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

David Osterfeld on natural rights

This post has 310 Replies | 10 Followers

Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 166
Points 3,765
whipitgood Posted: Wed, Aug 12 2009 10:34 PM

I stumbled, quite accidentally, upon one of his old JLS articles about natural rights. It seemed particularly insightful, and I could not find much to quarrel with. Has anyone read it, and if so, what do you think? Is he on to something here?

http://mises.org/journals/jls/7_1/7_1_5.pdf

 

"Constitution worship is our most extended public political ritual, frequently supervised as often by mountebanks as by the sincere"
-James J Martin

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Thu, Aug 13 2009 4:35 AM

Osterfeld is "on to something" in that he correctly points out what seems pretty obvious: natural rights have not been proven, and all attempts at proof so far have been invalid. He explains with a moderate amount of precision why this is so, and it may prove illuminating for readers who still think natural rights or natural law have been logically proven.

He then instead takes a emperico-logical approach to defending natural rights. Osterfeld is very pro-natural-rights, but he points out that the premises have not been proven. For example, he takes Rothbard's syllogism:

David Osterfeld:
Since Rothbard argues that these two premises are prerequisite not only to man's fulfillment of his nature, but to life itself, the Rothhardian natural rights ethic can be formulated as follows:

1. Self-ownership and property ownership are necessary means to sustain life.
2. Everyone values life more highly than death.
3. Hence, everyone ought to adopt the principles of self-ownership and property ownership.

Osterfeld says the premises 1 and 2 cannot be proven logically, but can be demonstrated emperically. He provides evidence for Premise 1, but falls short of making an emperical case to a scientific standard. Here is his support for Premise 1:

David Osterfeld:
Since the major premise is a factual statement asserting an indispensable or necessary causal connection between a particular goal, viz., life, and a particular set of means, viz., self-ownership and property ownership, the causal connection can be objectively examined and the truth of the claim ascertained. The thrust of Rothbard's analysis lies in establishing the logical relationship between life and property rights, and in depicting the inevitable consequences of the violation of those rights.

Briefly, Rothbard has pointed out that if one denies the premise of man's self-ownership then one must conclude that either "(1) a certain class of people, A, have the right to own another class, B; or (2) everyone has a right to his equal quotal share of everyone else." The first proposition is correctly dismissed since it violates the rules of formal logic. Since both group A and group B belong to the same class, "human beings," they must possess the same essential characteristics of that class.

(1) does not violate any rules of logic as stated, and I trust the reader will note the error upon re-reading (if not, ask). Also, what if no one "owns" anyone? I can only be charitable and assume that Rothbard and Osterfeld might have meant, "'No one being owned by anyone' is a necessary means to sustain life."

David Osterfeld:
Thus A cannot own both himself and B for that would negate B's right of ownership. This means that one must either grant every individual's right of self-ownership or adopt the second proposition that everyone has a right to an equal quotal share of everyone else. But the second proposition, as Rothbard notes, means that no one in the world could "take any action whatever without prior approval or indeed command by everyone else in society. It should be clear," he continues, "that in that sort of 'communist' world, no one would be able to do anything, and the human race would quickly perish." And not only does Rothbard cogently establish this logical relationship...

We'll take Osterfeld's word on this and assume Rothbard does explain the possibility of no one owning anyone.

David Osterfeld:
...but there is considerable empirical support for it as well. The only concerted effort within a large society to abandon the principle of private ownership was in the "War Communism" period in the Soviet Union immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution. This effort was short-lived and was abandoned in early-1921 after the entire society had been brought to the verge of collapse and an estimated six million had died of starvation." The major premise appears, therefore, to have been satisfactorily established.

By "private ownership," Osterfeld obviously means "private property" - not "self-ownership." Oops, no emperical defense for half of the major premise! (No, he doesn't offer any additional support elsewhere.)

At best, Osterfeld's entire defence of natural law boils down to: "There exists a strong historical case for respecting property rights, therefore everyone ought to respect property rights." I agree that the historical case is strong, but that's all Osterfeld has for us, and he only gives two sentences of historical evidence himself. The extra logical constructions add nothing to the historical case.

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

AJ:

Osterfeld is "on to something" in that he correctly points out what seems pretty obvious: natural rights have not been proven, and all attempts at proof so far have been invalid. He explains with a moderate amount of precision why this is so, and it may prove illuminating for readers who still think natural rights or natural law have been logically proven.

it's proven scientifically and logically... life is, liberty is, and property is.  They are knowable truths of human nature (what is).

 

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 166
Points 3,765

AJ:
(1) does not violate any rules of logic as stated, and I trust the reader will note the error upon re-reading (if not, ask).

It seems like he is assuming that which he was attempting to prove,

David Osterfeld:
Since both group A and group B belong to the same class, "human beings," they must possess the same essential characteristics of that class. Thus A cannot own both himself and B for that would negate B's right of ownership.

If this is not the error you alluded to, perhaps you would correct me? I also noticed a long time ago that in Rothbard's examination of possible ownership schemes with regard to people, he left out the 'no one owns anyone' possibility that you mentioned. If this has been explained somewhere, can someone point me in the right direction? It seems like such an obvious oversight.

I was one of those "readers who still think natural rights or natural law have been logically proven" that you mentioned, but he does make a compelling case against that notion. Where does this leave us though? Has anyone succeeded where he has failed?

 

"Constitution worship is our most extended public political ritual, frequently supervised as often by mountebanks as by the sincere"
-James J Martin

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630
wilderness replied on Thu, Aug 13 2009 10:02 AM

whipitgood:

David Osterfeld:
Since both group A and group B belong to the same class, "human beings," they must possess the same essential characteristics of that class. Thus A cannot own both himself and B for that would negate B's right of ownership.

If this is not the error you alluded to, perhaps you would correct me? I also noticed a long time ago that in Rothbard's examination of possible ownership schemes with regard to people, he left out the 'no one owns anyone' possibility that you mentioned. If this has been explained somewhere, can someone point me in the right direction? It seems like such an obvious oversight.

I was one of those "readers who still think natural rights or natural law have been logically proven" that you mentioned, but he does make a compelling case against that notion. Where does this leave us though? Has anyone succeeded where he has failed?

Are you asking about property?  If so, the human (an individual) is they themselves and not anybody else.  They are being (property).  That's what property means.  Somebody could own him or her.  But they are owning him or her. (as slaves, but even as slaves their property, life, and liberty is still being in and of him or her self.)

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,940
Points 49,115
Conza88 replied on Thu, Aug 13 2009 10:09 AM

whipitgood:
I also noticed a long time ago that in Rothbard's examination of possible ownership schemes with regard to people, he left out the 'no one owns anyone' possibility that you mentioned. If this has been explained somewhere, can someone point me in the right direction? It seems like such an obvious oversight.

http://libertarianpapers.org/articles/2009/lp-1-34.pdf

"a. No one owns anybody
As Feser concedes, Rothbard did eventually consider and respond to this point in The Ethics of Liberty. Rothbard wrote there,

Professor George Mavrodes … objects that there is another logical alternative: namely, “that no one owns anybody, either himself or anyone else, nor any share of anybody.” However, since ownership signifies range of control, this would mean that no one would be able to do anything, and the human race would quickly vanish. (Rothbard 1982, n45)"

And the 'ownage' continues, so read the whole thing. Smile

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Male
Posts 527
Points 8,490

AJ:
Osterfeld says the premises 1 and 2 cannot be proven logically

But are undeniably true even without logical proof.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630
wilderness replied on Thu, Aug 13 2009 10:38 AM

twistedbydsign99:

AJ:
Osterfeld says the premises 1 and 2 cannot be proven logically

But are undeniably true even without logical proof.

How are they not logically proved?  Life is, and by intellectually apprehending that life is, then true knowledge of its being has happened.  And logic would simply state that since life is and my knowledgeable assertion that life is, then this logical statement A (life) is A (life) is logical.  So it is not only scientifically true, but also doesn't reject these logical statements that life is life:  A is A.  

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Thu, Aug 13 2009 10:52 PM

whipitgood:

AJ:
(1) does not violate any rules of logic as stated, and I trust the reader will note the error upon re-reading (if not, ask).

It seems like he is assuming that which he was attempting to prove,

David Osterfeld:
Since both group A and group B belong to the same class, "human beings," they must possess the same essential characteristics of that class. Thus A cannot own both himself and B for that would negate B's right of ownership.

If this is not the error you alluded to, perhaps you would correct me?

It's just that Osterfeld apparently made a mistake: "Briefly, Rothbard has pointed out that if one denies the premise of man's self-ownership then one must conclude that either '(1) a certain class of people, A, have the right to own another class, B; or (2) everyone has a right to his equal quotal share of everyone else.' "

There's nothing in (1) to indicate that Class A and Class B are the same class.

As for what it means to "own oneself," here is the rest of what Conza88 started to quote from Gerard Casey:

Gerard Casey:
a. No one owns anybody?
As Feser concedes, Rothbard did eventually consider and respond to this point in The Ethics of Liberty. Rothbard wrote there,
Professor George Mavrodes … objects that there is another logical alternative: namely, “that no one owns anybody, either himself or
anyone else, nor any share of anybody.” However, since ownership signifies range of control, this would mean that no one would be
able to do anything, and the human race would quickly vanish.
(Rothbard 1982, n45)
Feser, however, is unhappy with Rothbard’s treatment of this point, and he objects:
While having ownership of something does imply having a range of
control over it, having a range of control over it doesn’t imply
ownership … Animals having a range of control over their
environment, but since ownership is a moral category implying the
having of certain rights … it follows that they have no ownership of
anything. And of course, their lack of ownership of anything hasn’t
caused animals as a whole to “vanish,” “quickly” or otherwise,
which makes evident the absurdity of Rothbard’s claim that
alternative (a) (viz. that no one owns anyone, including himself)
would entail the extinction of the human race. (Feser 2006)
It would appear that Feser is accusing Rothbard of committing a formal
logical fallacy, the fallacy of affirming the consequent. From the fact that A
implies B, and A’s also being the case, B follows. However, if A implies B,
and B is the case, A does not follow.
Let’s take an example. Suppose the proposition “If it is raining, the
ground is wet” is true, and suppose it is also true that “It is raining”, then the
proposition “The ground is wet” has to be true as well. However, given the
truth of the same conditional, namely “If it is raining, the ground is wet” and,
this time, the truth of the proposition “The ground is wet”, it does not have
to be true that “It is raining”. While its being raining is a sufficient condition of
the ground’s being wet, it’s not a necessary condition. After all, the mad streetwetter
of Old London Town might have been on the rampage again with a
hosepipe, intending to lead us all astray logically, causing us to remark,
fallaciously, over our breakfast cereal: “My gosh, it must have rained heavily
last night!”
What Feser appears to be saying, applying the foregoing analysis to
Rothbard’s response to Mavrodes, is that it doesn’t follow from “If I own x,
then I have a range of control over x” and “I have a range of control over x”
that “I own x”—and this is correct. But what Rothbard actually says in the
FESER ON ROTHBARD AS A PHILOSOPHER 7
passage is not “If I own x, then I have a range of control over x” but
Timewnership signifies range of control” which is capable of being read either
as a single conditional (“If I own x, then I have a range of control over x”) or
as a biconditional (“If I own x, then I have a range of control over x AND if
I have a range of control over x, then I own x”). Now the principle of charity
in critical analysis is that if it is possible to interpret a passage in a plausible
way and an implausible way, then one should opt for the plausible. Let us
assume that Feser is correct in his claim that reading “Ownership signifies
range of control” as a single conditional leads to a logical fallacy; would
reading “Ownership signifies range of control” as a biconditional also lead to
a fallacy? The answer to this question is no.
Is there any reason other than exercising some critical charity to read
“ownership signifies range of control” biconditionally? Yes, I believe so, and
the clue is to be found in a closer examination of some parts of the Rothbard
passage not cited by Feser. What Rothbard does here is to tell us what the
right to self-ownership means: “the right to self-ownership asserts the absolute
right of each man, by virtue of his (or her) being a human being, to ‘own’ his
own body; that is, to control that body free of coercive interference.”
(Rothbard 1973, 33–34) Meaning is definitional and definitions are bidirectional:
if a “triangle” is defined as “a plane figure bounded by three
straight lines” then a “plane figure bounded by three straight lines” can be
defined as a “triangle.”
Note also the scare-quotes around the word “own” in Rothbard’s
passage. One can only speculate as to why they are there. Here’s my guess.
One common use of such quotes is to indicate to the reader that a term is
being used in an unusual way. Whereas our paradigmatic use of the term
“own” relates to material tangible goods, all of which are intrinsically
alienable from us, to use the term “own” in connection with our own bodies
can seem somewhat idiosyncratic. After all, we can acquire and dispose of
CD players and ballpoint pens, but it is difficult to conceive of alienating
one’s own body. Hence, Rothbard is anxious to inform us that the
application of the term “own” in the context of one’s body doesn’t imply
alienability but simply the right to control one’s body free of coercive
interference.
Now, Rothbard has already made clear what owning one’s own body
means; it means to be able to control it, free of coercive interference. If I do
not own my own body then, on this understanding of what self-ownership
means, I am not able to control it, free of coercive interference; if I cannot
control my own body appropriately, then I cannot act; and if I cannot act,
then (given that all other human beings are in the same situation) I will die.

However, all Casey is really saying here is that "owning one's self" means "controlling one's own body free of coercive interference."

But now, plugging this charitable interpretation of Rothbard back into his syllogism, we have two new problems:

1. Controlling one's own body and property free of coercive interference are necessary means to sustain life.
2. Everyone values life more highly than death.
3. Hence, everyone ought to adopt the principle of [respecting a universal right to*] control over one's own body and property free of coercive interference

*Added for charitable interpretation

The problems are: (1) is clearly untrue: I trust all the readers here are very much alive, but none of us are free of coercive interference (from States, at least). And (3) does not follow from (1) and (2) even if (1) were true, because even a man fully free of coercive interference has no need to respect others' putative rights not to be interfered with.

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Male
Posts 527
Points 8,490

wilderness:
How are they not logically proved?

Well you can refute premise 2 by finding a person that would commit suicide in order to prove to you he doesnt value life more. But then hes not around to argue anymore, so 2 doesn't have a logical proof, but is undeniably true.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

twistedbydsign99:

wilderness:
How are they not logically proved?

Well you can refute premise 2 by finding a person that would commit suicide in order to prove to you he doesnt value life more. But then hes not around to argue anymore, so 2 doesn't have a logical proof, but is undeniably true.

I think I misread what this was referring to (premise 2).  If premise two is:  a person values life more than death that's not a universal premise.  As you state, somebody that commits suicide or thinking about doing it or even a murderer, etc... violate premise two quite possibly.  But this has nothing to do with proofs and definitions of natural rights and is a tangent.Smile

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Male
Posts 527
Points 8,490

wilderness:
If premise two is:  a person values life more than death that's not a universal premise.

It is a universal premise. Someone who kills themself no longer exists and is no longer represented. This is how you get objectivity from what is seemingly subjective. It wasnt a tanget because if I cant refute a premise the argument is false.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

twistedbydsign99:

wilderness:
If premise two is:  a person values life more than death that's not a universal premise.

It is a universal premise.

Am I missing something here?  Cause I agree with the rest of what you wrote here below.  When I said it's not universal I was focused upon this statement:  a person values life more than death.

Somebody in the act of killing him or her self may even have written a note stating they thought life sucked and they wanted to die.  They can turn against themselves - suicide.  Or kill others and not value their victims life.

But this doesn't dampen natural rights being...

twistedbydsign99:

Someone who kills themself no longer exists and is no longer represented. This is how you get objectivity from what is seemingly subjective. It wasnt a tanget because if I cant refute a premise the argument is false.

Somebody who kills their self and is dead - is dead - and we are not talking about what they value anymore.  We are not talking about their human nature anymore.  I agree with what you stated here.  I was focused on that statement above.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Male
Posts 527
Points 8,490

I wouldn't deny that a person can choose death over life, but it is a universal preference to value life over death. So I guess a person can value death over life, but humankind cannot. Meaning we have to choose life over death or we cease to be.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

twistedbydsign99:

I wouldn't deny that a person can choose death over life, but it is a universal preference to value life over death. So I guess a person can value death over life, but humankind cannot. Meaning we have to choose life over death or we cease to be.

I see what you mean now and it follows from my initial point.  I agree with your explanation, but since you qualified a universal premise in your defining that universal premise is of logic...  so what you said here was false? 

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,056
Points 78,245

wilderness:

whipitgood:

David Osterfeld:
Since both group A and group B belong to the same class, "human beings," they must possess the same essential characteristics of that class. Thus A cannot own both himself and B for that would negate B's right of ownership.

If this is not the error you alluded to, perhaps you would correct me? I also noticed a long time ago that in Rothbard's examination of possible ownership schemes with regard to people, he left out the 'no one owns anyone' possibility that you mentioned. If this has been explained somewhere, can someone point me in the right direction? It seems like such an obvious oversight.

I was one of those "readers who still think natural rights or natural law have been logically proven" that you mentioned, but he does make a compelling case against that notion. Where does this leave us though? Has anyone succeeded where he has failed?

Are you asking about property?  If so, the human (an individual) is they themselves and not anybody else.  They are being (property).  That's what property means.  Somebody could own him or her.  But they are owning him or her. (as slaves, but even as slaves their property, life, and liberty is still being in and of him or her self.)

It seems like you're conflating ownership with identity or existance. The fact that I am myself is not the same thing as ownership. If by "self-ownership", one simply means "the existance of the individual with their own will" or "psychological intentionality", then it really has nothing (directly) to do with property or normative ethics and it's therefore being used as a misnomer for what is actually a purely descriptive claim about individual identity and conciousness.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,056
Points 78,245

Conza88:

whipitgood:
I also noticed a long time ago that in Rothbard's examination of possible ownership schemes with regard to people, he left out the 'no one owns anyone' possibility that you mentioned. If this has been explained somewhere, can someone point me in the right direction? It seems like such an obvious oversight.

http://libertarianpapers.org/articles/2009/lp-1-34.pdf

"a. No one owns anybody
As Feser concedes, Rothbard did eventually consider and respond to this point in The Ethics of Liberty. Rothbard wrote there,

Professor George Mavrodes … objects that there is another logical alternative: namely, “that no one owns anybody, either himself or anyone else, nor any share of anybody.” However, since ownership signifies range of control, this would mean that no one would be able to do anything, and the human race would quickly vanish. (Rothbard 1982, n45)"

And the 'ownage' continues, so read the whole thing. Smile

Rothbard's very brief rebuttal here is circular. It only makes sense if we assume a certain dualism in which something is owning "the self" that is somehow "the self" at the same time. But if we don't assume this dualism, the claim that noone would be able to do anything immediately collapses. We do not need to accept this "self-dualism" in order to have people excersize a range of control. Control is of something, and the controller is separate from what they are controlling.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

Brainpolice:

It seems like you're conflating ownership with identity or existance. The fact that I am myself is not the same thing as ownership. If by "self-ownership", one simply means "the existance of the individual with their own will" or "psychological intentionality", then it really has nothing (directly) to do with property or normative ethics and it's therefore being used as a misnomer for what is actually a purely descriptive claim about individual identity and conciousness.

The fact that I am this me is property.  So you read me correctly, but you disagree on this definition of property.

my computer's dictionary:

property:

an attribute, quality, or characteristic of something

ORIGIN Middle English : from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French proprietefrom Latin proprietasfrom proprius ‘one's own, particular’ (see proper ).

----

Property is a quiddity of me, and we define this essence of who I am to qualify a particular characteristic of me namely property.  Another particular quiddity of me is liberty and life.  These are of my nature as a human.  Property is a quality of my being.  I am myself.

Now you mention ownership.  Somebody can own me, but this brings in the need for other qualifiers to assert what is in this particular situation such as I am a slave.  I am still me.  I still own me.  I am still my property.  But somebody else by coercion is applying their will upon me now.  I can choose to disobey their will.  I still have liberty.  But I might die in the process of rebelling against their will.  

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 35
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 183
Points 3,750
tacoface replied on Fri, Aug 14 2009 7:59 PM

self ownership is so ridiculously circular.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

Brainpolice:

Rothbard's very brief rebuttal here is circular. It only makes sense if we assume a certain dualism in which something is owning "the self" that is somehow "the self" at the same time. But if we don't assume this dualism, the claim that noone would be able to do anything immediately collapses. We do not need to accept this "self-dualism" in order to have people excersize a range of control. Control is of something, and the controller is separate from what they are controlling.

You made this circular on your own.  You also arbitrarily created a dualistic notion.  I am this arm and fingers, but that doesn't mean they are separated without any channel between the two.  I control my body (the voluntary aspects) and the way I do this is via will (passions) and intellect.  It doesn't mean they work in absolute separation.  It means they work in unison.  If they were separate then that would lead into two "me's" and I am only one person.  What seems odd is you advocate sovereignty but won't even allow yourself to experience such.  You seem to conflict arbitrarily within your own self with the logic you assert.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,056
Points 78,245

wilderness:

Brainpolice:

It seems like you're conflating ownership with identity or existance. The fact that I am myself is not the same thing as ownership. If by "self-ownership", one simply means "the existance of the individual with their own will" or "psychological intentionality", then it really has nothing (directly) to do with property or normative ethics and it's therefore being used as a misnomer for what is actually a purely descriptive claim about individual identity and conciousness.

The fact that I am this me is property.  So you read me correctly, but you disagree on this definition of property.

my computer's dictionary:

property:

an attribute, quality, or characteristic of something

ORIGIN Middle English : from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French proprietefrom Latin proprietasfrom proprius ‘one's own, particular’ (see proper ).

----

Property is a quiddity of me, and we define this essence of who I am to qualify a particular characteristic of me namely property.  Another particular quiddity of me is liberty and life.  These are of my nature as a human.  Property is a quality of my being.  I am myself.

Now you mention ownership.  Somebody can own me, but this brings in the need for other qualifiers to assert what is in this particular situation such as I am a slave.  I am still me.  I still own me.  I am still my property.  But somebody else by coercion is applying their will upon me now.  I can choose to disobey their will.  I still have liberty.  But I might die in the process of rebelling against their will.  

I very well know that the term "property" can be used to refer to a characteristic. But you're only making my case stronger here, in that it is obviously fallacious to conflate "property" in the sense of a characteristic of a thing and "property" in the sense of control over something.

The way that you are using "self-ownership" here is nonsensical, in that a slave would still have "self-ownership". Are you seriously claiming that a slave still has liberty? If by "liberty" we mean the lack of an interferencing with their person, their "liberty" is obviously lacking.

Part of the problem is that "self-ownership" is normally used to refer to "the right of self-ownership", to not have one's person interfered with. Using "self-ownership" to refer to individual identity is highly confusing and has nothing (directly) to do with normative rights claims.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,056
Points 78,245

u made this circular on your own.  You also arbitrarily created a dualistic notion.

No, no, no, silly. It's not *me* who "created" any of this, it's implicit in what I'm argueing against.

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

Brainpolice:

I very well know that the term "property" can be used to refer to a characteristic. But you're only making my case stronger here, in that it is obviously fallacious to conflate "property" in the sense of a characteristic of a thing and "property" in the sense of control over something.

I control my arms, but those arms are still my property.  No dualism.

Brainpolice:

The way that you are using "self-ownership" here is nonsensical, in that a slave would still have "self-ownership". Are you seriously claiming that a slave still has liberty? If by "liberty" we mean the lack of an interferencing with their person, their "liberty" is obviously lacking.

I mentioned "ownership" in a qualifying way, but I'll clarify further.  In the case of a slave, the master owns me.  It's conventional to state it this way.  Yet, I am still owning me too.  Yes I have liberty cause I could sit down and do nothing.  Thus why I stated if I disobey a master I could be beaten until I, by choice (liberty), decided to cooperate.  Or the master could simply kill the slave and be done with the rebellious person.  This is why I said this is revolving around "definitions".

Brainpolice:
 

Part of the problem is that "self-ownership" is normally used to refer to "the right of self-ownership", to not have one's person interfered with. Using "self-ownership" to refer to individual identity is highly confusing and has nothing (directly) to do with normative rights claims.

It's not highly confusing to me, but you made the remark, it came from you.  For instance, this word "self" in the whole word:  self-ownership.  It is identifying an individual.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

Brainpolice:

u made this circular on your own.  You also arbitrarily created a dualistic notion.

No, no, no, silly. It's not *me* who "created" any of this, it's implicit in what I'm argueing against.

And that is what is being argued.  I note the definition of property one way, and you are another.  We can't be both right, can we?

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 183
Points 3,750
tacoface replied on Fri, Aug 14 2009 8:50 PM

ok wilderness, you own your house, so who owns you? Yourself??? Ah of course you own yourself, but then who owns you yourself!!?!?!?!>>> of course

 

makes complete sense

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

tacoface:

ok wilderness, you own your house, so who owns you? Yourself??? Ah of course you own yourself, but then who owns you yourself!!?!?!?!>>> of course

makes complete sense

tacoface,

when that happens with your thinking, that means you've stumped across a quiddity.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 183
Points 3,750
tacoface replied on Fri, Aug 14 2009 9:01 PM

perhaps you can help me dig myself out of my hole then.

 

how is your logic not circular?

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

you end with you...

you are you...

"...and in the end it's only round and round... and round..."

"...it's what the fighting's all about..."

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

tacoface:

perhaps you can help me dig myself out of my hole then.

 

how is your logic not circular?

circularity doesnt come into it when you are talking facts. it is a fact that you own yourself.

It would be pretty weird if everything under anarchy were privatised, apart from peoples bodies, that where little spots of unowned property wandering around. why would you want to claim you didnt own you?, unnless you were wanting someone else to come and homestead you?. being homesteaded doesn't sound like a good time in my opinion. Brainpolice might disagree.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 230
Points 5,620

Brainpolice:
The fact that I am myself is not the same thing as ownership.

You were not the same self as you were a year ago.  You have different memories and views on life.  In fact, ninety-eight percent of the atoms in a human's body are replaced with new ones every year.

Each of us has a name usually given to us at birth. We may have been labelled "Steven Lewis" or "Barack Obama." Although the name allows us to differentiate one person from another, it does not call attention to the differences in an individual at different stages of life. We are not the same person today that we were when we were five years old. Not only do we change, but so does the environment in which we live. If we overevalute by the similarities evoked by a name, and underevaluate by the actual differences, we might miss an opportunity to turn a once unpleasant relationship into a friendly one. 

The late Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black is widely respected as a jurist whose decisions staunchly defended civil rights for minorities. Yet Black in his youth was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. His name was "Hugo Black" as a Klan member, and it was "Hugo Black" as a civil rights advocate. Clearly, the name is misleading. If we believe too strongly in the generalization we would have missed the benefit of his growth as a person.

We have all had the experience of students who have returned to school and who have been among our best students. Yet they tell us that in high school, or on their initial attempt at college, they performed among the worst. Their names don't warn us to beware of the differences, and if we label them a failure because of their distant academic history, we may misevaluate their potential to succeed in the present.

Our names also don't warn us about our different personalities in different contexts. The name "Steven Lewis" implies one person, and yet I am many people. I'm a different person with my mother than with my supervisor than with my colleagues than with my students than with my lover. I am different at a party than at a funeral, and I am different when I am tired than when I'm rested. In reality there are many different Steven Lewises covered by that one name. If your only acquaintance with me is at a funeral, then you would know a different Steven Lewis than if you had met me at a party.

http://mcckc.edu/pennvalley/biology/lewis/crithink.htm

Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 230
Points 5,620

nirgrahamUK:
circularity doesnt come into it when you are talking facts.

Alfred Korzybski (1933, pp. 429-432) will probably attribute the conflation of the 'mental self' with the 'physical self' as the confusion of orders of abstractions.  Read pages 429-432 from Science and Sanity.

nirgrahamUK:
it is a fact that you own yourself.

Korzybski (1933, pp. 441-442) suggests that the term 'fact' functions like a multiordinal term.  A multiordinal term means that its meaning will change when used at different contexts.

The 'fact' that one owns his 'mental' self is not the same 'fact' that one owns his 'physical' self.

 

Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

Anarcho-Mercantilist:
The 'fact' that one owns his 'mental' self is not the same 'fact' that one owns his 'physical' self.

of course, i have never denied this. it is undeniable.

the first 'supposed fact' is clearly false, whilst the second is true

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 230
Points 5,620

nirgrahamUK:

Anarcho-Mercantilist:
The 'fact' that one owns his 'mental' self is not the same 'fact' that one owns his 'physical' self.

of course, i have never denied this. it is undeniable.

the first 'supposed fact' is clearly false, whilst the second is true

One can still argue even if he currently owns (possesses) some mere parts of his body.  Why should we "maximize" his ownership?  Why should we retain his maximized ownership in the future?

Because the maximization of ownership will have beneficial consequences?  Going from partial ownership to the maximization of ownership is a non sequitur.

Hoppe should have just offered his consequentialist arguments for the maximization of ownership instead of trying to bridge the 'is-ought' dichotomy (which he didn't) by mere rationalization.

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,914
Points 70,630

AM, you complicate something that isn't complicated.

First intellectually apprehend that you are you, then call me in the morning.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 5,255
Points 80,815
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

Hoppe should have just offered his consequentialist arguments for the maximization of ownership instead of trying to bridge the 'is-ought' dichotomy (which he didn't) by mere rationalization.

He aims to bypass it more so than "bridge" it.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

yes, I agree with Jon. Argumentation ethics highlights what can and cannot be argued for. It tells you what possible moral positions are so incoherent that they can't even be positively stated without trapping the stater in a contradiction.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

I have no idea what an individual 'maximizing his ownership' might mean.... Is it a phrase you have coined or does it have a long history?

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,056
Points 78,245

I control my arms, but those arms are still my property.  No dualism.

The implied dualism is between the "I" and the "my arms". In either case, this didn't respond to what I was actually talking about in the quote. I was talking about the fallacy of conflating two different senses of the term "property", I.E. a characteristic of something and control over something. For example, the fact that this computer is my "property" does not mean that the metaphysical "essence" of computers is that I have control over them.

To approach this from the inverse formulation, the fact that purposeful decision-making is a characteristic (or "property", if you will) of me being a human being does not mean that I "own myself" in the other sense of the term "property", in the same way that I could be said to "own" this computer. One significant difference is this: the computer is alienable from my "ownership", while my will is not alienable from my body. This is part of the issue that I have with "self-ownership", in that personhood is clearly not exchangable, alienable property in the same way that external objects are.

I mentioned "ownership" in a qualifying way, but I'll clarify further.  In the case of a slave, the master owns me.  It's conventional to state it this way.  Yet, I am still owning me too.  Yes I have liberty cause I could sit down and do nothing.

And, once again, this is a bizarre definition of "liberty". In the normative and ethical sense, "liberty" does not refer to the mere fact that you have the capacity to make purposeful decisions or physiological autonomy. Neither does "ownership" refer to that. If we were to take such a definition seriously, then we'd effectively be asserting that everyone already is inherently free, and libertarians would not have liberty (or greater or more consistent liberty) as a *goal* to reach in the first place. The world would already be libertopia, since we're basically defining liberty as a metaphysical given.

It should be quite clear that liberty is not a "natural law" in the sense of an inherent metaphysical "essence" or a scientific "law of nature". It may be considered a capacity or a potentiality for a particular state of being, but that state of being that we call "liberty" is obviously not inherent, it is conditionally based on a lack of interferance by an external authority. It is an interpersonal norm, not a metaphysical category. Treating it as a metaphysical category is to misconceptualize it at the very core.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 3,056
Points 78,245

nirgrahamUK:

yes, I agree with Jon. Argumentation ethics highlights what can and cannot be argued for. It tells you what possible moral positions are so incoherent that they can't even be positively stated without trapping the stater in a contradiction.

The problem is that the contradiction is not a formal or logical contradiction, it is only a contradiction between one's theory and one's behavior at best, and even that isn't necessarily the case because it is simply not true that everyone already presupposes the same normative ethic as you. It only works if we conflate normative ethics ("people should not initiate force") with metaphysical categories ("it is the essence of man that he does not initiate force"; which would be a falsehood in either case). To argue against a normative ethic is *not* to implicitly assume that normative ethic. Furthermore, even if there is a contradiction between someone's theory and their behavior, that does not constitute a logical proof of the theory, it can only demonstrate personal hypocrisy at best. This is why argumentation ethics completely fails, because the statement "people should not have property rights" (as a normative ethic) is *not* inherently falsified by someone, in fact, controlling things - because "property rights" does not refer to the mere fact that people control things. "People should not have property rights" cannot reasonably be conflated with "people do not control things", and argumentation ethics can only work if we engage in such a conflation.

Hoppe's "argumentation ethics", Kinsella's "estoppel argument" and Molyneux's "universally preferable behavior" all suffer from these same basic philosophical problems: the conflation of prescriptive statements with descriptive statements, the conflation of normative ethics with metaphysics, the conflation of acts of personal hypocrisy with logical contradictions and the conflation of falsifications with positive proofs. If someone says, "I don't own myself", this is not inherently disproven by the fact that they purposefully act, because "ownership" does not mean "physiological autonomy". If a slave says, "I am free", this is not inherently disproven by the fact that they purposefully act, because "freedom" in the normative ethical sense does not mean "the capacity to purposefully act or make a statement"; the slave is in fact not free. If an average middle-class person says, "the normative ethic of private property rights is false", this is not inherently disproven by the fact that they actually own a lot of things, because "property rights" does not merely mean "the fact that people own things"; at best, all you can point out using this method is that they are being hypocrits. In short, there are no formal logical contradictions in the mere act of making these statements and the assertion that there is reduces to plain old sophistry of an obvious sort.

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

as far as hypocrisy goes, if its not possible for anyone  to state some particular position without being hypocritical in so doing. then in the case of that particular propostion the problem is not in the hypocrit, but rather, in the contradiction the hypocrit espouses. 

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

  • | Post Points: 20
Page 1 of 8 (311 items) 1 2 3 4 5 Next > ... Last » | RSS