Reply To: Initiatory Force vs. Retaliatory Force


JohnD: This argument would seem to embody a fallacy of equivocation on the word ‘initiate’. In one sense of ‘initiate’, every action is initiated; in a second sense, where one has a sequence of actions and reactions, only the first action in the sequence is initiated in a way that is relevant to the libertarian prohibition. When Rand (and libertarians) object to the initiation of force, they are objecting to the first action in such a sequence, not to any forceful action at all. Applying this distinction to the argument you give, the word ‘initiate’ simply drops out of premise 2 and there is no inconsistency between premises 1 and premise 2.