Presentation on theme: "This session is about the ongoing battle between libertarians and realists. It comes up a lot in debates Here’s the essence of the arguments in non- philosophical."— Presentation transcript:
This session is about the ongoing battle between libertarians and realists. It comes up a lot in debates Here’s the essence of the arguments in non- philosophical pro-debate form.
“Either I own me, or all of you own me – Clearly I own me” – Richard Lau, WUDC Quarterfinal 2009/2010 Having full control over one’s acts has lots of implications for philosophers. For example: People owe no product or service to anyone else unless contracted to do so (Hence states enforce contract law) People own their work and the benefits they accrue from it. I.e. Resulting from their inalienable bodily autonomy their work is also inalienable. So, Tax? Let’s examine these.
People should not have total choice over their actions E.g. People shouldn’t murder, as this disrupts the autonomy of whoever they kill. This creates an idea of positive freedom. The state restricts rights in order to protect everyone’s autonomy at the sacrifice of people’s ‘right to kill’ etc. Ceding rights in order to gain protection implies some sort of social contract with the state. There are problems with this – it is one-sided.
Libertarians are against income tax – because they believe they own the products of their labour. They are even more against progressive taxation – they have no moral obligation to agree to the ‘social benefit’ that the state is trying to create. They are against the banning of drugs, as empirically taking drugs will only harm themselves. Fundamentally, poor people and junkie haters have no right to take control of their actions.
Is it unreasonable for a state to impose moral obligations on non-consenting libertarians in order to make society ‘better’? Is the role of the state simply to maximise freedom or does have other objectives? In this side of the coin’s ideal world, the state would serve simply to protect its citizens from other citizens, protect itself from other states, and enforce contract law between its citizens. The tax it needs to get money to do this should be indirect.
It seems more intuitive that the real version of the state is to maximise happiness. This basically involves preventing harms wherever they outweigh benefits. In debates on legalising stuff, paternalists will inevitably take up opposition. In debates on banning stuff, they will inevitably take up proposition.
There’s a difference between the ‘fruits of one’s labour’ and the labour itself You can physically take money from somebody, but taking their work involves an action from another. That’s why we can’t enslave people but can tax them. Hence all contracts, including the ‘social contract’ (don’t ever call it this by the way – talk about reciprocal rights) can take money off people. It’s not like the state doesn’t offer things in return, to gain the fruits of your labour you inevitably use something provided by the state, even if it is just contract law and protection
“And the reason why peacocks have this problem, is because they don’t have a state.” Eoghan Casey, EUDC Winner this year. Some actions necessarily leading to harming others. So we ban them. However, what about actions which harm yourself e.g. Drugs? There are harms here, but they are indirect The choice-maker is generally accepted to be irrational
The libertarian would say that nobody can evaluate and understand their choices but themselves. However, take for example children, who are subjected to the wiser more rational will of their parents, who are generally accepted as knowing what is best for the child better than they do. Heroin kills people. Rational people shouldn’t want to be dead. Hence the state’s banning of it is legitimised as there is a harm which is irrationally judged.
If I get drunk, it is reasonable for my friend to take my car keys from me due to an incompetence in making choices on my part. The reason we have free healthcare and education, is that some (especially poor people) would make the irrational decision not to pay for it were it privatised. Hence the state taxes people and ensures that everyone gets such an essential benefit. Economists call these ‘externalities’
If the state didn’t build roads, would people do it? In such a large project, everyone would need to chip in (say a fiver) to make sure the road got built If anyone is familiar with game theory, this is the choice people face – which would you choose? So we need a state to do stuff we all need. ActionOthers chip inOthers don’t I chip inRoad!!! -£5No road -£5 I don’tRoad!!!No road
People’s right to choose versus preventing harms. Talk about how ‘the state can never make my choices for me because I always know best’ on one side. Really emphasise the harms on the other and explain why irrationality is playing a part. Identify where there would be a collective action problem, and why the state should intervene. Talk about where we restrict rights. To preserve freedom/prevent harm
People have lots of rights and autonomy. Arbitrary big nice guys like states are useful. Peacocks need states. Taxing someone is possibly the most horrible thing you could ever do to someone. Take all this stuff and use it in debates. You will win things