A while back, I applied to the
War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund
for reimbursement of $813 in penalties and interest that the
seized from me along with taxes I had refused to pay voluntarily.
I was one of four resisters who applied to the fund during this appeal cycle.
The Fund then sent out the details about our requests to the hundreds of fund
participants. These people chipped in more than 79% of the total requested
amount — in my case, $649.
The penalties and interest came to about 16½% of the amount I had resisted,
but after taking this reimbursement into account, the total cost to me
personally came to only a little over 3%.
It takes the
long time to go through its process of seizing money from resisters (I started
refusing to pay assessed taxes in the tax
year, and they seized this money from me
Since the value of money is being constantly eaten away by inflation, seen
even from a purely pecuniary point-of-view this was a pretty good investment
for me — a 3% nominal loss over three years. In any case, it should shut the
mouth of anyone who claims the potential for dire financial hardship as an
excuse not to resist.
But speaking more practically and from a broader point-of-view, this allowed
many people to participate in my tax resistance, some of whom are unable to
participate more directly by resisting themselves.
There might be one particular good, a good that’s at the end of the series
of means to ends that are means to other ends and so forth. Or maybe there’s
more than one such end-point, in which case, we’ll be satisfied with choosing
the one that’s the most finalish-looking — that is, the one that seems most
like an end and least like a mean to other ends.
He thinks that eudaimonia is the best candidate for this ultimate end, but he’s afraid it’s too pat.
Does man have a purpose — a function, like the way eyes are for
seeing with or a shovel is for digging? One way of determining the
function of something, Aristotle says, is to find out what it is uniquely
designed to accomplish. A “good” something is a something that does the
purpose of such somethings and does it well.
Humans, he says, seem uniquely designed to exercise their rational faculties — nothing else does this.
(He also adds that this ultimate end, whatever it is, isn’t just something
that can be measured once in some time-slice of a person’s life, but is a
measurement of a person’s life as a whole, or something of that sort. This
will come up again and cause some trouble later on.)
Myself, I’m not ready to buy the reasoning by which he got to rationality as
the function of mankind. For one thing, I’m not sure whether such a
holds water, especially given post-Darwin informed speculation about the
mundane “purpose” of human life, such as an examination of our “function” is
likely to reveal to us.
For another, rationality isn’t the only thing that humans uniquely accomplish.
Look at how fragile Aristotle’s argument is: Imagine we’re visited by
rational aliens from another planet or we discover a rational species of
dolphin. Suddenly, we’re no longer beings who uniquely accomplish rational
thought and so our purpose is up-in-the-air. But these aliens/dolphins never
cook their food! Aha! The unique function of humans must be culinary!
What’s the user manual for living? As it turns out,
Aristotle could say that in such a case, he’d just include the aliens and
dolphins in his audience and under his category of “man.” But then he’s
pretty much just saying that his audience is defined by its rationality, ergo
rationality is what his audience is designed for, which seems logically iffy.
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