Hello From The Woodwork

I just wanted to expand on a few arguments advanced by Our Illustrious Leader which I think have been unfairly ignored. It is, of course, unnecessary to provide here any background on the subject that I will discuss, one need only scroll down. I am not going to take a side on who is right, Hoppe or UNLV. I don’t care enough to decide. What I will say is that both Hoppe and the various Hoppeans are being, at best, inconsistent. JTK has shown here, that by engaging the ACLU, Hoppe is in fact agreeing with their beliefs (not to mention what he is agreeing to by working for a state university). Now, normally this would be a dangerous argument for a libertarian to make, as Kinsella argues. Surprising as it may seem, I agree with Kinsella. This would be a dangerous argument, if it was meant in the way Kinsella thinks. But that is not how I understand JTK. I cannot speak for JTK, but I certainly do not think it is wrong for someone who opposes the system, to work within it. The difference between me and Hoppeans is that I do not accept the argumentation ethic for libertarianism (hereafter AE). It is not my intent to argue against the AE here, others have done such elsewhere (also see my own small contribution in this thread). If you accept the premises of the AE, which I assume Hoppeans do, you must admit that by his actions Hoppe is engaged in a performative contradiction (a term which seems to come ultimately from von Wright). For by turning to the ACLU Hoppe agrees to the legitimacy of the Constitution, and the things the ACLU stand for (his dislike of which is what got him into this situation in the first place). And by working for a state university he is agreeing to the legitimacy of the state. Despite my earlier remarks, Hoppeans will still allege that I am putting forth an argument I don’t agree with. If I worked for a state university or sought the guidance of the ACLU, that would be no problem, simply because I reject the AE. So Hoppeans have a decision to make, reject the AE or admit that Hoppe is engaged in a performative contradiction.

Now, if that were all we were dealing with here, the Hoppeans might actually get off easy enough. Choosing between their leader and the basic premise of all they believe would be rather simple for them. They would reject the AE and embrace Hoppe. Sadly, there is more. JTK has shown at various places and times that Hoppe is being inconsistent in another very important aspect. It seems, at least from the outside, that one of the most important aspects of Hoppean theory is the ability to expel certain undesirables from a community. What would Hoppeans be without that aspect of their theory (probably not WASPs)? But if a community has the right to expel certain undesirables, then it would seem that a university would certainly have the right to expel or censure certain undesirables. And it is not only about having the right but being right. If we can argue something as patently absurd as that it is not only permissible but obligatory to expel undesirables from a community, how can we complain when such happens on a small scale. So Hoppeans must either give up their ‘right’ to live in ‘safe’ and ‘libertarian’ communities, or give up their defense of Hoppe.

After all this, I just can’t shake the feeling that things would be going a little bit differently if this was happening to someone else, instead of the great and powerful Hoppe.

Now that I think of it, is it just me or do they look alike?

25 thoughts on “Hello From The Woodwork

  1. Aaron,

    You blogged on the old site, I moved your entry over here. Check with me by email and I’ll fix you up.

  2. My own position is somewhat different. I simply hold that one should not engage in aggression. Not all “working within the system” constitutes aggression.

    I think invoking state force on unsupportable moral grounds is legal aggression. Whether or not Hoppe is entitled to his job is arguable and I don’t object to him making good faith arguments in court. I don’t think the argument that his job is constitutionally protected is morally supportable and I question whether such arguments should be offered in such a case.

    I think some, Kinsella for example, have shown a willingness to engage in legal aggression. And it’s likely that Hoppe is getting some legal advice from Kinsella.

  3. John Lopez says:

    Arguments that the holder of a theory is proving/disproving that theory simply by their practice are always a bit suspect. The holder thereof could simply be a hypocrite.

    And that’s fine, if FedGov offered me the choice of taking a loyalty oath to the Constitution and going for an extended stay in the labor camps, I’d be signing on the dotted line in a hypocritical heartbeat. However, that act wouldn’t prove that the oath meant anything, the oath would still be given to the winds, the Constitution would still be of no authority.

    In other words, Hoppe’s apparent contradiction doesn’t change reality one way or the other.

  4. Aaron Hartter says:

    JTK, I agree with you in what you say. I hope I didn’t suggest in my entry that you were saying something that you didn’t say.

    Lopez, I certainly agree with that, and I believe I would do the same. The problem with Hoppeans is that they have already made it quite clear that they believe doing such would prove a theory wrong. I’m simply trying to show what would happen if they applied their beliefs consistently.

  5. This case has not come before the court yet. None of you here know what arguments will be made ahead of time, so stop pretending that you do.

    I think — as I’m sure does Prof. Kinsella, Prof. Hoppe, and everyone else associated with the Mises Institute — that the best libertarian argument is that the UNLV is violating their contractual agreement with Prof. Hoppe by doing what they’re doing; thus, they are violating property rights. There’s also an argument that — irrelevant of what the contract says — the UNLV should respect academic freedom, because not to do so is to make them a mockery of an institution and to train small-minded students.

    That should be a strong argument in court: a sufficient argument in court. However, I’m not a lawyer. Mr. Kinsella is, and he probably knows the details, but I’m not. Maybe that argument won’t work in our circus-courts. Who knows? It is possible that a 1st Amendment argument may be stronger.

    One thing is sure: the UNLV is violating their contract with Prof. Hoppe, thus acting contrary to libertarian principles. Prof. Hoppe is entitled to a rectification of the situation. Now, since we don’t live in a libertarian world, since the legal system is monopolized by the State, Prof. Hoppe has no choice but to bring the matter before the State-monopoly, just like if he wants to get from his house to work, he has no choice but to use public roads. That means he has to play by the monopoly-court’s rules.

    In one 3rd world countries, the “test” for whether or not a woman has committed adultery is that sheh as to lick a metal ball that’s been roasting in a flame for a long time. If her tongue blisters, she’s “guilty” of adultery and is executed by being stoned to death (or something like that). If her tongue doesn’t blister, she is “no guilty” of adultery and lives in rejoice. If she doesn’t submit to the “judgement”, she is presumed guilty and stoned to death. The fact that a woman will roll the dice — hoping to live — doesn’t mean that she’s acting contradictory to any principles, or that she believes in such.

    What if Prof. Hoppe was going to be executed for his statements about homosexuals? Would you still demand that he not use whatever arguments in court that are most likely to work?

    Prof. Hoppe is a person. He is not a means for fanatics to use for setting a legal precedent.

  6. Heinrich,

    One thing is sure: the UNLV is violating their contract with Prof. Hoppe, thus acting contrary to libertarian principles.

    We don’t know that’s true since UNLV’s harassment policy appears to be part of the contract.

  7. Heinrich,

    What if Prof. Hoppe was going to be executed for his statements about homosexuals? Would you still demand that he not use whatever arguments in court that are most likely to work?

    So long as he had not contracted to to be executed, no. But it appears he has contracted to be subject to UNLV’s harassment policy.

  8. J.T. Kennedy,

    Yes, there is a harassment policy. However, Prof. Hoppe’s comments do not constitute harassment (or discrimination, or insult) against homosexuals anymore than they constituted such against the elderly or children.

    How could he possibly have harassed the Mr. Knight? He didn’t even know who he was? It certainly wasn’t discrimination: he didn’t say he’d grade homosexuals different. And it certainly wasn’t an insult; he didn’t say, “so, if you’r a homo, you can’t plan for the future, and you should burn in hell!”

    Thus, the UNLV is violating their contractual obligations.

    PS: Over this weekend, I joined numerous homosexual communities on LiveJournal, and posted the Mises.org MP3 of the offending lecture on them, asking if the homosexuals there thought it was offensive. Although there hasn’t been many responses, quite pleasantly, the responses have been most reasonable and intelligent. Here are some links the communities that provided responses: my journal, 1, 2 (btw, I’d like to apologize for my mean comment towards you here, although I still think you’re wrong), 3, and 4.

  9. Aaron Hartter says:

    David Heinrich,
    We agree on so much, my friend. Sometimes you have to work within the system. We can agree to this, but Hoppeans can’t.

    “In one 3rd world countries, the “test” for whether or not a woman has committed adultery is that sheh as to lick a metal ball that’s been roasting in a flame for a long time. If her tongue blisters, she’s “guilty” of adultery and is executed by being stoned to death (or something like that). If her tongue doesn’t blister, she is “no guilty” of adultery and lives in rejoice. If she doesn’t submit to the “judgement”, she is presumed guilty and stoned to death. The fact that a woman will roll the dice — hoping to live — doesn’t mean that she’s acting contradictory to any principles, or that she believes in such. ”

    I suppose it depends on whether or not she accepts the basic premises of the AE. If she is a Hoppean then she would be engaging in a performative contradiction by going through with this and holding that it is independent of the issue. Suppose we lived in a different world where to engage in debate we had to wear fuzzy green hats. If we argued that wearing these hats is unnecessary for debate, Hoppeans in that world would say we are engaging in a performative contradiction.

    In many debates, the debaters are limited in the amount of time they may spend presenting their view. Does this mean that they think their view can be best expressed in exactly that amount of time. By agreeing to the rules of debate, does that mean we think that the rules are best. Clearly if this is true and the rules aren’t best we are screwed. The more I think about the AE the more it reminds me of the socratic fallacy.

    The point is, if being inconsistent is damning, as Hoppe and Hoppeans argue, then Hoppe is damned. I don’t particularly want him censured or anything. I don’t mind the guy, and I think he’s done a lot of good things. I’m just trying to point out that this situation creates a lot of problems with the arguments that he and his followers use. I would also like to apologize to Hoppe and Hoppeans for any rude comments in my original entry. Since we are examining their arguments, we should at least attempt to remain civil.

  10. Yes, there is a harassment policy. However, Prof. Hoppe’s comments do not constitute harassment (or discrimination, or insult) against homosexuals anymore than they constituted such against the elderly or children.

    You cannot determine this. You do not know the language of Hoppe’s employment contract, nor do you know the language of the University’s harassment policy. And even if you did, defining sexual harassment is not an easy matter. Creating a hostile environment constitutes sexual harassment in many cases. I’m not saying I agree with this, but it’s certainly not an open-and-shut case.

  11. Mark D. Fulwiler says:

    Micha:

    If you think that merely saying that homosexuals in general have shorter time preferences than heterosexuals could be considered as “sexual harrassment” by any reasonable person, you are just insane.

    When did you stop taking your medication?

  12. Mark,

    The examples Hoppe gave of adults (other than some very old people undergoing a second childhood, who btw Hoppe compares unfavorably with contemporaries who care about the future) with high time preference are: rapists, muggers, looters and homosexuals. Can you see how a gay student might discern a meaningful pattern there?

    All of the examples Hoppe gives of individuals with high time preference are unfavorable; even for children high time preference is something they must grow out of to become fit for civil society. Rapists, muggers, looters, and homosexuals can be seen in this context as individuals who have not outgrown a childlike high time preference.

  13. “JTK has shown here, that by engaging the ACLU, Hoppe is in fact agreeing with their beliefs….”

    This is untrue, and absurd. By buying a hammer from Home Depot, are you “in fact agreeing with Home Depot’s beliefs”? By getting a massage, do you agree with the masseuse’s beliefs? By “using” (employing) others on this very list to engage in discourse/entertain/whatever, are you necessarily agreeing with their beliefs?

    Kennedy mentions legal aggression. What is this, Kennedy? An example please? A definition? What in this case amounts to legal aggression?

    Why some libertarians maintain an obligation to add insult, nay, injury, to injury, for the sake of our enemies, is a mystery to me. It’s definitely not a libertarian view.

  14. Aaron Hartter says:

    “By buying a hammer from Home Depot, are you ‘in fact agreeing with Home Depot’s beliefs’?”
    Kinsella, I thought you have defended the AE in the past. You aren’t changing your mind, are you?

    I would answer no to all these questions, but my point is that you would be forced to answer yes. Now working from within my framework, the conclusions I have reached above are, as you say, absurd. But I was trying to work within yours. And within yours they are necessary and undeniable.

  15. Hartter, of course I don’t deny the AE; but you are wrong to think it means you believe whatever your employee believes. Perhaps you don’t accept the AE b/c you just don’t understand it, as you demonstrate here. I’ve summarized/restated it here and here.

  16. Kinsella,

    …of course I don’t deny the AE…

    No? Then wouldn’t invoking state force on behalf of supposed rights you argue do not exist entail a performative contradiction?

  17. Stefan says:

    I’m not sure what the point is you’re trying to make Kennedy–the AE as I understand it basically says that by engaging in argument you are admitting libertarianism is true. What would this have to do with the ACLU and Hoppe? Sure, if the ACLU guy argues in court for unjust state force to be invoked then I guess you could say the ACLU lawyer is engaged in “performative contradiction”, but so what? Hoppe obviously doesn’t believe in the constitution, and he is not arguing that he does. In this hypothetical scenario he has merely hired someone (the lawyer) to go into the courtroom and argue that the constitution requires UNLV to drop the harrassment. The claim that by doing so Hoppe must somehow be assenting to the constitution is a non-sequitur.

  18. Stefan,

    It would be a performative contradiction to invoke state force against another party on the basis of rights which do not exist, or even on the basis of rights one supposes do not exist.

    To invoke state force, or any force, on morally unsupportable grounds is aggression.

    And Hoppe is responsible for arguments made on his behalf in court by the ACLU since he’s invited them to defend him.

  19. Stefan says:

    Oh I see, you’re worried that in some scenario Hoppe and UNLV might go to the court and it decides (say) in Hoppe’s favor on the basis of his “constitutional” arguments and orders UNLV not to give him a pay cut, right? Well of course there’s nothing un-libertarian about that if Hoppe is the one being aggressed against in the first place (e.g. if UNLV decided to initiate “court hostilities” against him). Or if say both Hoppe and UNLV decide a US government court should resolve their dispute. But that’s not what happened. This is basically just a dispute between Hoppe and UNLV admin about what Hoppe’s contract means. You may be correct that asking the ACLU to “petition” constitutes a threat since the ACLU is accustomed to initiating “legal aggression” in many cases. But that’s a separate issue from what it is morally permissible to say or not say in a courtroom.

  20. Hartter, of course I don’t deny the AE; but you are wrong to think it means you believe whatever your employee believes. Perhaps you don’t accept the AE b/c you just don’t understand it, as you demonstrate here. I’ve summarized/restated it here and here.

  21. “It would be a performative contradiction to invoke state force against another party on the basis of rights which do not exist, or even on the basis of rights one supposes do not exist.”

    No it would not, of course it would not. Not per se. For a couple of reasons. First, if the “another party” is itself a state agent, different rules apply about what is libertarianly permissible to do to it.

    Second, suppose A owes B $100, but will not pay. If B is able to get a court to make A pay the $100 by using some bizarre argument basd on made-up rights, this is not unlibertarian. After all, if B is able to physically wrest the $100 from A without any argument being spoken at all, this would itself be legitimate; so why would this become illegitimate if accompanied by nonsense words?

    “To invoke state force, or any force, on morally unsupportable grounds is aggression.”

    Even if it’s directed against the state or a state unit?

  22. Both Stephan Kinsella and Stefan are confusing libertarianism with Argumentation Ethics. Of course, no one disputes that it is perfectly libertarian to use the state’s own unjust laws to defend one’s own rights. What is in dispute is whether one can do this in accordance with AE, that is, make an argument in favor of a proposition that one simultaneously rejects on other grounds, without committing a performative contradiction. Bringing up the fact that a performative contradiction does not necessarily violate the principles of libertarianism is an irrelevant distraction.

  23. Stefan says:

    Please spell it out for me Micha; the AE just says that by arguing you implicitly admit libertarianism is true, right? How would Hoppe be contradicting himself by arguing, say, via the first amendment?

  24. “Both Stephan Kinsella and Stefan are confusing libertarianism with Argumentation Ethics.”

    I don’t think so. I am quite aware of the diff. The latter is just one proposed way of justifying the rights that underlie or are assumed by the former.

    “Of course, no one disputes that it is perfectly libertarian to use the state’s own unjust laws to defend one’s own rights. What is in dispute is whether one can do this in accordance with AE, that is, make an argument in favor of a proposition that one simultaneously rejects on other grounds, without committing a performative contradiction”

    See, this is your mistake. What does it mean to do something “in accordance” w/ AE? AE is NOT libertarianism, or even a code of conduct, as you seem to imply here. YOu are the one conflating them. AE does not “prevent” you from engaging in performative contradictions! It does not even say that this is *necessarily immoral*. It only says that a performative contradiction *shows that* the propositions being asserted cannot both be true, since one of them contradicts the others. This happens to be relevant *when one is trying to establish what rights there are*. Because if one asserts A is true, and it is a contradiction, then it cannot be true. Etc. And to the extent we care about what is true–about RIGHTS–then AE is relevant.

    But let’s take another example. Suppose A kidnaps my wife. He tells me he will release her but only if I mouth the words, “I do not exist.” Now, if I utter these words, I am engaging in a performative contradiction, true. But so what? All that this means is that my assertion is not, and cannot be, true–it contradicts the fact that i have to exist just to utter it. BUt who gives a flying crap? My goal is NOT TO UTTER SOMETHING TRUE BUT TO GET MY WIFE BACK.

    So could you say I am not acting “in accordance with AE” here? Of course not. THat would make no sense. AE is just a justifying technique. Sometimes you use it, sometimes not. It’s not somethign you act in accordance with–that owuld be NORMS, which is what rightgs/libertarianism embodies, a set of rules or norms, that you ought to act in accordance with. AE just shows *why* libertarianism is true.

  25. Rick Johnson says:

    I think they both look like Chimps.

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