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Question on Social Contract

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The Texas Trigger Posted: Wed, Oct 3 2012 5:29 AM

Just met a really cool dude in my apartment complex and we have been hanging out a lot. He is from Singapore, is extremely well read, and has even read much from the austrians; a true diamond in the rough. He certainly shares a lot of our convictions, however he is a total minarchist. The issue of the social contract got brought up, and, while I don't buy his argument, I am at a dead end on where to go from here.

He basically says this: the social contract is what legitimizes government's coercive monopoly. We, as the people, have consented to it...so far, quite typical.  

When I use Lysander Spooners argument that the social contract would fail to meet the most basic criteria of common law contract law (that I didn't sign the constitution so I can't be held to abide by it, legally speaking), he claims that I must because I inherited it.

I reply that you cannot inherit a contract; once one of the signing parties dies, it is null and void (If between only two people) and because I did not sign the contract, I cannot be held liable to deliver its obligations.

Here he makes two points: First, he asks "under what court am I appealing to?" I claim age old common law contract law. Perhaps this response was not satisfactory to him and I imagine that answer could be cleaned up.

Second, he asks, "If you cannot inherit a contract signed by your father, how can you inherit the estate of your father when he dies? More specifically, if a dead man cannot act, you claim he cannot be a party to a contract, yet you protest the estate tax, call it grave-robbery, and claim your property is being stolen. How can a dead man bequeath his estate to you, when the contract stipulating this is his will. But, he is dead. By your definition, that contract is null and void. His estate is up for grabs, right?"

Are there some red herrings going on here, or am I just missing something? 

"If men are not angels, then who shall run the state?" 

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First, it's a false analogy.  The social contract refers to obligations or duties to which one is bound - this is not so in the example of the dead father's bequeathment.  What obligation must the heir fulfill?  A closer analogy would be an heir of an indebted father.  But, as far as I can tell, the common law has always been that obligations between two parties are null and void with the death of one of the parties.  Why would this not be the case?

Second, I think it's true to say that according to common law, the heir in the example is technically the first possessor of abandoned property.  Thus it is not the case that a live individual is contracting with a dead one.

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He seems to be asserting that a person's agreements are necessarily passed down to his child(ren) after he dies. What's his basis for that assertion? Or is he just assuming it? If the latter, then you're logically free to reject it.

I personally do reject it. By his reasoning, the debts a perosn has incurred also necessarily pass down to his child(ren) after he dies. Instead I think every agreement a person made is null and void in the event of his death unless someone else agrees to take them on in his place. Likewise, everything a person owns becomes unowned in the event of his death, and thus is up for grabs, unless someone else agrees to distribute them according to his wishes. In this case, the other person is called the "executor of the will". Clearly he must agree to this before the person dies for it to be valid.

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There could be a contract that says "Upon reaching the point 5 minutes before my vital signs go slack, all my property goes to my son Billy."

Also, you can be against estate taxes very easily - the owner of the property dies (supposedly without passing the property on), so the property becomes unowned. The son comes in and homesteads it, but the state wants a tax on the homestead property.

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