Do I Have A Right To Rule Others?

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I was having an interesting discussion with another forum member, and I thought that I would spin off this new thread so we could explore a side issue that came up. Hopefully it will yield some fruitful dialogue.

Let's take a hypothetical scenario: Joe runs a stand where he sells hamburgers and fries those of his neighbors who have a taste for such things. I am not a customer of Joe's, but I am concerned for the health of his customers, I think that Joe should post a sign that shows the nutritional information of his burgers. Let's say I suggest this to Joe, but he's not particularly interested. What sort of authority do I have to force Joe to do what I want? Would it be moral for me to try to do so?

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What sort of authority do I have to force Joe to do what I want?

As an individual you could get other customers to coerce Joe into posting nutritional information. You can also act as a citizen in a democracy and get the requirement enacted as law.

Would it be moral for me to try to do so?

Sure.

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Quote jeffbiss:As an individual you could get other customers to coerce Joe into posting nutritional information.

Yes that is always an option. Take one's business elsewhere, and make a point of letting the business owner know why you are doing so. That very well might make him change his mind. And I agree with you this would be well within my rights - I'm under no moral compulsion to buy burgers from Joe, and neither is anyone else. As in all business, the customer rules.

Quote jeffbiss:
Quote rbs:Would it be moral for me to try to do so?

Sure.

Jeffbiss' response makes me think that I may have been unclear in my question. When I refer to forcing him to do what I want, I mean literally forcing him, as in, I walk into his store with a bat or a gun, and I say, "If you know what's good for you, you'll publish nutrition information." If time passes and he's stupid enough not to listen to me, I go back over and rough him up, bust up his store, take his money, etc.

I should have asked, "What sort of authority do I have to initiate violence (or the threat of violence) against Joe to make him do what I want.? Would it be moral to initiate violence (or the threat of violence) to make him put up nutritional information?"

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rbs
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I should have asked, "What sort of authority do I have to initiate violence (or the threat of violence) against Joe to make him do what I want.? Would it be moral to initiate violence (or the threat of violence) to make him put up nutritional information?".

No one has the authority to assault or batter another unless you are defending yourself. Otherwise, you have the authority to use the court system if you feel that you suffered a tort, such as if certain foods had ingredients that you were allergic to and you suffered a reaction.

And there is also the corollary question as to whether a person has the authority to hide information from others when they are dealing with them. In the case of a business, Joe's eatery, Joe doesn't have the right to not disclose material facts to his customers, which includes nutritional information. Joe can be compelled to make such disclosures as a requirement of being granted a business license.

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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

We do have laws against murder...and the state institutes vioence against murderers. It puts an end to their careers.

Unfortunately, that doesn't bring back the dead....their victims.

Food products produced in China killed and deformed thousands of babies. Those responsible for producing them were executed. It doesn't bring the babies back to life.

If a bank robber is pointing a gun at a teller's head, a cop is likely to shoot him before the robber shoots the teller. Regulations are similar to that, A difference being, . they save lives,,,without taking one. Just another way of saying, "drop your gun, or I'll shoot.".

Retired Monk" - Ideology is a disease"

.

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote jeffbiss:No one has the authority to assault or batter another unless you are defending yourself.

Agree with you there.

Quote jeffbiss:Otherwise, you have the authority to use the court system if you feel that you suffered a tort, such as if certain foods had ingredients that you were allergic to and you suffered a reaction.

I agree those who suffer a tort are entitled to sue for damages in court. The facts of the case can then determine the extent of liability and award damages.

Quote jeffbiss:And there is also the corollary question as to whether a person has the authority to hide information from others when they are dealing with them. In the case of a business, Joe's eatery, Joe doesn't have the right to not disclose material facts to his customers, which includes nutritional information.

So let's say I see a customer walk up to Joe's stand. The customer asks Joe for the ingredients of his burgers, and Joe says, "Look Buddy, these here are good burgers and I eat them myself, but I aint giving away my secret formula. If you don't want to buy one, that's fine. Next!" The next customer, having heard the entire exchange walks up and buys a burger.

What am I supposed to do in this case. I really want Joe to list all his ingredients, and I speak to him about it but he's simply not interested. I can't initiate violence against him in order to make him do it, because, as Jeffbiss points out, no one has the authority to assault or batter another unless it is in self defense. Again, I realize that he is my equal under the law, with the same rights to be left alone as I have, and he has done me no harm, so I can't even sue him in court.

Quote jeffbiss:Joe can be compelled to make such disclosures as a requirement of being granted a business license.

Now that's an interesting point. Do I have the authority to forbid Joe from even selling burgers in the first place? We are equals, after all. What authority could I claim to have over whether he can sell hamburgers or not?

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Quote polycarp2:
We do have laws against murder...and the state institutes vioence against murderers. It puts an end to their careers.

Unfortunately, that doesn't bring back the dead....their victims.

Food products produced in China killed and deformed thousands of babies. Those responsible for producing them were executed. It doesn't bring the babies back to life.

If a bank robber is pointing a gun at a teller's head, a cop is likely to shoot him before the robber shoots the teller. Regulations are similar to that, A difference being, . they save lives,,,without taking one. Just another way of saying, "drop your gun, or I'll shoot.".


I'm not sure I understand how your response relates to the original post. Are you saying that I have the moral authority to initiate violence against Joe?

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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
So let's say I see a customer walk up to Joe's stand. The customer asks Joe for the ingredients of his burgers, and Joe says, "Look Buddy, these here are good burgers and I eat them myself, but I aint giving away my secret formula. If you don't want to buy one, that's fine. Next!" The next customer, having heard the entire exchange walks up and buys a burger.

What am I supposed to do in this case. I really want Joe to list all his ingredients, and I speak to him about it but he's simply not interested. I can't initiate violence against him in order to make him do it, because, as Jeffbiss points out, no one has the authority to assault or batter another unless it is in self defense. Again, I realize that he is my equal under the law, with the same rights to be left alone as I have, and he has done me no harm, so I can't even sue him in court.


You have the authority as a consumer and citizen to use the political process to force Joe to disclose his ingredients. As a business owner selling food to the public he has no right to be left alone. He can be compelled via the law to tell his customers what they are eating if the law tells him to, or he can be stopped from doing business as a food seller.

Now that's an interesting point. Do I have the authority to forbid Joe from even selling burgers in the first place? We are equals, after all. What authority could I claim to have over whether he can sell hamburgers or not?

You aren't equals. Joe is a business and you are a consumer. If the law dictates that he must do certain things to do business legally then he must do them, including providing nutritional information, otherwise he can be forbidden to sell food. If you want to be equals, then your example would have Joe give you a burger, not sell you a burger.

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Quote jeffbiss:You have the authority as a consumer and citizen to use the political process to force Joe to disclose his ingredients. As a business owner selling food to the public he has no right to be left alone. He can be compelled via the law to tell his customers what they are eating if the law tells him to, or he can be stopped from doing business as a food seller.

Would he be compelled to stop through the initiation of violence against him if he refuses to listen to whoever tells him to stop selling burgers? I thought we had agreed that the only legitimate use of violence is to defend one's self?

Quote jeffbiss:You aren't equals. Joe is a business and you are a consumer. If the law dictates that he must do certain things to do business legally then he must do them, including providing nutritional information, otherwise he can be forbidden to sell food. If you want to be equals, then your example would have Joe give you a burger, not sell you a burger.

So the fact that Joe sells burgers makes me what? His ruler? I now have the ability to do certain things, like decide whether I will allow him to continue to trade with his neighbors? How did I acquire this power over him? I'm not sure that I can accept that I have more rights than he does. Can you offer any explanation as to why he becomes subject to my power when he decides to sell burgers?

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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Or you could just wait till enough people got sick and possibly died from his contaminated meat product. I suspect that would put him out of business quickly.

Isn't that what you are getting at here rbs? Some kind of Libertarian view that a person has the right to do what he wants and no one can control or stop the action.

However if there is lack of regulation at some point enough people may become sick (and die) where it completely puts him out of business. Right?

This is a an example of the "free" market. What is not to love?

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I'm bothered by this entire discussion for another reason: There has been absolutely no discussion of the personal responsibility of consumer(s). Is there none?

I'm all for pure food and drug laws, but those are separate and apart from nutritional disclosure. If advocates of coercion to disclosure through law are advocating for purity of product, I agree. But you lose me at the point that you want a fried food stand of any kind to make nutritional disclosure and are willing to coerce that by law.

Americans are notoriously intellectually lazy. Most whine and pule that nobody tells them anything, yet most don't even read a book a year. Most are addicted to "news" through TV (pseudo tabloid news), texting, or the Net and few ever bother to do any research on their own about things like diet, but Boy! -- they can tell you everything that happened to Brad and Angie last week.

THE 60% OF AMERICAN HUMANOIDS THAT ARE OBESE CAN'T SEEM TO FIGURE OUT THAT IT DOESN'T TAKE A ROCKET SCIENTIST TO KNOW THAT FRIED FOODS HAVE TOO MUCH SALT, TOO MANY CALORIES, AND TOO MUCH CHOLESTEROL TO BE HEALTHY! Consumers need to read something besides the tabloids and figure out a few things for themselves, rather than demanding that everybody else serve up the meaning of life to them in 30-second soundbytes or on a nutritional disclosure label! It's at precisely this non-thinking level of navel inspection that we give the reactionaries ammo to say we progressives want a nanny state.

One can be progressive without being so anal as to want to save everybody from themselves. If we're going to do that, we have to outlaw everything that could even possibly lead to harm, including all hamburgers, all fries, all fats they're cooked in, and all fast food restaurants.

Information abounds; most people are too lazy to seek it out or figure it out. They'd rather let themselves get sick and follow that up with a lawsuit. So, if you want to hold the burger guy to standards that say he can't sell stuff like Upton Sinclair talks about in The Jungle, fine, but take the same time you'll spend forcing him into nutritional disclosure to read a good book on diet and nutrition. Then decide if you still want the burger and fries.

Geez, who are the cattle here, the burgers or the people that eat 'em? Caveat Emptor!

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Burgers and fries are not necessarily the problem. Anything in moderation is fine.

The problem is if you have no standards for your meat, how do you know whether its contaminated? Do you wait until people get sick and die from eating it, or do you have some kind of regulation the meat has to pass before you can sell it.

Of course, this might mean that people like myself and jeff (who don't eat meat) are the only ones likely to be left standing in this hypothetical scenario...

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Quote meljomur:

Burgers and fries are not necessarily the problem. Anything in moderation is fine.

The problem is if you have no standards for your meat, how do you know whether its contaminated? Do you wait until people get sick and die from eating it, or do you have some kind of regulation the meat has to pass before you can sell it.

Of course, this might mean that people like myself and jeff (who don't eat meat) are the only ones likely to be left standing in this hypothetical scenario...

No arguments here. As I said, I'm completely in favor of pure food and drug laws, especially meat in this age of Mad Cow Disease. I brought up the nutritional disclosure issue because it actually has some traction with people who think every restaurant of every type has an obligation to provide nutritional info with all of its meals. My point was that the latter is completely asinine.

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Quote meljomur:Isn't that what you are getting at here rbs? Some kind of Libertarian view that a person has the right to do what he wants and no one can control or stop the action.

It's more an issue of rights and equality. If Joe and I are equals, in that we are endowed with equal rights, what is the moral or ethical justification for me initiating violence against him in order to make him do what I wish, which is, in this instance, providing nutritional information about his product. Am I his ruler? Do I have some sort of Divine right to rule others?

So far, the only person who has answered is Jeffbiss, who has said that the only ethical use of violence in in self-defense. I tend to agree with Jeffbiss on this.

What do you think Meljomur? Do I have the right to initiate violence against Joe in order to make him publish nutritional information?

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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Sprinkling of tidbits on the side.

The Emptor cannot caveat without an education. One cannot scutinize what one does not know how to scrutinize. And one is at a disadvantage when the education available to them is lesser than others, by design.

When sellers use their resources, not to improve their products, but to keep potential custormers from knowing about the flaws in their products or other choices, they are knowingly interfering with what could otherwise be an honest activity.

Adopting from a recent commercial: It's not a choice, it's only pretending to be a choice.

Also, I think they've proven that the main culprit in the mechanism which turns a body into a fat storing machine is high-fructose corn syrup. They've actually proven that it meets the definition of a poison (like alcohol). Industry denials are as scientific as the "no climate change here" ones have been.

But back to the original poser:

Since it did not say the seller was operating in any illegal fashion (and it did not say that we are cows or potatoes) - the seller has already accepted a host of rules and regulations before attempting to sell their first item.

What I see here is the manner in which the question is phrased (like push-polling) where enforcing rules to protect the general public is cast as having a desire to rule someone else.

It's no more choosing to "rule" another than to have a rule that prohibits selling a religious education if it's going to include molestation of the child.

Remember, the vendor (knowing what the rules are) made a series of choices before their stand was opened, and acceptance of operating in a manner which does not give them an unfair advantage over other vendors is part of that.

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Quote Rodger97321:What I see here is the manner in which the question is phrased (like push-polling) where enforcing rules to protect the general public is cast as having a desire to rule someone else.

Yes, I admit I am asking the question in a very pointed way. It is a question of ethics and morality, and I wish to make the focus perfectly clear. Interestingly, I have not received a single answer yet.

(And as an aside, let me point out that I am not suggesting, as Meljomur implied, that people ought to be free to do anything they wish and there's nothing we can do to stop them. We are all responsible for the wrongs (torts) we do to others, and in the case of harm, the harmed party or parties are perfectly entitled to recover damages. Also, we are all free to, actually I should say responsible to, act defensively to stop those who would initiate violence against innocents. This is why we have a government in the first place.)

Quote Rodger97321:Since it did not say the seller was operating in any illegal fashion (and it did not say that we are cows or potatoes) - the seller has already accepted a host of rules and regulations before attempting to sell their first item.

If you think about what you mean by "operating in any illegal fashion", this brings you back to my question. What you mean by illegal is this: Someone has decided that they wish Joe to do something related to his business. (In my example it is publishing nutritional information, but of course the imposition could be anything.) This person or group of people, writes down their requirement, and calls it a law. They then tell Joe, "If you know what's good for you, you'll do X."

Which brings us back to the original question. Perhaps I can phrase it differently: Can I, and a group of my neighbors write a letter to Joe, call that letter a law, and threaten to initiate violence against him unless he publishes nutritional information? Again, I wonder, if Joe and I and the rest of my neighbors are equals, what authority do I and my neighbors have to force Joe to comply with our regulation? Who placed us in authority over him?

Quote Rodger97321:It's no more choosing to "rule" another than to have a rule that prohibits selling a religious education if it's going to include molestation of the child.
Using defensive force to protect a child from molestation is OK in my book. I hope we can all agree on that one. That's the reason we pay taxes to support a police force, after all.

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Would he be compelled to stop through the initiation of violence against him if he refuses to listen to whoever tells him to stop selling burgers? I thought we had agreed that the only legitimate use of violence is to defend one's self?

The local municipality, county, state, etc. could compell him to stop selling or keep him from selling.
So the fact that Joe sells burgers makes me what? His ruler? I now have the ability to do certain things, like decide whether I will allow him to continue to trade with his neighbors? How did I acquire this power over him? I'm not sure that I can accept that I have more rights than he does. Can you offer any explanation as to why he becomes subject to my power when he decides to sell burgers?

No, as a customer you're not a ruler. However, government doesn't view the customer and business as equals. Businesses are constrained by ordinance and law, customers aren't. As a citizen you can decide whether he can continue to operate in a certain mode and use the political system to coerce him to operate as you see fit. Of course, others may not agree with you, such is democracy.

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Whoever issued the license, [community,city, county, or state] has the right to suspend the license, and or fine the vendor, if the standards as outlined in license are violated.

Why do you keep saying no one has answered your question? I have read many replies, Ulysses the best. I don't consider a suspension of a license or levy of a fine to be violence.

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douglaslee
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Quote douglaslee:Why do you keep saying no one has answered your question? I have read many replies, Ulysses the best.

I keep saying that because my question was whether or not I personally had the moral or ethical authority to force Joe to post nutrition information and to threaten him with violence if he refused to comply. You are correct that I have gotten many replies. The have mentioned law, business licenses, the political process, municipalities, ordinances, fines, and democracy. Everything but answer the question.

Unless I missed something, nobody has taken a stand either way as to whether or not I have the right, individually, as rbs, to force Joe to put up nutrition information or suffer whatever punishment I decide to dish out to him.

It is an important philosophical question that has implications as to the nature and power of government. Doesn't anyone have an opinion on this?

Okay, I'll go first, and will give you my answer. I say no, I personally don't have any such power. Anyone agree? Disagree?

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Unless I missed something, nobody has taken a stand either way as to whether or not I have the right, individually, as rbs, to force Joe to put up nutrition information or suffer whatever punishment I decide to dish out to him.

It is an important philosophical question that has implications as to the nature and power of government. Doesn't anyone have an opinion on this?

You've missed something as I have answered your question. Read through my posts and you'll see that I have addressed the nature and power of government. Maybe not extremely clearly, but I feel I did.

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Quote jeffbiss:You've missed something as I have answered your question. Read through my posts and you'll see that I have addressed the nature and power of government. Maybe not extremely clearly, but I feel I did.

My apologies. Looking back I see you wrote, "No one has the authority to assault or batter another unless you are defending yourself." Is this the answer to which you are referring? Are you coming down on the "I have no authority to force Joe to post nutrition information" side? Can I count that as 1 no vote?

Quote jeffbiss:Maybe not extremely clearly, but I feel I did.

You could always clarify somewhat.

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You have no authority whatsoever. Where did you get the idea that you possess any authority at all?

kwikfix
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Apr. 9, 2010 12:51 pm
My apologies. Looking back I see you wrote, "No one has the authority to assault or batter another unless you are defending yourself." Is this the answer to which you are referring? Are you coming down on the "I have no authority to force Joe to post nutrition information" side? Can I count that as 1 no vote?

To clarify my point, you do have the authority as a citizen to force Joe to post nutritional information via the political process, as in government, whether local, state, or federal, mandating that businesses serving food provide such information. So, you can count on me as a "no" vote for you alone, but as a "yes" if you consider how a democracy operates.

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Quote kwikfix:

You have no authority whatsoever. Where did you get the idea that you possess any authority at all?

I've already said that I don't think that I have any such authority. I am asking others whether or not they think they have such authority.

Here are the results so far: rbs no, jeffbiss no, kwikfix no.

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So, given the discussion so far, let's agree that I have no moral or ethical authority to dictate to Joe that he must publish nutritional information. This is because, as jeffbiss pointed out, and most people would agree, the only legitimate use of force is when it is used defensively.

From here, I'll make a couple of other assertions, and see who agrees or disagrees. I'll assert that same the moral and ethical restriction that forbids me from forcing Joe to publish nutritional information also forbids jeffbiss, kwikfix, or any other person from doing the same. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there is no person who has the moral or ethical authority that I or jeffbiss or kwikfix don't have. (I say this based upon the assumption that we all, by our very humanity, are equal in that we have the same rights.)

I would further assert that, even if I and jeffbiss and kwikfix all wanted Joe to publish nutritional information, the fact that we all want this doesn't somehow bestow on us the right to force him to do so, the very same right that none of us has individually.

I would further assert that whenever I lack the moral or ethical authority to do something, I cannot ask someone else to to that thing for me or on my behalf. This is to say that an agent cannot have powers that do not initially belong to the principle. For example, I cannot legitimately ask jeffbiss to force Joe to publish nutritional information, and even if jeffbiss agreed and did so, he does not somehow magically acquire the moral and ethical authority to do so.

Thoughts on these arguments? Agree? Disagree?

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Quote rbs:
Quote douglaslee:Why do you keep saying no one has answered your question? I have read many replies, Ulysses the best.

I keep saying that because my question was whether or not I personally had the moral or ethical authority to force Joe to post nutrition information and to threaten him with violence if he refused to comply. You are correct that I have gotten many replies. The have mentioned law, business licenses, the political process, municipalities, ordinances, fines, and democracy. Everything but answer the question.

Unless I missed something, nobody has taken a stand either way as to whether or not I have the right, individually, as rbs, to force Joe to put up nutrition information or suffer whatever punishment I decide to dish out to him.

It is an important philosophical question that has implications as to the nature and power of government. Doesn't anyone have an opinion on this?

Okay, I'll go first, and will give you my answer. I say no, I personally don't have any such power. Anyone agree? Disagree?

OK, maybe this will be clear if your question is literal and not rhetorical. If the state or government does "violence" in the form of imposing legal sanctions, regardless of whether the police have to drag you out of your house and throw you into jail, or you get a fine, or you get closed down, the state or government has the legal right to do so. It has that right because the state is, in fact, us, as manifest in our elected and appointed officials. It is enforcing the laws and imposing the legal sanctions that the majority of voters approve because we've voted for and/or appointed officials who have passed those laws and will now enforce them, based on our implied pre-approval of their actions at the ballot box.

Legal sanctions, whether they include actual physical violence or not, are coercive by design and nature; law is coercive. It's meant to be. Law is legal coercion ("violence") imposed by the majority of voters upon everybody else so that there will, theoretically, be civilization. That's the only effective way to obtain civilization wherein we don't want the biggest, strongest, criminals with the best weapons to victimize everybody else. If the state does it, it's legal, meaning the state has the authority to act, although it may not be ethical or moral, and it may be overturned later and we may have to make the victim of incorrect state action ("violence") whole with our tax money.

If you, yourself, privately, unilaterally, and outside of the rule of law, impose your own sanctions --physically violent or otherwise -- on the burger guy, that's unethical and/or immoral at best and illegal at worst; it's vigilantism. If you perform "violence" upon the burger guy by unilaterally imposing your own sanctions, you are outside of the rule of law. That's mob law or lynch law, or the law of the jungle, maybe all. Take your pick. You may be correct in doing so, as the vigilantes were to clean up the Barbary Coast in San Francisco during the Gold Rush. But even if your actions would be considered morally and ethically correct by the majority of citizens, the law would still consider them vigilantism and thus, illegal.

Whether the burger guy is doing anything illegal or unethical himself, if you assault him or kill him for it, you are committing criminal offenses and can be charged and tried accordingly. If you damage his stand/restaurant in any way, you are destroying property and the same applies. If the government shuts him down, that's legally approved activity; the correctness of the government's actions would be contestable by the burger guy in court and the government would have to show why it was legally correct in shutting him down. If the government loses, we would be required to make him whole with our tax dollars (not unfair, I believe), or at the least, he would be allowed to re-open and return to business as usual.

Is all this ruling others? Nope, it's ruling ourselves, as long as we believe in the rule of law. But it only works well when all or most voters vote; if not, the majority of those who vote (not the overall majority of the population) rules everybody else, and as everybody knows, that majority is often an hysteria driven mob rather than a moral, rational, and well-informed electorate.

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Quote rbs:

So, given the discussion so far, let's agree that I have no moral or ethical authority to dictate to Joe that he must publish nutritional information. This is because, as jeffbiss pointed out, and most people would agree, the only legitimate use of force is when it is used defensively.

From here, I'll make a couple of other assertions, and see who agrees or disagrees. I'll assert that same the moral and ethical restriction that forbids me from forcing Joe to publish nutritional information also forbids jeffbiss, kwikfix, or any other person from doing the same. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there is no person who has the moral or ethical authority that I or jeffbiss or kwikfix don't have. (I say this based upon the assumption that we all, by our very humanity, are equal in that we have the same rights.)

I would further assert that, even if I and jeffbiss and kwikfix all wanted Joe to publish nutritional information, the fact that we all want this doesn't somehow bestow on us the right to force him to do so, the very same right that none of us has individually.

I would further assert that whenever I lack the moral or ethical authority to do something, I cannot ask someone else to to that thing for me or on my behalf. This is to say that an agent cannot have powers that do not initially belong to the principle. For example, I cannot legitimately ask jeffbiss to force Joe to publish nutritional information, and even if jeffbiss agreed and did so, he does not somehow magically acquire the moral and ethical authority to do so.

Thoughts on these arguments? Agree? Disagree?

If where you're ultimately going with this is that nobody has the right to impose taxes, I'll disagree in advance. If the majority of voters elect politicians/lawmakers based on their stated positions that they'll tax if elected, the minority will need to suck it up and pay those taxes. The latter can whine, but if the majority of voters believes taxation is necessary and puts its agents into office, that's just democracy at work. And yes, the majority of voters (not just one person among them) DOES have the right to rule others in our political system. It's politically infrastructural and the only way you can legally change that is through Constitutional amendment.

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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Ulysses:
OK, maybe this will be clear if your question is literal and not rhetorical. If the state or government does "violence" in the form of imposing legal sanctions, regardless of whether the police have to drag you out of your house and throw you into jail, or you get a fine, or you get closed down, the state or government has the legal right to do so. It has that right because the state is, in fact, us, as manifest in our elected and appointed officials. It is enforcing the laws and imposing the legal sanctions that the majority of voters approve because we've voted for and/or appointed officials who have passed those laws and will now enforce them, based on our implied pre-approval of their actions at the ballot box.

If I don't have the right to use violence to force Joe to publish nutritional information, and neither do you, and our elected and appointed officials are agents acting on our behalf, how do these people acquire this right? How can we collectively delegate something to others that we do not ourselves possess in the first place?

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rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote rbs:
Quote Ulysses:
OK, maybe this will be clear if your question is literal and not rhetorical. If the state or government does "violence" in the form of imposing legal sanctions, regardless of whether the police have to drag you out of your house and throw you into jail, or you get a fine, or you get closed down, the state or government has the legal right to do so. It has that right because the state is, in fact, us, as manifest in our elected and appointed officials. It is enforcing the laws and imposing the legal sanctions that the majority of voters approve because we've voted for and/or appointed officials who have passed those laws and will now enforce them, based on our implied pre-approval of their actions at the ballot box.

If I don't have the right to use violence to force Joe to publish nutritional information, and neither do you, and our elected and appointed officials are agents acting on our behalf, how do these people acquire this right? How can we collectively delegate something to others that we do not ourselves possess in the first place?

Our elected and appointed officials have the authority to make our laws. Our governmental structure mandates that we impose that authority in them at the ballot box. If you don't like that, change the governmental structure.

Law has to be a unified code that all abide by, like it or not. It can't be created and adhered to selectively or on an ad hoc basis, or it's not law, it's simply situational ethics and its practitioners can use it to justify any and all levels of negative behavior. There have to be laws if there's going to be civilization. Unless I misunderstood your question, you asked what legal authority you, as an individual, have to unilaterally impose your will upon another citizen. The answer is none. But in a electoral democracy, we the people, as manifest in the majority of voters at any given time, do have that authority. That's simply what majority rule in a democracy is and how it functions. You may not like it, but it's a fact that it's our structure.

Based on human nature, the inextricably linked corollaries of any completely authority-free society would be chaos, anarchy, and barbarism. If you want to see a current example, look at Somalia. The fact that I condemn the humanoids who don't ever choose to exercise any personal responsibility or crack a book doesn't mean that I'm opposed to democracy and the rule of law.

In a society wherein the rule of law governs behavior, nobody agrees with all the laws, but all have to obey them or society comes apart and we're back to anarchy and barbarism. If you prefer that, it's your choice, as long as you don't want to violently bring down the governmental structure built by those of us opposed to anarchy and barbarism.

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Ulysses
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Ulysses:Our elected and appointed officials have the authority to make our laws. Our governmental structure mandates that we impose that authority in them at the ballot box. If you don't like that, change the governmental structure.

Yes, I understand that we elect representatives who make law. But in the case of this one particular law, that Joe must publish the nutrition information, how do our representatives gain the moral and ethical authority to forcibly compel him to so. They can't have been delegated this authority by us, since we don't have it in the first place. We cannot delegate that which we do not have.

I think that the only possible answer is that our elected officials don't in fact have the ethical or moral authority to threaten to shut Joe down. Unless someone can offer some explanation of how our elected officials somehow acquire special rights from nowhere.

(As an aside, since we all have the right to defend ourselves and our property, it makes sense that we can delegate our power to defend ourselves to a third party, such as our elected and appointed officials. Thus it stands to reason that our elected and appointed officials can legitimately make laws designed to accomplish community self-defense, such as laws against murder, rape, theft, robbery, etc.)

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rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote rbs:

[quote=douglaslee]

Unless I missed something, nobody has taken a stand either way as to whether or not I have the right, individually, as rbs, to force Joe to put up nutrition information or suffer whatever punishment I decide to dish out to him.

Yes, you did miss something. Why do you insist that nobody took a stand? I told you that the answer is NO. You have no authority over anybody, but you apparently are ignoring my answer. What's the matter with you?

kwikfix
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Apr. 9, 2010 12:51 pm
Quote rbs:
Quote Ulysses:Our elected and appointed officials have the authority to make our laws. Our governmental structure mandates that we impose that authority in them at the ballot box. If you don't like that, change the governmental structure.

Yes, I understand that we elect representatives who make law. But in the case of this one particular law, that Joe must publish the nutrition information, how do our representatives gain the moral and ethical authority to forcibly compel him to so. They can't have been delegated this authority by us, since we don't have it in the first place. We cannot delegate that which we do not have.

I think that the only possible answer is that our elected officials don't in fact have the ethical or moral authority to threaten to shut Joe down. Unless someone can offer some explanation of how our elected officials somehow acquire special rights from nowhere.

(As an aside, since we all have the right to defend ourselves and our property, it makes sense that we can delegate our power to defend ourselves to a third party, such as our elected and appointed officials. Thus it stands to reason that our elected and appointed officials can legitimately make laws designed to accomplish community self-defense, such as laws against murder, rape, theft, robbery, etc.)

You may not believe that democratically elected officials have the moral and ethical authority to make and/or enforce laws because those who elect them don't have that authority either, and therefore, can't vest officials with it. You're entitled to your beliefs, but that's an absurdist argument that, if reasoned out to its ultimate conclusion, would dictate no government whatsoever, and thus, no laws. Under such a system, I could legitimately ask you where you get the moral and ethical authority to defend yourself. I could posit that maybe some think you don't or shouldn't have such authority, so who's to say that your position on that is the correct one? After all, everything's relative -- isn't it? Do you think the only laws that should be enacted and enforced are laws that you agree with, regardless of whether you're in the minority, and that's all there is to it? Are you a Libertarian?

All you're really positing is that ultimately, nobody ever has the moral or ethical right to tell anybody else what to do through government. This coincides with one currently espoused Tea Bag/reactionary position: that if Rightwingers don't get their way, they don't have any moral or ethical obligation to obey the laws and/or pay their taxes. Is that where you are? If so, that's a half-step from secession and it was heard a lot in the South during the years leading up to the Civil War.

Elected governments in representative democracies are vested with the mantle of authority through the consent of the majority of the governed, as reflected in vote counts. It's their duty to carry that mantle and govern with it. Elected officials of any society that cares about the good and welfare of its citizens tend to make laws that generally show a high positive correlation to high morals and ethics, based on the notion that the good of the many usually supersedes the good of the one. Law and government will never be perfect, however, because they're both applied, hands-on disciplines, not abstract philosophical problems to be theoretically mulled over in private settings. So, sometimes the basic, practical need to govern will dictate and produce legal outcomes considered immoral and unethical by some. That can never be avoided because no one legislator can please everybody all the time

Constitutionally, our elected officials don't have "special rights." They have the authority to govern, which is vested in them by the people -- legitimately, when voting machines aren't rigged by Republicans and all ballots are counted, even in Florida. Regulating business and levying taxes are not abuses of authority. When real abuses of authority surface, they must always be challenged and their perpetrators removed from office.

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Ulysses
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

You cannot just sell meat to the public, without first contacting your local Health and Safety department.

It's not a moral issue, its a legal issue. You have the obligation to contact the Health and Safety department on Joe's behalf, if he hasn't already done so.

I was relieved to note that the US isn't quite as far right Libertarian as I imagine it at times.

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meljomur
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote kwikfix:
Quote rbs:

[quote=douglaslee]

Unless I missed something, nobody has taken a stand either way as to whether or not I have the right, individually, as rbs, to force Joe to put up nutrition information or suffer whatever punishment I decide to dish out to him.

Yes, you did miss something. Why do you insist that nobody took a stand? I told you that the answer is NO. You have no authority over anybody, but you apparently are ignoring my answer. What's the matter with you?

That quote of mine is from before you answered me.

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rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Ulysses:You may not believe that democratically elected officials have the moral and ethical authority to make and/or enforce laws because those who elect them don't have that authority either, and therefore, can't vest officials with it.

Perhaps you misread what I wrote. I don't claim that our representatives and appointees lack the moral and ethical authority to enfore ANY law. I am talking about a law that requires Joe to publish nutritional information. Certain laws, aganst murder for example, are clearly delegations of our natural right to self-defense. They do not imbue our representatives with any power that we do not already have. They are simply forms of cooperation.

Quote Ulysses:All you're really positing is that ultimately, nobody ever has the moral or ethical right to tell anybody else what to do through government.

No, I'm not. I'm trying to explore whether there are any moral or ethical limimts on how we may act collectively versus how we may act individually. I see no moral or ethical reason why a group of people acquire certain powers that none of the members themselves posses.

You say, "Elected governments in representative democracies are vested with the mantle of authority through the consent of the majority of the governed, as reflected in vote counts." I have to assume that you believe there are some sort of moral or ethical prohibitions on the actions of our elected and appointed officials, even when they've been selected by a majority. I'm trying to explore what principles we can use to determine what these prohibitions might be.

For me, the test is whether or not the law is a delegation of each of our already existing individual powers. If the law acts contrary to our own individual proscriptions on interpersonal behavior, then I cannot accept it as morally legitimate. If I accept that we are all created equal in that we all have the same rights, I cannot do otherwise.

The principle is responsible for the actions of his agent; a man who hires a killer is guilty of murder even though he did not pull the trigger. The way I see it, if I elect and support someone to go bust up Joe's shop and forcibly shut him down, I am as guilty as the perpetrators. I cannot ask my elected and appointed officials to do my dirty work and expect to be relieved of moral responsibility for their actions.

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rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

kwikfix, that quote attributed to me as in 'douglaslee wrote' is not mine, if I posted it, it should have been in a quote box. Ulysses posted what I wrote, he is also right in the conclusions. There is a current movement aka nullification. Practised in a court of law it is finding the accused in a defendant innocent when the facts say guilty. All white juries wouldn't convict white supremacists of murder of black men. Yes it's the law, but we won't follow it. The helmet law says must wear a helmet, doesn't say where, so it's on my knee, I am not in violation.

Jury nullification as a right is discouraged, police states like their laws followed. That's why you have people in jail for life for petty theft. Three strikes means tough on crime here in 'merika.

Judges nullify jury decisions, too. Jury awards against corporations for punitive damages have been reduced, the poor company that killed, maimed, and purposely responsible for birth defects, cancer etc. was being punished too harshly in the judge's pov. That's why there is a cap on BPs damage, too.

Anti-trust cases and price fixing have sort of nullification. Guilty, 'we fine the defendant a sum of one dollar'.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Well, someone seem sto be taking gleeful, disingenuous, advantage of the absence of an explicit given.

From what I can tell, rbs, is pretending to not understand that his (now much clearer) scenario is impossibly predicated [which my guess is he would point out "hypothesis" in the setup] on the assumption that no one has ever sold a burger/fries and there are no preexisitng rules governing it - while readers, including myself, assumed the scenario was meant to be a real-world example (in which the seller would have already agreed to conform with a variety of rules, including, if required, posting of nutritional information).

In the real world, civilized people have organized law enforcement units. It is these units which deal with issues of non-compliance. The ethical thing to do is to report violations to the proper authorities and let them independently assess the situation and handle as appropriate.

If it is not already a rule, then the person should determine if they are completely out-of-their-mind for thinking such a thing, are they just doing it to harass would-be competition or is their is an actual societal benefit (with a rational basis) in having such an in-the-public-interest rule/regulation added - and, if so, propose it to the body whose job it is to oversee such things.

So your moral authority is to report the violation if it's already a law, and, if not, decide for yourself if you believe in it strongly enough to put in the time to propose such a law.

Footnote: Current food labeling laws attempt to strike a balance. A finished product does say how much for the lettuce, tomato, sauce burger, bun, etc.separately - but the total for the average one produced.

I still don't know why it's called Soy Sauce when there's more wheat than soy in it.

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Rodger97321
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Again, while I see myself as an avid individualist and believe the priority of all governments based on liberalism (as in 'primacy of the individual') should be in 'securing individual rights', I do believe rbs's example to be too quaint to address what I see as a real problem in today's political environment.

Let's rev it up a notch and say that Joe, Inc., operates like in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle with rat droppings and other parts as part of his hamburger meat that he distributes to millions--many get sick. However, unlike a century ago, Joe, Inc., now has spent millions of dollars on the campaigns of the politicians that make those laws and no one is interested in making Joe mad and loosing that 'special interest income'--citing, perhaps, the idea that it is Caveat Emptor, against government intervening in the 'free market', and there is nothing that government can do to get Joe to change his ways without aggressively 'violating Joe's rights'.....

Now, let's take a man that has had his family eat those hamburgers at Joe's and all his family got sick--his youngest got renal failure out of it and died. This man has been on the forefront of trying to get government to change Joe's practices but, as I've said, no one's willing to do that due to Joe's rather unequal influence with government officials. What option does this man have now? He could take it to court--but, no judge (also bought off by Joe, Inc.) is willing to try it--citing 'they can't make up laws'. The government officials, intent on securing 'Joe, Inc.,'s rights' just tell the man 'there's nothing they can do--he should have had his family eat somewhere else--and they are very sorry for the loss of his child'. As many here appear to imply, any act this man takes on his own will be an unlawful act of aggression.....Now what?

When this man now gets tried for murder in killing Joe, should the jury 'nullify' that? And, the judge 'overrule it'....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Rodger97321:Well, someone seem sto be taking gleeful, disingenuous, advantage of the absence of an explicit given.
My mistake for not being clearer in describing all the explicit givens. Of course, most readers would have considered my scenario to take place under our existing system, which explains many of the responses.

As I hope I have since made clear, my question is about whether those elected by a group acquire the right to infringe upon the rights of others in a way that would clearly be morally and ethically wrong were the individual acting on his own. I am exploring the question of when a law represents a legitimate delegation of powers we all have as equal citizens and when a law exercises authority that we have no authority to delegate in the first place.

I suggest that there are laws that are ethical and there are those that are not. I posit that a law can only be ethical if it collectivizes a power that we each already posses individually. If we fail to judge the morality of a law by this standard, then is there any atrocity that we could not ask our elected officials to undertake on our behalf?

I cannot consider a law ethical or moral if it authorizes another person to act in a way that I would not consider ethical and moral were I to do the same thing myself. The man who hires a thug to beat up and shut down a man's business is just as guilty, if not more so, than the thug himself.

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rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

As a corollary to my above remarks, implicit in many of the arguments given so far is that 'the government has the power to police'--even rbs has no problem with that one. However, as was a concern with our founding fathers, the 'policing powers' coupled with 'powers apart from the people' will just enhance oppression (to me, a form of aggressive act)--not remove it. That's why, as Akhil Reed Amar explains in his book, The Bill of Rights, our founding fathers understood that potential and held up 'jury trials' as preempting any 'policing power' (something, by the way, that I think is being systemically undermined)--a 'jury trial' based on the ability of each and every individual who thinks on it to 'determine moral and ethical judgments' as 'natural law' (I feel compelled to put all those statements in quotations because, even on the other forum, rbs, Austro-Libertarian, and I, never completely agreed as to what each meant--and, to what extent that meaning was to take). With respect to policing powers as the military (and a 'standing army'), Akhil Reed Amar quotes Patrick Henry from Virginia in that book:

[T]he clause which gives Congress the power of raising armies....appears a very alarming power, when unlimited. [Congress] are not only to raise, but to support, armies; and this support is to go to the utmost abilities of the United States. If Congress shall say that the general welfare requires it, they may keep armies continually on foot. There is no control on Congress in raising or stationing them. They may billet them on the people at pleasure. This unlimited authority is a most dangerous power: its principles are despotic. If it be unbounded, it must lead to despotism; for the power of a people in a free government is supposed to be paramount to the existing power.

.......Here we may have troops in times of peace. They may be billeted in any manner--to tyrannize, oppress, and crush us.

What is the 'existing power', today? I think there is at least some evidence that some people can see that it is not 'us'--and is more in line with that very collusion with corporations and government....that's why Joe, Inc., can do what he does....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
If I don't have the right to use violence to force Joe to publish nutritional information, and neither do you, and our elected and appointed officials are agents acting on our behalf, how do these people acquire this right? How can we collectively delegate something to others that we do not ourselves possess in the first place?

You've got to be kidding, right? While you don't have the right to assault or batter Joe to get him to post nutritional information you have the moral authority to use the power of government to further your interests, as in getting the power of the state to force him to post nutritional information. Otherwise, he is prohibited from doing business, is fined, jailed, etc.

One of the primary functions of government is to remove or at least minimize the use of violence by individuals. This is what the legal system is all about. What you are implying is that a person has no authority to protect him or herself. This, as Ulysses states, is patently absurd.

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jeffbiss
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote jeffbiss:You've got to be kidding, right? While you don't have the right to assault or batter Joe to get him to post nutritional information you have the moral authority to use the power of government to further your interests, as in getting the power of the state to force him to post nutritional information. Otherwise, he is prohibited from doing business, is fined, jailed, etc.

No, I'm not kidding, I'm exploring the difference between a just and an unjust law. You say that I don't have the right to assault or batter Joe to get him to post nutritional information, but then you say that I can delegate that power to some other person to do that very same thing. It just makes no sense to me. How can I delegate what I don't have in the first place? Where do these representatives of mine acquire a power that nobody they represent has in the first place? Where does it come from?

Quote jeffbiss:One of the primary functions of government is to remove or at least minimize the use of violence by individuals. This is what the legal system is all about. What you are implying is that a person has no authority to protect him or herself. This, as Ulysses states, is patently absurd.

I am definitely no implying that a person has no authority to protect himself. In fact, I'm saying that this is the only authority he does have. You may have missed this:

Quote rbs:(As an aside, since we all have the right to defend ourselves and our property, it makes sense that we can delegate our power to defend ourselves to a third party, such as our elected and appointed officials. Thus it stands to reason that our elected and appointed officials can legitimately make laws designed to accomplish community self-defense, such as laws against murder, rape, theft, robbery, etc.)

and this:

Quote rbs:Perhaps you misread what I wrote. I don't claim that our representatives and appointees lack the moral and ethical authority to enfore ANY law. I am talking about a law that requires Joe to publish nutritional information. Certain laws, aganst murder for example, are clearly delegations of our natural right to self-defense. They do not imbue our representatives with any power that we do not already have. They are simply forms of cooperation.

Do you think that any law proclaimed by our legislators is necessarily moral and ethical simply because we elected them? I don't, and I am attempting to explore what criteria we can use to judge the justness of a law. I take as a given that we are all created equal and that violence is only legitimately used in self-defense, and this is where I end up. If you can show me where I went wrong, I'm willing to listen.

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rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote jeffbiss:

One of the primary functions of government is to remove or at least minimize the use of violence by individuals. This is what the legal system is all about. What you are implying is that a person has no authority to protect him or herself. This, as Ulysses states, is patently absurd.

Well, being from Texas, I'm still for the 'right to bear arms'--even though I actually don't own a gun, myself (I don't like to hunt--I know, sort of paradoxical). My brother owns a lot of arms. I know a lawyer (paradoxically a friend of mine, I know) that bears a lot of arms intent on preventing government from 'taking over his castle', if you will. I've tried to tell him that 'the government will always have more and bigger arms than you'--but, he just adds 'yeah, but I'll at least get the first SOB that comes through the door'. Which, I add 'what if they just blow up your house?'

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote rbs:

No, I'm not kidding, I'm exploring the difference between a just and an unjust law. You say that I don't have the right to assault or batter Joe to get him to post nutritional information, but then you say that I can delegate that power to some other person to do that very same thing. It just makes no sense to me. How can I delegate what I don't have in the first place? Where do these representatives of mine acquire a power that nobody they represent has in the first place? Where does it come from?

I think the issue goes to the element of 'do no harm' that is supposed to be part of my own profession--and I think it actually should be part of anyone acting in (or with the compliance of) a position of authority--and I agree with jeffbiss that someone who 'has the authority' to sell you something is 'in compliance with' the authority that allows them to sell it (licenses, etc.). If say, this man is concerned about Joe's ingredients to his hamburgers because he or one of his family members has a serious allergic reaction to some food ingredients, then, there may be an impetus here for 'ingredients in hamburgers' to be listed....Do you believe that that man has that right to insist that Joe 'post his ingredients'? Or, get the 'government authority' to impose it upon Joe?

Of course, a more direct, 'old-fashioned' way, to handle this is that man could just ask Joe, 'Do you have such-and-such an ingredient in your hamburgers? My kid gets very ill if you do. And, if you are lying to me, and my kid gets ill and dies from it, I'll get my gun....'.....8^)......

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
No, I'm not kidding, I'm exploring the difference between a just and an unjust law. You say that I don't have the right to assault or batter Joe to get him to post nutritional information, but then you say that I can delegate that power to some other person to do that very same thing. It just makes no sense to me. How can I delegate what I don't have in the first place? Where do these representatives of mine acquire a power that nobody they represent has in the first place? Where does it come from?

I can see that it doesn't make any sense to you. I would love to know what your fundamental tenets are. I can only assume that you are an anarchist, or some analogue thereof. For some reason you have framed the issue around Joe having the right and authority to not disclose information to his customers, which is patently wrong. That makes no sense to me as trade secrets, such as KFC's secret recipe, can be protected while at the same time providing information to customers.

You obviously have missed the point that you don't have the right to assault or batter Joe to get him to post nutritional information does not in any way mean that you don't have the right to know the nutritional information of the food Joe is selling. Joe has no right to keep that information from his customers. Fundamentally, there is no need to batter or assault Joe to get that information, thus there is no need to assault or batter. However, Joe, not having any right or authority to not disclose information to his customers can be compelled by government to do so in order to conduct business. There is no assault or battery on Joe by government. So, while you are not legally allowed to assault or batter Joe, neither does the government need to to get him to disclose nutritional information.

Do you think that any law proclaimed by our legislators is necessarily moral and ethical simply because we elected them? I don't, and I am attempting to explore what criteria we can use to judge the justness of a law. I take as a given that we are all created equal and that violence is only legitimately used in self-defense, and this is where I end up. If you can show me where I went wrong, I'm willing to listen.

I also don't think that any law proclaimed by our legislators is moral or ethical simply because we elected them. The justness of a law is in its application and result. As a democracy we can experiment, and unjust laws, such as those legalizing slavery, can be repealed. Such is a democracy, including a democratic republic.

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jeffbiss
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote jeffbiss:I can see that it doesn't make any sense to you. I would love to know what your fundamental tenets are.

I believe that we are all equal in that we all have the right to life, liberty, and property. That we are free to cooperate and free not to cooperate with whomever we wish. That none of us may legitimately initiate violence against another, but that we have the right to defend ourselves and our property. That we have the right to establish government in order to collectively carry out our right to self-defense, but that we cannot delegate to the government any power that we do not have ourselves in the first place. That we are responsible for any harm we cause to another, and that anyone we harm has the right to ask the government to determine to what extent a harm was committed and help award damages, and possibly exact punishment in the case of egregious and malicious negligence.

Quote jeffbiss: For some reason you have framed the issue around Joe having the right and authority to not disclose information to his customers, which is patently wrong.

Joe has the right and authority to do anything he pleases as long as he doesn't hurt anyone. If he sells tainted meat, he has either committed a tort or a crime, and ought to be held responsible either civilly or criminally. But just because I want him to publish nutritional information about his burgers is not his problem; it's mine. I have no right to initiate violence against him in order to do so, nor does any agent of mine.

Quote jeffbiss: However, Joe, not having any right or authority to not disclose information to his customers can be compelled by government to do so in order to conduct business.

This brings us back to the question that you still haven't answered. Where does the government, our agent, get this authority to compel Joe to publish nutritional information. Obviously it cannot be coming from us, the principals, since we do not have it in the first place. My assertion is that no such authority can exists, which means that the law in question cannot be moral or ethical.

Any thoughts on where our agents get the authority to do that which we cannot do ourselves?

Quote jeffbiss:I also don't think that any law proclaimed by our legislators is moral or ethical simply because we elected them. The justness of a law is in its application and result.

That's a little vague. How do you know whether a law is just or unjust? I have offered my criteria. What are yours?

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rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
...but that we cannot delegate to the government any power that we do not have ourselves in the first place.

You're wrong here. Government is delegated the authority to force citizens to comply with the law, including the use of deadly force, to maintain civility.
Joe has the right and authority to do anything he pleases as long as he doesn't hurt anyone. If he sells tainted meat, he has either committed a tort or a crime, and ought to be held responsible either civilly or criminally. But just because I want him to publish nutritional information about his burgers is not his problem; it's mine. I have no right to initiate violence against him in order to do so, nor does any agent of mine.

It is his problem if enough people deem it necessary for food servers to disclose nutritional information about the food they serve. He can be compelled to disclose such information because he as no right to keep that information from his customers, otherwise he can be prohibited from selling. This doesn't require violence, so I don't know why you keep jumping to that point.
This brings us back to the question that you still haven't answered. Where does the government, our agent, get this authority to compel Joe to publish nutritional information. Obviously it cannot be coming from us, the principals, since we do not have it in the first place. My assertion is that no such authority can exists, which means that the law in question cannot be moral or ethical.

Any thoughts on where our agents get the authority to do that which we cannot do ourselves?


Your assertion is simply wrong because you have the right to know what you are buying and Joe has no right to not disclose that information to you. A law compelling sellers to disclose material information to their customers is moral and ethical.
That's a little vague. How do you know whether a law is just or unjust? I have offered my criteria. What are yours?

Such is the nature of individuals living within their world view while in a society. Everyone has their view of just and unjust. With regard to my criteria for this specific issue, see immediately above.

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jeffbiss
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Quote jeffbiss:
Quote rbs:...but that we cannot delegate to the government any power that we do not have ourselves in the first place.

You're wrong here. Government is delegated the authority to force citizens to comply with the law, including the use of deadly force, to maintain civility.

Government is delegated the authority? Delegation an authority entails one person entrusting another with that authority. Who is doing the delegation? And what exactly are they delegating. I know I can't delegate my authority to shut down Joe's business and rough him up. I have no such authority. Who exactly is delegating this mysterious authority?

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rbs
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Government is delegated the authority? Delegation an authority entails one person entrusting another with that authority. Who is doing the delegation? And what exactly are they delegating. I know I can't delegate my authority to shut down Joe's business and rough him up. I have no such authority. Who exactly is delegating this mysterious authority?

Man, you really are out there somewhere. The fundamental reality is that humans are social animals and always create a hierarchy and system of conflict resolution. First you have to acknowledge that fundamental fact, otherwise you're in unicorn land.

Governments are inevitable, except in rare instances such as with the North American Indians, so people will always delegate authority. With regards to this specific issue you delegate authority to the government to enforce laws, which in this case is forcing Joe to disclose nutritional information to his customers because you have the right to know and he has no right to not disclose. This is no mystery.

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The orginal question is a false question due to the inference it makes. Of course the answer is no, a person does not have the right to rule another person or persons.

But that does not apply to whether society should have rules, and if so, should we as a society enforce them.

Two different subjects.

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Common_Man_Jason
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote jeffbiss:Man, you really are out there somewhere. The fundamental reality is that humans are social animals and always create a hierarchy and system of conflict resolution. First you have to acknowledge that fundamental fact, otherwise you're in unicorn land.

I don't disagree with you at all. Nature abhors a vacuum, so all societies form some sort of government. But when it comes to respect for individual rights, some have been better than others. I had thought that I had made clear that I do not advocate some sort of non-governmental anarchy.

But I am interested in good government, in just government, and what sorts of criteria we can apply to know whether a law is just or unjust.

What I am trying to explore is how we can all have equal rights, yet have one man initiate violence against another while everyone seems to think that this is all just the way things are supposed to be because government has unlimited authority.

Other than your insistence that I have to accept the fact that government is all powerful, you haven't given me any sort of philosophical, moral, or ethical reasoning to understand how some people become imbued with an authority that none of us has individually.

And just so you're not misunderstanding me. I believe there are just laws. Just laws are the delegations to the government of preexisting individual moral and ethical authorities, such as self-defense and the ability so get compensation for torts. Unjust laws are "delegations" of powers that none of us has individually, but that somehow magically appear once we decide to organize a government.

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The world we're leaving for today's teens...

Without immediate global action on climate change, today's teenagers will be forced to live with the consequences of our inaction. The World Bank has issued their third report of climate change, and it says that global temperatures could rise by as much as 4 degrees Celsius by the time today's teens hit their 80th birthday.

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