I realize this has probably been hashed out, but somebody help me out here:
Given libertarian morality, wouldn't it be perfectly acceptable to obtain ownership of a nuclear weapon if people voluntarily agreed to build one just to have one and not use it? It seems like the risk to society would outweigh the ownership claim by the individual to the nuclear bomb because the only way you could use a nuclear bomb would be to destroy an immense amount of land and people.
Now, before you say, "why would somebody do that?" keep in mind that thought experiments aren't meant to be realisitc. They are meant to uncover flaws in a theory like a reductio ad absurdum. So whether or not this would even be likely is beside the point. The point is that, to me at least, it seems reasonable to outlaw the building of nuclear bombs or people purchasing tanks and missles due to the reasonable cause that these people would use it for public harm and not for self-defense. So while prohibition of the obtaining of these items would technically violate property, this would be a case where it seems justifiable to violate property rights.
PS: Note, I'm not talking about a defense agency or anything like that, but a regular person who has a nuke in their basement.
Lots of groups of people already have nuclear weapons, not sure what the difference would be.
Well I suppose there is a difference because states have an incentive to use nuclear devices as defensive weapons against other states. They don't have an incentive to use them against random citizens sadistically (sans Harry Truman, but that's because the US was the only nuclear power), but a mad criminal could certainly gain possession of one in a crowded city and then boss others around while threatening to blow up the city if they don't follow his demands. Obviously that would be against libertarian principles, but this question is asking how to prevent such a scenario from even occurring.
I did a search on Mises on this topic, and I found a good article from Walter Block that mainly echoes my thoughts: http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/theory_gun_control.pdf
Still, what's the difference? States use them to bully other states and people, etc.
I think the best way to look at these externality issues is that there would have to be something obvious and manifest in our custom to allow us to'decentralize" nuclear bombs. Custom preceedes "ideal" type of situations. Remember the market is a process, not a "thing".
It might be easier to think along the lines of how much deregulating and decentralizing can be done to show the market is the "engine of civilization", and what defines mankind, peace, wealth, society and maybe even psychology and custom... and that externalities, while perhaps real in a way, are kind of a weird way to look at things.
"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann
"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence" - GLS Shackle
Since the invention of the nuclear bomb I've pretty much decided that humanity is utterly fucked. Eventually, someone will be stupid enough to use it.
Nah, if nothing else, it is easier cheaper and more destructive to wreak havoc with biological/chemical warfare...so that should be a good indicator there is nothing special to worry about with nukes. To use a Karl Marx phrase, it does not appear to be the "tendency of things", we are no Hobbesian "war of all against all" species by our nature...we are social. Neither ants or chimps have found a way to fuck themselves over royally, I don't see what makes us any better or worse than them as a biological taxonomy in that regard.
Also by just about any standard you use, since 1946: We are more numerous, kill less per capita, make more money, and have more peace than any previous centuries - so score one for Western Bourgoise culture in that regard I guess
I highly recommend the thread Conza linked up there ^^. It's a very intelligent discussion, and I think it has made up my mind, though there are a lot of good points on both sides.
The way I see it now (and sorry Conza, but your link convinced me of the opposite of your position):
A gun is legal. Pointing it at a random person is illegal. Why? Pointing it is a threat. What constitutes a threat? A reasonable realistic 3D scenario which endangers others.
Thus, pointing a gun at the sky and shooting is generally not a threat. Hence, the use of a gun is inherently not illegitimate.
Now consider nuclear weapons. What is a reasonable realistic 3D scenario which would constitute a threat? Anything. There is no “pointing” of nuclear weapons.
If you are in the middle of a mall with a gun and you want to threaten others you can 1) whip it out and point it 2) Yell “I will kill you all”
We all know scenario 2 is illegal anyway.
Scenario 1: How would this apply with nuclear weapons? It can’t. There is no whipping out of a nuclear weapon. Because with guns, to create a threat you aim. With nuclear weapons, there is no aiming.
The reasonable 3D idea of a threat flies out of the window with nuclear weapons, because their existence is a threat due to their nature of not being able to be contained. It’s like carrying a gun sphere, where there is a gun pointing out at every direction. By carrying it around in public, you are inherently aiming at everyone you walk by.
Thus, the existence of a nuclear weapon such that people involuntarily live within its blast radius is illegal. This means that you can own nuclear weapons on Mars if you’d like, or on the Moon, or in Australia if you own all of it. Yet as soon as you bring it within blast radius of people, it becomes a threat and is illegal.
The problem is that I am still unsure about how to handle the fallout part of the story.
Well, can't say that I'm not surprised.
"The problem is that I am still unsure about how to handle the fallout part of the story."
Like air pollution.
That you are or that you aren't?
Eric080: Given libertarian morality, wouldn't it be perfectly acceptable to obtain ownership of a nuclear weapon if people voluntarily agreed to build one just to have one and not use it?
However, forget about libertarian morality and assume that the construction takes place. Whether it is deemd immoral or not, some people will agree and others will disagree. It is like the abortion issue. Neighbors who believe they are under threat are free to negotiate a settlement and or make a pre-emptive strike in self-defense against their perceived agressor. That holds true whether people agree or disagree and whether Libertarian Morality(tm) says it is right or wrong. I highly doubt that people will hold to rules written in the Libertarian Scriptures if they feel threatened with mass destruction. Either way, the libertarian solution likely develops -- i.e., people will likely feel threatened and thus, what will play out is the same as if the answer to your question is No which is actually what most people, libertarian or not, would want to happen, myself included.
Discussing the morality of the private construction of a nuclear bomb is sooooooo absurd that we may as well discuss the morality of the private construction of an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator to blow up the planet. It could happen but without government subsidy in that ridiculously unmarketable industry, it is insane for a sentient being to fear it ever occuring.
We have to accept that some fancy things that exist today under statism will probably not exist in AnCapistan whether those things are morally correct to own or not. So, to the question in the OP, I say libertarians would be wise to simply agree that it would be morally correct to own nukes and then laugh at the actualization of that crazy fear. Put the nay-sayers on the defensive and tell them they are crazy to fear a private individual building nukes those nukes exist today ONLY through government subsidy. There is no market for selling those things if governments do not exist!
Regardless, back the nay-sayers in the corner and make them say: "Everybody around them will stand back and just watch this happen. Nobody will be free to launch a pre-emptive strike. Therefore, the libertarian morality on private nuclear bombs is bad." Their stance is even more absurd than the fear of this situation arising.
Plus, nuclear arms are incredibly expensive to maintain. Without the maintenance, they degrade to an inactive hunk of hardware quickly.
There is in some some sense a "common sense" game theory type element to the whole thing, due to high transaction cost that is perhaps in a way "beyond" economics (is the after the comma proposition phrase right, if not can anyone tell me what I mean?).
in the end, in your own preference wouldn't you agree that
1 man with the power over a Nuclear warhead is worse than 3 men, which are both better than 1,000,000 owning nuclear weapons...all other things being equal?