Reply To: Initiatory Force vs. Retaliatory Force


Dr. Casey, sorry for the confusion. I got lost a little in reading my last posting. I agree that the new way I formulated muddles the waters and may beg the question. So, I will stick with your formulation (the “d” version). There is one thing I’d like to try to comment on again to make sure the problem with Rand’s position is clear.

You said this which is right on point, “Whether or which, the key to the discussion (it seems to me, unless I’m completely missing the point, which is certainly possible) is the distinction between the initiation of force against another, which violates the rights of the other, and the response to such force by the person who is aggressed against which is not only not a violation of the right of the attacker but must be available to the person aggressed against, otherwise you would have rights that were, in principle, incapable of defence. This, I think, might address the issue you raise under your ’3rd Part’: the attacker who is physically resisted doesn’t have his inalienable rights infringed.”

Granted, this may explain actions that are made in defense of one’s rights. However, I think Rand (and Locke’s) positions do not provide a foundation for just punishments. For example, someone murders another person and is then arrested, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. Upon what basis can we justify this alienation of the murderer’s rights? Quite obviously, we cannot justify such punishment if we take inherent, inalienable rights as our ground.

Again, it appears the only escape for Rand (and Locke?) is to say that the murderer has lost or forfeited his human nature.