The primary civil duty of the state is to enforce contracts entered into between consenting adults, although state involvement should be a last resort. The ability to make and enforce contracts is only limited by:
- – An age threshold, such as 18 or 21, or, if below the age threshold, to prove to a court they are competent to enter into contracts
- – A very low bar of mental soundness. The bias should be strongly towards assuming any adult is competent to manage their own affairs. Only if it can be shown clearly that they are not competent, such as in the case of those afflicted by Alzheimer’s, should their ability to enter into binding contracts be restrained.
- – Note that we do not provide an exemption for those who are enraged by passion, or for those whose judgment is affected by drug or alcohol use, unless the latter was involuntary. If you choose to use drugs or alcohol, you are responsible for the entire chain of events that results from that choice. To the greatest extent possible, individuals should be held responsible for their actions.
- – Non-triviality. There must be some non-trivial incursion on my rights to restrain the actions of others. You have no right to play your music so loudly that it disturbs my sleep in my apartment, but if normal conversation disturbs you, you need better walls, not police intervention.
- – Materiality – That incursion must take place in some measurable, non-abstract way. Physical contact, noise, financial fraud, contract non-performance are all measurable and/or tangible. That someone’s activities, absent any tangible or measurable damage, have caused “emotional distress,” is not.
- – Custom – If there is a well-established custom that has gone on for many years, such as use of a path through a property that may be enforced absent an explicit contract. However, generally explicit contract should take precedence over custom.
The State is a tool of individuals, not vice versa
The state should not have the right of eminent domain, as in our philosophy there is no higher value than that of the individual; the state is an instrument of individuals; we do not believe in any collective rights of some people over others based simply on force of numbers. It’s more important to protect one productive person than 100 nonproductive people. It’s more important to protect one person concerned with justice than 100 bigots. John Stuart Mill was famous for a doctrine of utility that emphasized the greatest good for the greatest number. Outside of consensual market based mechanisms, there is only the political process to determine what constitutes the “greatest good”, which means that the political machinations of some individuals supersede the right of others to make their own value judgments.
The major restraint on an individual to make their own judgments is to the degree that it affects the rights of other individuals. As the famous saying goes, my right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins. If someone values violence, that does not give them the right to be violent to others.
- The need for constraint is limited by several factors: