A Conversation With David Friedman - part 6: Resolving Court Complaints, Non-aggression & Children, & Zero Role for the State

Conversation with Dr. David Friedman about some of the solutions and potential issues of anarcho-capitalism, as well as possible ways of advancing ideas of free society and turning them into reality.  Part 6: Resolving Court Complaints, Non-aggression & Children, & Zero Role for the State.

Interview by Jadranko Brkic, Managing Director at Freedom and Prosperity TV: libertarian network of alternative media in Western Balkans.  Hong Kong, May 21st, 2014.

(see video at the bottom of transcript)

Transcript:

Freedom and Prosperity TV:

Some questions from our libertarian network via Facebook.

David Friedman:

I should probably tell you that when people ask me to friend them on Facebook, if their posts are all in a language I don't read I almost always decline, because it's a waste of time. I have a mild prejudice in favor of people from countries I don't know anything about, because I can learn something. But main way I decide what friend requests to accept is by the combination of mostly of whether they post interesting things - I look at their past posts - and whether they are in a language that I can easily read. There are number of foreign languages that I can read with great difficulty, but I don't usually friend those people, because I'm not actually gonna read them.

Freedom and Prosperity TV:

Good to know.

Goran Arsov asks: In your ideal anarcho-capitalist world, who resolves complaints on court decisions? Like if there is a complaint on a decision that court made.

David Friedman:

That would depend on how the court system is structured. In a way that's like saying in my ideal capitalist world how will automobiles built? And the answers is I have no idea, I don't build automobiles. So you can imagine a system where what the two rights enforcement agencies agree on is a court which will have no appeals. So then you might imagine a system where final decision settles them. If the customers don't like that arrangement, you could then imagine one where part of the contract is: we go to court A. if the parties don't like the verdict from court A, and are willing to pay the costs of another trial, we will agree on court B, which might be another court that settles things between other agencies, it might be a court that specializes in appeals, so you could certainly have a system of appeals under that system. And whether you did would be a market outcome of it, depending on whether customers prefer system in which you get the matter settled quickly – which not having appeals does – or whether they prefer a system where if the court makes mistakes you've got ways of correcting them.

Freedom and Prosperity TV:

Savo Gajic asks: Since your theory supports the NAP from the consequentialist angle, does the NAP apply to children? In other words, is aggression towards children in every form forbidden?

David Friedman:

No. Not in every form when the children are small enough. I would have said that if your two year old is trying to walk out into busy traffic, you grab him and pull him back. Even though that looks like aggression if it were done between adults. What I think is true is that it is for consequentialist reasons prudent to engage in much less aggression to children than most people do. So that for example the children of my present marriage were unschooled. Where unschooling is an approach to education in which the children themselves decide what to do. They were first unschooled in a small private school that was run on very unconventional lines, and then home unschooled. So that meant that we were not telling our children here's what you must learn today. We were rather talking with them and if they were say: here's an interesting book you might like to read. And if they read the book, it had questions discussing it. Here are some interesting ideas you might want to think about. And letting the children control their own time almost entirely, subject to the fact that if you are all living in the same family, you can't go to different restaurants dinner. Our rule for eating was that children did not have to eat what we were making, but they had to eat something reasonably nutritious that was no extra trouble for us. So that our son for a while always had us have containers of yogurt in the refrigerator, because he liked flavored yogurt. It's pretty good for you, and so if whatever we were having for dinner were something he didn't like, he could have yogurt instead. Later it was pot pies that he could bake himself in a microwave oven. So in general I think it is sensible to minimize aggression against children. As the children get older, minimize really means close to nothing except for the fact that they are living in your house, eating your food. It's not there's really an aggression if you say: here are the terms on which you could live with us. But I would say that literal aggression, except for very small children is almost never necessary. And incidentally, Adam Smith agreed with me, although in a less extreme fashion. In 'The Wealth of Nations', Adam Smith is discussing education, and his comment is that it may be necessary in the case of small children to compel them to attend the classes where they learn the rudiments of education. But then beyond the age of 11 or 12 compulsion need play no role in education. That no compulsion is needed to make children attend those lectures that are worth the attending as is known where such lectures are given. This is part of his discussion in 'The Wealth of Nations' where he is trashing the Oxford/Cambridge university system in favor of the Scottish system where professors were paid directly by the students.

Freedom and Prosperity TV:

Now, would that go hand in hand with the Rothbard's argument that for example small children should have the right to run away from their parents as soon as they are able to?

David Friedman:

I would say that as soon as they are able to is probably carrying it too-far. But I would say that a 12 year old who really doesn't want to live with his parents probably should not have to. If there are other parents who want to adopt him and he is willing to be adopted, that ought to be fine. If he can support himself, that ought to be fine. And I in fact made that argument, I have no idea whether I made it before or after Rothbard but it is in the first edition of 'Machinery of Freedom', which would be 1972 was when that was published. I am not an expert on Rothbard's writings, so I can't tell you in which of his books he made the argument and when.

Freedom and Prosperity TV:

Krunoslav Gasparic asks: Is there anything at all that we could use the state for? In other words, do you have any mercy for the state?

David Friedman:

The answer is there are useful things that state does, the problem is how you could set it up so the state only did those things. I have a discussion in some detail in the new chapters for the third edition of what I refer as market failure on the market for law. Ways in which my system would produce imperfect law. And if you had a wise benevolent sort of philosopher king, you could do better than that. So in that sense there are things the state could do that would be useful. And there are things that state does do that are useful. But the problem is that what the state does ends up being decided by the state, and the state generally has incentives to do a lot of things that are not useful. That's I think the answer is not. I think it's too-strong a claim for anarchists to say the state is of no use. That the claim you really want to make is a net claim, not a gross claim, which is to say the state produces some benefits but with larger costs.

 

Video: 

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