What Richard Carrier Really Thinks

So, mercifully April Fool’s Day is over. And as you probably figured out, I lied in my post about Richard Carrier being a close friend of mine and running for Congress as an extreme libertarian who considers it an “enslavement” of the American people when they are taxed for the sake of clean air, supports legalizing dog fighting, wants to abolish public police and fire services, advocates for establishing private militias for better self-defense, and wants private citizens to excise a toll from each other when they walk on each other’s sidewalks.

The truth is we are not actually close friends. I was trying to sound cooler than I am.

I admit I had a lot of fun devising a post attributing to Richard Carrier positions (some of which were outright crazy) which he didn’t really hold by quote mining actual things he has written. I enjoyed the exercise in trying to craft something mildly plausible sounding and I liked the abstract idea of successfully fooling people. But I hate actually fooling people. I’m kind of a softie in this regard. I feel too much sympathy for embarrassed people unless they’re New York Yankees or conservative Republicans caught with Rent boys.

Usually in real life when I tease someone with a phony claim to give them a jolt, the words “just kidding” are off my tongue before they have more than 2 seconds to process it and begin to believe it. Don’t get me wrong, I love to tease people, but something about lying, even in fun, makes me feel like I’m using force on them and being unfair with them. So while yesterday I would have an initial rush of feeling accomplishment when I successfully would fool someone, I would always immediately thereafter wince and wish they had not posted anything publicly believing the falsehood.

Plus, I hoped not to do damage to Richard’s reputation! And, so, quickly to remedy that, let me recommend in no unequivocal terms, his posts titled “Factual Politics” for an incredibly incisive and thorough philosophical takedown on anarchistic and fiscal libertarian views on a wide range of subjects. I don’t just say this to make amends and to set the record straight, this series of posts is something every anarchist and every fiscal libertarian should read and grapple with. And every one who opposes either anarchist or fiscal libertarian positions should master the arguments for future debate and for thinking in coherent philosophical terms about their own more pro-social views. The series is long but well-worth reading in full:

Factual Politics (1)

Factual Politics (2)

Factual Politics (3) (mistitled as #4)

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ben.schuldt Ben Schuldt

    My thoughts are that Christian apologist David Wood should be proud given he pioneered the misrepresenting Richard Carrier’s views years ago.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      I stand on the shoulders of a dwarf.

    • Enkidum

      Daniel – you win the internets for that one.

  • John Morales


    Such conformance, when you’re uncomfortable with it? :|


    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      I didn’t realize I’d feel so uncomfortable until afterwards. Preparing I just was thinking about how to fool people as my task. Then when it started, I was like, “yay!—oh, wait, that’s no fun.”

  • Patrick

    It’s not mislabeled. Part 1 is just the introduction, you missed part 3 in your links.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Ah. Fixed. Thanks.

  • http://indiscriminatedust.blogspot.com Philboyd

    Daniel, I’m uncomfortable with many of Carrier’s arguments in those posts you linked to, even if I agree with many of his conclusions. He seems rather too happy about the necessary coercion involved in a state – and, in fact, seems to oscillate between claiming that the coercion is totally worth it and claiming that there is no coercion at all.

    Here’s one example of the kind of thing I worry about:

    “When you use our resources without paying for them (such as benefiting from our maintenance of peace and lawfulness and roads and clean air and water and soil and so on), you have initiated force against us. We therefore have the right to retaliate and take our stuff back.”

    Is this right? If I set up an air purifier in my backyard that purifies my neighbours’ air as well as mine, do I have the right to demand money from them? While Carrier’s conclusion might be correct, the way he gets there is contrary to my ethical intuitions.

  • Timid Atheist

    I feel the same way about lying but that’s mainly because lying was like breathing for me when I was in grade school. I honestly can’t tell you why I lied so much and so often, but I would make up the most outlandish tales. As I got older, however, I found that I didn’t like the look on people’s faces when they found out I was lying, so once high school loomed I gave up on the lying, though I still bend the rules on occasion for polite society. “Oh no, I’m busy that day, sorry!” Busy playing video games that is.

  • http://Lapideos Ryan Dyne


    Yesterday was my first foray into this corner of FTBs, so I had no knowledge of either the author or his subject.

    I despise AFD, as you might imagine; I take things seriously, as you have now seen.

    I have never understood some people’s penchant for AFD. I have always taken it as just small minds reveling in their one-day-a-year ability to be able to have an effect in the world.

    …but this follow-up post suggests another reason: One feels compelled to craft an AF’s piece – beacuse … well, that’s just what’s done in his circle.

    Each March 31st, I feel like I should just take some potion that will render me unconscious for the whole of the next day.
    (of course, then I would still have to make sure not to read anything written on that day)

    …but then I get into reading the news, the latest self-aggrandizing, anti-american, surrond-himself-with-yes-cronies, thing that our Child President has done..
    ..in the context of my understanding things well enough to see that he is intent on completing the destruction of what’s left of what this country once was..

    ..and suddenly – unbeknownst – I’m into serious mode.

    I appreciated your empathetic moral re-thoughts today.

    I suggest that you consider one of Ayn Rand’s gems: ~”A theory that doesn’t work in practice is not a good theory; it doesn’t work in practice.”~
    (re your “I liked the abstract idea of successfully fooling people. But I hate actually fooling people.” – as an instance of the Theory-Practice dichotomy)
    (here instantiated as failing, in the moment, to pay appropriate attention to the (concrete – ie, in reality) implications of a seemingly fun “abstract idea” if acted upon.)

  • http://www.richardcarrier.info/ Richard Carrier

    Re “Factual Politics (3) (mistitled as #4)”

    Oh, no, it was labeled correctly. You just missed the actual Factual Politics (3), which is here:


    Just FYI. :-)

  • Aspect Sign

    let me recommend in no unequivocal terms, his posts titled “Factual Politics” for an incredibly incisive and thorough philosophical takedown on anarchistic and fiscal libertarian views on a wide range of subjects

    Carrier’s piece is excellent in many regards. I could quibble over some of his arguments but don’t feel compelled to. I do on the other hand have a problem with how it is presented, especially considering his repeated admonitions regarding research and facts.

    Carrier and yourself present this as a refutation of anarchism and libertarianism while the positions and arguments taken by “Benjamin” bear little relation to anarchism. In actuality Carrier’s positions have far more in common with anarchism than those of “Benjamin” as anarchist theory and practice is anchored in both democracy and the social contract, generally being opposed as being too radically democratic and reliant on the social contract sans coercion.

    Benjamin quite possibly does present himself as anarchist as his positions are those of self described anarcho-capitalism a generally incoherent branch of extreme free market libertarianism that has been referring to themselves as anarchist over the last decade or so while their positions are opposed to and bear no continuity to anarchist thought.

    Interestingly the label libertarian historically in the US (prior to the 1960′s) and currently in the rest of the world refers not to radical capitalism but to anarchism and sometimes communism. In both cases the labels where appropriated under the misapprehension that anarchism simply refers to being anti-government while anarchisms stance is anti-coercion and pro social responsibility. That does entail rejecting coercive government but equally it oppose market capitalism and property rights (as applies to the land we share not the watch in your pocket).

    Anarchism promotes common possession of resources, consensual democratic social management for social good rather than personal gain, individual liberty and social responsibility. I just find it bizarre that a far right capitalist movement would take the name of the furthest left of left wing ideologies but it has.

    While I am sure Carrier would take a position opposed to anarchism, many of the arguments and analysis he makes in this piece are in fact identical in substance to those found within anarchist thought.

    Anyone interested the actual positions and arguments found within anarchism, I would recommend “An Anarchist Faq” which is a comprehensive treatment broken down into easily referenced and browsed sections. It can be found online at

  • eric

    I think FtB did an overall good job with their April Fool’s Day shenanigans. Individually, the entries were pretty deadpan, but you only had to click through 2-3 bloggers to figure out what was going on.

    Then again, I tend to think satire and the like is a somewhat lost art. IMO people are too prickly nowadays. I don’t mind being deceived once in a while, especially if the cost of never being deceived, ever, is removing satire from normal conversation.

    Anyway, that’s a somewhat long-winded way of saying: don’t feel bad. It was a well-done joke. Kudos to you and the whole FtB crowd for putting together a joke that combined individual entry almost-believability with collective over-the-topness.