The Individualist Proposition

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Trevor Watkins

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Jul 8, 2020, 9:19:26 AM7/8/20
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I would welcome any comment on the following article.

The Individualist Proposition

Trevor Watkins 30/6/20


I am often asked “ What is a libertarian individualist?”.  The very short answer is “One who believes in individual liberty”.  But that answers almost nothing, means almost nothing, to most people. 


I am an individualist and a libertarian. Here is my shortest, quickest, clearest, most concise definition of what it means to me to be an individualist, a libertarian.  This is what I believe individualists should approve, and what they should oppose. This is the “social contract” by which individualists agree to live with their fellows.


An individualist accepts the proposition that 


No one should act against an innocent person or their property without their consent.


Although these are all short words of 3 syllables or less,  some explanation will be required.

no one 

no individual, or group, or community, or government, or corporation.

should

Ought to, in order to be consistent with this proposition

act

To “act” is to cause a real-world, observable, physical event, as opposed to a non-physical event such as the use of words or gestures. “Preventing an action” is synonymous with “taking an action” .
For example, striking someone, taking their property, confining them, are examples of real-world events.  Being rude, shouting, threatening, are not actions with real, physical consequences.

innocent

an innocent person is not guilty of acting against anyone without their consent. Acting without consent  is called a consent violation. A person guilty of a consent violation is not protected by this proposition.

person

any individual (without qualification, of race, gender, creed,etc) capable of giving informed consent. This excludes those who cannot give informed consent, such as young children, the unconscious, the mentally disabled. In this case, consent devolves to their guardian. 

their property

goods belonging to a person, lawfully acquired through effort, exchange, inheritance or gift.

consent

giving permission, allowing. Consent must be informed (ie consequences understood), explicit, freely given, preferably before witnesses, without fraud or falsehood.

Notes

  1. To live freely and in peace, individuals who gather together by mutual consent should accept certain propositions which all agree to respect.

  2. This is a proposition, a way of thinking,  a recommendation for a better way of life. It does not specify an enforcement mechanism,  it does not guarantee compliance. It simply tells you how people who describe themselves as individualists might be expected to behave. 

  3. I believe that the consent proposition listed above covers the vast majority of cases of human interaction. It extends the non-aggression principle to include cases where a person consents to acts of aggression, such as in contact sports like boxing  or satisfying unusual preferences.

  4. The amateur lawyers can have a field day identifying grey areas and exceptions to this principle. Of course such grey areas do exist, and are normally resolved through arbitration between affected parties within a community. The question remains, do these objectors have a better, briefer and more inclusive model?

  5. What gives me the right to speak on behalf of libertarians, or individualists, or any one else? As an individualist, I speak only on my own behalf. However, I do believe that what I have to say may be of interest and value to others. Otherwise, what is the point of communication?

Issues

  1. Assault

The initiation of all physical acts of assault are forbidden except where explicitly consented to, or when acting in retaliation.  This includes assault by individuals, groups and governments. 

  1. Retaliation.

Individuals may defend themselves vigorously against assault by others, matching violence with violence, like for like.

  1. Personal choices

This proposition has nothing to say about an individual's personal choices, such as religion,  sexuality,  or lifestyle. 

  1. Conflict

Conflicts always arise.  This proposition implies that any conflict resolution mechanism must also be consented to by all  the individuals involved.  Conflicts are normally resolved through arbitration between affected parties within a community. When conflict is resolved through external agencies such as police and courts, individual control and choices tend to be ignored.


  1. Harm to others

Many people believe that some individual behaviours must be restricted for the overall good of the community,  forcibly if necessary.  This belief is used to justify a vast range of coercive measures against individuals,  from taxation to immunization.  The consent proposition requires that conclusive proof of physical harm to another innocent person must be conclusively proven,  and may then become the subject of a conflict resolution procedure.

  1. Informed consent
    Denial of consent is normally straight forward and uncontested. No means no.
    However, giving consent is much more complicated. The terms of the consent may need to be spelled out, limits made clear, exceptions described. Issues such as age of consent arise, how clear are the consequences, have these been fully understood by all parties. Can consent be revoked?
    When consent is given, an explicit (preferably) or implicit contract is in force. Disputes arising from a consent contract will be arbitrated by the parties to the contract within the community of their peers. Thus, local community standards will apply to an issue such as the age of consent, or abortion.

  2. Penalties

In the absence of an enforcement mechanism, what penalties can be imposed on individuals committing consent violations? An individual may retaliate against the violator in his personal capacity, or with the assistance of family and friends. He may retain the services of a defence agency. He may demand restitution. He may refuse further association with the consent violator. He may lobby for them to be shunned, or evicted from the community.

  1. Morality

Morality is an individual issue. One person cannot impose their morality upon another, in terms of this consent proposition.

Examples

  1. All forms of speech, writing and expression are allowed, where no physical action occurs.
    A comedian may make outrageous statements for humorous effect, without violating the consent proposition. Persons offended by this speech should avoid hearing it.
    Likewise, a demagogue may exercise freedom of speech to call for violence, but only those actually committing violence are guilty of a crime.

  2. All forms of personal behaviour, and behaviour between consenting adults, is allowed. 

  3. An individual can do anything with their own body that they choose.

  4. No one is entitled to the property or services of another, without their consent.

  5. No one may take the life of another without their consent.

  6. You do not have the right to forcibly prevent what you merely see or hear.

  7. If you do not consent, you have no obligation to assist anyone else.

  8. Property may be exchanged through the consent of all parties.



Trevor Watkins
bas...@gmail.com - 083 44 11 721 - www.individualist.co.za
PO Box 3302, Jeffreys Bay, 6330

jimgee1000

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Jul 11, 2020, 12:30:40 AM7/11/20
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Very interesting, Trevor.

There may be an obvious answer to this, but what is the goal of this article? I mean if you could imagine it - or some version of it - achieving something, how do you see it being used?

In a practical sense, I'd be looking to propose a legal system, using something along these philosophical lines i.e. using it as the philosophical framework.

I'd like to have a stab at refining it, but I'm at the point where I'm not looking to change people's minds about the problems with the existing legal excesses, as much as I am interested in harvesting the existing majority's(or minority's) willingness to commit to a legal system based on a concise version of this idea because of its differences to the SA and other legal systems.

Having some legal system people can compare with the one they are already living in, currently, as a clear escape from what they are being forced to live under, would be useful. Even if the new one doesn't have a physical territory, yet.

Also, with this in mind, it would be useful to enable some level of (potentially mass) participation in the formulation of a preferable legal system. A way to forge hypothetical legal systems, and to monitor consensus surrounding them. Like some kind of 'jurisdiction selector/forging' tool.

If I recall, I think I read somewhere(I think it was on this forum) that you have personally abandoned, as a strategy, inducing change through the political system.

Jim

Trevor Watkins

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Jul 11, 2020, 10:19:32 AM7/11/20
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Thank you for your reply Jim. Comments in red below
Trevor Watkins
bas...@gmail.com - 083 44 11 721 - www.individualist.co.za
PO Box 3302, Jeffreys Bay, 6330

On Sat, 11 Jul 2020 at 06:30, jimgee1000 <jfc4l...@gmail.com> wrote:
Very interesting, Trevor.

There may be an obvious answer to this, but what is the goal of this article? I mean if you could imagine it - or some version of it - achieving something, how do you see it being used?
 
What is the libertarian/Individualist Golden Rule? 
 
It is not "Do as you would be done by", because that assumes that others should be subject to my particular, peculiar lifestyle choices (eg masochism / sadism / fetishism).
 
It is not the non-aggression principle, despite its wide popularity. This principle would outlaw consent to aggression, as practiced in most contact sports, and also in peculiar lifestyle choices. 

It is not the utilitarian principle of the "greatest good for the greatest number", which invites many forms of oppression and authoritarianism.

It is not our existing legal system (which has many useful and thoughtful bits) but does not recognise the primacy of the individual.

It is not even "democracy - rule by the majority" , for so many reasons.

The Golden Rule for libertarians in South Africa has tended towards the Consent Axiom over time, put briefly as "No action without consent". I think this axiom is a consistent expression of the rights of the individual, but it is not widely known, and its full implications are little understood even by many libertarians. I am on a mission to improve the wording, the understanding, to cover more cases (eg I include property in the new definition), to simplify, and to popularise it. 
For libertarian ideas to prosper, we must have a concept with which we mostly agree, and which can be easily explained to others.



In a practical sense, I'd be looking to propose a legal system, using something along these philosophical lines i.e. using it as the philosophical framework. Yes, precisely, the philosophical framework on which we can hang our view of successful mutual cooperation.

I'd like to have a stab at refining it, please, feel free, that is exactly what I am inviting here - thoughtful criticism. I am making small refinements constantly. Ultimately, I am looking for a statement of concept which most libertarians would agree with, and suggest to others. but I'm at the point where I'm not looking to change people's minds about the problems with the existing legal excesses, as much as I am interested in harvesting the existing majority's(or minority's) willingness to commit to a legal system based on a concise version of this idea because of its differences to the SA and other legal systems. The Consent axiom arose from a conversation in a pub in 2012. It is now widely quoted and accepted by many prominent South African libertarians. I would like to propagate the idea much more widely.

Having some legal system people can compare with the one they are already living in, currently, as a clear escape from what they are being forced to live under, would be useful. Even if the new one doesn't have a physical territory, yet.  First occupy the mind, and then the land.

Also, with this in mind, it would be useful to enable some level of (potentially mass) participation in the formulation of a preferable legal system. A way to forge hypothetical legal systems, and to monitor consensus surrounding them. Like some kind of 'jurisdiction selector/forging' tool. Well, libsa googlegroup is 1 step in that direction. 

If I recall, I think I read somewhere(I think it was on this forum) that you have personally abandoned, as a strategy, inducing change through the political system.  Tried 4 times, failed miserably 4 times. The political system always tends to elect politicians. Its like being surprised that the Mafia produces gangsters.

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Esther Wallace

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Jul 12, 2020, 5:08:37 AM7/12/20
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I found this on facebook so I can’t be sure where it comes from. But I like it anyway

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Gavin Weiman

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Jul 12, 2020, 5:08:37 AM7/12/20
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Hi Trevor,

It seems we may be ‘at it’ again. These are some comments of mine on your essay “The Individualist Proposition” (Trevor Watkins 30 June 2020)

Your essays title and it opening line seem to be at loggerheads. The former suggest this is an Individualist Proposition and the opening line suggest that the proposition that follows is that of a qualified from of individualism called libertarian individalism.

The word individualist is used in two senses a) to refer to a person who is independent and self-reliant (Google Dictionary) or be b) an advocate of "individualism” or a social theory favouring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control. (Google Dictionary)

Other dictionaries add other flavours to the definition of individualism, for example Merriam Webster gives the following
a) a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount
also : conduct guided by such a doctrine
b) the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals
c) a theory maintaining the political and economic independence of the individual and stressing individual initiative, action, and interests

It seems to me that there is a significant overlap with individualism and libertarianism. "Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing individualism, freedom of choice and voluntary association. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing economic and political systems.” (Wikipedia)

You are clearly offering a personal view "Here is my shortest, quickest, clearest, most concise definition of what it means to me to be an individualist, a libertarian.” You also express your views in much the same way as you have done in carious versions of your essay “Libertarian Manifesto” you do so with a proposition involving the concept ‘consent.’ 

Your proposition:
"No one should act against an innocent person or their property without their consent” and you then proceed to ‘unpack the proposition and offer some notes.

I would like to offer a counter proposition 
“An individual has the right to act as he pleases provided that he does not infringe the equal right of others.”

Some notes or queries on your points... 

1) The subject of your proposition (no one) includes individuals, as well as groups of individuals and legal entities. On the other hand the object of your proposition (person) includes only a) natural persons and b) capable of giving informed consent and the guardian of other natural persons. Is there some reason why you exclude organised groups from actions? It also includes c) innocence - see 2 below.

2) You further qualify the object of action as needing to be “innocent.” To have guilt or innocence there has to be a norm (rule or morality or law) that has been transgressed and a method by which that transgression is judged. Liberalism includes a principle of a presumption of innocence and a due process for establishing guilt. I am wondering whether you approve of  these? i.e the existence of law, institutions upholding laws and applying due process to the establishment of guilt or innocence of transgressing laws? The same considerations apply to “property.’ Do you accept that to have property ‘belonging’ there needs to be norms or laws relating to exchange, inheritance, gift etc. institutions and a due process for establishing what is property, lawfully acquired, exchange, inheritance or gift. 

3) You appear to qualify an act as an ‘act of commission’ only, and only commissions of a certain type. You do not deal with ‘acts of omission’ at all. Why do you believe acts like words or or gestures (communications) should be excluded? Surely such actions can cause real world harm in innocent persons such as those who are lynched by someone who incited a lynching? And surely an omission to act can cause significant harm to innocent persons, particular where the prior actions (with or without the consent of persons) created a danger that one may not omit to protect others from (where they have consented or not?

4) Consent is, as you seem too understand, often extremely difficult to establish. Your concept seems to be similar to the legal concession used in criminal law and contract law. Am I right? I also add to these issues on you noted on ‘informed'

Let me ask you my core question.
As I move through my life I need to act (both commissions and commissions) in the real world on a daily basis. If I cannot or may not act I will surely die. There are billions of people in this world that I will never meet. I will not know explicitly if they are innocent, if the property they have is theirs, if my actions are 'against’ them or not. 

Some questions about your notes

1. What about people who don't gather to gather my mutual consent? This condition seems to apply to all the worlds communities - It seems to me the great or open societies are not together by mutual consent and such consent would be impossible to obtain.

2. What do you suppose individual ‘might’ behave this way. Most people believe individualist will be "independent and self-reliant” and not subject to the consent of the collective or other people.

3. I think what you are trying to express in your proposition is better expressed as a positive proposition (as opposed to your proposition which is negative. The positive expression might stat. “An individual has the right to act as he pleases provided that he does not infringe the equal right of others.” This formulation does not include either the ideas of ‘consent’ or ’non-aggression,’ not because they are not important, but because they are not in themselves sufficient base ideas to create a comprehensive rule of law within which individuals may freely and confidently do as they please without concern for infringing on, or being infringed on, by others.

4 Grey areas
So I am a ‘professional’ lawyer. I am also a ‘libertarian’ but not a anarchist. 
I believe in a limited or small consitutional government.
I believe I do have a better and more inclusive model, but not a ‘briefer” one. The model is not brief because it has is a jurisprudence of objective laws that evolve on a case by case basis, to clarify the extent to which all  individual shall limit their rights to act as they please, to avoid infringing the equal liberty of other and if enforced will avoid infringement on their liberty. These rules will also not be prefect and there may well be some actions proscribed that some may consent to, and other that may initiate some force agains innocent persons but that are necessary!



Notes on some of your issues.

1 Assault
What about attempt to cause harm. What about the subjective intentions, words or incitement? Or omission to look after the danger that one property poses that causes or may cause harm. i.e why only ‘initiation’?

2 Retaliation
Defence to be legitimate (at least in our law) has several ‘requirements’ some of which you have alluded to. The most important being there must be an attack that has commenced in progress. Retaliation is not considered to be defence but a consideration of punishment i.e revenge. I’m assuming however that you mean defence and not retaliation.

You also do not address the ‘parachute’ problem. These are singular situation where consent and aggression rules break down and (provided the requirements of singular (necessity) are present its each individual for himself.

3 Conflict
Here I have two questions.
a) If one has rules and due process and these were not established as you state by “individuals who gather together by mutual consent,” is it you view that those rules and due process are illegitimate?
b) if one has rules and due process and these were established by mutual consent, can those consent be withdrawn unilaterally, or can withdraw from consent rules only be altered with consent? Can one withdraw consent later as more information becomes available on the basis that the consent was not informed by the later knowledge and therefor was not informed consent?

4.Harm to others.
When you criticise the idea “that some individual behaviours must be restricted for the overall good of the community,  forcibly if necessary” you indicate how this concept may be used to justify the necessity of many bad rules. May I recommend you look a the jurisprudence of necessity and the requirements established by common law for acts of necessity to be justified. I think you will concur that the acts you complain of are acts of states transgressing these rules. Bounding the state is an issue of constitutional law which where covert of liberty need to focus their attention.
Your requirement of conclusive evidence of physical harm to others will prove to be impractical for every day human behaviour (not state action)

6 Informed consent
I think all aspects of consent are problematic, Proof requires evidence of a subject matters (subjective state of mind) as well subjective content (information that fully informs that subjective ‘intent’ or agreement. 
However here is the problem - the market is necessary because everyone has different information. The value of things exist because people have incomplete information and consent to trades precisely because their information is incomplete or mistaken. Intrinsically all consent is by definition not ‘informed’ consent but rather partially informed and in may cases ‘misinformed’ 

7 Penalties
 Why do you assume the absence of an enforcement mechanism, This is one of those mechanisms that is surely necessary of one wand to have anything approving innocence, guilt of proof, etc

8. Morality
This cannot be true. 
Since laws are imposed moral propositions that are considered not an individual issue. To kill, steal, rape, acts without consent, are breaches of moral rules. Because they are not merely personal issues they are elevated to rules of law. The law does not (or at least ought not as socialist disagree) legislate morality that is unnecessary to uphold the spontaneous order or common good (in my view)

Notes on come of your examples
1. This seems to qualify your notes on act
2. Behaviour seems to mean act. What is personal behaviour that is permitted? is personal behaviour identical to or different from behaviour, impersonal behaviour and consensual behaviour?
3. ‘Anything' is very wide, can he convert his body to a vector for pestilence for example? Of should this be qualified by your proposition?
4. ’No one’ what about young children are they not entitled to property or services from their parents whether they consent of not? There maybe other examples. Is a community not entitled to the property of services of it members to uphold necessary rules and due processes for example, whether the individuals agree or not?
5. Should this not be qualify by your proposition that seems to allow killing in self defence?
6. Surely I can prevent someone instigating murder verbally or in writing. I’m not sure what you mean from "merely" see. If I see someone performing a murderous action, how is seeing this different from merely seeing this. I think you have in mind some notion of freedom of speak. Should this ‘freedom’ be qualified by your proposition or not?
7. Why not?
8. ‘May’ this seems discretionary, what about the rest of, for example’ the law of property (that was a second year law courses) are you excusing it?

I know I may be accused of ’not picking’ but I don't believe that you can do this concisely as you have done.

As I said the most concise statement is the positive proposition I mentioned above (leading out the ‘consent’ and NAP ideas as they introduce the complicit that is the thief of brevity.

Regards
Gavin

Trevor Watkins

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Jul 12, 2020, 12:19:48 PM7/12/20
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Hi Gavin
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I truly appreciate your effort to engage.

Words are such slippery creatures, I think they often wriggle in directions which one does not foresee.  I like brevity, but it does come at the cost of precision. 

Why do I do this? Let me give an example.
Let's imagine that a group of individualist libertarians have finally agreed to settle in numbers in a specific physical location such as Orania, or New Hampshire. Let's call this place Kleinzee. Although we form a majority of residents, and own a majority of the property,  there are existing residents who's opinions and positions vary widely. While the libertarians intuitively subscribe to a similar social contract, these existing residents do not.  These are not sophisticated folk, mainly ex-miners and retirees. How would our libertarian outreach officer describe the policies that will form the basis for the future governance of their town? Would libertarians themselves agree on the message to be taught? What would we do if these folk don't agree?
I am trying to define a statement that accurately encapsulates our philosophy, yet is brief enough and simple enough to be understandable by others who may not have our degree of philosophical sophistication.

Now to your comments, see my replies in red below.
Trevor Watkins
bas...@gmail.com - 083 44 11 721 - www.individualist.co.za
PO Box 3302, Jeffreys Bay, 6330

On Sun, 12 Jul 2020 at 11:08, 'Gavin Weiman' via LibertarianSA <li...@googlegroups.com> wrote:
Hi Trevor,

It seems we may be ‘at it’ again. These are some comments of mine on your essay “The Individualist Proposition” (Trevor Watkins 30 June 2020)

Your essays title and it opening line seem to be at loggerheads. The former suggest this is an Individualist Proposition and the opening line suggest that the proposition that follows is that of a qualified from of individualism called libertarian individalism. There are several brands of libertarianism, notably socialist left-libertarians and capitalist right-libertarians. See Wikipedia. I use individualist-libertarian to describe the philosophy of the Individualist Movement.

The word individualist is used in two senses a) to refer to a person who is independent and self-reliant (Google Dictionary) or be b) an advocate of "individualism” or a social theory favouring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control. (Google Dictionary)

Other dictionaries add other flavours to the definition of individualism, for example Merriam Webster gives the following
a) a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount
also : conduct guided by such a doctrine
b) the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals
c) a theory maintaining the political and economic independence of the individual and stressing individual initiative, action, and interests. All good definitions, if not all encompassing.

It seems to me that there is a significant overlap with individualism and libertarianism. "Libertarians seek to maximize political freedom and autonomy, emphasizing individualism, freedom of choice and voluntary association. Libertarians share a skepticism of authority and state power, but they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing economic and political systems.” (Wikipedia)

You are clearly offering a personal view "Here is my shortest, quickest, clearest, most concise definition of what it means to me to be an individualist, a libertarian.” You also express your views in much the same way as you have done in carious versions of your essay “Libertarian Manifesto” you do so with a proposition involving the concept ‘consent.’ 

Your proposition:
"No one should act against an innocent person or their property without their consent” and you then proceed to ‘unpack the proposition and offer some notes.

I would like to offer a counter proposition 
“An individual has the right to act as he pleases provided that he does not infringe the equal right of others.”
After years of doing this stuff (and in the current highly PC environment) I have learnt to avoid the use of personal pronouns such as "he". It's a pity to alienate half the world's population with one sentence.
Although this seems like nitpicking, the choice of words and their meanings is important. Do I have the right to act as I please (say, shoplift)  so long as I don't interfere with anyone else's right to shoplift? Of course that is not what you mean, but that is the meaning I came to. The statement makes no reference to the shopowners right to his property, particularly if I am not a shopowner.

Some notes or queries on your points... 

1) The subject of your proposition (no one) includes individuals, as well as groups of individuals and legal entities. On the other hand the object of your proposition (person) includes only a) natural persons and b) capable of giving informed consent and the guardian of other natural persons. Is there some reason why you exclude organised groups from actions? In my opinion, an action always affects an individual, even when performed by a group. It also includes c) innocence - see 2 below.

2) You further qualify the object of action as needing to be “innocent.” To have guilt or innocence there has to be a norm (rule or morality or law) that has been transgressed and a method by which that transgression is judged. Liberalism includes a principle of a presumption of innocence and a due process for establishing guilt. I am wondering whether you approve of  these? i.e the existence of law, institutions upholding laws and applying due process to the establishment of guilt or innocence of transgressing laws? The same considerations apply to “property.’ Do you accept that to have property ‘belonging’ there needs to be norms or laws relating to exchange, inheritance, gift etc. institutions and a due process for establishing what is property, lawfully acquired, exchange, inheritance or gift. I don't like the word "innocent" and have tried to find an alternative, without success so far. As I say in the defintion, an innocent person has not acted against anyone without their consent. This definition is necessary to enable retaliation following a consent violation. Of course the precise definition of "innocence", of "consent", of "property" are all subject to question. I recommend that all such conflicts be resolved through arbitration between affected parties within a community, subject to the consent of both parties. The parties to the conflict would both need to consent to the legal system that would apply - maybe Western jurisprudence, maybe the Law Merchant, maybe Sharia law. The Individualist Proposition would still apply to any verdict reached - action only if there is a proven consent violation, and retaliation proportionate to the original violation.

3) You appear to qualify an act as an ‘act of commission’ only, and only commissions of a certain type. You do not deal with ‘acts of omission’ at all. In the definition of "act" I include " “Preventing an action” is synonymous with “taking an action” ."
Why do you believe acts like words or or gestures (communications) should be excluded? Surely such actions can cause real world harm in innocent persons such as those who are lynched by someone who incited a lynching? And surely an omission to act can cause significant harm to innocent persons, particular where the prior actions (with or without the consent of persons) created a danger that one may not omit to protect others from (where they have consented or not? Freedom of speech has been hotly debated in 2 recent eLibdins, amongst other places. Most people thought that freedom of speech had to be constrained, without being to explicit about precisely what speech. After due consideration I decided to retain the "absolute" freedom of speech idea, after watching a Jimmy Carr TV show. He is a British "shock" comedian, famous for saying the most outrageous things to the delight of his audiences (who number in the thousands). If a British stand-up comedian is free to speak, I figured it would be very sad if libertarians were less tolerant.
If I say "I am a murderer", am I guilty of murder? Most of us would like a little more real proof before punishment.

4) Consent is, as you seem too understand, often extremely difficult to establish. Your concept seems to be similar to the legal concession used in criminal law and contract law. Am I right? I also add to these issues on you noted on ‘informed'

Let me ask you my core question.
As I move through my life I need to act (both commissions and commissions) in the real world on a daily basis. If I cannot or may not act I will surely die. There are billions of people in this world that I will never meet. I will not know explicitly if they are innocent, if the property they have is theirs, if my actions are 'against’ them or not. There are many ways in which you can act, go for a swim, read a book, etc that do not involve another party or their consent. However it is usually very obvious when you act against another individual without their consent - you hear this annoying squealing sound.

Some questions about your notes

1. What about people who don't gather to gather my mutual consent? This condition seems to apply to all the worlds communities - It seems to me the great or open societies are not together by mutual consent and such consent would be impossible to obtain. A good point. We do not consent to the goverments and kings who rule us, or their legions of petty officials. How would we bring about an individualist libertarian revolution? One small consenting community at a time, I would guess.

2. What do you suppose individual ‘might’ behave this way. Most people believe individualist will be "independent and self-reliant” and not subject to the consent of the collective or other people. Except when they affect other people, who might retaliate.

3. I think what you are trying to express in your proposition is better expressed as a positive proposition (as opposed to your proposition which is negative. The positive expression might stat. “An individual has the right to act as he pleases provided that he does not infringe the equal right of others.” This formulation does not include either the ideas of ‘consent’ or ’non-aggression,’ not because they are not important, but because they are not in themselves sufficient base ideas to create a comprehensive rule of law within which individuals may freely and confidently do as they please without concern for infringing on, or being infringed on, by others. Addressed above. Like most libertarian rights, this is deliberately a negative right.

4 Grey areas
So I am a ‘professional’ lawyer. I am also a ‘libertarian’ but not a anarchist. 
I believe in a limited or small consitutional government.
I believe I do have a better and more inclusive model, but not a ‘briefer” one. The model is not brief because it has is a jurisprudence of objective laws that evolve on a case by case basis, to clarify the extent to which all  individual shall limit their rights to act as they please, to avoid infringing the equal liberty of other and if enforced will avoid infringement on their liberty. These rules will also not be prefect and there may well be some actions proscribed that some may consent to, and other that may initiate some force agains innocent persons but that are necessary! I totally agree. Even in a small community I would expect a body of precedents to arise, simply for the sake of efficiency I do discuss this in more detail in my Consent axiom essay. Perhaps I should bring it across to here, but I am already embarrased that my one line proposition requires 3 pages of explanation.



Notes on some of your issues.

1 Assault
What about attempt to cause harm. What about the subjective intentions, words or incitement? Or omission to look after the danger that one property poses that causes or may cause harm. i.e why only ‘initiation’? If I take a swing at you and I miss, was that assault? Or the famous Andy Capp line, "I thought he was gonna hit me, so I hit him back first" I tend to go with real-world results, as no one knows the intentions of another.

2 Retaliation
Defence to be legitimate (at least in our law) has several ‘requirements’ some of which you have alluded to. The most important being there must be an attack that has commenced in progress. Retaliation is not considered to be defence but a consideration of punishment i.e revenge. I’m assuming however that you mean defence and not retaliation. Thank you - I have replaced all references to retaliation to defence - my bad.

You also do not address the ‘parachute’ problem. These are singular situation where consent and aggression rules break down and (provided the requirements of singular (necessity) are present its each individual for himself. But always subject to arbitration after the event. There is never a free-pass consent violation

3 Conflict
Here I have two questions.
a) If one has rules and due process and these were not established as you state by “individuals who gather together by mutual consent,” is it you view that those rules and due process are illegitimate? Both parties to a dispute must agree to the dispute resolution mechanism. Where agreement cannot be reached in a stipulated time, a default jurisdiction will apply.
b) if one has rules and due process and these were established by mutual consent, can those consent be withdrawn unilaterally, or can withdraw from consent rules only be altered with consent? Can one withdraw consent later as more information becomes available on the basis that the consent was not informed by the later knowledge and therefor was not informed consent? This is a hard one - can consent be revoked? My suggestion would be yes, right up until irrevocable action has commenced. In other words, a woman may revoke consent to sex at any time up to the act, but not after. I would appreciate further discussion and advice on this issue.

4.Harm to others.
When you criticise the idea “that some individual behaviours must be restricted for the overall good of the community,  forcibly if necessary” you indicate how this concept may be used to justify the necessity of many bad rules. May I recommend you look a the jurisprudence of necessity and the requirements established by common law for acts of necessity to be justified. I think you will concur that the acts you complain of are acts of states transgressing these rules. Bounding the state is an issue of constitutional law which where covert of liberty need to focus their attention.
Your requirement of conclusive evidence of physical harm to others will prove to be impractical for every day human behaviour (not state action) The evidence of physical harm must be brought to the dispute resolution forum, where there is time to assess it. In the heat of the moment this is not always obvious (The Andy Capp problem)

6 Informed consent
I think all aspects of consent are problematic, Proof requires evidence of a subject matters (subjective state of mind) as well subjective content (information that fully informs that subjective ‘intent’ or agreement. 
However here is the problem - the market is necessary because everyone has different information. The value of things exist because people have incomplete information and consent to trades precisely because their information is incomplete or mistaken. Intrinsically all consent is by definition not ‘informed’ consent but rather partially informed and in may cases ‘misinformed’  Very good point. I have (quickly) modified the consent explanation to read
"giving permission, allowing. The future is unknowable, so it must be accepted that the consequences of consent  may be unexpected. Nevertheless, consent should be explicit, freely given, preferably before witnesses, without fraud or falsehood.

7 Penalties
 Why do you assume the absence of an enforcement mechanism, This is one of those mechanisms that is surely necessary of one wand to have anything approving innocence, guilt of proof, etc

8. Morality
This cannot be true. 
Since laws are imposed moral propositions that are considered not an individual issue. To kill, steal, rape, acts without consent, are breaches of moral rules. Because they are not merely personal issues they are elevated to rules of law. The law does not (or at least ought not as socialist disagree) legislate morality that is unnecessary to uphold the spontaneous order or common good (in my view)
No action without consent is the only moral principle of this proposition, which encompasses murder, theft, rape. Issues such as religion, behaviour, tradition (usually considered moral strictures), are outside of this proposition.

Notes on come of your examples
1. This seems to qualify your notes on act
2. Behaviour seems to mean act. What is personal behaviour that is permitted? is personal behaviour identical to or different from behaviour, impersonal behaviour and consensual behaviour? Personal behaviour is not inter-personal behaviour. Only the individual is affected by their own personal behaviour.
3. ‘Anything' is very wide, can he convert his body to a vector for pestilence for example? Yes, and may even spread pestilence by consent (in a laboratory for example), but not where other individuals may be affected without consent. Of should this be qualified by your proposition?
4. ’No one’ what about young children are they not entitled to property or services from their parents whether they consent of not? There maybe other examples. Is a community not entitled to the property of services of it members to uphold necessary rules and due processes for example, whether the individuals agree or not? We have discussed this at length in this forum (the drowning baby issue). An individual is not obliged to assist, anyone.
5. Should this not be qualify by your proposition that seems to allow killing in self defence?
6. Surely I can prevent someone instigating murder verbally or in writing. I’m not sure what you mean from "merely" see. If I see someone performing a murderous action, how is seeing this different from merely seeing this. I think you have in mind some notion of freedom of speak. Should this ‘freedom’ be qualified by your proposition or not? Covered above.
7. Why not? I am referring to the absence of a state enforcement mechanism with exclusive rights to force.
8. ‘May’ this seems discretionary, what about the rest of, for example’ the law of property (that was a second year law courses) are you excusing it?

I know I may be accused of ’not picking’ but I don't believe that you can do this concisely as you have done.

As I said the most concise statement is the positive proposition I mentioned above (leading out the ‘consent’ and NAP ideas as they introduce the complicit that is the thief of brevity.
Thanks again for your contributions, at least 2 of which lead me to change my document. I think this discussion may clarify some issues for others as well.
Regards
Trevor

jimgee1000

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Jul 13, 2020, 4:04:55 PM7/13/20
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Trevor, if I can persist on this line... what would 'prospering libertarian ideas' look like?

How would one know that this goal had been achieved, in your view?

Jim
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jimgee1000

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Jul 14, 2020, 8:39:50 AM7/14/20
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I'm of the view that both aggression and consent depend on a pre-existing theory of property rights.

How, for example, does public vs private property feature in your view, so far?

In my imaginary scenario, there are a continuous series of simultaneous experiments in self-governance. Many different sovereign territories which are putting their theories of property rights to the (voluntarily-funded) test. There are also those who form a remnant of anyone who tried to subtly undermine the idea of the individual right to secede, but failed. This remnant is dwindling in number, due to an increasingly widespread reclamation of individual responsibility as an inseparable part of individual freedom. The currently-missing second side of the two-sided coin of liberty.

I would probably have in my seceded territory (call it 'Mychland' i.e. my chosen jurisdiction), a philosophical shorthand and a legal short-hand. 

The shorthand for the philosophy: 'individual freedom to prosper and individual responsibility to mitigate risk'.

The shorthand for the legal code: 'infringement of individual property rights constitutes a punishable crime'.

The process of unpacking/refinement each of: a theory of property rights, crime, and punishment for crime, would then begin.

In brief (and this requires a lot of work):

Property (all property would be private, so there would be no need for 'private' property):
- definitions:
- property: an individual's body and, by extension, acquired defined physical resources ;
- legitimate property acquisition: via one of the following means: a) original appropriation, b) contract, c) gift, d) inheritance e) restitution ;
- ownership: the legal right to full control of property.
Crime:
- depriving a citizen of ownership ;

Defense(of property):
- force used in proportion to the crime for the purpose of halting the crime ;
 
Punishment:
- restitution to the extent possible ;
- additional penalty in proportion to the violation of property rights ;

Individual contracts may not reduce restrictions in the original Mychland contract i.e. only extend them.

Children and the law: Parents are guardians by default and responsible for their and their children's behavior, under Mychland law.

I acknowledge that this is far from a complete picture. It's probably full of holes, as are many things when you first try to imagine them. It's just one attempt at a start.
  
(I have to say hats off to you, Trevor, for putting your ideas out there. You appear to have made some hard yards in thinking things through.)

Jim

jimgee1000

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Jul 14, 2020, 8:44:19 AM7/14/20
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Thanks to Gavin, too, btw. Very interesting input from an existing legal perspective. Food for thought.

Gavin Weiman

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Jul 14, 2020, 4:42:13 PM7/14/20
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Hi Trevor,
If I may rejoin you on a few point.

I asked you about attempted harm. To which you asked the question... 'If I take a swing at you and missed, have I assaulted you" The answer is No (obviously) but you have attempted to assault me. Surely this attempt removes your innocence, If I gauge your intent as an inference from you actions and shoot you instead of dodging so you miss, have I acted in self defence? 

Let me help you understand my comments and to think out of you consent-is-primary-box by exploring a simplified basis for human action to replace consent with blame (or fault) and relegating consent to a justification only.

New principle -
All individuals are entitled to live their lives freely and pursue their own ends provided their actions do not impact on the equal  freedoms of others. All human action that impacts on others must either be either a) blameless  or b) justified.


Notes:
1. 'Blameless' means an individual cannot be blamed for the harm (or infringement) he causes another's person, liberty or property. Blameworthy actions (ie an individual can be 'blamed or is at fault) are actions that
a) intend to, and in fact cause harm to others or intend to cause harm to others or
b) negligently cause harm to others, or
c) cannot otherwise be justified

2. Intention to cause harm is to be assessed by evidence of the conduct of the person and the circumstances such that the only reasonable inference is that an actual subjective intention to harm actually existed when the harm was caused or attempted.

3, Negligent harm is caused where
a) a reasonable person in the actual factual context ought, in the context, to have foresee the harm, and
b) a reasonable person in the circumstances would take steps to avoid or mitigate the harm and did not and this failure caused the harm.

4. Three Justifications rendering otherwise blameworthy actions blameless.
In case of both 2 & 3 (i.e despite intent or negligence causing harm) the harm shall be justified and therefore not blameworthy if it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that,  
a) the harm was in fact consented,to or the person causing the harm believe, as the only reasonable inference from the all the actual facts and circumstances, that consent had been given or would be given, or
b) the party causing the harm was acting in defence of an attempt to harm that party (the harm not having been been consented to), or
c) in the  circumstances the actions that cause the harm were objectively necessary being i) proportionate harm and ii) the only practicable actions to prevent  or escape iii) immanent harm or death. 

This is concise, it appropriately applies NAP and consent and serves a basis for individual freedom and justifiable contains.

What do you think - any merits?

Regards
Gavin

Trevor Watkins

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Jul 15, 2020, 11:13:12 AM7/15/20
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Trevor Watkins
bas...@gmail.com - 083 44 11 721 - www.individualist.co.za
PO Box 3302, Jeffreys Bay, 6330


On Tue, 14 Jul 2020 at 14:39, jimgee1000 <jfc4l...@gmail.com> wrote:
I'm of the view that both aggression and consent depend on a pre-existing theory of property rights. The non aggression principle (NAP) makes no refrence to property rights in most of its many forms. I have recently added "and property" to the individualist proposition to make up for this shortcoming. So property is necessary in the formulation, but is it sufficient?


How, for example, does public vs private property feature in your view, so far?

In my imaginary scenario, there are a continuous series of simultaneous experiments in self-governance. Many different sovereign territories which are putting their theories of property rights to the (voluntarily-funded) test. I love this idea, perhaps first expressed in SA the Solution. My good friend Ron Weissenberg has been heavily involved in turning Grahamstown into just such a sovereign territory. My Kleinzee could be another. I think Cape Independence should arise from a string of small districts declaring their sovereignty. No Big Bang necessary.There are also those who form a remnant of anyone who tried to subtly undermine the idea of the individual right to secede, but failed. This remnant is dwindling in number, due to an increasingly widespread reclamation of individual responsibility as an inseparable part of individual freedom. The currently-missing second side of the two-sided coin of liberty.

I would probably have in my seceded territory (call it 'Mychland' i.e. my chosen jurisdiction), a philosophical shorthand and a legal short-hand. 

The shorthand for the philosophy: 'individual freedom to prosper and individual responsibility to mitigate risk'.

The shorthand for the legal code: 'infringement of individual property rights constitutes a punishable crime'. The devil is in the details. What constitutes an "infringement of my property rights" If I stand on your land have I infringed? If I collect groceries in your store prior to payment, have I infringed? If I use binoculars to look into your property, have I infringed? Most people view personal rights (to not be attacked, for example) as separate from property rights (to not be robbed).   


The process of unpacking/refinement each of: a theory of property rights, crime, and punishment for crime, would then begin.

In brief (and this requires a lot of work):

Property (all property would be private, so there would be no need for 'private' property):
- definitions:
- property: an individual's body and, by extension, acquired defined physical resources ;
- legitimate property acquisition: via one of the following means: a) original appropriation, b) contract, c) gift, d) inheritance e) restitution Thanks, I left restitution out of my definition ;
- ownership: the legal right to full control of property.
Crime:
- depriving a citizen of ownership Except in the case of trade?;

Defense(of property):
- force used in proportion to the crime for the purpose of halting the crime ;
 
Punishment:
- restitution to the extent possible ;
- additional penalty in proportion to the violation of property rights ;

Individual contracts may not reduce restrictions in the original Mychland contract i.e. only extend them.

Children and the law: Parents are guardians by default and responsible for their and their children's behavior, under Mychland law If present, willing and suitable. Looong discussion.


I acknowledge that this is far from a complete picture. It's probably full of holes, as are many things when you first try to imagine them. It's just one attempt at a start.
  
(I have to say hats off to you, Trevor, for putting your ideas out there. You appear to have made some hard yards in thinking things through.) Ta

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jimgee1000

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Jul 18, 2020, 4:53:28 AM7/18/20
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no styling: latest thoughts

Trevor,


I'm of the view that both aggression and consent depend on a pre-existing theory of property rights. 

The non aggression principle (NAP) makes no refrence to property rights in most of its many forms. I have recently added "and property" to the individualist proposition to make up for this shortcoming. So property is necessary in the formulation, but is it sufficient?

I think the NAP is fine when qualified. The same applies to the CA. Unpacking is necessary and in fact if you are hoping to avoid unpacking either NAP or CA, when explaining libertarianism to someone, if all they are looking for is a one-liner/sound-bite, they are likely not really interested. In my opinion, that is. Both are a little too abstract and prone to misinterpretation, until you begin to unpack them. And when you do, I think the most appropriate questions relate to property i.e. what constitutes property, is there a case for public property, what should constitute legal acquisition. 
So, in summary the trajectory of the conversation might look something like: short-hand --> theory of property rights --> punishment theory 

None of this requires much more than a high-school qualification(currently) to follow and imagine.

In the case of the Michland definition of property, it is considered that a person is the sole occupier of his body. As such, a human body is much like any other property except it is primary. It is thus the means by which external property is acquired, and it infers the person can be deprived of property rights 'in his body' and also in his legitimately-acquired material possessions.

With this definition of property, and the rules of acquisition listed/set out, 'aggression', defined as 'the initiation of force' essentially means depriving an owner of ownership (defined as the right to full control over said resource). I left the word 'aggression' out, at first, but really, there's no reason not to use it if it's clear what *you* mean by it. If you had a preference for the word 'consent', you could say non-consensual interaction entails depriving an owner of ownership. Like walking onto someone else's land.

Problems are inherent where either the rules are not clear, or are conflicting e.g. 'public property' is, in my view, a recipe for conflict because it is alleged that you can have more than one owner, more than one person with exclusive control over a given resource at a time. To me, that's like having two drivers and one steering wheel. Sooner or later there will be an accident.

In my imaginary scenario, there are a continuous series of simultaneous experiments in self-governance. Many different sovereign territories which are putting their theories of property rights to the (voluntarily-funded) test. 

I love this idea, perhaps first expressed in SA the Solution. My good friend Ron Weissenberg has been heavily involved in turning Grahamstown into just such a sovereign territory. My Kleinzee could be another. I think Cape Independence should arise from a string of small districts declaring their sovereignty. No Big Bang necessary.

Sounds interesting.

The shorthand for the legal code: 'infringement of individual property rights constitutes a punishable crime'. 

The devil is in the details. What constitutes an "infringement of my property rights" If I stand on your land have I infringed? If I collect groceries in your store prior to payment, have I infringed? If I use binoculars to look into your property, have I infringed? Most people view personal rights (to not be attacked, for example) as separate from property rights (to not be robbed).   

Going back to the deifnitions: In Michland, 'property' includes a person's body. So personal rights are not separate from property rights, or at least they don't have any significance compared to other property.

If you stand on my land? Yes, in the absence of a contract, you have deprived me of the right to control(the extent of deprivation is a seperate question). Legal self-defense, in Mychland law would be proportional to the violation, so I'd soon learn to bear in mind the cost to bring a case and whether it was worth it, in certain instances. Same for collecting groceries in-store prior to payment(if not stated in a contract between you and the owner). If you entered his property, it would probably be under contract. Even today there are sometimes notices saying 'right of admission reserved' or stipulating your are entering this property under conditions of the owner. And binocular-viewing.... well.... I suppose buying the land and building a house would entail summing up the right to control, that such a trade would afford me. Presumably the house would not be sold with a 'peeping-tom-free' guarantee. I could decide upfront how to mitigate that risk, if I chose to... or run the risk.

- legitimate property acquisition: via one of the following means: a) original appropriation, b) contract, c) gift, d) inheritance e) restitution 

Thanks, I left restitution out of my definition ;

You're welcome.

Ownership: the legal right to full control of property.
Crime: depriving a citizen of ownership.

Except in the case of trade?;

In trade, neither party is 'deprived' of ownership. Each owner relinquishes ownership, with conditions attached.

Children and the law: Parents are guardians by default and responsible for their and their children's behavior, under Mychland law

If present, willing and suitable. Looong discussion.

Okay. Perhaps a separate thread, then. Just to comment briefly, any problems with children's rights and 'ownership of children' by parents, I believe are mitigated to some degree - and I would contend, to a large degree - with the strengthening of the protection of private property rights applicable to adults. Strong protection of private property rights makes for happier adults. Happy adults generally have less to take out on others, including their children. But yes, start a thread, and share your views on that if you like. It's an area I haven't spent a lot of time looking at. At any rate any better system or solution would undoubtedly be more easily discovered in a voluntary society with strong protection of private property rights.

Jim

jimgee1000

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Jul 18, 2020, 5:02:21 AM7/18/20
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Ignore this msg - has to to with formatting...

I see bold comes out as grey bold, apparently when there is a space at the end of the text you're highlighting. Either a space or a missing full-stop. I'll remove the spaces here and see....

Trevor Watkins

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Jul 18, 2020, 9:48:19 AM7/18/20
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Trevor Watkins
bas...@gmail.com - 083 44 11 721 - www.individualist.co.za
PO Box 3302, Jeffreys Bay, 6330

On Tue, 14 Jul 2020 at 22:42, Gavin Weiman <weima...@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Trevor,
If I may rejoin you on a few point.

I asked you about attempted harm. To which you asked the question... 'If I take a swing at you and missed, have I assaulted you" The answer is No (obviously) but you have attempted to assault me. Surely this attempt removes your innocence, If I gauge your intent as an inference from you actions and shoot you instead of dodging so you miss, have I acted in self defence? 

Let me help you understand my comments and to think out of you consent-is-primary-box by exploring a simplified basis for human action to replace consent with blame (or fault) and relegating consent to a justification only.

New principle -
All individuals are entitled to live their lives freely and pursue their own ends provided their actions do not impact on the equal  freedoms of others. All human action that impacts on others must either be either a) blameless  or b) justified.
I like this formulation, probably because the 2nd sentence is similar to my proposition. Blameless is also the best alternative to innocent so far.


Notes:
1. 'Blameless' means an individual cannot be blamed for the harm (or infringement) he causes another's person, liberty or property. Blameworthy actions (ie an individual can be 'blamed or is at fault) are actions that
a) intend to, and in fact cause harm to others or intend to cause harm to others or
b) negligently cause harm to others, or
c) cannot otherwise be justified

2. Intention to cause harm is to be assessed by evidence of the conduct of the person and the circumstances such that the only reasonable inference is that an actual subjective intention to harm actually existed when the harm was caused or attempted. I dislike the idea of "intention" as it generally can only be determined by subsequent consequences, so you may just as well judge the subsequent consequences (and ignore the appeals to noble intention).


3, Negligent harm is caused where
a) a reasonable person in the actual factual context ought, in the context, to have foresee the harm, and
b) a reasonable person in the circumstances would take steps to avoid or mitigate the harm and did not and this failure caused the harm. All appeals to a reasonable person imply some judgement after the event by a collection of peers. They do not guide your action in the here and now. eg Can I rub your leg. Some reasonable people might say yes, some no. With the consent proposition (CP), "Not without my consent".

4. Three Justifications rendering otherwise blameworthy actions blameless.
In case of both 2 & 3 (i.e despite intent or negligence causing harm) the harm shall be justified and therefore not blameworthy if it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that,  
a) the harm was in fact consented,to or the person causing the harm believe, as the only reasonable inference from the all the actual facts and circumstances, that consent had been given or would be given, or
b) the party causing the harm was acting in defence of an attempt to harm that party (the harm not having been been consented to), or
c) in the  circumstances the actions that cause the harm were objectively necessary being i) proportionate harm and ii) the only practicable actions to prevent  or escape iii) immanent harm or death. 
a) is simply the CP, and therefore PC(perfectly correct.)
b) involves judging intention, and is therefore problematic. Grey area, refer to the jury.
c)Your actions may be justified but not excused. Consent violations must ALWAYS be answered for, no matter how obvious their intention may be. Refer to the jury.

This is concise, it appropriately applies NAP and consent and serves a basis for individual freedom and justifiable contains.

What do you think - any merits? I keep learning something new from these exchanges, and am grateful for them.

I had this thought. How do we compare the relative merits of the propositions? Why not setup a kind of Olympic competition. Contestants present their proposition, in less than a page. Their opponents (and anyone else interested) setup difficult scenarios. The contestants justify their proposition against the scenarioes. All involved vote for the best proposition for each scenario.  Too complicated?
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