Home / General / You Are Nothing But A Passive Vessel From Which Other People Can “Reap Benefits.” This is Freedom.

You Are Nothing But A Passive Vessel From Which Other People Can “Reap Benefits.” This is Freedom.

Comments
/
/
/
833 Views

You may remember Steven Landsburg from such arguments as “expecting health insurance you’re required to pay for to cover basic health care needs makes you a moocher, at least if it’s girly stuff.” But as part of what I will charitably assume to be a performance art project dedicated to mocking a certain kind of misogynist libertarianism, he can always up the ante:

Despite the lack of physical damage, we are shocked, appalled and horrified at the thought of being treated in this way, and suffer deep trauma as a result. Ought the law discourage such acts of rape? Should they be illegal?

[…]

As long as I’m safely unconsious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?

I…Jesus. And as DeLong reminds us, this guy had a Slate gig for a while, because you know stuff like “rape can be perfectly OK!” is so deliciously contrarian.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • (the other) Davis

    Jesus. I am deeply, deeply embarrassed that this man is employed by my alma mater.

    • calling all toasters

      Rochester is just collateral damage. In the least surprising development ever, he got his start with a University of Chicago Ph.D.

      • My senior advisor at Indiana (Robert C. Turner) was at a conference where he had the following exchange with Milton Friedman (as I recall his retelling it to our senior class). I believe the topic was on environmental or some other regulation.

        Turner: So by following your logic if a sniper is killing people, the most efficient solution is to pay him to stop killing people.

        Friedman: Yes

        Turner – to the class; “That’s crazy.”

        Then years later I read some of the simple minded questions the Chicago economics department apparently gave on a ‘qual’ type exam. Example:

        Will a line move faster in a lower class neighborhood or a Winnetka McDonald’s? Why?

        Friedman had some talent, but he was more into indoctrination than passing on world class research and objective logic skills. I think the Lesser Depression/Great Recession has exposed his acolytes as getting the indoctrination part without any of the useful skills.

      • His Chicago Ph.D. is in (extremely) pure mathematics, viz., algebraic K-theory; nothing at all to do with micro-, macro-, or any other kind of economics.

        • catclub

          Shouldn’t you have changed your nym to Ted Kaczinski
          to note that fact?

        • mds

          nothing at all to do with micro-, macro-, or any other kind of economics.

          Four-color me surprised.

        • (the other) Davis

          This isn’t helping my embarrassment any, I’m a former mathematician. Before I was at least feeling smug about how much awfuller economists generally are than the rest of us.

  • I was mostly struck by the fact that Rochester seems to have been less equivocal about standing behind Landsburg’s right to free speech than URI was about Erik’s.

    • spencer

      Landsburg is more famouser than Erik. Perhaps if Erik landed a gig at Slate, URI would have been better able to offer its support.

      • DrDick

        Loomis is also not a conservative and everyone knows IOIYAR.

    • (the other) Davis

      It may also be relevant that URI is public, whereas U of R is private. The folks running a public university presumably experience some political pressure that a private university is more likely to be insulated from.

  • socraticsilence

    OTOH just look up his class schedule and you’ll always have a place to stay while in Rochester, after all if the human body deserves no autonomy so long as no physical harm occcurs, surely he wouldn’t object to a little B&E so long as nothing was taken and no property was damaged.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Whoa, whoa, whoa, mere personal autonomy and dignity is one thing, but now you’re taking about the sacred rights of property.

      • Paulk

        What do we think Landsburg response would be if it turns out that some guy shoved a…member…into his mouth while he was passed out?

        “Hey, the STD tests came back negative so no harm, no foul!”

        Perhaps there should be some kind of natural experiment.

        • Shakezula

          Eew. I’m glad I’m not eligible for that one.

        • Jon H

          Someone notify Rochester-area dentists and surgeons.

  • handy

    Hey he’s just asking questions here!

    But seriously, safely unconscious? While getting raped? How does this work?

    • Reinder Dijkhuis

      He means safe for him, in his capacity as the rapist.

      • Tybalt

        Yeah. I am reading this as a rather carefully-worded apologia for some actual event, since the special pleading has nothing to do with the Steubenville facts.

        • Reinder Dijkhuis

          It would be irresponsible not to speculate.

    • Shakezula

      Now I lay me down to sleep,
      I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
      If I should be raped before I wake,
      Keep me unconscious for goodness sake.

      -Traditional Libertarian Prayer.

      • Stag Party Palin

        Sir: your internets are ready for you in Customer Service.

      • Keep me unconscious for goodness the rapist’s sake.

        FTFY

  • wjts

    It should probably also be legal to anesthetize people with zoological garden-grade animal tranquilizers and rough them up while they’re unconscious so long as you don’t break any bones. I mean, if you really think about it, the only one who suffers any actual harm in that scenario is the poor rhino who had his tranquilizers stolen.

  • calling all toasters

    I’m guessing this is going to be part of a new collection of essays, working title Sickfuckonomonics.

    • That gets my vote for “best of thread” winner, as an appropriate low-response to Landsberg’s faux madness. At least I hope he’s pretending. In the wilderness of today’s Right, it is difficult to be sure.

      • Ken

        It is difficult to tell the performance artists from the genuine loons. I think feedback is pushing everything – to get attention next week, you have to be more outrageous than anything said this week.

    • calling all toasters

      er, *Sickfuckonomics*

      • firefall

        Oh I thought the misspell was deliberate mockery :)

    • spencer

      The first thing I thought of when I heard about this story was the curse of that stupid fucking overrated Freakonomics book. Since it got so much (undeserved, in my opinion) attention, every economist who wants mainstream adulation feels like that’s the route they have to go to get it … with predictable*, race-to-the-bottom style results.

      *Or at least, should be predictable for anyone claiming to be an economist.

  • Typo: s/b “low-key response”.

  • L2P

    I love the idea that you don’t suffer any loss unless you know it. Imagine how different life is in this world!

    Victims of fraud arent hamred unless/until they actually discover they’ve been harmed. Victims of medical malpractice are just dandy until they find out there’s a catheter stuck in their yin-yang. Indeed, it seems that uncooncsious respect victims aren’t harmed by their rapists, but by the person who tells them they got raped.

    What an odd world to,live in! Only an economist could create it. Or a libertarian.

    • Ian

      A version of this is a running problem in philosophy for utilitarians.

      Question: why is death bad? If I am killed in my sleep the killing never causes me pain, now or in the future. In what sense is it bad for me? (don’t say because my family will grieve, that just means my murderer needs to make a few more house calls)

      • Random

        It’s a running question to ask how being deprived of every moment of the rest of your natural lifespan harms you?

        • Johnny Sack

          Yeah, wow…that’s deep. Oy. Glad I changed my major.

        • There’s no remaining agent to be deprived of those moments.

          • djangermats

            That seems like the point.

            Utilitarianism recognises positive good, yes? the most good for the most people? people being alive to enjoy good things seems like part of that.

            • Lyanna

              A lot of utilitarian theory is about avoiding harm rather than promoting good. So if no agent exists, that agent can’t enjoy good things, but she can’t be harmed, either. So killing her can’t be wrong (unless she’s aware she’s being killed).

              I am not endorsing this viewpoint, you understand.

        • UserGoogol

          Yes. The obvious explanation you allude to is one of the most dominant hypotheses, but you still run into enough problems that it’s not unquestionable. Among other issues, there’s some issues to work out why the potential experiences of future-me (who if I live will still differ from me in some rather serious ways) should matter to me more than the experiences of other people who are nice too. Again, there are some obvious intuitive guesses why that should matter, but nothing airtight.

        • NonyNony

          No – it’s a running question of how the fact that we all agree that dying is harmful can be worked into utility theory, where it is not obvious that it falls out as a fact from the ideas basic to utility theory.

          Of course if you’re an idiot who confuses the model of reality for actual reality, this becomes some kind of argument that dying isn’t actually harmful. Because you’re an idiot, not because it’s actually true. Economics departments seem to be FULL of idiots of this caliber – who are smart enough to be able to construct a model but too dumb to understand that their models are not actually reality but just representations of it, and that when your model makes predictions that are wrong that means you need to fix your goddamn model, not try to fix reality to conform to your model.

          • spencer

            Economics departments seem to be FULL of idiots of this caliber – who are smart enough to be able to construct a model but too dumb to understand that their models are not actually reality but just representations of it, and that when your model makes predictions that are wrong that means you need to fix your goddamn model, not try to fix reality to conform to your model.

            This is exactly true, and is also a good explanation of why, after finishing my Masters in Econ, I decided to get a Ph.D. in a different discipline instead.

            • firefall

              Economics … more a lack of discipline than a discipline.

              Great, & now I’ve got images of JMK in leather stuck in my head :/

          • gmack

            Yes, all the way around. I’m not a utilitarian (or really any other sort of moral philosopher), but I understand what they are doing when they question why death is a harm. They have a particular model of “the good” and this model at least seems to be in tension with a deeply held (and perhaps undeniable) belief, namely, that death is bad. So one must either tweak the model (say, by showing that a properly conceived utilitarianism doesn’t actually produce this result), or tweak one’s belief (which, arguably, is what Socrates did: the “Apology” and other dialogues contain a full-throated defense of the idea that there is no reason whatever to fear death. And in fact, in the “Gorgias,” Socrates claims that it is far better to suffer an injustice than to do an injustice, which would potentially imply that the murdered person suffers less harm than the murderer). But by and large, very few of the participants in these sorts of debates actually uses these arguments to conclude that, say, one shouldn’t punish murderers because, after all, death really isn’t a harm and in killing someone unjustly, the murderer has actually suffered the greater harm. The purpose instead is to help us clarify intuitions and/or defend various normative principles.

          • tt

            It’s a problem among utilitarian philosophers/argument against utilitarian philosophy, which isn’t a model of the world but a theory of ethics. It’s not something economists generally think about. Actually, I think the connection between utilitarianism and economics is overstated. Most economists aren’t moral utilitarians (least of all the right-wing ones).

        • Yes, but not just in utilitarianism.

          You don’t exist after you’re dead (on any sensible theory). So there’s no you to be in a state of deprivation. This is discontinuous with all other forms of deprivation, which are occurrent (albeit sometimes irreversible) states of an existing thing.

      • What harm would it be if this guy’s heart was cut out on a stepped pyramid (hypothetically, with votes, on a stick) so that the sun would rise?

        • Tehanu

          Invalid scenario as the guy in question obviously has no heart.

      • ajay

        Question: why is death bad? If I am killed in my sleep the killing never causes me pain, now or in the future. In what sense is it bad for me? (don’t say because my family will grieve, that just means my murderer needs to make a few more house calls)

        Iain Banks answered this one in “Against a Dark Background” – if you used this argument to say that painless instant murder should be legal, no one would ever die without suffering, because the knowledge that you could be killed instantly at any time with legal impunity would cause you suffering.

        • waverby

          Did you hear the news about Iain Banks today? Very, very sad.

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/apr/03/iain-banks-gall-bladder-cancer

          • pete

            Sad indeed, but what style!

            Iain Banks told the world he was “officially Very Poorly” and was expected to live for just “several months”. The author said he had withdrawn from all planned public engagements and had asked his partner, Adele, “if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow”.

            (There ought to be ellipses in there, but no words have been added, no meaning has been changed and they would reduce the effect.)

          • (the other) Davis

            Terrible news. And now I’m feeling guilty because my first thought was “No more Culture novels?!”

            • BigHank53

              Well, it’s not like Banks was coming by to trim your hedges, was he?

        • S_noe

          Peter Singer made the same argument in Practical Ethics – don’t remember if he credited anyone else for it. It seems like something utilitarians would’ve stumbled upon before the 1970s.

          It seems to work against Landsburg’s hypo too – we don’t want to wake up every morning worried about what happened while we slept. (As does, y’know, decency.)

          (That is sad news about Banks.)

      • Some “antinatalist” utilitarians in fact hold the position that existence is inherently harmful, because an existent person can suffer, whereas a nonexistent person can’t feel the deprivation of any of the pleasures of existing. They don’t necessarily go as far as endorsing suicide or murder, but they do argue that all reproduction is bad and a person of goodwill should work for the extinction of all sentient beings.

    • Matt

      I believe it’s known as the “Wile E Coyote” school of economics – just don’t look down, and you too can stand on thin air!

    • Paulk

      It’s worse, though, because he’s claiming, in effect, that without demonstrated physical harm there is no violation. You have no right to your body at all.

      Which actually would appear to be the natural extension of certain new laws in Arkansas and North Dakota.

  • Tehanu

    “Shielded” from the costs? He’s forgotten about things like STDs, bruises, abrasions, uh, pregnancy … just because the “person” he thinks he’s being in this “hypothetical” won’t be aware of them till after regaining consciousness? And what exactly are these “benefits”? Is it “beneficial” to be someone who can only get laid when nobody’s looking?

    If I didn’t think he was just a pathetic moron, I’d be leading the posse to lynch this animal. No insult to actual animals intended.

    • To be “fair” to the asshole, he specifies that there’s no STDs, pregnancy, or physical injury.

      The inability to simply stipulate away these things just being the first and least of his problems.

      • Lego My Eggo

        To boil all this down to the essence, it’s wrong to take what isn’t yours and hasn’t been freely given to you. I believe the term of art is “mooching”.

        That is supposedly the moral and philosophical root of economic libertarianism.

        In practice, of course, economic libertarianism is just a faux-intellectual justification of economic exploitation of the powerless, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that this mentality extends to sexual exploitation of the powerless.

        • Shakezula

          Excellent.

        • Njorl

          I sense a follow up argument by Landsburg about how music piracy is exactly like his rape hypothetical.

      • Barry

        Assume a spherical victim of uniform density on a frictionless surface in a vacuum………..

  • max

    The firing range is open late, kids!

    (Gawker):

    Every time someone on my street turns on a porch light, trillions of photons penetrate my body. They cause me no physical harm and therefore the law does nothing to restrain them.

    If photons penetrated your body, you’d either be see-through or invisible. Your choice. (I’m guessing he’d go for ‘invisible’ given the rape comment.)

    As long as I’m safely unconsious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault,

    Unconscious, not dead. (If he was consistent (or maybe coherent or intelligent) in what he was saying, he’d admit he was arguing in favor of necrophilia.)

    So for the issues we’re discussing here, bodily penetration does not seem to be in some sort of special protected category.

    Glibertarians! Not so big on property rights when they need to make some other argument!

    I’m having trouble articulating any good reason why Question 3 is substantially different from Questions 1 [Anti-Porn] and 2 [Natural preservation].

    Well, let’s test the theory! Anti-Porn == enviromentalism == rape/necrophilia! Hrmmm. I rate this claim Brain on Fire! Maybe one of the subclaims? Hrmmm. Photons == erect penis! No, definitely not working!

    It is, I think, a red herring to say that there’s something peculiarly sacred about the boundaries of our bodies.

    OK, so then we’re down on property rights at the core, and we’re also doing that law and economics thing, and I’m guessing any of that human dignity stuff is down the tubes (and you don’t have any, so it’s not like you’d miss it). So we’re going for nature, red in tooth and law.

    That implies John Galt, in the S&M Dungeon, with the Endangered Species.

    this guy had a Slate gig for a while, because you know stuff like “rape can be perfectly OK!” is so deliciously contrarian flamebaity.

    Fixed.

    max
    [‘Troll, troll, troll your boat, gently down the screed, hairily, hairily, hairily, life is but…a series of untrue statements meant to mislead the listener into agreeing to unfounded conclusions with the intent of recruiting the most gullible for purposes of the intellectual equivalent of 419 scams. GGGGOOOLLLLLDDDD!!!’]

    • Random

      Nice.

      .

      • Uncle Kvetch

        Still missing MaxSpeak, after all these years…

        • Barry Freed

          Seconded.

    • daveNYC

      Any porchlight that puts out the kind of high energy photons that can pass through flesh is a pretty awesome porchlight.

      • (the other) Davis

        Maybe something like this.

    • Sweetums

      So for the issues we’re discussing here, bodily penetration does not seem to be in some sort of special protected category.

      So, by that reasoning, it’d be perfectly ok for someone to stab him in the head with a very pointy object?

      • Shakezula

        Provided he isn’t aware of it, yes. And properly done, that is the effect one would achieve. Or at least, he would be in no condition to claim otherwise.

  • bad Jim

    One wonders if he’ll ever go out to eat anywhere he’d be recognized. Perhaps; after all, what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him.

  • bad Jim

    (An incandescent porch light emits photons in a wide range of frequencies, including those we term radio which will indeed pass through one’s body. Fluorescents and LED’s do less of this.)

  • cpinva

    well, he’s managed to convince a lot of young students to mistake basic stupidity for “intellectual boldness”. trust me, the two are not, by definition, mutually inclusive.

    that said, sounds like a wannabe rightwingnut grifter, just hoping for that FOX “news” gig to come around.

  • Random

    In addition to being a veritable Uzi of bogus analogies, the dude is also too girl-stupid to understand that being raped generally causes soreness the next day.

    • Random

      Pardon me, men can be raped as well and I imagine it also causes residual soreness.

      Notice how he does hypothesize away STD’s, pregnancy, and terror (at least during the act) but doesn’t even think to address the loss of dignity.

  • Anonymous

    Lessee:

    (1) Libertarian wads of fuck who would gladly deprive others of meaningful and un-coerced choice if it means they themselves can exploit / fuck / smoke something they really, really want to;
    (2) Savoring and salivating over the delicious concept of “consequence-free rape”‘
    (3) Some mealy-mouthed bullshit about how some people wouldn’t mind being raped as much as the rapist would enjoy the rape… and how that deficit in minding makes rape a positive good, or some such.

    My gob remains unsmacked. YOU TRIED, boys.

  • H

    What if the rapist has Memento-disease and can’t remember the rape either? Did it actually occur? What if a rape happens in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

    Here’s what I’ll bet will be the follow-up post from him:

    “Hmm… it seems that even if the person who’s rights are violated isn’t affected, many people still want to protect those rights. So, even though a rich person won’t necessarily feel the effects of higher taxes, it’s still a violation, because COERCION!!!!!”

    • Shakezula

      If a rapist falls in a deep pit in a forest, breaking both of his legs and there’s no one to hear his cries for help and his body is never found …

      does he really die?

      • Anna in PDX

        You forgot “with votes, on a stick”

  • herr doktor bimler

    It is not clear, for the Professor’s hypotheticals are staggeringly incoherent for someone who purports to teach philosophy. But he seems to be comparing his Question 3, the outrage of someone belatedly discovering that she was raped — perhaps because videos have been broadcast around the world — with Question 2, the outrage of someone who has just turned on the Intertubes and read an Erik Loomis post and discovered the extent of environmental degradation occurring around the world.

    In either case, he is arguing, there would be no cause for complaint if the veil of secrecy over the crime had been successfully maintained (there is no global warming in his universe!). Then for fun he analogises both to the situation of a victimless crime.

    • bradp

      I don’t see him arguing anything there, unless you count the line “I’m having trouble articulating any good reason why Question 3 is substantially dif f erent f rom Questions 1
      and 2” as an argument.

      • Ken

        And even that sentence could have stopped after the fourth word.

        • firefall

          win

  • bradp

    this one won’t end well, but….

    I find it kind of an interesting thought game. Is the offensiveness in just mentioning the concept of a physically harmless rape? Or perhaps mentioning a particular case?

    • rea

      Part of the offensiveness is (1) this sort of thing happens in the real world, particularly among young people who are still learning about sex, (2) he’s a person charged with educating the young, and (3) he’s just told all the young people he’s teaching that having sex with an unconscious (and therefore unconsenting) person is okay, and more generally, that what counts is not consent but lack of physical injury.

      • NonyNony

        Also he’s talking about Stubenville. Which is a real occurrence where real harm has been done – not “just” some hypothetical rape (which would have been bad enough for all the reasons you outline above). And he’s essentially arguing that if you tweaked things just this much then the girl involved could have been raped with no harm no foul.

        That is pretty goddamn horrible by any measure.

        • bradp

          And he’s essentially arguing that if you tweaked things just this much then the girl involved could have been raped with no harm no foul.

          I think bringing up Stuebenville is pretty callous, but he is tweaking things to control for one factor: knowledge of an act.

          By isolating that, he is creating a scenario where only the knowledge that something was done that one finds reprehensible is a detriment to one’s well-being.

          He then compares it to two scenarios he considers similar and asks why we would view them so differently.

          • Anonymous

            It’s particularly callous because he’s echoing what the judge actually said to the defendents, namely: ya shouldn’t’ve photographed and tweeted it, otherwise you could have gotten away with your, erm, “reaping” of the “benefits.”

            That you don’t see this connection is not surprising, given that your primary concern is How Libertarianism is Affected By This Bad Publicity.

    • Shakezula

      I find it offensive because the supposedly bold wankers who are just askin’ will always stick to something they feel is safe. If you want to go balls out, go balls out. Write the N word on the chalkboard before class, wait for the students to calm down and then ask them if they’d be offended if the word was written and erased before they saw it and they only heard about it as a rumor.

      That never happens, because they’re chickenshits.

    • DrDick

      I believe the answer to that is “YES!”

    • Anonymous

      He said, among other things:

      So for the issues we’re discussing here, bodily penetration does not seem to be in some sort of special protected category.

      Generally, human beings consider “bodily penetration” to be a special category of action. Anyone who tries to wave that away is generally going to say something that offends human decency. And, we all react so negatively because we want to maintain the norm that it is a “special category” of action.

    • Origami Isopod

      I find it kind of an interesting thought game.

      Largely because you’re not in the main target demographic.

      Other people’s trauma isn’t your intellectual parlor game.

    • dl

      Not only is this not going to end well, it didn’t start all that great either.

  • tt

    I remember a number of thought experiments of this sort that were discussed in my undergraduate philosophy classes. Landsburg is working within the relatively respectable tradition of moral thought experiment. There is real value to working out the structure and rules of our morality. He’s obviously not actually advocating the legalization of rape–the purpose is to determine why the third case is so much worse than the first two. It’s not a very sophisticated analysis (most economists are pretty new to this sort of thinking and should learn more actual philosophy). But I don’t think this is as bad as people are making it out to be.

    • Just Dropping By

      The hypothetical in this instance is also somewhat similar to the common tort law question about whether you can assault an unconscious person. (The answer to that is, “No.” That;s because assault requires that the victim be aware of the threat of imminent offensive contact. You, could however, be held liable for battery against an unconscious person because that claim has no awareness requirement.)

      • Bill Murray

        so then getting sucker punched where you are unaware of the threat of imminent offensive contact is also not assault. and if they miss, it’s not even battery.

      • L2P

        No, assault is feeling the threat of a physical attack. Battery is the physical attack itself.

        I can honestly say I have NEVER HEARD the “common tort law question” about whether you can assault an unconscious person, in part because “assault” is not a tort. It’s a crime. The tort is, in most states, intentional infliction of emotional distress (because there’s no physical injury, a requirement for most personal injury torts.)

        And also, in part, because it’s a stupid question. It’s just a question of measuring harm. Most people are sophisticated enough to figure this out without stupid hypotheticals.

        • Jean Louise Finch

          Assault is both a crime and an intentional tort. Maybe it’s different in your jurisdiction. In my law school, it was taught through the case of a black man standing in line at a buffet in a racist restaurant. The owner grabbed the plate from him and ordered him out. Although the customer was not touched, it was still assault. There are per se damages plus actual damages. It depends on jurisdiction as to whether emotional distress counts as injury. IIED does not require even am imminent threat of a touch, so it is a different and distinct tort. But law school was 20 years back for me, so I don’t recall if we discussed unconscious victims or not.

        • (the other) Davis

          …in part because “assault” is not a tort.

          If you have access to it, look at Restatement (Second) of Torts § 21.

    • bradp

      I agree.

      He would have been more prudent to use a hypothetical where a company marketing a vegetarian product allowed a trace amount of meat to end up in a product that reaches customers.

      Bringing up the Stuebenville case in the context of a harm-free rape hypothetical was pretty callous as well.

      • Njorl

        Considering that he is an intelligent man, that the consequences were very easily foreseeable, shouldn’t you assume that the consequences were desired? Do you think Landsburg is surprised by the reaction?

    • sibusisodan

      But I don’t think this is as bad as people are making it out to be.

      If I was somebody involved in the actually-honorable tradition of thinking up horrible counterfactuals in order to get a better handle on our current ethics, I’d be troubled by the fact this guy is doing so in such a blithe and question-begging manner.

      e.g, the dismissal out of hand of the idea that there’s something ‘peculiarly sacred’ about the boundaries of our bodies – as if my body is just a lump of meat that I’m entirely indifferent too.

      And then there’s the willingness to even begin to approach the question in a favourable manner: there’s a massive difference between ‘why is it that we treat violations of the body, such as rape, differently to violations of the will, mind, desire, preference, etc?’ – which is the tradition which this idea of unpleasant counterfactuals goes back to – and ‘why are you all so prudish about the body that we won’t allow attackers to reap the rape-benefits which aren’t harmful to people, huh?’.

      The latter is just him being an asshat, and it’s much closer to what he wrote than the former example. This is not honest academic exploration. It’s puerile.

      • tt

        I think this sort of thing does generally tend towards the blithe: that’s the nature of challenging our most deeply-held moral beliefs. I also think he’s basically right about the sacredness of the body–most modern moral philosophers would reject claims of sacredness generally, and he didn’t dismiss it out of hand, but gave a (fairly weak) counterargument.

        All that said, I’m not sure I disagree with you so much. This is example #24567 of libertarian economists not really understanding proper social interactions. But other than that, which we already know, what more can we learn from this than? The title of this post is not the correct conclusion to reach from reading Landsburg’s blog post.

        • H

          He didn’t give a “weak counterargument” to the issue of bodily autonomy. His argument about the way the law regulates photons is simply wrong. And then he uses his ignorance of the law to blithely dismiss the issue of bodily autonomy.

          • bradp

            I think you are a little hung up on that.

            Just about anyone would certainly consider spraying someone with photons to be a far lesser crime than raping someone, even were the physical harm caused to be the same.

            The way in which the law deals with the two situations is mostly beside the point.

            • H

              Uh, no, I’m not a little “too hung up” on anything. Maybe you should try actually reading his argument.

              • bradp

                I have a couple of times, and it doesn’t matter if the legal details of his scenario are incorrect. One, because it is a hypothetical. Two, because the whole exercise deals with our sense of morality, not our legal system.

                • H

                  No, he is not making a morality argument. He is attempting a legal philosophy argument and failing badly at it. And if someone is going to make a legal philosophy argument, then they should at least have a passing understanding of basic legal concepts. He talks about the law all throughout the piece, and he is making normative arguments about the law.

                • bradP

                  I must have been confused by all the times he used words like “appalled” and “outraged”, or talked about what the law should do.

                • H

                  Oh, honestly. When he is talking about what the law should do, he is doing exactly what I said he was doing, which is making normative arguments about the law. You write a statement agreeing with me, while pretending to disagree. Fail.

                • bradP

                  I thought you said he was making a factual argument about how the law regulates light pollution. Whatever the case, I’m good with leaving this be.

                • Njorl

                  Even if it were just a moral argument it is worthless. It is immoral to subject someone to the risk of harm. While the hypothetical rapist might avoid all noticeable injury, they can not avoid risk of injury. Choosing to drive drunk is immoral even if you don’t hurt anyone because you choose to put others at risk. The immorality is clear and certain.

                  The whole point of the argument is to offend because he wishes to have a reputation as someone willing to offend.

                • sibusisodan

                  The whole point of the argument is to offend because he wishes to have a reputation as someone willing to offend.

                  Yup. There are frillions of different, other hypotheticals he could have gone with to illustrate his strawman-based point. Yet he just had to choose this one…

                • bradp

                  Even if it were just a moral argument it is worthless. It is immoral to subject someone to the risk of harm. While the hypothetical rapist might avoid all noticeable injury, they can not avoid risk of injury. Choosing to drive drunk is immoral even if you don’t hurt anyone because you choose to put others at risk. The immorality is clear and certain.

                  I would say that, if we were to assume harmless rape for this little exercise, it isn’t much of a jump to assume the rapist knew he could avoid harm.

                  In the end, this is about acts where our sensibilities are offended, and when/if they should be outlawed. He could have used the example of a restauranteur serving trace amounts of meat in vegetarian dishes.

                  The whole point of the argument is to offend because he wishes to have a reputation as someone willing to offend.

                  Agreed. That is Landsburg’s MO.

                • Malaclypse

                  it isn’t much of a jump to assume the rapist knew he could avoid harm

                  Except the rape is a harm. If it were not, if there were a chance it could not be, he would not need to assume that the second party forever lack knowledge of the first party’s actions.

            • sibusisodan

              Just about anyone would certainly consider spraying someone with photons to be a far lesser crime than raping someone, even were the physical harm caused to be the same.

              Please sir, can I haz some question?

              • newsouthzach

                Consider a laser death ray. Merely spraying someone with photons until they are vaporized! Now dial it back to “merely” cause a crippling injury. I don’t want to make any direct comparisons, but it seems fairly clear that there’s a level of injury possible from being sprayed with photons that is at least in the same ballpark.

                • firefall

                  yeah the problem is more with the ‘Just about anyone … far lesser crime’ part of it, once you’re talking about death/crippling level damage being handed out.

                • Jon H

                  Consider, if you will, a radiosurgery operation with the apparatus misconfigured to give a significantly excessive dose of radiation to the targeted body part.

              • newsouthzach

                Or, you know, stick someone in a microwave. Photons!

          • tt

            I don’t think your argument below really addresses his argument. The reason governments regulate light pollution is because of the physical harm caused by light( see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_pollution#Effects_on_animal_and_human_health_and_psychology), not the psychic harm. And governments regulate light levels, they don’t forbid as a general rule any production of light that would cause photons to impact the body of another.

            A clearer example to make the same point would be e.g. radio waves, which don’t have known adverse health effects and are not regulated to forbid entry into the human body.

            • H

              Here is what he said:

              They cause me no physical harm and therefore the law does nothing to restrain them.

              The law does restrain photons. Therefore, he is wrong.

              Here is what he also said:

              Even if those trillions of tiny penetrations caused me deep psychic distress, the law would continue to ignore them.

              As I said, I can file suit for psychic distress. The tort is called “Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.” The fact that I can file suit for emotional distress means that he is wrong when he says that the “law would continue to ignore them.” And you are completely wrong when you say that the government doesn’t regulate the “psychic harm.” It’s just done through tort law and it’s called “emotional distress.” If someone is shining a bright light through my bedroom window every night on purpose, I can sue them for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and I’d have a very good case.

              • tt

                My radio wave example is clearer than his. Some EM waves cause physical harm and are therefore regulated to prevent this harm. However, you can’t actually sue due to deep psychic distressed caused by your fear of photons from radio waves entering your body. I mean, try it and see what happens.

                • H

                  I have already explained very clearly why he is wrong about the law. I think it’s pretty clear at this point that you’ve never actually studied law, so you might want to take a break on lecturing people about it.

                • tt

                  You are correct that I’ve never studied law, but that’s ok, because the point of the argument isn’t about law anyways, but our moral intuitions, and I have studied moral philosophy (though I don’t claim to be an expert). Most of us do not have strong moral intuitions against radio waves. Therefore, it cannot simply be the case that intrusion on the body is wrong per se; we need to classify which are and which are not by some other standard.

                • H

                  Whatever. You tried making legal arguments about light regulation. Your legal arguments were wrong. If you want to switch to talking about morality, that’s up to you. But since Landsburg is talking about the law, I’m going to talk about the law.

                • tt

                  I don’t think you understood either Landberg’s argument or my own. I would suggest reading it again more carefully, except that I don’t think his point is actually interesting enough to make it worthwhile, so we can end this here.

                • H

                  I understand perfectly fine, and you are the one with reading comprehension problems. I have explained how Landsburg is wrong about what the law actually says. Your response is basically “Um, here’s something Landsburg didn’t say about light regulation which I am going to say and pretend Landsburg said it.” And even on top of that, your statement is an incorrect statement of law.

        • sibusisodan

          I also think he’s basically right about the sacredness of the body–most modern moral philosophers would reject claims of sacredness generally, and he didn’t dismiss it out of hand, but gave a (fairly weak) counterargument.

          I think you’re reading what you want him to have said over what he did say:

          What you want him to have said:

          We can’t start from claims that the body is somehow sacred, since we no longer generally think that way.

          What he actually said:

          Nobody is allowed to claim that the boundaries of the body are axiomatically important

          He’s using sacred in a different sense to that which you assume him to be.

          He basically wants to start from the claim that there’s nothing special about the boundaries of our bodies, in order to ask a Brave and Daring Question about why we get so darn het up about violations of the boundaries of our bodies.

          • tt

            I don’t get what distinction you are making between the two versions, and I would endorse both. Actually, I think the real problem with Landsburg’s argument is that he’s not going far enough on this point. That is, there is no real distinction between physical and psychic harms, because the brain is located in the physical universe, and physical harms are harms due to their mental consequences. The boundaries of the body (as Landsburg understands them, apparently endorsing mind-body dualism) are less special than he is making them out to be, which is why a rape which “only” had mental consequences is still evil.

            • sibusisodan

              I don’t get what distinction you are making between the two versions, and I would endorse both

              The first – your understanding – is a justification of the axiom that the boundaries of the body should be considered as involiable (bcs they’re sacred). The second is merely the axiom itself, with or without justification.

              I’m fine with him saying that he doesn’t think such-and-such is a decent reason for keeping an axiom. I’m less fine with him declaring a certain axiom out of bounds tout court because ‘light also penetrates things, and does no harm’.

              That means he’s ruling out answers in advance of asking the question, but without telling us why.

              Hence, it’s a less-than-optimally-honest practice.

              I agree there’s a real knotty issue with the sheer “embodiedness” of the brain. I don’t read Landsburg’s post as offering any useful on that subject at all.

    • spencer

      Landsburg’s blog post is nothing more than a case of JAQing off, no matter how hard he tries to gussy it up and make it look respectable.

    • Manta

      For another thought experiment in a similar vein, see the violinist
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Defense_of_Abortion#The_Violinist

      • Anna in PDX

        Oh that is an oldie but a goodie.

    • LeftWingFox

      The glib answer is that this is just another rehash of “anything is legal as long as you don’t get caught”.

      The real question is how anyone can have a concept of freedom where an individual has to prove “physical” harm was done to them to stop another person from infringing on their bodily autonomy. Unless your wallet is more intrinsic to you as a person than your body or mind, this could be used to justify any law, tax, or action.

    • socraticsilence

      I would agree that this was a thoughtless but ultimately harmless and possibly thought-provoking hypothetical.. if you know Steubenville wasn’t in the title, which shifts it from merely poorly constructed to freaking reprehensible.

    • Sly

      He’s obviously not actually advocating the legalization of rape

      No. He’s banking on people calling him a douchebag, and maybe petition for censure, so he can cash in on being a victim of Liberal Fascism.

    • Ian

      Many of his students have been raped. The same educational purpose can be served without using rape in a quirky counterfactual. It’s actively hurting people for no reason.

      • Origami Isopod

        This.

    • UserGoogol

      Yeah, I’m a fairly enthusiastic supporter of the idea that unconscious bodies are just bags of meat and therefore people should not be overly concerned with what happens to them. But he is really making that argument badly in many sense of the word bad.

      • Lyanna

        I hope you make the argument that unconscious bodies are just bags of meat that we should not be overly concerned about in real life, publicly, under your real name, so everyone likely to encounter you knows to avoid you.

        I am grateful to Landesberg or however you spell his name for doing so.

        • UserGoogol

          I think it is quite immoral in any foreseeable realistic situation to do “bad things” to an unconscious body because it’s very difficult to avoid effecting their conscious life. (Especially when such bad things include sexual assault.) And I also think that it’s entirely reasonable for people to have a certain control over their body even if they aren’t really harmed by the loss of such control precisely because people’s bodies are so essential to the person’s life. And that even if you somehow find yourself in a situation where you think you can get away with “harmlessly molesting” someone, you shouldn’t do it anyway because the situation is so weird that you should assume you’re mistaken.

          But fuck you for thinking that just because I’m a utilitarian I’m a rapist. If you rely on intuition for your morality you’re letting conservatism win. A just society requires being able to set aside all traditions (while still being pragmatic enough to not jump too enthusiastically to radical practical conclusions) and simply weigh the costs and benefits of actions.

          • UserGoogol

            And to be even more clear, I would of course also feel normal non-sociopathic human emotions preventing me from doing those sorts of things. But although it’s a good thing that people are not in general sociopaths, progressivism has to ultimately rely on fact-based reasoning, not highly falliable emotions.

          • Shakezula

            Professional butthurtist is butthurt. You set yourself up good and proper for Lyanna’s comment which in no way says you are a rapist.

            Take your fauxrage and piss off.

  • H

    Here’s his full photon argument:

    Every time someone on my street turns on a porch light, trillions of photons penetrate my body. They cause me no physical harm and therefore the law does nothing to restrain them. Even if those trillions of tiny penetrations caused me deep psychic distress, the law would continue to ignore them, and I think there’s a case for that…

    This is completely wrong. Plenty of state and local governments have laws and regulations against light pollution. And if my neighbor decided to shine a blinding spotlight into my bedroom window every night, causing me “psychic distress,” I would most certainly have a cause for injunctive relief from the courts plus a probable tort claim. This guy appears to know as much about the law as he does about insurance. Which is absolutely nothing.

    • Shakezula

      Fortunately the law protects the Landsburp thing from angry people who would grab him by the collar and give him the choice of having a bright light shined in his face or taking a sleeping pill and being raped while he’s unconscious.

      Just by way of a thought experiment. OF COURSE.

    • Matt

      Or, in lieu of injunctive relief, one could try this:

      http://www.27bslash6.com/halogen.html

      :)

      • CaptBackslap

        I’d forgotten about that magnificent bastard.

      • Anna in PDX

        Thanks! The internet is an amazing place.

      • (the other) Davis

        Dammit, I posted this upthread before realizing you’d already covered it.

  • Angry Sound Man

    I prefer to remember Steve Landesberg as “Dietrich” on “Barney Miller.”

  • Shakezula

    If awareness of the crime is what makes the crime then you could get away with murder provided the victim didn’t know what hit him.

    I think an amusing game would be to remove items from the Landsburg thing’s home and office and see how long it took him to notice. He would have to give a full and accurate accounting of the missing things in order to get them back. If he doesn’t remember something, it must not exist!

    It would be even more fun to smear his ass with Astroglide while he slept and leave an industrial sized strap-on on his nightstand, but I admit that would be mean.

    • firefall

      I favour that last, it seems entirely appropriate

  • DrDick

    Further proof that Libertarianism is simply cover for rampant sociopathy.

    • Shakezula

      To be fair, I’d say strict adherence to a theory that impacts humans beings but ignores how actual human beings work is a sign of sociopathy.

      This cat would be just as squick-inducing if he was an outspoken capitalist, socialist or Christian.

      • The libertarianism is part and parcel of his shtick, though. He’s a giant troll, and he’s enjoying this controversy in the way a toddler enjoys playing with his own feces.

      • DrDick

        It is also the case that the vast majority of actual libertarians embrace the philosophy because it gives cover for their total indifference to the well being of everyone else and their sense that they have the right to do or have whatever they want regardless of the cost to anyone else.

      • Anonymous

        On the one hand, I agree with you. Assholes come in all ideologies.

        On the other hand, I can’t help but think that libertarianism, or at least the Ayn Rand kind of libertarianism, is a magnet for assholes. This isn’t surprising since Rand’s message is basically “selfishness is the highest moral good”.

  • dave

    Landsbourg’s logic would also require that we no longer prosecute assault and it would also prohibit prosecution of any attempted crime.

    He ignores the fact that the law is an instrument of society and its purpose is to regulate societal interaction, not to rectify harms. Society still has an interest in prohibiting the bodily violation of unconscious persons, even if particular victim never even finds out what happened. That’s why the state is not obligated to stop a prosecution even if the victim wants it to.

    • Shakezula

      Patients who are in coma, persistent vegetative state, with advanced dementia, under general anesthetic or otherwise unaware would be fair game.

      And what do you know, sexual assault of these patients (particularly the first three) is distressingly common.

      Why? because there’s a certain sort of sick fuck who thinks “This person can’t fight and can’t tell on me.” In the case of a woman I know who was in a nursing home after a serious car accident, the orderly who raped her initially stated he didn’t know she was aware of what was going on. She was in fact drugged enough that she couldn’t object.

    • tt

      He ignores the fact that the law is an instrument of society and its purpose is to regulate societal interaction, not to rectify harms.

      This is a more controversial statement than that rape should be illegal.

  • Anonymous

    Although this may be uniquely offensive, I’m not exactly shocked that an economist said something (1) idiotic about public policy (2) which just happens to reinforce a preexisting power hierarchy (3) based on his selectively waving away certain inconvenient facts about reality. The real shocker is that he doesn’t expressly say that we should build public policy around the resulting “insights.”

    Obviously, some economists are crucial to public debate (Krugman, Delong, etc.), but as an academic discipline, they haven’t developed an approach that removes unempirical, immoral monsters, or that limits their opining to areas where their discipline is really useful.

    “[Economists], who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any [ideological] influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct [political, unempirical philosophy].”
    – My version of Keynes

    • Anonymous

      No discipline can prevent its members from saying whatever they feel like saying on blogs.

  • Uncle Kvetch

    The Onion headline we so desperately need:

    “‘Intellectually bold’ college professor is actually just a preening dickhead”

    • mds

      Never mind the Onion, that needs to be a U of R Campus Times headline.

      I’m beginning to wonder if Stevie Baby isn’t actually part of a clever Kochian plot to destroy what’s left of academic freedom. I mean, first, as an economics professor, he makes a flagrantly false dumbshit argument that demonstrates that he either has no idea how insurance works, or is an out-and-out liar. Now this “just asking questions” reductio ad absurdum about rape that’s completely wrong on the legal argument and I think would make many students uneasy about office hours alone with him. It’s like he’s daring the administration to try to fire him for cause. So either he’s a pompous stupid shitbag, he’s trying to weaken the tenure system from within, or he thinks getting fired by “liberals” will increase his market value. (Those are naturally not mutually exclusive.)

  • H

    If nobody except the rapist knows about the rape, and the rapist doesn’t tell anyone, then it’s irrelevant what the law says, since nobody will ever file a complaint with the police. So, why even have a debate about what the law should be in this scenario? We can just keep all the rapes illegal, and if this miraculous hypothetical comes to pass where nobody except the rapist knows about the rape, then Landsburg’s rapist will get away with it anyway.

    • sibusisodan

      Landsburg’s rapist

      A thought: if he wants us to take his arg/hypothetical seriously, we get to name the hypothetical after him.

      Fair trade? It would put some sparkle in his academic bio and wikipedia page…

    • bradP

      So, why even have a debate about what the law should be in this scenario?

      Because understanding what informs our opinions on what should be allowed and what should be forbidden can help us make similar judgments in the future.

  • Malaclypse

    I think I just realized what bothered me, above and beyond the blithe indifference to women: the open assumption that the act of rape leaves a rapist better off.

    Maybe I am simply old-fashioned, but it seems to be that stooping to participate in this sort of degradation would make one a worse human being, which would leave one worse off. I am better off living in the knowledge that I have never raped anyone, than I would be if I had done that in the past.

    • Origami Isopod

      This is an excellent point.

    • Lyanna

      You are correct, but the utilitarian reply to you is simply that (1) the rape didn’t hurt anyone, therefore (2) it isn’t “degradation” of any sort, therefore (3) it doesn’t make you a worse human being, therefore (4) you got your pleasure and lost nothing, so you’re better off.

      Which is this sort of “philosophical” exercise is pure wankery, and ought to be met with howls of derision.

      • BigHank53

        Hah. What it means is that if there’s a utilitarian around I’m going to keep a much closer eye on my wallet, silver, liquor, and bodily orifices.

        Or maybe I’ll just throw the fucker out in the street, as that will be quicker and more satisfying. For me, anyway.

    • Anonymous

      This.

      Plus, there’s the added assumption that the unconscious and unknowing victim is somehow an unfair, intrusive whinger (on par with people painted as prudes and armchair environmentalists) who wants to assert a dubious right to “property,” a right which harms the rapist by denying that rapist unfettered pleasure.

      • Lyanna

        Libertarians and people unduly influenced by them see all rights in terms of property rights–including the right to basic personal freedoms.

        This is why libertarians and people unduly influenced by them are usually deeply anti-feminist as well as generally anti-humanist, and often come from a particular demographic profile (namely, white males who spend too much time on the internet).

        • bradp

          This is why libertarians and people unduly influenced by them are usually deeply anti-feminist as well as generally anti-humanist

          Maybe the latter, here, but the former sounds like a non sequitur.

          and often come from a particular demographic profile (namely, white males who spend too much time on the internet).

          So do LGM readers. What’s your point?

          • Lyanna

            The anti-feminist part sounds like a non-sequitur in a discussion about rape? Hahahahahahaha.

            LGM readers don’t have any weird unpopular political ideology. They’re pretty mainstream liberals, and they share their opinions with a diverse range of the general public. Libertarians do not. My point is that their political philosophy, such as it is, reflects the interests of a very narrow segment of the population, and neglects those of everyone else.

            • bradP

              The non-sequitur was your assertion that libertarians are anti-feminist because of their focus on property rights.

              But your competing description of libertarians and LGM’s readership causes me to feel it necessary to just let this be the end of the conversation.

              • Anonymous

                Gon’ take yer ball and go home, bradp? What a surprise.

                Yes, by the way, viewing through the narrow and blinkered prism of “property rights” (but only when it suits them) the world at large makes one an anti-humanist and an anti-feminist. Humanism and feminism mean things. Use your dictionary (don’t rent one from a library, that would be too socialist) and look ’em up.

              • DrDick

                No, because feminism and humanism both hold as a central tenant that human rights are always superior to property rights, while libertarians generally deny any notion of human rights that cannot be subsumed under property rights.

                • bradp

                  No, because feminism and humanism both hold as a central tenant that human rights are always superior to property rights, while libertarians generally deny any notion of human rights that cannot be subsumed under property rights.

                  Fair enough. I thought feminism was about gender equality.

      • bradp

        This.

        Plus, there’s the added assumption that the unconscious and unknowing victim is somehow an unfair, intrusive whinger (on par with people painted as prudes and armchair environmentalists) who wants to assert a dubious right to “property,” a right which harms the rapist by denying that rapist unfettered pleasure.

        Landsburg literally addresses this and says that terming these examples a violation of property rights is begging the question.

        You should read what he wrote.

        • Lyanna

          You should read what Anonymous wrote. S/he is not claiming that they are an example of property rights–far from it.

        • Anonymous

          K.

          in each case, there is a disputed property right — a dispute over who controls my computer, a dispute over who controls the wilderness, a dispute about who controls my body.

          Now what?

          ‘Course, he later backtracks and says it’s all about psychic harm, and how he’s yet to hear the “bright line” rule that demonstrates why a rape victim ought to matter more than a dude who doesn’t want other people to watch porn.

          • bradp

            Sentence following what you just quoted:

            To appeal to a “respect for property rights” solves nothing, since in each case the
            entire dispute is about what the property rights should be in the first place.

        • LeftWingFox

          Try clarifying it in the original thread. Some of the Pharyngulites have pointed out objections and had their comments deleted for being “off topic”.

    • bradp

      When one is talking about people acting, one usually refers to perceived benefits.

      For example, Landsburg could have said “Should people be allowed to reap the benefits of smoking”, knowing (or at least believing) full well that smoking, overall, is not beneficial.

      I don’t think Landsburg was coming to any conclusions as to whether the rapist would actually be better off.

      • Anonymous

        A smoked cigarette and a raped human aren’t the same things, dude. I thought you all were supposed to be rational?

        • bradp

          A smoked cigarette and a raped human aren’t the same things, dude.

          Yeah, I never said that they were.

          • DrDick

            But your statement implies that.

            • bradp

              My statement only said that smoking cigarettes could be similar to raping someone in that someone could describe it as “reaping the benefits” without it actually being beneficial.

              That’s where the similarities end, and I said nothing that would imply there were other similarities.

              • Malaclypse

                Okay. So we can leave it that Landsberg perceives that rape provides benefits to rapists. Which isn’t malignant at all.

  • When I first met him twenty-odd years ago, Steve Landsberg came across as a contrarian asshole who was mildly amusing on occasion. In the intervening time, he’s crossed over into full-on liberdouchetarian. I’ve had to keep telling myself for the past several days that we all do stupid things when we’re in our twenties, and he was one of mine.

    I still kind of feel like I need another shower, though.

    • Njorl

      Anyone who has ever been unconscious might need a shower now.

  • Pingback: Steve Landesberg is a menace to society, Part 1: Yes, voting matters. | The Wild Winds of Fortune()

  • Should it be ok to rape straight white over-privileged libertarians? I’m just asking the question. Let’s all spitball for awhile.

    But, seriously, only reason dudes like “thought experiments” like this is becaus they assume the act theyre discussing will never happen to them. But, hey, it’s fun to “wonder about the implications” of that drunk black girl’s rape.

    • DrDick

      Should it be ok to rape straight white over-privileged libertarians?

      With a rusty chainsaw, while they are passed out.

  • blondie

    As long as I’m safely unconsious and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits?

    This guy thinks being a rapist is a “benefit.” Creep.

    • Shakezula

      Is it really any surprise this toilet brush of a human thinks rape = sex?

      I’m pretty cynical but even I like to think the vast majority of the guys I know would not think sticking it in a person who has not given their consent to said sticking is a “benefit.”

  • LeftWingFox

    Apparently Landsdown is deleting objections in the thread.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/04/03/just-when-you-thought-libertarians-couldnt-get-any-more-revolting/comment-page-1/#comment-595856

    Still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt of this being an academic thought experiment?

    • Paulk

      If we were to give him this benefit of the doubt, it would merely confirm that vapidity of the exercise.

      He cannot come up with a distinction? That’s not much of an exercise. Even the framing of this from the perspective of the rapist (i.e. “reaping the benefits” of an unconscious girl) is irredeemably shallow.

      If it’s worthy of academic consideration, where is the minimal evidence of effort?

  • Atticus Dogsbody

    WE NEED MORE DATA!

    I’ll require a bottle of sleeping pills, a broom handle and directions to Rochester.

  • etv13

    I don’t see how it is possible to have a serious “thought experiment” about the I-was-raped-while-unconscious scenario without asking (1) How did I come to be unconscious? and, if the rapist played no part in that, (2) why the hell didn’t the rapist call 911 when he came across my unconscious body?

    And why do we always have these rape discussions from the victim’s perspective, anyway? Why do we talk about the victim’s state of consciousness/dress/etc. instead of talking about this from the perspective of the prospective rapist (or those morally stunted partygoers who stood around shooting videos instead of intervening on the girl’s behalf)? Well, I have a pretty good guess why, actually, and I don’t like it. Let’s put ourselves in the potential perpetrator’s shoes instead and ask ourselves: If I come across an unconscious woman should I (a)have sex with her, or (b) call 911? If I choose (a) and nobody ever knows, am I still a rapist? Is it a “benefit” to me to be a rapist? And how about, If I am at a party and I see some guys having sex with an unconscious girl, should I call the cops?

  • Hogan

    Landsburg scenario:rape::ticking time bomb:torture. A fantasy in the guise of a thought experiment.

  • Pingback: Steven Landsburg Is a Menace to Society, Part 2: It’s my body, not an asset to be exploited. | The Wild Winds of Fortune()

  • Attractive part of content. I just stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to
    claim that I get actually loved account your weblog posts.
    Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment or even I
    achievement you get entry to persistently quickly.

  • If you want to obtain much from this article then you have to
    apply such strategies to your won blog.

  • Thanks designed for sharing such a pleasant idea, article is fastidious, thats
    why i have read it completely

It is main inner container footer text