Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Concerning Good Government V

Well I have been working on this on and off today, but here goes nothing (again)....

Recall a few point from “Government II” and “III”. Man is a social creature who establishes human relationships both as ends and/or and as means. This, in conjunction with man’s other pursuits (such as truth – i.e. conformity of intellect to reality and communication to intellect), gives rise to culture and to custom.

A society is a collection of people comprising a network of real interpersonal relationships in which the limits of the society are defined in some relevant way. (It is not enough merely to have an agreement between two individuals to have a society. A society goes beyond this by involving a network of relationships.) Because men form the relationships that comprise a society as ends or as means to an end, a particular society is best defined by the shared end of those relationships. A particular family, cult, business, or fraternity can be seen as a network of relationships directed towards a shared end, and thus constitute a society.

It should be noted that it is not merely enough that there be a shared end, but there also generally has to be at least some commonality of means. A fraternity like a bowling club has a network of relationship built around the ends of “play” and “society.” Their means to this end is getting together every Tuesday to bowl. A large business pursues the common creation of livelihood by providing goods and services to a consumer. A religious denomination has an established structure of worship, or at least a common philosophy shaping their lifestyle, ordered to the worship of God. A family is complex in both its ends and its means, but I think that the rule holds true for the family. This similarity of ends and means for the active “membership” in the society

As long as men pursue things in common there will be disputes and disagreements. Some disputes (like on the nature of Good Government) do not “harm” either party, because the disputed matter (abstract truth, in this case) is not “possessed” by either party—i.e., resolving the dispute one way or another does not improve or expand the victor’s “claim” to anything. In other cases, Person X can be “hurt” by another Person Y, because what Person Y has done or is doing deprives or damages Person X’s claim to something. In this case, Person X at least may seek to have the dispute resolved in his favor. For this he seeks an outside party whom Person Y and Person X will both agree to obey, and they have the outside party judge the matter.

Often, to expedite justice or fairness (so that the common purpose can be better pursued), societies (be they fraternities, cults, families, businesses, etc.) will set up a process or processes to resolve these differences through the judgment of an authority. However, in order to ensure that justice and fairness will be done in the society, the authority making the judgment will need some compulsory power in case (1) one of the persons involved refuses to participate, or (2) people involved refuse to comply to the judgment. In fraternities and business, for example, an authority might have someone fired for not participating or complying.

I would distinguish two types of society: an “established” society that has a system for judging disputes of its members, and a “non-established” society that does not have a system for resolving disputes.
Now comes the question of civil societies. A civil society is the network of relationships through which the members of the network work to achieve the satisfaction of their basic, day-to-day needs and wants. (This definition can probably use some work). This society incorporates members who participate in many other societies, but the civil society is independent of those societies. Because man’s most basic and (hopefully) long term need is a place to live, and the person will often organize his live around where he lives or something immediately related to that, the civil society has throughout history been generally property and geographically based. After all, the people that one lived close to are the ones he is most likely to interact with and etc.

Because disagreements and disputes arise in civil society in which someone asserts damages through the acts (or lack thereof) of another, there is good cause for society to establish and authority to judge such cases. The authority is likely to need some means of compulsion in order to bring the issue to judgment even when one party does not want judgment on it, and to ensure that its judgment is effected.

It is my understanding that most libertarians would say that this is the limit of civil authorities right to rule – deciding such things as violations of the rights of others (generally summarized as the “life, liberty, and property”). I will consider this claim later.

However, because it is reasonable for a society to establish such an authority, the existence of such an authority in society is not necessarily a violation of natural law or natural rights.

Furthermore, because this authority labors to provide a service to the society, then he has a right to an award from society for services rendered. This might conceivably come from the individuals whose cases he judges, but I do not believe any system of this sort will not, in some circumstance (like the poor man who can’t pay legitimately suing a rich man) threaten impartiality. It is at least reasonable to believe that the authority would be more impartial if the pay was not coming from the individuals he judges. Thus I believe that a system of taxation, in which money is collected from members of society (provided that the tax is not depriving someone of their bare necessities) is a reasonable alternative that accords to the purpose of civil society – which is an institution founded on human nature – and is thus not contrary to natural law or natural rights.


Sitpacem said...

"As long as men pursue things in common there will be disputes and disagreements."

This is questionable; pursuit of a COMMON goal implies agreement. If there are disagreements that implies that there are different goals. The exception is if one presumes a societal whole that precicely as a whole has goals as separate from those of each or some individual.

"Authority" (as used throughout)

There are (at least) two senses of the word authority. Conflating these senses is a fallacy. One sense of 'authority' is a person or persons (usually joined together in an institution) who wield power/violence that has some juridical standing. The other sense of 'authority' refers to an expert who is recognized as such spontaneously (think Einstein).
With respect to justice, the first kind of authority operates outside of the society because there is a conflict in goals, the second kind of authority can assist real justice by pointing the way toward voluntary solutions that respect the common societal goals (of justice and harmony). Punishment of criminals is extra-societal because the one being punished has different goals than those meting out he punishment. Thus the only correct uses of force are for self defense and for obtaining delineable restitution, that is to get payment for harm done. If the offender wishes to remain in the society he will be willing to offer restitution in the form of payment or labor etc. if he does not do these things he places himself outside the society and while his human dignity must not be violated, the violator of the rights of another who does not restitute, places himself outside of the society and cannot carry on normal social intercourse in that society. With those who place themselves outside of society the notion of adjudication does not apply because there is not the requisite level of commonality to allow for a commonly recognized decision. The question then is one of self defense, not one of a common authority imposing a ruling with force.
caveat lector, this is merely a quick and incomplete/imperfect sketch of the topic and does not address all or even most of the points of disagreement with the article "Concerning Good Government V"

Andy Bodoh said...

"'As long as men pursue things in common there will be disputes and disagreements.'

This is questionable; pursuit of a COMMON goal implies agreement."

In society (a network of relationships) people pursue different goals together. In the marketplace, for instance, the buyer pursues fullfilling his wants at the lowest price. The seller pursues getting the highest price out of his good or service. Differnt ends, but within the market place they are pursing these different ends together.

"'As long as men pursue things in common there will be disputes and disagreements.'

This is questionable; pursuit of a COMMON goal implies agreement."

You may raise the point that in the marketplace, there is agreement at the moment of transaction. Granted. But not all agreements are so momentary. Many have to be lived out. Two neighbors can have good relations (an agreement of how they will conduct their neighborly relations) that turn sour. They are still living in society together (Society taken in the practical, relational sense, not the abstract sense that you seem to use).

There will be always some level of disagreement in any society of people. Such disagreement might not even be malicious, but just a difference of opinion.

You seem to argue that the criminal is "naturally punished" because his crime "puts him outside of society". What do you mean by this in practical terms? If I rob a bank and get away with it because no one knows or suspects me, and I continue to live as I did before (but with more money), how am I "outside society".

First and foremost, what do you mean by criminal? I have not dealt with criminal law. I have not brought up the question of punishing criminals. I have brought up the issue of resolving dissagreements through mediation.

In regards to your question of authority, there are two different types. I suggest though, that in society the second type identified leads into the first type identified. People will go to a "wise man" because they want to resolve disagreements. However, what about the situation in which the one party doesn't want to resolve the disagreement (i.e. the advantage he acrude for himself at the expense of his neighbor outways the cost of the disagreement). It is reasonable, I assert, that society grant the wise man a power to bring the disagreement to judgment, and the power to see the judgement executed. How this "social grant" takes place will be more clear after my next post.

Once again, the use of a taxation system to provide the "wise man" with a return on his services is reasonable.

Andy Bodoh said...

To clarify and reiterate:

A civil society is the network of relationships through which the members of the network work to achieve the satisfaction of their basic, day-to-day needs and wants.

People's day-to-day needs and wants constitute different ends. Each person working to satisfy them through the network of relations (society) constitute the commonality.