Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Views on Libertarian Amoralism or Moral Non-cognitivism

Cyberspace is a deep ocean to explore. Even an ideology composed of a very small minority of politicos and young philosophers in the world like libertarianism can branch out into many subcategories if one is searches long enough. Looking through several forums and websites, I have found out ideological cousins of libertarianism that are quite weird and extreme even for the most hardcore Rothbardians in the Austro-libertarian tradition.

I label them as the moral non-cognitivists, the Stirnerites, the Nietzschans and post-Rothbardians. These individuals base their beliefs on the works of a diverse range of intellectual influences such as Anthony de Jasay, Max Stirner, Friedrich Nietzche, Edmund Burke, Micheal Oakeshott, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Robert Nisbet, Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises. Some of them contend that Ludwig von Mises was a moral non-cognitivist at least in his economic work. That he strove to separate economics from morality and to create a value-free economics. That is why they adapt the same Misesian economics of the Austrian school. However, their ideology is not limited to pure economics and critical reason (in the traditional sense, that is deductive) but encompasses the cultural and sociobiological aspect of society.

Voluntarism is something heavily criticized because of its basis in natural rights. A liberal individualist order with private arbitration and defense agencies are fantasies because statism is firmly rooted in the sociobiology of man. Power relations, social hierarchy, and tribalistic urges are in favor of government. Voluntary membership into government is inefficient for everybody in the long run because of rigid norms and social convention. The basic contention is, government is a fact of civilization.

For the post-Rothbardians, voluntarism is based purely on deductive reasoning and economics and that the dynamics of society cannot be explained by solely by such means. Thus they employ the determinism of biology and psychology and are methodological collectivists. Voluntarism has a narrow view of the state in that it views the state mostly as a physically coercive institution which happens to be approved by the public. For them, morality is also a kind of statism in that it imposes certain obligations and duties. Moralists, according to them, are most likely to be statists and that there is a stark difference between an anarchist who reached the same conclusion because of morality and one who reached it because of utility maximizing calculation.

There are certainly a lot of things that can be said about these individuals and their philosophy but unfortunately I am limited in rhetorical ability to expound more about them from my research. Nonetheless I shall attempt to refute this grandiose and alien philosophy through the logical reasoning that they so dismiss as unsatisfactory.

First, arguing ethics with one who eschews ethics is useless as the purpose of ethics is dispute resolution. Trying to settle a dispute with one who does not want to settle a dispute is futile. Also, the fact that these moral non-cognitivists boisterously argue on various forums shows their performative contradiction. If some amoralist initiates an argument against me and I ignore him, if he then comes to me and expresses his indignation then he is really not an amoralist. It is interesting how argumentation ethics is dismissed as too much of a shortcut or philosophical gibberish by the usual critics but so useful against those intellectuals --- or wannabe intellectuals --- who dig deep into this mumbo jumbo.( Yet focusing on the ultra-abstract to the point of incomprehension is exactly how modern sociologists and can intellectually intimidate and strengthen the argument from authority -- which is a fallacy -- in promoting cultural marxism and social democracy)

Secondly, the amoralists are willing to reject the non-aggression principle on the basis that man has to be obedient and assimilate himself into civilization. Total independence and freedom of man would mean that the worst men have the freedom to be a nuisance to the social fabric so therefore, paternalistic violence is necessary. The amoralists do not realize that they are the ones violating this principle by accepting a position that is completely out of touch with social norms. I could well argue that amoralism is a nuisance to the social fabric and is pareto negative because it is very remote and alien to the common man.

Third, I would argue that moralism is sociobiological and that man has always had morality. Morality will always exist because it is 'psychologically economical'.

I don't really know what purpose these amoralists have in accepting and popularizing their position. I surmise that a moral non-cognitivist position is mere intellectual stimulation. I am perfectly contented to remain a 'statist' in the sense that I follow a moral code that helps me live my life and interact with other people.

Note: I do not think that one can combine disciplines of study such as sociobiology and economics to formulate a blueprint of social dynamics. That is the reason why the term methodological dualism was coined by Ludwig von Mises. By trying to combine, the subject in question seem to attempt to incorporate sociobiology and cultural notions into the ontological structure, in a sense adding a layer of determinism in their ideology. But philosopher and logician Kurt Godel asserted that any body of knowledge, even one such as mathematics, can never be perfect since they are ultimately a product of human fabrication. Even the postulates of mathematics are ultimately rooted in human experience and cognition. Similarly, Rothbard admitted that even a priori deductive laws of economics are ultimately experiential. Human action exists in a historical medium and is perceived in history. All scientific systems are like a Godelian trap, the question is, which is most effective in explaining society, or at least economic phenomena? I am ever more convinced of the strength of Misesian economics and Rothbard-Hoppe ethical theory.

1 comment:

  1. Good article pare. We posted a link of this article in our website today, www.minimalgovernment.net, along with new articles by other Filipino free market bloggers.