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Positive and Negative Liberty Watch

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      (Original post by py0alb)
      You seem to be attacking a general principle whereas actually your problem is with a very specific possible outcome. You talk about "routinely" and "in the real world". What you interpret as "routinely" happening "in the real world" is entirely irrelevant in a theoretical debate about the philosophical underpinnings of categorical moral rights. Furthermore, it is in no way inevitable that the simple right to be recognised as the owner of private property automatically leads to unfettered capitalism. Unless you can demonstrate that Locke's 3rd natural right of man automatically leads to an intrinsically exploitative economic system, your argument is entirely without foundation. I simply see no way in which you have a hope of showing that.
      Couldn't answer me huh? lol

      You put yourself in a corner with a 'real world' example and then quickly decided to drop that approach because you realised it wouldn't help you. You should at least be a little embarrassed.

      At the abstract level, if this is what you now want, it is clearly the case that when a few people gain exclusive power over land and resources the many are necessarily excluded and thus can only sustain their existence through accepting the necessarily exploitative wage-labour that remains. You've also made an unjustified leap towards so-called 'natural rights' I see - trying to sneak that in were you? lol
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      (Original post by Oswy)
      Couldn't answer me huh? lol

      You put yourself in a corner with a 'real world' example and then quickly decided to drop that approach because you realised it wouldn't help you. You should at least be a little embarrassed.

      At the abstract level, if this is what you now want, it is clearly the case that when a few people gain exclusive power over land and resources the many are necessarily excluded and thus can only sustain their existence through accepting the necessarily exploitative wage-labour that remains. You've also made an unjustified leap towards so-called 'natural rights' I see - trying to sneak that in were you? lol
      Hmmm. I think my reply was more than adequate, but you choose sarcasm over actually responding to my points... I will respond in kind.

      I will first brush aside these piffling remarks then give you another go at addressing the issue.

      Mine wasn't a "real world" example at all, it was a hypothetical scenario. The two things are diametric opposites. Please google it to learn the difference.

      It would be strange not to mention natural rights when that is exactly what we are talking about. Please don't tell me you're attempting to debate this without having read at least a little Locke.

      Finally, you talk about unjustified assumptions the sentence after making an outrageous assumption than the right of man to own private property automatically leads to "a few people gain[ing] exclusive power over land and resources". See the irony there?
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      (Original post by tomheppy)
      Only in the non-normative sense of the word 'liberty' is it true that private property is an infringement of liberty. Clearly you are only morally to be at liberty to do something which you have a right to do. No-one says that it is a restriction of my liberty that it is illegal to murder you and likewise for private property.
      Actually, lots of smart people do say that those things are a restriction of liberty. Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong.

      In any case, libertarian property rights are hardly the only moralised conception of freedom in town.
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      (Original post by py0alb)
      So, going back to a Lockian example, if I spent a year toiling away growing food for my family to eat, and collected enough reserves to see us through the winter, you think I have no more right to that food than my neighbour who had spent the year sitting on his ass? You think its morally permissible for him to just come and take it from me? That I can have no complaint? You think that is fair and just? That's what a denial of the right to private property looks like.
      What does this very specific situation have to do with private property generally? If I think it'd be wrong to take Industrious' food in that circumstance to help Lazy, does that mean that I think that there's such a thing as robust (by 'robust' I mean such that progressive taxation is theft) libertarian property rights? That doesn't sound very plausible to me.

      And of course, it's far from clear what Locke actually means for us today. The Lockean proviso cannot be satisfied today, because there isn't an uncolonised America for us to appropriate.
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      On topic - I believe the correct analysis of liberty is the negative one. S is free to P just in case nobody will stop S from P-ing.

      I also believe that not all liberties are valuable (the liberty to rape isn't a valuable liberty, for example) and that the discussion is best couched in terms of particular liberties.
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      (Original post by RawJoh1)
      What does this very specific situation have to do with private property generally? If I think it'd be wrong to take Industrious' food in that circumstance to help Lazy, does that mean that I think that there's such a thing as robust (by 'robust' I mean such that progressive taxation is theft) libertarian property rights? That doesn't sound very plausible to me.

      And of course, it's far from clear what Locke actually means for us today. The Lockean proviso cannot be satisfied today, because there isn't an uncolonised America for us to appropriate.
      Locke wasn't talking about the right of a man to acquire for himself as much property as he could lay his hands on, or even his right to own everything he might possibly need or be able to use. He was speaking at a more fundamental level about the right of every man to be recognised as the potential owner of property (the kind of right that slaves were denied only a few hundred years ago).

      His main point, as far as I understand it, was thatmost rights are given to us or taken away by the social contract, but certain "rights" pre-existed this contract, and were possessed by man in his "natural state" - what Diamond might refer to as the tribe or band period. Hence he argued that these were inalienable rights that could never rightfully be taken away - or even given away.

      There is a subtle but important difference between saying "we have the right to X" where X might be our acre of land or whatever, and saying "we have the right to be recognised as a potential owner of X".
      It's perfectly possible to make a more socialist-orientated reading of Locke, in which his argument can be interpreted as saying "Each man has the right to be recognised as the owner of his own labour". Locke goes on to point out that his ownership may sometimes be partly reduced through the social contract (ie taxes), but his original right can never be justly taken away.


      In terms of the original question. There is no "correct" or even "better" interpretation. One favours the individual, one favours the collective. One direction leads to Hobbesian anarchy, the other to the Borg. The role of government is to decide on a case by case basis, using all the moral philosophical understanding at their disposal.
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      (Original post by py0alb)
      Locke wasn't talking about the right of a man to acquire for himself as much property as he could lay his hands on, or even his right to own everything he might possibly need or be able to use. He was speaking at a more fundamental level about the right of every man to be recognised as the potential owner of property (the kind of right that slaves were denied only a few hundred years ago).

      His main point, as far as I understand it, was thatmost rights are given to us or taken away by the social contract, but certain "rights" pre-existed this contract, and were possessed by man in his "natural state" - what Diamond might refer to as the tribe or band period. Hence he argued that these were inalienable rights that could never rightfully be taken away - or even given away.

      There is a subtle but important difference between saying "we have the right to X" where X might be our acre of land or whatever, and saying "we have the right to be recognised as a potential owner of X".
      It's perfectly possible to make a more socialist-orientated reading of Locke, in which his argument can be interpreted as saying "Each man has the right to be recognised as the owner of his own labour". Locke goes on to point out that his ownership may sometimes be partly reduced through the social contract (ie taxes), but his original right can never be justly taken away.
      Yup I agree here. Though I'm no Locke scholar.
      In terms of the original question. There is no "correct" or even "better" interpretation. One favours the individual, one favours the collective. One direction leads to Hobbesian anarchy, the other to the Borg. The role of government is to decide on a case by case basis, using all the moral philosophical understanding at their disposal.
      Is it true that one must favour the individual, the other the collective? Positive liberty can favour the individual, depending what understanding we have of positive liberty. If positive liberty = effective freedom, then effective freedom presumably benefits individuals. The guy who is formally free but not effectively free to P is the prime beneficiary when he is given the effective freedom to P, no?
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      (Original post by RawJoh1)

      Is it true that one must favour the individual, the other the collective? Positive liberty can favour the individual, depending what understanding we have of positive liberty. If positive liberty = effective freedom, then effective freedom presumably benefits individuals. The guy who is formally free but not effectively free to P is the prime beneficiary when he is given the effective freedom to P, no?
      Well obviously the individual will benefit through the benefitting of the society as a whole, but not necessarily to the extent that he might have had the freedom been granted in the opposite direction. One type of freedom is arrived at in a more roundabout manner, that is all.

      What I mean is: most arguments can be framed as a judgement between the conflicting claims of two non-mutually exclusive groups of people. One group wants to be allowed to do something, the other doesn't want them to be allowed to because it will affect them in a negative manner. These are the two formulations of liberty we are talking about.
      "Freedom" and "liberty" are two of the most overused words on the English language, to the point that they are virtually meaningless. They're best avoided in a rigorous discussion I find.
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      (Original post by turn and fall)
      (a) The masses are numb and without direction they go nowhere. Within the masses there are too many conflicting interests for there to be spontaneous direction.

      (b) Not all attempts to improve society have failed. Coach Carter a true story is a heart warming example.

      (c) The narrow minded purposeless ideals of negative liberty.


      The West has forgotten the positive ideals of freedom. It has lead itself into a trap whereby we cannot escape negative liberty because we distrust politicians that could change our lives.

      Until we gain faith in ideology that is above ourselves we will always be slaves to ourselves.

      What ideology are you proposing? As you said before, there are many forms of positive liberty but which do you think is the best?
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      (Original post by Oswy)
      Your attempted parallel with murder is laughable; the earth did not start out as anyone's 'private property' but had to be coercively removed from common access and use. We all, on the other hand, start out as ourselves and cannot easily be anyone else.
      This doesn't help you very much. After all, even though it's true that we all start out as ourselves and cannot be anyone else, it doesn't follow that we cannot be, say, murdered, attacked, or enslaved and forced to carry out the ends of others. So, clearly, the prevention of these actions requires the enforcements of restrictions on those who would attempt to carry them out. Does this mean that would-be murderers, violent criminals, and enslavers suffer a reduction in their liberty? I think not, but you're forced to say that they are.
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      (Original post by RawJoh1)
      On topic - I believe the correct analysis of liberty is the negative one. S is free to P just in case nobody will stop S from P-ing.

      I also believe that not all liberties are valuable (the liberty to rape isn't a valuable liberty, for example) and that the discussion is best couched in terms of particular liberties.
      What do you mean "the correct analysis"? It's not entirely a flippant question - do you mean to say that there is One True concept of freedom, and that it is captured by your analysis? On what basis do you dismiss the others? (It can't be fidelity to ordinary language, since that provides ample counterexamples to pretty much every proposed analysis.)
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      (Original post by DrunkHamster)
      What do you mean "the correct analysis"? It's not entirely a flippant question - do you mean to say that there is One True concept of freedom, and that it is captured by your analysis? On what basis do you dismiss the others? (It can't be fidelity to ordinary language, since that provides ample counterexamples to pretty much every proposed analysis.)
      The one that is most useful, coherent and clear; the one political philosophers should use.

      I dismiss the others because I think that they run different issues together that should be best kept separate.

      EDIT: Fidelity to ordinary language also plays a fairly large role. I'd say the flat analysis is prone to fewer counterexamples, whilst remaining coherent and clear, than other analyses.
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        (Original post by Oswy)
        In the real world, of course, private property takes away from the many any opportunity to individually and directly have power over the satisfaction of their productive needs. While the few own hundred acre plots, thousand acre plots, even million acre plots, the many have no access to land as you idealise it and thus must 'consent' to their wage-labour exploitation.
        No, no.

        That is economic scarcity. You're confusing the remedy and infliction.
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          (Original post by Lord Hysteria)
          No, no...
          Yes, yes.

          In the real world the earth and its resources are accumulated and monopolised by the wealthy through the instrument of private property. That's a plain fact as far as I'm concerned and if you reject it as such then there's no more discussion to take place. This, ironically, illiberal and coercive process makes for the exclusion of the many from access to that which is otherwise necessary to secure their own productive needs and means their subsequent reliance upon wage-labour is inherently exploitative.
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          (Original post by py0alb)
          JOOI, Do you have a problem with the concept of private property altogether, or do you just dislike the way it is currently distributed?
          I'd just lie to interject here: most commies would replace property-rights with use-rights, so you would still have your personal belongings, your personal space etc. Largely speaking when Marxists/anarchists refer to private property, they are not thinking of it in the sense most normal people think of it: they are referring to transport, means of production and to an extent land (mainly unused land and possibly farming land though we have no problem with farming land that is controlled by a "family unit" so to speak. Indeed Lenin supported privatisation in the agricultural area: it was only Stalin that wanted to forcefully nationalise it, not that I particularly support either men). As for personal property: it would be distributed according to need (e.g. profession - a farmer needs more land, etc.) so we would still in effect have "property rights".
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          I think the choice boils down to force v. no force (positive and negative liberty respectively). The problem with positive liberty is that, taken to its logical and consistent conclusion, it is unworkable. It would require a group of individuals - the state - to force men to help others and to give to others whenever any single person was in need or somehow in a disadvantaged situation. This isn't liberty or freedom at all, not when a bureaucrat or another state actor decides how your own body and property is best utilised. Satisfying negative duties is easy: you can do so by sitting and doing nothing all day, as you are not killing, raping, stealing or interfering with others' negative rights through coercion. However positive rights demand that we all be made do get up and do things - "Catch that criminal! Feed that starving man! Save this life!"

          It is all very well to say "Negative liberty leaves us with a world that has no meaning other than to let people do what they want" however this is not true. I cannot kill other people under a system of negative liberty because it is what I want to do. There are still duties on others, its just that these duties are negatives and are about us not interfering with the rights of others. So negative liberty is about allowing people to live their lives according to their own moral code, provided they are not denying others the same right to do so. You'd have a hard time arguing against that. (Especially if you talk of "liberating people from themselves" or equally nonsensical agitprop.)
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            (Original post by Oswy)
            Yes, yes.

            In the real world the earth and its resources are accumulated and monopolised by the wealthy through the instrument of private property. That's a plain fact as far as I'm concerned and if you reject it as such then there's no more discussion to take place. This, ironically, illiberal and coercive process makes for the exclusion of the many from access to that which is otherwise necessary to secure their own productive needs and means their subsequent reliance upon wage-labour is inherently exploitative.
            Well that's childish. If we disagree, then no more discussion. I have to say you're betraying your dialectics roots now ...

            But why would someone accumulate private property in the first place? Do you think bankers sleep with a bag of coins under their bed? Do you think they have chests of gold buried in the garden - so they can accumulate this wealth foreverrrr? No. The reality is that laissez-faire creates incentives for people to efficiently redistribute the saved resources and pump it back into society ...

            Of course people can secure "their own productive needs". The trouble is people don't want to work on a field all-day, or be fishing all night ...
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            (Original post by In2deep)
            What ideology are you proposing? As you said before, there are many forms of positive liberty but which do you think is the best?
            I dont think I coul give a very meaningful answer to that question. It is an answer that needs to be very scrupliously analysed for all its implications. I just feel convinced that our world is meaningless and positive liberty is sort the last stage of enlightenment.
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              (Original post by Lord Hysteria)
              Well that's childish...
              Hardly. If you deny something which for me is plain as day then there really can be no further discussion. I've been around the block a few times with internet libertarians such as yourself, they will flat out deny or ignore anything which reveals a problem in their doctrine, that's what I would call 'childish'. Even now you're refusing to concede that in the real world the instrument of private property leads to the accumulation and monopolisation of the earth and its resources by those with wealth to the direct exclusion of those without.
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                (Original post by Oswy)
                Even now you're refusing to concede that in the real world the instrument of private property leads to the accumulation and monopolisation of the earth and its resources by those with wealth to the direct exclusion of those without.
                Obviously you didn't read my post.

                I said "why would someone accumulate private property in the first place" .... ergo I make no refusals to concede on anything.

                I tried to take the discussion further about private property & redistribution ... but declaring "exploitation" & "monopolisation" is more your style ...
               
               
               
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