Re: Property and life

Samael (
Thu, 14 Jan 1999 14:23:37 -0000

-----Original Message-----
From: <>

>Samael wrote:
>>I don't have a right to live. I have a very strong 'wish' to live.
>I answered:
>>What if I have a very strong wish to terminate your life? Is my wish not
>>valid as yours? Can I rightfully implement my wish? If not, why not?

You're using words like 'rightfully' and 'valid' again. Try using words like 'without incurring consequences I do not wish to deal with' instead.
Or asking if you want to?

>Samael (perhaps rightly) objected to my smuggling in putatively moralistic
>terms such as "valid" and "rightfully", so let me see if I can rephrase my
>questions in more "wertfrei" terms:
>Given the scenario where you want to live and I want to kill you (nothing
>personal :)), why should I not blow you away if I can? What would you say
>to persuade me to let you alone?

I would (should I not be panicking at this point) point out that doing so would almost certainly have negative consequences for you, living, as I do, in a country where shootings are incredibly rare (and frequently make national news). That if people found out that you shot people that they would be less likely to trust you or feel that you were someone they could do business with. That they may even feel that their lives would be happier if you were locked up or otherwise removed from running around the place shooting people. I'd even point out that the likelyhood was that we could do some kind of deal and form a compromise which didn't require my death.

In other words, I'd tell you that the police would get you, and you didn't want to kill me.

If I thought you were the sort of person who bwelieved in morality as an absolute and that that morality would be against you killing me (ie, you were a christian), I'd tell you that you were wrong to do it (and that you were going straight to Hell for doing it).

My main defense would be to live in a country where it is difficult to get away with kiling people (like Scotland - where I am living now) and try not to piss off those people to whom the police are no threat (gangland bosses, psychopaths, secret service agents, etc)

>If it's all subjective, surely you grant that I have as good a claim to
>kill you as you have not to be killed. No?


>The point is that the only alternative to objectivity is arbitrariness,
>which appears to culminate in den Otter's regime of might-makes-right. Is
>this really your vision of human society?

Might doesn't make right. Might gets its own way unless its stopped by other might. Or otherwsie persuaded not go around smighting things (economic sanctions, long term gains, etc.) Nowadays the government tends to be the mightiest things around - more soldiers than any provate citizen has, nmore nukes, etc. But the government has to pretend to be acting in the best interests of democracy (and occasionaly might be, you never know), so if enough citizens get upset enough, it has to change it's mind. It's still dead handy for providing police forces as the biggest smiter around, to stop smaller smighters smighting the smallest of them. <althogether too much smighting in that paragraph, methinks>

>Terms such as "valid" (in an ethical context) and "rightful" are simply
>shorthand ways of expressing the idea that social conduct is not an
>arbitrary matter, like aesthetic tastes. They don't necessarily imply a
>code imposed "from above" as in traditional moral codes.

Social conduct isn't arbitrary. Certain actions are sociable and certain aren't. But some actions are anti-social and this is perfectly reasonable (some libertarians/anarchists don't even believe in society, so they can hardly be expected to follow social conventions, can they?).

Social rules are usually fairly simple - don't lie, don't attack each other, etc. But they are no use when the person you are dealing with is antisocial and ignores the conventions you expect them to.