How to Debate Without Looking Things Up

In any science truth is on the side of those who rigorously and objectively subjugate themselves to the scientific method, that is logic and evidence.

It’s not different in the field of ethics, in particular its subset morality.

Anyone who proposes government solutions, almost inevitably steps into the realm of morality since a government cannot tax and thus cannot exist without the initiation of violence or threat thereof against peaceful individuals.

The problem is that most people studiously avoid admitting to themselves the obvious: That government solutions are nothing but aggression.

To pick a recent example, our San Francisco board of sociopaths supervisors passed a regulation that prohibits the sale of toys alongside meals that don’t meet their desired nutritional guidelines, obviously targeting McDonalds and similar fast food chains.

So here is an example of how this could work:

Your average San Francisco granola lover may argue:

I’m glad they passed this ban. There’s too many obese people in the US as it is and not enough health regulations.

That’s quite a fascinating statement to make when you think about what’s behind it all. It may be completely accurate that there are too many obese people in the country and there may be statistics upon statistics to back this fact up, etc.

However, that’s not the point here. Nobody is even arguing these things.

Now, you could turn into the eternal libertarian google bot and start supplying all the evidence in the world about how FDA regulations and the USDA’s involvement in food and agriculture regulation encourage corruption and conglomeration and introduce huge entry barriers for small and healthy food producers, how corn subsidies and sugar import restrictions have led to an almost universal usage of high fructose corn syrup in all processed foods and how the origins of America’s obesity epidemic can be traced back to all this excessive government involvement in the food sector, and how giving government agencies even more power in this field cannot possibly solve the problem.

But why should you? Why should it always be us to supply all the evidence in the world while our opponents don’t even spend a fraction of that time and then still ridicule our ideas in the end.

When it comes to the big decisions, opinions, and principles, most people really fundamentally don’t care about objective evidence, facts, numbers, efficiency etc. What people do care about is morality, doing what’s good, right, just, etc. And their ideas of what is right and wrong are formed during their childhood. Evidence is only sought selectively, and for the purpose of reaffirming the preconceived beliefs that childhood trauma has already instilled in their minds.

So then there is a much easier way to approach this debate. Use the argument from morality and make it immediate and direct, cutting out all the buzzwords of “government”, “regulation”, etc.

In this particular case the argument could look as follows. In responding to our San Francisco friend above you could say:

I respect your preferences for health happy meals and I respect your choice, be it as a consumer or a seller, to refrain from buying or selling a McRib alongside a toy from/to others. I would never dream of supporting that your body or property be aggressed against for acting upon those preferences.

But would you do me that same courtesy?

Am I allowed to peacefully disagree with you and sell or buy burgers with toys from/to people who are willing to voluntarily give me their money in exchange, without you supporting that violence be initiated against my own body and my own property for doing so?

Now your discussion partner only has two possible responses:

“Yes”, in which case he agrees with your position that government shouldn’t control or “regulate” the food market.

or

“No”, in which case there is no point in pretending that this is a debate since he obviously wants to see you aggressed against in case you disagree peacefully.

To be sure: Don’t think for a second that people will stay in this corner! They will kick and scream to get out of it. They will try to avoid the answer, try to shift the discussion elsewhere, or go on into tangent-land. Like I said above: The problem is that most people studiously avoid admitting to themselves the obvious: That government solutions are nothing but aggression. It is ferociously difficult, for most people even too late, to rethink ideas that have been pounded into their heads for their entire lives, in particular during the childhood years.

This is just one example. But you can use the exact same argument for every single government policy out there in that same way. Be it the military, health care, education, etc.

This is what Stefan Molyneux called the “Against Me” argument.

Try it out … and see if it works for you in your own debates with friends, family, or strangers. But be aware that this is an explosive argument. For if someone responds with “No” he has given away the fact that he or she really is a complete fascist who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your ideas, preferences, and freedoms. In fact, this person would rather have you dragged off and locked up in a cell than allowing you to live a peaceful life.

And to learn that about people you still have in your life, and then ask yourself why you still do, is not always an easy thing to do. But it’s the first step toward setting yourself free and it accomplishes a million times more than any political action will ever do in your whole life.

Related Posts:

10 thoughts on “How to Debate Without Looking Things Up”

  1. But at where and when do you draw the line between what’s acceptable “aggressing” or not? Maybe in the case of food regulations you think that’s clearly over the line……… but what about other regulations? How do you know which ones are acceptable?

    I respect your preferences to not want to manufacture, sell or purchase weapons of mass destruction, but would you do me the same courtesy?

  2. But at where and when do you draw the line between what’s acceptable “aggressing” or not? Maybe in the case of food regulations you think that’s clearly over the line……… but what about other regulations? How do you know which ones are acceptable?

    I respect your preferences to not want to manufacture, sell or purchase weapons of mass destruction, but would you do me the same courtesy??

  3. Hey Jeff! :)

    Well, there is no such thing as acceptable aggression, so I don’t need to draw a line. That’s why I say that aggression, meaning the initiation of violence, should be universally proscribed.

    Yes, I would absolutely do you the courtesy of respecting your preference of producing and proliferating weapons of mass destruction.

    I mean, that’s not even a very alternative/uncommon viewpoint. People all across the world sit and watch as their governments amass weapons of mass destruction. (I’m not saying that that is what makes it valid, I’m merely trying to put this question into context.)

    There is no moral problem with someone arming himself to the teeth for the purpose of defense. It is however immoral to use those arms to initiate violence against others. It is also immoral to raise the money for the manufacture of those arms via aggression or threat thereof.

    Hmmm … I wonder if there are organizations out there who are doing precisely that … ? ;)

  4. “There is no moral problem with someone arming himself to the teeth for the purpose of defense. It is however immoral to use those arms to initiate violence against others.”

    While this might be theoretically true. It sounds practically unworkable since it basically requires everyone to be on the honor system and police themselves to make sure they don’t do anything that immoral. Would you argue that a law prohibiting private people to own nuclear weapons is aggression (since people may want to own them for self-defense)? But then what about the risk that someone that owns them isn’t just going to keep them for “self defense?”

  5. “But then what about the risk that someone that owns them isn’t just going to keep them for “self defense?””

    You mean like, say, the government?

    I mean, I would, as always, go back to the argument that the initiation of violence should be universally proscribed. So you would need to disprove that principle first. But if you want to examine the argument from effect I can do that as well, but in any case, it wouldn’t change the immorality of the action involved …

    The problem is not that people have the ability to possess nukes. Problems arise when a few privileged groups assert and are granted the right while the large majority is denied that same right.

    History proves that such groups are willing and able to use those weapons so long as the victim himself has no comparable means of striking back.

    History also proves mutually assured destruction guarantees that two nuclear powers will not attack each others soil. Why? Because suddenly the lives of those who make the call, the politicians and their families, lobbyists, and friends, are at stake as well.

    It is the imbalance of power that you should be worried about, not the power itself. In a society where every human being’s moral rights are universally respected, you would achieve the maximum balance of powers. But you will most definitely not achieve it in one where imbalance of power is already required at the very core of the system …

  6. I think everyone would agree that the initiation of violence should be universally proscribed. And it would be great if all people (and governments) universally followed that rule. But obviously there are many people (murders, thieves, criminals, etc. that don’t follow that……. and there are often laws regulations that attempt to rectify that problem that might cause what you are coining “aggression” or in other words regulations that impinge on what you think your freedoms are. I guess one possible example is guns being outlawed in Great Britain, but I’m sure we can come up with millions of laws that have the same idea behind them. Are all of these bad?

    And my example with nuclear weapons was actually meant to be an extreme example of individuals possessing them – not governments. Is it okay to have a law in the US prohibiting nuclear weapons even if that impinges on your “freedom to possess” them since while we know that you personally only want to have nuclear weapons as a deterrent, your neighbor Fred might not practice the universal proscription against violence and might want to actually blow something up. Is it not worth it in this case to impinge your freedom from owning a nuke deterrent to help reduce the chances that Fred blows all of us up?

  7. I agree that there will always people who won’t follow these moral prescriptions. But isn’t it then the worst thing you can possibly do to create an entity where within people are allowed, no … even required, to violate that very non-aggression-principle?

    Imagine for a second there was no government, and people would be brainstorming what to do with people who initiate violence against others. And then I jumped up and said: “Hey everyone, I got it! In order to prevent people from initiating violence we shall give a certain group of people the exclusive right to initiate violence!”

    I mean, seriously, people would declare me insane on the spot. This is a logical contradiction akin to saying “0 = 1” or “up is down” or “black is white”.

    I believe that systems that are rooted in such blatant contradiction simply cannot work in the long run. It would be like building a car based on the assumption that gravity pulls the same object down at certain hours, and up on others. Maybe it’ll drive for a little while, if at all, but it’ll break down sooner or later. Or a computer program written based on the assumption that TRUE = FALSE. Maybe it’ll run for the first few lines, but at some point it’ll crash …

    And my example with nuclear weapons was actually meant to be an extreme example of individuals possessing them – not governments.

    But there is no difference between individuals and the government. The government consists of nothing but individuals.

    Take your example with the neighbor Fred, and add to that that Fred be given the exclusive right within miles and miles, to possess nukes, and on top of that give him the right, no the obligation, to initiate aggression against you and me in order to fund his efforts, and you have … the government. An entity far more dangerous than the “Fred” you are so worried about in your example.

  8. So then what do we about my neighbor Fred that possesses nuclear weapons and plans to blow up the city of San Francisco with them? Worry about it after he’s blown up the city?

  9. We threaten him with retaliation and blow him up as soon as we have reasonable evidence that he is planning such an attack or even just that such an attack is impending. I mean, I’m not sure what other answer there could possibly be to such a completely imaginary, un-empirical, and never-ever-happened terror scenario … ?

    Let me see if I can come up with a scenario that has a bit more of an empirical footing. Let’s say you and I live in the year 1945 in some city named Hiroshima and a group of people with the exclusive and aggressively asserted and funded monopoly on the ownership of nuclear bombs is about to skybomb the living hell out of you and I and our entire city? What do we do about that??

    I don’t think you could make a more invalid argument than applying the harshest and worst possible scenario to an environment where you have absolutely no empirical proof that it will ever happen (namely that of mutually assured destruction coupled with the fact that it’s your neighbor who has no means to fund such a project through the initiation of violence!!), while at the same time brushing aside that very scenario in an environment where you have recorded, empirical, and undeniable proof that is has in fact happened before, and logically conclusive reason to believe that there is at least a slight chance that it can happen again (namely that of an entity with the exclusive legal monopoly on amassing WMDs and do so with aggressively extorted money)!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Subscribe without commenting