Legalizzare è una questione (anche) di diritto. La mia risposta a Bonetti

Io sono per la depenalizzazione di tutte le droghe. Se questo fa di me un libertario e non un liberale, pazienza. Non sono particolarmente attaccato alle etichette.

Ma l’idea che un vero liberale debba essere a favore del proibizionismo è curiosa, specie quando il liberale in questione si richiama alla dottrina del liberalismo classico di John Stuart Mill.

È questo il caso di Paolo Bonetti, che conclude il suo articolo a favore del proibizionismo con queste parole accondiscendenti: “Dispiace dirlo, perché i libertari sono spesso umanamente simpatici, ma l’etica libertaria è soltanto la scimmia di quella liberale.”


Bene, vediamo allora qual era l’opinione del liberale classico Mill sul proibizionismo.

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Legalizzazione, ecco cosa eccepisco a Giacalone e a Ocone

Il mio articolo in favore della legalizzazione delle droghe ha provocato le risposte critiche di Davide Giacalone e di Corrado Ocone. Li ringrazio per l’attenzione. Vorrei però rispondere alle loro critiche nel modo più dettagliato possibile. Credo infatti che la battaglia per la legalizzazione delle droghedebba diventare un punto fermo per chi difende idee liberali in questo Paese.

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Legalizzazione droghe, perché sì

Legalizzare le droghe

Perché bisogna legalizzare tutte le droghe? Per due ordini di ragioni: etiche e pratiche.

La ragione etica è che ciascuno di noi è il proprietario del proprio corpo, e pertanto è libero di farci quello che vuole, a condizione naturalmente che sia un adulto nel pieno delle sue facoltà, e che non danneggi gli altri. Non è un principio nuovo: lo usiamo già con il consumo di alcolici.

Nessuna legge italiana impedisce oggi a un individuo di ubriacarsi fino all’abbruttimento. Quello che non può fare è guidare in stato di ebbrezza, e questo perché potrebbe provocare un incidente che coinvolge altre persone.

A questo argomento vengono di solito rivolte due obiezioni.

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Self-ownership and the labour theory of property

V0003665 John Locke. Mezzotint by J. Smith, 1721, after Sir G. Knelle

In his Second Treatise, John Locke states the following criterion of appropriation (hereinafter W):

Whatsoever then he [man] removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men: for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others. (Locke, 1690, § 27)

In this article I intend to defend the following argument:

(1) If W were valid, slavery would, in some cases, be morally justifiable

(2) but W is not valid, therefore

(3) Slavery cannot be justified on the basis of W

W is accepted almost universally by libertarian philosophers, and not only by them. If we take it as valid, however, it is possible to justify at least two forms of slavery:

1) The slavery of the human race towards God (assuming that God exists)

2) Child slavery to parents

Let us consider the first possibility. If God has created me, it follows that according to W my body does not belong to me, but to him. But then I cannot do what I want to do without his permission. For example, I cannot commit suicide. As Thomas Aquinas says:

Life is God’s gift to man, and is subject to His power, Who kills and makes to live. Hence whoever takes his own life, sins against God, even as he who kills another’s slave, sins against that slave’s master, and as he who usurps to himself judgment of a matter not entrusted to him. (STh., II-II, q. 64, a. 5)

For the same reason, God, if He so wishes, can kill me (directly or through an intermediary person), even without just cause, for the same reason that I can destroy for no reason the furniture of my house. Aquinas writes that:

When Abraham consented to slay his son, he did not consent to murder, because his son was due to be slain by the command of God. “Who is Lord of life and death […] and if a man be the executor of that sentence by Divine authority, he will be no murderer any more than God would be.” (STh., II-II, q. 100, a. 8, ad 3)

Therefore, God can kill me, while I do not have the right to commit suicide, because, basically, I do not possess my body. My body was lent to me by God. I can inhabit and use it, but not destroy it. If I destroy it, it is as if I had killed a slave who is not mine. Now, if my body belongs to another, this means that I am essentially a slave.

The same conclusion can be reached by following the other possibility: that my parents are my legitimate owners. That they have generated me is an indisputable fact. It seems, therefore, that by accepting W, we have a strong argument in favour of parental ownership. The Roman institution of the patria potestas perfectly implemented this rule, making a child a slave. Dionysius of Halicarnassus writes that:

The lawgiver of the Romans gave virtually full power to the father over his son, even during his whole life, whether he thought proper to imprison him, to scourge him, to put him in chains and keep him at work in the fields, or to put him to death, and this even though the son were already engaged in public affairs, though he were numbered among the highest magistrates, and though he were celebrated for his zeal for the commouwealth. (Dion Hal., Ant. Rom., 2.26)

If the patria potestas is ethically justifiable, then having a child is the same thing as having a shovel.

W says that if I produce one thing, then I can say that it is mine. Now, there are cases where this seems to be true. Suppose that A takes home a block of marble to make a statue. In this case it seems quite reasonable to think that the statue is hers because she produced it with her work. But suppose then we find out that the block of marble from which she carved the statue was taken away secretly from the studio of sculptor B. Would it always be A’s statue? Obviously not because, in this case, the owner of the marble would have been defrauded of something that belonged to him: the marble on which A worked.

Can we at least say that A became co-owner of that piece of marble, since he sculpted it to obtain a statue? Not even. Rather, A should compensate B for the damage he has suffered. In fact, working his marble prevented him from doing what he wanted to do with it. This means that W is ineffective if the raw material that is worked is not already possessed by the worker.

Now let us suppose that A, instead of stealing the marble block from B, finds it in an uninhabited island. In this case the statue would be hers, without a doubt (and that is why Locke says that the thing must be removed “from the common state nature hath placed it in”). But – and this is the fundamental point – the statue would belong to A even before being produced: not as a statue, obviously, but as a block of marble, according to the principle of original appropriation. It is not, therefore, through work that A appropriates the statue. When the marble is worked, appropriation has already taken place. What is true of the statue also applies to people. The fact that I was generated by my parents does not give them any title of ownership over me.

It can be said: your parents have not only done the “work” necessary to put you into the world; they have also made available the raw material from which you are derived, that is, the spermatozoon and the egg. This material was from your parents before you were conceived. Is this not an argument in favour of parental responsibility? No, because from an ethical point of view, generation is the transfer of an unwanted asset.

I would like to clarify the meaning of this statement from a case that really happened to the philosopher David Hume. Hume had a house in Edinburgh that he rented to a friend who, in turn, sublet it to another person. On his own initiative and without consulting Hume, this person called a craftsman to make repairs at home. He then presented the bill to Hume, who refused to pay, because he had not given his consent to the works. This ended up in court. Hume defended himself by saying that if accept the principle according to which the beneficiary is obliged to pay for a work that he did not require, then any craftsman could have made unsolicited repairs in Edinburgh’s houses and then sent the bill to the owners.

Let us now look at a similar but imaginary case. Suppose a Marxist philosopher makes me have his own book without me having asked him for it, and then he expects to be paid. Do I have a duty to do so? No, for the simple reason that I have never asked him to send me his book. Assuming that a Marxist’s book is an object I like, I can have the obligation to thank him for the courtesy received. But my duty stops there. I am certainly not obliged to pay it.

Something very similar happens with the generation. Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to come to the world. My parents have generated me freely, and I did not ask them to do so. They have made parts of their bodies available for me to begin my journey into life. But this transfer of assets, as in the two previous cases, also takes place without a request from the beneficiary. I did not ask to be born, for the obvious reason that I wasn’t there when mine decided to conceive myself. Of course, I have a duty to show gratitude to my parents for the fact that they have generated me, and also for having nurtured and looked after me. But I have no obligation to compensate them, let alone to work as a slave for them.

If what has been said is true so far, it follows that self-ownership begins with the first appearance of inner life. Before then we have, so to speak, an empty house placed at the disposal of parents waiting to be occupied by his first and only tenant. When the “home” is occupied, we no longer have a simple object, but a person, that is, a subject with rights.

Now, not only does this person not have a duty to indemnify his parents, but it is the parents who have obligations towards him. Again:he did not ask them to be born. But now that he has been put into the world, he needs care, because he is not able to look after himself, nor will he be able to look after himself for many years to come. The responsibility for this care falls entirely on the shoulders of those who have decided to put it into the world, and continues until such time as that person will not be able to dispose of himself, his actions and his possessions.


Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities

Locke, John (1690), An Essay Concerning the True Original Extent, and End of Civil Government.

Thomas Aquinatis, Summa theologiae

Fare i propri interessi, quello che Marx non comprese


Qual è il limite della mia libertà? Se fate questa domanda a un liberale, vi risponderà in questo modo: “Non far del male agli altri. Per il resto, sei libero di fare tutto ciò che ti piace.”

Ora questa idea, che oggi è di senso comune, è stata messa in discussione da Marx. Nel saggio La questione ebraica, Marx afferma che questa idea di libertà è fondamentalmente antisociale. Ecco cosa scrive:

La libertà è dunque il diritto di fare ed esercitare tutto ciò che non nuoce agli altri. […] Si tratta della libertà dell’uomo in quanto monade isolata e ripiegata su sé stessa. […] Ma il diritto dell’uomo alla libertà si basa non sul legame dell’uomo con l’uomo, ma piuttosto sull’isolamento dell’uomo dall’uomo. Esso è il diritto a tale isolamento, il diritto dell’individuo limitato, limitato a sé stesso. (Marx, 1844, p. 71)

Questa affermazione è, a dir poco, paradossale. Perché il fatto che io veda nell’altro il limite alla mia libertà è precisamente il fondamento della vita sociale. Se non riconoscessi quel limite, la mia libertà sarebbe illimitata, e allora potrei fare tutto quello che voglio, disinteressandomi completamente del prossimo.

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Guerra preventiva o guerra precauzionale? Ecco la differenza


Se Trump decidesse di attaccare la Corea del Nord, la sua sarebbe una guerra preventiva? Dipende da come decidiamo di tradurre il termine inglese preventive. Ad esempio, il Consigliere per la Sicurezza Nazionale degli Stati Uniti, Herbert R. McMaster, ha detto qualche settimana fa alla CNN: “Stiamo preparando dei piani per una guerra preventiva (preventive war).”

Ma cosa intendono gli americani per preventive war?

La risposta non è così scontata come potrebbe sembrare, perché nel lessico militare anglosassone esiste una distinzione terminologica che la nostra lingua non riesce a cogliere.

È la distinzione tra preventive preemptive. Siccome i dizionari italiani, di solito, traducono entrambi i termini con “preventivo”, la distinzione si perde.

Ma dove sta la differenza?

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Essere o non essere intolleranti con gli intolleranti?

Un nuovo meme si aggira nella rete: è quello sul paradosso della tolleranza di Popper. Eccolo qua:


Il meme illustra un pensiero che si trova ne La società aperta e i suoi nemici (precisamente la nota 4 al capitolo VII del volume I), e che dice: “la tolleranza illimitata deve portare alla scomparsa della tolleranza. Se estendiamo l’illimitata tolleranza anche a coloro che sono intolleranti, se non siamo disposti a difendere una società tollerante contro l’attacco degli intolleranti, allora i tolleranti saranno distrutti, e la tolleranza con essi.” (Popper, 1943, pag. 346)

Isolato dal contesto, questo passo potrebbe indurre a credere che, per Popper, fosse lecito usare la forza per impedire agli intolleranti anche soltanto di esprimere le loro idee intolleranti.

Ma non è così. Il passo, infatti, continua dicendo: “In questa formulazione, io non implico, per esempio, che si debbano sempre sopprimere le manifestazioni delle filosofie intolleranti; finché possiamo contrastarle con argomentazioni razionali e farle tenere sotto il controllo dell’opinione pubblica, la soppressione sarebbe certamente la meno saggia delle decisioni.

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