Friday, April 13, 2012

On Free Will

This is an issue that confuses me quite a bit by defining a term and proving a conclusion with that definition of the term. This does not seem appropriate for logical and empirical reasoning. It seems as though that we all understand the concept of free will, but we all have different takes on what would prove and disprove the existence of the concept. This makes it quite difficult to argue about, especially in that if you agree to go by somebody's definition of free will, and their definition would logically conclude that free will by their definition does not exist, then you must also agree with them that free will does not exist. Where this gets tricky is that by finding yourself to their definition for arguments sake, it makes it much more difficult to challenge their definition at a later point.

An easy way around this is to challenge their implication about free will and how their conclusion necessarily implies the lack of free will or the free will. I personally am having much difficulty coming up with some kind of argument for or against free will as I am unsure what would be a proof or disproof of it.

It seems possible to me that this is a concept that doesn't exist in reality. I am currently unable as of now to make a strong enough argument in support of this, but I am quite open to the concept of free will being an unreal concept, and that it cannot be proven or disproved through physical tests. If you have a hypothesis that rocks fall down, there is a means to testing this hypothesis as it directly correlates with physical reality. It would make little sense to conceptualize and to attempt to prove that rocks fall down with any conceptual test. Only physical means are applicable for testing a physical theory, meaning that the way to test if rocks fall down is to drop a rock and see if falls down. If you have a theory about this field at mathematics, logic, philosophy, or economics, you do not test this theory through physical means. 2+2 equals four is not proven through physical means, but rather means that comply with unreal concepts. This is not to say that a mathematical proof cannot be demonstrated through physical means, such as schoolkids counting on their fingers, but rather that the act of counting the fingers is completely irrelevant to the proof of the concept.

What I am trying to say is that I am unsure that a physical proof would make sense in the area of free will. Most arguments in this area tend to rely on physical proofs, such as: I'm currently choosing to do some action, therefor I have free will; the deterministic viewpoint of everything being predictable and there only being one possible timeline.

I will write more on the subject later.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Abortion

This is an issue that is filled to the brim with arguments solely based in semantics. There are large issues in any discussion when the entire discussion is spent defining words, and arguing from those definitions. A common argument.

A fetus is just a sack of cells
Sacks of cells are fine to kill
A fetus is fine to kill

By such logic, it would also imply that anything else that could be considered a sack of cells is fine to kill, such as an adult human being. This is of course not the logical implication that many would approve of.

If a woman has a fetus and intends on delivering a baby, that if someone does something to kill the fetus against the woman's will, that the woman is entitled to take legal action for killing the fetus. If the woman did not intend on delivering the fetus, it is argued by pro-choice supporters that this is acceptable. The issue with such an argument is that it is really a claim that the mother's intention determines whether a fetus should have legal rights or not. This makes little sense as an intention cannot affect the property on an object.

To resolve this issue, it must first be argued that any abortion is really two acts. The fetus is aborted, and then it is killed. This is a key distinction because based on the eviction principle. The owner of a property has a right to  evict a trespasser, but not to kill. A land owner would have the right to evict someone who came on their property, but not a right to outright kill them. Similarly, it can be well established that a women is the owner of her womb, and because of this the woman has the right to evict the fetus. But the woman does not have the right to kill the fetus. It is likely that evicting the fetus, especially at an early term will result in the death of a fetus, but this death is not the result of murder, but instead the result of the fetus being unable to survive outside the womb at such a time.

This shouldn't be taken as an argument to let aborted fetuses always die naturally, but more just illustrating the concept. It is completely rational to kill the fetus, or put it out of its misery, if it can be confirmed by qualified personal that the fetus is going to die.

To resolve the issue of intention, a woman who intends on having a baby has made an agreement to homestead that baby. This is similar to homesteading a pet. If you homestead a pet, it must be required that you take care of it and ensure healthy living conditions. If someone abuses the pet, it is the homesteader who is able to take legal action on the pet's behalf. A woman who intends on having a baby must currently be homesteading the fetus.

This gets rid of the issue of a current situation being predicated on a future intention. Intention is difficult to show, but active homesteading is not. For example, it can be reasoned that someone who does not feed their pets for a week has no intention of taking care of their pets in the future. It someone kills one of the pets to put it out of their misery, the man cannot take legal action on behalf of the dead pet because it is obvious that the man was not homesteading the pet, and any future claims to homesteading the pet would be considered baseless. In a similar way, a woman who intends on having a baby must also be performing actions that provide care to the fetus, such as eating, refraining from alcohol and other drugs, avoiding dangerous situations, and so on. It could not be reasoned that a woman who continued to smoke twenty packs a day, drove drunk at any chance, and starved themselves to death, would be taking any sort of action to homestead the baby. Though that example is extreme, any action that is not taken that is required to take care of a fetus would be proof of not having the intention of homesteading the fetus in the future.

Though, the above paragraph might seem a little random, it solves the legal issues involved in this sort of matter. Intention to homestead and actively homesteading are two completely different issues.

In conclusion, a woman has a right to evict, but not to kill.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Response to Disagreement on Voluntary Society

“I disagree here. There is a contract between the people and their government in the form of laws.”

Could you expand upon this? Is the contract that in order to live here that you must agree to abide by the law? If you were to write such a contract in legal terms, what would it look like?

“More so, the people and the government are perpetually working the terms of this agreement, adding, taking away, and changing the rules that are agreed upon.”

Who are the people and what constitutes agreement between the people? How would negotiation necessarily imply any sort of contract or voluntarism? Those who make contracts negotiate, but not all  negotiation implies a valid contract. You are likely to negotiate with someone with a gun. You might come to an agreement that in exchange for all of your money, your life will be spared. This is of course isn't a valid contract as it lacks voluntarism. When the risk of retaliation is too great, negotiation is the next best method to prevent the most amount of inflicted force.

Participating in a representative democracy can just the same be a defensive action for the party who is affected negatively by a proposed law. A simple reductio ad  absurdum would to take into consideration a law that would tax 100% of group A's income and distribute it to group B. It would be difficult to argue that group A's participation in voting against the measure has any validity on the morality of the agreement. The situation is simply group B using an institution with a gun to take all of group A's money. Resisting the gun of the government can't go well for obvious reasons, therefore the only option of self defense is to participate in this process of voting against it. It must be rationalized that if group B demanded 1-99% of group A's income, that this wouldn't change the morality as force is still being used to achieve and end. It is not as though burglary becomes morally neutral or good when only a little is stolen.

Also realize it cannot be proposed that negotiating with the government provides validity to any agreement as there would be no rationally proposed action that invalidate it. Logically, if taking an action validates a process, then not taking an action must invalidate the process. With a representative democracy, this is not the case.

“Your example about the black and red suit is grossly misleading, as the government and the people would never agree to such a ludicrous idea, and in your example these rules are SIMPLY implied, nowhere are they written. All laws and regulations between the government and the people are written down, as well as their interpretations where necessary through the use of court cases.”

I believe you are misinterpreting my claim. To make myself clear, an implied contract has limited in that there is only very little can be conveyed through implication. It is certainly implied that when you are in someone's house, you follow their rules. But it does not follow that by being in their house that you have agreed to their rules until having been made aware of the rules and agreeing to them.

Implications also lack any ability of legal specificity. It can be implied that you are going to have to pay  for a service. It can not be implied that you are going to have to pay for a service in pesos instead of dollars.

It is difficult to respond to the rest as there are primarily just claims being made. It is difficult to respond to a claim that has nothing supporting it. This isn't to say that nothing could support it or that it wouldn't be impossible to figure out what evidence would support such and to refute such evidence, but this tends to never work out.
But to further my argument that the social contract cannot be considered voluntary, I will expand upon the video I posted as the logic might be a bit tough to understand the first time through.

In order for any theory to be considered valid, it must be internally consistent. This is well accepted in any scientific disincline. A theory proposing that all rocks fall downward except for these rocks cannot be considered a valid theory. A theory proposing that the price of a good can rise and fall simultaneously cannot be considered valid as it contradicts itself. A theory proposing that something is A and at the same time the opposite of B cannot be taken seriously. The same theoretical rigor must also be applied to moral rule. A theory cannot be argued that it is wrong for people to kill people, except for these people. A theory cannot be proposed that it is wrong for people to steal from other people, except this group of people can steal. A theory cannot be proposed that says the initiation of force is wrong, with these exceptions.

Continuing on with this idea, it must be reasoned that contract theory must be subjected to internal consistency. For example, it cannot be proposed that no contracts involving X can be made between these people, but contracts involving X can be made between these people. The claim self detonates because if the people who cannot make X contract are considered people, and the people who can make X contract are considered people, then there cannot be two contradictory outcomes. It is just like making a theory that these rocks obey gravity and these rocks do not.

If the theory of a social contract is valid, then it must be universally valid. The validity of the theory cannot depend on the institution involved because then it isn't a theory. It would be like having a theory that rape is universally immoral, except when done by balding men in their 50's. It can't be argued that it is immoral for institution to use a social contract, except for this one institution called government. To say otherwise would be arguing outside the bounds of reason and evidence as it is impossible to argue against what is not even a theory.

If an institution called Ford sent a letter to everyone in a particular neighborhood stating that they will be delivering a car to them whether they want it or not, that it will cost for it will be $30,000, and if they don't want to participate in the contract, that is fine, they just have to move to a different neighborhood, would anybody take such a contract seriously? Would any court even consider it a contract?

If an institution called the Government sent a letter to everyone in a particular neighborhood stating that they will be building new roads on your behalf, whether you want it or not, that it will cost you $500, and if they don't want to participate in the contract, that is fine, they just have to move to a different neighborhood, would anybody take such a contract seriously? If consistent logic were to be applied, such a contract would be just as valid as the one from Ford.

This is quite the tricky subject to discuss and think about because there is such a large cloud of fog of words to see through. The first step to seeing through the cloud is to ensure any theory is consistent and internally logical. Again, there can't be a theory that no institution can enforce a social contract, except the institution called government.

To go further, if the contract with Ford would not be considered voluntary, then neither could the contract with the government. The very fact that the contract with Ford wouldn't be enforced is a sign that there is in-voluntarism involved, which necessary implies force. Through this logic, the relationship between government and person must be considered involuntary, therefore there is force involved, therefore it is immoral as force is immoral.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Do We Live In a Voluntary Society?

To answer the question above, what a voluntary society is must be defined. Voluntarism is the lack of force. Voluntary actions are the opposite of forceful actions. It is why the terms consensual rape and voluntary taxation lack a place in a rational reality. Though this seems obvious it is important to realize that what distinguished forceful actions from voluntary ones is the concept of property rights.

It must first be established that a person owns themselves. Though this is seen to be self evident among most people, it can be argued to be so because that person has a monopoly of control over their body. A person can be defined as the part of the brain that causes them to act. This necessarily means that since the person is in control of their actions, that they own their actions. If John punches Jim in the face, only John is responsible for his fist going into John's cranium because John was the only one in control of his fist at the moment.

It must of course be realized that someone who has mental or physical disorders can often be said to not own their actions. A person with epilepsy does not have control of their body, and therefore cannot claim ownership  for their actions during a seizure. The same is true of those with Tourette syndrome and other other debilitating conditions. These people have no choice and no ability to prevent their bodies from not being afflicted. A person cannot choose not to have a seizure, while a person can choose whether or not his fist goes into someone's skull.

If one own's their body and their actions, what does this mean exactly? To answer this, the term ownership must be dissected. One cannot be said to own someone if they do not have the ability to act on it. It cannot be said that someone owns $1,000 if they do not have the ability to use it. To go further, in order to own something, a person must be able to prevent others from acting on it. It cannot be said that you own $1,000 if you don't have to ability of preventing other people from using that $1,000. This puts strong logic behind the common reasoning that it is wrong to initiate violence, but it is completely acceptable to retaliate against violence with violence as this is simply the act of maintaining property.

If someone uses another person's body without their permission (rape), this violates that person's right to prevent other people from using their property. Love making does not violate the principals of ownership as both parties agree to let the other use their property.

If one own's their body and their actions, then they must own their words. It is reasoned that if someone owns their body, says that they will hug you, you have reason to believe the person will hug you because they own their body, their actions, and their word. This of course seems like common sense, but it is important to understand the concept of contracts. It also establishes why threat of force can be considered force. If a mugger threatens to break your legs if don't give them your money, this is seen as an act of aggression because the mugger owns their words and their body.

Now to answer the question about living in a voluntary society. Does a government act on property that they do not own? The answer to that is a definite yes. A simple example are laws against suicide. If a person owns their body, then they must have the ability to take their own life. A law against suicide is a threat to use force as it cannot be reasoned that the government owns a person's body. The case can of course be expanded to any activity that solely affects the individual, such as drug use.

There is obviously no formal contract made between the government and the people. It can't be argued that an implied contract exists as the government will threaten to act on property they do not own. Even then, to claim that there was an implied contract to obey all current and future laws isn't logical as such complex contracts cannot simply be implied. Imagine a lawsuit in which the prosecutor claimed that defendant broke an implied contract in which they were required to wear a black and red suit every Tuesday in order to receive compensation. The judge could only rule that there would be no way for such a contract to be implied.
Take any law and try to argue to a friend that this was an implied contract between you and the government. Even better, take a portion of the Federal Register and don't only argue that it is implied that you agree to such a contract for living on property that the government doesn't own and then read off what they implicitly agreed to.

What about the idea of a social contract. Stefan Molyneux does a great job of addressing this idea.

To answer the question posed by the title, no, we do not live in a voluntary society because there is an institution that is threatens to act on property they do not own. This is why it is said that a government has a monopoly of force over a specific area.

I might be trying to fit too much into too small of an area here, but I welcome feedback, especially on the areas that aren't effective.