Omega-Chloride-Redford on my "Plagiarism"
In any event. On the Mises blog post he wrote in a comment that he was glad "that some of my teachings have had an effect on you." I had no idea what he was jabbering about but had a vague recollection that he was some kind of loon or nut. He was insinuating, I thought, that I was using in my arguments something he taught me... and vaguely implying I should have given him credit. I thought this ridiculous and said so; he escalated with attempts at "proving" how I had plagiarized him and was a liar.
So I have refreshed my memory. First, as to who this dude is. I remember now: he has gone in the past, on various boards, as Count Lithium von Chloride, Tetrachordine Omega, and Tetrahedron Omega. He has written before about his various experiences with drugs, and how this has given him insight into the universe, and the "omega point," some nonsense like this. See, e.g., my discussion of this stuff in this post and in this anti-state thread, where he talks about his "god-trips". In his article Jesus is an Anarchist, he signs off thus:
Born in Austin, Texas and raised in the Leander, Texas hill country, the native-born Augustinian James Redford is a young born again Christian who was converted from atheism by a direct revelation from Jesus Christ. He is a scientific rationalist who considers that the Omega Point (i.e., the physicists' technical term for God) is an unavoidable result of the known laws of physics. His personal website can be found here: http://geocities.com/vonchlorideUh, yeah--the Omega Point... direct revelation of Christ via drugs which incude various so-called Levels of so-called God-Trips. Like, wow, man. I think he actually believes this stuff. Another funny comment: in our email conversation in 2000, I jokingly used the term "jelly head" to refer to stoners or those who do drugs, after he started going on about all the revelations he'd gotten from doing drugs. He didn't know the term "jelly-head," so I explained:
Jelly head--slang for junkie, drug head, stoner. I guess the term implies that you do so many terms it turns the brain to sludge, jelly.His humble reply? "Well, my brain is still quite intact and functioning on an I.Q. level higher than almost all people." Uhhh, HOkay.
And in His website shows he's a 9/11 conspiracy nut, too. And let's not forget his various handles: Count Lithium von Chloride, Tetrachordine Omega, and Tetrahedron Omega. He reminds me a bit of Per Malloch, another smart young libertarian who also liked my estoppel theory and Hoppe's argumentation ethics, and who also liked drugs, unfortunately a bit too much--he OD'd in college a few years ago. I wonder how long Redford will be with us. Oh well, at least he's a "Christian," so if he OD's he'll just ascend to the Jesus Omega Point, I guess, where drugs will be free and plentiful.
Anyway, he wrote in the recent Mises thread:
I'm glad that some of my teachings have had an effect on you. Ergo, your somewhat recent statement of "an ought from an ought." (Your September 8, 2006 11:19 AM reply under "How We Come to Own Ourselves.")He was referring to my comment there to someone: "I agree you cannot get an ought from an is. I am not. I am getting an ought from an ought."
Redford is implying I got this from him. Why? Here is something he wrote me long ago (which I had of course forgotten). During one of those conversations he agreed with my Humean point that you can't derive an an ought from an is; and he said he liked my own theory because in it I derive an ought from an ought. He wrote (back in February of 2000):
One remarkable thing about your rights argument is that it seems to totally by-pass the is/ought dichotomy. Rather than simply derive an "ought" from an "is" (which alone is impossible), it derives an "ought" from an "ought": an "ought" which any objector to libertarian punishment necessarily already holds.Note that he here was simply agreeing with what my own theory did: that it derived an ought from an ought. Therefore avoiding the ought from an is problem, which I was of course already aware of. (It permeates my arguments; and see also p. 1432 of my 1994 review essay on one of Hoppe's books (discussing how Hoppe's argumentation ethics overcomes the Humean is-ought dichotomy; and p. 136 (text at n. 13) of Hoppe's 1989 book TSC, which I had of course devoured by the time I wrote my estoppel theory: "In fact, one can readily subscribe to the almost generally accepted view that the gulf between “ought” and “is” is logically unbridgeable. .... On the problem of the deriveability of “ought” from “is” statements cf. W. D. Hudson (ed.), The Is-Ought Question, London, 1969; for the view that the fact-value dichotomy is an ill-conceived idea cf. the natural rights literature cited in note 4 above.")
Now. I have used "ought from an ought" on occasion, at least in the last couple of years, as I have explained and defended my views on rights, and the problem with the is-ought dichotomy. Did I get the phrase from Redmond? I have no idea. I suppose it is possible that a phrase he used to describe my own theory stuck in my head and bubbled to the surface years later. If so, I woudl have no problem "admitting" it, as he charges; why not? After all, it's just a natural way to describe what my own theory does, as he admitted way back in 2000. And although he seems proud that if you google the phrase "ought from an ought" in usenet groups his is the first one mentioned, as if he had some great achievement (in just finding a way to describe why my own "remarkable" rights argument!), as I showed him, if you google the phrase on the web, several uses of it show up, e.g. one in 1973. (Redford's emphasis on the fact that he has the first use of the phrase on usenet, and that there are only 13 or so in a web-wide google search, is also odd: there are no doubt various ways to word the idea that you can only get an ought from an ought, other than the literal phrase "ought from an ought", which his and my google search espicked out, so the basic insight or idea or way of putting it is probably out there many more times than that simple one search would show. Not to mention that there are tons of publications not yet searchable.)
Regarding my citing of the 1973 use of the phrase, of course I did not list that to imply that I got the phrase from that source rather than from Redford; but to show that it's probably a natural way for people to describe this, that many people can either independently come to, or that is floating around out there and occasionally used. I think it's likely I either read this phraseology in various places, or maybe independently came up with it myself. I mean if you say that an ought can't come from an is, so you have to start with a presupposed ought (as Hoppe and I both argue, in a sense; even Rand, as I noted before, with her hypothetical ethics), it's, um, natural to say that you can't get an ought from an is, but only from an ought. Redford's attempt grab fame for such an obvious insight is frankly bizarre. If the thought of using that simple phrase to describe my very own rights theory was put in my head by Redford's email to me back in 2000, whoop de doo. Fine. Who cares?
So, he lists part of our email conversation from 2000 (he, um, saved it, you see), to prove I'm a plagiarist and liar. Okay, so let's recap. I think his "ought from an ought" phrase is a kind of obvious way of stating one good thing about my own rights theory. That, er, I came up with. I think it's good Omega, er Redford, came up with it. I think many people have. I may have too; or may have remembered it from Redford's email to me, um, 6 years ago, or maybe from seeing others' writings on related subjects. I'm even grateful Redford was friendly to my rights theory, but I think it's frankly bizarre of him to keep score of such minute things and to try to take credit for such a thing, or to accuse me of plagiarism, or lying. On the other hand, I guess there are worse things than being insulted by a self-admitted drug-using conspiracy-theorizing born-again Chloride-Omega Christian with Direct Revelation to God.
Our exchange since then:
Posted by: James Redford at November 18, 2006 6:01 PM
Posted by: Stephan Kinsella at November 20, 2006 10:09 AM
Posted by: James Redford at November 20, 2006 3:04 PM
Posted by: Stephan Kinsella at November 20, 2006 3:55 PM