Tenet # 3, and perhaps the others won’t be quite so difficult

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Your Humble Blogger is still on about:

3. The superiority of liberty to equality in the hierarchy of human values and social purposes.

Am I getting close to being able to either agree or disagree with this sentiment? Let's see ... I've decided what I mean by the hierarchy of human values and social purposes, and I've decided what I mean by equality (at least some of the time), so what's left is making sure I know what I mean by liberty.

Again, I'm tempted to define liberties into three categories, just because three sounds right (it is said that the world is divided into three kinds of people, those who can count, and those who cannot). I don't know how well the three categories will work, but let's try.

We'll start with the liberties related to property rights; the right to do what you want with your own stuff. I have very little respect for these liberties, although more when they apply to items of negligible value to others. My decision to keep or throw away old love letters is one thing, my decision to dam a river that runs through my property is another. As for its place in the hierarchy, I would place it well below legal equality and also below equality of burdens and benefits. Resource equality is (as far as I can tell) directly opposed to property-related liberty, and I am inclined to give the equality end the burden of proof, placing it lower on the hierarchy (but I'm really really ambivalent about it).

Then there are personal liberties of a secondary nature. Laws infringing these might relate to pornography or consensual sex, or drugs, or other "victimless" crimes. Also, market regulations, which infringe on the liberty to sell poisons, or to secretly buy up land. These are laws that prevent certain kinds of action in certain circumstances, where the action is essentially contentless. Here also, I'm OK with laws that infringe these liberties in order to serve equality before the law, or even (though with greater hesitation) equality of burdens and benefits, but not resource equality.

Finally, there are the fundamental liberties: thought, speech, religion, movement, association, assembly, and petition (I'm likely missing some). These should be infringed only with great reluctance and in serious need. In some cases, convicted criminals should be confined to jail, thus having their liberty of movement infringed; I accept that. But in general, these are very very high in the hierarchy. Higher than resource equality, certainly, higher than equality of burdens and benefits also.

Which leaves me with the question of whether the highest liberties are higher than the highest equalities. Which will be another note.

Thank you,