[ExI] Conscientious objections

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Thu Nov 29 09:27:59 UTC 2012

On Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 10:45 PM, Dan <dan_ust at yahoo.com> wrote:
> It would be good if you would humor us and reveal how my response "fall apart on its own." I believe, and I'm not trying to attack or insult you, you've taken a very dismissive approach toward the views of Rafal and now me

Because you kept redefining things, making false claims, and resorting
to logical fallacies.

I take a dim view of extensive debates under such circumstances,
because they are largely pointless.  Any argument I make, you simply
use more fallacies et al, and claim supremacy because you have more
people talking.  The only people I can convince are those not
involved, who tend to be convinced if I make one or a few posts
succinctly stating my case.  This is regardless of how many people
oppose me or the volume of counter-argument they file.  Responding at
length is thus usually a waste of my time.

But since you asked nicely, I'll take a stab at this.

Note first, though: the sheer length of your reply fell into
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_verbosity which is what signaled
to me that a detailed reply was probably a waste of time.  Note that
my point-by-point responses here are mostly shorter.  Of course, this
itself is not proof, just a heuristic.


> First of all, for a case for an externality to work in a consistent fashion, one has to have a clear definition of property. That runs up against problems with public property. Anyhow, with no clear definition of who owns what, then any argument that something is an externality explodes.

By this argument, if I own my house, but it's not clear who owns the
land it sits on (say, because the land itself is public property),
then if a bunch of people contribute to the soil eroding (say, through
mining underneath and not shoring up the tunnels, or through
desertification) such that part of the earth under my house goes away
and my house falls apart, that can't be called an externality even
though something that I did clearly own took damage.

Just because a thing is difficult to trace and place exact blame for,
does not mean it does not exist.

> That's just the make believe logic of democratic government: that you own the state, therefore, people who use the state's stuff are using your stuff. That works to keep people focused not on state aggression but on people who protest it.

Ad hominem fallacy.

> But even allowing that you own the state -- or that you and the rest of the subjects of the state own it -- since Rafal is one of the subjects he owns it as much as you.

If he owns it, then it is his duty to attempt to control it.  To do
otherwise is negligence.  That he is part owner along with hundreds of
millions of others does not fundamentally change this, although it
does dramatically minimize the degree of negligence.  (It's kind of a
"micro-sin" - but a moral value of -0.000001 is still less than 0.)

> Third, not voting doesn't really change his tax position.

Irrelevant.  The subject at hand was the duty to vote, and I had noted
that he is helping decide how *my* taxes were spent.  If he does not
care how *his* taxes are spent, that is a different thing.  That it is
almost impossible to trace my specific contribution versus his does
not change this.

> Fourth, it's hard to measure who uses what

This has the same problem as the externality rebuttal.  Just because a
thing is hard to measure does not mean it does not exist, nor that it
is irrelevant.

> And please don't go on about being able to leave the country. That is just like saying I can leave when a robber invades my house.

False.  A robber does not enter your house at times you are well aware
of, nor (for the most part) can you calculate well in advance how much
the robber will take and budget for it.  It is often the case that, at
the moment a robber enters your house - assuming you are present -
that it would be highly disruptive, perhaps life-threatening, to leave
your house at that moment.

To the degree that it would be highly disruptive, perhaps
life-threatening, to leave the country - guess what?  That's because
the world at large inherently* imposes an unjust taking on you, me,
and everyone we personally know just for existing.  This particular
nation deals with it to a substantial degree, but imposes certain
things - such as taxes, and a moral obligation to vote - in return.
Since there is no way to live within this nation for long and not
benefit from this protection, these are imposed on all who live within
this nation for long.  The choice to opt out therefore boils down to
the choice to leave the nation's physical territory.

It is perhaps unfair and not right.  That does not change the fact that it is.

* Or if you prefer, by a large collection of individuals within the
world - those who would have us as slaves for not being in their
monkeyspaces, or as sacrifices to their God.  The point is that this
is being imposed on us.

(There's also the false moral equivalence between taxes and robbery -
but that's been debunked thoroughly by others, and does not need to be
proven to show that there exists substantial differences of other
kinds between robbery and taxes.)

> He doesn't have an obligation here to you -- nor you to him. Obligations, by definition, have to be by expressed consented to. They can't be presumed, but must be openly agreed to, which means that there has to be a way to disagree to them -- and not something like, "He agrees that I'm king over him because he hasn't moved to Antarctica leaving all his worldly positions with me. So, there it is, I'm king!"

The problem comes with the definition of "obligation".  I'm talking
about things that are not imposed by mere words.

Let us say, for example, that you and I were together at a street
corner, and zombies began attacking.  As it happens, between the two
of us at the time, I have the only gun.  The only way to defend myself
is by creating a situation where you are protected as well.  Of course
I'm going to defend myself - and you benefit from my protection.  This
is true even if you never agreed to be protected.

At some point I run out of ammunition, but you have some.  I take it
so I can continue defending us - without asking you, because I have no
time to ask and wait for your response.  Thanks to that extra
ammunition, the zombies are defeated.

Did you have an "obligation" to help me protect you?  Did I "steal"
your bullets?  If I steal, it was in order to save my own life, so was
I morally wrong to do so?

Now, what if I could cure one of the zombies instead of killing them?
Let us say one of your loved ones was among the zombies.  Would you
have an "obligation" to at least tell me which one you would prefer to
be cured?

I'll admit the analogy is imperfect, but this does start to address
the difference between the situation you claim - where only words
matter - and reality.

> Scientists don't elect representatives to decide which theories are valid and which should be set aside. Yet complicated scientific theories are somehow invented, tested, refined, and spread (or rejected). How's that possible?
> Well, it's a complicated issue, but it seems that it's a much similar process to how many other spontaneous orders work, including markets, language, and evolution.

The difference is, spontaneous order in law and politics becomes rule
of the strong, the enrichment of a few at the expense of the many.
This has been demonstrated many times, both historically and in modern

Where spontaneous order works to the benefit of all (or most), it is
to the benefit of all (or most) - and indeed, there are many examples,
such as science.

> And were your argument true -- that some choices are so complicated and that somehow electing a tiny number of people to make them worked better than the alternatives -- why it should be applied more widely. We should comprehensive economic planning just like in the Soviet Union.

False Dilemma.  Just because it works well in many places does not
mean it works well everywhere - and conversely, just because it does
not work well in at least one field does not mean it does not work
well elsewhere.


So, to finally answer your question: I count at least 3 logical
fallacies, 2 false claims, and at least 1 attempted redefinition in
your rebuttal (and further cases that are one of these three though it
is not clear exactly which - for instance, is the "externality" claim
a redefinition or an "argument from ignorance" fallacy?), and removing
those seems to leave nothing that disproves my case.  (That is, it's
not just that you have logical fallacies, false claims, and
redefinitions, but rather that those appear to be the whole of your
arguments.)  This is what I meant by, "It falls apart on its own if
you look at it rationally."

It has been my experience that those who rely on these to this degree,
tend to keep relying on them.  If you respond at length to this
letter, it will probably not be worth my time to carefully point out
all the new fallacies et al you make (and I can reasonably assume
you'll be making them if your response is long), for the reasons
mentioned at the start of this letter.  So please don't mistake my
refusing to respond in detail again for any sort of convincing.

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