Monday, April 7, 2014

The Road to Thick Libertarianism is Paved With These Intentions

Wouldn’t you know it?  What a timely blog post by William Norman Grigg:

A slave is somebody compelled to provide service to another. Elane Huguenin, a wedding photographer from New Mexico, was arraigned before that state’s “human rights” soviet for politely declining to provide her services to a lesbian couple planning a “commitment ceremony” (the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage).

In the certain conflicts that will arise between the non-aggression principle and the I-love-everybody principle of thick libertarians, which principle would be superior?

When your thick humanitarian dreams butt up against my thin property reality, which side do you say is triumphant?  On what principle will this be decided?

One or the other must be chosen:

1)      Are my property rights and my racist/sexist/whatever views to be protected?
2)      Are my property rights and my racist/sexist/whatever views to be rejected? 

Choose, and explain why.  Use the above example provided by Mr. Grigg as a real-life case-study.  Explain how poor Ms. Huguenin’s fate would be decided in your world.  Ensure your explanation is consistent with the non-aggression principle.  Else this entire subject is exposed as nonsensical.

Too hard?  Don’t believe the NAP should be taken so strictly?  Fine with me; just don’t call your thick dreams any form of libertarianism.


  1. As a Buddhist, I do my best to practice the Buddha's Four Sublime Attitudes (Brahmaviharas), which include universal benevolence and universal compassion. There is no conflict with a strict application of the NAP, indeed neither true benevolence nor true compassion are possible without the total renouncing of aggression. If the option of aggression is retained for "special cases", one is simply taking sides in the endless battle which maintains the world of suffering.

    As it happens, I live in New Mexico, but I don't follow the regular news, and only heard about this particular brouhaha through my reading of libertarian websites. That New Mexico doesn't recognize "same-sex marriages" only highlights how utterly ridiculous the whole situation is. Is Elane Huguenin's business a "public accommodation"? Not unless she is paid with tax money by the State, which I doubt. The solution, of course, is to divorce marriage from the State, and allow everybody to define "marriage" however they wish. And let the free market of ideas (and the real world of consequences) determine which will last. (Somehow I doubt homogamy will persist for long once it has lost its shock value as an "issue".)

    As I've written elsewhere, the neat thing about libertarianism is that it makes such "issues" a snap to decide. A principle is a principle only if strictly applied; if not, it's just more verbiage. If Elane Huguenin owns herself, she is the only authority regarding what she does with her time and energy—so long as she does not actively harm another. If she doesn't own herself, well, you're a socialist, and can have no argument with, say, Pol Pot. It's that simple.

    1. "It's that simple."

      Once this concept is understood, most "issues" fall by the wayside.

    2. I do not think that it's that simple. It all depends, I think, on how you understand the NAP.
      Let me try to explain. There are a number of situations in real, concrete, everyday life - in which refusing social interactions to someone is really a form of aggression.

      The first example that comes to my mind is the relationship between parents and their children. Strictly speaking, if a mother starves her toddler to death - she's not violating the NAP (I'd rathar call it the NNAP "narrow non-aggression principle"). She did not sign any contractual agreement as a caretaker. Am I right? She's not initiating violence against anyone and nobody should force mommy to use her property (i.e. the food in her fridge) against her deliberations. Let's face it : to expect parents to take care of their children means approving slavery and theft (and any parent can confirm this...).

      Now, the reason why libertarian philosophy "should" admit that parents have a moral obligation to SERVE their children is quite simple, I think. Toddlers cannot access to markets. They cannot buy or sell goods or services to survive. They are cut out from the market. They have nothing to offer in exchange for the satisfaction of their needs. It would be absurd to expect from toddlers something in return, something that they cannot possibly provide. So, yes, even libertarian parents (I consider myself one) should, in good conscience, feed their own children.

      Of course, somewhere else, some other human being would certainly be ready to feed a starving toddler. The problem is that the hungry toddler and the potential caretaker cannot interact efficiently (for a number of reasons) in time. This is just an extreme example, but there are many similar situations.

      You should already see where I am heading.

      So, my idea is - we are social animals. Each of us obviously needs social interactions to thrive. And, in a number of situations, we all need social interactions to survive. Cutting a group of people out from the market means jeopardizing the quality of their lives - and in some cases, even their very survival. And this is a very concrete form of aggression in my opinion. Yes, that's a (slight) violation of the NAP.
      You cannot say that people should get what they need ONLY by peaceful exchanges on the market and, at the same time, allow the market to marginalize or exclude certain groups (markets have a number of implicit rules behind them).
      I understand that libertarian philosophy values personal responsibility very much. We should all face the consequences of our actions. So, I perfectly understand and excuse even the most bizarre behavioral conditions to access goods or services. I perfectly understand that I cannot walk naked inside a fancy restaurant, and that, also, someone is going to kick me out if I start splashing other customers with my beer. But all these things, all these rules are about what I DO, not about who I AM, I just have to obey the obligatory part of the contractual agreement to get what I am willing to pay for. Sure, you can expect me to wear a tie before entering into your shop, but you cannot demand that I turn white (or black) to walk inside.
      If you put a big yellow tag at the entrance of your shop saying something like "No Dogs and No Lesbians Allowed", you are not doing anything so horrible in my view. Of course there are many photographers around, why should the lesbian couple torture the only one who does not want to take their wedding pictures? But, yes, that photographer was actually perpetrating a mild form of aggression towards certain people. Try to substitute the word "Lesbians" with "Christians" or "Handicapped Children", or with any group of people you feel a certain compassion for to get an idea. In other words, why can a photographer refuse to serve a lesbian, but a doctor cannot refuse to serve a shaman with a heart attack? I believe that both refusals are criminal acts, violating the NAP - just, obviously, not as serious in degree.

    3. I have elsewhere argued the position of parents' obligation to children (including unborn children) based solely on the NAP. Look at all three posts under the label "abortion" on the right, if you have an interest.

      However, the broader point - that even amongst thin libertarians there is disagreement about application in some situations (IP is a good example, abortion another) it isn't because they disagree about NAP being the bedrock of libertarian thought. It is an application discussion.

      As to signs on my storefront, it either is or isn't my property. Which is it? The question of being polite has nothing to do with libertarianism.

    4. She did not sign any contractual agreement as a caretaker. Am I right?

      No, in my opinion you are not right. As they say in the joint (paraphrased), "If you can't do the time, don't do the… act that commits you to doing the time." Of course, this is not a popular view these days; people feel that sex should be "free", as in "free of consequences". But clearly it is not; for a woman of childbearing age, there is a non-zero chance that engaging in sexual relations will result in the creation of a new life. That is the contract she has entered into by doing the deed. If she doesn't know that and take it into account, she is not responsible, i.e. not an adult, and should not be allowed to make her own sexual choices. If she chooses to destroy a life (see my post below in answer to another comment) to avoid the consequences of her actions, she clearly cannot be trusted to make and keep any other agreement, should that agreement turn out to be "inconvenient". A truly free society can only be created and populated by adults, i.e. responsible people (the definition in law of an adult).

      For a more thorough exploration of the subject of sexuality in re libertarianism, see an essay I posted at the Free State site in 2002. "To know a person's response to [the issue of abortion] is to know how that person will respond to any other issue of consequence, and thus whether it will be worth my while to make a serious agreement—such as a social contract—with that person."

      …but you cannot demand that I turn white (or black) to walk inside.

      Yes, I can, if it's my shop. Again, who owns me? Who owns you? It is an either/or question, no grey area. I'm sorry, but your attempts to find "grey areas" to justify exceptions (the exceptions you want to make; others will have other exceptions, which is exactly the problem) to the NAP is just more of the rationalization hamster spinning its wheel. A principle is a principle only if it is applied strictly; otherwise it's just more talk.

    5. "There are a number of situations in real, concrete, everyday life - in which refusing social interactions to someone is really a form of aggression."
      Per application, I see a lot of libertarians go off the rails when they try to abstract the NAP in some weird situation, ostensibly applied across the board for some large population.

      If the NAP was a guiding principle for any population, massive decentralization is, I think, implied. Given the infinite variance in individual opinion regarding toleration for everything under the sun, any odd applications of NAP would be a problem of the immediate community of people involved. How this community or that community decides to apply NAP towards overt discrimination is not really anyone's problem outside of that community. If any individual within a community does not appreciate it, feels that they would be better served by another community, then they ought to be free to risk moving somewhere new.

      As long as NAP applies on a broad stroke basis, decentralization will necessitate the various interpretations in a marketplace of communities.

      "As to signs on my storefront, it either is or isn't my property. Which is it? The question of being polite has nothing to do with libertarianism."
      Exactly. NAP is a negative rights issue, generally. Positive rights are a community issue. And yes, some communities might be horrible racist, baby killers. I'm afraid there are risks in life as in freedom. I doubt the baby killers would compete for very long though...

    6. "I do not think that it's that simple. It all depends, I think, on how you understand the NAP. "

      It is that simple, and it does not depend on "how you understand" the NAP.

      Libertarians are clear on what constitutes "aggression". It does not mean that some person is "rejected" from making a claim on another's rights or property, because this would inevitably result in the much graver violation of REAL rights: their property rights including that of their own bodies. After all, compelling someone to use his body to serve others is rendering someone a slave.

      Someone does NOT have a right to access to markets. In fact, markets do not exist tangibly; it is a mere concept: a word to describe a collection of voluntary interactions between people. Logically speaking, the moment someone can compell interactions it ceases to be a "market". Second, one simply cannot have a moral right to "interactions" with other people. Also, one can not be "cut out" of the market any more than one can be "cut out" from his presence in another man's home. He has no right to be there. And the market by very definition is about exchange. So if anybody has nothing to offer, he can by very definition not lay claim to any participation in the market.

      Your example of a baby is logically wrong as well. Parents do not owe children because children cannot access the market. They owe their children because they put those children on the planet without the children having a choice in the matter. It is a bit like transporting someone - without their approval - into the middle of a life-threatening situation and then claiming not to have any responsibility for what happens next.

      Also, "needs" are nowhere the same as "rights", therefore whatever "needs" someone may have are irrelevant to the question of "rights", let alone the question of aggression.
      I *need* food. Does this mean another has the obligation to grow and provide it? I *need* shelter. Does this mean another has the obligation to build and provide it?
      Obviously not, or what you would be describing is a communistic slave society.

  2. As someone who walks among the "thick libertarians" and the "thin"(though I never use the word myself as it seems to cause division) I would protect your property right due to the NAP considering that is a cornerstone of libertarian thought. I think most "thick" folks would agree with this. That being said as someone who respects gay individuals' dignity and agency beyond merely respecting their political rights, I would ask why you passed up the money and why you view gays in such a manner. You have every right not to answer and to simply say that is my right to refuse service, fair enough, but I think once I recognize such a right, it would be cowardly to hide the justifications for your cultural views behind your just right to your body and property. Put another way: when I ask someone "why are you a racist" and they say "that's my right" they haven't answered the question but simply shifted the debate away from topic of racism to that of political rights.

    1. Obviously Ms. Hugueinn values the potential money receive from the transaction less than her desire to disassociate with those customers. Such is the subjective nature of "value." As to WHY she chose to disassociate, only she could say.

    2. Who cares what the reason is? That's the point. "Rationality" of action, opinion, thought, etc., is a falsehood.

  3. I'd say that's up to you.

    Do you wish to protect them? Then that's fine with me: I wish you all the good fortune in the world. If it looks like whoever's threatening them might get around to threatening mine once he's got yours, I might even choose to help.

    Do you wish to point and say, "He's picking on me," and then pooch out your lip and wait for the government to protect them for you while looting me in the process? Well, then I'm decidedly less enthusiastic.

  4. My right to associate shall not be infringed regardless of who may or may not like it. The market will let me know if I have made a good or bad decision.

  5. Good post! Clearly the NAP would lead one to defend the protection of her property rights and views. This really shouldn't even be a question.

    The alternative requires the initiation of violence against her, so espousing that view makes one a statist. The difference between them and a self-described Socialist is only a matter of the degree to which they want to initiate force on the innocent, but at least the Socialists are mostly honest about their intentions.

  6. There are no obligations to the unborn. They become children only upon the act of birth and their physical thus metaphysical separation from the mother's body. There is no right to be born and parts of a woman's body do not have any rights that supersedes the rights of the woman herself.
    After birth the parent or parents have an obligation to care for them and one that can be properly enforced by law.

    1. Marcy, once you demonstrate that you have read my posts on this topic by referring to specific statements in these posts and providing cogent arguments to the contrary, I will be open to discussion.

    2. "There are no obligations to the unborn. They become children only upon the act of birth and their physical thus metaphysical separation from the mother's body."

      Um, actually, not according to the law. If a doctor commits malpractice resulting in the death of an unborn child and its mother, the doctor is liable for the death of two people.

  7. There are no obligations to the unborn.

    That is your opinion, though you state it as objective fact. How do you know this as a fact? As it happens, my opinion is different. As a Buddhist, I can only say that if you are going to hold to this opinion, and act on it in a way that results in the destruction of a life, you'd better be ready to live—not only in this life, but in all possible future lives—with the consequences. In other words: If you decide to commit an abortion, you'd better be prepared to experience an abortion—as the target—yourself. This is called the Golden Rule, and is the basis of Buddhist moral teaching (as well, imho, as any other moral teaching worthy of the name).

    That you will have future lives is, of course, another opinion, and not one that can be either proven or disproven in the context of a materialist view of this life. Care to wager? Personally, I would counsel caution. Of course, if you really believe that "a mere collection of cells" cannot experience suffering, then you will not be concerned about being aborted yourself. (I have read interviews with several abortion survivors who would dispute this idea. Also scientific studies that have found that a child in the womb does feel pain.) A pretty big wager, seems to me; though many women seem to be willing to make it. Whether this willingness results from some superior wisdom, or from an endemic allergy to responsibility, remains a question.

    (I grew up in left-liberal Southern California, came of age in the 60s—been there, done that—and long bought the whole liberal/socialist/feminist ideology. It has been women's own behavior—calling their own children "parasites"! and slaughtering them wholesale—which has increasingly brought me to see the reasons behind the traditional view of women as less-than-fully-human beings. Frankly, this has been a great disappointment to me, especially as it's also become clear that it is women who really do rule this world.)

    As it happens, the Buddhist view is that the life of a human begins roughly at conception, when the consciousness seeking a body in which to reside becomes aware that a body is being created, and enters it. But the question of when that being becomes "human", which has inspired endless reams and pixels of argument in our culture, is irrelevant in Buddhism, as the First Precept advises against "the destruction of life", not merely of human life. In the Buddhist view, if you believe you can avoid suffering by aggressively destroying the life of another being (i.e. not in self-defense), you are making a grave error which will only result in more (and severe) suffering for yourself. The Buddhist Precepts are not Commandments, but they are very good advice from one of the wisest men in human history, as to how to conduct your life if you wish to end your suffering.

    If you might be interested in a more thorough exploration of the subject of sexuality (and abortion) and libertarianism, see an essay I posted at the Free State site in 2002. BM, I will read your entries on the subject; in the meantime, you might find this link of interest; as the only Buddhist libertarian (or libertarian Buddhist) I know of (why I don't know, as the two I find a perfect match; the Non-Aggression Principle is totally consonant with Buddhism) I raise points I haven't seen raised elsewhere.

    1. Philalethes

      I read your post. Very well thought out and presented. I found many common concepts to things I have written on the subject. I also found a few that offered an insightful way to present the specific topic (abortion) and the broader topic (enjoyment of libertarian life), for example:

      “Because the issue of abortion is not about being either pro- or anti- "choice," it is about whether or not people are prepared to live their lives responsibly.”

      I think this is both wonderfully eloquent and direct. Anything I write to expand further will only garble up your message.

      “Just as people cannot live without government, we also cannot live without religion…”

      I have in the past used the term “governance”; society must have governance – this can come in various forms – individual, family, community, religious, etc.

      As to religion, for a society to thrive, the members must share some common belief – something must hold them together beyond a common zip code. We see the many (false) narratives painted by the state and court historians, all designed to create this unifying story: Washington cannot tell a lie, Lincoln saved the union, land of the free, the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack.

      Finally, as to the Golden Rule, this can be a basis, a foundation; some version of it is manifest in many religions around the world. Although, the positive call in the Golden Rule strikes me as potentially dangerous in a society where different people hold different values (and it seems to go beyond the NAP). Therefore, I lean toward the Silver Rule when thinking about the imperfections of those who travel this earth with me:

  8. The other side would say that the person is not compelled to provide the photography service (hence not a slave) since she does not have to engage in the business in the first place.

  9. I have a question about the influence of light on property. I'll try to put it in the narrowest terms. To the best of my knowledge all libertarians agree if a new neighbor blasts loud noise at the property of longer-time owner, the new property owners is violating the property rights of longer-time owner. The propagation of intrusive sounds waves is considered a trespass. On the other hand, if a new property owner erects a building or giant sign next to a longer-term property owner that obstructs his formerly beautiful view, this is not considered a trespass. Aside from the practical consequences, why are sound waves considered a trespass but light waves not? What's the difference in principle?

    1. "...why are sound waves considered a trespass but light waves not?"

      What is your basis for believing this?

    2. I thought I gave pretty good, concise explanation.

    3. "To the best of my knowledge all libertarians agree if a new neighbor blasts loud noise..."

      "On the other hand, if a new property owner erects a building or giant sign..."

      I guess I have never read such definitive statements on the matter.

      It would seem to me solvable through appropriate restrictions on the deed, etc., and perhaps different communities would handle it differently (consider the difference between a college dormitory and an upper-class neighborhood, for example).

      The libertarian answer in such situations would likely be found in some combination of contract and past local practice.

      For anyone to say with certainty about how a libertarian community would operate in such a circumstance would suggest that effective central planning is possible.

    4. I saw a short film several years ago, about a house surrounded by skyscrapers, in Japan. The owners of the tall buildings each paid some, to install a large steerable mirror on one of the buildings, to provide sunlight that was blocked collectively by the buildings, to the house.
      I don't know the opinions of anyone on this since, your comment brought it to mind after several decades.

  10. Hi bm, I read your three posts in the "abortion" section. Thanks. Actually I agree with 99% of what you wrote there. But my point was slightly different.

    Physcally harming a child, even when unborn, is a clear, unmistakeable violation of the NAP (and also of what I called "the NNAP"). If lethally compromising the bodily integrity of a human organism is not an aggression, I wonder what else is. Unless of course you start drawing arbitrary lines. You may say that certain organisms (with human DNA) are not really "humans", but somehow "sub-humans." So we can liquidate them morallly (if it's not a human, then it's not murder). You may say that black people are sub-humans, you may say that terminally ill people or retarded folks are non-humans, you may say that unborn children are not-yet-humans. All these rethorical strategies have one common goal - justifying the aggressor.

    I do believe that we should take a moment to understand WHAT exactly an "aggression" is. And then apply the NAP consistently. In my example, the mother was not actively hurting her toddler. She was simply abstaining from feeding him. It's not about abortion, it's not even about spanking. There is no apparent violence. She just keep her food for herself. And it's not some kind of weird, far-fetched example. It's everyday life, there are countless cases of child neglect. And, I do believe that, even within the libertarian moral philosophy, mothers have the moral resposibility to SERVE other independent human beings (their children). Is that slavery? Yes, it is. Is that moral and consistent with the NAP. I do believe so.

    So, talking about principles, what is morally wrong bewteen mommy/son is also morally wrong between photographer/lesbian couple. Even if, of course, what the photographer did is immensely less serious. Social exclusion is a form of punishment, it's an aggression - and you can administer it only as a consquence to someone's criminal actions. Otherwise, it's you the one who's initiating criminal violence. At least, that's my opinion.

    1. "Social exclusion is a form of punishment, it's an aggression..."

      The mother has a responsibility toward the child. The photographer has no responsibility toward the lesbian couple. None.

      Just as I have no responsibility (within a strictly libertarian concept) toward a starving stranger. Perhaps my religious code might plant this seed in me; as has been written too many times: libertarianism is not a complete way of life. It is concerned with only one thing....

      Without the concept of responsibility (both where it applies and where it does not), libertarianism is a dead letter.

    2. I do not think that you can deduce parental responsibilities exclusively from the NAP. The NAP says what you cannot do. It's a negative principle.

      Positive resposibilities (i.e. obligations) can come only from contractual agreements. Or, at least, this is how a strict and thick application of the NAP would require. Where's mommy's contract? Can I see her signature?

      Actully in a few human contexts, children are never raised by their parents, but by other subjects. So this type of resposibility is not so obvious and natural.

      I fail to understand why you can be resposibile for your starving child and not for a starving stranger. In many legal systems, it's a serious crime to let someone die in the middle of the street while you just carelessly walk by.

      Anyway, seems we cannot come to a mutual understanding. I respect your views of course, but I still dare call myself libertarian even if I think that social exclusion is indeed a form of aggression.

    3. "Social exclusion is a form of punishment, it's an aggression..."

      Okay, say I go up to a woman on the street and propose to do sex with her, and she declines. Has she aggressed against me? She has certainly socially excluded me.

      This is no different than what the photographer did in the story above: the lesbian couple came to her and asked her to photograph them, and she declined to do so. Apparently you believe the photographer thereby committed aggression.

      Give me a break. If this is what you believe, you are not any kind of "libertarian"; you are a fascist. What such people never think of, as they use the power of the State to enforce their values on others, is that that same power can be used against them as well—and certainly will be in time. A deal with the Devil will always come back to bite you, sooner or later.

    4. “Where's mommy's contract? Can I see her signature?”

      There can be a valid contract without a signature. Have you read my post on this topic?

      “I fail to understand why you can be resposibile for your starving child and not for a starving stranger.”

      There is a contract in the former case; there is none in the latter.

      “In many legal systems, it's a serious crime to let someone die in the middle of the street while you just carelessly walk by.”

      May I restate this point? In many legal systems, it’s a serious crime for an individual to ingest certain substances….

      I am not concerned about legal systems; I am looking for a consistent application of the non-aggression principle.

    5. Yes I read your post on that topic, but - as you also mention in that post - the "existence" of a more or less unilateral contract is controversial between libertarians. In my opinion, such a contract is a mythological entity, just like the infamous "social contract". It's made up to justify the enforcement of obligations that nobody undertook concretely. I may come up with a similar "implicit" contract between the photographer and the general public. I won't.

      A mother abandoning her starving toddler at the street corner is a criminal, we both agree I guess. Even if it's very likely that the "market" will provide soon enough a solution (i.e. someone else is going to rescue and feed the child), the woman put her child's life at risk. That's an aggression, and therefore you do not need contracts to condamn the neglecting mother. Yes, an "aggression" even if the mother did not actively hurt or lethally evict the child.

      A side note. Regarding the "starving stranger", I invite you to take a moment to verify your moral compass. We are speaking about "right" and "wrong". If you say that someone's life should NOT benefit from legal protection under certain circumstances, but someone's homophobic actions should always be regarded as sacrosanct --- well, something's wrong here, I think.

      Property rights create a net of social exclusions. That's obvious. Such extensive social exclusions exist to MINIMIZE aggressions, as Hoppe showed. Neutral rules to define who owns what. Yet, when you offer goods and services on the market (Philalethes, women do not walk by the streets offering sexual services indiscriminately - at least not where I live), you are saying "anyone with X dollars, can get Y". Now, If you refuse to serve certain categories of customers, you are saying something different... something like "anyone with X dollars can get Y; but my goods are not for those who are K". Imagine to be a "K" yourself, you will find such discrimination at least midlly insulting ("what's wrong with me that I cannot get the stuff I want to pay for?"), at worse dangerous for your life in some extreme cases. Insults are aggressions. Endangering lives too.

      I would not have almost anything to object to the photograher if she went public with some sort of "straight-people only photography club". Exclusive clubs are understood to have their exclusive rules. You do not come there expecting to be admitted. Normal businesses have other rules.

    6. “…but - as you also mention in that post - the "existence" of a more or less unilateral contract is controversial between libertarians.”

      If I mentioned this, I don’t recall. In any case, if it is controversial between libertarians, it shouldn’t be. When a libertarian can logically and reasonably explain that the offering of a reward is not a valid contract, I will pay attention.

      “In my opinion, such a contract is a mythological entity, just like the infamous "social contract". It's made up to justify the enforcement of obligations that nobody undertook concretely. I may come up with a similar "implicit" contract between the photographer and the general public.”

      Please, don’t change terms as if I won’t notice. A unilateral contract is different from a social contract or an implicit contract. This conversation will end quickly if you are not able to be consistent with terms.

      “A mother abandoning her starving toddler at the street corner is a criminal, we both agree I guess.”

      I am trying to avoid the concept of criminal; I want to focus on the application of NAP. While the two might be intertwined, once the concept of “criminal” is introduced, people want to shift the discussion to “how will you punish this in a libertarian world?” A valid discussion, but an entirely different topic.

      “That's an aggression, and therefore you do not need contracts to condamn the neglecting mother.”

      To call it an aggression requires either a contract or a moral code beyond the NAP. Just as I state to those who find in vogue to equate libertarianism to feminism…call it whatever you want, but it isn’t NAP.

      “A side note. Regarding the "starving stranger", I invite you to take a moment to verify your moral compass.”

      This conversation has nothing to do with my moral compass. It has to do with application of the non-aggression principle. Did I ever write anything about MY personal choices in such a situation?

      “Imagine to be a "K" yourself, you will find such discrimination at least midlly insulting…at worse dangerous for your life in some extreme cases.”

      If the solution is to use force to ensure that a property owners involuntarily gives up some portion of his property, it is a morally wrong solution – and it is a violation of the NAP. No one has a claim on my property besides me.

      Government makes rules that affect us all, in the name of “extreme cases”; consider the circus at the airport for boarding a flight.

      “Normal businesses have other rules.”

      The world is made up of individuals – there is no such thing as “normal businesses.” Either I own my property – control, use, and disposition – or I don’t. Once society accepts that I don’t, we get…well, we get what we have today.

      And worse, in extreme cases.

    7. "if it is controversial between libertarians, it shouldn’t be."

      Block, as you know, argues that there's no contract between the mother and the developing child inside of her. He's authoritative enough within the libertarian movement. So, the presence of "maternal unilateral contracts" is indeed at least controversial.

      "Please, don’t change terms as if I won’t notice." Unilateral contracts can be explict or implicit. In the case of the average mother, a "maternal contract" cannot but be implicit. It's not written and not even oral. That's an implicit contract, by any legal standard. You say that it exists, even if implicit? Good luck trying to produce enough evidence in a court. Real estate lease contracts have been written on paper for a reason.

      And, yes, also the mythological "social contract" is "implicit", just like the one you hypothize. I pointed it out so that you can understand why I am skeptical about both.

      I presented the example of a neglecting mother to show how, in several occasions, we expect people to SERVE other's people needs. In other words, sometimes, even libertarians feel like a man cannot just say : "get off my property!". You agree with me in the case of parental care, it seems. But not on other issues. So, you'd rather come up with some sort of special implicit contract, when it comes to motherhood, instead of admitting that humans can sometimes PASSIVELY violate the NAP.

      "This conversation has nothing to do with my moral compass". But this conversation is entirely about morality! And of course I am not speaking from a mere theoretical perspective. I told you what I honestly believe is "right". Are we talking about what you don't believe is right? Anyway, what's libertarianism if not a moral philosophy? It's about right and wrong in the light of one, central principle - the NAP.

      Now, letting the starving stranger die is not a "morally neutral" choice, like dressing black, or smoking pot. Libertarians can perfectly be bigots or libertines, as Rothbard noticed - but, I do not think that they can say that failing to help a stranger in imminent danger is simply irrelevant to a genuinely libertarian moral code. As if opposite choices were equally acceptable in similar situations. You can perfectly harm other people by NOT acting. Inaction can be totally and fully equivalent to an aggression. And I'd like to take the NAP fully...

      " Either I own my property – control, use, and disposition – or I don’t." If only moral issues were all so black-or-white...! Can a butcher do really ANYTHING possible with his knives, when he interacts with other people? Can my neighbour purchase and amass a huge pile of explosives in the middle of his lawn? Photographers can still perfectly control, use or destroy their private property, as they see fit. BUT, when their actions can be reasonably qualified as aggressions, well - they should be held (proportionally) responsible.

    8. I have read a good amount of Block on this subject. I have not read a comment specifically about unilateral contracts.

      As abhorrent as this might sound, there isn't room for positive rights in the NAP. The minute this door is opened, there is no such thing as NAP.

      Look to the Bible or Koran or Buddha for teaching on helping a starving stranger. Libertarian theory is clear on what is required in this case: nothing.

  11. I would only like to add, regarding the mother, that a direct natural consequence of engaging in sex is the possibility of conception. It's directly implicit in a specific action undertaken that the result might ultimately end in the creation of a human life, and a human consciousness.

    A social contract can not be implicit in the reaction to conception that is the birth of life. The difference lies in intention and taking responsibility for ones actions.

    You can make up any number of gray morality situations regarding rape and abortion or any other distinct complex consequence of the very fallible human process of selecting ends and means, but libertarianism qua libertarianism is about the negative rights of human action not the specific interpretation of complicated historical events.