Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Overly strong statement of the day 2

Well, this isn't really a sequel, since the original installment was Shawn's not mine. But anyways, I found this pretty hard to stomach:

'There is no market without government and no government without taxes; and what type of market there is depends on laws and policy decisions that government must make. In the absence of a legal system supported by taxes, there couldn’t be money, banks, corporations, stock exchanges, patents, or a modern market economy – none of the institutions that make possible the existence of almost all contemporary forms of income and wealth.

It is therefore logically impossible that people should have any kind of entitlement to all of their pretax income.'

(Thomas Nagel and Liam Murphy, The Myth of Ownership: 32. My italics.)

Call me old-fashioned.....


I think yours is a bit stronger than mine. Logical impossibility seems to beat a ridiculous claim about conceptual truth.
Entitlements which are logically impossible are a rare indeed - maybe even logically impossible. I nominate this to 'Overly strong statement of the *week*'.
How do we justify these claims anyway? I've started to wonder about (i.e. find dubious) many claims about logical possibility or impossibility. The actual linguistic practice of professional philosophers (at papers, say) suggests that you just quickly assess the claim, silently, and then make an assertion. (Which is not to say there aren't rigorous ways of doing these things. Transcendental philosophy for instance. Although, presumably, you can do this without *needing* to talk about logical possibility or impossibility.) And maybe some people say 'logically impossible' when they mean 'there is no possible world where...'. (One could argue that the former is, or should be, something to do with logic, whilst the latter has something to do with metaphysics.) Conceivability and (what can be proven with) modal logics are often not differentiated from some or all of these notions either.
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