Saturday, May 27, 2017

Grab World

Grab World - George J. Dance, Nolan Chart:

May 26, 2017 - "Anti-libertarians have come up with many ingenious arguments to try to discredit libertarianism. Matt Bruenig’s 'Grab World' is certainly one of the most ingenious.

"Grab World (aka Grab-what-you-can World) is an imaginary world – a thought experiment – that Bruenig claims to have “first discussed here at Demos” back in January 2014; though a glance at the January article reveals that he actually grabbed the idea from libertarian philosopher Roderick Long. Here is how Long describes Grab World:
Imagine a world in which people freely expropriate other people’s possessions; nobody initiates force directly against another person’s body, but subject to that constraint, people regularly grab any external resource they can get their hands on, regardless of who has made or been using the resource. Any conception of aggression according to which the world so described is free of aggression is not a plausible one.”[6]
"Bruenig accepts all of Long’s account but the last sentence (which he omits). On the contrary, he insists that, “the grab-what-you-can world satisifes the non-aggression principle and no other world does.”[4]

"Hence the use of Grab World to refute libertarianism. The non-aggression principle (NAP) is basic to libertarianism; to Bruenig, Grab World is the only world that satisfies NAP; therefore, he concludes, to reject Grab World is to reject NAP, and with it libertarianism.

"Bruenig illustrates his point with what he calls a “reductio ad absurdum” argument.... While that explains what Bruenig wants to accomplish, it is not a knockdown reductio ad absurdum argument. It is not even a reductio ad absurdum argument, or much of an argument at all....

"Bruenig does say something that resembles an argument: 'It’s simple: 1) grabbing pieces of the world does not, by itself, involve initiating force against other people (if it did, then all resource use would be considered aggression), and 2) attacking someone for grabbing up a piece of the world does involve initiating force against other people.'

 "But neither point passes logical muster. 1) contains a quantification fallacy; it proves only that some acts of grabbing are not aggression, but concludes that no acts of grabbing are aggression; while 2) does not even try to prove, but simply assumes, that all attempts to stop someone else from grabbing things must involve 'attacking.'

"None of Bruenig’s repetitions, stipulations, definitions, or arguments show that Grab World, and only Grab World, follows from NAP. Of course, their failure to do so does not show that it doesn’t, either. To resolve that question, we will have to pay a visit to Grab World itself.

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