SandySandfort on May 08, 2011, 05:56:19 pm
The mental block I have, and the mistake I keep making, is this: I assume that the ZAP is being presented as a moral imperative...

Interesting question. Remember, words have meaning. "Moral" has a lot of baggage, so I try to use "ethical" instead, but that does not get us out of the woods. Far more ambiguous is the word "imperative." That sounds like something you have to do. The ZAP, is more like much of the Ten Commandment and the Bill of Rights. It is written in the negative. It is less about what you must do, than about what you must not do.

Since we are using human language, it is not possible to cover every possible situations where and when force may be initiated. It will always be a best fit approximation of an underlying principle. Just as Newtonian mechanics represent reality to a very high degree, it is not an ultimate description of reality. Relativity takes care of some edge cases very well, but it too is not an ultimate description of reality. Quantum mechanics clears up some even more arcane issues about reality, but maybe string theory or something else will inch us a bit closer to reality. You never get to your goal of total knowledge, but by successive approximation, you do get ever closer.

So, a good starting place in ethics is the Golden Rule. It works a very high percentage of the time in the real world. The fact that everyone is unique leads to edge cases such as S&M, however. The ZAP clears up those cases quite handily, but issues about what is "force" and degrees of response and how long we may take to respond, etc. are still at issue. I brought in the common law concepts of assault and battery in attempt to give a better approximation of the application of the ZAP. This brought up edge issues about time, degree and the use/application of voluntary dispute resolution. And so it goes.

I am certain that though the ZAP is a work in progress, it is very good statement of an underlying principle of human interaction. This is no different than believing that there are underlying physical laws of the universe, even though all we have ever done is describe successive approximations that work within a range of circumstances.

... which dumps me into the following syllogism -

if the ZAP is a moral imperative, applicable and compulsory in all times and places,
then it is possible to impose peace in the Middle East without resorting to the initiation of force.

The absurdity of the conclusion presumably matches the magnitude of my misconception.

I don't know if your conclusion is is absurd, but I see one big error in your second premise. "Imposing peace" is an oxymoron. At least if by "imposing" you mean "initiating force." (If you mean something else, please be more specific.) Otherwise, it is like positing a an irresistible force existing in the same universe as an immovable object. It is a contradiction at the most fundamental level.

In any case, I hope the concept of the ZAP as a process of successive approximation helps make things clearer. There will always be edge cases that cause us or arbiters to further examine, define and distinguish the ZAP as it applies now and after.

One final thought. If you lived the rest of your life, operating under the first approximation of the ZAP (or even the Golden Rule, for that matter), there will be very few, if any, clarifications needed to live a highly ethical life.

J Thomas on May 08, 2011, 07:04:05 pm
The mental block I have, and the mistake I keep making, is this: I assume that the ZAP is being presented as a moral imperative...

Interesting question. Remember, words have meaning. "Moral" has a lot of baggage, so I try to use "ethical" instead, but that does not get us out of the woods. Far more ambiguous is the word "imperative." That sounds like something you have to do. The ZAP, is more like much of the Ten Commandment and the Bill of Rights. It is written in the negative. It is less about what you must do, than about what you must not do.

And that doesn't get us out of the woods either.

I have noticed this about Quadribloc. He usually cares mostly about what's right. Like, he concludes that we should support Israel because no matter how bad Israel is, the arabs are worse. He thinks because the Nazis were worse than us, we were right to do whatever it took to stop them. It's worth it to give up our civil liberties, because Al Qaeda is so bad. Etc. He seems in general to give unqualified support to the good guys, regardless how good they are, provided they fight somebody worse.

His ZAP issue is not to decide what we must do, or what we must not do. His issue is how far should we go to force other people to live by ZAP. If you don't force other people to go along then it's only an individual ethical framework, not nearly enough to organize a society. To make it the basis for a whole society, you need ways to force everybody to follow ZAP whether they want to or not. But ZAP claims not to do that....

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So, a good starting place in ethics is the Golden Rule. It works a very high percentage of the time in the real world. The fact that everyone is unique leads to edge cases such as S&M, however.

Let's see. S&M is an edge case because people take not the same role but complementary roles. The one who wants to be whipped finds somebody who wants to whip him. Not the golden rule, unless they are both "switches". So it isn't the Golden Rule but instead a case of "Do unto other as as they want you to, while they do unto you as you want them to." Is that it?

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I am certain that though the ZAP is a work in progress, it is very good statement of an underlying principle of human interaction.

It looks like a very good principle to me, that many ethical people will follow. The rough edges can probably be worked out over time, and there's no particular reason to think they'll come out the same way in different circumstances.

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... which dumps me into the following syllogism -

if the ZAP is a moral imperative, applicable and compulsory in all times and places,
then it is possible to impose peace in the Middle East without resorting to the initiation of force.

The absurdity of the conclusion presumably matches the magnitude of my misconception.

I don't know if your conclusion is is absurd, but I see one big error in your second premise. "Imposing peace" is an oxymoron. At least if by "imposing" you mean "initiating force." (If you mean something else, please be more specific.) Otherwise, it is like positing a an irresistible force existing in the same universe as an immovable object. It is a contradiction at the most fundamental level.

He's looking for some approach to unify a whole lot of people. What if you have a ZAP society, and then it gets a lot of immigration and more than half the population winds up not following the ZAP? You can try to peacefully persuade them while they live their own way. There's nothing to say that *can't* work. But if it doesn't? You can move somewhere they won't go. Or you can live as a ZAP minority in a nonZAP society. Most people don't swallow this dilemma. They look for methods to force other people to do it their way.

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One final thought. If you lived the rest of your life, operating under the first approximation of the ZAP (or even the Golden Rule, for that matter), there will be very few, if any, clarifications needed to live a highly ethical life.

Sure, but people tend not to settle for just living a highly ethical life. They want to prevail too. They want their philosophy to take over the world. If you have a society where everybody follows the ZAP, and you are threatened by a society where they don't, how can you protect yourself? If it turns out that you can protect yourself without an aggressive authoritarian army, then good! But if the only way you find to protect your ZAP society is to draft people into an army where the sergeants bark the orders and the soldiers obey, then what can you do? You can give up ZAP by having the army, or you can give up ZAP by losing the war. Or in the worst case you can do both, you can have the army and watch it lose....

It would be pleasant to believe that there is some strategy that always wins. Follow the right approach and nobody will ever beat you up, nobody will ever conquer your society, etc. I can't say a philosophy has failed if it does not give that guarantee.

But if I was certain of the premises, I would say that AnCap must fail. If they cannot protect themselves without a central authority, and they definitely will be attacked by a force they cannot protect themselves from, then they cannot survive. But I don't believe those are inevitable. They will probably happen some times and places and not others. So AnCap societies will probably sometimes survive and sometimes not, like everything else.

SandySandfort on May 08, 2011, 11:16:50 pm
He's looking for some approach to unify a whole lot of people. What if you have a ZAP society, and then it gets a lot of immigration and more than half the population winds up not following the ZAP? You can try to peacefully persuade them while they live their own way. There's nothing to say that *can't* work. But if it doesn't? You can move somewhere they won't go. Or you can live as a ZAP minority in a nonZAP society. Most people don't swallow this dilemma. They look for methods to force other people to do it their way.

Historically, immigrants assimilate. People coming to America dropped their "o" in the ocean, changed the way they dressed and learned English. I see the Belt being no different.

More important, those immigrants all come from societies with their own variations of the ZAP (and the Golden Rule). Since those variations aren't stated overtly, they tend to be fuzzier and contradictory, but they are there. Why? Because they really are a part of human nature. One of the first words kids learn and use is "mine!" Every kid says, "He started it!" These are basic human concepts. What disturbs me is there are people on this Forum--presumably human--who act as though the ZAP is some arcane theory whipped up by fringe political weirdos. It is just a restatement of a basic concept in all societies.

Sure, but people tend not to settle for just living a highly ethical life. They want to prevail too. They want their philosophy to take over the world.

Some people want all sorts of things. Most people want to live in peace more than they want "world domination." You watch too much TV. In any event, "prevailing" is best achieved by first surviving. So avoiding starting trouble with the neighbors is a better strategy for prevailing.

If you have a society where everybody follows the ZAP, and you are threatened by a society where they don't, how can you protect yourself?

We've addressed this issue before. Create a militia and repel the invaders. Remember the ensconced defender has a 3 to 1 advantage over an invader, as well as much greater motivation.

If it turns out that you can protect yourself without an aggressive authoritarian army, then good! But if the only way you find to protect your ZAP society is to draft people into an army...

Do you have any reason to believe that is how it will turn out? If not, why bother discussing it? This sort of runaway speculation is your great error. I see no reason to junk the ZAP because of some unrealistic, unsupported assumption.



sam on May 09, 2011, 12:21:57 am
He's looking for some approach to unify a whole lot of people. What if you have a ZAP society, and then it gets a lot of immigration

Historically, immigrants assimilate.

Historically, immigrants were assimilated.  Not the same thing.  There was massive statist coercion pressuring them to assimilate - government schools that taught what was thinly disguised anglo saxon progressive protestantism up to around 1940 or so, and modern progressivism since.  Unfortunately, modern progressivism has proven less effectual as a tool of assimilation, perhaps because of its lack of moral self confidence.  Observe that Mexicans in California are not assimilating.

What tends to happen over and over again is you get a highly capitalist state, which becomes highly prosperous.  Lots of people flood in from neighboring poverty stricken anti capitalist nations, brought in either as cheap labor, or cheap votes, or, as in California and the Ivory Coast, something of both.  They bring their anti capitalism with them, and vote to make society just like the one they fled.

An anarcho capitalist society will not have the problem of politicians bringing in cheap votes, won't have the problem of people voting against capitalism, or voting against  their neighbors property rights.  But it will have the problem of groups that do not accept property rights, freedom of contract, and freedom of trade.  Such groups have to be coerced.  And since they will organize and act collectively, will have to be coerced collectively.

Now I would not regard such coercion as aggression.  They started it by opposing property rights, attempting to redistribute property, or violating freedom of contract, but I am pretty sure you would.regard it as aggression, if people who oppose property rights as a group, are met with force as a group.

Consider the comparatively capitalist market oriented Christians on the Ivory coast.  How do you say they should have dealt with anti market, anti capitalist (and anti Christian) Muslim immigrant majority?

People coming to America dropped their "o" in the ocean, changed the way they dressed and learned English.

In most of California, people are not learning English.

sam on May 09, 2011, 12:38:01 am
I have noticed this about Quadribloc. He usually cares mostly about what's right. Like, he concludes that we should support Israel because no matter how bad Israel is, the arabs are worse. He thinks because the Nazis were worse than us, we were right to do whatever it took to stop them. It's worth it to give up our civil liberties, because Al Qaeda is so bad. Etc. He seems in general to give unqualified support to the good guys, regardless how good they are, provided they fight somebody worse.

Otherwise, the bad guys win.  War is hell.  You have to do what it takes.

J Thomas on May 09, 2011, 05:39:31 am

More important, those immigrants all come from societies with their own variations of the ZAP (and the Golden Rule). Since those variations aren't stated overtly, they tend to be fuzzier and contradictory, but they are there. Why? Because they really are a part of human nature. One of the first words kids learn and use is "mine!" Every kid says, "He started it!" These are basic human concepts. What disturbs me is there are people on this Forum--presumably human--who act as though the ZAP is some arcane theory whipped up by fringe political weirdos. It is just a restatement of a basic concept in all societies.

If there's nothing new or different involved, why would you expect a different result?

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If you have a society where everybody follows the ZAP, and you are threatened by a society where they don't, how can you protect yourself?

We've addressed this issue before. Create a militia and repel the invaders. Remember the ensconced defender has a 3 to 1 advantage over an invader, as well as much greater motivation.

We have discussed this with no particular result. I myself believe that who wins wars depends partly on military technology. Sometimes it took extremely expensive knights with extremely expensive horses. Sometimes it took large numbers of infantry who were individually cheap. If the wars of the time require stuff you don't have, then you lose.

So I expect that some centuries a quickly-organized militia can win, while other centuries it can't. That's a workable approach when it works, and when it doesn't you need some other approach. I say, if you get an AnCap society going, the possibility that you might lose a war is no reason to give up. Any other system you set up might also lose a war.... But it looks to me like Quadribloc thinks the USA as currently organized won WWII etc, and it's our responsibility to win every war no matter what it takes to do so, because we are the good guys and if we ever lose a war then it means the bad guys win. So if we became an AnCap society that didn't win wars all over the world, that would be a bad thing.

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If it turns out that you can protect yourself without an aggressive authoritarian army, then good! But if the only way you find to protect your ZAP society is to draft people into an army...

Do you have any reason to believe that is how it will turn out? If not, why bother discussing it? This sort of runaway speculation is your great error. I see no reason to junk the ZAP because of some unrealistic, unsupported assumption.

I don't know how it will turn out. If I thought that there was no possible way for an AnCap society to survive, if for example I thought that it would inevitably be conquered quickly by some neighboring militarist nation, then I'd say don't bother.

But I don't know that it must fail and I don't know that it must "succeed".  I think Quadribloc is playing with the idea that it must inevitably fail, and that's why he keeps bringing it up.

When you say things like
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We've addressed this issue before. Create a militia and repel the invaders. Remember the ensconced defender has a 3 to 1 advantage over an invader, as well as much greater motivation.
it sounds to me like you are saying that this solution must inevitably succeed. And that prompts reasonable people to disagree.

But so what if victory isn't inevitable? If there's a fighting chance, then just maybe it's worth putting your life, fortune, and sacred honor into shifting the balance. And if some nervous nellies are afraid maybe it will fail -- OK, that's their right.

SandySandfort on May 09, 2011, 11:58:19 am

More important, those immigrants all come from societies with their own variations of the ZAP (and the Golden Rule). Since those variations aren't stated overtly, they tend to be fuzzier and contradictory, but they are there. Why? Because they really are a part of human nature. One of the first words kids learn and use is "mine!" Every kid says, "He started it!" These are basic human concepts. What disturbs me is there are people on this Forum--presumably human--who act as though the ZAP is some arcane theory whipped up by fringe political weirdos. It is just a restatement of a basic concept in all societies.

If there's nothing new or different involved, why would you expect a different result?

What is new is the specificity of the ZAP. The Golden Rule and similar, were aphorisms and little more. They were recommended codes of personal conduct. As far as I know, they were never the basis for social system or even dispute resolution. See below for more about the ZAP vs. everything else.

When you say things like
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We've addressed this issue before. Create a militia and repel the invaders. Remember the ensconced defender has a 3 to 1 advantage over an invader, as well as much greater motivation.
it sounds to me like you are saying that this solution must inevitably succeed.

You are trying to create a strawman. Re-read what I wrote. I made no such claim. I merely described what people in a market anarchy would probably do. After that, they might win and they might lose.

All I was saying is that there are ways to prepare to defend against national aggression beside drafting the fruit of your loins to kill and be killed to protect you. When you are free and then draft people against their will to fight "for freedom," you have already lost.

So what distinguishes the consistent application of the ZAP from every other theory of human interaction? ZAP is the only positive-sum game on the planet. When two people trade without coercion, they both win.

All other systems, to the extent they permit the initiation of force, are negative-sum strategies. War being the biggest example. Nobody has ever "won" a war; they just lost less than the other guy. Eventually the tables turned and they ended up losing whatever gains they thought they had won. In the end, everyone is worse off.

In EFT did Ceres "win" the war of the worlds? No. They kept their freedom, but they already had that. People died, property was destroyed and wealth was squandered. That is not winning.

In WWII, tens of millions died, many more millions suffered unimaginable horrors, the destruction was almost incomprehensible and the monetary cost was incalculable. But the Allies "won," right? Bullshit, all that happened was that the world was made safe for communism and little tin-pot dictators around the globe. Of course, that has cost the Americans trillions of dollars ever since, preparing for war with the commies, but America "won," right?


quadibloc on May 09, 2011, 12:00:08 pm
If it turns out that you can protect yourself without an aggressive authoritarian army, then good! But if the only way you find to protect your ZAP society is to draft people into an army...

Do you have any reason to believe that is how it will turn out? If not, why bother discussing it? This sort of runaway speculation is your great error. I see no reason to junk the ZAP because of some unrealistic, unsupported assumption.
It's unfortunate Mr. Thomas is bearing the brunt of your annoyance with my sloppy thinking.

While the ZAP is an approximation to the basic moral principles by which people usually live most of their lives, though, the rest of the world may see no reason to junk government, conscript armies, and aerial bombardment of civilians... because of an unsupported assumption that doing so wouldn't lead, in short order, to a worst-nightmare scenario of living under Nazism, Communism, or whatever.

It seems to me that AnCap works just fine on the sparsely populated frontier, but on the crowded Earth where rival ethnicities are jammed together, at population densities that require intensive agriculture... if stealing land from the next tribe over is your only hope of escaping a sixteen-hour day on the farm, people are going to be tempted. That's where government came from, and technological advance hasn't gotten us out of that fix yet, even if conditions even in some of the Third World are better than in ancient Egypt.

And so the "solution" isn't trying to adopt AnCap on a crowded world of rapacious governments where it is suicidal, but rather creating the breathing room where a more civilized way of living together than government is possible. So it seems to me that it makes more sense to persuade people to work on cheap access to space, or to promote population control, than to directly advocate AnCap.

evan on May 09, 2011, 12:09:44 pm
And so the "solution" isn't trying to adopt AnCap on a crowded world of rapacious governments where it is suicidal, but rather creating the breathing room where a more civilized way of living together than government is possible. So it seems to me that it makes more sense to persuade people to work on cheap access to space, or to promote population control, than to directly advocate AnCap.
Seasteading, anyone?

J Thomas on May 09, 2011, 01:43:46 pm

While the ZAP is an approximation to the basic moral principles by which people usually live most of their lives, though, the rest of the world may see no reason to junk government, conscript armies, and aerial bombardment of civilians... because of an unsupported assumption that doing so wouldn't lead, in short order, to a worst-nightmare scenario of living under Nazism, Communism, or whatever.

Well, you may be right. Maybe a whole lot of Americans will refuse to give up their giant expensive armies and even more expensive air forces. Maybe as the expenses mount they will get more desperate and increasingly like the nazis or the communists or whoever it is they're afraid of.

But so what?

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It seems to me that AnCap works just fine on the sparsely populated frontier, but on the crowded Earth where rival ethnicities are jammed together, at population densities that require intensive agriculture... if stealing land from the next tribe over is your only hope of escaping a sixteen-hour day on the farm, people are going to be tempted. That's where government came from, and technological advance hasn't gotten us out of that fix yet, even if conditions even in some of the Third World are better than in ancient Egypt.

Well, that can happen. But it doesn't happen very often. If the intention is to get the other nation's cropland so your farmers can do the farming, there aren't a whole lot of examples in the 20th century. It was rare that we had more than one genocide going on at a time, across the whole world. In the old days there was the option to conquer foreigners and make them your slaves -- they could help with the farming and get one set of rags to wear a year etc. When the famines came the least valuable slaves got worked to death. But that isn't practical any more so if you want to take somebody's food you pretty much need to kill them.

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And so the "solution" isn't trying to adopt AnCap on a crowded world of rapacious governments where it is suicidal, but rather creating the breathing room where a more civilized way of living together than government is possible.

Both might work. Remember too that AnCap is an ideology, like christianity or communism. It promises material wealth. Christianity took over the Roman Empire and perhaps destroyed it from within. It's hard for me to be sure what really happened, but I can see Romans as feeling like they had to be tougher than anybody else because everybody else was out to get them. And then a bunch of Christians weren't out to get them, and that knocked their stuffing out.

If enough people take up AnCap that will severely weaken the governments they come from. And it could spread.

"Hey, we need a strong army so we can take over the land next door and be rich." (That hasn't worked well in the last century or so, has it? It seems like it's worked a lot better to do currency manipulation etc to suck wealth from nations on a mostly-free market.)
"No wait, we can get rid of our government and be richer than we would if we took over the land next door."
"What if we get rich and then they take us over. We need to sacrifice for an army that will protect us from the people next door."
"Oh look, the people next door gave up their government and their army and they're getting rich."
"Well, do we conquer them and take their stuff, or do we do it too?"

If it works, if getting rid of the government actually makes most people rich, that's a powerful boost to an ideology. The communists claimed they could do it in 2 generations and they didn't deliver. If AnCap can demonstrate they can do that, the ideology might spread real fast.

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So it seems to me that it makes more sense to persuade people to work on cheap access to space, or to promote population control, than to directly advocate AnCap.

Do all three. We don't know that we'll ever have a viable economy in space. There's a whole lot of wealth out there, spread very very thin through a gigantic amount of nothing. It's worth trying for, but no need to make that the only arrow in your quiver.

SandySandfort on May 09, 2011, 05:01:19 pm
And so the "solution" isn't trying to adopt AnCap on a crowded world of rapacious governments where it is suicidal, but rather creating the breathing room where a more civilized way of living together than government is possible. So it seems to me that it makes more sense to persuade people to work on cheap access to space, or to promote population control, than to directly advocate AnCap.

Fortunately, it is not an either-or situation. However, I am not in the business of persuading anybody about anything. I live my life as an example put in a plug for the ZAP, space development and other things I value. I'm tried to show how to bring a highly profitable private space development industry to Panama at zero cost to Panamanians (and almost zero cost to space developers, but that is another story). The government types I did talk to, didn't have a clue and, believe it or not, the rocketeers were stuck in a cold war mentality. Oh well, I do what I can.

spudit on May 09, 2011, 07:40:54 pm

Seasteading, anyone?

Works for me.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2011, 07:43:16 pm by spudit »
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NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on May 12, 2011, 05:05:14 pm
I suspect that you have an unstated assumption, such as "Assume a system derived from English Common Law", and that not stating it muddies the waters a bit.

Actually, I have stated it numerous times. English Common Law is redundant. All common law was derived from English legal principles (too bad they lost touch with it in England). The differences between English common law, Anglo-American common law, Anglo-New Zealand common law, etc. are few, though there are some major exceptions. Libel/slander being a big one.

Aside from the fact that English Common Law is most certainly not redundant (cf. Icelandic Common Law), it is not at all clear that everyone in this forum is assuming it as a basis for discussion.

Personally, I find English common law to be rather poor -- it relies far too much on precedents, has no reasonable mechanism for replacing older models with improved models as understanding improves, and it creates a need for arcane specialists to utilize it effectively.  Other forms of Natural Law do not suffer from these problems, and would IMHO make a superior basis for AnCap societies.

Attorneys tend to object to this since it is a threat to their livelihood; some object consciously, while others do so simply out of the group mentality.  I strongly suggest that this has resulted in a blind spot in your thinking, Sandy.

I again suggest that the use of English Common Law is an unstated assumption, and further an unsupported assumption.  It is certainly not necessary for ZAP, and it is not at all clear that it is desirable as such a basis for a ZAP-based society.

quadibloc on May 12, 2011, 06:23:17 pm
I again suggest that the use of English Common Law is an unstated assumption, and further an unsupported assumption.  It is certainly not necessary for ZAP, and it is not at all clear that it is desirable as such a basis for a ZAP-based society.
That may well be true. I still haven't looked up Xeer law to know anything about it.

But those who are thinking of English Common Law as an ideal are probably not thinking about what precedents have done to it since Blackstone. It would have to be modified, of course, by what we have learned of human equality since then - but the best of English Common Law hearkens back to the Magna Carta.

SandySandfort on May 12, 2011, 07:22:00 pm
Aside from the fact that English Common Law is most certainly not redundant (cf. Icelandic Common Law), it is not at all clear that everyone in this forum is assuming it as a basis for discussion.

Point taken. In English speaking countries, "common law" almost invariably refers to the English common law, but you are right; I stand corrected. (However, when you see me write "common law." know that I mean "English Common Law" unless I specifically say otherwise.)  :)

Personally, I find English common law to be rather poor -- it relies far too much on precedents, has no reasonable mechanism for replacing older models with improved models as understanding improves, and it creates a need for arcane specialists to utilize it effectively.  Other forms of Natural Law do not suffer from these problems, and would IMHO make a superior basis for AnCap societies.

For starters, it is light years ahead of civil law. Personally I find it astonishingly ease to understand and use. No specialists are needed. Even polymath poseurs can probably figure it out. Your claim that it, "has no reasonable mechanism for replacing older models with improved models as understanding improves," seems completely backwards to me. If you want, we can explore that. However, for the purposes of EFT, the Common Law is the starting point for dispute resolution in the Belt.

Now what could happen is that if you could advocate some other Natural Law basis for dispute resolution in the Belt, I would entertain having it offered in the Belt as a competitive technique. Hell, I've already conceded trial by combat and throwing the I Ching. I l say, "let a hundred flowers bloom." (Unlike Mao, though, I mean it.)  :)

Attorneys tend to object to this since it is a threat to their livelihood; some object consciously, while others do so simply out of the group mentality.  I strongly suggest that this has resulted in a blind spot in your thinking, Sandy.

None of your assumptions apply to me. Heck, I am way more in favor of the Common Law than most lawyers. However come up with something better and it might make its way into EFT.

In fact, I'll make you this offer. If you make a good case for some other form of dispute resolution, with proper links and so forth, I will write a story featuring it. Who knows, maybe even some "overfed, long-haired leaping gnome," will be the arbiter...