Thursday, February 16, 2006

The reason for freedom - to come

Allan has asked (see his response to my earlier post) for a justification, objectively, of my philosophical position. This will come in the next few days (I don't have much blog time for the next two).
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It appears his position is that there are behaviours he asserts are destructive and that it is the duty of other people to not only inform you that they are, but to stop you. He extends that to the state. Instead of making your own judgment, the matter is not even up for debate. This justifies censorship of material that supports, for example, homosexuality and certainly depictions of sexuality. It also justifies charging, convicting and incarcerating adults for what they do in their personal relationships - out of love - to protect them - because some people need to lead and others to follow.
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There is a fundamental similarity between this, Marxism-Leninism, National Socialism and fundamentalist Islam - it is authoritarian and is a "we know best" attitude, about moulding people (and imprisoning or killing those who resist or who are inferior) into "perfect citizens" experiencing the ideal life. Allan may not be advocating killing people, but that is only a matter of degree - he is advocating using force to punish people for what they do to their own bodies.
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Of course we already do this for illegal drugs - so he has a point, if you want to be consistent you need to lock people away for doing other things that are "bad for them", although the evidence about sex outside marriage being bad is not quite like drugs. Drugs also are not always bad.
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If this is what he is advocating, then he should be honest about it. It means that adults do not own their bodies, their bodies are owned by everyone - and the state, as the expression of "society" enforces the rules that are "agreed" and punishes transgressors and does not even allow debate or expressions of contrary perspectives.
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Why does it matter? Because nothing is more personal than one's own body and the intimate relationships that are formed with it. The idea that your neighbour, or group of neighbours or bureaucrats and politicians know better what to do with it than you do, is treating you like a child, imbecile or slave.
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The question comes down to - who owns your life? You? Society? The State? or "God"?
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I believe I do, and it is your business when something I do interferes with your ownership of your life.
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UPDATE: Too much work to do, so it will come out in the weekend!

1 comment:

A. J. Chesswas said...

On what basis do you say we own our own bodies? On what basis do you say we know best what to do with our own bodies, or how to lead our lives.

A common understanding of ownership is that the amount of resource and labour you invest in something reflects the degree to which you own it (John Locke). This is reasonably applied to huamn beings. As children we are owned primarily by our parents, with a minor interest from the wider community. As we mature we reach the point we we are able to sustain ourselves. However we are still largely indebted to our parents and wider community for the asset that is our life and body. Without the inheritence you've received from The West you would not have the life you have today. Thus you have a moral duty to those who have invested in you.

I'm not advocating large-scale centralised communism - that is taking things to an extreme, as the fact remains that the individual is the only one who is guaranteed they will have an interest in themselves for their entire life. However I also believe libertarianism is the other extreme, and focuses too much on those rights and not enough on duty.

I await your philosophical and moral justification of libertarianism with interest!