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Legitimate boundaries for state action

1235

Posts

  • mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    What makes it unreasonable if not for the fact that it's both extremely difficult to enforce and does little to actually reduce the rate of the crime it was meant to prevent?

    Which is why it's a poor analogy to the indoor smoking ban. Do you have a better analogy?

    I did, in fact, read the entirely of your post. You haven't explained why an indoor smoking ban is a bad or even unreasonable idea. It's simple, it solves the problem directly instead of indirectly, and it doesn't require a lot of government interference (how do you think we're going to define a 'safe' smoking area otherwise)?
    mythago wrote: »
    And you should quit moving those goalposts before you throw out your back. Your argument was, and I quote, "Do you believe that a blanket ban on smoking indoor businesses is the only reasonable way to achieve this goal?"
    Do you think it's infeasible that we require any business that wants to allow smoking be regulated in a way where it has to have safe smoking and non-smoking sections, that no employee may be required to work in a smoking section nor disciplined in any way for that? Or do you think that it'd just be too difficult in practice to make sure businesses kept themselves to the regulations?

    Oh hey, an actual argument! Much improved.

    But you sort of answered your question there: "the regulations". Meaning, we'd have to put on a whole new level of government interference in determining what safe and unsafe sections are, what employees can or can't do, whether they are being disciplined for refusing to work in a smoking section, and so on. Then there's the problem of employees working in a smoking section: if it's "safe" then why do we care if they're required to work in it, and if we're not requiring them to work in a smoking section because it's not "safe", then that goes against the purpose of workplace regulations. They're to protect all employees, not just those who are willing to risk danger to avoid pissing off the boss.

    And it is extremely unrealistic to say that we can magically prevent businesses from ever disciplining anyone who doesn't want to work in a smoking section.

    So if I gather what you're saying then you're saying that you believe that we currently are incapable at enforcing proper business safety or working hours protections with the current tools and regulatory agencies we have? Because otherwise I would fail to see why any large leap of faith would be required to think that maybe we couldn't just expand scope to include some additional protections to protect workers like we already have in place to prevent things like people being forced to work with toxic chemicals without proper certification or protective gear.

    So, what, you think we should simply require waiters to wear bunny suits?

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    In most cases where workplace regulations stop short of outright bans on particular activity, they do so because there's a compelling work-related reason not to. We can't just ban use of industrial machinery or toxic chemicals because we need those things to produce goods or whatever, so we merely regulate their use. We can't ban people from talking to each other or (realistically) from sometimes interacting on a nonprofessional basis, so he have workplace harassment laws to regulate that behavior.

    On the other hand, smoking isn't some necessarily component of a bar or restaurant. In other workplaces the hazardous activity being regulated is necessary or provides value which outweighs the risk (managed via regulation) to workers, so we use more granular regulation than an outright ban. This reasoning doesn't apply to smoking.

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  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Julius wrote: »
    The ban isn't about "enforcing wise habits" or whatever; obviously if you wish to smoke, there are lots of places you can still do it (even in the many such establishments that have dedicated smoking rooms/lounges, at least in my state.)

    The law is about protecting the health of the employees of those establishments, who unlike the patrons don't have a choice (at least, assuming they like to eat and make rent) about whether to be in a smoke filled bar for 6-8 hours a day.

    Let's not be ridiculous and pretend that a large part of smoking-bans isn't about "enforcing wise habits". Even the most cynical person would agree with the most idealistic person that these kind of laws are at least partly about stopping the evils of smoking.

    If the state wanted to simply reduce smoking, there are lots of more effective things it could do than just ban it in open bars. Most states don't even ban it in all bars, just bars without specific smoking-oriented facilities.

    States do a lot of things to reduce smoking, like levying prohibitive taxes and funding public advocacy campaigns. The ban on smoking in bars (and restaurants/etc) is pretty much exclusively about employee health; the national wave of legislation is more or less a direct response to the surgeon general's public findings on the subject.

    Just because it's ineffective at reducing smoking does not mean that a part of it's purpose isn't reducing smoking. ("it" being of course the multitude of laws in all states)

    I mean, if that wasn't the case most states would exempt small workplaces instead of just a few. (or maybe there wouldn't be any exemptions.)

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    The fun part about public health laws is that they do act to strip small numbers of individuals of some liberties to protect others, but this class of regulations have repeatedly withstood constitutional tests in the courts since it began being enacted (the 1800s?). Typhoid Mary got put in jail, you can't put your kid in a public school without vaccinations, etc, ad nauseum. The test for legal validity is whether there is a legitimate public health risk or not and if there is, then action is taken to remove the risk from the larger population, or if that cannot be done mitigate the risk and minimize the damage.

    This might seem unreasonable on the face of it, but it allows the government to limit the scope and damage of infectious disease, and we as a country have benefited massively from this practice both economically and socially. Until the last 50-100 years, infectious disease has been the number one killer of humans since civilization's inception, because human proximity is much greater in urban areas than in the wilds of the world. If you look at the countries where infectious disease still is a major cause of death, such as most of Africa and South America, they live in abject poverty, largely because of the direct and indirect effects of infectious disease (artificial scarcity caused by strong-man leaders hasn't helped either).

    Personally, I think we all would have been much better off if the leadership of this country implemented a single-payer health care system in this country using public health jurisprudence as a justifying basis, instead of what we got. However, what we got is still better than the nothing conservatives would prefer.

  • Torso BoyTorso Boy Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Torso Boy wrote: »
    I can't outright deny it, but I find the feasibility of that proposal highly doubtful. How do you propose that would be achieved? Do you think the employee stipulation could be reliably followed or enforced, and if so, how?

    I'd imagine it'd be enforced in the same way as any other workplace safety regulations or overtime regulations would. I mean that's what I'd imagine, just some new rules regarding separate ventilation systems, strong filters and working time laws to hopefully prevent coercion. I've never worked at a restaurant or a bar though, (my stint in the service industry was spent at Gas Stations and Grocery stores) so I wouldn't say for sure. Kind of why I was saying "If I'm wrong, then please educate me" in my first post. :p

    Earlier in the thread, we discussed the ventilation systems...as far as we can tell, there is no evidence they're effective, and some evidence they are ineffective. So it's shaky based on that. If there is a such thing as an effective system that is cost-effective, that changes things.

    Practically, segregating employees would be difficult and lead to some interesting consequences (smoking section employees demanding concessions, or most employees simply choosing not to work the smoking section, requiring incentives to draw them there). I think there are just too many hurdles to implementing something like this.

    But it really does warrant consideration and you're right for suggesting alternatives. We have to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of alternatives, so that the action the state does take is the best we can think of.

    Rent wrote: »
    So that's what having no idea what you are talking about looks like
  • Chaos PunkChaos Punk Registered User
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    The fun part about public health laws is that they do act to strip small numbers of individuals of some liberties to protect others, but this class of regulations have repeatedly withstood constitutional tests in the courts since it began being enacted (the 1800s?). Typhoid Mary got put in jail, you can't put your kid in a public school without vaccinations, etc, ad nauseum. The test for legal validity is whether there is a legitimate public health risk or not and if there is, then action is taken to remove the risk from the larger population, or if that cannot be done mitigate the risk and minimize the damage.

    This might seem unreasonable on the face of it, but it allows the government to limit the scope and damage of infectious disease, and we as a country have benefited massively from this practice both economically and socially. Until the last 50-100 years, infectious disease has been the number one killer of humans since civilization's inception, because human proximity is much greater in urban areas than in the wilds of the world. If you look at the countries where infectious disease still is a major cause of death, such as most of Africa and South America, they live in abject poverty, largely because of the direct and indirect effects of infectious disease (artificial scarcity caused by strong-man leaders hasn't helped either).

    Personally, I think we all would have been much better off if the leadership of this country implemented a single-payer health care system in this country using public health jurisprudence as a justifying basis, instead of what we got. However, what we got is still better than the nothing conservatives would prefer.

    The inherent flaw in the public health argument is that there is no logical end to the amount of intervention that can be justified in its name. The initial creation of public human health institutions was indeed to control the external threats that society faced (smallpox, malaria, etc). Revolutions in microbiological science gave us a concrete way to protect ourselves against infectious, contagious diseases. Aside from a few pandemics, these threats are antiquated in American Society. HIV, herpes, Chlamydia etc are risk-factor venereal diseases, but typically involve voluntary measures to put oneself in harms way. Most of what the public health empire does has nothing to do with preventing infectious diseases. One of the Seven CDC branches actually handles these threats. In the past 30 years, regulation on behavior ‘with the intent to alleviate health concerns’ become the revolution. Interwoven in the health argument is that “whatever someone does to themselves is actually done to society, therefore you have no right to do it”. Drinking, taking drugs, smoking tobacco, gambling, riding in a car without a seatbelt are some examples. You don’t even have a right to kill yourself if you really just simply don’t want to live. “Suicide is illegal because it is society that has to bare the cost of disposing of your body”

    The individual doesn’t matter any more, as it is now the “collective interest” that calls all the shots. If I take a line of cocaine, it’s a crime because anything I do can be considered an external threat to society, for example:

    "Opponents of mandatory [helmet] laws argue that since other people usually are not endangered, the individual motorcyclist should be allowed personal responsibility for risk. But the high cost of disabling and fatal injuries, the burden on families, and the demands on medical care resources are borne by society as a whole." Surgeon General Report. Even if you’re privately insured, or the medical expenses are privately funded through savings and charities.

    If you really break down the public health line of reasoning, virtually all aspects of somebody’s individual lifestyle can be classified as potentially harmful to others, and a distinction between involuntary and voluntary cannot be drawn. So, as I asked before, could we abolish sexual intercourse in the interest of preventing disease? The answer is, yes, it can be completely justified by the defenses proposed by collective good advocates and public health rhetoric. If it is the government’s responsibility to maximize public health at the expense of liberty, then the definition of “totalitarian” can be aptly applied. My defense of law that protects individual liberty (force, fraud, and coercion), the core values of American Philosophical Tradition are deemed “the biggest obstacle to improving public health”.

    To torment a cliché for a moment, and suggest that breathing in dust, fumes, smoke, tar, chemicals, etc at work is infinitely more desirable to me than being a part of a negative-utopian collective embodiment as described in George Orwell’s iconic classic, “1984”. I can just envision a world without alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, salt, sugar, meat, junk food, sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, American bulldogs, guns, charcoal grills, fireworks, etc, etc… sounds really fucking awesome.

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  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Slippery slope, its a fallacy.

    And since you seemed so preoccupied with killing yourself. Suicide is illegal because in the vast majority of cases, the suicidal person is in a mentally defective state. The mentally defective don't have the same liberties as everyone else, just like children don't.

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    Well, no - because in fact those factors do not explain the kinds of anti-discrimination laws that we see. It is not required of a protected-class renter that they prove material loss, nor can a landlord use its insubstantiability in a given case as a defense; it is required of landlords that they do not inquire whether a potential tenant is a member of a protected class: it is illegal even to ask.

    You are right that there is no legal requirement to demonstrate harm in discrimination cases, let alone the loss of autonomy. However, that does not demonstrate that the justification for discrimination laws is not harm and the loss of autonomy. It may be that it is very difficult to demonstrate harm in discrimination cases, so much so that to impose that burden on the complaintant would completely undermine the application of the law. If that is so, then we might eschew the burden of proof with the knowledge that discrimination does cause harm, but that said harm cannot be easily demonstrated in individual cases, and as such that if it is to be banned at all it must be banned across the board.

    I think this is actually a much more plausible rationale for anti-discrimination laws than the one that you have given. And it is, in any case, consistent with liberalism.

    You ask who should bear the cost of enforcing equal opportunity; as evidence of your favored interpretation of anti-discrimination law, you point out that we do not generally compensate landlords for financial damages due to housing minority tenants. But, you say, this is something that should make sense under my interpretation--my principles are such that they do not rule out this possibility. Well, all the better for my principles, then, because I do not think that said possibility should be ruled out. There is nothing wrong, for instance, with the government subsidizing construction companies which hire off the reservations. It creates additional costs to do so, but it also improves ability of people on the reservations to live as free and equal when they have opportunities for work, so that is entirely something the government may spend its money on. I would, in fact, be unhappy if my principles were such that this sort of thing were off limits.
    ronya wrote:
    Political philosophy does not, indeed, have easy answers. But I do not think that it is plausible to conceptualize societies and their governments in a way which depicts governments as subject to exogenously-imposed limits, or democratic governments as purely expressions of their society's collective wills within those limits; neither of these are true. To do so only makes a difficult analytic task more difficult. A bureaucratic civil service exercises an impact on the social structure of the society it maintains regardless of what it does and there is no position that can plausibly be described as neutral.

    And it is needlessly obscure to attempt to reduce prohibiting unworn seatbelts but not whitewater rafting, or prohibiting untested medicines but not cigarettes, to egalitarian maximization of individual autonomy or ability to participate in wider society - no, preservation of the status quo and existing social bargains against new claims plays a nontrivial role here. I do not think there is some uniform level of individual autonomy that can plausibly unify prohibiting things which are popularly desired prohibited or not-prohibiting things things which are popularly desired not-prohibited.

    In your first critique, you seem to be sliding freely between the claim that pure neutrality is impossible and the claim that neutrality is of no value, as well as between the claim that there are 'realist' cases where the government has been unrestrained by legal or individual rights, and the claim that those legal or individual rights are meaningless. These are, of course, dramatically different claims and should not be equivocated.

    I also think that it is quite unfair of you to accuse me of sophistry. These issues are not as straightforward as you portray them to be. If, for instance, snake oil salesman take advantage of a choice made under duress--the threat of imminent death from disease--then the choice being made is not in fact an expression of individual autonomy, as choices made under duress are typically excluded. And so on. Believing in freedom or autonomy does not commit one to believing in a simpleminded or obvious application of those ideas. Indeed, it would be surprising if a simpleminded or obvious application of any value were able to lead to a comprehensive political theory. Even the poster boy for obvious applications of simple ideas, the theory of utilitarian maximization, requires a great deal of by no means uncontroversial elaboration before it yields any conclusions--for instance, one must decide what the proper rate to express diminishing marginal utility is, what the proper discount over time is, how to figure (or not figure) the unborn and future generations into the equation, what sorts of mental state 'happiness' is and how to investigate it, and that's not even getting into the question of what actually maximizes utility!

    It would be inappropriate to object to John Stuart Mill's account of higher pleasures, for instance, as being a sophistical attempt to avoid the obvious hedonistic conclusion of his theory. His account of higher pleasures may, ultimately, not succeed, but there is nothing intrinsic to utilitarian thought which requires that pleasure be straightforward, or, for instance, always sensual. Similarly, there is no requirement on liberal theorists that autonomy be straightforward, or, for instance, to always consist in maximization of the pure number of choice acts.

    Finally, I think that the terms of this debate are themselves unfairly constructed. You are correct, for instance, in that liberals will struggle to justify popular but paternalist laws like those requiring seatbelts. This turns many people off liberalism; it is one of the problem areas. But there are, of course, problem areas for almost every political theory. By considering only the problem areas of liberalism and not those of its competitors we paint a skewed picture. For instance, forum search is down, so I cannot cite this, however I recall that when we discussed the mass killings of communist sympathizers in Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea you came down squarely in favor. Perhaps instead of seatbelt laws, we should ruminate on that for a moment. Liberalism may have problem areas, true, but it's also never put 300,000 Indonesians in the ground. So I think that it is in fact the focus on seatbelt laws which is itself sophistical: we are fussing over some details in the application of liberalism to edge cases as if that were the heart of the matter, when the real heart of the matter has to do with death squads coming for people at night. This is also, for the record, why I said that I find your cavalier approach to state power disturbing. Sure, you may sound fairly reasonable when discussing state power in the context of anti-discrimination law, but there's stuff hiding under the surface there that should turn anyone's hair white.

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    Well, no - because in fact those factors do not explain the kinds of anti-discrimination laws that we see. It is not required of a protected-class renter that they prove material loss, nor can a landlord use its insubstantiability in a given case as a defense; it is required of landlords that they do not inquire whether a potential tenant is a member of a protected class: it is illegal even to ask.

    You are right that there is no legal requirement to demonstrate harm in discrimination cases, let alone the loss of autonomy. However, that does not demonstrate that the justification for discrimination laws is not harm and the loss of autonomy. It may be that it is very difficult to demonstrate harm in discrimination cases, so much so that to impose that burden on the complaintant would completely undermine the application of the law. If that is so, then we might eschew the burden of proof with the knowledge that discrimination does cause harm, but that said harm cannot be easily demonstrated in individual cases, and as such that if it is to be banned at all it must be banned across the board.

    So its exactly like the smoking ban. Unless you are arguing second hand smoke doesn't cause harm, or that the individual cases of that harm are easy to prove.

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    You offer no criteria for your definitions of liberal or illiberal. You just claim everything that you agree with as liberal, and the rest illiberal.

    Liberalism is a political theory aimed at maximizing individual autonomy, and in doing so allowing individuals the ability to pursue their own notion of the good life. It is characterized by a view of society as a collection of free and equal citizens cooperating for mutual advantage. These are, in fact, things that I have said before.

    And your characterization of my arguments is excessively uncharitable; basically, you are asserting that I have not even made any arguments at all. Well, I disagree.

    Edit: I have not taken a stand on whether it is or is not consistent with liberal principles to ban smoking. So I do not understand why you bring it up as an accusation.

  • Torso BoyTorso Boy Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Chaos Punk wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    The fun part about public health laws is that they do act to strip small numbers of individuals of some liberties to protect others, but this class of regulations have repeatedly withstood constitutional tests in the courts since it began being enacted (the 1800s?). Typhoid Mary got put in jail, you can't put your kid in a public school without vaccinations, etc, ad nauseum. The test for legal validity is whether there is a legitimate public health risk or not and if there is, then action is taken to remove the risk from the larger population, or if that cannot be done mitigate the risk and minimize the damage.

    This might seem unreasonable on the face of it, but it allows the government to limit the scope and damage of infectious disease, and we as a country have benefited massively from this practice both economically and socially. Until the last 50-100 years, infectious disease has been the number one killer of humans since civilization's inception, because human proximity is much greater in urban areas than in the wilds of the world. If you look at the countries where infectious disease still is a major cause of death, such as most of Africa and South America, they live in abject poverty, largely because of the direct and indirect effects of infectious disease (artificial scarcity caused by strong-man leaders hasn't helped either).

    Personally, I think we all would have been much better off if the leadership of this country implemented a single-payer health care system in this country using public health jurisprudence as a justifying basis, instead of what we got. However, what we got is still better than the nothing conservatives would prefer.

    The inherent flaw in the public health argument is that there is no logical end to the amount of intervention that can be justified in its name. The initial creation of public human health institutions was indeed to control the external threats that society faced (smallpox, malaria, etc). Revolutions in microbiological science gave us a concrete way to protect ourselves against infectious, contagious diseases. Aside from a few pandemics, these threats are antiquated in American Society. HIV, herpes, Chlamydia etc are risk-factor venereal diseases, but typically involve voluntary measures to put oneself in harms way. Most of what the public health empire does has nothing to do with preventing infectious diseases. One of the Seven CDC branches actually handles these threats. In the past 30 years, regulation on behavior ‘with the intent to alleviate health concerns’ become the revolution. Interwoven in the health argument is that “whatever someone does to themselves is actually done to society, therefore you have no right to do it”. Drinking, taking drugs, smoking tobacco, gambling, riding in a car without a seatbelt are some examples. You don’t even have a right to kill yourself if you really just simply don’t want to live. “Suicide is illegal because it is society that has to bare the cost of disposing of your body”

    The individual doesn’t matter any more, as it is now the “collective interest” that calls all the shots. If I take a line of cocaine, it’s a crime because anything I do can be considered an external threat to society, for example:

    "Opponents of mandatory [helmet] laws argue that since other people usually are not endangered, the individual motorcyclist should be allowed personal responsibility for risk. But the high cost of disabling and fatal injuries, the burden on families, and the demands on medical care resources are borne by society as a whole." Surgeon General Report. Even if you’re privately insured, or the medical expenses are privately funded through savings and charities.

    If you really break down the public health line of reasoning, virtually all aspects of somebody’s individual lifestyle can be classified as potentially harmful to others, and a distinction between involuntary and voluntary cannot be drawn. So, as I asked before, could we abolish sexual intercourse in the interest of preventing disease? The answer is, yes, it can be completely justified by the defenses proposed by collective good advocates and public health rhetoric. If it is the government’s responsibility to maximize public health at the expense of liberty, then the definition of “totalitarian” can be aptly applied. My defense of law that protects individual liberty (force, fraud, and coercion), the core values of American Philosophical Tradition are deemed “the biggest obstacle to improving public health”.

    To torment a cliché for a moment, and suggest that breathing in dust, fumes, smoke, tar, chemicals, etc at work is infinitely more desirable to me than being a part of a negative-utopian collective embodiment as described in George Orwell’s iconic classic, “1984”. I can just envision a world without alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, salt, sugar, meat, junk food, sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, American bulldogs, guns, charcoal grills, fireworks, etc, etc… sounds really fucking awesome.

    First bold: straw man. I wouldn't argue this, and I don't think anyone in the thread has. It's a fundamentally socially conservative argument that I think is bullshit.

    Second bold: this is a good point. I think helmet and seatbelt legislation are only justified by nationalized healthcare or insurance; in other cases, it should be up to the individual.

    Third bold: how so? You're appealing to a slippery slope here and again asserting that it isn't possible to reasonably distinguish between self-harm and harm of others. It's only difficult in borderline cases- the effect of second-hand smoke outdoors, for example, is probably extremely marginal and very difficult to evaluate through experimentation. I would call it a nuisance.

    Fourth bold: another straw man. I haven't seen anyone argue that government's purpose is to maximize health at the expense of liberty.

    I'm concerned that you're defaulting to the non-interventionist stance categorically on every issue, and then forming your arguments. These arguments are coming off as reductionist and absolutist.

    Limiting the idea of liberty to freedom from force, fraud and coercion is highly problematic; you're proceeding insisting on those tenets, but you're not defending them. If you're grasping for some compelling philosophical libertarian arguments, I suggest you read Jan Narveson (some of his papers are up on the U of W website)- his sticking point is consent. Problem is, his arguments still fail to address many things brought up in this thread, and are only strong insofar as they are philosophically cogent.

    Rent wrote: »
    So that's what having no idea what you are talking about looks like
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    You offer no criteria for your definitions of liberal or illiberal. You just claim everything that you agree with as liberal, and the rest illiberal.

    Liberalism is a political theory aimed at maximizing individual autonomy, and in doing so allowing individuals the ability to pursue their own notion of the good life. It is characterized by a view of society as a collection of free and equal citizens cooperating for mutual advantage. These are, in fact, things that I have said before.

    And your characterization of my arguments is excessively uncharitable; basically, you are asserting that I have not even made any arguments at all. Well, I disagree.

    Edit: I have not taken a stand on whether it is or is not consistent with liberal principles to ban smoking. So I do not understand why you bring it up as an accusation.

    so pretty much:
    Your liberalism seems to be nothing more than a form of utilitarianism aimed at maximizing autonomy for autonomy's sake.

    "free and equal" is laughable given the world history in general and the US's in particular.

  • Void SlayerVoid Slayer Very Suspicious Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    You offer no criteria for your definitions of liberal or illiberal. You just claim everything that you agree with as liberal, and the rest illiberal.

    Liberalism is a political theory aimed at maximizing individual autonomy, and in doing so allowing individuals the ability to pursue their own notion of the good life. It is characterized by a view of society as a collection of free and equal citizens cooperating for mutual advantage. These are, in fact, things that I have said before.

    And your characterization of my arguments is excessively uncharitable; basically, you are asserting that I have not even made any arguments at all. Well, I disagree.

    Edit: I have not taken a stand on whether it is or is not consistent with liberal principles to ban smoking. So I do not understand why you bring it up as an accusation.

    so pretty much:
    Your liberalism seems to be nothing more than a form of utilitarianism aimed at maximizing autonomy for autonomy's sake.

    "free and equal" is laughable given the world history in general and the US's in particular.

    No, it seems that maximizing autonomy allows people to find their own happiness, which is either always better or always right.

    He's a superhumanly strong soccer-playing romance novelist possessed of the uncanny powers of an insect. She's a beautiful African-American doctor with her own daytime radio talk show. They fight crime!
  • Torso BoyTorso Boy Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Liberty, not autonomy. Extremely important, as division of labour and the consequential interdependence are integral to a modern liberal economy.

    Rent wrote: »
    So that's what having no idea what you are talking about looks like
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    Finally, I think that the terms of this debate are themselves unfairly constructed. You are correct, for instance, in that liberals will struggle to justify popular but paternalist laws like those requiring seatbelts. This turns many people off liberalism; it is one of the problem areas. But there are, of course, problem areas for almost every political theory. By considering only the problem areas of liberalism and not those of its competitors we paint a skewed picture. For instance, forum search is down, so I cannot cite this, however I recall that when we discussed the mass killings of communist sympathizers in Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea you came down squarely in favor. Perhaps instead of seatbelt laws, we should ruminate on that for a moment. Liberalism may have problem areas, true, but it's also never put 300,000 Indonesians in the ground. So I think that it is in fact the focus on seatbelt laws which is itself sophistical: we are fussing over some details in the application of liberalism to edge cases as if that were the heart of the matter, when the real heart of the matter has to with death squads coming for people at night. This is also, for the record, why I said that I find your cavalier approach to state power disturbing. Sure, you may sound fairly reasonable when discussing state power in the context of anti-discrimination law, but there's stuff hiding under the surface there that should turn anyone's hair white.


    You're right we are taking your principles and applying them to something like the present day US. Which is clearly a harder comparison than 'Death Squads'.

    The fact is that your ideas have been tried(The Gilded Age), So by applying your principles to the modern US, and seeing that they would outlaw the types of government action that ended: company towns, child labor, monopolies, trusts, limitless pollution, segregation, slavery, abhorrent working conditions, slave-level wages, basically all the progress that has been made since the 1880s. We are comparing the US RIGHT NOW, to a real period in time where it was governed by your principles.

    If looking at the problems at various points of time along that journey, and seeing how The Market, failed to resolve them, and how the actions that did resolve them are against your principles or not feasible under them, makes your philosophy seem unpleasant, thats not a problem with the comparison.

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    The fact is that your ideas have been tried(The Gilded Age), So by applying your principles to the modern US, and seeing that they would outlaw the types of government action that ended: company towns, child labor, monopolies, trusts, limitless pollution, segregation, slavery, abhorrent working conditions, slave-level wages, basically all the progress that has been made since the 1880s. We are comparing the US RIGHT NOW, to a real period in time where it was governed by your principles.

    If looking at the problems at various points of time along that journey, and seeing how The Market, failed to resolve them, and how the actions that did resolve them are against your principles or not feasible under them, makes your philosophy seem unpleasant, thats not a problem with the comparison.

    To put it bluntly, this is stupid. You appear to be stubborn about insisting on confusing political liberalism with libertarianism. I guess it's easier to argue that way!

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Julius wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    The ban isn't about "enforcing wise habits" or whatever; obviously if you wish to smoke, there are lots of places you can still do it (even in the many such establishments that have dedicated smoking rooms/lounges, at least in my state.)

    The law is about protecting the health of the employees of those establishments, who unlike the patrons don't have a choice (at least, assuming they like to eat and make rent) about whether to be in a smoke filled bar for 6-8 hours a day.

    Let's not be ridiculous and pretend that a large part of smoking-bans isn't about "enforcing wise habits". Even the most cynical person would agree with the most idealistic person that these kind of laws are at least partly about stopping the evils of smoking.

    If the state wanted to simply reduce smoking, there are lots of more effective things it could do than just ban it in open bars. Most states don't even ban it in all bars, just bars without specific smoking-oriented facilities.

    States do a lot of things to reduce smoking, like levying prohibitive taxes and funding public advocacy campaigns. The ban on smoking in bars (and restaurants/etc) is pretty much exclusively about employee health; the national wave of legislation is more or less a direct response to the surgeon general's public findings on the subject.

    Just because it's ineffective at reducing smoking does not mean that a part of it's purpose isn't reducing smoking. ("it" being of course the multitude of laws in all states)

    I mean, if that wasn't the case most states would exempt small workplaces instead of just a few. (or maybe there wouldn't be any exemptions.)

    This is kind of like arguing that drunk driving laws are intended to reduce drinking. I mean, they probably have that effect in some situations, but that's hardly the point of the law.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
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  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Julius wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    The ban isn't about "enforcing wise habits" or whatever; obviously if you wish to smoke, there are lots of places you can still do it (even in the many such establishments that have dedicated smoking rooms/lounges, at least in my state.)

    The law is about protecting the health of the employees of those establishments, who unlike the patrons don't have a choice (at least, assuming they like to eat and make rent) about whether to be in a smoke filled bar for 6-8 hours a day.

    Let's not be ridiculous and pretend that a large part of smoking-bans isn't about "enforcing wise habits". Even the most cynical person would agree with the most idealistic person that these kind of laws are at least partly about stopping the evils of smoking.

    If the state wanted to simply reduce smoking, there are lots of more effective things it could do than just ban it in open bars. Most states don't even ban it in all bars, just bars without specific smoking-oriented facilities.

    States do a lot of things to reduce smoking, like levying prohibitive taxes and funding public advocacy campaigns. The ban on smoking in bars (and restaurants/etc) is pretty much exclusively about employee health; the national wave of legislation is more or less a direct response to the surgeon general's public findings on the subject.

    Just because it's ineffective at reducing smoking does not mean that a part of it's purpose isn't reducing smoking. ("it" being of course the multitude of laws in all states)

    I mean, if that wasn't the case most states would exempt small workplaces instead of just a few. (or maybe there wouldn't be any exemptions.)

    This is kind of like arguing that drunk driving laws are intended to reduce drinking. I mean, they probably have that effect in some situations, but that's hardly the point of the law.

    Why then are casinos and small workplaces exempt? Do these employees matter less? Surely if it's all about the employees it wouldn't matter where these employees worked, right?

    This is more like arguing that the sale of alcohol being restricted to government-owned shops is intended to reduce drinking. While it certainly reduces the societal trouble (drunks in the street, sale to minors and such things) a non-insignificant effect is also reducing the overall consumption of alcohol by making it less accessible.

    Smoking bans help employees, true, but they also reduce the amount of smoking and make it less socially acceptable.

    (note that I'm not saying such bans are intrinsically bad or that the gov shouldn't have the power to do this, just that for a proper rebuttal of libertarian arguments you can acknowledge that part of the issue is stopping smoking)

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    ...

    I'll write a proper response later, but as a quick note:

    I don't read you as advancing a libertarian theory - no, clearly you are quite willing to give up a mass of property rights for other liberties in a more careful vision of individual autonomy. A Nordic individualist social-welfare vision, perhaps, not the Gilded Age. My objection is more along the lines of: can we convincingly derive everything that we (read: you and I, for simplicity's sake) want out of a government out of an ethical foundation of egalitarian maximization of individual autonomy*? Excluding the state influencing what people want to begin with (which was our original dispute, I daresay). And my intuition on this is "almost certainly not". I am reading you as claiming that we can, of course. Is this right?

    * edit: and ban the state from doing everything we don't want, etc.

  • MrMisterMrMister Valuing scholarship above all elseRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    ...

    I'll write a proper response later, but as a quick note:

    I don't read you as advancing a libertarian theory - no, clearly you are quite willing to give up a mass of property rights for other liberties in a more careful vision of individual autonomy. A Nordic individualist social-welfare vision, perhaps, not the Gilded Age. My objection is more along the lines of: can we convincingly derive everything that we (read: you and I, for simplicity's sake) want out of a government out of an ethical foundation of egalitarian maximization of individual autonomy*? Excluding the state influencing what people want to begin with (which was our original dispute, I daresay). And my intuition on this is "almost certainly not". I am reading you as claiming that we can, of course. Is this right?

    * edit: and ban the state from doing everything we don't want, etc.

    You are more or less right on both counts, both that the Nordic indvidualistic social-welfare state is the natural application of liberal political philosophy, and also that I have been claiming that state power in such a society can be derived from the foundation of egalitarian maximization of individual autonomy.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I don't dispute the desirability of the vision, but I don't think it can be derived from such a foundation - there being things which I think we want, and which I also think cannot be plausibly derived - and even if it were possible, first you need liberal individualists, and the state regime may have to consciously maneuver its way there.

    Well! At least our disagreement is clear.

    Proper response later...

  • Chaos PunkChaos Punk Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Torso Boy wrote: »
    Chaos Punk wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    The fun part about public health laws is that they do act to strip small numbers of individuals of some liberties to protect others, but this class of regulations have repeatedly withstood constitutional tests in the courts since it began being enacted (the 1800s?). Typhoid Mary got put in jail, you can't put your kid in a public school without vaccinations, etc, ad nauseum. The test for legal validity is whether there is a legitimate public health risk or not and if there is, then action is taken to remove the risk from the larger population, or if that cannot be done mitigate the risk and minimize the damage.

    This might seem unreasonable on the face of it, but it allows the government to limit the scope and damage of infectious disease, and we as a country have benefited massively from this practice both economically and socially. Until the last 50-100 years, infectious disease has been the number one killer of humans since civilization's inception, because human proximity is much greater in urban areas than in the wilds of the world. If you look at the countries where infectious disease still is a major cause of death, such as most of Africa and South America, they live in abject poverty, largely because of the direct and indirect effects of infectious disease (artificial scarcity caused by strong-man leaders hasn't helped either).

    Personally, I think we all would have been much better off if the leadership of this country implemented a single-payer health care system in this country using public health jurisprudence as a justifying basis, instead of what we got. However, what we got is still better than the nothing conservatives would prefer.

    The inherent flaw in the public health argument is that there is no logical end to the amount of intervention that can be justified in its name. The initial creation of public human health institutions was indeed to control the external threats that society faced (smallpox, malaria, etc). Revolutions in microbiological science gave us a concrete way to protect ourselves against infectious, contagious diseases. Aside from a few pandemics, these threats are antiquated in American Society. HIV, herpes, Chlamydia etc are risk-factor venereal diseases, but typically involve voluntary measures to put oneself in harms way. Most of what the public health empire does has nothing to do with preventing infectious diseases. One of the Seven CDC branches actually handles these threats. In the past 30 years, regulation on behavior ‘with the intent to alleviate health concerns’ become the revolution. Interwoven in the health argument is that “whatever someone does to themselves is actually done to society, therefore you have no right to do it”. Drinking, taking drugs, smoking tobacco, gambling, riding in a car without a seatbelt are some examples. You don’t even have a right to kill yourself if you really just simply don’t want to live. “Suicide is illegal because it is society that has to bare the cost of disposing of your body”

    The individual doesn’t matter any more, as it is now the “collective interest” that calls all the shots. If I take a line of cocaine, it’s a crime because anything I do can be considered an external threat to society, for example:

    "Opponents of mandatory [helmet] laws argue that since other people usually are not endangered, the individual motorcyclist should be allowed personal responsibility for risk. But the high cost of disabling and fatal injuries, the burden on families, and the demands on medical care resources are borne by society as a whole." Surgeon General Report. Even if you’re privately insured, or the medical expenses are privately funded through savings and charities.

    If you really break down the public health line of reasoning, virtually all aspects of somebody’s individual lifestyle can be classified as potentially harmful to others, and a distinction between involuntary and voluntary cannot be drawn. So, as I asked before, could we abolish sexual intercourse in the interest of preventing disease? The answer is, yes, it can be completely justified by the defenses proposed by collective good advocates and public health rhetoric. If it is the government’s responsibility to maximize public health at the expense of liberty, then the definition of “totalitarian” can be aptly applied. My defense of law that protects individual liberty (force, fraud, and coercion), the core values of American Philosophical Tradition are deemed “the biggest obstacle to improving public health”.

    To torment a cliché for a moment, and suggest that breathing in dust, fumes, smoke, tar, chemicals, etc at work is infinitely more desirable to me than being a part of a negative-utopian collective embodiment as described in George Orwell’s iconic classic, “1984”. I can just envision a world without alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, salt, sugar, meat, junk food, sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, American bulldogs, guns, charcoal grills, fireworks, etc, etc… sounds really fucking awesome.

    First bold: straw man. I wouldn't argue this, and I don't think anyone in the thread has. It's a fundamentally socially conservative argument that I think is bullshit.

    Second bold: this is a good point. I think helmet and seatbelt legislation are only justified by nationalized healthcare or insurance; in other cases, it should be up to the individual.

    Third bold: how so? You're appealing to a slippery slope here and again asserting that it isn't possible to reasonably distinguish between self-harm and harm of others. It's only difficult in borderline cases- the effect of second-hand smoke outdoors, for example, is probably extremely marginal and very difficult to evaluate through experimentation. I would call it a nuisance.

    Fourth bold: another straw man. I haven't seen anyone argue that government's purpose is to maximize health at the expense of liberty.

    I'm concerned that you're defaulting to the non-interventionist stance categorically on every issue, and then forming your arguments. These arguments are coming off as reductionist and absolutist.

    Limiting the idea of liberty to freedom from force, fraud and coercion is highly problematic; you're proceeding insisting on those tenets, but you're not defending them. If you're grasping for some compelling philosophical libertarian arguments, I suggest you read Jan Narveson (some of his papers are up on the U of W website)- his sticking point is consent. Problem is, his arguments still fail to address many things brought up in this thread, and are only strong insofar as they are philosophically cogent.

    I don't have adequate time to post everything I want to right now, but I will get back to you later this evening. I just want to point out that these "strawman" points are actually sentiments and quotes expressed by individuals in the field of public health (Julius Richmond, Joseph Califano, and Daniel Beauchamp). I'm arguging from more or less an existential point of view, but that is irrelevant because with these recent posts I'm simply trying to illustrate that there are diametric extremes involved when we do not have criteria for law, IE totalitarian vs anarchistic.

    someone asked, "Should the business owner have all the rights with no interference from the state" in an attempt to disprove the value of property rights, so I'm merely pointing out that it is an extreme point, and the question Should the state make all the choices with no say from the business owners and the people? leads to the same lack of oversight, and lack of a system of checks and balances.

    We are all the man behind the curtain.... pay no attention to any of us
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    Well, no - because in fact those factors do not explain the kinds of anti-discrimination laws that we see. It is not required of a protected-class renter that they prove material loss, nor can a landlord use its insubstantiability in a given case as a defense; it is required of landlords that they do not inquire whether a potential tenant is a member of a protected class: it is illegal even to ask.
    Spoiler:

    You are right that there is no legal requirement to demonstrate harm in discrimination cases, let alone the loss of autonomy. However, that does not demonstrate that the justification for discrimination laws is not harm and the loss of autonomy. It may be that it is very difficult to demonstrate harm in discrimination cases, so much so that to impose that burden on the complainant would completely undermine the application of the law. If that is so, then we might eschew the burden of proof with the knowledge that discrimination does cause harm, but that said harm cannot be easily demonstrated in individual cases, and as such that if it is to be banned at all it must be banned across the board.

    I think this is actually a much more plausible rationale for anti-discrimination laws than the one that you have given. And it is, in any case, consistent with liberalism.

    You ask who should bear the cost of enforcing equal opportunity; as evidence of your favored interpretation of anti-discrimination law, you point out that we do not generally compensate landlords for financial damages due to housing minority tenants. But, you say, this is something that should make sense under my interpretation--my principles are such that they do not rule out this possibility. Well, all the better for my principles, then, because I do not think that said possibility should be ruled out. There is nothing wrong, for instance, with the government subsidizing construction companies which hire off the reservations. It creates additional costs to do so, but it also improves ability of people on the reservations to live as free and equal when they have opportunities for work, so that is entirely something the government may spend its money on. I would, in fact, be unhappy if my principles were such that this sort of thing were off limits.

    I do not think it is about burden of proof; were that the objection, we could place the burden on the defendant to show insubstantiability (as I noted - hence "nor"). Only if we thought this too generally impossible, might a conscientious maximizer of individual autonomy merrily skip over toward prohibiting polite inquiry outright. But I am no lawyer, so I will not push this point any further. I don't think your rationale is plausible and you don't think mine is, so there's that. I do agree that yours would be consistent with liberalism.

    On bearing costs - it may be more appropriate to compare subsidizing construction companies who hire off the reservation to subsidizing working for a construction company by those in reservations; under certain obnoxious but standard presumptions which we have discussed elsewhere and that I will rely on unless you object, the effects are on employment are of course identical. The gains, however, are not. Are you indifferent? What if the companies were reluctant to hire off reservations because, say, they are run by flaming racists? (which I emphasize is wholly hypothetical).

    The point here is that there are a variety of ways to achieve a given desired material outcome by assigning compensation to different groups of people - an infinite variety of ways, in fact, under said obnoxious presumptions - and who you choose to compensate, and who you send the bill to, reflects which class you believe to be harmed and which class to be "at fault" (given that discrimination here is an odd ethical duck due to its generating significant material harm only when in a wider environment of mass discrimination. And we humans can be selective about the kinds of discrimination we reject - height being a conspicuous exception. I am tall, but my shorter brethren earn systematically less etc. It is non-obvious that if, say, non-white people are discriminated against, that white people should be made to foot the costs instead of rich people, or vice versa). When blaming no-one, blaming the representative taxpayer dollar is the standard economic escape route, of course - compare how externalities tend to be treated, polluters are charged but the pollutees don't receive the money, the general fund does.

    There are options here, real-life states do tend to pick some over others, and I think it is fair to say that some options are more desirable than others - do you disagree? The egalitarian pursuit of individual autonomy doesn't specify who you should sent the bill for doing so.

    Regardless of this, given your latest reply, this particular thread of argument may be less relevant. Feel free to disregard it.
    MrMister wrote: »
    ronya wrote:
    Spoiler:

    In your first critique, you seem to be sliding freely between the claim that pure neutrality is impossible and the claim that neutrality is of no value, as well as between the claim that there are 'realist' cases where the government has been unrestrained by legal or individual rights, and the claim that those legal or individual rights are meaningless. These are, of course, dramatically different claims and should not be equivocated.

    I also think that it is quite unfair of you to accuse me of sophistry. These issues are not as straightforward as you portray them to be. If, for instance, snake oil salesman take advantage of a choice made under duress--the threat of imminent death from disease--then the choice being made is not in fact an expression of individual autonomy, as choices made under duress are typically excluded. And so on. Believing in freedom or autonomy does not commit one to believing in a simpleminded or obvious application of those ideas. Indeed, it would be surprising if a simpleminded or obvious application of any value were able to lead to a comprehensive political theory. Even the poster boy for obvious applications of simple ideas, the theory of utilitarian maximization, requires a great deal of by no means uncontroversial elaboration before it yields any conclusions--for instance, one must decide what the proper rate to express diminishing marginal utility is, what the proper discount over time is, how to figure (or not figure) the unborn and future generations into the equation, what sorts of mental state 'happiness' is and how to investigate it, and that's not even getting into the question of what actually maximizes utility!

    It would be inappropriate to object to John Stuart Mill's account of higher pleasures, for instance, as being a sophistical attempt to avoid the obvious hedonistic conclusion of his theory. His account of higher pleasures may, ultimately, not succeed, but there is nothing intrinsic to utilitarian thought which requires that pleasure be straightforward, or, for instance, always sensual. Similarly, there is no requirement on liberal theorists that autonomy be straightforward, or, for instance, to always consist in maximization of the pure number of choice acts.

    Finally, I think that the terms of this debate are themselves unfairly constructed. You are correct, for instance, in that liberals will struggle to justify popular but paternalist laws like those requiring seatbelts. This turns many people off liberalism; it is one of the problem areas. But there are, of course, problem areas for almost every political theory. By considering only the problem areas of liberalism and not those of its competitors we paint a skewed picture. For instance, forum search is down, so I cannot cite this, however I recall that when we discussed the mass killings of communist sympathizers in Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea you came down squarely in favor. Perhaps instead of seatbelt laws, we should ruminate on that for a moment. Liberalism may have problem areas, true, but it's also never put 300,000 Indonesians in the ground. So I think that it is in fact the focus on seatbelt laws which is itself sophistical: we are fussing over some details in the application of liberalism to edge cases as if that were the heart of the matter, when the real heart of the matter has to with death squads coming for people at night. This is also, for the record, why I said that I find your cavalier approach to state power disturbing. Sure, you may sound fairly reasonable when discussing state power in the context of anti-discrimination law, but there's stuff hiding under the surface there that should turn anyone's hair white.

    On equivocation: yes, that was badly-phrased; re-reading the paragraph, I'm not entirely sure what I had in mind. So consider it withdrawn, I suppose. :?

    On sophistry: yes, that is convincing, and so I withdraw the charge that it is needlessly obscure. I do note that acknowledging the non-obviousness of a proposed axiom's implied conclusions is tantamount to acknowledging its weakness in forming conclusions at all; the same applies to utility maximization, of course. Its purest application has no descriptive content, actual applications require a great deal of handwaving over hard-to-pin-down appeals to plausibility and universal values, etc. The parallels are pretty good. But one must then - and I think that this is a fair charge - acknowledge that it is the hard-to-describe appeals to intuition are doing much of the argumentative work, possibly all of it. This is only fine if you expect your interlocutors to readily accept your intuitive map: economists don't expect serious dispute of the proposition that people generally want more material goods than they currently possess, so material maximization is a decent mental proxy for Whatever That Is Actually Going On. But otherwise there may be a problem.

    (incidentally, I did not think it difficult to justify seatbelt paternalism on individual-autonomy grounds. It's hard to pursue individual autonomy if you're dead, and you are operating one ton of heavy machinery. I only saw a conflict in trying to justify different attitudes to risks under the universal-weigher-of-liberty-tradeoffs tack that your approach seemed to take.)

    On unfair constructions: for reference, Indonesia was here (note the context). Malaysia and South Korea was here. I used Google. The estimated death toll of the Indonesian communist purges is nearly a million, actually.

    I don't actually see how a liberal construction - your liberal construction, that is - prohibits these; I could take the tack that liberalism "couldn't work" (compare actually-turned-communist neighbors) and thus illiberal measures were justified, or I could take the tack that they chose to pursue a very different set of individual liberties, or both. State stability and economic wealth permit some obvious material freedoms that would not exist otherwise, often substantial, due to the accumulative nature of growth; if people can be under duress from disease, why not grinding poverty? That is easily fatal, too. This is why I did not reply to your earlier objection about past actual atrocities: namely, that your framework is weak at actually prohibiting as such, or in requiring that the state act in protection of some violated right.

    (to nitpick, I don't actually approve of the Indonesian or Korean purges, but my objection would be that we don't plausibly know the impact of doing so a priori, certainly not enough to justify murdering a lot of people - note that, for nearly two decades after the Korean War, American expert predictions were for the North to grow faster than the South, and so intervention was actively harmful to the South given known circumstances at the time, before "export-led growth" was a thing - but observing, after the fact, that it turned out to be arguably an improvement for the people who exist five decades later is entirely possible, and allowing for this is necessary if you want to avoid easy objections to naïve theorizing about the powers of developing would-be liberal democracies.

    Atop this there is a problem in ethically divorcing a program of mass murder of political opponents from the political environment that makes it both possible and appealing - it is hard to gauge how many people would have died otherwise, if any. An environment where political loss is fatal tends to last until there is only one party left standing, regardless of who actually started shooting first. This comes under "impossible liberalism", I think.)

    I noted the context of my view of state power in the OP, which I suppose may not have been entirely satisfying.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    An idle sketch:

    Family and local community bonds have, historically, occupied much of one's individual identity and religious outlook. Such ties have also functioned, materially speaking, as informal safety nets and risk-sharing. These reinforce each other: individual rebellion against social norms comes at a risk of being denied material assistance during a personal crisis, and refusing the obligation to provide assistance to those in need is punished through the risk of social shame and ostracism.

    This isn't actually objectionable in a liberal society. We may regard it as regrettable if families and communities ostracize someone for being, say, gay, but regulating how one treats family members is generally outside state purview (and I don't see this being plausibly different). In a culturally tolerant society, it's even desirable: families and communities provide additional support without using it as a means to enforce culturally conservative values.

    With all that in mind. The provision of individualist welfare is generally taken for granted in the West (but doesn't have to be so; welfare in East Asia can be family-centric, by focusing welfare on people in families or by relying on family ties to redirect welfare). Such welfare systems can substitute for informal communal safety nets and thus undermine the ability of families and local communities to police against cultural rebellion.

    So: I don't suppose anyone here actually disputes the legitimacy of individual welfare provision, so let's take that for granted. Suppose a government proposes an expansion of some individualist welfare scheme. Is it, as a hypothetical, legitimate to do so if the ruling government happens to also notice that family-enforced cultural attitudes may also decline?

    What if the government proposes the welfare expansion in order to pursue such a decline?

    Or consider the reverse: a government seeks a culture-neutral objective, of, say, easing the burden on the state safety net by reinforcing communal support networks ("thousand points of light"). Ignore, for now, the inherent inequality of increasing reliance on where you were lucky enough to be born. Presumably it would be kosher to do so through culture-neutral methods, like altering the relevant tax codes to ease family asset accumulation. What about doing so via encouraging the prevailing (probably conservative) cultural attitudes among small towns?

    Suppose we find that last objectionable. As noted, culturally tolerant families and communities can provide such support without using them as culture war battlegrounds. Is setting out to engineer multiculturalist tolerance a legitimate goal of the state? If it is in order to achieve a neutral objective?

  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    This is a fascinating thread - I'm very much interested in ronya & MrMr's conversation, and so far have nothing to add because once again I wholly agree with MrMr's arguments.

    The other conversation going on here, trying to convince some libertarians who have the usual selective deafness, is suffering greatly by comparison.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    An idle sketch:

    Family and local community bonds have, historically, occupied much of one's individual identity and religious outlook. Such ties have also functioned, materially speaking, as informal safety nets and risk-sharing. These reinforce each other: individual rebellion against social norms comes at a risk of being denied material assistance during a personal crisis, and refusing the obligation to provide assistance to those in need is punished through the risk of social shame and ostracism.

    This isn't actually objectionable in a liberal society. We may regard it as regrettable if families and communities ostracize someone for being, say, gay, but regulating how one treats family members is generally outside state purview (and I don't see this being plausibly different). In a culturally tolerant society, it's even desirable: families and communities provide additional support without using it as a means to enforce culturally conservative values.

    With all that in mind. The provision of individualist welfare is generally taken for granted in the West (but doesn't have to be so; welfare in East Asia can be family-centric, by focusing welfare on people in families or by relying on family ties to redirect welfare). Such welfare systems can substitute for informal communal safety nets and thus undermine the ability of families and local communities to police against cultural rebellion.

    So: I don't suppose anyone here actually disputes the legitimacy of individual welfare provision, so let's take that for granted. Suppose a government proposes an expansion of some individualist welfare scheme. Is it, as a hypothetical, legitimate to do so if the ruling government happens to also notice that family-enforced cultural attitudes may also decline?

    What if the government proposes the welfare expansion in order to pursue such a decline?

    Or consider the reverse: a government seeks a culture-neutral objective, of, say, easing the burden on the state safety net by reinforcing communal support networks ("thousand points of light"). Ignore, for now, the inherent inequality of increasing reliance on where you were lucky enough to be born. Presumably it would be kosher to do so through culture-neutral methods, like altering the relevant tax codes to ease family asset accumulation. What about doing so via encouraging the prevailing (probably conservative) cultural attitudes among small towns?

    Suppose we find that last objectionable. As noted, culturally tolerant families and communities can provide such support without using them as culture war battlegrounds. Is setting out to engineer multiculturalist tolerance a legitimate goal of the state? If it is in order to achieve a neutral objective?

    You do know we had this discussion not too long ago? The problem with the informal networks is that they punish outsiders and apostates. The formalized systems that governments provide are superior by virtue of the fact that they are meant to apply to everyone, regardless of sex, gender, creed, etc.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    I tend to prefer some formal systems, because there is greater transparency and an ability to influence policy as an outsider, both of which are completely lacking in informal behavior guidance/safety net structures.

    I may be pissing in the wind here (and I'm simplifying), but informal rules have been displaced in many instances, because they are significantly less just than formal rules. That is to say that both the rules and application of the rules set forth by informal structures tend to be less fair than those of formal structures. However, this is often a function of how corrupt formal legal structures are, since any rule system, formal or informal, may be subverted by those that don't want to play along.

    From both a utilitarian and deontological perspective formal codes of behavior are good when they serve ethical purposes, even though law encapsulated ethics lags far behind moral reality.

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Chaos Punk wrote: »
    ...
    As I mentioned at the beginning of the post public health does limit freedom.

    However, I failed to mention that national security does as well, and the Patriot Act is a great example of government overreaching it legitimate bounds.

    Occassionally, though rarely, I do find it somewhat troubling how much power public health has, but really I find it much more troubling that an "agent of the President" may declare anyone (including citizens) a terrorist, and lock them up forever and throw away the key without due process.

    I happen to be a big fan of Habeas Corpus and I don't think it should be limited for a situation that only killed a few thousand people (yes I'm talking about 911, ho hum).

    Personally, I don't really mind the government trying to do something about the major causes of death in our special little country even if it does involve a small loss of freedom, and I think they are justified in that pursuit.

    However, I do have a problem with the ongoing loss of significant freedoms justified by the statistically insignificant amount of damage that terrorism has inflicted upon us. The wars spawned by the overreaction to this threat, which is less significant than the threat of being killed in a car accident, have also royally fucked us over financially, and I'm having a hard time seeing how a smoking ban comes even close to comparing. At least one of the goals of a smoking ban is to cost the American people less, but no one can claim that is a goal of the Bush follies.

  • LoklarLoklar Registered User
    edited April 2011
    hanskey wrote: »
    Chaos Punk wrote: »
    ...
    As I mentioned at the beginning of the post public health does limit freedom.

    However, I failed to mention that national security does as well, and the Patriot Act is a great example of government overreaching it legitimate bounds.

    Occassionally, though rarely, I do find it somewhat troubling how much power public health has, but really I find it much more troubling that an "agent of the President" may declare anyone (including citizens) a terrorist, and lock them up forever and throw away the key without due process.

    I happen to be a big fan of Habeas Corpus and I don't think it should be limited for a situation that only killed a few thousand people (yes I'm talking about 911, ho hum).

    Personally, I don't really mind the government trying to do something about the major causes of death in our special little country even if it does involve a small loss of freedom, and I think they are justified in that pursuit.

    However, I do have a problem with the ongoing loss of significant freedoms justified by the statistically insignificant amount of damage that terrorism has inflicted upon us. The wars spawned by the overreaction to this threat, which is less significant than the threat of being killed in a car accident, have also royally fucked us over financially, and I'm having a hard time seeing how a smoking ban comes even close to comparing. At least one of the goals of a smoking ban is to cost the American people less, but no one can claim that is a goal of the Bush follies.

    You wouldn't get any argument from a libertarian on how stupid the Patriot Act is, or the TSA, or Gitmo. We just see smoking-bans in bars as similar to TSA pat-downs. Most of the arguments are the same "it's for your own good", "government knows best" etc..

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Loklar wrote: »
    hanskey wrote: »
    Chaos Punk wrote: »
    ...
    As I mentioned at the beginning of the post public health does limit freedom.

    However, I failed to mention that national security does as well, and the Patriot Act is a great example of government overreaching it legitimate bounds.

    Occassionally, though rarely, I do find it somewhat troubling how much power public health has, but really I find it much more troubling that an "agent of the President" may declare anyone (including citizens) a terrorist, and lock them up forever and throw away the key without due process.

    I happen to be a big fan of Habeas Corpus and I don't think it should be limited for a situation that only killed a few thousand people (yes I'm talking about 911, ho hum).

    Personally, I don't really mind the government trying to do something about the major causes of death in our special little country even if it does involve a small loss of freedom, and I think they are justified in that pursuit.

    However, I do have a problem with the ongoing loss of significant freedoms justified by the statistically insignificant amount of damage that terrorism has inflicted upon us. The wars spawned by the overreaction to this threat, which is less significant than the threat of being killed in a car accident, have also royally fucked us over financially, and I'm having a hard time seeing how a smoking ban comes even close to comparing. At least one of the goals of a smoking ban is to cost the American people less, but no one can claim that is a goal of the Bush follies.

    You wouldn't get any argument from a libertarian on how stupid the Patriot Act is, or the TSA, or Gitmo. We just see smoking-bans in bars as similar to TSA pat-downs. Most of the arguments are the same "it's for your own good", "government knows best" etc..

    No, the argument is:

    1. Smoking has adverse health effects.
    2. By the nature of smoking, it impacts not only the smoker, but those around them as well.
    3. The decision to smoke is a voluntary one taken by the smoker.
    4. In light of the above points, the equitable solution is to require the individual who engages in a voluntary deleterious activity to do so in a manner where they won't impact anyone else.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    I live in a smoking ban as a smoker and I prefer it to having no smoking ban, despite the fact that it is a small loss of freedom (which normally I hate with a passion)! I hate indoor smoking and always have, so no skin off my nose. However, I have to say, that I find it incredibly sad that a smoking ban has the same priority or importance to any Libertarian as the Patriot Act. It's not the same thing despite your assertions, and since most people are ambivalent on the PA at least you have a chance of affecting the policy unlike with smoking bans, which have become pretty popular. To me, that's why Libertarians have such a hard time getting into office: their priorities are fucked, and they don't know how to pick their battles, because they don't consider the practical implications of their ideas, just the ideological rhetoric.

    It's just too bad that Libertarians are so distracted by a smoking ban instead of spending their time fighting the Patriot Act and other much worse infringements upon our freedoms such as drug regulations, anti-abortion regulations, real censorship of our news by the government, or corporations being defined as people (what a terrible political fiction that is!).

    I mean, when you've got the President's agent's dick up your ass, who gives a fuck about a non-controversial smoking ban that will mostly benefit every member of society, even the smokers? Seems like a waste of time and resources to most reasonable people to fight the government on that use of power when there are so many bigger fights to be had.

    Get over it Libertarians, so reasonable people can take you seriously, and together we can all get back our freedoms stolen in the name of "national security".

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    ...

    You do know we had this discussion not too long ago? The problem with the informal networks is that they punish outsiders and apostates. The formalized systems that governments provide are superior by virtue of the fact that they are meant to apply to everyone, regardless of sex, gender, creed, etc.

    Yes, and I was one of the strenuous supporters of that argument. I'm asking you to suspend your disapproval, however, and consider only the legitimacy in the use of state power to do such and such (granting that it is, for egalitarian reasons, a bad idea).

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    ...

    You do know we had this discussion not too long ago? The problem with the informal networks is that they punish outsiders and apostates. The formalized systems that governments provide are superior by virtue of the fact that they are meant to apply to everyone, regardless of sex, gender, creed, etc.

    Yes, and I was one of the strenuous supporters of that argument. I'm asking you to suspend your disapproval, however, and consider only the legitimacy in the use of state power to do such and such (granting that it is, for egalitarian reasons, a bad idea).

    Yes, I do think it is a legitimate function of the state to require private charity to operate in a non-discriminatory manner. For example, the DC City Council is well within its legitimate rights to require adoption agencies to not discriminate on orientation.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    That is not really what my post was getting at.

  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    ronya, I'm confused by your wording. What were you trying to say here? -
    ronya wrote: »
    I'm asking you to suspend your disapproval, however, and consider only the legitimacy in the use of state power to do such and such (granting that it is, for egalitarian reasons, a bad idea).

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    The legitimacy of a state action, and the desirability of it, are not the same thing: we generally recognize that states may legitimately exercise a lot of powers - possibly for purposes that are, we feel, not terribly desirable.

    You probably live in a democracy. You may be outvoted a substantial part of the time and would thus have a state doing things that you think are Bad Ideas. This does not, however, translate to denouncing the legitimacy of the state and seeking to replace it through revolution: you simply accept that the state may, legitimately, use its powers to enforce changes you do not personally approve of.

    There may be other state actions which would render the state illegitimate - refusing to acknowledge a lost election, for instance.

    So AH disapproves of the state promoting reliance on informal support networks, as do I. But that's not the question; my question is whether you consider it a legitimate use of state power, under some hypothetical conditions stated earlier.

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    ronya wrote: »
    The legitimacy of a state action, and the desirability of it, are not the same thing: we generally recognize that states may legitimately exercise a lot of powers - possibly for purposes that are, we feel, not terribly desirable.

    You probably live in a democracy. You may be outvoted a substantial part of the time and would thus have a state doing things that you think are Bad Ideas. This does not, however, translate to denouncing the legitimacy of the state and seeking to replace it through revolution: you simply accept that the state may, legitimately, use its powers to enforce changes you do not personally approve of.

    There may be other state actions which would render the state illegitimate - refusing to acknowledge a lost election, for instance.

    So AH disapproves of the state promoting reliance on informal support networks, as do I. But that's not the question; my question is whether you consider it a legitimate use of state power, under some hypothetical conditions stated earlier.

    Frankly, it depends. The key thing is whether or not doing so is an attempt to do a runaround the state's obligations. For example,look at the Faith-Based Initiative.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum
    Spoiler:
  • hanskeyhanskey Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Thanks for the clarification ronya!

    I think it depends as well, but not for the same reason as AH.

    I think it depends on how the state's actions are justified. I live in the U.S. so the state's actions are tested for legitimacy against the constitution and legal precedence.

    There are ways to promote informal support networks without illegitimate uses of state power, such as reducing the state's role in health care, indigent care or retirement so that informal support networks are all that is available.

    However, there are plenty of extra-constitutional remedies, that are not legitimate. The Faith-Based Initiative bullshit is one of the major illegitimate ways of promoting our informal support systems, because it promotes one religion over others through inequitable distribution of Federal funds to various tax-exempt groups, which, at the very least, goes against the spirit of the first amendment if not the letter (good luck proving it to this court though).

  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    What the heck determines whether any particular action is 'legitimate', anyway?

  • Torso BoyTorso Boy Registered User
    edited April 2011
    jothki wrote: »
    What the heck determines whether any particular action is 'legitimate', anyway?

    Answering that question would be the point of this thread.

    And most political philosophy.

    Rent wrote: »
    So that's what having no idea what you are talking about looks like
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