Lez affair economics and formal cooperation
January 1, 2013 § 12 Comments
I’ve noted before that the language used by libertines about the government “allowing” various contracts (like so-called “gay marriage”) is inherently dishonest language, because the enforcement of contracts is not a passivity of government but an activity of government. Specific terms in a contract cannot be enforced without the enforcer of the contract intending those specific terms. If the enforcer of the contract intends the terms of the contract he is formally cooperating with that contract.
It follows, then, that if a contract has intrinsically immoral terms – say it charges usury for money lent or asserts that two homosexuals are married – that the government officials who enforce it, and indeed anyone and everyone who intends that its intrinsically immoral terms be enforced and acts in any way toward assisting in that end, including even merely advocation by speech, commits formal cooperation with evil.
So the notion that people should be “allowed” to enter into contracts as long as they do so by mutual consent, independent of whether the contract terms are morally acceptable, is a bit problematic.
 It is possible in many cases for the enforcer to treat various terms of a contract as severable. In such a case the morally right course of action could be to enforce the morally just terms and treat the unjust terms as null and void. In a contract for usury this might mean (depending on the particulars) enforcing return of principal but not enforcing payment of interest.