The non agression principle (NAP in short) simply means that no agression or the threat thereof is to be used.
It is almost incredible how much there is to say about such a simple topic. When it comes down to it, many people have been raised with exactly this in mind. How often have you heard as a child: don’t steal, don’t hit, don’t lie etc etc. Unfortunately this simple lesson is often forgotten when we grow older. The NAP is in fact the return to this childhood lesson as an adult.
A mistake people can make when hearing about NAP as an adult is thinking that this means pacifism. Not so. Pacifism is a moral philosophy that is against the use of violence. NAP is against the initiation of violence. After all, agression is the initiation of violence. Self defence is entirely moral and in accordance with the NAP.
The NAP is the result of a search for a universal moral code.
A moral code must be universal in order for it to be considered valid. The main reasons for this is the purpose of a moral code. Morality is defined as set of (unwritten) rules that guide human interaction. If a moral code is not universal, it becomes possible to claim exceptions. This makes interactions between humans difficult because it cannot be known on beforehand if one of the parties will claim an exception. Trust becomes impossible and this will severely hamper social progress.
A moral code is universal if all people are able to act morally at the same time and always. This makes it very difficult to formulate a moral code that involves actively doing something. Because all people should always be doing that, or at the least be able to be doing that activity. Hence the NAP is formulated in reverse and is forbidding to do something.
It is possible to formulate very complex moral rules. But those would be difficult to follow and -possibly- open to interpretation. Occam’s razor is a good principle to use: it tells us that we should not introduce elements that are not absolutely necessary.
The result is a very simple moral code: Do not initiate, nor threaten to initiate violence. In other words: Do not use agression.
I think that it is clear that all people can at all times and always follow this moral code. It is only when somebody violates this rule that violence becomes an option. It also does not introduce special elements and it easy to understand by everybody.
For people who want to lead a moral live all that is necessary is to never use agression. While that might seem difficult, it really is not. All it takes is commitment.
Originally posted at: 2016-11-22
Last modified on: 2016-11-27