Sunday, July 8, 2012

The initiation of aggression, involuntary domination-relationships, murder and self-defense: a reply to @1phd

Allow me to picture your hypothetical clearly: There are two persons, who have, up until now, been living their lives in peace/non-conflict, and then, in the hypothetical that you have proposed, one person (I will call him 'Bob') decides (for some unknown reason) to initiate an attack upon the other (I will call him 'Tom') for the purpose of extinguishing the life of Tom (I'll assume, that Tom does not want his life extinguished) and Bob succeeds and Tom is "murdered".

By what ethical principle, do you (@1phd) suppose that Bob is justified in "murdering" Tom?  I can see no viable ethical principle by which Bob's actions, described in the hypothetical can be justified in the ethical sense (assuming that there are no additional unknown/external circumstances which are relevant to this event).

In this instance, I believe it is clear, that Bob has imposed his own will/life upon the will/life of Tom, in a "involuntary relationship" (my term) that I would also describe as a (involuntary) relationship of domination (in which is "voluntary" on the part of the dominator, but "involuntary" on the part of the dominated).  Bob has attempted and then succeeded at dominating Tom.  If Tom were to defend himself against this initiation of violence against him, would Tom's actions of self-defense be considered "involuntary" as they relate to Bob?  Or perhaps said another way, is Tom's act of self-defense an act of domination on Bob?  I do not reason that it is; Tom's self-defense, if he should do so, is not an "involuntary" act of domination upon Bob, for it is Bob that has forced Tom into a position of self-defense, it has been Bob's voluntary choice to initiate the aggression/violence/domination, which creates an involuntary-relationship upon the part of Tom.  Tom would likely, like nothing more than for Bob to cease his aggressive acts/intents and go away; Bob on the other hand, has an idea to make Tom "go away" (ie. killing).  Bob would likely have every expectation that, if given the opportunity, Tom would defend himself, either by fight or flight, which is why Bob would likely select his time and circumstance of attack, to the advantage Bob's success.

If, Tom were to cry out, "Help me!" and Mike (Tom's neighbor) were to see the attack upon Tom by Bob, would Mike's actions to assist Tom in Tom's self-defense be an involuntary domination-relationship on Tom or Bob?  I think it is clear that Mike's assistance in Tom's self-defense of Bob's initiation of violence, would not be an involuntary domination-relationship imposed on Tom (Tom has, after all, requested aid); additionally, I do not see Mike's assistance in Tom's self-defense to be the imposition of an involuntary domination-relationship on Bob either; for Mike, like Tom, would very much like Bob to cease his violent actions and leave peacefully; it is not Mike's act which has caused the manifestation of this conflict.  It is Bob's *initiation* of violence/domination that has caused this conflict to commence, it is Bob who is responsible for his own actions and bears the responsibility for the harm that may come to himself if he initiates an attack on Tom.  Tom may request help from any number of additional persons, and it is still Bob who is responsible for all harm that might befall himself and therefore actions in defense of Tom do not constitute acts of domination imposed upon Bob, as Bob has voluntarily chosen to initiate the circumstances which forces Tom to act in ways that he would likely prefer not to, but which he must do so for the preservation of his own life.

Bob may not wish for Mike or other person's to interfere with his attack upon Tom, and it may be tempting for some to describe Mike's attempt to assist Tom, in Tom's self-defense, as an "involuntary" act (because it is not what Bob would wish Mike would do) yet to describe Mike's choice to defend Tom, necessarily voids (ignores relevant circumstances of the cause of the conflict) Bob's original choice that cause the conflict/violence to occur; therefore, any action necessary to stop/cease/halt an initiation of an aggressive act (force, coercion & theft) are justified (so long as they do not themselves create "new" initiations of aggression, nor use an extremity of force out of proportion to the threat) as acts of self-defense, which may only be the *result/consequence* of some other person's initiation of aggression.

Does that make the ideas I have expressed any clearer?


  1. Large numbers of people in thinking of what/how a society should be only consider those who would purposely harm another. Do these same people view all those around them as potential victims of the harm that they themselves would do if there were no "police"/"laws"??... Do these same people not realize that in being so limited in their thinking of human interactions, they are planning for (?wanting?) the very lowest common denominator as the deciding principles for a society rather than based on what comprises the vast majority of humans?

    Just some thoughts for pondering by those who have not yet considered them - not you I'm sure.

  2. I am both saddened and amused by those persons who express a rather negative-view of "human-nature"; saddened because I imagine that in their own lives, they live in a way to minimize conflicts by interacting voluntarily with other person and I also imagine that with the great-bulk of persons with whom they interact, they are also treated in a voluntary fashion. I think that this dim-view of "human nature" or how people would act "naturally" without the violent/coercive function of the State, was a view insidiously instilled in them at a young-age to have fear of others to justify the violence/coercion of the State. I am somewhat amused by the expressions of a negative "human nature" because if people were as naturally "bad" or "evil" as they might characterize it, then the very worst situation that could come about, it to give to some group of persons the power to "legitimately" do all of the "evil" that they so fear. If people are "bad" then the very worst thing that could be done, would be to create an institution of domination in which all of those "bad" people may act out their "evil" intentions and be held to little account for them.

    "There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice." Charles De Montesquieu