Free Capitalist Network - Community Archive
Mises Community Archive
An online community for fans of Austrian economics and libertarianism, featuring forums, user blogs, and more.

Inalienability of the self

rated by 0 users
This post has 158 Replies | 7 Followers

Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 10:09 AM

Conza88:

So much bs in this thread...

There you go again...

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,940
Points 49,115
Conza88 replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 10:12 AM

Anddddddd? lol.

I'd suggest pointing out / highlighting Stephan Kinsella's contribution / exchange added more value than the majority of what else has been posted.

Go cry me a river seriously. crying

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 10:14 AM

And to think that you were wondering why people don't give you the benefit of the doubt...

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,922
Points 79,590
Autolykos replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 10:23 AM

Thanks for the source, Conza. I'll now address your quote-wall directly.

I certainly agree with Kinsella that a hypothetical slave who tries to run away, changes his mind, or disobeys an order has in no way committed aggression against his master. Indeed, I can't imagine anyone - certainly no libertarian - who would argue otherwise, so I think it's a moot point. That leaves the issue of whether the slave's prior consent to be visited with violence under certain conditions (such as disobedience) is still valid if he changes his mind later.

Unfortunately, I think Kinsella misunderstands the issue there. Whether the slave is able to change his mind (and he clearly is able to) is irrelevant. A slavery contract doesn't have to stipulate that a slave cannot (i.e. is physically unable to) change his mind, and any such stipulation would be absurd. But I don't think that's the point. As I see it, the point is whether the actions taken against the slave under certain conditions (e.g. disobedience) are legitimate. If the slave agreed to them beforehand in a binding contract, then whether he changes his mind later makes no difference. The same is the case for a loan contract, for example - the borrower can change his mind later on about paying off the loan, but the lender would still be considered to be within his rights to recover the money owed to him under the contract, by force if necessary.

When it comes to simply making a promise, i.e. saying "I promise to do X", there's no enforceability. It's not legitimate for a guy to hit his girlfriend after she withdraws her prior promise to let him kiss her whenever he wants to. That's because she didn't give him any right to hit her in that event.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,922
Points 79,590
Autolykos replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 10:43 AM

gotlucky:
This is the point. The only way to make the person carry it out would be to use aggression.

I certainly agree with you (and Rothbard, and Kinsella, etc.) that to enforce a promise would be to employ aggression - if it were even posible to enforce a promise.

gotlucky:
It depends, was it a promise or a contract? Just because you promise to do something or else you will will be fined does not necessarily make it a valid contract. I suggest you read the link I provided to FotH. Rothbard goes into this point when he talks about the movie star and the theater owner.

Right, it depends on what's considered to be a valid binding contract. Typical requirements include a written record of the agreement and absence of duress on all parties involved.

gotlucky:
This is true, but I'm not sure how it is relevant. The punishment is aggression if it was only a promise.

My point was to highlight how the phrase "enforce a promise" is nonsensical, if "enforce" is taken to mean "to obtain by force". Unfortunately, the term "enforce" seems to be used with two different meanings in the modern vernacular. One is the "to obtain by force" meaning already given, and the other is "to inflict punishment in the case of disobedience".

gotlucky:
Well this depends upon what type of rights you believe Rothbard is talking about. I believe he is not talking about legal rights per se, but about his conception of just rights. If I am reading him correctly (which I believe I am), then I do think it follows. You cannot alienate the will.  No one else can possibly have the right to control your will. They physically cannot do it. There is just no way for someone else to possess the right to control your will. This is what Rothbard means.

Okay, I think what he's saying is that it's impossible for someone to have the right to do something which is (currently) impossible to do. However, as rights exist solely within the mind, there's nothing (in theory) stopping someone from believing he has the right to do something which is nevertheless (currently) impossible to do. For example, a person can believe he has the right to control someone else's will. That doesn't mean he'll actually be able to do it. Again, this is a case of "is" and "ought" being orthogonal "dimensions".

Essentially, then, the only way for Rothbard's argument to logically follow is if one accepts the following premise: "It's impossible for someone to have the right to do something which is (currently) impossible to do."

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 11:01 AM

Autolykos:

Unfortunately, I think Kinsella misunderstands the issue there. Whether the slave is able to change his mind (and he clearly is able to) is irrelevant. A slavery contract doesn't have to stipulate that a slave cannot (i.e. is physically unable to) change his mind, and any such stipulation would be absurd. But I don't think that's the point. As I see it, the point is whether the actions taken against the slave under certain conditions (e.g. disobedience) are legitimate. If the slave agreed to them beforehand in a binding contract, then whether he changes his mind later makes no difference. The same is the case for a loan contract, for example - the borrower can change his mind later on about paying off the loan, but the lender would still be considered to be within his rights to recover the money owed to him under the contract, by force if necessary.

I wrote a post earlier in this thread about the differences between indentured servitude and slavery.  It seems that what you are describing here is more in line with indentured servitude, that if there is an exchange of title (such as in the case of loans), just because you change your mind doesn't mean you can opt out of the contract.  But this is entirely different from slavery.  The most famous instances of indentured servitude were people having their passage over the Atlantic to America paid for, and then they were indentured servants for 7 years.  This is an example of a contract between the two parties.  There is an exchange of title.  I am not convinced that the historical practice of indentured servitude was in line with libertarianism, but the principal of indentured servitude certainly is.

But slavery is involuntary by definition, and it requires aggression.  Slavery is not compatible with libertarianism even in principle.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 11:08 AM

Autolykos:

I certainly agree with you (and Rothbard, and Kinsella, etc.) that to enforce a promise would be to employ aggression - if it were even posible to enforce a promise.

Right.

Autolykos:

Right, it depends on what's considered to be a valid binding contract. Typical requirements include a written record of the agreement and absence of duress on all parties involved.

Well the written aspect of it is meant for accurate record keeping and to prove it to other people.  Rothbard explains that the principal difference between a promise and a contract is the exchange of title.

Autolykos:

My point was to highlight how the phrase "enforce a promise" is nonsensical, if "enforce" is taken to mean "to obtain by force". Unfortunately, the term "enforce" seems to be used with two different meanings in the modern vernacular. One is the "to obtain by force" meaning already given, and the other is "to inflict punishment in the case of disobedience".

Yes, I see your point.

Autolykos:

Okay, I think what he's saying is that it's impossible for someone to have the right to do something which is (currently) impossible to do. However, as rights exist solely within the mind, there's nothing (in theory) stopping someone from believing he has the right to do something which is nevertheless (currently) impossible to do. For example, a person can believe he has the right to control someone else's will. That doesn't mean he'll actually be able to do it. Again, this is a case of "is" and "ought" being orthogonal "dimensions".

Well, I think this is probably the main point.  You cannot alienate your will.  I suppose if it were possible to do it, then one could make contracts with the devil and sell their will to others.  But the whole point is that this is not possible, and from what we know about the mind/brain/body, this will always remain impossible.  I suppose something could come along to change that, but I strongly suspect that it is not the case.

Autolykos:

Essentially, then, the only way for Rothbard's argument to logically follow is if one accepts the following premise: "It's impossible for someone to have the right to do something which is (currently) impossible to do."

Sure.  You don't have a right to fly unaided.  You don't have a right to breath underwater for 6 hours unaided.  Etc.  Theoretically, if it were possible, then sure.  But it is not.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,922
Points 79,590
Autolykos replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 11:20 AM

gotlucky:
Well the written aspect of it is meant for accurate record keeping and to prove it to other people. Rothbard explains that the principal difference between a promise and a contract is the exchange of title.

In that case, any and all "service contracts" are invalid contracts, as there's no exchange of title. There may be a one-way transfer of title, in the case of paying for a service (as opposed to providing one service in exchange for another), but that's as far as it goes. I don't see where the service to be performed carries any title with it.

gotlucky:
Well, I think this is probably the main point. You cannot alienate your will. I suppose if it were possible to do it, then one could make contracts with the devil and sell their will to others. But the whole point is that this is not possible, and from what we know about the mind/brain/body, this will always remain impossible. I suppose something could come along to change that, but I strongly suspect that it is not the case.

My point is that whether it's actually possible for one to alienate his will has no necessary connection to whether one can believe (or does believe) that he has a right to someone else's will. The former concerns "is" while the latter concerns "ought".

gotlucky:
Sure. You don't have a right to fly unaided. You don't have a right to breath underwater for 6 hours unaided. Etc. Theoretically, if it were possible, then sure. But it is not.

I don't consider a right to be the same as an ability. (A physical ability, that is.) So again, whether one is able to breathe underwater for 6 hours unaided ("is") has no necessary connection to whether one can believe (or does believe) that he has a right to do so ("ought").

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 3:26 PM

Autolykos:

In that case, any and all "service contracts" are invalid contracts, as there's no exchange of title. There may be a one-way transfer of title, in the case of paying for a service (as opposed to providing one service in exchange for another), but that's as far as it goes. I don't see where the service to be performed carries any title with it.

What do you mean by "service contract"?  I imagine you mean "exchange of a service", but I did a quick search and apparently there are a few things it can mean.

Anyway, I think you mean in the case of building a house or a website.  Let's suppose I hire you to build a website for me for $2,000.  Let's keep it simple, and I pay you the entire sum up front.  You then fail to deliver a website.  Well, at the very least, you owe me $2,000 or a website.  Perhaps there could be a case to be made for more if the contract stipulated that it needed to be done by a certain date or else.  But the important part is that there was an exchange of title (the $2,000), even if that was the only exchange of title.

Autolykos:

My point is that whether it's actually possible for one to alienate his will has no necessary connection to whether one can believe (or does believe) that he has a right to someone else's will. The former concerns "is" while the latter concerns "ought".

Well someone can feel free to believe he has a right to another's will, but there is just no way he can ever actually exercise this right.

Autolykos:

I don't consider a right to be the same as an ability. (A physical ability, that is.) So again, whether one is able to breathe underwater for 6 hours unaided ("is") has no necessary connection to whether one can believe (or does believe) that he has a right to do so ("ought").

I agree with this for the most part.  It is true that rights are not the same as abilities.  But rights have to do with who can be said to have been acting in the right.  If humans categorically cannot fly unaided, then it cannot be said that humans have a right to fly unaided.  This particular action simply isn't possible, so there can be no legal dispute about it.  Therefore, there are no rights regarding unaided human flight.

But just to be clear, just because an action is possible, it does not mean that humans have a right to it.  For example, most humans have the ability to harm other humans (there are some that physically cannot).  But just because A can kill B does not mean that A has a right to do it.  But it also means that A might have a right to do it.  It all depends upon context.  Who was acting in the right?  If A aggressed and killed B, then it was murder and A had no right to kill B.  But if it was in self-defense and it can be shown that A's only course of action was to kill B, then he was in the right to do it.

But it makes no sense to talk of rights about actions that humans categorically cannot do.  The disputes simply don't arise.  It makes no sense to talk about someone having a right to someone else's will because he simply cannot ever exercise this so called "right".

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,922
Points 79,590
Autolykos replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 5:26 PM

gotlucky:
What do you mean by "service contract"? I imagine you mean "exchange of a service", but I did a quick search and apparently there are a few things it can mean.

Sorry, I mean any contract where one or both sides agrees to provide a service rather than transfer property.

gotlucky:
Anyway, I think you mean in the case of building a house or a website. Let's suppose I hire you to build a website for me for $2,000. Let's keep it simple, and I pay you the entire sum up front. You then fail to deliver a website. Well, at the very least, you owe me $2,000 or a website. Perhaps there could be a case to be made for more if the contract stipulated that it needed to be done by a certain date or else. But the important part is that there was an exchange of title (the $2,000), even if that was the only exchange of title.

I don't think there was an exchange of title, as you didn't get any title from me. There was a one-way transfer of title involving the $2,000 you gave to me upfront.

What about a contract for, say, a massage? In that situation, there's nothing delivered per se.

gotlucky:
Well someone can feel free to believe he has a right to another's will, but there is just no way he can ever actually exercise this right.

Believing someone has a right and actually performing the action that the right legitimizes are two different things.

gotlucky:
I agree with this for the most part. It is true that rights are not the same as abilities. But rights have to do with who can be said to have been acting in the right. If humans categorically cannot fly unaided, then it cannot be said that humans have a right to fly unaided. This particular action simply isn't possible, so there can be no legal dispute about it. Therefore, there are no rights relating regarding unaided human flight.

It certainly can be said that humans have a right to fly unaided. Humans have a right to fly unaided. There, I said it. cheeky

As I see it, a right to do something simply means that any use of force that stops, or attempts to stop, someone from doing it is illegitimate. There doesn't need to be a legal dispute for that to be the case.

gotlucky:
But just to be clear, just because an action is possible, it does not mean that humans have a right to it. For example, most humans have the ability to harm other humans (there are some that physically cannot). But just because A can kill B does not mean that A has a right to do it. But it also means that A might have a right to do it.  It all depends upon context. Who was acting in the right? If A aggressed and killed B, then it was murder and A had no right to kill B. But if it was in self-defense and it can be shown that A's only course of action was to kill B, then he was in the right to do it.

Strictly speaking, it also means that humans don't have a right to it. Rights and possibilities are independent of one another. Again, "is" vs. "ought".

gotlucky:
But it makes no sense to talk of rights about actions that humans categorically cannot do. The disputes simply don't arise. It makes no sense to talk about someone having a right to someone else's will because he simply cannot ever exercise this so called "right".

Maybe paraphrasing BloomJ31 will help here. I think it still makes sense (grammatically and logically speaking) to talk of rights about actions that are nevertheless impossible for humans to perform, because whether it's possible for them to perform is irrelevant to whether one believes they (nevertheless) have rights to perform them. However, whether one believes he has a right to do something which is impossible for him to do is pretty much irrelevant, as he can't actually do it.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Wed, Jun 27 2012 10:24 PM

Autolykos:

Sorry, I mean any contract where one or both sides agrees to provide a service rather than transfer property.

Well I suppose then that they shouldn't be valid legal contracts.  I don't see a problem with this so long as no title has been transferred.

Autolykos:

 

I don't think there was an exchange of title, as you didn't get any title from me. There was a one-way transfer of title involving the $2,000 you gave to me upfront.

What about a contract for, say, a massage? In that situation, there's nothing delivered per se.

You are correct.  Rothbard calls it the Title-Transfer Theory of Contracts for a reason.  My mistake.

I'm not sure I follow regarding the contract for a massage.  If you pay for a massage and don't receive one, then you have been stolen from.  If you mean that you haven't yet paid for a massage but have agreed to receive one in exchange for money, then it's still only a promise.

Autolykos:

Believing someone has a right and actually performing the action that the right legitimizes are two different things.

This part of the conversation doesn't make much sense unless we look at what's rights are.  Rights are just another way of saying who is in the right in any particular situation.  For instance, if you have a right to free speech, what does that even mean?  Where do you have this right?  Well, there are different ways we can look at it - legal rights, just rights, and moral rights.  These are all separate categories but depending upon someone's worldview, they can either overlap or be entirely separate.

Let's look at a possible exchange between a father and son:

Father: You are a disgrace.

Son: You are an idiot.

Father: You have no right to talk to me like that.

Son: Yes, I do.  It's a free country.

Father: Not in my house it isn't.

Does the son have a moral right to insult his father?  Maybe, his father did insult him first.  Maybe not, someone might believe it is never moral to insult another.  Does the son have a legal right to insult his father?  Maybe.  After all, if the son cannot be legally emancipated from the house (maybe the son is 11), then the father cannot throw him out.  So in that sense, the son does have a legal right to insult his father.  What if the son is 18?  Then the father could throw his son out, in which case the son really does not have a legal right to insult his father in his father's house.  Now, what about just rights?  Well, this depends upon an individual's sense of justice, but as libertarians, we base our sense of justice on the NAP.  As libertarians, we can say that the father has every right to evict his son, even at age 11.

So, when we look at the case of a son insulting his father, we have 3 different ways to decide who was acting in the right.  But what happens when we look at claiming another's will as your own?  In what manner can we determine who is acting in the right?  There is no way for you to actually possess another's will, so there is no way for anyone to be acting rightfully in this situation.  To say that you can rightfully possess another's will is nonsense.

Autolykos:

It certainly can be said that humans have a right to fly unaided. Humans have a right to fly unaided. There, I said it. cheeky

I see what you did there.  blush

Autolykos:

As I see it, a right to do something simply means that any use of force that stops, or attempts to stop, someone from doing it is illegitimate. There doesn't need to be a legal dispute for that to be the case.

See above.

Autolykos:

Strictly speaking, it also means that humans don't have a right to it. Rights and possibilities are independent of one another. Again, "is" vs. "ought".

Right, that is why I said it had to do with the context of the situation:

gotlucky:

But just because A can kill B does not mean that A has a right to do it. But it also means that A might have a right to do it.  It all depends upon context.

Autolykos:

Maybe paraphrasing BloomJ31 will help here. I think it still makes sense (grammatically and logically speaking) to talk of rights about actions that are nevertheless impossible for humans to perform, because whether it's possible for them to perform is irrelevant to whether one believes they (nevertheless) have rights to perform them. However, whether one believes he has a right to do something which is impossible for him to do is pretty much irrelevant, as he can't actually do it.

Grammatically and logically, we can talk about humans performing impossible actions.  In this way, it is different than talking about square circles, which we can only talk about grammatically.  At best, we can only talk about the possibilities of who could be said to be acting rightfully in these hypothetical scenarios.  In other words, given that we could actually transfer someone's will to another, would those contracts be valid?  Sure, why not?

But in the real world, it cannot be that anyone is acting rightfully in such a scenario.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,940
Points 49,115
Conza88 replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 8:20 AM

Re: "Thanks for the source, Conza. I'll now address your quote-wall directly."

No worries. Here's another then wink.

Re: "blah blah... As I see it, the point is whether the actions taken against the slave under certain conditions (e.g. disobedience) are legitimate. If the slave agreed to them beforehand in a binding contract, then whether he changes his mind later makes no difference."

And what on earth makes it a binding contract? Wait for it... lolz.

  • "Because ... well ... because ... well ... because the slavery contract was binding! So we see, yet again, the sneaky and dishonest resort to question-begging; slavery contracts are binding because they are binding. Neat trick, that!"

Re: "The same is the case for a loan contract, for example - the borrower can change his mind later on about paying off the loan, but the lender would still be considered to be within his rights to recover the money owed to him under the contract, by force if necessary."

Nope.

"In a loan contract, the creditor conveys title to money (the principal) to the debtor in exchange for a present agreement to a future
transfer of money (principal plus interest) from the debtor to the creditor. For example, Jim borrows $1000 now from Bank to be repaid in a year with $100 interest. Analyzed in terms of title transfers, Bank transfers title to $1000 of its money to Jim in the present, in exchange for (conditioned on) Jim contemporaneously agreeing to a title transfer to future property; and Jim’s future title transfer is executed in exchange for the contemporaneous $1000 title transfer.

"In other words a labor contract may be viewed as an exchange only economically, but not legally. Economically, the employer gives up title to money, in "exchange" for you performing some action. But legally, it's not an exchange at all, it's just a one-way transfer of title: a conditional transfer of future title to future money, conditioned on the occurrence of a certain event happening (namely: that the "employee" does a certain action). The performance of the action triggers the transfer of money from the employer, but the action is not literally "sold" because the employee did not "own" his labor, and the employer does not own it after it is performed. We have to stop thinking sloppily and overusing metaphors."

"A contract in which payment is to be made for the performance of a service, such as an employment arrangement, is not an exchange of titles because the employee does not transfer any title. Although it may be referred to as an exchange of title for services, such a contract is better viewed as a unilateral, but conditional, future transfer of title to the monetary payment, conditioned upon the specified services being performed. That is, if you mow my lawn, then title to this gold coin transfers to you. Again, the transfer of title in this case is both expressly conditional and future-oriented. Title to the coin transfers only if the lawn is mowed, and I still own the coin."

Stephan Kinsella, "A Libertarian Theory of Contract"

And in response to the inevitable:

Enforcement of Promises: pg 24.

"Although a variety of contractual arrangements can be constructed using conditional transfers of title, there would seem to be no way to compel someone to perform an agreed-upon action, such as a service. The only way to actually enforce a promise to perform a given action..."

And the section goes on to address your concern. However, I'll cut straight to the conclusion for those who couldn't be bothered learning about contract theory from a legitimate (libertarian) perspective:

"In sum, conditional title transfers can be used to provide for damages payable upon nonperformance of a promised service. This provides for almost the same type of enforcement mechanism used in modern legal systems, in which contracts are widely used and relied upon."

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,922
Points 79,590
Autolykos replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 9:16 AM

gotlucky:
Well I suppose then that they shouldn't be valid legal contracts. I don't see a problem with this so long as no title has been transferred.

What about an agreement that stipulates a monetary "penalty" if one party or the other fails to deliver his service as agreed upon? Something like "should X fail to render service Y within Z period of time, then A is entitled to recover $B from X".

gotlucky:
You are correct. Rothbard calls it the Title-Transfer Theory of Contracts for a reason. My mistake.

That's okay. smiley I thought Rothbard referred to transfer of title rather than exchange of title, but I was too lazy to look it up, lol.

gotlucky:
I'm not sure I follow regarding the contract for a massage. If you pay for a massage and don't receive one, then you have been stolen from. If you mean that you haven't yet paid for a massage but have agreed to receive one in exchange for money, then it's still only a promise.

My point was that a website can be represented in a persistent form. A massage can't. So it's hard (at least for me) to imagine how a massage can be considered property.

gotlucky:
This part of the conversation doesn't make much sense unless we look at [what] rights are. Rights are just another way of saying who is in the right in any particular situation. For instance, if you have a right to free speech, what does that even mean? Where do you have this right? Well, there are different ways we can look at it - legal rights, just rights, and moral rights. These are all separate categories but depending upon someone's worldview, they can either overlap or be entirely separate.

I think you mean to say that your definition for "rights" is "a way of saying who is in the right in any particular situation". There's no correct definition for the word "rights".

I think my own definition for "rights" is similar to yours: "a claim that a particular action is legitimate". But in this context, I'm not concerned with legal rights (i.e. rights which the government "gives" to "its" people), and I equate just rights with moral rights.

gotlucky:
Does the son have a moral right to insult his father? Maybe, his father did insult him first. Maybe not, someone might believe it is never moral to insult another. Does the son have a legal right to insult his father? Maybe. After all, if the son cannot be legally emancipated from the house (maybe the son is 11), then the father cannot throw him out. So in that sense, the son does have a legal right to insult his father. What if the son is 18? Then the father could throw his son out, in which case the son really does not have a legal right to insult his father in his father's house. Now, what about just rights? Well, this depends upon an individual's sense of justice, but as libertarians, we base our sense of justice on the NAP. As libertarians, we can say that the father has every right to evict his son, even at age 11.

So, when we look at the case of a son insulting his father, we have 3 different ways to decide who was acting in the right. But what happens when we look at claiming another's will as your own? In what manner can we determine who is acting in the right? There is no way for you to actually possess another's will, so there is no way for anyone to be acting rightfully in this situation. To say that you can rightfully possess another's will is nonsense.

There are, in fact, an infinite number of ways to decide who was acting in the right. The distinctions between "legal rights", "just rights", and "moral rights" are arbitrary.

As I see it, to determine who is acting in the right depends on one or more premises concerning the legitimacy of different actions. But that in no way requires one to only make (and believe) claims of legitimacy about actions that are (currently) possible. Just because it's (currently) impossible to possess another's will doesn't mean claiming that it's nevertheless right to do so is nonsense. Certainly we can comprehend such a claim, even if it's (currently) impossible to fulfill.

gotlucky:
I see what you did there. blush

I wasn't trolling, in case you suspect that. cheeky

gotlucky:
Right, that is why I said it had to do with the context of the situation:

Sorry, I meant to write "it also doesn't mean that humans don't have a right to it". That is, A's ability to kill B has no necessary bearing on whether anyone thinks A has or doesn't have the right to kill B.

gotlucky:
Grammatically and logically, we can talk about humans performing impossible actions. In this way, it is different than talking about square circles, which we can only talk about grammatically. At best, we can only talk about the possibilities of who could be said to be acting rightfully in these hypothetical scenarios. In other words, given that we could actually transfer someone's will to another, would those contracts be valid? Sure, why not?

But in the real world, it cannot be that anyone is acting rightfully in such a scenario.

I'm sorry but, as far as I can tell, you're once again trying to bridge the chasm between "is" and "ought". External reality (that is, the reality outside of our minds) has nothing whatsoever to say about whether anyone is acting rightfully in any scenario.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,922
Points 79,590
Autolykos replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 9:41 AM

Conza88:

And what on earth makes it a binding contract? Wait for it... lolz.

  • "Because ... well ... because ... well ... because the slavery contract was binding! So we see, yet again, the sneaky and dishonest resort to question-begging; slavery contracts are binding because they are binding. Neat trick, that!"

That was part of the earlier quote-wall you posted, so I already read it. Do you agree that any valid contract is by definition binding? If so, then the only remaining issue is whether a slavery contract can be said to be a valid contract.

Stephan Kinsella:
"In a loan contract, the creditor conveys title to money (the principal) to the debtor in exchange for a present agreement to a future transfer of money (principal plus interest) from the debtor to the creditor. For example, Jim borrows $1000 now from Bank to be repaid in a year with $100 interest. Analyzed in terms of title transfers, Bank transfers title to $1000 of its money to Jim in the present, in exchange for (conditioned on) Jim contemporaneously agreeing to a title transfer to future property; and Jim’s future title transfer is executed in exchange for the contemporaneous $1000 title transfer.

"In other words a labor contract may be viewed as an exchange only economically, but not legally. Economically, the employer gives up title to money, in "exchange" for you performing some action. But legally, it's not an exchange at all, it's just a one-way transfer of title: a conditional transfer of future title to future money, conditioned on the occurrence of a certain event happening (namely: that the "employee" does a certain action). The performance of the action triggers the transfer of money from the employer, but the action is not literally "sold" because the employee did not "own" his labor, and the employer does not own it after it is performed. We have to stop thinking sloppily and overusing metaphors."

"A contract in which payment is to be made for the performance of a service, such as an employment arrangement, is not an exchange of titles because the employee does not transfer any title. Although it may be referred to as an exchange of title for services, such a contract is better viewed as a unilateral, but conditional, future transfer of title to the monetary payment, conditioned upon the specified services being performed. That is, if you mow my lawn, then title to this gold coin transfers to you. Again, the transfer of title in this case is both expressly conditional and future-oriented. Title to the coin transfers only if the lawn is mowed, and I still own the coin."

It seems that Mr. Kinsella doesn't view a labor contract as even an economic exchange, given the quotations he puts around the word "exchange". But I don't see how this refutes my point about loan contracts. When discussing what constitutes a valid contract and the rights that parties to a contract can legitimately possess, we are in no way adopting a value-free or descriptive attitude. Our attitude is entirely normative. Economic considerations, then, are irrelevant. See below as well.

Conza88:

And in response to the inevitable:

Enforcement of Promises: pg 24.

"Although a variety of contractual arrangements can be constructed using conditional transfers of title, there would seem to be no way to compel someone to perform an agreed-upon action, such as a service. The only way to actually enforce a promise to perform a given action..."

And the section goes on to address your concern. However, I'll cut straight to the conclusion for those who couldn't be bothered [sic] learning about contract theory from a legitimate (libertarian) perspective [sic]:

"In sum, conditional title transfers can be used to provide for damages payable upon nonperformance of a promised service. This provides for almost the same type of enforcement mechanism used in modern legal systems, in which contracts are widely used and relied upon."

Just so you're aware, snide language such as that you're fond of using will not intimidate me in the slightest. I suggest you not expect otherwise.

Now then, I never said that I believe promises to be somehow enforceable - I've said the opposite. So I completely agree with the part of the quote that says "there would seem to be no way to compel someone to perform an agreed-upon action". However, paying a certain amount of money within a certain period of time can be an agreed-upon action, and I think it's easier to look at it that way rather than as a conditional future title or somesuch, which seems much more cumbersome. So if we look at it as an agreed-upon action (in a loan contract, for example), then there's no way to compel payment. Obtaining the money owed by force does not constitute payment, as the latter requires the borrower to provide the money of his own free will. Thus it doesn't constitute enforcement of a promise, which remains impossible.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 11:30 AM

Autolykos:

What about an agreement that stipulates a monetary "penalty" if one party or the other fails to deliver his service as agreed upon? Something like "should X fail to render service Y within Z period of time, then A is entitled to recover $B from X".

Rothbard covers that in Property Rights and the Theory of Contracts:

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 aperformance 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.

     Indeed, in an important article, A.W.B. Simpson has pointed out that performance bonds were the rule during the Middle Ages and in the early modern period, not only for personal services but for all contracts, including sales of land and money debts.4 These performance bonds evolved on the market as voluntary penalty or penal bonds, in which the contractor obligated himself to pay what was usually twice the sum he owed in case of failure to pay his debt or fulfill his contract at the agreed-upon date. The voluntarily contracted penalty served as an incentive for him to fulfill his contract. Thus, if A agreed to sell a parcel of land in exchange for B’s agreed upon payment of a money price, each would obligate himself to pay a certain sum, usually twice the value of his contractual obligation, in case of failure to pay. In the case of a money debt, called “a common money bond,” someone who owed $1000 agreed to pay $2000 to the creditor if he failed to pay $1000 by a certain date. (Or, more strictly the obligation to pay $2000 wasconditional upon the debtor’s paying $1000by a certain date. Hence the term “conditional penal bond.” In the above example of a contract to perform personal service, suppose that the failure of the actor to appear cost the theater owner $10,000 in damages; in that case, the actor would sign, or “execute,” a penal performance bond, agreeing to pay $20,000 to the theater owner upon failure to appear. In this sort of contract, the theater owner is protected, and there is no improper enforcement of a mere promise. (Of course, the agreed-upon penalty does not have to be twice the estimated value; it can be any amount assented to by the contracting parties. The double amount became the custom in medieval and early modern Europe.)

     In the course of his article, Simpson revises the orthodox historical account of the development of modern contract law: the view that the theory of assumpsit—of basing the enforcement of a contract upon a mere promise, albeit with consideration—was necessary to provide a workable system of contract enforcement in supplement to the crude property-rights concepts of the common law. For Simpson shows that the rise of assumpsit in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England was not the result of new-found attention to the world of business contracts but rather a replacement for the rapid decline of the penal performance bond, which had served business needs well enough for centuries. Indeed, Simpson points out that the performance bond proved to be a remarkably flexible instrument for the handling of complex as well as simple contracts and agreements. And the performance bond was formal enough to guard against fraud, yet easy enough to execute for the convenience of commercial transactions. Furthermore, in its centuries of use, almost no creditors bothered to sue in the courts for “damages” (in a “writ of covenant”), since the “damages” had been fixed in advance in the contract itself. As Simpson writes:

there are obvious attractions from a creditor’s point of view in contracts which fix a penalty in advance, especially when the alternative is assessment of damages by juries.

There's more, but this is the most relevant material from that chapter.  I agree with him on this.

Autolykos:

My point was that a website can be represented in a persistent form. A massage can't. So it's hard (at least for me) to imagine how a massage can be considered property.

Well, it's a service, and you may or may not be happy with the service you receive.  But if you don't receive it at all, then you most certainly have been stolen from.  If you expected a truly wonderful massage and received a bad one, then I guess that's tough luck.  Don't go back.  Maybe if there is a way to show that some part of the contract had been broken, then you were stolen from, but barring that foresight, if you receive a service that you are unsatisfied with, that is tough luck.  Do better research about masseuses next time.

Autolykos:

I think you mean to say that your definition for "rights" is "a way of saying who is in the right in any particular situation". There's no correct definition for the word "rights".

Well, I think wikipedia hits the nail on the head:

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory. Rights are of essential importance in such disciplines as law and ethics, especially theories of justice and deontology.

If someone defines "rights" differently, then they are not talking about the same concept.  Your definition that "a claim that a particular action is legitimate" is the same as mine, "who is acting in the right or rightfully".  If someone defines "rights" differently from this, then they are simply not talking about the same subject matter.  Suppose someone says they have a right to healthcare.  They are saying that if they take healthcare by force (or if someone takes it by force on their behalf), they would be acting rightfully.  Of course, I disagree with the positive rights viewpoint, so I would say he is not acting rightfully, that he does not have a right to healthcare.

Autolykos:

I think my own definition for "rights" is similar to yours: "a claim that a particular action is legitimate". But in this context, I'm not concerned with legal rights (i.e. rights which the government "gives" to "its" people), and I equate just rights with moral rights.

My view of moral rights does overlap a lot with my view of just rights, but I do separate the two because I do see differences on occasion.  For example, I might say that it is immoral to lie and renege on promises, but I would also say that it is your just right to do so.

Autolykos:

There are, in fact, an infinite number of ways to decide who was acting in the right. The distinctions between "legal rights", "just rights", and "moral rights" are arbitrary.

I don't see any other possible distinctions.  I'm pretty sure that legal rights, just rights, and moral rights cover all the possibilities.  Could you provide an example of another category?

Autolykos:

As I see it, to determine who is acting in the right depends on one or more premises concerning the legitimacy of different actions. But that in no way requires one to only make (and believe) claims of legitimacy about actions that are (currently) possible. Just because it's (currently) impossible to possess another's will doesn't mean claiming that it's nevertheless right to do so is nonsense. Certainly we can comprehend such a claim, even if it's (currently) impossible to fulfill.

Okay, it's nonsense in the sense that it isn't true, but not in the sense that it is literally "non sense".  Before there were airplanes, no one had right of way in the sky.  There were no property rights assigned to airplanes, who can own them, fly them, ride in them, etc.  So, in ancient Rome, if someone claimed that he had right of way in the sky, that anyone who passed him when flying in the sky would have to move aside for him, it would be an absurd claim.  The fact of the matter is that no one had right of way regarding the sky back then.

Sure, they could have say down and posed theoretical questions like "If there were devices that could make you fly, then who would have right of way?"  But the fact of the matter is that no one can have been actually acting in any of these imaginary scenarios.  No one in ancient Rome would have actually been flying with planes, so no one would have been acting at all, rightfully or wrongfully.

But there is an important difference between planes and wills.  Even if there were no planes in ancient Rome, they could still come up with a theory of property rights that accounts for the property rights of planes and right of way in the sky.  Murray Rothbard certainly demonstrated that it is possible to apply the NAP to all kinds of situations, many of which most people assumed it wasn't possible (e.g. property rights regarding radiowaves).  But the problem with the will is that it really is nontransferable.

We could say, supposing it is possible to actually transfer one's will, would it then be a valid contract?  Well, the will's inalienability seems to be the only objection to it being a valid contract, so sure.  And if we were to take it as a given that it is possible to alienate the will, then we could come up with all sorts of property rights regarding this fact.

But it is not a fact.  The will is inalienable.  And until such a time that it is possible to alienate it, any such contract regarding the alienability of the will is not valid.  Anybody is free to imagine a scenario where it is possible and then come up with rights regarding such a scenario, but it has no impact upon who is acting rightfully in the real world.

Autolykos:

I wasn't trolling, in case you suspect that. cheeky

Oh I didn't think you were. :p

Autolykos:

Sorry, I meant to write "it also doesn't mean that humans don't have a right to it". That is, A's ability to kill B has no necessary bearing on whether anyone thinks A has or doesn't have the right to kill B.

Right, that's what I had said in that paragraph.  I'm also adding that if no one possesses a certain ability, then there are no rights at all regarding this nonexistent ability.  No one can be acting rightfully in a situation regarding nonexistent abilities, as no one can even act in such a situation.

Autolykos:

I'm sorry but, as far as I can tell, you're once again trying to bridge the chasm between "is" and "ought". External reality (that is, the reality outside of our minds) has nothing whatsoever to say about whether anyone is acting rightfully in any scenario.

I don't see how I'm even attempting to derive an ought from an is.  I'm just saying that there are no rights regarding nonexistent possibilities.

  • | Post Points: 35
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 63
Points 940
Michel replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 5:14 PM

I hate to derail in some way from the topic, so feel free to not respond to this if it is too much of a detur.

gotlucky, I really liked Rothbard quote above, where he talks about performance bonds. In my view, it's a much valid contract addition. But then the IP issue hit me. Can't movie creators, for example, state on the buying agreement that by buying this dvd you agree to not copy it, else, if proven guilty, you will have to pay, say, double of what you paid. Would this fit in the performance bond concept? Would it fit in the libertarian contract theory? I'm prone to think it is, but then again, once you buy the dvd, you are the full proprietor of the dvd. But, in Rothbard's example, the actor is the full owner of his money as well, even though he agreed on giving his money if he did not show up. Any thoughts?

If you want good answers, ask the right questions.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 5:33 PM

Rothbard first brings up the performance bond regarding the movie star and the theater owner.  The reason the theater owner requires the movie star to sign a performance bond is otherwise the theater owner isn't going to agree to the contract.  He would be taking on too much risk if he didn't require it.  So the movie actor signs the bond so that he can get the contract, but now he has an incentive to follow through on the contract.

Why would anyone buying a dvd agree to a performance bond?  Furthermore, all it would stop is maybe the first person who bought the dvd.  Anyone who copied it after would have nothing to do with the contract.  Performance bonds would have little to no effect as an IP alternative.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Male
Posts 63
Points 940
Michel replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 5:58 PM

gotlucky:

Rothbard first brings up the performance bond regarding the movie star and the theater owner.  The reason the theater owner requires the movie star to sign a performance bond is otherwise the theater owner isn't going to agree to the contract.  He would be taking on too much risk if he didn't require it.  So the movie actor signs the bond so that he can get the contract, but now he has an incentive to follow through on the contract.

Why would anyone buying a dvd agree to a performance bond?  Furthermore, all it would stop is maybe the first person who bought the dvd.  Anyone who copied it after would have nothing to do with the contract.  Performance bonds would have little to no effect as an IP alternative.

 

True, I agree. Thanks for clarifying that to me.

If you want good answers, ask the right questions.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 6:02 PM

Sure, np.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130

@gotlucky

You cannot alienate the will.  

I agree. It is impossible to alienate the will.

No one else can possibly have the right to control your will. They physically cannot do it.  There is just no way for someone else to possess the right to control your will.

I agree. No one can have the right to control your will because it is impossible for them to do so.

But slavery (voluntary or involuntary) has nothing to do with controlling another person's will, which is impossible. Slavery has to do with controlling another person's body, which is entirely possible.

"No one can have the right to control your will" is a claim about something being physically impossible.

"No one can have the right to control your body [i.e. own you as a slave]" is not a claim about something being physically impossible. So then, I presume it is an ethical claim. You are saying that no one should have the right to control another person's body (own them as a slave). And my question is, why not? What ethical principle are you invoking in rejecting voluntary slavery?

I'm assuming it's the non-aggression principle, but I fail to see how there's any aggression involved in voluntary slavery.

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 10:10 PM

Slavery, by definition, is involuntary servitude.  Nevermind the oxymoronic term, "voluntary slavery", the problem is that slavery requires aggression.  The will being inalienable is crucial to understanding why slavery is immoral.  Any contract "transferring" the will to another is invalid, as the will cannot be transferred.  So, if the "slave" ever changes his mind, the only way to enforce such a contract would be to use aggression.  And aggression violates the NAP, so slavery, "voluntary" or otherwise, is not compatible with libertarianism.

If you read through the thread, you'll see that I have some posts about indentured servitude.  I believe that indentured servitude is entirely compatible with the NAP and libertarianism, at least in principle.  How it has manifested historically is another issue.  The key difference between indentured servitude and slavery is that indentured servitude has an actual transfer of title, whereas slavery does not.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130
Minarchist replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 10:41 PM

Any contract "transferring" the will to another is invalid, as the will cannot be transferred.

I agree, but no slavery contract has anything to do with "transferring the will." I assure you, no person who ever bought a slave in the past ever expected to gain the ability to move the slave's limbs with his mind. For you to own a slave is in fact for you to have ownership over his physical body: i.e. you can do with it what you please, as with any other property. It has nothing whatsoever to do with his will.

But suppose for the sake of argument I accept your claim that slavery involves the transference of the will. Alright, such transference is impossible, and therefore it follows that slavery has never existed. Is that your position? If so, then apparently we mean different things by the word "slavery." Whatever it is that those fellows picking cotton in 1850 S. Carolina were doing, whatever label you would give to their condition, that existed - correct? And obviously that condition did not rest on a transference of the will, because a transference of the will is impossible. So let's talk about the condition of those folks in S. Carolina, that's what I mean by "slavery." We can say that this slavery was characterized by one person's ability to control the body of another, yes?

So your criticism of slavery cannot be "it's impossible."

 So, if the "slave" ever changes his mind, the only way to enforce such a contract would be to use aggression.

Suppose that A and B sign a contract whereby A loans B $100, and B agrees to repay $150 in 12 months. After 12 months pass, B does not repay A. Maybe B changed his mind, and no longer wants to have the obligation to A to which he agreed by contract. Is it your contention that if A uses force to compel B to meet his contractual obligation, then A is an aggressor?

If not, then what's the difference between this case and the case of voluntary slavery?

If so, then are any contracts enforceable in your view?

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 11:07 PM

I'm not even going to bother to respond to your straw men arguments.  Just read the thread.  If you still have questions, then you can ask them again.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130
Minarchist replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 11:26 PM

LOL...okie doke.

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 11:28 PM

I'm serious.  None of what you said was at all accurate of what I have written in this thread.  Your response to me completely missed my point.  And it's clear that you haven't read the thread because then you would understand this already.

I really hope you read the thread.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130
Minarchist replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 11:34 PM

You wrote this:

The will being inalienable is crucial to understanding why slavery is immoral.  Any contract "transferring" the will to another is invalid, as the will cannot be transferred.  So, if the "slave" ever changes his mind, the only way to enforce such a contract would be to use aggression.  And aggression violates the NAP, so slavery, "voluntary" or otherwise, is not compatible with libertarianism.

If you read through the thread, you'll see that I have some posts about indentured servitude.  I believe that indentured servitude is entirely compatible with the NAP and libertarianism, at least in principle.  How it has manifested historically is another issue.  The key difference between indentured servitude and slavery is that indentured servitude has an actual transfer of title, whereas slavery does not.

I responded.

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 11:36 PM

Yes, and your response clearly missed my point.  Read the thread.  I don't see why you wouldn't want to educate yourself.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130
Minarchist replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 11:39 PM

I read the thread, and your several posts. There is nothing unclear in what you said. I adressed your point.

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 11:59 PM

Read it again, because I never stated that slaves necessarily transferred their will.  I stated that "voluntary slave" contracts are invalid.  I even wrote, and you quoted this:

gotlucky:

And aggression violates the NAP, so slavery, "voluntary" or otherwise, is not compatible with libertarianism. [emphasis added]

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130
Minarchist replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 12:08 AM

What is the meaning of this statement, if not what I supposed?

The will being inalienable is crucial to understanding why slavery is immoral.

What is the significance to your mind of the inalienability of the will for the question of whether voluntary slavery is moral?

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 12:11 AM

Slavery can only be enforced by aggression.  There is no other possibility.  And "voluntary slavery" is no different.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130
Minarchist replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 12:12 AM

Slavery can only be enforced by aggression

Why? I refer you to my creditor-debtor example above (which, gee whiz, is perfectly relevant to this claim you just made, and the one you made before to which I posted that example as a response....)

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130
Minarchist replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 12:38 AM

Well, I'll just conclude with this.

Inalienability of the will has no bearing whatsoever on the question of slavery, as slavery concerns the body alone.*

Voluntary slavery cannot involve aggression.

Involuntary slavery necessarily involves aggression.

* Bringing inalienability into the discussion IMO is the source of most of the confusion and disagreement among libertarians on this issue.

 

 

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 12:39 AM

Minarchist:

Why? I refer you to my creditor-debtor example above (which, gee whiz, is perfectly relevant to this claim you just made, and the one you made before to which I posted that example as a response....)

You know what, I was hoping you would just read the damn thread, but for your ease, I will now go ahead and demonstrate what was wrong with your response.

Minarchist:

I agree, but no slavery contract has anything to do with "transferring the will." I assure you, no person who ever bought a slave in the past ever expected to gain the ability to move the slave's limbs with his mind. For you to own a slave is in fact for you to have ownership over his physical body: i.e. you can do with it what you please, as with any other property. It has nothing whatsoever to do with his will.

This is your first straw man.  I never claimed that any "person who ever bought a slave in the past ever expected to gain the ability to move the slave's limbs with his mind".  My point was strictly about Block's use of the term "voluntary slavery", as I should hope that you already understand what is wrong with outright slavery.

The will cannot be transferred.  Any "voluntary slave" contract necessarily involves the will, and if the slave ever decides to call it quits, the only way to enforce the contract would be through aggression.  So, slavery, no matter how you slice it, "voluntary" or involuntary, is incompatible with the NAP and therefore libertarianism.

And before you go on to say that you didn't straw man me, I will quote your very next sentence:

Minarchist:

But suppose for the sake of argument I accept your claim that slavery involves the transference of the will.

Guess what?  I never claimed this.  Period.  For the entire thread, I have been saying that any contract stating this is invalid.

Minarchist:

Alright, such transference is impossible, and therefore it follows that slavery has never existed. Is that your position?

Guess what? This is built upon your straw man. Obviously I believe slavery has existed.

Minarchist:

If so, then apparently we mean different things by the word "slavery."

Nevermind reading the thread, how about you read my very first sentence in my first response to you:

gotlucky:

Slavery, by definition, is involuntary servitude.

That was tough. I don't know how I get through the day without reading the first sentence of people's posts.

Minarchist:

Whatever it is that those fellows picking cotton in 1850 S. Carolina were doing, whatever label you would give to their condition, that existed - correct?

And that condition is known as slavery.  I wonder how I arrived at that conclusion.  Maybe it was from the fact that slavery is involuntary servitude?  But where could I have possibly stated that before? *Hint: See above.*

Minarchist:

And obviously that condition did not rest on a transference of the will, because a transference of the will is impossible.

Again, based on a straw man.  They were slaves because they were involuntary servants.  There was aggression.  I have said this many times in this thread.

Minarchist:

So let's talk about the condition of those folks in S. Carolina, that's what I mean by "slavery." We can say that this slavery was characterized by one person's ability to control the body of another, yes?

No, they did not control the body.  They used aggression.  Surely you have heard of slaves that ran away?  That fought back with the overlords?  Frederick Douglass comes to mind.  Owners of slaves use aggression.

Minarchist:

So your criticism of slavery cannot be "it's impossible."

Well this is the first thing you got right.  My criticism of slavery is not that it's impossible.  It's that it requires aggression, and I consider that immoral and injust.

Minarchist:

 

Suppose that A and B sign a contract whereby A loans B $100, and B agrees to repay $150 in 12 months. After 12 months pass, B does not repay A. Maybe B changed his mind, and no longer wants to have the obligation to A to which he agreed by contract. Is it your contention that if A uses force to compel B to meet his contractual obligation, then A is an aggressor?

If not, then what's the difference between this case and the case of voluntary slavery?

If so, then are any contracts enforceable in your view?

Now, if you actually bothered to read the thread like I asked, you would have noticed that Autolykos and I had a conversation about this already.  As much as I would like to requote all the things I wrote to Autolykos, I will just direct you to read Property Rights and the Theory of Contracts by Murray Rothbard.  This is something that I have recommended numerous times in this thread.  Something you have known had you read the thread.  Needless to say, I agree with Rothbard on these issues.  So if you would like to know what I think, just ask yourself, "What would Rothbard say?"


I hope you can appreciate why I asked you to just read the thread.  I was hoping to avoid having to go through your entire post and respond to each point, as I have already addressed all of these in the thread.  If there was something that had been unclear previously in the thread, then it would be different.  But you didn't even bother to read the thread to see what I thought.  You thought you understood my position, and when I pointed out that you got it wrong and that I actually explained it in the thread, you still did not bother to read the thread.  

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 12:48 AM

Minarchist:

 

Well, I'll just conclude with this.

Inalienability of the will has no bearing whatsoever on the question of slavery, as slavery concerns the body alone.*

Well this is flat out wrong.  Slavery concerns aggression.  The inalienability of the will has to do with "voluntary slavery".

Minarchist:

Voluntary slavery cannot involve aggression.

I have explained why this is wrong.  Perhaps you are thinking of indentured servitude?  This is something I already brought up with you, but I also talked about it previously in the thread.  You would know this if you had actually read my post or the rest of the thread.

Minarchist:

* Bringing inalienability into the discussion IMO is the source of most of the confusion and disagreement among libertarians on this issue.

If you had read the thread (are you detecting a theme here? I know I have), then you would know that Rothbard used "will" to mean "mind and body", whereas Block used will to mean "body".  Block's argument completely misses Rothbard's point.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130

Any "voluntary slave" contract necessarily involves the will

Are you making the trivial point that a voluntary slavery contract involves the will because it is voluntary? In other words, voluntary contracts are voluntary?

if the slave ever decides to call it quits, the only way to enforce the contract would be through aggression

What makes enforcement of the voluntary slavery contract aggression while enforcement of a loan contract is not aggression? Your previous statement ("any slave contract necessarily involves the will") appears to be your grounds for this claim above, but how can that trivial statement, which amounts to "voluntary contracts are voluntary" say anything about why voluntary slavery contracts are unenforceable, while other voluntary contracts are enforceable?

No, they did not control the body.  They used aggression.  Surely you have heard of slaves that ran away?  That fought back with the overlords?  Frederick Douglass comes to mind.  Owners of slaves use aggression.

To "control the body" does not mean to control the will. To "control the body" means to use violence against it for the purpose of control: e.g. beating. Slavery (of any kind) certainly involves violence.  What we are debating is whether or not the violence involved in voluntary slavery is aggression.

You have thus far been unwilling and/or unable to defend your claim that the violence involved in voluntary slavery (i.e. "controlling the body") is aggression.

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130

Slavery concerns aggression.  The inalienability of the will has to do with "voluntary slavery".

How about an argument, or are we just making unsupported claims?

I have explained why this is wrong.

No, you have stated that it is wrong.

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 781
Points 13,130

In the interest of clarity, I'll add this:

if the slave ever decides to call it quits, the only way to enforce the contract would be through aggression

If you replaced "aggression" with "violence" we would be in agreement. I assume you don't reject violence altogether? You support violence in self-defense, and violence in seeking restitution, and violence in enforcing contractual obligations? So, the question, once against, is: what is special about the voluntary slave contract that makes the violence used in its enforcement inherently aggressive, when violence used in the enforcement of other contractual obligations is not aggressive?

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,922
Points 79,590
Autolykos replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 9:35 AM

gotlucky:
Rothbard covers that in Property Rights and the Theory of Contracts:

[...]

There's more, but this is the most relevant material from that chapter.  I agree with him on this.

I largely agree with him on the material you quoted. For one thing, if the actor simply promises to appear at the theater and then fails to appear, I agree that there's nothing they can rightfully take from him or do to him in return. His failure to appear didn't take anything from the theater owners, and he didn't agree in advance to allow them to take anything from him or do anything to him in the event that he didn't appear.

For another thing, I agree that things would be different if the actor had signed a performance bond with the theater owners. However, I interpret performance bonds differently from you and Rothbard. As I see it, the performance bond gives the theater owners the right to take the specified amount of money from the actor. Whether the actor gives it to them of his own free will or not is irrelevant. Maybe this really is the same as what Rothbard calls "transfer of title", but it seems different to me.

So basically, I see contracts as transfers of right, not merely as transfers of title. With the former, a performance bond could legitimately specify a penalty of bodily harm rather than a monetary penalty. In other words, such a performance bond would give the obligee(s) the right to physically hurt the obligor(s) in some specified way(s).

gotlucky:
Well, it's a service, and you may or may not be happy with the service you receive.  But if you don't receive it at all, then you most certainly have been stolen from.  If you expected a truly wonderful massage and received a bad one, then I guess that's tough luck.  Don't go back.  Maybe if there is a way to show that some part of the contract had been broken, then you were stolen from, but barring that foresight, if you receive a service that you are unsatisfied with, that is tough luck.  Do better research about masseuses next time.

My original point about the "massage contract" was to refute the notion of contracts requiring an exchange of title. Since that notion has already been abandoned, the original point is now moot. However, I think what you wrote above hints at a deeper issue, namely the issue of what constitutes a "service". It could be said that paying someone is a service, and that giving someone something (other than money) is also a service. Maybe a better way of analyzing these situations is in terms of rights. In the massage example, you only have the right to my money if you give me a massage. Likewise, in any purchase, the seller only has the right to the buyer's money if the seller gives him the item he wants in exchange. Again, this might be the same thing Rothbard means by "transfer of title", but I'm not sure yet.

gotlucky:
Well, I think wikipedia hits the nail on the head:

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory. Rights are of essential importance in such disciplines as law and ethics, especially theories of justice and deontology.

By "hits the nail on the head", are you referring to the concept that Wikipedia labels with the word "rights"?

gotlucky:
If someone defines "rights" differently, then they are not talking about the same concept.  Your definition that "a claim that a particular action is legitimate" is the same as mine, "who is acting in the right or rightfully".  If someone defines "rights" differently from this, then they are simply not talking about the same subject matter.  Suppose someone says they have a right to healthcare.  They are saying that if they take healthcare by force (or if someone takes it by force on their behalf), they would be acting rightfully.  Of course, I disagree with the positive rights viewpoint, so I would say he is not acting rightfully, that he does not have a right to healthcare.

Okay, then we're using the same definition of "rights" and no longer need to worry about whether our definitions are different. smiley

I'm glad you brought up the notion of "positive rights", as those actually do fit in with our definition of "rights". As you said, a person who believes he has e.g. a right to healthcare thus believes that it's right (legitimate/justified) for him to e.g. take money from others if he's in need of medical attention that he can't afford otherwise. Our disagreement with this depends on things other than our definition of "rights".

gotlucky:
My view of moral rights does overlap a lot with my view of just rights, but I do separate the two because I do see differences on occasion.  For example, I might say that it is immoral to lie and renege on promises, but I would also say that it is your just right to do so.

I wouldn't say that it's immoral to lie and renege on promises, as morality to me concerns coercion, and neither lying nor reneging on promises (per se) involves coercion. But I might say it's unethical to lie and renege on promises, as ethics to me does not concern coercion. Notice that this means all rights are moral/just rights to me.

gotlucky:
I don't see any other possible distinctions.  I'm pretty sure that legal rights, just rights, and moral rights cover all the possibilities.  Could you provide an example of another category?

There can be male rights, female rights, old rights, young rights, big rights, small rights, etc.

gotlucky:
Okay, it's nonsense in the sense that it isn't true, but not in the sense that it is literally "non sense".

That's just it - there's no truth in such claims. I don't mean that they're all false, I mean the very notion of truth is inapplicable. To speak of a "true right" makes as much sense as speaking of a "square circle". This is the essence of the is-ought problem.

gotlucky:
Before there were airplanes, no one had right of way in the sky.  There were no property rights assigned to airplanes, who can own them, fly them, ride in them, etc.  So, in ancient Rome, if someone claimed that he had right of way in the sky, that anyone who passed him when flying in the sky would have to move aside for him, it would be an absurd claim.  The fact of the matter is that no one had right of way regarding the sky back then.

No one possesses any rights in terms of fact. Again, truth - or factuality - simply does not apply to rights. To believe/assert otherwise is to try "jumping the shark" of the is-ought problem.

gotlucky:
Sure, they could have say down and posed theoretical questions like "If there were devices that could make you fly, then who would have right of way?"  But the fact of the matter is that no one can have been actually acting in any of these imaginary scenarios.  No one in ancient Rome would have actually been flying with planes, so no one would have been acting at all, rightfully or wrongfully.

But a right can be asserted without being exercised.

gotlucky:
But there is an important difference between planes and wills.  Even if there were no planes in ancient Rome, they could still come up with a theory of property rights that accounts for the property rights of planes and right of way in the sky.  Murray Rothbard certainly demonstrated that it is possible to apply the NAP to all kinds of situations, many of which most people assumed it wasn't possible (e.g. property rights regarding radiowaves).  But the problem with the will is that it really is nontransferable.

We could say, supposing it is possible to actually transfer one's will, would it then be a valid contract?  Well, the will's inalienability seems to be the only objection to it being a valid contract, so sure.  And if we were to take it as a given that it is possible to alienate the will, then we could come up with all sorts of property rights regarding this fact.

But it is not a fact.  The will is inalienable.  And until such a time that it is possible to alienate it, any such contract regarding the alienability of the will is not valid.  Anybody is free to imagine a scenario where it is possible and then come up with rights regarding such a scenario, but it has no impact upon who is acting rightfully in the real world.

The fact that the will is (currently) inalienable does not necessarily prevent a person from believing otherwise, and furthermore to believe that it could be right in at least some circumstances for a person to alienate his will. That's all I'm saying. But you're right that, as long as it's impossible for one to alienate his will, there will be no acts of will-alienating to judge the rightness/wrongness of (if I understand you correctly).

gotlucky:
Right, that's what I had said in that paragraph.  I'm also adding that if no one possesses a certain ability, then there are no rights at all regarding this nonexistent ability.  No one can be acting rightfully in a situation regarding nonexistent abilities, as no one can even act in such a situation.

Again, there's a difference between an action and a claim, or between asserting a right and exercising it. For example, I can certainly claim the right to levitate even if I'm unable to actually do so.

gotlucky:
I don't see how I'm even attempting to derive an ought from an is.  I'm just saying that there are no rights regarding nonexistent possibilities.

That's precisely where it seems you're trying to derive an ought from an is. The fact that an action is impossible in no way means claims can't nevertheless be made about the rightness/wrongness of that action.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,679
Points 45,110
gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 11:34 AM

Minarchist:

Are you making the trivial point that a voluntary slavery contract involves the will because it is voluntary? In other words, voluntary contracts are voluntary?

Have you still not bothered to read the thread or the link I provided many times in this thread, and at least once to you?  And of course, this is after you claimed to have read the thread.  What I want to know is, why did you lie about that?  What did you possibly hope to gain by lying about reading the thread?

For your ease, I will quote Rothbard from the link that I provided you, a link that you obviously did not read:

THE RIGHT OF PROPERTY implies the right to make contracts about that property: to give it away or to exchange titles of ownership for the property of another person. Unfortunately, many libertarians, devoted to the right to make contracts, hold the contract itself to be an absolute, and therefore maintain that anyvoluntary contract whatever must be legally enforceable in the free society. Their error is a failure to realize that the right to contract is strictly derivable from the right of private property, and therefore that the only enforceable contracts (i.e., those backed by the sanction of legal coercion) should be those where the failure of one party to abide by the contract implies the theft of property from the other party. In short, a contract should only be enforceable when the failure to fulfill it is an implicit theft of property. But this can only be true if we hold that validly enforceable contracts only exist where title to property has already been transferred, and therefore where the failure to abide by the contract means that the other party’s property is retained by the delinquent party, without the consent of the former (implicit theft). Hence, this proper libertarian theory of enforceable contracts has been termed the “title-transfer” theory of contracts.

And this one is a requote.  In other words, I actually quoted this earlier in the thread, but you would have known this had you actually read the thread.  But instead, you feel like lying:

  Hence, the unenforceability, in libertarian theory, of voluntary slave contracts. Suppose that Smith makes the following agreement with the Jones Corporation: Smith, for the rest of his life, will obey all orders, under whatever conditions, that the Jones Corporation wishes to lay down. Now, in libertarian theory there is nothing to prevent Smith from making this agreement, and from serving the Jones Corporation and from obeying the latter’s orders indefinitely. The problem comes when, at some later date, Smith changes his mind and decides to leave. Shall he be held to his former voluntary promise? Our contention—and one that is fortunately upheld under present law—is that Smith’s promise was not a valid (i.e., not an enforceable) contract. There is no transfer of title in Smith’s agreement, because Smith’s control over his own body and will are inalienable. Since that control cannot be alienated, the agreement was not a valid contract, and therefore should not be enforceable. Smith’s agreement was a merepromise, which it might be held he is morally obligated to keep, but which should not be legally obligatory.

Minarchist:

What makes enforcement of the voluntary slavery contract aggression while enforcement of a loan contract is not aggression? Your previous statement ("any slave contract necessarily involves the will") appears to be your grounds for this claim above, but how can that trivial statement, which amounts to "voluntary contracts are voluntary" say anything about why voluntary slavery contracts are unenforceable, while other voluntary contracts are enforceable?

Well, read above.  But you wouldn't have to if you just read the thread like you claimed you did, or if you read the link that I provided for you and that I recommended many times in the thread, something you would have known had you read the thread like you claimed.

Minarchist:

To "control the body" does not mean to control the will. To "control the body" means to use violence against it for the purpose of control: e.g. beating. Slavery (of any kind) certainly involves violence.  What we are debating is whether or not the violence involved in voluntary slavery is aggression.

Well you must be using quite a definition for control.  No matter how much violence one uses against another's body, that person never will control that body.  But anyway, you would have understood my position and Rothbard's had you actually read the thread like you said you did.  But you didn't.

Minarchist:

You have thus far been unwilling and/or unable to defend your claim that the violence involved in voluntary slavery (i.e. "controlling the body") is aggression.

See, this is funny as hell, because I actually have quoted Rothbard on these claims, and he does provide an argument.  I have provided arguments as well, but I know for a fact that I quoted Rothbard's arguments.  You would know this, and wait for it, if you had read the thread like you claimed you did.

I'm curious, and I really am, why did you lie about reading the thread?  What did you hope to gain by lying about it instead of actually reading it?

  • | Post Points: 20
Page 2 of 4 (159 items) < Previous 1 2 3 4 Next > | RSS