An AnCap Poking of AnCom's Axioms

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    Spooner Bookman

    An AnCap Poking of AnCom’s Axioms

    Below is an offshoot of a conversation with @jacob and @empifur (both representing AnCom). This post is looking to explore some of these. There are just three AnCap questions below, one at the end of each section (for anyone interested in responding).

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    AnCom Claim #1: Each individual has a right to have as much opportunity to live as others do.

    AnCap: Where does the ‘opportunity’ to live as others do originate? (Where does it come from? Who grants it? Or maybe: How is this ‘right’ derived?)

    Empifur: This right is derived from the idea that it’s in my own best interest to try to ensure that this opportunity exists. Furthermore, this right is ‘inherent’ to human beings. Additionally, this is axiomatic to some degree.

    Jacob: I agree. It’s ‘axiomatic’, or in Jesse Prinz’s terminology, this right is a ‘grounding norm.’

    AnCap: Are you saying that if it is in your best interest to try and ensure something exists, then that something is therefore a right you have?

    Empifur: ‘Rights’ language just doesn’t make sense in AnCom. The language of ‘rights’ isn’t practical or theoretically useful for AnCom.

    AnCap: What are the key differences between this sort of reasoning and a priori reasoning?

    AnCom: There aren’t any differences (supposing a principle as ‘axiomatic’ is definitionally an a priori argument).’

    AnCap: Got it, that clears that up for me.

    Empifur: Most folks who want to have a compelling political vision would frown upon a priori reasoning, and I would say that AnComs would seek to minimize it, but there’s a certain extent to which one has to build something on the basis of an emotional appeal, at some level. I hope that, in only making the one appeal (community will make you happier), I minimize that similarly, but I would be curious if you could show me any political system which avoids a priori reasoning entirely?

    AnCap: No, I don’t think I could show you a political system that avoids a priori reasoning – I don’t have any problem with a priori reasoning, I was just making sure we were on the same page with that, and it sounds like we are.

    AnCap Question #1: Real quick, the way your first sentence is worded, it sounds like you are saying ‘a priori reasoning’ is the equivalent of ‘an emotional appeal’ — almost like you are using them interchangeably — are you, or am I reading that wrong?

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    AnCom Claim #2: No one has a right to reduce other people to means to further their own life.

    AnCap: Is it possible to reduce other people to means (against their will) without the use of force? How so?

    Empifur: No person is ever just a means, as they will always possess their own natality, but it is important that we don’t mentally reduce other people to means in our minds, as that is where violence often comes from?

    AnCap: I’m sorry, but I’m not understanding your response at all. (I’m not even sure if it is a statement, or a question of some kind? What is ‘natality’? Not trying to be rude! Just genuinely confused!!)

    Empifur: No one has a right to reduce others to means.

    AnCap: Got it… So… Is it possible to reduce other people to means without the use of force?

    Jacob: Sort of. One can take advantage of a person who is in a worse position than oneself.

    AnCap: Is it possible to ‘reduce other people to means to further one’s own life’ (an AnCom claim) without using ‘aggression’ (i.e., initiatory violence/force, or physically ‘interfering with the freedom of action of other people’)?

    Empifur: Yes, some people could not be acting ‘aggressively’ but would certainly be doing their best to reduce workers to means.

    AnCap: I realize that people could ‘do their best’ but my question was is it possible?

    Empifur: In short, yes. If I, for example, proposition a woman on the street, I am reducing her to a means, in that I am ignoring her needs (safety in public spaces, respect as a complex person, &c) to sate my own (sex drive, ownership of public space). This is a reduction of a person to a means. This is a more philosophical idea than political one though, so if you want me to answer this differently, I may need you to rephrase your original question so that I can try to understand it better?

    AnCap Question #2: Then does that mean the AnCom claim could be rephrased as: ‘No one has a right to ignore any other person’s needs in a way that also sates one’s own need’?

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    AnCom Claim #3: Because AnCom states people have a right to have the opportunity to live as others do, AnCom would say that a ‘guard’ on a toll road violates the rights of anyone trying to travel on that road because travelers are entitled to pass by uninhibited (assuming anyone else has the ‘opportunity’ to pass by). AnCom believes this entitlement exists based on the notion that if anyone has the opportunity to pass by, it’s only ‘fair’ that everyone has the ‘right’ to pass by.

    AnCap: I’m just wondering if the preceding paraphrasing is correct, and if it isn’t, what’s wrong with it?

    Jacob: Your paraphrasing is not completely correct. First, regarding “opportunity to live,” ancoms argue that each person has an equal right to have an “opportunity to live.” To paraphrase another redditor who commented on my link to this thread, it isn’t “opportunity (to live as others do),” it’s “(opportunity to live) as others do.”

    AnCap: Ah, got it, that makes (more) sense, though to be fair, that part wasn’t paraphrased, that part was a direct quote from you.

    Jacob: The objection to the toll is based on at least two things.

    First, ancoms deny that preventing passage for no reason is useful labor deserving of compensation. Surrendering the toll violates the value of equity because the guard is gaining resources they haven’t earned and (therefore) don’t deserve.

    Second, ancoms deny the guard’s attempt to justify their behavior by appealing to property rights, because they believe people, merely by being people, have a partial “claim” on the natural resources of the world, and a partial “claim” to the product of “collective force” if they are a part of the collective that produces something. This “claim” is enough for them to have a right to pass by uninhibited, but not enough for them to inhibit others from passing by.

    AnCap: On the first point, that seems sensible — I don’t know of anyone who would disagree.

    On the second point, you say AnComs ‘believe’ all this based on the premise that ‘being human means you can rightfully/legitimately make certain claims’. How is this ‘belief’ arrived at, i.e., is it via ‘a priori’ reasoning, or some other way?

    Empifur: The reason that there shouldn’t be a guard is because it’s unjust for anyone to make money through usury, which is what tolls are. It isn’t right for the guard to profit off of preventing people from using a communal resource.

    AnCap: Why isn’t it ‘right’ for the guard to profit off of preventing people from using a communal resource?

    Empifur: It’s wrong for individuals to profit off of communal resources without sharing those profits with the community which shares the resource. The reasoning for this is that it is a pretty deeply ingrained part of what ‘fairness’ is.

    AnCap: Did you come up with this premise via ‘a priori’ reasoning?

    Empifur: Yes, it is from a priori reasoning. Do you want a more codified reasoning from principles?

    AnCap: Question #3 I would like a more codified reasoning from principles – surely this has already been written down before, so if you have a book or an article you recommend, I can read that in place of you having to write it all out here? (Feel free to write your own answer, just trying to help lighten the load!)

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