dezembro 28, 2011

dezembro 27, 2011

Identidade e anonimato

"Opponents of online anonymity often repeat the platitude that “real name” identification promotes civility. While that may be true, it is often at the expense of free expression. Not only does anonymity enable dissidents in oppressive regimes, but it also helps the small-town kid experimenting with his sexuality or the abuse survivor starting a new life.

Internet intermediaries offer tools that allow users to maintain civility without sacrificing anonymity. On social networks, users can moderate offensive comments or block users who are harassing them. Newspapers can institute systems for flagging inappropriate comments.

Concerns about cyber-bullying and other online crimes shouldn’t be dismissed, but law enforcement already has tools to identify anonymous criminals. [...] We should not be willing to sacrifice free expression for the possibility of civility, especially not when there are more effective alternatives." Eva Galperin, Jillian C. York @ DeepLinks

dezembro 22, 2011

Selecção Natural

Uma citação de Richard Dawkins retirada do livro "The God Delusion" que resume o essencial da selecção natural, do ponto de vista genético:

In its most general form, natural selection must choose between alternative replicators. A replicator is a piece of coded information that makes exact copies of itself, along with occasional inexact copies or 'mutations'. The point about this is the Darwinian one. Those varieties of replicator that happen to be good at getting copied become more numerous at the expense of alternative replicators that are bad at getting copied. That, at its most rudimentary, is natural selection. The archetypal replicator is a gene, a stretch of DNA that is duplicated, nearly always with extreme accuracy, through an indefinite number of generations. [...] In the world of genes, the occasional flaws in replication (mutations) see to it that the gene pool contains alternative variants of any given gene - 'alleles' - which may therefore be seen as competing with each other. Competing for what? For the particular chromosomal slot or 'locus' that belongs to that set of alleles. And how do they compete? Not by direct molecule-to-molecule combat but by proxy. The proxies are their 'phenotypic traits' - things like length or fur colour: manifestations of genes fleshed out as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry or behaviour. A gene's fate is normally bound up with the bodies in which it successively sits. To the extent that it influences those bodies, it affects its own chances of surviving in the gene pool. As the generations go by, genes increase or decrease in frequency in the gene pool by virtue of their phenotypic proxies.


For didactic purposes, I treated genes as though they were isolated units, acting independently. But of course they are not independent of one another, and this fact shows itself in two ways .First, genes are linearly strung along chromosomes, and so tend to travel through generations in the company of particular other genes that occupy neighbouring chromosomal loci. [...] The other respect in which genes are not independent [...] concerns embryology which - the fact is often mis-understood - is completely distinct from genetics. Bodies are not jigsawed together as mosaics of phenotypic pieces, each one contributed by a different gene. There is no one-to-one mapping between genes and units of anatomy or behaviour. Genes 'collaborate' with hundreds of other genes in programming the developmental processes that culminate in a body, in the same kind of way as the words of a recipe collaborate in a cookery process that culminates in a dish. It is not the case that each word of the recipe corresponds to a different morsel of the dish. Genes, then, co-operate in cartels to build bodies, and that is one of the important principles of embryology. It is tempting to say that natural selection favours cartels of genes in a kind of group selection between alternative cartels. That is confusion. What really happens is that the other genes of the gene pool constitute a major part of the environment in which each gene is selected versus its alleles. Because each is selected to be successful in the presence of the others - which are also being selected in a similar way - cartels of co-operating genes emerge.


Different kinds of gene cartel emerge in different gene pools. Carnivore gene pools have genes that program prey-detecting sense organs, prey-catching claws, carnassial teeth, meat-digesting enzymes and many other genes, all fine-tuned to co-operate with each other. At the same time, in herbivore gene pools, different sets of mutually compatible genes are favoured for their co-operation with each other. We are familiar with the idea that a gene is favoured for the compatibility of its phenotype with the external environment of the species: desert, woodland or whatever it is. The point I am now making is that it is also favoured for its compatibility with the other genes of its particular gene pool. A carnivore gene would not survive in a herbivore gene pool, and vice versa. In the long gene's-eye-view, the gene pool of the species - the set of genes that are shuffled and reshuffled by sexual reproduction - constitutes the genetic environment in which each gene is selected for its capacity to co-operate.

dezembro 19, 2011

Limitações da Lei (parte III)

[W]hile unjust laws and changes in law may be legal or valid by virtue of both acceptance and preexisting rules of change, legitimacy may be lost or diminished by an unjust change of law that lessens the people's ability to change the law in the future. In this sense the people's acceptance is a source of authority with continuing omnipotence both descriptively and normatively. Descriptively, the people and the laws are powerless to limit irrevocably the power of acceptance to validate law. Normatively, an unjust legal impediment to the people's continuing power to change law weakens the legitimacy of the system of law to that extent. [pg.105]


Frederic Coudert argues that the danger of an unwritten constitution is abuse of power by an ineffectively limited government, that the dangers of a written constitution are rigidity and violence triggered by slow and difficult change, and that our system of judicial amendment allows us to escape both dangers. C.P. Patterson believes the power of judicial amendment does not provide the best of both worlds, as Coudert argued, but gives the Supreme Court "the same relation to our Constitution that the English Parliament has to the English Constitution. [pg.200]


One might argue that actual legal systems depend on, or inevitably embrace, at least a few principles of "natural law" or morality, and that the latter are absolutely immutable. For example, one might argue that not even revolution can change the rule that the people have a right to revolt, that promises should be kept, that self-defense excuses homicide, and so on. [nt.1, sec.8]

Peter Suber - The Paradox of Self-Amendment (1990)

dezembro 16, 2011

Limitações da Lei (parte II)

I am intrigued by the idea that the manifestation of consent sufficient to adopt a constitution in the first place is the most that can be expected in order to provide continuing authority to that constitution. This means that if amendment is more difficult than the original ratification, then the constitution has lost some degree of authority or legitimacy. The authority of a constitution over generations of citizens who did not ratify it would diminish roughly to the extent that the difficulty they face in amendment exceeds the difficulty of the original ratification. For such citizens, legitimate amendment would be more difficult than a revolution or discontinuity that would establish a new constitution with equal or greater legitimacy than their ancestors had in adopting the old one. If amendment becomes impossible after the first generation, because there is no AC or because courts or tyrants invalidate all attempts under it, then authority under the consent theory would drop to about zero plus any surcharge which citizens accord to rules of law, qua rules of law, before deciding to disobey.


One of the most important distinctions relating to the paradox of self-amendment and the paradox of omnipotence is borrowed from Hart's discussion of the omnipotent sovereign. An omnipotent parliament, he says, may limit its power to make law, without paradox, if its omnipotence is "self-embracing", and may not do so, at least without paradox, if its omnipotence is "continuing". Self-embracing omnipotence is unlimited power to make law, including power to affect that power. It may be used against itself and lost or limited irremediably. Continuing omnipotence is unlimited power to make law, but not including power to limit that power, thereby insuring that the omnipotence of the entity continues. Self-embracing omnipotence is unlimited but limitable power; continuing omnipotence is limited only to insure that it is (otherwise) illimitable. Self-embracing omnipotence is the power to make law on every subject, and therefore includes laws that diminish this power irremediably, whereas continuing omnipotence is the power to make law at every moment, and therefore excludes laws inconsistent with this very continuity.


Beings of continuing omnipotence are doomed to life, power, and even doomed to freedom, while beings of self-embracing omnipotence are free to resign, abdicate, and self-destruct. Pliny the Elder said mortals were freer than the gods because mortals could commit suicide. He obviously thought that divine freedom was continuing, and that continuing freedom was inferior to self-embracing freedom. [...] When John Stuart Mill said, "[i]t is not freedom to be allowed to alienate [one's] freedom," he was defining freedom to be a continuing power, and his disagreement with those who would permit people to sell themselves into slavery, become drug addicts, or otherwise freely choose unfreedom, is not so much on the desirability of these acts as on the logic of self-application.

The distinction is very useful, and by extension we may speak of self-embracing and continuing powers to amend. Self-embracing amendment power may amend, limit, or repeal itself, irremediably, while continuing amendment power may not apply to itself, at least to diminish itself irrevocably.

Continuing omnipotence and amendment power are not maximally omnipotent, for there is one family of things they cannot do, namely, limit themselves, violate their immutable limitation and continuity, bind themselves for the future, and so on. But this should not lead us to think that continuing omnipotence and amendment power can augment themselves. For the only way to do that is (1) to repeal their limitation and become self-embracing, or (2) to become capable of repealing their limitation, which is already to be self-embracing. But these would contradict their continuing character and are impermissible for them. That is why this is the paradox of self-amendment, not merely the paradox of self-limitation. Because continuing omnipotence and amendment power can only affect themselves in ways that neither limit nor augment themselves irrevocably, they are restricted to relatively trivial acts of self-amendment. For example, an AC of continuing omnipotence could rearrange and renumber the articles of the constitution, including itself, without affecting the extent of its power.

While continuing omnipotence cannot become self-embracing, the converse is not true. Self-embracing omnipotence can become continuing omnipotence and may even become "partipotence" or of merely finite power.

Peter Suber - The Paradox of Self-Amendment (1990)

dezembro 12, 2011

Limitações da Lei (parte I)

Central to many theories of democracy is the view that law is legitimate only when endorsed by the consent of the governed. If this is not to be a hollow slogan, we must have some idea of where to look for the consent, or dissent, of the people to their form of government. One of the most important and indicative manifestations of consent is the people's willingness to use the mechanisms of legal change, especially the supreme power of constitutional amendment. Non-use of the power might reveal a certain contentment with the unamended constitution, and use of it might reveal a certain contentment with the established channels of change and the current form of the constitution. But clearly the inference from use and non-use of the amendment power to consent is only valid if certain conditions are met. For an onerous or unfair procedure could thwart amendment long after desire for change became widespread and intense. An amending procedure that was undemanding for a privileged class might result in frequent use that did not reflect the desires of the larger public. Hence, use and non-use of the amending power will not really indicate consent unless the procedure is fair and neither too difficult nor too easy. But to change the fairness and difficulty of the amending procedure are virtually the only reasons to amend the amendment clause. Hence, self-amendment will almost always affect our ability to assess the people's consent to be governed by their constitution and the people's power to alter legal conditions to meet their consent.


Our Lockean ears resonate with the proposition that the people are sovereign and that they are bound to obey their laws by contract principles. Yet the paradox of omnipotence arises in another form if the first generation of sovereign people can bind its successors. The adoption of a constitution with an amendment clause [AC] is a revocable act, because the AC permits piecemeal change and wholesale replacement. As long as the establishment of the constitution is revocable by later generations, and the method of amendment is fair, then the first generation is not oppressively binding its successors. But if the method of amendment is not fair, or is too difficult, then the constitution inherited by future generations does oppress and is partially illegitimate. The Lockean consent theory is strengthened as a normative theory of justice, and protected from the paradox of omnipotence, if we insist that the legitimacy of law requires the continuing consent of the governed, not just the consent of the founding generation. [nt.11,pg.379]

Peter Suber - The Paradox of Self-Amendment (1990)

dezembro 09, 2011


dezembro 08, 2011


O direito à propriedade é visto por John Locke como o direito natural ao seu uso e à sua defesa contra qualquer interferência imoral ou ilegal, sendo modernamente interpretada como uma liberdade negativa(*). Isto implica a existência de uma estrutura que legisle, regule e resolva conflitos relacionados, sendo legitimada, como David Hume argumentou, pela defesa deste importante direito natural. Mas o direito à propriedade actual inclui também a transferência da propriedade para terceiros. Este direito conexo, socialmente relevante, não se encaixa no domínio da não-interferência mas do privilégio, devendo ser, por isso, interpretado como liberdade positiva. A remoção deste privilégio aproximar-nos-ia da antiga noção da terra enquanto domínio público, onde cada pessoa ou família possuía um direito igualitário a uma sua porção e ao fruto do seu trabalho (muito perto, ironicamente, do slogan “a terra a quem a trabalha”). A referida estrutura, legitimada pela responsabilidade de fazer respeitar o direito natural à propriedade, ao aceitar e gerir transferências de propriedade está a aplicar o seu poder coercivo para lá do domínio natural, minando, assim, a sua própria legitimidade. Esta dificuldade é um argumento contra a prioridade máxima e não partilhada do conceito de direito natural, assumida como axioma por muitas das linhagens de pensamento liberal.

(*) Isaiah Berlin propôs a diferenciação entre liberdades negativas, i.e., direitos de não interferência, e liberdades positivas, i.e., direitos a certos benefícios.

dezembro 05, 2011


As convicções são inimigos mais perigosos da verdade do que as mentiras -- Friedrich Nietzsche

dezembro 01, 2011


Vejamos uma citação do livro de Bertrand de Jouvenel, The Ethics of Redistribution (1952), sobre a questão da distribuição de rendimentos:
Our examination of the redistributionist ideal in theory and practice has led us gradually away from our initial contrast between rich and poor toward quite another contrast - that between individuals on the one hand, and the State and minor corporate bodies on the other.

Pure redistribution would merely transfer income from the richer to the poorer. This could conceivably be achieved by a simple reverse-tax or subsidy handed to the recipients of lower incomes from the proceeds of a special tax on higher incomes. But this is not the proce-dure which has prevailed. The State sets up as trustee for the lower-income group and doles out services and benefits. In order to avoid the creation of a "protected class," a discrimination fatal to political equality, the tendency has been to extend the benefits and services upward to all members of society, to cheapen food and rents for the rich as well as the poor, to assist the well-to-do in illness equally with the needy. The cost of such services has soared in England [seguem estatísticas para a Inglaterra de 1950]. In fact, the public authorities, so that they may give to all, must take from all. And from the study made by the E.C.A. mission to the United Kingdom, it appears that lower-income families taken as a whole pay more into the exchequer than they draw from it.
No caso de Portugal actual, o peso recai principalmente na classe média. Vejamos um comentário [1] de Francisco Rocha Antunes à seguinte nota do Ministério das Finanças [2] sobre o IRS de 2006:
6. Quadro 37 – Total das Declarações com IRS Liquidado por Escalões de Rendimento Número de Agregados
O total de agregados com IRS Liquidado corresponde a cerca de 46% do total de agregados com rendimento bruto declarado. Daquele total de agregados, cerca de 28% apresentam rendimentos brutos até 13.500 Euros, enquanto que 70% declararam rendimentos brutos superiores àquele montante mas inferiores a 100.000 Euros.
7. Quadro 40 – IRS por Escalões de Rendimento Bruto Valores Liquidados
Da conjugação dos quadros 31, 37 e 40 retiram-se as seguintes conclusões:
- Para mais de metade dos agregados não é apurado qualquer valor de IRS;
- Para os agregados com IRS Liquidado:
- Com rendimento bruto até 13.500€ (28%), o montante de imposto é de apenas 2,5% do valor total do IRS Liquidado em 2006;
- Com rendimento bruto entre 13.500€ e 100.000€ (70%), o montante de imposto é de 70,4% do valor total do IRS Liquidado em 2006;
- Com rendimento bruto superior a 100.000€, (2%), o montante de imposto é de 27,1% do valor total do IRS Liquidado em 2006.

Eu sei que esta coisa dos números assusta muita gente mas tem a vantagem de ser uma descrição, não uma opinião. Resumindo: de 4.371.037 agregados familiares identificados pelas Finanças em 2006, 2.360.360 não pagaram nada de IRS. Nada é mesmo isso, zero. O Estado arrecadou nesse ano 7.671.000.000 € de IRS. Do total de 2.010.677 agregados que de facto pagaram IRS, 562.990 tiveram um rendimento anual bruto até 13.500€ e pagaram 2,5 % do valor do IRS liquidado, ou seja, 340€ de IRS efectivamente entregue por agregado. No escalão dos agregados que tiveram um rendimento bruto entre 13.500€ e os 100.000€ estavam 1.407.474 famílias que pagaram, em média, 3.836€ de IRS por ano cada uma. Por fim, com um rendimento bruto superior a 100.000€, estiveram 40.213 famílias que pagaram em média, cada uma, 51.695€ de IRS nesse ano.

É por isto que não me parece que a solução seja aumentar os impostos aos que ganham mais. A redistribuição do rendimento já é maciça. [Francisco Rocha Antunes, Junho de 2009]
Mas a verdade é que continua a aumentar. Se compararmos a participação dos agregados familiares a partir de 40k€/ano (i.e., a partir de três mil euros/mês/família de rendimento bruto), em 2005 era de 69.4% do IRS colectado (para 17% dos agregados), em 2006 era 70.8% (18.4% dos agregados), em 2007 era 71.9% (19.1%), em 2008 era 73% (20.4%), subindo para os 74% em 2009 (21.4%). Ficamos à espera dos dados de 2010 e 2011 para verificar se esta tendência se mantém.


IRS 2006-2008 [cf. quadros 37 & 40]
IRS 2007-2009 [idem]