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Absolute Political Freedom

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The paper, “A Political Standard for Absolute Political Freedom,” The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 11, no. 1 (Issue 21, July 2011): 45–62, has been made available as a pdf download at the below link:

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

Please use this thread for questions or comments.

If you know of others who may be interested, please send the link to them.

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I'll bring over some earlier remarks on the paper.

. . .

“A Standard for Absolute Freedom” in JARS 11(1):45–62 . . . . is some serious thinking about Rand’s philosophy, a perspective on Objectivist ethical and political philosophy that is stimulating for thinking about the logical relations between them. This work is not an extension of Rand’s theory, I would say. It is a somewhat different and worthwhile piecing together of major elements of Rand’s theory. In that respect, it reminds me of Peter Saint-Andre’s “A Philosophy for Living on Earth”* and Ronald Merrill’s “Axioms: The Eight-Fold Way.”*

The Abstract for Bob’s paper says:

This paper derives political freedoms from the ethics of egoism, demonstrates the equivalence of absolute political freedom and Liberty, and advocates absolute political freedom as a moral ideal. Protection of voluntary consent along an individual’s entire politically legitimate valuing chain provides a standard for identifying political freedoms. Actions meeting the standard are political freedoms. Actions violating the standard are violations of political freedom. As a political standard, protection of voluntary consent is presented as superior to either the non-initiation of force or the non-aggression axiom.

I’ll only be remarking on what pops out at me on a first read. There is much else—very possibly of great interest to readers here—that will have to go unmentioned in this quick open note to Bob.

I’ll jump into the stream near the beginning of the paper. You write that self-responsibility, respect, and benevolence are encouraged when, as Rand claims,“both parties hold as their moral absolute that neither exists for the sake of the other.” That self-responsibility and mutual respect are implicated and encouraged under that condition of Rand’s is plain. That benevolence is implicated or encouraged by that condition is not plain. A reference to David Kelley’s Unrugged Individualism would have been natural at this paragraph (p. 46). Tara Smith’s discussion of kindness in Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics is also to your point.

I do not see your paper as substantively at odds with Rand, nor an extension beyond her view, but as a different organization and emphasis. You started at a partial view of the center of her approach to egoism and rights in your quote above, from Galt’s speech. Your further development in the essay has egoism as logical center, and that is a somewhat different choice of center. In Galt’s speech, Rand also writes:

Do you ask what moral obligation I owe to my fellow man? None—except the obligation I owe to myself, to material objects and to all existence: rationality. I deal with men as my nature and theirs demands: by means of reason. . . . It is only with their mind that I can deal and only for my own self-interest, when they see that my interest coincides with theirs. . . . The only value men can offer me is the work of their mind. (AS 1022–23)

Any rendition of distinctively Objectivist fundamental political philosophy should include Rand’s idea that the life and life-giving rationality of each individual end-in-himself is the fundamental good to be protected by law. She continues from the preceding quote with the argument that force is inimical to rationality, that no one has a right to initiate the use of force, and that every individual has an enforceable right not to be subject to an initiation of force. That rightness of individual life and individual rationality is the ground of a right against initiation of force is the distinctively Objectivist type of individual-rights-based, limited-government libertarianism.*

You write that “a political context involves situations where the parties are unable or unwilling to voluntarily resolve their conflict” (46). That would be widely accepted among political thinkers. However, most today see that as only one of the principal situations behind the political context. They would disagree with your further thesis that “the role of political philosophy is to derive the fundamental principles and the required institutions to properly resolve such conflict” (46). That uniqueness of role needs to be argued for. Rand had an argument for it. Her argument here needs to be assessed, fortified, or reformed; the opposition should be addressed, at least by citations to works of others attempting to address that opposition.

I think you are mistaken, and somewhat askew with Rand, by supposing egoism the prime timber supporting individual rights. That every individual is an end in himself; that rationality is an individual and volitional function for every life; and that force is anti-mind and anti-life: it is from those a distinctively Randian support for individual rights needs to be argued. In Rand’s system, that every individual is a volitionally rational end in himself (because individual life is an end in itself) yields on the one hand Rand’s form of rational egoism. It yields on the other hand Rand’s conception of individual rights. Randian egoism and Randian rights are two branches from a common main.

The remainder of your paper, from page 48 forward, supplies the fill-in needed to form a coherent picture of Rand’s distinctive ethics and theory of rights and liberty. It makes your view distinctively Randian, even if some elements in Rand’s case might be missing or reweighted or reordered. I do not spot anything not in Rand here, except perhaps the idea that correct political freedoms “must be universalizable and compossible.” Even though Rand does not put it in that way, there are ways in which Rand’s treatment contains this requirement. How this requirement is purported and fulfilled in Rand’s theory differs from its treatment by Kant and Rawls looks like a good field for new cultivation. (Cf. pages 114–30 of Khawaja’s 1997 “A Perfectionist-Egoist Theory of the Good” and Mack’s 2006.)

It strikes me as odd again, now for the section “Egoism in a Social Context,” that the prior work of Kelley and Smith I noted above is not acknowledged. It is also odd—now to the point of extremely odd—given your topic, and especially the part concerning my next paragraph, that there is no citation or address of David Kelley’s 1984 paper “Life, Liberty, and Property” (Social Philosophy & Policy 1(2):108–18).

The section in which you distinguish your Randian position from a Rothbardian approach, in which one starts with a non-aggression axiom, seems weak. Your opponents would not disagree with the statements you affirm about fraud, property, and ownership; they would only disagree with your rendition of their view. More generally, it would be off the mark to criticize a physics book for relying on mathematics it does not explain. Similarly, for political philosophy. Rothbard, for example, can have presumptions about valuation and rationality at work in one treatise on political philosophy (For a New Liberty, 1978, upon which you remark) that can be addressed in other work (The Ethics of Liberty, 1982). Or not: as Nozick rightly said, “there are words on subjects worth saying besides last words.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Related: Note, Mack 1998, and the nice survey by Fred Miller “Neo-Aristotelian Theories of Natural Rights” in the festschrift for Tibor Machan (2011).

. . .

Thanks, Stephen for your thoughtful commentary . . . .

The details of the transition from Objectivist ethical theory to Objectivist political theory have never felt satisfactory to me. Rand said when unclear about a concept we should look to the facts that give rise to the concept. That seems like good advice when unclear about a theory as well.

When looking out at existence, I didn’t see any entities, attributes, actions, or relations that could be labeled a “right.” After all a right is a moral principle, not a label that can be attributed to an existent. But, I did see actions that could be labeled “a political freedom” or not. That was the reason I focused on deriving a standard for determining what is, and what is not, a political freedom. I think that that close fidelity to facts made for some interesting analysis.

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. . . I think you are mistaken, and somewhat askew with Rand, by supposing egoism the prime timber supporting individual rights. That every individual is an end in himself; that rationality is an individual and volitional function for every life; and that force is anti-mind and anti-life: it is from those a distinctively Randian support for individual rights needs to be argued. . . .

I consider my emphasis on egoism to be foundational for the derivation of a standard for identifying political freedoms. That emphasis fills an important gap in Objectivist political theory by making explicit what is too often left implicit.

The emphasis on egoism helps clarify the distinction between “ethically valid valuing chains” and “politically legitimate valuing chains,” and that distinction serves as the criterion for identifying "primary political freedoms" and "secondary political freedoms." (See page 57-58)

Keeping in mind the egoistic foundation of rights also serves to guide institutional policy for identifying, establishing, and implementing legal rights that protect the valid rights derived from Objectivist political theory.

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

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The paper, “A Political Standard for Absolute Political Freedom,” The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 11, no. 1 (Issue 21, July 2011): 45–62, has been made available as a pdf download at the below link:

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

Please use this thread for questions or comments.

If you know of others who may be interested, please send the link to them.

I'm going to leave a detailed critique of your article to Stephen who has the time, knowledge and ability for it. I would like to make a few ad hoc comments of my own, however.

I don't know what you capitalize "Liberty." I know why you don't capitalize "freedom." The two words aren't quite interchangeable and "liberty" has more of a French cultural-intellectual feel to it than "freedom." Or, liberty has a cultural bias and freedom an intellectual one.

As for "absolute political freedom"--you can't get there from here and if you could there'd be no way it could last very long.

Your article is Randian or Objectivist re-enforcement. The basic problem is neither you nor Rand knows enough about egoism to support a proposition of "absolute political freedom." Neither do I, but I know it. What you are actually supporting is "the rule of the airmen" or intellectual elite. These "Witch Doctors" always get pushed aside by the guys with the most guns--the most effective guns--usually by being killed. Not all of them. Stalin can embrace a Lysenko, not the one who got axed in the head in Mexico.

These Atilas can be quite happy to call their totalitarianism "absolute political freedom," a la semantical distortions as found in 1984.

Absolutism is the cultural heritage of Rand's Objectivism. Objectivists liked to go about in the 1960s and 1970s saying "Absolutely," seemingly about absolutely everything they could. This is not a call for rationality, it is a statement of answers found and imposed and lets talk about something else. The "something else" logically leads to more declamations, sooner of later, of "Absolutely!"

This brings us to the central fallacy of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand: the implicit, contradictory disowning of actual rationality. This means the creation of an intellectual edifice, fortifying it, and pulling up the drawbridges. Your article is more of this fortification. It is only inside this anti-intellectual fort of Orthodox Objectivism that talk of "absolute political freedom" can seem to make any sense. The same thing happened with the Rand-Branden affair. It only made sense in the context of intense rationalizations generated by her and imposed and self-imposed on him.

In a real sense both you and Rand make the same mistake of libertarians. Many libertarians seem stuck in politics with their NIOF and Objectivists in ethics with their egoism, grossly and incompletely rendered. Both groups give lip service to "reason" with the Objectivists throwing in "rational" or "rationality" with which libertarians generally don't bother, being more anti-intellectual, again, generally speaking.

If Objectivism were done right--and it never has been--it would advocate critical thinking, not absolutism--the anti-thesis. This is the true source of individualism out of the biology of it all. There's no such thing as group-think. Instead it gets mired in this un-ending complexity of "egoism" and relative ironic, insular collectivism. It's relative because it relates to itself, not reality and reason the way, say, good science does. There are seven billion people in this world all willing to be as egoistical-egotistical in their own ways as you are yours. Some of these "egoists" are even willing to fly airplanes into skyscrapers.

Real Objectivism (objectivism) is the metaphysics and epistemology--shared with science and all truth seekers--and rational self-interest as the foundation of its ethics and freedom as its political target. The complexity is in the myraid details of actual human beings human being and they can only begin to be addressed out of a generous liberal arts education, not the artificiality of Randian characters in action in her novels or pretend-to-be Randian characters in real life.

The basic principle of Objectivism is according to Rand rationality. What it needs is modesty and critical thinking. What is "rational" can be, like anyone's idea of "absolute political freedom," all over the map. Bet?

--Brant

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The paper, “A Political Standard for Absolute Political Freedom,” The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 11, no. 1 (Issue 21, July 2011): 45–62, has been made available as a pdf download at the below link:

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

Please use this thread for questions or comments.

If you know of others who may be interested, please send the link to them.

I'm going to leave a detailed critique of your article to Stephen who has the time, knowledge and ability for it. I would like to make a few ad hoc comments of my own, however.

I don't know what you capitalize "Liberty." I know why you don't capitalize "freedom." The two words aren't quite interchangeable and "liberty" has more of a French cultural-intellectual feel to it than "freedom." Or, liberty has a cultural bias and freedom an intellectual one.

As for "absolute political freedom"--you can't get there from here and if you could there'd be no way it could last very long.

Your article is Randian or Objectivist re-enforcement. The basic problem is neither you nor Rand knows enough about egoism to support a proposition of "absolute political freedom." Neither do I, but I know it. What you are actually supporting is "the rule of the airmen" or intellectual elite. These "Witch Doctors" always get pushed aside by the guys with the most guns--the most effective guns--usually by being killed. Not all of them. Stalin can embrace a Lysenko, not the one who got axed in the head in Mexico.

These Atilas can be quite happy to call their totalitarianism "absolute political freedom," a la semantical distortions as found in 1984.

Absolutism is the cultural heritage of Rand's Objectivism. Objectivists liked to go about in the 1960s and 1970s saying "Absolutely," seemingly about absolutely everything they could. This is not a call for rationality, it is a statement of answers found and imposed and lets talk about something else. The "something else" logically leads to more declamations, sooner of later, of "Absolutely!"

This brings us to the central fallacy of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand: the implicit, contradictory disowning of actual rationality. This means the creation of an intellectual edifice, fortifying it, and pulling up the drawbridges. Your article is more of this fortification. It is only inside this anti-intellectual fort of Orthodox Objectivism that talk of "absolute political freedom" can seem to make any sense. The same thing happened with the Rand-Branden affair. It only made sense in the context of intense rationalizations generated by her and imposed and self-imposed on him.

In a real sense both you and Rand make the same mistake of libertarians. Many libertarians seem stuck in politics with their NIOF and Objectivists in ethics with their egoism, grossly and incompletely rendered. Both groups give lip service to "reason" with the Objectivists throwing in "rational" or "rationality" with which libertarians generally don't bother, being more anti-intellectual, again, generally speaking.

If Objectivism were done right--and it never has been--it would advocate critical thinking, not absolutism--the anti-thesis. This is the true source of individualism out of the biology of it all. There's no such thing as group-think. Instead it gets mired in this un-ending complexity of "egoism" and relative ironic, insular collectivism. It's relative because it relates to itself, not reality and reason the way, say, good science does. There are seven billion people in this world all willing to be as egoistical-egotistical in their own ways as you are yours. Some of these "egoists" are even willing to fly airplanes into skyscrapers.

Real Objectivism (objectivism) is the metaphysics and epistemology--shared with science and all truth seekers--and rational self-interest as the foundation of its ethics and freedom as its political target. The complexity is in the myraid details of actual human beings human being and they can only begin to be addressed out of a generous liberal arts education, not the artificiality of Randian characters in action in her novels or pretend-to-be Randian characters in real life.

The basic principle of Objectivism is according to Rand rationality. What it needs is modesty and critical thinking. What is "rational" can be, like anyone's idea of "absolute political freedom," all over the map. Bet?

--Brant

Good post, Brant. I think I understood 83% of it.

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Good post, Brant. I think I understood 83% of it.

You got me beat.

--Brant

Good post, Brant. I think I understood 83% of it.

You got me beat.

--Brant

lol. Surely you don't share my attitude to most of my own posts --"What? You don't expect me to think about this stuff do you? I just write it down!"

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If a conflict cannot be resolved by voluntary agreement between the disputing parties, force will be used to “settle” the issue. “Absolute Political Freedom” means that force is only and always used to support the side entitled to act.

I often don’t know which side that is, but I hope readers of this site care about trying to figure out which side in a political conflict is entitled to act. I have simply provided guiding principles I think relevant to that decision making process.

I welcome comments that propose alternate principles, but comments that denigrate the attempt to find ways to decide such issues are not useful.

"In other areas of philosophy, people can differ and simply go their own way, but in a political context—the arena of force and threat of force—when people differ, force or threat of force will 'resolve' the conflict. This places a high premium on the pursuit of truth and on judgments that are [politically] right." (p. 50-51)

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

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The paper, “A Political Standard for Absolute Political Freedom,” The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 11, no. 1 (Issue 21, July 2011): 45–62, has been made available as a pdf download at the below link:

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

Please use this thread for questions or comments.

If you know of others who may be interested, please send the link to them.

I'm going to leave a detailed critique of your article to Stephen who has the time, knowledge and ability for it. I would like to make a few ad hoc comments of my own, however.

I don't know what you capitalize "Liberty." I know why you don't capitalize "freedom." The two words aren't quite interchangeable and "liberty" has more of a French cultural-intellectual feel to it than "freedom." Or, liberty has a cultural bias and freedom an intellectual one.

As for "absolute political freedom"--you can't get there from here and if you could there'd be no way it could last very long.

Your article is Randian or Objectivist re-enforcement. The basic problem is neither you nor Rand knows enough about egoism to support a proposition of "absolute political freedom." Neither do I, but I know it. What you are actually supporting is "the rule of the airmen" or intellectual elite. These "Witch Doctors" always get pushed aside by the guys with the most guns--the most effective guns--usually by being killed. Not all of them. Stalin can embrace a Lysenko, not the one who got axed in the head in Mexico.

These Atilas can be quite happy to call their totalitarianism "absolute political freedom," a la semantical distortions as found in 1984.

Absolutism is the cultural heritage of Rand's Objectivism. Objectivists liked to go about in the 1960s and 1970s saying "Absolutely," seemingly about absolutely everything they could. This is not a call for rationality, it is a statement of answers found and imposed and lets talk about something else. The "something else" logically leads to more declamations, sooner of later, of "Absolutely!"

This brings us to the central fallacy of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand: the implicit, contradictory disowning of actual rationality. This means the creation of an intellectual edifice, fortifying it, and pulling up the drawbridges. Your article is more of this fortification. It is only inside this anti-intellectual fort of Orthodox Objectivism that talk of "absolute political freedom" can seem to make any sense. The same thing happened with the Rand-Branden affair. It only made sense in the context of intense rationalizations generated by her and imposed and self-imposed on him.

In a real sense both you and Rand make the same mistake of libertarians. Many libertarians seem stuck in politics with their NIOF and Objectivists in ethics with their egoism, grossly and incompletely rendered. Both groups give lip service to "reason" with the Objectivists throwing in "rational" or "rationality" with which libertarians generally don't bother, being more anti-intellectual, again, generally speaking.

If Objectivism were done right--and it never has been--it would advocate critical thinking, not absolutism--the anti-thesis. This is the true source of individualism out of the biology of it all. There's no such thing as group-think. Instead it gets mired in this un-ending complexity of "egoism" and relative ironic, insular collectivism. It's relative because it relates to itself, not reality and reason the way, say, good science does. There are seven billion people in this world all willing to be as egoistical-egotistical in their own ways as you are yours. Some of these "egoists" are even willing to fly airplanes into skyscrapers.

Real Objectivism (objectivism) is the metaphysics and epistemology--shared with science and all truth seekers--and rational self-interest as the foundation of its ethics and freedom as its political target. The complexity is in the myraid details of actual human beings human being and they can only begin to be addressed out of a generous liberal arts education, not the artificiality of Randian characters in action in her novels or pretend-to-be Randian characters in real life.

The basic principle of Objectivism is according to Rand rationality. What it needs is modesty and critical thinking. What is "rational" can be, like anyone's idea of "absolute political freedom," all over the map. Bet?

--Brant

I am afraid I understood less than 83% of this post. Can you give some examples to flesh out what you're driving at?

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I welcome comments that propose alternate principles, but comments that denigrate the attempt to find ways to decide such issues are not useful.

I'm sorry you feel this way, but it's logical, considering. I defer to Stephen for that. I am interested in what you and he have to say about all this.

--Brant

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I am afraid I understood less than 83% of this post. Can you give some examples to flesh out what you're driving at?

I'll try to find time this evening. Can you be more particular? I see all kinds of things that can be fleshed out.

--Brant

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The paper, “A Political Standard for Absolute Political Freedom,” The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 11, no. 1 (Issue 21, July 2011): 45–62, has been made available ...

I'll bring over some earlier remarks on the paper.

I do not see your paper as substantively at odds with Rand, nor an extension beyond her view, but as a different organization and emphasis.

Robert thanks for the link. I archived your essay on my computers. Here in the Windows machine, I have folders for \School and \Objectivism. On the Macintosh, just \Objectivism, as I purchased the machine explicity for graduate school. On the Windows machine under School, I placed copies of your essay under both Social Problems and under Poltiical Science.

Following Ayn Rand's instruction in The Fountainhead which I first read in 1966, I do not separate my life into work and play. For me, it's all the same thing. So, in terms of intellectual and professional development, I never stopped going to school over the years, but then explicity did return to complete the degrees I never needed before, when all you had to do was work hard and be smart. So, I keep these "School" folders active and I refer to them when writing or making presentations. For instance, last spring, I delivered four lectures on Forensic Psychology to high school classes in criminalistics ("crime scene investigation").

Asking what political freedom is or what absolute political freedom is works well to open a discussion, just for instance.

That said, I agree with Stephen, that you did a nice, professional job of re-nuancing Ayn Rand's ideas into your own preferred arrangement.

As a criminologist, I note that you were a little short on actual remedies, declaring them beyond the scope of the paper. Soiciologists who study crime know case study facts and statistical facts that show that very often (if not most often) what we perceive in court as "aggression" was only retaliation. It is also true that in the case of domestic violence, a habitual victim has found and bonded to a habitual victimizer. Getting her out of her role is hard, but not impossible. Getting him out of his is much harder, but doable.

Accepting responsibility for one's actions is a key to that. "Moral Reconation Therapy" examines the unstated assumptions that violent people carry around. Once examined openly, once stated in public in a group, they often lose their grip -- though not always. Getting the offender into such a group is a key problem, but once there, they must make an intellectual effort. Again, that is pure Ayn Rand and we alll agree on the point. But these cases are the far side of social conflict.

With neighbors, it begins over a rose bush and includes a dog, a driveway, a party, and a snowstorm, but then lives on as an unattended funeral, a missing UPS package, and finally a punch in those nose. The punch in the nose violated the NIOF Absolute Poilitical Rights of someone, but was really not the iissue at all. That is the reality of crime.

You are not alone among Objectivists in not addressing these social problems. I stopped visiting Betsy Speicher's "Rand Fans" when one of the young men blew through a 15-month online master's degree in criminology and then thanked them for their accolades now that he was a "crime fighter" about to go out and "haul in the bad guys." A few exchanges left me clearly marginalized among conservatives who believe that "police retaliation" is the definition of justice.

In 100 years we have gone from the steamship to the spaceship, but in 100 years (1909 to 2009), the FBI still uses bigger guns to chase other guys with guns -- when they are not prosecuting home decorators. It is the Soviet Agriculture model of justice. Objectivism's close ties to conservatism make intellectual progress difficult. Theoretical articles like yours are nice. That's why I archived it: we need to think about these things. Ultimately, egoism needs to be the engine of justice and voluntary compliance must be accepted, even if it includes voluntary non-compliance.

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. . .

Asking what political freedom is or what absolute political freedom is works well to open a discussion, just for instance.

That said, I agree with Stephen, that you did a nice, professional job of re-nuancing Ayn Rand's ideas into your own preferred arrangement.

. . .

Thanks for the kind words.

As a criminologist, I note that you were a little short on actual remedies, declaring them beyond the scope of the paper.

. . .

Theoretical articles like yours are nice. That's why I archived it: we need to think about these things. Ultimately, egoism needs to be the engine of justice . . .

I must leave to you, and others with your kind of practical background, judgment as to how the theory might aid practice. I am pleased you archived the paper and that you may find it useful in your work.

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

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I read the paper twice through. We care about disagreements because negative feedback is a warning, advance knowledge of a threat. So, where we disagree we argue until we agree (or not). Once we agree, discussion stops. I believe that in a new and better time, people will simply ignore disagreements and focus on agreements, and from there build new shared observations.

I could argue with much in the paper, and that may well be good, in that discussions about rights and law should take place in an Objectivist narrative space because for too long only different collectivists, altruists, and mystics have argued among themselves.

As an aside, the "Sokol Affair" was the exposure and denuding of post-modernism as "fashionable nonsense." Alan Sokol is a professor of physics -- and a Marxist. He is in fact what Ayn Rand called an honest Marxist. She respected them while than holding conservatives in contempt. But the fact remains that as a Marxist, he is no advocate of laissez-faire capitalism. Thus, if he has a theory of justice it is likely derived from Marxism rather than physics. So, I look forward to a time when Objectivists, neo-Objectivists, and paleo-Objectivists argue with Lexicalists (Galt's Speech summarizes Objectivism) and Legalists ("No, you idiot: It's Roark's Courtroom Speech!"). Until that new and better time, I offer this critique of Robert Hartford's essay.

If taking one of the actions is a political freedom, then taking the opposing action would violate that freedom. .... A political context involves situations where the parties are unable or unwilling to voluntarily resolve their conflict. In that case, conflict must be “resolved” by force or the threat of force.

First is the problem of contrary versus contradictory. in Switzerland tax money goes to support churches. It has happened that a commune (village) has been split between Protestants and Catholics. So, they divide the commune into two new jurisidictions, one Protestant, the other Catholic. Now, according to Objectivism, this is untenable. But it is what everyone seems to want. Do you refuse to implement it, demanding that they all be atheists before they can have an agreement?

The Uniform Commercial Code was invented whole by jurists with no jurisdiction. Many states adopted it, in whole or in part. What made it necessary was that the fine print on your Purchase Order contradicted the fine print on my Shipping Memorandum. You can avoid state law by specifiying the UCC in your contracts. If there is a conflict, the resolution is often not either-or, you win and I lose, a zero-sum resolution of contradictories, but rather a mediation from thinking outside the box to bring together two parties who want to be together.

And what about three or more parties? It is said in arithmetic that mentally we can only operate on two quantities at a time (3 x 9 x 19) must be worked linearly. Is this true in justice? Why? How do you resolve a disagreement among three or more parties? Must you treat them two at a time? Why?

Why must every so-called "conflict" be resolved at all?

I suggest that if an action is unprofitable, then it is immoral. Sometimes the bear eats you and you let the perpetrator get away, and write off the experience (and the loss).

"In responding to and resolving the criminal behavior of employees, organizations routinely choose options other than criminal prosecution, for example, suspension without pay, transfer, job reassignment, job redesign (eliminating some job duties), civil restitution, and dismissal...

While on the surface, it appears that organizations opt for less severe sanctions than would be imposed by the criminal justice system, in reality, the organizational sanctions may have greater impact... In addition, the private systems of criminal justice are not always subject to principles of exclusionary evidence, fairness, and defendant rights which characterize the public criminal justice systems. The level of position, the amount of power, and socio-economic standing of the employee in the company may greatly influence the formality and type of company sanctions. In general, private justice systems are characterized by informal negotiations and outcomes, and nonuniform standards and procedures among organizations and crime types."

(THE HALLCREST REPORTS. 1. Private Security and Police in America, William C. Cunningham and Todd Taylor, Stoneham, Mass. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1985. 2. Private Security Trends 1970 to 2000, William C. Cunningham and John J. Strauchs and Clifford W. Van Meter, Stoneham, Mass. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1990.) ("This publication reports a 30-month descriptive research project performed by Hallcrest Systems, Inc., MacLean, Virginia, under a grant from the National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice.")

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(From the paper aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf) If taking one of the actions is a political freedom, then taking the opposing action would violate that freedom. .... A political context involves situations where the parties are unable or unwilling to voluntarily resolve their conflict. In that case, conflict must be “resolved” by force or the threat of force.

. . . But it [an agreement] is what everyone seems to want. Do you refuse to implement it, demanding that they all be atheists before they can have an agreement? . . . And what about three or more parties? It is said in arithmetic that mentally we can only operate on two quantities at a time (3 x 9 x 19) must be worked linearly. Is this true in justice? Why? How do you resolve a disagreement among three or more parties? Must you treat them two at a time? Why?

People (2 or more) can voluntarily form an agreement that involves taking action that does not benefit each party to the agreement. Although from an Objectivist perspective one should not enter into an agreement that provides one no benefit, the agreement is protected as a “secondary political freedom.” (See p. 51) No third (or nth) party may violate that freedom.

My paper is only a foundational sketch. The paper certainly raises questions and I believe there is much analysis to be done that would benefit from keeping the proposed foundation and political standard in mind.

Why must every so-called "conflict" be resolved at all?

I specifically referred to conflicts wherein it is impossible for the two conflicting chosen actions to both take place. For example, I want to take your money to distribute to others and you want to keep it. Necessarily, only one of those actions can, and will, occur. This type of conflict will be “resolved” and deciding which of the actions to protect as a political freedom is a political necessity.

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I specifically referred to conflicts wherein it is impossible for the two conflicting chosen actions to both take place. For example, I want to take your money to distribute to others and you want to keep it. Necessarily, only one of those actions can, and will, occur. This type of conflict will be “resolved” and deciding which of the actions to protect as a political freedom is a political necessity.

So, you take my money. If you think that the police will chase you with sirens tearing a hole through the night, shoot it out with you, wrestle you to the ground, and haul you off to jail, then you watch too much television. I assure you, 85% of crimes go unsolved. Of those that are solved 85% are the result of direct identification by the victim, not by police work, not by detective work. If you make any effort to cover your tracks - even for murder - chances are good that you will get away.

As the victim, I am better off letting you get away than being robbed twice, once by you and again by the poilice who cannot catch you. It is a metaphysical problem. (You can find an essay on OL by Stuart Hayashi, "The Argument from Arbitrary Metaphysics." ) This is not "protecting" thievery. It is simply acknowledging that the universe has dangers: tornadoes, wolves, thieves. We can and do act to mitigate and preferably avoid the losses.

The reason that we do not have more crime than we do is that people as individuals are acculturated toward productivity and therefore as a consequence away from crime: it is the bourgeois revolution. Most people are basically honest. No law can prevent crime, as we know apocryphally of cutpurses working a crowd watching the hanging of a cutpurse.

The fundamental problem is that the govenment we have has created "ten thousand commandments" and employs a large force of thieves who steal from helpless business people. I get emails from the Department of Justice. This came in September 10:

Within seven days after entry of this Final Judgment, each Settling Defendant shall terminate any agreement with Apple relating to the Sale of E-books that was executed prior to the filing of the Complaint.

http://www.justice.g...6800/286808.pdf

You will say that this thievery is not sanctioned according to your definition of Absolute Political Freedom. But your paper said that publishing the law tells people what is rightful behavior. I assure you that despite what Ayn Rand wrote 50 years ago about anti-trust, the large body of published law made it very clear in advance that Apple, et al., would be in violation. Their lawyers just convinced the decision makers that they could fight the law and win. (They should have listened to Billy Joe Royal.)

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Robert, I deleted my reply to your reply to my reply. It is not going much of anywhere and you have other things to do, I am sure. We both perceive the same truths, but, as is known, are perceptions are necessarily different. They need not ever be reconciled for us.

You did a nice job of reformulating the conclusions from the axioms. I appreciate the subtleties.

Best wishes,

Mike M.

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Robert, I deleted my reply to your reply to my reply. It is not going much of anywhere and you have other things to do, I am sure. . . . You did a nice job of reformulating the conclusions from the axioms. I appreciate the subtleties.

Thanks for your comments. My interest is primarily in theory and yours in practice – a healthy division of labor. I appreciate your thoughts on conflict resolution short of requiring force. I should have included a brief mention of mediation and arbitration in the political arena, similar to my brief statement about resolution of social conflict.

“Deriving principles for reaching mutual agreement is the role of social philosophy and beyond the scope of this paper, but Ayn Rand’s assertion that agreement is easy ‘when both parties hold as their moral absolute that neither exists for the sake of the other’ (AS 1957, 695) is a valuable guideline.” (p. 46)

For those who have not yet downloaded the paper, its goal is stated in the first paragraph: “This paper advocates a society that unfailingly protects political freedoms and unfailingly constrains those who would violate a political freedom. Such is the advocacy of absolute political freedom.” The paper goes on to present a view of the nature of “a political freedom” and how to identify freedoms.

Please download the paper, and if you know of others who may be interested, please send the link to them.

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

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You can find here on OL, Stuart Hayashi's "Argument from Arbitrary Metaphysics." I think that a lot of what self-defined Objectivists claim about crime, its causes, and remediations is divorced from reality. I believe that enough evidence such as the Red Hook Justice Center (now 12 years old) shows that perpetrators and violators can actually be brought to voluntary agreement with their victims. It does not always work. Some people seem incapable of choice. But it works often enough to raise serious doubts about the need for force every time two people disagree.

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Robert,

I was scanning some of my writings in my Corner on the way to answering a question from Merlin concerning the distinction of agent-egoism and beneficiary-egoism when I came across something I had looked for but not found when commenting earlier on your paper. It is something that would seem pertinent to fitting respect for rights of others into Rand’s conception of ethical egoism. (Its references to Rand’s writings are important to my picture of Rand’s egoism and rights-theory both proceeding from the descriptive-plus-normative view that every individual is and end in himself.) It reminds me also that David Kelley’s treatise on benevolence supported some important plank in his earlier paper “Life, Liberty, and Property” in Social Philosophy & Policy V1N2 (1984).

. . .

Rand writes of men of good will. Where does she locate a good will in morality? The text on money maintains that with a good will a person will respect the sovereignty of other persons’ minds over their values and labors. Having a good will of this kind and to this extent is not morally singular; it is a moral requirement for anyone. Results and marks of failing to have this minimal level of good will would be, for example, takings by force or fraud (AS 1019, 1022–23). Restricting one’s takings to the consensual is an occasion of a minimally good will respecting the minimally good will of others. Then too, with this type and level of good will, one treats others as ends in themselves. “Just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others” (OE 27).

The moral person set on his own happiness does not take his pleasure to be the proper goal of the lives of others nor does he take the pleasure of others to be the proper goal of the life that is his (AS 1022). One of good will, however, will find personal pleasure in seeing the value efforts of others (AS 1060). There are “no victims and no conflicts of interest” necessary among moral, rational people (AS 1022). Each can craft his values and desires, while respecting the circumstance that “by the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself.” (AS 1014). There is a lovely harmonious world, a “kingdom of perfection,” in one’s soul and society (AS 1058, 1068).

Good will towards others, in Rand’s view, is only part of human good will. More generally and more deeply, “every act of a man’s life has to be willed” (AS 1057), and the basic act of human will is the choice to think, to focus, or not. The fundamental human question, “the question ‘to be or not to be’ is the question ‘to think or not to think’” (AS 1012). To choose living and thinking is a basic free choice within which all others are arranged. Choosing living and thinking is good choosing, good willing (AS 1017–18).

In Kant’s view, a good will is a fitness to attain various ends, but it does not derive its goodness from those ends. Rather, regarded by itself, it is good in itself. . . .

. . .

The preceding picture of Rand’s would seem to be a cohort in the case you are making in the sections “Egoism in a Social Context” and “Political Standard” and “Protection of Voluntary Consent.”

Your treatment of the growth of needs comports nicely with the following:

. . .

In Rand’s characterization of life, every aspect of being alive, including growth, “involves a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action” (ITOE 81, 24–25).

For every living species, growth is a necessity of survival. Life is motion, a process of self-sustaining action that an organism must carry on in order to remain in existence. . . .

An animal’s capacity for development ends at physical maturity and thereafter its growth consists of the action necessary to maintain itself at a fixed level; after reaching maturity, it does not, to any significant extent, continue to grow in efficacy . . . . But man’s capacity for development does not end at physical maturity . . . . His ability to think, to learn, to discover new and better ways of dealing with reality, to expand the range of his efficacy, to grow intellectually, is an open door to a road that has no end.

When man discovered how to make fire to keep himself warm, his need for thought and effort was not ended; . . . when he moved his life expectancy . . . his need of thought and effort was not ended . . . .

Every achievement of man is a value in itself, but it is also a stepping-stone to greater achievements and values. Life is growth . . . . Every step upward opens to man a wider range of action and achievement—and creates the need for that achievement. . . . Survival demands constant growth and creativeness.

Constant growth is, further, a psychological need of man. (Branden 1963, 121–22)

. . .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS – You might like to look into, and possibly review, this new book Libertarianism by Jason Brennan.

From the publisher (with emphasis added by me):

In this timely new entry in Oxford's acclaimed series What Everyone Needs to Know, Brennan offers a nuanced portrait of libertarianism, proceeding through a series of questions to illuminate the essential elements of libertarianism and the problems the philosophy addresses, including such topics as the Value of Liberty, Human Nature and Ethics, Economic Liberty, Civil Rights, Social Justice and the Poor, Government and Democracy, and Contemporary Politics. Brennan asks the most fundamental and challenging questions: What do Libertarians think liberty is? Do libertarians think everyone should be selfish? Are libertarians just out to protect the interests of big business? What do libertarians think we should do about racial injustice? What would libertarians do about pollution? Are Tea Party activists true libertarians? As he sheds light on libertarian beliefs, Brennan overturns numerous misconceptions. Libertarianism is not about simple-minded paranoia about government, he writes. Rather, it celebrates the ideal of peaceful cooperation among free and equal people. Libertarians believe that the rich always capture political power; they want to minimize the power available to them in order to protect the weak. Brennan argues that libertarians are, in fact, animated by benevolence and a deep concern for the poor.

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. . .

with a good will a person will respect the sovereignty of other persons’ minds over their values and labors. Having a good will of this kind and to this extent is not morally singular; it is a moral requirement for anyone.

. . .

A good dose of good will, in individuals and permeating society, would go a long way to solving the problem of absolute political freedom. Good will, like resolving social conflict, was beyond the scope of my paper, but the paper’s analysis of valuing processes might be useful in discussions of good will and social harmony.

My paper also has implications for another issue, the minarchy/anarchy debate. The paper makes clear that absolute political freedom means that one is not free to act on one’s own judgment, if that judgment entails violating the political freedom of another. The paper suggests that the non-initiation of force (NIOF) principle fails as a political standard and derives an alternate standard for identifying political freedoms.

Support for anarchism is often based on the contradiction between NIOF and government. That approach is called into question by placing the standard for political freedom in “Protection of voluntary consent along an individual’s entire politically legitimate valuing chain . . .” (p.59)

Please download the paper, and if you know of others who may be interested, please send the link to them and encourage them to post the link on websites.

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

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Here is how to get absolute political freedom. Find some deserted island where it is possible for you to survive, go there, and live there. I guarantee you will have absolute political freedom.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Here is how to get absolute political freedom. Find some deserted island where it is possible for you to survive, go there, and live there. I guarantee you will have absolute political freedom.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Don't forget to take some slaves with you.

--Brant

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This thread - and the paper on which it is based - is a serious attempt to promote a society in which political freedom flourishes and slavery is prohibited.

The posts above, considering recourse to a desert island or advocacy of the abomination of slavery, represent the antithesis of my goals and the purpose of Objectivist Living.

If those posts are meant to be humorous, I certainly do not find them to be so. If meant to be sarcastic, they are devoid of meaningful content. If meant to be serious, they show lack of respect for the serious reader.

Please post only thoughtful commentary that advances the goal of freedom.

aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars11-1/jars11_1rhartford.pdf

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