So, Healthcare Reform Passed…
By: John Russell

Any proponent of freedom must accept that the individual owns themselves. Deviations from this premise only open itself to a belief that force over another person can somehow be justified. For those who are upset about the recent healthcare legislation that passed, one must also ask themselves if they are upset about many other social services which replace individual decision making with the collective – police, firefighters, post office workers, soldiers, and the like.  This may be shocking to conservatives and libertarians who believe such services should be provided by a state because a) markets cannot do this or b) it is the state’s divine responsibility for it to do so like in the Constitution.

The problem with such an assumption is that it violates the principles of self ownership.  A human being is either responsible for oneself or is not.  There is no middle ground, no compromise, and no justification for anything otherwise.  Period.  A society cannot claim to respect the rights of individuals while simultaneously stealing money from them and supplying services which ‘provide’ them with things which they themselves should be responsible for.  It should come to no surprise to anyone why the State, which was originally founded with this unworkable and compromising philosophy, has only assumed a greater role in coercing individuals into doing things ‘for them’.  When such an assumption such as self-ownership is violated, like when the modest state-funded school teacher or postal worker is hired, a society has already adopted a philosophy which inevitably leads to the justification of collective action over individual action.

Individuals act.  This action is not limited to the constraints of anything so long as other individuals voluntarily enter into the agreement as well. Realize that we take this concept for granted – humans enter into implicit, voluntary contracts with each other constantly.  We are decision making machines which, among many other things, respect and voluntarily abide by the rights of other decision making machines.  Rarely do these agreements become involuntary which is why justice must be established and why we have developed a sense of it.  When a State enters into this process (the marketplace), there is no negotiation or voluntary agreements with the majority of the people – only force.  This force supersedes, dictates, and will even distort the otherwise rational individual into doing things s/he may not otherwise do.  Law and taxation are all products of this unnatural force bearing down upon non-consenting individuals in the marketplace.  This should leave no surprise why such forces are hated by some (to some degree) and why they will never, ever, ever, ever… ever arrive at a fair and optimally efficient destination that a voluntary agreement in the marketplace could arrive at.

The next time the State passes legislation which may leave a supporter of freedom uneasy, just consider every single thing the State has done thus far to justify its current actions of violating a person’s right to self-ownership (hint: the State must violate individuals by definition).  Can we find a solution which would eliminate the unnatural forces enslaving everyone to the arbitrary decision making bureaucrats of society?

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19 Comments Posted in Political Philosophy
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  • Andrew Hickey

    John,

    Seeing as how this is listed under “Political Philosophy” this has quite a few philosophical assumptions, many of which aren't so obviously true to me, and often impede me from completely aligning myself with libertarianism or anarchism.

    The first is you state an individual owns themself. To the layman this is a clear statement, but I am wondering what sort of theory or standpoint you are coming from. What are “selves”, what constitutes myself, how can I tell apart myself from another self (this issue is specifically relevant to the abortion “debate”), and how does my self persist through time? There is an underlying assumption within libertarianism that I know what is good for me more than someone else, but why is this the case? Can't others know what is best for me?

    You also say there is no middle ground on whether a human is responsible for one's self or is not. How is this the case exactly? It seems to me that you are advocating compatibilism cannot be the case regarding free will (1). Does this mean we are totally free? You say individual actions cannot be limited except by other individuals, I think this is clearly not the case.

    This may be a bit too philosophical of a criticism for many libertarians (or anarchist) to be comfortable with, but I think these things need to be taken seriously in order to establish a solid philosophical framework one can build one's political ideas, so that we don't succumb to the unarticulated assumptions of those we find ourselves arguing so passionately against. I also don't want to come off as being overly socratic. I accept that you may not have good answers to many of these questions (I myself don't), but they should still be present when considering anarchic or libertarian positions.

    Andrew Hickey (I tried to sign in via facebook, but Safari is being an asshole).

    1:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism_and_…

  • http://www.unrforliberty.com/ Barry Belmont

    I quite thoroughly enjoyed this article John.

  • http://www.unrforliberty.com/ Barry Belmont

    It seems to me that you aren't seeing the forest from the trees. Discussions about what constitutes a “self” don't invalidate John's conclusions. If it turned out that there wasn't such a thing as a “self” or something that we could point to as something that would demarcate an individual from all others, then, yes, John would be wrong on empirical grounds.

    Though John doesn't say as much, the idea that “people own themselves to begin with” is simply an assumption. It is a parsimonious way to divvy up a whole slew of complex ways to approach the world that consists both of oneself and “others” who also think of the world as oneself and others. A consequentialist could make the case that it is the most efficient way to ensure the well-being of oneself and others.

    But the philosophy student may ask “why is the well-being of oneself and others so important?” Well, we don't need philosophical diatribes to answer that question: most people would rather live in a world where they can smile at their neighbors than live in a society where they fear having rocks thrown at them for instance. To beg the question for the Ultimate Why is to miss the point: the well-being of oneself and one's neighbors has direct evolutionary origins, even if not strong philosophical ones. Nature does not give a damn about metaphysics.

    It's the same thing in discussing questions of “compatibalism” or determinism or free will, and Where, Oh Where do our responsibilities truly lie? This is to skip a very important point about the reality of the situation: people act as if they have free will, therefore it's almost pointless to discuss (except in certain philosophical circles [circles that I can guarantee have no fear of genocide, poverty, or malaria]).

    Hence, we begin with the position that people should own themselves begin with, mix their land and their labor to get property, and exchange those things which they own voluntary with others who are afforded these same rights. This increases the overall well-being of all people involved. The converse does not. Thus, we use this assumption ad libitum. QED.

  • Andrew Hickey

    “A consequentialist could make the case that it is the most efficient way to ensure the well-being of oneself and others.”

    I have no doubt, and perhaps you could point me in the direction of some of these cases.

    “People act as if they have free will.”

    From what I understand people also have natural intuitions about whether they have free will, or whether they are determined to do such and such, which has very real implications on how people act.

    “Nature does not give a damn about metaphysics.”

    But it still adheres to it, whatever it may or may not be.

    “to beg the question for the Ultimate Why is to miss the point:”

    I very much endorse the use of ideas related to evolution to aid in our decision making processes about what promotes the well-being of people, but I don't think it provides the only answers. I believe Philosophy, Science, Economics, etc, can all aid to determining what the correct political position is. So far my conclusion has been that anarchism is the best political position. I don't think including philosophy in the discussion is missing the point at all, and I think exclusion of areas of thought in the debate about libertarianism or anarchism isn't helpful.

    Philosophical criticisms of anarchism or libertarianism exist, and they do attract people to other modes of political thought.

    “except in certain philosophical circles [circles that I can guarantee have no fear of genocide, poverty, or malaria]“

    Kind of a strange claim, considering I personally know many people who do discuss it and are very concerned (though perhaps not afraid) of genocide, poverty etc. People who donate their time and money to some of these causes.

    From what I've gathered from the few meetings so far, you and I seem to be the most anarchist leaning, but obviously our approaches are very different. Don't you think this fact is important? That is to say, it seems our very different approaches to the question of anarchism lead us to a similar conclusion. This seems to me to be fair evidence showing approaches to political questions can (and in my view ought), to be eclectic and diverse.

    Just some thoughts. Hopefully this is coherent.

    Andrew Hickey

  • http://www.unrforliberty.com/ Barry Belmont

    Once again you've missed the giant forest surrounding you to nit-pick a few trees.

    Your response is not a response. All you did was take a handful of quotes from my above response and discuss them out of context, adding, I'm sorry to say, nothing “coherent” that would further this conversation.

    What exactly are you driving at?

    Are you saying that philosophy and economics and a whole bunch of other stuff should inform our worldview and consequently our political philosophy? I have no problem with this. No one does.

    Are you saying that there are various ways to arrive at correct answers? Once again, who is to argue with this point? You're not adding anything.

    Then you make these quips based on Philosophy-101-knowledge like nature somehow adhering to metaphysics. Hate to burst your bubble, but there is no such thing as metaphysics. It's not a real thing. There's only physics.

    You misconstrued my point on neglected the Ultimate Why. Hence I will quote, ” To beg the question for the Ultimate Why is to miss the point: the well-being of oneself and one's neighbors has direct evolutionary origins, even if not strong philosophical ones.” Basically, any philosophical discussions on choosing “pleasure” over “pain” are the modern day equivalent to counting angels on pinheads. There is a real scientific answer to the question of why people prefer happy neighbors to angry neighbors. All other explanations are moot as they add absolutely nothing of any merit to the conversation. Therefore, to ask for a more Ultimate Reason beyond the evolutionary explanation is pointless. Thus, missing the point.

    You then go on to quote what I had hoped would get you out of your arm chair philosopher mode “This is to skip a very important point about the reality of the situation: people act as if they have free will, therefore it's almost pointless to discuss (except in certain philosophical circles [circles that I can guarantee have no fear of genocide, poverty, or malaria]).”

    People — normal, regular, average people — go through their daily life not giving one neuron's thought to the question of free will. For most of the people who have ever lived the question of “Do I really control myself?” probably wouldn't have any meaning. Try it out for yourself. Next time you're ordering from the Taco Bell menu, question whether you have a choice. Next time you're showering or playing guitar or pooping or cooking food or visiting with friends or family or walking to school or studying try to couple it with questions of determinism. It'll be nearly impossible because our brains simply aren't wired to do that. I make the empirical claim that most people, most of the time, in most situations to an astounding degree act as if they have free will. This can either be true or false. I claim it is true, and hence I claim people — regardless of whether they “actually” (in some high falutin philosophical way) have free will — have all the responsibilities that come along with the notion of free will.

    But in case it isn't clear enough: philosophical questions are almost exclusively the realm of those who inhabit the ivory tower. Most people won't worry about the Kantian moral imperative and simultaneously worry about how to feed and clothe their children. To be so cavalier about genocide as to say “I personally know many people who do discuss it” is to have missed my point entirely, yet again.

    Let us however concern ourselves with the topic at hand. Before you even think of responding to this, you should answer this question, as it seems to be what you originally had a problem with: do you or do you not own yourself to begin with? Or conversely, do believe that someone inherently has some claim over you?

    There is no middle ground. You either believe you own yourself or you believe that someone else can own you. It's either A or not-A in this case.

  • Andrew Hickey

    Barry, I just think it is interesting you can so quickly answer so many questions in the affirmative. Esp. when you say things like “there is no such thing as metaphysics”, when in fact neither of us probably took the time to even clarify what the other meant by metaphysics. I usually take it to mean the ultimate nature of reality, it doesn't necessarily have to be transcendental. If you are content with an evolutionary explanation as to why people act or feel a certain why I think that is fine, I myself often lean this way as well. I just think it is crucial to recognize that most people don't feel this way, esp. people who are religious, and probably regard their religious answers as being more “ultimate” to evolutionary answers, even if they are wrong.

    I was simply trying to introduce a little doubt into the conversation so that we might end up with a better understanding at what we are talking about.
    The hyperbole about being overly philosophical and being stuck in an armchair is just silly. The notion that philosophical questions are reserved for those in the ivory tower is simply wrong. Again, I literally notice people which are having debates about some philosophical issue, but usually they don't even realize it. You may view this as nit-picking and missing the point, but when my personal experience runs directly contrary to what you claim, I have a hard time believing what you are saying.

    It seems you have a mistaken notion about philosophy being limited to the realm of the ivory tower, which just isn't the case… Cornel West, Peter Singer, Sartre, Derrida, Levinas, Chomsky, Stefan Molyneux. These are all recent philosophers who, whether you agree with their views or not, have made a real impact in the world, and have influenced others who also contribute their time and money (as I said before, but you didn't quote that part), to causes they believe in.

    But as you said, the question at hand.

    “There is no middle ground. You either believe you own yourself or you believe that someone else can own you. It's either A or not-A in this case.”

    You seem quite confident, so I imagine you have a good theory behind this logic, but it doesn't seem quite as clear to me.

    First of all, for some reason the only options for the ownership of a self is another owning a self, or one's self owning their self. Why is this the case with self hood? Is this simply an extension of the logic that all things must be owned by someone, or is selfhood a unique case in which you yourself, or someone else must necessarily own you.

    You also seem to be quite convinced that selves do exist and persist through time (at least long enough to own things). How exactly is this the case, considering that our cells are being constantly replaced through time, and (though I might be entirely wrong here) we have new bodies every seven to ten years.

    Also, if you don't want to get into a philosophical discussion about the subject because you think it is irrelevant I don't mind. I will think you are wrong, but I don't mind.

    Besides, most of us share many of the same views anyways. If we didn't nit-pick between each other, we would just agree all the time. That would be boring as shit.

  • Shane

    Probably exposing my gross idiocy here, but isn't your claim, Barry, that all knowledge is knowable and already exists a metaphysical contention? And more importantly, it's a claim that is likely wrong given the implications of Godel's Incompleteness Theorems?

  • http://unrforliberty.com/ Barry Belmont

    Holy freaking balls. This is why proper science education is an absolute must for all individuals.

    Godel's Incompleteness theorem is a very specific mathematical proposition that in essence proves the existence of self-referential syntax. [I only have about ten minutes before I have to leave to class, but this is very important. ] Godel, way back in 1929, posited that any sufficiently powerful formal logic (such as the one Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead were trying to create with their tediously boring Principia Mathematica) that relies enough upon natural numbers, must necessarily exist statements which are “unprovable” given the formal logic.

    So, in a nutshell, Godel showed that you could express “This sentence is false” in mathematical logic, which was thought to be impossible.

    And here comes the caps to highlight point: IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY CONVERSATION WE ARE HAVING HERE. You simply, I'm sorry, just do not know what Godel's Incompleteness theorem actually is, otherwise you would not have brought it up in this context. Check out Nagel and Newman's book on the subject for a wonderful introduction.

    I'm claiming that there exists truths and falsehoods about the world, regardless of whether we can know them or not. For instance, there is a specific number of birds in flight at this very second. There is an answer to this question, just because it is practically infeasible to get to it, does not, in anyway, imply that there isn't a truth out there.

    I'm not saying that all “knowledge” is “knowable” (I'm not even entirely sure what that is supposed to mean) nor that it “already exists.” I am saying that there is the real, factual nature of reality, and nothing else. There is only nature and her inhabitants. When Andrew refers to metaphysics as the “ultimate nature of reality” he's muddying the waters…that's just physics. There is no “beyond.”

    And there is no way that Godel's Incompleteness Theorem answers my question: do you or do you not own yourself to begin with? Or conversely, do believe that someone inherently has some claim over you?

  • Andrew Hickey

    I also don't see how I'm muddying the waters, that is a presupposition you have about the word “metaphysics”, which you bring your own baggage into. I'm fine with saying there is no “beyond”, I explicitly stated metaphysics doesn't have to be transcendental. I could state you are muddying the waters by calling nature a “her” and thus anthropomorphizing nature, but you aren't, you just casually said “her”. I don't see how the phrase the “ultimate nature of reality” implies anything “beyond”. Metaphysics is basically just an area of philosophy which many philosophers contribute to which has aided in understanding reality. I don't see how making claims to understand the ultimate nature of reality is necessarily and fundamentally different than physicists proposing grand unified theories, or something similar. I kind of feel like we should simply abandon this topic though, since my lack of clarity with my “philosophy 101 quip” has created a big misunderstanding.

    Barry,

    I think that individuals own themselves because the burden of proof on the converse, that is, someone having “claim” over me, usually entails some sort of ridiculous reasoning or evidence. That said, and I know you were short on time when you posted, my former questions about the nature of selfhood and and self ownership still stand.

  • Andrew Hickey

    Hmm, I suppose I forgot to delete that “Barry” in the middle. Weird. Oh well.

  • Shane

    It was 1931, and it was an extension of doctoral work.

    Sorry, my comment had very little to do with this conversation. Godel's Theorems have a very important implication when it comes to knowledge. You need a formal system for proof, if no formal, consistent system can prove all its conjectures, then not all knowledge is provable.

    You've previously claimed, I believe in your posts/comments on IP, that all information exists (which I happen to agree with) but you can't prove it. Therefore, your claim delves into metaphysical defintions of knowledge.

    That was my only point, which had nothing to do with your larger discussion.

    However, if you give a shit, I agree with you and John on own one's self.

  • http://www.unrforliberty.com/ Barry Belmont

    Godel's theorem was published in 1931, but that's not when he first began to work on it…nub. Sure, the experts can quibble whether the grain of idea occurred at the end of 1929 or the summer of 1930 (or whatever, sure, 1931 even, whatever)…but how does this add anything to the conversation? Besides looking like a tool, what was the point, of bring up Godel anyway? Anyone can Wikipedia something…problem is, you mostly look like an asshat to anyone who's actually studied the subject.

    So let me get this straight…You both agree that John's original proposition and the whole point of his article is correct? Then what in the fuck is the point either of you is trying to make?

    Seriously, you both just sound like intro philosophy students trying to show off what you know about stuff that is completely irrelevant to the reality of the human condition. You've added nothing to anyone's understanding of anything and have wholly wasted all of our time.

  • Shane

    You must be retarded. You made this claim in these comments:
    “Hate to burst your bubble, but there is no such thing as metaphysics. It's not a real thing. There's only physics.”

    My point is this, you cannot make that claim intelligently, when you've deployed metaphysical arguments in defense of your stance on IP.

    Since you have no idea what I've studied, you POS, you should keep your asinine insults to yourself. I've studied both Godel and Turing (incompleteness, computably and the halting problem) at UNR (in 400 level CS and math classes). I'm not an expert, but I do understand what I'm talking about. I'm not so sure you do.

    Again, so you don't miss it here: you used a metaphysical argument on knowability in discussing IP and and then told Hickey metaphysics doesn't exist. That's a contradiction of the logical kind.

    Since you demand of yourself an completely consistent philosophy of whatever, I'm trying to help you out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=813259644 facebook-813259644

    Barry, you seem to have a difficult time getting passed the idea that the questions I raised are in fact relevant to the human condition. I think it has pretty much been shown how biased you in are discussing this honestly, and I don't care if you think I sound like someone trying to show off, since you still haven't even really acknowledged my questions about the nature of the self. That was my point by the way. I thought it was obvious considering I repeated myself multiple times after addressing your qualms with me bringing philosophy into the discussion. Besides, didn't you say not too long ago claims are independent of the claimant? Who cares if I am trying to sound pretentious or if my intent was actually to waste everyone's time (neither of which are true anyways), my questions still stand. I was hoping to add understanding via introducing some skepticism and doubt about the fundamental ideas we were talking about so as to maybe arise at a clearer idea of what we are actually talking about. Also I am concerned and critical precisely because we do agree. Being extremely critical about what you think is the case is in my view, the best way to find out what is true.

    Also without suspending the personal stuff like you both just sound like phil. students trying to show off, you are wasting our time, etc, you lose the opportunity to bring people to an understand to what you think is true because it puts people off. It doesn't really bother me, if it did I would have stopped commenting a while ago. But I think it is unfortunate considering it probably puts a lot of people who end up talking to you about anarchism or libertarianism in a place where they don't really feel comfortable discussing it, and thus don't have the best disposition to the ideas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=813259644 facebook-813259644

    Well, for some reason it posted my comment at the top when I decided to log into facebook, so if you care to see what I said at this point, it is up there…

  • http://www.unrforliberty.com/ Barry Belmont

    Just to prove how much you are lying to yourself and to me: You have claimed: “you still haven't even really acknowledged my questions about the nature of the self. That was my point by the way. “

    My very first comment on this, my very first went a little something like this:

    “It seems to me that you aren't seeing the forest from the trees. Discussions about what constitutes a “self” don't invalidate John's conclusions. If it turned out that there wasn't such a thing as a “self” or something that we could point to as something that would demarcate an individual from all others, then, yes, John would be wrong on empirical grounds.

    Though John doesn't say as much, the idea that “people own themselves to begin with” is simply an assumption. It is a parsimonious way to divvy up a whole slew of complex ways to approach the world that consists both of oneself and “others” who also think of the world as oneself and others. A consequentialist could make the case that it is the most efficient way to ensure the well-being of oneself and others.

    But the philosophy student may ask “why is the well-being of oneself and others so important?” Well, we don't need philosophical diatribes to answer that question: most people would rather live in a world where they can smile at their neighbors than live in a society where they fear having rocks thrown at them for instance. To beg the question for the Ultimate Why is to miss the point: the well-being of oneself and one's neighbors has direct evolutionary origins, even if not strong philosophical ones. Nature does not give a damn about metaphysics.

    [...]

    Hence, we begin with the position that people should own themselves begin with, mix their land and their labor to get property, and exchange those things which they own voluntary with others who are afforded these same rights. This increases the overall well-being of all people involved. The converse does not. Thus, we use this assumption ad libitum. QED.”

    …which just about clarifies John's entire argument.

    You have claimed: “I also don't see how I'm muddying the waters, that is a presupposition you have about the word “metaphysics”, which you bring your own baggage into. I'm fine with saying there is no “beyond”, I explicitly stated metaphysics doesn't have to be transcendental.”

    But is it really such a stretch for someone (such as myself) to have come to the conversation believing that you would refer to metaphysics like everyone else does…that is, as a study of the nature of reality transcending any particular science? And your cop-out definition of metaphysics as a non-transcendental study of reality is so unnecessarily close to the idea of physics itself that it necessarily confounds the two and hence “muddies the water.”

    You claim of me: “You also seem to be quite convinced that selves do exist and persist through time (at least long enough to own things). How exactly is this the case, considering that our cells are being constantly replaced through time, and (though I might be entirely wrong here) we have new bodies every seven to ten years.”

    In regards to the intent of this conversation only (not extending the analysis further into the philosophical implications of biology, but rather limiting ourselves only to the question on the effect of “self” on libertarian philosophy), I have already addressed this: “Discussions about what constitutes a “self” don't invalidate John's conclusions. If it turned out that there wasn't such a thing as a “self” or something that we could point to as something that would demarcate an individual from all others, then, yes, John would be wrong on empirical grounds.

    Though John doesn't say as much, the idea that “people own themselves to begin with” is simply an assumption. It is a parsimonious way to divvy up a whole slew of complex ways to approach the world that consists both of oneself and “others” who also think of the world as oneself and others.”

    All of your questions have been answered. If you weren't so busy tangentially referring to Why Philosophy is Important and talking about how I Really Know People Talk About Genocide, you might have realized that.

    And your plea that I put people off with my demeanor is nothing more than an attempt to show the rest of the class that He's Not Playing Nice. But just as I asked Gracie, Qui gives a shit? The fact that I refuse to let your moot claims pass without shouting that they are worthless attempts at critical thinking is to shock you out of thinking they are. Some people may need comforting words or dense pages of purple prose or a community to convince them of the truth of something. Others need a wet fish to the face. I'm the guy swinging the fish hoping to knock some sense into somebody. …Maybe even you!

  • http://www.unrforliberty.com/ Barry Belmont

    Oh look at me, I took high-level math classes, I'm smart. Hey, everybody, look at how smart I am! I am smart smart smart. I know stuff better than you do, though I often (just for fun) misrepresent the entirety of it all to make a point on some libertarian blog. Yep, I'm one cool cat. You should all love me! I am so smart!

    Shane, many of us know all about Turing and Godel and Hilbert and Cantor and Frege and on and on. We know what they studied, how they studied it, and what their studies imply about the world. To have posited a strawman that said “all knowledge is knowable” and then to knock done that strawman by citing Godel shows that you not only do you not know what my position is, but also that you do not really know what Godel proved. I'm sorry, you maybe Mr. Smartypants with wonderful degrees from wonderful colleges and a wonderful brain full of wonderful thoughts, but you are mistaken about Godel's Incompleteness Theorem and about my position. It's as simple as that. You either do not understand its scope or range or principles or assumptions or what not, but something in your understanding about it is off-kilter. I suggest you consult the notes of your Upper Division SmartyPants Classes.

    So you don't miss it here: I did not make any metaphysical argument about knowability in discussing IP and to suggest that I did is to not tell the truth. I believe what you are referring to is when I said that if you had an infinitely long string of randomly varying 0's and 1's you would have all the information the world could ever hope to produce. You'd have Einstein's equations and the formula for Coca-Cola and the complete works of Shakespeare. But this is not a metaphysical claim, in fact if anything, Smart Computer Science Math Guy Like You should realize is getting at mathematics, information, and computability. If all information is expressible as a series of 0's and 1's, then an infinite string of them varying randomly must, by definition, contain all information that is capable of being expressed (which, using the beginning of this sentence, is to say “all information”). This isn't a metaphysical claim, it's a scientific claim that can either be true or false. If someone can present evidence that this supposition is incorrect, I will reject it immediately…there is no point to hold false beliefs.

    Hence, there is no contradiction here except the one you wish to see. I state, unequivocally, right here, that there is no such thing as metaphysics. If I have implied a belief to the contrary of this statement in the past, I whole-heartedly reject it as a case of sloppy language. I strive to be clear, but perhaps I periodically fail. I have never, nor do I now, think there is a “metaphysical” nature to reality. To interpret anything I have said in the past as evidence that I have professed a belief in such a thing is incorrect.

    There is no metaphysics, only physics.
    There is nothing beyond the world.
    Science informs us of the true nature of the universe.
    The real world always has the final say on reality.

    Clear?

  • Andrew Hickey

    I didn't say you didn't acknowledge my question about the self and the implications it has on this discussion, I said you didn't answer my question regarding the NATURE of the self. Here I was looking for you to provide some sort of explanation as to what you think the self is, how you think you know this, etc. If I did not make this clear enough, I apologize.

    About metaphysics I imagine you are probably right, it is easy to assume that as soon as someone says metaphysics they mean some sort of transcendental stuff going on. I would only like to say that I don't think of it that way, and so I was too hasty to use the word. Many contemporary metaphysicians work is both scientific and philosophical.

    As for philosophy in general, I would have never brought up how philosophy is important and relevant if you didn't generalize my claim and subsequently classify the area of philosophy as reserved for “those who inhabit the ivory tower.” As I said before, you made a claim about people who talk about genocide. My personal experience went directly contrary to your claim, so yes I am going to address it. I didn't “tangentially” refer to the issue, I literally wrote a few lines about it in order to at least address what you said, and moved on.

    The whole “he's not playing nice thing” is just silly. I don't care if you called me the most abhorrent things ever and insulted my personal character why you were making your points.

    And you didn't “shock” me into thinking anything I believe is incorrect. Do you truly think that your method of “swinging the fish” is better at bringing people to ideas about anarchism or libertarianism than making people feel comfortable and subsequently trying to have an honest discussion with them about these ideas? Most people are not open or mature enough to hear someone explain to them why they are wrong point by point, and then jump ship to the opposing side.

  • Shane

    I'll give you that I misunderstood your comments on IP,

    “…I will now become the owner of every conceivable kind of information, from software to movies to mathematical formulas. From this point on, I own the infinitely long random sequence of every permutation of 0 and 1. Every thought ever thought and every thought yet to be thought is contained within it.

    But that's just stupid. And you know it's stupid. Because I can't own information.

    What I could own would be a Turing machine that would make sense of this information. The Turing machine would be the thing which I could exclude others from. I don't even have to tell others about the information I get from it. There is no positive right associated with information, but neither is there a negative one.”

    What I took from the latter paragraph was that you believe such a thing is possible; infinity and the halting problem say it’s not. However, you did not claim to believe it, you just used it in an argument. Apologies.

    On another note, why are you such a giant tool? I'd like you to point to anything I said about Godel's implications that was wrong.

    I said this, “Godel's Theorems have a very important implication when it comes to knowledge. You need a formal system for proof, if no formal, consistent system can prove all its conjectures, then not all knowledge is provable.” I'll modify it so, even if an infinite string of 0s and 1s exists, no Turing machine can be proven to be capable of extracting all information from a given string, and therefore, although intuitively we know that an infinite string must contain everything, we have no way of proving it, hence metaphysical interpretations of some knowledge must always exist.

    Therefore, and perhaps you have an insight I don't, if we take a GUT (and I am making an assumption that such a theory must be axiomatic) and say here is everything, does Godel not imply therefore that the theory is going to say something it cannot prove?

    Perhaps I am again misunderstanding or extending your comments inappropriately as you did not claim our scientific and physical models of the universe are sufficient to explain everything, but when you say “Science informs us of the true nature…” I'm tempted to believe you think such systems can explain everything.