Thursday, July 9, 2015

Aggression may not always be unjustified, but it is always criminal

The libertarian ethic does not say that aggression is never justified, but that it is always criminal. Note that these are very different things. One might feel justified in committing a prima facie criminal act in the belief that he will be subsequently pardoned or even thanked by his victim (think, of, e.g., forcibly preventing a temporarily depressed would-be suicide from carrying through on his plans). And note that this is something very different from allowing for the existence of a monopolistic apparatus of aggression that removes itself from the ambit of universally applicable morality by claiming that its acts of aggression are not criminal-though-pardonable, but possibly non-criminal.

The libertarian ethic says: aggression may occasionally be justified, but it always - though not necessarily permanently - makes the aggressor a criminal. The statist (pseudo)ethic says: aggression may be non-criminal, provided that it is committed by the right kind of aggressor. This is neither a trifle nor a concession, but the essence of the difference between sophisticated morality and sophistical immorality.

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