[ExI] Call To Libertarians

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Wed Feb 23 04:36:29 UTC 2011

On Feb 22, 2011, at 4:45 PM, Darren Greer wrote:

> Quoting Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at mac.com>:
> The essential element of libertarianism is the Non-Agression Principle.
>  No one has the right to initiate force against another.  This is
> equivalent to total freedom to do anything that does not harm,
> physically force, threaten physical force or defraud another.
> I like that principle Samantha. Very much. I am personally committed to it. But I wonder how does one go about establishing system where the principle non-aggression is paramount, when natural aggression, both tribal and individual, seems to be a dominant feature of the human psyche nurtured by millions of years of evolutionary development?

We establish it already whenever we deal with one another peaceably enough to derive maximum value from our association.  We are a social interdependent species.  Much of our thriving is contingent upon peaceable interactions with one another to mutual benefit.   We cannot maximize the value of our interaction if we are subjecting one another to initiated force and the threat of the same.  In particular human beings principle unique means of survival and thriving is our mind.  Minds do not function optimally under coercion.  

Economics, broadly speaking, is the free, non-coerced interactions of human beings.  Exchanges of all kinds occur that are willing entered into by the parties involved.  Exchanges of value for value without sacrificing one's values or the values of the other.   

So non-aggression arises rather naturally as an optimum value enhancing strategy over time.  

However, there are indeed many aspects of our evolved psychology that are not so rational.   It is also all too easy to conclude that the majority need to be coerced somehow for their own good if one not only disapproves but also considers downright dangerous what their voluntary choices end up being.

> I don't ask this question facetiously, or in an attempt to disparage. I'm truly interested in your response. I've been thinking about this kind of society for awhile, and how it would work. One of the answers I've come up with, that sounds similar to what you describe, is to establish a system of territorial morality, where the doctrine is "you do your thing and I'll do mine and it's all OK as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else." Because morality, along with status (again both tribal and individual) and economics, are most certainly related to aggression, from what I've perceived. Alister Crowley came up with something similar in his Thelema doctrine, as a recipe for modern utopia. 

The about "do your own thing as long as it doesn't hurt anybody" is actually subsumed by the NAP.   

Crowley was a mystic so he is not the best choice for any sort of ethical clarity.

> The problem as I see it is what to do when people in your society violate this principle. Currently we're paralyzed by political correctness and cultural relativism. Also it might be difficult to come up with valid definitions of what harming somebody actually means. Just figuring that out on a case-to-case basis might be as daunting as coming up with a universal moral consensus.

Are we paralyzed by those things or by a refusal or perhaps disbelieve that there is any rational basis for ethics at all?  If we do believe there is a rational basis then you can make a more objective argument that A is better than B.  If there is no basis in our estimation then in the realms pertaining to ethics (which include economics and politics in large part) we can't really judge whether A is better than B and thus are forced into relativism or subjectivism. 

- samantha
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