Re: Rights and Morality: The Primethic Decision

Gary Lloyd (
Sun, 28 Sep 1997 16:01:36 -0400 (EDT)

At 02:27 PM 9/28/97 -0400, Victor Levis wrote:
>At 12:13 PM 9/28/97 -0400, Gary Lloyd wrote:
>>At 05:25 PM 9/27/97 -0700, Ken Wiebe wrote:
>>>At 11:38 AM 9/27/97 -0400, Gary Lloyd wrote:
>>>>Virtually all human beings would instinctively agree that defense against
>>>>aggression is not wrong. This is evidenced by the fact that the contrary
>>>>instinct, i.e. defense is immoral, would be anti-survival.
>>>Lots of things that are moral can be anti-survival.
>>My point is that anything as blatantly anti-survival as
>>stand-still-and-be-eaten cannot be part of our instinctive make-up. Any such
>>notion would be very quickly eliminated from the gene pool. Therefore,
>>defense-is-not-wrong *must* be a human instinct.
>Strictly as an empirical observation, Gary's idea seems to be true of the
>overwhelming majority of people. Only outright pacifists believe defense is

Even this (pacifism) can only be learned behavior, not instinctive, and can
only be an effective strategy in the assumption that the vast majority of
others have, in fact, made the primethic decision.

>>>In fact, the whole
>>>point of morals is to create rules that people will follow even in
>>>situations where it is not in their immediate interest to do so. In extreme
>>>circumstance, it's possible that death might result. Consequently, I agree
>>>that defense against aggression is not 'wrong', and it is moral to defend
>>>against aggression.
>>Why do you believe defense against aggression is moral? Why not amoral?
>>>Now, define "aggression".
>>It is not the purpose of the primethic decision to define defense or
>>aggression, but rather to identify the real world phenomenon that
>>establishes the basis of both rights and morality. IOW, where do these
>>concepts come from?
>You ought to know that Ken DEFINES aggression as a rights-violation, and
>rights as agreements. Real-world actions are not relevant to the
>definition. Specifically, Ken has stated that if A bops B on the nose, this
>is only aggression if A defines it as such. Therefore, no observer can ever
>'see' aggression. The victim would have to show that at the time that A
>bopped B that A 'agreed' that bopping is wrong. THEN it would be
>aggression. But in another related thread Ken has also agreed with Bernard
>Curry who stated that anyone can unilaterally void an agreement at any time,
>if there is no perceived 'net benefit'. Voiding rights agreements voids the
>possibility of aggression.
>Therefore it is a very good bet that aggression hardly ever exists. Most
>occasions that LOOK LIKE aggression are simply cases of unilaterally voided
>non-aggression agreements. Of course, most people who don't abide by an
>agreement have darn good reasons (to them, at the time). Most will give you
>some reason why the agreement shouldn't really 'apply', or that the action
>should be permitted as an 'exception', or should be part of an 'escape
>clause', or was an unfortunate 'necessity'.

Why don't we let Ken speak for himself?

If *you* want to say that rights are by agreement, then where does agreement
come from? Ultimately, there must be a real world connection, or the very
concept would not exist, and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

The concept of agreement, or more specifically, consent, is clearly implied
by the primethic decision. If defense is not moral, and aggression is not
immoral, then consent is meaningless. By deciding that defense is moral, and
aggression is immoral, we claim a right to consent for ourselves, and
unilaterally offer a reciprocol, and equal, right to all others.

The all-important question is not whether the primethic exists, but whether
it is instinctively shared by all, or a decision is made along the way. The
fact that it *exists*, either way, lays the groundwork for rights, morality,
and subsequent agreements (consent).

>>>>Still, this could mean that defense is either moral or amoral. In non-human
>>>>context, we would probably deem defense to be *amoral*. In human context,
>>>>however, it is in the interests of the vast majority to make a personal
>>>>moral choice to the effect that proportionate defense against aggression is
>>>>*moral* and thus aggressive behavior which elicits a defensive response is
>>>>The primethic decision establishes the basis for both "rights" and
>>>>"morality" since to deem defense against aggression, in the human context,
>>>>to be *amoral* is to deny the *existance* of both rights and morality.
>>>Defense against aggression is moral, by definition. What definition of
>>>"aggression" are you using that would lead to the mistaken notion that
>>>defense against aggression might somehow possibly be 'amoral'?
>>Where does the *concept* of morality come from if not the primethic
>>decision? A definition must ultimately connect to a real world phenomenon,
>>or it is meaningless. Why, when we view a dispute between humans, do we
>>judge who is *right* and who is *wrong*? Do *all* people do this, or just
>>those who have made the primethic decision?
>If we are libertarian, we judge by their agreement. Of course, with Ken's
>new thoughts about voided agreements, I'm not sure it will ever matter.
>After all, if one can unilaterally void agreements, one can void rights
>agreements with penalty clauses, too. Perhaps it is more libertarian to
>simply ask everyone what should be done with them. "Mr. Capone, you are
>charged with assault and murder, and we are inclined to agree with the
>complaint. Now, what punishment do you wish? And will it be cash or charge?"

Let's wait and see what Ken has to say.

>>>>If these, in fact, are the only two choices, then my proportionate defense
>>>>against aggression is, from my point of view, moral, and from the
>>>>aggressor's point of view, either moral or amoral.
>>>Aggression, by definition, is immoral. A rights violation.
>>What real world phenomenon forms the basis of your definition?
>Not required. Definitions are the building block of the system. We are
>entitled to make them up.

Yes, we make them up to describe...what?

>>>>Either way, such defense
>>>>*imposes* nothing on the aggressor. That is to say, proportionate defense is
>>>>not, even from the aggressor's point of view, an immoral aggression.
>>>Probably true, but your argument is weak and does not support your
>>Where do the concepts of *rights* and *morality* come from? Where do your
>>definitions come from?
>Why, assertion, of course.

Assertions concerning...what?

When the boot of government is on your neck,
it doesn't matter if it's left or right.