Joss Delage

Proper role of the government on the Gulf Coast

312 posts in this topic

The civil standard is "by a preponderance of the evidence" which is a lower standard than the criminal one because the state has no particular interest in either outcome of a civil case.

If this statement is true, I find it to be very interesting and disturbing.

What particular "interest" does the State properly have in the "outcome" of 'criminal' cases that it does not properly have in 'civil' cases? (Besides identifying the particular "interest", perhaps a brief identification of the fundamental difference between a civil and criminal case would help here as well).

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I seem to recall that after he was acquitted of murder, he faced another trial for the civil consequences of the murder he was acquitted of.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember for sure if that trial took place or what the results were.

Unless there was a successful appeal of the civil case of which I am unaware, while OJ was acquitted in the criminal case, he was found 'guilty' (the actual term is "liable" here) in the civil case.

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Put simply - what right of the visitor is the property owner in each instance violating?  What force against the visitor is the property owner initiating?

Since the child died from her mother's beating, then her right to life was violated. The owner enabled the mother to continue beating up the child for an entire weekend, which resulted in the child's death, so the owner violated the child's right to life. As pointed out by OliverComputing:

A property owner certainly has a degree of responsibility for what happens on his property, if he is aware of the events, particularly given the privacy afforded by one's house, used in this case to hide the abuse from public scrutiny.

The fact that the owner was not the one doing the beating does not abolve her from any responsibility. In the second example of the broken stairway, if the child died from her injuries, then the owner violated her right to life as well, although her liability would be lower - falling from a broken stairway is an accident, while being beaten to death is not.

The fact that the owner did not initiate force in either case does not change the fact that her negligence led to the child's death.

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Since the child died from her mother's beating, then her right to life was violated.
I agree. The only question is how the owner becomes responsible for the mother's initiation of force against the child.
The owner enabled the mother to continue beating up the child for an entire weekend
How exactly did the owner "enable" the mother to beat the child? And how is such an act on the owner's part an initiation of force against the child?

Also, have you changed the grounds for the suit? You originally stated that the charge would be one of neglect - as in someone failed to fulfill an obligation. Instead of identifying the obligation the owner supposedly failed to fulful, it seems you have switched to identifying the owner being some form of accomplice to the crime (just as a getaway driver enables the bank robbers to rob the bank, and is so an accomplice to the robbery, even though he did not engage in the theft itself).

In the second example of the broken stairway, if the child died from her injuries, then the owner violated her right to life
I understand this is your argument. But simply restating the argument does not answer my questions.
The fact that the owner did not initiate force in either case does not change the fact that her negligence led to the child's death.
But this is just assuming that which is actually in question. It is true the child died on the owner's property. And it is true that the child died by breaking through the stairs and, say, cracking her skull. How is that accident the responsibility of the owner? Are you suggesting the mere fact that an accident takes place on a person's property makes the owner of that property responsible for that accident? If so, I have to disagree. And if not, then you have not identified what exactly makes the owner responsible here.

Additionally, since you say the owner did not initiate force against the child, and since rights cannot be violated except by the initiation of force, then how exactly did the owner violate the rights of the child - in either instance?

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Suppose that you let a murderer stay in your house and blithely ignored the clear evidence that he was murdering somebody in *your* house - using the fact of concealment provided by your property, and your indifference to the crime committed on your property. Are you saying you would argue that you have NO legal culpability for what happens, despite the fact that you are actively sanctioning and hiding this crime? At the very least you would be an accomplice. You cannot argue that you are merely a bystander. The positive action taken is the fact that you let in the murderer in the first place, and *continue* to sanction his presence and assist in hiding his crimes, despite knowledge of his nature.

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Oliver

I do not see how your questions answer my questions. In order to help me out, perhaps you would care to answer those questions directly rather than indirectly.

As to the new example you provide - a man murdering someone in your house - you claim the fact it occurs in your house and the fact you do not notify others of the murder despite your knowledge makes you "at the very least" an accomplice to that murder. I am afraid you are assuming exactly that which you must prove - for I would argue those two facts alone do not make one responsible (criminally or otherwise) for the murder.

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Brian - You wrote:

I agree.  The only question is how the owner becomes responsible for the mother's initiation of force against the child.
By observing an initiation of force going on for an entire weekend and not trying to stop it.
How exactly did the owner "enable" the mother to beat the child?  And how is such an act on the owner's part an initiation of force against the child?
By letting the mother continue to stay in the house and beat up the child, the owner gave her the message that it was ok to do so. Especially since the mother was mentally disturbed, by not saying anything, the owner facilitated her belief that the child was possessed by the devil and should be killed. The owner is liable for negligence, not for initiation of force, but her negligence facilitated the mother's initiation of force.
Also, have you changed the grounds for the suit?  You originally stated that the charge would be one of neglect - as in someone failed to fulfill an obligation. Instead of identifying the obligation the owner supposedly failed to fulful, it seems you have switched to identifying the owner being some form of accomplice to the crime (just as a getaway driver enables the bank robbers to rob the bank, and is so an accomplice to the robbery, even though he did not engage in the theft itself).
I started going in the direction of the owner/host's obligation to keep a safe environment for her guests, but decided to stick to the actual case. So my use of the term "neglect" should be construed in the sense of "negligence" rather than failure to fulfill an obligation. The owner was negligent by providing a place for the mother to beat up her child to death and by giving the message that there was nothing wrong about it. It does amount to being an accomplice.
But this is just assuming that which is actually in question.  It is true the child died on the owner's property.  And it is true that the child died by breaking through the stairs and, say, cracking her skull.  How is that accident the responsibility of the owner?  Are you suggesting the mere fact that an accident takes place on a person's property makes the owner of that property responsible for that accident?  If so, I have to disagree.  And if not, then you have not identified what exactly makes the owner responsible here.
There is a difference between the two cases. There is no initiation of force involved in the stairway accident. But the owner was negligent by letting a child in the house while knowing about the broken stairway, and by letting the child climb the stairway.
Additionally, since you say the owner did not initiate force against the child, and since rights cannot be violated except by the initiation of force, then how exactly did the owner violate the rights of the child - in either instance?
In the abuse case, the owner was an accomplice. The driver of a getaway car does not initiate force but is still guilty of enabling others to do so. In the stairway accident case, the owner was simply negligent, but his negligence resulted in the accident, so he is responsible.

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I am afraid you are assuming exactly that which you must prove - for I would argue those two facts alone do not make one responsible (criminally or otherwise) for the murder.

I stated this:

The positive action taken is the fact that you let in the murderer in the first place, and *continue* to sanction his presence and assist in hiding his crimes, despite knowledge of his nature.

Pretty straightforward. I also said this:

makes you "at the very least" an accomplice to that murder

There is a difference between accomplice and actual murderer, though the punishment may be identical.

I don't know what you'd call "proof" if this context, any more than the straightforward statement:

Without provocation and without being coerced and without being legally insane, you took a gun and shot a random innocent person dead, therefore you are guilty of murder.

Equally straightforward. I am not inclined to quibble with you over this, actually - I don't want to get into a "that all depends on what the meaning of 'is' is" kind of argument. If you can't see that letting a known murderer into your house to perform his crimes, with your knowledge, is immoral and rationally illegal (Texas notwithstanding) - and the assumed context here is *without coercion to yourself* - that to me is fairly equal to demanding a 500 page technical tome on the roots of arithmetic in order to see that 2+3 = 5.

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By observing an initiation of force going on for an entire weekend and not trying to stop it.
So the failure to prevent the initiation of force makes one responsible for the initiation of force?
the owner gave her the message that it was ok to do so.
Failure to prevent an initiation of force is permission to initiate force? Failure to speak against an initiation of force is the assistance in the initiation of that force?
The owner is liable for negligence, not for initiation of force, but her negligence facilitated the mother's initiation of force.
You still have not explicitly identified what you mean by negligence here. However, the other two quotes above seem to suggest that what the owner neglected to do was act to prevent the initiation of force. Please correct me if I am wrong in this regard.
So my use of the term "neglect" should be construed in the sense of "negligence" rather than failure to fulfill an obligation.
Again, how exactly are you defining "negligence" apart from something someone is obligated to do but does not do?
It does amount to being an accomplice.
So you believe, given just the facts in evidence, that the woman is an accomplice to the murder itself now?
There is no initiation of force involved in the stairway accident. But the owner was negligent by letting a child in the house while knowing about the broken stairway, and by letting the child climb the stairway.
So negilgence does not involve the initiation of force. But it is still a violation of rights. How?
The driver of a getaway car does not initiate force but is still guilty of enabling others to do so.
I have to disagree here with your claim the driver does not initiate force. He comes in contact with the property of another (the money) without that other's consent. That makes his action an initiation of force. Thus the homeowner and the getaway driver are not comparable.

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...

In the abuse case, the owner was an accomplice. The driver of a getaway car does not initiate force but is still guilty of enabling others to do so....

I agree that the house owner was an accomplice, and also the driver of the getaway car.

The reason I say they're accomplices is that each has provided something that enabled the crime to be committed. They helped to facilitate the crime. In the case of the getaway car, it's obvious that the driver is helping to commit the crime by providing the transportation. In the case of the beating abuse, the owner provided a place for the abuser to beat the child. So he helped to facilitate the crime.

The difference I see is that the getaway car driver knows beforehand that he's going to help commit a crime. But as the case is stated, the owner of the house probably did not know a crime was going to be committed. Nevertheless, as the crime was in progress, he became aware that the house he was providing, was in fact being used as a place to commit a crime. This probably makes him guilty of being a lesser accomplice than if he knew beforehand that the house he was providing would be used to beat a child to death.

Actually I wonder: I've heard the terms "accessory to a crime before the fact" and "accessory to a crime after the fact". Do these terms refer to the distinction I've just identified?

....

Though it hasn't been specifically mentioned, I think that just being a witness to a crime and not reporting it does not, by itself, make one an accomplice. That is, the case of somebody seeing a crime being committed (but not reporting it) is distinct from the case of somebody actually providing a place for the crime to be committed. (Assuming of course that he knew beforehand or found out during the commission of the crime.) But I have to think about this more.

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Oliver - I am sad that you consider my questioning to be mere "quibbling" over the meaning of a word. Point in fact, I was not arguing over the meaning of a word at all. I was arguing that assumptions were being made without proof ie that people were being identified as responsible for violations of rights without the appropriate evidence to make such identification validly.

To use the original example again - a woman invites another woman over to her house. She does not know the woman will murder her child. In the middle of the weekend, the woman goes into a deranged fit and assaults the child to such a degree that the child eventually dies from the injuries. In other words, the woman find herself in a situation where force has been initiated and, due to the deranged woman's mental condition, is still a threat.

Given just these facts, the claim is being made that the home owner is an accomplice to the child killer's force. I have to vehemently disagree. I would assert that the woman herself is a victim of the child killer's initiation of force.

To use another example - a bank manager permits an acquaintance to enter the bank he owns. The man, halfway through opening an account, whips out a gun and shoots the teller. Then he hides in the back of the bank and waits for most of the day until the deposits are all made. Once the bank in closed, he steals this money and runs away.

At no time during this initiation of force did the bank owner/manager take any actions to prevent this man from violating the rights of the teller or the other depositors.

According to the principle presented, because the bank owner allowed the robber to use his property to commit the murder and the theft - and because the owner knew the entire time what was going on and took no action to stop the violations of rights, he is not a victim here but - "at the very least" an accomplice.

I am sorry but that is the opposite of justice.

As I said in my very first post on this part of the thread - remember, an individual is innocent until proven guilty. Unless one can prove the owner conspired to initiate the force or gave the violator voluntary permission for the force to be initiated on her property and to the degree that it was initiated - which has not done in any of the examples - then, based on the principle of presumed innocence, one cannot validly claim the property owner is an accomplice or in any way responsible for the crime that has been committed.

To do so is equal to the injustice of accusing the bank owner of being an accomplice.

And the assumed context here is *without coercion to yourself*
Then you have just changed the context. Because that was certainly not the context of the example in question. And since you simply assumed that context instead of stating it explicitly, there was no reason for anyone else to make that assumption (especially given the already established context of the example that had been discussed).

So - yes - if a person voluntarily invites a criminal to his property, knowing that the criminal is going to commit more crimes (and one can prove these things) - then that person is an accomplice to the crime. But this would be true even if the person is not the property owner. If a person breaks into someone's house and invites a criminal onto the property etc., then that person would still be an accomplice, for the same reason. Ownership - another part of the established context - would not matter in your example

In other words, not only did you change one fundamental aspect of the example in question, you changed two. And you presented your example as comparable to the original example without making your changes explicit. Given this complete and fundamental change of context, you may want to reconsider statements like "If you can't see..." since, in an argument, one cannot see that which is not provided - especially especially when it is contrary to the context so far provided.

The point I was making before all these changes of context is that the claim of accomplice by yourself and Michelle is an injustice based on an assumption for which there is no evidence - ie the voluntary cooperation of the home owner.

In other words, property ownership and knowledge of wrong-doing on that property alone do not an accomplice make.

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Or - to put it more succinctly, inaction in the context of someone else's initiation of force does not make the non-actor an accomplice to the initiator, nor responsible for the initiator's force.

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A more basic question would be, If I am not legally required to report someone's use of force against me in my own house, why should I be required to report it when used against a third party? And if I invite a person into my house, who then proceeds to take my silver candlesticks while I do nothing to prevent him (as in Les Miserable), am I his accomplice?

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And if I invite a person into my house, who then proceeds to take my silver candlesticks while I do nothing to prevent him (as in Les Miserable), am I his accomplice?

Ummm. No. Unless you intended for him to have them as a gift or unless you had reason to fear for your physical safety, you would not be an accomplice - you would a total wuss!

:)

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Or - to put it more succinctly, inaction in the context of someone else's initiation of force does not make the non-actor an accomplice to the initiator, nor responsible for the initiator's force.

In the first place, in your responses, you have freely mixed up different hypotheticals. So I don't regard your critiques above as remotely representing the scenario that I posed, nor addressing the actual issue.

The simple fact is that if you tolerate criminal (or insanely damaging) action on your own property - by the fact that you do nothing to attempt to stop it, and where you are not a prisoner or under coercion - then you are a defacto accomplice, morally, and rationally legally, for reasons already stated and which you have not addressed. The context is not a person (or his loved ones) under coercion. In fact I seriously doubt that the original case of a woman who passively let another beat her child to death involved a threat to her own life - if that were the case, it would hardly be controversial.

Knowingly and *willingly* tolerating criminal action on (or with) your property, absent coercion, is immoral, and rationally illegal, because to own property *means* to control and sanction its usage. To sanction a criminal act with your own property is logically to be an accomplice.

Next I suppose you'll be arguing that it's ok to loan your car keys to a bank robber who offers you $1000 for the temporary usage of your car with the explicit announced intention of using your car for a bank heist, or your skyscraper apartment to a psychotic sniper. The principle is identical.

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I seriously doubt that the original case of a woman who passively let another beat her child to death involved a threat to her own life - if that were the case, it would hardly be controversial.
Your doubt of it is not evidence. And given the fact of Good Samaritan Laws and the proliferation of other, non-objective laws, your claim that such a case would not necessarily be controversial is not at all true.

My point, however, stands regardless. My point is that no evidence has been provided to suggest the woman was voluntarily permitting the assault on the child. In fact, to paraphrase your own claim: 'if evidence existed that the woman knowingly and voluntarily gave permission for force to be initiated on her property, the case would hardly be controversial.' It is only if such evidence does not exist that the question of what the woman should properly have done even arises.

With your argument, you seem to be saying the church-going woman whose age and thus frailty we do not know, was obligated to stop the mentally deranged woman from attacking the child. You seem to be saying it is immoral for the woman to refrain from acting for fear of similar force being used against her by the mentally unstable, force-wielding guest. You seem to be saying that because the force was aimed at the child, there was no risk to the woman because no threat of force existed beyond that aimed against the child.

Put simply, you seem to be claiming the mere absence of action against someone initiating force is proof of willingly permission of that force.

All of these premises you seem to suggest are completely false

The very fact that this mentally disturbed woman engaged in the initiation of force, necessarily placed the home owner under a continuing threat of force (just as it did the banker in the robbery situation). Put simply, though the force was not used against her, the very fact of its use was a threat against her. As such, again just like the banker, this home owner was a victim of the woman's force - not an accomplice in its use.

If you believe otherwise, then it is up to you to provide the evidence which validly leads you to that conclusion. Without such evidence, you have nothing more than an arbitrary assertion. And since no evidence has thus far been presented that the woman "willingly" - ie knowingly and voluntarily gave permission for the initiation of force on her property - that is exactly what you have: an arbitrary assertion of guilt. What makes it doubly an injustice is that your arbitrary assertion is being made against a victim in the case.

Put simply, if someone starts wielding force around other individuals, the inaction of those other individuals is evidence of their fear of that force - unless and until proven otherwise. In other words, in the face of and in the context of the initiation of force, a person is innocent until proven guilty - ie innocent of being an accomplice until proven guilty of knowingly and voluntarily permitting the initiation of force.

You have not even provided evidence for, let alone proven, such guilt.

In fact, you seem to be setting the opposite standard - of guilty until proven innocent. You seem to be setting the standard that one must prove one was afraid of the force being initiated, otherwise one is otherwise one is guilty of being an accomplice to the use of that force.

That is the complete opposite of justice.

Knowingly and *willingly* tolerating criminal action on (or with) your property, absent coercion, is immoral, and rationally illegal, because to own property *means* to control and sanction its usage.
Since no example has been provided in which the owner "willingly" - ie voluntarily permitted someone to initiate force while on one's property - and since in fact, this exact principle has already been explicitly stated and agreed to, your presentation of it here as if it were in dispute is a straw man.

Furthermore, in each example provided, there is coersion. That is the point of every one of the examples. If there was no force being initiated, then there would be no crime and no dispute whatsoever. As such, your caveat is the explicit context of each example. A context one cannot rationally drop - but is being dropped nonetheless.

Next I suppose you'll be arguing that it's ok to loan your car keys to a bank robber who offers you $1000 for the temporary usage of your car with the explicit announced intention of using your car for a bank heist, or your skyscraper apartment to a psychotic sniper.
Your sarcasm is neither appreciated nor appropriate. Neither is the grossly blatant straw man you use in place of my argument.

PS - if, as you accused without providing any support for the accusation, you truly believe I have failed to even address the "actual issue" here with my posts, then if you identify what you believe to be that issue, I will happily provide a quote from my posts which proves otherwise. If you do not wish to provide such an identification so that I may defend myself against your unsupported accusation, then an apology will happily be accepted in its place.

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Brian,

I can only reiterate that providing a shelter for an abuser is being an accomplice, and is comparable to the driver of a getaway truck. If the driver was not receiving any of the stolen goods, but only doing a favor, he would still be an accomplice. He did not initiate force in any way, but enabled the initiation of force. Similarly, the house owner did a favor to an abusive mother, letting her stay in his house and beat her child to death. If the mother were to pay the owner for staying in his house, would *that* make the owner an accomplice?

The difference between the owner and the driver is that in the case of the owner, there is also the issue of negligence, which does not apply to the driver. I think we miss some information about the owner's possible motives and state-of-mind. The owner apparently watched the abuse - did he enjoy it like a sadist? Did he film the abuse with the intention to sell the video? Did he have a criminal record and preferred not to call the police? Was he afraid the mother will attack him if he attempts to intervene? These are the questions that a criminal insvestigation should answer. The point is that there is sufficient grounds for a criminal investigation. It's possible that the investigation will conclude that the owner had justifiable reasons not to call the authorities, but the point is that the investigation should take place. The point is that it's impossible to apply an abstract principle without having all the evidence.

(Note: I changed the gender of the house owner to make it easier to differentiate him from the mother.)

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Your sarcasm is neither appreciated nor appropriate.  Neither is the grossly blatant straw man you use in place of my argument.   

Yes, it was a little sarcastic, but mostly it was a reductio ad absurdum of what - at least as far as I can tell - you are arguing, and no straw man but logical examples of - again, at least as far as I can tell - your position.

I do not know the entire context of the original example given and I don't know if coercion was involved. What I've been focusing on is the *principle* involved: One is morally and legally responsible for the knowing and voluntary, non-coerced usage of one's property.

You wrote:

With your argument, you seem to be saying the church-going woman whose age and thus frailty we do not know, was obligated to stop the mentally deranged woman from attacking the child.

I *seem to be saying*? Hardly. If the woman was NOT under coercion, which is the only context I have put forth, then logically she could have (1) made a phone call to 911, (2) walked out the door and made a phone call to 911 elsewhere, (3) walked out the door and asked a neighbor to call 911, (4) walked out the door and screamed for help, ETC. ETC.

But this is all beside the real point. Try focusing on the PRINCIPLE I am putting forth above and forget about the Texas example, which is simply one isolated case with inadequate context known. I even put it in bold above. So I ask you: Do you or do you not agree with it? It's a simple question that does not require pages of verbiage to answer.

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Michelle,

I am disappointed. Like Oliver, you decided to ignore the questions I asked and instead simply restated your original premise. I understand this premise completely. I understand that you think simply "providing a shelter for an abuser is being an accomplice".

Now the question is, do you understand my premise?

If the driver was not receiving any of the stolen goods, but only doing a favor, he would still be an accomplice.
I already dealt with this argument, yet you have not bothered to even acknowledge that fact, let alone address my response.

Whether or not the driver is given stolen goods in return for taking possession of those goods and driving them away from the bank, does not change the fact that the driver initiates force by coming in contact with that property without the owner's permission. In other words, the temporary nature of his possession of those stolen goods does not change the nature of that possession as an initiation of force. It is an initiation of force regardless. Nor does it change the fact that he conspired with the robbers to steal the goods in the first place - ie conspired to initiate force.

As such, contrary to your assertions, the getaway driver most certainly initiates force, and he does so in more than one way.

If the mother were to pay the owner for staying in his house, would *that* make the owner an accomplice?
No. If you read the posts I made to Oliver, the question is not whether the church lady invited the woman and child to stay with them (for free or otherwise). The question is: did she know the abuse was going to take place? And the answer given in the example is no. The next question is: when the abuse did take place, why did the church lady not act? Was it because she voluntarily permitted that force or was it because of that initiation of force.

As I have stated - clearly and repeatedly from the beginning - no evidence beyond the fact of the force itself has been provided to explain the church lady's inaction. In other words, no evidence of her actions being voluntary despite the context of the initiation of force has been presented.

To make this clear, no evidence has been provided that the church lady acted freely in the face of the threat of force (as demonstrated by the actual initiation of force) of the deranged guest.

Without such evidence, the answer to the question: 'why did the church lady not act against the initiation of force' must necessarily be 'because of the initiation of that force and the threat it posed.' And the reason for this is what I made clear in my first post to you: the logical and ethical principle of presumed innocence. In the context of the initiation of force, an individual is innocent of being an accomplice to the initiation of force unless evidence is provided of that guilt - ie evidence is provided of voluntary action in spite of the initiation of force and threat thereof.

What you and Oliver are doing is reversing that standard. You are claiming the default position is guilty until proven innocent. You are claiming that, in the context of someone's initiation of force, the default position for a bystander is one of voluntary action. In other words, you are dropping the very context of the example and claiming free and voluntary action on the part of the church lady despite the initiation of force and the threat it continued to present (which by definition removes the freedom to act - removes voluntary choice). And on the basis of your assumption of free action in the face of the initiation of force, you proclaim the church lady guilty of aiding the abuser in her initation of force.

That is logically backwards logically. That is ethically backwards.

I think we miss some information about the owner's possible motives and state-of-mind.
We are certainly missing evidence on which one can reach your conclusion of guilt - which was my point. However, we are not missing any evidence to reach my conclusion of innocence - which was also my point. Innocence is the default position. It requires no evidence beyond the initiation of force itself.

Now, if you want to enter additional evidence, that means you are trying to change the example. You want to change the context from what was originally being argued to something else entirely. The given example is one in which the investigation is complete and the case has been taken to court based on the evidence provided by that investigation And in that example, there is no evidence the church lady was a sadist. There is no evidence the church lady filmed the events. There is no evidence of anything but the church lady's inaction.

It is in this context and this context alone that you claimed the church lady was guilty - first simply of negligence, then later of actually being an accomplice.

It is in this context I tried to point out you have no valid basis for making any such claim.

In the face of this, you now seek to change that context.

Fine. But a new context does not change anything about the current context and the conclusions you reached on the basis of that specific context.

In other words, change the parameters all you like - ie provide as many other different examples you can think of. They will not change the facts of the given example.

Changing context, like dropping context, does not make your claims valid in the context they were given.

The point is that it's impossible to apply an abstract principle without having all the evidence.
Yet that is precisely what you did! In the face of just the evidence provided, you boldly proclaimed that the church lady was negligent. Then, upon reflection you actually claimed she was an accomplice! I was the one trying to argue you had no evidence to make these claims. I was the one trying to argue that, on the basis of the evidence given, one could not reach the conclusions you did explicitly reach.

I was the one arguing the church lady is innocent until proven guilty.

Now, while it is gratifying to have you finally agree with me on my point here, I am less than thrilled with your implication that I am the one coming to conclusions without evidence.

That was your error, not mine.

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I have been without the internet for a while (minor computer explosion) and I see that the tone of this thread has not assumed a more friendly air. This is disappointing. I again ask those participating to focus on the ideas and not on the person. I will delete any future posts that even hint at an accusatory tone.

Perhaps more succinct postings will be helpful, focused on the principles and less dissection on a sentence by sentence basis.

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I have an interest in philosophical debate, as such, regardless of the particular content of a particular debate. One technique I have seen that works well in contentious debates is "de-personaliziing." The requirements of this approach to debate are:

1. POSITIVE: Deal with specified issues and only with issues.

2. NEGATIVE: Don't quote or name another person in the thread, and never use "you."

Jay Palmer's posts often take this de-personalized approach. Following is an example which I have made up on the fly merely as an illustration:

I think the main issue in this thread, now, is whether someone who knowingly gives aid to a criminal, without being threatened by that criminal, should be held legally responsible for the crimes that that criminal commits once he has received support. By "support" I mean things such as lodging, food, or information that enable the criminal to engage in crimes at that time.

Another issue is what constitutes proof that the person giving aid is (1) knowingly supporting a criminal, and (2) is or is not under threat by that criminal. But this is a secondary issue in this thread.

An example of a person supporting a criminal is a restaurant owner who sells a meal to a man who (unknown to the owner) has committed a murder. The owner, on the next day, sees the customer commit (another) murder but, when the customer (whom the owner knows to be a murderer) asks to rent space in the attic of the restaurant for sleeping overnight, agrees to the rental -- all the while never calling the police to report the murder he saw.

My conclusion from these facts is that the owner is knowingly selling shelter to a man he has seen commit a murder; and therefore the owner should be punished legally for aiding a murderer elude police.

Then after I send my post, a reader in the thread can reply -- without either quoting me or naming me -- as follows, for example:

The main issue in this thread is definitely not xxxxx, but is instead xxxxx. (And so forth.)

So, my four-part question for each of the main participants is: What is the essential issue, what are the derivative issues, what is your position on the main issue, and what is an example of your point?

If done independently by each of the contenders, I would expect that the identification of issues and the assumed circumstances (and therefore context) will be different -- making any resolution impossible at that point. Only when debaters agree to the issue and example circumstances (context) do they have any hope of resolving the issue.

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Alright. The main issue in this thread is whether and under what conditions an individual is legally (and morally) responsible for force used on his property by others.

My position on this issue is that there are indeed some conditions under which an owner is legally (and morally) responsible for the force on his property by others. What are some of these conditions? They are as follows:

1 - The owner has knowledge of the use of force on his property

2 - The owner is free from the initiation of force or threat thereof

3 - The owner does not use his freedom to remedy the initiation of force on his property (ie contact the police, stop the initiator of force directly, etc)

Under such conditions - under conditions where a property owner knowingly and voluntarily permits the use of his property for the violation of rights - the property owner is responsible for the force used by others on his property.

The second issue in this thread is what constitutes 'freedom from initiation of force or threat thereof'. In other words, what constitutes coercion, or absence thereof?

My position on the issue is that the fact of the initiation of force - by its very definition - is what constitutes a denial of that freedom to all bystanders. My position is that the fact of the initiation of force constitutes coercion against all bystanders. In this instance, all bystanders would include the owner of the property.

For example, a property owner invites a guest and her child to stay the weekend. Over the course of the weekend, the guest suffer's a psychotic break and beats her child to death. The home owner does not act to prevent this initiation of force on her property.

In this example, is the home owner legally or morally responsible for the force used on her property? No. While the owner was certainly aware of the force being used on her property, she herself was not free of that force or threat thereof. Thus she cannot be considered free of coercion. Her actions cannot be considered voluntary. As such, she does not meet all the conditions under which one may properly assign to her the responsibility for the use of force by others on her property.

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For example, a property owner invites a guest and her child to stay the weekend.  Over the course of the weekend, the guest suffer's a psychotic break and beats her child to death.  The home owner does not act to prevent this initiation of force on her property. 

 

In this example, is the home owner legally or morally responsible for the force used on her property?  No.  While the owner was certainly aware of the force being used on her property, she herself was not free of that force or threat thereof.  Thus she cannot be considered free of coercion.  Her actions cannot be considered voluntary.  As such, she does not meet all the conditions under which one may properly assign to her the responsibility for the use of force by others on her property.

Very well. Where is the evidence that the owner was not free of that force or threat thereof? This argument entails a hostage situation, but there is no such evidence in the case cited by Vladimir Berkov. There is no evidence that the mother prevented the owner from sneaking out and calling for help. There is no evidence that the mother threatened the owner. There is no indication that the owner was old and frail. This is why an investigation is required as to why the owner did not ask for help.

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So, my four-part question for each of the main participants is: What is the essential issue, what are the derivative issues, what is your position on the main issue, and what is an example of your point?

Here are my answers:

1. The central issue is: under what conditions does a third party observing a crime become liable, morally and legally?

2. The derivative issues: a. what is an owner's responsibility toward those within his property? b. what constitutes negligence on the owner's part? c. Is an initiation of force facilitated or encouraged by an observer who refrains from any action against it?

3. My position: When the crime occurs in somebody's house without any coercion against the owner, the owner becomes liable. (And like any defendant, the owner is innocent until proven guilty.)

4. An example: A restaurant owner is alone with two guests at a table. He observes the two get into an argument, yell at each other, then get up and start beating each other up. The owner does nothing. One guest eventually beats up the other to death. In this case, the restaurant owner is liable, morally and legally.

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Another secondary issue on the thread is that of "proof" - ie what constitutes proof and who has the burden of it. Specifically, the issue is - in the context of the initiation of force, does one have to provide more evidence beyond that initiation of force in order to to be under the threat of force?

My answer in this context is: no. One does not need multiple instances of force, nor does one need force to be initiated directly against one's self for the threat of force to exist and thus for one's actions to be coerced - ie not free.

For example, a bank robber shoots a teller. One does not need to have the gun held to one's head from that point on in order to be under the threat of force. In fact, at that poine one does not even have to have threats of force aimed against one's self directly in order for one not to be free.

The fact of that force itself (or even the threat of such force) is evidence that one is not free to act as one would otherwise normally (read: voluntarily) choose to act. In such an instance, one is under threat of force. One is facing coercion.

The burden of proof lies on anyone who claims the opposite.

To return this to the previous example, the fact that the mentally deranged initiator of force is still present in the house means the threat of her using force in another psychotic fit is also still present - ie the threat of force still exists. Does the owner know if the deranged woman will catch and kill the owner if the owner tries to escape, or if the owner tries to call the police, or if the owner takes any other action against the deranged woman? No. The only thing the owner knows is the woman killed one person and is capable of doing so again - ie is capable of killing her.

That is a threat of force. That is coercion. And that is why the owner does not meet the conditions of responsibility for the deranged person's use of force.

Now, returning to the principle of the burden of proof. In the context of the initiation of force, a bystander (which, as indicated previously, includes the property owner) does not have to prove he is not an accomplice to the use of that force. He does not have to prove he is not guilty of assisting in the initiation of force. He does not have to prove his innocence. That is what it means to be innocent until proven guilty.

The burden of proof is upon he who claims the positive - who claims the bystander is guilty of initiation of force. And in order for a man to even suggest another individual is not innocent, and thus invade his life searching for proof of that suggestion, one must have some evidence upon which to base that suggestion in the first place. Without this required evidence, one merely has an arbitrary assertion. And man may not properly act upon such arbitrary assertions. As such, he may certainly not base any legal action on those arbitrary assertions.

For instance, if one asserts the owner did not act because she might have made a snuff film of the child's death instead, one better have some evidence to base that assertion on in the first place. One cannot simply search the owner's house for snuff films without such evidence.

If one asserts the owner did not act because she might enjoy the torture of others, then one better have some evidence to support that assertion. Once cannot simply search the personal library and effects of the owner for sadistic materials without such evidence.

Put simply, one cannot assert the possibility of guilt without some evidence to support that assertion. Otherwise one has entered the realm of the arbitrary assertion. And such assertions are properly discarded without any consideration whatsoever.

Thus the proper principle here is that - absent actual evidence to the contrary, any bystander (including any owner) is innocent of any wrongdoing or moral breach in the face of another's initiation of force.

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