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   Author  Topic: Jurisprudence  (Read 3040 times)
Beneficientor
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Jurisprudence
« on: 2004-08-24 18:42:51 »
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Has a coherent policy on Jurisprudence/Social Contract been codified? If so I would be interested to see it. If not I would be interested in hearing the opinions of other members on the subject with a view to formulating one.
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David Lucifer
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #1 on: 2004-08-26 09:24:23 »
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Such a policy has not yet been codified. What did you have in mind?
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Beneficientor
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #2 on: 2004-08-26 10:07:29 »
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The more complete and convincing the memes we generate and modify become, the more infectious they will be, and hence the more likely to mutate and evolve they will become.

Many/most religious ideas rely for their foundation on prior infection of certain memes, and it is from these appealing memes that other memes are spawned.

If, however, our memes can be arrived at through pure reason, with only the most basic, logical ideas as a foundation, then any rational person would become a Virion.

Many people would be interested to know what kind of political philosophies Virianism results in, seeing as social contract is such an important part of social life.

I have many manifold personal ideas that I would lsuggest, but first, I would like to hear the opinions of other Virions on social contracts.

Are we Democratic? Are we Socialist?

Are the ideas installed in our memes more suited to a large, centralized, controlling Statist government, or a smaller, less controlling Libertarian one?

Are we Oligarchists as per Plato's Republic for example? Are we Meritocrats? Are we Communists or Aristocrats or Monarchists? Technocrats? Corporate Democrats? Theocrats? Anarchists? Republicans? Timocrats?

Are we a melting pot of many such philosophies? If so, which, and in what proportion? Do we ever need a common ground? I think the more elaborate, complete and coherent a memeplex the CoV is, the more appealing it becomes, and therefore the more infectious and succesful. I think the political facet of that memeplex is an important one, and needs crafting.

Where do we stand on economic and social matters? This http://www.self-gov.org/quiz.html simple test is quite useful, and could act as a starting point. If members could state their percentage scores on both the economic and personal issues covered, we could build up a scatter plot of results and move onwards from there.

Only further disussion will tell, and that will ultimately lead to a common policy, that, if it exists, can be codified. I look forward to contributing my own ideas.

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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #3 on: 2004-08-26 12:14:46 »
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Ha! Amazing. I have just discovered that there has already been a poll on this issue, using exactly the same quiz I recommended.

We already have statistics! This makes things significantly easier.

Apparently most Virions (of those so far polled) are libertarians, tied closely with left-liberals, and with some centrists.

I am a left-liberal/libertarian.

As I now have a good impression of opinion, I will give a summary of my thoughts.

My primary political concern is freedom, and given the suggested left-liberal/libertarian orientation of Virions, it seems this is the most popular position.

I believe the general rule of a social contract should go thus:

"All ought to be free to do as they wish, except where those freedoms conflict with the freedom of others and result in objection."

Obviously, there will be regular, daily instances of conflicting freedoms in an environment that causes us to collide with each other regularly and gravitate towards centres of human activity, and so the basis of a scientifically ethical government ought to flow from the need to resolve these conflicts in the fairest manner possible. I have many thoughts on this, specifically related to Jurisprudence.

To begin with, I will explain two of what I feel are two important notes regarding Jurisprudence.

1. Actions that effect no-one but consenting individuals do not conflict with the freedoms of others, and so should, other than enforcement of contract, be outside the scope of law unless deliberately placed there.

2. There are two kinds of freedom. The first is freedom to do as one wishes- freedom to act. The second is freedom from being acted upon. In many instances, the freedom to act will involve other people, whether they want to be involved or not. Whilst the second kind requires the respect of others not to act upon a person in a certain way- it doesn't demand it nor does it enforce it. It is a passive freedom, and therefore as a rule should be superior to the other kind, as it requires someone (an aggressor performing an action) to deliberately come along and break it in order for a conflict of interest to arise.

For example, the freedom to shoot and the freedom from being shot can easily come into conflict if a person is being shot at. Generally speaking, then, the freedom from being shot should prevail over the freedom to shoot (in a particular person's direction), should the person being shot at find the action objectionable. Seeing as a person who has been killed cannot object, murder should be one of the most serious crimes.

Before going into the details of jurisprudence in greater depth (which I hope to be able to do later in the discussion), I would suggest that it should not be the prerogative of a judicial system to punish others. Punishment implies action against a person for breaking a moral law, and I do not believe it should be the intention of a judicial system to impose moral standards beyond the scope of trial. Rather, the purpose of a judicial system should be to ensure an aggressor, if found guilty, repays their debt to the effected/damaged person, and to, where appropriate, protect others from the aggressor, by imprisonment if necessary. Punishment would simply be a further imposition of one party's will (the judicial system's in the case of punishment) on another's, and that is what a judicial system should attempt to resolve, not prolong.

Another important problem to consider is the scope of a political system. If 90% of the people within a country's borders support the government, what of the remaining 10%? Will they be forced to conform? Surely we should try and avoid that if possible, as it goes against the essential principle of freedom.

Land rights, too, are an important issue. In the United States, each state can have separate laws. This is quite unusual for an otherwise unified country. But where does the buck stop, so-to speak? If a country can have its own laws, then so can its internal states. If its states can have their own laws, then so can their internal counties and districts, for example. We can go further and further still until we reach the point of individual property. Could your next door neighbour enforce the death penalty within his land, whilst you do not?

If aggregated together, a country could be considered as being 'owned' by millions of individuals with property rights, clustered together into towns, counties, districts, states, countries, international alliances etc. But what of those people who do not own any land? How are they to have a say in the law? How are they to be protected from the perhaps vicious laws of a person whose estate they have the misfortune of fhinding themself on?

Here we have to distinguish between what could be called (or I have termed) "Club Law" and "Land Law". People who do not own land can still have laws- just not laws relating to specific areas of land. They can form a "Club".

Let's suppose a Virion, in this nascent experimental society, had to cross patch of land X, owned by a particularly nasty man with a rifle, in order to get to a Hospital owned by the Virions for urgent treatment. When the Virion ventured onto the man's land and was promptly shot in the arm for trespassing, which carries unlimited punishments in the landowner's lawbook, does the Virion club have the right to extradite the offending man and charge him with shooting a Virion, something forbidden by Virion law?

It's important to note at this stage that all land law is ultimately dependent upon club law. In order to own property, you need to establish a club with people in your immediate vicinity. The rules of this club would be to respect the borders of each other's property. Without this non-geographically specific Club, the geographically specific borders of land cannot be established. A person wishing to own property would want to ensure that as many people as possible would respect its borders. The best way to do this would be to join a club that incorporated land laws recognising property. People would naturally wish to join the club with the most members, as this would ensure that their property would be respected by the greatest possible number of people. As the ultimate goal of anyone wishing to own property as far as their rights go will be to have all their neighbours from as far distant as is possible respect their property, the club thus formed would define the bounds of a country. Furthermore, you need to make sure not just people who own land but people who don't as well will respect your property, and so non land owners become just as important in this club as land owners are. Land law, seeing as it only governs some of its members (the land owners) will be only a portion of this club's interest, and the rest of its interests will be devoted to general laws. This will mean it will probably ensure its laws are recognised on the land of its member land owners as well, so many of the "King of the castle" overlord problems are solved.

As concerns legislation, I believe the following maxims hold.

1. Freedom. The first maxim of freedom, stated at the beginning.
2. Law. The best way to preserve freedom and prevent unnecessary conflict is to have a set of laws so that people know they're likely to be prosecuted successfuly if they do A or B.
3. Democracy. Laws are a form of contract, and in order for a contract to be truly valid it requires the assent of all persons concerned. Therefore, those affected by, and subject to these laws should be the ones to define their terms and agree to them.

From 3 can flow many architectures of a democratic government. I have a fairly well formed set of ideas in mind already for a good democratic structure, but for the sake of length I'll leave those out for now and hopefully include them later on.

Now comes a really big problem: How can this government be funded? Now for the true libertarians out there, if you look closely at it, there's a very sneaky way you can do it without charging any tax at all. If your government is a very small libertarian one without any social security or welfare obligations that provides very basic services, you can just about get away with having a government for nothing. More on that later hopefully.

Tax is a very difficult topic and requires a lot of further consideration. I've thought quite thoroughly about it, and, again for length's sake I suppose it's best not for me to elaborate yet, but suffice it to say there's no such thing as a good tax, whichever way you look at it. A flat tax rate on everyone contravenes freedom and causes all kinds of scientific ethical chaos, and user fees turn government into an access-for-the-rich-only business, which evades the point of a truly just political system.

I'm not a full libertarian (more left-liberal) because I believe the government needs to provide some welfare and social programs. I'm not a socialist, as socialists often say they want to establish "economic equality". This implies they want everyone to have a similar wage and similar means. I think this is wrong and unworkable.

I would, however, like everyone to have access to equal opportunities in life. What they do with those opportunities should be up to them, but I believe the essential services should be there. In fact I'd rather like the government to provide quite a lot of social and welfare programs in order to be able to foster a society conducive to freedom (see the last part of my post on the topic of Happiness Studies). I'd like excellent free hospitals and health clinics, universities, a sprawling free for all multi-access education system, pristine roads, pavements and parks, an efficient, free transport system, and all kinds of other goodies. Furthermore, on a more practical level, I'd like the government to be able to quell monopolies in the economy without using legislation. Businesses that have grown very large have put in a lot of effort to get there, and it isn't really fair, no matter how rich and fat-cattish their owners are, for us to go back on the principles of freedom and use specialised laws to stop their fun. Rather, I would like my ever-benevolent government to step in, set up consumer consortiums, and provide plenty of funding (or generous loans, perhaps, to be paid back over a long period of time) to establish rivals for any monopoly and drive them, through fair competition, back where they belong.

Such a government, however, would need to be able to raise far greater funds than those accessible through the loophole a small libertarian government might just be able to survive on in a healthy economy. I'm working on it though...
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #4 on: 2004-08-30 21:31:35 »
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Quote from: Beneficientor on 2004-08-26 12:14:46   

1. Actions that effect no-one but consenting individuals do not conflict with the freedoms of others, and so should, other than enforcement of contract, be outside the scope of law unless deliberately placed there.

Should I be free to choose a dangerous lifestyle? If so, doesn't the rest of the society pay my rather large health bills when things inevitably go badly for me? Who are the consenting individuals in this case?
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #5 on: 2004-09-01 19:23:14 »
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You should be completely free to choose a dangerous lifestyle, as long as your dangerous lifestyle doesn't affect others in a way they object to.

Seeing as this is an issue of fundamentals- the philosophical foundations of individual freedom in human activity, it is perhaps slightly out of place to introduce the notion of contemporary social medical aid.

It would be entirely up to whomever wished to pay your medical bills to pay them, if you injured yourself. The rest of society need have no obligation to pay your medical bills, unless there was a welfare system, which I'd like to go into later.

In the above posts I was playing with the idea of a toy world. I hope, in this dicussion, to formulate the basic principles of this world in the thought experiement before getting too deeply into welfare issues.
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #6 on: 2004-09-04 11:07:36 »
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Quote from: Beneficientor on 2004-08-26 12:14:46   

I would, however, like everyone to have access to equal opportunities in life.

It would be nice if that was possible, but given that we are all born with different genetics into different families I don't see how that is remotely possible. So what do you mean?
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #7 on: 2004-09-04 11:09:27 »
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Quote from: Beneficientor on 2004-09-01 19:23:14   

Seeing as this is an issue of fundamentals- the philosophical foundations of individual freedom in human activity, it is perhaps slightly out of place to introduce the notion of contemporary social medical aid.

Yes, I brought up that point because it seems to contradict your ideas about social medical aid. But I'm willing to leave it for later.
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #8 on: 2004-09-04 11:36:25 »
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I personally think this topic might be branching our further than it should at this point.

If I understand Beneficientor correctly, he wants to know if we have developed any 'first principles' for the ideal society the CoV envisions in terms of the law, specifically.

As he points out, most of us fall within a particular spectrum of attitudes. But as I'm sure everyone here is aware, that still gives us a massive range of opinions on a variety of topics, as well as in some cases, some very extreme single-issue views.

Perhaps then, we should look at 'legal first principles' before we start deciding on anything more complex. These principles should conform to the 'virian virtues', and to our view of human nature (if that has been decided yet).

Questions we should ask should then (in my opinion) be:

Is a rule of law necessary? What are the social responsiblities of an individual? What are the social responsiblities of a group? To what extent should these be enforced?

Then we can start deciding on legal and social structures.




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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #9 on: 2004-09-04 12:11:41 »
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Quote from: romanov on 2004-09-04 11:36:25   

Questions we should ask should then (in my opinion) be:

Is a rule of law necessary? What are the social responsiblities of an individual? What are the social responsiblities of a group? To what extent should these be enforced?

Assumptions:
1) There exists a group of sentient agents (including us) that embrace the principles of Reason, Vision and Empathy.
2) This group will share an environment for the forseeable future with another group of sentient agents that does not embrace these principles.
3) A social structure will be necessary to resolve inevitable conflicts. (Between the groups of course, but there will also be inevitable conflicts among the first group because no one is perfect.)

Is a rule of law necessary? Rules are necessary. In order to navigate through social life it is necessary to know the expected consequences of one's choices. Everyone should realize that laws and contracts don't prevent undesirable behavior, they should put an expected cost on breaking the rules. There is ample evidence that people are free to break any imaginable rule if they are willing to pay the penalty.

Are we in agreement so far?
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #10 on: 2004-09-04 12:54:04 »
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In agreement so far.

The rule of law is a necessity. History has more than enough examples of societies who disregard it in favour of dogmatic ideals and regret doing so later.

As far as consequence goes- I also agree.

This may seem strange coming from someone who frequently argues against the notion of free will, but I side with Steven Pinker's argument that while we are unable to 'step outside' of our brains, we do have a (proven) capacity to evaluate consequences. 

We should base our primary legal principles on this, I believe, rather than the tired Descartian notions that swim through the anglo-saxon legal systems, as it is a simple, testable notion within our abilities at the moment.

This may have some legal/ social implications regarding the notions of intent and the role of rehabilitation. That's something to discuss later, though.

What's your opinion on the responsibilities/rights of groups/individuals? Again, I think we should keep it to first principles for the moment.




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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #11 on: 2004-09-04 14:37:16 »
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Quote from: romanov on 2004-09-04 12:54:04   

What's your opinion on the responsibilities/rights of groups/individuals? Again, I think we should keep it to first principles for the moment.

Off the top of my head: it is the right of the individual to maximize their subjective Q factor (i.e. pursuit of happiness) and it is the responsibility of the individual to play be the rules or suffer the consequences. It is the responsibility of the group to create the rules, and the right of the group to enforce them.
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #12 on: 2004-09-04 16:24:03 »
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Ok. Given it a bit of thought.

I'm a little concerned about using happiness as an indicator. This may seems counter-intuitive, but we frequently desire (and will often violently defend) things that do not make us happy. As a species we spend most of the time being happy but also still largely feeling unfulfilled. Put bluntly, emotional happiness is only causally related to individual fulfillment.

Nature's way of getting us all up in the morning, I suppose.

Anyway. If we're trying to start from first principles, may I suggest rewording that slightly:

"Human beings have a presumed right to follow their nature, hopes and desires when this does not directly harm others."

We can argue about 'indirectly' later. You may even want to change 'human' to 'sentient'.


As much as the group goes, I would caution against inherently giving them them the unspoken presumption that they have a right to use force.
Far too easy to corrupt, in my opinion.

Perhaps reverse it? "The group has no right to use force or co-oercion, except as a method of last resort, and only to enforce legal rules." And just leave it at that. It puts the burden of proof on the strongest to prove they aren't oppressing the weakest.

I would also recommend: "Rules are only legal if tacit consent is implied." Again, it's about the burden of proof.

This is proving harder than I thought, I have to admit. Anyone else out there have suggestions?

Something else has occurred to me. Do you have any thought on how to define 'group' and 'person' before this legal code? Our view of both is going to shape anything we put down here, if we're being rigorous about this.



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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #13 on: 2004-09-04 20:51:32 »
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Quote from: romanov on 2004-09-04 16:24:03   


Ok. Given it a bit of thought.

I'm a little concerned about using happiness as an indicator. This may seems counter-intuitive, but we frequently desire (and will often violently defend) things that do not make us happy. As a species we spend most of the time being happy but also still largely feeling unfulfilled. Put bluntly, emotional happiness is only causally related to individual fulfillment.

As I mentioned in the other thread the Q factor is intended to encompass all forms of individual fulfillment and quality of life.
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Re:Jurisprudence
« Reply #14 on: 2004-09-06 11:42:35 »
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Quote from: David Lucifer on 2004-09-04 14:37:16   

Off the top of my head: it is the right of the individual to maximize their subjective Q factor (i.e. pursuit of happiness) and it is the responsibility of the individual to play be the rules or suffer the consequences. It is the responsibility of the group to create the rules, and the right of the group to enforce them.

Maybe it is a mistake to attribute rights and responsibilities to groups that are different from individuals. Shouldn't all group level r&r be covered by corresponding individual level ones?
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