11 May 2015


Potpourri, Shameless Self-Promotion 24 Comments

==> The bearish von Pepe sends this Zero Hedge article on the new “cash.”

==> Josie Wales reports on the flaws and foibles of the FBI crime lab.

==> I liked this Noah Smith post talking about whether everything is created by human labor. But I have to think Noah is trolling when he says that people take economists as seriously as physicists.

==> Chris Leroux thinks he blew up Gene Callahan and me, in our critique of Hoppe’s argumentation ethics. I report, you decide.

==> Mark my words: Dan Sanchez is a rising star in Austro-libertarianism. And you can’t go wrong with articles covered in Marvel art.

==> My latest at Mises CA talks about Carly Fiorina’s record at HP:

I have not investigated Carly Fiorina’s campaign, and I am quite sure that if I did, I would very much oppose her becoming the next U.S. president. My modest point in this blog post is that the United States federal government is currently spending far more money, and employing far more people, than any reasonable person could defend–let alone people (like me) who have ideological and moral objections to the State per se. In this respect, if I hear that a particular candidate has experience in laying people off when she thought it was in the long-term interest of the organization, then that’s a plus, not a minus.

24 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. aby says:

    Chris says :”Fourth, there is only one way exclusive control could fail to prove ownership and that is if it was unjustly acquired, meaning the control was gained by a criminal violation of the law of self-ownership. But, again, this does not refute the axiom, only means a crime has been committed.”

    he is engaging in circular reasoning.

    Could someone please spell out AE for me without relying on additional arguments like natural law and homesteading. I mean it is not very hard to show that people are the exclusive and rightful owner of their body if one of your starting assumptions is that people are the exclusive and rightful owner of their body.

    • guest says:

      It’s impossible for another person to control your body as directly as you, so no one can reasonably claim the right to have that kind of authority over it.

      As for your the use of your body, either you are, or you aren’t the exclusive owner of your body.

      To say that you’re not is to believe that someone else can claim ownership of it. But unless there is some quality of that person to point to that differs from you, you could both claim ownership of each others body – and then what? Stalemate.

      So, you have ownership of your own body because it is not possible for someone else to do so.

      The belief in self-ownership appears to only make sense as a response to the claim that someone else owns you, rather than being a positive claim.

      It obtains from the facts, above. Like how in those logic puzzles with the grids, you’re ruling out conclusions that could not logically be true given certain pieces of information known to be true.

      The information provided doesnt tell you the answer, directly, but the answer is there.

      And then, from the belief in self-ownership comes logically the belief in homesteading: You are not entitled to my labor (that is, to make me a slave), therefore anything I mix my labor with becomes mine, otherwise my labor would have been for the benefit of someone else without my permission (slavery).

      Then once I own something, I can voluntarily transfer ownership to willing individuals through trades or gifts.

      • aby says:

        what if i cut your vocal chords out and put them in my body. I can directly control them and you cant. You might say that I would not be th rightful owner bc you owned them first but then how does your:
        “It’s impossible for another person to control your body as directly as you, so no one can reasonably claim the right to have that kind of authority over it.”
        argument lead to that conclusion?
        And if you rely on aditional arguments you already start with the assumption that people are the rightful owner of their body so why do you even need AE.

        I feel like AE does not even provide a stronger argument for self onership than intuition.

        • aby says:

          Oh and if u say it would make me the rightful owner of “your” vocal chords that would of course lead to a contradiction

        • guest says:

          “You might say that I would not be th rightful owner bc you owned them first but then how does your …
          argument lead to that conclusion?”

          Contolling something, per se, doesn’t lead to ownership (as in the case of theft). You have to mix your labor with an unowned thing.

          My vocal chords were homesteaded by me before you took them.

          Same argument applies to a claim that I have a right to kill you and use your body, saying “I can directly control it and you can’t”.

          • aby says:

            I agree with that but what is AE for if you can’t make that argument without using the homesteading argument

      • Maurizio says:

        “So, you have ownership of your own body because it is not possible for someone else to do so.”

        But it is possible… I can control your body by threatening you.

        Not only I can do it; in some cases, I might even have a right to do it, from a libertarian standpoint. (suppose I am threatening you to shoot you because you are threatening to invade my property and burn down my house)


        • guest says:

          “But it is possible… I can control your body by threatening you.”

          I can decide to acquiesce to your threats, or not, based on whether or not my physical and/or mental well-being is worth more or less to me.

          But you cannot control my body, even with threats.

          • Maurizio says:

            Ok, I guess… so in other words you say that coercion is not a form of control. Fair enough.

            • guest says:

              I did qualify my position with “as directly as you”.

              The part you quoted was a summation.

              • Harold says:

                “I did qualify my position with “as directly as you”.”
                So the entity with the most direct control over something is the owner?

    • Maurizio says:

      “He is engaging in circular reasoning”

      Exactly. I wrote as much but the comment was not approved by moderators.

      the existence of self-ownership is exactly what he is trying to prove, so he cannot use it as hypothesis to refute the objection that someone else can control your body.

      • Major.Freedom says:

        Actually Maurizio, self-ownership is not what is to be proved, that is, deduced or explained via argument.

        Self-ownership is what AE folks believe is inherent in argumentation itself.

        If someone tells you that within argumentation itself there is self-ownership, then asking them to prove or approaching them as if they are trying to prove it via argumentation, is actually asking them to engage in circular reasoning.

        That is why you believe there is circular reasoning. It is because you are approaching AE as if self-ownership is a posteriori proved or shown or following from some particular set of arguments. But that isn’t what AE is about. It is not saying self-ownership is only valid upon a bedrock of a particular set of arguments, in which it has to pass strict logical tests and so forth. No, AE claims that self-ownership is inherent in ANY argument whatever. It therefore cannot possibly be a theory probable by argument.

        Think of it more as a recognition of what was always there and was heretofore opaque due to distraction.

        • Maurizio says:

          Thank you MF, but AE folks believe that self-ownership is inherent in argumentation because denying leads to a contradiction. So there is still a proof, namely a proof by reduction ad absurdum. You suppose self-ownership does not exist, and you show this leads to a contradiction. This is a kind of proof. And like any proof, it can be right or wrong.

          • Major.Freedom says:

            That is how we can assure ourselves that self-ownership is synthetic a priori.

            Even so, when you say that “there is a proof”, yes that’s true, but even within “proving by contradiction” and “disbelieving it regardless” themselves, self-ownership is implied.

            What you are getting at is the idea that no matter what words or communications are made regarding AE, it is physically possible for you to say and think “Nope, won’t accept it”, and the idea that the only way you can see a way to accepting it, is by engaging in some sort of circular reasoning.

            This is because if you reject it, as far as you’re concerned the ” truth” the AE folks must be talking about, is separate from you and contained within the AE arguments. So it would seem that AE arguments are being presented to you as true because of AE arguments. Circular right?

            But what the AE folks are saying is not based on a default assumption of they know this but you know that, and then insisting that you dissolve yourself, so to speak, so that AE remains as the only truth.

            What AE is saying is that what connects us all as rational actors, from Borg-like conformity to sworn ideological antagonism and everything in between, you yourself are thinking of self-ownership of those you debate and agree with.

            AE folks are not assuming you are at some default position of ambivalence, having a healthy skeptical attitude, and waiting to be convinced of the strength or lack thereof of AE arguments. They are saying that is not what is “going on” even in your mind. They are saying “This is what you are presuming when you debate anything at all.”

            This can’t be proved to you. If you remain unconvinced, if you say AE is not absolutely true, then what is “going on” is not that you are actually in a sort of state of limbo, remaining highly suspicious of the AE arguments. No, what is actually “going on” is that you are making yourself accept AE, but merely uttering words that would seem to contradict it or challenge it.

            This cannot be proved to you from without. It can only be understood by you from within. Sure, go on rejecting it or being ambivalent or skeptical. AE penetrates all argument whatever, even to oneself. You will never be able to think of a fully contained set of arguments, distinguished from all other arguments, that form and shape the proof of AE.

            There are no arguments that fall outside of its scope.

            You can try to form an argument that AE is incorrect, but what will invariably end up happening is that one could add the entirety of all possible remaining arguments to it, and AE will be no more true and no more false.

            AE is like all praxeological frameworks, a transcendentalism. A meta framework. AE is not only an argument. It is an argument about all arguments, and an argument about that argument too.

            AE is true even in rejections of it. It is absolutely true. Absolute truth is truth that pervades everything, including making falsehoods.

            Try to imagine what is true for ALL thought whatever. Take opposite concepts. Is there some truth that is true for both? Yes there is. If there was nothing true for both, then neither could have any meaning or reality. One or the other would actually be nothing and would mean nothing.

            It is the same thing for self-ownership and AE. Self-ownership is the inter-subjective truth that is true for even heated disagreements and antagonism. Disagreement contains self-ownership as fully as agreement.

            When you and I disagree with each other, we are both thinking of the same thought of self-ownership. Even if your thought consists of “I believe I own you and that you do not own yourself”, by virtue of arguing that with me, you are recognizing my self-ownership, and there is your ego-as-destroyer of my self-ownership. Your thought is not that you actually own me, but that you recognize my self-ownership and have thoughts, innocent or serious, in destroying it.

            Does a man who denies that a mountain will stand in his way, by virtue of wanting or thinking of not being so limited by that mountain, really disproving its existence? No, he is confirming its existence by way of denying its limitation of his range of activity.

            Sure, have the thought that you own me. You would only be engaging in a thought of destroying what you already recognize.

            • Grane Peer says:

              What about Gene? He is only being acted through by his controller be that society or Satan. How, MF, does AE work when one party is just an empty vessel?

  2. Major.Freedom says:

    Regarding LeRoux:

    He just made a list of corrections, or what he thinks are a list of corrections.

    Could have been more meaty.

    The way to approach AE is to both understand what it is trying to say and apart from that, which is experiencing AE, is understanding what you are thinking about when you make the choice to understand another entity as an entity capable of arguing.

    I think Murphy and Callahan agree that there are definitely some necessary thoughts that must be thought of if one chooses to engage in an argument with another being. They just don’t agree, yet, that those necessary thoughts lead solely to anarcho-capitalism. For their position is OK, yes I am thinking of you as an arguer, but all the while I am doing that, I am for the purposes of testing and challenging AE also thinking of thoughts that I think are consistent with the thought that one is engaging another arguer, but nevertheless don’t seem to gel with the thoughts Hope thinks are unique. For here I am thinking that an arguer can recognize another being to be an arguer by virtue of engaging them in argument, but they nevertheless think of and then act upon, cutting off the guy’s arm, say. Against Hoppe’s ethics, but doesn’t seem to be against the thought that yes that other being is an arguer.

    Thus Murphy and Callahan believe that Hoppe’s ethics of “Don’t tread on me” seem to not come exc!usively from AE. Maybe Hoppe is just so convinced it is wrong to cut a person’s arm off for pre-AE libertarian reasons, that he mistakenly lumped that in as a necessary thought of argumentation.

    I think this is where one of LeRoux’s points is helpful. LeRoux spoke of “permanent”. That is the key. If you think of and engage in an argument with another being, you have made a permanently valid recognition that the being is a self-owner. Thus, you are also thinking that the other being, not you, has the ethical right to decide what happens to their arm. For if you did not, then you would not have argued with it.

    When we recognize another being as an arguer, there is no timeline implied. It is indefinite.

  3. Harold says:

    “Thus, you are also thinking that the other being, not you, has the ethical right to decide what happens to their arm. For if you did not, then you would not have argued with it.”

    What if you are arguing with it because you believe you have the ethical right to decide what happens to their arm? You say you would not be arguing with them unless you believed they had the ethical right to, whereas clearly you would not be arguing with them unless you did *not* believe that.

    • Major.Freedom says:

      Go deeper.

      By virtue of you arguing with it, you are treating and thinking of them as a self-owner.

      If the content of your argument is to act contrary to that, to deny them self-ownership activity, then what you are doing according to AE is effectively “I am not saying this sentence.”

      • Harold says:

        Presumably you are not saying that I cannot believe I have the ethical right to their arm. That is a belief, and I do not see how you could deny that I could possibly hold it. So if I then express that belief to you, are you saying that at that point I have demonstrated that I no longer actually hold that belief?

        Putting it another way, even if I accept them as a self owner, why must I concede that their “self” extends to their arm?

    • guest says:

      “What if you are arguing with it because you believe you have the ethical right to decide what happens to their arm?”

      To argue with someone is to concede that their opinion matters. But if you have the right to decide, then no one’s opinion matters but your own, so there’s no point in arguing.

  4. Emperor Noah Smith I of the Milky Way says:

    I ain’t trollin’! People think physicists are smart, but could a physicist write a book about where to get lunch and get taken seriously?

  5. Matt M says:

    Regarding your Fiorina article, I think you might be surprised how many people would disagree with your assertion about firms employing the “optimal” amount of workers. I’ll bet you over half the American public believes that firms should employ “as many workers as they can afford” rather than “as many workers as creates the most operational efficiencies.”

    It’s sad but true, most people see all employers (public AND private) as make-work operations. That their primary purpose is in fact to “create jobs” rather than to create computers or whatever. To these people, job creation is not a means to an end, but rather the end itself. Therefore, so long as Wal-Mart (or HP or whoever) is profitable enough to sustain itself, then it cannot POSSIBLY have “too many” employees, because there IS no too many. More is always better.

  6. khodge says:

    RE: von Pepe, I’ve recently read several pieces on the effect of deflation on government-issued currency (CafeHayek, John Cochrane and his references, John Taylor) and I finally saw the real clear reason that libertarians don’t care for federalized currency and central banks…quite frankly, the government is no more capable of running a money operation than it is of running a grocery chain, insurance, railroads, or any other piece of the free market system.

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