Dufresne

Vandalism and Force

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Today, I walked down the street and saw a very angry man standing next to his car and mumbling something I could not understand. When I came closer he explained to me that some strangers had destroyed his car's tires for no apparent reason. This made me think about force. In the cases of force that I have considered so far there was always someone who attempted to make another person act against his judgment. The person who threatens or initiates force has an intent to change a person's behavior. But I don't see how this applies to this instance of vandalism. I don't know the actual intent of the strangers who destroyed the man's tires but lets assume they did not intent to target this particular victim. Does the principle of the initiation of physical force as being evil apply in this context? If so, why?

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The person who threatens or initiates force has an intent to change a person's behavior. But I don't see how this applies to this instance of vandalism. I don't know the actual intent of the strangers who destroyed the man's tires but lets assume they did not intent to target this particular victim. Does the principle of the initiation of physical force as being evil apply in this context? If so, why?

First, initiation of force isn't just "to change a person's behavior", even if it does often result in some change in behavior. Second, you don't need to know the name of the person, so anonymous terrorist bombs in a shopping mall aren't necessarily planted in order to affect a particular named individual. It suffices that there is a good reason to believe that there will be a victim. It is inconceivable that tires on a car would be unowned non-property. Breaking a fallen branch in the woods isn't neessarily initiation of force (but then, look for the signs that say "Keep Off", or "No Branch Breaking").

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First, initiation of force isn't just "to change a person's behavior", even if it does often result in some change in behavior.
I understand that. Maybe I should make my question clearer: Do acts of vandalism fall under the specific principle of Objectivism which says that the initiation of physical force is evil? Obviously, physical force was used to destroy someone's property causing harm to the rightful owner of the tires. This is true whether the vandalists are known or strangers. The victim in my example is unable to act on his judgment (he wanted to use his property and didn't want it to be destroyed). My question is whether the intent of the criminal is relevant or whether only the effects of the criminal's actions are relevant in determining whether a given action falls under the principle or not. Either way, the vandal's behavior is evil.

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Well think about it this way, regardless of the other aspects of the vandals' intent, it was undoubtedly at least part of their intent to put hands and violate property contrary to the wishes of its rightful owners. So they didn't have to know the owner personally to nevertheless initiate force against him, by damaging his property.

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