[ExI] Freedom (was: "PC")

Harvey Newstrom mail at HarveyNewstrom.com
Mon Sep 22 01:45:08 UTC 2008

"Spargemeister" <sparge at gmail.com> wrote,
>>> The key concept, I think, is *personal* freedom: the right to do
>>> whatever you want as long it doesn't interfere with another person's
>>> personal freedom.
> Using that as a guide, a lot of legislation is clearly anti-personal
> freedom and anti-libertarian.

I violently agree!

>> Can gays kiss in public, or is that interfering with the personal freedom 
>> of
>> straight families with children in public?
> If hetero kissing in public is OK, then gay kissing in public has to
> be OK, too. I don't see how one group's preferences can be allowed at
> the expense of another.

Obvious to me too, but some people just can't see it.

>> Can women get abortions, or is
>> that interfering with the fetus' personal freedom.
> That depends upon whether fetuses are considered people. Personally, I
> favor a rule along the lines of granting citizenship status to unborn
> children who are sufficiently developed that they can likely survive
> independent of the mother with current medical technology. So right
> now, I'm OK with first trimester abortion, not OK with third trimester
> abortion, and second is the gray area. But that's just me.

This is a perfect example of where we all agree on the goals, but we might 
not agree on where the lines are.  This is a tough one, ranging from 
"abortion is murder" to "abortion is cosmetic surgery."  It's tough to come 
up with criteria for this.  I like your criteria here, but I can easily 
others disagreeing.

>> Or, the example we
>> discuss next, can spammers mail bomb whole segments of the population, or 
>> is
>> that interfering with their personal computers?  People literally 
>> disagree
>> where the lines of personal freedom are.
> Of course, and legislators, voters, and courts will have to work out
> those lines.

This one becomes more important as we get further into the digital age 
including VR and cyberspace.  I think electronic property rights need to be 
protected as we would physical property rights.

>> They would call your definition of libertarian "minarchy" and the more
>>  extreme version of libertarian "anarchy".
> Sounds like they just want a less extreme label for themselves.

Agreed.  People always like to see their own viewpoint considered 
"mainstream" and other people's viewpoints as the "extreme."

> Yes, your point stands: freedom means different things to different
> people. I think that applying the personal freedom test will go a long
> way toward helping to decide conflicts, but the usual legal processes
> will still be necessary.

Yes, I think this is exactly right.

>>> Nope. I'm tired of spam and the last thing I want is for the
>>> government to try to fix the problem.
>> I understand that this is your viewpoint based on the libertarian rule. 
>> But
>> can you see, even if you don't agree, how someone could argue that
>> mail-bombing someone else's mailing list or personal PC interferes with
>> their own use of their own property?
> I see it, and I agree. I just don't think it's something the
> government can fix.

Well, that's a good point.  I see it as a problem with the "commons" of the 
Internet, which makes it a good candidate for government to fix.  But I 
agree, I have no idea how they would do it.  And little faith that they 
could get it right.

> I mostly agree with that, though I still don't think spam has the
> potential to be a threat to national security.

Only in the sense that anybody can cause a denial-of-service to any network 
segment or agency just by sending them too much e-mail.  This is a real 
vulnerability to our infrastructure.  But I guess that's not really the same 
thing as simple spam.

>> My point is that the disagreements on these forms of government is not in
>> terms of the goal or the definitions, it is in terms of the values. 
>> People
>> choose governments that will maximize their own personal values.  In a 
>> way,
>> it is like the free market at work.  Everybody (selfishly) chooses the
>> government form that they think will best serve them.  And that
>> determination is based on which things they value most.  I don't think
>> anything I have said disagrees with your excellent points.  I just think
>> that people's personal choices will lead them to choose other forms of
>> government as the best way to implement the libertarian rule.
> I'm going to have to sleep on that.

Sorry. :-)

I myself am struggling with this meta-questions.  How does the free-market 
provide for people who don't want a free market?  How does a rational 
world-view provide for people who want to believe in non-verifiable things? 
How does infinite diversity provide for people who want uniformity?

Maybe other forms of government should exist to give people choices.  But 
then people would have to be free to move from country to country as 
desired.  And even that is not a feasible choice in most cases.  There are 
some older theories of private law, where everybody would subscribe to the 
government or law they choose.  But I never really believed they could 
negotiate between these governments when they simply did not agree with the 
other government's mode of existance.

Harvey Newstrom <www.HarveyNewstrom.com>

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