Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Student said...

Nathan,

Why buy it from you when I can steal it? The choice will be based on the realtive costs and benefits.

And you are right there are a lot of things that "could" happen that might change the choice calculus (like you trying to steal the car back), but you are missing the point. The point is that surely we can both imagine coditions where stealing the car will maximize wealth. Pointing out that there are oher times when it will not is beside the point and already conceded.

If you want a more "complete" example, imagine Old McDonald has a car on the back of his farm where he never goes. It is in perfect condition, but he never uses it. Eventually he forgets it's there. The car isn't worth all that much to him. A thief comes along and sees the car. We know, because we are Gods, that the car is worth more to the theif than to the farmer. The thief, knowing that McDonald forgot about the car and knowing the chances of being caught by the local cops are slim, decides to steal the car. The car has now become more valuable by this "transaction". McDonald goes to his grave not knownin the car was stolen (or existed) and no precedent is set because of the extreme rarity of such a situation. Everyone lives happily ever after as a result of force.

I am almost positive there is an example of this in Posner's Economic Analysis of the Law if you go check it out.

As to your point about creation. Say what? First, in my example we can see where stealing can actually create "wealth" (in very very rare cicumstances). Second, what does wealth creation have to do with people starving to death?

I trade my comb for my sister's record. Wealth is created by a result of the transaction because both objects become "more valuable". Who is left with a fuller belly????

And I can't say I buy your explaination for why we should value life. You keep pushing the problem a step back.

If life is valuable because it has the image of the creator with in it(???), why should we value the image of th creator????

Some advice: Invoking a "creator" as a solution usually raises more problems than it solves.

6:53 AM


Juris Naturalist said...

What I mean by wealth creation is that every voluntary transaction results in net gains. These net gains are what have moved humanity from self-sufficient subsistence economies to dynamic economies where everyone operates according to their comparative advantage and productivity increases.
If I can find a way to increase my earnings by $10 a day, then I can afford to feed another kid, so I might adopt one, or send some portion of that to a mission that feeds kids.
I lose some people here who rarely give to charity, and do not consider it in their thoughts.
But even without it, specialization and trade allows more for everyone, and people no longer go hungry.
Henry Grady Weaver in The Mainspring of Human Progress asks (paraphrased) "How is it that for six thousand years the norm of humanity was to live a short brutish life filled with disease and hunger, but then in one place on earth people suddenly have enough to eat, keep clean and healthy?"

Why should we value the image of the creator? Mutual attraction is a powerful force. How often has a young man fallen in love after a young woman demonstrated her interest? What if she had not? He might not have noticed her. Part of the reason he falls in love with her, is because she showed interest in him.
Why do I value the image of the Creator? Because He saw it fit to show an interest in me, and created me in His image, and I know His love.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

why is force justified

"But WHY is force only justified in responce to unjustified force? And why is force justified then? Why isn't ALL coercion bad, period?"

Let's get a little deeper here, shall we?
We dislike force because it is destructive. There is nothing creative about it. We all like the concept of creation of wealth - the gains from trade. Force is intrinsically destructive and NEVER results in gains from trade. There is always a deadweight loss somewhere where force has been utilized.

Now, we might say that creativity is intrisically moral, while destruction is intrinsically immoral. Equilibrium would perhaps be amoral. To which I would reply that the opportunity cost of static environments is the creativity that could have been there, and thus amorality is immorality.

Coming full circle: Force is justifiable in response to unjustified force because it causes the destruction to stop. Destruction of a destructive activity is good. It's not two wrongs make a right, though. The destructive must be destroyed by creativity. The victim may encroach upon the rights of a perpetrator only to the precise same level that he has been encroached upon, and that only until the perpetrator steps back, at which point the victim must step back also.

Let's try another tact: Encroachment is an unwritten contract giving both parties permission to encroach upon the other to an equal degree. If I step into your bubble one step, you may step into mine one step.
Why shouldn't we all be immediately upon one another then? Because the opportunity cost of being so close is too high. If I hit you and you hit me we have both suffered harm, and each of us hitting one another again has a diminishing marginal return, both in the satisfaction of hitting the other person, and in the wound suffered from the blow. The incentive to stop fighting quickly arises.