t think there is anything in common in our beliefs except non-essentials like atheism and a distaste for the State’s strong arm tactics – definitely not in our view of ethics and politics based on the present discussion. In fact, much of your political ideology resembles communism – that’s why I put that phrase over there.

                  Feel free to respond if you have something else to say. Otherwise this is the end of the conversation as far as I am concerned.

                  • Francois Tremblay  On February 26, 2009 at 2:57 am

                    “I wanted to point out some problems in the libertarian ideology – morality and well as legality – when it came to borderline cases. If you comment based on your world view where most phenomena are fantasies, and others are those which you have no interest in, I don’t think that answers any of my questions.”

                    What use are your “problems in the libertarian ideology” if your designated “problems” are based on fantasy?

                    It would be like a Christian “pointing out a problem in the atheist ideology” by saying things like “God doesn’t like atheists and will send them to Hell.”

    • Aristotle The Geek  On February 23, 2009 at 3:48 am

      “Do you ever hope or have dreams about anything? If so, you already know the answer to this (it’s a transformative experience and it changes the way you think and behave).”
      Some dreams do change the way you think and behave – because you believe you are capable of achieving them if not immediately, then sometime in the future. But libertarianism, or any such political ideology is not “just another dream.” If you know its not going to happen before you die, all you are left with is a dream.

      • Francois Tremblay  On February 23, 2009 at 5:57 am

        No dream that you thought was unachievable has ever changed you? You must not be very romantic.

        • Aristotle The Geek  On February 23, 2009 at 11:01 pm

          “No dream that you thought was unachievable has ever changed you? You must not be very romantic.”
          Why would you dream about the unachievable if you knew it was unachievable? I might dream about becoming the PM of India if I thought it were achievable. But I won’t dream about – say – immortality because it “is” unachievable.

          Consider a laissez-faire political system. I think about it; I am convinced about its morality. So I write and talk about it. But is it achievable within my lifetime? The answer is no. Thinking about it is not the same as “dreaming” about it. In that sense, I am not a romantic. I, actually, am a cynic.

          • Francois Tremblay  On February 24, 2009 at 3:04 am

            “I, actually, am a cynic.”

            Well then that’s the difference between you and me. I am a wide-eyed cynic.

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On February 24, 2009 at 1:11 am

    different situation calls for different actions… suitable actions. philosophies too should evolve with time and situations. surely, libertarianism or any other philosophy can’t have all the answers.

    i don’t suppose you conclude based on libertarianism 1.0 final. why not try libertarianism 2.0 beta. but still we just can’t restrict ourselves to philosophies.

    philosophies might lead the way but it doesn’t have solutions to all the problems. but like the saying goes… you just cannot convince a man who’s already made up his mind.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On February 25, 2009 at 2:07 am

      # “different situation calls for different actions…”
      What you are suggesting is actually a philosophy – it is known as pragmatism – a philosophy which can be loosely described by the statement – “the truth is that which works.”

      Pragmatism is the philosophy for the unprincipled. If killing some one, even an innocent person, might be a solution to a problem, then killing would not be considered wrong. Would you like to practice it?

      # “i don’t suppose you conclude based on libertarianism 1.0 final.”
      Libertarianism is not a complete philosophical system. It is not even a definite system – it has many strains. Libertarianism, is essentially a political ideology. And there are no one-point-o’s and two-point-o’s here.

      # “philosophies might lead the way but it doesn’t have solutions to all the problems.”
      It does, actually – have a solution to all problems. Everything is influenced by philosophy; most people are simply unaware of it. Unless people study philosophy, and understand is consequences, they will behave like zombies do, without having any clue as to why they do what they do.

      Read this essay by Ayn Rand – “Philosophy: Who Needs It?” It might clarify a few things.

  • undercover Indian  On February 25, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Interesting debate going on here guys, sorry to evesdrop.

    @Aristotle The Geek, “It (philosophy) does, actually – have a solution to all problems” WOW, that is a very definite statement.

    Is that an opinion or a belief or a fact?. Sounds like you belive in (a religion ) philosophy and Ayn Rand is your God and collective work of Rand can be your holy book ;)

    • Francois Tremblay  On February 25, 2009 at 2:13 pm

      I suspect him of being a Randian as well.

      • Aristotle The Geek  On February 25, 2009 at 2:58 pm

        I will say this much – Rand has had a profound influence on the way I think about the world; you could call me a Randian, but that’s not saying too much. Over the last year or so, the Austrians, Rothbard in particular, are making me question some of my political positions.

        • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On February 25, 2009 at 10:22 pm

          ayn rand is your only god. bwahahahaaaa
          seriously dude, i found your beliefs are very rigid throughout the blog. this is the only post i see you blasphemize your own beliefs.

          It had to start somewhere
          It had to start sometime
          What better place than here
          what better time than now?

          *rofl*

          • Aristotle The Geek  On February 25, 2009 at 11:31 pm

            This is not the first time I have “blasphemized” my own beliefs. I write what I think is right. I wrote about Ayn Rand here, and here, and much of that is true to this day. I took a long break from philosophy, and Rand before I began tackling them through this blog. And therefore inconsistencies, and errors are bound to be there. My beliefs are not “rigid.” I can change them if someone can convince me that I am wrong. It has happened in the past.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On February 25, 2009 at 2:54 pm

      Well, then let me quote my “God” on your question-

      You might claim—as most people do—that you have never been influenced by philosophy. I will ask you to check that claim. Have you ever thought or said the following? “Don’t be so sure—nobody can be certain of anything.” You got that notion from David Hume (and many, many others), even though you might never have heard of him. Or: “This may be good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice. You got that from Plato. Or: “That was a rotten thing to do, but it’s only human, nobody is perfect in this world.” You got that from Augustine. Or: “It may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” You got it from William James. Or: “I couldn’t help it! Nobody can help anything he does.” You got it from Hegel. Or: “I can’t prove it, but I feel that it’s true.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s logical, but logic has nothing to do with reality.” You got it from Kant. Or: “It’s evil, because it’s selfish.” You got it from Kant. Have you heard the modern activists say: “Act first, think afterward”? They got it from John Dewey.

      Some people might answer: “Sure, I’ve said those things at different times, but I don’t have to believe that stuff all of the time. It may have been true yesterday, but it’s not true today.” They got it from Hegel. They might say: “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” They got it from a very little mind, Emerson. They might say: “But can’t one compromise and borrow different ideas from different philosophies according to the expediency of the moment?” They got it from Richard Nixon—who got it from William James.

      # “Is that an opinion or a belief or a fact?”
      The existence of “facts” depends on “your” “belief.” The existence of “your” “opinion” and “your” “belief” depends on the existence of “You.” First tell me if “you” “believe” that “you” “exist”, and if “facts” “exist” and then I will tell you if my statement is “an opinion or a belief or a fact.”

      • undercover Indian  On February 25, 2009 at 4:20 pm

        In year 1398 , lived a man called Kabir, A weaver by profession, a simple man who started bhakti movement in India. He questioned many complex philopsohies (sects, religions, etc) of his time. One of his dohas (couplet) is:

        “Pothi padh padh jug muaa,
        pandit bhayo naa koay,
        dhai aakhar prem ke
        jo padhe so pandit hoay. ”

        Losly translated as:

        “Reading books everyone died”,
        ” none became any wise”
        “One who reads the word of Love”,
        “That only becomes wise”

        Another one:

        “Kabira Garv Na Keejiye, Uncha Dekh Aavaas
        Kaal Paron Bhuin Letna, Ooper Jamsi Ghaas”

        Translated as:

        “Don’t be so proud and vain
        Looking at your high mansion
        Death makes one lie on bare land
        And grass will grow thereon”

        • Aristotle The Geek  On February 25, 2009 at 5:21 pm

          Will love or humility teach you farming, or structural engineering, or enable you to discover genetically modified varieties of food that will lead to an agricultural revolution?

          Kabir, and other saints like him – he was a Sufi mystic – preached mushy philosophies that are of no practical consequence. A philosophy is a guide to living which has the explain the whats, wheres, hows and whys of phenomenon and knowledge. If it doesn’t, it serves no purpose.

          On humility, let me quote a modern philosopher of reason, Dr. Gregory House – “Humility is an important quality. Especially if you’re wrong a lot.”

          • Undercover Indian  On February 25, 2009 at 9:27 pm

            Yeah…and what practical consequence is Ayn Rand, please?

            Ayn rand teaches you farming or structural engineering??.

            Kabir had a simple philosophy which teach you how to live….through a simple idea called love.There is something beyond knowledge, which you don’t get by reading books on Ayn Rand. You can quote thousand books and philosophers and still get it all wrong. Specially when you get so muddled that you start asking things like “…First tell me if “you” “believe” that “you” “exist”….”

            • Aristotle The Geek  On February 25, 2009 at 11:45 pm

              Kabir talks about love and humility. Rand talks about the nature of reality, the sources of knowledge, the nature of man, and the nature of his relationships with society. And I was writing in this context.

              # “Specially when you get so muddled that you start asking things like”
              That is not a muddled me speaking. It is a reference to Rene Descartes’ (he was a philosopher-mathematician) statement – “Cogito, ergo sum” – I think, therefore I am. To which Rand replied – “I am, therefore I think.”

              There are a whole bunch of philosophers – including our Vedic ones – who question the very existence of the universe, or us. Idealism is the philosophy that holds the theory that we create the world around us, that the world has no independent existence. Aristotelian metaphysics dismisses the theory – Aristotle said that the world is independent of our consciousness of it. And Rand is Aristotle’s disciple when it comes to metaphysics and epistemology.

              • undercover Indian  On February 26, 2009 at 10:55 am

                So how does Rene Descartes, Ayan Rands or Aristotles have more “practical consequence” than Kabir in understanding reality, since none of them furnished any mathematical models to show this nature of reality!! All of them were trying to understand the world. Just because Kabir spoke of Love and mysticism he becomes “mushy” and impractical!! To many, ideas of Descrates and Rand will sound equally impractical.

                • Aristotle The Geek  On February 26, 2009 at 2:45 pm

                  I understand that sentiment. That’s why I urge you to spend the ten minutes necessary to read this. After reading that, if you still don’t have a vague idea of “why” philosophy is important, I will try to explain it some other way.

                  • Francois Tremblay  On February 26, 2009 at 2:48 pm

                    Well you can’t fool me, because I was an Objectivist for many years, and I believe it’s all a load of hoey,

                    Aristotle says:
                    I said – let’s leave it at that. You had your last word – twice. There won’t be a third. It may be “hoey” or “fantasy” or whatever else you want to call it, but I prefer that people discover it for themselves. Stay away. If you comment again, I will delete it.

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On February 28, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Libertarianism is not a complete philosophical system. It is not even a definite system – it has many strains. Libertarianism, is essentially a political ideology. And there are no one-point-o’s and two-point-o’s here.
    you seemed to be desperately justifying libertarianism as a perfect philosophy and this post looks like you were trying to weed out your own blasphemous beliefs regarding libertarianism. that is what i meant when i said try 2.0 if 1.0 has flaws.

    It does, actually – have a solution to all problems.
    different people have different ideas or solutions to a problem. one contradicts the other. same with philosophizers. fans of one philosopher praise one while ridicule the other. i give you an analogy to justify my beliefs you and return the favour with your our analogy. why? it’s cause the world is complex place beyond understanding and you can’t put it down in one analogy or even hundred. you’ll simply tire out before you can get it perfect. the communists have there own ideology/philosophy. they’d think there’s is the perfect one and it sounds even better when they put forward the “everything for everyone and nothing for ourselves” argument. when do you think the communists will realize that “pressure” or “brute force” is no solution to create there dream world. you meet 50 different people and each one of them has a set of unique beliefs, each different from another.

    It does, actually – have a solution to all problems. Everything is influenced by philosophy; most people are simply unaware of it. Unless people study philosophy, and understand is consequences, they will behave like zombies do, without having any clue as to why they do what they do.
    philosophies are a part of life. everyone makes them. it might me something they made it on there own. or it might be that they borrowed it from somewhere else. but it doesn’t matter cause the person must have made a decision whether the philosophy was good for him or not.

    that’s the problem. you mean to say is, if everyone was educated and believed in philosophies(provided they all have the same thoughts!), only then can the world reach an agreement. or work!

    i hate to break it down for you buddy but your clearly fantasizing. that’s what i try to mean when i bring in the “human instinct” argument.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On February 28, 2009 at 2:43 am

      # “different people have different ideas or solutions to a problem. one contradicts the other.”
      When I said “It does, actually – have a solution to all problems” I was referring to philosophy in the abstract, not any particular philosophy. Philosophy, by definition, is that field of knowledge which looks into questions like the nature of existence, knowledge etc etc. And its only philosophy that has the answers to such questions.

      # “that’s the problem. you mean to say is, if everyone was educated and believed in philosophies(provided they all have the same thoughts!), only then can the world reach an agreement. or work!”
      By “people,” I was referring to individuals. Without philosophy, people wouldn’t know what to do, or why to do it. Further, even if “everyone” followed a particular philosophy (I don’t think that is going to happen; if you re-read “The Fatal Flaw” – the last part of my post, I do say that it is asking for too much; that should end the “fantasy” epidemic) , it doesn’t mean that they will have the “same thoughts.” Philosophy is a guide, not the entire textbook.

      # “that’s what i try to mean when i bring in the “human instinct” argument.”
      Instincts as a guide to life is better left to animals. Humans have a brain bigger and better than most animals, and they should make use of it. Sadly, that seems to be a case of “expecting too much.”

      • undercover Indian  On March 5, 2009 at 1:41 am

        “I was referring to philosophy in the abstract, not any particular philosophy”

        Take a break from books and go out on a trek or something. It clears out your mind specially when things start looking hazy and muddled. Wana come for a trek and climb to a 6000 mtr peak in Nepal this July!! Few hard treks in mountains can lead to a very clear mind. I guess that was the reason many seekers (um…low kind of philosophers…u know, not Kant or Rand types, but still people with questions on existence etc) use to go to Himalayas in past ;)

        • Aristotle The Geek  On March 5, 2009 at 3:18 am

          I don’t like flippancy when it comes to philosophy. Sometimes, things happen which make you question your beliefs, and make you search for answers. I am sure that will happen to you someday, if not now then in another 10-20 years. Till then, I don’t think you will take philosophy seriously; just like I didn’t take economics seriously till the sub-prime crisis threatened to wreck havoc.

          No matter. Enjoy life till the good phase lasts, trekking and all. I am more of a sit-at-a-computer-or-bury-my-head-in-a-pile-of-books guy; don’t think that will ever change.

          • undercover Indian  On March 5, 2009 at 6:05 pm

            U misunderstand me. I am also a seeker or a philosopher (!!). I think everybody is. I was only hinting you to try “direct experience” philosophy. You see, you can get only as much ahead with others thoughts and thier experiences and chewing on what they thought and wrote.If your philosophy of reason converts you into some sort of rational, logical machine who cant see and interpret beyond what is fed into it ; then how are you any different than a Mullah who lies on other extreme of philosophy and finds dancing and singing as flippant behaviour.

            • Aristotle The Geek  On March 5, 2009 at 10:07 pm

              Originality has nothing to do with philosophy. When you adopt a particular philosophy, what you have to see is this – does it conform to your world view? So, the question of whether the philosophy is one that has been worked upon by ten philosophers before you adopted it, or you “directly experience” it is irrelevant.

              If a philosophy is based on reason, it does not make you into a “machine.” What it suggests is that you consider every action and investigate ever phenomenon rationally. Reason does not blind you; it tells you to keep your eyes open.

              As for the Mullah, his epistemology is faith. He thinks that his sole purpose in life is to follow God’s commandments and that includes shooting people who dance and sing. I think you can see how I am different from him.

              I am not an expert as far as the subject of philosophy goes, but I have read about quite a few of them. And what you suggest – “direct experience” – closely resembles existentialism, or even some kind of pragmatism, and I don’t subscribe to those schools of thought. I have left God, magic, the supernatural, sitting under the Bodhi tree and divining things, revelation, the theory that faith is beyond reason, the theory that experience is beyond reason etc far behind.

              I, now, am an advocate of the “philosophy of reason.”

              • undercover Indian  On March 6, 2009 at 6:42 pm

                “Reason does not blind you; it tells you to keep your eyes open.”

                You are already blinded because you then see things from reason alone and have exluded any other possibility there is. Rational insanity and religious insanity are not very different, both will blind you. A mullah (who is an extremist in faith) is not afraid to kill people who he think are flippant. A utra-rationlist (Rand!!) (who is extremist in reason) has fundamental scorn for unthinking , flippant and emotional masses considering them as some kind of parasites who are below few chosen hyper-rational beings. But lets leave it there.

                • Aristotle The Geek  On March 6, 2009 at 6:53 pm

                  Yesterday, I started writing a post about axioms – fundamental beliefs. Those whose fundamental beliefs differ can never come to an agreement on those issues on which such a difference exists. That’s why I agree – lets leave it at that.

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