Killing your own child is genetic suicide

And that's okay

Somebody else's suicide is none of my business. Somebody else's child is none of my business either. If a child wants to defend itself against its parent by hiring protection, that is its business, but not really my concern. This ability/willingness/decision to effectively protect itself against its parent might in some future society mark the distinction between childhood and adulthood.

We need to punish people who murder non-family-members, because if we were to fail to implement that law, then natural selection would eventually produce a breed of human that felt no compunction about killing other humans outside of their family.

In contrast, we as a society (and especially we as individuals considering what to do about strangers killing their own children) do not have a need to punish people who murder their own children, because if we were to fail to implement that law, then natural selection would nevertheless keep down the number of people who murdered their own children. While I might need to worry about my own parents, that's my business - thanks but no thanks, I don't need your help. If it gets bad, I'll take care of my problems with Mom and Dad.

The instinctive horror that you and I and everyone have about murdering our own children once born is the basis of the massive distinction that we make between the baby that we do not see (i.e. before birth) and the baby that we see (after birth). Our instincts are evidently keyed to the visual stimulus of the baby. This is why pro-life groups believe that showing photographs of aborted babies is effective. Indeed, it is somewhat effective in getting a response because the dismembered corpses of unborn infants look like infants who are victims of horrifying murder (and some number of pro-lifers may have been persuaded by such images).

But this horror itself is instinct, and that instinct arose no doubt through natural selection. The very existence of this instinct keeps down the practical problem of people killing their own children. (Which is, of course, really their own problem to begin with, genetically speaking.)

We have, curiously, discovered a loophole in our instincts: we are horrified by killing our born children (presumably because of the visual and tactile and olfactory stimuli that they provide, which normally creates a parent-child bond about as strong as what has held the Golden Gate Bridge together), and so rare is the parent (other than a desperate parent) who kills his or her own infant child. However, the same logic of natural selection, one might think, would dictate that we should be extremely reluctant to abort an unborn fetus. The loophole is that for the most part we cannot get any stimuli from the unborn fetus that would attach us to the fetus, and so many of us feel very little reluctance to kill these little infants of ours whom we have not yet seen or touched or smelled.

Significantly, the fetus starts visibly bulging the mother's belly at around three or four months, which, curious coincidence, is also about when we stop aborting our unborn children. The baby having made its existence unmistakably seen and felt, is now rather safer than before, though not entirely out of the woods.

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I'm somewhat confused by

I'm somewhat confused by your argument here. Are you arguing that murder in general should be legal on the grounds that it's no one but the victim's and the murderer's business? Or does your argument only apply if the murderer and the victim are related? If the latter, why does an entirely coincidental genetic relationship grant one person power over another that he would not normally be entitled to?

Genetic relationship is not coincidental

It is no coincidence that a person's offspring is genetically related to that person. So, what can you mean by the word "coincidental"? My best guess is you mean, "irrelevant". In other words, you are stating your own position that the law should be blind to the parent-child relationship.

The actual laws of mankind have, as far as I know, never been blind to the parent-child relationship. Nor do I think they ought to be.

What I find most relevant to the question of law about the parent-child relationship is that the stereotypical parent is genetically programmed to protect the child. Natural selection enforces this behavior. The purpose of law is to enforce behavior, but parental protection of children is already enforced by natural selection, and this reduces the need (if indeed there is any need to begin with - that is a separate issue which I touched on as well) for law to provide additional protection for the child.

In fact, in my estimation, laws that come between parent and child, while they provide some additional protection for the average child, provide very little in addition to what the average child already has. And meanwhile, every law has a cost, and this law is no different. My judgment is that laws that come between parent and child have a much higher cost, for the average family, than they do a benefit. My sense of it is that children would do much better without laws coming between them and their parents. Nor do I believe that there is in practice any way to concoct a law that merely provides protection for endangered children and does not at the same time significantly damage otherwise healthy families by constraining and second-guessing parental decisions. Even a law against infanticide. For, if it is illegal for the parent to kill the child, then it is by implication illegal for the parent to put the child into undue physical danger. So then we have child car safety regulations defining exactly what actions put the child into too much danger. Et cetera.

If this post is only about

If this post is only about abortion, it is an interesting way to look at things. However, I have serious problems with the following statement:

"This ability/willingness/decision to effectively protect itself against its parent might in some future society mark the distinction between childhood and adulthood."

This statement assumes that the ownership resides in one person (or two). For the case of abortion it may be true, but at any point past birth it is incorrect.

Even if you grant that children are property until they are more fully autonomous agents, the ownership of the child is in doubt and therefore killing isn't okay. Killing is at the very lease infringing on the property of others.

Think of all the other partial "owners". There are the grandparents who take over most of the duties of raising the child. If they are doing this, it isn't okay for the mother and father to come along and kill to kid. What if they take over half the duties in raising the child? Doesn't that give them a say (partial ownership)? Assuming the child is of a certain age, it seems that many people have "partial ownership" of the child. In a world where children are property, a doctor may be granted a small share for bringing the child into this world.

Your argument could lend itself to allowing the abandonment of the child - assuming the other "shareholders" are notified and offered a chance to claim more full "ownership".

Parents would have a majority stake and would still be able to control much of the child's early life, but they would also have (minimal) fiduciary duties to the other "shareholders".

Joint ownership of children

If this post is only about abortion

It consciously isn't. I don't think the subject of abortion can be partitioned off from the subject of child-rearing.

This statement assumes that the ownership resides in one person (or two).

If my suggestion involves treating children as property, then your answer seems to be simply the point that children are jointly owned. Okay, so they are jointly owned property, with all that implies. That's not obviously any more problematic than jointly owned real estate.

I share the same proportion

I share the same proportion of genetic material with my parents and siblings as I do with my children. If I were to murder my parent or sibling I would be affecting the gene pool as if I murdered my child (ok, not exactly the same given remaining opportunities for reproduction, but let's call that negligible). So are laws against fratricide, sororicide, patricide, and matricide also unnecessary because evolution already selects against the traits required to conduct such acts? If someone else coincidentally shares 50% of my genes, may I kill them also?

Individual rights trump general probabilities dictated by natural selection.

This sheds little light on when a potential human gains such individual rights.

Coincidental sharing of genes

No, if someone unrelated to you happens to share your genes as closely as if he were closely related to you, that would not stop you from killing him because your instincts are not triggered by a direct comparison of genes.

As far as family relations go - I'm in favor of the rest of society stepping out of intra-family legal issues entirely. That of course does not mean that there will be no intra-familiar law. As I already mentioned, all that one family member has to do is hire protection against his family members. Ultimately, my view is that it is the responsibility of each individual to provide for his own protection. That is one of the reasons I call myself an "anarcho-capitalist".

In anarcho-capitalism, individuals are of course not forced to rely on their individual ability to handle weapons to defend themselves - many anarcho-capitalist proposals suggest that private companies specialize in the provision of personal protection, and that other private companies specialize in the provision of court services (i.e., law). All that an individual has to do is hire a company to protect him.

So, even though I'm quite happy for the rest of society to step aside and let families deal with themselves however they like, this does not mean that the members of those families would not choose to buy protection from their other family members - the very same protection that I might buy to protect me against strangers.

This applies also to children, as I already pointed out in the main entry, where I wrote: If a child wants to defend itself against its parent by hiring protection, that is its business, but not really my concern. This ability/willingness/decision to effectively protect itself against its parent might in some future society mark the distinction between childhood and adulthood.

Young children, however, have neither the inclination nor ability to buy protection from their parents. Their parents, of course, would buy coverage for their children, but naturally this coverage would not protect the child against the parent! No one in his right mind would buy coverage that protects someone else against the person buying the coverage. (But joint ownership of the child may complicate this issue, as mentioned in another comment.)

Don't think you thought this out

I assume that if you are going to allow murder of ones children then you won't object to lesser violations of their rights and other abusive behavior.

You seem to think that at some age they are going to be able to hire protection. What if however the parent cuts their tongue out and never teaches them to communicate in any other way. Suppose the parent then cripples the child so it could never be mentally competent to make it's own choices. Could the parent then go on abusing the child into adulthood?

Could a parent chop off the arms of a child and abandon it on the street?

Could a parent train a child like some dog to attack people and then just abandon it somewhere that it's dangerous to others?

Ignoring rape I think that bringing a child into the world the parent has voluntarily accepted an obligation to that child. This is because the act of the parent not only creates the child but also places that child in a vulnerable state that a reasonable person can easily predict. Putting someone else in jeopardy by ones actions generates an obligation to help that person. For instance, if I were to dig a pit fall to trap animals and failed to properly advertise the location and then you fell in then I would have a obligation to save you from the trap. I caused you to be in the situation so I am obligated to get you out of it. The fact that the child is not capable of asking for help from others is no more an excuse for allowing the child to die than if you had hit your head upon falling in the trap rendering you incapable of asking for help.

I'm afraid that you are so eager in your desire to prove that we do not need governments that you've accepted shoddy thinking. If this is the kind of behavior that must be allowed to get to archnocapitalism then I think it is an evil system.

You seem to think that bad parenting is solely controlled by the genes and is therefore self limiting. Don't forget that genes are not the only replicators in society. Ideas also replicate and it's perfectly possible to come up with a set of ideas (or behavior) that would benefit at the expense of the genes. One can be a bad parent for reasons other than having a genetic defect, and these other reasons need not depend on raising healthy children to spread. Thus they would not be self limiting.

What if the parent is a psycho

I'm afraid that you are so eager in your desire to prove that we do not need governments

That is not the motivation. The motivation - not that it matters - is to think about abortion in a way that does not violate reason and logic.

that you've accepted shoddy thinking.

You have failed to demonstrate anything wrong with my thinking. You have listed some dreadful actions that would be allowed. But that is a weak argument. There is a very important difference between what is dreadful, and what ought to be illegal. There are many people who do not understand this distinction, and so they say, "there ought to be a law" all too much. "Selling drugs to addicts is dreadful, so it should be illegal." etc.

There is also a very important difference between what is allowed, and what actually happens.

Let us apply these points to the provision of food. It would be dreadful if people starved to death. But today, this is allowed, because farmers are not legally required to grow food. Everyone might decide not to grow food, which would result in mass death. This is allowed, and yet it does not happen. Notice two distinctions here. One is a distinction between what is dreadful and what is allowed. Mass starvation is dreadful, but mass starvation is allowed (law does not force anyone to produce food). The other is a distinction between what is allowed and what happens. Mass starvation is allowed, but it does not happen.

I have already touched on both distinctions in my previous discussion. You glossed over the distinctions and concluded that my thinking was shoddy.

It is of course true that some children would be harmed or destroyed by psycho parents. It is also true that in this world that we live in now, some children (and some of the adults that they grow into) are harmed or destroyed - sometimes by parents, sometimes by other people, sometimes by the state. The total rate of harm and destruction of children would not obviously go up if the government stopped interfering in parenting.

If this is the kind of behavior that must be allowed to get to archnocapitalism then I think it is an evil system.

Individual acts are evil. We can loosely talk about systems being "evil" insofar as they are made up of evil acts. However, if an anarcho-capitalist system allows something, this does not make it evil, because to allow something is nothing other than to fail to prevent it, and no one is obligated to prevent evil. People are of course obligated not to commit evil, but the evil act in question here would be (if we accept your view of it) parental child abuse. The act of child abuse would not itself be part of the anarcho-capitalist system: your complaint is not that the anarcho-capitalist defense agencies would themselves commit the child abuse, but merely that they would not prevent it. That failure would not be evil.

...bringing a child into the world the parent has voluntarily accepted an obligation to that child...Putting someone else in jeopardy by ones actions generates an obligation to help that person. For instance, if I were to dig a pit fall to trap animals and failed to properly advertise the location and then you fell in then I would have a obligation to save you from the trap.

That is true only if the person who is put in jeopardy has a right not to be put in jeopardy in the first place, and this is true for the child against the parent only if the child has rights against the parent. But that is the conclusion you are arguing for. Your argument is therefore circular.

You seem to think that bad parenting is solely controlled by the genes and is therefore self limiting. Don't forget that genes are not the only replicators in society.

Familial instincts are very strong. And if a meme is strong enough to overpower familial instincts, then it is probably also enough to rip societies apart, which renders moot the question of whether the society should intervene in the dysfunctional family. An example in which a meme seems to overpower familial instincts is Palestinian women who are proud that their sons and daughters become suicide bombers. This same meme, however, has so thoroughly perverted Palestinian society as a whole that not only are women proud of their suicide bomber children, but their societies support them in this.

makes me wonder

I'm interested to see how this debate turns out, because there's an issue present that I consider the fundamental flaw in Libertarian thinking: an unwillingness to consider meaningful self determination as the end goal of of a society. Without such a consideration, a child is thought to be (practically) freely consenting to murder since the state didn't forcibly prevent him from hiring protection. I'm not sure how intellectually sound Constant's argument is, but I think it's interesting in that it highlights a radically sociopathic undercurrent in "negative freedom" thought. We've come to a pretty pass when arguments that would've been rightly considered reductio ad absurdams are no chewed on thoughtfully and embraced.

aaaathatsfiveas.blogspot.com

No.

I'm interested to see how this debate turns out, because there's an issue present that I consider the fundamental flaw in Libertarian thinking: an unwillingness to consider meaningful self determination as the end goal of of a society.

It is unfortunate that you wrap up your argument within nonsense, because that requires an extra step to unravel. Society does not have a goal because it is not the kind of entity that can have a goal. I have goals, and you have goals, but we are individuals.

I will attempt to translate your statement into something sensible: libertarians do not care about meaningful self-determination.

On what do you base this? Well, first, you cannot rightly base it on my views, since it should have dawned on your that my views are in the minority. We will have to further alter your statement so that it can be connected to my views: the individaul contributor Constant does not care about meaningful self-determination.

Now, see, I find that an interesting take on my view, because I am arguing that the state leave families alone. What would you say comes closer to meaningful self-determination: a regime in which parents must conform to an increasingly pervasive and rigid set of parenting rules concocted by politicians and bureaucrats, or a regime in which parents are left alone by the state to raise their own children? You can believe that the former regime results in greater self-determination only if you have rather an idealized, and unrealistic, view of the overall effect of the state's intervention in child-raising.

Without such a consideration, a child is thought to be (practically) freely consenting to murder since the state didn't forcibly prevent him from hiring protection.

No, that does not characterize my position. If that is my position, then since you are for abortion rights (as I recall you are), your position is that the fetus freely consents to being dismembered.

I do not believe that a child freely consents to being abused any more than a pig freely consents to being slaughtered and turned into ham.

I'm not sure how intellectually sound Constant's argument is, but I think it's interesting in that it highlights a radically sociopathic undercurrent in "negative freedom" thought.

Says the leftist a few years past the end of a 20th century covered in the bones of the hundred million victims of leftism. Once again I would remind you that my views are my own views, and clearly in the minority.

We've come to a pretty pass when arguments that would've been rightly considered reductio ad absurdams are no chewed on thoughtfully and embraced.

Okay, so you have explicitly taken a position. Now defend it.

Meaningful Self Determination

"I'm interested to see how this debate turns out, because there's an issue present that I consider the fundamental flaw in Libertarian thinking: an unwillingness to consider meaningful self determination as the end goal of of a society."

I wasn't basing my argument on "meaningful self determination". I followed your link and from what I've learn of this concept I don't agree with it. It's a unbounded positive right that is in direct contradiction to both negative and because it's a positive right itself and other positive rights. Your purported right to meaningful self determination conflicts with mine.

My objections to Libertarianism stem from two issues that I don't think the implications of which have been fully or properly dealt with.
1) Endangerment of Others - Trespassing against others by endangering them or putting them in jeopardy.
2) Freeloading

I think you've failed to properly address my objections

"The motivation - not that it matters - is to think about abortion in a way that does not violate reason and logic."

Your position logically subsumes much more than abortion. I see no criteria in your argument that excludes killing infants or even adult children (that have been isolated so they cannot contract with others).

This isn't merely about abortion.

"You have failed to demonstrate anything wrong with my thinking. You have listed some dreadful actions that would be allowed."

Yes, murder, torture, mutilation, are all allowed and dreadful. But they are more than merely dreadful, they are a trespass against another individual. This is quite distinct from a farmer refusing to grow some crops. The farmer isn't trespassing by failing to grow crops, nor does he have any obligation to do so.

I'm not just saying that the parent can't trespass against a child in this manner. I am also saying the parent has a positive obligation to raise the child. An obligation that arises with the decision to have the child.

"The total rate of harm and destruction of children would not obviously go up if the government stopped interfering in parenting."

Child prostitution is quite prevalent in countries that fail to enforce against it. The parents sell their kids. I think it obvious that if somebody interfered with this it would go down.

"Individual acts are evil. We can loosely talk about systems being "evil" insofar as they are made up of evil acts. However, if an anarcho-capitalist system allows something, this does not make it evil, because to allow something is nothing other than to fail to prevent it, and no one is obligated to prevent evil."

You act like your system merely fails to prevent filicide and child abuse. No it goes further than that. The first paragraph essentially says that it is "no business of yours" if a child is too weak to protect itself against it's parent. That's quite different then saying that you can make it your business if you want to. The "no business of yours" language makes it sound as if you believe the parent has the right to kill the child. What makes the society you envision evil is not merely that it fails to act but it goes further an holds that no one has the right to interfere if the child can't pay for help.

I would say a society is evil even when it makes no attempt to help the child. But that is based on a failure to act as a Good Samaritan. Which is a lesser evil than the type you are postulating.

The act of child abuse would not itself be part of the anarcho-capitalist system: your complaint is not that the anarcho-capitalist defense agencies would themselves commit the child abuse, but merely that they would not prevent it. That failure would not be evil.

I disagree. It would be evil to just stand by as a parent beat it's child to death. Furthermore, it seems as if in your system if someone interfered with a parents abuse of their child then you think a protection agency could step in on the parents behalf and have the good Samaritan arrested.

That is true only if the person who is put in jeopardy has a right not to be put in jeopardy in the first place, and this is true for the child against the parent only if the child has rights against the parent. But that is the conclusion you are arguing for. Your argument is therefore circular.

I've bolded the part I dispute. I showed how the right arose and it's independent of my conclusion. It's based on every persons right not to be put into jeopardy and not on any assumed obligation between parent and child. The voluntary actions of the parent put the child in jeopardy by bringing the child into existence, over which the child had no control. It is this that generates the obligation of parent to child, not any assumed obligation.

It's you who are being circular. Since when do people need the right not to be put into jeopardy and how does that right arise? Either a child has that right or it doesn't. If it doesn't then any stranger that comes along could put the child in jeopardy. If we hypothetically consider the parent alienated from his obligations to act in the interests of the child then he is no different than any stranger. The minute he seeks to harm the child the parent is precisely in this position, that of a stranger. So if he retains the right to harm the child then any stranger should have the same right.

You end up with a reductio ad absurdams precisely because you have flaws in your thinking. Flaws in thinking that I don't think other libertarians share.

Familial instincts are very strong. And if a meme is strong enough to overpower familial instincts, then it is probably also enough to rip societies apart, which renders moot the question of whether the society should intervene in the dysfunctional family.

You assert what is clearly false. Vegans starving their children to death comes to mind. I think it's clear that vegans pose little danger of tearing our society apart. Punishing them for their crime decreases this likelihood even further.

Constant Parenting

A) You continue to disagree
B) You have changed your mind and don't want to say so.
C) You don't care to talk about it any more and are sad you brought it up.
D) Still thinking about it.
E) None of the above.

Continue to disagree

You are asking because:


  1. You think that even though it almost never happens anywhere in any discussion online or off and had not happened so far here, you have finally come up with an argument which cannot be answered, and if I have not responded, it may be because I have been blinded by its glory and am currently waiting for a Braille computer screen to arrive from Newegg, or because I have spent the last several days groveling and lighting incense before my desktop computer while your comment displays on the screen with the automatic power-off feature disabled.

  2. You want to keep arguing until one of us has convinced the other or is hospitalized by one of the sitting diseases such as hemorrhoids or a blood clot, whichever happens first.

  3. Unlike most of humanity, you dislike having the last word and would prefer that someone else be the one with the last word in any exchange you participate in.

  4. You have developed a fondness for me and are seeking reassurance that I have not been arguing with other people behind your back.

  5. You think that I argue to pass the time while I prepare for the Battle of Armageddon and are wondering whether my silence is a sign that I have received information about the Second Coming.

Takes his ball home in the middle of the game

F) All of the above. ;) I guess you don't want to play anymore.

Actually the reason I prodded was because I was interested in a response. I tend to have lots of discussions going on in parallel and the ones that peter out I tend to forget about. So I wanted to know if this one was over so I could stop monitoring it.

You did make one point that was valid. Your motivations don't matter to your argument. It's not particularly disturbing to me that you suggested this line of thinking. I certainly don't think you are trying to advocate the murder of children by their parents. I am surprised however that you seem to have so little insight into the minds of others on this subject. It's not about being a busybody. Some people just can't stand by while such activities take place.

Funny thing is that I am pretty pro-choice and this little discussion lead me in a direction I did not consider before. It's made me a little more sympathetic to the position of the pro-lifers. I was hoping you'd blow a hole in my argument to save me having to consider this further. Now I'm afraid it's yet another thing I'm going to have to consider further.

That was my point

I am surprised however that you seem to have so little insight into the minds of others on this subject. It's not about being a busybody. Some people just can't stand by while such activities take place.

I think you're misreading me, because I think I already made the point about people who think that when they see something they don't like they jump to the conclusion, "let's make a law against it". That pretty much acknowledges that the concern is genuine. What I question is the inference from concern to law.

Funny thing is that I am pretty pro-choice and this little discussion lead me in a direction I did not consider before. It's made me a little more sympathetic to the position of the pro-lifers.

That was my point. Well, one of my points. I gave what I thought was a rather harsh treatment of those who distinguish between the born and the unborn and between early and late term abortions. This is, of course, the pro-choice crowd which I was attacking. I pointed out that "the dismembered corpses of unborn infants look like infants who are victims of horrifying murder" implying that it is quite reasonable for a person to view them that way. That was an attempt to get the reader to see things through the eyes of a pro-lifer. In Kerry-esque manner, I was pro-life before I was pro-choice, and I never forgot the reasons for it, and I have a rather critical view of those who display contempt for pro-lifers, even though, ultimately, I disagree with the pro-lifers on policy.

[edit] And forcing you into the position of a pro-lifer, or an analogous position, ought to create some sort of sympathy. That was no accident.

I think you've failed to properly address my objections

"The motivation - not that it matters - is to think about abortion in a way that does not violate reason and logic."

Your position logically subsumes much more than abortion. I see no criteria in your argument that excludes killing infants or even adult children (that have been isolated so they cannot contract with others).

This isn't merely about abortion.

"You have failed to demonstrate anything wrong with my thinking. You have listed some dreadful actions that would be allowed."

Yes, murder, torture, mutilation, are all allowed and dreadful. But they are more than merely dreadful, they are a trespass against another individual. This is quite distinct from a farmer refusing to grow some crops. The farmer isn't trespassing by failing to grow crops, nor does he have any obligation to do so.

I'm not only saying that the parent can't trespass against a child in this manner. I also saying the parent has a positive obligation to raise the child.

"The total rate of harm and destruction of children would not obviously go up if the government stopped interfering in parenting."

Child prostitution is quite prevalent in countries that fail to enforce against it. The parents sell their kids. I think it obvious that if somebody interfered with this it would go down.

"Individual acts are evil. We can loosely talk about systems being "evil" insofar as they are made up of evil acts. However, if an anarcho-capitalist system allows something, this does not make it evil, because to allow something is nothing other than to fail to prevent it, and no one is obligated to prevent evil."

You act like your system merely fails to prevent filicide and child abuse. No it goes further than that. The first paragraph essentially says that it is "no business of yours" if a child is too weak to protect itself against it's parent. That's quite different then saying that you can make it your business if you want to. The "no business of yours" language makes it sound as if you believe the parent has the right to kill the child. What makes the society you envision evil is not merely that it fails to act but it goes further an holds that no one has the right to interfere if the child can't pay for help.

I would say a society is evil even when it makes no attempt to help the child. But that is based on a failure to act as a Good Samaritan. Which is a lesser evil than the type you are postulating.

The act of child abuse would not itself be part of the anarcho-capitalist system: your complaint is not that the anarcho-capitalist defense agencies would themselves commit the child abuse, but merely that they would not prevent it. That failure would not be evil.

I disagree. It would be evil to just stand by as a parent beat it's child to death. Furthermore, it seems as if in your system if someone interfered with a parents abuse of their child then you think a protection agency could step in on the parents behalf and have the good Samaritan arrested.

That is true only if the person who is put in jeopardy has a right not to be put in jeopardy in the first place, and this is true for the child against the parent only if the child has rights against the parent. But that is the conclusion you are arguing for. Your argument is therefore circular.

I've bolded the part I dispute. I showed how the right arose and it's independent of my conclusion. It's based on every persons right not to be put into jeopardy and not on any assumed obligation between parent and child. The voluntary actions of the parent put the child in jeopardy by bringing the child into existence, over which the child had no control. It is this that generates the obligation of parent to child, not any assumed obligation.

It's you who are being circular. Since when do people need the right not to be put into jeopardy and how does that right arise? Either a child has that right or it doesn't. If it doesn't then any stranger that comes along could put the child in jeopardy. If we hypothetically consider the parent alienated from his obligations to act in the interests of the child then he is no different than any stranger. The minute he seeks to harm the child the parent is precisely in this position, that of a stranger. So if he retains the right to harm the child then any stranger should have the same right.

You end up with a reductio ad absurdams precisely because you have flaws in your thinking. Flaws in thinking that I don't think other libertarians share.

Familial instincts are very strong. And if a meme is strong enough to overpower familial instincts, then it is probably also enough to rip societies apart, which renders moot the question of whether the society should intervene in the dysfunctional family.

You assert what is clearly false. Vegans starving their children to death comes to mind. I think it's clear that vegans pose little danger of tearing our society apart. Punishing them for their crime decreases this likelihood even further.

I think you've failed to properly address my objections

"The motivation - not that it matters - is to think about abortion in a way that does not violate reason and logic."

Your position logically subsumes much more than abortion. I see no criteria in your argument that excludes killing infants or even adult children (that have been isolated so they cannot contract with others).

This isn't merely about abortion.

"You have failed to demonstrate anything wrong with my thinking. You have listed some dreadful actions that would be allowed."

Yes, murder, torture, mutilation, are all allowed and dreadful. But they are more than merely dreadful, they are a trespass against another individual. This is quite distinct from a farmer refusing to grow some crops. The farmer isn't trespassing by failing to grow crops, nor does he have any obligation to do so.

I'm not only saying that the parent can't trespass against a child in this manner. I also saying the parent has a positive obligation to raise the child.

"The total rate of harm and destruction of children would not obviously go up if the government stopped interfering in parenting."

Child prostitution is quite prevalent in countries that fail to enforce against it. The parents sell their kids. I think it obvious that if somebody interfered with this it would go down.

"Individual acts are evil. We can loosely talk about systems being "evil" insofar as they are made up of evil acts. However, if an anarcho-capitalist system allows something, this does not make it evil, because to allow something is nothing other than to fail to prevent it, and no one is obligated to prevent evil."

You act like your system merely fails to prevent filicide and child abuse. No it goes further than that. The first paragraph essentially says that it is "no business of yours" if a child is too weak to protect itself against it's parent. That's quite different then saying that you can make it your business if you want to. The "no business of yours" language makes it sound as if you believe the parent has the right to kill the child. What makes the society you envision evil is not merely that it fails to act but it goes further an holds that no one has the right to interfere if the child can't pay for help.

I would say a society is evil even when it makes no attempt to help the child. But that is based on a failure to act as a Good Samaritan. Which is a lesser evil than the type you are postulating.

The act of child abuse would not itself be part of the anarcho-capitalist system: your complaint is not that the anarcho-capitalist defense agencies would themselves commit the child abuse, but merely that they would not prevent it. That failure would not be evil.

I disagree. It would be evil to just stand by as a parent beat it's child to death. Furthermore, it seems as if in your system if someone interfered with a parents abuse of their child then you think a protection agency could step in on the parents behalf and have the good Samaritan arrested.

That is true only if the person who is put in jeopardy has a right not to be put in jeopardy in the first place, and this is true for the child against the parent only if the child has rights against the parent. But that is the conclusion you are arguing for. Your argument is therefore circular.

I've bolded the part I dispute. I showed how the right arose and it's independent of my conclusion. It's based on every persons right not to be put into jeopardy and not on any assumed obligation between parent and child. The voluntary actions of the parent put the child in jeopardy by bringing the child into existence, over which the child had no control. It is this that generates the obligation of parent to child, not any assumed obligation.

It's you who are being circular. Since when do people need the right not to be put into jeopardy and how does that right arise? Either a child has that right or it doesn't. If it doesn't then any stranger that comes along could put the child in jeopardy. If we hypothetically consider the parent alienated from his obligations to act in the interests of the child then he is no different than any stranger. The minute he seeks to harm the child the parent is precisely in this position, that of a stranger. So if he retains the right to harm the child then any stranger should have the same right.

You end up with a reductio ad absurdams precisely because you have flaws in your thinking. Flaws in thinking that I don't think other libertarians share.

Familial instincts are very strong. And if a meme is strong enough to overpower familial instincts, then it is probably also enough to rip societies apart, which renders moot the question of whether the society should intervene in the dysfunctional family.

You assert what is clearly false. Vegans starving their children to death comes to mind. I think it's clear that vegans pose little danger of tearing our society apart. Punishing them for their crime decreases this likelihood even further.

As a matter of fact, much of

As a matter of fact, much of your argument about the effect of natural selection on the behavior of the individuals towards their children is just wrong.

Firstly, there are many reasons why, from the evolutionary point of view, parents should have a genetic advantage by killing some of their children, particularly in environmental contexts of scarce food. You can find the explanations for this in any good book about Evolution under the topic Kin Selection. And your argument about the bond that is supposedly created the moment the parents set their eyes on the baby and should therefore prevent child murder falls flat against the statistics on infanticide worldwide.

On the other hand you have an underlying assumption: that all these behaviors are heritable and that the vehicle of that heritability is the gene and therefore it would be as easy to breed for humans not to kill their children as it is to breed for cute dogs.

I say things are more complicated than that. Some people do murder their children and we cannot say whether such behavior is due to some particular genetic profile or because of particular circumstances. The fact is that for many hundreds of thousands of years there was no State to protect children, and children-murdering individuals and their genes were not wiped out from the gene pool. Or do you imply that "infanticidal genes" are perhaps a recent acquisition?

Nuno makes a good point, of

Nuno makes a good point, of course, that these traits aren't neccesarily heritable.

Constant:

It is unfortunate that you wrap up your argument within nonsense, because that requires an extra step to unravel. Society does not have a goal because it is not the kind of entity that can have a goal. I have goals, and you have goals, but we are individuals.

That's an interesting perspective. If I have a goal of "moving to michigan with my family" and they all have the same goal, it's not the case that our goal is redicible to "moving to michigan." It's more like "I want these people do do this thing and I will do it too." That is to say, it's not a personal goal so much as it is an outwardly directed goal. You could rephrase it like "I have a goal of moving to michigan on the condition that these 4 people do it too" so it seems like a personal goal with a condition, but it's not really accurate. You actually WANT them to move, and you probably want them to want to move. Saying "the family wants to move to michigan" seems perfectly reasonable provided everyone in the family wants what I want. Anyway though, I actually meant to type "for a society" and wound up typing "of" twice so I'm actually talking about the advocay of Libertarians (pretty broad I know, and in keeping with the casual nature of a messageboard, I hardly expect it to be %100 accurate for every libertarian.)

I will attempt to translate your statement into something sensible: libertarians do not care about meaningful self-determination. On what do you base this?

Are you practically trying to define straw man here? I wouldn't say that "they don't care" (I have no business assessing what people actually care about) but rather that the thought-output (like i said) of Libertarians (and let's leave the lefties out of this) doesn't seem to be a. intended to or b. considerate enough of trying to maximize meaningful self-determination. I base this on readings and repeated discussions with Libertarians. They often seem to treat Negative Liberty as an end-in-itself and the only thing worth always considering.

Now, see, I find that an interesting take on my view, because I am arguing that the state leave families alone. What would you say comes closer to meaningful self-determination: a regime in which parents must conform to an increasingly pervasive and rigid set of parenting rules concocted by politicians and bureaucrats, or a regime in which parents are left alone by the state to raise their own children?

This is rather stacking the deck. I'm not sure that we can say though, honestly. I'm no statist, and I certainly have a positive reaction to phrases like "left alone" but I hope it's not unfair to point out that your ";eft alone" includes the rights to kill the children unless the children get protection, and that the "rigid and pervasive set of rules" is in fact, for the matter at hand, the prohibition of murder.

You can believe that the former regime results in greater self-determination only if you have rather an idealized, and unrealistic, view of the overall effect of the state's intervention in child-raising.

I think you're either making a giant assumption, or just being rather interesting in your terminology. Generally I think the state should have no role in prescriptive parenting, but if parenting is broadened to include "murder" I think we as a people have a right to try and protect your child and/or punish you. I think you're forgetting that I'm actually agreeing with one of your points in a weird way; I disagree with what you write, but I think there's a sense in which your proposal mimics a kind of reductio ad absurdam of Libertarian thinking, which is to say that it's logically consistent (or at least a realistic parody .) I don't say this to score cheap points- I actually think it's good of you to follow this stuff to its logical conclusions and see what you think. Seriously.

No, that does not characterize my position. If that is my position, then since you are for abortion rights (as I recall you are), your position is that the fetus freely consents to being dismembered.

Maybe you can spell this out a little better- my position is that the fetus isn't a member of the moral community until 5 1/2 months into the pregnancy. Is your position that Children are not worthy of moral consideration as people?

Says the leftist a few years past the end of a 20th century covered in the bones of the hundred million victims of leftism. Once again I would remind you that my views are my own views, and clearly in the minority.

Wow, you might be interested in my challenge of comparing capitalist deaths to marxist ones (presumably what you mean by "leftist," because I certainly wouldn't consider pol pot-or bolshevism for that matter- "the left") as detailed on my blog here. I mean, to be fair, even Lenin didn't actually think that Communism would even work in Russia (he thought, as Marx seemed to, that it had to be a post-capitalist industrial society) I think that's a garbage argument, but it's probably more intellectually honest than the capitalist apologism.

Matt: We've come to a pretty pass when arguments that would've been rightly considered reductio ad absurdams are no chewed on thoughtfully and embraced.

Constant: Okay, so you have explicitly taken a position. Now defend it.

What, that things have come to a pretty pass? That your argument is a reductio? One can't defend reductios since they rely on primal intuitions. Again, i think you think I'm trying to mock you but I assure you, I'm not. Assuming your argument is logically rigorous, I think you are quite right to make it.

Nice to see you again.

Matt

aaaathatsfiveas.blogspot.com

Exceptions do not negate a trend

As a matter of fact, much of your argument about the effect of natural selection on the behavior of the individuals towards their children is just wrong.

Firstly, there are many reasons why, from the evolutionary point of view, parents should have a genetic advantage by killing some of their children, particularly in environmental contexts of scarce food.

Then perhaps they should. Better that one child die than that both die.

You can find the explanations for this in any good book about Evolution under the topic Kin Selection. And your argument about the bond that is supposedly created the moment the parents set their eyes on the baby and should therefore prevent child murder falls flat against the statistics on infanticide worldwide.

No it doesn't. Exceptions do not disprove a rule. In fact a key chemical component of the mechanism of parental instinct has already been discovered: oxytocin. Oxytocin affects both the mother and the father. So the existence of the instinct is not in question, contrary to what you imply.

On the other hand you have an underlying assumption: that all these behaviors are heritable and that the vehicle of that heritability is the gene and therefore it would be as easy to breed for humans not to kill their children as it is to breed for cute dogs.

No, I have made no such assumption. The argument does not require that all relevant behaviors are heritable via gene. Nor have I said anything about breeding (which is distinct from natural selection, which I was talking about), nor have I made any claim about the time span involved.

I say things are more complicated than that.

Things are usually more complicated than what is touched on in a blog entry.

Some people do murder their children and we cannot say whether such behavior is due to some particular genetic profile or because of particular circumstances. The fact is that for many hundreds of thousands of years there was no State to protect children,

And we managed to survive as a species without State protection of children.

and children-murdering individuals and their genes were not wiped out from the gene pool.

You are not arguing against me but against a straw man exaggeration of my argument.

Or do you imply that "infanticidal genes" are perhaps a recent acquisition?

One does not need a particular "infanticide gene" to kill one's own baby, any more than one needs a "suicide gene" to kill oneself. The amazing thing is not that some animals kill themselves. The amazing thing is that most skillfully avoid death for quite some time before eventually succumbing. It is amazing, and yet, it is the rule that animals preserve themselves - and that animals care for their children. The reason mammals and birds care for their children is not that they lack a child-neglect gene, but that they have a genetically programmed instinct to care for their young.

Our ancestors have survived in the past with no moral law.

"And we managed to survive as a species without State protection of children."
Yes and we also managed to survive as a species without State protection from murder and theft. That would be a poor argument for allowing murder or theft, and it works no better as an argument that we should allow filicide (murdering ones own children).

Keep in mind this need not be an argument for the State. Every person has the right to stop a parent from murdering their child, no State need be involved.

Our ancestors needed morality

Our ancestors have survived in the past with no moral law.

If you look at primitive tribes, you find that they have law and morality. Our ancestors therefore presumably had law and morality long before they started writing histories.

They had moral law presumably because they needed it, just as primitive tribes need it. So your seeming claim that our ancestors did not need moral law is probably false.

Yes and we also managed to survive as a species without State protection from murder and theft.

Yes, and that's an argument for anarchy. We've managed to protect ourselves from murder and theft without a state.

That would be a poor argument for allowing murder or theft,

But you need to understand why that would be a poor argument. It would be a poor argument because we did not allow murder or theft. We did not require a state for this.

and it works no better as an argument that we should allow filicide (murdering ones own children).

We did not and do not require a state to protect us from being murdered by our parents because our parents would not try to murder us. In contrast, the reason we did not and do not require a state to protect us against murder and theft is not that people would not try to murder and steal from us if we allowed it, but because we protect ourselves if they try.

Of course, sometimes parents do kill their children despite their parental instincts, and sometimes strangers steal from us and kill us despite our efforts to protect ourselves. So neither parental instincts nor self-protection against theft and murder by strangers is infallible. However, they are both pretty good.

Keep in mind this need not be an argument for the State. Every person has the right to stop a parent from murdering their child, no State need be involved.

So you say. However, few strangers are sufficiently motivated to get between parents and their children. It is easy to be a busybody if the state does the dirty work for you or if the state backs you up.

Absent the power of the state to enforce whatever arbitrary rule the politicians and bureaucrats dream up, the supposed right of strangers to coercively stop parents from abusing their children is moot.

Other people's parenting - "Mind your business"

Marina Franklin on interfering in someone else's parenting

At 3:19 in this video clip.

Approximate transcript:

One time I saw this mother yelling at a child on the street.

You see a black mother yelling at her child on the street don't ever get involved in that. Mind your business.

This woman, she was yelling at this child so bad on the street. She was like, "get your ass over here, I said get, get your black ass over here. Now what the hell you crying for? Shut it up! I said shut it up. I'll pop you in your mouth."

I looked at her, I was like, "oh my God." I told her, I said, "you don't talk to a child like that."

She looked at me, she said, "what the hell are you looking at, huh? You want to raise my child, huh?"

I was like, "no. You're doing a good job."

I was so scared I ran down two long Harlem blocks. I was like, "don't look back, you just keep going." I couldn't help it. I wanted to see what was going on. I looked back for just a second and she was still standing there looking at me.

Are you arguing for the state? :)

"If you look at primitive tribes, you find that they have law and morality. Our ancestors therefore presumably had law and morality long before they started writing histories."

I agree, but I was being a little tricky. I switched from species to ancestor, which allows me to go back as far as I want to the point where we did not have law nor morality. One needs neither to survive as a species. Morality and law are merely better strategies and not necessary for survival.

"It would be a poor argument because we did not allow murder or theft. We did not require a state for this."

I'm not arguing for a state. I'm arguing that we should not allow murdering of children by their parents just as we do not allow murder.

If it turns out that this argument leads to a need for the state then so be it. I'm not sure it does.

"We did not and do not require a state to protect us from being murdered by our parents because our parents would not try to murder us."

But parents do try to murder their children for various reasons. Happens all the time and is often thwarted by the authorities.

"So you say. However, few strangers [acting alone] are sufficiently motivated to get between parents and their children. It is easy to be a busybody if the state does the dirty work for you or if the state backs you up.

Absent the power of the state to enforce ..., the supposed right of strangers to coercively stop parents from abusing their children is moot."

So are you making an argument for the state? :) It's also true that few strangers are sufficiently motivated [acting alone] to get between a criminal and his victim in general. However some strangers are and especially if it's an adult in the process of trying to kill a youngster. Also keep in mind that children are volunarily adopted all the time. It's not hard to imagine an individual saving a child then protecting it until they could find someone else to adopt the child. It's even less of a stretch to imagine someone joining a group that pools their resources to accomplish these tasks.

Also it's not just about strangers. I know plenty of kids and if their parents were trying to hurt them I would interfere regardless of the existence of the state.

You see, I'm not arguing that you must have a state to do this, but it seems to me you are arguing that I cannot form a voluntary group that interferes with the parent child relationships when the parent fails to abide by his or her obligations to the child, or outright violates the child's individual rights.

You call this being a busybody. I call it helping others.

Note: I am cognizant of the changes I made to your quote. I was making explicit what was implicit by adding "acting alone" and removing the clause "whatever arbitrary rule the politicians and bureaucrats dream up," because it unnecessarily broadened the topic beyond what I was arguing for. I was arguing for enforcement of the individual rights of the child not some arbitrary rule some politician dreamt up.

"Exceptions do not disprove

"Exceptions do not disprove a rule."

And all this time I thought they did. But.. wait.. they still do. It's true they don't negate a trend but they do certainly disprove a rule as they have always done.

What you propose is that we allow parents to kill their children ad lib while we sit and wait that natural selection somehow punishes mum and dad for not spreading their genes appropriately and proficuously.

There is another trend for you. Most of us abhor the slaughter of children, particularly when that is performed by their own parents. That is attested by the existence of legislation to that effect in all countries I know. And, presumably, that "instinct" to repudiate infanticide also evolved by natural selection, although the size of the charmed circle of the protected may have evolved by other means (we may have started with being concerned only with that happened in our tribe when we were foragers up to the point where we tend to consider homicide -- infanticide included -- a universal crime, regardless of who commits it and where it is committed).

You may argue that our repudiation of infanticide is just a misfiring of our own instinct of self-protection, since we were all children once, but that is also why we have developed an extremely complicated social structure with complicated social rules where we are all better off than when we were back in the cave. That may be the only role the State ought to have: the monopoly of violence (which implies that citizens are denied that right, including towards their children) and thus the administration of justice, because that is why we created it in the first place.

In stateless societies, be it Somalia or the foraging tribes of Amazonia the question of infanticide is out of order because you are already much more likely to die in tribal wars even before you get the chance to breed than you would if you were living in, say, Europe during either World War I or II.

What "rule" means

"Exceptions do not disprove a rule."

And all this time I thought they did. But.. wait.. they still do. It's true they don't negate a trend but they do certainly disprove a rule as they have always done.

You are misinterpreting "rule". You are interpreting it as an something that has no exceptions - and you are doing so even after I have already made it clear that that is not how I meant it. Moreover it is not just a matter of what I meant (though that should be enough - and it is what I meant) or what my argument needed (though that also should be enough - and my argument does not need an exceptionless statement), but even the dictionary supports my intended meaning. As Merriam-Webster has it:

2 a (1) : a usually valid generalization (2) : a generally prevailing quality, state, or mode (fair weather was the rule yesterday -- New York Times)

The words "usually" and "generally" make explicit that an exception does not negate a rule. If parents usually protect their children, then, contrary to your argument, the existence of a small fraction of parents who kill their children does not negate the rule.

To Brian

"I wasn't basing my argument on "meaningful self determination". I followed your link and from what I've learn of this concept I don't agree with it."

Not surprising, I hope it didn't sound like I was implying that because that was a disagreement I had with Constant's point, it was something you disagreed with as well. It was more like "if the crux of the argument is logical from the perspective of Libertarianism, that will be revealing in this way." kind of thing.

It's a unbounded positive right that is in direct contradiction to both negative and because it's a positive right itself and other positive rights. Your purported right to meaningful self determination conflicts with mine.

Maybe, maybe not. I don't thinkit's a positive right at all, but rather a concept that meshes both the positive and the negative perfectly (though it's easy to demonstrate examples in which one can be lacking yet not have an impact on MSD.) See my example in the post I linked about the wealthy Emir. Another example would be dagny taggart in Galt's Gulch who probably has enough contextual opportunities that she doesn't need much in the way of protected positive freedom (i.e. she is able to meaningfully self-determine.) The categories are far too broad to directly contradict (mine doesn't directly countermand yours) though broadly, it could require a situation in which we have conflicting rights, sure. Rights are not an axiom system, nor should they be. Your right to property conflicts mildly with my freedom of speech because I'm not able to speak freely on your land. If you own the whole world then my freedom of speech is radically affected, and nearly eliminated.

aaaathatsfiveas.blogspot.com

We don't have the same understanding of rights

Matt (polarized),

"It was more like "if the crux of the argument is logical from the perspective of Libertarianism, that will be revealing in this way."

I don't get what you mean. I agree only with you on the point not on how we arrived at it. I don't see how it's damning of libertarianism in general if that's what you are trying to say. Firstly because Constant is not a libertarian he is an anarchocapitalist. Secondly because I'm sure not every anarchocapitalist agrees with his reasoning on this one point.

You do realize that within any one political disciple there can be disagreement even if it's based on reasoning? Even when using reasoning we are only coming up with what are essentially scientific models (or theories). Such models have scopes and are never proven true. What makes them reasonable is if they can be falsified. Now almost every theory has areas it cannot account for but you have to live with a theory until you can find another that better accounts for the new situations without making things worse in other areas.

Milton Friedman is a very different libertarian than Murray Rothbard. I don't think it's helpful however to refer to Friedman as a socialist as Rothbard would. You seem to want to discredit the entire political category based on a single issue on which all libertarians do not agree. You can't do that.

"Maybe, maybe not. I don't think it's a positive right at all, but rather a concept that meshes both the positive and the negative perfectly (though it's easy to demonstrate examples in which one can be lacking yet not have an impact on MSD.)"

I read the post and many of the replies. I think you failed to make your point. I certainly don’t have a clear idea of what the bounds of meaningful self determination are. I did a google search and did not find the term as you use it. So I don’t have a definition. You provided some examples but I fail to see how they even fall into a single category. It’s as if you said “blorts exist” and then gave two examples of “blorts” one being a rocking chair and another being a pig. I see commonalities like the four supporting posts of the rocking chair sort of look like a pigs legs but I still don’t get the definition. I can’t tell what you think the important commonalities are in order to infer the definition. I don’t mind someone using examples to evoke a definition in someone else’s head. I’m just saying it didn’t work. To the extent it did your concept seems like a positive right to me.

I disagree that it is easy to demonstrate examples. I don’t see how your MSD concept is orthogonal to positive and negative rights. The fact that you say it messes perfectly with both concerns me because I know positive rights don’t mess with negative rights. So how could something else mess with both perfectly at the same time? Furthermore, your prior phrase “…meaningful self determination as the end goal of a society” causes me concern because societies don’t have goals. Social goals have also been associated with positive rights in the past (not only that but violations of negative rights – think forced eugenics).

”See my example in the post I linked about the wealthy Emir.”

I saw it. That doesn’t help. There are to many distracting elements to that example.
You say that the Emir is not granted the right to do drugs or sleep around. Well these are negative rights already and are covered by “self determination” so why the need for the qualifier “meaningful”. The Emir being part of a repressive ruling class means he’s the one that is trying to limit those negative rights. If he is allowed to flout those laws then that merely due to him enforcing a double standard. Negative rights do not include those that are double standards since the definition of NR includes universality.

”Another example would be Dagny Taggart in Galt's Gulch who probably has enough contextual opportunities that she doesn't need much in the way of protected positive freedom (i.e. she is able to meaningfully self-determine.)”
Sorry I’ve never read Ayn Rand’s non-fiction. I find it too boring and artificial. I have read most all of her non-fiction, and authorized writings by her acolytes. I have a list on my blog. So not having read >Atlas Shrugs” your example is lost on me.

I didn’t find your servant child compelling either but I won’t go into details unless you wish me to.

”The categories are far too broad to directly contradict (mine doesn't directly countermand yours) though broadly, it could require a situation in which we have conflicting rights, sure. Rights are not an axiom system, nor should they be. Your right to property conflicts mildly with my freedom of speech because I'm not able to speak freely on your land. If you own the whole world then my freedom of speech is radically affected, and nearly eliminated.”

No my right to property does not directly conflict with your right to free speech when properly understood. The right to free speech is a shorthand phrase that should not be taken literally. This is certainly true in your example. Only certain speech could be limited by me when you are on my property, and not all speech. I couldn’t for example stop you from screaming for help should I decide to attack you. So my property rights don’t trump your free speech rights, nor vice versa. I don’t all the sudden own you just because you came onto my property.

It’s possible to have an understanding of negative rights that is non-contradictory. That’s an entirely different discussion. Negative rights do indeed serve the purposes of principles in libertarian theory (I’d hate to call them axioms as that gives improper perception that they are as precise as arithmetic concepts). These principles are actually derived from other more base principles so that is another way they are not like axioms.

Free speech really isn’t something really any different than any other use of your body. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Your right to swing your arm ends at my face”.

BTW, some schools of thought in the libertarian camp are foundational in their ethics, and others are not. They think along the lines of their principles being justified from some base foundation of true statements. I’m ultimately non-foundationalist although I do believe that logical derivation is a valuable tool for making sure your theories are non-contradictory and correspond to reality.

I value non-contradiction on non-foundationalist also. I hold tentatively to the truth of the value of the rule of non-contradiction up and until I find a real world example that falsifies it. I haven’t found one yet.

The kinds of rights conflicts I’m talking about happen directly and not at some second or third level of recursion. Positive rights directly conflict with both negative and positive rights. Sure with recursion, ala Godel, one can find a condition for which the principles cannot decide right from wrong. At that point you have the choice to add a new principle to cover it.

I’ve been making this argument at Catallarchy in the past before although not in terms of recursion. Negative rights allow you to make non-conflicting decisions at the first level with proper understanding. However there are certain cases that are undecidable and so we need to add new principles to handle those cases. It’s not contradiction but undecidability that is the problem.

the good old days

I missed this before- looks like this was before we got off on the wrong foot. I should add by the way, I try hard not to be insulting unless provoked and that if you decide to respond to me next time (or vice versa) and things start off polite you will find me rather urbane. I don't see any value in escalating simple disagreements to personal struggles. As always, the less personally attached the our position the better. You're a smart guy, you wouldn't be here if you weren't. I find your position on Islam a bit inflammatory, but it's not an uncommon view.

I don't see how it's damning of libertarianism in general if that's what you are trying to say. Firstly because Constant is not a libertarian he is an anarchocapitalist. Secondly because I'm sure not every anarchocapitalist agrees with his reasoning on this one point.

That's probably fair. I mean, I was just trying to get att the fact that I actually felt Constant was taking a common attitude of Libertarians to its logical conclusion, however extreme. Not everyone would agree, sure (in fact I hope most people wouldn't) but I guess I would consider Constant's position something of a reductio ad absurdam of the beliefs.

You seem to want to discredit the entire political category based on a single issue on which all libertarians do not agree. You can't do that.

Agreed- if I was doing that it would be improper. Suppose you were on a Bolshevik message board and someone suggested that Children needed to be raised by Mother Russia to ensure that the parents didn't desocialize the children. Wouldn't you be curious to see how the other Bolsheviks on the board distinguished themselves from that position? Certainly you have other arguments against Bolshevism (as do I and against Libertarianism as well) but it'd be interesting.

I did a google search and did not find the term as you use it. So I don’t have a definition. You provided some examples but I fail to see how they even fall into a single category.

Do a google search for justice and freedom and see what you come up with. I doubt you'll find much general agreement there either. Meaingful Self Determination is exactly as it sounds: "the degree to which a given person has the opportunity to make decisions which are important to them." It's really just a better way fo thinking about freedom. Is a person on a 6 x 6 desert island (alone, not under the jurisdiction of a gov't, etc.) more free than you are? If you understand that then you understand MSD,

I don’t mind someone using examples to evoke a definition in someone else’s head. I’m just saying it didn’t work. To the extent it did your concept seems like a positive right to me.

everyone on thread seemed to get it just fine, and answering questions about it was no problem. Try this: "a combination of negative freedom and reasonable opportunity."

The fact that you say it messes perfectly with both concerns me because I know positive rights don’t mess with negative rights. So how could something else mess with both perfectly at the same time?

mesh. the word is mesh. That doesn't mean it's all encompassing- rights aen;t an axiom system.

Furthermore, your prior phrase “…meaningful self determination as the end goal of a society” causes me concern because societies don’t have goals.

In advocating forms of societal organization, we should do so with the aim of maximizing MSD.

The Emir being part of a repressive ruling class means he’s the one that is trying to limit those negative rights. If he is allowed to flout those laws then that merely due to him enforcing a double standard. Negative rights do not include those that are double standards since the definition of NR includes universality.

read the example again- him making the laws is irrelevant (let's presume he doesn't have any control just to avoid confusion.) He can be a prince if you like.

I didn’t find your servant child compelling either but I won’t go into details unless you wish me to.

i'd be interested.


No my right to property does not directly conflict with your right to free speech when properly understood. The right to free speech is a shorthand phrase that should not be taken literally.

don't fall into the trap of changing definitions to fit what you advocate. Free Speech means what it says in a philosophical conversation- that's why when people say "time place and manner restrictions" they aren't being redundant (you shouldn't redefine a right simply because you don't agree with it in full.)

I couldn’t for example stop you from screaming for help should I decide to attack you. So my property rights don’t trump your free speech rights, nor vice versa. I don’t all the sudden own you just because you came onto my property.

owning me is a different story. I can't walk onto your property and start saying things you don't want to hear right? You have a right to tell me to take it somewhere else. Remember that this isn't intended as a critique (of course people have a right like that for their legitimate personal property.) Rather it serves to illustrate some contradictions. There are countless other examples- you owning a car outright means I don't own the car outright.

Free speech really isn’t something really any different than any other use of your body. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Your right to swing your arm ends at my face”.

Yeah, but I've always found the first argument uncompelling. There are good justifications for rights, but acting as if they come from self-ownership is not convincing.

I’ve been making this argument at Catallarchy in the past before although not in terms of recursion.

give me an example of positive and negative rights conflicting if you would.

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I find your position on Islam inflammatory, same with Islam

"I find your position on Islam a bit inflammatory, but it's not an uncommon view."

Yeah, well I'd probably find your position on Islam inflammatory also. You probably think Muslims are the victims when non-Muslims point out the errors of Islam. Even when such errors consist of calls to persecute non-Muslims or even murder them. It's not merely the issue of terrorism. Muslim society is extremely oppressive. I protest the entire foundation of Islam as an invention designed to rationalize this persecution.

I don't need to be an Islamic scholar to do this any more than I need to speak German and be a member of Hitlers inner circle to criticise the Nazis. Of course the Muslims are going to find this "inflammatory". So what, they are wrong. That they have enshrined their error in religious fundamentalism does not change that fact.

You along with your hero Scott Altran fail to recognize the fact that one can create taboos that give your own group an unfair advantage. It really doesn't matter if they were invented sixty years ago or one thousand four hundred years ago. Altran seems to think that the Palestinian "taboos" are on the same footing as those of the Israelis. Their not even close and to consider them equivalent shows a profound lack of moral judgement.

false analogy + a better one

There's not much to respond to in a post that's really more of a raving. One thing I found though is this:

I don't need to be an Islamic scholar to do this any more than I need
to speak German and be a member of Hitlers inner circle to criticise
the Nazis. Of course the Muslims are going to find this "inflammatory".

There's a difference, and that has to do with what you're criticizing. Criticizing the actions and behavior of a group is one thing. Criticizing the ideology of killing is fine too, and doesn't require deep understanding. But criticizing a broad set of beliefs as masking or neccesarily giving rise such negative action requires rather more care. It's the difference (respectively) of criticizing the holocaust and/or Nazism as an ethos (and say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, dude...) vs. criticizing the intellectual tradition from which Nazism may or may not have sprung forth.

To wit: You are much more like the guy who criticizes Neitzsche for the actions of the Nazis, based on a specious and inadequate understanding. That's actually a pretty deep and rich analogy for those who know the history.

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Islam's roots are hateful. Live with it.

No actually, I'm more like a guy on an alternate timeline in which the Nazis won and took over a quarter of the planets surface criticizing the Nazi heritage a thousand years from now.

The Quran is full of hate, double standards, calls to violence, appeals to authority, etc. The Islamic prophet mohammed was a violent man by the standards of any age, who robbed his own tribe, slaughtered those who took him in, had a campfire started on someones chest so he could torture the location of the tribes valuables, deflowered a 9 year old, kill a girls entire extended family then married her "voluntarily" and fucked her the next day, and on and on.

Sorry if I don't find that morally uplifting. The fact that you can or think other should perhaps is a reflection on your character.

If Neitzsche advocated slaughering other people based on their lack of belief in his philosophy, while at the same time claiming it was infallible and from god, plus actively participating in such slaughter, then maybe, your analogy would work.

you don't have to be a scholar...

One can point to all manner of similar examples in the Old Testament as well. As Sam Harris often points out (and as I'm sure you know he's quite friendly to your position) Exodus is the worst of the lot. Of course it's largely ignored, and so the next logical step is to ask why it's ignored. Whatever answer we come to (be it an ignorant racist one or a geopolitical analysis) we've already discovered an important truth: we can't simply look to the holy scripture for an explanation. If it were so simple than one would expect Christians to be more violent today, or one might expect US Muslims to be equally violent as compared with Pakistani Muslims. That's nonsense, and it's such obviou nonsense that one serious wonders how suppoedly learned men like Hitchens can sit around and pretend that cherry-picking a few grotesqueries here and there amounts to anything like a case against religion. There are some great cases against religion- Bertrand Russell's "Why I'm not a Christian" was a formative book for me (solidified me as an atheist in fact) but this whole incitement to violence thing ain't one of em. It rather reminds me of the common arguments against video games, both in scope and in depth. Sort of a "who cares about the data look here's some blood on the screen therefore it's bad let's ban it" mentality

 

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Islam

One can point to all manner of similar examples in the Old Testament as well.

Maybe. However, that does not amount to a defense of the Koran or of Islam. Suppose there are two texts, call them K and T, both of them say, "go rape and kill", and multiple sets of followers for each text, call them K1, K2, etc., and T1, T2, etc.

Suppose that K1 rapes and kills because their text K says so, while K2 does not rape and kill because they've found a non-literal interpretation of their text K. Meanwhile, all of Ti have found a non-literal interpretation of their text T.

It remains correct to blame the text K for the killing and raping of group K1. This is true even though there is a group K2 which has managed to find a non-literal interpretation of text K, and even though all the groups Ti have managed to find a non-literal interpretation of text T.

If it were so simple than one would expect Christians to be more violent today

Not really. The example of Mohammed (to say nothing of the commands issued directly to believers) is much more violent than the example of Jesus. By no stretch of the imagination can Jesus be made out to be remotely as violent and murderous as Mohammed.

There are some great cases against religion- Bertrand Russell's "Why I'm not a Christian" was a formative book for me (solidified me as an atheist in fact) but this whole incitement to violence thing ain't one of em.

It isn't part of Bertrand Russell's case against Christianity as he encountered it. However, you are apparently generalizing from Russell's Christianity to all religions in all forms, and that generalization is unfounded.

It rather reminds me of the common arguments against video games, both in scope and in depth. Sort of a "who cares about the data look here's some blood on the screen therefore it's bad let's ban it" mentality

A video game is very different from a religion in that the video game is by its nature treated as an unserious entertainment. That is why it is called a "game". In contrast, religion is for many people the most serious thing. It is indeed something that people would die or kill for, if they believed that the religion advocated and supported this. And many Muslims do. This, by the way, would be perfectly fine if the religion commanded people to commit violence only to defend against universally recognized evil acts such as murder and robbery, but unfortunately all too many Muslims believe that their religion commands them to kill in situations where the rest of the world sees no crime. The effect is inevitably to turn many Muslims into murderers and mass murderers.

The murder of 3000 people at the WTC on 9/11 is not "some blood on the screen".

Constantine

However, that does not amount to a defense of the Koran or of Islam. Suppose there are two texts, call them K and T, both of them say, "go rape and kill", and multiple sets of followers for each text, call them K1, K2, etc., and T1, T2, etc.

My goal here isn't to defend the Koran, as I'm not a Muslim. My goal is to correct certain misunderstandings about the role of religion in shaping action. That is to say, my goal isn't to defend the Koran but rather to assert its deep meaninglessness.

Suppose that K1 rapes and kills because their text K says so, while K2 does not rape and kill because they've found a non-literal interpretation of their text K. Meanwhile, all of Ti have found a non-literal interpretation of their text T.

You can't assume (as Harris does) that the people who interpret the Koran (in K2) are simply wrong or interpreting it in a non-literal fashion. Or for that matter that K1 even intends to interpret their text in a literal fashion. Rather there are all manner of contradictions and opposing emphases in holy books (you mention Jesus vs. the Old Testament for example) and to assume that the Muslim extremists are some how more faithful to Islam than non-extremist Muslims it to beg the question indeed.

It remains correct to blame the text K for the killing and raping of group K1. This is true even though there is a group K2 which has managed to find a non-literal interpretation of text K, and even though all the groups Ti have managed to find a non-literal interpretation of text T.

Well let's try this out in real life with the American Constitution, say. A literal interpretation could plausibly be that each citizen has a right to attain Nuclear arms. Let's imagine for instance that the unabomber attained Nukes and killed 30 million in Manhattan- is that on the constitution or the framers thereof? Of course not, because there are disagreements about just which one is the RIGHT interpretation.

That's an inaccurate analogy, however, because research into the psychology of religion shows that religious beliefs are not understood as literal truths or commands in the way of the constitution, but rather as senseless poetic metaphors. More on this in a second.

Not really. The example of Mohammed (to say nothing of the commands issued directly to believers) is much more violent than the example of Jesus. By no stretch of the imagination can Jesus be made out to be remotely as violent and murderous as Mohammed.

So now the religion is not about the holy text but about the personal life of the Messiah? The King James bible is significantly more violent than the Quaran (I'll cite if you want- SAB has a side by side numeric comparison), and there is the same militaristic jihadist language in books of the bible as well (hence the "soldiers of christ" interps that have abounded) . Of course the real problem is that there've been studies of religious-justified violence and they don't bear out your claims at all.

It isn't part of Bertrand Russell's case against Christianity as he encountered it.

huh?

However, you are apparently generalizing from Russell's Christianity to all religions in all forms, and that generalization is unfounded.

Well I'm not sure you know enough to make that leap. As I mentioned, I'm discussing the book not just the essay which is far more broad. But anyway, the primary text has to do with arguments for God which are generally theistic (like the common argument from design) rather than specifically Christian.

A video game is very different from a religion in that the video game is by its nature treated as an unserious entertainment.

See, and this belies a misunderstanding or two as well. The critics don't think it's "unserious entertainment"- they think it's often training for violence. In fact, video games often ARE used as training for violence (flight simulators, for instance.)

This, by the way, would be perfectly fine if the religion commanded people to commit violence only to defend against universally recognized evil acts such as murder and robbery, but unfortunately all too many Muslims believe that their religion commands them to kill in situations where the rest of the world sees no crime. The effect is inevitably to turn many Muslims into murderers and mass murderers.

First off, I'm not really sure that you're correct that "rest of the world sees no crime." As for the deep causes of Al Qaeda-style terrorism, they're quite obvious and are well understood. Palestine, US bases in Saudi Arabia (considered by many a symbol of US tampering in the region) Iraq now. I would hardly say that the rest of the world sits dumbfounded, unable to understand why US actions in the Muslim world are unpopular. Now that's not to say that terrorism is justified (I agree with the Muslim world's reaction after 9/11- it was a horrible atrocity) which is a far different matter (terrorism as a method is rarely, if ever justifiable.) Nevertheless suicide terrorism is well-known as a desperate last resort from a position of weakness, and emerges predictably from geopolitical situations rather than religious ones. As usual, the religious factor is just a red herring.

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Islamic Cacti

Nice rant but it has little to do with what I believe. You know if I said shade was bad for cactus plants, you'd be right in their commenting on how artificial lights, fertilizer, and temperature were important factors. You'd be asking me if I was so ignorant as to believe that they didn't require some water too. Of course, you'd also point out shade is not a determining factor for cactus because ferns grow fine in it. Plus you'd point out the fact that some minority of cactus can grow in the shade and lack spines to boot. All in all a messy conglomeration of loaded questions, misattribution of belief, and counterfactual statements.

Meaning nihilism

You can't assume (as Harris does) that the people who interpret the Koran (in K2) are simply wrong or interpreting it in a non-literal fashion.

My argument was hypothetical. The "suppose" marked it off as such. That is why I used "K" and not "Koran". I was dealing with your previous argument, using a hypothetical situation to show why your previous argument did not hold water. It is immaterial to my argument whether the Koran is meaningless - that is a separate issue from your previous argument, which did not rely on its meaninglessness (actually, by making a comparison between the content of the Koran and the Old Testament, your previous argument presupposed that the Koran had content, and by implication was not meaningless).

So now the religion is not about the holy text but about the personal life of the Messiah?

The Gospels, which are very important holy texts, are accounts of the life and words of the Messiah. So it's not either-or. It's not either the holy text or the life of the Messiah.

Meanwhile, the Muslims have the Hadith, which is central to Islam. The Hadith is much like the Christian Gospels, as it concerns the words and deeds of Mohammed.

See, and this belies a misunderstanding or two as well.

Betrays, not belies.

The critics don't think it's "unserious entertainment"

In context, it's immaterial what the critics think.

In fact, video games often ARE used as training for violence (flight simulators, for instance.)

But not the ones that are being attacked by the criticism you brought up.

First off, I'm not really sure that you're correct that "rest of the world sees no crime."

The targets, the intended victims of the WTC attacks are generally considered to be innocent people. It is true that some people consider them to be "Little Eichmanns". I will give you that. So not exactly the entire rest of the world.

As usual, the religious factor is just a red herring.

One of Bin Laden's major complaints against the US was the following:

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina. Bin Laden has stated that he does not want non-Muslims, or infidels, defiling Saudi Arabia's "holy ground."

USA Today

Looks pretty like a pretty real religious factor to me.

return of the Mack

You know if I said shade was bad for cactus plants, you'd be right in their commenting on how artificial lights, fertilizer, and temperature were important factors. You'd be asking me if I was so ignorant as to believe that they didn't require some water too. Of course, you'd also point out shade is not a determining factor for cactus because ferns grow fine in it.

We can always characterize situations how we please. We shouldn't act like it's an argument though. In the end though, this is important stuff and it's worth getting right. I think you're attacking the problem of AIDS from the perspective of Lesion prevention- focusing on surface phenomena rather than the deeper causes. Clearly these things have different factors, and so we can always pick an analogy of choice and replace a root cause with out position in the analogy. That will get us nowhere. A real discussion of the issues just might though.

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Not an argument

It wasn't an argument. See you are doing it again. Like when I said the only kind of induction I use is mathematical induction. That time you completely missed the point and tried to make it about me confusing mathematical induction with psychological induction. Instead it was more like you called me homosexual and I said, "The only kind of gay I am is happy".

The amount of energy and writing it takes to get you back on track is really not worth it. It almost seems like you are purposely being obtuse in order to force others to waste their time responding.

The point of that last post was an attempt to point out what you do. Something that is real annoying.

So, as an example, if I were to object to say the pro-slavery stance of the Qur'an you'd spin off with some them too story about the Bible, ignoring the fact that Muslims are practicing slavery today and that some high cleric in Saudi Arabia was advocating it also. Now used to be a time when Christian did support slavery based on their religious texts but them days is gone. You'll also spin off with nonsense about me somehow thinking every Muslim was covertly pro-slavery or something. Which is asinine. You'd also claim that the slavery itself was not justified by the religious texts in either case which is just plain nonsense. That you think the Qur'an is "meaningless" is ridiculous. Try telling that to a Muslim.

Constantinople

I was dealing with your previous argument, using a hypothetical situation to show why your previous argument did not hold water.

Once again we're off in meta-land. Discussing what we said and why we responded to what rejoinder. Of course all I was doing was pointing out the numerous differences in between your "hypothetical" (which was identical to your position, let's not forget, so I fail to see the point) and the real world, rendering it pointless for the use to which you were attempting to put it. My original argument, of course, was not about assigning blame but understanding motivation. I brought up the old testament not as a "blame that too" point (though your response would have been deeply insufficient there too, given the history of Christianity) but rather by way of comparison to demonstrate a confounding variable.

It is immaterial to my argument whether the Koran is meaningless - that is a separate issue from your previous argument, which did not rely on its meaninglessness

It's about how its believers interpret and understand it. The line in Thin Red Line that says "shoot him! shoot him in the fucking face!" could seem really bad taken out of context. One might find it pertinent whether or not the readership thought of it as a quasi-descriptive work of fiction or hard-line prescriptive command.

actually, by making a comparison between the content of the Koran and the Old Testament, your previous argument presupposed that the Koran had content, and by implication was not meaningless

well of course it has content, but it's interpeted more as poetic metaphor. Much the way a person may read a poem finding validation of on'es life and one's desires and even one's actions throughout.

The Gospels, which are very important holy texts, are accounts of the life and words of the Messiah. So it's not either-or. It's not either the holy text or the life of the Messiah.

Let's not get into a discussion of how accurate the Gospels are in depicting Jesus' life (supposing he existed at all.) Nevertheless, I think you can acknowledge that modern scholarship has questioned whether there might be differences in the actual life of the historical Jesus and accounts thereof. Rising from the dead, for instance.

In context, it's immaterial what the critics think.

Unless we're interested in begging the question, we won't simply assume opposing arguments out of existence.

But not the ones that are being attacked by the criticism you brought up.

That's correct, though it does speak to the efficacy and validity of the criticism. (a criticism I largely find unpersuasive it should be said.)

The targets, the intended victims of the WTC attacks are generally considered to be innocent people. It is true that some people consider them to be "Little Eichmanns".

Oh come now. You said "situations where the rest of the world sees no crime." Don't go taking it back and acting like you were simply saying "killing people who were guilty of no crime." Of course they weren't guilty of a crime- and from what I understand they are regarded by the sympathizers in the Muslim world (which is not as common as you may think- or wasn't) in much the same way as the dead civilians in Iraq: collateral damage*. As I always say in these situations those events are and were unjustifiable- I bring it up only because the Muslim's perception of the "situation" isn't out of step with the world. The actions were, but they were out of step with the Muslim world as well- the Muslim world reacted largely with shock and horror and condemnation.

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina. Bin Laden has stated that he does not want non-Muslims, or infidels, defiling Saudi Arabia's "holy ground."

I already mentioned this myself above, so I wonder why you didn't respond. This is a basic misunderstanding, and an important one. To quote Reza Aslan, Muslim Scholar and middle east specialist (as well as someone who's well to the right of me): "These are Geopolitical grievances and like other leaders of the world it's framed in the language of religion."

One might well have tried to understand the Bush administration's bombing of Afghanistan via Bush's mention of a "crusade" (some did in fact.) That would have been equally naive and ignorant of all of the major geopolitical factors (in fact do you think the Bombing of Afghanistan had anything to do with cleansing the Holy Lands of Muslims? Of course you don't.)

* Let me go ahead and cut an argument here off at the pass. Take the bombing of Dresden in which a civilian population was deliberately targeted to try and defeat the war effort. The dead civilians were "collateral damage" (i.e. we didn't bomb them with the sole aim of killing them) in our effort to win the larger war. Of course, to the 600,000 dead Iraqis and the 3,000 dead innocents from the WTC it matters very little what "greater cause" was sought.
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The world sees no crime

Muslims kill and punish apostates. That's another of many "situations where the rest of the world sees no crime." There are many others like drinking from a public water cup meant for Muslims only, or ripping the pages out of your own copy of the Qur'an. Or not being allowed to marry because you can't convert like Lina Joy. I could go on and on.

Of course, to you this is all a delusion on our parts. Nothing to do with religion. Just our induction engines misfiring. Not like we could possibly operate on the principle of intellectual models, like "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet".

Didn't see it

I already mentioned this myself above, so I wonder why you didn't respond.

I didn't see it before.

This is a basic misunderstanding, and an important one. To quote Reza Aslan, Muslim Scholar and middle east specialist (as well as someone who's well to the right of me): "These are Geopolitical grievances and like other leaders of the world it's framed in the language of religion."

Seems pretty weak. On the one hand we have Bin Laden's words. On the other hand we have the assertion that we should ignore those words. And the basis of this assertion is that the grievance is "geopolitical", as if that were proof that it had nothing to do with Islam. As Wikipedia points out: "In Islamic theology and legal interpretations, the ultimate aim of Islam is to bring the whole world under the dominion of Islam." Sounds pretty geopolitical to me.

One might well have tried to understand the Bush administration's bombing of Afghanistan via Bush's mention of a "crusade" (some did in fact.)

That's even weaker. The word "crusade" has long since entered the English language with very weak religious connotations and was obviously employed unintentionally - and removed as soon as it became clear how it was being interpreted. In contrast, in speech after speech Bin Laden and many other spokespersons for the terrorists have hammered the religious points over and over. Bush removed "crusade" from his language in order not to be misinterpreted as engaging in a religious crusade. But Bin Laden has not done likewise. The vast difference between the neutral and non-religious language of the supposed "crusaders" and the heavily religious language of the Islamist terrorists could hardly be easier to perceive. Your attempted comparison of Bush's language with Bin Laden's language only underscores the gulf that separates them.

And it is not just a question of language, but of substance. Bin Laden did not complain about some random thing using the language of Islam, but complained specifically about an infidel army being located on a particularly religiously important bit of dar al-Islam. If Bin Laden had managed to find a creative way to complain in religious terms about something other than an obviously religiously significant issue (such as the presence of a great infidel power in the very heart of dar al-Islam), then it might be persuasive to say that he was merely using religious language to dress up an entirely non-religious concern. But that's not what happened here.

Mackonstanter

Not my best nickname, I know.

BM:
There are many others like drinking from a public water cup meant for Muslims only, or ripping the pages out of your own copy of the Qur'an. Or not being allowed to marry because you can't convert like Lina Joy. I could go on and on.

Right and all kinds of different cultural traditions to all kinds of different things. There are dangerous breeds of radical Islam, or course as there have been dangerous breeds of all kinds of religions. COmparing the worst examples we can think of for Islam to the worst examples we can think of of "reason" though does us no favors. Stalin is the infamous example, and while you'll no doubt say "well that wasn't really rational- they just thought it was" so too would a moderate Islamist say "well the extremists aren't really true to Islam- they just think it is." Our enemy is irrationality in all of its forms. Picking on Islam only serves the interests of the state.

Of course, to you this is all a delusion on our parts. Nothing to do with religion. Just our induction engines misfiring. Not like we could possibly operate on the principle of intellectual models, like "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet".

Yeah, I think research, studies, experts, etc. are all important if we want to understand terrorism, Islam, and all types of behavior more generally. If you don't that's your thing, but don't expect to win many message board discussions.

Constant

Matt: I already mentioned this myself above, so I wonder why you didn't respond.

Constant: I didn't see it before.

This is why you should actually read what people write before assuming you understand it and responding.

Seems pretty weak. On the one hand we have Bin Laden's words. On the other hand we have the assertion that we should ignore those words.

Hmmm... Perhaps you're in a different argument with someone else and are confusing things. I don't think I or any of the actual leading specialists on the topic I've been paraphrasing and quoting say anything close to "we should ignore Bin Laden's words." Quite the opposite in fact- he generally says what he means. That's not to say that we must interpret every last rhetorical flourish as indicative of his deepest motives however. His global Jihad against Russia, expressed as it was in religious language, mysteriously ceased as soon as the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan. I don't remember people scratching their heads and wondering why he didn't continue to attack the Russian "infidels" given his language. Rather, every one simply shrugged at what was perfectly obvious- these are geopolitical grievances. If the US were to pull out of Iraq tomorrow, cut foreign military aid to Israel, and eliminate our regional military bases then terrorist attacks would grind to a halt.

"In Islamic theology and legal interpretations, the ultimate aim of Islam is to bring the whole world under the dominion of Islam." Sounds pretty geopolitical to me.

I've got to figure that if if a religion believes that their way is the only true way to heaven (and actually that's less true about Islam than the other two but whatevs) trying to ensure that everyone believes in it is fairly natural. I,personally, can't imagine what life would be like a Mormon passing people on the street and thinking that they will be eternally tortured by satan unless I go up and start spreading the good news.

That's even weaker. The word "crusade" has long since entered the English language with very weak religious connotations and was obviously employed unintentionally - and removed as soon as it became clear how it was being interpreted.

That's a matter of some contention, but nevertheless crusade is hardly the only religious language bush used- I simply used it because I figured you'd know what I meant. Take his whole canned-question preplanned answer "I pray daily for guidance." A naive person could assume that the Iraq war was about Bush's personal conversations with his God (some did- I'll refer you to a NY times article on Bartlett if you like) and by the sheerest chance happened to coincide with 55 years of US strategic thought. That person would be making the same mistake you are- confusing a marketing strategy with motivation.

Bush removed "crusade" from his language in order not to be misinterpreted as engaging in a religious crusade. But Bin Laden has not done likewise.

That's right- those around Bush decided that it was an unwise decision from internationalist assumptions. Bin Laden decided that it wasn't. Who can say that it's intentional, but one effect of Bin Laden's rhetoric is to convince people (like yourself?) that we're in a battle for socio-cultural supremacy against an enemy that hates the very fiber of our society. That of course makes more plausible Bin Laden's ultimate wet dream: a clash between Islam and the West.

If Bin Laden had managed to find a creative way to complain in religious terms about something other than an obviously religiously significant issue (such as the presence of a great infidel power in the very heart of dar al-Islam), then it might be persuasive to say that he was merely using religious language to dress up an entirely non-religious concern. But that's not what happened here.

Is Iraq religiously significant? I mean, every country can be said to have some religious significance but the US uprooted a secular dictator that was the historical enemy of Bin Laden (in fact one of our early beefs with Bin Laden is that we didn't want him going after Saddam.)

Things are somewhat more complex than I've laid out here (of course. In truth the terrorists regard themselves as a vanguard for the population and so we should pay more attention to the popular thought) but the basic message is the same: Al Qaeda style terror "is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries," (Robert Pape.)