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Property, axiom or ethical function?

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lordmetroid Posted: Tue, Mar 4 2008 11:52 AM

This concept called property is elluding me. On one side I belive property is axiomaticly derived from human nature as without property no one could survive for at the moment you eat an apple you are denying everyone else that apple and hence you have total control over the apple, you determine its fate. 

First we define property as: Having total control(to determine its fate).

There seems to be an ethical function with respect on the boundary conditions you define for what would constitutes legitimate use of violence. You get different result of what legitimate property is. If one set the boundary conditions to:

 


1) No violence in any form is acceptable.
Then it follows that you can not have legitimate property in anything. Anyone can take anything. You can not exert control over anything including your body.

2) Violence to defend one's body is acceptable
Then it follows that you have legitimate property in your body. Anyone can take anything from anyone as long as there is no direct physical harm to someone elses body in doing so.

3) Violence to defend what one personally can at any moment is acceptable
Then it follows that you have legitimate property in your body and what is in your immediate area under your influence. Anyone can take anything as long as there is no direct physical harm to someone elses body in doing so and no one in the vicinity objects.

4a) Violence to defend one's body and physical products and services thereof is acceptable
Then it follows that you have legitimate property in your body and you have legitimate property in the products of your labor. No one can exert control over anything someone else has produced without an agreement where property or parts of property is transfered.

4b) Violence to defend one's body and any products and services thereof is acceptable
Then it follows that you have legitimate property in your body and you have legitimate property in the products of your labor. No one can exert control over anything someone else has produced without an agreement where property or parts of property is transfered. Including property which is reproducable ad infinitum such as immaterial property.

5) Violence to defend one's life is acceptable
Then it follows that you have legitimate property in your body and you have legitimate property in what is necessary for your survival such as for example food, shelter and healthcare when needed. Anyone can take anything as long as there is no direct physical harm to someone else body in doing so except for ones continued survival.

6) Violence to defend one's psychological-self is acceptable
Then it follows that you have legitimate property in your body and you have legitimate property in anything you percieve as yours.

These boundary conditions of what constitutes legitimate use of defensive violence are just a few examples. There are of course other boundary conditions one can set to derive other definitions of what is legitimate property is.

In a civilization, we know that people have different viewpoints of what is legitimate property some even say that property is not a valid concept. Everyone seems to be correct all at the same time. Sooner or later it all comes down to defensive violence when someone else does not recognize your claim. Having title to more property than what you can posses at any moment demands for hired protection services as having total control over that which you do no have constant oversight is impossible without aid. In a sense the law of the jungle rules our "civilized" world whether we like it or not.

The society currently existing around the globe with involuntary monopolistic so called protection(all who isn't intellectually dishonest know that they aren't really protecting your claims) leaves much to desire. From my understanding an increasingly amount of people are becomming unsatisfied with the states' ons size fits all defintions of property. If we reform the society to become more civilized and rely on voluntary contracts with agencies of choice for protection of your deerly held view of what constitutes property.

First of all is property axiomatic?
Would it be a society of more or less strife?
what is your opinion on the social structure of a society that contains different defintion of property?

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pauled replied on Tue, Mar 4 2008 1:57 PM

lordmetroid:
First of all is property axiomatic?
Would it be a society of more or less strife?
what is your opinion on the social structure of a society that contains different defintion of property?

Property is axiomatic in the same way that the validity of logic, reason, truth, or peace and prosperity is considered the bedrock of all human action. All of these things are presupposed by humans, or at least, are all demonstrated as such in the act of argumentation. Just as we have the action axiom, we have the a priori of argumentation. Just as one cannot attempt to cast logic into doubt, without first implicitly committing to logic, one cannot dispute property and homesteading for the same reason. Therefore, the two are indisputably true and valid.

 

Naturally people value peace and cooperation, as i mentioned above these things are also presupposed in argumentation. The cooperative pursuit of the truth via the exchange of truth propositions cannot occur without peace and a mutual commitment to physical independence - a right to exclusive ownership in one's self - between participants in dialogue. At least during the argumentation.

 

So private property, being presupposed in argumentation because it is the one and only means of allowing individuals an intersubjective means of ascertaining who has better claim to scarce and valuable resources, will naturally allow for conflict avoidance and less social strife.

 

Socialist societies that believe property should be owned by the state - by everyone and by no one, simultaneously - result in chaos, poverty and starvation, injustice and oppression. In contrast, libertarian societies that believe in the institution of private property, the homesteading principle and the right to voluntary contract with other private property owners, result in optimum peace, justice, order and prosperity.

 

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Maybe this will help (read from page 52.)

 

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lordmetroid:
On one side I belive property is axiomaticly derived from human nature as without property no one could survive for at the moment you eat an apple you are denying everyone else that apple and hence you have total control over the apple, you determine its fate. 
 

I don't understand this "axiomatically derived" business. What does it mean? You appear to be using the word 'axiomatic' in a non-standard way.

Property rights are not axiomatic. They follow as a conclusion from a long chain of reasoning from human nature.

Yours in liberty,
Geoffrey Allan Plauché, Ph.D.
Adjunct Instructor, Buena Vista University
Webmaster, LibertarianStandard.com
Founder / Executive Editor, Prometheusreview.com

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Solomon replied on Wed, Mar 5 2008 8:42 AM

To revise your definition, property is that which an individual has an ethical right to control.  Thus property is indeed a function of ethics.

Likewise violence is defined as controlling that which one does not have an ethical right to control (if you own a thing or have the owner's consent you have the right to control it).  From this the objections you raise make no sense.

 

I assume that when you ask "is property axiomatic?" you mean whether, given an individual, the existence of property is axiomatic.  In my estimation the answer is no.  Rather it is predicated on apriori verities (see Rothbard's "Justice and Property Rights").

My only misgiving is in that Rothbard's reductio ad absurdem argument is lacking in rigor, viz. that an individual is the only person who can control himself does not imply he has a right to do so (even though it's pragmatically necessary).

Diminishing Marginal Utility - IT'S THE LAW!

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Solomon:
My only misgiving is in that Rothbard's reductio ad absurdem argument is lacking in rigor, viz. that an individual is the only person who can control himself does not imply he has a right to do so (even though it's pragmatically necessary).
 

Indeed. This is a problem with all libertarian theories of ethics that rely upon self-ownership as their ultimate prescriptive premiss: they either take self-ownership as an axiom, which it isn't, or they make a non sequitur leap from control (an 'is') to ownership (a norm, or an 'ought'). This is one of the problems, but far from the only one, with Hoppe's AE as well.

Yours in liberty,
Geoffrey Allan Plauché, Ph.D.
Adjunct Instructor, Buena Vista University
Webmaster, LibertarianStandard.com
Founder / Executive Editor, Prometheusreview.com

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pauled replied on Wed, Mar 5 2008 12:18 PM

Solomon:
it [property] is predicated on apriori verities

On what basis do you hold this? Faith? You see the contradiction in that. If you believe something to be true a priori, it's handy to be able to explain why. Have you studied Hans Hoppe's Argumentation Ethics? Rothbard said it made his defense of rights appear almost wimpy in comparison.

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TomG replied on Wed, Mar 5 2008 1:13 PM

fascinating topic, and at the very heart of economics' assumptions and theories of property rights!

I think what's been meant by 'axiomatic' (but correct me if I'm wrong) is something to the effect that the sense of ownership (ie. possession of property) is innate to our human faculties, and only limited by feasibility of its acknowledgement in the spatial-temporal domain outside Man's mind (which is why nomadic tribes didn't claim land, since it became necessary that they move - making such ownership absurd to them; contrariwise also why people have been given certificates in recent decades giving them ownership - chuckles permitted - in tracts of the moon).  Cheers.

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