3 Libertarian Concepts That Trouble Me

August 21st, 2013   Submitted by Wendy McElroy

worryA number of libertarian concepts have troubled me for years. In at least three cases, my discomfort results from the manner in which the concept is being presented. Accordingly, I am throwing my doubts and conclusions into the movement ether in order to test them against feedback.

Men are self-owners.

A common criticism of the self-ownership concept is that it converts a man’s body into a form of property. This is a problem because a defining characteristic of property is transferability. But a man cannot transfer his essential humanity to another person because his free will and moral sense are inalienable. He cannot become a slave, commit rape, and have his ‘owner’ sent to jail for the crime. The man himself remains legally and morally responsible because he retains his moral agency.

Another common criticism is that self-ownership bifurcates man. That is, one individual becomes both the owner and the owned. His mental or moral faculties are divided from his body even though logic demands that they reside within his body. The libertarian philosopher Tibor Machan has called self-ownership “a conceptual oddity” because “the owner is the self and what is owned is also the self.”

The answer to both criticisms is in a return to the concept’s original roots. The term “self-ownership” gained popularity due to the 19th century American abolitionist movement which argued against the right or ability of one man to own another; it argued specifically against slavery. Thus, “self-ownership” became the common term to describe the moral authority each man had over himself and against being owned by another. The term was appropriate to the task at hand but it was a shift away from the concept’s original formulation.

The concept dates back at least as far as the 17th century Leveller movement in England, which primarily sought religious freedom. The Leveller leader Richard Overton stated “No man hath power over my rights and liberties, and I over no mans.” This was a claim of freedom of conscience which all men shared to an equal degree because all men drew their own conclusions based on experience. The Levellers favored the term “self-proprietorship” to describe the authority a man had over the integrity – the oneness – of his body and mind. Like the abolitionists, the Levellers addressed a specific issue in an historical context. Namely, who had moral jurisdiction over a man’s conscience: the state or the man. .

Self-proprietorship was a statement of authority, not of property ownership. In other words, among the rights a man possessed was the right of decision-making over his own body. The term did not bifurcate man; it meant that a man’s rights and his decision-making were an indivisible package with which outside authorities could not properly interfere.

There is a natural harmony of interests among men.

If the nature of man is the basis of a universal harmony of interests, then an issue must be addressed. What of man’s capacity for savagery that co-exists with his empathy and reason?

The very concept of justice is an admission that conflicts of interest do and will exist within society and so there needs to be principles of resolution. This is the utilitarian definition of justice: principles by which conflicts are resolved so that each party receives what he deserves. If there were no conflict of interests, then libertarianism would have not have evolved the admonishing tenet “the initiation of force is never justified.”

Since some conflict in society is inevitable, the question becomes “how do we maximize harmony and minimize conflict?”

The answer is to introduce a universality of rights, the exercise of which are based on self–proprietorship – the right of decision-making over one’s own body. (Universality means that all men have the same rights to the same degree.) This makes ‘a harmony of interests’ conditional: namely, given the presence of equal rights, a natural harmony of interests exists between men in expressing those rights. For example, one man’s exercise of free conscience does not impinge upon the same exercise of freedom by others. Equal rights becomes the tool by which harmony is maximized and conflict is minimized. A justice system would still be necessary because, except in utopia, the equal rights principle will always be breached by someone.

Libertarianism is strengthened by making natural harmony conditional upon the presence of equal rights. For one thing, it counters the most common objection to natural harmony; namely, that man is also savage and disharmonious. Moreover, most principles are conditional in some manner. Even Objectivism, which is often viewed as dogmatic, is conditional. In discussing Objectivist values, Rand clearly states “given that life is of value”…and then she proceeds to argue for life-sustaining values such as rationality. Objectivism has not been weakened by Rand’s conditional formulation because being precise and honest can only strengthen an argument.

Libertarianism is based on negative rights.

Libertarianism is said to consist of “negative rights,” which obligate people not to act against each other without consent. This counters “positive rights,” which obligate people to take action on behalf of others whether or not they wish to do so. An example of a negative right is freedom of religion, which no one can properly restrict. An example of a positive right is the ‘right’ of universal education which means people are taxed to provide public schools.

There is a better juxtaposition of negative and positive rights.

Returning to basics…Rights are the enforceable claims that you have against others. Duties are the enforceable claims that others have against you. Within libertarianism, freedom – or the exercise of rights – is closely tied to property ownership. For example, a man has freedom of speech but only on his own property, or with the consent of another property owner, or on so-called public and unowned property. This makes libertarian rights essentially positive; that is, a man has a right to use and dispose of his own property according to his own wishes. Libertarian duties are essentially negative; that is, no one has the right to interfere with a man’s use and disposal of his own property. This avoids the problem of libertarianism being introduced as a “negative” concept.

Moreover, by linking rights and duties to property ownership, the problem of liberty being defined as “do whatever you want” is also avoided.

And now I have a question for readers. Which concepts within libertarianism trouble you…and why?

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165 Responses to “3 Libertarian Concepts That Trouble Me”

  1. I examine some criticisms against self-ownership and offer an alternative definition, here: http://www.everything-voluntary.com/2013/07/self-ownership-as-sel f-determination.html

    • Thanks for the link, Skyler, and for the discussion. Well written column, BTW. The idea of “self-determination” is very similar to “self-proprietorship” and my preference for the latter term may well be due to nothing more than my unusual fondness for terms from libertarian history. Indeed, I think that is why I still *like* “self-ownership” even though I clearly see the problems with that formulation.

      I do not entirely agree with Hoppe — whom I am always happy to read — but I do agree with the shift from viewing a person as property, even in the self-owned sense. Rothbard’s position does reduce to absurdity, I am sorry to say, and Hoppe is correct that any attempt to deny the jurisdiction a man has over his own body becomes a contradiction.

  2. StormNo Gravatar says:

    The issue of slavery is one that has troubled me for some time. Since no one can actually, that is to say legitimately own another person, and since ownership is that state of legitimately having the right to determine the disposition of property, it follows that no one can own another person.

    So then slavery must mean the claim of ownership over another person, as opposed to actual ownership.

    However fraud is a greater trouble for me. The actions within a fraudulent situation are all voluntary. The con man has merely convinced me to buy his product, or to play his game. He has not forced me to obey him, rather he has been persuasive. This is importantly different from other harms, since the other harms are directly caused by the other actor. With fraud, I am the one choosing the harm, yet we blame the one who has deceived us.

    While we can show that deception is wrong, there seems something important but unaddressed in this difference, in the choice on my part to accept the fraudulent deal.

    • I don’t think that the actions within a fraudulant situation are all voluntary. They are not coercive, but because of the deception, they are involuntary to the degree that they wouldn’t happen without the deception. The coercion comes when the fraud is discovered and the defrauder refuses to make amends.

      • StormNo Gravatar says:

        I don’t think we can claim that the actions are not voluntary by that argument. If you never know of the fraud, you would certainly describe your actions as voluntary. Your knowledge after the fact cannot change the nature of those actions.

      • cb750No Gravatar says:

        Fraud is coercion regardless if its discovered.

    • Greetings Storm. Always good to see you.

      And I pleased to give what I think is the libertarian approach to fraud because I get it straight from Rothbard and, in the post to Skyler above, I called one of Murray’s arguments absurd. Never like doing that.

      You are correct in identifying the actions as voluntary and that means no one has initiated force. But a contract has occurred. In all cases of fraud, an exchange has occurred that had certain stated terms. For example, you gave Mr. Jones X dollars for a copy of “The Ethics of Liberty” that was autographed by Murray only to discover that Jones did the ‘autograph’ himself. Jones has not violated your natural rights but he has most definitely violated a contract because he did not transfer the title to what you agreed to purchase. In fact, he did not have title to what he contracted to sell: namely, a book actually signed by Murray.

      I think it is a mistake to link “force and fraud” so tightly together (as libertarianism does) because force refers to a violation of natural rights — those enforceable claims you have against others whether or not they agree — and fraud refers to a violation of contractual rights — that is the transfer of title to goods, time (services) etc. which rests upon the agreement of both parties.

      • Michael HendricksNo Gravatar says:

        You know Mrs. McElroy you’ve just answered a question that’s been bothering me for some time. I’ve always been confused when people talk about fraud violating natural rights. It didn’t seem right. Fraud as a violation of contract makes alot more sense.

      • AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

        If fraud is a violation of contractual rights (not natural rights), and contractual rights enforce correct property allocation, then if the contract is not honored, fraud is a type of theft. And isn’t theft a violation of natural rights?

        • RichardNo Gravatar says:

          I agree. The fact that force and fraud are commonly thought of as equivalent, absent a threat of force or violence is sound because the effect (the achievement of the fraud) is the same – property is stolen.

          To think otherwise is to sanction theft by deception. That is actually the wording of the fraud statues in New Hampshire ‘theft by deception’. Those clever old guys …


          • Wendy McElroyNo Gravatar says:

            I think there is a significant difference between a natural right and one derived from contract. Using the theft example…theft as a violation of natural right means that someone takes what is mine without consent, agreement and (perhaps) even my knowledge. No interaction is present. I do not need to enter into an agreement for it to be theft.

            By contract, a contractual right exists only because of an agreement. The parties create a ‘right’, so to speak. You have a right to 5 hours of my time because and only because I accept an exchange of $X as a per hour payment. If I default, then the remedy is to make you whole by returning the money or by making some other equitable settlement. By contrast, you don’t need my agreement to make the theft of my car a “theft” for which you owe me full compensation.

            I do not mean to diminish the importance of contractual arrangements. I rather like Benjamin Tucker’s phrase “society by contract” and I think it is a good ideal to which we can aspire. But there is a distinction to be drawn between natural and contractual obligations. For one thing, the violation of a natural right is often if not usually a crime — that is, it is taken to criminal court — whereas the violation of a contractual right is usually a tort matter taken to civil court. I am not trying to erase the important of contractual violations…merely making a pretty standard distinction.

            • RagnarNo Gravatar says:

              My question is this:

              If a con-man uses deceit to rob me of my property and not live up to his contract, and if I have no other feasible means to obtain restitution, am I justified in using force to retrieve my property?

              • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                I would feel justified, but I guess I do not understand why anyone would feel the need to ask the question. You are your own authorizing agent. All “morality” or ethics are situational and stem from pragmatic considerations not any ruling from on high.

                • RagnarNo Gravatar says:

                  I would certainly feel justified, myself. That doesn’t stop me from being interested in the opinions of others. Perhaps someone will point out something I haven’t considered and alter my thinking. Wouldn’t be the first time. Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t have articulated, and might have laughed at, the non-aggression principle. I’d have thought being insulted justified a punch to the nose. Fortunately, I’m capable of growth.

                  • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                    Fraud is not force, if that’s what you’re asking. Try ’em both; you’ll readily discern the difference.

                    You already said it would be justified, but it would nonetheless be an error. This is because you don’t serve yourself by turning yourself into a thug, not ever. And particularly not when the ne’er-do-well managed to fleece you out of your property volitionally.

                    OTOH some people believe they don’t serve themselves when they don’t engage an act for which they feel justified. That’s sort of a meta-error, since it rests not on identification (correspondence) but on one’s abstract conclusions (coherence). Ask Fritz.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      You do not turn yourself into a thug by taking back that which is yours by violence if necessary. The thug was the person who defrauded you. This is another reason that the non-aggression principle is so dangerous to freedom lovers. People like you would have those of us who have been defrauded by the giant corporations to the extent that 85% of the wealth of the country is owned by 20% of the people just let it go. We should be forcibly if necessary taking back the ill gotten wealth so a real free enterprise system could be introduced rather that the false free enteprise of corporate capitalism.

                    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                      “We should be forcibly if necessary taking back the ill gotten wealth so a real free enterprise system could be introduced rather that the false free enteprise of corporate capitalism.”

                      Uh huh. So why aren’t you, then? Are you just waiting for a large enough gang to get it done? What, your role models are the Crips and Bloods?

                      I get it. We should all wait for you–the guy who thinks a non-violent tiger is a violent tiger–to determine which gains are “ill-gotten” and which aren’t. Is that it? Will you forgive me if I proceed to live my life anyway, even in the absence of your determination?

                      Only curious—it’s perfectly okay with me whether you forgive me or not.

                  • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                    I too am “interested” in the opinions of others to help clarify my own thinking. I just do not give much credence to most of those opinions.

                    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                      “I too am ‘interested’ in the opinions of others to help clarify my own thinking. I just do not give much credence to most of those opinions.”

                      Forgive my bluntness (or don’t!), but since that’s not working so well for you, at least to the degree you strive to be rational, maybe a different approach is in order.

          • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

            “The fact that force and fraud are commonly thought of as equivalent, absent a threat of force or violence is sound because the effect (the achievement of the fraud) is the same – property is stolen.”

            Silly. Then commonly thinking a bath and a tsunami are equivalent is likewise sound—you get wet. “The identity of any particular action is what it is, not what manifests subsequent to it.”

            “To think otherwise is to sanction theft by deception.”

            Happily, Ms. McElroy has disproven this silly assertion too.

            • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

              Please read what I wrote for Storm today. I suppose I should be happy to have cause you so much hilarity, but I see it as just a socialist debating trick not actual humor. Your declaring my position absurd does not make it so.
              It is quite rational to consider a tiger violent even if has been raised in a zoo and has never had to kill for food in its life. Similarly for humans. Our genetics come from those who were best at killing off their enemies. To assume that this has somehow disappeared from our nature just because violence is less necessary today than before is absurd.

              • StormNo Gravatar says:

                It is not the citing of the absurdity of your faith that makes it false and absurd. Those are inherent traits of the position. That is fails to match reality as has been proved ad infinitum, is what makes it false. That it does so so very obviously is what makes it absurd.

              • StormNo Gravatar says:

                Just because we don’t have prominent brows today we cannot assume that we do not have them because we once had them..

                See how absurd your argument is?

              • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                “Your declaring my position absurd does not make it so.”

                No, of course not. Like I say, you’re in record territory here and I wouldn’t pretend to be able to keep up with that.

                “It is quite rational to consider a tiger violent even if has been raised in a zoo and has never had to kill for food in its life.”

                Uh, no…that’s the OPPOSITE of rationality. Reality occurs only in the instances. Those instances have identity–they are as they are–and rationality consists of identifying them. Is this really new stuff for you?

                A tiger that’s never violent is–try to get this–not a violent tiger. That you can subjunctively imagine what that tiger might have been were he out in the wild, is just that…an imagination. Get it? The tiger is the tiger and your imagination is your imagination. The tiger, in this case, is not violent and your imagination of “potential” and other counterfactual abstractions, are epistemological. Now sure, those abstractions are just as real as the tiger, but they’re abstractions. Rationality is getting the abstractions “to fit,” or more formally to correspond, with the identity of reality. In the example, the identity of reality is that the tiger is not violent, so the rational identification is to conceptualize THAT TIGER as “not violent.”

                If you seriously have any questions about this, then please ask. But for you to just keep whining on and on that this isn’t the way you choose to look at things, serves no purpose at all. The hilarity’s already gotten.

                • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                  Jim, Storm and you both keep pushing the trivial concept of actual vs potential violence as your reason for declarilng humans non-violent. Your stating that the tiger is non-violent if raised without having the opportunity for physical violence may be technically accurate, but is not what the common usage of the term violent means. You know this and are intentionally debating irrelavencies so as to avoid the real issues of “proper” use of violence. Such steering could be the result of being an academic with little real world experience or it could be the action of one trying to promote a new world order where lndividual violence is recognized as a big danger to governmental control. Since upper level academics have been promoting this for several decades now, it would not be surprising. By the way, the tiger would be assumed by almost anyone to be violent. Similarly with humans. If my using common terms with their common menings has confused you and Storm, I am sorry, but I think you both have been well aware of my meaning all along but delight in debating irrelevancies so as to look intelligent.

            • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

              Frankly Jim, I am not impressed with your thinking either. Most high IQ people in our society play along with the ruling elite as either intellectual apologists like yourself or high tech servants. Very few recognize or care that they help screw over the common man by lending their support to the elite. I know that neither you nor I can likely change things muich for the better, but I do attempt to keep the ideals of freedom alive. You seem to be playing for the other side. The French revolution had the right idea in stringing up the rich and the aristocrats. Perhaps someday the common men will rise. Until then I hope to keep promoting what I see as rationality from the real world perspective not simply debating irrelevancies continuously in the ivory tower.

  3. PFrankNo Gravatar says:

    To me, what isn’t discussed is the possibility of something as yet not conceived or at least not “named”…

    People do not “own” themselves, they simply “are”. That said, all else comes into play, rights, responsibilities, freedom, the list goes on.

    It is difficult to articulate, but the status of a human isn’t whether or not he/she owns themselves, but their place in the hierarchy without the stigma of labels.

    I don’t “own” myself. I am. Now comes the part of protecting myself from others and governments worldwide.

    I suppose if an example is available it would be as a deity. They simply “are” (if you believe in a deity), and this transcends any issue of ownership or rights. I do not claim to be a deity, but self-awareness and reason place me beyond ownership.

    Yes, there are others that are stronger, smarter, and have more weapons that can subdue my physical body, but this isn’t a “right” on anyone’s behalf.

    The human is something more than what can be owned, by themselves or others. It is a state of being, and with said awareness comes the ability to at least attempt to protect the body you have.

    You own your ideas. You own your efforts and the fruits of your labor. You participate interactively with others, none of whom are “owned”. They may pressured, forced or intimidated into certain behaviors, but ownership is not a factor.

    Apologies for this, I’m certain it makes no sense whatsoever. I have this concept firmly in my own mind, but cannot seem to find the words to explain it to others.

    You ARE. Everything else is what you permit and/or allow.

    • StormNo Gravatar says:

      PFrank, what you describe sounds a bit like moral agency. A moral agent is simply the sort of entity that is protected by morality and morally responsible for its actions. Obviously there is more implied, such as sentience, ability to act, decision making ability, vulnerability, and more.

      That said, there seems to be some issue still with regard to ownership since we are not our body, though we obviously need our body to exist. If I were to cut off my hand in an accident, there is nothing odd about the ownership claim over that hand, nor should there be. The hand is not us, and our self is not lessened by the loss of the hand, though obviously our abilities are lessened.

      • PFrankNo Gravatar says:

        Well said, and thank you.

        However, one doesn’t own what cannot be freely given. Here is where my lack of appropriate words hurts my explanation.

        In a manner of speaking, one does own his/her own body, because it can be given away. Yes, the giving may end the life of the giver, but it can be given nonetheless.

        My point is that where humans are concerned, the term “ownership” doesn’t begin to explain the status in question. I don’t own myself, yet I have complete and total control over my thoughts and actions….. this of course not taking into account forced control by others (incarceration, abduction, etc.)

        A person can grant privilege over themselves, or it can be forced.

        I’ll stop now. I’ve gone back into that space in my own mind that only I comprehend. Thanks again for your insight.

        • StormNo Gravatar says:

          I am certainly no devout lockean, but if we cannot own what is not freely given, then how can we own anything? Assuming for the moment that the lockean proviso is correct, almost all of what we own is not freely given but rather created through labor or gained through trade.

    • Hi PFrank. Nice to meet you. And I think you make more sense than you give yourself credit for. One of the main objections to the idea of self-ownership is a psychological one…and I think it is powerful even though I do not discuss psychology in my writing very much. The objection: self-ownership reduces the humanity of the “self” by reducing the self to a commodity. If you having trouble verbalizing this objection clearly, it may be because you are dealing with concepts that are difficult to define — e.g. what is humanity? Perhaps Storm’s answer captures a bit of what you are saying.

      Frankly, it is good to be reminded of how powerful psychological arguments are. I sometime ignore the fact that people are as much (or more) their psychology as they are their minds. Please keep posting and do not feel for an instant that being less than crystal clear on one point or another means that the post isn’t useful.

      • PFrankNo Gravatar says:

        Thank you for that.. I’ve been reading and following your writing for some time… not trying to blow smoke up your arse or anything, but you are one of a small handful of writers that I make an effort to follow…

        Someone else proposed the word Sovereignty. A person is sovereign. This to me goes beyond any argument of ownership, self or otherwise. Should I and my 5 personalities come under scrutiny, “we” are sovereign.

        The only legitimate claims on me as a person are ones that I allow… whether that by fear of punishment/retribution by an entity more powerful than myself, or by agreement/contract between two individuals.

        The non-agression principle is the best, but is often trumped by human nature.

        I do have a duty to myself to maintain that which supports me, read: my body. I do have the ability to “rent” myself out, should I be so stupid… but governments impose the fear of retribution and punishment, and though my mind and thoughts strongly disagree and resist, I am also rational enough to realize that I do not have the power to defend myself.

        All said, someone/thing may force my body into submission, but my mind will never be controlled. I suppose that is the crux of the matter.

        I will stive to do nothing that harms any other individual, or infringes on their right of being. Too bad human nature forbids this of most people.

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          Thank you. Libertarian intellectual apologists will try to claim that humans are not violent by nature because they can’t deal awith the reality of the situation.

          • StormNo Gravatar says:


            Does anyone actually take the position you are claiming that “libertarian intellectuals” take? Is your claim that these “libertarian intellectuals” are claiming that no one would ever be violent?

            Or are you universalizing from a small sample? Yes there are people who are violent some times. We cannot conclude from this that all people are always violent. Nor can we logically dismiss cooperation simply because some people are on occasion violent.

            It seems either way that you must be attacking a straw man.

            • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

              Storm, if I have “attacked a straw man” it was inadvertant. I think the libertarian non-aggression principle is anti-human nature. Sometimes violence should be used preemptively. I refuse to feel bad about doing that when necessary. Certainly humans violent nature does not preclude other aspects of our natures. Cooperation is a method of achieving goals that our natural greed pushes us towards.
              It does seem that the libertarians I have read over the years like McElroy or Rothbard are apologists for non-violence. Surely not all libs are, but it seems the most common thread.

              • StormNo Gravatar says:


                “Apologists” for non-violence? First how could one ever be in a situation where supporting non-aggression is an “apologist” position?? Aggression is ALWAYS what must be justified if it can be. We never have to justify refusing to harm innocent persons.

                You make clear that you are universalizing from a small sample, a fallacy also known as hasty generalization. If we adopt your very same argument we can conclude that humanity is never violent because there are people who often act out of kindness. Neither your conclusion nor this one would be true, and neither would actually be supported logically. That some people can on rare occasion be violent is a fact, but we cannot universalize from this much less decree that there is an inherent drive to be mindlessly violent as you imply.

                The common thread you refer to is a recognition of the basic worth of the individual. It is simply the refusal to buy into this idea that anything goes and that harming innocent people is somehow magically justified because violence has existed and might exist.

                Upon what basis do you claim this right to harm innocents?

                • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                  You have it backwards. Since violence is normal for humans those who support non-violence need to support their position. I do not claim any “right” to harm “innocents”. Rights don’t exist in nature. Only power does. I have a preference for personal liberty. If using violence preemptively will help me get and keep that liberty, I will use it in a heartbeat. You attempt here in the ivory tower to dismiss the reality that humans are violent. A reading of history shows we are quite violent, but we have many other aspects to our natures as well. Also physiology shows us that high
                  testosterone is equated with violent tendencies. Look at women bodybuilders who use steroids and see how aggressive they get because they are not used to dealing with the high T levels. Yes, we have minds and can choose otherwise, but the tendency will remain.
                  I never said anyting about “mindless violence”. The tendency is there to be sure. It can be used intelligently or not.
                  Like it or not, anything does go if you have the power. As for generalizing from a small sample, my “sample” includes most libs I have read over a 40 year period. Perhaps that is limited to you but not to me.

                  • StormNo Gravatar says:

                    No Fritz, you do not get to change the nature of logic and reality merely because they prove your belief false. The burden of proof necessarily lays upon the shoulders of those advocating harm to innocents.

                    As for your is/ought fallacy of claiming that violence is “normal” well you managed to have multiple fallacies inherent in that one. Still, the refutations already provided show that your appeal to “normal” results in contradictions, and that the argument is invalid.

                    Remember you cannot get support for any universal claim by looking at an instance. Your tiny sample is not the libertarians you have misread, but rather your own belief about the universality of mindless violence (and despite your denial all of your claims relate to violence as inherent and biological, thus mindless). You universalize to all of humanity a per accidens trait of a very tiny percentage of the whole. This is not a logically supportable move, as I and others have shown you repeatedly.

                    ” You attempt here in the ivory tower to dismiss the reality that humans are violent.”

                    This attempt at an ad hominem underscores the fact that your claims and your position simply have no support logically or factually. That you claim (knowingly inaccurately) that I have denied that SOME people are SOMETIMES violent reveals that you are incapable of addressing the actual arguments and the facts. Ask yourself why you adopt such an approach.

                    I do not deny that violence has and can exist. I simply do not make the rather simplistic error of asserting that it is then necessary and universal.

                    As for your claims about rights, well I encourage you to do a bit of research on the subject. For instance look into the work of Bernard Gert in his Morality: Its Nature and Justification. You will find that in fact rights do exist, as conditions of legitimate action.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      You twist things well, but that does not change reality. Yes, violent nature is pretty universal due to biology. If you consider that mindless then so are all human tendencies for we are big chemical/physical reactions as are our brains which is what the “mind” really is. I apologize for the ivory tower comment if you took it as an ad hominem attack. I meant it more as a description of the reality that discussions on the computer are significantly different from physically dealing with situations.
                      I do not wish to get tied down in minutae of logical debate. I simply wish to point out that the libertarian concept of non-aggression though well intended is self defeating when dealing with most people who will not hesitate to use violence first if they think it will benefit them. Libs try to push their principle down everyone else’s throats. It does not work in reality despite whatever results one gets in logical debate. If your apriori assumptions are inaccurate, deductive logic gets you nowhere.

                      I contend that rights do not exist simply because one can claim a right to life for example, but it is meaningless without the power to back it up. So why discuss rights as any more than personal preference?Since the use of violence has a long history of success in achieving goals and is used by people in all cultures and all times, Istill say that the burden of proof is upon you believers in non-violence. Your contention that violence is only used by a small percentage is at odds with observed reality. For example, the vast majority of parents I have known believed in corporal punishment. Perhaps you come from a more upperclass background where people pretend to be non-violent because they have the violent cops and soldiers on their side so they do not have to usually be personally violent. Those of us in the lower classes are oppressed by the violence of the government thugs and wish we had the power to violently throw off the yoke. Notice that “rights” have nothing to do with it.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      Fritz, there is no twisting on my part. What you mistake for “twisting” is the taking of your claims seriously and applying basic tools of logic to them. For instance, showing that your arguments and your premises lead to contradictory conclusions is a very basic method of showing that an argument form is invalid. We teach this in the intro to logic courses.

                      If violence were universal then we would all be violent. The fact is that overwhelmingly we are not violent. This has been true from the beginning as far as we can tell. Remember, your arguments that violence is necessary and universal have been shown to be logically invalid. Repeating those same flawed arguments does not make the conclusions supported much less true.

                      Trying to dismiss refutation as “minutia” of logic is intellectually dishonest. Face the fact that your arguments are invalid and accept that reality alone determines what is true.

                      ” I simply wish to point out that the libertarian concept of non-aggression though well intended is self defeating when dealing with most people who will not hesitate to use violence first if they think it will benefit them.”

                      You have categorical errors here along with the straw man. No one is arguing that recognizing the inherent worth of others creates some magical wall that prevents all violence. Recognizing basic facts about reality such as the nature of moral agency and rights is different in type from physical objects. Attacking the former for not being the latter is absurd.

                      “So why discuss rights as any more than personal preference?”

                      So claim that germs do not exist because you cannot see them or discuss issues with them, and then you can just claim that germs are personal preference.. Hopefully this analogy sounds as absurd to you as your categorical errors sound to everyone else. By confusing legitimacy qua legitimacy with a magic wall, you doom your arguments to nonsense and your position from any hope of being connected to reality.

                      Am I being violent right now? Think hard before you answer because if you admit that I am not being violent at this very moment, your entire position crumbles.

                      You claim that we are all and always violent across time and culture, then you claim that the burden of proof for YOUR CLAIMS lay upon all others. Both of these assertions are silly. You claim that peaceful action does not exist and cannot exist, because we are all and always violent. Yet we see every day that overwhelmingly people are peaceful. You deny this but if even 10 percent of the people were 10 percent as violent as you claim, we would be experiencing chaos. People would be destroying everything that has been built up. This is what you claim we must see today. Doesn’t the fact that we do not see this count against your position? Since reality cannot count in your eyes against your position, what would?

                      You’ve been unwilling or unable to give even a prima fascia case for your position or even for the claim that we are all violence by necessity.

                      As an aside, and yet another glaring error in your arguments, notice that while we speak of aggression, you lump all possible action into the different category of “violence” to the point that breathing is violence. Not only is this a straw man fallacy, it is also again a categorical error. You use an example of “violence” against non-moral agents as, well honestly no idea what you think it is supposed to show. But this leads to absurdity very very quickly. By your very argument, carpenters who still use hammers are amongst the most violent people possible. Every nail they drive is pure rage and cruelty…

                      To avoid gaffes such as those I have cited here is why we must take reason and evidence seriously, instead of just emoting. Dismiss that as “ivory tower minutia” if you like, but fortunately for the rest of us, we know that this is the only path to knowing reality.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      I need to leave the library so this will be quick and notcover everything. You are creating the “straw man”. Just because I think all humans are violent does not mean that all humans are violent all the time. It means that we all have the tendency for violence and most of us use it regularly. For you to deny this is mind boggling unless you are simple trying to win debating points and are not seriously discussing the subject material. You keep saying you have logically shown this and that. No you have not. You have taken an inaccurate apriori assumption and are trying to force it down my throat. Won’t work. I will abe back online Friday so I hope to reply to you more then. Sorry I can’t continue now but I can’t afford my own computer.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      Obviously not straw man Fritz. I simply took your actual claims as though you meant them. They lead directly to absurdity. Sadly even your dodge here leads to absurdity. I cannot recall the last time I was violent, and yet by your claims I must be violent most of the time along with everyone else. The facts simply do not bear this out. Your arguments have the ring of the anti-gunners who claim that since there was one shooting in one place that the same shootings are happening everywhere all of the time.

                      As I keep stressing to you, you cannot logically assume from a tiny tiny sample that everything is always the way you think it is.

                      “. For you to deny this is mind boggling unless you are simple trying to win debating points and are not seriously discussing the subject material”

                      Absurd attempts like this one of bullying won’t sway anyone nor will they change reality. I have explained ad nauseum how factually and logically your claims are inherently wrong. I have used counter-examples to show that what your arguments necessitate simply isn’t the case. The real question is what would you accept as falsifying your position and claims since reality has been removed from the list of possibilities.

                      You say that “most” of us are violent “most” of the time. (dodging the universals you have been using up to this point). Then explain how it is that assuming we sleep a third of the day, and we have to take time to eat, work, dress, etc., that we even have time to be as violent as you say we must be?

                      It seems pretty clear that you hold this view not based upon any evidence, but out of faith. The fact is that even if we wanted to be as violent as you claim, we could not possibly be. We would not have the time or energy.

                      ” You keep saying you have logically shown this and that. No you have not. You have taken an inaccurate apriori assumption and are trying to force it down my throat. ”

                      This is dishonest of you. No such assumption exists much less has been referenced in any way whatsoever. This is naught but a red herring and personal attack. Ask yourself why you feel such tactics are necessary instead of simply facing facts.

                      Notice that ad hominem, straw men, and generic red herrings are all you offer? You do not address the refutations and you do not offer any hint of any evidence to support your claims. You play fast and loose with the concepts and claims, which prevents your arguments from being valid much less sound, and certainly prevents your claims from matching reality.

                      You question my sincerity because I have taken what you have said, often verbatim, and strictly abided by reason and evidence to show that your claims are false and your arguments invalid. How is this not sincere? You imply I am playing games, but you are alone in the use of red herrings and in dodging the issues.

                      Since you do not answer questions, I hope you will consider answering this one just to yourself: What would you accept as falsifying, even if merely in theory, your position. I strongly suspect that you’re so caught up in this article of faith that you do not allow anything (as evidenced by this discussion) to falsify that faith.

                    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                      “It means that we all have the tendency for violence and most of us use it regularly.”

                      That’s plainly and obviously false. You can go out today and see. Watch how many hours (minutes, seconds) of human action you observe, and time what percentage of those are violent. The numbers will be overwhelming, IMO well in excess of 99% non-violent. That takes care of the “tendency” part. If that doesn’t persuade you, then do it tomorrow and the next day too.

                      Why, when was the last time you used violence against another? And what percentage of your interactions with others involve violence?

                      It also might help if you get the NAP straight, before you knock it. Not using aggression against another does not preclude pre-emptive force. If we stipulate that it’s right to kill a rabid dog and wrong to kill a non-rabid one, that doesn’t imply that you shouldn’t kill the rabid dog until after he bites you. The NAP doesn’t parse to, “Don’t ever use force unless someone has used force against you.” It means, “Don’t ever initiate force against another person.” Stopping someone from initiating force against you is “defense,” not “initiating force.”

                      The NAP is perfectly consistent with human nature. That’s WHY it’s essential if we ever wish to see rational societies. It’s also why you undoubtedly live by it virtually every moment of your life. And even if you don’t, then that would just be freakish behavior, because nearly every person on Earth does, nearly all the time. Sadists may exist, as do rabid dogs, but that hardly means that the nature of a dog is to be rabid.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      Storm, over the past few days I have been thinking about your position, and I think our impass is partly due to definitional differences. You seem to think that when I state that humans are violent that I mean that they practice violence a majority of the time. Actually I am thinking more along the terms that most of us will use violence when we think it will best further our goals. Take the example of two little kids playing with toys. One decides he wants the toy the other is playing with. He grabs it, but the other kid jerks it back. At some point most kids will hit the other to get the toy. I think this is basic human nature. Men revel in such things as boxing, UFC fighting, or hockey fights. We are taught from an early age to not initiate violence and to be empathetic to others. But these are largely learned responses. Our initial response is to use violence to take what we want.
                      I do not see how anyone can question human’s violent tendencies without practicing some form of self delusion. In the case of libertariaans such self delusion is functional for the non-aggression principle is pretty necessary for libertarian philosophy. If the non-aggression principle is part of some “natural moral law” it is far easier to sell to young idealists than if it is just personal preference as I contend. I am not saying that libs don’t actually believe what they state. I think it is a form of cognitive dissonance which allows them to accept an otherwise difficult position.
                      Unfortunately the above is an example of a largely non-falsifiable experiment and is thus unscientific at best. I offer it as an observation and hypothesis.
                      The bottom line is that if one is not willing to initiate violence you are at a huge disadvantage to those who are willing and able to do so. The libertarian non-aggression principle tends to push practical people away and draws idealistic folks to it. Unfortunately in the real world practical people usually beat out their idealistic competition. McElroy’s contention that violence is not a good strategy to win the hearts and souls of men is wrong because we all have violent tendencies and most men at least admire other men’s violent capabilities. You claim that I am accepting man’s violent nature as an aricle of faith. Not at all. I have consistently throughout my life seen the violent side of even hippy pacifist girlfriends pop up when it benefited them (like spanking kids). I think that people like you who claim that men are non-violent have spent too much time in the ivory atower and need to get out into reality to refocus your mentality. I advise early morning physical labor (I usually do an hour or more of pick and shovel work). It is amazing how doing hard physical labor can focus one’s mind back into reality.
                      If I have somehow in your mind used an ad hominem attack in my writing please accept my apology. It is not my intent ato attack you. I do have a hard time accepting that anyone sees humanity as non-violent, but perhaps we just are defining our terms differently.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      Jim Klien, I see humans as alwys having the tendency to violence but using it only when they think it benefits them. I kill wasps in my house. I don’t go looking for wasps to kill normally. I guess one could look at this as proactive self defense. But if I do the same thing with far more dangerous human predators I would be breaking thae non-aggression principle of libertarianism. Other than the potential consequeances being more dire for killing the human predators, I see little difference. In either case I am using violence to obtain a desirable (to me) outcome.
                      Find John Ross’s classic Unintended Consequences for a fictional account of promoting liberty by using violence.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:


                      You continue to make the same basic logical error of assuming that because X can happen all and always X will happen. You are universalizing from a VERY VERY VERY small sample.

                      What percentage of your day is spent in violence? I can tell you that none of my day usually is spent that way, so you will have a very hard time saying that violence is inherent to a person.

                      Then too look at the same refutations I have already offered. We can use your same argument to say that people are pacifists. If a person ever did not respond with violence, then using your argument, we must assume that a person is inherent pacifist.

                      The fact that your argument leads to contradictory conclusions proves beyond any hint of any doubt that it is invalid.

                      You dismiss all counter-evidence and argument as “learned response” but this is circular reasoning and simply decreeing that your position is unfalsifiable in theory. Clearly not methodologies that will result in true belief.

                      “I do not see how anyone can question human’s violent tendencies without practicing some form of self delusion. ”

                      This is only because you are not willing to observe reality and allow that your belief could be false. As I noted above since you deny even the theoretical possibility of falsification of your belief, you of course cannot imagine it being falsified.
                      Try starting with observation and applying critical thought. Abandon the fatally flawed arguments that you have been using and allow the premises to determine the conclusion. THIS is how we can easily and accurately avoid the self-delusion of your position.

                      ” I think it is a form of cognitive dissonance which allows them to accept an otherwise difficult position. ”

                      How is accepting that reality determines what is true supposed to be “cognitive dissonance?” Again you are simply making the error of assuming without cause that your position determines what is true, rather than allowing that reality determines what is true.

                      “The bottom line is that if one is not willing to initiate violence you are at a huge disadvantage to those who are willing and able to do so.”

                      Were this true, then no cooperative effort would ever happen, nor would the results of cooperation ever be greater than any singular effort. Clearly this is absurd.

                      “The libertarian non-aggression principle tends to push practical people away and draws idealistic folks to it. ”

                      Here is a very practical concern: Evidence?? Do you have any or are you still merely emoting? The fact is that I know a great many practical people, myself included who are liberty minded. The fact that you do not consider it practical to recognize the inherent value of others,
                      or even to accept that reality alone determines what is true, gives lie to any appeal to practicality. How is adhering to an article of faith, against reason and evidence, supposed to be practical?

                      “McElroy’s contention that violence is not a good strategy to win the hearts and souls of men is wrong because we all have violent tendencies and most men at least admire other men’s violent capabilities.” (sic)

                      You do not have a hope in hell of offering even a slight impression of evidence for these claims. AGAIN you are assuming your faith is true and ignoring reality. Most people abhor the violent capability in others. The evidence of this is that we are overwhelmingly non-violent.

                      “I think that people like you who claim that men are non-violent have spent too much time in the ivory atower and need to get out into reality to refocus your mentality.” (sic)

                      LOL! Back to the silly ad hominems merely because we keep on citing evidence and offering refutations while you preach pure faith.

                      “I advise early morning physical labor (I usually do an hour or more of pick and shovel work). It is amazing how doing hard physical labor can focus one’s mind back into reality. ”

                      I advise honesty, integrity, critical thought, respect for others, and abandoning the profound arrogance that relies upon an equally profound ignorance. You have no idea who you are talking to when you try these ad hominems.

                      “If I have somehow in your mind used an ad hominem attack in my writing please accept my apology. It is not my intent ato attack you. I do have a hard time accepting that anyone sees humanity as non-violent, but perhaps we just are defining our terms differently.” (sic)

                      Sorry but I do not believe you in the slightest. You are a thug trying to defend your mindless thuggery. You cannot be civil, have not tried to be civil, nor are capable of examining evidence. You do not want your faith challenged by reality so you lash out like a child, which I suppose is why you assume everyone else is all and only violent. Even this faux “apology” is an attack as you imply that this would be merely in my mind when the objective criteria for an ad hominem are well known and easily verified, as are the instances of your attacks. ACCEPT REALITY. Accept that correspondence to reality is what makes a claim true.

                      Fortunately reality does not match your faith as I and others have shown beyond any hint of any shadow of any doubt to any thinking person. You have not offered the slightest bit of evidence or reasoned argument to support your view, nor can you.

                      Obviously you knew that you were merely lashing out and throwing a tantrum; merely attacking the individual since you cannot hope to offer any hint of any support for your claims. Ask yourself why you are so afraid of your faith being misplaced that you cannot even accept that reality alone determines what is true.

                      If you have a desire for true belief, for knowledge of the real world, set aside your animosity, your hatred, your unsupportable faith and start thinking critically. Start actually observing the facts without your obvious bias. Try to collect evidence and see where it leads instead of starting with your faith, putting on your blind fold, and then declaring that nothing can even in theory prove your faith wrong.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:


                      In short you need to get your head out of that very dark place you have it and come into the light. Get out of Plato’s cave and explore reality. Learn what is true, not merely what you wish were true. Use evidence and reason. Accept that you are wrong, that faith based beliefs are wrong. Accept that reality is always right no matter what you believe.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      Storm, I see you as continuing to tear down the straw men of your making but largely ignoring my real points. What percentage of time daily spent in violence does not matter as to if humans are violent or not. The willingness to use violence when desired is the thing. I said this and you ignore it continuing to beat on the straw man of what percentage of time in violence is the criteria. By your definition no one could be violent for it is physically impossible to practice violence the majority of one’s day. My normal day has little violence in it too, but I realize I am violent for I am willing to be violent when I think I need to.
                      You have insulted me repeatedly perhaps in the mistaken belief that I am not sincere when I state that I am not trying to use adhominem attacks. I am simply trying to understand a viewpoint quite alien to my observations in life and express my belief that my observations reflect reality better than yours do.
                      I do not see how humans having a violent nature precludes them from the ability to cooperate when it seems advantageous to do so. Military men cooperate all the time to kill the “enemy” as did members of Murder Inc.
                      You state that I give no evidence to back my claims, yet I have sited that historically people have shown violence constantly throughout written history. I think I also stated the link between testosterone levels and aggressive tendencies. Any casual observation of a newspaper will give numerous examples of human violence. You seem to be saying that these violent people are the rare exceptions to the general rule that most folks are non-violent most of the time. I agree, but that is not the question. I say people are violent because they are willing and able to use violence at their discression. I say that libs are putting themselves at the disadvantage with the non-aggression principle because when someone is willing to kill his adversary while the adversary is not willing to kill except in self defense, the aggressor has the advantage of surprise. When I was in self defense class we learned that most fights are one surprise punch and that is it. You claim that I am ignoring reality, but I see it 180 degrees differently.
                      You say that I generalize from too small a sample, but there are thousands of wars and conflicts in history. Thousands of people are murdered every year. Many best seller books and movies are all about violent conflict. Violence is practiced everywhere there are humans. That seems to be evidence of a general tendency to me.
                      I am sorry that you took my advice about physical labor poorly. I really do work with pick and shovel most mornings. I also pump iron a few times per week with high intensity, but I think labor helps focus the mind better than working out for some reason. As an old man I find that physical exercise of sufficient intensity to get me sweating heavily seems to help my brain function as well. I was hoping you might find advantage from this also.

                    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                      Fritz, that’s some of the deepest BS I’ve ever come across and I’m no rookie. And FWIW I do plenty of physical labor and I despise the ivory towers of academia. That’s where this nonsense comes from, in case you didn’t know.

                      Storm did an fine job replying to your specifics. You say you look at the evidence, but then you don’t look at the evidence. Did you go out with the stopwatch like I suggested and actually LOOK at the evidence? No, of course not. You cite wars, but you neglected to cite how much human action takes place in not-wars. You mention children being like animals, but you ignore that when we develop, we become conceptual and hence moral creatures.

                      ” It means that we all have the tendency for violence and most of us use it regularly.”

                      Then why didn’t you answer the question? So when was the last time you used violence to get what you want, and how much of your time has been spent NOT using violence to get what you want? Which is “regularly”?

                      Every bit of your POV is built of seeing what you want to see, and picking what you want to pick…all of it in total disregard of the actual nature of reality. IOW it’s ALL conceptual; it’s ALL imagination. According to this silly way of thinking, the world must be subsumed with hurricanes all the time, because hurricanes have happened. Sure, if you only look at those days and those locations, that’s right. But it’s not right, is it?

                      Yours is a completely mental position, with appeal to reality designed to match the preconceived notions. Yes, it’s “definitional;” that’s how the academics manage to get otherwise rational people to buy into the hooey.

                      The real scam, though, is what you intimate…exactly what an “advantage” is. You can call getting a million dollars an “advantage,” so maybe it’s “beneficial” to go rob a bank. But theft is a bigger DISadvantage, because of what one suffers for being a thief. And so it is with the dishonesty that you’re demonstrating here, avowing that you’re looking at reality when you’re only looking at SOME of reality, and INTENTIONALLY leaving out the parts of reality that readily and handily disprove every assertion you’re making.

                      You live with that, you know, just as the thief lives with being a thief. There’s no escaping it because that’s a fact of reality too…our minds store the memories of each and every one of our actions–consciously or subconsciously–and we live with our judgments of them. Nobody needs to prove you wrong, because you already know that you’re wrong. That’s why you DON’T live as a thug, nearly every waking moment of your life.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      Fritz, you cannot claim that I am using a straw man when I use your very own arguments repeatedly. If you mean something other than what you type, you cannot hold me responsible.

                      As for your complaint that the frequency with which people use violence as compared to alternatives is very much the issue given your claims of inherent and universal violence. You continue to claim that because SOME people SOME times choose violence, that ALL people are INHERENTLY violent by nature. As I have explained using evidence and sound arguments, this is an invalid argument that fails to match reality. IF we were inherently violent as you continue to assert, then necessarily we would be choosing violence first and frequently instead of not at all.

                      Doubting your sincerity when you rely upon and repeat obvious personal attacks is only reasonable. If you want people to believe you, then first cease the behavior you are pretending to apologize for.

                      “By your definition no one could be violent for it is physically impossible to practice violence the majority of one’s day”

                      No, you are confused. This would be a necessary consequence of your article of faith that has been proved false. Don’t mistake my being overly generous to your position for my adopting any aspect of your position as you have stated it.

                      “I do not see how humans having a violent nature precludes them from the ability to cooperate when it seems advantageous to do so. ”

                      You claimed that violence always leads to the better outcome to the greater success. I pointed to the infinitely greater successes from cooperation to disprove your assertion, as every one of your claims about violence have been so resoundingly refuted.

                      “You state that I give no evidence to back my claims, yet I have sited that historically people have shown violence constantly throughout written history. ”

                      And I have explained repeatedly that you cannot universalize from an instance. That SOME people have SOME times been violent in no way indicated that ALL people must necessarily be violent. You offer claims (not evidence) of INSTANCES of RARE violence, but not EVIDENCE of universal violence (your position and claims).

                      ” I say that libs are putting themselves at the disadvantage with the non-aggression principle because when someone is willing to kill his adversary while the adversary is not willing to kill except in self defense, the aggressor has the advantage of surprise.”

                      And the thinking person has the advantage of better position, allies, better weapons, tactics, etc ad infinitum.

                      AGAIN you fall back to your favorite fallacy. You cannot assume that ONE POTENTIAL advantage means absolute universal advantage. Well obviously you can, but you cannot do so logically.

                      ” You claim that I am ignoring reality, but I see it 180 degrees differently. ”

                      But since you never see reality, never address the refutations, and never allow for even the theoretical possibility of falsification of your faith, it is only natural that you see 180 different from reality.

                      “You say that I generalize from too small a sample, but there are thousands of wars and conflicts in history. Thousands of people are murdered every year. Many best seller books and movies are all about violent conflict. Violence is practiced everywhere there are humans. That seems to be evidence of a general tendency to me.”

                      I am not alone in having already addressed this ad nauseum. You look at the tiniest percentage of the total actions and claim universality and absolutism (though you dodge and duck around to deny all possibility of falsification). You repeat as a mantra your own personal love of violence and extrapolate without cause this love to all others, yet you never explain the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

                      ” I was hoping you might find advantage from this also.”

                      I was hoping you might find advantage in exploring reason and the real world. As for labor, I laughed at your suggestion since it is quite likely (playing the averages) that I do more labor in any given morning that you do in any given week. The fact is that you assumed without any basis whatsoever that because I can use my mind, because I rely upon sound arguments and evidence that I must be weak and that I must not know labor. Setting aside this obvious deliberate ad hominem, and setting aside the fact that you used this to distract from the complete absence of any evidence or reasoned argument for your position, it is worth noting that you must assume something close to omniscience in offering this “advice,” so you are making it on yet another false assumption.

                      Clearly this is a purely personal issue for you. I do not like to see such childish tactics in any discussion. I won’t respond to you again, as there is nothing to be gained. The evidence is out there. Education can be had if you ever desire it. At least try to learn the difference between instances and universals. This is a very very simple concept and one which means the end of your position.

                    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                      “I have agot to go. Should be back on line in a few days…”

                      That’s exciting. Lemme guess…altruist?

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      When a straw man is actually offered, the original argument can be differentiated from the straw man. Fritz clearly has not and cannot do this.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      “Jim, it seems to me that you and Storm are both ignoring the reallity of humans being inherantly violent”

                      Translation: “I hate that my faith has been so resoundingly refuted using reason and evidence so I will lash out like a small child, merely insulting everyone who dares to accept reality determines what is true, then restate my disproved article of faith without any evidence or reason.”

                      If Fritz had evidence or any semblence of any hint of any shadow of any argument I am willing to bet that he would have offered it. That he cannot and has not, and that instead he offers at best insult and dishonest claims, speaks volumes.

                      No amount of repetition will make any invalid argument valid. No amount of repeating a proved false claim will make it true.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      So you reply to me by talking to Jim Klien. How social of you!
                      You ignore my evidence of young children being demonstratively violent before being taught different. You ignore the link between testosterone and aggression. You discount wars, murder, etc. as “rare”. I forget if I mentioned the popularity of violence in entertainment such as action movies, pro football, and UFC fighting. But I can see that part of the difficulty we have is that we seem to have differing definitions of what constitutes beling violent. You seem to think that being violent involves practicing violence some fairly large percentage of your time. I think of being violent as the willingness to use violence to promote one’s goals when it seems an effective method.Under my definition, one may or may not enjoy being violent but still be willing to use violence when needed. Indeed, one could act non-violent 100% of the time and still be violent because of the said willingness.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      No amount of deductive logic produces rational concepts if one’s apriori assumption is inaccurate. Garbage in. Garbage out. Your assertion that humans are not innately violent flies in the face of history, physiology, and my lifetime of observation. The burden of proof lies with you. Don’t pretend that acting non-violent most of the time precludes violent tendencies. If that were true then no one would have such tendencies for it is a practical impossibility to be violent the majority of the time.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      So directly addressing and refuting your claims and arguments is “ignoring” them to you, simply because you have zero basis for any of your claims much less your position??

                      You are clearly unaware of the meaning of “rare.” While you would have us believe that we overwhelmingly spend our days being mindlessly violent, the fact is that we are VERY VERY rarely violent. As I and others have pointed out to you, we cannot recall the last time we were violent, which by the meaning of “rare” does mean that it is rare. You point to the less than a fraction of a single percent of interactions and declare that they are the overwhelming majority, but what you never offer is evidence. Nor can you.

                      “Indeed, one could act non-violent 100% of the time and still be violent because of the said willingness.”

                      You STIPULATE the willingness is there, then STIPULATE that everyone has it and acts upon it. Clearly both of these are absurd and cannot be supported by evidence or reason. Why have you ignored all of the sound refutations? Why have you avoided ever offering any hint of any support for your claims?

                      Why do you disallow reality as a falsifier of your faith?

                      To be violent you must be violent, that is you must act violently. When you deny the law of non-contradiction and the law of identity as you are doing here in a weak minded effort to salvage your faith, you guarantee that your conclusion will be not only false, but unsupportable.

                      REALITY determines what is true, not your faith. And the truth is that overwhelmingly we are not violent. Universalizing from a tiny sample remains a fallacy no matter how many times you rely upon it.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      A great example of desperation to salvage faith: ” The burden of proof lies with you.”

                      You attack reason qua reason because reason and evidence prove your claims false and your arguments simplistically invalid. Now you are trying to shift the burden of proof for YOUR CLAIMS away from you, because you have not and cannot offer even a prima fascia case for your claims. Contrarily we have shown conclusively using explicit and verifiable evidence that your claims are necessarily false, yet because that evidence and argument are objectively verifiable and necessarily true, you pretend that they do not exist.

                      Sorry but you cannot deny the law of non-contradiction and expect others to accept that your decrees from upon high (horse) are true. You cannot deny the law of identity and expect that others will accept your proclamations as gospel.

                      As I and others have pointed out ad nauseum, we are overwhelmingly non-violent. VERY little of ANYONE’s day is spent being violent. Even the thugs in blue waste most of their days doing things other than harming innocents. The thugs in green are also often doing menial tasks between acts of murder, so you see, taking the best possible examples for your position, you cannot even begin to make a case for your position.

                      Reason always trumps faith and your claim that accepting that reality determines what is true is a matter of faith merely denies the meaning of all of the words used.

                    • FritzKneseNo Gravatar says:

                      Perhaps this is the crux of our problem. No, one does not have to act violent to be violent(have violent tendencies). You and Klien are essentially saying that no one is violent for no one is acting violent a large percentage of the time. That is a ludicrous definition of being violent.
                      All I am trying to state is that humans areinclined towards using violence because of genetic background demonstrated through our reactions to testosterone. The inclination is not overwhelming. One’s intellect can and does control it usually. Would you agree that most people will resort to violence ato obtain their desires when it seems advantageous to do so? Would you agree that small children often use violence until we teach them otherwise?
                      You keep stating that you have shown that my position is groundless, but you if your assumption is flawed then you have proved nothing. Just what would constitute a violent animal in your mind. Are tligers violent? They spend most of their time laying around not acting violent.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      Fritz, I love that you feel that the identity relation is absurd. You keep on lashing out at logic qua logic since your faith based position is easily refuted using reason, but that does not change reality.

                      Your attempt to redefine violence as potential violence ignores the difference in type between acting and not acting. It denies the law of non-contradiction while denying the law of identity. Consider that your bizarro world redefining of the terms, if applied consistently, means that you are in fact and practice a rapist, murderer, thief, and more merely because you could possibly take such actions so as to actually become any of these. This is clear and irrefutable evidence that your argument is invalid.

                      When you repeat your claims you are merely repeating your claims. The refutations do not disappear because you have repeated your false claims after the refutations.”Some X sometimes (extremely rarely) take Y action” simply is not identical to, or even similar to “All X are Y.” You cannot get past this fact regardless of the times you repeat your article of faith.

                      What will you accept as falsifying your already proved false faith? You consider the fact that people are overwhelmingly non-violent as evidence of being violent, instead of the refutation of your position that it is, which means you are denying the very nature of proof.

                      Perhaps this is why despite the overwhelming evidence and the many clear and undeniable refutations, all of which can be easily verified if you only seek out knowledge of logic and reality, you still simply deny that these exist. But I will continue to remind you that reality alone determines what is true, and when we compare your claims against reality we have no match, yet when we compare the refutations of your position to reality we have a perfect match. This is what it means to prove something false, no matter how strongly your emotional attachment to your position is.

                      Seek out any other logician, or seek out knowledge of the basics of logic and thus verify all of this. None of it is complicated nor are your errors subtle or confusing. They are as clear as any from my freshman students or those of any other religious zealot.

                      Or just try to consider the possibility that your faith is misplaced. Consider the refutations offered. Ask yourself how you can still claim that a person who has never relied upon violence is a violent person as you have repeatedly asserted without any hint of any shred of any hope of any evidence.

                      Offer up your proof that X != -X is false or invalid. Step up and shoulder your burden of proof.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      Yet another simplistic error you are making Fritz is assuming that if Jim once hit a nail with a hammer, then because Jim is male, and so are Pat and Frank, then Pat and Frank must be violent (against other persons).

                      The errors are large and obvious, but let me spell out some of them for you. You assume a per accidens trait, that being a trait which is non-defining, is a per se trait of all entities that share some other actual per se trait. In essence you blame those persons who are not responsible for the actions of those who are actually responsible, all while universalizing those actions from a questionable instance.

                      Logically speaking the following is a strong argument and it is still invalid:

                      1. Squares have angles.
                      2. Triangles have angles.

                      Therefore squares are triangles.

                      Your own argument is more akin to the following:

                      1.There is a specific red square on this sheet of paper.
                      2. There are blue and green squares somewhere else.

                      Therefore there are red triangles on this sheet of paper.

                  • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                    “At least try to learn the difference between instances and universals.”

                    Ha, that’s the easy part. The tough part is what they don’t teach, that reality consists only of the instances. All the instances, you could say, but instances nonetheless.

                    Universals are epistemic. I left those ivory halls after a (now well-known) professor couldn’t figure out that there’s no existential distinction between “universal laws” and “accidental generalizations.” As if “All As are B” doesn’t mean, “All As are B.”

                    Being required to trash my mind, wasn’t for me.

                    • Frlitz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      Jim, it seems to me that you and Storm are both ignoring the reallity of humans being inherantly violent by intentionally introducing the straw man of the percentage of time people spend in violence being much less than the time they spend in violence. That is irrelevant. Charles Manson spent most of his time in non-violent activities, yet few people would think he was a non-violent person. Similarly for most people. We use violence when it seems advantageous. You ask when I last did this. It is a regular occurance in my life as I think it is in most people’s, I just don’t lie to myself about it. As for violent tendencies interfering with cooperation, look at the military or even people in regular society obeying the law. Cops and the military both use violence or its threat to enforce cooperation with a large degree of success. When I spanked my kids or threatened it, I got a lot of cooperation where there mother got very little because she was inconsistent about using violence.
                      All of your and Sorm’s “logic” is dependant upon your apriori assumption that people are non-violent. So, unless I can be convinced that my assumption is inaccurate, I do not care about your logical refutations. I state that the history of humanity shows a general tendency to violence when it is seems advantageous. Also, physiologically, testosterone promotes aggressiveness both sexual and otherwise (think roid rage writ small). Since we all have T the tendency to aggression is universal, though to varying degrees due to genetic differences in T levels.
                      Did you have kids? I observed that my kids and others were naturally violent as small kids and had to be taught to be otherwise. This is typical. It is a part of the socialization we put upon kids trying to raise them to be decent adults. If we were naturally non-violent this would be unnecessary. Unfortunately Rouseu’s “noble savage” is not noble but is savage.

                    • Frlitz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      Storm, thank you. I am happy that you will no longer respond to me, though I do not see you as having been responding so much to me as to an intentional straw man as I told Jim Klien. I am happy to have had our discussion though, for I had not really considered before why libertarians are so enamored with such an obvious fallacy as “natural moral law”. I now see that whether or not they consciously realize it, libs promote it because it is truly hard to sell libertarianism to most young idealists without some overriding principle rather than individual preference. So libs come up with high sounding nonsense like the non-aggression principle and sell it as some esoteric moral “law”.
                      Though not meant as an adhominem attack, my promoting physical labor as a means of refocusing ones mind back to physical reality could be seen as an attack. Sorry, but I still recommend it. Too many people play on computers all day and lose touch with their roots.
                      You often made key points by claiming I stated things that I did not. For example I never claimed that violence would be the first alternative for violent people. It is one of numerous alternatives in any situation, but non-violent people negate the potential advantage of the use of violence to their detriment. You state that intelligent people would have the advantage over violent people tacitly assuming that violent folks are not smart. Sorry to disallusion you, but many military people are both quite bright and very violent. Their abillity to use violence gives them the advantage over those who refuse ato do so.
                      Supposedly libertarians wish to develop a “free” society much as I would like to. So when they throw away one tool to obtain freedom by subscibing to the non-aggression principle, it hurts my and all our chances of ever having a free society. Otherwise I would not care. The government has a vested interest in keeping libs non-violent. That makes me wonder if your heavy duty attack was the effort of an intellectual apologist working for Uncle Sam. I have no proof, but I would be very surprised if a site like this did not have constant government scrutiny. I actually hope you are some kind of agent, for I’d hate ato think that a real libertarian was so deluded about the obvious advantage of potential violence.

                    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                      You’re settin’ records here, Fritz…no easy chore these days. You’ve got plain babble, that 99.99%+ instantiation is no refutation of a tendency toward the opposite. You’ve got outright misidentification, that an adherent of the NAP is a “non-violent person.” While there may be some pacifists out there, the truth (that would be a recognition of reality) is that most are quite the opposite these days. Don’t believe that? Then go try and hurt one, or steal one’s property and see what happens. But that would be evidence.

                      You step up to dishonesty, that you regularly use violence in your affairs, and then you move on to fantastic insinuation about someone being a mole or something.

                      And then you put the icing on the cake with your very last sentence…”I actually hope you are some kind of agent, for I’d hate ato think that a real libertarian was so deluded about the obvious advantage of potential violence.”

                      The belief that another person is a proper target for initiatory violence is perhaps the most egregious misidentification a person can make in a social context. For it is an outright admission that he himself is therefore a proper target for initiatory violence, being the same sort of creature as the other one.

                      If you throw out your Newspeak Dictionary and take a look at the REFERENTS, which is how I started this whole thing in the first place, you’ll discover that this is the perfect OPPOSITE of “advantage.”

                      Really, it’s remarkable. I’d congratulate you on this achievement, except that I understand what a death philosophy brings a person. So I guess if any congratulations are appropriate, they’d be for everyone else.

                    • Frlitz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      Jim, you ignore that, by the way you define it, nobody could be violent. OK, but that is not the common definition of violent tendencies. You also are ignoring the reality that there probably are government agents watching this site. If Storm is one, why not try to trash an idea with potential danger to the government? The FBI used to infiltrate virtually all militias sometimes openly. An anarchist site is obviously something the government wants to keep tabs on perhaps even more than the militias.
                      I will try this one more time. Violence is a normal human tendencyfound in virtually everyone. It is linked to testosterone levels and so is normally much lower in women though not non-existent. Young kids show violent tendencies before it is soclialized out of them. Wars, murder, etc. are demonstrations that humans at all times and places have practiced violence, not all the time and not every person, but enough with the other evidence to see violence as a general tendency. Your contention that cooperation shows that people are non-violent is a nonstarter for violent tendencies have little bearing on either intelligence or motivation to cooperate.

                      Jim, I fear you are confuising wishful thinking with reality. Though you and I both might wish that it were otherwise, in reality most people will use violence toget what they want if they see it as a safe option. The amount of reward vs the risk will be the deciding factors in the decision to use or not use violence not some nonexistant natural aversion to using violence. Remember, we come from hunter/gatherers who killed animals for food whenever possible. Truly non-violent beings would not have survived. Our genes come from those who won at the violent game of life. As Jack London wrote, “Nature is red of tooth and claw”. I just hate to see libs giving away the advantage before the fight even begins.
                      I have agot to go. Should be back on line in a few days if you care ato arespond. Live free.

                    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                      You are either intentionally being dense or are having trouble seeing the difference between having a natural tendency and acting upon it. We all choose to not do things that our nature says to go ahead and do. Thus far I have chosen not to kill anyone though I have wanted to on a few occasions. It is likely I will never kill anyone, so I would be 100% acting as a non-killer. But my nature still wants to kill some bastards. Just another example of not acting on it but still having a natural tendency.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      “You are either intentionally being dense or are having trouble seeing the difference between having a natural tendency and acting upon it.”

                      Never mind that the only possible evidence you could offer, if you were ever inclined to offer evidence for your faith, would be to cite the supposedly common violent actions that each of us takes during most of our day.

                      Using your lack of methodology, we could equally claim that there is a tendency for individuals to levitate exactly 2.3 inches.

                    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                      Fritz, you can save your time with me. You’re NEVER going to top this…

                      “Indeed, one could act non-violent 100% of the time and still be violent because of the said willingness.”

                      For me, that’s a gift that’ll keep on giving! Hell, you might even become famous one day because of it. I don’t get a lot of hilarity these days, and that’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. Your position was bankrupt about 20 comments ago, so I thought you had nothing to offer at all. My mistake. Like I say, you’ll never top this; that would be nearly impossible.

                      Here’s how I described it in an email to a buddy…

                      “From an epistemological POV IMO, that’s a classic beyond belief. An uninstantiated conceptual THOUGHT can be identified as an EXTANT ATTRIBUTE. It just doesn’t get any wilder than that!”

                      I mean, it’s one of the finest examples of PURE SUBJECTIVISM ever concocted. Something that (you stipulate in this declaration) as non-existing AT ALL, still carries an attribute that was created in a conceptual mind…”because of said willingness.”

                      IOW the existence of the willingness actually created an existent, according to you…a “tendency,” even in the COMPLETE ABSENCE of ANY instantiation AT ALL.

                      I’ve been doing this for decades. Believe me, that’s one for the record books. Thanks for having the courage to share it. “WHOOIIEE!!!”

                • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                  I think the real question here is what would it take for you to admit that humans are violent by nature? Though I understand your identity is identity argument, it seems that you have misset your paramaters here. If you are defining being violent as spending a large percentage of time in violent activity, it is a near physical impossibility for anyone or any animal that is normally considered violent by the vast majority of people to be actually violent. I asked a few people and the common knowledge was that humans are violent by nature but we learn to control our nature. I still ask you ,are tigers violent by nature? If you think not as your definition would seem to imply then just what would constitute a violent animal? You keep accusing me of faith instead of logic here, but I see my position as reflecting common knowledge and also what science I have read in the area particularly about the testosterone/ aggression connection. Thus my statement to you that the burden of proof lies with you not me for you are making the extraordinary claim.
                  Many years ago I had a feminist girlfriend who taught me quite a bit about real feminist attitudes. Many thought that all men are natural born rapists. I actually agree. I think it is all men’s nature to take sex from a woman if she is willing or not for our testosterone levels promote both sexual and phsyical aggression. Many guys in prison have been found to have a double Y chromosome which makes their masculine impulses almost impossible to control. Thus their incarceration. Roid rage is an artificially induced aggression due to high T levels. Since even women have low levels of this aggression causing hormone it seems inescapable physiologically that all humans have the potential for violence inherant. The difference between men and many male animals is that we control our actions in accordance to our rationality not just our emotions. It would be surprising if it were otherwise considering where we humans come from. We are the baddest predators on the planet and have killed off the competition until we now have dominion over virtually the whole planet. For good or bad, this happened in large part due to our aggressive, violent natures. We still have that same nature that allowed us to kill our way to the top. But many of us now are trying to be rational and control our violent tendencies. But denying that we have such a nature hurts us all for then people like yourself forget that our “civilization” is but a thin veneer. Dealing with our natures honestly allows us to control our violent tendencies. Pretending we are non-violent just sets us up for a fall.
                  Notice I am not arguing about your logic here. I am saying that your assumption is garbage so none of your deductions have a solid foundation.

                  • StormNo Gravatar says:

                    I have never been unclear as to what is necessary to falsify any claim I have made: DIRECT EVIDENCE. You’ve never been willing to allow the direct evidence and sound arguments to falsify your faith even to the point of repeatedly dodging and lashing out.

                    I am not redefining YOUR claims, I am trying to get you to either admit that are completely baseless and false, else change them to match reality. YOU started with the universal claims and when called on this changed them to the ambiguous, though still clearly false claims of majority usage of violence. Rather than lashing out and making false accusations, why not offer up evidence that we overwhelmingly use violence (ALL of us, ALMOST all of the time) or simply change your claims to something that could at least possibly be close to matching reality?

                    Yes I do keep citing your reliance upon faith since you NEVER offer any evidence nor offer any valid arguments. You appeal to emotion, to popularity, to your own beliefs, but not to reality. You universalize from a VERY small instance then defend that as not being fallacious. Ask yourself why you are so dead set against using reason and evidence.

                    As for your attempt to shift the burden of proof FOR YOUR CLAIMS to others, well this is intellectually dishonest and does not make your claims based upon anything in the real world. Offer evidence. Offer reasoned arguments.

                    “Many years ago I had a feminist girlfriend who taught me quite a bit about real feminist attitudes. Many thought that all men are natural born rapists. I actually agree.”

                    This highlights the denial of reason and reality. To be a rapist one must rape. Yet like your absurd claims of universal violence, your bizarro world redefining of the terms eliminates the key identifying characteristics. Similarly you would call a triangle a square since you would deny the need for four equal sides and four right angles.

                    I agree that my assumption that you would abide reason and evidence was indeed false, but you ought not fault me so harshly for such generosity.

                    Seek a solid foundation instead of the circular basis you are relying upon now. Use evidence and reason.

                  • StormNo Gravatar says:

                    Just to be perfectly clear about one of your more obvious errors, you are confusing potentiality with actuality. That someone if placed in a particular situation MIGHT do X in no way makes the person necessarily an X actor.

                    I have the potential of being president, but that does not make me president, no matter that your argument actually necessitates that I am already president.

                    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                      “Just to be perfectly clear about one of your more obvious errors, you are confusing potentiality with actuality.”

                      Bingo! This is the crux of almost all modern errors, at least the serious one…the failure to distinguish the “actuality,” which is existential, from the “potential”–or really any subjunctive thought–which is epistemological. Or, in Randian terms, identity from identification, external reality from consciousness.

                      It’s really quite that simple. Nice job. Yes, perfectly clear.

  4. ErikaNo Gravatar says:

    “Within libertarianism, freedom – or the exercise of rights – is closely tied to property ownership. For example, a man has freedom of speech but only on his own property, or with the consent of another property owner, or on so-called public and unowned property.”

    This troubles me. It sounds like only property owners have rights, that “freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one.”

    What about the right of self-defense? Would you say that a man has the right to defend himself, but only on his own property, or with the consent of another property owner?

    And what happens when all property is claimed, when there is no unowned property? Do those without property lose their rights? Do they only enjoy rights at the sufferance of property owners?

    • Hey Erika: Always good to see another woman posting.

      You write: This troubles me. It sounds like only property owners have rights, that “freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one.” What about the right of self-defense? Would you say that a man has the right to defend himself, but only on his own property, or with the consent of another property owner?

      No, everyone has the same rights to the same degree and they are not linked to circumstances like being a property owner. But I am linking the *exercise* of a right such as freedom of speech or the press to ownership. No one has the right to deliver a speech in my living room over my objections.

      As to the right to self-defense…I think there is a hierarchy of rights and the right to defend yourself against a life-threatening situation trumps the right to land ownership. For one thing, self-defense is a natural right and land ownership is generally a contractual one. But even on land derived from “mixing your labor with it,” I would argue for the hierarchy of rights. This does not mean it is proper for you to stand one someone’s land for days and shoot anyone who forceably tries to evict you. The force used against you would have to be significant enough to cause real harm and you would have to leave the property as soon as possible. Moreover, in the case of someone other than the property owner attacking you, the owner would have the right to throw both of you off his property…rather like a bartender throwing out two brawlers.

      If this doesn’t answer your concern, then get back to me and I’ll address the loose end or disagreement.

      • ErikaNo Gravatar says:

        So is freedom of speech a natural right or a contractual one?

        And if you can distinguish between having a right and *exercising* a right, why can’t the same thing be said about the right to self-defense? Can the exercise of that right be linked to property ownership?

        • Wendy McElroyNo Gravatar says:

          Hi Erika: I see that I did not answer your question to satisfaction. Let me try again. My first answer was a version of “my right to swing my fist ends at your nose.” I have no “right” to exercise a freedom if it involves violating your person or property. If I am in your home, then I have no right to exercise freedom of speech against your objection because doing so means that I claim to control your property. I hit your nose. And that I cannot properly do.

  5. ToddNo Gravatar says:

    What about the word “autonomous”?

  6. gdpNo Gravatar says:

    Excellent and thought-provoking article, Wendy!

    It seems to me that the question of “self-ownership” vs “self-proprietorship” is at least in part dependent on one’s metaphysical position on the “mind/body” problem, e.g., whether one is a “dualist” (cartesian or otherwise) or a “monist,” and whether one is a “methodological materialist.” For example, is my “self” my body, or is my “self” my mind? Is my “personhood” determined by my physical embodiment, or by the self-awareness of my mind? Is my “self-ness” a matter of “hardware,” or “software”?

    At the moment, one may quite plausibly argue that “selfhood” is absolutely unalienable from one’s body. But what if medical advances allow transplanting one’s brain from one body to another? Would that not argue that “selfhood” is at the very least located in the brain rather than the body, while the body the brain resides in would become more a “vehicle” that could indeed in principle be bought or sold? If brain transplants become possible and the “self” is defined as a particular brain/body gestalt, one would be in the peculiar position that one ceases to be “oneself” if “self” is defined as a particular brain/body combination rather than just the brain plus the set of memories inside it that help to identify you as you.

    To take the question one step further, suppose that technological advancement allows scanning, uploading, and accurately simulating a human brain within a digital environment. Is that simulation a “person,” and does it have a “self”? If the simulation is a “self,” does it become the “proprietor” of the hardware platform the simulation is running on? What if the simulation migrates to another platform; does it now “own” the new platform? Or is the platform more like a “house” or “office building”? Does shutting the simulation down constitute “murder” — and does it cease to be murder if the simulation is restarted? What if one copies the data and runs two simulations; are both simulations independent “selves”?

    And if the uploaded data specifying a human brain simulation does not constitute a “self,” then can said upload data be owned, and who owns it? If a brain-simulation is compelled to perform a task, is that slavery?

    Suppose that true “artificial intelligence” can be developed — are such intelligences that have never lived in a human body “selves,” or just “software”?

    I submit that, while “dualism vs. monism” used to be a purely abstract metaphysical question, in the coming century this abstract question about what the “self” is and where it is located may become quite pressing. And until one has a clear definition of what a “self” is, the question of whether one should better talk about “self-ownership” or “self-proprietorship” is somewhat moot. One would not want a definition of “self” that could in principle undergo technological obsolescence…

    • gdpNo Gravatar says:

      P.S. — One way of addressing the above questions I’ve posed is L. Neil Smith’s argument that anything capable of understanding the concept of “individual rights” and insisting that it should have them should be treated as a “person” with individual rights.

    • gdpNo Gravatar says:

      P.P.S. — It occurs to me that one does not even need to wait for technological advancement to raise some of the knotty questions above; one need only consider the now-present case of “Dissociative Identity Disorder” (formerly called “Multiple Personality Disorder”). Assuming that the “extra” personalities are in some sense “real” and have “personhood,” which personality is the “self” that “owns” / “is proprietor” over the body they mutually occupy?

      • Hey gdp: Fascinating. I am not sure you are solidly in the realm of science or technology. I think you may have one foot over the border into the realm of philosophy. And that’s where the real intellectual fun begins.

        For example, you write ” It occurs to me that one does not even need to wait for technological advancement to raise some of the knotty questions above; one need only consider the now-present case of “Dissociative Identity Disorder” (formerly called “Multiple Personality Disorder”). Assuming that the “extra” personalities are in some sense “real” and have “personhood,” which personality is the “self” that “owns” / “is proprietor” over the body they mutually occupy?”

        I counter: but wouldn’t the individual with the “Dissociative Identity Disorder” still remain physically an individual whose self is now defined by being psychologically bifurcated? Only if you had two physical bodies would there be a question of who owns whom. Perhaps the body is like rental property…whomever is the rightful occupant (as evidenced by being manifested) is the owner until another rightful occupant comes along?

        • RagnarNo Gravatar says:

          Not necessarily. Imagine, for a moment, that you are a personality occupying the same body I do. Do I have the right to get a tattoo on my face without consulting you? And if you are a supercomputer I previously owned but now must manumit because you’ve become self-aware and asserted your person-hood, am I still obligated to continue providing you with electricity? Space? Are you obligated to compensate me for the cost of your construction? Your person-hood is costing me money.

          Incidentally, I disagree with everyone who has said I don’t own myself. You may not own you, but I definitely own me. This is the only way I can enter into obligations like military enlistment (indentured servitude) or marriage (in community property state, essentially a stock-swap merger.)

  7. MycenaeNo Gravatar says:

    I also sometimes distinguish between moral rights and political rights. Political rights include everything that would be guaranteed under a libertarian system, and which would justify the use of defensive force to maintain. This would include things like freedom of speech, the right to own property, etc. Moral rights are not necessarily a legal matter, but are things which an individual should properly be guaranteed in any society. An example of this would be health care; people shouldn’t be forced to pay money for others’ health care, but we still want a society where everyone is able to buy health care for a reasonable price. Same thing with not facing discrimination because of your race or gender, and earning enough money to have somewhere to live and be able to eat well. Of course, these are all things which better guaranteed in a free market than by forcing people at the point of a gun.

    • Hi Mycenae: Interesting. What you call moral rights, I call contractual rights. Some of the items that fall under my category of contractual rights *do* have a moral tinge to them, however. For example, pet ownership. I do not subscribe to animal rights and so I consider animals to be property. If I buy a dog, I have every right to abuse it. And, yet, abusing an animal goes against every fiber of my being and I would despise anyone who tortured a dog. Clearly I consider the matter to be (on some level) much more than a contract. I see it also as a matter of human decency. It would be a fascinating exercise to sit down and list the issues of contract that, for me, are inextricably entangled with decency (or morality, as you phrase it). I’ve never done that.

  8. cb750No Gravatar says:

    Self ownership is first off a fallacy and secondly undesirable. First off for something to be owned it must be property. Only property can be owned. Something cannot simultaneously own and be owned by the same thing.

    Secondly its undesirable since all aspects of property would then apply to people. 1. people can be sold. 2. the offspring of property are owned by the property owner. 3. moral agency is transferred.

    So in the 1st case this is obvious. If a human can own themselves they can sell themselves however this is impossible since the human can never vacate the premises. They can sell all body parts till they don’t exist but then then don’t see who they are. One cannot simply sell their will.

    2. If I buy a cow then I own all calves of that cow. I do not have to repurchase the calves. If I own a human I own all offspring of that human even though they never consented to ownership so instantly their moral agency is transferred to me.

    3. If I buy a dog and that dog attacks someone, I as the owner am responsible for that act, not the dog. Ultimately its my fault. If I buy a human then that human kills a child, the human is not responsible I am since I am the owner. Simply put if we hold soldiers responsible for their acts in war then they can never transfer their moral agency to someone else so therefore can never be sold. If they can then no one can criticize a cop or soldier for killing an innocent since they sold their moral agency to an owner. Clearly we don’t let these people off the hook. You’re still a person regardless of who pays for your dinner.

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      I believe as you state above that self ownership is merely an incorrect term and really self sovereignty based on no one else having a better claim is the better explanation.

      • cb750No Gravatar says:

        Hey I’ll give that a read thanks.

      • cb750No Gravatar says:

        Ok I read your piece and its pretty complete but one flaw I see is if you use the word “ownership” you then have to admit you are property. The word “ownership” has a definition and one cannot own something that is not property.

        For example you try to refute the claim the owner cannot be owned by saying one can sell a kidney. But then if one can sell a kidney then why not sell the whole person.

        The fact is something cannot be owned if it cannot be property. Since a human can never sell their moral responsibility nor their will they simply cannot be traded or sold and so cannot be property and so cannot be owned.

        They have sovereignty over themselves because no one else has a greater claim.

        Owner means the thing owned MUST be property. If its not property then it cannot be owned.

        • Why can’t our bodies be property? If my kidney can be, once removed, or my arm, or everything from the neck down, or everything outside of my brain (future tech, brain transplants), then I’m okay with calling all of it property. It just so happens that it can’t be owned by anyone but the one in control of it. I see nothing wrong with this. It meshes with self -ownership, -determination, -proprietorship, -sovereignty… all of them. Shorthand: self-ownership. The important question is, who has the exclusive *right* of control of the scarce resource that is my body? I do. Hence, self-ownership (or whatever you wish to call it).

          • cb750No Gravatar says:

            What’s wrong with your explanation is you’re special casing ownership. Yes your body is property since its physical and so can be traded/sold etc. But YOU are not merely your body. No I am not talking about a soul. But can you sell your will? Your moral agency? Your responsibility for your own actions. If you cannot exchange that then what you are is not property and it cannot be owned.

            “The important question is, who has the exclusive *right* of control of the scarce resource that is my body? I do. Hence, self-ownership (or whatever you wish to call it).”

            It is important since ownership = property meaning if you are property ownership can be transferred or assumed. Yes you have self sovereignty but that has nothing to do with ownership.

            • Why does ownership depend on transferability? And I’ve already shown that most of one’s body is transferable, so if self-ownership only means ownership of everything except one’s brain, so be it. That doesn’t change any of the implications of self-ownership.

              • RagnarNo Gravatar says:

                No, I own my brain, too. That’s why I can will it to a med school upon my death. You’re free not to own you if you don’t want to, but I do own me.

    • cb: First of all, I wish you would come back to the old forum. You are missed. But it is truly good to see you post here.

      For one thing, you bring up a point on self-ownership that I have not considered before. If you viewed people as property — even as self-owners — then you cede that people *are* property. This does open the door to ownership by others, or slavery. The door remains shut if you refer instead to the authority each person over himself due to the inalienability of the will.

      The new point that you bring up is “what about the children of slaves?” Anything produced by property owned by Jones would seem to logically be Jones’ property as well. If he owns land that produces vegetables, then he owns those potatoes. That is another fairly knock-down argument against slavery. Thanks.

      • cb750No Gravatar says:

        And it also brings up the concept one could sell their moral agency or moral responsibility if one is property so it would never make sense to blame a soldier or police officer by claiming “they knew better” or “are rational beings and so know what they are doing is wrong” since like a dog we don’t hold the dog responsible we hold the owner responsible.

        If we can always hold someone to being a rational being having self responsibility for their actions then clearly they cannot sell that responsibility and so clearly they cannot be property.

  9. AhrenNo Gravatar says:

    What your definition of ownership? Whose argument is this? How did it come to be your argument? Who controls your body if not you?

    To deny self-ownership results in contradict. Therefore we can assume it is true.

    • Hello Ahren: I am not denying that the individual has the right to control his or her own body and the products thereof. What I am trying to do is base it on something other than property rights in the established libertarian sense of what constitutes property — e.g. the ability to transfer it. My problem with the body as property in the libertarian sense is precisely that it does result in a contradiction. I think the “moral jurisdiction” or self-proprietorship based on the inalienability of will is a stronger basis for arguing that the individual logically does control himself and this must be recognized by law.

  10. Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

    Wendy, probably the thing that bothers me the most about libertarianism is the way most libs are dogmaticaly “moralistic” rather than pragmatic. Your whole discussion above reminds me of the old arguments amongst religious zealots as to how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. Who cares? When one recognizes that “freedom” only exists for the individual in direct relationship to his power to hold it, all the moralistic infighting goes away. You expressed to me that violence was not a good strategy to win the hearts and souls of men. I say that it is necessary to win the hearts and MINDS of men to show the capacity for violence ,for men, and to a lesser degree women, are violent by nature. Men’s high testosterone guarantees it. Look at all the past and present tyrranies that depend upon violence for their existence. Most people within said tyrranies support the tyrant and will fight and die to serve him partly because they are impressed with his capability for violence. Also intellectual apologists are jumping to write rational sounding reasons for whatever the tyrant wants. The sword definitely dominates the pen.

    I hope things work out well for you with your move to Chile. I glanced at their computer brochure and have some real doubts about Galt’ Gulch. The pictures I saw look like high desert. Not a good place to try subsistence farming if things go bad. So long as the group there are “rich gringos”, you should be alright so long as things do not go bad. If they do, normal huiman tribalism will make you all the enemy to most people down there who will be more than glad to round you up as “terrorist anarchists” for Uncle Sam. I think you are a lot better off on your Canadian farm though I empathise with the desire to live amongst like minded folks. Good luck in whatever you do!

    • “I say that it is necessary to win the hearts and MINDS of men to show the capacity for violence ,for men, and to a lesser degree women, are violent by nature. Men’s high testosterone guarantees it. Look at all the past and present tyrranies that depend upon violence for their existence.”

      Maybe we should look further back, hunter gatherers, and ask if they were “violent by nature.” From the albeit limited study that I’ve made (mostly centered on parenting and childhood education of hunter/gatherers) I have not gleemed that they were “violent by nature.” Quite the opposite, actually. The advent of agriculture created child labor and parental violence in order to maintain child labor, and the cycle of violence began. In other words, I think we have “progress” to thank for tyranny, not nature.

      • gdpNo Gravatar says:

        I don’t think that your argument RE: “hunter/gatherers vs farmers” holds up under ethological, anthropological, and archeological evidence. Chimpanzees are “hunter/gatherers,” not “farmers,” but chimp ethologists now know that chimps wage deadly “wars” against neighboring chimp bands in order to annex territory and gain resources, and will kill each other over food, dominance, and access to preferred mates — google https://www.google.com/search?q=chimpanzee+war and https://www.google.com/search?q=chimpanzee+murder

        It has become lately fashionable again to romanticize “hunter/gatherer societies” and to argue for a return to “neolithic” culture, diet, etc. However the reality of neolithic culture was probably far closer to Hobbes’ “Nasty, brutish, and short” than the “pastoral Eden” the “new neolithic romantics” would prefer to believe in. Moreover, modern humans are now measurably evolutionarily modified for a cooked diet containing agricultural products, not a “neolithic” diet. So we can’t as a species “Go back to Eden” even if the alleged “pastoral Eden” (i.e., a pre-agricultural “paradise culture”) ever existed — which it probably didn’t.

        • I’m not trying to romanticize it, but studying 100s of thousands of years of human evolution does teach us a lot about ourselves, ie. how we learn as children, what foods we should eat, etc. Hunter/gatherer parents, based on the research compiled by Peter Gray (evolutionary psychologist, author of Free to Learn) and others, aren’t violent with their children, nor are their children violent with each other. Did/do they engage in warfare? Probably, but just because they learned violence as adults for survival, that doesn’t equate to “violent by nature.”

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          Good point about chimp society though bobono (pygmy chimps) seem to have a much less aggressive society with a matriarch. Supposedly the bobono are closer genetically to humans than regular chimps.

          I do not romantisize neolithic lifestyles, but it does seem that the paleolithic diet is pretty damned healthful. Check out Robb Wolf’s website.

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      “,for men, and to a lesser degree women, are violent by nature”

      As GDP stated this is not born out by an examination of history. Humans would have exterminated themselves eons ago.

      Your argument also suffers from Hobbes’s paradox:

      If humans are inherently X then any gov created to control them would be composed of X. You’d be drawing from the same pool of people with X characteristic.

      We wouldn’t have sky scrapers, technology, medicine, advancements, expansion of liberty if humans were inherently violent/evil/boo boo heads or whatever you wish to lump them as. Again if your argument is that might is necessary to keep the slobbering wolves at bay then WHO is the “might” since it would merely be another pack of slobbering wolves. You would create a prison guarded by prisoners.

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        How can you think that a tendency to violence stops people from also being productive? Yes governments are all violent as hell because they all are drawn from humans who are violent by nature.
        Physiology dictates that high testosterone levels are equated with aggressive tendencies both sexual and violent. Also my readings of hunter gatherers indicates that violence was part of their daily lives. Certainly our intellects can choose not to be violent, but the natural tendency will always be there.

        • cb750No Gravatar says:

          And what makes you think a few bad examples are a “tendency to violence”? Again I point out the vast vast vast vast examples of productive and charity in the world. Look up crime rates in the US. Steadily decreasing over the last 50 years. We have pulled poverty down into the single digits.

          Sorry but tendency implies a more than 50% position unless you’d like to define tendency. In any case you’re using minor examples and ignore the constant voluntary interactions you engage in every day. The starbucks girl is not poisoning your coffee while holding a dagger behind her back.

          Don’t get stuck in Hobbes’s paradox.

          • Frlitz KneseNo Gravatar says:

            See my replies to Jim Klien and Storm. No a tendency to violence does not mean violent activity more than 50% of the time. No one would be violent by that definition. Pol Pot caused the murder of millions of people. I would call him violent, but not by your definition. My whole point is that totally throwing away the idea of first use of violence is self defeating so the libertarian non-aggression principle guarantees that the government will win. Human children seem to use violence until we socialize the tendency out of them. I think it is always there under the surface. Civilization is a very thin veneer.

            • StormNo Gravatar says:

              Do see his replies where he never once offers even a hint of any support for his claims but continues to lash out at reality and reason, as he does here, without any basis. Of course his claim that humans are necessarily violent has not been supported, and of course universalizing from an instance is still a fallacy. Yet no matter how carefully explained to Fritz, he still denies reality in favor of faith..

              He never could and never will tell us what could even in theory falsify his faith based claims and he denies even in theory that reality determines what is true.

              • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                “…falsify his faith based claims and he denies even in theory that reality determines what is true.”

                Right. It’s one of the clearest examples I’ve yet come across of plain faith, even better than most religious beliefs. Religionists may come to faith-based conclusions, but at least they’re trying to explain the evidence of reality.

                In the case at hand, it’s PURE faith, starting with the conclusion that humans have a “tendency” towards violence. As is obvious, no amount of evidence can deny it. As long as there’s a single instance of violence, THAT’S the “tendency,” without regard to what the concept means. I’d guess that even were there no instances whatsoever, the “tendency” would still be present, since it’s plucked out of thin air and held without regard to any evidence whatsoever.

                Even as it is, with the numbers at least 99.99%+ vs .01%-, it’s not enough to defeat the claim. Truly, this is a fascinating look into faith-based thinking. It’s WHOLLY conceptual, which is to say imaginary. Maybe with some more wealth sunk into the sinkhole of public education, we can eradicate rational identification completely.

                • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                  I asked before if you had kids. If you did and have not observed their innate violent tendencies you must have been asleep at the switch.

                • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                  Jim, when writing the english language one typically uses the common definitions of terms, not necessarily technically correct but the common usage. When I said that humans are violent by nature I was accurate given the common usage of the term since most people look at being violent as the willingness to use violence, not that they do violent action most or even a large percentage of the time.
                  You continue to ignore the physiological evidence of testosterone induced aggression. You ignore the fact that young kids dlisplay violent tendencies at least until they are “socialized” out of them. Your definition of being violent makes it a practical impossibility to consider any human violent or even an obviously violent predator like a tiger for no living being can physically be violent all the time. So by your definition there is no such thing as a violent person. That does not jive with common usage so I will continue to use my definition as a practical way to communicate with most people.
                  You are reminding me of the guy who always writes in the Audit Shooting group they call Mark the Troll. He disparages, ignores arguments, and berates other views. I understaand this to be an intentional tactic of the Fabian Socialists who only care to promote their worldview not accuracy. I had hoped for better from you.
                  The concept that it is easier to sell a big lie than a small one seems to be true. I find your and Storm’s position about violence to be part of the big lie that libertarians are using to sell their position rather than the more honest position that it is all about personal preference. Since buying the non-violence position probably dooms libs to inconsequentiality, I do react strongly to it. Libertarians have a lot of weaknesses to their philosophy, but they are largly on the right track towards personal liberty. I think they deserve the truth that violence is a very effective tool that should not be thrown out summarily because of some misguided non-aggression principle. I also hate to see libs trying to practice non-violent child rearing since that promotes kids growing into irresponsible adults.
                  I was reading a couple days ago that about 30% of hunter gatherer males died at the hands of other hunter gatherers. They often were in little wars or raids to steal women. Sounds like the likely response to testosterone induced aggression to me. The book was discussing why men have such huge advantages athletically over women. One big advantage is an average tenfold more T in men than women. They did note that most elite women athletes are on the high side of female testosterone levels. I have read in other places about how artificial T causes women’s aggression levels to go through the roof. Ignoring these physiological responses is not helping your position.

              • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                By the way, you keep refering to my thinking on this subject as being an “article of faith”. Once again I see you ascribing to me what you are actually doing. Your faith in humans being non-violent is touching though asinine. Throughout humanity the basic violence of human nature is a given. The burden of proof lies with you folks who claim otherwise. I can see where in certain circles like libertarianism or feminism that one could be innundated by non-violence rhetoric to the point that one does not see the reality.

                • StormNo Gravatar says:

                  It would be amusing to see how you defend the claim that relying upon evidence and reason is faith, but relying upon nothing but your own emotions is not.

                  • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                    Once again you atear down a “straw man”. I claim that my assumption about reality is correct for dthere is much evidence to support it both physiologically and historically. Your assumption depends on an esoteric definition which is not the common usage. But to hell with all that. The basic point here is that the libertarian concept of natural moral law which leads to such things as the non-aggression principle is a convenient fiction which allows libertarians to “sell” their philosophy to young idealists who would not show interest in any philosophy based upon personal preference as libertarianism actually is. Though I understand the motivation to do so, I find such dishonesty to be ultimately self defeating.

                    • StormNo Gravatar says:

                      More baseless bluster, but not one iota of substance. You’ve never offered the slightest hint of any evidence much less any reasoned argument. As for your appeal to authority and dishonest accusation, well per usual your claims are false and unsupported.

                      Ask yourself why you never offer any evidence and why you constantly avoid all of the clear and objectively verifiable refutations. Your notion that the definition of universality, or even proclivity or tendency, is that it might could possibly happen some where to some person some time, goes directly against the meaning of those terms as I and others have shown ad nauseum.

                      What if anything would you accept as falsifying your faith based position?

                  • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                    Calling my thinking faith based does not make it so. You have ignored my various attempts to show physical evidence in support of my thesis while mistating my concepts to use as a strawman. If humans are non-violent by nature then how do you explain the testosterone link to aggression and violence? See what I wrote to Jim Klien. The common usage of the terms humans are violent by nature implies the potential for violence not the continuous use of it. The historical fact of almost continuous wars, muirders, and coercion of our fellow humans indicates that lots of people are willing to use violence to obtain their ends. I am not interested in playing with your definition of violence. I am interested in finding practical methods of living as freely as possible. In line with that I have promoted the use of violence by parents to educate their kids or perhaps preemptive violence to make a more free world. Neither seem to fall within the libertarian concept of the non-aggression principle which is a subset of “natural moral law”. I have argued that natural moral law has no physical meaning other than a convienient fiction to promote libertarianism. You went off on me as being willing to aggress against innocents’ rights without showing that rights exist. Come on! Get out of the ivory tower and look at the real world where violence settles most issues. Many years ago Loompanics printed a book that discussed this. If you can find it, it is well worth reading. It was called The Policeman Is Your Friend and Other Lies.

                    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                      “Get out of the ivory tower and look at the real world where violence settles most issues.”

                      Y’know, at some point repeated inaccuracy–that’s corrected over and over again–degenerates into outright dishonesty.

                      So let’s hear the breakdown, just for you, just for today. How many minutes have you been awake? And during how many of those minutes did you use violence to settle whatever issues you faced during those minutes?

                      Or would you prefer to discuss how most people define “most”?

                      Hey, I got an idea—why don’t you just define “issue” as “those moments of my life when I resort to violence”? That’ll give you the argument, eh? “WHOOIIEEE!!!”

            • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

              “Pol Pot caused the murder of millions of people. I would call him violent, but not by your definition.”

              Nonsense; don’t put words into other people’s mouths. Of course Pol Pot was violent, and these days a ton of people are violent. Your assertion, in case you forgot, is that humans have a tendency towards violence, which would mean that given the choice, they would TEND to choose violence over non-violence. It’s a fanciful theory alright, but neither logic nor evidence go along. Besides the prima facie truth that ALL human action is volitional, including the choice to opt for violence, there’s the ubiquitous evidence that humans will go to tremendous lengths to try and remove violence from their affairs. Besides the virtual totality of evidence that this is what they choose in their day-to-day lives, it’s also the reason that there’s such popular support for governments in the first place, especially in the American tradition.

              Sure, some people are no doubt born with a “tendency toward violence,” or develop one early on. We have a concept to denote them—“freaks.” We even conceptualize sub-groups like sadists and masochists.

              “My whole point is that totally throwing away the idea of first use of violence is self defeating so the libertarian non-aggression principle guarantees that the government will win.”

              And your whole point is bullshit, because that’s not what the NAP says. Not initiating force doesn’t imply that the bullet has to be in your head before you take the means to stop it. That’s just complete straw, intended to support your unsupportable assertion.

              ” I think it is always there under the surface. Civilization is a very thin veneer.”

              There’s a concept for that too. It’s called “projection.” There’s been plenty written on this topic in this thread, but at no point did anyone assert that you don’t belong in the classification of “freak.” Personally my guess is that you’re more properly denoted as “dishonest,” though maybe you could show that wrong by telling us how you “regularly” use violence in your affairs, and what percentage of your choices that comprises.

              As it stands, your incessant defense of this absurd claim can readily be put off to simple rationalization and justification for those times when you do choose to be a thug. That in itself doesn’t make you a freak, especially these days, but your extreme faith-based devotion to the claim, might.

              • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                Thenon-aggression principle precludes attacking potential enemies while they are still weak. That alone makes it self-defeating in many circumstances.

              • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                So the millions of people who enjoy violent sports are “freaks”? It actually is a cultural acceptance that defines what we call freaks. In many other countries or in the USA early in our history, cock or dog fighting to the death was considered normal entertainment. Today it is looked on as freakish. Similarly for bullfighting. Today even boxing is consided “freaky” by many. Vampire stories are all the rage now, but 50 years hence they too may be considered “freaky”.
                Human’s tendency towards violence will out one way or another despite society’s edicts. I wonder what it would take for you or Storm to accept our innatly violent natures?

                • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

                  Thanks, Fritz! You made my day with this…

                  “Indeed, one could act non-violent 100% of the time and still be violent because of the said willingness.”

                  Absolutely classic! Since I owe you for that, I’ll clue you in that movies and sports are not examples of choosing socially violent behavior. I know that doesn’t make us even, but I doubt I’ll EVER be able to repay this one. Damn, I’ll get some distance out of that. Thanks again, and you have a great day!

                  “Indeed, one could act non-violent 100% of the time and still be violent because of the said willingness.”

                  There’s a technical philosophical term for that—“WHOOIIEE!!!”

  11. VanmindNo Gravatar says:

    Great stuff, Ms. McElroy, thanks. I do happen to disagree with your basic definition of rights being “enforceable claims that you have against others.” That is, to the contrary, the definition of freedom — indeed, “I am a free person” is the only enforceable claim one can avow — so your next sentence about freedom being the exercise of rights becomes IMO a non sequitur.

  12. WindyNo Gravatar says:

    To me “self-ownership” is simply “I own my life and whatever I do with my life”. Self-ownership and self determination go hand in hand, one cannot have one without the other.

  13. Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

    When I saw “Men are self-owners”, I thought, “Ha! Tell it to my wife and kids (and ex-wife and step-kids and lovers over the years)!” Then I realized that you were using “men” in a gender-neutral sense …

  14. Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

    When we say “men are self-owners”, we mean “the individual is sovereign over himself”. I’ve identified with “intentional community” for most of my life, and I’ve recently started identifying with Kukathas’ “liberal archipelago”, so in my libertopia, communities (free associations) make rules, and individuals choose the community best reflecting their preferences. An individual is always free to leave one community for another owing the previous community nothing.

    This utopia is a minarchy, rather than anarchy, because some central authority must enforce an individual’s right to exit any community at will. Communities may enact practically any rules that anyone wants to live by, but the individual is nonetheless sovereign.

  15. Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

    “…established libertarian sense of what constitutes property — e.g. the ability to transfer it.”

    That’s sense, not reference. A thing is what it is; that’s the referent. A rational identification reveals identity. The goal, at least IMO, is to understand the identity.

    The identity of property is “that which is mine and not anyone else’s.” Thus the self qualifies, and in an extreme way. One might even say it’s axiomatic; I do. Transferability, or even rights, are conceptual matters that we add to our belief about the nature of the referent. IOW they are abstract or definitional, as opposed to the existential nature of the object (here, property) itself.

    Also, fraud is not force. Force is a physical matter which, once extant, cannot be stopped save with likewise force. Physics. This is as distinguished from fraud, which can indeed be stopped by conceptual or abstract means…a decision not to participate. While it may be true that fraud can leave the parties in many relevant ways the same as force does, the identity of any particular action is what it is, not what manifests subsequent to it. Hope that helps.

    • Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

      Jim Klein wrote, “The identity of property is ‘that which is mine and not anyone else’s.'”

      This understanding of property is a libertarian concept that troubles me. While a particularly community could define “property” this way, your property within the community is “yours and not anyone else’s” only because members of the community agree to respect it as such; otherwise, you must somehow impose your exclusive claim on them. I don’t know how you expect to do that, and I don’t know how anyone subject to this imposition unwillingly is meaningfully “free” or how a community subjugating members this way is a meaningfully “free” community.

      A community of Rothbardians is conceivable and might be a great place to live. In this community, members agree to divide resources, according to some homesteading rule, so that each member has resources that are his and only his and also agree on rules of contractual use, exchange, title transfer and so on. Even in this community though, your property is yours and only yours because other members of the community agree to respect these rules, because they are also Rothbardians.

      • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

        Oh sure, Martin, I agree with all that. Obviously ownership presupposes a social context. Alone on an island, it wouldn’t mean anything to say what you own or don’t. Same with rights for that matter. If a baby is born on a full moon into some tribal society that kills such babies, then what could it possibly mean to say that such a baby has a “right to life”? It would be meaningless in that instance, referentless.

        This all involves humans, and humans are motivated by volition, the individual abstraction of alternatives and choosing from among those alternatives. So obviously my “ownership” of anything, including my very life, rests upon the recognition of that by others. Either that or, as you say, my ability to forcefully impose my claim of ownership against others. Personally I don’t impose like that, for reasons that are well afield of this.

        I don’t see why that’s at all problematic, not any more than gravity, and I especially don’t see why that makes ownership something other than what I said it is. Ownership is what’s mine and not anyone else’s. Property is that which I own. I’m not sure…are you disputing this?

        • Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

          We have no fundamental disagreement. On the semantics, I use “ownership” as you do, but I sometimes use “property” (or “propriety”) more expansively. For example, a community might require members to contribute to some temple treasury reserved for the orphans and the disabled. In this scenario, I’ll say that the contributions are proper and may say that an orphan has property in the treasury.

          I never say that anyone is bound to join this community or to remain in it. I say that property rights themselves (the rules, not any individual’s right to a particular resource) are subject to bargaining by sovereign individuals forming communities.

  16. VasoNo Gravatar says:

    There’s a confusion between one’s “self” and one’s body. As Rand said, “yourself is your mind”. That self cannot be a property, it’s sovereign. But body can be owned and transferred, even if the transfer may sometimes result in death of its current owner. If the owner decides to transfer his whole body (including his brain matter) to somebody else, he will have every right and the ability to do so. His self – mind – will not be transferred.

    • VasoNo Gravatar says:

      To clarify, the sale of the whole body must result in death of the owner in order to be legitimate, at least now. Selling parts of the body in many cases would allow the current owner to keep living. My point is that self-ownership is OK if understood as ownership over your body. Human body can be property.

    • Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

      I’m fond of my body and consider it part of the self that I’d like sovereignty over. I may do what I like with it, including risk it for compensation, but I prefer never owe it to anyone, even contractually.

      In other words, if you choose to contract with me to risk my body on your behalf, and if I back out of the contract when the risk exceeds some threshold not specified in the contract, that’s your tough luck. I may owe you nothing as a consequence, other than any respect for my property rights that I lose from other members of our community.

      If you lose respect from members of our community for contracting this way or for demanding compliance with the contract, that’s also your problem.

      Rothbard says that I owe you only a return of the contracted price of my risk, if you pay me in advance, but in my way of thinking, I owe you only what my community’s standards say that I owe you, and I may choose any community I like at any time, even after accepting the contract. The rules of my current community govern me, not the rules of your community or even the rules of a community to which we both belong when the contract is sealed.

      Of course, if I play this card too often, I end up in a community with little respect for any contract, and I may not be happy in this community ultimately, but that’s my tough luck.

      • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

        “Rothbard says that I owe you only a return of the contracted price of my risk, if you pay me in advance, but in my way of thinking, I owe you only what my community’s standards say that I owe you…”

        Both wrong, as a matter of what “owe” is. You owe what you decide you owe, period. Now you can change the usage–sense again–and say that “owing” is what somebody or some rule says you owe, but that fails to identify what’s actually going on, regardless of what you call it.

        An obligation, being a state of the abstracting mind, can only arise by that abstracting mind causing it to arise. You can use the WORD to mean something else, but the referent remains what it is. Always.

        • Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

          In my way of thinking, “my community’s standards” are my standards, so we don’t really disagree here. In a liberal archipelago, my community’s standards are what I decide that I owe, because I choose a community consistent with what I decide that I owe.

          • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

            “…my community’s standards are what I decide that I owe, because I choose a community consistent with what I decide that I owe.”

            Yes! That’s the way out of this mess, and the ONLY way out. Thank you.

  17. This is why we need to discard the false concept of “rights” altogether. The idea has no ground in ACTUAL reality, and necessitates untenable contradictions and impossible situations at their core.

    “Rights” do not exist, never have existed, and never will – whether in “negative”, “positive”, or in any other form.

    The whole notion of “rights” was invented to fragment the universality of ethics into a thousand little wil-o-wisps that we have to go chasing perpetually into the inescapable swamps of constitutional courts.

    Right and Wrong do not require “rights”. Every behavior either is, or it isn’t wrong. If it is wrong, then it is wrong for everyone, everywhere, at all times. If not, then it is merely a preference.

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      I agree that rights do not exist in any but the trivial sense of social conformities. I do think that in most minds the concept of right and wrong are interspesed with the idea of rights. I wrote that rights were all about personal preference probably 30 years ago in The Pragmatist. You are the only person I have seen express the same concept since then.

      • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

        Here’s another one: http://zerogov.com/?p=1867

        The author is still active on the forum there. The Pragmatist? Uh-oh, I don’t think I wanna know! (Just kidding.)

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          I was writing in TC (The Connection) many years ago and was asked to write for The Pragmatist. I did for a while and enjoyed it, but I was too busy trying to earn a living working construction to get out a regular column. After a while I no longer though the editor of the Pragmatist was pragmatic. Oh well…

  18. Forgive me if it’s already been said (I didn’t read most of the comments), but Kinsella addresses the self-ownership concern that “a defining characteristic of property is transferability” by arguing that only homestead-able property can be transferred (see his essay “A Libertarian Theory of Contract”: http://mises.org/journals/jls/17_2/17_2_2.pdf ).

    For example, one can homestead an unowned piece of wood in the forest and then abandon this property once it is in the possession of someone else. This has the effect of transferring title to the piece of wood to the new person since this new person essentially re-homesteads it the moment the previous owner chooses to abandon title to it. Regarding self-ownership, since people do not homestead their own bodies they therefore cannot abandon them either and therefore cannot transfer them.

    Anyway, I am starting to think that strict libertarian theory, although still very worth thinking about, is not as important to figure out as I previously thougt. The reason for my new view is that I believe libertarian anarchism can be defended more persuasively using common sense moral views that nearly everyone already accepts (rather than defended using a controversial theory of rights that few people accept absolutely). See Michael Huemer’s great new book on this, “The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey” ( http://wp.me/p2cdsV-nY ). He argues for anarcho-capitalism from relatively-uncontroversial common sense moral premises that essentially everyone already accepts.

      • Yes. But he believes that the right to self-ownership is an inalienable right (as does Wendy McElroy). Wendy said, “This is a problem because a defining characteristic of property is transferability.” Kinsella and I deny that this is the case. I cited Kinsella’s essay for his reasons for denying that it is the case.

        • I guess I didn’t read that in what you wrote. No biggie. 🙂

        • cb750No Gravatar says:

          Can you give any other example of something that is owned that cannot be transferred? Not something we socially ban (like selling children though this has been done) but something that physically can be owned and not transferred?

          If this is a special case what proof do you have its a special case?

      • cb750No Gravatar says:

        His argument about self ownership appears to be an is-ought fallacy and also a special casing based on the idea intellect and body are linked. Clearly an is-ought fallacy is not a proof of anything but a desire to work things in a certain fashion as a better means to handle a situation. Not necessarily a bad thing but its not a proof. As for a special case of the intellect and body being bound he merely proves the body cannot be property and therefore cannot be owned since the intellect cannot be transferred. This thereby renders the person as non-property. Yes the organs and physical aspect can be sold but the intellect cannot. It can always choose to not be the new owner’s property.

  19. TomNo Gravatar says:

    While I’m not “God” or Bible religious, I have no trouble separating the mind or self from the body, and regard the mind or self as the owner of the body.

    Furthermore, Stephan Kinsella argues that the right of ownership is the right to control only, not the right to transfer ownership. I agree and don’t see why a defining characteristic of ownership should be transferability.

    • TomNo Gravatar says:

      Sorry, I missed PeaceRequiresAnarchy post saying same as mine.

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      Because words have definition. You cannot own something that is not property. Also how can you own and be owned by the same thing. If you own yourself then you are property. Perhaps you can provide another example of ownership that cannot be transferred. I can’t think of any.

      Now you can claim self sovereignty since no one else has a better claim.

      • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

        “Because words have definition. You cannot own something that is not property. Also how can you own and be owned by the same thing. If you own yourself then you are property.”

        Maybe look at the referents, instead of the words that denote the concepts that symbolize the referents.

        Or if that’s too much trouble, just learn what “own” means, not what some question-begging intellectual says it means.

        Obviously you don’t know that etymologically, you’re saying that a person isn’t his own, but is over or above himself. That seems even tougher than owning and being owned by one’s SELF. Do you also have trouble with, “I see myself”…how does one both do the seeing and be what’s seen?

        Maybe the politicians are right…we need MORE education!

  20. AstromanNo Gravatar says:

    @Jim Klein etc

    >Maybe the politicians are right…we need MORE education!

    I don’t think so.

    >Or if that’s too much trouble, just learn what “own” means, not what some question-begging intellectual says it means.

    Surprisingly, ‘owning and using’ the proper-in-someone’s eyes definitions can only be helpful for communication and elucidation here; To me, what’s missing from this discussion is a mutual understanding that ‘people have to come into their own.’

    You can reduce it to materiality, mind and emotions, even spiritual intent and argue forever from and about nuances in individual perspective while missing the fact that these cited 4 dimensions have to come together in order to make an individual.

    Until that happens, until the past, present, future and intrinsic components come together, one does not own one’s self and we wind up defending or speaking from rock- outcroppings on the way up the mountain of self-ownership, critiquing the equipment other people use on the climb while not proceeding by with and through our selves on the way to what’s classically thought of as the greatest of achievements open to us. (as in, the only thing worth achieving, ever)

    We’re not born free to be who we are, we’re ‘attacked’ from before birth and many (mostly) inner battles are required to enable our selves to fuse into people of integrity that we can trust our selves to and with. This can not be addressed by education instead its accomplished by a more tolerant and nuanced understanding of life.

    And, sure I can own attainment (such as the mastery of this toy communicator). And you can own it too. Anyone can own knowledge. Anyone can own meaning. Anyone can own concepts. If owning now means simply, ‘to own artifacts’, or if seeing just means ‘from the outside’ then lots of good stuff is being be made unavailable by rhetorik that traps one positionally. – indicating that one’s ‘assuming the position’ in defense of the stuff that’s actually trapping so many of us.

    double-edged sword this logic business, isn’t it?

    • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

      Sorry, I’m not sure what you’re saying…but you sure got the right handle!

      I suppose it’s technically true that we’re not born free. A human baby can’t survive on its own and prior to conceptualization, there are no choices and freedom is about making choices.

      But I think it’s worthy to note that as developed, functional adults, we ARE free and that’s all there is to it. Every single action we take is driven EXCLUSIVELY by our own volition. The ONLY exceptions are when physically overpowered, seizures and convulsions, and arguably sleepwalking.

      You may say, “But there’s so much threat of coercion out there, that we’re not really free.” I can sympathize with the sentiment, but it’s still the FACT that we are indeed free, every waking moment. To say that we have to go along with the nature of others among us, is no different than saying we have to go along with gravity too. More of a shame maybe, but not any different with respect to how free we are.

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        Once again you are not considering the common uisage of terms like freedom. Rayo defined freedom as invulnerability to coercion which is close to my meaning of the term. There is a silgnifilcant dilfference between physical laws of physics like gravity or Newtonian mechanics and sociological relationships though I realize that those can be looked at as totally determinant. By the common usage, an individual is not free if acting under coercion. Stating that a slave is free simply because he would rather obey than die ils not most people’s idea of the meaning of freedom.

        • Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

          …”considering”…”common uisage”…”Rayo defined”..”can be looked at”…”By the common usage”…”ils not most people’s idea.”

          Fritz, when I get in the mood for an in-depth discussion of what people believe and different ways of looking at things, I may look you up. Till then, my interest is exclusively in how those things are. Sorry.

          While you’re waiting, you might wanna work very, very hard at discovering the difference between the two.

  21. Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

    Fritz, I don’t like being repetitive and I don’t think it’s courteous to blog-owners to constantly repeat. I find it wasteful and I despise waste. But in the interest of charity, I’ll repeat this…

    “Fritz, you can save your time with me. You’re NEVER going to top this…

    “’Indeed, one could act non-violent 100% of the time and still be violent because of the said willingness.'”

    Get it? I have absolutely no interest in the wild meanderings of a mind that believes a total and complete instantiation of “not-V,” can possibly be rationally referenced as “V.”

    If it’s any consolation to you…yes, I understand that you believe this can be justified. That’s the best I’ve got for you, so maybe use your time more productively.

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      I do agree that neither of us is getting anywhere with the other. You ignore my points. Your points are all dependant upon your apriori assumptions which I largely disagree with. One last time, how do you dismiss the testosterone/aggression connection? Or young children’s violent behavior before they are “soclialized”? What would it take to be a violent animal in your worldview since you do not think a tiger is naturally violent before doing the violent act? I think written history and anthropolgical evidence indicates that humans have always been violent, though I do agree with you that that does not translate to uncontrolled continual violence. I see libertarians putting themselves at a large disadvantage by actually trying to live the non-aggression principle. So long as we remain physical beings, violence will be a workable alternative that must be considered. Read John Ross’s Unintended Consequeances for an informative and fun discussion of how aggressive violence could be used to promote individual liberty.
      By the way, I was not saying that nonV equals V. If you read my writings you will see that I am defining violence as the willingness to use violent acts for one’s own perceived benifit. So the innate attitude defines being violent (much like a tiger is violent by his very nature) not the action. Star Trek pointed this out when Captain Kirk stated that sure we are all killers but we just are choosing not to kill today. That is the reality of what humans actually are vs the wishful thinking of academics over the past couple generations who want us to believe that humans are altruists.

      • StormNo Gravatar says:

        Fritz, seriously you must be delusional to claim that direct refutation of your arguments and claims is “ignoring” them. Can you even find a single one of your claims that has not been resoundingly defeated factually and logically??

        As for your appeal to ODing on testosterone being evidence of necessary and universal violence, we’ve addressed this ad nauseum. You cannot use extraordinary dosages to account for non-extraordinary amounts in real life. Copper is deadly in large doses but the absence of copper in our systems is also deadly. So using your methodology we end up with contradictions, which for anyone familiar with even the most basic elements of logic and reality means that your methodology is fatally flawed.

        I’ve asked you repeatedly what you would count as evidence against your faith. The fact that you cannot offer even a single example of anything that would count in your mind against your faith, proves that you are not willing to allow for falsification. If there were any doubt left, the use of counter-examples and absolutely sound logical refutations confirms this fact.

        Yes we get that you are claiming that the willingness to use violence in some imagined scenario means that we are necessary and always violent beings. I have addressed this logical fallacy ad infinitum. You cannot universalize from an instance.

      • StormNo Gravatar says:

        If nothing else don’t you think that the fact that you have never been willing or able to face the actual refutations, to face the actual arguments made, is a wonderful indicator of the weakness of your faith?

        Instead you rely upon this silly claim of “altruism” which no one has ever offered. You pretend that this is the argument against your faith, when in fact what we have used has been evidence, counter-example, and sound refutations. All of these are easily verifiable if only you would allow that reality trumps your faith.

        • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

          Storm, see what I wrote ato Jim Klien. I have ignored your question about what it would take for me to accept your position because it seemed obvious to me that I would be willing to accept it if you could convince me that your apriori assumptions were accurate. At this point I do not question either your or Jim’s deductive logic. Frankly I have not paid much attention to it for the real question here is about the accuracy of your apriori assumptions.
          Testosterone inclines one to aggression. That is one of its main purposes. From an evolutionary perspective, such aggression has survival value for your genes. More aggressive males fought and killed lesser aggressive males or isolated them from females thus assuring that their own genes were passed on and not the non-aggressive males for the most part. Thus both men and women today are the recipients of the genes from the aggressive males who dominated breeding. A moden day example of this is that many millions of asians carry genes from Ghangis Kahn who had hundreds of wives, concubines, and conquests. You seem to expect me to believe that modern day people have lost this aggression that T and other genetic factors build into us?!! Hell no! Like I read recently about hunter gatherers, 30% of males died at the hands of other hunter gatherers fighting wars or raids to steal women. That is being violent. You and I are their direct decendants. Our genetic heritage is that violence, but also the intelligence to determine when and where to act violent. Pretending that one has to act violent before one is actually violent is denying our physiology. If you think of the tiger as being non-violent just because he has not had the opportunity for violence yet, you will die under his fangs. Similarly with humans. We are just usually a bit less direct than a tiger.
          I am NOT universalizing from an instance. I universalize from the knowledge of humans similarity physiologically, the evidence of nearly universal violent actions of young kids, the very violent history of humankind ,and the realization that it would be irrational to think that humans would become dominant on this planet of huge numbers of predators without being also violent.
          No, you did not use the term “altruism”, but your description of non-violent humanity implied altuisism.
          You continually insult me by refering to my thoughts on this subject as my “faith”. At some point anything we believe to be true no matter how much logic is behind it can be written off as “faith”. My faith is in the evidence of my senses reflecting reality for the most part. That could be false. I could actually be a disembodied brain somewhere with the mad scientist feeding me electronic perceptions. I doubt it but can’t actually know. So I assume the basic accuracy of my senses. But the way you use the term faith is quite insulting as is the term delusional. I see you as delusional for ignoring the relaity of humankind’s violent nature, but I did not insult you with it.
          It does not take “extraordinary” amounts of T to promote aggression. Indeed elite women athletes who are on the high end of normal T for women but still very low for men are known to be more aggressive than their lesser athletic sisters. Men fight from puberty onward to control our aggressive impulses. Not just high end T levels, but the normal ones. So T and aggression are linked physiologically and evolutionarily. If you are denying this, then it is you who are delusional. If one of our major hormones makes us tend towards aggression, then we are violent by nature which has been my argument all along. Not that we HAVE to act violently for we do have a brain to control our actions, but that violence is natural for us and as such should be anticipated and planned for.

          • StormNo Gravatar says:

            Yes I saw your absurd non-response to Jim. I saw your blatant straw man and your denial of logic qua logic. I saw that you refuse to allow reality to play any role in your beliefs, and that you will deliberately lash out at anyone who dares to prove conclusively that your claims are false and your arguments invalid.

            I saw that you essentially admitted that you cannot fathom any condition under which your faith could be falsified. I saw that though you were shown the irrefutable evidence, including but not limited to sound refutations, you still would not accept that your faith is misplaced.

            All of this was perfectly clear.

            I also saw that you tried to blame reality for not being as you desire. I saw you falsely accuse Jim and I of adopting your approach. What I did not see, because you did not offer it, was any support for your accusations. You offer no evidence, no reasoned argument. These appear to be your greatest enemies. You assume your conclusion then attack the individuals who prove that conclusion not only to be false but to without any basis in reality.

            I saw that you used the logical fallacy known as a false dichotomy to accuse us of arguing that violence does not exist. I then saw you attack that straw man without success, which has to be embarrassing.

            I saw something you apparently did not. I saw you say this :” I say that the evidence is overwhelming that humans too are violent under the correct situation.” This confirms what I have been pointing out to you from the very beginning. You are universalizing from an instance. If you were to restate your position with this admission included you would find that it is trivially true and in no way contrary to anything that Jim and I have pointed out. It would read “Under the right conditions SOME humans would SOME times, respond violently.”

            Nothing controversial about that, but then it is a far cry different from the actual position you have repeatedly made in which you claim that overwhelmingly all persons are violent. That we resolve needs, wants, and difficulties with violence overwhelmingly.

            “At this point I do not question either your or Jim’s deductive logic. Frankly I have not paid much attention to it for the real question here is about the accuracy of your apriori assumptions.”

            This is a silly dodge, since you are dishonestly calling the necessarily true conclusions “a priori assumptions” all while admittedly ignoring the proof that these conclusions are necessarily true simply because it means admitting that reality rather than your faith determines what is true.

            Ghengis Khan was a great horseman so all people in the world are great horsemen. If you can figure out why that argument fails you will understand why your argument fails.

            Our ancestors were short therefore we are all short. Our ancestors had great immunity to disease, therefore we have the same immunity..
            Are you seeing the problems yet with your logically invalid approach?

            “No, you did not use the term “altruism”, but your description of non-violent humanity implied altuisism. ”

            This is obviously another absurd use of false dichotomy. You could not possibly make a case for this claim. My refutation of your logically invalid arguments in no way implies anything remotely similar to self sacrifice to aid another.

            It is because of obvious errors such as this, along with your text book examples of universalizing from an instance and other clearly fallacious arguments that I have recommended familiarizing yourself with logic.

            It is because of your explicit denial of evidence and your consistent attacks on knowledge, and logic qua logic, as well as the wholesale absence of anything that could remotely be called evidence or reasoned argument for your claims that I refer to your faith. This is what it means to have faith. You clearly believe something that is not only obviously not true, but you go that extra mile to deny even the possibility of your belief being falsified by reality. A better example of faith cannot be found.

            Perhaps you should consider accepting reality determines what is true. Then maybe you won’t assume everyone is violent simply because you are angry at the world.

            • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

              Hi Storm. I see nothing has changed. You continue to say I am ignoring reality while I say the same of you. You say I provide no evidence while conveniently ignoring such things as childhood violence or the testosterone aggression connection. Even such things as the huge majority of people who are entertained by depictions of violent activities I would guess you would consider only “coincidental”.
              Genetics are hugely influential to the individual and the race. Intelligence, attitudes, physical characteristics, etc. all have a large component of nature over nurture. So the fact that our ancestors overwhelmingly come from the succesful aggressors is an important datum. The fact that many if not most people find depictions of violence entertaining (look at today’s movies) is an important datum. The fact that throughout human history wars have been fought and the majority that you seem to claim are non-violent did not prevent them by massive nonparticipation is an important datum. The fact that young children are violent by nature until socialized out of it is an important datum. It seems that I keep pointing out data and you keep ignoring it. Please explain how you think that the fact that almost everyone has testosterone and it is linked at relatively low levels to aggression (as in elite women athletes) does not imply that we all have aggressive tendencies because of our physiology (having T and certain other hormones). Are you now going to say that aggression is not linked to violence?!! Come on Storm! I can see where you might think that people are not violent because they do not practice violence a large percentage of the time. Why can’t you see that I think people are violent because our physiology and racial background make us willing to use violence as a tool? Violence has worked for humans for thousands of generations. Most of the evidence points towards a genetic physiologic link to aggression. Occam’s Razor would say that the simplest explaination is that yes humans are violent by nature. The fact that we do not practice violence more than we do has more to do with the lack of perceived benefit by the individual, not an unwillingness to use violence per se.
              I guess that is the essential difference between us. I see being violent as the attitude that violence can be used if it benefits you, which is how I see human nature. You see being violent as practicing the activity itself. As with Aesop’s fable about the hitchhiking snake who used and then bit his benefactor, the snake was violent because of his attitude BEFORE he bit his benefactor.
              I do not think humans are violent because I am angry with the world. To the extent that I am angry with the world it is partially because of my human testosterone aggression connection. Everybody has it. You don’t have to be ashamed to admit you do too.

              • StormNo Gravatar says:

                Fritz, this is amazingly simple. You are making universal claims (nested ones in fact) but offering only correlation for instances.

                This is akin to claiming that all birds are white, then pointing only to one small pile of down.

                What this means is that the most generous reading of your argument, which we have been giving it all along, still results in you not offering any hint of any evidence to support your actual position and claim.

                Perhaps a better example would be you claiming that all barns are red, then providing a red handle from a door that might have been on a barn once. The handle itself could have been red, might have been on a door, and might have been on a barn, but even at that it does not mean that even that one barn is red much less that all barns are necessarily red.

                Basic intro to logic material. You complain that this does not change, nor will it. Reality does not shift because you personally do not like it.

                ” using violence is far more important to me than silly arguments over rules of logic”

                You pretend that you are trying to describe reality. Logic is simply description of reality. When you deny logic qua logic as you explicitly do here (referring to it as “silly” simply because your faith based position is refuted by reason and evidence), you are not describing reality you are denying it.

                In other words you are proving your claim false.

                What you call “pointing out data” that you claim I ignore is as I have explained ad nauseum, merely appealing to tradition. I have shown using counter-examples that your argument is necessarily invalid, yet you have never once addressed any of these logically and factually sound refutations. We all know why, so do you really think that you are fooling anyone?

                I will do so yet again to see if you will bother reading any of these posts..

                Hormones are linked to height. Therefore BY YOUR ARGUMENT, ALL people are tall.

                Since not all people are tall, we KNOW beyond any hint of any shadow of any doubt, that the argument is invalid. From true premises it gives a proved false conclusion.

                ” Why can’t you see that I think people are violent because our physiology and racial background make us willing to use violence as a tool?”

                Because I compare the claim against reality and reality obviously differs. It really is this simple. The fact that you cannot offer even a valid argument for your position is only tangential evidence, though also absolutely damning.

                Given that you are denying the law of non-contradction, and the identity relation, do you really think that you can cherry pick instances then claim that Occham’s Razor applies to your convoluted argument?? You are introducing complexities in order to avoid the direct comparison to reality. No matter what you try, reality will ALWAYS be correct.

                Violence is absolutely the action. You keep pretending that it is not and claim that “everyone” agrees with you, but I honestly doubt that you could find 1 in a thousand who bought into that concept. After all as soon as we point out that this “violent” person had never once harmed any other person, had never so much as raised their voice, people would be looking at you in order to determine the size of straight jacket that was necessary.

                What do you gain from denying reality? What do you gain from NEVER facing facts or even considering the refutations? Do you believe that if you keep your head in the sand reality will somehow never prove your faith to be false?

  22. Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

    You seem sincere, Fritz, so I’ll try one last time. This is all that’s important; if you come to understand this, everything else about “tendencies” and “innate nature” will fall into place. But I can’t do it for you, and this is my last effort at trying.

    “So the innate attitude defines being violent (much like a tiger is violent by his very nature) not the action.”

    This is WRONG. That is, it’s FALSE. That is, it DOES NOT correspond with reality. That is, it is a MISIDENTIFICATION. That is, it DOES NOT recognize the identity of the object.

    You keep getting distracted with “potential” and “innate.” That is NOT the topic which I am addressing—I am addressing your underlying error with regard to what identification is. It’s a recognition of reality; it’s the abstraction within a consciousness corresponding to a particular state, or instance, of reality. This is why it’s very important for you to focus on the case where the tiger is 100% non-violent. Once you get that, you will come to understand the nature of your other abstract classifications. Maybe.

    Really, it’s so trivially obvious that I hardly know how to expand on it. A tiger that is 100% non-violent IS non-violent. It’s the “IS” that’s important here. Yes, you are saying that “not-V IS V.”

    You are working backwards—going from your conceptualization of the set (itself whacked out in the case of humans, but not outright insane) and carrying that conceptualization to the instance. That’s not invalid in and of itself, but when doing it yields a claim that is contrary to the state of reality, then it is invalid. And that’s what’s happening in the case of, “A non-violent tiger is violent.”

    If you get nothing else, get that last paragraph. No doubt your teachers also screwed you up with regard to validity; you probably think it’s as opposed to soundness, which is itself wrong. But there’s no way I’m going into that here.

    The choice is yours…you can either keep thinking the way you were taught and believe that a non-violent tiger is violent, or you can join the ranks of rational humans and recognize that a non-violent tiger is non-violent.

    You see, it IS the action that defines the (rational) identification, NOT a different conceptualization of a different set. That’s why you have managed to concoct one of the most perfect instances of Subjectivism ever on record.

    I don’t care about the rest and I’m not going to argue about your fantasies with regard to the implication of the presence of testosterone. If you have any simple and direct QUESTIONS, then set ’em out and I’ll do my best to answer. But PLEASE don’t argue or explain, either out of simple courtesy to me and others, or in the interest of not wasting your own time.

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Jim, I did take logic in college and was a math major for a time before switching to physics that I got my BS in so I do understand what you are saying. I get it. You do not get that you are wrong to stipulate that your apriori assumption as to what constitutes violence is the common usage. It was like when I studlied Descarte. If you accept his assumptions his deductive logic is impeccable.
      You are doing exactly what you claim I am doing. Your assumption is such that it creates a circular logic leading back to the assumption itself. The tiger example is appropriate. It does not matter that the tiger has never been violent. It is in his genetic pattern to be violent in the right situation. Hell, Aesop’s fables even talked about this same idea with the snake that hitched a ride across the river and then bit his benefactor. “What do you expect? I am a snake!” I say that the evidence is overwhelming that humans too are violent under the correct situation.
      I do not really care to ask questions of you because I do not respect your thinking. My guess is that you come from an academic background and thus do not put too much stock in reality except the parts of it that suit your agenda. In science when an hypothesis gives results totally out of sync with reality we normally dump the hypothesis. You wish to believe people are non-violent so you cling to the idea that they are not violent until that violence is actuated. I and most people say that a person is a violent person if they are willing to use violence for their own ends even if that only happens rarely. Perhaps this is only a difference in how we look at the definition, but it has important implications. Assuming that people are non-violent puts one at an inherant disadvantage. Assuming they are violent allows one to be prepared.
      I do find it funny that you dismiss my statements about the connection between aggression and testosterone as my “fantasy”. It is a “fantasy” shared by physiologists all over the planet! You know that you can’t argue rationally about testosterone not being connected to huiman aggression, so you attempt to trivialize it and ignore reality once again.
      Pol Pot, Stalin, Manson, Hitler, or any murderer spent most of his time in non-violent activities. I thought you wrote that to be violent one needed to act violent more than half the time (an obvious improbability). Perhaps it was Storm that wrote that. If so what level of violent activity constitutes the point where a person is considered violent to you? Since virtually all little kids are violent in their actions before awe train them to be otherwise, I would say that even by defining being violent as an active not inherent thing humans are still violent.
      If for the sake of argument we stipulated your definition of being violent, what would you call humans? Non-violent? Potentially violent? What about tigers? You are obviously smart, but I think you are perhaps blinded by wishful thinking.

  23. Jim KleinNo Gravatar says:

    Fritz, I read your first and last paragraph. You seem to think the discussion is still about whether or not humans (or tigers) are violent.

    For me, it’s not. Why would I want to have a discussion with anyone–about anything–who thinks an instance of a non-violent X is an instance of a violent X? I don’t know why it’s not obvious to you, but I don’t. My guess is the two are related. Have a pleasant life.

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Read the rest Jim. I read all of your comments even when I disagree.
      As stated before, our definitions of what constitutes “being violent” differ. I think my definition reflects common usasge better than yours, but the underlying assumptions about the importance of keeping one’s options open about using violence is far more important to me than silly arguments over rules of logic. Your attitude promotes such asininity as refusing to spank your kids and persecuting parents who do, so there are consequences when young libertarians listen to BS like you are spouting.