Libertarian Ethics, Lecture 2 with Danny Sanchez - Mises Academy


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Libertarian Ethics, Lecture 2 with Danny Sanchez - Mises Academy

  1. 1. Libertarian Ethics, Lecture 2 Mises’ Ethics Daniel James Sanchez Mises Academy November 3, 2011
  2. 2. Two Sides of Mises’ Ethics ●Negative: What cannot be said concerning ethics (based on philosophy) ●Positive: What can be said concerning ethics (based on praxeology)
  3. 3. What Can’t Be Said About Ethics ●Embraced Hume’s Law: “There is no such thing as a scientific ought” ●Existential Propositions vs. Value Statements: “Propositions asserting existence (affirmative existential propositions) or nonexistence (negative existential propositions) are descriptive. They assert something about the state of the whole universe or of parts of the universe. With regard to them questions of truth and falsity are significant. They must not be confounded with judgments of value. Judgments of value are voluntaristic. They express feelings, tastes, or preferences of the individual who utters them. With regard to them there cannot be any question of truth and falsity. They are ultimate and not subject to any proof or evidence.” (TH 1) ●Wertfreiheit
  4. 4. Mises’ Theory of Society ●Law of Association ●Division of Labor ●Manifoldness of Nature ●Social Cooperation ●Social Bonds and Social Order ●“The Fundamental Social Phenomenon” ● “If and as far as labor under the division of labor is more productive than isolated labor, and if and as far as man is able to realize this fact, human action itself tends toward cooperation and association; man becomes a social being… in aiming at an improvement in his own welfare.” (HA 8.4) ●The Function of Social Bonds and Social Order
  5. 5. Codes of Conduct ●The Function of Moral Codes: “The notion of right and wrong is a human device, a utilitarian precept designed to make social cooperation under the division of labor possible.” (HA 27.3) ●Property ●Justice ●Law ● “Law and legality, the moral code and social institutions … are of human origin, and the only yardstick that must be applied to them is that of expediency with regard to human welfare.” (HA 8.2) ● “All moral rules and human laws are means for the realization of definite ends. There is no method available for the appreciation of their goodness or badness other than to scrutinize their usefulness for the attainment of the ends chosen and aimed at.” (HA 27.3)
  6. 6. The Private Property Order of Liberalism ●Rivalrous goods ●Permanent self-ownership ●Homesteading ●Perpetual ownership ●Distant ownership ●Alienability ●Ownership of products
  7. 7. The Power of Public Opinion ●Social Order and Ideology: “any concrete order of social affairs are an outcome of ideologies” (HA 9.3) ●The Public and Living Standards ●The Power of Praxeology ● “Because man is a social animal that can thrive only within society, all ideologies are forced to acknowledge the preeminent importance of social cooperation. They must aim at the most satisfactory organization of society and must approve of man's concern for an improvement of his material well-being. Thus they all place themselves upon a common ground. They are separated… by problems of means and ways. Such ideological antagonisms are open to a thorough scrutiny by the scientific methods of praxeology and economics.” (HA 9.2)
  8. 8. ● “The singular tendency of capitalism is to provide for individuals the satisfaction of their wants according to the extent of their contribution to the satisfaction of the wants of others. Through the market process, the consumers tend to reward each producer according to his contribution to consumer satisfaction. Capitalism therefore encourages individuals to, in their own interest, ever adjust their choices of roles and actions so as to ever increase their contribution to the satisfaction of human wants. ● The relative importance of some consumers' wants are greater than that of others in this process. But the relative importance of any given consumer's wants, insofar as that relative importance has been determined on the market, is a function of how much he contributed to satisfying the wants of other consumers in his role as a producer. ● Thus, under capitalism, human choices, through their interplay, coordinate each other so as to provide for human welfare as bountifully as possible. ● Every state intervention into the market nexus — every tax, regulation, redistribution, or expansion of bureaucracy — only slackens the ties linking contribution and income, thereby hampering the instrumentality of the market by making producers less responsive to consumers, and thus The Utilitarian Superiority of Capitalism
  9. 9. Why Liberalism? ●“If you were convinced that (a) complete adherence to the natural right of property necessarily engenders untold poverty, suffering, and death, but (b) the tiniest imaginable abrogation of the nonaggression principle, would necessarily engender prosperity, happiness, and long life for virtually everybody, which would you choose, complete adherence or the tiny abrogation?”
  10. 10. Value-Free Rule Utilitarianism and “The Parchuting Ethicist” Fallacy ● “Utilitarian liberalism does not say, "You want B, but you should really want A." Rather, it says, "You think B will result in Y, which you want. But it will not. Instead it will result in X, which you do not want. However, if you adopt A, you will get Z, which you would like best, but did not even know was possible." ● And it says this, not with regard to particular choices considered in isolation, but with regard to the systemic consequences to be expected of general rules. Furthermore, it says this not in order to persuade each individual in every concrete choice in their daily lives, but so as to effect a revolution in public opinion concerning social expediency, which in turn will necessarily engender a revolution in the prevailing moral code.”
  11. 11. Mises on Natural Law ● “From the notion of natural law some people deduce the justice of the institution of private property in the means of production. Other people resort to natural law for the justification of the abolition of private property in the means of production. As the idea of natural law is quite arbitrary, such discussions are not open to settlement.” (HA 27.3) ● “Long before the Classical economists discovered that a regularity in the sequence of phenomena prevails in the field of human action, the champions of natural law were dimly aware of this inescapable fact. From the bewildering diversity of doctrines presented under the rubric of natural law there finally emerged a set of theorems which no caviling can ever invalidate. There is first the idea that a nature-given order of things exists to which man must adjust his actions if he wants to succeed. Second: the only means available to man for the cognizance of this order is thinking and reasoning, and no existing social institution is exempt from being examined and appraised by discursive reasoning. Third: there is no standard available for apraising any mode of acting either of individuals or of groups of individuals but that of the effects
  12. 12. Thoughts Raised by Dr. Gordon’s Lecture ●Anarcho-capitalism and Minarchism ●Hazlitt and Mises ●Hoppe and Hume’s Law ●Rothbard and Hume’s Law ●Sport-Killing ●The Words “Arbitrary” and “Whim” ●Prichard and Mises
  13. 13. Happiness and Flourishing ● “Praxeology is indifferent to the ultimate goals of action. Its findings are valid for all kinds of action irrespective of the ends aimed at. It is a science of means, not of ends. It applies the term happiness in a purely formal sense. In the praxeological terminology the proposition: man's unique aim is to attain happiness, is tautological. It does not imply any statement about the state of affairs from which man expects happiness.” (HA 1.2) ● "While praxeology, and therefore economics too, uses the terms happiness and removal of uneasiness in a purely formal sense, liberalism attaches to them a concrete meaning. It presupposes that people prefer life to death, health to sickness, nourishment to starvation, abundance to poverty.” (HA 8.2) ● Rothbardian “Flourishing” Independent of Social Cooperation and the Greater Productivity of the Division of Labor
  14. 14. Hazlitt ●The “Instrumental Ought” ●Not Against Hume’s Law ●Falls for “Parachuting Ethicist” Fallacy
  15. 15. Hoppe’s Intro ●“…integration of… economics and natural-law political philosophy into a unified science of libertarianism”. Without utilitarianism, what does economics have to do with libertarianism? ●Why the universalization principle?