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Thread: Can physical violence be justified over rhetoric?

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by unknown View Post
    "Suzanimal" above also made a point about "chronic" verbal harassment. I'll have to give that a little more consideration.
    To clarify, what you did in this thread is exactly what I would expect of a legal system.
    In today's system the prosecutors come up with whatever they can to persecute an individual. The question they are asking is " now that I have this person in my clutches, how can I ruin his life to the fullest extent?"
    The question of whether a law has actually been broken never enters anyone's mind outside of the occasional jury nullification activist whose activities the state is earnestly trying to criminalize.
    If the system were not so hopelessly broken, they wouldn't STOP to ask the question " has any law actually been broken"... no, they would not stop because the entire process from start to finish would revolve around that question.
    There are no crimes against people.
    There are only crimes against the state.
    And the state will never, ever choose to hold accountable its agents, because a thing can not commit a crime against itself.



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  3. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanimal View Post
    I think it depends. If someone said something to me once. For example calling me a bitch or an idiot in a parking lot, then no. But if someone started harassing me - making it a point to make my life hell, then yes. A boy in high school thought it would be a good idea to start picking on me. I warned him to leave me alone. I didn't do anything to him, btw. He was just an $#@!. My brother a grade up caught wind of it and he warned him to leave me alone. Then it got to the point that the boy started calling my house constantly (it was so bad my mother had our phone number changed) and my dad found out I was getting picked on and he went and talked to the boy's parents. Nothing. He kept on. So, the young man got his ass kicked. He got an attitude adjustment and he finally learned to leave me alone.*shrug*

    Did he ring your doorbell alot? Just speaking from experience of having my doorbell rung here.......
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  5. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Lamp View Post
    Did he ring your doorbell alot? Just speaking from experience of having my doorbell rung here.......
    No but I used to play ding dong dash on my elderly handicapped neighbor. He deserved it. He would sit in his driveway and throw beer cans at me.
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  6. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanimal View Post
    No but I used to play ding dong dash on my elderly handicapped neighbor. He deserved it. He would sit in his driveway and throw beer cans at me.
    I used to have juice boxes and water bottles thrown at me in 9th grade by the guys in the locker room they didn't stop even when I smacked them in the head with my slippers.
    「The Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident;」.-Sir William Jones


  7. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by unknown View Post
    In keeping with the Non Aggression Principle, can physical violence be justified based on someone's rhetoric?

    Physical threats aside (or possibly even included), is there something someone could say to justify a physical/violent response?

    I would say no, not from a Libertarian perspective.
    The Non-Aggression Principle forbids all aggressive violence. However, the NAP does not itself define "aggression" - it simply employs the concept, under the presumption that it has been defined elsewhere.

    Usually, this is not a problem. Things that are clearly acts of "aggressive" violence - such as robbery, unprovoked physical assault, and murder - are abjured by the NAP without controversy. But there will always be things that fall "on the margin," where it is not so clear whether an act of violence is "aggressive" or not.

    Libertarian theory simply does not offer a tidy resolution for these "edge cases." They must be decided upon some other basis - such as local customary or traditional understandings of what is (or is not) "aggression." Some of the things that are (or are not) considered to be "aggression" will differ from one place (or time) to another. Examples of this include so-called "fighting words," what is (or is not) a threat, when a threat is (or is not) actionable with "defensive" violence, etc. There is not (and cannot be) any "objectively" deducible and unviersally applicable rule for deciding these things - and this is true not just of libertarianism, but of any ethical system that involves the concept of "aggression" or "unjust action" (which is to say, any ethical system at all ...).
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  8. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by unknown View Post
    "Suzanimal" above also made a point about "chronic" verbal harassment. I'll have to give that a little more consideration.
    Always bear this in mind: words matter. They matter a lot. They matter FAR more than most people are willing to consider. Unfortunately, words have been discounted almost to the point of holding no value in the minds of the average man. This is so not only in terms of common usage, but also with respect to they way words are regarded in our courts of so-called "law".

    I find it most interesting that the courts have come to very selectively decide where words matter and where they do not. It is similarly interesting to observe how the ways in which courts regard words always favor certain interests, disparaging those of the common man mostly.
    Through lives and lives shalt thou pay, O' king.

    Freedom will be stolen from you in a heartbeat if you do not behave as a wild and ravening beast pursuant to its protection.

    "Government" is naught but a mental construct, a script to which people meekly accept and play out their assigned roles by those with no authority to dictate such.

    Pray for reset.

    BRING BACK THE BANANA! OF THIS MESSAGE I AM APPROVE.


  9. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    The Non-Aggression Principle forbids all aggressive violence. However, the NAP does not itself define "aggression"
    The NAP is, therefore, just this side of useless.

    - it simply employs the concept, under the presumption that it has been defined elsewhere.
    Where philosophical principles are concerned, this is a cardinal failing.

    Usually, this is not a problem.
    I must beg to differ. It is always a problem; a big one.

    Things that are clearly acts of "aggressive" violence - such as robbery, unprovoked physical assault, and murder - are abjured by the NAP without controversy. But there will always be things that fall "on the margin," where it is not so clear whether an act of violence is "aggressive" or not.
    Perhaps so, but I submit that many instances of such violence that are judged "wrong", are in fact just. It has been the legal fashion of the past many decades to hold people obliged by law to suffer the trespass of their fellows. This, of course, is mad criminality.

    Libertarian theory simply does not offer a tidy resolution for these "edge cases."
    That is because libertarianism is a flawed philosophy. The problem with it, as well as nearly all other political philosophies, is that somewhere inside them their architects have included flaws based on the desire to get something for nothing. This, of course, fails miserably in every case because TANSTAAFL. Period.

    If you want freedom, then you must accept the concomitant risks from which the average man flees for all his legs will carry him. Otherwise, it is decidedly not freedom you seek, but unicorns.

    In a properly free world, any trespass upon one man by another may be answered by the victim in whatever manner he deems fit. This makes most people chafe in the most heavy fashion imaginable. Why? Because they want something for nothing. They want all the benefits of freedom with none of risks and other costs. The truth of the truth about freedom is that it is scary and at times very ugly. Be that as it may, it is still worlds better than a cage, no matter how heavy the gilding, spacious the floor plan, and well-appointed with pretty, shiny things.

    They must be decided upon some other basis
    The correct basis is the acceptance of what freedom actually is and the courage and integrity to live by the natural dictates of freedom's architecture. People don't want that. They want the benefits without having to pay. Welcome to the world of men corrupted beyond redemption. We have brought this upon ourselves.

    - such as local customary or traditional understandings of what is (or is not) "aggression."
    This is arbitrary, and thereby invalid.

    Some of the things that are (or are not) considered to be "aggression" will differ from one place (or time) to another.
    Consideration properly roots in reason and not variable emotional preferences that renders one a citizen in good standing on Maple street, and a brutal felon around the corner on Elm. It is this arbitrary variability that has sealed humanity's fate of living in endless peril as a man physically moves across imaginary lines.

    Examples of this include so-called "fighting words,"
    US jurisprudence recognizes no fighting words. This is a fine and prime example of how our "justice" system has failed with great pomp and fireworks.

    what is (or is not) a threat, when a threat is (or is not) actionable with "defensive" violence, etc.
    More fine examples of just how loused up we and the rest of the world are.

    There is not (and cannot be) any "objectively" deducible and unviersally applicable rule for deciding these things - and this is true not just of libertarianism, but of any ethical system that involves the concept of "aggression" or "unjust action" (which is to say, any ethical system at all ...).
    I am not sure that this is true, but if we assume it, then the answer lies in plain sight before the world: free people are free to deal with their issues as they see fit. Many will complain that this would lead to chaos. I submit it would not precisely because people would, after an adjustment period that would stand to possibly be very violent, reassess their priorities and learn new ways of transacting with their fellows; ways that would abound in caution and overflow with smiles and good manners much as was commonplace in feudal Japan.

    The architecture of freedom is simple and elegant. It leads to greater order, not less, when people are of the correct mind, and power is prevented from concentrating too intensely in the hands of too few. The average man behaves as an idiot today only because the greater environment allows it, encourages it, and indeed rewards it. In a free world, stupidity would be self-correcting and the average man would be a far sharper and more survival-worthy instrument than today's embarrassingly sad example.
    Through lives and lives shalt thou pay, O' king.

    Freedom will be stolen from you in a heartbeat if you do not behave as a wild and ravening beast pursuant to its protection.

    "Government" is naught but a mental construct, a script to which people meekly accept and play out their assigned roles by those with no authority to dictate such.

    Pray for reset.

    BRING BACK THE BANANA! OF THIS MESSAGE I AM APPROVE.


  10. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by fisharmor View Post
    As with everything else that can possibly be considered a crime, it is useless to consider this as long as we live under a statutory law system.
    Ultra-mega truth here. Statute is not law, save by chance.

    In a common law system which only respects individual people as interested parties, guidelines for fighting words would be established but would not be applied universally. Each individual case would be judged on its own merits.
    But the nitwits of the world will object because according to them it's not "fair" and so forth.
    Through lives and lives shalt thou pay, O' king.

    Freedom will be stolen from you in a heartbeat if you do not behave as a wild and ravening beast pursuant to its protection.

    "Government" is naught but a mental construct, a script to which people meekly accept and play out their assigned roles by those with no authority to dictate such.

    Pray for reset.

    BRING BACK THE BANANA! OF THIS MESSAGE I AM APPROVE.


  11. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post

    But the nitwits of the world will object because according to them it's not "fair" and so forth.
    The beauty of such a simple system is the objections would be short lived.

  12. #40
    So here's a fun video for everyone who hasn't seen it.

    There are no crimes against people.
    There are only crimes against the state.
    And the state will never, ever choose to hold accountable its agents, because a thing can not commit a crime against itself.



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  14. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    The Non-Aggression Principle forbids all aggressive violence. However, the NAP does not itself define "aggression" [emphasis added by osan]
    The NAP is, therefore, just this side of useless.
    No, it isn't. The NAP is quite easy to understand and useful to apply in the overwhelmingly vast majority of cases. In these cases, there is no question whether a given act constitutes "aggression" or not.

    But just as for any ethical precept (including the vague and undefined "freedom" you invoke elsewhere in your post) there will always and inevitably be marginal edge cases that cannot be fully addressed solely by theory. With respect to the NAP, these cases typically revolve around what is (or is not) to be considered "aggression" on the margin.

    It is not possible for any ethical system to escape issues of this kind.

    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    - it simply employs the concept, under the presumption that it has been defined elsewhere.
    Where philosophical principles are concerned, this is a cardinal failing.
    It is not - no more than it is a "cardinal failing" of dictionaries that they do not include within the defintion of a given word the defintions of all the other words used in that definition. Why should they? Like the definition of "aggression" vis-ŕ-vis the NAP, those words are adequately defined elsewhere. It is not at all a failing of any kind ("cardinal" or otherwise) that the NAP itself does not include the definition of "aggression" within itself. Libertarian theory supplies a sufficiently adequate defintion of "aggression" elsewhere, outside the statement of the NAP itself. Indeed, any meaningful statement of the NAP is necessarily predicated upon an elsewhere-defined concept of "aggression" - just as it (or any other principle) is predicated upon the meanings of the words used to present the stated principle. That there are marginal cases in which it is not (and cannot be) clear from theory alone whether the libertarian (or any other) definition of "aggression" applies does not obviate this fact.

    Normative statements of pricinciple (such as the NAP) are not positive statements of defintion (such as the answer to "what is aggression?"). The former is predicated upon the prior and separate formulation of the latter. All philosophical principles are developed and promulgated in this way - at least, they are if their promulgators have any sense and wish to be understood by other people ... (except, perhaps, for those systems that are developed in what their promulgators fancy to be a hermetically sealed vacuum unconnected with how actual human beings actually think and act ...)

    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    Usually, this is not a problem.
    I must beg to differ. It is always a problem; a big one.
    No it isn't. Any possible ethical system ("libertarian" or otherwise) will involve marginal "edge cases" that cannot be fully answered within the context of theory alone or upon the basis of mere defintions (no matter how much one tries to engineer one's theory or defintions in order to cover all the possible or conceivable bases).

    There is a sort of "Gödelian Incompleteness" that applies to non-trivial axiomatic systems - especially ethical ones. (This is not a fatal problem for anyone but arch-deductionists ...)

    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    - such as local customary or traditional understandings of what is (or is not) "aggression."
    This is arbitrary, and thereby invalid.
    It is not arbitrary (i.e., it is not random, nor the product of individual discretion, whim or caprice, nor etc.).

    It is contingent (i.e., not apodictiically deducible from first principles) - but it cannot therefore be dismissed out of hand as unreasonable or "invalid."

    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    I am not sure that this is true, but if we assume it, then the answer lies in plain sight before the world: free people are free to deal with their issues as they see fit. Many will complain that this would lead to chaos. I submit it would not precisely because people would, after an adjustment period that would stand to possibly be very violent, reassess their priorities and learn new ways of transacting with their fellows; ways that would abound in caution and overflow with smiles and good manners much as was commonplace in feudal Japan.
    But if people actually did "reassess their priorities and learn new ways of transacting with their fellows; ways that would abound in caution and overflow with smiles and good manners much as was commonplace in feudal Japan," then they are not in fact "free to deal with their issues as they see fit" - they are constrained by the very customary, traditional and cultural norms (such as those of feudal Japan) that earlier in the same post you told me were "arbitrary, and thereby invalid" as a means of deciding what behaviors are or are not (unacceptably) "aggressive" on the margin.

    Why are they "arbitrary, and thereby invalid" when I invoke them as a likely means of judging what is (or is not) "aggression" in controversial edge cases, but not so when you invoke them as a constraint upon what is (or is not) to be considered acceptable behavior?

    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 07-27-2017 at 10:48 PM.

  15. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    Originally Posted by osan
    Originally Posted by Occam's Banana
    The Non-Aggression Principle forbids all aggressive violence. However, the NAP does not itself define "aggression" [emphasis added by osan]



    The NAP is, therefore, just this side of useless.



    No, it isn't. The NAP is quite easy to understand and useful to apply in the overwhelmingly vast majority of cases. In these cases, there is no question whether a given act constitutes "aggression" or not.
    I must respectfully disagree. In YOUR mind, perhaps in mine as well, it may be the case. If we take the NAP to Africa where pillage and rape and murder have been the fundaments of "tribal" culture for thousands of years, you might see something very different. I have read enough of the works of people such as Sir Richard Burton, who did rather exhaustive studies of those cultures to hold good confidence that a great plurality of black, sub-equatorial Africans would not look upon the NAP in the same ways we might. You assume too much in terms of uniformity of perception between nations.

    [cue disembodied voices shrieking "RAYcis!!" in 4... 3...]

    But just as for any ethical precept (including the vague and undefined "freedom"
    Freedom is actually rather well defined. Complications added to the definition because people want something for nothing (unicorns)... that certainly brings your assertion closer to truth.

    there will always and inevitably be marginal edge cases that cannot be fully addressed solely by theory.
    Not really. Once again, those cases become complicated because we want unicorns. THAT is the reason things become difficult. How's about you give an example and I will make an attempt at clarifying it?

    With respect the NAP, these cases typically revolve around what is (or is not) to be considered "aggression" on the margin.

    It is not possible for any ethical system to escape issues of this kind.
    I am a bit surprised that you would make such an assertion. I am of the precise opposite mind. Your position rests on the assumption that there is some elusive "justice" out there in the aether, of some theoretically perfect architecture that is ideal and because of that we can never attain it. Well, it may exist in the mind, but it is just another unicorn, and those can never be.

    Freedom is all about itself. Freedom to come and go and think and do as one pleases. The cost of freedom is the fact that in its exercise, trespass against the equal and rightful claims of another carries with it potentially terminal consequences. Therein lies the deepest beauty of freedom, yet most people see it as a source of universal chaos and death and destruction. It is not, though the potential for it certainly lurks there at all times. Newsflash: that potential lurks no matter what political embodiment we choose. All throughout the "cold war" the potential for nuclear exchange loomed, despite all the tyrannical societal instruments both we and the Soviets had set in place. That potential remains to this very day, arguably greater than it ever was in the bad old days when people built bomb shelters in their backyards.

    Aleister Crowley wrote "do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." As twisted and perhaps even evil as that guy may have been, he was dead-nuts on the money with this one.

    People follow their self-interest with a predictability that makes a cesium fountain clock bitter with envy. The one thing they want most is to continue living. That desire alone is sufficient to lead the vast and overwhelming majority to peaceful coexistence. There are those who claim that true freedom of the "do what thou wilt" variety would leads to blood in the streets, hip-deep. That is utter hogwash. People are not nearly stupid enough, in sé, to engage in such idiocy as to murder each other over a stick of gum, statistically speaking. Sure, such things happen on occasion, just as today we must suffer aberrations like a Ted Bundy or Karla Homolka. For all our "law" and its ever more draconian enforcement, we are unable to eliminate crazy people who feast upon the destruction of others. I submit that in my world, necessity would teach the common man another way of living such that they would be far more circumspect in their comings, goings, and doings. The world would likely be a far, far better place, but even if it is no better in terms of the daily dangers, we would be no worse off and would still be ahead because of our abilities to act freely, unlike today where a man ends up ruined because he chose to fire up a spliff on the courthouse steps, or contracted with a hooker for a good time with an ounce of blow in the deal.




    Originally Posted by osan

    Originally Posted by Occam's Banana
    - it simply employs the concept, under the presumption that it has been defined elsewhere.
    Where philosophical principles are concerned, this is a cardinal failing.

    It is not - no more than it is a "cardinal failing" of dictionaries that they do not include within the defintion of a given word the defintions of all the other words used in that definition. Why should they? Like the definition of "aggression" vis-ŕ-vis the NAP, those words are adequately defined elsewhere. It is not at all a failing of any kind ("cardinal" or otherwise) that the NAP itself does not include the definition of "aggression" within itself. Libertarian theory supplies a sufficiently adequate defintion of "aggression" elsewhere, outside the statement of the NAP itself. Indeed, any meaningful statement of the NAP is necessarily predicated upon an elsewhere-defined concept of "aggression" - just as it (or any other principle) is predicated upon the meanings of the words used to present the stated principle. That there are marginal cases in which it is not (and cannot be) clear from theory alone whether the libertarian (or any other) definition of "aggression" applies does not obviate this fact.
    This is an apples-oranges comparison. Dictionaries serve a fully different purpose and are structured appropriately to their intent. We see the same problem in legislation where terms that constitute jargon are left undefined, or in other cases are in fact defined within the body of the legislation, yet are not specified with sufficient rigor. An example of the latter can be commonly found in a form similar to "for the purposes of this act, "insert term here" shall be taken to mean <some specification, usually vague in itself>"


    Originally Posted by Occam's Banana Normative statements of pricinciple (such as the NAP) are not positive statements of defintion (such as the answer to "what is aggression?"). The former is predicated upon the prior and separate formulation of the latter. All philosophical principles are developed and promulgated in this way - at least, they are if their promulgators have any sense and wish to be understood by other people ... (except, perhaps, for those systems that are developed in what their promulgators fancy to be a hermetically sealed vacuum unconnected with how actual human beings actually think and act ...)
    I think I see where you are trying to go with this, but maintain that it is the bad road. Not all principles are so formulated. My own are not, for example. I take pains to ensure clarity, though I am sure I probably fail at it, as well. As for how humans actually think and act, bear in mind that that is majorly dictated by circumstance. Alter the context and the thinking changes, possibly in fundamental ways. Consider our contemporary situation where "transgender" idiocy is becoming ever closer to the new normal with a rapidity that I've never before seen in my 60 years. It is almost frightening to watch this raving insanity take hold as it has such that even parents are succumbing to it, going along with and even becoming the sources of their children's mental disease.

    Compare that, say, with the ways people thought and acted in feudal Japan, a favorite example of mine. People were cautious in every act for the sake of avoiding any possible offense against another. Why did the bushi (samurai) move with such deliberation and utter care around each other? Because if one were to bump swords, for example, it COULD result in a duel to the death or a shaming that might lead to one committing seppuku. Today we tend to laugh at his, seeing it as impossibly uptight behavior. I disagree with that opinion entirely. Those people respected the individual far and away more than do we, today. There is no comparison. What feudal Japan partly shows us is the rigor with which one must live his life as he and his fellows approach freedom. Those people were clearly not free, but they stood in many ways far closer to it than do we.



    Originally Posted by osan

    Originally Posted by Occam's Banana
    Usually, this is not a problem.
    I must beg to differ. It is always a problem; a big one.

    Originally Posted by Occam's BananaNo it isn't. Any possible ethical system ("libertarian" or otherwise) will involve marginal "edge cases" that cannot be fully answered within the context of theory alone or upon the basis of mere defintions (no matter how much one tries to engineer one's theory or defintions in order to cover all the possible or conceivable bases).
    You keep asserting this, but I have pointed out the basis for it being the case. Unicorns. Dispense with the demand for unicorns and your "edge cases" vanish, as if by... unicorn.


    Originally Posted by Occam's BananaThere is a sort of "Gödelian Incompleteness" that applies to any and all non-trivial axiomatic systems - especially ethical ones. (This is not a fatal problem for anyone but arch-deductionists ...)
    Only when your base assumptions, which in turn drive the fundamental architecture of your system, are flawed. These attempts to defeat the fundamental fabric of our universe are doomed to failure, naturally, so in that sense you are on the money. Stop pissing upwind and you will no longer take golden showers. It is simple as that. But people will not do this because they want what they want, no matter how impossible it is to have it. This is primary insanity.


    Originally Posted by osan

    Originally Posted by Occam's Banana
    - such as local customary or traditional understandings of what is (or is not) "aggression."

    This is arbitrary, and thereby invalid.

    Originally Posted by Occam's Banana

    It is not arbitrary (nor random, nor the product of individual discretion, whim or caprice, nor etc.).

    It is contingent (i.e., not apodictiically deducible from first principles), but it cannot therefore be dismissed out of hand as unreasonable or "invalid."
    Rewind to 1990, just to pick a date. I carry a gun with no permit in AZ and it is a 3rd-class misdemeanor. Pay fine, go on merry way. Get on plane to NYC, carry gun without permit, class-A felony with mandatory year in state prison. In the latter place, carrying a gun w/out permission of the state could be very much seen as "aggression". Why else, I ask, would it be a felony in the same class as beating or even murdering someone?

    You were saying something about such things not being arbitrary? We could go on for weeks and months citing similar cases across this land.



    Originally Posted by osan
    I am not sure that this is true, but if we assume it, then the answer lies in plain sight before the world: free people are free to deal with their issues as they see fit. Many will complain that this would lead to chaos. I submit it would not precisely because people would, after an adjustment period that would stand to possibly be very violent, reassess their priorities and learn new ways of transacting with their fellows; ways that would abound in caution and overflow with smiles and good manners much as was commonplace in feudal Japan.

    Originally posted by Occam's Banana

    But if people actually did "reassess their priorities and learn new ways of transacting with their fellows; ways that would abound in caution and overflow with smiles and good manners much as was commonplace in feudal Japan," then they are not in fact "free to deal with their issues as they see fit"
    They most certainly are free, but that freedom carries the very risks of which I have made repeated mention. You are free to try to slap a randomly-chosen stranger on the street, even today in America. There are, however, risks such as your target beating your ass, or perhaps drawing a weapon and ventilating you in possibly terminal fashion. Then there is the risk of cops showing up, sooner or later, to arrest you and hand you over to a prosecutor for trial. That, in turn, carries the risk of prison time, as well as that as pass-around girl in the big-house. All that aside, you are indeed free to take your best shot. You CAN, even if you MAY NOT.

    The same goes in my world. There are many things you CAN do that in point of practical fact you may not. $#@!ing with people who have a strong sense of their sovereign claims, backed with the freedom to defend them with good effect is just a bad idea no matter how you slice that pie.

    It should be pointed out that with true and actual freedom, the differences between it and what we now enjoy rest not only in what is allowed and disallowed, but in who does the defending and how. I trust the individual over the "state" any day of the year, hands down.

    Originally Posted by Occam's Banana
    they are constrained by the very customary, traditional and cultural norms (such as those of feudal Japan) that earlier in the same post you told me were "arbitrary, and thereby invalid" as a means of deciding what behaviors are (unacceptably) "aggressive."
    Not necessarily so. Imagine the Muslim horde arriving in a free America. For a while, there would be their sharia nonsense imposed upon non-Muslims. That would rapidly evaporate, however, as those cowards were killed off in such numbers that those remaining would find improvements on their so-called "religion" such that they would learn to leave the rest alone. Then, given the actual sovereignty that such freedom imparts, you would see the women begin to defect from the ranks, the men having no real recourse, save brute assault. Warring against the peaceable people of America in either an attempt to impose their filth upon the rest, or to reclaim "their" women, would be met with insurmountable resistance, and once again they would be forced to reconsider their positions. More and more women would defect. Why? Because it is in human nature to want more freedom, rather than less, especially within a certain range of degree. The Muslim men would then be reduced to handjobs, pig-$#@!ing, and going gay... all of with which they appear to have no fundamental problems. They come to a new equilibrium, and the world continues until the next rise of stupidity imposes itself, only to be set straight.

    People want unicorns. They think if they put the right "system" in place, everybody will be sucking everybody else's dicks for all eternity.

    Not.

    Going.

    To.

    Happen.

    Originally Posted by Occam's Banana

    Why are they "arbitrary, and thereby invalid" when I invoke them as a means judging what is (or is not) "aggression" on the margin, but not so when you invoke them as a constraint upon what is to be considered acceptable behavior?
    You kind of lost me there.
    Last edited by osan; 07-28-2017 at 04:02 AM.
    Through lives and lives shalt thou pay, O' king.

    Freedom will be stolen from you in a heartbeat if you do not behave as a wild and ravening beast pursuant to its protection.

    "Government" is naught but a mental construct, a script to which people meekly accept and play out their assigned roles by those with no authority to dictate such.

    Pray for reset.

    BRING BACK THE BANANA! OF THIS MESSAGE I AM APPROVE.


  16. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Any possible ethical system ("libertarian" or otherwise) will involve marginal "edge cases" that cannot be fully answered within the context of theory alone or upon the basis of mere defintions (no matter how much one tries to engineer one's theory or defintions in order to cover all the possible or conceivable bases).
    You keep asserting this, but I have pointed out the basis for it being the case. Unicorns. Dispense with the demand for unicorns and your "edge cases" vanish, as if by... unicorn.
    I keep asserting it because it is fundamentally and inescapably true. To demonstrate otherwise, you have only to construct a complete and hermetically self-contained deductive system which provides unversally applicable razors that will for all times and places aprioristically decide every possible and conceivable question - such as the case of what are (or are not) "fighting words," what are (or are not) actionable threats, etc., etc. - and which will do so without making any references to anything exterior to the theory itself. All I can say is, "good luck with that" - mathematicians (the ultimate apriortistic deducers) can't even pull that kind of thing off, let alone ethical theorists ...

    Also, the biggest problem here is that you seem to imagine I am tallking about something (which you call "unicorns") that I am not talking about at all.

    The following is an excellent example of this:
    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Rewind to 1990, just to pick a date. I carry a gun with no permit in AZ and it is a 3rd-class misdemeanor. Pay fine, go on merry way. Get on plane to NYC, carry gun without permit, class-A felony with mandatory year in state prison. In the latter place, carrying a gun w/out permission of the state could be very much seen as "aggression". Why else, I ask, would it be a felony in the same class as beating or even murdering someone?
    What has any of this got to do with anything I have said?

    Under the definition of "aggression" in libertarian theory, the mere carrying of a gun is by itself clearly not an act of aggression and is just as clearly not a NAP violation (quite regardless of what any goddam state or statist says about it). This is NOT a marginal "edge case" and is thus completely irrelevant to anything I have yet said in this thread. My remarks thus far have been concerned solely with the sort of marginal cases conjured by the OP that commonly arise during discussions of libertarian theory - such as what are (or are not) "fighting words" or actionable verbal threats or utterances (what the OP referred to as "rhetoric").

    Different states do indeed do myriad and different things to people for different reasons (almost all of them unjustifiable and objectionable under the NAP) - such as restricting or punishing people for nothing more than merely carrying a gun, or for selling a good or service without the state's permission (or for the "wrong" price), or etc. etc. ad infinitum et nauseam. Those things (carrying a gun, etc.) are not "edge cases" - they clearly do not fall under the concept of "aggression" in libertarian theory, and the state's restrictions of and/or punishments for those things are not in any way justifiable under the NAP. As I said in a previous post, the NAP is quite easy to understand and useful to apply in the overwhelmingly vast majority of cases (such as that of statist "gun control" measures). But it is not with such clear cases that I am concerned here; it is solely with the (relatively quite rare) marginal cases and how they might adequately be addressed or resolved. (I have asserted that theory alone is not and cannot be sufficient for this particular purpose.)

    Further to this point, I have invoked the use of (non-arbitrary) customary, traditional and cultural understandings in a given time and/or place as a possible means of addressing at least some of those marginal cases that arise under libertarian theory. What I have said in this regard has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the (genuinely) arbitrary and ad hoc staturory "law" that is pulled by fiat from out of the asses of legislators. This latter phenomenon (as important and significant as it may be under present circumstances, along with many other things) is simply not the topic with which I am here specifically concerned, and as long as you conflate the two by criticizing the first on the basis of the second, we can do nothing but talk past one another.

    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    Why are they "arbitrary, and thereby invalid" when I invoke them as a means judging what is (or is not) "aggression" on the margin, but not so when you invoke them as a constraint upon what is to be considered acceptable behavior?
    You kind of lost me there.
    When I said that "local customary or traditional understandings of what is (or is not) 'aggression' [on the margin]" might be used to resolve some of the "edge cases" that arise under libertarian theory, you dismissed this as "arbitrary, and thereby invalid" (presumably because things like custom and tradition are contingent and assertoric, rather than apodictic). Then later in the same post, you invoked feudal Japan (and by necessary implication, its customs and traditions) as an illustration of an effective means of inducing people to "reassess their priorities and learn new ways of transacting with their fellows; ways that would abound in caution and overflow with smiles and good manners." You can't have it both ways - "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," after all, and if custom, tradition, culture, etc. can be an effective means for people to "reasses their priorities" and for influencing or determining thier "ways of transacting with their fellows," then ipso facto it must be that they can also be an effective means of resolving questions such as "what are (or are not) 'fighting words'?" or "what is (or is not) an actionable threat?" Indeed, the former and the latter are just different ways of saying essentially the same thing, and if you reject the one as "arbitrary, and thereby invalid" then you must also reject the other for the same reason ...
    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 07-28-2017 at 03:22 PM.

  17. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    I keep asserting it because it is fundamentally and inescapably true.
    I guess we will have to disagree on this point. I made my points. If you do not accept their truth, so be it.

    To demonstrate otherwise, you have only to construct a complete and hermetically self-contained deductive system which provides unversally applicable razors that will for all times and places aprioristically decide every possible and conceivable question - such as the case of what are (or are not) "fighting words," what are (or are not) actionable threats, etc., etc. - and which will do so without making any references to anything exterior to the theory itself. All I can say is, "good luck with that" - mathematicians (the ultimate apriortistic deducers) can't even pull that kind of thing off, let alone ethical theorists ...
    Your problem lies in your fundamental assumption that any of this matters. You are attempting to place artificial constraints on freedom because, apparently, you want something for nothing. True freedom doesn't work that way. Freedom is all about choices and the assumption of risk. It requires the right attitude, as well as smarts - two commodities that are currently in very short supply.

    Also, the biggest problem here is that you seem to imagine I am tallking about something (which you call "unicorns") that I am not talking about at all.
    Possible.

    What has any of this got to do with anything I have said?
    Unless I completely misread you, everything.

    You wrote:

    They must be decided upon some other basis - such as local customary or traditional understandings of what is (or is not) "aggression."
    Local, customary... ARBITRARY. I was addressing that point. Things differ between localities. What is legal in one is a felony in another, and indication of arbitrariness in one or both locales. This is perhaps a bit orthogonal, but you opened that door, so I addressed the point you made, that is all.


    This is NOT a marginal "edge case" and is thus completely irrelevant to anything I have yet said in this thread. My remarks thus far have been concerned solely with the sort of marginal cases conjured by the OP that commonly arise during discussions of libertarian theory - such as what are (or are not) "fighting words" or actionable verbal threats or utterances (what the OP referred to as "rhetoric").
    And I asked you to please provide an example so we could see whether we could find a non-arbitrary solution. I don't see one, but I'm a really $#@!ty reader so...


    Further to this point, I have invoked the use of (non-arbitrary) customary, traditional and cultural understandings in a given time and/or place as a possible means of addressing at least some of those marginal cases that arise under libertarian theory.
    Invoke all you wish. Show me non-arbitrary understandings, particularly in those grey-area cases you cite. Unless I am stricken with brain lesions and have gone Sam's Club insane, they are rare as lips on a chicken. In case you have not noticed, statute and policy are lousy with ignorant, imprecise, corrupt, avaricious, lazy inadequacy. It is the vast rule - nearly universal.

    and as long as you conflate the two by criticizing the first on the basis of the second, we can do nothing but talk past one another.
    I am decidedly not conflating anything. The point, as I mentioned before, was raised by you, however orthogonally... or I may have completely misread your intended meanings. Let us just chalk it up to my inadequacy, resulting in our talking past each other and let it rest since there appears to be no good reason to pursue it further.


    When I said that "local customary or traditional understandings of what is (or is not) 'aggression' [on the margin]" might be used to resolve some of the "edge cases" that arise under libertarian theory, you dismissed this as "arbitrary, and thereby invalid" (presumably because things like custom and tradition are contingent and assertoric, rather than apodictic).
    Close enough to truth.

    Then later in the same post, you invoked feudal Japan (and by necessary implication, its customs and traditions) as an illustration of an effective means of inducing people to "reassess their priorities and learn new ways of transacting with their fellows; ways that would abound in caution and overflow with smiles and good manners."
    Now it is you who are misreading me. Feudal Japan is a good example of how people who respect one another tend to pass through their daily lives. It is not perfect precisely because it was also contaminated with locally varying tyrannies of the more or less usual variety. But in many ways the bushi were far and away freer than are we - free in ways we are most definitely not. Barring specific orders by one's liege, samurai were basically free to adjudicate matters between individuals as they saw fit. That is far closer to true freedom than anything you or I will likely ever know in our lifetimes.

    That example did not address your central point of local standards of what constitutes aggression.


    You can't have it both ways - "sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," after all, and if custom, tradition, culture, etc. can be an effective means for people to "reasses their priorities" and for influencing or determining thier "ways of transacting with their fellows," then ipso facto it must be that they can also be an effective means of resolving questions such as "what are (or are not) 'fighting words'?" or "what is (or is not) an actionable threat?" Indeed, the former and the latter are just different ways of saying essentially the same thing, and if you reject the one as "arbitrary, and thereby invalid" then you must also reject the other for the same reason ...
    Being closer to freedom, they settled issues between individuals with comparatively little interference from "government". Note "comparative". There is no formal "model". Of course, it also validates YOUR point as well in a way... so perhaps we are both right, after a fashion.
    Through lives and lives shalt thou pay, O' king.

    Freedom will be stolen from you in a heartbeat if you do not behave as a wild and ravening beast pursuant to its protection.

    "Government" is naught but a mental construct, a script to which people meekly accept and play out their assigned roles by those with no authority to dictate such.

    Pray for reset.

    BRING BACK THE BANANA! OF THIS MESSAGE I AM APPROVE.


  18. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    I guess we will have to disagree on this point. I made my points. If you do not accept their truth, so be it.

    Your problem lies in your fundamental assumption that any of this matters. You are attempting to place artificial constraints on freedom because, apparently, you want something for nothing. True freedom doesn't work that way. Freedom is all about choices and the assumption of risk. It requires the right attitude, as well as smarts - two commodities that are currently in very short supply.
    Freedom is and always will be constrained. My acknowledgement of this fact has nothing to do with me "want[ing] something for nothing."

    Freedom is and always will be constrained by physical law. One is not free to fly to the moon by flapping one's arms.

    Freedom is and always will be constrained by local, traditional, customary and cultural understandings of what behaviors are (or are not) acceptable, It is to be hoped that those understandings will be compatible with libertarian theory (though of course they might not be), but be that as it may, one is not free to behave in any manner one pleases without (perhaps violent) response from one's fellows. "Freedom," libertarianism, and indeed, any and every other ethical "ism" of any kind must and will operate (if it becomes operative at all) within this context. Thus, it behooves the proponents of any such "ism" to recognize this fact and to account for it in their theories. (And this is entirely apart from the issue of any legislative "statute and policy" regime the likes with which we are presently saddled and vastly overburdened - and which far more often than not serves to inhibit and subvert, and ultimately seeks to replace, that which is local, traditional, customary, etc.)

    Also, this latter mode mode of constraint is not "artificial" in the sense of being somehow "fake" or false (though it is certainly "artificial" in the sense of having been produced by human action - but that is not the same thing). Indeed, in any genuinely "free" or libertarian society, the very "assumption of risk" about which you speak would exist, in large part, due to just such traditional, customary and cultural "facts on the local ground," so to speak.

    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Local, customary... ARBITRARY. I was addressing that point. Things differ between localities. [...]
    As Inigo Montoya says, "You keep using that word ..."

    "Local" and "customary" do not mean "arbitrary." Nor does the fact that something differs from one place to another make that something arbitrary. Seasonal temperatures differ between Helena, Montana and Miami, Florida - but the temperatures in neither place are "arbitrary." To be "arbitrary" means to be random or without cause, or to be decided by unaccountable whim or caprice. Local tradition, custom and culture are none of those things. They are contingent and not aprioristically demonstrable on the basis of first principles, but this does not make them "arbitrary" (or unreasonable, or invalid, or etc.). Some local or customary practices might be "unreasonable" or "invalid" by some particular standard (such as "freedom" or libertarianism), but not merely because they are "local" or "customary." In any given time and place, some of them may be more or less (in)compatible with "freedom" or libertarian theory or etc. - but that is a separate issue, and it does not make them "arbitrary."

    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Now it is you who are misreading me. Feudal Japan is a good example of how people who respect one another tend to pass through their daily lives. It is not perfect precisely because it was also contaminated with locally varying tyrannies of the more or less usual variety. But in many ways the bushi were far and away freer than are we - free in ways we are most definitely not. Barring specific orders by one's liege, samurai were basically free to adjudicate matters between individuals as they saw fit. That is far closer to true freedom than anything you or I will likely ever know in our lifetimes.
    I did not misread you. That is just what I understood to be your point. It was my point that things like "how people who respect one another tend to pass through their daily lives" is largely a matter of custom and culture (as it is also, and perhaps especially so, for people who do not respect one another) - or rather, it would be so whenever and wherever overweening statute makers are not running amok (such as would be the case in a genuinely libertarian society). Further to my point is that such things directly impinge upon how, in any time and place, questions such as "what is (or is not) actionably aggressive on the margin?" will be answered.

    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    That example did not address your central point of local standards of what constitutes aggression.
    See the previous paragraph, especially the final sentence. Also note that my central point concerns local standards of what constitutes aggression on the margin. The emphasized proviso is critical. Libertarian theory proffers a general definition of what constitutes aggression (and it does so quite independently of any given locality and its traditions, customs, culture, etc.). In the vast majority of cases, this will suffice - but as for any "ism," there will always be "edge cases" which are undecidable by theory alone. In these marginal cases (and only there), resort must be made to exterior mechanisms such as custom and culture. For example, what constitutes actionable "fighting words" in one time or place may differ incompatibly with what constitutes actionable "fighting words" in another time or place - yet both may be compatible with libertarian theory, which acknowledges the validity of the concept of "fighting words" as actionable instances of aggression, but which does not attempt to aprioristically specify (for all times and all places) exactly what must always (or must never) be considered "fighting words."

    Quote Originally Posted by osan View Post
    Being closer to freedom, they settled issues between individuals with comparatively little interference from "government". Note "comparative". There is no formal "model". Of course, it also validates YOUR point as well in a way... so perhaps we are both right, after a fashion.
    On this particular point, we are indeed both right - as I noted in a previous post, we are essentially just saying the same thing in different ways.
    Last edited by Occam's Banana; 08-02-2017 at 02:44 PM.

  19. #46
    Brian, please delete all posts in this thread after the funny Buzz Aldrin video.

    everything after is booooooooooring.

  20. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
    Freedom is and always will be constrained.
    Always will be? How do you know this?

    My acknowledgement of this fact has nothing to do with me "want[ing] something for nothing."
    But I think it does, because you are (at least implicitly) redefining "freedom". Perhaps it means something different to you than it does to me.

    Freedom is and always will be constrained by physical law. One is not free to fly to the moon by flapping one's arms.
    There is no comparison between the two senses of "freedom". Fundamental is the difference between physical constraint and that which is possible as a matter of human prerogative.

    Freedom is and always will be constrained by local, traditional, customary and cultural understandings of what behaviors are (or are not) acceptable, It is to be hoped that those understandings will be compatible with libertarian theory (though of course they might not be), but be that as it may, one is not free to behave in any manner one pleases without (perhaps violent) response from one's fellows.
    "Hoped"? Really?

    Not good enough. I would also point out that there is again a deep difference between individual reaction to behavior and that of the codified force of the "state".

    "Freedom," libertarianism, and indeed, any and every other ethical "ism" of any kind must and will operate (if it becomes operative at all) within this context. Thus, it behooves the proponents of any such "ism" to recognize this fact and to account for it in their theories. (And this is entirely apart from the issue of any legislative "statute and policy" regime the likes with which we are presently saddled and vastly overburdened - and which far more often than not serves to inhibit and subvert, and ultimately seeks to replace, that which is local, traditional, customary, etc.)
    You seem to be conflating or confusing the valid choices of the individual with the violative edicts of tyrants. It is one thing, for example, to be shunned by a so-called "community" ( or some subset thereof) for using mary-joo-wanna, and being dragged off the be deposited in a cage by men with guns for the same act.

    Also, this latter mode mode of constraint is not "artificial" in the sense of being somehow "fake" or false (though it is certainly "artificial" in the sense of having been produced by human action - but that is not the same thing). Indeed, in any genuinely "free" or libertarian society, the very "assumption of risk" about which you speak would exist, in large part, due to just such traditional, customary and cultural "facts on the local ground," so to speak.
    Different sense of "risk", I suspect, but even so there is once again the difference between valid human reaction to someone exercising rightful choices found by someone to be objectionable, and the invalid. For example, in a proper world a dick-headed Muslim might hate with grand passion that his "slut" sister is dating and behaving independently. It is his valid prerogative to be angry, offended, outraged, or whatever the customary emotions might be for the boorishly ignorant phags of that particular ilk. It is a very different thing, however, to take a machete and hack her to pieces on a downtown sidewalk in front of as many witnesses as possible in the spirit of the good old "honor killing" to prove to the world how abso-fukkin awesome you are.

    As Inigo Montoya says, "You keep using that word ..."
    And I do so correctly.

    "Local" and "customary" do not mean "arbitrary."
    Do not PERFORCE mean it, I agree - and I did not say nor did I imply so. My statements refer to that which observation of common reality yields. We could go through a great litany of examples and in very nearly 100% of the cases I could readily demonstrate the arbitrariness of the base values. Now, from a more sternly formal philosophical standpoint we can say all values are "arbitrary", but I would submit that this goes too far into the theoretical and quite wholly ignores real life. If we agree that in the final analysis that which theory serves best is its application to daily living in the real world, then all of a sudden we are well able to choose assumptions and from there derive principles that are, for all practical purposes, not very arbitrary at all.

    I would contend that libertarian principles are not arbitrary, save again for cases of the most obsessively stringent philosophical consideration. Human life - common human desires and/or proclivities is a good example. Without getting too nit-picky for the sake of not writing a 100K-page treatise on the object of this conversation, we can say that common to all men is the desire not to be violated in ways that include not being murdered, beaten, raped, robbed, and so forth. That right there already provides a strong common and practically universal basis for what is and is not acceptable behavior. The further assumption of equal endowment with, and the subsequent equal claims to life as a man's first-property adds to the basis for formulating such a universal standard of behavior. It does so in a manner that is very difficult, if not impossible, to successfully attack pursuant to the goal of invalidating it as such a standard.

    While most people may not be particularly interested in seeing some guy choking his chicken on the street corner, it can be strongly argued that they have no valid basis for physically interfering with him because even though the behavior is widely seen as objectionable, it cannot be objectively established to be criminal.

    Nor does the fact that something differs from one place to another make that something arbitrary.
    Once again, I did not say nor imply that this was the inherent case. But once again when we observe those around us, in the vast majority of cases we find that the various impositions and restrictions placed upon the individual are demonstrably arbitrary.

    Local tradition, custom and culture are none of those things. They are contingent and not aprioristically demonstrable on the basis of first principles, but this does not make them "arbitrary" (or unreasonable, or invalid, or etc.).
    In point of actual practice, it actually does. I'm still waiting for that example.

    Some local or customary practices might be "unreasonable" or "invalid" by some particular standard (such as "freedom" or libertarianism), but not merely because they are "local" or "customary." In any given time and place, some of them may be more or less (in)compatible with "freedom" or libertarian theory or etc. - but that is a separate issue, and it does not make them "arbitrary."
    We must be working from two wildly differing dictionaries because I find that such "unreasonable" and/or "invalid" restrictions are so in large measure precisely because they were arbitrarily yanked from someone's sphincter and cast into "law". I am wholly failing to grok your position on this point.

    I did not misread you. That is just what I understood to be your point. It was my point that things like "how people who respect one another tend to pass through their daily lives" is largely a matter of custom and culture (as it is also, and perhaps especially so, for people who do not respect one another) - or rather, it would be so whenever and wherever overweening statute makers are not running amok (such as would be the case in a genuinely libertarian society). Further to my point is that such things directly impinge upon how, in any time and place, questions such as "what is (or is not) actionably aggressive on the margin?" will be answered.
    Fair enough my pal, but again there is the issue of valid v. invalid restriction/response as it relates to any given act. Some Muslim community may not like women being independent of their "men". Does their tradition of stoning such women unto their deaths stand the acid test because it is almost universally agreed upon in that community?


    See the previous paragraph, especially the final sentence. Also note that my central point concerns local standards of what constitutes aggression on the margin.
    You keep using that word...

    I ask once again for a good example for vivisection.
    Through lives and lives shalt thou pay, O' king.

    Freedom will be stolen from you in a heartbeat if you do not behave as a wild and ravening beast pursuant to its protection.

    "Government" is naught but a mental construct, a script to which people meekly accept and play out their assigned roles by those with no authority to dictate such.

    Pray for reset.

    BRING BACK THE BANANA! OF THIS MESSAGE I AM APPROVE.


  21. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by osan
    In YOUR mind, perhaps in mine as well, it may be the case. If we take the NAP to Africa where pillage and rape and murder have been the fundaments of "tribal" culture for thousands of years, you might see something very different. I have read enough of the works of people such as Sir Richard Burton, who did rather exhaustive studies of those cultures to hold good confidence that a great plurality of black, sub-equatorial Africans would not look upon the NAP in the same ways we might. You assume too much in terms of uniformity of perception between nations.

    ...

    Rewind to 1990, just to pick a date. I carry a gun with no permit in AZ and it is a 3rd-class misdemeanor. Pay fine, go on merry way. Get on plane to NYC, carry gun without permit, class-A felony with mandatory year in state prison. In the latter place, carrying a gun w/out permission of the state could be very much seen as "aggression". Why else, I ask, would it be a felony in the same class as beating or even murdering someone?
    From the libertarian perspective, an act of aggression is an act which violate's someone's property rights. Property rights, in turn, are defined in a way which is objectively clear, without ambiguity. The only ambiguity in libertarian theory is what constitutes a threat of aggression, as opposed to the act of aggression itself. We all agree that acts which would otherwise be aggression (e.g. punching someone in the face) are justifiable when they are required to prevent an imminent act of aggression. The ambiguity is only in the meaning of "imminent." Between pointing a gun in your face (clearly an imminent threat) and owning a gun (clearly not), there is a large grey area.

    But, as @Occam's Banana explained, this isn't a "problem" unique to libertarianism. All ethical system are sets of rules governing human behavior. Since there is a practically infinite number of possible human behaviors, it is practically impossible to devise rules to cover every possible behavior. The NAP, along with the definitions of property rights underlying it, cover - say - 99.999% of cases. For the remainder, those cases in the grey area where it's unclear whether the action in question constitutes an sufficiently imminent threat of aggression to warrant a defensive reaction, we have in practice no choice but to rely on the good sense of jurors or judges. In every law code in the world, you will find language such as "reasonable" peppered throughout the definitions, which is code for "this cannot be worked out precisely in advance, so we leave it your good sense of the arbiters." Over time, these decisions can help flesh out previously vague areas; this is the common law. It is not "arbitrary" or a "failing," but rather a rationally selected procedure for reaching needed legal conclusions, when we arrive at the limit of what can be done in the armchair.

    They most certainly are free, but that freedom carries the very risks of which I have made repeated mention. You are free to try to slap a randomly-chosen stranger on the street, even today in America. There are, however, risks such as your target beating your ass, or perhaps drawing a weapon and ventilating you in possibly terminal fashion...

    ...Your problem lies in your fundamental assumption that any of this matters. You are attempting to place artificial constraints on freedom because, apparently, you want something for nothing. True freedom doesn't work that way. Freedom is all about choices and the assumption of risk. It requires the right attitude, as well as smarts - two commodities that are currently in very short supply.

    ...

    Feudal Japan is a good example of how people who respect one another tend to pass through their daily lives. It is not perfect precisely because it was also contaminated with locally varying tyrannies of the more or less usual variety. But in many ways the bushi were far and away freer than are we - free in ways we are most definitely not. Barring specific orders by one's liege, samurai were basically free to adjudicate matters between individuals as they saw fit. That is far closer to true freedom than anything you or I will likely ever know in our lifetimes.
    You're defining freedom as the ability to make choices and suffer the consequences thereof. If that's freedom, then every person who has ever lived in every time and place has been free: e.g. a person ordered to pay taxes is free to refuse and be locked in a cage. If you're attempting to describe reality, then you've given an accurate description (people are in fact able to make choices). If you're attempting to put forth an ethical proposition (everyone should be able to make choices), then it's rather nonsensical, since it's not actually possible to not make choices, and certainly has nothing to do with freedom in any remotely libertarian sense.



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