5 votes

Some Hard Truths For Libertarians

In some recent threads I have seen people flailing about to define some rational basis for their views about what is moral. They hold to a general moral worldview about how people ought to behave, in line with traditional precepts, and in particular to justify their libertarian creed. But when pressed, they have very poor and incoherent reasons why this ought to be. They are attempting to affirm an objective morality in a way consistent with a purely naturalistic world, where we are just animals.

I would submit it is not possible to do so coherently, and you have to take your pick. Keep the naturalism and abandon the objective morality; keep the objective moral demands, and abandon the naturalism; or, hold to both but be incoherent.

The third option is probably the most feasible and what most will choose. Well, have at it! On a naturalistic view, there's nothing wrong with irrationalism, self deception, and incoherence, so long as it gets the job done. Hopefully it will be more politically effective than a hard nosed realism like the cultural and economic elites hold. Somehow, I doubt it.

Usually after being pressed a few times, the confused person ends up making a lame appeal to the animal world for an 'evolved sense of right and wrong' where human beings simply know what's right naturally. While all of recorded history, experience, and modern biology refute all this, it is the best they have.

You really have to self deceive hard to think the animal world is an example of libertarianism at work.

Primates groups have a variety of instinctive behaviors. None are individualistic or morally fair or respect the rights of individuals. Among primates, the group is run by the violence of the strongest members and challengers are fought down, killed or exiled. Reproductive access is regulated by power. Rape and violence prevail. There is no law, or rights, no appeal to objective rules.

Human ideas about individual worth, when and where such ideas arose in a culture (rarely enough), were always rooted in the belief in a soul or some sort of equality before a judging God. Whether that view is false or not, it is the only objective basis for belief in the individual objective worth or 'rights' of a person.

They may linger on after such belief has dissipated, but that is just sentimental twaddle. Anyone who takes the implications of naturalism to heart will realize values are totally subjective, standards are individually defined, and social outcomes will just be the consequence of which groups have the power or the loudest megaphone to brainwash others.

Whoever understands social manipulation best and has the strongest motivation to control, the most skill, intelligence, organization, and ruthlessness, wins. And that's who is running the show now, and they're getting better and better at it. You better hope there's some higher tribunal than 'nature,' or else you are gonna lose.

And really you ought to lose, if nature is the highest tribunal. Why would you think you have any rights against the stronger and better able to compete than you? Human society is just a staging ground for the struggle for reproductive success with other means than raw violence. It's a more sophisticated and picturesque continuation of 'nature' - reproductive competition - sublimated into culture and morality and law and business and all these other avenues of competition for resources. But violence always lurks just in the background to enforce the will of those with the power if the other methods fail.

This is the world on naturalism. It has its beauty if you can stand it.

On a naturalistic view, the person is just an animal. A short lived, predictable, mediocre copy of the other 7 or 8 or 9 billion, among whom very few stand out, and all ruled at bottom by base instincts and selfish motives, all competing for the same limited resources.

We might have cultural paradigms imposed on us by tradition, where we work together to advance our interests. But none of those rules are objectively binding, and they can be thrown overboard if they cease to serve some individual or group. In fact, anyone can intelligently choose to chuck such ideas overboard once he realizes they aren't objectively true. Why not do so?

In a world where nothing is true, we are back to pre-civilization: Our interests and our immediate family are first, and beyond that we can trust nothing. No person, no institution. And that is exactly where we're heading.

On naturalism, if some people advocate views about their individual rights, they are just making a plea for their private interests under the guise of moral demand that others to 'play fair.' Brow beating superior individuals into a guilt mode so they won't pursue their own interests aggressively.

On naturalism, morality and culture are just ways to get others to put their own interests aside for 'the group' or for weaker parties. Equality before the law is just as unnatural as equality of outcomes, and both are absurd as moral dictates. They might be useful temporarily for individuals, classes or factions to advance their material interests, but int he long run they are means, not ends.

Nothing is right or wrong on this view of reality, as survival is its own justification, and whatever culture system or rules or morality advance the material interests of the ruling group, that is right. That's how we got here, and that's where we are going.

If you insist and cling to some universal morality, absent God and the soul, you are just fooling yourself because you can't swallow the harsh pill.

Me personally, I'm cool with either one. I can live with either one, whichever turns out to be true. At least for now, in my life I am just obsessed with accuracy and rigor wherever it leads.

I have the luxury of taking the possibility of theism seriously, with all its implications, because for the past decade I have rationally accepted the harder conclusions that atheism demands. I am free to weigh all the arguments, without worrying that I'm gonna be out of step with the smart set, or that I would have to abandon all objective values. I can accept either.

I can accept all the implications of naturalism if it is true. You amateur atheists can't do either. You want your cake and to eat it too. You want to be bright little atheists and at the same time pretend you have some intellectual ground to stand on with "rights" and your other mundane, run of the mill beliefs that are just the residue and lingering fog of a theistic worldview where god and the immortal soul existed. You are nourished intellectually on the shadow of a dead God.

Its really the most pathetic anti-intellectual combination imaginable.

Pick your evil. God, or nature, with all the implications they carry with them. You don't get to be cafeteria atheists who pick and choose which beliefs you like from each, without regard for their logical implications. You don't get to get rid of the 'man in the sky' and the soul and still make moral demands of other animals you are in evolutionary competition with.

If you want to keep humanity and morality, as being unconditionally bound to moral absolutes, you are stuck with God. If not, you need to accept that your moral demands of others are empty bluffs to get others to act the way you want them to.

To be honest, you would need to couch your political beliefs not in moralistic terms but in terms of self interest, group interest. And to be at all effective, you would need to strategize accordingly. Figure out how to manipulate the politically inert herd of shallow, thoughtless voters to think and vote in line with your interests.

You have to become your enemies, in effect, and become the elite that teaches the average person what to think. Say goodbye to truth, say goodbye to 'telling it like it is.' If your libertarian principles have any hope in such a world, it will be in training the befuddled masses in some new dumbed-down, secular religion to respect property and rights and not think too deep into it.

If they actually think about it, they will realize its a cruel world, there is no god, they can't trust anyone to advance their interests but themselves, and they should throw in with whatever political party or group that will get them the most material benefit and economic security in their life time and get their children and immediate family the best economic prospects.

That's what they have learned, that's what they are doing, and it's what they ought to do on a naturalistic view.

If you want them to behave anything like civilized humans, you better at least trick them into believing there is something more than nature. Even if naturalism was true, you have every reason, as libertarians, to pray to non-God that the average person doesn't realize it.

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Well, how do you debate a narcissist?

There's no point in it.

Good luck to you.

One way not to debate is by

One way not to debate is by name calling. Perhaps marshal some facts and evidence and construct a logically sound argument. Make sure the conclusion follows from the premises, and then try to demonstrate that the premises are most likely true. I can help you, we can do this together.

Do you ever take your own advice?

By looking at all your down votes, you're not winning hearts and minds.

Don't really worry about

Don't really worry about votes.

Yeah, you're into yourself...

Have a good life.

Don't be so dramatic.

Don't be so dramatic.

Me? You're the Queen of Drama


lol, well that was funny,

lol, well that was funny, might as well leave it there.



BILL3's intent is obfuscation and parody.

he has NO other purpose or point to make.
he is just here to muddy the waters and make people give up.
by wearing them down with his mindless banter.

I'm perplexed by him but like

I'm perplexed by him but like the inquisitive nature and endless questioning of his posts. I suppose he is being intentionally contradictory or maybe I just am not as smart as him.

Check out http://ronpaulforums.com for activism and news.

Thanks for the continued

Thanks for the continued support, HVAC. I miss your music videos.

I see "Attack the Libertarians" carries over to the new year.

I don't like the preachy, condescending, get in the face, false premise, straw man arguments of this year any more than the last 50 years.

Yet every one of these pushy proselytizations assumes we haven't had to spend a lifetime enduring a million grinding interpretations of some religion, from some individual who gave themselves meaning in one of the thousands of faith based religions.

Although I've embraced the moral teaching of a variety of religions, the insults of religious zealots continues, screamingly hot breath propelled by straining neck tendons, bulging blood vessels and a book filled with page marks clamped one-handedly against the chest. Desperately and at the top of their lungs so they may not hear any other viewpoint. Only death will free me from their strident audio flagellations.

But. The neat thing about the internet is that relief is a click away. Like this....

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty" TJ

Amen brother,


So Bill3, let me ask you out of curiosity.

Are you a Republican, Libertarian Republican, Conservative Republican, Democrat, what?

Would you consider yourself a Christian, Jew, atheist or agnostic?

Or, are you God Almighty, himself/herself/itself?

Just curious.

Still waiting....

You reply to every other comment on your post.

Why leave this one unanswered?

below the acceptable lameness

below the acceptable lameness threshold

But okay for you to lump-label Libertarians...

Just wanted to know where your starting point is but if want to evade while judging, I understand.

too lame, step it up.

too lame, step it up.

but why

The post is concerned with whether people can consider their moral demands as actually true and binding, or just subjectively valid for a specifc end-goal (equality, liberty, nationalism).

Other than for discussions sake what does this provide us?

I have the right to demand others don't harm me or steal from me and that can have no theistic moral basis. Yet, the values are consistent with many theistic morals. So it's really a mute point.In other words, who cares if we both agree?

The only real argument that can be made is where reason and theistic morals diverge.

As such, these are hardly "hard truths" for libertarians as many libertarians realize this already. Where reason and theistic morals diverge may be hard truths for libertarian theists but not for libertarians in general.

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty."

Click Here To See The Candidates On The Record

Your 'belief' that morality is subjective

Is one of the four pillars of Satanism. No thanks, you have at it.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. ~J. Swift

Betty, I think you

Betty, I think you misunderstood. I was arguing that on a naturalistic worldview, morality is subjective. I wasn't saying naturalism is necessarily correct, only that moral subjectivity follows from it. I think you would agree, but would just reject the naturalistic worldview for a theistic one, given your comments.

I am arguing that on a naturalistic view, there can't be a moral imperative for libertarianism. That position remains unrefuted. It is of course possible to have a utilitarian or an interest based argument for why libertarianism (however defined) is the best way of reaching a specific goal, but in that case you have to explain why that goal is of higher value than a competing goal, and you'd have to persuade everyone that libertarian political rules were the best way to achieve the chosen end.

And the first duty, explaining why the end sought is the most valuable, is subjective, since all values are subjective on naturalism.

Hard to make sense of your "Hard Truths"

BILL3, for me the only thing "hard" about your "Hard Truths" is how hard it is to follow your long, rambling rant.

I tried my best to follow, but when I read "...Among primates, the group is run by the violence of the strongest members and challengers are fought down, killed or exiled. Reproductive access is regulated by power. Rape and violence prevail. There is no law, or rights, no appeal to objective rules..." it struck me that, inadvertently, you have most perfectly described the current trend of our modern human condition.

Whether Life on Earth was created by the Christian God or not, us humans are but one species of the 8 million species on Earth.

You are right that we are an extraordinary life form compared to the rest of the group. But, our difference is mainly that most of the other millions live guided by their own successful survival plans.

We, with all of our new, improved features have a seriously flawed survival plan in comparison.

Whether or not humans are more "moral" or not than other animals becomes a moot point.

If one believes in a Christian God, I would think that one would be in awe at God's amazing creation, the web of Life that inhabits the bio-sphere of Earth and of our blessing to be a part of it.

Perhaps it is an arrogance to think that God made it all just so we could feel superior above the rest of Nature.

I'm sorry that you were

I'm sorry that you were unable to follow the reasoning, you seem to have come away without any understanding of the points.

I'll just summarize:

If naturalism is accurate, and it may well be, there is no reason to think there are moral demands on other people.

There can be legal agreements they've made, enforced by law or violence, but moral standards are just subjective.

But if my interests are better served by violating some demand that is traditionally considered morally binding on everyone, I can apply my own subjective rules: advancing my personal interests, my family, my class or party, my professional group, my nation, my ethnic group, some ideology, some business interests, etc.

If people were not just animals, but souls with a creator, the picture is arguably different. In that scenario, every person might have objective worth in the eye of its creator, who imposes rules.

I don't adhere to either view, but I realize that on the former view, libertarianism cannot be maintained except as an argument rooted in the subjective values or interests of a person.

It's right because its good for me, or because it serves my highest ideological end of 'freedom,' or my end of social well being, which others might not adhere to.

But even if I adhere to libertarian ideals as the utilitarian end of my own ideology, it is highly unlikely the average person will adopt my goals because its best for 'everyone.' We can observe that isn't how people behave or adopt views.

People act in self interest in general and if they accept naturalism, they aren't likely to adopt libertarianism by being convinced of its long run social utility. They'll just act in self interest.

I don't get it.

BILL3, please forgive my ignorance. But, I don't get it.

Why do you consider it a hard truth that naturalism embraces no moral demands?

As I understand naturalism, it is a philosophical position that understands that most supernatural hypotheses are either false or (as often in my view) not significantly different from most natural phenomena or hypotheses.

If one considers there to be little difference between the supernatural and the natural, then you have no debate.

My philosophy has its roots in naturalism. Libertarian ideals fit nicely into my worldview, as well.

Are you saying that I am intellectually dishonest?

Naturalism in the context of

Naturalism in the context of my post would be metaphysical naturalism, which would include that human beings are just products of the chemical, biological and cultural evolutionary process.

In such a worldview, all behaviors are selected for by their advantage to the reproductive success of those who adopt the behavior.

In such a view, to argue for libertarian values in an honest way you would have to admit that

1) they are in your own self interest
2) they fulfilled some subjective value you hold, such as liberty, over other values (equality, security)
3) they served some social goal you desired, such as the most prosperity for everyone overall, regardless of any single individual's self interest

You would have no basis for telling others they ought to accept your views and work to achieve them, unless

1) they also served their self interest
2) they also held the same subjective value or goal, liberty, over competing values, and regardless of self interest
3) they held the same social goal you hold, regardless of self interest

But you could not honestly claim there was something truly moral or immoral and binding on everyone else, simple as a given. But that is what most of the self avowed naturalist libertarians do. So my post is to tell them they cannot do so coherently.

Since most of the people I interact with, in the context of this post, hold both positions (naturalism, and the objectively binding nature of claims to rights and the rightness of anarchism or libertarian political goals), the 'hard truth' would be the two are not compatible.

A second hard truth would be the strategy is totally ineffective.

To be effective, you'd need to promote your goals the way the establishment does, which actually works: emotionally imposed pseudo-religious beliefs like political correctness, imposed by harsh social consequences to departing from orthodoxy,

Or, second, the political method: appeal to their immediate self interests.

Or, third, the classical route: these beliefs are objectively true because God, or the soul, makes every individual of objective worth and deserving of moral behavior, because it is 'Right.'

I am not aware of any other effective way to get people to adopt the desired behavior or political priority.

Maybe you're making all of this way too complicated...

If your post is mainly about how to win hearts and minds to a libertarian perspective, how about just living your life, talking your talk and walking your walk the best ways that you know how?

People will be influenced or not by such an example.

I've learned that most people don't like to be told what to do.

Almost no one wants some zealot pointing out what their moral qualifications are or are not.

And, anyway, who was it that appointed you the libertarianism morality policeman for the DP?

How about not replying with

How about not replying with smarmy life coaching advice if you're not actually interested in the subject matter?

This is a discussion for adults concerned with the philosophical issues involved, not for soft heads.

Can a robot have a morality?

I think so. Just program in a value structure. Then it makes decisions. You can ask why it has a particular value structure. Part of it can be driven by what evolution has defined as pleasurable (classical Hedonism ala Epicurus). Part of it can be rational strategizing based on a choice of fundamental goals as with Ayn Rand or the Catholic Church.

not so easy, I think

I don't know whether you can have morality without empathy. Do you think robots can experience empathy?

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson