Monday, August 14, 2006


The Enhanced Political 2D

Another version of the classic political quiz. I like that it allows quiz-takers to weight the issues that are most important.

Why am I not surprised that I turned out to be a "radical libertarian"?

I liked the weighted section at the end. It tipped my scale just barely to the right, which is not something I could have predicted. Hmmm.
Guilty as charged...

"Radical libertarian" as well, but slightly more left-leaning.

Travis old boy, I think we may have traded spaces...
I'm not suprised I came up as a "libertarian-leaning centrist".

I support markets because I believe freedom is essential for people to flourish (in the aristotelian sense), not because they are ends in themselves. So, I don't have a problem with government intervening if that goal isn't met. That, right away, keeps me out of the "radical libertarian" camp.

I'd say this position mostly comes from my recent interest in Virtue Ethics, Amartya Sen's "capabilities" approach to efficiency, and my reading of Martha Nussbaum's philosophical writings in a very forgiving and self-serving way.

Of course, there are plenty of problems with virtue ethics and I still don't know whether this approach will take me anywhere. But I think it's the best start I've found.

Anyways, good find, Jenna. It's a fun way to kill 5 minutes. :D
On second thought, I should clarify. :P

I think that the system of American government does the best job (so far) of protecting its citizen's property and person through its well crafted institutional structures. This is essential to human flourishing. And I have no problem with that government movin, on occasion, to correct market failures like pollution.

The mere fact that I don't think anarchy would actually do as good of a job as the American system (i.e. that the "state" can do something right) is what prevents me from being radical libertarian.

:D Just wanted to make my whole position clear.
I scored radical libertarian. Your introduction of ethics to the discussion interests me, Student. Stanley Hauerwas at Duke Divinity looks into the importance of virtue as opposed to "value." Value is an incremental term, an economic term. Virtue is categorical, you either are or are not virtuous according to what you do. I find myself marking off the term "value" in many of my readings and replacing it with "virtue" when the distinction is appropriate.
A few questions:
Do we believe in liberty because it is most efficient, or because we consider individuals to be responsible?
Is it possible to explain "market failures" as examples of irresponsibile individual's actions?
Pollution is an example of the government taking away private property rights and creating commons. This was done through political favors to industrial operators to create lower fixed costs and a less competitive market.
I came out as a "radical libertarian," leaning neither right nor left (it's impossible to lean when your little dot is at the apex of the chart.)

Everyone is totally shocked at that outcome, I'm sure.

Juris Naturalist, I believe in freedom as an end in itself, not the means to acquire wealth. Non-coercion and self-ownership are absolutely essential to morality. Even if liberty were totally inefficient (in the cost-benefit, monetary sense), I would still support a completely free-market, libertarian society.

Travis, what's that Austrian concept called that says we can't have interpersonal value comparisons?
The subjective nature of utility?

I just always say that interpersonal utility comparisons are illegal if you're using the Austrian method. They are not illegal according to other methods, but they are always wrong.

I never can understand what makes natural rights so great that they would persuade anyone to ignore the outcomes of "respecting" them.

Here's a question. Which world would you live in: A world where all your natural rights were respected, but you had to live in poverty; OR a world like the one you live in now, where the government steals your property, but you live in relative comfort?

Now, I'm not presupposing that a natural-right-respecting world would end in poverty, I am only trying to gauge how true your convictions are.

If you really would pick rights-respecting-poverty over comfort, why do you? And why should anyone else make the same choice? Because it is the "RIGHT" thing to do? According to whom?
Well, there are limits to everything, but within reason I would choose rights over wealth. Of course, there is a point at which I would (probably) give up some rights for food, water, shelter, etc.

And now you ask: "And why should anyone else make the same choice?"

They don't have to. They just have to keep their choice away from me and mine. That's the beauty of a natural rights system. Your rights end at my property and my person. I can't make anyone choose the same things I do. And they shouldn't be able to make me, neither through voting nor through force of arms.

So you're saying no one else has to believe in natural rights, but they shouldn't violate your rights?

I'm confused. If no one else believed in natural rights, why would they be obligated to respect your "rights"?

If everyone else thinks your rights are imaginary or even evil, I don't see anything to stop them from killing you and taking your stuff.
Quoting Student: "If everyone else thinks your rights are imaginary or even evil, I don't see anything to stop them from killing you and taking your stuff."

Ok, so there would be nothing philosophically to stop them.

But in practical terms, self-defense would stop them. Completely compatible with natural rights theory. I'm not Gandhi, you know.

Why must you be so difficult?
That's basically what's going on now, Student, just on a smaller scale and lower degree. It sucks. No one believes in Natural Rights and everyone ("the State") takes my stuff and my freedoms, killing me in a very roundabout, slow way.

You have a point here, since self-defense from the State is illegal.

Don't take it personally. :)

I like what Chris said about contraians being useful for inspiring people to question their beliefs.
Can I be so brash as to suggest that I believe in liberty because it is the Truth? Not because it works the way I want it to, not because it has optimal outcomes, but because it just is. Do we believe in gravity because it produces favorable outcomes, or because it just is? There is a Law written into the Universe which dictates that all men are free.
Not very intellectual, I understand, but all mental acrobatics miss the swing at some point and need a net.
I think Student's point is that gravity is a constant fact, whereas actual liberty comes and goes.

It is a fact of reality, unveiled by reason, that men ought to be free. It is completely different to say that men at all times are in fact free.
"It is a fact of reality, unveiled by reason, that men ought to be free."

I like that.

Student, I'm not taking it personally. However, if you seek to change my views by challenging them, you are doomed to disappointment.

It just seems like we've had this conversation many times, with the same conclusion: I still believe in Natural Rights. You still challenge that they are not natural at all. We are at an impasse.
Thanks Jenna. Feel free to put it on your door in 72 point font if you like. I've been reading a lot of Rothbard's "Ethics of Liberty," so I'm feeling inspired. It's an all-around good read, but you might have to get the PDF from since the book is hard to find. Ask Roy if he has it.

Oooh and it would be a solid choice for the intern reading group at the JLF. Personally, I don't think all of his arguments are air-tight, which could make for an interesting discussion.
"It is a fact of reality, unveiled by reason, that men ought to be free."

This is what I call a mystery. The data encroaches upon the question.

The issue then becomes epistomological, how do we know what we know about liberty, that men ought to be free?

Is there any room for revelation here?

Explain yourself, Nathan.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Revelation as a means for aquiring knowledge, not as in "the end of the world" or whatever Tim LaHey and Kirk Cameron imagine.
How do we know we should be free?
What evidence do we have?

The question is the same as "Why is there evil in the world?" or "Is there a god?"

How CAN we know?

We know by reason. The question is not the same as "Is there a God?" and it does not require a leap of faith to believe in natural laws. As you said, gravity is a natural law that we did not begin to understand well until fairly recently. Natural rights are similarly a subset of the natural law, one that we could bear to understand better.

The evidence we have, in this case, is inseparable from the human fabric itself, but that doesn't make it any less revealing. In contrast, there is nothing in the human fabric to prove or disprove the existence of God.
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