Monday, April 18, 2011

Don't Panic

However, panic evolved for a reason. Perhaps it is just a perfect storm of side-effects that hasn't been weeded out yet. Most likely, it has survived thousands upon thousands or even millions of years of evolution. Literally, all your potential ancestors who didn't panic, died. It has a purpose, a function.

Figure out what the function is. Then, in those situations characterizing its purpose, panic.

Panic, like every emotion, is a tool. Use it. Exploit yourself for your own gain.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How To Avoid the State?

My reply to the original comment exceeded Blogger's limits. Luckily, I have a blog.

I get some short details out of the way first, and then try to answer Devin's question about what a phase-I anarcho-formalist trial would look like.

"But it is possible to have multiple security forces in a territory who neither hold a monopoly"
Telephone carriers hold a monopoly over telephonics in a territory - defined by who's paying them. Multiple security agencies would have monopolies, their jurisdiction would just not have a traditional shape, over space or time.

I should note that simply saying 'multiple, competing' may not be the best description of what anarcho-formalism would stabilize to. For example there may be one army sponsoring several police forces - perhaps the market solution to armies is basically the status quo. My point is that we can't know without trying it, but I have good reasons to think it would be better.

"and keeps its promises, then any sort of system becomes workable."
I hope that the lawful ideology keeps them non-corrupt and causes them to keep their promises. As before, needs testing.

The legal framework I'm thinking of fully answers the nuclear question. If it's your land, then you can. Unless it affects someone else's land, then you need their agreement.

If they follow the legal framework, there's no valid disputes. Though this gets a bit complicated, I'll go into it below.

"That organization will be - by definition - the state."
A jarring logical leap. If England and the US have a dispute, who settles it? Does that mean neither are states, and there's some meta-state?

But yes, I agree a sovereign is a sovereign. Allodial ownership is unavoidable.

"I would be interested in hearing what phase 1 trial would look like"
Trying to be brief...the first part is to figure out who actually controls what - so MM style formalizing and share-issuing.

The caveat is that certain things cannot be self-consistently owned, namely coercive 'rights.' Taxation without legal recourse if services aren't provided. Taxation without a voluntary contract.

Perhaps this is best illustrated by market-style solutions to imprisonment and seizure of evidence.

Let's return to the nuclear plant. It's build despite neighbouring title holders.
These title holders can use the legal principle to show that the plant affects their property without their consent - coercion. They're justified in defending themselves. In a state of nature, they can at this point do whatever they like to the offender, including imprisonment. If you don't respect the principle, you cannot justify being protected by it.

So I'd suggest they agree beforehand to a dispute resolution process. (Which in turn the accused can cite them for not following.) Perhaps the punishment is imprisonment. Perhaps not.

The key is that with clear property rights, every potential dispute has a clear solution. With such formal rights, and if the principle is widely understood, then it becomes impossible to create a dispute without everyone knowing you've done wrong.

(Indeed property rights are defined by the reverse. If ownership/control/rights can't be precisely defined, it isn't owned.)

Sure, things can still go off the rails. The nuclear plant could be surrounded by tanks all shouting, "Bring it!" But the actor cannot justify it in any way but might==right. "I'm allowed to build it because I have more tanks than you." As states don't do this, I strongly suspect it would be self-defeating in practical terms.

Next, seizure of evidence. If from the accused, there's no issue; just seize it. But innocents cannot have their property taken without consent. If the court system has problems with simply buying it, then for the court to agree to resolve your disputes, you in turn agree to hand over evidence at a reasonable price.

In short, such a system may look indistinguishable from our current one, aside from replacing voting booths with voluntary contracts. Perhaps even mayors would subscribe to police firms, not individuals.

Or perhaps the fact you're supposed to be able to unsubscribe to police protection would lead to chaos, misery, and death. Let's try it and see!

One problem is that during the formalization process, homeowners may refuse to sign taxation/dispute contracts, but it is hard to get around the fact they don't own the land under their home. However, "Sign or be exiled" looks an awful lot like duress, which common law rightly holds to void contracts. Yet, if the landowner can't exile, then they're not really the owner. (Ultimately it isn't surprising that coercive systems lead to inconsistent property 'rights.')

Also, I don't see a problem with selling yourself into slavery, you just can't sell your kids into slavery. Similarly, you can't sign your kids up for taxation.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Objective Morality From First Principles, Round X

This post failed to meet my own standards of clarity and coherent flow, so I've taken it down.

Nevertheless, if you request a copy, I'll supply it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

What Isn't a State?

I've decided the term 'state' is misleading. Overly broad in any case, the problems or affections individuals have for 'the state' are often better recognized as problems or affections with particular components made up of particular groups of people performing particular actions. (Now with part 2.)

I don't have a problem with 'my' 'state.' I have a problem with 'my' bureaucracy, my education system, my tax structure, my police system and my army. Ultimately, I have a problem with my system of succession.

Do these things together make up a state? Can an organization satisfy me on all these measures and still be a state? Err...why would I care? I just want these problems solved.

Especially as the solution is so simple. My problem is that they think they have the right to regulate, educate, tax, police, and kill me without my consent. They have no right, and I do not consent.

Ideally they would actually seek my consent - and the consent of everyone else they want to lead - but I would settle for a general admission that they're doing it because they're bigger than me and I can't stop them.

Morality really is simple. I would stop them if I could. Since they continue, I must not have the power to stop them. Which means the only reason they can continue is that they're bigger than me. Which everyone agrees is wrong - unless applied to the magical machine 'state' which can invert morality - but there's no such thing as a state. There's only people. Performing actions.

And, oddly, people performing actions under a (fantasy) rubric that can, supposedly, invert morality don't, strangely, behave morally. Fancy that! Who could have possibly predicted that wouldn't work out so hot? I'm totally flabbergasted here.

Since we're defining things carefully, I'm going to use my turn on 'government.'
Government denotes all organizations directly answerable to the allodial owner, especially those directly upholding, causally allowing, or executing the allodial claim.[1]
You can try to argue that coercive governments are inevitable if you want, yet for some reason government-funded education always tries to argue that their government is moral...

Nevertheless, Devin Finbarr happily provokes my thought by asking what a state is.(HT) Apparently I will quoting slightly out of order.

"The mistake the anarchist makes is that he thinks states are bad because they have a monopoly over force in a territory. In reality states are bad because they have no one higher holding them accountable."
Anarchists confuse these things because they're the same.
Ultimately responsibility must be enforced through physical force as otherwise the bad apples can just physically violate the standard. [Edit: this is not exactly true. The power may stem from organizing a group, and organization depends on supplies such as cash and legitimacy.] Physical dominance is usually mathematically transitive, which means there must be a most dominant physical force at all times. (A constitution attempts to force the most dominant force to hold itself responsible.)

The most dominant physical force in a territory [jurisdiction, physical or otherwise] will have a monopoly on violence. (Imperfect, but generally over 90% or so.) During civil war it won't, but generally it will use its physical dominance to maim any competitors before they become comparably powerful. Any apparently stable competitors must either be explicitly tolerated or actually enslaved by the most powerful force - by definition, the most dominant force can crush the 'competitors' at any time.

The actual reason I think state-associated actors are bad is because they think they have the right to coerce. I can't even imagine what having such a right would look like.

"Empirically, no society with multiple, competing armies in a given territory exhibit a quality of governance that is anywhere close to bad Western governments. And in 99% of the cases there has been a horrific level of violence."
I support MM's statement that there's more to history than objective data. Which, until I wrote that down, seemed to support the above statement.

The problem is that we - that is, anyone anywhere - don't want to repeat history. Historically, society has sucked balls. We want to do better, which means innovation, which means reasoning beyond what history can tell us.

In this case, 'multiple, competing' does indeed lead to horrific violence - in one sense. In another sense, it may not. The difference is legitimacy. 'Multiple, competing' normally means civil war. At least two self-righteous armies each attempting to force the others to admit its self-righteousness by use of arms. A non-corrupt private security firm knows that its rights stem from the fact it receives voluntary subscriptions from its customers. Let's try the latter sense out somewhere, shall we, then judge it?

Perhaps corruption is inevitable. Totally possible. As we're forewarned, we can work out what corruption looks like and end the experiment before full-blown civil war breaks out, or at least tell the volunteers the signs by which they'll know when it is reasonable to start panicking.

Also, baby steps. Phase I trials should have small populations.

"If you have multiple militaries contending over a territory, both moderating influences are lost."
But gain in return the fact that allowing subscriptions to remain voluntary is the path of least resistance - and most legitimacy. You'd have to first conquer your bank which, if it is smart, won't allow the conflict of interest that is subscribing to you for security. Which means you have to beat up another security agency. Or you could just go out of business peacefully - or improve service.

"They'll try to beat up that other agency - they have nothing to lose!" Yes, that's possible. Businesses with nothing to lose take crazy risks, such as trying to secure a market by fraud or force. Which is why clear and simple legitimacy rules are important. (See footnote.)

"First, with no secure title there will be underinvestment in city infrastructure, and over taxation of the peasants."
Unsophisticated futurism. The security firm would secure on behalf of a manager, who does have secure title - if not by subscription to this firm, then to another.

Well, probably. Let's try it and let the market work it out. The market is smarter than me. Are you smarter than the market?

"If I say, "should schools be unaccountable to the public, or accountable to the public", of course I want the latter."
Orwellianisms are so common that I automatically overcorrect for most of them by now. When someone says, "Public or privately owned?" I hear, "Government owned or owned by its actual owners?" I don't want schools accountable to the private or public spheres. I want them accountable to their owners.

I found out this week that 'nationalize' still bothers me, though. It means to forcibly seize assets because the security force feels like it. Sans coercion I have no problem with government-owned businesses, and my first thought on seeing 'nationalize' is imagining one of those. Causes a little bit of meaning dissonance.

"But then what does it mean to privatize the police? Or to privatize a city?"
To a coherent libertarian, to privatize a thing is simply to take away the perception that it can rightfully coerce.

[1] Defining government was a really good idea - I got a massive 'Ah ha!' moment from doing so.
The allodial ownership title rests only penultimately on the army or physical dominance. By similar logic to the inevitability of physical dominance, a leader inevitably emerges. The owner is a single individual - in a conflict, there will be a winner. That winner is the controller. It may not be clear a priori, but there's always such a person.
Ultimately allodial title rests on psychology. The allodial owner commands the loyalty or at least obedience of the dominant physical force. The psychology rests on legitimacy. The army will only follow an authority they consider legitimate.
Thus, in theory, a well-defined, clear, simple and widely-known definition of morality that identified and proves 'coercion' should defeat all coercive governments, more or less permanently.
Which is why no existing government will let you start phase I trials of a non-coercive security force.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Suppose Determinism, Understand Responsibility

How easy is it to beat the NYT's philosophical expertise? (Via) Takes some effort, as most worthwhile things do, but certainly not special talents. I'm not an experimental philosopher, but one doesn't need to be to answer these questions.

"In this deterministic universe, is it possible for a person to be fully morally responsible for his actions?"
"This year, as he has often done in the past, Mark arranges to cheat on his taxes. Is he is fully morally responsible for his actions?"
"Bill falls in love with his secretary, and he decides that the only way to be with her is to murder his wife and three children. Before leaving on a trip, he arranges for them to be killed while he is away. Is Bill fully morally responsible for his actions?"

"But to the new breed of philosophers who test people’s responses to concepts like determinism, there are crucial differences, as Shaun Nichols explains in the current issue of Science."
It would be nice if either Tierney or Nichols could explain to me what philosophical work they expect to do with the fact that the layhuman is inconsistent and can't think in straight lines.
"His judges pragmatically intuit that regardless of whether free will exists, our society depends on everyone’s believing it does."
Ha! No.
"The benefits of this belief have been demonstrated in other research showing that when people doubt free will, they do worse at their jobs and are less honest."
I believe we've already established that layhumans can't think in straight lines. When subjects doubt free will, they also doubt all beliefs merely associated in their minds, they don't limit the doubt to the ones that actually logically flow from the issue in question. Several of these connotations could account for the results.

"Doubting one’s free will may undermine the sense of self as agent,” Dr. Vohs and Dr. Schooler concluded. “Or, perhaps, denying free will simply provides the ultimate excuse to behave as one likes."
Apparently it isn't that difficult to outclass the NYT's reference psychologists at psychology, either.

I would say the most likely one is that experts, as spoken for by the NYT et al, keep saying that responsibility requires free will, and therefore most think responsibility requires free will. This is probably the relevant connotation for honesty.

For the jobs, start with the fact that the employed are good at their jobs for bad and broken reasons, and so a priori any random argument could reduce their performance. You can't assume up front these two things are actually related.

Hanson also embarrasses Vohs and Schooler,
"We are more willing to let folks off the hook because “my atoms or my brain made me do it” in far than near mode"
Emotionally responding to abstract things requires training. Getting the right answer to abstract problems also requires training. Your emotions generally get the right answer without training. The layhuman can't think in straight lines. The contradictions don't mean a whole lot; almost nothing if you want to predict behaviour.

"Does that sound confusing — or ridiculously illogical? Compatibilism isn’t easy to explain. But it seems to jibe with our gut instinct that Bill is morally responsible even though he’s living in a deterministic universe."
Compatibilism isn't easy to explain because nobody understands it, least of all compatibilists.

The reason is not complicated. If determinism, responsibility means something slightly different but has exactly the same consequences. We punish because it changes the decision faced by those considering wrong in favour of right. If determinism, we would punish because it would change the incentives faced by those considering wrong in favour of right. Ultimately, everything observable outside the subject is identical either way; 'responsible' just tags the correct person to punish so as to deter and prevent future wrongs.

The layhuman is not aware of this bit of polymorphism held by the idea of responsibility, explaining both the experimental link between free will and honesty, and the fact that Tierney thinks that responsibility doesn't exist without free will. Well...plausibly explaining. If X-phi wanted to do useful work, it could address this, though my policy of calling things by their right names demands I call the work psychology, not philosophy.

Similarly, X-phi could go work out the common bad reasons used to justify being diligent at your job, and thus predict what kinds of bizarre arguments could impact performance. That would be useful, but not philosophy. Psychology or perhaps specifically ideology-ology. (Officially meta-ideology, but I want to point out how silly the word 'ideology' is.)

"Dr. Nichols suggests that his experiment with Mark and Bill shows that in our abstract brains we’re incompatibilists, but in our hearts we’re compatibilists."
"Dr. Nichols suggests that experiments show what he hopes is true." Most likely because it makes him feel better for some bizarre reason. This normally isn't a curable ailment, so if a belief makes you feel better, quit fighting and hold it, just remember that nobody else need take it seriously.
"This would help explain the persistence of the philosophical dispute over free will and moral responsibility,” Dr. Nichols writes"
The actual reason is simply that both are false. Nobody has even bothered to check whether (determinism) + (free will) spans the entire space of possibility, making the whole 'x vs. y' debate a hilarious exercise in posturing. (You can tell they're both false because, for example, responsibility supposedly differs but has identical consequences, which would mean x contradicts y but is also indistinguishable.) Shockingly, I discovered that the first guess at the abstract truth, of a vintage more than two millennia old, is not correct.