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Murder by property (rights)

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Papirius Posted: Fri, Sep 14 2012 1:01 PM

If Joe were to go to sleep, and during his sleep Bob appears and builds walls around him (not violating Joe's property rights) and when Joe wakes up he finds it's impossible to go anywhere or get any food or water because he is enclosed by Bob's property. When Joe dies because of this, that's not murder, because Bob hasn't violated any Joe's rights, and therefore, Bob has done nothig wrong, right?

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eliotn replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 1:03 PM

I think the problem here has to do with easement.

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Or, Joe calls in a helicopter for rescue and writes about this case in his local newspaper. The town decides to shun Bob for his distasteful acts and now Bob is blacklisted from most resturants, grocery stores, etc. It sucks to be Bob! 

In these situations, no lender, renter or homeowner would ever purchase, loan or rent a home without having properly secured entry and exit unto the property. It would be as much a part of the deed as the house itself. 

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Wheylous replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 1:38 PM

Are you Eugene's alter ego? He asked this some time ago.

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Papirius replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 1:56 PM

Were any conclusions reached?

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Hey come on now. No need for that. Just be helpful and help educate the man. It's a perfectly valid question. That, apparently, never gets old...

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Clayton replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 2:16 PM

@Jeremiah: Long time no see! Welcome back!

@OP: I think the underlying anxiety here is that criminals can benefit from secure property rights. For example, the forces of anti-money laundering lobby for "Know Your Customer" rules because there is a popular anxiety about the idea of a criminal making off with millions of dollars in stolen funds and then enjoying perfect peace-of-mind in his ultra-secure, no-questions-asked, absolutely anonymous bank account.

But this is really part of a broader class of problem. An even deeper issue here is whether we should preemptively dismantle the social order in order to prevent criminals from benefitting from it. When you think about it, the tailor, the barber, the grocer as well as the banker, all stand ready to serve the criminal as he goes about society committing crimes. The very division-of-labor itself is brought to bear so that all the wonderful benefits of the free market are at the fingertips of the drug dealer or the hitman, etc.

In my view, the root question is the social order itself. How do you build a social order in such a way that members who contribute positively can continue to benefit from all the wonders of social cooperation while those who plunder and destroy can be excluded? And I think the answer is "you can't", that is, you can't consciously design it. In the social order, everything affects everything else, so there is no possible way to design an outcome because you can never isolate all but one variable and then adjust just a single parameter to see how that variable responds to the stimulus.

Hence, the correct answer to this quandary is those words of wisdom the Beatles sang about: laissez-faire, let it be. We can predict the deleterious effects of certain kinds of specific policy actions such as rent control or money printing. But we really cannot predict the effects of just any particular policy action. This is why Mises said that central economic planning is nothing but groping about in the dark.

The fact is that people passionately hate cheating and will go to great lengths to prevent it, voluntarily! The social order is inherently self-policing, that is, people will naturally structure their own relationships in such a way as to exclude cheaters and aggressors and when this process proceeds unhampered, the net result is a natural sort of "collective shunning" of people who break the rules. This is amply demonstrated by the anthropology of tribal social orders, past and present, as well as by the Amish and other voluntary or nearly-voluntary societies.

The particular questions of what, specifically, comprises cheating (such as encircling someone's house with a fence while they are sleeping) are a separate matter. Those can and will be sorted out as time progresses. The root issue is whether we need to have an overwhelmingly powerful sky daddy government to go around and hit people over the head for "breaking the rules" in order to have a social order that is not replete with criminals free-riding on the benefits of the social order while undermining it through plunder and destruction. And the simple fact is that not only do we not need an overwhelmingly powerful sky-daddy government, it turns out that Leviathan is precisely the nightmare we imagine we will rid ourselves of by adopting it. The founding aims of Leviathan are inherently immoral and unlawful - on any view of morality and law that respects the broad outline of human nature - and, therefore, its overwhelming power is invariably turned to irresistably bringing about immoral and unlawful ends.

The way from here to there is fairly straightforward. People talk about "limited government" and it seems to me that the most obvious way to limit government is to actually limit it... in terms of population, in terms of territory, in terms of budget. What powers the government claims for itself are less of a concern than the extents of the population, territory and monetary budget it can command. Hoppe quoting Keynes (!) in a lecture on pre-WWI Europe says that while government officials were every bit as corrupt - perhaps even more corrupt - before the war than after it, they had vastly less to be corrupt with. And I think that's what we need to get back to harping on. Stop trying to reform government. Stop trying to make government civilized. Let them be the corrupt thugs they are. But let's give them less to be corrupt with. Fewer people, smaller territories, smaller budgets. And the way to accomplish that is through secession and nullification.

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Jargon replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 2:21 PM

What are we supposed to conclude from our conclusions? That private property legalizes murder? Is this question supposed to be an axis on which the expediency of private property as a societal norm is decided?

Every proposed paradigm has its own problems. I suppose this means, yes, in your scenario, it would not be strictly consistent with private property law to convict Bob of killing Joe. Does this mean that a society which respects private property must necessarily come to such a conclusion? I have trouble believing that any court ruling acquitting Bob would be respected, under any society which condemns murder.

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Papirius replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 2:24 PM

So, basically- "no answer to your question, state government is bad".

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Jargon replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 2:30 PM

No the answer is:

Under a strict literalist interpretation private property, the murderer is innocent, but it is unlikely to occur in the extreme for several outlined reasons.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 2:40 PM

So, basically- "no answer to your question, state government is bad".

The answer has already been given by other posters: easements (right-of-way to access property) are a part of property law.

I put effort into my reply and I don't think it is rebutted with a one-liner. Try harder.

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Papirius replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 2:42 PM

I didn't see your message, I was responding to Clayton's. 

The question is the first post is actually related to another question I posted (and got only one answer, which doesn't acctually answer it) about whether self-ownership entitles you to a right not to be physically attacked, or also a right to freedom of action (including movement).

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Papirius replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 2:50 PM

The answer has already been given by other posters: easements (right-of-way to access property) are a part of property law.

So easements basically mean that I have even though I don't have any physical contact with your property (bodily of external) I have restrictions of what I can do with my property (e.g. build a wall around you). On what justification are those restrictions based, your right to what?

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Papirius easements schmeasments. The simple fact is that there is no tort if the act of building a wall is done without property violation; there is no more tort than if farmers;store owners; and restauranters all refused to sell food to a poor agrieved Mr X.

Now if you think this is a problem worth agonising about, then I ask you. How come ?

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While nirgrahamUK is right, to finish the spot on easements:

 
Consider property owner 1 owns a square of land. He offers to sell another man a smaller square inside his original square. The second man ought only to buy this if he is okay doing whatever property owner 1 wants in order to get in and out of the property or if property owner 1 grants easement with the sale. If the case is the latter, no problem, since blocking entry and exit would be a violation of the agreement. If the former, well, either be at the mercy of property owner 1 or don't buy the property.
 
If instead, you own property then another comes to buy all the surrounding property, he must comes to an agreement on the easement, since presumably the original property owner was already using the surrounding land to enter and exit his property. If the guy that wishes to buy the surrounding property doesn't like that he must grant easement, then he should not buy the property.
 
But maybe I don't fully understand easements.

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cab21 replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 4:18 PM

whose property was joe on when he went to sleep?

 

are we saying someone could go to sleep in a forest, then someone could claim and homestead all the land surrounding that person and build a wall, and that a person would be able to build a wall before the other wakes up and leaves?

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Clayton replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 5:02 PM

Property is not the material, it is the social conventions about who gets exclusive use of material. Such conventions can include divisions in space (e.g. a condominium) and time (time-share, easements, etc.) What's the confusion here?

@nir: I don't understand why you're dismissing easement - easement is an answer to a problem of encirclement.

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eliotn replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 5:18 PM

Clayton,

Thats a good insight into human behavior, that people are adverse to cheating.  I think that government officials abuse this feeling with their propaganda when they try to defend several laws, for instance:

-Insider trading is cheating, because someone has information that nobody else has and used that to get a profit.

-Patents are used to protect against cheating, because otherwise the original inventor will not be able to profit off of his idea.

-We need anti-trust, otherwise companies will cheat by crowding other participants out.

-We need tariffs, otherwise companies in china can cheat by exploiting cheap labor.

And on and on...

If government can make a particular action seem like cheating, then the discussion is shifted.  Instead of arguing about the laws themselves, then its argued about how best to prevent the cheating.  And then real cheaters with political connections can abuse this to get off scot free.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 5:21 PM

+1 eliot... 

However, I would put at the top of your list of fake-cheating: cheating on taxes. What a joke! What an outrage of moral decency to say that repelling aggression is itself cheating!

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eliotn replied on Fri, Sep 14 2012 5:37 PM

LOL Clayton I should have put that there, but very good point.  It seems like the forms and all the complicated stuff around taxation aren't there to make it easy for government to collect, but to make it look like a legitimate rule.  A demand to pay something simple is easy to associate with the demand of a theif.  Making it complicated, however, clouds it, as people begin to associate it with a system of rules.  And as they know from other contexts, its a bad idea to "cheat" and break the rules.

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Minarchist replied on Sun, Sep 16 2012 10:33 PM

If Joe were to go to sleep, and during his sleep Bob appears and builds walls around him (not violating Joe's property rights) and when Joe wakes up he finds it's impossible to go anywhere or get any food or water because he is enclosed by Bob's property. When Joe dies because of this, that's not murder, because Bob hasn't violated any Joe's rights, and therefore, Bob has done nothig wrong, right?

Right. No violation of property rights, no crime.

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Papirius replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 3:33 AM

Lisa: Bart, just get out of here.
Bart Simpson: Hey, you get out out. It's a free country.
Lisa: That doesn't make any sense.
Bart Simpson: I know you are, but what am I?
Lisa: Get out, get out!
Bart Simpson: All right. But on my way, I'm going to be doing this...
[windmills his arms]
Bart Simpson: If you get hit, it's your own fault.
Lisa: Okay, then I'm going to start kicking air, like this...
[kicks up her foot]
Lisa: And if any part of you should fill that air...
[kicks up her other foot]
Lisa: It's *your* own fault.

Okay for a cartoon. Idiotic for an ethical philosophy.

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 10:41 AM

What makes it seem idiotic to you, exactly?

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Papirius replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 11:20 AM

If build walls around you and you starve to death or if I stabe you to death in both cases I murdered you.

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Clayton replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 11:26 AM
It's like nobody ever posted to this thread but Papirius Clayton-
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Autolykos replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 11:30 AM

Papirius:
If build walls around you and you starve to death or if I stabe you to death in both cases I murdered you.

In other words, you think it's idiotic because it contradicts your pre-existing chain of reasoning. Gotcha.

Can you prove that you necessarily murdered me in both cases?

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Building walls surely would wake up Joe, right? Or if the walls are built further away from Joe, so as not to wake him, the fact is you won't have enough time to construct the parameter to enclose him in. 

Oh that wasn't the point, sorry frown

Hmm...

enlightened

Suppose I use a restroom at a restuaraunt and while I am inside this restroom the manager locks me in and shuts off the water.  Sounds more plausible.  Could be wrong though, still working on my second cup of coffee.

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Papirius replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 12:46 PM

If my actions cause your death, and it wasn't defensive or an accident, it's murder.

Suppose I use a restroom at a restuaraunt and while I am inside this restroom the manager locks me in and shuts off the water.

Now that's an exemple. Nice.

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 1:04 PM

Papirius:
If my actions cause your death, and it wasn't defensive or an accident, it's murder.

What's your definition of "accident"?

If you're drowning and I refuse to save you, even though I feel able to, would you say I murdered you?

I'll note for the record that you did not prove that I necessarily murdered you in both cases.

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Papirius replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 1:58 PM

If you're drowning and I refuse to save you, even though I feel able to, would you say I murdered you?

How have your actions caused my death in that case?

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Sep 17 2012 2:04 PM

So your answer is no?

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Papirius replied on Tue, Sep 18 2012 6:45 AM

Obviously.

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Sep 18 2012 8:36 AM

Well you could've just said no, right? I don't know why you didn't.

But okay, so what do you see as the difference between refusing to help a drowning person and building a wall on one's own property that surrounds another's property?

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Papirius replied on Tue, Sep 18 2012 8:59 AM

Because your question was idiotic. I said that in order for someone's death to be murder it firstly has to be a consequence of someone's action, and then you ask me do I consider a death not caused by someone's actions murder. So you are (/were) obviously jerking me around (spamming/ trolling), the only other option being that you have (or had while writing that and this last message) serous difficulties with using your mental capabilities.

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gotlucky replied on Tue, Sep 18 2012 9:03 AM

Autolykos:

But okay, so what do you see as the difference between refusing to help a drowning person and building a wall on one's own property that surrounds another's property?

Easements. False imprisonment.

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Sep 18 2012 1:36 PM

Papirius:
Because your question was idiotic [sic]. I said that in order for someone's death to be murder it firstly has to be a consequence of someone's action, and then you ask me do I consider a death not caused by someone's actions murder. So you are (/were) obviously jerking me around (spamming/ trolling) [sic], the only other option being that you have (or had while writing that and this last message) serous difficulties with using your mental capabilities [sic].

Your opinions (not facts) are duly noted.

There are apparently many people who consider it murder for one to refuse to help a person who's drowning. That is, those people believe that, if you refuse to help a drowning person, it was you who then killed him. I wasn't sure where you stood on that issue, which is why I decided to ask.

What I don't quite understand is how, assuming that one owns an area of land that completely surrounds another area, building a wall on his land that faces the encircled area will necesssarily cause anyone in that encircled area to starve to death. So to me, the issue of causality in that situation is hardly clear. If I've misunderstood the situation in any way, please point out my misunderstanding, and I'll gladly stand corrected.

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Sep 18 2012 1:43 PM

gotlucky:

I understand your position and largely (if not entirely) agree with it, but my question was for Papirius. I want to know what he sees as the difference between those two situations.

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Papirius replied on Tue, Sep 18 2012 1:55 PM

Easements. False imprisonment.

Both basically mean that I don't have the right to do what I want with my property (in my person and my external belongings)even though I don't in any way even touched someone else's property (in his person and external belongings). This seems like an addition to the NAP and Rothbard's idea that only property rights exist. It would be fit then to rename NAP into something like a no-offensive-harm principle.

There are apparently many people who consider it murder for one to refuse to help a person who's drowning.

I don't see what does that have to do with me and my message where if which I explained what I consider murder.

What I don't quite understand is how, assuming that one owns an area of land that completely surrounds another area, building a wall on his land that faces the encircled area will necesssarily cause anyone in that encircled area to starve to death. So to me, the issue of causality in that situation is hardly clear. If I've misunderstood the situation in any way, please point out my misunderstanding, and I'll gladly stand corrected.

Vanitas Nomen gave a better example.

 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Sep 18 2012 2:14 PM

Papirius:
I don't see what does that have to do with me and my message where if which I explained what I consider murder.

I was trying to determine what you meant by "if my actions cause your death, and it wasn't defensive or an accident".

Papirius:
Vanitas Nomen gave a better example.

That's fine, I can work with his example if you prefer. In that case, I agree with GotLucky that Vanitas Nomen's example (exemplum nominis vanitatis?) constitutes false imprisonment. Which brings me to...

Papirius:
Both basically mean that I don't have the right to do what I want with my property (in my person and my external belongings)even though I don't in any way even touched someone else's property (in his person and external belongings). This seems like an addition to the NAP and Rothbard's idea that only property rights exist. It would be fit then to rename NAP into something like a no-offensive-harm principle.

Here's an example that I think just about any follower of the NAP would consider to constitute aggression (in this case murder), even though no direct touching of anyone else's property occurs:

There are two glasses of wine. I put cyanide in one of them without you seeing me. Then I pick up the other one. You pick up the poisoned one and we each drink from our glass. You then die from cyanide poisoning.

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Consider this, you have two glasses of wine, and one cyanide capsule and one inert capsule. You put one in each of the wine. You put the wine on a rotator and watch them both spin, you loose track of which is which. You play russian roulette with a glass of wine. You don't have Hydroxocobalamin, I do.

You ask me if I will give you some of my Hydroxocobalamin. I refuse. You die of cyanide poisining. Did I murder you ? no. You took a risk that didn't pay off, and you relied on my charity to survive, which you could not guarantee or have a moral claim to.

Now how is going to sleep in a *surroundable* territory , where another has the right to enclose you, different from the above?

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