Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Thursday, July 5, 2018
When I argue I presuppose everything that argumentation requires me to presuppose. I might not articulate or consciously believe these propositions, and indeed I may deny them with my words, but I must act in a way that does not violate them. If I fail to act to make them true, I am no longer arguing; I am reciting, meditating, propagandizing, indoctrinating, coercing, fighting, or just engaging in some activity other than argumentation.
“The praxeological presuppositions of argumentation, then, i.e., what makes argumentation as a specific form of truth-seeking activity possible, are twofold: a) each person must be entitled to exclusive control or ownership of his physical body […] so as to be able to act independently of one another and come to a conclusion on his own, i.e., autonomously, and b), for the same reason of mutually independent standing and autonomy, both proponent and opponent must be entitled to their respective prior possessions, i.e., the exclusive control of all other, external means of action appropriated indirectly by them prior to and independent of one another and prior to the on-set of their argumentation.
“Any argument to the contrary: that either the proponent or the opponent is not entitled to the exclusive ownership of his body and all prior possessions cannot be defended without falling into a pragmatic or performative contradiction. For by engaging in argumentation, both proponent and opponent demonstrate that they seek a peaceful, conflict-free resolution to whatever disagreement gave rise to their arguments. Yet to deny one person the right to self-ownership and prior possessions is to deny his autonomy and his autonomous standing in a trial of arguments. It affirms instead dependency and conflict, i.e., heteronomy, rather than conflict-free and autonomously reached agreement and is thus contrary to the very purpose of argumentation.”
I am entitled to exclusive control of my body in the sense that it is common knowledge that no one else may control my body without my permission. If others could control me or were entitled to control me, this would count as duress.
Thursday, May 31, 2018
This article has an important insight about government, but I think it misses the mark by a bit. Governments use more centralization and hierarchy than markets, but they are forced to adapt to the limitation on scaling the article describes, they just do it in a different way. When we think of government as purely top-down we are oversimplifying quite a lot. Does Trump control the deep state? Formally, congress and the president are in charge. In reality, no one is in control.
And the same criticism described in the article applies to corporations and other organizations that use explicit hierarchy as part of their structure. Yet they seem able to work around this limitation somehow, at least well enough to make a profit and keep the stakeholders mostly satisfied.
I've been trying to articulate a related insight. We think of government as distinct from other organizations, as deserving to be treated as an exception, but what essential difference can we point to that distinguishes them? If they are just organizations not so different from others, why do we treat them differently?
Weber and Hoppe offer flawed definitions of the state. Weber speaks of a legitimate monopoly on force, but the reality is closer to a cartel than a monopoly. Other organizations use force in various ways without becoming "the state". How many people must stop accepting the legitimacy of the state's violence before it transforms into a criminal gang? Does it experience a phase change like ice melting into water?
Hoppe says that the state "must be able to insist that all conflicts among the inhabitants [...] be subject to his final review. In particular, this agent must be able to insist that all conflicts involving [the state] be adjudicated by him or his agent. And implied in the power to exclude all others from acting as ultimate judge, as the second defining characteristic of a state, is the agent’s power to tax: to unilaterally determine the price that justice seekers must pay for his services." I can insist on this (though no one will pay much attention to it), am I a state? More charitably, Hoppe must mean that the state can actually accomplish this. How many conflicts adjudicated by other means will it take to transform the state into something else? When a mugger takes my wallet, does he become a state? When a club raises its dues, people can resign, but when a government raises taxes people can emigrate. There is no such thing as an ultimate judge. Participants in a dispute continue until they themselves consider their dispute to have been resolved. If some third party seeks to force a resolution, this merely imposes new constraints on their means of either engaging in or resolving their conflict.
Maybe territory and jurisdiction give us a clue? Can we observe a state without a territory? But does that mean that ordinary property owners, renters, or any other category of possessor that can legitimately exclude others from a specific location qualify as states?
Whatever activity or attitude you point to, if I start imitating government no one thinks I have become a government. When a random organization engages in evil or stupid behavior, it will not change their character if we start calling them governments. If I exaggerate a bit, this reveals the state as an illusion (or perhaps just a flawed abstraction). On a more practical level, this encourages us to use terminology that hinders our insight and understanding.
If we had a powerful general theory of social organization, then theories about states, firms, clubs and other variants of human organizations would fall out of it as corollaries, subsets or applications. Government provides a special case of a general phenomenon, and if we did not emphasize the difference so strongly we might find ways to transfer insights from one context to the other. The problems that can corrupt governments can corrupt other organizations, and vice versa.
Monday, May 28, 2018
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Here is a discussion of authoritarian and libertarian rationality.
And a discussion of dogmatism.
And one on rationality that I can't quite describe but I like it. Here's part of the abstract:
"If the task of theoretical reason is to discover truth, or reasons for belief, then theoretical reason is impossible. Attempts to circumvent that by appeal to probabilities are self-defeating. If the task of practical reason is to discover what we ought to do or what actions are desirable or valuable, then practical reason is impossible. Appeals to the subjective ought or to subjective probabilities are self-defeating. Adapting Karl Popper, I argue that the task of theoretical reason is to obtain theories that we can agree to instate given that they appear to have greater explanatory merit than their rivals. I then argue that the task of practical reason is to decide which ought-propositions to act on."