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Gambling Questions for Fellow Rothbardians?

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 6:17 PM

 

"I hereby pledge my service to act in your movie, to be paid on January 1, 2012," is the same as "I hereby transfer title to $10 to you, to be paid on January 1, 2012"  If you agree with Rothbard that the former contract cannot be enforced, then you must agree on the latter.
 
But that is not a correct analogy. I believe Rothbard contrasts this "empty promise" with a conditional transfer of title (performance bond): "I hereby transfer title to $1000 to you on condition that I do not act in your movie." Now, this is enforceable. It's not just a promise to act in the movie, it's a transfer of title to the performance money which is conditional upon failure to act in the movie. A performance bond is transfer of title conditional upon performance of the action in question. The same could be done for marriage or anything you might want.
 
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Clayton, really? How could one ignore footnote 44 which I just cited? Rothbard is in agreement with me.

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Rothbard defines contract as "an agreed-upon exchange between two persons of two goods*, present or future"

Exactly. A title is just a "good-subsitute" and exchanging the title is one and the same as exchanging the good itself. If I give you the title to my car, I have given you my car, even if the car is in impound or in a different state.
Not exactly. There has to be two goods. Where I decide to contract to give you $10, the contract cannot be enforced because I have not frauded you out of a good (in contrast to if you gave me $5 in exhange for a title to $10 a year from now and I didn't pay). That was my point.
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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 6:30 PM

Not exactly. There has to be two goods. Where I decide to contract to give you $10, the contract cannot be enforced because I have not frauded you out of a good (in contrast to if you gave me $5 in exhange for a title to $10 a year from now and I didn't pay). That was my point.

You're equivocating on "transfer" versus "exchange." Either one can be contractual. Transfer is unilateral, exchange is bilateral. I see no defining distinction.

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1) "I hereby promise to pay you $10 one second after you hand give me that apple"

Congratulations! You finally get the simple point! If we (you and I) make a contract so that I must give you $10 in exchange for an apple, and I don't give you $10, then that can indeed be enforced. Because I have implicitly stolen from you. 

Now, if I made a contract like this:

"I will buy the apple from you for $10. If I choose not to, then I will still owe you $10"

Then I could not be forced, within the Non-Aggression Axiom, to pay you $10 if I choose not to buy the apple. Even though the flipping contract says so.

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You're equivocating on "transfer" versus "exchange." Either one can be contractual. Transfer is unilateral, exchange is bilateral. I see no defining distinction.

That's why I don't think contracts can necessarily be enforced? The reason this is important is because I have not frauded the person with whom I made the contract to give $50 tomorrow. For what have I stolen? See Rothbard below on the example of the movie actor:

44This is true even if the actor had previously agreed in a contract that he would pay damages. For this is still merely a promise; he has not implicitly seized someone else’s property. The object of an enforcing agency in a free society is not to uphold promise-keeping by force, but to redress any invasions of person and property.

Now, if I agreed to pay you $50 in exchange for a good, and I took the good but didn't give you the $50, then that would be implicit theft.

Be careful of claiming someone else is equivocating when you are doing so yourself!

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 6:39 PM

 

44This is true even if the actor had previously agreed in a contract that he would pay damages. For this is still merely a promise; he has not implicitly seized someone else’s property. The object of an enforcing agency in a free society is not to uphold promise-keeping by force, but to redress any invasions of person and property.

The functional word is my use of "hereby". Go back and read the very first Rothbard quote I gave in this thread. "I promise to pay you $1000 on condition that I fail to act in your movie" is not enforceable because it's a promise to transfer a title in the future. It is not a present transfer of title. But "I hereby transfer title to $1000 to you on condition that I fail to act in your movie" is enforceable because it is a transfer of title in the present. Rothbard specifically says that this kind of "semantics" is not idle hair-splitting and is crucially important. Promises are not enforceable because making promises enforceable is tantamount to legalizing slavery. A conditional transfer of title, on the other hand, is enforceable because, at the time when the holder of the title goes to enforce his property claim, transfer of title has already occurred. In the first case of promising to pay $1000, the movie producer would be claiming "You have to transfer title to me because you promised you would" but in the second case the producer is claiming "You have transferred title to $1000 to me by virtue of not acting in my movie and I am now attempting to recover my property."

Do you yet see the distinction?

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^Rothbard's saying that the movie actor cannot be forced to pay even if it says so in a formal contract to which he agreed. So Rothbard is entirely supporting my argument.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 6:44 PM

Now, if I agreed to pay you $50 in exchange for a good, and I took the good but didn't give you the $50, then that would be implicit theft.

Be careful of claiming someone else is equivocating when you are doing so yourself!

I'm not equivocating and I'm quite sure you have not yet comprehended Rothbard's views on this. I'm more than willing to help you see what he's saying; I wasn't saying you're equivocating as any kind of jab toward you. I just think you're chasing a rabbit-trail with getting hung up on the exchange. The exchange is not what Rothbard is getting at here... what he's getting at is why mere promises are not enforceable. This doesn't mean you can't construct an enforceable, conditional transfer of title. Please, go back and re-read the first quote I put in this thread from Rothbard.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 6:46 PM

^Rothbard's saying that the movie actor cannot be forced to pay even if it says so in a formal contract to which he agreed. So Rothbard is entirely supporting my argument.

Yes, if the contract merely contains a promise to pay. If, however, the contract summarily transfers title on condition of failure to act, then it is just a performance bond and Rothbard definitely views performance bonds as enforceable. I don't have time or inclination to chase up quotes, but I would suggest you google "rothbard performance bond site:mises.org" and do some digging around.

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 "I promise to pay you $1000 on condition that I fail to act in your movie" is not enforceable because it's a promise to transfer a title in the future.

A title is a present promise to pay money in the future, in either case. So no, I don't see the distinction. If the actor says "I hereby transfer title to $1000 to you on condition that I fail to act in your movie," then that is just as unenforceable as the "empty promise." The actor has not frauded his employer out of anything.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 6:53 PM

On the other hand, take the case of a promise to contribute personal services without an advance exchange of property.

What Rothbard is saying here is that a person's labor is not something that can be treated as property because this is tantamount to slavery. Hence, I am not able to make a legally enforceable contract that transfers title to someone to a certain amount of my labor in the future. Only titles to actual property can be exchanged or transferred. However, this doesn't prevent me from making a contract that transfers title to actual property (for example, money) to an employer upon my refusal to perform a certain task or a certain amount of labor.

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OK, honestly, I just need an answer to the following question:

Let's say X gives a "title to $100" to Y, that is to be payed on January 1. If X opts out of paying this "title to $100," then what has he stolen from Y?

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 6:58 PM

To elaborate on this point, imagine I own a company that produces widgets. I sign a contract with you promising to deilver 1,000,000 widgets on January 1, 2012. January 1 comes and I have not produced any widgets. Now, the contract that I made with you cannot possibly be a transfer of title to 1,000,000 widgets since the widgets simply do not exist. There is no such thing as title to non-existent or hypothetical property (except fiat money :-P). Hence, a contract promising to deliver widgets requries a penalty clause that specifies a title transfer to actual property.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:07 PM

Let's say X gives a "title to $100" to Y, that is to be payed on January 1. If X opts out of paying this "title to $100," then what has he stolen from Y?

The title has already been transferred. If X refuses to transfer the property for which title has already been transferred, X is engaging in theft. Let's change the example to make this clearer. I own a car but it's in another state. I put the car up for sale and you call me. We meet and you agree to buy the car sight-unseen and I hand you the title and keys to the car. The car itself (not just the title) is now yours because you hold the title. If the car is stored on my property, then I must either bring the car to you or permit you to enter my property to recover the car because the car is your property. If I refuse to allow you on my property to get the car, then I am engaging in theft. You hold the title so the car is yours. Refusal to turn over the physical property to which the title refers is theft.

Hopefully that clarifies more than it obscures.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:07 PM

Let's say X gives a "title to $100" to Y, that is to be payed on January 1. If X opts out of paying this "title to $100," then what has he stolen from Y?

The title has already been transferred. If X refuses to transfer the property for which title has already been transferred, X is engaging in theft. Let's change the example to make this clearer. I own a car but it's in another state. I put the car up for sale and you call me. We meet and you agree to buy the car sight-unseen and I hand you the title and keys to the car. The car itself (not just the title) is now yours because you hold the title. If the car is stored on my property, then I must either bring the car to you or permit you to enter my property to recover the car because the car is your property. If I refuse to allow you on my property to get the car, then I am engaging in theft. You hold the title so the car is yours. Refusal to turn over the physical property to which the title refers is theft.

Hopefully that clarifies more than it obscures.

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So if the penalty clause states that "I owe them title to $100,000" for not delivering the widgets, then that can be enforced? Really? What have I implicitly stolen from them, hmm? (I think you are misreading Rothbard's concept that there has to be an act of theft for a contract to be enforced).

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Wheylous replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:11 PM

You disregarded my other post, RD.

Please address that and then this:

Congratulations! You finally get the simple point! If we (you and I) make a contract so that I must give you $10 in exchange for an apple, and I don't give you $10, then that can indeed be enforced. Because I have implicitly stolen from you. 

Alright, now imagine a slightly different scenario:

1) "I hereby promise to pay you $10 one second after you provide me with service Q"

Enforceable?

If yes, the final scenario:

1) "I hereby promise to pay you $10 one second after you provide me with service Q, which is you breathing for one second"

There ya go. A good in exchange for a trivial service. Enforceable?

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The title has already been transferred. If X refuses to transfer the property for which title has already been transferred, X is engaging in theft. Let's change the example to make this clearer. I own a car but it's in another state. I put the car up for sale and you call me. We meet and you agree to buy the car sight-unseen and I hand you the title and keys to the car. The car itself (not just the title) is now yours because you hold the title. If the car is stored on my property, then I must either bring the car to you or permit you to enter my property to recover the car because the car is your property. If I refuse to allow you on my property to get the car, then I am engaging in theft. You hold the title so the car is yours. Refusal to turn over the physical property to which the title refers is theft.

The theft was where he stole (frauded) the buyer's money...If he had simply given title to the car (let's say as a gift), without stealing the money, then the title to the car could not be enforced. Because he hasn't stolen anything.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:15 PM

So if the penalty clause states that "I owe them title to $100,000" for not delivering the widgets, then that can be enforced? Really? What have I implicitly stolen from them, hmm? (I think you are misreading Rothbard's concept that there has to be an act of theft for a contract to be enforced).

I think it will help if you imagine the title as a physical piece of paper, possession of which indicates ownership of the property to which the title refers. If I'm holding the title, I own the thing the title refers to. If I hand you the title, then you own it (even if I just gave the title to you for nothing in return).

Now, let's say I have a $100 bill and a title (piece of paper) that refers to that $100 by serial number. If I give you the title, the $100 bill is now yours, even if I am still holding the $100 bill. Whenever you choose to demand that I give up the $100 bill out of my possession, I must comply or else I am stealing from you. In this case I'm not stealing by wrestling the property out of your possession. Rather, I'm stealing by refusing to turn over the property that is already in my possession to you. It's a passive form of theft.

Also, the penalty clause does not say "I owe you title" or "I promise to give you title" rather, it IS a title, it says "This clause is title to $100,000 on condition the 1,000,000 widgets are not delivered on Jan. 1"

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:17 PM

If he had simply given title to the car (let's say as a gift), without stealing the money, then the title to the car could not be enforced. Because he hasn't stolen anything.

No, you're on a rabbit-trail here. Transfers are equally enforceable with exchanges. Please cite chapter and verse where Rothbard says that theft cannot occur where the item which was transferred is a gift or was otherwise exchanged for nothing in return (perhaps on the basis of some unspoken business understanding, etc.)

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:20 PM

I posted this link before:

http://mises.org/resources.aspx?Id=73a08308-9978-4cb7-a7de-26a2b5a5524d

You really need to read that WHOLE link and THEN continue the conversation.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:22 PM

From the above link:

 Have the employers, then, no recourse against the mind changer? Of course they do. They can, if they wish, voluntarily agree to blacklist the errant worker, and refuse to employ him. That is perfectly within their rights in a free society; what is not within their rights is to use violence to prevent him from working voluntarily for someone else. One more recourse would be permissible. Suppose that Smith, when making his agreement for lifelong voluntary obedience to the Jones Corporation, receives in exchange $1,000,000 in payment for these expected future services. Clearly, then, the Jones Corporation had transferred title to the $1,000,000 not absolutely, but conditionallyon his performance of lifelong service. Smith has the absolute right to change his mind, but he no longer has the right to keep the $1,000,000. If he does so, he is a thief of the Jones Corporation’s property; he must, therefore, be forced to return the $1,000,000 plus interest. For, of course, the title to the money was, and remains, alienable.

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:23 PM

Some more:

 

Let us take a seemingly more difficult case. Suppose that a celebrated movie actor agrees to appear at a certain theater at a certain date. For whatever reason, he fails to appear. Should he be forced to appear at that or at some future date? Certainly not, for that would be compulsory slavery. Should he be forced, at least, to recompense the theater owners for the publicity and other expenses incurred by the theater owners in anticipation of his appearance? No again, for his agreement was a mere promise concerning his inalienable will, which he has the right to change at any time. Put another way, since the movie actor has not yet received any of the theater owners’ property, he has committed no theft against the owners (or against anyone else), and therefore he cannot be forced to pay damages. The fact that the theater owners may have made considerable plans and investments on the expectation that the actor would keep the agreement may be unfortunate for the owners, but that is their proper risk. The theater owners should not expect the actor to be forced to pay for their lack of foresight and poor entrepreneurship. The owners pay the penalty for placing too much confidence in the actor. It may be considered more moral to keep promises than to break them, but any coercive enforcement of such a moral code, since it goes beyond the prohibition of theft or assault, is itself an invasion of the property rights of the movie actor and therefore impermissible in the libertarian society.

     Again, of course, if the actor received an advance payment from the theater owners, then his keeping the money while not fulfilling his part of the contract would be an implicit theft against the owners, and therefore the actor must be forced to return the money.

     For utilitarians shocked at the consequences of this doctrine, it should be noted that many, if not all, of the problems could be easily surmounted in the libertarian society by the promisee’s requiring a performance bond of the promissor in the original agreement. In short, if the theater owners wished to avoid the risk of nonappearance, they could refuse to sign the agreement unless the actor agreed to put up a performance bond in case of nonappearance. In that case, the actor, in the course of agreeing to his future appearance, agrees also to transfer a certain sum of money to the theater owners in case he fails to appear. Since money, of course, is alienable, and since such a contract would meet our title-transfer criterion, this would be a perfectly valid and enforceable contract. For what the actor would be saying is: “If I do not appear at Theater X at such and such a date, I hereby transfer as of the date the following sum ___, to the theater owners.” Failure to meet the performance bond will then be an implicit heft of the property of the owners. If, then, the theater owners fail to require a performance bond as part of the agreement, then they must suffer the consequences.

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For utilitarians shocked at the consequences of this doctrine, it should be noted that many, if not all, of the problems could be easily surmounted in the libertarian society by the promisee’s requiring a performance bond of the promissor in the original agreement. In short, if the theater owners wished to avoid the risk of nonappearance, they could refuse to sign the agreement unless the actor agreed to put up a performance bond in case of nonappearance. In that case, the actor, in the course of agreeing to his future appearance, agrees also to transfer a certain sum of money to the theater owners in case he fails to appear. Since money, of course, is alienable, and since such a contract would meet our title-transfer criterion, this would be a perfectly valid and enforceable contract. For what the actor would be saying is: “If I do not appear at Theater X at such and such a date, I hereby transfer as of the date the following sum ___, to the theater owners.” Failure to meet the performance bond will then be an implicit heft of the property of the owners. If, then, the theater owners fail to require a performance bond as part of the agreement, then they must suffer the consequences.

See, I missed out on this info in MES. Damn it. =)

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:35 PM

See, I missed out on this info in MES. Damn it. =)

That's what this forum is for... I may have an MES question for you in the future... I've read EoL but haven't read MES.... :-P

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Wheylous replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:50 PM

What about my scenarios that I describe?

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Clayton replied on Wed, Sep 14 2011 7:52 PM

@Wheylous: Is that directed to me or RD? I don't think Rothbard actually makes a distinction between the enforceability transfers and exchanges (two-way transfer) as RD was thinking. Personally, I see no reason why a transfer should not be enforceable. If I give you the title to my car (even if for nothing in return), the car is yours. If I later refuse to give you the actual car itself, then that should be treated as theft.

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Now, Clayton, if it is just a promise, then it cannot be enforced. The title - yes. I concur with that.

By the way, Rothbard even explcitly states, in the EoL version of the movie actor, that titles can be enforced even when not "two-way."  I was wrong...

 

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Anenome replied on Thu, Sep 15 2011 1:46 AM

RothbardsDisciple:

I was talking to another Libertarian about how contracts cannot always be enforced, if to do so would initiate Aggression.

To break a contract -IS- an indirect intiation of force. If you handed over goods to another, with a contract, and the other broke the contract and walked away with your goods, they have stolen from you indirectly, because had you known they were going to walk away with your goods you would never have willingly handed them over. Such is theft by fraud and bad intentions. It is no less a theft merely because it was done by breaking a contract and not by direct force. It is not direct force, it is indirect force, but it is still the intiation of force. Property the contract-breaker has no moral claim upon has been taken against the will of the other, this is the very definition of initiation of aggression. So, I cannot conceive of any contract in which to seek its enforcement would constitute an initiation of aggression.

RothbardsDisciple:
He then brought up the example of gambling:

"Under this, gambling should be illegal since you promise to pay Amount X depending on Event Y. If Event Y doesn't happen, I don't have to pay you anything... too bad if I signed a contract agreeing that I would pay if Event Y occurred... I didn't initiate aggression on you, so you can't do anything me."

I'm not sure this example makes sense. The casino promises to pay amount X if you hit the jackpot... oh, you're saying that if the jackpot does happen and the casino doesn't pay, that that wouldn't be an initiation of aggression? But you see that is incorrect, beceause had you known that the casino would NOT pay had you hit the jacpot, you would not have gambled in the first place. Thus it is an initiation of aggression, again it's a fraud, and  you would be within your rights to seek fulfillment of the contract.

Seems like the main problem here is that you're assuming that all initiations of aggression must inherently be direct and physical. The indirect, non-physical aggressions are sneakier and more prominent. They usually involve convincing another to give you a good under false pretenses, which is exactly what this situation is.

RothbardsDisciple:

And I said:

"Gambling wouldn't be illegal, per se...but what you said is true. Though the ass who did that could be ostracized.

The ostracization idea has never been compelling to me. If you agree that the initiation of aggression is a bad thing, it's likely that you'll also agree that force used to end an initiation of aggression (and no more) must consequently be a good thing. The proper role of government and law is to institutionally end the initiation of aggression within society between members of that society. The ostracization idea is the only possible recourse one could have in an anarchist state where no institutionalized force at all was allowed or possible. But such a society throws the baby out with the bathwater. Forced used to end the initiation of aggression is massively useful, and is akin to seeing a robbery taking place and foiling the thief. In an anarchist society, you would look on at the robbery and merely ostracize the robber? That would be far less than effective.

RothbardsDisciple:

I'm pretty sure there would be Libertarian solutions to this though. For example, pooling the winnings to a reputable third party before the event, who will then dole it out to the winner?

What if the escrow agent walked away with the money. Ostracize him? What if he lived honorably for years until people were using him for billion dollar deals and then one day he walks away with a few billion. Ostacize? Really? He doesn't need to work for the rest of his life. Ostracization alone means a license to pull off just one really big theft.

What's needed is an institution of justice to use force against the thief to remove his stolen property and restore it to its rightful owner, and you will never be able to escape that need, which is why a large-scale anarchist state is literally impossible.

RothbardsDisciple:

What do other Rothbardians think about this? What other solutions might you propose, asides from Initiating Aggression against the gambler who non-aggressively opted out of the contract?

Again, non-aggressively opting out is not possible if he's walking away with your goods. But I think I've covered that adequately already.

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Anenome replied on Thu, Sep 15 2011 2:00 AM

RothbardsDisciple:
Well, I'm absolutely not a contractarian. To enforce this contract against a man who has not Initiated Force, would itself be an Initiation of Force. Rothbard very clearly explains this in Chapter 2, Section 13, of Man, Economy, and State. If the man had frauded (stolen) from the other man, then of course the man who has been frauded could use Retaliative Force. Only actions of assault, theft, or slavery justify Retaliative Force; and the Retaliative Force must be roughly equivalent to the original crime. But in this case, B has not been frauded by A's fundamentally non-violent (though dickish) action of not paying his bet.

You have to understand too that violence is not to be equated with aggression. You can steal something non-violently (by lying), and to assume the two are equated is what may have led you not to consider this act, such as you propose, an actual theft. It is and was a theft by fraud, and thus is it an aggression. However, as I have said, it is an indirect aggression, using lies to obtain unlawful gain rather than using threat of violence to obtain unlawful gain. Thus, retaliatory force is justified to restore justice, which in such a case should be a lawsuit and the case proved before independent judges. The force involved will be the forcible transfer of the stolen property back to its original defrauded owner.

Violence is not wrong in and of itself; it is ethically neutral. Many good things are also incredibly violent, such as the destruction by dynamite of a large building for the purpose of building a new building--or perhaps cutting off a gangrenous leg, itself a very violent act. Aggression too can be very violent, but so can the defense against aggression!

What IS wrong is the initiation of coercion, and coercion can be direction and physical or indirect by lying and the like. Take the phrase "initiation of coercion" and you derive the word "aggression" which means exactly that. It is NOT an aggression to defend yourself from an aggression; the defense against aggression itself IS coercive, but its aim is to end the initial aggression, and thus it is ethically approved. The thief aggressor seeks to gain value by robbing his victim, whether this is through direct stealing or indirectly through a confidence-scam. The defender against this aggression is not enriched economically by defending himself.

RothbardsDisciple:
Initiating Aggression is always Immoral, and Morality, of course, is an objective concept. To say elsewise is, quite frankly, absurd and base.

Agreed. ie: Murder will always be murder no matter what the law says.

RothbardsDisciple:
The contract system, by its very nature, is not always Libertarian. To claim that because a contract stipulates that Aggression can be used, Aggression legitimately can be used, is to deny the very inalienable will of of man.

"Libertarian" is too vague a concept in this usage for me to comment on this assertion.

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To break a contract -IS- an indirect intiation of force. If you handed over goods to another, with a contract, and the other broke the contract and walked away with your goods, they have stolen from you indirectly, because had you known they were going to walk away with your goods you would never have willingly handed them over.

Do not mistake me: I understood fraud at the beginning of the argument. I simply did not realize how this applies to "titles" of property. Clayton explained how I erred in this regard. Aside from that, my argument was solid.

So, I cannot conceive of any contract in which to seek its enforcement would constitute an initiation of aggression.

X agrees to be enslaved to Y via contract Z. The Rothbardian advocates that X can break his contract of slavery at any time; for that is not, indeed, an Initiation of Aggression. Breaking a contract is not necessarily fraud, per se. For fraud to exist, there must be implicit theft. That is why one cannot blindly state that all contracts can be enforced. There is also the crucial matter of promises: even contractual promises cannot be enforced. There is, as Clayton said, a vital difference between a promise and a title. Whereas the former is non-enforceable, the latter represents ownership of the good itself, and thus is indubitably enforceable.

So if X agrees to marry Y, even if contract Z explicitly states he cannot opt out, he still can opt out of marrying. Now, if the contract has a conditional clause that X must give Y a "title to $100" if he fails to marry, then that can be enforced. But X cannot be forced to marry Y, due to man's inalienable will.

Seems like the main problem here is that you're assuming that all initiations of aggression must inherently be direct and physical.

No, no - I just didn't get how these examples could be fraud, if a title was exchanged. Now it makes sense. (If you look back through the thread, you will see that I understand fraud, but merely could not grasp it in this case).

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You have to understand too that violence is not to be equated with aggression.

I was using violence as a synonym for "Initiation of Aggression." But Murray does not, so I shall alter my semantics.

"Libertarian" is too vague a concept in this usage for me to comment on this assertion.

Anarcho-Capitalist, then, if you would rather.

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Anenome replied on Thu, Sep 15 2011 11:54 AM

RothbardsDisciple:

So, I cannot conceive of any contract in which to seek its enforcement would constitute an initiation of aggression.

X agrees to be enslaved to Y via contract Z.

Well, it's already an invalid contract :P Of course breaking it would not be an aggression, since the contract itself is an aggression.

Maybe if we said, X agreed to an arrangement with Y whereby Y would pay all of X's living-costs in exchange for all of his economic production via contract Z. In such a case, what we have is not slavery but an exchange, that is Y is buying all of X's productivity and labor. If X wants to end the arrangement, whether it's an aggression or not depends on the remedy. If X was paid upfront for this contract, then he should return the portion of un-earned money (pro-rated let's say). Otherwise, freedom of association leads us to the idea that freedom of association should allow choice in whom one works for an with. And unless there's consideration in some way, there's no recourse for Y. So, I agree with you that this would be a contract where enforcement of its work-provision would definitly be an aggression, but I didn't think you would use the terms of an immoral contract :P Now I know :P

RothbardsDisciple:

Breaking a contract is not necessarily fraud, per se.

True, I've always attached to it whether one gains an economic good the other would not have given if they had known how it would turn out. Still other contracts are ethically broken because the contract itself it unethical. For instance, banks really don't want anyone to assume someone's mortgage and keep paying on it. But there's ways around that and I consider them perfectly ethical.

RothbardsDisciple:
For fraud to exist, there must be implicit theft. That is why one cannot blindly state that all contracts can be enforced. There is also the crucial matter of promises: even contractual promises cannot be enforced. There is, as Clayton said, a vital difference between a promise and a title. Whereas the former is non-enforceable, the latter represents ownership of the good itself, and thus is indubitably enforceable.

Promises can be enforceable if there was consideration--meaning you were paid upfront for the promise of later performance and didn't perform, and the recourse is return of the consideration--not the forcing of doing the promised act. Thing is tho, a good contract will have these contingencies and their solutions written into it.

RothbardsDisciple:
So if X agrees to marry Y, even if contract Z explicitly states he cannot opt out, he still can opt out of marrying. Now, if the contract has a conditional clause that X must give Y a "title to $100" if he fails to marry, then that can be enforced. But X cannot be forced to marry Y, due to man's inalienable will.

Agreed.

RothbardsDisciple:
Seems like the main problem here is that you're assuming that all initiations of aggression must inherently be direct and physical.

No, no - I just didn't get how these examples could be fraud, if a title was exchanged. Now it makes sense. (If you look back through the thread, you will see that I understand fraud, but merely could not grasp it in this case).

Good good :)

 

 

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