Podcast (kinsella-on-liberty): Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:31:21 — 73.4MB)
Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 278.
I was a guest on Episode 79 of The Bob Murphy Show, entitled “Stephan Kinsella and Bob Murphy Debate Hans Hoppe’s “Argumentation Ethics”. Back in June we discussed IP and related issues [KOL268 | Bob Murphy Show: Law Without the State, and the Illegitimacy of IP]. We had intended to discuss argumentation ethics but ran out of time. So we did it in this episode. I think it turned out very well.
[Update: Ep. 86 Further Thoughts on Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics and Essays on Praxeology ]
From Bob’s show notes:
By popular demand, Bob brings Stephan back on the podcast, this time to debate Hans Hoppe’s famous “argumentation ethics” case for libertarianism. Stephan defends Hoppe’s claim that any attempt to justify a NON-libertarian system would result in a performative contradiction, while Bob clarifies the argument and raises concerns about it.
Mentioned in the Episode and Other Links of Interest:
- The YouTube video for this interview.
- Hans Hoppe’s talk on argumentation ethics at his Property & Freedom Society.
- The 1988 Liberty symposium on Hoppe’s argumentation ethics.
- Stephan Kinsella’s concise guide to Hoppe’s argument and its critics.
- Bob Murphy and Gene Callahan’s critique of argumentation ethics in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, and Stephan Kinsella’s response.
- Stephan’s earlier appearance on ep. 39 of the Bob Murphy Show, talking about private law and Intellectual Property.
- Help support the Bob Murphy Show.
- “Dialogical Arguments for Libertarian Rights,” in The Dialectics of Liberty (Lexington Books, 2019)
- Hoppe’s Argumentation Ethics and Its Critics, StephanKinsella.com (Aug. 11, 2015)
- Lecture 3 of my 2011 Mises Academy course, “The Social Theory of Hoppe” (slides here)
- Lecture 2 of my 2011 Mises Academy course, “Libertarian Legal Theory: Property, Conflict, and Society” (slides here)
- The Genesis of Estoppel: My Libertarian Rights Theory, StephanKinsella.com (March 22, 2016)
- Defending Argumentation Ethics: Reply to Murphy & Callahan, Anti-state.com (Sept. 19, 2002)
- “Argumentation Ethics and Liberty: A Concise Guide,” Mises Daily (May 27, 2011)
You guys were too polite to each other, it was pretty obvious that you guys were mostly avoiding the elephant in the room, Bob’s religion. Bob doesn’t believe in a God who’s subservient to morality — Bob believes that God IS infallible / perfect. So when God says that pornography and homosexuality (and countless other things) are immoral, Bob has to accept that, even though argumentation proves him wrong — he insanely (ie. impervious to logic / reasoning) will ignore logic. The only saving grace of Christians is that they aren’t clearly told to enforce morality, otherwise there would be bloodshed between believers and non-believers. Luckily they just scold us and tell us that we’ll suffer in the afterlife, which is fine by us.
Around 26:30 (youtube timestamp), when Kinsella says “any ethical claim necessarily has to be decided in argumentation, it’s not like free floating, it’s not out there that you just find it”, Bob will disagree. For him it is ENTIRELY decided by “revelation”.
It shocks me that in this discussion about ethics/morality, the basic definitions of morality / good / bad / evil were never given. Why wasn’t Molyneux mentioned — he provided the only coherent definition for “morality” that I ever heard, “universally preferable behavior”. It’s different from other preferences (like ice cream flavors) because they are *universal enforceable rules*. You can’t force other people to like chocolate ice cream, but you can forcefully prevent them from raping someone or stealing from someone.
Ultimately this debate was pointless. Bob was entirely uninterested in it, he was clearly uncomfortable and unprepared throughout it. Bob didn’t refute Argumentation Ethics, he simply doesn’t give a shit. I guess Bob is lucky that his blind-faith mostly coincides with the NAP, and where it doesn’t he’s not willing to enforce “God’s rules” on us, but it’s really depressing to see that even our friends, who are supposed to value logic and reasoning, ignore us. I guess we really have no hope convincing anyone else then. I guess this coincides with my own personal empirical evidence, trying to convince those around me.
 Around 1:8:28 Bob says: “if you deviate from [God’s] rules, there’s gonna be problems, you’re gonna wish you hadn’t.” A good question that a less friendly debater would have asked him is: “Why don’t you enforce God’s rules on Earth? You know that action X (porn, gays) is unequivocally evil (it clearly says so in the Bible), you won’t be punished if you enforce God’s will – there’s good reason to think you’ll be rewarded?”
So I was really looking forward to this but I am going to have to listen to it again, I must have missed when Dr Murphy explained what his problem was with Hoppe’s argument (I know he referred to something like it was proving too much, e.g. if you have to have standing room that does not prove you get to own the land or something along the lines) and when Kinsella replied. There was a lot of explaining of what Hoppe meant but not much argument between the two great men.
Heck, I don’t even know if Dr Murphy changed his mind and now supports it due to Kinsella’s arguments, or if he realized he didn’t fully understand Hoppe’s argument and after clarifying he now gets it and agrees. Or if he still has objections. Like I said, I will have to listen again.
I LOVE the idea of two libertarians talking about what they DISagree on. We have plenty of patting each other on the back and it’s fun (think Murphy Woods or Woods Rockwell)
but when two civilised and smart people do not agree on something, that’s when we learn the most. I’d like to see even more of it, from the top of my head left vs right (maybe with Jeffrey Tucker who is/was fantastic but apparently has become a left libertarian), money with Selgin or White, Austrianism with Caplan, religion with (again) Kinsella.
Don’t bother relistening, Murphy wasn’t really participating nor does he care about this issue. (Past evidence, eg. 10+ years of complete apathy, also demonstrates this.) Probably because his religion won’t let him — he cannot accept the possibility that morality is anything but god-revelation-given. If morality could be understood purely by logic and reasoning, then Jesus served no purpose, nor do the rules in the bible, nor does religion.