The Illogicality of Authority

I’d appreciate feedback on this idea. I’m not looking for hostile arguments, so please keep that to yourself. The basic premise here is that defense allows the use of violence, if you disagree with this you will disagree with the whole thing, and so I’m not interested in hearing about that. If you agree that defense allows the use of violence then I’d be interested in your thoughts on the rest and whether or not my argument is logical. Thanks.

The Illogicality of “Authority”

Definition of terms:

Authority - The power to enforce obedience; right to control.
Legal right - A right granted by law.
Moral right - A right intrinsic to humanity.
Violence - Rough force or action; rough or harmful action or treatment.

  1. Everyone has the moral right to use violence in self defense, or defense of others. Defense grants the moral and legal right to use violence, and so using violence in defense is not a special privilege.

  2. “Authority” has a special privilege, the legal right to use violence in ways other than defense.

  3. “Authority” is only authority because it has the the legal right to use violence in ways that others do not. If “Authority” did not have this special privilege then it would cease to be “Authority”.

  4. If anyone other than “Authority” uses violence in a non defensive situation it is considered morally and legally wrong.

  5. If “Authority” uses violence in a non defensive situation it is generally considered morally and legally right. This is illogical and contradictory.

  6. It is logically inconsistent that some people are allowed to use violence in non defensive situations and others are not, and so the very concept of “Authority” is illogical.

I was with you up to that last line.
You over generalized “authority” to mean merely “the special use of violence”.
Authority involves much more. It involves deciding what is legal and thus of course, ingratiates itself with special rights

In “deciding what is legal” isn’t “Authority” extending a threat to use violence by deeming something illegal? For instance in the case of “victim-less crimes” in which no person has a need for defense, “Authority”, in deciding which victim-less activities are illegal, is threatening to use non-defensive violence if a person engages in an illegal victim-less activity. The reason that “Authority” is “the special use of violence” is because that IS what separates it from non-authority. Any person or group can use violence in defense, and so that’s not a special privilege. If a cop uses violence in defense of a victim the cop is not exercising “Authority”, since even someone who doesn’t have “Authority” can use violence in defense of that same victim.

That to me, is just a little to much of a simple-minded perceptive, not exactly wrong, but not exactly comprehensive.
And I don’t know if it is even relevant to your thesis either way.

It’s not logically inconsistent at all. No more than it is logically inconsistent that some people are allowed to pilot aircraft or perform brain surgery and others are not.

You may think it’s not fair, of course. But logic isn’t the reason behind that.

As a counterargument: the reason a few clearly-defined people are allowed to use violence in non-defensive situations, for which they are to be held accountable, is to minimise the overall use (and utility) of non-defensive violence. If everyone can, it’s survival of the fittest-for-violence; if nobody can, no-one can punish the transgressors.

James S. Saint: How would you define authority?

For instance, it is morally wrong for Joe Regular to attempt to imprison a person who, let’s say, smoked a joint in the park. I think we can agree on that. But, it is perceived as morally right that Joe Policeman can attempt to imprison someone who has smoked a joint in the park. In neither case has the person smoking a joint hurt or otherwise wronged a victim. But “Authority” has the “right” to use violence against this person. This is illogical. If it is wrong for one person to use violence offensively it is wrong for anyone to use violence offensively.

The transgressors who need to be punished have presumably hurt a victim, and the use of violence against the transgressors is defensive. Defensive violence doesnt require authority.

There are two fundamental types;
A) The actual ability to direct a situation
B) The agreed upon ability/“right” to direct a situation

Authority requires both perception (the ability to see the situation) and influence (the ability to alter the situation).
Take away either one, and there is no authority.

You are focusing merely on the influence half and merely on specifically the violent use of it.
To me, that is a small portion of the total picture.

Again, I agree with what you stated pertaining to violence. I am just pointing out that the last line over generalized a bit.

So then would you say that the offensive use of violence by authority is illogical, but not authority itself?

James, if you agree with everything except the last line that means you agreed with:

  1. “Authority” is only authority because it has the the legal right to use violence in ways that others do not. If “Authority” did not have this special privilege then it would cease to be “Authority”.

If you agree with that how can you disagree with the last line?

Again I think you over generalized but this time in the use of “logical”.
I think you actually mean “rational from the perspective of the people”.
And that is what I was agreeing with.

Life itself, no matter how small, requires that ability to defend oneself.
Giving authority exclusive rights for defense is the annihilation of the life of anything else.

Those are not directly related.

What you seem to be trying to say is that “The legal right to use aggressive violence is irrational even for the State”.

To that I agree. The rest is just word usage.

It’s not illogical at all. Some people are granted the right within society. You say so yourself. People are different, and have different rights granted them. A pilot is granted the right to transport passengers and freight in an aeroplane. A child does not have the right to join the army, even though her older brother does - yet they’re both people.

The fact that a particular legal system defines some victimless acts as illegal is not an argument for the illogicality of authority.

In any case, I disagree that moral rights are intrinsic, and also that authority is only authority because it has the right to use violence. Regardless of your personal feelings towards authority, it is not solely driven by fear - and in any case, who grants it the right to do so? If we were all quivering wretches terrified to stand up to authority for fear of violence, we would rescind that right. It’s not like “authority” is a separate racial group or birth caste. It’s made of people.

So anyone should have the right to determine whether a transgression has occurred and mete out the required “defensive violence”?

I agree with that as well, but I do mean logical, literally. To clarify, if it is morally wrong for anyone to use violence offensively (and in no way related to the protection of others) , it is illogical to simultaneously state that it is morally right for some people to use violence offensively.

Agreed.

Authority is a belief. It’s the belief that some people have the moral right to do things that it is considered morally wrong for others to do. If it is morally wrong for anyone to use violence offensively (and in no way related to the protection of others) , it is illogical to simultaneously state that it is morally right for some people to use violence offensively.

Ok, that’s a good point. No, I suppose not. It needs to be revised to to state that the use of offensive violence by authority is illogical, not authority itself.

Agreed, but due to the definition of “moral” (not really brought up in the syllogism).
What is moral for anyone is necessarily (by definition) moral for all, including authority.

That is what I meant the first time when I said, “over generalized”.

Revised:

  1. Everyone has the moral right to use violence in self defense, or defense of others. Defense grants the moral and legal right to use violence, and so using violence in defense is not a special privilege.

  2. “Authority” has a special privilege, the legal right to use violence offensively.

  3. The use of offensive violence is generally considered morally and legally wrong.

  4. If “Authority” uses violence offensively it is generally considered morally and legally right.

  5. It is logically inconsistent to state that it is morally wrong to use violence offensively (and in no way related to the protection of others) while simultaneously stating that it is morally right for some people to use violence offensively, and so the concept of offensive use of violence by “Authority” is illogical.

Yes, and so the opposite is also true. What is immoral for anyone is necessarily immoral for all, including authority.

You have failed to explain how anything is illogical. There are different standards, but different standards aren’t illogical.

Another way to state this issue;

If offensive use of violence is immoral, then authorizing anyone to do it is immoral.
And that would include the State.

James: yes.

WWIII: see revision a few posts up from the bottom.