Thursday, November 29, 2012

"No true Scotsbertarian"

How many times have you heard- or written- "No real libertarian would ever...."?  Did someone throw the "No true Scotsman" fallacy in the mix right away?  Did it actually apply?

Because it often doesn't.

If you say "no true Scotsman can survive a complete decapitation", or "no true Scotsman is native to the Moon" then you'd be correct.  By definition.  It's not the same as saying "no true Scotsman would wear pink socks".

I've seen that fallacy called into play when someone says "no libertarian can be in favor of any form of taxation" or "no libertarian can support the 'troops'"

Yet, it is accurate to say that "no true Scotsman can flap his arms and fly to the moon", because any creature which could do that would not be human.  By definition he could not be a "true Scotsman".

So it is with the "pro-tax libertarian"- taxation is theft and is enforced by violating the ZAP, and the same goes for military "service".  Since the ZAP is the definition of "libertarian", no one can support those things and be a libertarian.  At least not a consistent one.

But, if someone claims "no real libertarian would use a public library", then you'd be correct in calling this a "no true Scotsman" fallacy.  There is no wrong in using what you are forced to pay for, as long as you don't advocate the continuation of the theft.  There will be a difference of opinion from person to person, and neither side is automatically eliminated from the category of "real libertarian".

Just because I apply a label to myself doesn't make the label accurate.  If I fit the definition, then I am what I say.  If I don't, then I am something other than what I claim to be.  And, that's fine.  People get confused over what words mean all the time.  It's not worth fighting over.  If you don't fit the definition, find where you do fit and correct what you call yourself.  But if you are not a Scotsman, don't be offended when someone points it out.



  1. Kent

    What about those things I voluntarily give my tax money to fund? Like the library.

    And our National Defense.

    I know it is impossible to identify the specific tax dollar, especially when we use debt to pay for things, but I think you get the idea.

    Seems we wind up back at the definition of "taxes" and how you apply that to fees.

  2. "Taxation" isn't about giving your own money to whoever you want to give it to, it is about forcing other people to finance those things. If it is given voluntarily it isn't "taxation".

    Eliminate "taxation" and there is nothing to stop you from donating the same amount you currently do to libraries or national "defense", but those who don't support those things, or who know of better ways to provide the same service, wouldn't be subjected to coercive confiscation of their property.

    If it is a non-consensual taking of property/money and enforced by a threat of violence/kidnapping (and ultimately, death) it is a "tax", no matter whether The State calls it a fee, license, fine, etc.

  3. It is interesting to note the similarity between a "true" libertarian not supporting military service--except when the U.S. has been aggressed upon--and the early Christian doctrine of no true Christian can be in the army and kill others. Then, after Emperor Constitine co-opted the Christan religion in the 3rd Century A.D., that doctrine was discarded and now we have so-called Christian military personel being praised for killing innocent others.

    I am not a Christian, but consider myself a Libertarian. Invading Iraq was absolutely wrong, but going after Al Qaeda in Afganistan was right, except the military wasn't allowed to pursue Al Qaeda aggressively and get the job done. Now, it's just a futile military position and needs to be ended.

  4. I think there were better ways of "going after" those who supported the 911 terrorists- if the government's narrative is true, and if any survived. Using a military financed through "taxation" doesn't seem to be the solution. I have seen "letters of marque and reprisal" discussed. Or, why not just a bounty? And, wasn't Al Qaeda just a CIA creation in the first place?

    If "security" is the goal, a military is a pathetic way to get it.

  5. Could this be "The Raven Paradox?"

  6. Anon- It's interesting how those paradoxes relate to each other. It doesn't seem to be the same thing, but I can see how it could overlap in some cases.