We have an increasingly severe problem with social and news media outlets. It seems there are few, if any, news sources that are committed to presenting facts unbiasedly. Social media organizations have become shockingly better able to bombard us with skewed versions of the news they conclude we are predisposed to believe already. If you utilize social media, you probably live in an echo chamber of voices agreeing with your current constructions of facts. As a result, large groups have significant disagreements about basic facts on many issues.

Given that we do not usually have personal knowledge of the relevant facts for a given issue, this is a growing problem unnecessarily causing discord and chaos in our world. Others can now easily manipulate what we believe factually about the world. We should always remain aware of this issue. Because of this reality, we should each allow for the possibility that the facts underlying many questions may differ from what we currently believe. We should generally be more-humble when we assert our beliefs about important facts underlying issues we discuss.

Importantly, we should realize that many bitter and divisive political disputes among people are merely factual disputes. For example, substantial political divides on the issue of climate change often entirely turn on factual disputes. If you believe the Earth is warming at a rate that will cause severe problems for all life, you are reasonably motivated to act. On the other hand, if you believe the Earth is either not warming or not warming at a rate likely to result in any significant problem for many generations, you are probably not concerned with the issue. Even if you believe the Earth is warming, you will likely find different factual disagreements with others about whether this is due to human action or simply natural occurrences such as variations involving the sun’s energy output.

Reasonable people agree that if there exists a problem that will soon threaten life on Earth, we ought to take action to remedy the situation immediately. Establishing the underlying facts necessary to support this conclusion can be challenging when we all have instant access to what is usually a vast body of asserted “facts” to the contrary. Sometimes, personal research, observation, or common-sense reasoning can resolve the factual dispute. However, in many cases, it is not so easy to personally confirm or deny another’s assertion of underlying relevant facts.

You probably do not have all the facts or higher educational background needed in the multiple scientific disciplines necessary to arrive at an educated conclusion about climate change. You, like me, probably need to rely upon experts in this area. However, as you probably already know, it is not so difficult today to find an “expert” to support almost any position on any issue. As a result, your beliefs regarding climate change may simply be a function of where you obtain your news. We should remain mindful of whether we are engaged in a mere factual dispute with another person or whether the debate is rooted in a disagreement on principle. People who accept the 3LP are not immune from factual disputes. We should always be vigilant to ensure we do not confuse a factual dispute with a fundamental disagreement about whether a person accepts the 3LP. They are notably different questions. We should be constantly aware of this vital distinction.

While people who accept the 3LP readily agree that no person should be permitted to trespass pollution upon another’s property, whether such trespass is occurring is a factual question. When we need to resolve a factual dispute between people, we often employ the time-tested mechanisms of a formal trial. Resolving factual disputes is one of the essential functions of a jury. However, in a political discussion, a jury trial is not possible. Utilizing a hypothetical set of facts is often helpful to avoid an extended debate about disputed facts and move to the important fundamental questions about principle.

Returning to the issue of climate change, simply using a hypothetical set of facts will get us to the essential fundamental question. If we simply assume, for our discussion, both that the Earth is warming at a rate that will soon result in significant threats to life on Earth and that this warming results from humans trespassing upon each other with pollution from their vehicles, we simply resolve the issue as we would resolve any trespass. It becomes a question to resolve with ordinary trespass law.

Similarly, if we assume the Earth is not warming, it is also an easy question to resolve; either there is no trespass, or any trespass is so minor we treat it as di-minimis and take no formal legal action. Although getting to the bottom of the factual dispute remains a significant problem, people who agree with the 3LP should generally be able to agree on the essential fundamental issues while agreeing to disagree on underlying facts. In cases where we agree on facts, the question about how the law ought to apply is correctly resolved by fairly and reasonably applying the 3L Legal Principle.

Groups, Organizations, Corporations, and Governments

I have previously touched upon this issue in Chapter Six. I intentionally expand on that discussion here because of the critical importance of the problem. Agreeing to legally prohibit individuals from violating the 3L Legal Principle but then allowing them to simply form groups, organizations, corporations, or governments to legally violate the 3L Legal Principle would defeat the entire project of advocating for a free and peaceful world. It would be the most explicit example of allowing the exception to swallow the rule entirely. Indeed, this closely resembles the legal situation we have today. While we legally prohibit individuals from violating the 3L Legal Principle, people whom the most prominent group employs, we refer to as “government,” are routinely legally permitted to disregard it for countless reasons. We can never achieve freedom and peace unless we oppose all violations of the 3L Legal Principle regardless of who is violating it, even if the government employs the person violating it.

What matters is not whether a person is also a member of some group, organization, corporation, or government, but whether the person or the collective group of people is aggressing against another. To the extent our institutions violate the 3L Legal Principle, they act illegitimately and contrary to the interests of promoting a free and peaceful world. Reasonable people are generally not confused about the 3L Legal Principle applied to individuals. In the vast majority of places around the world, individuals aggressing against other individuals are already legally prohibited. Indeed, all civilized countries have laws banning aggressions such as murder, assault, theft, and fraud.xiii At least on the individual level, most people already intuitively agree aggression is wrong. In most places around the world, merely pushing a random stranger will usually be met with some level of justified anger due to unconsented aggression. Even most non-human animals will react negatively to aggression.

While this is unquestionably true on the individual level, many people get distracted into erroneously concluding differently when individuals band together to form groups, organizations, corporations, or governments. As previously argued, groups, organizations, corporations, and governments cannot have rights independent of their members. They do not magically or spontaneously appear out of thin air. They are each created solely by individuals. There is simply no other way for them to exist. There would be no government if there were no people. Governments do not spontaneously arise out of thin air. They only arise by the forming of groups by individual people.

As such, groups, organizations, corporations, and governments cannot possibly have any rights not delegated to them by their members. If you accept the 3L Legal Principle, you believe no individual has a right to aggress against another. Therefore, no individual can delegate such a right to any group, organization, corporation, or government. Even collectively, individuals cannot delegate rights they do not have. Because individuals, collectively or otherwise, cannot delegate a right to aggress, no group, organization, corporation, or government could legitimately have any right to aggress. We should hold all groups, organizations, corporations, and governments to the same standard as all individuals. Why would a peaceful person want one of these groups to ever threaten or initiate force, fraud, or coercion in any event?

Individuals can undoubtedly delegate the rights they have. For example, because individuals have a right to self-defense, individuals can properly delegate that right to groups, organizations, corporations, or governments to act as their agents in defending them appropriately. In contrast, because individuals do not have a right to take money from their neighbors without their consent, they cannot delegate any such “right” to any group, organization, corporation, or government. The same standard of conduct should apply to all individuals and groups of whatever type.

Is this such a scary conclusion? Why would we want any of these entities to aggress in any event? If you desire any of these entities to aggress against others, isn’t this the same as saying you want to aggress against others? If so, you are simply saying you want to use groups, organizations, corporations, or governments as a tool to aggress against others. The person who wants to use a group, organization, corporation, or government to aggress against others is someone who has not had their heart and mind won for the wisdom of adopting the 3LP. If the idea of non-aggression makes sense to you, we should apply it to everyone consistently, even when they band together to form groups, organizations, corporations, or governments. To treat them differently from how we treat individuals is to use them as tools to aggress against others.