Found in 9 comments on Hacker News
dvt · 2017-09-11 · Original thread
There's a few issues with this hard-line utilitarian POV, mainly what's called the "utility monster", first discussed by Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia[1] (1967). This is getting pretty complicated (and I could very well be wrong), but I think that "value" is probably some kind of combination of what you do for the firm (e.g. how much money you bring in) with what the firm does for society.


dmix · 2016-12-15 · Original thread
Quoting Mises who is the Marx of anarcho-capitalism:

> To be opposed to the state is then not necessarily to be opposed to services that have often been linked with it; to be opposed to the state does not necessarily imply that we must be opposed to police protection, courts, arbitration, the minting of money, postal service, or roads and highways. Some anarchists have indeed been opposed to police and to all physical coercion in defense of person and property, but this is not inherent in and is fundamentally irrelevant to the anarchist position, which is precisely marked by opposition to all physical coercion invasive of, or aggressing against, person and property.


> An important point to remember is that any society, be it statist or anarchist, has to have some way of resolving disputes that will gain a majority consensus in society. There would be no need for courts or arbitrators if everyone were omniscient and knew instantaneously which persons were guilty of any given crime or violation of contract. Since none of us is omniscient, there has to be some method of deciding who is the criminal or lawbreaker which will gain legitimacy; in short, whose decision will be accepted by the great majority of the public.

(Note: not defending this stuff, just pointing it out for sake of discussion).

Elsewhere someone pointed out the book "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" which has a better overview of what libertarians believe in. Which is a "night-watchman" state, a minimalist government which includes courts, police, and border control.

dmix · 2016-06-17 · Original thread
(Not to take this post too serious, but I'll take the bait)

I'd argue that the solution proposed by Ethereum in this blog post is not antithetical to mainstream Libertarianism. It actually fits perfectly well into the role the majority of libertarians believe a state should take.

To begin with, from my understanding they merely proposed a solution which the community has to agree to implement. Just like modifying the bitcoin codebase.

It's still ultimately an additional layer of decentralization in between. Taken as a whole - even if Ethereum takes action against the attacker - what DAO represents would still be very very far from the representative democracy style system that libertarians take issue with.

Importantly, libertarians are not all anarchists (or 'crypto-anarchists' or 'anarcho-capitalists' to be more accurate) who believe in total decentralized control structures. Mainstream libertarians wish for a minimal state or "night-watchman" state, a not the total absence of a state.

This the most prevalent myth about libertarianism and the faulty premise of most attacks against it.

Even many hardcore anarcho-capitalists are against the idea of decentralized judicial and law enforcement systems - as they see it as unworkable.

In the book "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" [1] popular libertarian thinker Robert Nozick argues that

    [..] only a minimal state "limited to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, fraud, enforcement of contracts, and so on" could be justified without violating people's rights. 
Therefore supporting the solution Ethereum proposed does not make you less of a libertarian. But it does make you less of a crypto-anarchist.


todd8 · 2016-06-03 · Original thread
A classic text on the philosophical underpinnings of (US) liberalism with regard to economic redistribution policies is A Theory of Justice by John Rawls, a renowned professor of philosophy at Harvard.

After reading Rawls, I'd suggest maybe reading Robert Nozick's libertarian leaning Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Nozick was another distinguished philosopher from Harvard writing about the same time as Rawls. Nozick comes to a completely different conclusion than Rawls.

Both books are good and completely accessible to an ordinary reader (i.e. philosophy degree not required). However, they are serious and not as entertaining as the Friedmans' Free to Choose. While the two philosophy books address the question of what should a fair society look like from a philosophical perspective, I feel they don't address the aspects of human nature that have proven troublesome in socialist economies as well as Free to Choose.

Finally another classic, The Fatal Conceit by F. A. Hayek considers the practicality of socialism from an economic position in a more focused way. Like the previously mentioned books, it is an easy read.

These books may not reflect cutting edge thought, having been written in the 70's and 80's, but they were a useful starting point for me when I started to think about these issues more deeply and they are considered seminal works that in my opinion shouldn't be skipped while studying the questions of political and economic theory.

A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell further reflects on this question and makes some conclusions about why smart people end up disagreeing in such fundamental ways. I find Sowell's thinking and writing to be clear and well expressed.

Finally, an interesting book addresses the puzzling and related question of why does the academic community so easily accommodate views so antithetical to a scientific world view. I believe that this at the heart of the questions raised by the original NYT piece. The book is Higher Superstition by Gross and Levitt. While interesting this book is erudite and seems directed to narrower audience than those mentioned above, expecting a well-read reader.

[1] Rawls, A theory of justice.

[2] Nozick, Anarchy, state and utopia.

[3] Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to choose: a personal statement.

[4] Hayek and Bartley, The fatal conceit: the errors of socialism.

[5] Gross and Levitt, Higher superstition: the academic left and its quarrels with science.

hyperpape · 2015-11-13 · Original thread
Knock yourself out:

(Seriously, what kind of response are you expecting? There are so many assumptions built in to your question that you're basically asking for a summary of political philosophy).

bitops · 2013-11-28 · Original thread
Disclaimer right up front: I personally doubt that Bitcoin will be a long-term success. I fall into the camp of people who believe it is not a mature enough technology, unproven despite the hype. It is much too volatile to be any good other than as a risky investment, though if you time it right, you could stand to make a fair profit at the moment.

What I do think is very interesting about Bitcoin is that it is a harbinger of things to come. It won't replace greenbacks anytime soon, but I think it's an indicator of where the world is heading.

I believe the global and historical trends we are seeing right now is away from traditional authorities acting as monoliths, in favor of empowered individuals. We are most likely at the very beginning of the trend - I doubt anyone reading this board in 2013 will be alive to see the transformation completed. But we will be alive to see some very interesting changes. Generally speaking, all centralized authorities, be they monetary, political, technological, etc. are fracturing in favor of empowered individual actors. That poses challenges as well as opportunities.

For example: consider a technology like Square coupled with a store of value such as Bitcoin. (In this example, the terms "Square" and "Bitcoin" are just placeholder values for mechanisms and tools). Oversimplifying greatly, if we take these technologies to their logical extreme, we have the tools for an individual to completely bypass banks and traditional governments. You have some goods that I want, I have some Bitcoins, we do a point-to-point transfer; you get the money, I get the donut, end of transaction. Truly savvy users in this system will have their own way of transmitting the money from themselves to the merchant. I'll choose to trust someone like Square to do it safely and securely for a nominal fee.

Whether or not you agree with the mechanics of how this happens isn't really the point. The point is to show that we are heading towards a future where two individuals can transact freely without a middleman "getting in the way." For the purposes of this discussion, "getting in the way" means limiting the freedoms of those individuals to transact as they please.

Of course, there are problems with this. If there are no rules, inevitably someone will game the system or take advantage of someone else. That'll be unpopular, and so people will seek to band together to transact in a network of trust. The idea of a network of trust is important today, it's value will only increase over time. I can't remember the exact term, but I read a wonderful book some years ago called "Anarchy, State and Utopia" which dealt with the philosophy around these types of issues (it's a pretty academic book, but here's a link in you'd like to see - - and yes, that's a kickback link).

Boiling it down, the main argument I took away from that book was that, even in a world where there are no "governments" as we're used to thinking about them, we'll never achieve true 100% freedom because there'll always be those who are stronger who take advantage of those weaker than themselves. For this reason, people join together and form mini-states. Within those mini-states and associations, rules will exist that people choose to live by, limiting individual freedom to provide security.

I think people are right to be excited about Bitcoin, but I'd be cautious about heralding any brave new world within the next 25 to 50 years.

dmix · 2013-10-13 · Original thread
I first read about "Assassination Markets" in this brilliant book, that delves into the old 90s cypherpunks mailing list (members which included Julian Assange and most likely the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi):

I still haven't read this full article, mostly just a summary, so here are my rough thoughts:

It seems like something straight out of an idealistic anarcho-capitalist society, but it seems to be dangerously crossing the line out of "non-aggression" and from skimming the article, seems full of flaws. For example:

> Satisfying as it might be to declare war on asinine pop singers, Bell has a more civic-minded suggestion: Let's kill all the car thieves. He reasons that a very small number of career criminals are responsible for nearly all car thefts. If one million car owners in a given metropolitan area contributed just four dollars a year, it would create $10,000 a day in "prize money" for the "predictor" of any car thief's death.

Is preventing property theft really worth killing a bunch of petty criminals? I highly doubt it. This tough-love approach to preventing crime (especially to this extreme) has been a complete failure in the USA (see their full prison system or the war on drugs).

I'm all for preventative self-defense, but most of this enforcement bulldozes over root causes of issues (socio-economic, mental illness, etc). The goal should be compensating victims (ala and long-term solutions, not creating some esoteric possibility of safety/morality via threat of violence.

Not only that, and just google "wrongful convictions" or "wrongful convictions death penalty". Accuracy of information needs strong information systems and due process (maybe the article discusses this?) but just having target lists + bets is wildly insufficient.

There has also been a lot of literature against private law enforcement (counter to many anarcho ideologies) such as by Novick in his book "Anarchy, State, and Utopia":

> TLDR: Protective agencies (judges/police) would be competing against each other. That competitive nature combined with their intended role of protecting us (and themselves) would lead to "an endless series of acts of retaliation and exactation of compensations". Also he demonstrates why the nature of both of the businesses would already create natural monopolies in each local jurisdiction.

So even though I personally lean towards libertarian/decentralized ideas, public courts/judges is likely still the best solution and anonymous assassination marketplaces sounds dangerously flawed.

dmix · 2013-04-27 · Original thread
I wasn't taking a position, merely pointing out that that comment was inflammatory and not a constructive argument. Thanks for clarifying.

I lean anarcho-capitalist and I also don’t believe private courts/security is (entirely) practical. After I read:

TLDR: Protective agencies (judges/police) would be competing against each other. That competitive nature combined with their intended role of protecting us (and themselves) would lead to "an endless series of acts of retaliation and exactions of compensations". In addition, Nozick demonstrates why the nature of both of the businesses would already create natural monopolies in each local juridiction.

veyron · 2011-05-03 · Original thread
anarchy, state, and utopia:

or, if you find yourself particularly liberal, a theory of justice:

thank you for the moment of nostalgia -- CC was a formative class in my college experience:

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