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Old 07-21-2013, 12:39 AM   #3651
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

I think I'm going to reread this entire thread. Wish me luck.
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Old 07-21-2013, 05:26 PM   #3652
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

They don't have a moral right, either.

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Old 07-21-2013, 06:19 PM   #3653
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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Well, was "right" meant in a philosophical or legal sense? I think succession could be morally right, as say the north succeeding from the south, or booting the out of the govt (is that a right?).

Anyway, I doubt Locke ever mentioned succession and not sure how he felt about rebellion. The DOI does support something of a justice based right to "divorce" oppressive regimes that unfairly exploit a group/subgroup/charity minority.

I mainly think worrying too much about the borderline uninteresting question of succession just plays into the hands of neoconfederate types. Ignore the issue and hope they move on.
I am not aware of anything in Locke on secession, but he certainly did write, and very famously, on the right (and in some cases, duty) of revolution. He explicitly says that if a government tries to take away the property of its citizens, that they have a right to form a new government to protect their interests.

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John Locke:
"There is therefore, secondly, another way whereby Governments are dissolved, and that is; when the Legislative, or the Prince, either of them act contrary to their Trust.

First, The Legislative acts against the Trust reposed in them, when they endeavour to invade the Property of the Subject, and to make themselves, or any part of the Community, Masters, or Arbitrary Disposers of the Lives, Liberties, or Fortunes of the People."
So there is a Lockean argument for the right of the South to secede, but not based on states' rights--rather explicitly on the rights of white citizens to own black people.

Of course, as a matter of fact, since the South revolted because of the fear that Lincoln and the Republicans would end slavery rather than any actual laws doing this, this isn't actually an adequate justification even on these grounds. I also think that you can say on Lockean grounds that slavery is not a permissible form of property-holding and so the Southern argument that the government is invading the property of its subjects when they outlaw slavery would be incorrect.
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:20 PM   #3654
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

Preemptive rebellion, imo.

Interesting point regarding property rights, particularly given the number of state actions (e.g., adopting a new title registration system, marriage and probate law, taxes, etc..) that implicate property rights. He's gotta have about 5 pages of caveats to the property claim. It's actually a huge can of worms, which is probably why the framers disregarded it.
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Old 07-22-2013, 03:51 PM   #3655
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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I also think that you can say on Lockean grounds that slavery is not a permissible form of property-holding and so the Southern argument that the government is invading the property of its subjects when they outlaw slavery would be incorrect.
I think you ought to think long and hard about whether this conclusion is actually tenable within a Lockean framework without inserting an arbitrary (and ancillary) set of moral principles regarding what's eligible for ownership into Locke's theory of property. In other words, I think you are playing Mr. Fix It for Locke's system by inserting a caveat to his traditional rules of just acquisition that categorically precludes owning other human beings, even though there's no principle within Locke's system that necessitates this addition. It's not an accident that slave-owning men turned to Locke.

Indeed, under traditional Lockean homesteading, original ownership can be acquired by marking property as one's own -- such as by branding. And indeed, in the U.S., branding of slaves for identification as one's property was extremely common -- and equally brutal. As Frederick Douglass wrote:
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The process of branding was this — A person was tied to a post, and his back, or such other part as was to be branded, laid bare; the iron was then delivered red hot, and applied to the quivering flesh, imprinting upon it the name of the monster who claimed the slave.
Like many other cultures before him, Locke accepted the theory that the exclusive condition on which slavery was valid was when someone would otherwise come to owe a life-debt. See David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years (New York: Melville 2011) for more. He writes in the Second Treatise:
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[H]aving by his fault forfeited his own life by some act that deserves death, he to whom he has forfeited it may, when he has him in his power, delay to take it, and make use of him to his own service; and he does him no injury by it. For, whenever he finds the hardship of his slavery outweigh the value of his life, it is in his power, by resisting the will of his master, to draw on himself the death he desires.
Locke goes on to say that slavery most often comes about in war, and indeed it was typical for British slave traders to incite violence between African tribes in an effort to engineer exactly these conditions of apparent life-debt, thereby "legitimizing" their practice of enslavement. Locke also owned -- and profited handsomely by -- a significant stake in the Royal African Company.

So, why does Locke get off the hook here? Why shouldn't slave-taking count as an act of original appropriation under Locke's rules of acquisition? Why does Locke get to insert moral categories into his theorem, and how can he defend them? Indeed, the historical evidence seems to suggest that he would have taken no such view, and rather believed that under the appropriate conditions, life itself could be commoditized and property rights could be acquired over other human beings.
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Old 07-22-2013, 04:30 PM   #3656
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

DM, have you read the entire Graeber book that you reference? A few of the left-leaning blogs that I read to keep myself honest (like Crooked Timber) seem to have good things to say about it, but I understand it's pretty freaking long.
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Old 07-22-2013, 04:59 PM   #3657
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

Also, gents, the whole "Libertarian view of the Civil War" debate has gained steam within the movement in the last week or two.

Here's the Washington Post giving an overview.

Here are some excellent posts arguing against what is pejoratively called Neo-confederate position from Bleeding Heart Libertarians:

Jacob Levy

Jonathan Adler

Ilya Somin

More quality links from Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Here's Tom Woods' interesting response to much of this, essentially arguing that it takes zero courage to oppose slavery in 2013, whereas in 1855 such a position came at great risk.
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Old 07-22-2013, 05:08 PM   #3658
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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DM, have you read the entire Graeber book that you reference? A few of the left-leaning blogs that I read to keep myself honest (like Crooked Timber) seem to have good things to say about it, but I understand it's pretty freaking long.
I've read most of it. It's a little bit of a ramble and takes some long detours into cultural anthropology, but he's usually going somewhere and that somewhere is usually pretty interesting. It's certainly worth a read if you've got time and patience. Personally, I'm reading Slavoj Zizek's The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, some poetry by John Ashbery, and David Foster Wallace's essays lately, but I might go back and finish Graeber's book later. Good to hear from you and hope you're well.
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Old 07-22-2013, 05:15 PM   #3659
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Thanks for the feedback; best wishes to you as well.

Speaking of Wallace, I have Infinite Jest sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I'm definitely a fan if the post-modern genre. Gravity's Rainbow was supposed to be my summer project, but like many readers it's thus far got the best of me. I need to redouble my efforts.
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:35 PM   #3660
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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I think you ought to think long and hard about whether this conclusion is actually tenable within a Lockean framework without inserting an arbitrary (and ancillary) set of moral principles regarding what's eligible for ownership into Locke's theory of property. In other words, I think you are playing Mr. Fix It for Locke's system by inserting a caveat to his traditional rules of just acquisition that categorically precludes owning other human beings, even though there's no principle within Locke's system that necessitates this addition. It's not an accident that slave-owning men turned to Locke.
While I won't object to an admonition to think hard about a topic, I'll also say that you seem to have an overly narrow view of Locke's political philosophy. While it isn't uncommon for some leftist thinkers to focus almost exclusively on his account of property, that is only one part of much broader political theory.

So, Locke describes the state of nature as a place of moral equality that is governed by a Law of Nature:

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John Locke:
Reason, which is that Law [of Nature], teaches all Mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions. For Men being all the Workmanship of one Omnipotent, and infinitely wise Maker; All the Servants of one Sovereign Master, sent into the World by his order and about his business, they are his Property, whose Workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one anothers Pleasure. And being furnished with like Faculties, sharing all in one Community of Nature, there cannot be supposed any such Subordination among us, that may Authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one anothers uses, as the inferior ranks of Creatures are for ours. Every one as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his Station wilfully; so by the like reason when his own Preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of Mankind, and may not unless it be to do Justice on an Offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the Preservation of the Life, the Liberty, Health, Limb or Goods of another.
This lays out the basic principle that the only grounds on which you can legitimately harm another person (which for Locke includes taking away their liberty) is for self-defense or (as he later says) for punishment. This is neither an arbitrary nor ancillary principle of Locke's philosophy--indeed this is typically described as Locke's Fundamental Law of Nature. Locke describes one of the primary purposes of government as being it's greater facility in maintaining this Law of Nature. So I would say that this principle actually has precedence over the rules of just acquisition later laid out by Locke, rather than just being a caveat.

It follows naturally from this that slavery is not, barring the special cases listed below, permissable. Later on in his chapter on slavery, Locke says:

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John Locke:
The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of Nature for his rule. The liberty of man in society is to be under no other legislative power but that established by consent in the commonwealth, nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative shall enact according to the trust put in it.
[...]
This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power is so necessary to, and closely joined with, a man's preservation, that he cannot part with it but by what forfeits his preservation and life together. For a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot by compact or his own consent enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another to take away his life when he pleases. Nobody can give more power than he has himself, and he that cannot take away his own life cannot give another power over it.
This clearly lays out that for Locke that slavery is against the natural condition of humans, whether in a state of nature or in society, and so deeply so that he claims it is impossible to enslave ourselves to another even by agreement.

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Dr Modern:
Indeed, under traditional Lockean homesteading, original ownership can be acquired by marking property as one's own -- such as by branding. And indeed, in the U.S., branding of slaves for identification as one's property was extremely common -- and equally brutal. As Frederick Douglass wrote:
Huh? Branding is nowhere claimed in Locke to be a sufficient condition of ownership. Furthermore, it is very clear in Locke that if slavery is permitted in some cases, it is not so as a matter of original acquisition. This seems like a pretty weak point.

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Like many other cultures before him, Locke accepted the theory that the exclusive condition on which slavery was valid was when someone would otherwise come to owe a life-debt. See David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years (New York: Melville 2011) for more. He writes in the Second Treatise:
Please expand on where this is in Locke. My understanding is that Locke thought slavery was permissible in cases where someone's life is forfeit because of a crime or possibly due to an act of aggressive war. Is that what you mean by a "life-debt"?

Anyway, Locke doesn't justify slavery in terms of a debt in the Second Treatise. Rather he says that it can be justified only when slavery does the slave less harm than what he would otherwise deserve--death. Notice also that you could not be born into slavery, as was mostly the case in the American South at the time of the Civil War, so even this justification would have been of no help to the Confederates.

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Locke goes on to say that slavery most often comes about in war, and indeed it was typical for British slave traders to incite violence between African tribes in an effort to engineer exactly these conditions of apparent life-debt, thereby "legitimizing" their practice of enslavement. Locke also owned -- and profited handsomely by -- a significant stake in the Royal African Company.
Meh. I'll grant that Locke participated in some unsavory activities, but I'm talking here about the Lockean political philosophy, not his worthiness as a person. And, for what it's worth, the practice you describe would not justify the taking of Africans as slaves.

Quote:
So, why does Locke get off the hook here? Why shouldn't slave-taking count as an act of original appropriation under Locke's rules of acquisition?
The answer to the bolded question is obvious. Locke doesn't justify slavery as an act of original acquisition. Rather, he views slavery (in the state of nature) as being a justified only when someone has forfeited his right to life, liberty, and property by acting aggressively to deprive me or others of their own rights. In some sense, this is more analogous to criminal punishment than a legal form of chattel slavery. In the same way that we think that criminals give up some of their rights when they commit crimes, Locke think that people in a sense give up their rights when they commit crimes against the Law of Nature.

It is true that Locke expands this to include acts of aggressive war, but explicitly on the same basis--that an aggressive war is an attempt to take away your life, liberty, and property. Locke also says that your right as a conqueror in defeating an aggressive power only extends to those who actively participated in that aggressive event--thus not extending to the children or wives of the conquered.

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Why does Locke get to insert moral categories into his theorem, and how can he defend them? Indeed, the historical evidence seems to suggest that he would have taken no such view, and rather believed that under the appropriate conditions, life itself could be commoditized and property rights could be acquired over other human beings.
I think the problem here is that you are ignoring central elements of Locke's theory--such as theory of natural rights and natural laws--and so have an view of his political philosophy as being exclusively an account of property. He isn't inserting moral categories into his theorem; his entire system is suffused with moral categories from the very beginning.
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Old 07-22-2013, 08:51 PM   #3661
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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snip
It's a very, very good thing that you've started posting here, just by-the-by.
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Old 07-23-2013, 03:01 PM   #3662
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The Right's Civil War on the Civil War and Lincoln

http://www.theamericanconservative.c...hts-civil-war/
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:17 PM   #3663
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

Original Position,

Good post; I'll give it some further thought. Of everything you wrote, the part that I object to most strongly is this:
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Originally Posted by Original Position
I'll grant that Locke participated in some unsavory activities, but I'm talking here about the Lockean political philosophy, not his worthiness as a person. And, for what it's worth, the practice you describe would not justify the taking of Africans as slaves.
I think this is unfairly charitable to Locke and results from a willingness (or desire) to separate his political philosophy from the history and context in which it was embedded. I'm deeply skeptical of a reading of Locke that requires us to look at his work abstractedly and disinterestedly as though it were not part of a broader social, political, and economic agenda -- along with Smith, he's the foundational thinker of cultural capitalism. The very fact that Locke even feels he needs a theory of just enslavement is evidence of his situatedness within an expanding market system that was, at that point, deeply dependent on slavery. But I get the sense that I may be reading him through a fairly leftist lens that you disfavor, so we may not get anywhere.

I'll think more about what you had to say and write back. Again, very good post.
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:21 PM   #3664
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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Thanks for the feedback; best wishes to you as well.

Speaking of Wallace, I have Infinite Jest sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I'm definitely a fan if the post-modern genre. Gravity's Rainbow was supposed to be my summer project, but like many readers it's thus far got the best of me. I need to redouble my efforts.
I think everybody has Infinite Jest sitting on a shelf waiting to be read.

I even started a thread about finally reading it, and STILL haven't read it.
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:22 PM   #3665
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

Don't even get me started on Thomas Jefferson.

If there's one thing history has taught me it's this: a man's personal choices will infect his thoughts and work such that the two cannot be separated.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:02 PM   #3666
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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Sometimes when we read something, we interpret it one way, but then if we read it closely, we see it means something a bit different. My post, the core of which was, "all things considered, I'd prefer to live in low crime areas" was basically wondering why Ikes, who seems really concerned about crime and minorities, would want to go to med school in the most crime ridden, minority having place the country?

The rest of my post, if cast in an unfavorable light, basically had the content of, "If I could go to a school in a place that's 10% black vs 50% black, given standard crime statistics, I'd prefer the 10% black place."

Now, this may seem shockingly racist, but it has the virtue of being true of every white person on this board, particularly those, like Ikes, who look at the TM/GZ affair and argue, implicitly or explicitly, "we'll damn, we know the black guy did something wrong--you gotta keep an eye on them (because they steal) and if they jump you it's ok to shoot them because that's a reasonable threat to your life." In fact, much of that thread is a debate between people who think different implications can or cannot be drawn given what is know about what transpired (e.g., "TM willingly laid in wait for GZ so he could attack him to teach him a lesson" vs "TM was probably trying to get back safely to the apt and may have been lost and felt the need to defend himself when he saw GZ was very near.")

I know this is complex, and I have better things to do than defend myself from the infirmities of your reading comprehension, and, unlike some posters who make 200+ post threads when they feel they have been called a racist, I'm actually not that concerned about whether you think I'm racist. However, it is annoying to read posts framed in a clever "gotcha" modality, that are neither clever nor gotcha.
The solution to your conundrum is quite simple. I don't believe that Martin did something wrong because he was black. I believe that because there's clear evidence he assaulted someone and that there's clear evidence stole jewelry. Your assumption that I believe what I do because of Martin's race is based far more on the fact I see things differently than you than any actual evidence of racism.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:57 PM   #3667
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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I think this is unfairly charitable to Locke and results from a willingness (or desire) to separate his political philosophy from the history and context in which it was embedded. I'm deeply skeptical of a reading of Locke that requires us to look at his work abstractedly and disinterestedly as though it were not part of a broader social, political, and economic agenda -- along with Smith, he's the foundational thinker of cultural capitalism. The very fact that Locke even feels he needs a theory of just enslavement is evidence of his situatedness within an expanding market system that was, at that point, deeply dependent on slavery.
I think you're reading more into my comment than I meant. I certainly don't want to separate Locke's political philosophy from its history and context (although I do think it is good historical practice to attempt a disinterested and objective reading). So if you can justify a reading of Locke that shows that he does support slavery on a broader basis because of outside historical data, I would be interested in seeing it. I will say that I don't think Locke's status as a earlier capitalist thinker gets you there.

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But I get the sense that I may be reading him through a fairly leftist lens that you disfavor, so we may not get anywhere.
Just so we're clear, it isn't the leftist lens that I object to (or even particularly disfavor), but rather the prevalence of a particular view of Locke common among leftists. Specifically, it seems to me that the interpretation of Locke as a "possessive individualist" popularized by C.B. Macpherson is more commonly accepted by among leftist thinkers.
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Old 07-24-2013, 04:04 PM   #3668
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

Confession, never actually read Two Treatises of Government, though I did read the entirety of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding ("essay" my ass--how can an essay have 5 books and 700 pages) and some secondary sources and wrote a paper on the tension between Locke's atomism and his use of substance/essence as an explanatory entities (great topic, imo). I also looked at political philosophy as a practically suspect enterprise. I mean on a good day scientists are open to a little epistemology or philosophy of science, but ain't no politician got time for political philosophy.
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Old 07-24-2013, 06:28 PM   #3669
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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I mean on a good day scientists are open to a little epistemology or philosophy of science, but ain't no politician got time for political philosophy.
I dunno, I saw a documentary once that claimed Tony Blair wrote to Isaiah Berlin asking if a 'third way' between positive and negative liberties was possible. Seemingly Berlin snuffed it before he could reply.

Not that you're not generally right, obviously.
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Old 07-24-2013, 07:10 PM   #3670
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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I think everybody has Infinite Jest sitting on a shelf waiting to be read.

I even started a thread about finally reading it, and STILL haven't read it.
I threw it across the room somewhere around page 50. I think I eventually gave it to somebody I didn't like very much as a gift.
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:52 PM   #3671
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Re: How Libertarians Win Friends And Influence People With Their Positions on the Civil War

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I dunno, I saw a documentary once that claimed Tony Blair wrote to Isaiah Berlin asking if a 'third way' between positive and negative liberties was possible. Seemingly Berlin snuffed it before he could reply.

Not that you're not generally right, obviously.
Here is an even more direct example.
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