Someone asked this question below, you can see it on Quora here
My reply is below
According to some libertarians, the idea of a social contract is invalid. If so, on what basis do they argue that I can’t steal, as I have never explicitly committed myself to respect their property?
The social contract is a cudgel that says one MUST act i.e. forcing one to engage in an activity one would otherwise avoid (eg taxation toward some putative communal good).
Not stealing compels no action. Not stealing is inaction. Not acting costs nothing. Acting carries a cost (opportunity cost e.g. I want to do x but the social contract forced me to do y). So forced or required action not explicitly agreed to carries with it an outside imposed burden.
The social contract is invalid not because it is imaginary but because it imposes costs not agreed to. So even if you believe basic tenets of morality (such as theft is wrong or murder and rape are wrong) are imaginary, it costs nothing to not engage in those activities. Indeed it is advantageous to not do so insofar as it creates additional opportunity to engage in other more productive activities.
Social contract limits choices. Morality expands them. Perhaps both are imaginary constructs but positive obligations are inherently more limiting than negative obligations.
My reply here:
There is no such thing as “market failure”. That’s just a term for “outcome I don’t like”
maybe if government got out of the way we’d see these solutions. People are quite innovative and I’m sure solutions I can’t fathom would crop up.
But lets take one example I presume is meant here. Someone needs emergency care and has no insurance or means to pay. Well we already had a solution for that but government killed it. We used to have numerous charitable church run hospitals that would supply such care at no or little cost. But then government got involved with Medicaid and Medicare and started paying everyone so why do stuff for free? Now everyone expects a hand out expecting to be paid by government and the church run hospitals lost their reason to exist and went away (there are only a handful left now).
Government distorts the market and creates the very failures that are so often pointed to.
The fallacy here is believing that 51% of the populations deems policy x so important that they elect people to carry out policy x but absent government somehow those same 51% would just shrug their shoulders and do nothing? No. They would support anyone trying to achieve end they desire
And then a good exchange below fleshing out the details a bit:
Here’s my reply:
It comes down to one simple question: do you believe that sometimes it is ok to initiate (that is, you are not responding to violence initiated against you) or threaten to initiate violence against others in order to achieve some end? Or stated differently, do you believe that sometimes the ends justify the means?
if you answer “yes” then you are not a libertarian but in order to not also be a hypocrite you should also happily accept whatever is done to you by the state in order that the state may achieve its putatively meritorious ends. Any objection to any state action in this situation would be hypocritical.
On the other hand if you answer “no” to this question then you are a libertarian and following this one simple rule in life will yield the correct answer whenever it is asked “”should the state do X?”
A recent Quora post of mine answering a question:
Why don’t we call people who don’t believe in climate change ‘deniers’ instead of ‘skeptics’?
For one reason and one reason only: it is a passive-aggressive ad hominem attack on any one holding that position meant to denigrate the holder of that viewpoint by cleverly associating them in the mind of the listener with holocaust deniers. We all know holocaust deniers are truly nuts (no I’m not being sarcastic, they are) so all we have to do is pluck that “denier” word from that usage and stick it over here to the same effect. You see the term “denier” is not used _anywhere_ else until today except for holocaust denial. We don’t call creationists “evolution deniers”. We don’t call the anti-vaccine crowd “vaccine deniers”… they all get their own separate neutral term. But no, for climate skeptics its “denialism” for you.
Yes there are a handful of nutjobs that say there is no change in the climate or no evidence, but they are the tiny minority. But I suppose its like anything, the small vocal group (islamic terrorist) give a bad name to the whole rest of the group that are perfectly reasonable. The climate question is not monolithic. It’s not simply “climate change” and that’s it. It includes
- Is CO2 increasing? Yes
- Is the temperature rising? Yes
- What is man’s contribution to the increase in CO2?
- What is the contribution of CO2 to temperature change?
- Will the rise in temperature have overall negative, neutral or positive outcomes for humanity? for other species?
- Should humans try to combat the percieved causes of the temperature rise?
- If they do should they do so in an economicaly mindful way (ie spend more to mitigate than the estimated cost of the damage)?
The problem is, you can agree with the establishment viewpoint on 1–6 but disagree on 7, and that makes you a pariah, a denier (just ask Bjørn Lomborg if you don’t believe me)
That is just not helpful. There are a lot of people like me who have legitimate, genuine questions, but they don’t get answered by the climate folk. We’re just told to “shut up and trust us” No. I’m a scientist as well (chemist) and I’m no idiot, I can understand your answers if only you’d bother to engage us actual skeptics who have actual legitimate questions. All I see on TV are climate scientists refusing to even sit in the same room with a climate skeptic. Sad. Thats’ not science, that’s religion, that’s belief. That’s denialism.