How to you justify the non-aggression principle?

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How to you justify the non-aggression principle?

  • Ricky Peter Newins

    I tend to justify it with Hoppe´s argumentation ethics or Molyneux´s UPB. I also find the argument put across by Sam Harris very useful, namely that that which objectively subtracts from human well-being must be considered immoral.

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  • Cameron T. Belt

    I know this is kind of an old question but I just wrote an article about this, check it out and let me know what you think. http://freeelectron.liberty.me/2015/04/13/ethics-and-the-n-a-p/

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    Jorge Trucco

    Trough inalienable and absolute individual rights.

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    Zeroth Position

    I think Hoppe is closest on this one.

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    Youliy Ninov

    I would like to put an alternative explanation to discussion:

    “Only under NAP is it possible for all the people to be equal, i.e. that they all have the same, equal rights.”

    I do not know if the above is correct or not. It is interesting to find out.

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    Zeroth Position

    Harris’ argument only holds if humans are the only sentient species. This is true at the moment, but has not always been (Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons) and probably will not always be (extraterrestrial life, humans evolving into multiple post-human species).

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      Dave Burns

      And although the word “objectively” is in there, I get a hand-wavey vibe from it.

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    Properal

    Non-Aggression reduces conflict and allows people to benefit from cooperation.

    It also tends to be a successful strategy.

    See, The Non-Aggression Strategy.

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    Of Mice & Mud

    The best, most concise step-by-step walk-through of the Non-Aggression principle I’ve read is from Roderick Long (he breaks this down to a numbered list of statements and inferences). Sheldon Richman also wrote a few expository pieces on Roderick’s defense.

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      Justin Sprueill

      Big fan of this L.J. Lane, I think this is pretty valuable- and might entirely reconcile the Brutalist/Humanist argument. But this is not a justification for the NAP. Rather this is a proof for a different conclusion that there are no rights other than the NAP (or rather that there is no way of behaving that is permissible which violates the NAP) and it takes the NAP as a given in P1 [The Positive Thesis]. I also find his formulation of property to be backwards and would suggest that property does not derive from this principle but rather this principle derives from property.

      For the benefit of the discussion I took his numbered proof and turned it into a legible logic tree, for those who wish to hear the argument but do not wish to read all 14 pages. I will post it below.

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      Justin Sprueill

      Where MC is the main conclusion, SC are sub-conclusions and P are initial premises.Roderick Long’s argument is as follows.Original Numbers in parenthesis. (Should be viewed in full screen)

      • MC (23): There are no rights other than the right not to be aggressed against. [The Negative Thesis]
        •  SC1(16): If X has any right against Y other than the right not to be aggressed against by Y, then there is a way of acting, Z, such that failing to act in manner Z constitutes either non-initiatory force or non-force, and yet it is permissible for X, or X’s agent, to use force to compel Y to treat X in manner Z.
          •  P4. Every activity constitutes either initiatory force, non-initiatory force, or non-force.
          •  SC2(15): If X has any right against Y other than the right not to be aggressed against by Y, then there is a way of acting, Z, such that failing to act in manner Z does not constitute initiatory force, and yet it is permissible for X, or X’s agent, to use force to compel Y to treat X in manner Z.
            •  SC3(14): If X has any right against Y other than the right not to be aggressed against by Y, then there is a way of acting, Z, such that Z does not constitute aggression, and yet it is permissible for X, or X’s agent, to use force to compel Y to treat X in manner Z.
              •  SC4 (9): If X has a right against Y to be treated in manner Z, then it is permissible for X, or X’s agent, to use force to compel Y to treat X in manner Z.
                •  P3. X has a right against Y to be treated in manner Z just in case a) Y is obligated to treat x in manner Z and b) it is permissible for X, or X’s agent, to use force to compel Y to treat X in manner Z.
                •  P2. Aggression is defined as initiatory force
        • SC5 (22) There is no way of acting, Z, such that failing to act in manner Z constitutes either non-initiatory force or non-force, and yet it is permissible for X, or X’s agent, to use force to compel Y to treat X in manner Z.
          •  SC6 (21): It is impermissible for any person to forcibly prevent any other person from engaging either in non-initiatory force or in non-force.
            •  SC7 (18): It is impermissible for any person to forcibly prevent any other person from engaging in non-initiatory force.
              •  P6. Whatever is permissible to do, it is impermissible to suppress by force.
              • SC8 (17): It is permissible for any person to engage in non-initiatory force.
                •  P5. An activity constitutes non-initiatory force just in case it is a use of force to restrain others from initiating force against one.
                • SC9(13): It is permissible for any person, or agent of any person, to use force to restrain others from initiating force against that person.
                  •  SC10(11): Every person is obligated not to initiate force against any other person, and it is permissible for any person, or the agent of any person, to use force to restrain others from initiating force against that person.
                    • P3. X has a right against Y to be treated in manner Z just in case a) Y is obligated to treat x in manner Z and b) it is permissible for X, or X’s agent, to use force to compel Y to treat X in manner Z.
                    • SC12(10): Every Person has the right not to have force initiated against her by any other person
                      •  P1. Every Person has the right not to be aggressed against by any other person [The Positive Thesis]
                      • P2. Aggression is defined as initiatory force
          • SC13(20): It is impermissible for any person to forcibly prevent any other person from engaging in an activity that constitutes non-force.
            • P8. If an activity constitutes non-force, then forcibly suppressing it constitutes initiatory force.
            •  SC14 (19): It is impermissible for any person to initiate force against any other person.
              • P7. Doing something is obligatory just in case not doing it is not permissible.
              • SC15(12): Every Person is obligated not to initiate force against any other person.
                •  SC10(11): Every person is obligated not to initiate force against any other person, and it is permissible for any person, or the agent of any person, to use force to restrain others from initiating force against that person.
                  • P3. X has a right against Y to be treated in manner Z just in case a) Y is obligated to treat x in manner Z and b) it is permissible for X, or X’s agent, to use force to compel Y to treat X in manner Z.
                  • SC12(10): Every Person has the right not to have force initiated against her by any other person
                    • P1. Every Person has the right not to be aggressed against by any other person [The Positive Thesis]
                    •  P2. Aggression is defined as initiatory force

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    Parrish Miller

    The non-aggression principle is the only moral code which can be universally applied. All others require that a person’s feelings or personal tolerances be factored into the equation. The simple rule that “I owe you only non-aggression” is not subject to equivocation. Only by rejecting the fallacy of positive rights and positive obligations can a moral code be based on logic and reason rather than emotion.

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      Youliy Ninov

      “The non-aggression principle is the only moral code which can be universally applied. ”

      I also tend towards the above statement. The real problem however is how to prove it! Why don’t you give it a try? I could take the opposite side for a change.

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        Parrish Miller

        To me, it’s just a matter of logic; if no human may ever justifiably do a specified thing (in this case, violate the life, liberty, or property of another person), that standard can be universally applied. If a person must do a thing (help old ladies cross the street, for example), we must not only determine what constitutes old, we must define gender, and also understand what constitutes helping (and streets, for that matter.) Imposing a positive obligation will always create conflicts (what if two old women are simultaneously crossing two different streets? Which factors outweigh the others?)

        Likewise, without the non-aggression principle, (if I may justifiably aggress against your life, liberty, or property) there is necessarily conflict. I can kill you and you can kill me, yet these things clearly cannot coexist. Negative obligations can coexist. If talking were always prohibited, everyone could not talk without inherent conflict. Positive obligations cannot. If all people are required to do a thing (and it is never permissible not to do the thing) chaos will clearly result.

        It is when people start looking at reality from a proactive point of view that things get muddled. We recognize that people can starve to death. Simply recognizing this reality does not create conflict. It is trying to “fix” this reality by imposing an obligation (you must help someone if they are in danger of starving to death) that invariably causes conflict. How much help must I offer? What risks or losses must I absorb before the help I have rendered will be considered sufficient?

        My answer, of course, is that such an obligation does not exist. Unless an individual starving to death is the result of my aggression, I have no obligation to make restitution for the aggression of another or the acts of nature.

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        • Youliy Ninov

          Parrish,

          “if no human may ever justifiably do a specified thing (in this case, violate the life, liberty, or property of another person), that standard can be universally applied. If a person must do a thing (help old ladies cross the street, for example), we must not only determine what constitutes old, we must define gender, and also understand what constitutes helping (and streets, for that matter.)”

           

          The above is not correct. I have to give just one example to invalidate it. The example is : “ One must not help old ladies”, negative obligation. You still have to define when one is old, define gender, and what constitutes helping.

           

          “Negative obligations can coexist. If talking were always prohibited, everyone could not talk without inherent conflict.”

           

          The example is OK. So, you have proved that negative obligations CAN coexist. However from the above it does not follow that they MUST BE ABLE to coexist always. It just says that the above is possible in some cases.

           

          “Likewise, without the non-aggression principle, (if I may justifiably aggress against your life, liberty, or property) there is necessarily conflict.”

           

          Not necessarily. I need just one example: I do not wish to aggress against you and you do not wish to aggress against me, without NAP. Such situations happen.

          About NAP: clearly there is no conflict when we apply it (I can not think of a counterexample). The problem is that there may be a situation without NAP where no-conflict exists. You have to prove that the last is impossible. There may also be possible to avoid conflicts without NAP (has to be proven that NAP is the only way).

           

          “ Positive obligations cannot. If all people are required to do a thing (and it is never permissible not to do the thing) chaos will clearly result.”

           

          This is just a statement, not a logical proof. The problem is that I can not think of an example to counter it.

           

          By the way, for our general claim to be valid it must be able as a minimum to pass my criticism (a minimum requirement).

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        • Parrish Miller

          There is a distinct difference, though. If one were required never to help old ladies cross the street, one could simply refrain from helping anyone cross anything, and thereby fulfill their negative obligation. There is not the same inherent conflict between people not acting as there is between people acting. If we agree that there is never a positive obligation to act—that inaction is always permissible—we have gone a long way toward eliminating conflict.

          I would argue that negative obligations can coexist because as we hypothetically pile them on, people act less and less until such time as they cannot act at all, but one person’s inaction does not interfere with another person’s inaction. There may be some theoretical scenario which could be dreamed up to disprove this, but as a practical measure, I cannot see how inaction could block inaction.

          To be more accurate, I should have said without the non-aggression principle, there will necessarily be conflict eventually. Yes, some people might live without conflict even with no moral code, but given enough time and individuals, conflict will inventively arise. The scarcity of goods alone is enough reason why this is true.

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        • Youliy Ninov

          It is hard for me to criticize properly your opinion when I support it.

          I agree that there seems not be a conflict between people not acting (can not think of a counter-example). From there it follows  that negative obligations can coexist. Since NAP is a negative obligation it can exist without conflicts. So, far the logic seems OK (not good but passable). The problem is that we have not proved that NAP is the only way to reach a no-conflict state in the long run (over time and number of people). There may be another way (a negative or positive obligation ) to reach the no-conflict state.

          Let me give you counter example to “To be more accurate, I should have said without the non-aggression principle, there will necessarily be conflict eventually. ”

          If we all commit suicide there will never be a conflict between anybody. The last is not NAP but seems to lead to a disappearance of the conflict. It the last correct?

          If you prove the last somehow (that NAP is the only way) you would have a logical sequence which is difficult to counter. It would mean that we really need NAP, that there is not other way but to accept it.

           

           

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    Jorge Trucco

    Here’s where I got it from, The Market for Liberty, Chapter 2: Man and society (Tannehill)

    “When a man initiates force against another man, he violates his victim’s rights. A right is a principle which morally prohibits men from using force or any substitute for force against anyone whose behavior is non-coercive. A right is a moral prohibition; it doesn’t specify anything with regard to what actions the possessor of the right may take (so long as his actions are non-coercive)—it morally prohibits others from forcibly interfering with any of his non-coercive actions. For example, a beachcomber has the right to life; this right says nothing of what the beachcomber may do with his life—it says only that no one else may forcibly interfere with his life so long as he doesn’t initiate force or fraud against them. Suppose, however, that the beachcomber does initiate force against a cab driver and does $100 worth of damage to the taxicab. In order to rectify the injustice, the beachcomber must pay the cabbie $100. The beachcomber does not, then, have the right to whatever part of his life and/or property that is required to make reparations to the cabbie (the cabbie has a just claim to it). Suppose, further, that the beachcomber will not willingly pay the $100; the cabbie is no longer morally prohibited from using force against the beachcomber to collect what is now rightfully his. The beachcomer, by his initiation of force against and to the detriment of another man, has alienated himself from the right to that part of his life which is required to pay his debt.6 Rights are not inalienable, but only the possessor of a right can alienate himself from that right—no one else can take a man’s rights from him. Each person has a right to his own life, which means that each person is a self-owner (assuming that his behavior has been and is non-coercive). Because a man has a right to own his life, he has the same right to any part of that life. Property is one part of a man’s life. Material goods are necessary to sustain life, and so are the ideas which a man generates. So, man invests his time in generating ideas and in producing and maintaining material goods. A man’s life is made up of time, so when he invests his time in material or intellectual property (ideas) he is investing parts of his life, thereby making that property an extension of his life. The right to property is part of the right to life. There is no conflict between property rights and human rights—property rights are human rights. Another aspect of man’s life is his freedom of action. If a man is not free to use his mind, his body, and his time in any action he wishes (so long as he doesn’t initiate force or fraud), he is in some degree a slave. The right to liberty, like the right to property, is an aspect of the right to life.

    All rights are aspects of the right to life, which means that each man has the right to every part of his own life. By the same token, he is not morally entitled to any part of another man’s life (assuming the other man has not initiated force or fraud against him). Any “right” which violates someone else’s rights is no right at all. There can be no such thing as a right to violate a right, or rights would be meaningless. A man has the right to earn a decent living, but he does not have the right to a decent living if it must be provided by force out of someone else’s earnings. That is, he has no right to enslave others and force them to provide his living—not even if he does so by getting the government to pass a law taxing others to make payments to him. Each individual is the owner of his own life … and no one else’s.

    Rights are not a gift of God or of society; they are the product of the nature of man and of reality. If man is to live a productive and happy life and realize his full potential as a human being, he must be free from coercion by other men. The nature of man demands that he must have values and goals in order to live—without them, human life is impossible. When a man is not free to choose his own goals, he can’t act on the feedback from his behavior and so he can’t correct his errors and live successfully. To the extent that a man is forcibly prevented by others from choosing his own values and goals, he is a slave. Slavery is the exact opposite of liberty; they cannot coexist.

    Rights pertain only to individual men. There is no such thing as minority rights, States’ rights, “civil” rights, or any other form of collective rights. The initiation of force against the collective is really the initiation of force against the individuals of which the collective is composed, because the collective has no existence apart from the individuals who compose it. Therefore, there are no collective rights—there are only the rights which every individual has to be free from the coercive actions of others.

    Morally, each man owns himself, and he has the right to do anything which does not violate another man’s right of self-ownership. The only way a right can be violated is by coercion. This is why society in harmony with the requirements of man’s nature must be based on the rule of non-initiation of force—it must be a laissez-faire society.”

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    Josh

    “Ricky Peter Newins September 29, 2014 at 5:35 pm
    I tend to justify it with Hoppe´s argumentation ethics or Molyneux´s UPB. I also find the argument put across by Sam Harris very useful, namely that that which objectively subtracts from human well-being must be considered immoral.”

    Do you know were I could find Sam’s View on the Subject?

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      Ricky Peter Newins

      Yes brother, you can listen and read it here:

       

       

       

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        Josh

        Thanks mate, this was really interesting.

        If you get time guys I’d like to hear your thought on this video reply to stephan. m’s

        Ownership video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEkSF01NzQo

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    Sam Spade

    Sam Spade posted an update in the group Philosophical Anarchists right now (I hope this isn’t a double-post — somehow I ended up joining “Philosophical Anarchist”, which included posts to topics all the way from music to child-beating to circumcision)
    The-Non-Aggression-Principle has always struck me as redundancy at best, prolixity on down the scale. If one truly embraces liberty (“libertarian”), then non-aggression goes without saying. I just now learned that to see all the comments and participate I needed to “join-this-group” (I thought joining “liberty-me” included all that). But perhaps not. I’ll post this, then go to where I was previously.

    Don’t get old :-[. Sam

    But I think it is Parrish Miller in one of the comments who says, “…to me, it’s just a matter of logic…” Which reflects my understanding. Why engage in a lot of folderol over it. But ever now and again somebody will send out petitions to forum members that we should join some sort of pact or digitally sign a contract agreeing to The-Non-Aggression-Principle. I’ve so far abstained, and see that as an indwelling vestige of a need to control.

     

    And now I see a post quoting our old friend, Roderick Long and his classical, long, complicated mathematic formula that sez about the same thing.  I think.  Sam

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