Friday, September 09, 2005

Defending Controversial Views

In my brief time as a blogger, I've articulated many strongly held positions. The majority of these positions could be described as controversial: I'm an atheist in a theistic country; I'm a libertarian in a statist country. However, two positions in particular seem to have isolated me from just about everybody else, even those in my own ideological sphere. So, today's post seeks to explicate why I hold the positions I do on those two issues. The "Comments" section, as always, is open. I'm happy to discuss these matters in much more detail there.


The two positions I seek to defend are as follows:


1. Morality is subjective. In essence, this means that right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral are all subjective and relative.


2. Illegal immigrants should be deported. By this, I mean ALL illegal immigrants, whether they've been here for 2 days or 2 decades, should be immediately deported.


Well then, onto the defense...


In my view, taking the position that all morality is subjective is logically necessary. I say this because of the human species' inherent fallibility. Humans are demonstrably and reliably fallible, in things both tangible and intangible. Luckily, regarding things that are tangible, we can mitigate our fallibility through objective instruments. Click this link for example (first read the following sentences, though!). In optical illusions such as this one, our perception and senses fail us. We need objective instruments, like a ruler, in order to ascertain the truth.


Morality, though, is totally intangible. Moreover, there is no instrumentation that can be used to gauge, measure, test or quantify morality. Therefore, in forming our notions of morality, we depend solely upon the same perception and the same senses that were just demonstrably deceived in a simple optical illusion. How, then, in the absence of objective instrumentation, can we possibly claim to know what is moral or right or wrong? I submit that human perception of morality is undeniably fallible, and thus unreliable, and therefore not objective. Though an objective morality might in fact exist in the abstract, humans are far too flawed to discover it through our fallible, easily deceived senses.


Moving on...


Many people incorrectly perceive racism when I say that all illegals must be deported. That's a complete misinterpretation of my objection. In fact, I would support having a totally open border policy. If I were in Congress, I would vote for such legislation. I would have no problem with 25 million Mexicans legally entering the US tomorrow. My objection is narrow: I oppose criminals entering the United States illegally, willfully and deliberately ignoring the law. We do not live in an anarchical society: We cannot simply ignore laws with which we disagree. The fact that the government continues to turn the other way while criminals undermine the laws of our land is absolutely shameful.


Think that I don't sound very much like a libertarian on this issue? Well, let's never confuse libertarianism with anarchism. Libertarians want as few laws as possible. Anarchists ignore laws. Say, come to think of it, these illegals fit the definition of anarchists more than do libertarians!


I am a strong believer that widespread lawlessness, even in the violation of one particular statute, undermines the entire justice system. How many millions of illegal immigrants are in this country right now, totally free? That sends a pernicious message: Millions of criminals can break the law and not suffer negative consequences. The federal apathy sends another pernicious message: The federal government will watch millions of criminals breaking the law, and not bring down negative consequences on them. This is truly the worst-case scenario possible on this issue.


I've often heard people say that illegals are willing to work the jobs that nobody else wants. That wouldn't be the case in a libertarian society. In a libertarian society, there would be no government welfare. Therefore, if those people wanted to get a check every month, they'd be working those jobs currently occupied by illegals. Those undesirable jobs don't look quite so terrible if the alternative is a cardboard box.


I welcome your comments!

21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we had an open border policy, perhaps we'd find outselves lucky enough to see all of the Puritan rascist whiteys promptly moving out to Canada. Then there'd be no shortage of jobs in this country, and I would finally not stand out so much in my county. Great plan!

- Sokudo (as I keep forgetting to identify myself)

3:52 AM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

I hate racism so much. To me, it's such an incredibly simplistic way of thinking: You look different than me, and therefore I'm suspicious of you. Nevertheless, racial consciousness is pervasive in the United States.

I'm tired of race being relevant. If reporters are going to report the race of a criminal in the newspaper, I think the reporters are also obligated to reveal hair color and eye color, since all 3 are equally irrelevant. Showing a black guy on television who committed a crime only serves to reinforce the misguided and bigoted views of racists.

What's really relevant here is science: Scientists agree that, genetically speaking, there is no such thing as "race" in the human species. That is, "race" is entirely a social construction without any basis whatsoever in scientific reality. It's sad and depressing that so many misguided and misinformed people hold such allegience to a pernicious social construction like "race."

11:45 AM  
Anonymous I Am said...

I usually avoid the political blogs because I hate both major parties pretty equally at this point. I'm a recovering Republican and have considered myself a libertarian (small L) for several years now. I plan to start reading this site regularly. I haven't read the old posts yet, but I'm with you 100% on this one.

12:39 PM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

Hi,

Glad to have you as a regular reader now! I love your site; it's certainly in my top 3 favorite web destinations. I'm also with you about the unappealing nature of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Personally, among the two, I will always choose D since they aren't nearly as theocratic as the Rs. However, my true allegience is to the libertarian ideals of personal freedom and personal responsibility.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous I Am said...

When you have a minute, you should create a listing for this site over at AtheismOnline.com.

1:57 PM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

I'll go ahead and do that right now. Would you be willing to add this blog to your "Recommended Blogs" section at your site (that is, if you do recommend it)? I would gladly reciprocate. I think we target the same exact "demographic," so to speak. Let me know at your convenience. In the meantime, I'm headed to AtheismOnline.com.

2:05 PM  
Blogger vjack said...

Interesting post. I'm still working on clarifying my own views on these issues. I understand your position on morality, but I do believe that there should be a small number of moral absolutes (e.g., a moral imperative not to kill, etc.). Of course, this is an extremely complex issue that has no easy answers. I appreciate your willingness to express unpopular views. You got yourself another regular reader.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous I Am said...

I've read some of your other stuff, and you certainly deserve a place on my Recommended Blogs list. I've added you.

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Velkstrom said...

Agree on the moral relativist view, but disagree with the immigrant view. I do believe government can be used as a force for good, at the very least in its offering of public utilities, and many of the social welfare programs I honestly don't mind. Between leaving someone to starve dead in the streets, and giving them a few bucks till they get up off their feet, even paying grants to those willing to maintain them, I'm okay with it. If I were in the next poor guy's position, I'd appreciate the help.

Sure, don't have government big enough to restrain reward for all hard work, but also don't just remove it.

In this room, amongst respondents, even to the blog master my views are unpopular, but it's no reason to place a chip on my shoulder only because I offer a different view. In fact, I welcome it from anyone, though I won't always agree, which is fine. It's one's right to express opinion.

12:27 AM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

"I understand your position on morality, but I do believe that there should be a small number of moral absolutes (e.g., a moral imperative not to kill, etc.). Of course, this is an extremely complex issue that has no easy answers."

I sympathize with that viewpoint. I really do. However, looking at my argument, I can't really see any place for any moral absolutes. For example, I personally think that murder is totally immoral. However, how can I be sure that perception isn't the equivalent of an optical illusion? No aspect of morality can be tested, measured, gauged or quantified. That's the foundation of my assertion that morality is as good as subjective.

You got yourself another regular reader.

Very happy to have you!

"I've read some of your other stuff, and you certainly deserve a place on my Recommended Blogs list. I've added you."

Thank you. Coming from you, I really do take that as high praise.

"I do believe government can be used as a force for good, at the very least in its offering of public utilities, and many of the social welfare programs I honestly don't mind. Between leaving someone to starve dead in the streets, and giving them a few bucks till they get up off their feet, even paying grants to those willing to maintain them, I'm okay with it. If I were in the next poor guy's position, I'd appreciate the help."

I also sympathize with that view. However, if taxes and government spending were both halved, people would probably be much more generous in terms of charitable donations. Then, people could take care of people, rather than having a lumbering government do so.

"In this room, amongst respondents, even to the blog master my views are unpopular, but it's no reason to place a chip on my shoulder only because I offer a different view. In fact, I welcome it from anyone, though I won't always agree, which is fine. It's one's right to express opinion."

Except for spambots, this is a totally Free Speech Zone. Feel free to vigorously disagree with me.

Thanks, all, for commenting!

12:43 AM  
Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

I lean way more toward the objectivist side of things on morality: I believe it is definitely a concrete thing. I dont think its relative.

If morality is relative, then we wouldnt have a reason to champion individual rights, would we?

If morality is relative, then we wouldnt be able to justify our fighting against Christian ideology, because there would be no jutifiable moral objection to it, would there?

Thats ok if we disagree on an issue or two Libertariandefender. We can hardly expect our views to perfectly line up ALL the time :)

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Velkstrom said...

"If morality is relative, then we wouldnt have a reason to champion individual rights, would we?"

Morality is relative. Just because we can sometimes agree on set standards for a kind of morality we may both feel is good, it doesn't mean we're to agree on all issues.

I may disagree with most of Christian morality, because it's based on many absurdities. However, there are tenets in it that are still appealing. Not for the reasons to follow in the religion as much as maybe just what I may feel to be most practical. This still doesn't mean it's not subject to change due social trend or influence. It's this dynamism that makes morality not only relative, but a thing that, like many other things, requires work to upkeep.

Libertariandefender, I respect your courteous nature, but provided government is run by professionals I trust, I have no problems with paying taxes. If the work done is good, and like I'd stated, if it goes toward paying social workers who know how to implement the best egalitarian policies, then I am content. I have no problems with it as long as it remains accountable. If government were to provide the best education as easily available as churches make their dogma, maybe then we'd have a more responsible educated citizenry savvy enough to choose for itself the best system. I do believe smart people are capable of working collectively toward better tomorrows. A more responsible morality requires that stronger mind that is willing to consciously work for the selfless sake of everyone involved. Provided I work to make the best product available for a fellow citizen, I'm happy, because I know I'm doing my part to promote confidence in my neighboring citizen, as I also like trusting a fellow citizen to do similar. Sure, I like reward for the extra work (through promotion, or otherwise), and I do need my personal space to reflect on life, but this doesn't mean I can't feel content willfully doing the best I can, be it in a private, or government job.

3:32 AM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

AK...

How do you arrive at objective morality? Do you disagree with the premises of my argument--those being humans are fallible and morality is intangible? If you accept those premises, how could fallible humans arrive at absolute knowledge of intangible, untestable morality? That's where I have a problem with accepting any moral code as absolute/objective. As long as the notion springs from a fallible human, I find the notion to be subjective rather than objective.

Velkstrom...

I respect your ideas about collectivism and egalitarianism. However, my ideology runs more toward rugged individualism. I champion the rights of the individual over the welfare of the whole. That's why, for example, I oppose government funding for healthcare. To me, when the government pays even one cent toward my healthcare, it automatically has more leverage to butt its nose into my private health, nutrition and safety choices. Therefore, I support the idea of people being responsible for their own health coverage, either out of pocket or through private means. That way, the government will be disinclined to regulate personal health and nutrition.

4:59 PM  
Blogger DaliWood said...

Hi. I saw one of your comments on the Unapologetic Atheist's blog and decided to read yours. You certainly have some strong opinions (or perhaps I should say personal principles?), and that's good. It would be difficult to call for "rugged individualism" but not live it.

I saw on your Blogger profile that you're an editor. That can be interesting work. I was a managing editor for about 10 years and always enjoyed it; but my time as an editor was back in the days of Linotype machines, so I better not go too far down memory lane or I'll crash into the reality of how old I am.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Velkstrom said...

I understand the principles of Libertarianism libertariandefender, but just because I respect collective efforts, it still doesn't mean I also don't respect individual's right to work at whatever's most authentic to that individual, which is why I respect extra hard work when one wishes to do so. I respect someone's individualism, but not when it when it threatens to impose upon my own personal welfare, which can happen when markets are left free to run without government. There needs to be a ref somewhere to ensure people aren't breaking the rules, and I do believe it's an especially good thing when the ref properly prepares newcomers for the game that lies ahead.

Still, like it or not, total individualism is not something truly effective. You need collectivism even in private industries to work for large projects one isn't capable of doing on one's own. It's the only way the big projects can be accomplished. I have no problem when an artist runs his/her own small shop, and sells such a product, but when it comes to such things as producing nuclear weapons, or space exploration, government oversight, and reporting back to the populace on whatever progress is made is a fair thing. You just have to have checks made on such entities to keep them responsible, so they don't just throw away monies on unecessary 3 million dollar rolls of toilet paper. A combination of both public, and private checks I figure is a good thing.

Another reason for having government is giving secure funding to professional commities who don't have special interest motivators fudging their numbers. I can't say having left the markets open for superfluous religious commercialism is a good thing, especially when it claims to represent itself as science. If you base such things on sole free markets, then if the idea that religion is science sells, then it's taken as truth, well, because it sells. Money ruins the truth in such cases, and the everyone gets screwed over because of it.

This is the age old dilemma I guess-how much individualism is appropriate? My stance is just enough to not keep others from having their own, or from keeping people from having access to knowledge that can be considered objectively true, something that's always been there, and therefore belongs no one, thus everyone.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Tanooki Joe said...

Good post.

Your reasoning on the subjectivity of morality pretty much mirrors my own. It's not a position I really like, but it's one I take out of necessity, as I haven't found anything that could realisticly serve as the basis of an objective, absolute morality.

I, too, will be reading your blog from now on. It's good.

12:01 AM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

"I respect someone's individualism, but not when it when it threatens to impose upon my own personal welfare, which can happen when markets are left free to run without government. There needs to be a ref somewhere to ensure people aren't breaking the rules"

I agree with that. People should not take advantage of each other. If one person is abusing another, the government should step in, whether the abuse is physical or economic.

"but when it comes to such things as producing nuclear weapons, or space exploration, government oversight, and reporting back to the populace on whatever progress is made is a fair thing."

I'm with you.

"I can't say having left the markets open for superfluous religious commercialism is a good thing, especially when it claims to represent itself as science. If you base such things on sole free markets, then if the idea that religion is science sells, then it's taken as truth, well, because it sells. Money ruins the truth in such cases, and the everyone gets screwed over because of it."

Here, you are edging close to the reasoning that serves as the foundation for my position that government must retain federal control over education standards. I can't support educational anarchy when Bible Belt schools will immediately drag creationism bullshit into science class, as many private schools already have. These children are the future voters of the United States. Giving them a bad education is just sentencing this country to another Bush.

Thank you very much for your thoughtful and articulate comments.

6:45 PM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

"Hi. I saw one of your comments on the Unapologetic Atheist's blog and decided to read yours. You certainly have some strong opinions (or perhaps I should say personal principles?), and that's good. It would be difficult to call for "rugged individualism" but not live it."

Welcome! Hope you enjoy your stay!

Yes, sometimes I feel like I'm ideologically alone in the world, what with being an atheist and libertarian and moral relativist. However, I'm comfortable with my positions. I give every position I take significant thought. And, as long as that confidence is there, I'm fine with being in the extreme minority.

"I saw on your Blogger profile that you're an editor. That can be interesting work. I was a managing editor for about 10 years and always enjoyed it; but my time as an editor was back in the days of Linotype machines, so I better not go too far down memory lane or I'll crash into the reality of how old I am."

LOL. Yes, it's rewarding and interesting work. But, truth be told, I'm just happy to have secured gainful employment in my field right out of college. It's a very tough market, and I feel lucky.

----------

Tanooki Joe...

Once again, I'm very happy to have another bright individual on the blog. Welcome!

"Your reasoning on the subjectivity of morality pretty much mirrors my own. It's not a position I really like, but it's one I take out of necessity, as I haven't found anything that could realisticly serve as the basis of an objective, absolute morality."

Exactly my thoughts.

* Humans are fallible.
* Morality is intangible.
* Morality cannot be measured, gauged, tested or quantified.
* Our perception/senses are deeply flawed and easily tricked. My prime case in point is the optical illusion.

With those premises, how can one possibly ever arrive at objective morality? I can't figure it out, truly.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous James said...

On the topic of the subjectivity and relativity of morality, your assertion seems unassailable. Indeed, that's what Hume, with whom I've always felt in agreement, wrote a very long time ago. So, I wouldn't take issue with the literal argument you make.

On the other hand, I think your defense of it by appeal simply to the fallibility of human senses, as evinced by our susceptibility to illusion, is too simplistic; we make all kinds of judgements, always in the absence of complete information, but we don't abjure the possibility of assessing our judgements for quality. Don't you think there could be a case made for some principles of morality having greater weight than others, based on their perceived quality relative to other alternatives? I'd like to extend this line of thought, but it's my first comment, and early in the morning.

I must say, however, that I'm quite blown away by the quality of your blog, and of your articulation of your ideas. Forgive a bit of ageism, but you seem a very unusual twenty-two, from the perspective of this old fellow. Thanks for your work here, and I'll surely be back often.

Cheers,
jwl

3:44 AM  
Blogger The Libertarian Defender said...

James...

Welcome! Glad you're hear!

"Don't you think there could be a case made for some principles of morality having greater weight than others, based on their perceived quality relative to other alternatives?"

I just don't see how ANY moral stricture could be perceived as correct, while another perceived as incorrect, in the OBJECTIVE sense. The ideas of morality and immorality are inexorably tied to the notions of good/bad and positive/negative. All of these are totally untestable and unquantifiable notions. Positivity cannot be falsified. Morality cannot be falsified. Moreover, they are intangible in the extreme, pushing them even farther from our grasp. Given our demonstrable fallibility, I just don't feel comfortable granting any moral concept the weight of objectivity.

"I must say, however, that I'm quite blown away by the quality of your blog, and of your articulation of your ideas. Forgive a bit of ageism, but you seem a very unusual twenty-two, from the perspective of this old fellow."

I take that as a compliment and thank you for it. Indeed, I'm not the typical club-going 20-something. What a bore!

7:11 PM  
Blogger Arizona Atheist said...

Hi LD, I came across your blog and I agree with most of what I've read. I also agree - for the most part - with your insistence that morality is subjective. But I do not agree that these people who come into this country are "illegals." Yes, the law states that people must go through the process of becoming "legal,"but these boarders that are enforced through force are not real - they are "nonexistent;" they are in reality imaginary lines drawn in the earth. How can one enforce such a backwards concept, and how can one decide when and where to draw these imaginary lines? No one has a right to tell another where they can and cannot go on this earth - as long as it's not a person's private property. The desert is not owned by anyone, and neither are these countries and states. They are just pieces of land where a group of individuals live. What is so wrong with allowing people to come and go as they please?

You might say that boarders are there to "protect us," or keep non-productive people out from living off of our productiveness. But even these thoughts are flawed because who are we protecting ourselves from? The mexicans who come into this country are most often then not very hard workers, and will do many jobs that americans will not - and for cheaper wages! I'm sure every boss would love that. These immigrants often start their own businesses which can benefit americans, and often times their fees are very cheap. I got my entire 2 bed, 2 bath house painted by a group of mexicans for only $500.00 and they did it all in one day! Now that productiveness!

These people don't need to rely on government; they can create their own jobs, or someone can hire them. All people can produce for their own welfare. Besides, it's not the every day worker, but the government, who blows money on items that they can get much cheaper. It's the government that has caused the national debt to skyrocket to over $9,000,000,000,000 (http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/) and spend $652.00 for a tool box, $640.00 for a toilet seat, and more!

I feel as if you're contradicting yourself because at first you say: "In fact, I would support having a totally open border policy. If I were in Congress, I would vote for such legislation."

But then you say:

"I oppose criminals entering the United States illegally, willfully and deliberately ignoring the law."


How can you feel that on one hand you would allow people to enter, then on the other hand, disallow people from entering simply because "it's the law"?

Yes, it's the "law" but as I showed these boarders are imaginary, so what is there to enforce?

This whole business of boarders is completely illogical, and cruel. Why must people be shot dead just for trying to gain a better life for themselves?

I also would like to correct a misunderstanding. Anarchists do not "ignore laws." I follow the law because I could be come a victim of the tyranny of the state. I do my fighting with words, not going around pissing off the people who could kill me. Now, some anarchists might go around blowing things up, but I don't see how that helps anything. As far as I know, most anarchists just write and attempt to educate the masses.

Also, it's actually the government that ignores it's own laws. How many cops speed, go through red lights, how many abuse innocent people, or even people who aren't? How many in the government, lie and steal? Then, they put people away for the same infractions! They're a bunch of hypocrites if you ask me.

Thanks for your time.

Ken

5:07 PM  

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