In the comments section of one of Db0’s entries, someone posted this delightful article. Witness another of Walter Block’s logical absurdities:
You are standing in the path on an onrushing boulder, completely unaware of your fate. In a second, this massive rock will hit you, and you will die. (Let us stipulate the truth of this supposition). Instead, however, I push you out of its path, and into safety. The only trouble is, as a result of it, although I have saved your life, I also broke your arm.
Now, if you are a reasonable sort of person, you will be grateful to me. Instead, you insist upon sticking to the literal letter of libertarian law, and sue me for damages for the injury you have sustained. After all, I did initiate a violent act upon your person, which resulted in an injury. If this is not assault and battery, you argue, then nothing is. How shall the libertarian judge rule?
One possibility is to hold me innocent of this charge. This could be done by adding up the two acts, the life saving and the arm breaking, and deciding that the former is far more important than the latter. So much so that the one ought to be in effect “subtracted” from the other, and since the result would be a “positive” (I contributed more to your life by saving it than I cost you through the injury you sustained), I would be let off scott free. The point here is that I committed not two acts, but only one: saving-your-life-and-injuring-you, and that this complex but single act is not one of initiatory aggression.
A difficulty with this line of reasoning is that you might have been standing in the way of the boulder as part of a suicide attempt. You regarded the situation where you are dead far more highly than the one where you are alive, but debilitated. We may assume you wanted to end your life because of bodily malfunctions like a broken arm, and now I have worsened your welfare, not improved it.
Another problem is that these really are two separate acts. It is certainly possible that I could have pushed you out of death’s way without breaking your arm. To call it two separate acts is really to fudge: this would only be done in order to achieve the common sense result we all presumably want: to find me innocent of bodily harm.
No, the only proper libertarian judgment is that I am indeed guilty of a battery upon your person.
Here’s my challenge to all Libertarians and “anarcho-capitalists”: prove that Block’s reasoning is invalid
(while you’re at it, also prove Block’s Corollary wrong too).
Defenders of Block will always succeed since anything can appear “just” if you strip away enough context (or at least the context that complicates your argument). Oddly, he counters the “single-act” reasoning that clears the life-saving-arm-breaker of blame by … adding more potentially relevant context (the person saved may have been trying to commit suicide). Then he complains that this kind of context-keeping can only be done for one reason: to get to the result that we want. I’ll say!
Sorry, didn’t read Block’s Corollary, not today, had enough …
If the man made it clear he wanted to die and you saved him, you are guilty of battery.
If he could not have made it clear you are not, the law should err on the side of life-saving, the man in a Libertarian society can always go out and kill himself tomorrow if he so chooses.
If the man wanted to live, you are not guilty, provided there wasn’t a reasonable way to save him without causing that injury.
That’s pretty simple. Libertarian world is in colour, it’s not just black and white. Reasonable limitations of fault are to be expected.
All right, you’ve stated clearly enough that you disagree with Block’s reasoning. So your refutation of Block’s reasoning is…?
I suppose that he appears to neglect the possibility for reasonable outcomes in Libertarian Justice.
As I said, it’s not black and white. My disagreement as a Libertarian with his concept of what a Libertarian Society would do in this legal scenario, is based on the Libertarian perception of justice. Justice would always err on the side of reasonable accommodation. His reasoning is wrong because it assumes absolute rigidity in the application of LIbertarian Justice, which is not true and that’s before looking at certain polycentric law concepts.
Can you quote me the “absolute rigidity” in his argument? I don’t see it. All I see is a logical argument based on Libertarian premises. I could be wrong: show me where this rigidity is.
Well, the source of the rigidity is exactly what you admire. It is the mistaken belief that legal reasoning should proceed like geometric reasoning.
All right then. How would you go about disproving Block’s argument based on what you actually believe legal reasoning “should” be like, and on what Libertarian basis do you prove what legal reasoning “should” be like?
Well, I would never try to show on a libertarian basis what legal reasoning should be like: That would be like asking on what witchcraft basis do I prove what medicine should be like.
Comparing Libertarianism with witchcraft huh? That’s actually pretty appropriate. Maybe if you stir that free market cauldron hard enough, you’ll finally come up with a non-aggressive society… keep stirring Callahan!
Hello? Any response?
“All right, you’ve stated clearly enough that you disagree with Block’s reasoning. So your refutation of Block’s reasoning is…?”
That it is not a crime to save people’s lives?
Are you just going to keep restating your disagreement over and over, or are you going to… actually present a refutation of what Block said in the quoted text?
Is this too much to ask for at this juncture? Are you just wasting my time?
Again, this is not a refutation of Block’s reasoning as I quoted it above. Please direct yourself to the entry and quote the parts which are incorrect, and explain why these parts do not follow Libertarian principles.
“Are you just going to keep restating your disagreement over and over, or are you going to…”
Re-stating over and over… Huh? This is my first comment ever at this blog, I believe!
In any case, if someone presents a line of “reasoning” showing that there are no trees in the world, it is sufficient to simply reply, “Well, yes, one is right outside my window right now.” Similarly, it is sufficient to refute Block to note that any sane person knows that saving someone’s life is not a crime.
“Re-stating over and over… Huh? This is my first comment ever at this blog, I believe!”
I thought you were the same person that has been arguing with me and to whom I replied. I apologize. I don’t tend to look at commenters’ names.
I’ve heard about you, of course… if you are the same Callahan who wrote for Lew Rockwell and works at Mises Institute.
“:In any case, if someone presents a line of “reasoning” showing that there are no trees in the world, it is sufficient to simply reply, “Well, yes, one is right outside my window right now.” Similarly, it is sufficient to refute Block to note that any sane person knows that saving someone’s life is not a crime.”
A silly argument from popularity? Yes, you must be the same Callahan.
Well, I used to write for LewRockwell.com. I have never worked for the Mises Institute.
When someone presents me with an argument claiming to prove “You are a Belgian waffle, Dr. Callahan,” all I need respond is, “Well, I am obviously not one; you’ve made a mistake.” That is not an “argument from popularity.” But henceforth I will know to say: “Ah, you are tossing around random, witless insults at someone you have just met: Yes, you must be the same Tremblay!”
So your answer to a request for a refutation is to posit that no refutation is necessary, and comparing an abstract philosophical argument with a concrete claim made to you about yourself. Brillant, Calahan. You just keep outdoing yourself. What stupidity are you gonna say next? Please, don’t keep us in suspense.
Of course: Certain forms of chowder-headedness do not need to be refuted. It is actually quite impossible to engage in legal reasoning with someone who thinks that saving someone’s life is a crime, just as there is no point engaging in a mathematical argument with someone who insists that 1 + 1 = 3.
By the way, did you have to work hard to become a cretin lacking any civility, or did it come naturally to you?
“Of course: Certain forms of chowder-headedness do not need to be refuted. It is actually quite impossible to engage in legal reasoning with someone who thinks that saving someone’s life is a crime, just as there is no point engaging in a mathematical argument with someone who insists that 1 + 1 = 3.”
Yes very good, so you have no intention of answering my question, and yet you keep commenting. So… troll much?
“By the way, did you have to work hard to become a cretin lacking any civility, or did it come naturally to you?”
Bwahahaha. Seriously, get the fuck off my blog. You are just wasting my time, Trollahan.
Yes, may the Lord have mercy on your soul, because I sure as hell won’t.