What happens when, for the purposes of argument, you grant the other guy's assumptions not for the purpose of agreeing with him and making him more agreeable but for the fell purpose of taking his pants down and saying real mean things about his genitals?
The answer, I'm afraid, is you fuck up big time.
Take the case of Constable Brennan who enters Hans Herman Hoppe's illegal shebeen and says 'Just for the sake of argument, I'll assume your premises are licensed and will now drink a gallon of your moonshine. Ha! Ha! Just took down your pants. You gotta tiny weiner. What's more you are pissing my urine out of your urethra! Oh fuck, I just pissed on the Archbishop. How come all my Friday nights end like this?"
Don't believe me?
Then check out Jason Brennan on Hans Herman Hoppe over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians-
'I find it bizarre that anyone would find Hoppe’s argumentation ethics argument for libertarianism even slightly persuasive. It’s a string of non-starters followed by a string of non-sequitors. But I recently learned that at least one super-smart person found it convincing when he was younger. Thus, I think it’s worth showing how you can refute this argument in under a minute. First, I’ll give you terms commonly used in political philosophy. Then I’ll quote Hoppe’s argument. After that, the minute starts.
Begin with some terms from political philosophy:
'A liberty right is something that grants me permission to do something.
A claim right is something that entails others have obligations, responsibilities, or duties toward me.
So, for instance, suppose you believe: “Everyone has the right to do whatever he pleases; no one has any duties to anyone else.” This sentence asserts that people have liberty rights to do anything, but have no claim rights at all.
In contrast, take: “I have the right not to be taxed–the government shouldn’t take my money.” Here I assert a claim right to my money–I assert that government agents have duties not to take my money from me.
So, to review, by definition:
“X has a liberty right to do Y” means “It is morally permissible for X to Y.”
“X has a claim right to do Y” means “Others have a duty not to interfere with X when he Ys.”
You can have a liberty right without a claim right. So, for instance, Hobbes thinks in the state of nature we all have liberty rights to kill one another, but he doesn’t think we have claim rights not to be killed.
With that distinction, consider Hans Hermann-Hoppe’s argumentation ethics argument for libertarian self-ownership.
Hoppe claims that the act of trying to justify a theory that rejected libertarian self-ownership is a performative contradiction—the act presupposes the truth of libertarian self-ownership. As he explains in The Economics and Ethics of Private Property:
It must be considered the ultimate defeat for an ethical proposal if one can demonstrate that its content is logically incompatible with the proponent’s claim that its validity be ascertain- able by argumentative means. To demonstrate any such incompatibility would amount to an impossibility proof; and such proof would constitute the most deadly smash possible in the realm of intellectual inquiry … Such property right in one’s own body must be said to be justified a priori. For anyone who would try to justify any norm whatsoever would already have to presuppose an exclusive right to control over his body as a valid norm simply in order to say ‘I propose such and such’. And anyone disputing such right, then, would become caught up in a practical contradiction, since arguing so would already implicitly have to accept the very norm which he was disputing.
For the sake of argument, on Hoppe’s behalf, grant that by saying “I propose such and such,” I take myself to have certain rights over myself. I take myself to have some sort of right to say, “I propose such and such.” I also take you to have some sort of right to control over your own mind and body, to control what you believe. (Nota bene: I don’t think Hoppe can even get this far, but I’m granting him this for the sake of argument.)
But all I need to avoid a performative contradiction here is for me to have a liberty right to say, “I propose such and such.” I need not presuppose I have a claim right to say “I propose such and such.” Instead, at most, I presuppose that it’s permissible for me to say, “I propose such and such”. I also at most presuppose that you have a liberty right to believe what I say. I do not need to presuppose that you have a claim right to believe what I say.
However, libertarian self-ownership theory consists of claim rights.
So, by saying, “I propose such and such,” at most I presuppose the permissibility of my saying “I propose such and such” and of your believing “such such,” but I don’t presuppose that anyone or anything has any claim rights or duties at all.
Hoppe’s argument illicitly conflates a liberty right with a claim right, and so fails.
Since Hoppe’s argument is complete nonsense, it has other fatal flaws aside from the one I described above. For further refutation, see here:
Why is the above fuck-witted? Briefly, rights can be inchoate- indeed, must be so, if discourse regarding them is to be non trivial. Grant the other guy's (illegal) premises and you are estopped from urging Illicit conflation unless there is, indeed, an Omniscient Oracle able to do the relevant backward induction after having solved the underlying Laplacian problem.
Moreover, for any given X whose Natural Language assumptions, A, you accept- even if only 'for the sake of argument' - it must be the case that there is always another interpretation, I, which defeats the Interpretation which yielded you a disproof or impossibility result.
Well, the one incentive compatible minimal assumption a person makes when voicing a Natural Language proposition is that the proper arbiter, or Humpty Dumpty, of its Interpretation is the one which makes him look smarter than everybody else.
This could easily be strategic or instrumental or refer to currently Open Problems in Maths.
Speaking pragmatically, since only Computational Logic's Argumentation theory, currently, is recognized as potentially non-shite, Brennan's result can be known in advance to be a case of his pissing on the Archbishop.
Of course, that Credentialized Academic Madoff-wannabe never responds to my comments coz me is just a fat black guy wot don't got from edumification- and that's a good thing coz, as long- time followers of this blog will know, I really iz shite.
Still, I now extract my comments on this post and paste them up here.
Your argument fails because Hoppe is assuming that people have a duty to be consistent- so your liberty right to state a certain sort of proposition creates a claim right, to believe or act consistently with that shite, against yourself..
The fact is rights are rights whether or not the right-holder has an argument to justify that right or not. Indeed, I'd be suspicious of a guy who gives me an argument as to why he has the right to do something.(.e.g break a window to get into his own house) because people who genuinely have that right generally refuse to provide any argument at all but tell you to fuck off or they will call the police and get you arrested for trespassing.
Furthermore, there may be a duty for a certain sort of philosopher to always justify his action and to be consistent while doing so but this is not the case for non-philosophers or, indeed, for philosophers if you ring them up real late at night.
I don't know why you'd want to accept that- it is 'the ultimate defeat for an ethical proposal if one can demonstrate that its content is logically incompatible with the proponent’s claim that its validity be ascertainable by argumentative means'
By doing so you are binding yourself to play a particular sort of game- which we all know to be utterly pointless.
It certainly isn't a Libertarian game. Liberty aint about ethical proposals or what stupid Professors think is 'ascertainable by argumentative means' (spolier alert- it's the empty set)
A liberty right lets you do an immoral thing and the corresponding claim right makes it immoral for others to stop you doing that thing.
Both type of rights exist even in a Robinson Crusoe world. Crusoe has a liberty right to make a Trust in which he is the only beneficiary and also the trustee, prior to the arrival of Man Friday. He can then say, I homesteaded this Island and put it in trust for myself such that I'm forbidden. under its terms, to permit you to dispose of my property even if, absent that Trust, I'd have felt morally obliged to go halfsies with you.
One way of paraphrasing Hoppe is to say 'assume that, when playing a certain type of Language game, any well formed proposition within it is a case of exercising a liberty right such that it creates a claim right against oneself of a particular sort.' In that case, his argument goes through. Don't grant him his assumption and it fails. This is because the assumption is specified in natural language and it always possible to find an interpretation of it, for example one which uses pseudo-random generators- which defeats any given dis-proof.
The scandal this creates for BHL thinkers is that an obviously silly argument obtains which is not refutable because, for some reason, BHL academics buy into Public Justification because like maybe it's in my job description and anyway all the cool kids are doing it?
The proper Libertarian response, surely, is to say 'a plaque on both your houses' and go back to fantasizing about teaming up with Sarah Palin to become like a real badass bounty hunter or something equally lubricious.
I think you are confusing moral rights and legal rights. Something may be legally permissible (no one has a legal claim-right that you not do it) but morally impermissible (someone has a moral claim-right that you not do it). Telling a lie or insulting someone may be examples.
I think you are also confusing power-rights with liberty-rights. You exercise a power-right when you alter someone's claim-rights or liberty-rights.
I think we are speaking of 'essentially contested' concepts here, so the confusion is baked in, though no doubt I bring some of mine own to the table as a sort of relish.
In general, I have no legal right to lie or insult someone except by reason of my own claim rights which ultimately derive from Public Policy pragmatics and thus are inherently defeasible. Interestingly, the same Policy pragmatics may bar me from telling the truth or awarding condign praise. Morally, I may have rights that conflict with claim rights- including claim rights against myself- and these can undoubtedly affect the prevailing distribution of power-rights. I think it is true that- if we thinks Moore's paradox is a genuine scandal, or that Wittgenstein's private language argument doesn't have an algorithmic workaround- then we've boxed ourselves in and have no means to disprove in advance every possible interpretation of Hoppe.
One reason to think so is that 'following a rule' need not be deterministic. If so, by a Razburov Rudich type argument, our intuition about what is 'natural' misleads us. The Research Program for Argumentation theory in Computational Logic is not obviously unsound, whereas it is self-evidently foolish in the context of BHL, and so perhaps the latter should use the former as forge in which to cast the silver bullet which will finally kill off Hoppe's undead beastie.
'consider the proposition "One should never argue about what people should do." Belief in it is inconsistent with defending it argumentatively, but that tells us nothing at all about whether it is true or false. One could even imagine someone who did not believe in the proposition constructing a valid argument proving that it was true, although he would presumably stop speaking as soon as he had completely convinced himself.'
This argument, though meaningless in any strict sense, might appear not to be so because, at first glance, we feel that the introduction of impredicativity indicates that we have entered a higher order language and thus a different complexity class for the underlying Game.
However, by Razburov Rudich, we know we can't draw any conclusion from this.
Hoppe says ' For anyone who would try to justify any norm whatsoever would already have to presuppose an exclusive right to control over his body as a valid norm simply in order to say ‘I propose such and such’.
Apparently, self-ownership forbids leasing out one's faculties to wrath and lust and gluttony and drunkeness such that we can say with Agammemnon 'Not I, but my phrenes spoke' or 'Honey, it was the drink talking. I don't think you're a fat ugly slag at all. Honest.'.
Who wants self-ownership on such restricted terms?
"Who wants self-ownership on such restricted terms?"
Ha...funny response, but that proves the point too. For me, the point is even larger...you DO own yourself, in any semi-sane approach to ownership. I call it "axiomatic" because the only way out of it is to define ownership in some manner that precludes self-ownership.
And sure, there are lots of ways to do that, but not without stripping the essence of what ownership--actual, independent of judgment, objective ownership--is.
Also, it might be worthy to note that ownership itself, whatever it is, has existence only in a social context. Implicit in any concept C is the existence (or the imagined existence) of not-C. In the absence of a social context, there would be nothing that qualified as "not owned," and so "own" would carry no meaning. Well, except any that the actor wanted to fantasize into existence, of course.
I like this because it equates ownership with responsibility and thus serves a moral purpose even in idionomic discourse. For e.g. if Robinson Crusoe is an alcoholic, he still gets to 'own' the enormities he perpetrated, whilst drunk, in the sober light of day.
I don't suppose it matters very much if we substitute 'self-creation' for 'self ownership' or, indeed, attribute both efficient causes and 'ownership' to God or 'the Force' or 'The Tao' or whatever. The crucial things is to learn to 'own' one's errors and idiocies so that it becomes your responsibility to fix things.
Under Mrs. Thatcher, tenants were allowed to buy their houses from the Govt and, instead of turning into slums, owner-occupied houses showed superior maintenance and compliance with relevant by-laws against nuisances.
Even if this measure had not increased labor and social mobility, it would still have been a success even though nothing had changed except that the occupants now made mortgage payments whereas previously they had paid rent.
The argument was made that this 'privatization' would make people selfish and anti-social. They would retreat into a fantasy world fed by cheap Videos and frozen dinners. If someone broke a window pane or if the boiler burst or there was a spot of rising damp, people would just fix it themselves instead of making endless trips to the Council office. BUT, moaning about the Council's apathy Socializes you- i.e. coarsens you- the alternative being surrendering to Fantasy.
Anyway, this was Terry Gilliam's take on British Socialism, circa the Seventies, in his masterpiece 'Brazil'.
Nothing wrong with fantasy, so long as you fix the porch light when it goes out and insulate the loft in plenty of time for Winter.
Argumentation theory, on the other hand, except in a Comutational Logic type context, has always been a threat to Liberty- which is the leisure to dream rather than the lucid, too lucid, nightmare of Public Justification's Nakedness in the Exam Hall.
Having a way to translate a particular concept into the language of a particular analytical system doesn't strike me as "redundant".
*If* "moral" and "liberty right" are equivalent in some interpretation, I wouldn't call that a redundancy. I would call that an interesting result of conceptual analysis which enhances our understanding (in this case of morality, and of rights, and of their relationship). Saying water is H2O isn't a redundancy, it's a revelation.
In any case, if it turns out "moral" and "liberty right" are equivalent, that would only be in a particular application of the analytical framework. Take Hohfeldian analysis and apply it as a means of describing an existing legal system and you will no doubt find "liberty rights" that are immoral.
But if I infer correctly from Jason's example with the KKK's speech rights, I think Jason would say as far as ethics goes, we have a duty not to do immoral things (morality requires this of us). Since a "liberty right to x" is defined as the lack of "a duty not to do x", we do not have the liberty right to do anything immoral.
Perhaps for Jason morality requires we do what is moral (exerts a claim right on us). Then we end up with the result that we have a duty to do all things moral. Morality and immorality are then each a species of duty.
We've assumed that nothing immoral is a liberty (I guessed this to be Jason's view.) So let's get to the question of whether or not every liberty is moral. If some liberties are neither immoral nor moral, then this fails. If some moral duties we have we are not at liberty to fulfill, this fails. It seems to me both of those are likely, so I'd wager "liberty" and "moral" are not equivalent/redundant.
Not everything we are at liberty to do is moral: I am at liberty to prefer vanilla to chocolate. This is neither moral nor immoral.
We are not at liberty to do everything moral: I have made a promise which constrains my liberties, including my liberty to do moral thing X.
'*If* "moral" and "liberty right" are equivalent in some interpretation, I wouldn't call that a redundancy.'
What if the reason they are equivalent in that interpretation is because some notion of 'equitable estoppel' or 'substantive due process' makes the legal judgement dependent on the moral one? Surely that is redundancy?
Is there any way to get equivalence between two different types of rights, under an interpretation of a deontic logic, in which the one is permitted no recourse to the others meta-language?
As a matter of fact, not theory, it is in the nature of any transaction that it remains inchoate from some perspective, if it is indeed legally justiciable. This is because, as a matter of common experience, there is no offense without a defense- otherwise summary offenses wouldn't carry a right to appeal.
P.S. I don't actually live under a bridge. I just tend to wake up there after a night out with disturbing frequency.