“Earth Hour”

Don't the damn dirt cultists realize that lights are beautiful? They are a sign of prosperity and human happiness. They make the "Earth" a better place.

My Loyalties

They are to truth, justice, and the cosmopolitan way.

Natural Law, 4: The Environment

Besides the nature of man, also the nature of his environment should be considered next.

Suppose there are so few exploitable resources on the island with Crusoe and Friday that only one man can survive on it for any length of time. Then it seems that the two men do have a reason to fight to the death. It may be unjust, but it is at least utilitarian, as the victor will get to live, as opposed to both dying from hunger.

Alternatively, in a land of Cockaigne, Crusoe will not miss Friday even if he dies.

These problems are avoided in the real world where there prevails moderate scarcity.

That a world of super-abundance or extreme dearth will not serve up the right incentives for social cooperation does not give the lie to this fact.

Under moderate scarcity, the forces of life, sustaining and nurturing man, and the forces of death, adversarial to him, challenging him to fight and improve his conditions, are in a rough balance that is most conducive to economic development. Insofar as the world contains plenty of moderately scarce environments, it is wisely designed.

Natural Law, 3: The Main Commandment

It may be asked why man is supposed to do good and avoid evil.

The first point is due to self-love, and one naturally wills good to himself out of such love.

Is it man's nature to love others? I think it is, but a much weaker version of this statement is available, namely that it is man's nature at least not to hate others and through that hate, will evil to them.

Any kind of action is a costly exertion, to be resorted to when the benefits or revenues outweigh the costs. But harming another human being is such an action, yet it benefits the aggressor not at all, as suggested.

No man has any reason to hate another in the state of pure nature. If Crusoe finds Friday, it is insane for him to decide out of nowhere that his good consists in hating and for that reason killing Friday. He pays the costs of such an action (in fact puts himself in grave danger due to Friday's self-defense) but reaps no recognizable benefits. But such an irrationality entails precisely that Crusoe hates himself, which we have just seen cannot be the case.

US vs. Russia

If the US state intervenes in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, then I guarantee that it will not survive invading Russia. The bear will tear off the balls of the US Navy Seals.

Maybe from the libertarian point of view, it will be for the best. An evil empire will fall, maybe even two: both the US and Russian state will happily destroy each other without any harm done to the private citizens of both countries.

Natural Law, 2

Suppose it is objected: Smith may want to kill Jones in order to take his goods.

But Jones likely values his life far more than his material possessions and would to that extent be willing to defend himself more ferociously. Smith puts himself in more danger if he tries to kill Jones rather than merely rob him (say, by quietly burglarizing his house).

The killing is, ahem, an overkill. Again killing seems in the interest of no one at all, an act of pure destruction, and for that reason is unequivocally morally prohibited.

Assault is proscribed for similar reasons as murder: Jones feels pain from an attack on his body, but Smith receives no pleasure as a result. The evil of being hurt is accompanied by no plausible good and is to that extent 100% morally wrong.

Rape is more difficult to outlaw on this argument alone. For the rapist may say: "My good is promoted by the sexual pleasure I receive and by the child I beget." Here we may need to use further argumentation.

Why Mises Rejected Natural Law

For two reasons, both of them spurious.

First, he had seen too many bad attempts to lay down natural law for human beings. A lot of people had made mistakes in deducing such law, and Mises may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater: he figured since so many alleged natural-law-givers had been wrong, there was no such thing as natural law.

But surely, there are vast disagreements among economists, as well. Just because Keynes, say, was wrong in his approach to economics does not mean that economics is hopeless.

Second, positive law is addressed from the legislative and judicial branch of the government to the police. By changing the behavior of the executive branch, it supplies incentives to the people. Positive law does not say: "You shall not kill"; it says: "If you kill, then you shall be punished."

But surely, some rights seem to be valid regardless of whether or not a violator of a right happens to be efficiently detected and prosecuted.

So, natural law is addressed to the individual, commanding him "not to kill," say. But each person decides for himself whether or not to kill. What purpose is there to a "command"? It seems entirely pointless. Ok, I hear you demand that I not kill. But who are you to tell me anything? "No one can tell another person how to live." You can alter my behavior by threatening to punish me for killing. That I understand. A command is entirely vain and nugatory. I decide whether to heed and obey any command.

I mean, a person cannot just bark orders at another. It's preposterous.

The first task for any expositor of natural law is to establish a person's ownership of his own body. But to say "I own my body" is already to sneak into the argument what it aims to establish. For "ownership" is a legal concept that presupposes the rightness of unfettered enjoyment of the services of the body and the wrongness of anyone's interfering with such enjoyment. What we have at the beginning rather is the primordial technological fact that I control my body. Not own it.

Our main endeavor then is to bridge the is-ought gap. For narrow happiness, the gap is bridged as follows: we say that if you want to attain end X (the "is"), then you ought to use means Y, Z, and W (the "ought"). But for human nature, this strategy is unavailable.

Very well, we note that I cannot relinquish my control over my body without dying; and it is impossible for anyone else to pick up or inherit that control from me. Smith cannot come to control Jones' dead body. But now consider the most basic injunction to man: that he ought to do good and avoid evil. An act of killing considered in itself destroys the victim, because he loses his highly valued control over his body (if it were not valued, then why has the victim not yet committed suicide? he does not have to wait to be killed), yet benefits not at all the killer, who cannot steal that control away from the person he kills.

As a result, killing simpliciter is an unmitigated evil that is not balanced at all with any kind of good. But if man is to avoid evil in general, this particular evil, too, ought to be avoided. Hence, not killing is a duty, and not being killed is a human natural right.

This right can be codified if we pronounce that any man "owns" his body with all the privileges of such ownership.

Mises did not think that ethics was a branch of knowledge at all. He did not consider it to be a valid discipline in which truth and falsity can be established. Ethics for him was neither science nor philosophy; it was nonsense. But here I think he was wrong.

Republic, 2

In other words, it's the endless struggle on the part of the state to "make lies sound truthful and murder respectable."

The Evil Republic

The state is perpetually pursuing the Glaucon's quest of the perfection of injustice: "to seem just without really being so; a perfectly unjust man, while committing the grossest acts of injustice, has won himself the highest reputation for justice."

Adiemus

It's a beautiful song, and in me, it evokes the vision of the morning of the day and the beginning of the work of the world, as well the morning of mankind and the vastness of the world still to be conquered, and a thanks to the unseen and unknown creator who made it all a reality.

Alfred Marshall

After reading his Principles years ago, I liked him personally very much, finding him to be a good, almost holy, man, and now reading his biography on Wikipedia confirms this: "Metaphysics led Marshall to ethics, specifically a Sidgwickian version of utilitarianism; ethics, in turn, led him to economics, because economics played an essential role in providing the preconditions for the improvement of the working class. Even as he turned to economics, his ethical views continued to be a dominant force in his thinking. ... His even-handedness drew great respect and even reverence from fellow economists."

You Shall Not Speak Ill of the Gods

Learned Rodner Figueroa, even if the alleged blasphemy is "true."

Creativity

It is God's nature to create. His power to create beautiful things is unconstrained by any inner inhibition. God creates, because He is driven by an impulsion to do good.

This is what we call "self-diffusion of goodness," causation that is neither physical nor teleological.

Terrible, Terrible Damage

I predict that if wicked witch Hillary becomes president, then in order to prove her manhood, she'll push the nuke button.

Materialism

Even my pet cat, Mighty Oleg, obviously understands the difference between me, my desk, his food, and other people. He and I are friends, sharing a bond of affection, yet nothing else is his friend. Materialists... what weirdos.

Eugenics

To continue the discussion, in a very general sense, highly-paid workers and good entrepreneurs can "afford" more children than their poorer brethren. This will make a difference on the margin, and as a result, on average the top 50% of earners will have more children (say, 3.2) than the bottom 50% of earners (say, 2.5). Society should be expected to change toward "smarter" or at least "sheepier" population. "Sheep" in the Christian sense at least is a term of praise not insult. A sheep is a moral person. What remains is to make the shepherds, the social natural elite, economically astute.

Violence, 2

An article in LA Times is titled, "Islamic State and its increasingly sophisticated cinema of terror."

Such barbarians. Anyone forget "Shock and Awe"? "We" are being imitated, if still primitively.

Violence

The American state kills, the Russian state kills, the French state kills, and now the Islamic State kills, too. Whence the surprise?

I suppose that for Americans, killing is a game; while ISIS takes it seriously.

And of course, our butchers are good; their butchers are evil.

Prospects for Liberty

The masses are more ready for liberty now than at any time in the past throughout the whole human history.

Aureoles

They are consolation prizes.

Thus, St. Thomas attributes to virgins "incorruption of mind and body." But we are not salmon who die right after spawning. And all people die, both virgins and not. In fact, being a parent, especially of a lot of children raised well, is rewarded with a far greater main aura than being a virgin. The aureole is a poor substitute for this glory.

A martyr has failed to arrange his affairs in such a way as to avoid death at the hands of other people. This is shameful, regardless of his faith and devotion. Again, his aureole is a consolation prize.

A doctor as a scientist merely contemplates; he does not improve upon the divine works; nor does he improve his own well-being; nor the well-being of fellow men. For this poverty and failure at active life, he is deprived of the main aura or crown but receives an aureole in recognition of a somewhat valuable life.