Posts tagged John Hasnas

Where do you normally go to get criticized?

Some of y’all may have already heard through Roderick; but for those of you who haven’t, I will be in Philadelphia from today through (the afternoon of) the 30th of December. I hope to spend some time checking out some local attractions, but my immediate purpose in being here is to take part in the Molinari Society’s joint Author Meets Critics session for Crispin Sartwell’s Against the State and the Anarchism/Minarchism anthology from Ashgate. In virtue of my essay in the anthology I’ll be among the Authors. The Critics I’ll be Meeting are Jennifer McKitrick, Christopher Morris, and Nicole Hassoun. The session will be at the Philadelphia Marriot downtown (1201 Market St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) on Monday, 29 December, from 1:30 – 4:30pm. Here’s the current lineup, courtesy of Roderick:

GIX-3. Monday, 29 December 2008, 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Molinari Society symposium: Authors Meet Critics:
Crispin Sartwell’s Against the State: An Introduction to Anarchist Political Theory and
Roderick T. Long and Tibor R. Machan, eds., Anarchism/Minarchism: Is a Government Part of a Free Country?
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, 1201 Market Street, Room TBA

Chair: Carrie-Ann Biondi (Marymount Manhattan College)



The session will consist of three essays from the Critics offering critical responses to the books, followed by short replies from the Authors, and a discussion and Q&A to follow. Nicole Hassoun has diligently sent in her critical essay and Jan Narveson has sent in such replies as he’s been able to prepare, given what’s been sent to him (with some bonus remarks about Crispin Sartwell’s book); what the rest of us will be saying is, I guess, a mystery only to be revealed in the fullness of time. But I’m looking forward to hearing the critical engagement with the work we’ve done, and to joining in on the discussion.

The APA Eastern Division has refused to give out any information about room assignments in the materials you can get without forking over a registration fee — for evil’s sake, of course — so I won’t know where inside the Marriot we’ll be until tomorrowish. But as soon as I do know, I’ll let you know.

Anyway, come on down if you can; it’d be great to see you there. Or, even if you can’t, if you happen to be in the area, drop me a line; I’ll be around.

A Place for Positive Law

For those of you who don’t know, L. and I will be out of town for the holidays. In fact, we are already out of town; but I’ve arranged to have some not-especially-time-sensitive posts go up while I’m away through devious WordPress scheduling trickery, so stay tuned. While we’re away, we’ll first be visiting my assorted relations in Texas, and then heading east to the Molinari Society session at the APA Eastern Division meeting in Baltimore. The session will be a symposium on the theme Anarchy: It’s Not Just a Good Idea, It’s the Law. Roderick will be presenting a paper on Spooner’s early theory of constitutional interpretation (most famously presented in The Unconstitutionality of Slavery), and the degree to which it can be reconciled with his later radical rejection of the Constitution and all forms of government-made law as having no legitimate authority over anyone. (Geoffrey Allan Plauché will be giving prepared comments in reply.) I’ll be presenting a new paper, A Place for Positive Law: A Contribution to Anarchist Legal Theory, which is also about Spooner, but from a different angle:

Peter Kropotkin famously defined anarchism as

… a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government—harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of civilized beings.

If he was right about that, then anarchist legal theory would seem to be either a contradiction in terms, or an exercise in demonology. Anarchists want to abolish the State as such, and replace it with a society without government. And without a government, how would you have laws? Maybe so, but what I want to do today is not to storm the Law from the outside. Before the Law there stands a doorkeeper, and I note that he is mighty. My remarks will aim instead at an internal critique of a common-sense view of the law, beginning with some common premises that most statists share, and then moving towards the anarchistic conclusion that no government has sovereign authority to impose legal obligations on anyone. I will then consider a difficult problem that seems to face the anarchistic conclusion—the problem of reducing the natural law. I shall argue, though, that the solution that government seems to promise cannot withstand critical scrutiny; an anarchist solution to the problem will be difficult—one of the most difficult theoretical problems for anarchists to tackle—but the difficulty is necessary for a solution to the problem that is not simply arbitrary. The place for me to begin, then, is with the concept of law.

John Hasnas will be commenting. You can read the whole thing online. Comments, questions, applause, brickbats, etc. are welcome, either in private or in the comments section below.