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Author: tabs101 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 23782  
Subject: Week 1 Reading- History of Libertarianism Date: 8/7/2012 3:49 PM
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http://www.libertarianism.org/history


I would love to get this board going again. If you are interested, please respond to anything that jumps out at you in this text. I will post some of my thoughts and questions as well.

If you'd like to suggest some additional texts to discuss, please post them (with links) in the next thread entitled "Suggested Texts to Discuss."
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Author: tabs101 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 23683 of 23782
Subject: Re: Week 1 Reading- History of Libertarianism Date: 8/14/2012 9:49 AM
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A major theme of this text, a History of Libertarianism, is the historical context that shaped these beliefs.

The struggle for religious freedom, in particular, played a major role.

from the text: "Libertarianism is often seen as primarily a philosophy of economic freedom, but its real historical roots lie more in the struggle for religious toleration."

Tying certain freedoms to an authority greater than the ruler, who so often was an absolute monarch, is also a key theme.

"It is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions. ("Tertullian, a Carthaginian known as “the Father of Latin theology,” who wrote around A.D. 200")


Some other passages that stood out to me:

"Meanwhile, as absolutism took root in France and Spain, the Netherlands became a beacon of religious toleration, commercial freedom, and limited central government."

The interplay between limited government, tolerance of those with various beliefs, and economic success is stressed.

from the text: "Spinoza, whose Jewish parents had fled Catholic persecution in Portugal, described the happy interplay of religious toleration and prosperity in 17th-century Amsterdam:


The city of Amsterdam reaps the fruit of freedom in its own great prosperity and in the admiration of all other people. For in this most flourishing state, and most splendid city, men of every nation and religion live together in the greatest harmony, and ask no questions before trusting their goods to a fellow-citizen. A citizen’s religion and sect is considered of no importance: for it has no effect before the judges in gaining or losing a cause, and there is no sect so despised that its followers, provided that they harm no one, pay every man his due, and live uprightly, are deprived of the protection of the magisterial authority."

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Author: Radish Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 23686 of 23782
Subject: Re: Week 1 Reading- History of Libertarianism Date: 8/14/2012 6:54 PM
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"It is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions. ("Tertullian, a Carthaginian known as “the Father of Latin theology,” who wrote around A.D. 200")

The problem with statements like these is they have no foundation whatsoever. There's no difference between the above statement and the following one:

"Because I personally say so, it is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions."

Or, to look at it another way, let's say Tertullian says "It is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions." and I say in reply "No, it's not." Now, who is right? Neither of us have anything to actually back up up our statements. Tertullain's statement is no more true (or less true) than the statement "No human has a fundamental right to worship according to his own convictions, nor is it a privilege of nature to do so."

Phil

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Author: tabs101 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 23687 of 23782
Subject: Re: Week 1 Reading- History of Libertarianism Date: 8/14/2012 8:02 PM
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Hi Phil,


"The problem with statements like these is they have no foundation whatsoever. There's no difference between the above statement and the following one..."

I agree, and there was a time when I spent a lot of energy spinning my intellectual wheels trying to tie my personal beliefs to something more than just an arbitrary first statement. But in the end, your first premise is arbitrary, neither "right" or "wrong."


Some philosophers (Hobbes, Locke) who have pondered the origins of society, at least as a thought experiment, have often started with the individual outside of society and then had him entering society for rational reasons….the social contract theory.

The reality, of course, is that from birth are surrounded by others, living in a society with institutions and laws that predate us.


Around us there is a battle for control, one that connects to the past and one that has implications for the future.

Who gets to determine the direction of society is the essential political question and how?

The methods a society uses to determine who gets power and how those in power justify the powers they yield, and DO NOT yeld, have philosophical implications.

And, going back to your original point, where a philosophy starts is always subjective in nature.

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Author: Radish Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 23688 of 23782
Subject: Re: Week 1 Reading- History of Libertarianism Date: 8/14/2012 8:26 PM
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tabs101,

But in the end, [a] first premise [such as that] is arbitrary, neither "right" or "wrong."

Indeed. Which makes it not very persuasive in, say, an argument or discussion. Not to say that it's useless, far from it... it can be helpful to have a list of arbitrary assumptions you're starting from. Then you proceed to justify them, or justify that which springs from them.

But often I see people trying to use the arbitrary assumptions as being persuasive themselves, as if they were proven rather than arbitrary.

Who gets to determine the direction of society is the essential political question and how?

Well, traditionally it stems from a show of force.

Phil

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Author: warrl Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 23689 of 23782
Subject: Re: Week 1 Reading- History of Libertarianism Date: 8/14/2012 8:34 PM
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"The problem with statements like these is they have no foundation whatsoever. There's no difference between the above statement and the following one..."

I agree, and there was a time when I spent a lot of energy spinning my intellectual wheels trying to tie my personal beliefs to something more than just an arbitrary first statement. But in the end, your first premise is arbitrary, neither "right" or "wrong."


I start from the evolutionary perspective: the continuation and prosperity of the human species is desirable.

It is, of course, still an arbitrary assertion and a member of a different species could reasonably disagree.

But any *human* who disagrees with that is invited to demonstrate the strength of their convictions in a self-referential manner.

I'm not going to go into all the logic and evidence, but it turns out that individual liberty for all - including economic liberty - best serves the goal of the continuation and prosperity of the human species.

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Author: tabs101 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 23690 of 23782
Subject: Re: Week 1 Reading- History of Libertarianism Date: 8/15/2012 12:03 AM
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"But any *human* who disagrees with that is invited to demonstrate the strength of their convictions in a self-referential manner."



Impossible to discuss this without relying on normative statements. Here are a few....


Societies can be judged to the degree that they rely on force to achieve policy objectives and to the extent that policy objectives benefit each member of the community.

A peaceful society that enacts policies that benefit all in the community is preferred over one that is chaotic and violent and only enacts policies that benefit certain members in society.

Your point is that I would now need to justify my normative statements with logic, facts, and reason.

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