RE: Property and the Law

From: Russell Blackford (
Date: Sat Jul 28 2001 - 19:29:29 MDT

Lee said

>I meant to say, are there really people who don't agree that
>"you have to have a *theory* of what makes laws good and bad
>before condemning particular laws"?

It's just that some of the statements I was reading struck me as
under-theorised, hence my comment (but who knows?). E.g the "taxation is
theft" meme seems to avoid questions about when is it and is it not *morally
reasonable* to have legal norms relating to property based on considerations
similar to Locke's theory, or the homesteading theory? When is it *morally
reasonable* to qualify such property laws with laws relating to an
obligation to pay taxes (to contribute to social aims etc)? To me, there's a
lot of theorising that needs to be done here and what I can see of it casts
doubt on simple ideas about "taking what 'belongs' to someone else" or about
who first initiates force.

BTW (this is not in direct response to your comment) I'm really starting to
wonder show I should treat discussions of political philosophy on this list.
I see myself as in a minority position here in not accepting Randian
libertarianism or anything that closely resembles it, despite having broadly
libertarian instincts with regard to both social and economic issues. I do
acknowledge that there's some spread of positions among the libertarians -
for example, I think that Mike's attitude to corporations is quite different
from that of Felix. I think Mike's is the more consistent position, while
understanding the force of some of Felix's views.

All this is interesting, but if I keep speaking up with an alternative view
to the kind of libertarian philosophy that you, Mike, Felix, Daniel, Ralf,
Jerry and (I think) quite a few others all share, I can just see myself
getting bogged down in interminable, energy-sapping debate with people whom
I basically think of, or want to think of, as transhumanist allies.

My style of doing philosophy involves a lot of introspection and
soul-searching for my own deepest intuitions, etc (it involves very little
in the way of deploying ready-made answers), which I'd rather use for the
cause of opposing luddites etc than arguing about whether it is (or can be)
okay to have taxes to fund (or help fund) the military, the police, the
courts, schools, hospitals, universities, roads, welfare, a guaranted
minimum income, etc. Subject to considerations of economic efficiency (which
I have not discussed at all), I am not opposed to taxes for such reasons.
Most people I know off this list would not think that to be very
controversial, at least until I reached "welfare" and probably not until I
reached "guaranteed minimum income". However, it's obviously *very*
controversial on this list, at least once we get past "the courts".

I'm genuinely perplexed about this, Lee. I may soon have to move into
semi-lurk mode, or at least avoid such discussions, or my energies will just
be spread too thinly. Conversely, I sense that you and the others don't find
a lot of value in paragraphs that I might write along the lines of the one
above commencing "It's just that..." You don't want to go away and spend a
lot of time rethinking your most fundamental political beliefs, seeing
whether they're based on (or perhaps inconsistent with) anything deeper -
and why should you? Life is short for you as well, unless we win the battle
for transhumanism. But, in that case, I'm asking myself why should I do a
whole lot of philosophising that simply drains me and isn't of value to the



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