(I wanted to thank Jason Maher for very intelligent comments. But also to respond to criticisms, and perhaps to fill a few gaps.)
This post is part of a discussion on Argumentation Ethics.
1) In that thread, my purpose was to illustrate that neither AE, nor performative contradiction, are causal arguments. However, since both correctly assume self ownership is a necessity, then that the single assumption is sufficient to deduce all of the institutional solutions that Hoppe addressed in his work. It’s weak causal argumentative support, but it demonstrates internal consistency. And, in both logic and mathematics, whenever we construct a proof, we require internal consistency. Internal consistency does not determine external correspondence. And external correspondence is the only test of ‘truth’. But his arguments are internally consistent, and that’s something that doesn’t happen very often in ethics.
2) The rest of my post (and most of my work) is designed to articulate the universally DESCRIPTIVE ETHICS demonstrated by man, and to argue how, given such a descriptive ethics, liberty can be achieved as a system of NORMATIVE ETHICS.
3) The reason this construction is necessary is to correct the FAILURE of libertarian arguments to gain political support – or even to constrain the state. Or more simply: if we have better rational and economic arguments, then why do conservatives succeed in resisting the state, but libertarians fail to resist the state?
The answer is that humans vote and act, morally, not rationally. (And it’s necessary for them to do so for many reasons, not the least of which is limited cognitive ability in real time, combined with fragmentary knowledge and living in an environment surrounded by others who are engaged in limited theft and violence, but pervasive deception, fraud, obscurantism, free riding, rent seeking and conspiracy.
So the purpose of my work is to attempt to correct libertarian ethics such that the failed effort to gain popular support can either be corrected by improvements to libertarian ethics such that they are preferable to a political majority, or to alter the libertarian strategy such that we abandon both the attempt to obtain a political majority (or even an effective resistance), and attempt a separate solution.
The various means which I’ve attempted to suggest are too long for this forum.
NOW, TO JASON’S INSIGHTFUL COMMENTS
–“An interesting conceptual division of methods to nick what belongs to someone else. Mr. Doolittle’s principle argument is the the Non Aggression Principle can only deal with #1 and part of #4, but is completely powerless against #2 and #3. Specifically, he speaks of the NAP lacking a mechanism for dealing with classes 2 and 3, and even encourages them…”–
You are correct. Yes.
–“”Private property is contrary [to] the female reproductive strategy””–
This fact may seem humorous to you but the consequences explain why the introduction of women into the voting pool has driven us consistently toward a redistributive society, despite the fact that none of such would have occurred without the introduction of women in the voting pool. (I can’t vouch for Australia because I don’t know the data, But it’s true in the states and Canada. In Canada, without the French vote, the mix would be as conservative as the united states. Which is why conservative Canadians want Quebec to secede.)
The female reproductive strategy is not monogamous, but polyamorous for support and protection, but to capture the better genes she can run across from those multiple encounters. And then to retain the burden of care, but to place the burden of upkeep on the tribe.
Wherever monogamous marriage (the nuclear family, or the northern european absolute nuclear family) declines women return to this strategy via proxy of the state.
Property rights that accompanied animal husbandry and agrarian settlement, inverted matrilineal reproductive control, and placed reproductive control in the hands of males – something the marxists have argued against since Engels wrote his tome on it.
I can go into this at depth but lets just say that the evidence is that women cause the change in property rights policy and that they demonstrate a return to community property in their voting patterns.
–“NAP covers externalities easily… complete allocation of private property rights to avoid “tragedy of the commons” and then allowing people to sue for damage to their property.”–
–“NAP covers fraud too since it is basically theft through breach of contract.”–
–“NAP doesn’t cover asymmetric information to the degree that it simply means two different people have different information. But having different information isn’t a property rights violation and is simply the state of nature. It is impossible and absurd to talk about all people in the world having identical information.”–
Individual contracts place an extremely high transaction cost on all exchanges. So if you are one of the owners of an enormous shopping mall, and you rent space for stores to merchants, and you want to maximize your revenue, will you, or will you not, want to decrease transaction costs?
People are entirely cognizant of transaction costs. The high trust society eliminates them, by a normative prohibition on all involuntary transfers, not just those transfers that constitute aggression.
Further, no society exists that has property rights and liberty as we know it EXCEPT where there has been a near prohibition on all involuntary transfers – because it is the only way to reduce demand for the state: demand for the mall owners so to speak, to reduce transaction costs.
We must remember that for humans, loss aversion, and altruistic punishment are MORE ACTIVATING (we are more passionate about them) than self interest. So all our decisions are asymmetrically weighted against risk.
So the libertarian errors are those of incorrect attribution of praxeological analysis to transactions. And the reason for that praxeological error is that mises and rothbard both made the error of using commodity purchases and ordinal preferences, where commodity purchases are marginally indifferent except on price, and where human differences are not ordinal but a network, and where that network demonstrates necessary biases against risk and necessary cooperative biases that punish offenders>
Think of it this way. If we did not operate by such rules, then transaction costs would be infinite, and we would not exist.
It is not possible for humans to function without these prohibitions.
It is non logical for libertarians to rely on the NAP, which structurally contains errors that are impossible for humans to cooperate using.
I am aware that it is quite unlikely that you will, at first reading, drop your high investment in rothbardian and misesian logic. And I suspect that this one argument is insufficient to convince you. But you will have a very hard time both rationally and empirically circumventing that logic.
So it is not that I err, or fail to grasp, or have not made sufficient efforts in this area of inquiry. It is that I am not trying to JUSTIFY liberty, but instead am trying to explain how to obtain it as a preference, because it is not justifiable. and it is not justifiable because while liberty is in our reproductive interests. It is not in the reproductive interests of all. Or even the majority.
—“And perhaps more importantly, the NAP is not the only basis for anarchy. David Friedman is one of the most famous living anarchists and he (and I) argue based on consequences, not NAP.”—
Well, I never made that statement. I’m making the statement that NAP is insufficient for DESCRIBING what people do. And that the weakness of the NAP explains why we fail to understand why even those people who prefer government out of their lives, demonstrate a demand for government under conditions that the NAP prescribes.
The NAP only prohibits crime. It does not prohibit unethical or immoral conduct. To obtain voluntary participation you must forbid both unethical and immoral conduct, otherwise individuals will demand intervention to prohibit it. By having the state, a population trades free riding, theft, unethical and immoral conduct that they cannot avoid for rent seeking and corruption that they can avoid. You cannot eliminate rent seeking and corruption via the state without also retaining the prohibition on unethical and immoral actions suppressed by the state.
Its non logical.
I am trying to reform libertarianism to repair the errors in Rothbardian ethics in order to explain why we lose. And the NAP is one of the reasons that we lose: because it prohibits criminality but not unethical or immoral behavior.
And if the NAP fails to prohibit unethical and immoral behavior, and If we claim to have a lock on ethics, then what is the basis for that claim?
If we have a lock on ethics, then why do we fail? Are humans naturally unethical? That would mean that natural law was a false basis for liberty.
This is because aggression is not the test of the ethics of property. It is only the test of criminality. Ethical constraint and moral constraint are place higher demands on property rights.
Blackmail, as Rothbard argues, is not a violation of the NAP. It is a voluntary exchange. What is it about blackmail that we can say is moral or ethical?
It should be clear at this point that the NAP is not a test of ethical or moral behavior, but only of criminal behavior.
THE NAP IS LESS OF A REASON FOR A VOLUNTARY SOCIETY
The NAP is LESS of a reason to prefer a voluntary society if we merely exchange free riding, rent seeking and corruption via the state, which we can both avoid and which we rarely experience, for unethical and immoral behavior which is pervasive in society, and we cannot avoid or fail to experience.
Praxeology demands that we attribute rational choice to individuals. It’s non-praxeological to assert that the exchange of pervasive and daily thefts is preferable to infrequent and invisible thefts. If only for the transaction costs to each of us.
So no, the NAP is LESS of a reason to prefer a voluntary society. People see the state, rationally, as the lesser evil between pervasive criminality, unethical behavior, and immoral behavior. They willingly trade rent seeking and corruption that they cannot see for criminality, unethical, and immoral behavior. And they are rightly rational to do so.
So what is the means by which we eliminate the state’s free riding, rent seeking and corruption, while also prohibiting the criminal, unethical, and immoral? What is the basis for property rights if we must prohibit the criminal, unethical, immoral, AND the CORRUPT?
NAP does not tell us this. Our reliance on the argumentative value of the NAP is the reason we fail. The NAP is in fact a RECIPE FOR FAILURE, because it is an unethical and immoral standard for the construction of property rights, norms and the common law.
THE NAP IS ONE OF THE REAONS WE FAIL.
Without prior promise of constraint of blackmail, we cannot reduce demand for the state. Private Property only developed where unethical and immoral conduct was suppressed at every possible level.
The EVIDENCE is that the demand for private property only exists in the suppression of immoral and unethical conduct. Criminality is insufficient. So it’s not RATIONAL to argue that the NAP is sufficient. The trust necessary for private property must exist PRIOR to the demand for private property, and the reduction of demand for the state. Further, it’s not evident (it’s contrary to the evidence) that the market suppresses unethical and immoral behavior. Just the opposite. The expansion of the market INCREASES opportunity for immoral and unethical behavior. Immoral and unethical behavior is cheaper than honest ethical and moral behavior, which imposes costs on the participants. Property rights are a cost. Every time they are respected. Forgoing those opportunities requires trust. The result of forgoing opportunities and TRUST creates property rights. Not the other way around. Private property does not create trust. Once you suppress criminal, unethical and immoral behavior, the only POSSIBLE means of interaction is via private property.
We cannot confuse cause and consequence.
TRUST FIRST. PROPERTY SECOND. STATE LAST.
So, again, trust (willingness to take risks / low transaction cost exchange) requires the suppression of criminal, unethical and immoral behavior. And the trust that appears to be sufficient for demand for private property requires near total suppression of unethical behavior.
We must suppress even MORE unethical and rent seeking and corrupt behavior in order to reduce demand for the state. If we are to define property rights as the basis of a moral and peaceful society, then what is the definition of property rights that prohibits not only criminal behavior (the NAP) but also unethical, immoral, as well as free riding, rent seeking, and corruption?
I think that it looks like the state would be the natural means of transforming criminal, unethical, immoral behavior into free riding, rent seeking and corruption in an effort to decrease transaction costs. Now, how do we FURTHER suppress free riding, rent seeking and corruption without the state? Privatization. But for privatization we must have a set of property rights that increase suppression of free riding, rent seeking and corruption, without sacrificing the reason for the state: suppression of unethical and immoral behavior.
It’s non logical to ask people to yet bear again that which they have rid themselves of, by clear and demonstrated preference, almost universally. People have already demonstrated that they are willing to trade unethical and immoral behavior, for corrupt and rent seeking behavior. And they were rational to do so. You cannot tell them that they are gaining something by simply reverting them to a previous state that they have already rejected.
We can only offer them something BETTER. Which is to ALSO prohibit rent seeking and corruption AS WELL as unethical and immoral behavior.
So no. The NAP was a terrible mistake for the liberty movement. It was tragic. I understand why they resorted to ghetto ethics, because they didn’t understand where liberty and the high trust society came from.
But now that we do (or at least I do) we must base any argument that we deem ethically superior on a set of property rights that is a net gain, not a net loss, for the population.
This is very difficult for Rothbardians to swallow, but pride and personal investment in a failed ideology are less important than the achievement of freedom.