Re: libertarianism, etc.

Peter C. McCluskey (
Tue, 24 Mar 1998 07:36:08 -0800 ("Mark D. Fulwiler") writes:
>Well, I'm glad to hear it. I posted a libertarian rant a few weeks ago
>that was not well received by some on the list. I was convinced that
>where there is a fundamental difference in moral views, you just don't
>get very far going on and on about libertarian philosophy. Most people

I hope my criticism didn't convince you that debating fundamental ideas
is futile. Many attempts use futile approaches, such as rephrasing ideas
their opponents have already rejected. If you want to alter your opponents
beliefs (rather than promote solidarity within your side of the debate, as
many arguments seem designed for), you need to understand why they reach
different conclusions than you, which requires a genuine interest in how
they think.

>on this list have fully formed views on morality that are not going to

People whose moral views are as fully formed as they will ever be
have lost the capacity to improve themselves.

>utilitarian arguments do have their limitations. (If two people really
>enjoy torturing a third person, should we allow it?) While the statement
>"Gun control reduces crime" can be shown to be false by doing a careful
>factual and statistical analysis, statements of morality can't be
>"proven" in the same way.

My moral beliefs are ultimately based on utilitarian arguments (e.g.
comparisons such as the U.S. vs. the Soviet Union have shown that the
rule "if in doubt, avoid coercion" produces results that almost all
humans prefer). I see no sign that disagreements about things like
whether torture is nice explain much of the political disputes we see
(I think Robin Hanson has a paper on his web site arguing this better
than I can).
I would be curious to hear whether you have a justification for a
religious-style attitude towards moral rules, or whether your "coercion
is immoral" rule is merely shorthand for something like "I've studied
enough history to know that all coercion that has been tried in societies
like ours has been unneccesary and has produced undesired results, and
we should avoid coercion until we hear a fundamentally new argument for it".

Peter McCluskey  |  | Has anyone used           | to comment on your web pages?