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Exotic Animals and Libertarianism

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Eric080 Posted: Wed, Oct 19 2011 6:15 PM

I'm sure the latest incident of wild animals on the loose in Zanesville, Ohio will be pointed to as a failure of libertarian ideas.  If people can own whatever they want, society could suffer enormously!

 

What is your opinion about exotic animal restrictions?  Could it be treated the same way as a libertarian legal order would deal with nuclear weapons?  Would the possession of a bengal tiger in and of itself act as a threat to society?

"And it may be said with strict accuracy, that the taste a man may show for absolute government bears an exact ratio to the contempt he may profess for his countrymen." - de Tocqueville
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Gman1944 replied on Wed, Oct 19 2011 6:28 PM

It wouldn't be very libertarian to support restrictions on owning exotic animals just as it wouldn't be very libertarian to support restrictions on owning guns; neither acts in and of themselves are harmful to others or their property. However, if you owned a bengal tiger and it escaped and caused harm to someone or their property you would obviously be strictly liable and restitution would be in order.

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Wheylous replied on Wed, Oct 19 2011 6:37 PM

How the heck is a Bengal tiger like a nuclear weapon? There's no stopping a nuclear weapon. A Bengal tiger may be easily contained. A Bengal tiger may not tear you to shreds if it gets loose. If A nuclear bomb is set off, it ​will​ rip you to shreds.

Plus, I am guessing neighborhoods would have some sort of method for preventing this from happening.

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Eric080 replied on Wed, Oct 19 2011 6:57 PM

Oh I know it's not like a nuclear weapon, but I was wondering if the case could be made that the mere possession of one poses a direct threat to society.  Of course, one could say the same things about guns, that it could "potentially" be used for bad purposes.

"And it may be said with strict accuracy, that the taste a man may show for absolute government bears an exact ratio to the contempt he may profess for his countrymen." - de Tocqueville
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Autolykos replied on Wed, Oct 19 2011 7:02 PM

Eric080:
What is your opinion about exotic animal restrictions?  Could it be treated the same way as a libertarian legal order would deal with nuclear weapons?  Would the possession of a bengal tiger in and of itself act as a threat to society?

My homeowner's insurance policy stipulates that I will not keep certain breeds of dogs that have been deemed "vicious", e.g. Dobermans, Pit Bulls, and Rottweilers. However, the insurance company never conducts an inspection of my home to determine whether I'm (still) in compliance with the policy. In a stateless society, I think they'd definitely have an incentive to do so. So I'd expect a person who keeps exotic animals like lions, tigers, and bears (sorry couldn't resist) would pay significantly higher insurance premiums in such a society.

I know this is somewhat off-topic, but I wonder whether building or possessing a nuclear weapon would amount to a death sentence in a stateless society. After all, a nuclear weapon is per se an existential threat to a large number of surrounding people. Somehow I don't think the courts would object if a person with a nuclear weapon was killed outright by one or more of his neighbors.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

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Eric080 replied on Wed, Oct 19 2011 7:17 PM

Right.  I would agree that a nuclear weapon is an existential threat, but where might the line be drawn?  The argument, as far as I understand it, against owning nuclear weapons is that there is no use for a nuclear weapon other than mass murder.  But somebody may want it in their basement for some artistic reason or to appreciate its "beauty" or some other thing.  None of us would buy that because we as a society would deem that to be ridiculous.  In Block's paper, he says that we are to use the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard and that the victim's perspective is what counts; if a reasonable person would feel threatened, then they are justified in taking preventative steps against the person they feel threatened by.

 

Now a bengal tiger isn't an existential threat, but if it broke loose, it would have the potential to maul any one of us.  Now the owner could say, "I just wanted to own one as a pet because that's my business and I value having exotic animals as pets."  What would stop us from saying, "a dog is a reasonable pet; a bengal tiger isn't one because it is a threat to society!"  I'm just a little confused on how they are different.

 

For the record, I'm not quite against exotic pet ownership and I think Autolykos is pretty close to being correct.  An insurance compnay wouldn't want to have to pay damages to the victims if these animals went loose.  Or at the least the premiums would be extremely high.

"And it may be said with strict accuracy, that the taste a man may show for absolute government bears an exact ratio to the contempt he may profess for his countrymen." - de Tocqueville
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Wheylous replied on Wed, Oct 19 2011 7:43 PM

We've already covered nuclear weapons here and I add a bit more of what I deem relevant a few posts later.

Imo nuclear weapons are conditionally legal.

 

I specifically address the question of "where might the line be drawn?"

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