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.. Society
We Live in the Present

10 Views of Landscape
Affect and Effect
Culture is Ordinary
I pay rent.
Listening to Corn
The Reform vs Revolution Paradox
What is Public Schooling For?

AI and Art
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Is this picture real?
NonFungible Tokens
Public Art
Tearing Down Statues
What is Art?
Working With Reality

Artificial Intelligence and the Collingridge Dilemma.
Bird Brains
Bounded Rationality
Competence Without Comprehension
Consciousness is More Like Fame Than Television
Developmental Processes
Emergence and Cognition
I Lost My Knife
Incomplete Information and Stories
Is free will an illusion?
Natural Law
Necessary Illusions
On Affordances
Pencil and Paper
Post Phenomenology
Reflective Equilibrium
Return of the Law of Forms
Shifting Meanings
Taking Things on Faith
The Hard Problem
The I Love You Gesture
The Imagined Order
The Phenomenology of Swim Bladders.
Thinking about medical procedures
Thinking About Risk
Underdetermination and Redundancy
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
What Does Google Know?

A Country Is Not Like A Company
Alternate ideas lying around waiting for disaster
Blood and Money
Can Capitalism Survive?
Do Our Minds Own Our Bodies?
Everyday Communism
Invisible Hand
Job Creators
Job Destroyers
Money and Value
Money is Different
National Accounts
Necessary Production
Paper Wealth
Post Capitalist Society
Profit Motive Fails
Rentier Capitalism
Social Wealth vs Surplus Value
Spending Money Into Existence
The Metaphysics of Money
The Ontology of Debt
Thinking about Money
Wealth is What Money Buys

Blowing Up Pipelines

Absolute Knowledge
I do not know everything
Rethinking Knowledge
Rethinking Knowledge
The Curious Ineffectiveness of Facts
The Past and the Future.
Uncertainty and Unpredictability

Competition and Cooperation
Dr Malthus would be pleased
Error Correction
Evolution Defended
Evolution is not Religion
Evolution of Cars
Forces of Nature
Is Natural Selection Obsolete?
Politics and Evolution
The Evolution of Purpose.
The Problem with Natural Selection.
The Source of Bad Behavior
Thinking about Tails
Why Does a Leopard Have Spots?

Free Speech in the age of Twitter
Freedom and Badness
Freedom and Morality
Freedom From and Freedom To
Freedom in the Age of Convoys
Libertarian Coercion

Levels of Abstraction
Levels of Abstraction and Minds
What is a newspaper?

As Much As Possible
Zipfs Law

Emotional Plague
Memes: Imitated Behavior.
The Problem with Memes
What is a replicator?

Beyond Rules Based Morality
Freedom and Morality
Moral Realism.
What do we owe animals?


Maps and Territories
Metaphysics Without Absolutes
Philosophy Buds
Sincerely Held Beliefs
Sorites Paradox
Stereoscopic Vision and The Hard Problem
The Gorilla in the Room of Science
The Purpose of Science
What is Going On?

If It Walks Like a Duck
Right Wing Freedom
The Sovereign Citizen
Tyranny of the Majority


Constructed Life
Correlation Wins
Quack Doctors
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Too Small to See
Watching Pigeons
Weirdness in Physics

A society needs a government.
Belly of the Beast
Cultural Appropriation
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Rules in a Knife Fight?
Sex and Gender
Society and The State
Spheres of Influence
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The Collingridge Dilemma
The Dual Meaning of Power
The Homeless
The Problem with Hedonism
To the Moon
Work - Productive, Useful, Worthless, and Bad.

Implications of Very Productive Technology
Modest Proposal
Problems with Universal Basic Income
Tormenting Unlucky People
Why there are oligarchs

Libertarian Coercion

Not benign

Libertarianism is a label that covers a lot of different ideas.

There are left libertarians, and right libertarians who differ on the idea of private property. Each branch is split into sub-branches for instance the right libertarians are split into minarchists who advocate a minimal government that just provides for security and anarcho-capitalists who don't want any government at all. The anarcho-capitalists hold that police, court, and military services could be provided by private companies.

Today I want to focus attention on the right libertarians, because they are now a major political force.
The common thread for libertarians of all sorts is that personal freedom is a prime value and that the state inevitably reduces personal freedom.

Therefore the smaller the state is the better. One complaint about the state is that it extracts taxes by force to provide services such as schools, roads, hospitals, courts, police, and welfare.

The right libertarians are uniformly opposed to welfare they don't think that any of their hard earned income should be taken by taxation to support other people. Their view is that taxation is basically extortion money taken under the threat of force by the state. If you don't pay your taxes "men with guns" (to quote an old friend) will come and force you to pay.

And it must be admitted that this is true. The thing is that libertarians don't mind having men with guns enforcing what they consider to be legitimate interests. The minarchists want to have men with guns provided by the state to protect private property, enforce contracts, and provide national security. The anarcho-capitalists envision a system of private companies providing men with guns for a profitable fee.

The issue then is: what is a legitimate interest that justifies coercion by men with guns. As far as I can tell, this legitimacy is a matter of natural rights for libertarians. "Libertarians defend each person's right to life, liberty, and property rights that people have naturally, before governments are created." (David Boaz)

The problem is that there don't actually seem to be those natural rights, because humans have lived in societies that provide government functions from before they were human.
We have never lived as independent individuals.

How can natural rights legitimize anything if they don't exist?
Where does legitimacy come from? Doesn't it come from social structures, laws, and customs?
And doesn't that whole structure of legitimacy change from time to time?

Consider how legitimacy is changing as we speak in the Arab world.
Is it that people have a right to rebel?
Or is it that under certain conditions people do rebel?

A simple analysis shows that a libertarian society especially an anarcho-capitalist society would rapidly devolve into a warlord/oligarch society.
Even if everyone started equal, normal market forces would cause some people to prosper more than others.
And who would defend your individual rights against rich people with private armies if there was no state?

Even the minarchists, who want a minimal state to prevent fraud theft and to enforce contracts would end up being quite coercive. That's because rich people can negotiate from a position of strength and can impose unfair contracts on the poor, and then use the state to enforce those contracts.

And of course, libertarians oppose unions that enable the poor to strengthen their bargaining position. Unions are seen to be coercive instead of seen to be enabling people to strengthen their bargaining position.

But for some reason its not coercive for a businessman to negotiate from strength with employees. Now, presumably it is legitimate for the businessman to negotiate from strength, in the libertarian view, but it is not legitimate for the employees to form a union to increase their negotiating strength.

Now considering that libertarians claim to cherish individual freedom, why in the world would they be opposed to individuals being free to band together in negotiating with employers?

Smells fishy to me.

What do you think?

Star I present regular philosophy discussions in a virtual reality called Second Life. I set a topic and people come as avatars and sit around a virtual table to discuss it. Each week I write a short essay to set the topic. I show a selection of them here.

I've been thinking and reading about philosophy for a long time but I'm mostly self taught. That is I've had the good fortune to read what interests me rather than follow a course of study. That has it's limits of course but advantages. It doesn't cost as much and is fun too.

My interests are things like evolution and cognition and social issues and economics and science in general.