Dagger in hand

A man of prodigious fortune, coming to add his opinion to some light discussion that was going on casually at his table, began precisely thus: "It can only be a liar or an ignoramus who will say otherwise than," and so on. Pursue that philosophical point, dagger in hand.

--Michel de Montaigne, Of the art of discussion.

Stab back: cmnewman99-at-yahoo.com


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Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Sounds like he oughta be named Flaming if you ask me...

Diane must be trying to get a rise out of me. On second thought, no--that would be flattering myself. In any case, she's getting one. A moderate, brief one. But a rise nonetheless. Here it is:

No thoughtful libertarian--and that includes the dogmatic Ms. Rand herself--claims that there is no such thing as "common good," that all community is evil, or that cooperation is not necessary to human fulfillment. Come on. Let's think half a sec here. What on earth is "the market"--the closest thing libertarians have to a deity--if not the personfication of the fact that humans are social animals and cannot flourish as disconnected individuals? Market society is all about interdependence.

No, libertarians don't deny that there is any such thing as "common good." They merely ask you to show a bit of caution when you use that term. Seems fair enough given the bloodstains on it. They ask you to remember that there are lots of goods, some of which are arguably common to everyone, many of which are not, and none of which command universal recognition. They ask you, when you toss around this word as a justification for coercion, to keep the following caveats in mind:

1) When a good really is commonly regarded as such, people usually find ways to obtain it through voluntary cooperation.

2) When a common good is allegedly impossible to obtain solely through voluntary cooperation, it's usually because not enough people regard it as a good.

3) Even if we admit the existence of some real, objectively identifiable "common goods" that can be achieved only through coercion, one has to weigh those goods against the damage that coercion--even coercion in the service of real goods--inevitably does to people's ability to voluntarily achieve all the other goods on which their lives and happiness depend.

4) We must also include in the scales the fact that the institutions whose use of coercion we legitimize will never, EVER be limited to achieving the specific "common goods" that we might think would justify such power. Such is not human nature. Such is not power.

The above verbosity can be summed up as follows: There are such things as common goods. And people need communities to achieve them. But communities are conducive to the common good only to the extent that they respect the rights of the individuals to whom the "good" is supposed to be "common."

Alright, back to my cave and porn videos. (No coke, I'm afraid. I tried snorting it once, but the bubbles tickled my nose.)

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