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Inalienability of the self

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gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 11:39 AM

Minarchist:

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

I'm sorry, what?  In what way is it an unsupported claim to say that "Slavery concerns aggression"?  I provided a definition of slavery.  So, by definition, slavery concerns aggression.  This is not unsupported.

And in what way had I not supported the claim that "the inalienability of the will has to do with 'voluntary slavery'"?  We both stipulated to the fact that the inalienability of the will has nothing to do with plain old regular slavery.  And I know I quoted Rothbard's arguments and made my own regarding the lack of transfer of title regarding "voluntary slavery".

So, actually, it is clear that when you make this accusation that, wait for it, you did not read the thread like you claimed.  Why are you lying about reading it?  What do you hope to gain?

Minarchist:

No, you have stated that it is wrong.

Again, it is clear that, and wait for it, you did not read the thread.  I don't understand why you felt you had to lie about reading it. It's really strange to me.

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gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 11:40 AM

Minarchist:

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?

There is no transfer of title.  But you would have known this had you, and wait for it, read the damn thread like you claimed you did.

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gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 12:20 PM

Autolykos:

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).

Rothbard is saying that there is no valid contract without a transfer of title.  He is also saying that once there is a transfer of title, you have a right to your title, as it is your property.  I think wikipedia actually has a good explanation of what a title is:

Title is a legal term for a bundle of rights in a piece of property in which a party may own either a legal interest or an equitable interest. The rights in the bundle may be separated and held by different parties. It may also refer to a formal document that serves as evidence of ownership. Conveyance of the document may be required in order to transfer ownership in the property to another person. Title is distinct from possession, a right that often accompanies ownership but is not necessarily sufficient to prove it. In many cases, both possession and title may be transferred independently of each other.

In other words, the title demonstrates that you have property rights in whatever it is that the title is for.

Autolykos:

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.

Yeah, I think this get's cleared up once you read the definition of title.  Let me know if you don't think it does.

Autolykos:

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

Yeah, I think wikipedia has a good definition.  I really like how wikipedia explains that there are different concepts of rights: legal, moral, and just.  It uses more words, but the explanation is the same as mine.

Autolykos:

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.

Well, this all depends upon your definitions of these words.  I'm using the standard definitions.  If you look up the definitions of moral, morality, ethic, ethics, ethically, etc., you'll see that they all have to do with right and wrong behavior.  Wikipedia defines ethics as "moral philosophy".  Rothbard also uses the word "moral" to contrast it with his sense of just rights.  And Rothbard is using the word "moral" in the standard way.

Anyway, there are those 3 categories of how to understand rights, whatever you want to call them.

Autolykos:

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

I see what you are saying.  Let me rephrase. All rights must be understood in at least one of the following categories: legal rights, moral rights, and just rights.

You can certainly categorize rights into male rights and female rights, but even those must be understood in context of the aforementioned categories.  In other words, we might say that women have a right to an abortion, but in what sense?  Let's look at Ron Paul on the issue.  He has made it clear that he believes that abortion as a legal right should be left in the hands of the individual states.  He has also stated that he is morally against abortion.  As far as I know, he has been ambiguous (perhaps purposely) about the just rights of the issue.

So yes, we can say that there are male rights and female rights, but we must still view those in context of the 3 categories above.

Autolykos:

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.

Well, there can be truth found in claims on legal rights.  So I assume you are talking about one's conception of just or moral rights.  I'll explain a little more of what I'm trying to say further in, but I want to address some of your other points first:

Autolykos:

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.

As I stated, there are certainly legal rights.  So, no one had a legal right of way in the sky in Ancient Rome.  Part of what I'm trying to say is that if a dispute never arises, then one's opinions on how things ought to be are totally irrelevant.

Autolykos:

But a right can be asserted without being exercised.

Someone can certainly claim to have a right to whatever.  I'm trying to think of another way of putting what I'm trying to say.  Suppose there actually are such a thing as Kryptonians and Kryptonite, and they have a population on Earth.  What could we say about  people's right to bear Kryptonite?  Kryptonite is poisonous to Krypotonians, and possibly even lethal.  Would we have the right to bear Kryptonite in public?  Would it have to remain locked in lead at all times?

There are all sorts of rights we could derive about Kryptonians, based on the NAP or whim.  But there aren't any Kryptonians.  So there are no rights regarding them.  At best, we can say that should there be such beings known as Kryptonians and such a material known as Kryptonite, then we can say what their rights would be in such a situation.  But these situations do not exist.  We can have opinions about what we think should happen if they were to exist, but they don't.  So our opinions are about imaginary scenarios.

There is nothing inherently right or wrong about having opinions on imaginary scenarios, and some of these scenarios might be possible.  But we aren't saying that Kryptonians have a right to not be aggressed against with Kryptonite.  We are saying, should Kryptonians exist, they have a right to not be aggressed against with Kryptonite.

The will cannot be transferred.  At best, we can say that should the will be alienable, contracts regarding the will should be enforceable.  Should the will be alienable, people would have the right to take the wills that they have title to.  But the will is not alienable, so people don't have the right.

This won't stop someone from having an opinion, but that doesn't mean that there are actual rights involving the will.

Sorry that I'm not responding to the rest of your post, but I think this section does address the rest of your points.  Let me know what you think.

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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.

I'm familiar with this passage. I support the title transfer theory of contract. What I reject is the claim that somehow a voluntary slavery contract does not involve a transfer of title. It most certainly does: namely,  title to the property which is the slave's body.

Why is it that you think that no title transfer occurs in the case of a voluntary slavery contract?

If you're unsure about how to prove such a claim as you've made, you could consider comparing the case of the voluntary slavery contract with some other case of contract where you do believe title has been transferred, and identify the distinction between the two. Since I already provided a simple example of a creditor-debtor relationship and loan contract, perhaps you could compare that with the voluntary slave contract, and explain why the former involves title transfer but not the latter.

...or, alternatively, you could just keep repeating your unsupported claim while accusing me of not reading the thread. Is that working for you?

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gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 3:08 PM

It's like I'm talking to a fucking wall.  What part about this passage don't you understand:

 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.

Let me make this simple for you.  You have completely ignored this passage at least 3 times.  Now, if you believe that this is not a valid argument, you have to explain why.  It is not enough for you to just ignore it.  Is there a reason why you have ignored it 3 times now?

Wait, my mistake.

You ignored it 4 times.  JJ also posted it.  You would know this had you read the thread.  You are a fucking troll.

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Apparently, to your mind, disagreeing with your claims and repeatedly asking you to substantiate them equates to ignoring them. Reread this sentence for full comprehension.

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.

What does "control over his own body and will" mean? Does it mean the ability to will his body into motion and to willfully control the content of his own mind? If so, then that is precisely not what is being transferred in a voluntary slavery contract. You are attacking a strawman. You define slavery contrary to what slavery actually is: namely, control by one person over another's body (which means the right to use violence against that body), not control by one person over another's will.

Two questions:

Is the right to use violence* against a piece of matter a property right?

*N.B. To own property is to have the exclusive right to use that property, and in whatever way one pleases. To "use violence against" your own property is merely a subset of "to use" you own property.

Can this right be transferred by contract?

N.B. Does any of this sound familiar? Do you realize I'm chasing you in circles? That my original comments were entirely relevant, and you just didn't grasp the connection?

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gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 4:09 PM

Minarchist:

Apparently, to your mind, disagreeing with your claims and repeatedly asking you to substantiate them equates to ignoring them. Reread this sentence for full comprehension.

No. You ignored this quote numerous times. When you do so, it leaves me to believe that you have not read it. Especially considering when you asked me to substantiate, this is one of the ways I did it. So, when you ignore what I use to substantiate, what do you think I'm going to think of you? I can tell you what I'm not going to think: that you are criticizing what I am using to substantiate.

Minarchist:

What does "control over his own body and will" mean? Does it mean the ability to will his body into motion and to willfully control the content of his own mind? If so, then that is precisely not what is being transferred in a voluntary slavery contract.You are attacking a strawman. You define slavery contrary to what slavery actually is: namely, control by one person over another's body (which means the right to use violence against that body), not control by one person over another's will.

Well, this is a very interesting question, "what does control over his own body and will mean"? Well, let's look at my response to you when you brought this up before:

gotlucky:

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.

Now let's look at your response:

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.

My response:

gotlucky:

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.

Well, since that response didn't work the first time, I'll go with a different one.  Controlling a body does not mean using violence to coerce someone into doing what you want.  No matter how much a slave owner wants to "control" the body of his slave, he cannot. The body of the slave will only do what the slave wants it to do. Take Frederick Douglass. Not only did he actually fight with and beat up one of his overseers, he also ran away from his owner. Note how he did this against what his slave owner wanted? This is because the control of the body cannot be transferred. It's not possible.

Remember when Clayton stated that a man can still wave his arms and legs around in self-defense, even if he "transferred" his control? This is because control was never actually transferred.

However, don't forget that people can transfer body parts, such as a kidney. But one can alienate a kidney. You cannot alienate your body. That is not possible.

A "voluntary" slave contract entails "transferring" control of one's body to another person. This is an impossibility. This does not mean that it cannot exist legally. After all, there are plenty of societies that have had slavery. What it means is that it is incompatible with the title-transfer theory of contracts, which is the proper NAP libertarian theory of contracts.

 


 

If you go back and read our conversation, you will note that this is actually the first time you are addressing this point by Rothbard, that there has been no transfer of title of body, as control of the body cannot be alienated. This is why I was frustrated with you. You made several posts stating that I needed to demonstrate that it was inalienable, when all you had to do was just read the thread. You are now finally quoting the passage where Rothbard claims control of one's body cannot be transferred, and thus any contract stating such is invalid.

Perhaps I was too harsh on you, but you should really make a good faith effort to read what people have written already when asked. It took 4 times to get you to address this point when it should have only taken 1 time.

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gotlucky replied on Fri, Jun 29 2012 10:25 PM

The important thing to realize is that any "voluntary slavery" contract requires constant consent from the slave.  This is the result of an inalienable mind and body and will, or whatever you want to call it.  When a person agrees to be a slave and do his master's bidding, he never really transfers control of his mind or body or will or whatever you want to call it.  This is Rothbard's point.  There was no actual transfer.  The master still requires the slave to consent to anything.  And if the slave ever rescinds his consent, then the only way to force the slave (of course, some slaves may rebel until murdered) would be through aggression. Why is it aggression and not just plain old regular violence?  Because there was no transfer of title to the slaves body.

As I said before, one might be able to argue that certain body parts can be transferred as they are alienable, but something seems quite off about this.  But, even if we had a successful transfer of title regarding an eye or a kidney, the body as a whole cannot be transferred.  Someone could transfer control of a kidney, and maybe eye transplants will be done (perhaps they already are, though I have not heard of any), but the mind/body as a whole cannot be transferred.

I undertand that you are trying to say that a slave owner believes he owns the will of his slave, but that is not Rothbard's point.  Rothbard is just pointing out that the control has never been transferred, and that is what slavery is about: who is rightfully in control of any given body.  That rightful (just) control cannot be transferred [legal control can be transferred so long as the legal system allows for it].

I understand that this is rambling, but I really have no idea how to get this point across to you if you haven't already gotten it from reading Rothbard.  Rothbard's theory is based on title-transfer.  Without an actual transfer of title to the body (remember, the owner still doesn't control it), the contract is invalid.  Enforcing such a contract would require aggression.  Thus is it incompatible with the NAP and libertarianism.

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 12:12 AM

Autolykos,

So, I've been thinking more about the is-ought problem and rights, so I'm going to do two things.  First, I'm going to try to summarize our discussion accurately. Second, I'm going to try an answer that should satisfy both of us. cool

 

So, my argument started as this: If a certain scenario occurs, then we can say that someone is acting rightfully in this situation. This cannot occur, so we cannot say whether someone is acting rightfully.  So, this is an invalid argument.  It's form is: If p, then q.  Not p, therefore not q.  So it's an invalid attempt at modus ponens.

I believe your response to this has more or less been, "Let's just assume q.  There is no reason why we can't.  After all, people can have opinions."  So, I ended up responding, "If p, then q.  Not p, so it's a moot point."  (Okay, I didn't quite say it like that, but it's the essence of my response.)

As we have both agreed, rights are just another way of saying who is acting rightfully in any given situation.  I think there is a way to refine this.  If a situation occurs, then this is who is acting rightfully.  That is what rights are.  It should mean the same thing as "who is acting rightfully in any given situation".  I suppose the only difference is instead of saying, "When this situation occurs, this is who is acting rightfully," we are saying, "If this situation occurs, then this is who is acting rightfully."

So, while we can't solve the is-ought problem, we can say that it is a moot point.  Certainly we can say that if Kryptonians exist and Kryptonite is poisonous to them, then these are the rights involving such a scenario.  So long as there aren't Kryptonians and all that jazz, then it's a moot point.  No one can be acting rightfully regarding Kryptonite and Kryptonians as they don't exist.  But should they exist, then these would be the rights involved.

So, did I sum up our arguments accurately?  And what do you think of this answer?

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Again, you are defining "control of the body of the slave" as "control of the will of the slave." If "control of the will of the slave" were a necessary component of slavery, slavery could never have existed, because such control is impossible, correct? But, slavery obviously did exist, and therefore "control of the will of the slave" cannot possibly be a necessary component of slavery, correct? Hence I say you are defining slavery contrary to what slavery actually is, and then attacking that strawman.

You've expressed the following idea repeatedly:

No matter how much a slave owner wants to "control" the body of his slave, he cannot. The body of the slave will only do what the slave wants it to do. Take Frederick Douglass. Not only did he actually fight with and beat up one of his overseers, he also ran away from his owner. Note how he did this against what his slave owner wanted? This is because the control of the body cannot be transferred. It's not possible.

And I have stated repeatedly that I agree with you: transferring control of the will of the slave to the master is impossible. But this has nothing to do with slavery (voluntary or involuntary), because slavery does not in any way involve or pretend to involve transfer of control of the will of the slave to the master.

A "voluntary" slave contract entails "transferring" control of one's body to another person. This is an impossibility.

If by "transferring control of one's body to another person" you mean "transferring control of one's will to another person," then yes, it is impossible. However, that is not what slavery actually involves.

This does not mean that it cannot exist legally. After all, there are plenty of societies that have had slavery. What it means is that it is incompatible with the title-transfer theory of contracts, which is the proper NAP libertarian theory of contracts.

If I understand you correctly, you seem to be saying that the reason voluntary slavery is illegitimate per the title transfer theory of contract is that the title supposedly being transferred (title to the will of the slave) cannot actually be transferred. Thus there is no actual transfer of title, and no legitimate contract.

Again, I press you to appreciate that title to the will of the slave is not what is supposed to be transferred in a voluntary slave contract. Title to the physical body of the slave is what is supposed to be transferred. And it can be transferred.

Consider: I buy title to your physical body. I cannot "control your body" in the sense you mean (i.e. control your will), sure, but so what? If I buy title to a horse, I am buying title to the physical body of the horse, not to its will. The fact that I cannot control the will of the horse in no way means that I didn't obtain title to its physical body.

Finally:

However, don't forget that people can transfer body parts, such as a kidney. But one can alienate a kidney. You cannot alienate your body. That is not possible.

Possible in what sense? Alienation is a legal concept, it has nothing to do with physical separation. It is certainly possible to alienate your body (exhibit A: slavery has existed). What is impossible is for anyone to physically separate themselves from their body: but that has nothing to do with slavery.

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The important thing to realize is that any "voluntary slavery" contract requires constant consent from the slave.  This is the result of an inalienable mind and body and will, or whatever you want to call it. When a person agrees to be a slave and do his master's bidding, he never really transfers control of his mind or body or will or whatever you want to call it.

Regarding the underlined passage, that's true. Likewise, when I sign a loan contract obligating myself to repay a certain amount to the creditor, I don't alienate my will to him. Yet I still have an obligation to repay him, regardless of whether I change my mind later, correct? The creditor does not need my constant consent to collect the money I owe him, correct? He can collect the money I owe him without my consent, even using violence (it's violence but not aggression because, by definition, it is legitimiate violence being used by the creditor to obtain his rightful property), correct?

There was no actual transfer.

There was no transfer of will. There was a transfer of title to the physical body of the slave.

The master still requires the slave to consent to anything.  And if the slave ever rescinds his consent, then the only way to force the slave (of course, some slaves may rebel until murdered) would be through aggression. Why is it aggression and not just plain old regular violence?  Because there was no transfer of title to the slaves body.

But there was a transfer of title to the slaves body. The fact that the will is inalienable, and the will was not and cannot be transferred, has absolutely nothing to do with transfer of title ot the slave's body. His body is no different than that of a horse. And the fact that he can use his body contrary to the wishes of its new owner (the slavemaster) is no more signifcant than the fact that a horse can use its body (e.g. run away) contrary to the wishes of its owner.

Your argument, which I am criticizing, is "the will cannot be transferred, therefore a transfer of title to the body is also impossible." Non sequitur, unless you believe that the will and body are identical.

As I said before, one might be able to argue that certain body parts can be transferred as they are alienable, but something seems quite off about this.  But, even if we had a successful transfer of title regarding an eye or a kidney, the body as a whole cannot be transferred.  Someone could transfer control of a kidney, and maybe eye transplants will be done (perhaps they already are, though I have not heard of any), but the mind/body as a whole cannot be transferred.

As I mentioned earlier, you seem to be confusing the idea of alienation with the idea of physical separation. Alienation concerns a transfer pof property rights: it has nothing to with physical movement/separation. That it is physically impossible for anyone to separate themselves from their body (separate their body from their will/self) in no way means that it is impossible for the physical body to be alienated from the will/self. What is physically possible has no necessary relation to whether something is ethical/legal. (Others have repeatedly made this same point to you in this thread)

I undertand that you are trying to say that a slave owner believes he owns the will of his slave

What?! Thatis the exact opposite of what I'm saying. I am saying that a slave owner DOES NOT think he controls the will of the slave (unless this slave owner happens to be insane). What he thinks he owns (and does, if he bought it through a valid contract) is the body of the slave.

Rothbard is just pointing out that the control has never been transferred, and that is what slavery is about

Control of the body as you define it (control of the will) is impossible, and that is NOT what slavery is about. It is about control of the body in the sense I mean, i.e. ownership over the physical body. You appreciate that owning something and controlling its will are entirely distinct? Do you control your dog's will? Do you own him?

who is rightfully in control of any given body

Now, you just got done talking about how it is physically impossible to alienate the will, and here you talk about rights. Rightsd have nothing to do with physical possibility. You are again mixing up the realm of and is and the realm of ought.

I'm going to put your argument into syllogistic form:

1. The will is inalienable

2. A valid contract requires actual title transfer

Therefore: A contract pretending to transfer title to the will is invalid

(I'm with you so far...but then)

Therefore: a voluntary slavery contract is invalid.

You see: your entire argument rests on the assumption that slavery involves transfer of the will, which (as I already demonstrated) it cannot and does not.

If you define slavery as "ownership over the physical body of a person by some other person" you're argument changes to this (my argument):

1. The will is inalienable

2. A valid contract requires actual title transfer

3. A voluntary slavery contract involves transfer of title to the body of the slave

Therefore: a voluntary slavery conytract is valid.

N.B. that point #1 is entirely superfluous, as I keep pionting out (inalienability has nothing to do with this issue).

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 3:30 PM

Minarchist:

Again, you are defining "control of the body of the slave" as "control of the will of the slave." If "control of the will of the slave" were a necessary component of slavery, slavery could never have existed, because such control is impossible, correct? But, slavery obviously did exist, and therefore "control of the will of the slave" cannot possibly be a necessary component of slavery, correct? Hence I say you are defining slavery contrary to what slavery actually is, and then attacking that strawman.

In the first page of this thread, JJ posted a quote by Rothbard where he defined the will:

Specifically, a person cannot alienate his will, more particularly his control over his own mind and body.

The most important part for you apparently is the body aspect of the will.  The will is the mind and body.  In other words, it is impossible to transfer control of the mind and body to another person.

Minarchist:

And I have stated repeatedly that I agree with you: transferring control of the will of the slave to the master is impossible. But this has nothing to do with slavery (voluntary or involuntary), because slavery does not in any way involve or pretend to involve transfer of control of the will of the slave to the master.

Speaking of straw men, this is a good example of one.  I have repeatedly stated that no slave owner believes that he is controlling the will of his slave.  The point of the will is to demonstrate that controlling another person always requires aggression.  If you could actually transfer control, then we'd be having a different conversation.

Minarchist:

If by "transferring control of one's body to another person" you mean "transferring control of one's will to another person," then yes, it is impossible. However, that is not what slavery actually involves.

Slavery is involuntary servitude.  It requires aggression.  Voluntary servitude is an oxymoronic phrase.  Once the "slave" takes back his consent, it is no longer voluntary.  The point of the will (mind and body), is to show that control of the mind and control of the body cannot be transferred.  I have never stated that slavery involves the actual transfer of the will.  I thought I've been pretty clear about my belief that that is impossible.  I thought I've also been pretty clear that slavery requires aggression for it to be slavery.  I've repeatedly defined it as such.

Minarchist:

If I understand you correctly, you seem to be saying that the reason voluntary slavery is illegitimate per the title transfer theory of contract is that the title supposedly being transferred (title to the will of the slave) cannot actually be transferred. Thus there is no actual transfer of title, and no legitimate contract.

This is correct.  But remember, the will is control of the mind and body.  You cannot transfer that control.  It is physically impossible.

Minarchist:

Again, I press you to appreciate that title to the will of the slave is not what is supposed to be transferred in a voluntary slave contract. Title to the physical body of the slave is what is supposed to be transferred. And it can be transferred.

I think the problem here is your misunderstanding of Rothbard's definition of "will".  You can define will however you want to, but when you critique Rothbard's argument, you have to use his definition of will and not your own.  Rothbard is saying that you cannot transfer title to the body because the control has never changed.  The slave owner still requires constant consent from the slave in order for the slave to actually do anything the slave owner wants.

Minarchist:

Consider: I buy title to your physical body. I cannot "control your body" in the sense you mean (i.e. control your will), sure,but so what? If I buy title to a horse, I am buying title to the physical body of the horse, not to its will. The fact that I cannot control the will of the horse in no way means that I didn't obtain title to its physical body.

Well, Rothbard is a natural right's theorist, and I am not.  So I won't throw his arguments at you for this question, and if you wanted to read his, then you could easily open any of his books.  However, there is one chapter on animal rights where he makes a great point: Animals can have rights when they petition for them.

The point of this is that rights have to do with who is acting rightfully.  Obviously, vegetarians and vegans believe that animals ought to have rights.  I am not one of them.  Anyway, rights have to do with who is acting rightfully.  Humans have rights because we can actually argue as to who is acting rightfully.  Animals cannot do this with either each other or us.  At best they can posture and threaten.  But they can never reason with each other or us.  This is the source of rights (legal rights, we can conceive of whatever we think rights ought to be, but rights as they are come from argumentation).

So, we treat horses as property.  But remember, just because you cannot control its will does not mean this is the same thing as voluntary slavery.  The point about slavery is that it violates the NAP.  Owning a horse does not violate the NAP.  The analogy does not work.

Minarchist:

Possible in what sense? Alienation is a legal concept, it has nothing to do with physical separation. It is certainly possible to alienate your body (exhibit A: slavery has existed). What is impossible is for anyone to physically separate themselves from their body: but that has nothing to do with slavery.

Alienation is not only a legal concept.  And your exhibit A demonstrates your lack of understanding of the alienation.  Slavery does not alienate your body.  The master does not literally control the body of the slave.  The master still requires the consent (coerced though it may be) of the slave.  Slavery requires aggression, not alienation.

Again, just to repeat: I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, that the alienation of the will is what is happening in slavery.  The point of alienation is to demonstrate that slavery requires aggression.

Again, this is another thing I have said before: Obviously, it is possible to sell yourself into slavery legally if the law permits it.  But that is not what Rothbard is talking about.  He is saying that slavery, "voluntary" or involuntary (though he says that voluntary slavery is fine up until the point the slave takes back his consent), is not compatible with the NAP and thus libertarianism.  Again, Rothbard makes it clear that it is possible legally, but that is not his point and it also not mine either.  The point is that transfer of control of the body did not happen.  It can't be done.  The title wasn't transferred, even if they sign a piece of paper saying that control of the body has been transferred.

Again, obviously you can sign a piece of paper saying that you transfer your body to another and they can do whatever they want.  But just because you sign a piece of paper doesn't mean that you actually transferred the title of your body.  Your body still remains in your control.  If your master wants you to pick cotton, he still requires your consent (coerced though it may be) for this to happen.  Your master requires your constant consent.  This is because there has been no transfer of control, and thus no transfer of actual title.

Again, the piece of paper can say there was transfer of title.  And legally it can be recognized as such.  But a lot of things are legal that are incompatible with the NAP.  And this is one of them.

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 3:34 PM

Minarchist:

Regarding the underlined passage, that's true. Likewise, when I sign a loan contract obligating myself to repay a certain amount to the creditor, I don't alienate my will to him. Yet I still have an obligation to repay him, regardless of whether I change my mind later, correct? The creditor does not need my constant consent to collect the money I owe him, correct? He can collect the money I owe him without my consent, even using violence (it's violence but not aggression because, by definition, it is legitimiate violence being used by the creditor to obtain his rightful property), correct?

You have not signed a contract regarding your will.  You have signed a contract regarding your alienable property.

Minarchist:

What?! Thatis the exact opposite of what I'm saying. I am saying that a slave owner DOES NOT think he controls the will of the slave (unless this slave owner happens to be insane). What he thinks he owns (and does, if he bought it through a valid contract) is the body of the slave.

Isn't it annoying to have someone straw man your argument?  Now you know what it was like for me.

Minarchist:

 

1. The will is inalienable

2. A valid contract requires actual title transfer

Therefore: A contract pretending to transfer title to the will is invalid

(I'm with you so far...but then)

Therefore: a voluntary slavery contract is invalid.

You see: your entire argument rests on the assumption that slavery involves transfer of the will, which (as I already demonstrated) it cannot and does not.

You'll have to read my post above, as this is not what I'm saying.

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The will is the mind and body.

It is now clear that our entire disagreement (or at least the most important part of it) stems from differing definitions of will and body.

You believe will and body are identical.

I do not.

I would say that the will or the self (for the purpose of law [i.e. putting aside philosophical issues]) is the owner of the physical body.

You have signed a contract regarding your alienable property.

...hence, to my mind, a voluntary slavery contract is just that: me (i.e. my self or will or soul or person or whatever you like to call it) signing a contract where I sell my alienable property, my physical body.

Going forward, we need to debate which definition of will/body is better.

The only way to do this is to consider the consequences which follow from adopting each definition.

I believe I can make a reductio ad absurdum argument against your definition equating will and body.

First, though, I'll ask you to post a precise definition of will/body that you'd like me to use, so that we don't have any misunderstandings.

N.B. Unless I missed it, Rothbard doesn't give a precise definition, he just says: "a person cannot alienate his will, more particularly his control over his own mind and body." So would one say his definition of "will" is "control over one's own mind and body." Do you want to use that definition or make your own?

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And actually, as I read it, Rothbard does not equate will and body and mind. He says that the will controls both the body and the mind, and for one thing to control another thing suggests that the former and latter are two distinct things.

Is that your view, the will controls both body and mind? Or do you believe that the will, the body, and the mind are all identical (one thing)? That is, three names for one single thing. Or are they all integral and inseparable parts of one thing?

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 4:05 PM

The will is the mind and body.

Sometimes I do not mention the word control, but in the post you responded to, I actually did.  What I actually said was:

gotlucky:

But remember, the will is control of the mind and body.

Minarchist:

It is now clear that our entire disagreement (or at least the most important part of it) stems from differing definitions of will and body.

You believe will and body are identical.

I do not.

I do not believe so either.  Here is what Rothbard said (in the first page of this thread, no less):

Specifically, a person cannot alienate his will, more particularly his control over his own mind and body. Each man has control over his own mind and body. Each man has control over his own will and person, and he is, if you wish, "stuck" with that inherent and inalienable ownership. Since his will and control over his own person are inalienable, then so also are his rights to control that person and will.

This seems to be a good and accurate argument.  It also has a good definition of will.

Minarchist:

I would say that the will or the self (for the purpose of law [i.e. putting aside philosophical issues]) is the owner of the physical body.

That's fine, but you cannot use the definition in critiquing Rothbard's argument, as that would change Rothbard's argument.  You need to go with his definition if you want to critique his argument.

Minarchist:

...hence, to my mind, a voluntary slavery contract is just that: me (i.e. my self or will or soul or person or whatever you like to call it) signing a contract where I sell my alienable property, my physical body.

But that's the point.  Your body as a whole cannot be alienated from you.  You can alienate your hand, if you so choose.  Just chop it off.  It's no longer a part of you.  But your body as a whole, while made up of parts that can be alienated, cannot itself be alienated. To say otherwise would be to commit the fallacy of composition.

Minarchist:

Going forward, we need to debate which definition of will/body is better.

Well, I see nothing wrong with using Rothbard's definition, as his argument has been the source of our disagreement.

Minarchist:

I believe I can make a reductio ad absurdum argument against your definition equating will and body.

I believe I can make an accusation that this is a straw man of my definition.

Minarchist:

First, though, I'll ask you to post a precise definition of will/body that you'd like me to use, so that we don't have any misunderstandings.

Go with the Rothbard quote JJ provided and that I have requoted.

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 4:10 PM

Minarchist:

Now, you just got done talking about how it is physically impossible to alienate the will, and here you talk about rights. Rightsd have nothing to do with physical possibility. You are again mixing up the realm of and is and the realm of ought.

I am not mixing up the realm of is and ought.  My argument is entirely an ought argument.  Rothbard made it clear (and I agree with him) that contracts ought to be considered valid only if there is transfer of title.  In other words, a contract ought to be considered valid only if there is transfer of title.

So:

1. A contract ought to be considered valid only if there is a transfer of title.

2. There is no transfer of title in a voluntary slave contract.

Therefore,

3. A voluntary slave contract ought to be considered invalid.

There is no is-ought problem here.  I am not deriving an ought from an is.

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Alienation is not only a legal concept.  And your exhibit A demonstrates your lack of understanding of the alienation.  Slavery does not alienate your body.  The master does not literally control the body of the slave.  The master still requires the consent (coerced though it may be) of the slave.  Slavery requires aggression, not alienation.

The underlines passage implies that you believe that controlling a unit of property is a necessary condition for owning that unit of property.

Is that your view?

Let's assume arguendo that will and body are inseparable.

Are you saying that, for A to own B, it would be necessary for A to control both the mind and body of B?

Now, let us consider a more mundane example of property ownership.

In your view, is it necessary for A to control a tractor in order for A to own that tractor?

In other words, is control of the property a necessary condition for property ownership only when the property includes will (as with a person, per your definition which makes will and body somehow inseperable)? Or is control a necessary condition for all instances of property ownership: i.e. even when the property in question is purely body without will (e.g. a tractor)?

Again, just to repeat: I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, that the alienation of the will is what is happening in slavery.

You are saying that, in order for a voluntary slavery contract to be valid, there has to be a title transfer. Such a title transfer (of the will and body as one, per your definition) is impossible. Therefore, a voluntary slavery cannot be valid. I'm saying that your assumption that voluntary slavery would have to involve transfer of title to the will is wrong, and that it would only have to involve transfer of title to the body.

Hence our problem is how each of us defines will/body/ect.

 

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That's fine, but you cannot use the definition in critiquing Rothbard's argument, as that would change Rothbard's argument.  You need to go with his definition if you want to critique his argument.

If I were claiming that his argument is invalid (i.e. conclusions don't logically follow from premises) then you'd be right in saying that I must stick with his premises. But that's no my claim. I'm claiming that his argument is unsound, not because it's invalid, but because its conclusions are false (because its premises are false).

 

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For the record:

Go with the Rothbard quote JJ provided and that I have requoted.

So you believe:

(a) will controls body and mind

(b) will, body, and mind are not identical

(c) will, body, and mind are inseparable

(no need to respond if this is a correct statement of your views)

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 4:40 PM

Minarchist:

The underlines passage implies that you believe that controlling a unit of property is a necessary condition for owning that unit of property.

There are a few problems here.  Are you talking about legal ownership or just ownership? Also, it does not imply that. One could argue that being able to control something is a necessary condition. I do not believe that either, as that would mean that the fully paralyzed do not own anything.  But you can see that this statement does not imply what you said.

Minarchist:

Is that your view?

Nope.

Minarchist:

Let's assume arguendo that will and body are one identical thing.

If you would like.

Minarchist:

Are you saying that, for A to own B, it would be necessary for A to control both the mind and body of B?

I have nothing to say about this, as we are not using my definition of will.

Minarchist:

Now, let us consider a more mundane example of property ownership.

In your view, is it necessary for A to control a tractor in order for A to own that tractor?

As stated above, I do not consider control to be a necessary aspect of ownership.

If you must know, I consider title to be necessary and sufficient for ownership. And, since that title cannot be transferred in the case of the will, ownership of your will always remains with yourself.

Minarchist:

In other words, is control of the property a necessary condition for property ownership only when the property includes will (as with a person, per your definition which makes will and body somehow inseperable)? Or is control a necessary condition for all instances of property ownership: i.e. even when the property in question is purely body without will (e.g. a tractor)?

My answer is above.

Minarchist:

You are saying that, in order for a voluntary slavery contract to be valid, there has to be a title transfer. Such a title transfer (of the will and body as one, per your definition) is impossible. Therefore, a voluntary slavery cannot be valid. I'm saying that your assumption that voluntary slavery would have to involve transfer of title to the will is wrong, and that it would only have to involve transfer of title to the body.

Well, you can define things however you want, but the control of your mind and body always remain with you.  The only way to alienate any part of your body is to physically remove it from your body.  But your body as a whole cannot be removed from yourself. To say otherwise is to commit the fallacy of composition.

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 4:43 PM

Minarchist:

If I were claiming that his argument is invalid (i.e. conclusions don't logically follow from premises) then you'd be right in saying that I must stick with his premises. But that's no my claim. I'm claiming that his argument is unsound, not because it's invalid, but because its conclusions are false (because its premises are false).

That is not what I said.  You cannot insert your own definition into Rothbard's argument in order to prove him wrong.  If I defined will as tractor, then I most certainly could prove that the will is alienable, as tractors are alienable.  But the will, as Rothbard has defined it, is inalienable.  There is not much purpose to critiquing his argument if you can just insert whatever definitions you want in place of his own.

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 4:45 PM

Minarchist:

(c) will, body, and mind are inseparable

Just to be clear, the body as a whole is inseparable from yourself.  Body parts are alienable.

Also, to be clear, this has to do with living people.  Dead people have no will to control the body.  You can own dead bodies.

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You said previously:

Slavery does not alienate your body.  The master does not literally control the body of the slave.

I asked if this implied that control by the matser of the slaves body is a necessary condition for him to own the slave. You responded:

it does not imply that

...Then what is the sense of the underlined passage? The second sentence reads like a justification of the first, so that I read the entire passage as "slavery does no0t alienate your body because the master does not literally control the body of the slave." That is, To own the slave's body the master must control it. If that is not your position, then what is the relation between these two statements:

Slavery does not alienate your body.

The master does not literally control the body of the slave.

I said: " Let's assume arguendo that will and body are one identical thing. Are you saying that, for A to own B, it would be necessary for A to control both the mind and body of B?"

You responded:

I have nothing to say about this, as we are not using my definition of will.

Yes, I know, I went back and changed my statement to reflect your definition. It now reads: "...will and body are inseparable"

So I ask again, in your view,  in order for A to own B, would it be necessary for A to control both the mind and body of B?

I consider title to be necessary and sufficient for ownership.

And, in order to have title to something, does one need to have control of that thing?

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Just to be clear, the body as a whole is inseparable from yourself.  Body parts are alienable.

Also, to be clear, this has to do with living people.  Dead people have no will to control the body.  You can own dead bodies.

Understood.

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That is not what I said.  You cannot insert your own definition into Rothbard's argument in order to prove him wrong.  If I defined will as tractor, then I most certainly could prove that the will is alienable, as tractors are alienable.  But the will, as Rothbard has defined it, is inalienable.  There is not much purpose to critiquing his argument if you can just insert whatever definitions you want in place of his own.

Learn the difference between validity, truth, and soundness.

http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/tvs.html

If one wishes to call an argument invalid, then one must show that the conclusion does not logically follow from the premise: i.e. one must uphold the premise, and work through the argument showing the logical error which makes the conclusion not follow therefrom.

Whereas, if one wishes to call an argument unsound (not because it is invalid, but because it is false), then one must show that the premises are false. That's what I'm doing. Rothbard's argument is valid but unsound.

Suppose I say:

1. All dogs are blue

2. Rex is a dog

Therefore, Rex is blue.

According to your reasoning, if you disagreed with this argument, you'd have to accept my premise (all dogs are blue). But that's absurd. You see that the argument is valid, it just isn't true, because all dogs are not blue.

Get it?

 

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(Another way of thinking about it)

You: I consider title to be necessary and sufficient for ownership.

Me: And, in order to have title to something, does one need to have control of that thing?

The will is physically inalienable: i.e. it is physically impossible for the will to be separated from the body. (A better term would be physically inseparable, as then we don't get the legal concept of alienation confused with physical separation).

From the fact that the will cannot be physically separated from the body, does it follow that the will should not be alienable in the legal sense? If so, why? Make a syllogism.

Another issue:

Suppose I want to buy a family heirloom from someone. This thing has a physical body, it also has non-physical components/properties (sentimental value to some people). The non-physical components cannot be sold, because they are not eligable to be property (not scarce). Does it follow that the hairloom cannot be sold? Presumably not, of course you can sell the heirloom. The non-physical properties thereof simply don't come into question in a property transaction.

Perhaps one could say the same about buying a slave. The will is not property, it is a non-physical component of the slave, and so it simply does not come into play.

What is the distinction between the two cases?

By way of anticipating your agument, maybe a distinction one could posit is that the will is inseparable from the body of the slave, while the sentimental value of the heirloom is separable from the heirloom. But is that true? Does that even make sense? Are we now putting "sentimental value" of objects in a different category of non-physical things from "will?" If so, why? Seems to me the cases are alike: the will cannot exist without the body (but not the other way around), and the sentimental value of the heirloom cannot exist without the heirloom (but not the other way around).

Maybe one would make another objection: that the sentimental value only exists for some people: i.e. it is not an objective prioperty of the heirloom. But does "will" exist objectively? No, of course not. From the perspective of every individual person, every other person is an automaton. The will is not knowable objectively.

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Sorry to be flooding you with posts, but here's another consideration:

Here's a postulate: "if one part of some thing is physically inseparable from that thing, and cannot be legally alienated because it's not property, the thing as a whole cannot be sold."

Do you agree with this?

Consider: I want to buy a house, which is painted red. It is impossible to physically separate the redness (not the paint, but the non-physical property "redness") of the house from the house itself. If the above postulate is true, then it follows that I should not be able to buy the house, because a part of it which is inseparable form the rest is inalienable.

Once again, what's the distinction between this case and the case of a voluntary slave contract? Redness:house::will:body ....or not?

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 5:33 PM

Minarchist:

 

Learn the difference between validity, truth, and soundness.

http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/tvs.html

If one wishes to call an argument invalid, then one must show that the conclusion does not logically follow from the premise: i.e. one must uphold the premise, and work through the argument showing the logical error which makes the conclusion not follow therefrom.

Whereas, if one wishes to call an argument unsound (not because it is invalid, but because it is false), then one must show that the premises are false. That's what I'm doing. Rothbard's argument is valid but unsound.

Okay, that is just plain fucking annoying.  Do you know what modus ponens is?  If p, then q.  P, therefore q.  Guess what?  You cannot prove that the argument is invalid by inserting your own definition of p.  The argument is valid.  Period.

Rothbard is making the argument:

If there is no transfer of title, then the contract is invalid.

There is no transfer of title regarding the will, therefore the contract is invalid.

If you go ahead and define will as whatever the fuck you want, then of course you can make his conclusion sound ridiculous.  If you want to prove him wrong, you don't go ahead and redefine his words, you show how his premise is false.  His argument is valid.  It's the premise you have a problem with.

Take this:

If the sun is out, then it is day.

The sun is out, therefore it is day.

You don't go ahead and try to prove this wrong by saying:

Well, let's define sun as moon.

If the sun is out, therefore it is day.

The sun is out, therefore it is day.

Aha! Rothbard is wrong! See, his premise is false!

Jesus fucking Christ.

Minarchist:

 

Suppose I say:

1. All dogs are blue

2. Rex is a dog

Therefore, Rex is blue.

According to your reasoning, if you disagreed with this argument, you'd have to accept my premise (all dogs are blue). But that's absurd. You see that the argument is valid, it just isn't true, because all dogs are not blue.

LOL! No, this is not at all what you did. You were saying, "Let's define will differently".  You were not saying that Rothbard's definition of the will is false. In the case of dogs, I am not saying, "Let's use a different definition of dog and a different definition of blue".  I'm just going to go ahead and say that the proposition "all dogs are blue" is false.

There is a difference here. You never said that Rothbard's definition was false. You said you preferred a different definition. And in the case of words, there is no objective truth. There are concepts, and then there are the words we use to communicate those concepts.  Rothbard uses the word "will" to communicate the concept "control of the mind and body".

Don't be a fucking prat.

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Do you know what modus ponens is?  If p, then q.  P, therefore q.  Guess what?  You cannot prove that the argument is invalid by inserting your own definition of p.  The argument is valid.  Period.

O, is that what I'm doing?

If I were claiming that his argument is invalid (i.e. conclusions don't logically follow from premises) then you'd be right in saying that I must stick with his premises. But that's not my claim. I'm claiming that his argument is unsound, not because it's invalid, but because its conclusions are false (because its premises are false).

Again, learn the difference between validity, truth, and soundness.

1. All dogs are blue

2. Rex is a dog

C: Rex is blue

...is a valid argument, but it is also a false (and therefore unsound) argument because #1 is false.

For the 3rd time I now say, Rothbard makes a valid argument. But it is also a false argument because the premises are false (i.e. the definition is no good, as I would be further along in demostrating presently if you would just stay on point and stop having temper tantrums every fifteen minutes).

If you go ahead and define will as whatever the fuck you want, then of course you can make his conclusion sound ridiculous.  If you want to prove him wrong, you don't go ahead and redefine his words, you show how his premise is false.  His argument is valid.  It's the premise you have a problem with.

Correct, as I've said multiple times. Like here:

If I were claiming that his argument is invalid (i.e. conclusions don't logically follow from premises) then you'd be right in saying that I must stick with his premises. But that's not my claim. I'm claiming that his argument is unsound, not because it's invalid, but because its conclusions are false (because its premises are false).

Anyway....

You were saying, "Let's define will differently".  You were not saying that Rothbard's definition of the will is false.

I said:

It is now clear that our entire disagreement (or at least the most important part of it) stems from differing definitions of will and body...Going forward, we need to debate which definition of will/body is better. The only way to do this is to consider the consequences which follow from adopting each definition. I believe I can make a reductio ad absurdum argument against your definition equating will and body.

So....I was proposing a definition contradictory to Rothbard's, but in your mind I wasn't disagreeing with Rothbard's? I see.

And in the case of words, there is no objective truth.

Not sure what you mean by this vague statement, but I assume it's something to the effect of "every author has the right to define things as he pleases." And that's certainly true. No one definition is more true than any other per se. However, there are consequences to adopting each and every definition. Hence I proposed analyzing what consequences would follow from Rothbard's. I said that I thought I could reduce it to absurdity: i.e. show that it has consequences which would be unacceptable for libertarians, thus prompting its abandonment.

 

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Well that's the problem with your argument.  Slavery does not mean that.  Slavery is forced servitude.  It is not voluntary, despite what Block may try to say.

Then Rothbard's argument is faulty.  I agree with most of what Autolykos and Minarchist have said. There have now been five people in this thread who have dissented from your Rothbardian position. Maybe you should start considering whether we might be on to something instead of calling us "fucking trolls."

I've read the Rothbard piece. It's rubbish. For one, Rothbard doesn't seem to consider the fact that a transfer of property is a promise. If I sell my house, I obligate myself to certain behaviors. I have to leave the house, I can't return to it without the new owner's permission. If I don't conform to the behavior specified by the new owner, then he has the right to forcibly move my body. Property is always about the governing of people's behavior in regard to an object. It has nothing to do with the physical properties of the object itself.

I have attempted to understand your arguments in two ways:

1) X is impossible, therefore one ought not do X

This you say is not what you are arguing. The only other thing I can think of that you might be arguing is something like this:

2) X is impossible, therefore one ought not do Y

The second argument is even worse than the first. It's either a non sequitur or begging the question.

I am not mixing up the realm of is and ought.  My argument is entirely an ought argument.  Rothbard made it clear (and I agree with him) that contracts ought to be considered valid only if there is transfer of title.  In other words, a contract ought to be considered valid only if there is transfer of title.

And this is what tells me that you are just begging the question. The whole question is whether there is a transfer of title of the person's body. Since, as you admit, slavery does not involve the alienation of the will, then we can only be talking about the right of the slave owner to forcibly act on the slave's body. Rothbard's assertion that one can't alienate one's control over their body is either wrong or undermines his other arguments. Because I can move my hand doesn't mean that I have to move it. If the fact that I can move it means that it is inalienable, then just about everything is inalienable. I can still control my car even after I sell it, therefore the contract by which I sold it is not binding. So I don't see why my ability to move my hand means that I can't give someone the life-long right to whip my hand.

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gotlucky replied on Sat, Jun 30 2012 11:56 PM

Troll on the Hill:

Then Rothbard's argument is faulty.  I agree with most of what Autolykos and Minarchist have said. There have now been five people in this thread who have dissented from your Rothbardian position. Maybe you should start considering whether we might be on to something instead of calling us "fucking trolls."

I was not aware we were supposed to keep count on who agreed with whom.  But if you must: JJ, That Old Guy, Conza88, NonAntiAnarchist, and myself have all been on the side of Rothbard.  So what?  There are five people in this thread that disagree with you, Troll on the Hill.  Maybe you should start considering whether we might on to something instead of leveling false accusations at me.

What?!?!? What did I just say? False accusation? Strange. What could I mean? I know what it is! You have falsely accused me of calling you a fucking troll.  And you have accused me of calling Autolykos a fucking troll. But I have not done this. I reread the thread (okay, okay, I actually did ctrl + f and searched for troll), and guess what? The only person I accused of being a troll was Minarchist.

So, Troll on the Hill, what's with the dishonesty?  Okay, I take it back.  This post is the first time in this thread that I am now calling you a troll.  But seeing as you are making false accusations, I think you deserve it.

Furthermore, the reason I accused Minarchist of trolling was because he was claiming to have read the thread, but it was clear he had not done so, as there were many questions of his that were actually already answered in the thread. Consider Rothbard's definition of the will, that it is control of the mind and body. This was stated in the third post in the thread. It was after I accused Minarchist of trolling that he finally acknowledged Rothbard's definition, and he only did that after I had to show him that JJ already posted it. In other words, he did not read the thread, because if he did, he would have already known Rothbard's definition (and thus mine, as I stated I agreed with Rothbard).

Anyway, I did not think that I had to start in on why I thought Minarchist was trolling, but seeing as you made it relevant by falsely accusing me, I felt I needed to use an example. So, Minarchist, if you are reading this, I actually don't think you are trying to troll me. I probably shouldn't have said that to you. But I hope you can understand my frustration that there were many things that you were asking me that had already been answered in the thread, and you had claimed to have read the thread. I didn't want to rehash this, but Troll on the Hill made it relevant.

Troll on the Hill:

I've read the Rothbard piece. It's rubbish. For one, Rothbard doesn't seem to consider the fact that a transfer of property is a promise. If I sell my house, I obligate myself to certain behaviors. I have to leave the house, I can't return to it without the new owner's permission. If I don't conform to the behavior specified by the new owner, then he has the right to forcibly move my body. Property is always about the governing of people's behavior in regard to an object. It has nothing to do with the physical properties of the object itself.

Well, seeing as you have yet to actually accurately restate Rothbard's argument, I couldn't care less what you think of it.  You have inserted your own definitions in place of Rothbard's, and that is dishonest.  But I see that you are a dishonest person, as you have falsely accused me.

Troll on the Hill:

I have attempted to understand your arguments in two ways:

1) X is impossible, therefore one ought not do X

This you say is not what you are arguing. The only other thing I can think of that you might be arguing is something like this:

2) X is impossible, therefore one ought not do Y

The second argument is even worse than the first. It's either a non sequitur or begging the question.

See my last post to Autolykos. I explain myself better there. All I can say is what you have posted here is inaccurate. I would give you the benefit of the doubt, but seeing as you have blatantly lied about me, I think you are purposely mistating my argument.

Troll on the Hill:

And this is what tells me that you are just begging the question. The whole question is whether there is a transfer of title ofthe person's bodySince, as you admit, slavery does not involve the alienation of the will, then we can only be talking about the right of the slave owner to forcibly act on the slave's body. Rothbard's assertion that one can't alienate one's control over their body is either wrong or undermines his other arguments. Because I can move my hand doesn't mean that I have to move it. If the fact that I can move it means that it is inalienable, then just about everything is inalienable. I can still control my car even after I sell it, therefore the contract by which I sold it is not binding. So I don't see why my ability to move my hand means that I can't give someone the life-long right to whip my hand.

There is nothing question begging in what you quoted. I am not assuming that voluntary slavery is aggression because it is. That is not my argument. I am stating why I believe it is aggression. That you disagree with my argument in no way makes it question begging. For it to be a circular argument, I would have to state in my premises that voluntary slavery is aggressive.

I have not done this.

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Jul 1 2012 12:37 AM

Minarchist:

O, is that what I'm doing?

Yes, it was. You wanted to use a different definition of "will" to insert in Rothbard's argument. It doesn't work like that.

Minarchist:

Again, learn the difference between validity, truth, and soundness.

I am fully aware of the differences. The problem is that you are trying to prove Rothbard is wrong by using a different definition of a word he uses. You can't do that to prove someone is wrong.

Minarchist:

1. All dogs are blue

2. Rex is a dog

C: Rex is blue

...is a valid argument, but it is also a false (and therefore unsound) argument because #1 is false.

Well, now I get to belittle you. Don't you know that arguments cannot be false? Conclusions can be false, but not arguments. Learn the difference between validity, truth, and soundness.

Minarchist:

For the 3rd time I now say, Rothbard makes a valid argument. But it is also a false argument because the premises are false (i.e. the definition is no good, as I would be further along in demostrating presently if you would just stay on point and stop having temper tantrums every fifteen minutes).

Well there you go again with this false argument nonsense. Arguments are valid or invalid, not true or false. Perhaps you should learn the difference between truth, validity, and soundness.

So, you can see that you accusing me of not understanding these concepts is silly, as you have demonstrated that you don't understand them yourself. We can all be ignorant together.

Minarchist:

(i.e. the definition is no good, as I would be further along in demostrating presently if you would just stay on point and stop having temper tantrums every fifteen minutes).

Definitions do not have truth values. Whether or not it is the case that someone uses a specific definition can have a truth value. In other words, it is true that Rothbard defined will as the control of the mind and body. But there is no truth value in and of itself regarding that specific definition of the will.

Minarchist:

So....I was proposing a definition contradictory to Rothbard's, but in your mind I wasn't disagreeing with Rothbard's? I see.

Let's look at that quote again:

Minarchist:

It is now clear that our entire disagreement (or at least the most important part of it) stems from differing definitions of will and body...Going forward, we need to debate which definition of will/body is better. The only way to do this is to consider the consequences which follow from adopting each definition. I believe I can make a reductio ad absurdum argument against your definition equating will and body.

First, which definition is better is a matter of subjective values, not truth values. So you cannot say his premise is false because he uses a definition that you think is worse than yours.

Second, you have inaccurately stated my definition (and Rothbard's). So, if you cannot accurately state his definition, how can I know if you think it is a false definition? And of course, as I stated above, definitions do not have truth values.

My, my...

Minarchist:

Not sure what you mean by this vague statement, but I assume it's something to the effect of "every author has the right to define things as he pleases." And that's certainly true. No one definition is more true than any other per se. However, there are consequences to adopting each and every definition. Hence I proposed analyzing what consequences would follow from Rothbard's. I said that I thought I could reduce it to absurdity: i.e. show that it has consequences which would be unacceptable for libertarians, thus prompting its abandonment.

Hm, something here is interesting.  I know what it is. I said this:

gotlucky:

You were saying, "Let's define will differently".  You were not saying that Rothbard's definition of the will is false.

And then you said this:

Minarchist:

So....I was proposing a definition contradictory to Rothbard's, but in your mind I wasn't disagreeing with Rothbard's? I see.

Are you saying that if you disagree with someone else's definition, that their definition is false? Because I never claimed that because you proposed a different definition, that you did not disagree.  Obviously you disagree on the definition. I specifically stated:

gotlucky:

 

You were not saying that Rothbard's definition of the will is false.

There is a difference.

Anyway, back to your quote:

Minarchist:

Not sure what you mean by this vague statement, but I assume it's something to the effect of "every author has the right to define things as he pleases." And that's certainly true. No one definition is more true than any other per se. However, there are consequences to adopting each and every definition. Hence I proposed analyzing what consequences would follow from Rothbard's. I said that I thought I could reduce it to absurdity: i.e. show that it has consequences which would be unacceptable for libertarians, thus prompting its abandonment.

Now that you understand that definitions have no truth value, I should think you would have gone back and corrected the previous sections of your post. I wonder why you didn't.

Anyway, you cannot insert your own definition in order to prove a proposition false. That is not how it works. I will now demonstrate the problem with this again. I say again because you conviently ignored my example about the sun and the moon in your response.

Let's suppose that I were to state the following "poem".

Monkey see, monkey do.

Monkey pee all over you.

Now, let's suppose I say that if words end in the same sound, then they are said to rhyme. So, I now make the following claim: See and pee rhyme, and do and you rhyme.

Now, let's suppose arguendo that you disagree with my definition of rhyme. You think that it is not a true definition (or is that good definition? I can't tell if you think definitions have truth values or are subjectively valued). You think that a better definition of rhyme would be words that have the same amount of letters.

So, using this new definition, you then say that see and pee rhyme, but the words do and poo do not rhyme. Then you say,"Aha! You are wrong, gotlucky!"  Only some of those words you claimed to rhyme actually rhyme.

But you see, the thing is, you have not disproved anything. You have only shown that if you use a different definition, that  different conclusions  can be drawn.

We can now look at the syllogism that you provided as well:

Minarchist:

 

1. All dogs are blue

2. Rex is a dog

C: Rex is blue

 

Now, I don't think you have a true conclusion (note how I don't say that you have a false argument? You might want to study up on the differences between truth, validity, and soundness). So, in order to prove you wrong, I am going to substitute a better definition of the word blue (or maybe I should say a true definition? After all, it might be the case that you actually think definitions have truth values).

I suggest that the true (or is it better?) definition of the word blue is colorful. Let's take a look at your syllogism again:

Minarchist:

 

1. All dogs are colorful

2. Rex is a dog

C: Rex is colorful

Aha! So you see, if I just redefine the word blue, we can solve your syllogism and make it a sound argument! Tada!

Now, having said all this about definitions, I want to show you an example of when it might be useful to insert definitions. Let's take the word murder. Now, the definition of murder that I typically use is unjustified homicide. There may or may not be anything wrong with that, but it will do for our purposes. Now, let's suppose that there is some extreme pacifist, and he defines murder as homicide. That's it. That's all. He makes no distinctions in the kind of homicide.

Now, let's look at the implications. Using this definition of murder would mean that we would be calling any death of a human in self-defense a murder. I do not like that. It does not fit my conception of murder. So, anyone who believes that the word murder should not allow for that will reject that definition of murder.

But here's the thing: it's still not a false definition. We can merely show that it is a definition we don't like subjectively. That is the purpose of inserting definitions. It demonstrates that we would be using words in a way that we would not like to. But it does not make these definitions false.

You can dislike Rothbard's definition of will all you want. But if you are going to critique his argument, you must use his definition. His definition of will is integral to his argument. Changing the definition means you are no longer talking about Rothbard's argument.

If you want to show that Rothbard's argument leads to conclusions that conflict with the NAP, leave his definition of the will alone. I can't believe I had to write all of this, but you were jumping down my throat on the issue. You left me no choice.

 

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gotlucky:
Rothbard is saying that there is no valid contract without a transfer of title.  He is also saying that once there is a transfer of title, you have a right to your title, as it is your property.  I think wikipedia actually has a good explanation of what a title is:

Title is a legal term for a bundle of rights in a piece of property in which a party may own either a legal interest or an equitable interest. The rights in the bundle may be separated and held by different parties. It may also refer to a formal document that serves as evidence of ownership. Conveyance of the document may be required in order to transfer ownership in the property to another person. Title is distinct from possession, a right that often accompanies ownership but is not necessarily sufficient to prove it. In many cases, both possession and title may be transferred independently of each other.

In other words, the title demonstrates that you have property rights in whatever it is that the title is for.

Thanks for that. It goes along with what I've read before about the Rothbardian position on contracts - and also with the Rothbardian notion that all rights are property rights. Unfortunately, I think I disagree with this position. A contract that stipulates A may whip B under certain conditions (such as B disobeying A) could be a valid contract IMO, but I don't see where any title has been transferred there. Maybe a title has been transferred concerning a particular "use" of B's body?

gotlucky:
Yeah, I think this get's cleared up once you read the definition of title.  Let me know if you don't think it does.

It's cleared up to an extent, but see above.

gotlucky:
Yeah, I think wikipedia has a good definition.  I really like how wikipedia explains that there are different concepts of rights: legal, moral, and just.  It uses more words, but the explanation is the same as mine.

I'm sorry but I still don't see how those three different concepts of rights are necessary, whereas any other concept of rights isn't.

gotlucky:
Well, this all depends upon your definitions of these words.  I'm using the standard definitions.  If you look up the definitions of moral, morality, ethic, ethics, ethically, etc., you'll see that they all have to do with right and wrong behavior.  Wikipedia defines ethics as "moral philosophy".  Rothbard also uses the word "moral" to contrast it with his sense of just rights.  And Rothbard is using the word "moral" in the standard way.

Anyway, there are those 3 categories of how to understand rights, whatever you want to call them.

That's why I consciously use non-standard definitions for certain words, like "morality". The standard definition of "morality" doesn't distinguish between coercive and non-coercive activities.

gotlucky:
I see what you are saying.  Let me rephrase. All rights must be understood in at least one of the following categories: legal rights, moral rights, and just rights.

You can certainly categorize rights into male rights and female rights, but even those must be understood in context of the aforementioned categories.  In other words, we might say that women have a right to an abortion, but in what sense?  Let's look at Ron Paul on the issue.  He has made it clear that he believes that abortion as a legal right should be left in the hands of the individual states.  He has also stated that he is morally against abortion.  As far as I know, he has been ambiguous (perhaps purposely) about the just rights of the issue.

So yes, we can say that there are male rights and female rights, but we must still view those in context of the 3 categories above.

Again, I don't see how those three categories are at all necessary for viewing rights per se. Maybe you actually mean they're necessary for viewing rights given the world as it exists today?

gotlucky:
Well, there can be truth found in claims on legal rights.  So I assume you are talking about one's conception of just or moral rights.  I'll explain a little more of what I'm trying to say further in, but I want to address some of your other points first:

So you're talking about whether a given legal code contains a specific right. That's fine, but just because it's written down somewhere doesn't mean it per se obligates people to agree with it, accept it, etc.

gotlucky:
As I stated, there are certainly legal rights.  So, no one had a legal right of way in the sky in Ancient Rome.  Part of what I'm trying to say is that if a dispute never arises, then one's opinions on how things ought to be are totally irrelevant.

They're functionally irrelevant in the context of certain kinds of dispute, as no such dispute has ever arisen. But that's beside my point, which was simply to show the independence between "is" and "ought".

gotlucky:
Someone can certainly claim to have a right to whatever.  I'm trying to think of another way of putting what I'm trying to say.  Suppose there actually are such a thing as Kryptonians and Kryptonite, and they have a population on Earth.  What could we say about  people's right to bear Kryptonite?  Kryptonite is poisonous to Krypotonians, and possibly even lethal.  Would we have the right to bear Kryptonite in public?  Would it have to remain locked in lead at all times?

There are all sorts of rights we could derive about Kryptonians, based on the NAP or whim.  But there aren't any Kryptonians.  So there are no rights regarding them.  At best, we can say that should there be such beings known as Kryptonians and such a material known as Kryptonite, then we can say what their rights would be in such a situation.  But these situations do not exist.  We can have opinions about what we think should happen if they were to exist, but they don't.  So our opinions are about imaginary scenarios.

There is nothing inherently right or wrong about having opinions on imaginary scenarios, and some of these scenarios might be possible.  But we aren't saying that Kryptonians have a right to not be aggressed against with Kryptonite.  We are saying, should Kryptonians exist, they have a right to not be aggressed against with Kryptonite.

I guess I don't fully understand what you mean when you say things like "there are (no) rights regarding [...]". People can make claims about all sorts of things. Those claims exist within people's minds, regardless of whether the circumstances those claims concern also exist. Certainly I don't think you're trying to argue that it's impossible for people to make claims about non-existent circumstances.

gotlucky:
The will cannot be transferred.  At best, we can say that should the will be alienable, contracts regarding the will should be enforceable.  Should the will be alienable, people would have the right to take the wills that they have title to.  But the will is not alienable, so people don't have the right.

This won't stop someone from having an opinion, but that doesn't mean that there are actual rights involving the will.

Sorry that I'm not responding to the rest of your post, but I think this section does address the rest of your points.  Let me know what you think.

Well, what do you mean by "actual rights"? Phrases like that, along with talking about rights "existing" in a non-mental sense, are what lead me to keep believing that you're trying to derive "ought" from "is". Implicit in your position is the notion that rights can somehow be "validated" in reality. Is that a premise or a conclusion? If it's a premise, then fine, but I don't accept it myself. If it's a conclusion, then I'd like to see the reasoning that allegedly leads to it.

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Jul 1 2012 10:32 AM

Autolykos:

Thanks for that. It goes along with what I've read before about the Rothbardian position on contracts - and also with the Rothbardian notion that all rights are property rights. Unfortunately, I think I disagree with this position. A contract that stipulates A may whip B under certain conditions (such as B disobeying A) could be a valid contract IMO, but I don't see where any title has been transferred there. Maybe a title has been transferred concerning a particular "use" of B's body?

Let's assume arguendo that B can whip A under certain conditions. It would still be understood in terms of property rights. B has the legal right to whip A's property. Transferring title is irrelevant here. In current law, there does not necessarily have to be a transfer of title for someone to own something. In A LIBERTARIAN THEORY OF CONTRACT: TITLE TRANSFER, BINDING PROMISES, AND INALIENABILITY, Kinsella shows the differences between modern law as it is and the libertarian conception of law as it ought to be. In current law, it is not necessary to transfer title in a contract.

So, what Rothbard and Kinsella are saying, if there is no title-transfer, then the contract ought not to be considered valid. You are free to disagree with them, of course, but I don't see how your theory of contracts would then be compatible with the NAP.

Autolykos:

I'm sorry but I still don't see how those three different concepts of rights are necessary, whereas any other concept of rights isn't.

Well my explanation of why those are necessary was elsewhere. That was just me saying why I liked wikipedia's definition.

Autolykos:

That's why I consciously use non-standard definitions for certain words, like "morality". The standard definition of "morality" doesn't distinguish between coercive and non-coercive activities.

Fair enough, but that's what I use the libertarian just rights for. I use the standard definition of moral, well, because I like it and I don't want to confuse people too much with having different definitions. (Obviously, you don't have to like it, I just happen to.) I use just rights to show whether an action is compatible with the NAP. If it was aggressive, then it is incompatible.

Autolykos:

Again, I don't see how those three categories are at all necessary for viewing rights per se. Maybe you actually mean they're necessary for viewing rights given the world as it exists today?

No, it is necessary to view rights in any context. You cannot explain a concept of male/female rights without using at least one of those 3 categories. Legal rights have to do with the world as it is. The other two categories, moral rights (you can use ethical if you prefer, but we are just referring to the same thing) and just right, explain how someone thinks the world ought to be.

If someone makes a claim regarding male/female rights, they must either refer to the world as it is is or to the world as it ought to be. There is no third option. There is no way to not refer to at least one of those three categories when talking about rights.

Regarding the rest of your post, perhaps you missed it, but I was hoping you would respond this later post of mine.

 


Regarding Kinsella's article, it is quite long. A lot of it is demonstrating the difference between modern law as it is and the libertarian conception of law as it ought to be. Near the end of the article, Kinsella provides an argument regarding inalienability that is critical of Rothbard's, so Kinsella provides a different argument for inalienability. It's in the Clarification and Applications section.

While Kinsella is critical of Rothbard's position for many of the same reasons that have been brought up in this thread, I actually think that this stems from a problem of definitions. Kinsella claims that the body is inalienable, and that to bring in the will confuses things. But to Rothbard, the body is part of the will, and you cannot alienate the body (as a whole) either in Rothbard's mind. It may be that Kinsella provides a better argument, but I don't think that Rothbard's argument is as incomplete as he thinks (or any of you guys here for that matter).

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Jul 1 2012 10:40 AM

@Minarchist

In A LIBERTARIAN THEORY OF CONTRACT: TITLE TRANSFER, BINDING PROMISES, AND INALIENABILITY, Stephen Kinsella provides an argument for certain inalienable rights. It is in the section Clarifications and Applications towards the end. The whole essay is interesting, but you probably don't have to read all of it in order to understand his argument. Anyway, he brings up many of the criticisms you have put forth, and he explains his reasons for certain inalienable rights. He explains his theory more in depth than Rothbard, and he considers his theory to be different than Rothbard's.

As I just said to Autolykos, Rothbard does include the body in the will, so Rothbard does consider the body to be inalienable property just as Kinsella does (even though Kinsella is critical of Rothbard's theory regarding the will).  I don't think Rothbard's theory has the problems that you and Kinsella claim, I think that Kinsella explains it better and more in depth.

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Papirius replied on Sun, Jul 1 2012 10:58 AM

Is it just me, or the debate is mostly over the metaphysical view of slavery and some theoretical concept of voluntary slavery where constant consent in necessary, and when consent is gone, so is the servitude. That's not slavery, that's employment.

Voluntary slavery, in the sense of becoming a slave not because of direct physical coercion but of economic circumstances - existed in history, and is mentioned from Code of Hammurabi to Codex Iuris Civilis- you sell youself into slavery, real slavery, there's no "I don't want to be a slave anymore", you're a slave until your owner manumits or kills you.

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Jul 1 2012 11:01 AM

It's just you. That's not the discussion. Slavery has most definitely existed. The question is whether or not voluntary slavery is compatible with the NAP and libertarianism.

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Jul 1 2012 11:27 AM

gotlucky:
Let's assume arguendo that B can whip A under certain conditions. It would still be understood in terms of property rights. B has the legal right to whip A's property. Transferring title is irrelevant here. In current law, there does not necessarily have to be a transfer of title for someone to own something. In A LIBERTARIAN THEORY OF CONTRACT: TITLE TRANSFER, BINDING PROMISES, AND INALIENABILITY, Kinsella shows the differences between modern law as it is and the libertarian conception of law as it ought to be. In current law, it is not necessary to transfer title in a contract.

Would you consider B whipping A to constitute B using A's body in a certain way? If so, then a contract between B and A stipulating B's right to whip A under certain conditions would constitute a transfer of title over A's body, would it not?

gotlucky:
So, what Rothbard and Kinsella are saying, if there is no title-transfer, then the contract ought not to be considered valid. You are free to disagree with them, of course, but I don't see how your theory of contracts would then be compatible with the NAP.

It depends on what you think constitutes aggression. All the NAP says is that aggression is morally wrong. My theory of contracts may be incompatible with the NAP as interpreted by Rothbard, Kinsella, and yourself, but so be it. As I see it, the inalienability of the body is an additional premise above and beyond that of the self-ownership and non-aggression principles.

gotlucky:
Well my explanation of why those are necessary was elsewhere. That was just me saying why I liked wikipedia's definition.

Oh I see. Maybe I missed that explanation.

gotlucky:
Fair enough, but that's what I use the libertarian just rights for. I use the standard definition of moral, well, because I like it and I don't want to confuse people too much with having different definitions. (Obviously, you don't have to like it, I just happen to.) I use just rights to show whether an action is compatible with the NAP. If it was aggressive, then it is incompatible.

Okay.

gotlucky:
No, it is necessary to view rights in any context. You cannot explain a concept of male/female rights without using at least one of those 3 categories. Legal rights have to do with the world as it is. The other two categories, moral rights (you can use ethical if you prefer, but we are just referring to the same thing) and just right, explain how someone thinks the world ought to be.

I can understand distinguishing rights that are declared by a body of law from rights that one declares on his own. That distinction is not necessary to make, however. A distinction of e.g. male vs. female rights in no way has to take into account that other distinction.

gotlucky:
If someone makes a claim regarding male/female rights, they must either refer to the world as it is is or to the world as it ought to be. There is no third option. There is no way to not refer to at least one of those three categories when talking about rights.

There is a third option - they can refer to both.

gotlucky:
Regarding the rest of your post, perhaps you missed it, but I was hoping you would respond this later post of mine.

Sorry, I missed that post. I'll respond to it.

gotlucky:
Regarding Kinsella's article, it is quite long. A lot of it is demonstrating the difference between modern law as it is and the libertarian conception of law as it ought to be. Near the end of the article, Kinsella provides an argument regarding inalienability that is critical of Rothbard's, so Kinsella provides a different argument for inalienability. It's in the Clarification and Applications section.

I'll check it out, thanks.

gotlucky:
While Kinsella is critical of Rothbard's position for many of the same reasons that have been brought up in this thread, I actually think that this stems from a problem of definitions. Kinsella claims that the body is inalienable, and that to bring in the will confuses things. But to Rothbard, the body is part of the will, and you cannot alienate the body (as a whole) either in Rothbard's mind. It may be that Kinsella provides a better argument, but I don't think that Rothbard's argument is as incomplete as he thinks (or any of you guys here for that matter).

I think the body is alienable in the sense of a person being able to legitimately acquire rights to use another person's body in certain ways (i.e. to take actions against the other person). Whether the other person wills otherwise is irrelevant after the contract has been made.

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Autolykos replied on Sun, Jul 1 2012 11:40 AM

gotlucky:
Autolykos,

So, I've been thinking more about the is-ought problem and rights, so I'm going to do two things.  First, I'm going to try to summarize our discussion accurately. Second, I'm going to try an answer that should satisfy both of us. cool

Sounds good. smiley

gotlucky:
So, my argument started as this: If a certain scenario occurs, then we can say that someone is acting rightfully in this situation. This cannot occur, so we cannot say whether someone is acting rightfully.  So, this is an invalid argument.  It's form is: If p, then q.  Not p, therefore not q.  So it's an invalid attempt at modus ponens.

I think you mean we can say whether someone is acting rightfully in the situation.

gotlucky:
I believe your response to this has more or less been, "Let's just assume q.  There is no reason why we can't.  After all, people can have opinions."  So, I ended up responding, "If p, then q.  Not p, so it's a moot point."  (Okay, I didn't quite say it like that, but it's the essence of my response.)

Unfortunately, that's not what my response was intended to convey. I don't define a "right" as "saying that someone is/was acting rightfully in a specific situation". To me, rights aren't space/time/reality-dependent, because they're simply claims. So it appears that our definitions for "rights" are subtly but importantly different from one another.

gotlucky:
As we have both agreed, rights are just another way of saying who is acting rightfully in any given situation.  I think there is a way to refine this.  If a situation occurs, then this is who is acting rightfully.  That is what rights are.  It should mean the same thing as "who is acting rightfully in any given situation".  I suppose the only difference is instead of saying, "When this situation occurs, this is who is acting rightfully," we are saying, "If this situation occurs, then this is who is acting rightfully."

You mean "that is what we're defining as 'rights'". Otherwise, the phrase "if this situation occurs, then this is who is acting rightfully" is in no way limited to situations that have actually occurred.

gotlucky:
So, while we can't solve the is-ought problem, we can say that it is a moot point.  Certainly we can say that if Kryptonians exist and Kryptonite is poisonous to them, then these are the rights involving such a scenario.  So long as there aren't Kryptonians and all that jazz, then it's a moot point.  No one can be acting rightfully regarding Kryptonite and Kryptonians as they don't exist.  But should they exist, then these would be the rights involved.

Whether anyone can be acting rightfully is one thing - claiming that someone would be acting rightfully in a given situation (however hypothetical) is quite another. Basically, the distinction between an "is" statement and an "ought" statement is this: an "is" statement is necessarily dependent on reality, whereas an "ought" statement isn't. Strictly speaking, I don't consider rights to constitute "is" statements - rather, I consider them to constitute "ought" statements. In other words, I don't consider rights to be necessarily dependent on reality.

gotlucky:
So, did I sum up our arguments accurately?  And what do you think of this answer?

Unfortunately, I don't think you summed up my argument accurately, and your answer doesn't really address the argument I'm actually making. I hope what I wrote above makes my actual argument clearer to you.

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