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I have been trying to tackle this for some time but I am at odds with resolving the debate between Rand's definition and application of the Non-Aggression principle and that of Libertarianism's, particularly Rothbard's, definition and application as such with respect to treating it as an axiomatic concept.

Some things I have gleamed some useful information from, for any interested that are reading this question:

Link 1 Link 2

So some of the parts of this overall question I would like answered in particular are: 1. Why is the NA principle not axiomatic. 2. What elements of Rothbard's (and libertarianism) thought processes led to this incorrect view. (I reference the mention in the 2nd link "It is interesting to note that libertarians consider the Non-Aggression Principle to be axiomatic: they typically refer to it as the "Non-Aggression Axiom". This is arguably reflective of the libertarian perspective that the value of freedom is self-evident.")

asked Nov 22 '10 at 19:23

capitalistswine's gravatar image

capitalistswine ♦

edited Nov 22 '10 at 21:17

Some libertarians consider the non-aggression principle to be axiomatic in the sense that one cannot coherently argue against the non-aggression principle (Hoppe) because argumentation affirms the truth or validity of the non-aggression principle (many libertarians, even anarchists, reject Hoppe's argument). Rothbard (who agreed with Hoppe's argument, I believe) argues (initially, before Hoppe) in favor of the non-aggression principle or "self-ownership" by critiquing the alternatives, of which he's says are two.

(Nov 23 '10 at 02:51) Michael Labeit Michael%20Labeit's gravatar image

The two alternatives to "self-ownership" are "either (1) a certain class of people, A, have the right to own another class, B; or (2) everyone has the right to own his own equal quotal share of everyone else." Rothbard argues that the first "violates the basic economic requirement for life: production and exchange" and that the second "is utopian and impossible, and supervision and therefore control and ownership of others necessarily devolves upon a specialized group of people, who thereby become a ruling class."

(Nov 23 '10 at 02:53) Michael Labeit Michael%20Labeit's gravatar image

While Rothbard is right about the problems of aggression, I think the error of his overall approach is that he attempts to argue in favor of non-aggression in a way that facilitates a kind of solidarity among individuals of varying philosophical backgrounds. The principle of non-aggression rests upon antecedent propositions and arguments, yet it seems his approach glosses over them. He treats non-aggression as if it were axiomatic, i.e., he treats it as if it were a first principle when in fact it is not. Objectivists label logically undeniable first principles as axioms.

(Nov 23 '10 at 03:02) Michael Labeit Michael%20Labeit's gravatar image
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The overall hierarchical organization of philosophy prevents a principle of ethics or politics from being axiomatic. Axioms are the root, starting-place of knowledge of the world. Whether or not it is universally wrong to initiate force is obviously not such a question.

answered Nov 28 '10 at 02:30

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

I see an onus-of-proof issue in this question. There is a definite standard of proof that must be met in order to establish that an idea or principle is an axiom. In a quick check of the two links provided in the question, I found a reasonably clear statement of what the "Non-Aggression Principle" (NAP) refers to, but no argument or justification for regarding it as an axiom.

Indeed, the second link, in particular (however much Objectivists may find to disagree with in that link) actually provides good reasons why the NAP does not qualify as an axiom, i.e., it is a derived conclusion, not any kind of perceptual self-evidency. It is logically connected to reason, but that connection (and the nature of reason itself) are by no means self-evident.

answered Nov 24 '10 at 02:13

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

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Asked: Nov 22 '10 at 19:23

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Last updated: Nov 28 '10 at 02:30