Debates

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Dear Walter,

Sean Parr here. I hope everything with you is well! One of my intellectual heroes is a Christian theologian named William Lane Craig. He is an expert debater, and if you have the time and (as an atheist) the inclination, I recommend you view/read some debates/lectures of his (reasonablefaith.org). Anyway, you, as well, are one of my intellectual heroes and (from personal experience) a great debater. I’d like to pose to you some questions on debating (that have been previously posed to Dr. Craig) because you have so much experience in this regard and I’d like to get your insights on the subject; learn your tricks of the trade. Here are the questions:

1. Would you ever consider writing or blogging on the way in which you debate or the method(s) that you find effective?
2. Do you think that debate is a truly effective form of dialogue, or do you view it more as a kind of academic test of wills?
3. For how long have you competitively debated?
4. How do you recommend improving one’s debating skills?
5. Who was your most difficult and challenging debate opponent in your mind (face-to-face, or in the journals, or from emails/blogs)? Maybe you could give a quick top five list?
6. There was a recent survey done of leading philosophers and scientists asking the question “What have you changed your mind about?” I would like to pose the same question to you. During your academic life, what kinds of issues have you shifted your stance on?

Only respond if you have the time and please send my regards to Luis Rivera–he’s a fellow Miami-ian and MU 2013 alum (and a funny bastard).

Thanks,
Sean

see my responses to this letter below

From: Sean Parr [mailto:parrfection@bellsouth.net]
Sent: Saturday, August 16, 2014 2:11 PM
To: wblock@loyno.edu
Subject:
Dear Walter,
1. Would you ever consider writing or blogging on the way in which you debate or the method(s) that you find effective?
<<yes. I’m doing so now. Naturally, ego gets involved in debates. People want to win, and I’m certainly no exception in this regard. However, I strive mightily to put that aside, and to look at me and my debating opponent as partners in the search for the truth. It doesn’t always work out that way, but I do try.
2. Do you think that debate is a truly effective form of dialogue, or do you view it more as a kind of academic test of wills?
<< the former. Well, both, perhaps, but debated in the form of an effective form of dialogue is what I look for. Hey, two heads are better than one, and there are always (at least) two in every debate
3. For how long have you competitively debated?
<< golly. Since high school? Maybe since college? I’m not sure.
4. How do you recommend improving one's debating skills?
<< How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice. One of the things that bugs me about debates is when my opponent continually interrupts me, especially a loud-mouthed one. I have a soft, weak voice, so I can’t shout him down. So, I do one of two things: when I get a (rare) chance to speak, I get off the debating topic, and start discussing the unfairness of hogging the conversation. If that doesn’t work, I keep speaking; I don’t stop even though I can’t be well heard. Eventually, my opponent will be too embarrassed to keep on going.
5. Who was your most difficult and challenging debate opponent in your mind (face-to-face, or in the journals, or from emails/blogs)? Maybe you could give a quick top five list?
Richard Epstein was my toughest face to face debater. He is very, very smart, and even better at being quick on his feet. He didn’t really interrupt, much, but I felt I was back on my heels the entire debate, even though, substantively, I thought I had by far the better, more defensible side (free enterprise, private property rights, vis a vis his support for eminent domain). David Friedman is like that too; a very fast thinker. In a face to face debate, I’d be at a disadvantage with people like that. I would do it anyway, masochist that I am, because I want to promote liberty in any venue open to me. Another very tough debating partner of mine is Gary North (on the value of a phd in economics). Not only is he also very bright, but he is perhaps, second only to Tom Woods (I’ve never debated Tom, but I’ve played chess with him, a different kettle of fish) the most articulate, erudite opponent I’ve ever dealt with. My problem with Gary was that he ignored my points. I chided him for that, but to no avail. He just kept on trucking. Two of my nastiest debates were with Jan Helfeld (a Randian minarchist, versus my anarchism) and Sam Seder, a liberal, progressive pinko. Each of them must have interrupted me, oh, a dozen times every 15 minutes after explicitly promising not to do so. All of these are face to face debates. I’ve had may a half dozen debates with faculty members at Loyola, but it is now extremely difficult to get any others to debate with me, even though I’ve promised to take a shower once a month whether I need one or not.
I’m much better at written debates. Then, my inability to think quickly is no disadvantage at all. I’ve had a few memorable series of debates of this type. With Harold Demsetz (on Coase), Milton Friedman (on Hayek), Bryan Caplan (on Austrian economics), Jakub Wisniewski (on abortion), Philipp Bagus and David Howden (on time mismatches in banking), Robert Murphy, Matt Machaj and Laura Davidson (on counterfeiting money), with Larry White and George Selgin (on fractional reserve banking). I’ve challenged David Friedman to a debate (on the non-aggression principle, which he rejects) but he has not yet seen fit to take me up on this.
6. There was a recent survey done of leading philosophers and scientists asking the question "What have you changed your mind about?" I would like to pose the same question to you. During your academic life, what kinds of issues have you shifted your stance on?
<< Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Brandon converted me to libertarianism in around 1963. Murray Rothbard converted me to Anarcho-capitalism in 1966 and to Austrianism in about 1968. Stephan Kinsella converted me to an anti-intellectual property stance with this publication of his: Kinsella, N. Stephan. 2001. “Against Intellectual Property,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 15, No. 2, Winter, pp. 1-53; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/15_2/15_2_1.pdf
Very recently, in 2013, my former student converted me to an anti-circumcision position with a term paper he wrote for one of my classes, which was later published here: Testa, Pat and Walter E. Block. 2014. “Libertarianism and circumcision” International Journal of Health Policy and Management; Article 8, Volume 3, Issue 1, June, Page 33-40; http://www.ijhpm.com/; http://www.ijhpm.com/?_action=press&issue=-1&_is=Articles in Press; http://www.ijhpm.com/article_2849_607.html; http://ijhpm.com/article_2849_607; http://ijhpm.com/article_2849_607.html; http://www.lewrockwell.com/?post_type=article&p=497650&preview=true
My many times co-author Bill Barnett changed my mind on a whole host of issues pertaining to very technical questions in Austrian economics
Here is a bibliography on many of the debates mentioned above:
April 30, 2014. Sam Seder debates Walter E. Block. The Majority Report [mailto:majorityreporters@gmail.com] The Majority Report with Sam Seder. Live M-F 12:00 NOON ET. http://majority.fm; Ring of Fire Radio. With Sam Seder, Mike Papantonio and Bobby Kennedy Jr. Weekends. http://www.ringoffireradio.com; Resolved: “laissez faire capitalism is the best system known to man” http://majority.fm/2014/05/01/51-professor-walter-block-defends-libertarianism/; http://majority.fm/; 646-257-3920; http://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/walter-block-defends-the-ethical-argument-for-eliminating-the-minimum-wage/
May 11, 2014. Walter Block debates Jan Helfeld on anarchism versus minimal government; Jan Helfeld ; Daniel Rothschild daniel.y.rothschild@gmail.com; http://youtu.be/58-YSENYuVM. http://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/walter-block-debates-anarcho-capitalism-vs-limited-government/; http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/05/walter-block-vs-jan-helfeld-on-anarchy.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+economicpolicyjournal%2FKpwH+%28EconomicPolicyJournal.com%29; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hsKmqXy55E

May 10, 2004 Chicago, IL, University of Chicago, Debate with Richard Epstein on “Eminent Domain.” http://blog.lewrockwell.com/lewrw/archives/004200.html; http://mm.mises.org/mp3/block-epstein.mp3;

http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/ECM_PRO_060927.pdf

Block, Walter v. Richard Epstein. 2005. “Debate on Eminent Domain.” NYU Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 1144-1169; http://www.nyujll.org/articles/Vol.%201%20No.%203/Vol.%201%20No.%203%20-%20Block%20and%20Epstein.pdf; http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/ECM_PRO_060927.pdf
Block, Walter E. 2011. “David Friedman and Libertarianism: A Critique,” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 3, Article, 35; http://libertarianpapers.org/2011/35-block-david-friedman-and-libertarianism/; https://plus.google.com/u/0/107839603122535455846/posts/6QfUcBR1gTS
July 24-30, 2011 Auburn, AL, Mises University; Debate with Gary North on higher education; http://mises.org/events/110;

http://media.mises.org/mp3/MU2011/10_MisesU_20110726_Block.mp3;

http://media.mises.org/mp3/MU2011/27_MisesU_20110727_Block.mp3;

http://media.mises.org/mp3/MU2011/16_MisesU_20110726_Block-North_Debate.mp3;

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/93031.html; http://www.garynorth.com/public/9121.cfm

Block – Demsetz debate:

1. Block, Walter E. 1977. “Coase and Demsetz on Private Property Rights,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, Vol. I, No. 2, 1977, pp. 111-115; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/1_2/1_2_4.pdf; Translation: “Coase y Demsetz sobre el derecho de propiedad privada,” Libertas 37, octubre de 2002, año XIX, pp.5-20

2. Demsetz, Harold. 1979. “Ethics and Efficiency in Property Rights Systems,” in Time, Uncertainty and Disequilibrium: Explorations of Austrian Themes, Mario Rizzo, ed., Lexington Mass.: D.C. Heath and Co; http://mises.org/Books/timeuncertainty.pdf (see chapter 5)

3. Block, Walter E. 1995. “Ethics, Efficiency, Coasean Property Rights and Psychic Income: A Reply to Demsetz,” Review of Austrian Economics, 8 (2): 61-125, http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/rae8_2_4.pdf; Translation: “Ética, eficiencia, derechos de propiedad Coasianos e ingreso psíquico: una respuesta a Demsetz,” Libertas 37, octubre de 2002, año XIX, pp. 71-210

4. Demsetz, Harold. 1997. “Block’s Erroneous Interpretations,” Review of Austrian Economics, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 101-109; http://www.mises.org/journals/rae/pdf/rae10_2_6.pdf; Las interpretaciones erróneas de Block

5. Block, Walter E. 2000. “Private Property Rights, Erroneous Interpretations, Morality and Economics: Reply to Demsetz,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring, pp. 63-78; http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae3_1_8.pdf; Translation: “Derecho de propiedad privada, interpretaciones erróneas, moralidad y economía: en respuesta a Demsetz,” Libertas 37, octubre de 2002, año XIX, pp. 227-264

Friedman, Milton and Walter E. Block. 2006. “Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter E. Block and Milton Friedman (on Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom).” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 20, No. 3, Summer, pp. 61-80; http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/20_3/20_3_4.pdf
Block, Walter E. and Bryan Caplan. 2008. “The Danger of Fractional-Reserve Banking: Walter E. Block versus Brian Caplan on Fractional Reserve Banking.” Nov 1; http://www.lewrockwell.com/block/block110.html

Block, Walter E. 2005. “Rejoinder to Caplan on Bayesian Economics,” Journal of Libertarian Studies. Vol. 19, No. 1, Winter, pp. 79-95; http://blog.mises.org/blog/archives/003654.asp

Block, Walter E. 2003. “Realism: Austrian vs. Neoclassical Economics, Reply to Caplan,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 6, No. 3, Fall, pp. 63-76; http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae6_3_4.pdf

Block, Walter E. 1999. “Austrian Theorizing, Recalling the Foundations: Reply to Caplan,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 2, No. 4, winter, pp. 21-39; http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae2_4_2.pdf; errata: http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae2_4_9.pdf;

Block, Walter E. 2003. “Realism: Austrian vs. Neoclassical Economics, Reply to Caplan,” Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Vol. 6, No. 3, Fall, pp. 63-76; http://www.mises.org/journals/qjae/pdf/qjae6_3_4.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2005. “Rejoinder to Caplan on Bayesian Economics,” Journal of Libertarian Studies. Vol. 19, No. 1, Winter, pp. 79-95; http://blog.mises.org/blog/archives/003654.asp

Block, Walter E. 2007. “Reply to Caplan on Austrian Economic Methodology” Corporate Ownership & Control, Vol. 4, No. 3, November, pp. 312-326.

http://www.virtusinterpress.org/additional_files/journ_coc/issues/COC_(Volume_4_Issue_3_Spring_2007_Continued2).pdf

Block, Walter E. 2010B. “Rejoinder to Wisniewski on Abortion.” Libertarian Papers; Vol. 32, No. 2; http://libertarianpapers.org/2010/32-block-rejoinder-to-wisniewski-on-abortion/; http://libertarianpapers.org/articles/2010/lp-2-32.pdf

Block, Walter E. 2011A. “Response to Wisniewski on Abortion, Round Two.” Libertarian Papers; Vol. 3, Article No. 4; http://libertarianpapers.org/2011/4-block-response-to-wisniewski-on-abortion-round-two/

Block, Walter E. 2011B. “Response to Wisniewski on Abortion, Round Three.” Libertarian Papers, Vol. 3, Art. 37; http://libertarianpapers.org/2011/37-block-response-to-wisniewski-on-abortion/

Block, Walter E. 2014. “Response to Wisniewski on Abortion, Round Four.” Management Education Science Technology Journal (MEST); http://mest.meste.org/MEST_Najava/V_Block.pdf;

http://www.mest.meste.org/MEST_2_2014/K1_eng.html;

http://www.fbim.meste.org/FBIM_2_2014/Sadrzaj_eng.html

1. Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2009A. “Time deposits, dimensions and fraud,” Journal of Business Ethics; Vol. 88, No. 4, September, pp. 711-716; www.WalterBlock.com/publications; http://www.springerlink.com/content/100281/?k=walter+block&sortorder=asc&v=condensed&o=20; http://www.springerlink.com/content/a88l166702524r55/; http://blog.mises.org/archives/011398.asp; http://www.springerlink.com/content/a88l166702524r55/fulltext.pdf?page=1; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225634696_Time_Deposits_Dimensions_and_Fraud?ev=prf_pub

2. Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2009B. “Financial Intermediaries, the Intertemporal-Carry Trade, and Austrian Business Cycles; or; Crash and Carry: Can Fraudulent Time deposits lead to an Austrian Business Cycle? Yes.” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics; Vol. XI, No. 1, pp. 455-469; http://www2.units.it/~etica/2009_1/BARNETT_BLOCK.pdf

3. Barnett, William II and Walter E. Block. 2011. “Rejoinder to Bagus and Howden on Borrowing Short and Lending Long” Journal of Business Ethics. Volume 100, Number 2, pp. 229-238, May; DOI: 10.1007/s10551-010-0677-9;

https://springerlink3.metapress.com/content/44×8878431714443/resource-secured/?target=fulltext.pdf&sid=ibnjjd4520xsog550csa0ey2&sh=www.springerlink.com;

http://www.springerlink.com/openurl.asp?genre=article&id=doi:10.1007/s10551-010-0677-9; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225476829_Rejoinder_to_Bagus_and_Howden_on_Borrowing_Short_and_Lending_Long?ev=prf_pub

Block, Walter E. 2010. “In Defense of Counterfeiting Illegitimate Money: Rejoinder to Murphy and Machaj,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 69, No. 2, 867-880, April; http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123327372/abstract

Block, Walter E. 2010. “Rejoinder to Davidson on Counterfeiting,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 69, No. 4, October, pp. 1328-1331; http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0254/is_4_69/ai_n56257930/

Block, Walter E. 2013. “Rejoinder to Davidson on Counterfeiting, Round Two” Journal of Political Philosophy Las Torres de Lucca; Number 3 (July-December) : 35-72 http://www.lastorresdelucca.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=116:contra-davidson-en-torno-a-la-falsificaci%C3%B3n-segundo-asalto&Itemid=24&lang=en&Itemid=23

anti Selgin and White: Bagus, Philipp, David Howden and Walter E. Block. 2013. “Deposits, Loans and Banking: Clarifying the Debate,” American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Volume 72, Issue 3, pages 627–644, July; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajes.12023/abstract; http://bastiat.mises.org/2013/07/fractional-reserve-banking-paper/

On Aug 17, 2014, at 15:11, “Walter Block” wrote:
Dear Sean:
I’m gonna blog this, see below. Shall I use your name or do this anonymously?
Best regards,
Walter
If it moves, privatize it; if it doesn’t move, privatize it. Since everything either moves or doesn’t move, privatize everything.
Dear Walter,

Yes, it’s fine to include my name. I’m happy to see that you included links to the debates you mentioned because I meant to request that, but forgot. I had a feeling Gary North was going to be on your list somewhere; I watched that debate and he’s definitely a tough cookie!

Thanks again for your time,

Sean

Sent from my iPhone

11:02 pm on August 20, 2014
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