Now, to be very clear, in many of my recent post, such as this one, I have been concerned with a narrow topic: does the "non-aggression principle," employed as libertarians typically employ it, somehow point to libertarianism as a uniquely correct political stance? Is it true that all other political doctrines are "in favor of aggression"?
The reason I note the narrowness of my concern here is because of the startling number of times, as I've made these posts, that someone has responded something like, "Why do you claim libertarians have no reasons for their beliefs?"
Say what?! I have been pointing out that this one argument is circular, and therefore flawed. The response above is as if, when you tell your friend, "The fact you eat tunafish is not really evidence you love your wife," he responds, "Oh, so you're saying I don't love my wife!" No, maybe you do; I'm just saying the tunafish argument is a bad argument.
A variation on the above is the response, "Oh, so you're saying it's OK not to love your wife?" ("See, Callahan is arguing against any morality whatsoever" or "Callahan has embraced moral relativism.") Crimminy. Pointing out that one argument for one moral position is wrong now equates to moral relativism?! Well, it's often easier to just invent your opponent's position yourself and then attack it, because you can make it noce and vulnerable before you charge.
In any case, here I want to address the rubbish I've heard put forward a number of times by libertarians that "Anyone who is not a libertarian is in favor of aggression!" Let us again proceed by analogy.
Imagine, if you will, a doctor, Dr. Smith, who sincerely believes that arsenic is good for newborns, and recommends it for infants in a book. Now, it seems obvious to me that it is an abuse of language to claim "Dr. Smith is in favor of killing babies!" It is true that his advice, if followed, would result in the death of babies. But Dr. Smith loves babies, and is in favor of their flourishing -- he is just in error about what they need to flourish.
Similarly, Hobbes believes he has presented a good case for the necessity of a single sovereign in a society. (By the way, I like to use Hobbes as an example not because I am a Hobbesian, but because his straightforward case is easy to handle in a brief post.) Given that he believes his own case, it should be obvious that Hobbes does not think his sovereign engages in aggression by, say, collecting taxes. Now, Hobbes may be mistaken, but it is ridiculous to say he "favors aggression." No, he favors peace, but may, in fact, be mistaken about what constitutes peace. And pointing this out does not imply "So, you think Hobbes' political philosophy is just as good as libertarianism" or anything of the sort. It just means libertarians really ought to stop wielding the blunt propaganda slogan of "You're an aggressor" and deal with their opponents' actual arguments instead.
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