The best sentence I read today

by on May 30, 2008 at 12:57 pm in Philosophy | Permalink

So showing that the state is not legitimate need not entail that it is morally indefensible.

That’s from Will Wilkinson and for those of you on EST I read it yesterday.  The whole post is interesting.

LibertarianGuy May 30, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Lots of loving of the state going on on the libertarian blogs lately.

Between your ‘hearasy’ yesterday, Wilkinson’s defense of positive rights today, and yesterday’s Wilkinson post cited here, not to mention Reason.com’s Bob Barr loving, I’m not getting nearly my daily dose of fire and drum pounding rage. . .

Not that you guys aren’t all correct and perfectly reasonable, I could just use someone going after the state instead of saying how great it is.

Ben May 30, 2008 at 8:43 pm

I’d say it’s the best bit of doublethink I’ve read today. The rest of the post could be used as a defense of totalitarianism.

Bob Murphy May 30, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Shoot, whenever I am lazy and don’t preview the post, a typo slips through. Above I meant to say:

You can admit that the State is immoral, shrug and say, “But life s*cks, I’d rather be oppressed by George Bush than Attila the Hun.” But that’s not the same as morally defending the presidency.

mk May 31, 2008 at 1:43 am

Nah man, he’s just saying that legitimacy does not exhaust everything about what is right.

An illegitimate government presiding over nothing but awesomely happy, fulfilled, prosperous people is presumably (in his rendering) preferable to a legitimate government presiding over unhappy, morose people in decrepit poverty.

To some of us, that is obviously true, and to some of us, obviously false. To others it’s maybe hard to say.

I certainly agree with his pluralistic take on morality: there is no one metric or one final, simple prioritization of precisely defined values that can be said to encapsulate all of my moral beliefs. Sometimes I even [gasp] make it up as I go along. I think this is human, natural, and healthy.

Gil May 31, 2008 at 2:43 am

Au contraire! A Libertarian abiding by a ‘statist’ government because they have a better standard of living than if they lived in a nation that is achingly to anarchism yet is violent and dirt-poor invariably waters down his argument. Does anyone take an Environementalist who drives a car to a protest for air pollution, who opposes nuclear power plants in a way that coal power plant take its place, etc.? Or a Marxist yabbering on about the plight of the worker yet dutily turn up for work on time and holds a well-paid position?

Bernard Yomtov May 31, 2008 at 10:05 pm

So what this brilliant sentence boils down to is that government might actually have some benefit even if it doesn’t operate by unanimous consent?

Andrew June 2, 2008 at 8:03 am

Does showing it illegitimate prove it morally defensible?

‘“justified† just means “best for flourishing.†’

Sure, this is how the powerful justify the systems that allow them to flourish.

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