HPPUB: Paradigm for "psychological libertarianism"

Three Main Points:

· With the rapid development of technology-driven neo-individualism, the way people set their own personal priorities has become a moral issue.

· Adversarialism in business, politics and even religion has diluted our ability to debate moral issues objectively, with the kind of intellectual thoroughness that used to be demanded "in school."  People need to understand how other people think. 

· The firewall between government (at any level) and citizens should be strengthened, even at the constitutional level; such a process would actually strengthen public moral awareness.

The tension (between):

· Individual achievement and self-expression, and individually chosen goals (and)

· "General welfare," social justice, fairness to the disadvantaged (deservedness, starting at the same place in line), addressed by:

· · Regulation and redistribution ("liberal" paradigm)

· · "Family values" ¾ an unquestioned link between sexuality and caretaking ("conservative" paradigm)

· ·  Professionalism—licensing, credentialism, the use of middlemen, operational stability—and innovation and more direct contact with customers

Debate topics (no particular order):

· May the notion that every person is accountable for himself form the foundation of a political system?

· How does one balance "general welfare" with expressiveness of the individual?

· Does free flow of information coupled with emphasis on individual "meritocracy" make some people now dependent on traditional family and religion uncomfortable with themselves and less able to function?

· Should notions of life preparation, "merit" and "responsibility" include showing that one can care for someone else beside himself? If so, how could this be made to work? How does this fit into "self-ownership"?

· Is there an increase in tension between people socialized through the family and people who socialize themselves?

· Has the notion of "self-ownership" and psychological freedom weakened the link between sexuality and caring for others?

· Do some people "hide" (from knowing their limitations) behind marriage and the psychological safety net of "family values", the notion of obligatory "family first"?

· Do people usually have to follow goals chosen to others to succeed?

· Has the granularity of our public policy debate really started to migrate from the "group" to the individual?

More Specific issues

· Does the "moral objection" that some people have to letting gays serve (even covertly) in the military, have teaching jobs, marry (same-sex), or even function as parents reflect a view of (especially male) homosexuality as narcissistic distraction? Is this valid or is it circular? Does it reflect discomfort with new information?

· Do men have an intrinsic obligation to offer themselves for women and children? (Consider in light of conscription). Is a man's life more "valuable" if he has a family to support? If so, how does this comport with the "right to life"?

· Should social injustice (especially inherited from the past) be remedied at the "group level" even when doing so can create individual distortions? (example - "affirmative action" preferences)

· Should there be limits on the police powers of the state to deal with dire emergencies (natural catastrophes, wars)?

· Are some issues so global in nature (climate change, new epidemics, pollution) that they require collective solutions?

· When should people speak out publicly on their own initiatives, and when should they speak primarily through groups? Does commercial format affect the value and protected character of speech? Should some speech be supervised?

· When viewed at an individual level, are most "vices" properly regarded as "victimless"? (Example: drugs)

· Is the "right to bear arms" an individual right or a "community right"? Is it legitimately related to self-ownership and could it be viewed as an "expressive right"?

· Should essentially private organizations that receive any publicly-funded support be allowed to "discriminate"? (Boy Scouts, school vouchers)

· What accounts for most discrimination? "Selfish" private interests? Examples set by government? The ability of the powerful to use the state for their own purposes?

· In a more individual-centric society, how do we reconcile the super-competitive focus of the workplace with family values and charity?

· Have government programs (social security, Medicare) diluted what would otherwise be obligations to take care of the elderly or disabled personally? Have they allowed a "false sense of freedom"? Or would proper individual financial planning by everyone answer this concern?

Three Major Objections some people have (perhaps wrongly) to “gay values” (besides religion):

·  The idea that the “homosexual lifestyle” renounces responsibility for taking care of others

·   The impression that homosexuality is by definition narcissistic and therefore leaves “unattractive” people out in the cold

·   Public health concerns

My main objection to “family values” as they are usually understood:

·        That people can hide behind their familial relationships 


Levels of “Wrong” v. “Right”

Level 1:  Another non-consenting person is directly injured

·     stealing or burglarizing from another

·     violence or physical harm

·     libel or slander

·     unfair competition (sometimes)

·      failure to support a minor child of one’s own

·      Pornography produced with or involving children or those not capable of consent

·     Abortion, at least if the unborn child is sentient

Level 2:   The well-being of a non-consenting other is recklessly endangered

·      driving while intoxicated

·      Intentionally inciting others into violence

·      A person infected with an STD has unprotected sex with an uninformed other

·       In some cases, possession of explosives or of unusually dangerous materials

Level 3:  Another non-consenting party is violated but individuals are injured only incrementally

·      shoplifting

Level 4:  Persons misrepresent themselves to the public, even when there are no actual injuries

·      academic cheating

·      unprofessionalism

Level 5:  Persons refuse to recognize a community or social obligation accepted as necessary for the general welfare of the community  (the “paying your dues” problem)

·      non-payment of taxes or “cheating” on taxes

·      refusing to accept an obligation usually expected in a community (such as caring for elderly parents or even taking on dependents)

·      failure to do fair share of “grunt work” or on-call in a workplace where it can reasonably be expected

·      evasion of conscription (in past times, still an issue in some societies)

Level 6: Conduct with no immediate harmful consequences to others but with unpredictable dangers to society as a whole

·      unprotected sex (sometimes)

·      hard drug use (especially i.v.)

Level 7: Conduct with no immediate harmful consequences to individuals but supposedly harmful to “culture” particularly as it affects more vulnerable people

·      “soft” drug abuse

·       gambling

·       prostitution

·       pornography, adult

·      fornication, unconventional sex acts, sodomy (according to some people)

·       homosexual behavior (according to some people)  

Level 8:  Misconduct according to religious laws


Original topic blurb from previous hppub.com home page:

When should a person's individual rights, sovereignty and opportunities depend on his or her meeting prior community or social obligations? If such "moral" duty exists, how may one fulfill it without compromising individual inner identity? And where does "the state" ¾ through representative democracy ¾ fit into answering this question?  

HPPUB provides the public with commentary and analysis of current events, with a particular emphasis on individual liberty and associated responsibilities and obligations. Even though the Cold War appears over and America and much of the world is more prosperous than ever, there are always new dangers, such as global warming and terrorism. It is prudent to decide where citizens want to draw the line on government intervention in their lives under almost any conceivable circumstances. HPPUB maintains that it is time for the American people to stage a formal debate on their fundamental human rights, and then possibly amend the Bill of Rights.