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Showing posts from May, 2009

An Issue about Legal Enforcement

Suppose non-human animals have moral standing. This is obviously a controversial supposition. My point here is not to debate it, but to treat it as a given, arguendo . If you want to debate it, I'm glad to do so at another time and in another post. My question—and it is genuinely a question—is: how might this moral standing be reflected in the legal order of a stateless society? At present, the state plays the role of half-hearted trustee on behalf of some non-human animals. Obviously, its doing so involves the same sorts of risks that are involved in any purportedly protective action by the state. In a stateless society, it is often, and plausibly, suggested, property rights might well help to ensure the preservation of natural treasures like the Grand Canyon. And, even in an anarchist community with markets, these property rights could perfectly well be common . Similarly, more narrowly “environmental” concerns—effectively, battery and trespass concerns—could be aptly address

An Outline of a Tentative, Contingent Case against the State

I dislike the state. I would much prefer doing without the violence and oppression being ruled by the state seems to involve. But it's worth asking whether this is more than a preference on my part (“Some people like chocolate, others support anarchism”). Some kinds of moral stances—for instance, those that support unqualified (Lockean? Rothbardian?) property rights—can readily dismiss all taxation as theft and thus all states as robbers. I don’t dislike this conclusion; indeed, it warms my heart whenever I’m reminded that it invalidates the kind of petty local tyranny expressed in zoning laws and eminent domain action. But my political morality is rooted in the thought of Aristotle, Aquinas, and their modern interpreters (who have tended to offer pragmatic arguments for state authority), and that means that my account of rights and duties is somewhat more complicated. That means that I can still offer a credible case against the legitimacy of state authority; but it will be quali