Friday, November 12

The Philosophy Of Liberty for Dummies

Well not only for dummies!

This is the most direct and concise explanation of the basic philosophy of liberty I have ever seen.

If you sometimes wonder where I am coming from, this all you need to understand the principles I hold dear.

This plainly illustrates why I rant against Marxists statists, fascists, fundamentalists, or any other "ists" for that matter.

How I can be for the legalization of drugs, but also against gun control laws, why I am for freedom of religion but against religion based morality laws, such as the numerous "Defense of Marriage" laws being proposed.

I am neither on the right or left of issues, but stand firmly in the middle the pro-liberty side of all issues.

To most people I do not fit into a neat little box, that is until you understand what liberty is, then the box becomes very apparent.

This is about 5 minutes long, and requires Flash to be installed on your computer, If you do not have Flash installed, this is a great reason to do so.

I hope you enjoy it, but more importantly understand it and practice it in your day to day life.

The Philosophy Of Liberty

Enjoy the weekend all.


Blogger Kathryn said...

Just watched it and am formulating a response. It did not convince me to become a Libertarian, despite the excellent graphic representations of my life and work product :)

2:18 PM, November 18, 2004  
Blogger Kathryn said...

It's an interesting animation, but ultimately futile as it rests on the assumption that people will act in their own rational self interest, to the exclusion of all other interests, given the chance. It's not true, it never was true, and it never will be true. This is why I am not a Libertarian, though I am a "civil libertarian."

Putting radical free-market Libertarianism into practice requires the willful ignorance of millions of years of human evolution which has resulted in a human mind which does not choose actions based on rational self-interest.

It also requires willful ignorance of the interconnectedness of all human labor. In what sense is my work solely my own when it depends for its execution on the work of countless other humans living and dead who are not in a position to grant their consent. This great body of shared work is the Commons, and we all depend on it every day for our continued existence. I don't advocate the assumption of all work product into the Commons (that's Communism). But I also don't advocate the denial that the Commons does exist and sustains us all (that's Libertarianism).

Finally, I wonder if the context in which this animation exists factors in to your opinion of it. I took a look at the other material posted and linked on and it was pretty disturbing, especially the tirades against women. Have you looked at the rest of the site? I'm curious to know how you came across the animation in the first place.

10:36 AM, November 22, 2004  
Blogger Living_on_the_Edge said...

That wasn't my intent.

My intent was to show that your property is the result of your liberty, and that your property is a direct result of your life and too get you thinking about the implications of that.

Nothing more, nothing less

Take care!

10:39 AM, November 22, 2004  
Blogger Living_on_the_Edge said...

Now come on that was a low blow, you already know me better than that or should!

The reason I linked to it there is simple, this was the highest resolution version of this animation I have found.

That said;

I have a couple of questions, if you do not believe that people are capable of acting in for their “rational self interest” in regards to economic issues, then how can they operate in their “rational self interest” in the civil arena?

If this is the case, could that not be used by anyone opposed to homosexuality to determine that it is bad for a person and therefore is outlawed? You bet it could.

You cannot have it both ways, either people possess the ability to operate in their own " rational self interest” both personally and economically or they do not.

Yes I agree that we are all are all inter-connected, but also that this interconnection is both economic and social. So if you want to use this as an argument for reducing economic liberty, it can also be used as an excuse to reducing civil liberties.

The argument is simple, should your property be taken by anyone to be used to support positions you are opposed to? I believe the answer is NO!

From your argument, could it be said that you find no problem in society taking money from the Fundamentalist Christians to pay for someone’s "reproductive rights" but you would oppose them taking from you to promote their anti-abortion agenda? Well I know this is not how you feel, but it is what you are promoting with your words.

Does it all just come down to mob rule and you just do not like the current mob?

I don’t believe that you are someone that thinks this way, but you cannot have it work both ways, your rights cannot trump anyone else’s rights unless you are willing for yours to be trumped the next time the political wind shifts direction,

Also, who then is to be the arbitrator of all that is good, kind and gentle?

This clearly shows why I am an absolutist on issues of rights, because if you allow one group to subvert the rights of another group, at some time the tides will turn.

So let's just let everyone freely fund what they want so long as not one is directly harmed, and never let anyone take your property and by extension your rights, for their own goals, no matter how noble they seem.

Also could you please show me anyplace in libertarian philosophy where the idea of the Commons is denied?

There is however “The Problem of the Commons” that has been talked about for at least 200 years and probably longer.

If you are not familiar with this paradox, it is explained at;

Take care, and good talking to you again.

12:06 PM, November 22, 2004  
Blogger Kathryn said...

I wasn't trying to imply that you agree with the other stuff on the site you link to, only asking if you were aware of it, and what you thought about it.

People are capable of acting based on rational self-interest, they just don't. There is a scientific explanation for this based on evolutionary biology. The most recent treatment I've seen of it is in Michael Shermer's book The Science of Good and Evil.

I'm not sure what you mean here:
If this is the case, could that not be used by anyone opposed to homosexuality to determine that it is bad for a person and therefore is outlawed? You bet it could.Arguably, it is in the rational self-interest of straight people to ban homosexuality and increase the available gene pool. However, I, as a straight person, don't want to ban it, and am therefor operating in opposition to my rational self-interest. This is why I say I am a "civil libertarian" with a small "l". That is different than being a civil or economic Libertarian with a big "L". It's about understanding that your personal, rational self-interest (and your right to pursue it) is sometimes in conflict with the liberties and rights of other individuals, and is also sometimes bad for society as a whole. Big "L" Libertarianism only works if you live by yourself on a mountain top for this very reason. It's also why people choose to subvert their own rights all the time, to no detriment to their own situation, and to the greater good of everyone in the long run.

The property argument is terribly complicated, and I have yet to hear a good explanation of what exactly constitutes my property. I know what this means on a very simplistic, gut instinct kind of level, but further thought on the subject always leads me into a morass. My reference to the commons was meant to refer not to the actual, physical commons (which I guess would be National Parks, and federally owned open grazing land?). Instead, I was referring to human knowledge and the intangible fruits of human endeavors. You can't really speak of that in terms of overuse and devaluation, since my use of it doesn't materially affect someone else's use of it. (It may someday, follow the logic behind DRM to its absurd end, and you'll see what I mean.)

The idea of letting everyone freely fund what they want only works if everyone starts out with the same amount of resources, or at least very similar amounts. If that is the case, then there is an incentive for everyone to contribute, because they won't survive otherwise. This was the case among early humans, it's the case among many animals, and it's the foundation of social grouping (tribes, flocks, packs, etc.). If society instead consists of a few Bill Gates types who control most of the resources, a few more people in the middle (the eponymous middle class), and a huge number of people on the bottom, the poor have an incentive to contribute, becuase it will benefit them, the middle class and rich do not. Thus stratification is maintained. I'd be willing to give Libertarianism a go if I had a magic wand that would level the playing field before its implementation. I don't see how we get from where we are to a Libertarian society because the feared oligarchy is already in place. And if we assume rational actors, why would any memeber of the oligarchy be a philanthropist? It's certainly not in their self-interest.

4:04 PM, November 22, 2004  
Blogger Kathryn said...

Oh, and good to talk to you again, as well :)

4:06 PM, November 22, 2004  
Blogger Living_on_the_Edge said...

Well to put it a simply as possible, if people cannot be trusted to act in their “rational self interest" economically speaking, then why should I trust them with my/their civil rights?

As for what is your personal property, it is what you have legally aquired via our life. It doesn't get any simplier than that.

Your assertion that "Libertarianism only works if you live by yourself on a mountain top" is patently wrong. Read your history, this country operated under a free market system for over 100 years.

What killed it was the national central banking system. The wealthy, bankers where put in charge of the money, and guess what happened then?

We got the so-called robber barons made up of family and friends of the bankers? Isn't that suprising?

I guess it all comes down to this.

If they are too ignorant/lazy/stupid to make rational economic decisions then how can they be expected to not exhibit the same behavour in social issue?

8:09 AM, November 23, 2004  
Blogger Kathryn said...

It's not that people are too lazy, ignorant, or stupid. I really don't believe that they are. You are confusing my assertion that people don't act in their rational self-interest all the time with an assertion that people are stupid. In fact, I am asserting the opposite: people don't act in their immediate personal self-interest because they are smart enough to the see the long term benefits to not doing that.

You say that property is, "what you have legally aquired via our life." That is a statement that you really need to unpack. Convince me if you can, but it's going to take a much more detailed explanation than that.

As for this country operating under a free market system, well that depends on your definition. Some people would say that what we have now is a free market. Obviously you wouldn't. Some people would say that a true free market has never, ever existed anywhere. Obviously you would not. Please define what, exactly, a free market is in your estimation.

Libertarianism is fine in theory, but in implementation is runs counter to human nature. Not human nature in the fuzzy, theocratic sense of "everyone is evil, and must be saved." I mean human nature in the concrete physiological sense established by psychologists and biologists.

10:15 AM, November 23, 2004  
Blogger Living_on_the_Edge said...

OK I think we need to step back and get a few agreed upon definitions before we can go any further.

First what is your definition of "rational self-interest"?

What is your idea of a free market?

Once we've got this, we can go on, until then I fear we are just whipping a dead chicken. lol

I also want to know what you think, and couldn't care less what "some people" say, I am only going to ficus on what you say, so take a stand on your beliefs.


11:16 AM, November 23, 2004  
Blogger Living_on_the_Edge said...

As for a detailed explaination on your property, it is not a complex idea that requires reams to explain. It is those things you have obtained through the efforts of your life, or that have been given to you.

What are you not understanding about that?

Let me know and I'll work on it from there.

11:19 AM, November 23, 2004  
Blogger Living_on_the_Edge said...

You also seem to be holding science up as a kind of religion, this is a big mistake.

Blindly following science is even worse than blindly following religion, where as most religions have at least a base morality, science is amoral by it's very nature.

Science is also just as faith driven as any religion. Things that science took as fact last year are often replaced by a new theory this year. This is especially the case in human cognitive sciences.

1:11 PM, November 23, 2004  
Blogger Kathryn said...

Boy howdy, where to begin.

Well, science first, I guess. I was disappointed to see you use the argument that science is just religion for the secular and also the claim that science is suspect becuase it is constantly changing. These arguments, other than being false, are also tainted by its association with Creationism. My use of science follows from my study of science, and my thought about science, not just blind quoting from scientific books. There are many well established scientific theories, and I use the term theory here in the scientific sense, not the colloquial sense. There are often amended, but rarely are they overthrown. This is becuase scientists develop theories to fit facts, not facts to fit theories as is the case in most religions.

I want you to unpack your definition of property. We often did this as an exercise in college, and I still think it's a useful tool. Examine your definition, and the origins and ramifications of that definition. This shows you the cultural and political context surrounding the term. It allows you to see that definitions are products, and are fluid, not natural edifices, immutable and inevitable. I think I have pointed out some of the ways that your defintion of property is problematic above.

As for "free market", I'm pretty sure that there really isn't a standard, widely recognized definition. We are talking at cross purposes here, mostly because you seem to have a definition you are operating from, and I am looking at the different ways it's used. That's why I used the example of "some people". I wanted to make it clear that I am not priviliging one of those definitions, becuase I think they all have their place in our discussion. We could agree to talk only about what your definition is, if you like.

Finally, rational self-interest. I am trying to use it in a sense which most closely approaches the way you use it. I think that what you mean by it is a decision made based on a rational evaluation of the benefit/value which will accrue to you from a certain action. This definition also includes a level of immediacy between the decision and the accrual. My argument is that people, by their very nature, do not act this way. Often they decide based on whim, or on potential, but not definite, rewards. Some decisions are made which do not benefit the decision maker directly at all. My contention is not only that this is the reality, but that it isn't a bad thing. I believe that it's an evolutionary adaptation which has allowed the human race to survive. Imagine if parents were genetically predisposed to put their own lives before their childrens' (or that they overcame their predisposition to put their children first). Humanity would have died out in its infancy.

None of this is intended to be snippy, but I do feel a bit like we are chasing each other in circles.

9:51 PM, November 23, 2004  
Blogger Living_on_the_Edge said...

For Kathryn,

I am off to start the T-Day feast for myself and about 30 others, then spend a few days snow boarding, so I will have too finish my reply to your last comment when I return in a few days.

Hope you have a wonderful T-Day!

P.S. I also hope you have as thick a skin as I think you do. lol

Yes indeed, where to begin?

I do not ask rhetorical questions often, so when you see a question, I would love an answer.

I ask questions to further understand a point, so answering one question with another, serves no purpose. And please be prepared to back up any assursions that one thing or another is false. You can expect the same from me.

You stated that, “These arguments, other than being false, are also tainted by its association with Creationism”,

Hmmm, fundamentalists scare me, the free market scares me, so free marketers must equal creationist fundamentalists, is that the equation your using when talking with me?

Why does it seem that you keep trying to link me to the fundamentalists for my economic views?

Are you trying to “tainted by association” me and free market/individual economic liberty by tying us to fundamentalist Christians?

Well I’ve never met a fundamentalists that supports truly free markets, because free markets promote sin in their minds.

It is their wish to control people and can you think of a better way to control someone then be controlling their economic freedom?

I have no such wish. I want people to live anyway they see as best for themselves as long as they live peaceably with others.

Back to your “tainted by association” comment, which I find intellectually bankrupt;

Do you enjoy using our highway system in this country?

Do you know where Eisenhower got the idea for the Federal Highway system?

It was the Autobahn, built by Nazis, at the command of Adolph Hitler. So can it be said that our national highway system is “tainted by association” to Nazism?

The US labor unions where a direct outgrowth of the Marxist movement in Europe. Are labor unions “tainted by association” to communism?

If Usama Bin Laden believes that the world is round and so do you, are you and any further ideas you express now “tainted by association” to Bin Laden?

This idea of “tainted by association” I find repugnant and akin to guilt by association, which I would never have thought you would use, since first it is a cop out in polite debate and since you have stated that we are all interconnected and if we are so then by extension is not everyone “tainted by association”?

What I said in regarding science as religion is true, and cite something if you are going to say it is false.

How is it false?

Science and Technology IS the modern religion, whether or not you will admit it is unimportant.

Let me give you an example or two.

All you have to do is look around you at the world, and you can find many people blindly follow science, just as you find many blindly follow religion.

Science and Technology has become the religion of modern man, and the early trend towards this was recognized as far back as the mid 1800’s.

Where primitive people prayed to the Gods for solutions to all problems, we look to and expect science and technology to erase them, forgetting that the solutions can create unforeseen negative repercussions.

Would you like me to provide examples?

Have you ever read Frankenstein?

Mary Shelley was not writing a horror story, but an allogorical essay on what the Industrial Revolution had become.

Also scientific theories are just that theories.

They are not fact until proven via strict adherence to scientific method. Any good scientist will tell you that, and until TOTALLY proven they are not scientific fact but more rightly opinion.

Hell almost 60 years after Einstein died some of his theories have yet to be proven fact, but many in the general public take them as such.

Any honest doctor or scientist will tell you that there is more they do not know about things, then there are truly scientifically proven facts.

Would you like a few everyday examples of facts that have been proved wrong?

How about butter is bad, margarine is better. I grew up hearing this one, butter is horrid for your cholesterol, and you should be using margarine instead.

This was toted as scientific fact, not theory, well over for 20 years. Then about a year or so ago they come to find that in fact margarine and the hydrogenated oils it contains are horrible for you, and now the new fact is margarine bad, butter better.

Then there is the problem of the Sphinx.

Years ago in elementary school we were taught that the Sphinx was 3500 years old, end of story.

A few years later in High School new facts showed it to be about 5000 years old.

Just recently it has been determined that it is in fact over 10.000 years old.

In a few years the fact could very well be that the Sphinx is 20,000 years old. So these cannot all be fact. All it proves is that these are all theories.

Those are just a few examples, would you care for more examples I would be happy to provide them as I wouldn't have to break a sweat to give you more of them.

1:51 PM, November 24, 2004  
Blogger Kathryn said...

If you use a line of reasoning which is most often espoused by a certain group to secure their own ends, then you better acknowledge that, and explain why your use of that argument does not fail in the same way theirs does. That is why I said, and still believe, that your argument about science, scientific theories, and relgion is tainted and false. Any good scientist will tell you that scientific facts are discovered through observation and that scientific theories are developed to explain the facts. Theories are not part of a continuum which is bounded on one end by falsehood and on the other by truth. That is the colloquial understanding of theory, which you'll notice I specifically disclaimed.

I am not afraid of free markets or of fundamentalism, because fearing ideas is silly, and is a major cause of strife in the world. Ideas exist, and we should think about them and discuss them to try to better understand their strengths and weaknesses; fearing them gets us nowhere. I am, however, afraid of some of the people who espouse the most radical forms of these ideologies becuase they will stop at nothing to impose their views on the rest of the world.

As for your examples of taint by association, I think they are weak. No, our national highway system is not any more tainted by association with Hitler than the Autobahn itself. Why? Becuase a national highway system is not the direct end-result of the Nazi party. I must say, I am surprised that you enjoy the national highway system, as it could only have arisen through the curtailing of the free market and massive government spending. Labor unions do have a much closer relationship to Marxist thought than highways do to Nazism. So, if you think of Marx as the econimic equivalent of Hitler, then, yes, labor unions may suffer some taint. But this would again be the fear of ideas, which leads us down the dark path to ignorance. We understand labor unions in the context of economic thought which does not only include Marx. And we understand that the reading of Marx's work does not lead inevitably to Soviet Russia. On the other hand, the idea that science is religion redux, is the direct result of the faulty reasoning which leads people to believe in a divinely created 6,000 year old Earth. Please be willing to address that causal connection in a civil and intellectually honest way, if you are going to make the argument that science is no more than another religion.

I have read Frankestein, and yes, it is allegorical. Does that mean, then, that all the fruits of sicence and technology must be as abhorrent to us as Frankestein's monster? It does not. Shelley's book invites us to examine the costs of technology and science, not to engage in its wholesale condemnation. The evils must be seen as corallaries of good, and the goal is to maximize good while minimizing evil. To eradicate the evil of the industrial revolution would mean the eradication of industry itself. Well, I like my antibiotics, and my water treatment systems, and my computer, and my off the rack clothes. These things depend upon industry, its good and bad sides, for their development. This is a complex situation, which I know can drive the human mind spiralling out of control in search of black and white answers. Resist that loss of control.

Finally, I want to address your other examples of science gone bad: butter and the Sphinx. I remember, and I may be younger than you, that there has always been a debate in the medical community over the issue of butter vs. margarine. Even today, it is a trade off since there are harmful substances in both. As for the Sphinx, I must have missed the battle over its age, in fact I don't really remember discussing it at all in school. I accept for the sake of argument that what you state about the changing conception of its age is true. Both of the examples you give are notable for that fact that neither constitutes a scientific theory. Both are scientific observations from which theories are constructed. If you had made the point that the discoveries about butter had changed the way human bodies metabolize different substances you'd have more of a point. Or if the changing age of the Sphinx had changed the way stone erodes.

You said you could find more examples like these without breaking a sweat, and I am sure that you could. The effort would be futile however, because they are not examples of what you think, or want, them to be examples of.

3:05 PM, November 27, 2004  
Blogger Living_on_the_Edge said...

Boy, Kathryn is you smart or what?

It seems you found me out!

Yes, I am in fact Dr Jerry Falwell and I am trying to poison your mind into accepting Jesus as your personal savior and get you as a dues paying member of the Religious Right!

Now send all your freaking money! I will take cars, checks and credit cards also, if if you have any of these, send them along too!

I bow down to my new Over Lord from the Great State of Texas!


Going back to the “tainted by association”, to taint anything by association smacks of McCarthyism, and is an intellectually invalid construct.

Arguing the established facts is the only valid form of debate. To do otherwise is just sloth and used as a poison pill by those that cannot find a truly valid argument to support their position.

The main point here is that science is not infallible, and has become a de facto religion to many people.

I have not said that it should be taken as religion, or that all science is bad science, but that this occurs, plan and simple, and you have offered up nothing that refutes this assertion.

Look at the banner for this blog.

What did I say there?

We must question everything, and I do including science, so it that makes me a fundamentalist by association in your mind then I guess I AM a fundamentalist in YOUR MIND, as we all create our own realities to a greater or lesser extent.

Personally, I have no faith in anything I cannot verify myself, so I would not make a very good member of any flock, but again believe what you want wish.

To wrap this up it seems once again, you have not answered the questions regarding basic definitions.

It seems you would rather be fighting to make your point rather than for it to be understood, so I guess it would be futile to continue this conversation any further, as it appears it is going nowhere, and I have more productive things I could be doing.

Take care

12:18 PM, November 29, 2004  

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