Rebuttal target: The Ethical Notions of Personhood and Savagery, by Insula Qui on Zeroth Position

A fundamental fixture of Christian values is the inherent sanctity of life. Christian values are at the basis of all modern Western philosophy, and as such this also applies to libertarianism, as it is fundamentally born out of thinkers and theories from Christian Europe.

What? Libertarianism, by your own ideology, is a philosophical position on what constitutes a proper use of force; therefore it cannot be "fundamentally born out of" any thinker, because ideas are universal. This may be a semantic quibble, but it is a symptom of a deep error in the way a person thinks about philosophy.

(Insula Qui proceeds to explain that non-aggression does not prohibit self-defense. Nothing in dispute there.)

At this point, we are introduced to both a fascinating and a potentially terrifying concept. There is a possibility that some humans are fundamentally incapable of mutual respect for life, and thus they are not persons in the ethical sense. If this is true, then libertarian theory needs to exclude certain humans entirely.

So the article rests on the idea that some humans are not only unwilling to behave morally, but fundamentally incapable. Insula Qui does not go on to attempt to substantiate this premise (while she says "there is a possibility", she later makes it clear that she believes this is definitely the case with some presently-living people), but the theory collapses regardless, primarily because this demarcation is non-binary. If there can be someone with consciousness and presumably free will but without the capacity to behave morally, then can there be people in between? Can there be someone capable of "mutual respect for life" in some ways or some situations but fundamentally incapable in others? And once you open that door, personhood, and thus rights, becomes an entire spectrum. Insula Qui didn't even touch the idea of semipeople, because she instinctively knows how crazy it is. (Although the section is titled "The Edge Of Personhood", it seems to be all about humans who are 100% savage - the term she chose - and 0% person.)

In fact, are any of us capable of being fully moral? I obviously know that the answer is yes, but for someone who seems to believe biological or genetic conditions can impair someone from being "fundamentally capable" of being moral, I don't see how that position can be held. Humans have imperfect intellect and biases and even the wisest of us can trip over ethical dilemmas; wouldn't there be almost zero chance that any humans are actually 100% people?

I know what Insula Qui is doing. I've seen this before, although it's somewhat niche in the present culture; that people who are sufficiently evil must be "not people" without any evidence; it is obviously an emotional reaction to a desire to avoid having to empathize with them at all. Like the other Zeroth Position writers, she hates to imagine the possibility of herself being evil or someone evil having once been good, or worse, of them going back to being good.

There are humans who cannot understand the ethical reasons for preserving the life of other humans even when it may be inconvenient to them. These humans value their own lives and will protest if anything is done against them. However, these protests are empty because they will not afford the same courtesy to others. To them, the idea of a right to life is not an inherent right for everyone, but a political weapon that they can use for their own benefit. They will defend their own lives at the expense of everyone else in their society. These humans will be a minority of any non-primitive society, but they are still a significant theoretical and practical concern, especially when one considers the rise of some groups who show increased tendencies to be opposed to the life, liberty, and property of others.

She says "cannot understand the ethical reasons", but then goes on to describe acts which need not be based on lack of understanding of ethics. Is this paragraph just poorly explained, or does she not understand that people can do things they know and admit are unethical?

She appears to use "morality" to mean having a conscious moral system, rather than just behaving morally. Since this strange definition appears to be used consistently, although she doesn't state it outright, I'll give her a pass on all the absurdities of the next few paragraphs read without the redefinition.

Furthermore, there are moral values that are eternal and unchanging, and these too require reason to comprehend. These are values ingrained in the very nature of man which would require many generations of evolution to change, thus placing such contemplations outside of the context at hand.

A direct contradiction; they are eternal and unchanging and would require many generations of evolution to change.

Okay, I know she didn't technically say the values themselves could be changed, but "these are values ingrained in the very nature of man" followed by "the nature of man [can be changed], [but would take time to change] thus placing such contemplations outside of the context at hand" seems pretty unambiguous to me.

This is actually a way bigger problem with her philosophy than the point of the article. She claims to believe in moral values, but then thinks they are of such a nature that they can be changed by evolution; not just our perceptions of them can change, but they can actually change. Of course, we should expect this from a philosopher who wants to deny the immaterial nature of consciousness, but it's always worth pointing out when they say it. A moral system that is written by arbitrary processes of natural selection is not an objective moral system (note that for a materialist, that we even have the ability to reason in general is at best an unprovable assumption and at worst astronomically unlikely).

If there exist humans who are savages, then we must consider who they are and how they act. There are two groups of humans who are obviously savages; the power-hungry members of society who sacrifice the well-being of others to advance their own status, and members of uncivilized societies who are trying to integrate into civilized societies. In the Western cultural sphere, these manifest as leaders of large corporations, politicians, and immigrants from Islamic and African countries. It is a well-known fact that there is a correlation between sociopathy and other pathologies that make it difficult to care for the well-being of other humans, and the humans who hold high positions of power. In fact, almost every modern institution that controls our societies consists of these immoral humans who are in high positions of power. Their savagery is hard to see for many humans, as they perform most of their immoral actions through proxies and covert pressure, but they are still immoral.

So she's named groups of real-life people who are savages and incapable of morality; this is definitely not theoretical anymore. Note that her wording of "members of uncivilized societies" taken literally implies that anyone who is a member of an uncivilized society is a savage (which would be a composition fallacy). Apparently this was just sloppy rhetoric, as she goes on to acknowledge there are exceptions in later paragraphs, but damn it, think before you write.

There are obviously humans with the same pathologies who do not manage to reach high positions of power, but due to the current institutional incentives, the institutions of power are built to accommodate their behavior. However, we can elaborate that all humans who are narcissists, psychopaths, or other mentally disturbed individuals do not possess the capacity to value the lives of others. In fact, the only way they can demonstrate that they can value life is if they are actively seeking help.

She says "all humans who are ... do not possess the capacity to value the lives of others", and then immediately defines a way they can demonstrate that they do. Either she meant "... demonstrate that they can value (their own) life" (which seems unlikely), she thinks no one she considers a "narcissist, psychopath, or other mentally disturbed individual" is actively seeking help, or she just didn't think one bit about this.

With devout Muslims, the issue is not that they are unable to understand reason alone, but rather that they are incapable of applying it to the real world. Their religion distorts their worldview to such an extent that they often apply their morality in extremely inconsistent and often reprehensible ways. Even though the extreme social conservatism may appeal to some reactionaries in the form of white sharia, it is important to understand that their beliefs are borne not out of principle, but rather the dominance of their religion. It is also clear that Islam in its current state is a misogynistic religion, as tainted as that word has become, and it is important to protect women in healthy societies. Furthermore, the opposition to homosexuality and other degeneracy in Islam is not the civilized sort that is present in Christianity, but simply violence and often perversion. However, ex-Muslims in general and female ex-Muslims in particular show a capacity to function normally in society.

In the previous group, we also must include Antifa and some other communists. This may seem shocking, as they have been raised in civilized societies and have mostly lived in civilization for their entire lives, but many of them have been decivilized by their college educations. The constant drive to go against morality, “whiteness” (European values and cultural attitudes), and society in these institutions causes some humans to lose their ability to comprehend reason and empirically observe reality. They create their own culture, which is based on a system of analysis that only feeds more into their own culture, resulting in them functionally living in a different reality than the rest of us. As such, they are not acclimated to civilization and we cannot consider this group of young humans to be capable of civilization until they learn how to observe reality and use logic again.

So neither group is actually incapable of being ethical. If it is possible to go from savagery, as she initially defined the term, to personhood, then her entire claim here was meaningless.

The final group consists of humans who commit such heinous crimes that one must assume that they lack one or more faculties necessary for morality. They are savages because they have demonstrated their savagery, and not because we know how they lack certain attributes. These are the pedophiles, sadists, rapists, and mass murderers. They are humans who are not capable of moral reasoning and are savages due to how they behave. One may not understand the mental deficit of each of these humans, but they must lack something in order to commit crimes of such a depraved degree. Although it may be fashionable to oppose the death penalty, there cannot be an ethically sound argument against the death penalty once one considers that not all humans are in the same category of personhood. Note that this does not mean that the state should hold the power of the sword; only that it is morally possible for someone to do so.

She's picked out new groups of people which are the "real savages", not the redeemable ones. At this point it's pretty clear that if you show her examples of people who commited those crimes and went on to reform and become moral individuals, she'll claim they weren't really savages, but others who commit those crimes are. The goalposts will be eternally moved because the claim that "some people are incapable of morality" is unfalsifiable. We already saw the first step of this infinite process with the Muslims and Antifa communists.

(It's also worth noting that judging by that she listed "pedophiles" and "rapists" separately, she considers pedophilia to be a crime of this magnitude even when it doesn't involve rape.)

In the conclusion she makes clear that she doesn't deny that it's still wrong to use coercion against "savages" who have not yet comitted crimes, which is rather strange given she said that "libertarian theory needs to exclude certain humans entirely" and makes me wonder what meaning is left in the statement that "they are not persons in the ethical sense", but okay.

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