Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Legislating Morality

Recently Selwyn Duke posted an article here, and this is my little response.

So let's start an analysis of the nature of morality. I ask you: Who or what determines what we call "morality"? I addressed this in "The Nature of Right and Wrong," writing:

[There are only two possibilities:] [e]ither man does or something outside man does. The idea that man determines right and wrong is known as "moral relativism"; this means that morals are relative to the time, place and people. The idea that right and wrong are determined by something outside of man is known as "Absolute Truth."

And, of course, the latter implies God. After all, if we're saying that "Truth" is something existing apart from man, that it is inerrant, and that we must abide by it -- which means it's above man -- what are we actually describing? But, now, what are the implications of relativism? I continued:"

Before the author criticizes the errors of the moderns, he ought to learn the lessons of the medievals first. Aquinas and the later Scholastics, and Hugo Grotious, some of the greatest if not the greatest theologians that ever were, admitted and even insisted that there was natural law and order of things that would be binding even if God did not exist.

"What we have been saying would have a degree of validity even if we should concede that which cannot be conceded without the utmost wickedness, that there is no God." -Hugo Grotius, De Iure Belli ac Pacis (1625):

"[Grotius’s] definition of natural law has nothing revolutionary. When he maintains that natural law is that body of rules which Man is able to discover by the use of his reason, he does nothing but restate the Scholastic notion of a rational foundation of ethics. Indeed, his aim is rather to restore that notion which had been shaken by the extreme Augustinianism of certain Protestant currents of thought. When he declares that these rules are valid in themselves, independently of the fact that God willed them, he repeats an assertion which had already been made by some of the schoolmen"-D'Entrèves, Natural Law, pp. 51-52.

The rational difference you seek between ice cream and murder is that a prohibition of murder touches upon a far more central aspect of what it is to be human. Society, that social cooperation and division of labor relies upon peace between man and man to operate. Being a social creature is much more important to the nature of man than a seeker of vanilla deserts over chocolate ones, especially considering that most men who have ever lived have not had the opportunity to sample either flavor of ice cream.

There may be reason to admit a god in a purely philosophical sense, of a thing whose essence and existence are one in the same, but there is no ready and reliable proof to any of the Gods of the various revelations. As such taking things purely as a command of God is to at first glance rely upon the opinions of priests and other holy men. This is not a situation conducive to peace and prosperity unless there is a resource to right reasons, to principles and a portion of morality discoverable by man's reason. Otherwise it is just conflicting sets of principles that can never be reconciled by any method than of violence.

The failure does not particularly lie with the average modern. Rather it is the failure of moral leaders of role models to teach and explain natural law and it's role in the human experience. That morality if revealed primarily by reason, and only secondarily by revelation. My belief is that this is not a mere error of knowledge of inexperience, but a deliberate and willful evasion by power hungry men and their apologists in order to escape the consequences and conclusion of this natural law. Of course this has not worked, and the world is swept into further confusion and chaos as these men have their way. The relativism the author criticizes is only a reaction to the effects of these policies. A so-called morality not based in right reason, and firm foundation of human nature ought not be legislated.

And in a way these reactionaries are perfectly correct. Morality cannot be legislated. The act of legislation (factually just making a writ en declaration of an opinion) adds nothing to the natural obligations of morality. At best it may clarify the default where there are several means that can be taken to fulfil this obligation. If a government agent interdicts to prevent a women from being raped, it is no more moral that if anyone without a badge did the same thing. Legislation may, and ought to reflect morality, but if legislation were to require the rape of the woman, the person interdicting would still be taking a moral action.

Another and correct way that the rally of "morality ought not be legislated" is to make a distinction between vice and crime. Notice of authors answers examples by revering to crimes rather than vices. Crimes being those actions that disturb the peace of society, and vices being those actions that create ill results for those who practice them excessively. The later everyman must judge for himself, but the former requires that we must judge for our own safety and that of others.

"In response, libertarians e-mailed me and said that they didn't impose morality, but rather prohibited "force," protected "property rights," or prevented "harm." But unless one objects to governmental use of force to apprehend a murderer or citizens' exercise of self-defense, moral distinctions must be made. Moreover, we couldn't credibly prohibit force, protect property rights, or prevent harm in the first place unless unjustly using the first, violating the second, or causing the third wasn't "wrong." Ergo, morality."

And my last criticism is that the author focuses on the masses of libertarian who lack a through education and background in the philosophy especially as it relates to law and ethics, rather than those who do like Roderick Long, Murray Rothbard, or Lysander Spooner, yet focuses on the work of the best educated and articulate example he can find of the founders. I'm sure that there were plenty of patriots at the time whose thoughts and opinions were far less articulate, systematic, methodical, and researched as those whom we call the founders. A real debate would require a dialogue on these positions instead of or in addition to the more populist versions.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Land of Laws?

Patriots and even plain folk who merely consider themselves citizens of a nation often have a great reverence and even fetishistic tenacity to the law. I have often heard the claim the United States is a land of laws, as if this should mean something to me and make me feel guilty for not prostrating myself before the allegedly mighty and benevolent State. Though such a claim is true in an unexpected way, the argument issuing thereof begs the question weather such laws do and should bind me or any other human.

When I place my finger upon a law, I am placing it on nothing more than paper and ink. So to live in a land of a laws is to inhabit a realm consisting of ink and paper. Just as middle-earth is a land of ink and paper. And if a person wishes to frolic in this land, I have no objection. Though you may dress as a hobbit, speak as an elf, stink as a dwarf, or grow a beard to rival a wizard's, I would not deny these pursuits to you. Though I believe such antics to be ill-advised my only demand is that you do not use violence to get me into your realm of ink and paper. The only thing that can bind me to ink and paper is my agreement to be so bound by it.

Further this paper and ink are not of my choosing, and were in fact never offered to me by any manner in which I could have chosen it. As I can tell even the authors of such paper and ink of the paper which claims to the the supreme law of the land did not write it in such a way to give evidence that they bound themselves to it. Primarily they did not sign it as a party. Additionally Article 1 Section 6 of the four pieces of paper titled "The Constitution of the United States" exempted those who operated as representatives under it from responsibility for their actions to anyone except themselves. (No Treason, Lysander Spooner) In simple terms, they declared that representatives need not be representative.

This is about as sensible as declaring that employment contracts need not offer exchange of labor for some other consideration, or that a sale need not entail some thing or interest be sold. It is far less sensible than a seeing-stone, glowing sword, ghost king, dragon, goblin, or giant spider queen because it is a direct contradiction. Language, the words formed with this ink on paper or the electronic analogy, can be used to declare what a thing appears to be and weather of not it is such a thing as it appears to be. Since the universe is not one indistinguishable mass but rather a myriad of entities or things distinguishable by qualities or combination of qualities that they entail which are absent in all other things. For example man is a rational animal. These qualities are known and describable only because they are distinct and differ from some other qualities.

To claim a thing is as it appears to be, while knowing that it contains qualities opposed to it's distinguishing set is to lie or intentionally present the unreal as real. A representative is one who acts for another. To become a representative is to take on another's interests as if they were your own. In the legal since a representative accepts a duty to carry out the other's interest as if they were is own. That the interest represented does not originate in the representative is the basic quality which leads to the doctrine of vicarious liability. With neither the duty or the liability present, qualities which are always associated with legal representation, the constitutional "representatives" are not what they appear to be, and the constitution does establish government by consent as it purports to establish.

So yes, the United States is a land of law. It is made of paper and ink. Many types of paper and ink such as histories, journals of science, sales slips, employment contracts, and expositions of the rules or logic are strongly linked to reality, with those things appearing within being as the appear often than not. Paper and ink such as Greek Mythology, The Lord of the Rings, and the Constitution of the United States and cannon subsequent to it to claim the unreal as real. Such false papers do not describe or even change reality. The land that I actually stand upon is not of paper and ink, but of minerals, microbes, plants and animals. Some of these animals are men that use the unreality and lies of Constitutions and Legislations to aide their exercise of violent control. Stop confusing opinions with reality. Your feet walk upon grass and concrete, rarely upon ink and paper, and never upon words. Laws do not create lands, but at best define and divide them.

I also often hear the term "nation of laws". While this is a more correct term, it also presents the unreal as real. A nation is not land. If you think so, where was Spain in 117 CE? A nation is political body, a group of people. Being part of a group can only entail duties if there is agreement to be a member. While it is claimed the United States is a political body, there is no evidence that anybody, anywhere, ever voluntarily agreed to become part of the United States. Though paper and words could in theory record the establishment a nation, none of the paper and words said to be of the United States can be said to have done so. None provide any evidence of any person every agreeing to bind themselves personally to such a body.