In my last post I tried to separate the psychological source question about knowledge from the justification question. Empiricists win the former, but since it is not the really important question the win is not a big deal. Rationalists win the justification question but not until it is formulated a bit more specifically.
The traditional olive-branch by empiricists is to give rationalists mathematics and logic. “Sure, there is necessary truth, but it has nothing to do with the world. It is only a matter of ideas and their relation. When it comes to the world experience rules!”
If experience rules, and there is always more to be had in the future, then we can never know necessarily that something won’t work. So, the tinkerer always has an available response to the possibility of avoiding falsification. “Well, it looks like that experience falsified my claim, but it is complicated. Maybe I missed an unseen variable and failed to note its influence, but my overall hypothesis remains untouched. We must look closer.”…as the ship sinks. As suffering deepens.
What is the rationalist response that formally ends the tyranny of empiricism and the move it is so fond of in the social sphere? The problem is the impossibility of the fundamental premise of the position itself–that all knowledge of reality (the world) is from experience. Note what is true if the question is turned on the principle. Either, it is necessarily true or it is at best probabilistic and so worrisomely inadequate as a foundational principle.
That it is not rooted in experience–we haven’t had it all, some maybe it is not. That it is known independent of experience–then not all known about reality is from experience and the principle itself is false. The system crumbles of its own impossibility.
What is left? That some knowledge of reality is independent of experience. Rationalism. Examples? They will be random and inadequate, but try a few famous philosophical moments.
Descartes. That I cannot doubt my own existence. Such a justification even Locke allows and calls intuitive. It is left to Hume to simple say there is no self. As if…One almost thinks that there is something subtle or humorous taking place in the great Hume. That a self would say there is no self.
That there is a good. So many have argued it. We should distinguish between the claim that there is a good and that this or that is good. That there is a good follows from my choice to act. I must conceive of that which I give up in action as not as good for that which I set out as the goal of my action otherwise I cannot understand the action as action.
Quickly we should get controversial. That there are absolute private property rights to body. This is a fundamental necessary knowledge that challenges slavery, assault and coercive state monopoly taxation, regulation and social engineering. We are living with that which is necessarily true being ignored. We are living with that which requires no experience to understand being ignored by those who could understand it and by whom it is presupposed by their presupposing anything. We are living when something as incontestable as 2+2=4 is being ignored yet it does nothing to destabilize its truth.
Finally, had we time, we would think about what it means to live under the rule of that which is impossible. What should be the attitude of he who is living under insanity. What consequences should be expected? What is a rational response to irrationality? But here, the necessary knowledge.
What follows from my action? Either that I have permission for the use of this property, a scarce resource, my body, from someone else who owns it, or that I am the owner. If the owner even could be another, it would need to be determined who precisely, otherwise action would be impossible. That it is another must not be arbitrary. That it is some subset of everyone (including future individuals) would be arbitrary. That it is everyone would make action impossible (for it would be impossible to get permission).
It follows, without question, that I have property title to this body. It is presupposed by my action. It would be presupposed by my arguing (acting) against it. To argue it would be to presuppose it. This, I know, the justification is complete, it is not open to future experience. The implications are many.
That you have absolute property right to your body implies my not having the right to do what I want with your body. The engagement between us is to be voluntary. Thus the wrongness of slavery and assault (initiated aggression) are establishes…as they should be. What is also implied is the wrongness of coercive taxation and regulation by a territorial monopoly of coercion of decision making over what individuals do with their bodies. And yet…
What is worse is when such bullies are emboldened by and empiricist impossibility that they can always argue the not falsified status of any of their engineering efforts that depend on the breach of absolute private property rights. The social progressive shows up in so many ways:
That the social progressive has rights over what I say with my mouth.
That the social progressive has rights over what I do with my body, say when I want to trade its labor for other goods voluntarily. The social progressive tells me how much I may trade my labor for (minimum wage…price floors), and what goods I may purchase (which drugs), and at what price (price ceilings).
Worse, the social progressive looks at the bodies of producers and traders differently than non-producers and non-traders. The former may be used against their wills by the them to serve the latter. That the social progressive has not seen what necessarily follows is a sign, not of a lack of experience, but as the power of irrationality over rationality. More on that next…