The death of libertarianism

October 9, 2008

in Economics, Politics, The environment

There is a lot about the political philosophy of libertarianism that is appealing. The idea that one should be free to behave as one wishes – as long as it doesn’t harm others – seems to provide a decent balance between allowing people to pursue their own purposes and stopping that pursuit from harming the general interest. That being said, the degree to which libertarianism can be liberating is diminishing with time. This is basically because of both the growing fact of interconnectedness and because of our growing awareness of it.

One example is economic globalization. At one point in time, it would have been considered reasonable to argue that economic activity on one side of the world has no morally relevant effect on the other. Now that markets are more linked, products and capital flow, and awareness of linkages exist, that becomes very difficult to argue. Before, it is as though the chooser was alone in a room with a light switch. It is of no particular moral consequence whether they choose to have it on or not. Now, it is more as though that light switch also reduces the function of the equipment in a hospital across town when it is pulled. Whereas libertarianism previously permitted free choice, the inter-linked example includes a moral obligation to act in a certain way.

Climate change may be the ultimate force diminishing how liberating libertarianism can be. Not only do nearly all of our life and economic choices impact innocent third parties around the world, they also contribute to a problem that will have a huge long-term impact on future generations and the natural world. Arguably, this makes the doctrine of “do what you like but do no harm” impossible to follow in practice.

It is not clear if or how the appealing aspects of libertarianism can be maintained in a world full of important material interconnections. The most plausible answer seems to be a combination of working hard to create situations where multiple moral choices actually do exist (light switches that don’t shut down breathing machines) and accepting those situations where the tradeoffs are real and making a determined effort to choose the least harmful option.

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{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily H. October 9, 2008 at 11:01 am

It should be predictable that if we are going to adapt to a changing environment, our political approach should be changing as well.

Until now, our perception of the environment is that it is static. Firm ground on which to build, manipulate firm idea-structures. This is implicit in all of our current ideologies.

With a volatile environment, I think you’re right that we, all the worse for liberalism and democracy, need to consider the good of all vs. the good of the individual.

I think we have proved that largely the North American individual has little scope of their impacts globally, or at least, doesn’t care. Which is unacceptable.

If libertarianism is the channel, or the excuse, that allows this kind of exploitation, I think it’s already a mangled form of itself and (no news), we need a smarter, more ethical approach.

Sarah October 9, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Hmmn, this is a good point about libertarianism, but problematic insofar as it is unclear how we would replace some of these precepts.
For instance, Mill’s argument is that people should be prevented from directly harming one another, but may harm themselves (even if that produces minor, indirect harm on someone else). Does that mean we have the right to prevent people from burning down rainforests or setting up coal plants? Does it depend on the extent of the harm to others and/or upon how direct that harm is? Does it matter whether the person acting can forsee the harm they are causing, or is someone culpable for harm produced by an environmental effect that was unknown at the time?
Further, is trying to produce “situations where multiple moral choices actually do exist” likely to lead to anything approaching a pareto optimal outcome? If not, then what justifies it as the way forward?

tristan October 9, 2008 at 10:40 pm

Sarah,

“Further, is trying to produce “situations where multiple moral choices actually do exist” likely to lead to anything approaching a pareto optimal outcome? If not, then what justifies it as the way forward?”

What makes the pareto optimal outcome the only justified out come? Just because the Libertarian principle is becoming difficult in practice, this hardly suggests that we need to immediately switch to an outcome-justified ethics.

Milan,

You admit that the “do what you like but do no harm” imperative is possibly becoming impossible to practice. Does this mean you think it’s necessary to see how your own good conflicts or comes into alignment with the good of others? Does this mean selfish action with limits is no longer enough, that we must reduce the chiasmic distance between selfish and right action?

Milan October 10, 2008 at 11:35 am

Emily,

I don’t think libertarianism has generally been a dominant political philosophy: especially in the social sphere. The most appealing elements of it are how it doesn’t say who should be able to marry who, what should happen in the bedrooms of the nation, what informed choices we can make about our own bodies / medical care / etc.

Censors and those seeking to impose their own views on others have been a lot more common than libertarians. It is the economic form of libertarianism that is in real trouble because of climate change.

Milan October 10, 2008 at 11:42 am

Sarah,

Does that mean we have the right to prevent people from burning down rainforests or setting up coal plants?

It certainly suggests that they are not behaving rightly in doing so. How we enforce the Harm Principle is an additional question. Presumably, we need to do so without creating a greater harm.

Does it depend on the extent of the harm to others and/or upon how direct that harm is?

These certainly seem relevant to the justness of enforcing a certain form of conduct. The more clear and direct the harm, the stronger a moral case we have for restricting the behaviour.

Does it matter whether the person acting can forsee the harm they are causing, or is someone culpable for harm produced by an environmental effect that was unknown at the time?

The situation of the person acting does seem morally relevant. Do they understand the consequences? Do they have a choice? The best response to any particular situation depends on the answers to those and other questions – just as the appropriate response differs between rich poachers shooting elephants for ivory and poor villagers killing endangered animals for sustenance.

Further, is trying to produce “situations where multiple moral choices actually do exist” likely to lead to anything approaching a Pareto optimal outcome? If not, then what justifies it as the way forward?

Pareto optimal outcomes never happen. They are a purely intellectual construct that couldn’t even be properly simulated in an undergraduate economics class. They assume perfect information, low transaction costs, and more stability about personal preferences than people have. Also, they assume that the distribution before trading begins is valid. Going from an arbitrary point in time to the Pareto optimum for the initial distribution doesn’t necessarily produce a just final distribution.

If we want to live in an ethical society, it must be structured so that people have at least one ethical choice to make in any circumstance. Of course, there is always a ‘lesser of the evils’ option available. What creating new choices means is moving beyond that, into a situation where people actually have good options in the set available.

Milan October 10, 2008 at 11:59 am

Tristan,

I agree that the creation of choices (while it can be considered in consequentialist terms) is more fundamental. Arguably, the current ethical choices presented to us in many cases are akin to a hostage given a gun and forced to shoot a fellow hostage. Some choices may be more moral than others, but all are constrained and deeply damaging. In some cases, people have the opportunity to refuse to make a choice (say, refraining from travel), but doing so is so personally inconvenient that it is likely to never be mainstream.

In an ideal world, any economic choice you would care to make would include several decent options. Moving towards that requires dealing with the externalities that arise from our choices. If a choice is currently unethical because of Consequence X, we need to find a way of doing that thing without the consequence.

Does this mean you think it’s necessary to see how your own good conflicts or comes into alignment with the good of others?

This is precisely the reason for which libertarianism is dying. It used to be plausible to assert in many areas of life that your choices had no effect on the good of third parties. The fact that there are now alignments or conflicts in most cases makes moral choosing far more difficult.

Does this mean selfish action with limits is no longer enough, that we must reduce the chiasmic distance between selfish and right action?

We need to at least give people the tools to shrink that distance, if they wish.

Given that some portion of the population will never do what is right when there are more alluring immoral ways to behave, dealing with climate change means changing society to the point where even the greediest, most uncaring people are still living low-carbon lives.

That means not only creating ethical choices – it means making those choices the ones that even the morally indifferent actually select.

Milan October 10, 2008 at 12:35 pm

There are also big issues of moral uncertainty relating to economic choices and global outcomes. Is it better to get your electricity from low-carbon nuclear power, or from natural gas plants that lack the risks associated with accidents, waste, etc? Is it better to avoid buying shoes made in Mexico or Vietnam because they have lower wages and employment standards, or would the people over there be even worse off it we insisted on buying shoes from other developed states? The answer to such questions may well vary between the short, medium, and long-term.

The present inhabitants of South Korea and Japan would probably argue that imports from low-wage productive states are an important way through which rich states can foster development elsewhere (while also directing their own labour force towards their own areas of comparative advantage).

. October 18, 2008 at 5:57 pm

The End of Libertarianism
The financial collapse proves that its ideology makes no sense.
By Jacob Weisberg
Posted Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008, at 6:17 AM ET

A source of mild entertainment amid the financial carnage has been watching libertarians scurrying to explain how the global financial crisis is the result of too much government intervention rather than too little. One line of argument casts as villain the Community Reinvestment Act, which prevents banks from “redlining” minority neighborhoods as not creditworthy. Another theory blames Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for causing the trouble by subsidizing and securitizing mortgages with an implicit government guarantee. An alternative thesis is that past bailouts encouraged investors to behave recklessly in anticipation of a taxpayer rescue.

. March 18, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Pay now or pay later
It is conservatives who want to redistribute costs and burdens — to future generations
Posted by David Roberts

So it’s worth occasionally reiterating: right now, with respect to climate, we are allocating resources horribly inefficiently. We are imposing enormous costs and constraints on future generations. We are making them less free — controlling them, you might say. As Paul Hawken puts it, “We have an economy where we steal the future, sell it in the present, and call it GDP.”

Environmentalists do not want to control people for the sake of controlling them. They want people to bear the costs and burdens of their own behavior instead of sloughing them off to their kids and grandkids.

We either control ourselves or defer the day of reckoning, letting someone else pay our bill. Conservatives think “freedom” means running up an enormous ecological debt. That’s not a philosophy, it’s extended adolescence.

Peter May 1, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Milan,

“Pareto optimal outcomes never happen.” What about the corollary? Do you deny the existence of conflict games?

Tristan May 1, 2009 at 11:42 pm

Pareto optimal is an idea. Ideas never happen – they are perfect, but the world is corrupted by matter. We use ideas, abstractions, concepts, to understand the world – but they never “happen”. I suppose next you’re going to say that the Republic is a meaningless political because it could never “happen”. Any economics based on the perfection being actualized will be stupid – the way to deal with models intelligently is to evaluate how much they help us when we strive towards their actualization – not when we demand they come true, whatever that would mean.

Tristan May 1, 2009 at 11:46 pm

“T: Does this mean you think it’s necessary to see how your own good conflicts or comes into alignment with the good of others?

M: This is precisely the reason for which libertarianism is dying. It used to be plausible to assert in many areas of life that your choices had no effect on the good of third parties. The fact that there are now alignments or conflicts in most cases makes moral choosing far more difficult.”

One reason to think Philosophy might be of some use is that this criticism you are making of libertarianism, is precisely Hegel’s criticism of Adam Smith’s theory of political freedom. In about 1815.

Milan May 4, 2009 at 11:28 am

What about the corollary? Do you deny the existence of conflict games?

Do you mean prisoner’s dilemmas and common property failures?

I think both of those clearly exist. For instance, when it comes to climate change or marine fisheries.

Peter May 5, 2009 at 3:25 am

I mean conflict games, as in the technical term for a type of zero-sum game where the arragements are Pareto optimal. Your previous claim requires you deny the existence of these games, but I was just wondering since there are numberous examples one could point to.

Milan May 5, 2009 at 8:54 am

Pareto optimality can potentially occur in very special settings. Say, a small number of people trading things in a room. It is not something that happens in markets with large numbers of participants, imperfect information, etc.

It is also worth noting that the distribution that arises from a series of Pareto-improving moves isn’t necessarily a desirable one. It’s just the best one that can be reached through a series of voluntary exchanges.

Milan May 5, 2009 at 8:58 am

The major reason for which Pareto optimal outcomes do not occur in complex systems is information problems. There are Pareto-improving trades that players don’t know about. Similarly, there are times when players make voluntary exchanges that prove to be detrimental.

If you take into account the effects of trading on third parties, Pareto optimality is arguably even harder to achieve.

. May 5, 2009 at 9:00 am

Zero-sum
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Conflict game)

In game theory and economic theory, zero-sum describes a situation in which a participant’s gain or loss is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the other participant(s). If the total gains of the participants are added up, and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero. Zero-sum can be thought of more generally as constant sum where the benefits and losses to all players sum to the same value of money and pride and dignity. Cutting a cake is zero- or constant-sum, because taking a larger piece reduces the amount of cake available for others. In contrast, non-zero-sum describes a situation in which the interacting parties’ aggregate gains and losses is either less than or more than zero. Zero sum games are also called strictly competitive.

Tristan May 5, 2009 at 9:38 am

I agree with Milan – the problem is information and externalities. Information is inadaquate both because there are trades that would benefit me that I don’t know about, and there are trades that I know about that I don’t know would benefit me (I don’t know my own interests). And, there are detrimental effects on others which simply are not naturally included in the market model (that’s why they are called “externalities”). I.e. systemic risk.

Milan May 5, 2009 at 11:57 am

When you are thinking at the macro level, there are also huge uncertainties to deal with.

For instance, would shifting Canada’s electricity grid more towards nuclear be a Pareto-improvement? Almost certainly not, on the strong reading of the principle. At least one person would probably be harmed by such a transition (the victim of an accident, say, or the owner of a coal plant).

Even on a Kaldor-Hicks potential-Pareto level, there are too many uncertainties to be able to say whether the improvement would be definitive or not. When it comes to public policy, we often operate in a haze in which abstract game theory is inapplicable.

Peter May 5, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Milan,

You’ve changed your position from “Pareto optimal outcomes never happen.” to “Pareto optimality can potentially occur in very special settings.” and there are difficulties applying the concept of Pareto optimality to complex systems. Then you repeated the standard social justice critique. It’s important to consider the scope of my comment. I was reacting to one claim you made that seemed incorrect and very odd. I didn’t mean to infer that the fact that the property occurs in some systems establishes it in all, or that there weren’t problems applying to complex systems. I didn’t make any comments about the suitability, benefits, or limitations of Pareto optimality. I just ran into a claim that I thought was demonstratively false and addressed it.

On an overly critical note, I object to the term “very special”. It occurs under “special” conditions in the sense that there is a distinct form to the games – specifically that the object of competition is a fixed resource, often created through the game – but they are not “special” in the sense of being unusual. People engage in thousands of conflict games every day. This doesn’t change your main concern – there is a form that results in Pareto optimal games which is different from complex systems and so there are difficulties applying the concept. However, these aren’t rare occurrences, which is part of the reason I found the original claim so odd.

In terms of the applicability of the concept, it is only possible to have Pareto improvements in a system that is not Pareto optimal. So, we need to establish the theoretical viability of the concept, but the use we derive from it actually hinges on the market (other complex systems) not being optimally arranged. In a strange sense, your point (that complex systems aren’t Pareto optimal) actually secures the value of the concept. Pareto optimality suggests the desirability of certain types of transactions (although this is subject to critique) and the weak form suggests a principle of compensation. To respond directly to your examples, lack of information suggests a preference for Pareto improvements as well as a positive political project of doing research into potential Pareto improvements. Modifying your example somewhat, if the state cause harm to an individual (such as the destruction of property, relocation, etc) in pursuit of a goal, the weak form leading to a compensation principle suggests: (1) compensation is required, and (2) that the action is only desirable if the gain is large enough to compensation those affected. We have excellent reasons to doubt claims that compensation entails justification, but we can use the principle in one direction to establish the validity of claims against the state and companies for individuals that have been damaged. This is particularly useful to you, because you seem very concerned (appropriately so) about externalities. The application of the concept of Pareto optimality to tort law helps explain the problems of externalities, especially when the company will offload huge costs to the public for the smallest gain.

In death, you’ve found the perfect example where no amount of compensation can redress the harm. This is the problem with Hobbsian based legal theory; sanctions are treated like fines, whereas normative prohibitions suggest that we would prefer that the transgressive action did not occur. Punitive measures are not the operating costs in a transaction, but are tokens because complete compensation is impossible. However, I must point out that your example is incidental. It isn’t a necessary part of the transaction. An accidental death during construction isn’t planed, or desired. While it has actually occurred, it’s incidental; theoretically the transaction doesn’t require this and still should be considered a Pareto improvement. I’m not being callous. I don’t mean that the death is trivial, but it isn’t conceptually necessary for the transaction. That is to say, blame the accident, not the transaction (unless it is especially negligent or something to that effect). It’s like saying we shouldn’t build that brand new community center that the govt. loves, and the corporate sponsors are dying to fund, and the community members desperately want, because there is a risk of accident implicit in all construction. The compensation principle actually aids when considering foreseeable risk, so that societies and corporations must weight the benefits of the project against the likely complications and costs of compensation. What you have is a purely accidental harm that can’t be redressed, but it also can’t be predicted. In cases where deaths can be predicted the fact that these are not Pareto improvements is a virtue of the concept. A preference for Pareto improvements would simply entail that you can’t deliberately kill someone in an exchange because no amount of compensation can make that weakly, or strongly optimal. Disqualifying random appropriations, murder and genocide as strategies for social redistribution is not a negative feature.

In context of the conversation, I believe Sarah’s post was asking if creating possible moral choices would lead to Pareto improvements (her phrasing – “approaching a pareto optimal outcome”), with the possibly implied question of “how?” Then she continued to ask what was the justification for this approach if it does not. These seem like reasonable questions – which is not to say that only Pareto improvements are justified transactions, but was replied to by your suggestion that the concept is not viable. Presumably if Pareto optimality is an actual impossibility, the concept of Pareto improvements is undermined since they aren’t actually moving towards something. The question can only be dismissed if you think the concept is empty, or confused, or self-contradictory. I’ve already dealt exhaustively with this rather strange claim that Pareto optimality doesn’t occur, and since moved on to show the correct way to apply/the potential benefits derived from considering the concept that are only possible in system that aren’t Pareto optimal. (Which appear to be your next statement, which rather bizarrely seemed framed as an objection) As for the problems of determining whether complex transactions are Pareto improvement, and the mainline social justice critique of Pareto optimality that you have advanced – I don’t have a problem with them. Quite simply, those are new claims. They aren’t in support of the original claim I was contesting.

Milan May 5, 2009 at 4:49 pm

You’ve changed your position from “Pareto optimal outcomes never happen.” to “Pareto optimality can potentially occur in very special settings.” and there are difficulties applying the concept of Pareto optimality to complex systems.

True, and the second version is more accurate.

It can be easily shown through a thought experiment. If two diabetics get stuck in an elevator, one with insulin and one with money, trading some money for some insulin clearly benefits them both (provided the one with insulin has more than enough for himself, to cover the period across which they will be trapped). That being said, in a situation where the diabetic has nothing to trade, the Pareto-optimal outcome is arguably to let him die. Of course, his fellow captive might derive utility from not cruelly depriving a fellow human being of vital medicine, but that is beside the point I am making.

The important question doesn’t seem to be “can we think up and hypothetical or real-life examples of Pareto optimum outcomes or Pareto improvements?” Rather, it seems to be “does the concept of Pareto optimality or Pareto improvements have value for evaluating ethical choices or public policies?”

Milan May 5, 2009 at 5:04 pm

This doesn’t change your main concern – there is a form that results in Pareto optimal games which is different from complex systems and so there are difficulties applying the concept. However, these aren’t rare occurrences, which is part of the reason I found the original claim so odd.

Conditions of perfect information are so rare as to be non-existent. As the number of possible trades increases, the chances that actors with imperfect knowledge about both goods and their own preferences will produce a Pareto optimal outcome fall towards zero. Give me a dollar and the choice between an apple or a peach and I am likely to reach a Pareto optimum. Give me a dollar to spend on anything, invest, give away, etc. and it is much less likely that I will be able to discover the trade or set of trades that would achieve that.

In terms of the applicability of the concept, it is only possible to have Pareto improvements in a system that is not Pareto optimal.

True. That is my understanding of the definition of Pareto optimality.

We have excellent reasons to doubt claims that compensation entails justification, but we can use the principle in one direction to establish the validity of claims against the state and companies for individuals that have been damaged

Potential Pareto optimality, in which compensation is theoretical, is essentially the basis for cost-benefit analysis, which I agree is used extensively in making public policy choices – though relatively rarely to the exclusion of all other considerations.

An accidental death during construction isn’t planed, or desired.

I don’t think planning or desire are the relevant criteria here. Rather, anticipation is. When we decide to allow a coal power plant, knowing that the particulate emissions will kill approximately X people, that knowledge makes their deaths part of the transaction. Of course, there have been many cases where people didn’t anticipate the full consequences of choices: for instance, putting lead in gasoline.

The basic point of the post above is that because we can now anticipate so many harms, the fundamental libertarian tenet that economic decisions are the sole business of those directly involved in them is no longer tenable. When me buying electricity from Ottawa Hydro effects the life prospects of people in Bangladesh, I can no longer count on my selfish voluntary actions producing equitable outcomes.

It’s like saying we shouldn’t build that brand new community center that the govt. loves, and the corporate sponsors are dying to fund, and the community members desperately want, because there is a risk of accident implicit in all construction.

Indeed, it is always a difficult task of public policy to weigh the risk of lives lost against other considerations: in everything from health care to policing to defence to environmental policy. In most cases, all possible options carry a risk of causing death, including complete inaction.

Presumably if Pareto optimality is an actual impossibility, the concept of Pareto improvements is undermined since they aren’t actually moving towards something.

It’s more that I would question the value of the overall framework. Arguably, Pareto optimality isn’t a concept that can ‘scale up’ to the level of ethical or public policy decisions in a complex global economy.

Milan May 5, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Time is another factor.

In idealized discussions of Pareto optimality, it is assumed that exchanges can occur quickly enough to lead to an optimum. In the real global economy, that may not be true. While decisions are being made, conditions are changing in ways that make previous decisions non-optimal. There is probably so much ongoing churn that the system could never be expected to balance out to an optimum, even if information failures and externalities did not exist.

Assuming that economic actors are aware of all their options at any given point is a generous assumption. Assuming they can anticipate all future developments is an even less reasonable thing to do.

Tristan May 5, 2009 at 6:02 pm

It’s actually essential that time is not brought up in idealized pareto optimality. This has to do with a decision that was made in orthodox economics in the 1950s – the dismissal of time as a required input to general equilibrium equations. This is probably the most important difference between orthodox and heterodox economics today – it makes Marxists and Austrian school arguments seem incomprehensible.

Peter May 6, 2009 at 1:41 am

Milan,

I will review the situation, areas of agreement, and (my) reasons for focusing on particular issues at particular times.

“The important question doesn’t seem to be “can we think up and hypothetical or real-life examples of Pareto optimum outcomes or Pareto improvements?” Rather, it seems to be “does the concept of Pareto optimality or Pareto improvements have value for evaluating ethical choices or public policies?”

The first question was made relevant by your claim,

“Pareto optimal outcomes never happen.”

To summarize by analogy: You made a post. Someone else asked if you were going to have chickens on your farm. To which you replied, chickens don’t really exist. I thought the claim was odd, so I challenged it. I’ve spent considerable time arguing chickens exist, because you claimed they didn’t. The only relevance of the activity was to ensure correctness. I have to admit that I currently find it quite odd that you’re wondering why I was talking about chickens. The first question seems to have been definitely answered:

(in response to my assertion that your position has changed) “True, and the second version is more accurate.”

I’m glad I could help you clarify your position. I’m not really sure whether the following thought experiment was directed against me, or whether you were just showing your clarified position where Pareto optimality can exist, while noting that the concept has limitations. The reason I didn’t use a thought experiment was,

“They are a purely intellectual construct that couldn’t even be properly simulated in an undergraduate economics class.”

So I figured I should find you real life examples rather than a hypothetical arrangement.

The second question is relevant because we want to talk about complex systems and not just poker – possibly played for chickens. However, it must be pointed out that the second question only makes sense if you answer the first in the affirmative. Your original dismissal of Sarah’s question was only made possible by denying the existence of chickens. You’ll have to decide whether her question was relevant with regards to your original post, but it wasn’t my question, and your newfound emphasis on your second question seems to imply that it is relevant.

I began to focus on some of the problems of applying the concept because your first acceptance of the existence of Pareto optimality seemed to imply that the “ very special” conditions it occurred under made it unsuitable for use when considering market transactions.

“Pareto optimality can potentially occur in very special settings. Say, a small number of people trading things in a room. It is not something that happens in markets with large numbers of participants, imperfect information, etc.”

This confused me because Pareto optimality is used to establish certain types of transactions as Pareto improvements and suggests that this type of improvements is desirable over others. To which you seem to agree,

“In terms of the applicability of the concept, it is only possible to have Pareto improvements in a system that is not Pareto optimal.

True. That is my understanding of the definition of Pareto optimality.”

However, even in your latest reply you continue to say perplexing things like this,

“While decisions are being made, conditions are changing in ways that make previous decisions non-optimal.”

The system can be Pareto optimal, a transaction cannot. A transaction can only be a Pareto improvement in a system that isn’t Pareto optimal. You still seem to imply that the concept of Pareto optimality is unsuited for application because complex systems are not Pareto optimal, even though my main point is that the concept of Pareto optimality is useful in sub-optimal systems because we can identify Pareto improvements. The benefits result from focusing on transactions that are Pareto improvements. The concept of a Pareto improvement requires defending the concept of Pareto optimality against your charges of incoherence. (If Pareto optimality cannot occur, in what way does it make sense to claim there is a type of transaction that moves a system towards optimality?) This is why establishing the existence of Pareto optimal systems is important, and why, once achieved, it makes perfect sense to search sub-optimal systems for Pareto improvements by applying the concept.
You seem to continue pushing your ongoing criticism that the fact a system is not Pareto optimal establishes that the concept is not useful, because in reply to my assertion that it is, you offer quotes like the following,

“As the number of possible trades increases, the chances that actors with imperfect knowledge about both goods and their own preferences will produce a Pareto optimal outcome fall towards zero.”

In what way does this prevent the use of the concept? The fact that the entire system won’t become optimal doesn’t undermine the value of looking for Pareto improvements. The concept of Pareto optimality is useful in sub-optimal systems because it suggests activities that would benefit the system by producing Pareto improvements. The use was virtually secured the second it was revealed that Pareto optimality wasn’t a confused concept.

“It’s more that I would question the value of the overall framework.”

I’ve suggested numerous ways that the application of the concept of Pareto optimality has benefited us – the reduction of externalities through the improvement of tort law (the compensation in tort law is real and not merely theoretical), the proper measure of gains, and designing maximal resource systems with regards to whether we consider weak or strong as justifiable. The weak condition has given rise to a compensation principle that justifies claims made against the state and companies when those entities have harmed people, and has also informed the economic theory of law. The desirability of the transactions comes from the combination of the democratic nature of the exchange and the net gain in utility. I’m somewhat perplexed because you seem to accept the suitability of the concept,

“Potential Pareto optimality, in which compensation is theoretical, is essentially the basis for cost-benefit analysis, which I agree is used extensively in making public policy choices…”

Although, it is unclear why you “potential” (ly) slip back into denying the existence of chickens. It seems straightforward enough to say: Complex systems aren’t Pareto optimal, but we know that the concept makes sense, since some “very special” systems are, so it is suitable to apply the concept.

I began trying to redress some of your problems with whether the concept was suitable in my previous post. After wrapping up the question of existence, I tried to show some of the potential benefits from the concept and how they only occur when the system is not Pareto optimal, to allay some of your concerns that it is difficult to characterize Pareto improvements. You gave one example of an accidental death of a worker as evidence that it is difficult to tell whether transitions are actually Pareto improvements.

“For instance, would shifting Canada’s electricity grid more towards nuclear be a Pareto-improvement? Almost certainly not, on the strong reading of the principle. At least one person would probably be harmed by such a transition (the victim of an accident,…”

I was refuting your claim that accidental death, which does count as harm on both the strong and weak levels adds to the difficulty in evaluating if a transaction is a Pareto improvement. Your reply changed the example.

“When we decide to allow a coal power plant, knowing that the particulate emissions will kill approximately X people, that knowledge makes their deaths part of the transaction.”

Absolutely. That sentiment was expressed in my notes on how the compensation principle forbids transactions that intentionally cause deaths from being considered Pareto improvements. This is a desirable feature. However, this is an extremely underhanded reply to the substance of my post because you have changed the original situation. In your original example (which is what I was replying to), the death was accidental. Again,

“For instance, would shifting Canada’s electricity grid more towards nuclear be a Pareto-improvement? Almost certainly not, on the strong reading of the principle. At least one person would probably be harmed by such a transition (the victim of an accident, say, or the owner of a coal plant).”

I was rejecting your assertion that it difficult to determine whether transactions are Pareto improvements on the basis of accidental deaths. My community center example was to demonstrate that we can’t stop all activities on the basis of an abstract risk, and that even when an accident occurs, the pervious win-win-win transaction is still a Pareto improvement because the death isn’t necessary for the transaction.

“An accidental death during construction isn’t planed (sic – my original error), or desired.

I don’t think planning or desire are the relevant criteria here. Rather, anticipation is.”

I agree. I used the term “planned” because it is one basis for anticipating something. E.g. I plan to wake up tomorrow. In the specific example, when they planned to build a community center the expected and likely consequence was a local pool, not the unintended death of an individual. I used the term “desire”, to indicate that the death was not internal to the transaction. The residents desired the pool, and the companies desired advertising; no one desired the death of a person. ‘Pareto improvement’ is a characterization of a transaction based on the logical requirements (the necessary components) of the transaction. It is not a warning that there is a risk of fatal accidents in most activities. I maintain that we can (easily) and should characterize my example as a Pareto improvement. Your altered example clearly makes the deaths a necessary part of the transaction and is not a Pareto improvement. I’ve always maintained that the full costs, including the potential of foreseeable risk should be considered

“Time is another factor…. Assuming that economic actors are aware of all their options at any given point is a generous assumption. Assuming they can anticipate all future developments is an even less reasonable thing to do.”

This objection fits in nicely here, because it could provide support for the idea that my community center example changed from a Pareto improvement when the accident victim died. These things are interesting problems about the rate of change in the economy and how transactions occur and change in nature from time to time, but they don’t harm the viability of the concept. There is a class of transactions that I can readily identify as Pareto improvements, even without awareness of all possible options and all potential future outcomes. They are likely to be more desirable than other possible transactions. Concept applied, Q.E.D. It is an economic theory, not a magic eight ball. Perhaps the misapprehension about whether Pareto optimality is the end all is because, I have come off as a strong advocate of Pareto optimality. This isn’t the case; I readily acknowledge its limitations, but the concept is viable. I’m not sure how you’ve even come to believe that omniscience is a requirement for the suitability of the concept.

I don’t really know where this leaves us. Now that you’ve admitted the existence of Pareto optimality, you seem to oscillate between a tendency to undermine the concept by claiming that applying it to complex systems (which is different from claiming complex systems are optimal) is impossible (despite the fact that you frequently do it, when you announce a particular transaction would or would not be a Pareto improvement), and general notes about the use, benefits and function of Pareto improvements. Meanwhile, I think the second question has already been addressed, since I have suggested several benefits and the question reads, “…Pareto improvements have value for evaluating … or public policies?”. The hack job is deliberate to emphasize the “or”; it’s clear that you would like to focus on the relevance for ethical choices since you seem to want to link the discussion to your original post.

“The basic point of the post above is that because we can now anticipate so many harms, the fundamental libertarian tenet that economic decisions are the sole business of those directly involved in them is no longer tenable.”

I’ve never actually made a direct comment on the post. I’ve encountered the idea before. It has some support. All my comments have been reactions to claims you’ve made in your comments. I’m sorry if I’ve led you off topic, but when someone denies the existence of chickens, it tends to catch my attention. However, I would support the formulation of a third question about whether the concept of Pareto optimality helps ethical evaluation. You still have a good critique of the limitations, and I assumed the standard social justice critique was also implicit:

“It is also worth noting that the distribution that arises from a series of Pareto-improving moves isn’t necessarily a desirable one. It’s just the best one that can be reached through a series of voluntary exchanges.”

Pareto optimality doesn’t secure fair or evenly distributed systems, and won’t necessarily prevent climate change; but then again, I never really claimed it would. I tend to agree with the sentiment you expressed in the following quote,

“…- though relatively rarely to the exclusion of all other considerations.”

There are other relevant considerations for public action beside Pareto optimality. All this has been a debate over whether Pareto optimal systems can exist in real life, then whether the concept could be applied to public policy decisions, and then whether it achieved anything beneficial in terms of public policy. I don’t know whether you’ve settled these issues because you seem to still push the line that the concept is incoherent at times, but you’re welcome to fire back, or if it’s been put to rest, kick start a conversation on other ethical considerations for policy making.

I’ll tentatively venture that one benefit of applying the concept to climate change is that it suggests a class of actions that people should be less resistant to taking, if we can find such transactions. The compensation principle also suggests that the “developed” states are obligated to compensate “underdeveloped” states for our economic gains because of the harms of climate change, which might provide impetus for a transition to a green economy.

Milan June 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Too long!

The probability that a comment will receive a meaningful and comprehensive reply varies inversely with its length.

Tristan June 2, 2009 at 11:56 am

“ou still seem to imply that the concept of Pareto optimality is unsuited for application because complex systems are not Pareto optimal, even though my main point is that the concept of Pareto optimality is useful in sub-optimal systems because we can identify Pareto improvements.”

Peter’s got you – saying Pareto optimality is useless because it never happens ignores that it is only useful when it doesn’t happen.

Tristan June 2, 2009 at 12:03 pm

It’s true, however, that the general attitude the general equilibrium theory has taken towards the reality of equilibrium points is so mind numbingly stupid, that Milan’s criticism, which amounts to “point of equliibrium doesn’t exist” – and that is correct I think, actually succeeds.

We need to go back to a kind of ontological status for models that we had before Nash took over the world. I.e. Kapital vol.3 – the equality of value and price is impossible because of constant fluctuations and contingencies which create the market forces by which people do things, they act, and if they happen to coincide, we should take that as a complete accident. Of course, everyone today thinks Marx argued value and price had to coincide but I this is the same problem we get with lots of historical interpretation – people believe the precise opposite of what is the case.

Because today epistemology totally dominates ontology, we can’t understand that something might be real which is unknowable and un-actualizable. And yet, against our best efforts, simple concepts like pareto optimality keep having exactly this kind of reality.

. September 29, 2009 at 10:08 am

“Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It’s also a matter of vested ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change is a problem that can only be addressed through government action. And rather than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen to deny that the problem exists.”

. September 30, 2009 at 1:42 pm

“The truth is that governments are the only entities that can prevent the end of fish. For one thing, once freed from their allegiance to the fishing-industrial complex, they are the ones with the research infrastructure capable of prudently managing fisheries. For another, it is they who provide the billions of dollars in annual subsidies that allow the fisheries to persist despite the lousy economics of the industry. Reducing these subsidies would allow fish populations to rebuild, and nearly all fisheries scientists agree that the billions of dollars in harmful, capacityenhancing subsidies must be phased out. Finally, only governments can zone the marine environment, identifying certain areas where fishing will be tolerated and others where it will not. In fact, all maritime countries will have to regulate their exclusive economic zones (the 200-mile boundary areas established by the U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty within which a nation has the sole right to fish). The United States has the largest exclusive economic zone in the world, and it has taken important first steps in protecting its resources, notably in the northwest Hawaiian islands. Creating, or re-creating, un-fished areas within which fish populations can regenerate is the only opportunity we have to repair the damage done to them.”

. October 15, 2009 at 4:16 pm

“By contrast, the article notes, “individualists” generally “dismiss claims of environmental risk as specious, in line with their commitment to the autonomy of markets.” In other words, individualists believe that (1) government should only regulates transactions that cause harm to others, and (2) this no-harm rule justifies a small government that does not interfere with commercial activity except to prohibit force and fraud. But proposition (2) makes sense only if most commercial transactions in fact do not cause significant harm to nonparties (or to use an economic term, “externalities”). But if nearly all commerical transactions do in fact create dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, proposition (2) fails, which means that the entire ideology of individualism is based on a falsehood (the idea that business activity does not generally create externalities justifying regulation). Because climate change appears to threaten the core idea of individualism, individualists will engage in considerable intellectual gymnastics to avoid climate regulation.”

neosapiens October 19, 2009 at 10:35 am

A big part of the climate action deadlock is a deep sense of denial about the harm our choices cause, and of our responsibility to live more circumspectly. It’s easy to assume that there’s nothing wrong with burning trash (or coal), leaving the lights on, or driving a Hummer cross-country. No one likes it when someone points out the fallacy in that thinking, and no on likes being told that they have to give up something that they really want to do. And yet the consequences of letting people go on doing harm just piles up. We need a reality check–and we’ll get it, either by choice or cataclysm.

. December 15, 2009 at 11:07 am

“The [Copenhagen climate] summit’s premise is that the age of heroism is over. We have entered the age of accomodation. No longer may we live without restraint. No longer may we swing our fists regardless of whose nose might be in the way. In everything we do we must now be mindful of the lives of others, cautious, constrained, meticulous. We may no longer live in the moment, as if there were no tomorrow.”

Milan February 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm

An analogy might help us explore the ideas above a bit further.

Imagine a room containing a powerful torch, of the sort used for welding, and a big beaker of water. As soon as the first photon from the torch strikes a water molecule, imparting some energy, the two can be said to have interacted. Likewise, if the torch heats up some air molecules that hit others and yet others, eventually hitting the surface of the water and warming it.

At the other extreme, if the torch was massively powerful and close to the beaker, it would rapidly boil all the water away.

Depending on the sensitivity of our observations (and the importance to us of having water in one circumstance or another), we can draw a line beyond which the torch is interfering with our water. This line is not a binary thing, however. It is just a division imposed within an analog spectrum of interference.

So it is with unjustified interference between people (‘unjustified’ referring to the assumption that we don’t wrong people by affecting them in non-harmful ways). We are always inevitably taking actions that affect everyone on the planet – to lesser and lesser degrees as they grow farther from us in space and time. As such, the fading of libertarianism comes from how our interconnectedness is increasing the force with which our choices impact others, meaning that there is ‘interference’ above and beyond any arbitrary line more and more often.

While the minor disruptions to air patterns caused by Neanderthals burning wood on another continent don’t plausibly fall within the realm of ‘harm’ between human beings (even if their effect was slightly harmful), those from the meltdown of a nuclear reactor on another continent can be called ‘harm’ much more plausibly. The physical and economic connections between all people now alive make it more and more necessary for us to be aware of our effect on others, and arguably empowers others more and more to call on us to moderate our behaviour for their sake.

Tristan February 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I think serious libertarianism amounts to the belief that we are all better off if we take the problems of externalities in our own hands. There are some examples where this does look sensible – i.e. if your neighbor is playing music too loud, you could talk with him about it and work out an arrangement rather than passing a rule which sets a maximum sound level for everyone.

If we lived in idyllic communities, the cry to keep the government out of our lives would have more resonance. In contemporary society, where community is rare, libertarianism just seems a bad idea.

Milan February 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm

You are right that consent and arrangements are other ways of keeping libertarianism liberating, in some circumstances at least.

But, while it is possible to make an arrangement with a reasonable neighbour (when your conflict is not too serious), we have no way as either individuals or sub-state communities to negotiate with GHG emitters in other countries. And future generations naturally cannot negotiate with anyone.

Tristan February 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm

You speak truth.

. April 13, 2010 at 10:20 am

“[O]ne of the main drivers of moral change is human contact. When we associate with other people and share common goals, we extend to them our affection. Increases in travel and access to information as well as political and economic interdependence mean that we associate with many more people than our grandparents and even our parents. As our social circle widens, so does our ‘moral circle’.

Danielle May 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm

So to clarify your point, you believe that an “intellectual elite… See more” should rule the masses for the “greater good”. Due to the inter-connectivity of the world there are too many people to maintain personal freedoms. That people must sacrifice their lives and their right to life, free of coercion and forceful oppression, for the “benefit” of the majority.

I actually believe that the vast majority of people are good and wish to do good when free to do so. I believe that if we restore personal responsibility and remove the idea that it’s “someone else’s job”, people will step up and own their lives.

“I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
~ Ayn Rand

I do concede that everyone must have personal gains and losses, but never should people be made to sacrifice themselves for the “good of others”. People’s gains and losses are based on how they prioritize their values. “For example, if you know that your education is more important to your life than is, say, a night on the town with your friends, then if you stay home in order to study for a crucial exam—rather than going out with your buddies—that is not a sacrifice. The sacrifice would be to hit the town and botch the exam.” Life requires that we regularly forgo lesser values for the sake of greater ones. But these are gains, not sacrifices. A sacrifice is, as Rand put it, “the surrender of a greater value for the sake of a lesser one or of a non-value.”

As far as I can see, you are preaching altruism. Here is a passage from a widely-used college textbook, so bear in mind that this is not someone speaking for or against altruism. This is just a textbook writer’s depiction of what altruism means in practice.

“A pure altruist doesn’t consider her own welfare at all but only that of others. If she had a choice between an action that would produce a great benefit for herself (such as enabling her to go to college) and an action that would produce no benefit for herself but a small benefit for someone else (such as enabling him to go to a concert this evening), she should do the second. She should be selfless, considering herself not at all: she should face death rather than subject another person to a minor discomfort. She is committed to serving others only and to pass up any benefits to herself.”

That illustrates the practical meaning of altruism—and indicates why no one practices it consistently.

Milan June 2, 2010 at 11:09 am

“Due to the inter-connectivity of the world there are too many people to maintain personal freedoms.”

This is a factual claim and demonstrably true. Because of climate change and economic globalization, most people simply cannot live their lives in ways that do not constrain the freedom of others. As such, systems of ethics that depend on this being possible are outdated.

“If she had a choice between an action that would produce a great benefit for herself (such as enabling her to go to college) and an action that would produce no benefit for herself but a small benefit for someone else (such as enabling him to go to a concert this evening), she should do the second.”

This is just silly. It’s like saying that only libertarians ever consider the relative importance of different outcomes, which is absurd. If you are advocating an ethical system that focuses on making the right choices for overall human welfare, utilitarianism is a far more sensible choice.

I am not advocating altruism, though it may well be morally laudable. Rather, I am saying that people cannot be free to trample the rights of others. That requires oversight, regulation, the rule of law, etc.

Transcribed from Facebook June 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Larry

First off…there is NO climate change that is the fault of man. Anyone that still believes in this nonsense is either an idiot or a progressive. As to not being able to live our lives freely…that is exactly what the progressives in Germany circa 1930-1940′s were spouting. But I’ll leave it to the rest of Danielle’s punters to debate such utter lunacy…as I have found that debating a socialist is worse that debating a religionist. A no-win situation not unlike the old truism regarding the pig and the Gettysburg Address.

But I can’t help it…’climate change’! Really? There are still gullibles out there who fall for this nonsense? I think that other than Obama’s core group of thieves, looters and out-of-touch ideologues, the entire planet has moved on. You must be aware that even the stodgy and corrupt UN has PUBLICLY dropped global warming a notch and has moved endangered species into first place. C’mon dude…you are looking very passe to this crowd of in-the-know people. And unless you are living in a really small town…you must realize the few ‘reality deniers’ that are left out there *all* exhibit siege menality when they even try to corner someone on the subject of global warming. Time to move one….

Danielle

Never once did I say that people should be free to “trample the rights of others”. That is the antithesis of liberalism. And what “rights” are we talking about here? From what I believe, the only right we have is the right to a life free of coercion and forceful intimidation, there are no other rights. Maybe there are some entitlement issues here. Sacrificing some for the good of the majority sounds like a good idea, until you are the one made to sacrifice, and trust me, in the system of yours, it will be the majority sacrificing and the few propspering.You forgot to add the human element in here. For example, communism sounds great on paper, but add humans and it doesn’t work. What motivation would people have to produce under your system? For the good of others? Good luck with that. People need to be free to produce and free to distribute their products as they see fit. Otherwise, production slows, innovation stops.

And hey, I didn’t write that quote about altruism, it came from a college textbook. It’s what it actually means and it’s true meaning. It is definately NOT morally laudable, it’s morally apprehensible.

This “fact” that your touting, “Due to the inter-connectivity of the world there are too many people to maintain personal freedoms,” is one of the most distrurbing and disgusting things I’ve ever heard. I’ve been told there are people out there that believe we don’t deserve any personal freedoms, but I’ve never actually heard someone say it. I took me aback, I must admit. It is the opposite of everything I believe in and stand for, and in my mind, it’s evil. Why should anyone be forced to sacrifice themselves for someone else? Forced, being the operative word there.

Utilitarianism…In the words of one of its most distinguished advocates, John Stuart Mill,

“the creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, utility or the greatest happiness principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure”

Really, do what makes you happy? If it makes you happy, it’s right? Really? I like to rape children, it makes me happy, so under utilitarianism, it is morally right. Wow! There is no point in arguing with someone who believes this horses**t! And don’t tell me that is a bogus example, I am following the logic of your belief system. But the child is not happy you say? Being raped and all? Ok, let’s bring in a liberitarian principle here, people should be free to do what makes them happy, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others. Great, liberitarianism saved the child from being raped by utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism “may be described as a life stance, with happiness or pleasure being of ultimate importance.” I grabbed that from wikkipedia, hope you agree because I will be arguing against this point now. How can a system claim to have “happiness” as its ultimate goal and yet ask people to sacrifice themselves for the “greater majority”? It’s a complete contradiction! If people aren’t free to live their lives and own their choices, how will they ever be happy? Where’s the self-worth? The personal responsibility? The feeling of accomplishment? A true sense of self? Gone, for the greater good.

Numbers disappear when individuals are invloved. Sure, it sounds good, do what’s good for the majority, but look at the people in the minority, they’re not numbers, or percentages, they are people. How dare you ask them to sacrifice their lives for you!

Larry

Wow, Danielle! What a long message. Do you not get it…this is exactly the time-sink that worthless socialists want to involve you in. Engaging these idiots is a waste of time as they will contribute nothing to your well being or your knowledge…other than to lump the left wing losers right in there with the Worthless Welfarians. To me they are morelike the sub-specie in the street trying to panhandle money from me. I step over them or around them and pay them no heed. They are without worth, thus not worth my time. I’d much rather be thinking about how and why Thomas Kaplan is investing his $2 billion dollars in gold and nothing else. Learning that secret is worth my time. Worrying about what some lame-assed loser of a socialist and his belief in nonsense (global climate warming…or whatever he calls it) is counter-productive.

Suffice it to say the idiot has made his choice. In his heart of hearts…he knows he is a loser and in his misery is trying to attract company and comfort.

But all that being said, it is your time to invest and if you are enjoying the comic relief by debating the unwashed….by all means, continue.

Milan June 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Larry,

There is a ‘consilience of evidence’ when it comes to the science of climate change: multiple, independent lines of evidence converging on a single coherent account. These forms of evidence are both observational (temperature records, ice core samples, etc) and theoretical (thermodynamics, atmospheric physics, etc). Together, these lines of evidence provide a conceptual and scientific backing to the theory of climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions that is simply absent for alternative theories, such as that there is no change or that the change is caused by something different.

This is accepted by essentially all of the world’s serious scientists and scientific organizations.

For more information, see:

http://www.sindark.com/2009/11/06/one-page-climate-briefing/

http://www.sindark.com/2009/12/10/a-page-for-waverers/

http://www.sindark.com/wiki/index.php?title=Major_climate_change_issues#Deniers_and_delayers

Transcribed from Facebook June 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Brad

Milan, you are a waste of time. You believe in large government power structure of intellectual elites to control the “stupid” masses who don’t know enough to look after themselves. The governments are using global warming as a scare tactic to get people to give up their freedoms so of course you love it.

We believe in people and their potential. When people are left free of coercion and oppression they can achieve greatness. The free market has resulted in huge advances in technology, standards of living, and prosperity.

Large governments have resulted in famine, war and genocide.

Now I can spend all day arguing with you and post links. But you never bother to read any of them. Last time I tried you ran away and cried to your socialist friends. Why bother wasting my time? I’m not changing your mind. You’re not changing ours. Your bs doesn’t work on people with active minds. Go prey on some one else with this non sense.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Milan June 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm

The evidence for human induced climate change is unequivocal.

Firstly, it is a matter of basic chemistry that burning coal, oil, or gas generates CO2. It is equally elementary that CO2 prevents infrared radiation from leaving the Earth into space.

That energy needs to go somewhere. It causes warming.

This is corroborated by records of atmospheric composition in ice cores and silica-shelled organisms. Analysis of isotopic ratios in atmospheric CO2 also demonstrates how the additional gas is coming from burning fossil fuels.

The effects of climate change can be tracked in terms of temperature, both with instruments and by observing things like how species are migrating. The ocean is also becoming more acidic as CO2 is added to the air, and doing so at a rate that confirms those observations.

Milan June 11, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Those asserting that we can keep emitting GHGs forever without problems are increasingly unsupported by any kind of scientific evidence or rational argument.

As such, climate change is a major reason why libertarianism is increasingly inappropriate as a political doctrine.

Tristan June 11, 2010 at 5:46 pm

What free market? And when was a famine prevented by the absence of wealth redistribution?

Transcribed from Facebook June 13, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Brad Cocomile

Actually the “science”(propaganda) and “scientist” (con men) behind global warming have been falling apart rapidly over the last few years.

I’d post a link like I have in the past but you never bother reading them. Thing is you just believe you are right so reading anything from our side is a waste of your time.

So now the time has come to state the obvious. You are not an intellectual. You are a fan boy of socialism and global warming. Like any fan, you don’t care about facts or new information. You want your team to win and cheer for them no matter what.

What did you do when climate gate was exposed? Did you think that maybe these heavily biased scientist might be lying? That their research should be called into question? No you just carry on cheering for your team.

How about when claims made by the IPCC turned out to be exaggerations and lies? Did you think that maybe they weren’t credible? No, you went on cheering.

Maybe when a peer reviewed study came out showing outgoing long-wave radiation is not being trapped as predicted. Any re-think on the whole effects of co2 thing? Nope. More cheering from you.

Those of us who are real thinkers take the time to look at all sides and come up with an informed decision. We make an effort to see where the other side is coming from and truly understand their position before dismissing it. When new information does arise that contradicts a previously held position. We throw out our faulty premise and re examine.

You’re not a thinker. If you were there would be a point of discussing this with you. What you are is a preacher of socialist propaganda masquerading as science. Discussing anything with you is a waste of time.

Go bother some one else with this crap.

Milan June 13, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Actually the “science”(propaganda) and “scientist” (con men) behind global warming have been falling apart rapidly over the last few years.

This is a serious misperception. Yes, climate change deniers have made a lot of noise about emails at the University of East Anglia and minor errors in IPCC reports. This doesn’t do anything to undermine the multiple lines of evidence I mentioned earlier. It is an inevitability of physics and chemistry that burning fossil fuels warms the planet, and the history of the climate gives ample reason to worry about what climatic changes could mean for humanity.

Maybe when a peer reviewed study came out showing outgoing long-wave radiation is not being trapped as predicted.

Do you have such a study? Tyndall demonstrated the properties of greenhouse gases back in 1859.

Some further historical information is at: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

The world’s serious scientists determined decades ago that climate change is happening because of human activities, and that the consequences could be dangerous for humanity. Only ideologues and the deluded continue to believe otherwise. This is demonstrated by how even the governments most inclined towards protecting fossil fuel industries no longer feel that they can publicly question the basics of climate science.

Climate change is a real and worrisome phenomenon, and one of many reasons why we can no longer pretend that the unregulated and uncoordinated pursuit of economic self interest will produce morally acceptable outcomes for humanity.

Milan June 13, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Just out of curiosity, do you believe any of the following things:

1) Life on Earth did not evolve from a common ancestor?

2) The US government secretly plotted the September 11th attacks?

3) The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism?

4) The Holocaust never took place?

Transcribed from Facebook June 14, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Brad

I have such a study. You actually going to read it ?

http://www.drroyspencer.com/Lindzen-and-Choi-GRL-2009.pdf

Basically the theory laid out by you idiots is that the earth is warming due to an increase in Co2 in the atmosphere. Energy is going to get trapped there instead of leaving into space. … See more

So the IPCC, based on this nonsense, comes out with all these computer model created graphs showing that as the oceans and atmosphere warmed, the amount of heat
escaping to space should decrease by 3 watts per square meter.

Now computer models are great and all, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could actually measure this effect? I mean that would pretty much prove that global warming is real and happening if you’re right? Well luckily (for me) we do, it’s called the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment Satellite or ERBE for short.

So since we have this fantastic piece of equipment (invented some time after 1859 I’m sure) let’s see what it has to say about the heat escaping into space. Shockingly (for you at least) it shows the amount of heat escaping into space increases by 4 watts per square meter as temperatures increase.

Conclusion: Global warming is a crap theory and that’s why, despite all the money being put into proving it, no proof has ever come out showing that it exists. The irony is that all the data the retards on your side collects can be used by real scientists to actually disprove the whole thing.

Milan June 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

There are a number of serious problems with the Lindzen and Choi paper, as documented here:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/01/lindzen-and-choi-unraveled/

While there are a few scientists who continue to dispute the science of climate change, the scientific mainstream long ago accepted that climate change is being caused by humans, is dangerous, and warrants precautionary action. A joint statement from the national science academies of the G8, Brazil, China, and India demonstrates this:

http://www.nationalacademies.org/includes/G8+5energy-climate09.pdf

Transcribed from Facebook June 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Brad

Now onto your non sequiturs questions:

1. Darwin’s theory of evolution is valid as it has yet to be dis-proven or even shown in doubt. I’ve also taken the time to review it in some detail and I agree with his conclusions.

2. Your next question is trickier since I do believe the US government has not been honest with its answers regarding what happened on 9/11. That said I believe their lack of honesty stems from not wanting to appear inept rather than from actually plotting the attacks…. See more

3. Vaccines have never been scientifically shown to cause autism. The one study that tried to show a link was proven false and even the author has admitted wrong doing. I believe there is no link, but even if there was the benefits from vaccines far outweigh the risks.

4. The genocide of European Jews did take place. It stemmed from Eugenics, a concept, developed in the USA by progressives. It was carried out by the national socialist workers party aka the Nazis. Currently socialists around the world are expressing antisemitic views in regards to Israel.

I knew you wouldn’t read the article for yourself. No mind of your own. See I actually read these things and digest them. That way I can decide for myself what is reasonable and what is not.

What you just linked me was intended for idiots like you. It was written for people who either didn’t read the article of just skimmed it.

Now I can go through and answer the criticisms in that link for you, but I really do believe people should think for themselves. … See more

Tell you what. You read the article and if you still have questions I’ll do my best to help you understand.

Now some questions for you:

1. Do you believe the earth is flat?

2. Do you believe the earth is the center of the universe?… See more

3. Do you believe the everything is made up of the four elements (earth, wind, water, and fire)?

4. Do you believe that a government can successfully run an economy?

5. Do you understand why your four questions were non sequiturs where as mine were not?

Milan June 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Neither of us is a scientist. As a consequence, we aren’t qualified to personally assess the accuracy and importance of the Lindzen and Choi paper. The people at RealClimate are respected scientists, and the fact that they have objections to the methodology and conclusions of that paper is significant.

Much more significant is the fact that the world’s scientific organizations have devoted an enormous amount of attention to the question of how the climate works, how human activities are influencing it, and what the consequences of that might be. Yes, there are some rogue dissenting scientists, but they are a tiny minority. Many of them are also either financially connected to fossil fuel companies or also advocates of other dubious conspiracy theories, such as the MMR vaccine causing autism.

Those in your position (believing that people don’t cause climate change) should consider a few things. First, there is the matter raised by Greg Craven. In the face of something potentially threatening, we cannot always wait indefinitely to make a decision. Indeed, we are making a decision implicitly in every day when we fail to take action. What we need to do is make the most intelligent choice based on the information we have, not decide definitively who is right: those who think climate change is an enormous problem, or those who think it is a manageable or non-existent one.

Consider the decision to take some precautionary action. While that does leave us facing the risk of taking more action than eventually proves to be justified, we also need to be aware of the risk that climate change is just as serious a problem as those who are most concerned about it have been claiming. If they are right and we do nothing, the future of civilization could be at risk. Precautionary climate policies may also produce other benefits, such as less dependence on imported fossil fuels and reduced emissions of air pollutants.

I recommend that you have a look at some of the high-quality sources of information widely available online. I also recommend that you give some serious thought to risk management, the credibility of various sources, and the potential consequences of making the wrong choice.

It may be worth noting that, when I first started reading about climate change seriously back in 2005 or so, I was sympathetic to the argument that it might not be all that serious a problem, and perhaps we should aim to adapt to it rather than stop it. The understanding of climate science I have accumulated since then has left me deeply concerned that climate change is an enormous problem, about which we need to take decisive action quickly. I think many fair-minded people who take the time to look through the credible information available will read the same conclusion.

If you take a fair shot at that and still want to argue against climate action, at least you will be doing so from a more nuanced and well-informed perspective.

Milan June 14, 2010 at 4:20 pm

I asked the ‘non sequitor’ questions because many climate change deniers also believe things such as the absence of any evidence that smoking causes lung cancer. I think this reflects poorly on their credibility.

I have also argued that the people out there today claiming that climate science is deeply uncertain and no action should be taken are in the process of proving that they cannot be counted on to provide good analysis of empirical evidence or good advice on policy. Hopefully, as ever-more evidence of ongoing climate change emerges, people will learn not to take these people seriously in the future.

More: http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/the-deniers-are-discrediting-themselves/

Milan June 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

The key issues being discussed above also come up in this thread about climate change and partisanship.

. June 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm

“A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column for the Guardian exploring the contrast between Matt Ridley’s assertions in his new book The Rational Optimist and his own experience. In the book Ridley attacks the “parasitic bureaucracy” which stifles free enterprise and excoriates governments for, among other sins, bailing out big corporations. If only the market is left to its own devices, he insists, and not stymied by regulations, the outcome will be wonderful for everybody.

What Ridley glosses over is that before he wrote this book he had an opportunity to put his theories into practice. As chairman of Northern Rock, he was responsible, according to parliament’s Treasury select committee, for a “high-risk, reckless business strategy”. Northern Rock was able to pursue this strategy as a result of a “substantial failure of regulation” by the state. The wonderful outcome of this experiment was the first run on a British bank since 1878, and a £27bn government bail-out.

But it’s not just Ridley who doesn’t mention the inconvenient disjunction between theory and practice: hardly anyone does. His book has now been reviewed dozens of times, and almost all the reviewers have either been unaware of his demonstration of what happens when his philosophy is applied or too polite to mention it. The reason, as far as I can see, is that Ridley is telling people – especially rich, powerful people – what they want to hear.

He tells them that they needn’t worry about social or environmental issues, because these will sort themselves out if the market is liberated from government control. He tells them that they are right to assert that government should get off their backs and stop interfering with its pettifogging rules and regulations: they should be left alone to make as much money as they like, however they like. He tells them that poorly-regulated greed of the kind that he oversaw at Northern Rock is in fact a great moral quest, which makes the world a better place. I expect the executives of BP have each ordered several copies.”

Transcribed from Facebook June 21, 2010 at 10:14 am

Brad

“Neither of us is a scientist. As a consequence, we aren’t qualified to personally assess the accuracy and importance of the Lindzen and Choi paper”

So your assertion is that being a scientist, like being a priest, gives you a level of understanding that common people can’t have. Therefor it is necessary to give up ones own judgment and replace it with that of anthers.

An independent thinker learns from others but thinks through and grasps the ideas for himself….

“an error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error. ” – John Galt / Ayn Rand

So when I called you a fanboy instead of a thinker you go and tell me not to think but to accept because I’m not a scientist. Way to THINK that one through…

Anyways then you go on with about how the worlds scientist have devoted enormous amounts of yada yada yada.

The reason they devote enormous amounts of attention is due to the ENORMOUS amount of money governments are paying them to prove global warming both exists and is man made. FYI governments, especially as a collective body, are not interested in science. They are interested in power and control.

Then you go to the classic “BUT WHAT IF THEY’RE RIGHT?” argument. Pretty much everyone who believes in god uses this argument to frighten people into believing. You go to hell if you don’t believe and all you have to give up is a little free will to make it to heaven just in case. In your case it’s at least as dangerous. Global warming precautions come at direct expense to industry and the economy. More importantly they require people to give up more of their freedom to their governments.

“If you take a fair shot at that and still want to argue against climate action, at least you will be doing so from a more nuanced and well-informed perspective.”

This from the man who only reads one side of the argument. Worse, you don’t even think about it, you take it on faith. What’s left to discus?

Transcribed from Facebook June 21, 2010 at 10:17 am

Brad

“I asked the ‘non sequitor’ questions because many climate change deniers also believe things such as the absence of any evidence that smoking causes lung cancer. I think this reflects poorly on their credibility.”

Two things here:

First off the real reason you did it was to imply I’m stupid. That’s pretty much the same reason I asked you my questions. The difference is my questions related to out of date science believed by the majority (which we are discussing). Your questions were… stupid.

Second: You try and discredit everyone who don’t believe in global warming by pointing to a few idiots who also don’t believe in the link between smoking and cancer. You do this because debating them is out of the question. There has never been a debate on global warming yet your side always says the debate is over. They are challenged by scientists who want to debate it, yet they refuse. I thought the science was on your side so why refuse debate?

Also, as global warming is the more popular theory, I’d be willing to bet there are more people who deny smoking causes cancer on your side. Not only that I’d bet the percentage of people of both camps who believe it is roughly the same. There are stupid people on both sides of the debate. Some stupider than others.

Milan June 21, 2010 at 10:27 am

Being an ‘independent thinker’ is not sufficient to make someone understand any highly complex area of knowledge: whether is it neurology, electrical engineering, or climate science. People without the knowledge and training required by these fields can only evaluate information based on their intuitions and pre-existing frameworks for understanding. Often, these mechanisms lead to misleading conclusions – such as when people intuitively expect a feather and a hammer to fall at different rates, in a vacuum.

The argument that the scientific consensus on climate change is financially motivated does not stand up to scrutiny. It is not credible that scientists all over the world would feel the same financial pressure to falsify results, and would be able to conspire in secret to produce so many data sets that confirm one another. By contrast, it is not only plausible but demonstrably true that bodies with an interest in preventing climate change regulation (such as fossil fuel companies) are funding a tiny group of scientists who are devoted to keeping alive the notion that the basic tenets of climate science remain in doubt. Naomi Oreskes has an excellent new book out on precisely this.

The precaution argument is a strong one on several fronts. For one thing, think about what it would mean to move to a zero-carbon society based on renewables. We would no longer depend on oil, gas, or coal production or imports. We would no longer have air pollution from fossil fuel power plants. Rather, we would have a society that could run forever on clean forms of energy. This is a very desirable goal, even if you don’t worry about climate change. Once you factor in the serious risks associated with warming the planet, the choice becomes an obvious one.

It seems clear that you are the one ‘taking things on faith.’ You take your pre-existing philosophy about government and science, then use it to assert that climate change cannot be much of a threat. This is not a position that serious scientists agree to, though there are some corrupt and deluded ones who share your views.

Thankfully, climate change denial has become such a fringe activity that not even the Harper government can endorse it in practice. They agree that the science is sound, because they realize that there is no longer any credible way to argue otherwise.

Milan June 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

Regarding the ‘non sequitor’ questions:

It’s not that people who believe in conspiracy theories are stupid. Rather, they have just managed to get their reasoning twisted around. They suffer from a strong form of confirmation bias, where they either interpret all new information as support for what they already believe or simply ignore it.

Five years ago, I was a lot less concerned about climate change than I am now. Since then, there have been major scientific and economic assessments. There is also increasing real-world evidence, of everything from species migrating northward and uphill to the ocean continuing to acidify to the Arctic sea ice vanishing. Becoming more concerned in response to accumulating evidence demonstrates a sensible progression of thought, and appropriate interpretation of data.

Digging in to defend your previous beliefs, in the face of increasing amounts of data to the contrary, is suggestive of dogmatism or bad faith.

You try and discredit everyone who don’t believe in global warming by pointing to a few idiots who also don’t believe in the link between smoking and cancer. You do this because debating them is out of the question.

Many of the scientists trotted out before political committees to argue that climate change is no big deal were personally involved in the past conspiracy to deny the deadliness of tobacco. Others have been involved in denying that acid rain is real, dangerous, and caused by humans. Many argued the same thing about ozone depletion.

When these are the most vocal and effective advocates of your position (that climate change is nothing to worry about), you should be nervous.

R.K. June 21, 2010 at 10:40 am

I admire your determination Milan. Keep at ‘em!

Tristan June 21, 2010 at 3:28 pm

“They suffer from a strong form of confirmation bias, where they either interpret all new information as support for what they already believe or simply ignore it.”

Isn’t dismissing Chomsky because he sounds like “bad music” is a pretty pathological example of confirmation bias?

Milan June 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I wasn’t saying that Chomsky is wrong, per se. Just that I intensely dislike him personally, and avoid reading his work.

Milan June 21, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I realize that refusing to read the work of people you dislike can end up leaving you isolated from segments of the debate. That said, it’s not really that I disagree with his general viewpoints so much. He just personally strikes me as intolerably smug.

Tristan June 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Isn’t avoiding that which you consider uninteresting is the definition of the confirmation bias?

Milan June 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm

I think it is much less problematic for people than for arguments.

Also, it’s not that I find him uninteresting. It’s that I find him deeply aggravating and intolerable.

Tristan June 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

It’s problematic for people if the arguments are ignored. If the arguments are common, then ignoring one person propagating them would be near irrelevant. I don’t know the extent to which Chomsky’s views are common among other commentators – I’m not an expert on IR theory or scholarship.

Milan June 22, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Neither am I. IR theory is extremely self-important and dull.

History and political theory are dramatically more interesting, and far more respectable disciplines.

Tristan June 22, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Well, non-experts like myself have trouble distinguishing between IR theory and History and political theory – since history and politics are already international.

Milan June 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm

IR theory consists of tired old debates about stuff like the relative stability of international systems with 2, 3, 4, or 5 great powers; the usefulness of treating states as unitary actors; and the extent to which quantitative methods can improve understanding of world politics.

Transcribed from Facebook June 23, 2010 at 10:47 am

Brad

Wow. You simply do not process anything I say. Do you even read it? I give reasons for the things I say. You ignore them. Instead you make statements back at me, that make no sense had you made even the slightest effort to understand what I’m saying. Worse you don’t give any reasons for the majority of them. Then when I give reasons as to why your statements are incorrect you go and make more statements ignoring my reasoning.

So we’re back to a statement I made earlier. You’re a close minded fan boy and not an independent thinker. Reason? When you abdicated your judgment to another (evidence above) you surrendered your ability to think for yourself. Result? There is no point in try to explain anything to you.

The only point in having a discussion with you is to obtain new, meaningful information. You’ve given me what little you have and it’s of little to no value so move on.

There is no point in trying to change your mind as it’s not yours to change. As for my mind, well, if I didn’t fall for the con from the con man, I’m not falling for it from his victim.

Milan June 23, 2010 at 10:53 am

I think you are misled in considering yourself an independent thinker, on this matter. The fact that your point of view is supported by a handful of cranks is not evidence that you are part of the secret enlightened minority. Rather, it is a sign of being seriously disconnected from what both observation and scientific theory are telling us.

If you begin with the assumption that government regulation of emissions is unacceptable, and you are totally unwilling to abandon that view, you naturally need to downplay concerns about climate change. Of course, doing so is a kind of wishful thinking – you take the conclusion that you are determined to reach, then twist the facts to fit it.

Imagine a group of scientists with no knowledge whatsoever of human politics examining the data we have before us on climate change. They would observe the huge amounts of coal, oil, and gas being burned, and the chemical inevitability that doing so produces greenhouse gases. They would observe the effects of those gases on the atmosphere, and on the energy balance of the planet. They would also study the record of the history of the climate, embedded in things like ice and mud core samples, and conclude that there are powerful feedback systems within the general climate system, and that small pushes in one direction or another can be amplified into dangerous swings.

In short, they would emulate the world’s real scientific community, and conclude that climate change is real, caused by people, and dangerous. The only people who still refuse to accept this view are those who are deluded or ideologically blinkered. Neither of those things is a sign of ‘independence.’ Rather, they are demonstrations of an inability to modify one’s overall worldview, in response to the emergence of important new information.

Transcribed from Facebook June 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Danielle

I think you are misled in thinking you are an intelligent human being. This is done!

Matt June 23, 2010 at 4:32 pm

That Danielle sure showed you.

Might I ask where on Facebook this was being discussed?

Milan June 23, 2010 at 4:36 pm

She showed me by banning me from the thread where it was being discussed.

I think it started off as a discussion about how relevant the philosophy of Ayn Rand is, in this day and age. I argued that climate change makes it less relevant, and then things evolved into a discussion of whether climate change is real, caused by people, and dangerous.

I invited Danielle’s brother Brad to continue the discussion here.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 5:22 pm

This thread is deeply problematic, on account of its failure to distinguish between different traditions that “libertarianism” is associated with. On the one hand, it is associated with right wing extremism, ala Ron Paul. On the other hand, it’s associated with half the 19th century Socialist movement (there was a split between the anarchists and the communists, before which they were allied). Anarcho-socialism or anarcho-communism differs from mainstream Marxism in quite subtle ways, and is only superficially similar to right libertarianism.

However, it should be noted that the motivations behind right-libertarianism are similar to the motivations behind socialism and anarchism – the moral idea is simply that people should be free – that social relations should make people more free, rather than less. And this is a good idea – it’s the major idea of the liberal tradition in general.

And as for climate change, unless you think capital or criminal executives will sort it out for us, it’s up to the people to figure out how to work together to serve their common interest of the planet’s survival. But getting along relies on finding ways forms of socialization that don’t rely on domination and tyranny.

I think the genuine critique of right-libertarianism is that it is, in effect, a philosophy of tyranny: those who have should be allowed to dominate and control those who have not. And the corresponding moral basis for some kind of socialist society is the opposite: that redistribution and changes in property rights should build a world where production, and the luxuries of the few, does not depend on the exploitation and domination of the many.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm

The irony of libertarianism is that liberty produces tyranny, since nobody can act meaningfully without imposing themselves tyrannically on others.

In order to live decent lives – in proximity with one another – we need to live according to rational restrictions. Unfortunately, establishing and maintaining those restrictions is often unpopular, which makes it hard to do in a democracy. At the same time, the arbitrary nature of decisions in non-democracies means they cannot be trusted to establish or maintain necessary restrictions on what individuals can do.

. October 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm

SIR – Lexington missed the mark about the tea-party movement and its love affair with the American constitution (“The perils of constitution-worship”, September 25th). Tea-partiers are not enamoured with the constitution because it provides answers to the difficult issues facing modern America. It does not provide adequate guidance on modern issues such as gay marriage or illegal immigration. Rather, the idolatry results from the limitations the constitution places on the federal government. The Founding Fathers realised that the government cannot and, more importantly, should not address all social wrongs. States and individual citizens need to take responsibility themselves for the betterment of their neighbour, community, state and country. The success of American society depends on individual responsibility. It is this principle, reflected in the constitution, which we tea-partiers admire.

Demetris Voudouris
Oakton, Virginia

. October 25, 2010 at 12:06 pm

To persuade those who do not accept the libertarian argument for legalisation, supporters have emphasised two other lines of reasoning. One is financial. Proposition 19 would also allow California’s county and municipal governments to decide whether to regulate and tax the commercial production and sale (of no more than an ounce, or 28g, at a time however) of marijuana. Counties that choose to do this would reap handsome new revenues, goes the argument.

The other argument has to do with the violence in Mexico. Legal and home-grown Californian cannabis might displace the illegal stuff smuggled across the Mexican border, reducing the profits of the trafficking cartels and the horrendous violence they wreak.

According to Mexican officials, up to half the cartels’ income comes from marijuana. Others, though, are more sceptical. A new study by the RAND Corporation, a non-partisan research group, reckons that the revenues that the Mexican drugs cartels get from smuggling cannabis to America probably amount to less than $2 billion a year, or between 15% and 26% of their total. This is much lower than previous estimates. And California accounts for only one seventh of that. If RAND is roughly right then if Proposition 19 merely takes one drug (cannabis) in one state (California) away from the cartels, their revenue losses would be trivial, at only around 2%-4%.

. October 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm

“The absence of government cuts both ways, then. It removes public authority from the political equation, and thus eliminates the immediate means by which the winners impose new institutions on the losers in domestic politics. Yet it also removes the framework of rules that can guarantee order in society, protect property rights and contracts, and promote trade and cooperation. And in eliminating such rules, it creates opportunities for the exercise of other types of power that do not depend on public authority for their force.”

Moe, Terry M. 2005. “Power and Political Institutions.” Perspectives on Politics 3, no. 2: 215- 233.

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