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Farmers playing poker

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jdkdsgn Posted: Fri, Jul 6 2012 11:46 AM

Had a conversation with my dad a while back and he presented me with a pretty interesting hypothetical: what if there were two farmers with land adjacent to one another's property, and they met one night for a game of poker. Farmer A and Farmer B are betting with livestock. Farmer A gets so drunk during the game, that he blacks out and ends up betting his whole farm, and losing that bet. In the morning, he wakes up to find his whole farm taken away from him.

I wasn't sure how to analyze this hypothetical from an anarcho-capitalist standpoint. One part of me wanted to say, 'tough nuts Farmer A, you take responsibility for your actions, and you entered into the game with alcohol knowingly/willingly' and another part of me couldn't explain how exactly this all could be enforced -

For example: Farmer A wakes up, and claims that Farmer B stole the deed to his land while Farmer A was passed out drunk. Farmer B would have to convince a judge or arbitrator that his word is true. It would end up being one man's word versus the other's, and both men would feel justified in their position (since Farmer A doesn't remember anything, and would like to believe that he would never bet away his farm).

Anyway, maybe this is convoluted and a stupid thing to ask, but I was wondering how you guys would analyze this situation. Thanks!

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Bogart replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 12:18 PM

You have already done all the analysys necessary.  That is:

Farmer A asks Farmer B to ignore the bet or maybe give Farmer B something of lesser value in return.

If that fails then that is what neutral arbitrators are for.

Farmer A would ask Farmer B to go in front of an arbitrator.  If B refused then A would simply maintain that the whole thing is a lie.  If B accepts then the parties would have to come to an agreement in selecting an arbitrator.  And when something like a farm is involved that could be worth hundreds of thousands then they would probably select an experienced arbitrator that has ruled in favor of both parties in several cases.  Now of course A and B may not be ablve to select an arbitrator and there is an easy solution to that one as well: Have their arbitrators pick.

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Esuric replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 12:49 PM

You cannot form a contract when intoxicated. 

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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jdkdsgn replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 1:05 PM

This is one of the interesting ideas I came up with, Esuric. But I have no justification for not making contracts whilst intoxicated. Can you explain why that is a valid thing to assert?

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jdkdsgn:
This is one of the interesting ideas I came up with, Esuric. But I have no justification for not making contracts whilst intoxicated. Can you explain why that is a valid thing to assert?

A person requires the legal capacity to know exactly what they are doing when forming the contract, otherwise the contract can be rightfully challenged as invalid.  A contract made with a 2 year old is not considered legally binding for a reason.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contract_law#Affirmative_defenses

 

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jdkdsgn replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 1:35 PM

But isn't an evaluation of one's 'capacity' to form contracts subjective? How do you test for 'legal capacity'? I don't disagree with you (and thanks for the links), but I just don't understand the justification - how does one know when one has crossed the line into alegal territory?

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There is no set in stone reason why you cannot make any contract while intoxicated, but when you understand how law and norms come to be, you begin to see why most people would not expect contracts made under certain conditions to be honored.  Some examples would be be contracts made under coercion or while intoxicated/high.

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cab21 replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 1:39 PM

maybe i'm just adding questions due to unfamiliarity with ancap. but here is my take on how it could work

people familair with ancap can correct me

in ancap society, would current laws of consent still be there?

the state might now not recognise the 2 year old's claim, but what about a private security agency or a private property registration corporation?

a deed would have a persons name on it registered with the property registration company. to transfer a deed, the current owner would have to go along with the new owner to the company and they would transfer the property.

farmer b would want the bet to be recorded  and the result recorded so he could prove to the property registration company what went on and that he won the property. farmer b would be able to show any company farmer a hired that farmer b won and would be the new rightfull owner.

taking a deed, with another persons name on it, seems like it would not give farmer b the property, it would just be farmer b having in his possesion a deed showing that farmer a owns the property

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There is no set in stone reason why you cannot make any contract while intoxicated

+1. Noone would pay in a bar except maybe for the first drink :)

The Voluntaryist Reader - read, comment, post your own.
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jdkdsgn:
But isn't an evaluation of one's 'capacity' to form contracts subjective? How do you test for 'legal capacity'? I don't disagree with you (and thanks for the links), but I just don't understand the justification - how does one know when one has crossed the line into alegal territory?

That's basically what courts are for.  Someone makes a claim, the case gets presented and it gets argued.  But as you can see in the links, there is a lot of common law established around how contracts work.

As far as arbitration in a free society, private courts is one possibility. More info can be found here and here and here.

And of course, there's already private arbitration taking place today...

 

 

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jdkdsgn replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 2:30 PM

Thanks for the answers guys!

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Esuric replied on Fri, Jul 6 2012 7:34 PM

 This is one of the interesting ideas I came up with, Esuric. But I have no justification for not making contracts whilst intoxicated. Can you explain why that is a valid thing to assert?

Because you are not in the right state of mind and therefore cannot truly give voluntary consent. Individuals could, for example, roofie your drink, and then convince you to give away all of your possessions. I'm not sure what else you would like me to add. I would assume any legal system that emerges would recognize this obvious fact. 

"If we wish to preserve a free society, it is essential that we recognize that the desirability of a particular object is not sufficient justification for the use of coercion."

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Jul 9 2012 12:52 PM

 Individuals could, for example, roofie your drink, and then convince you to give away all of your possessions.

That's obviously coercive. They poisoned you -_-

It's like asking "What if they point a gun at you and make you sign a contract?"

It's not about the intoxication; it's about them damn roofieing you.

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cab21 replied on Mon, Jul 9 2012 3:42 PM

it can teach the farmer that loses his land to 

not get drunk

not gamble

be responsible for his actions.

 

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In terms of freedom to contract and principles of liberty, contract law is fairly consistent.  In order to have a free agreement, you need a "meeting of the minds."  When Farmer A becomes so intoxicated that he has blacked out, then it is impossible (both legally and rationally) to have any "meeting of the minds."

With that said, the law does recognize this in an objective fashion (so as to avoid Farmer A from simply asserting that he didn't agree to this and winning any action against Farmer B based on subjective beliefs).  Thus, a "meeting of the minds," or a contract, can occur between Farmer A and Farmer B EVEN IF Farmer A is intoxicated.  However, if Farmer B objectively should have realized (or actually did realize) that Farmer A was intoxicated, then there can be no such agreement to sell his land.

Further, the law typically requires sales of land to be in writing so as to allow the seller/buyer to realize the seriousness of the transaction before making a decision "on the whim."

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cab21 replied on Mon, Jul 9 2012 5:52 PM

this could be me needing to understand ancap more, but what "law"? if everyone is subject to whatever law they choose to contract out, should oral contract not be as valid as writen contract to any hypothetical law court that is hired?

do people own land when they homestead it, or when they write down the cordinates and register it with a private registration firm?

does the NAP axiam have to be written? does it need to be part of the courts philosophy?

i'm still fuzzy on what conditions need to be met for it to be voluntary. consent laws can seem arbitary and not natural. it seems there needs to be a axiam of consent.

can a 5 year old homestead land, or is unowned land that a 5 year old works on still up for grabs for  a 18 year old to homestead? with this example shift the 5 with old with drunk and the 18 year old with sober.

it seems there will be differences between normative and reality that no human law can make right

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cab21:

this could be me needing to understand ancap more, but what "law"? if everyone is subject to whatever law they choose to contract out, should oral contract not be as valid as writen contract to any hypothetical law court that is hired?

Law is a subset of social norms. Norms, by definition, are normal. It is normal to drive on the right side of the road in America. If you were to drive on the left side of the road, you would be breaking from the norm. Likewise, murder is prohibited (okay, the state can murder, but for the rest of us, we are not allowed to do it). You cannot have two norms simultaneously stating that murder is allowed and that murder is forbidden. Only one can be a norm.

So, fear not. In libertopia, there will not be conflicting laws in the same geographic location.

Oral contracts are just as valid as written contracts. The problem with oral contracts is that they are harder to prove what the agreement was, as there is no written record.

do people own land when they homestead it, or when they write down the cordinates and register it with a private registration firm?

Here is what I wrote in another thread:

gotlucky:

Deeds are just a formal way of demonstrating who is the legal owner. They become necessary regarding valuable properties in a large society, as it is impossible for everyone to know who has a legal claim to what. They are unnecessary in small communities where this sort of information is common knowledge.

does the NAP axiam have to be written? does it need to be part of the courts philosophy?

The NAP is pretty easy to remember, but it's been written down in lots of places. Regarding courts, I suggest that you read What Law Is and A Praxeological Account of Law by forum member Clayton.

 

i'm still fuzzy on what conditions need to be met for it to be voluntary. consent laws can seem arbitary and not natural. it seems there needs to be a axiam of consent.

can a 5 year old homestead land, or is unowned land that a 5 year old works on still up for grabs for  a 18 year old to homestead? with this example shift the 5 with old with drunk and the 18 year old with sober.

it seems there will be differences between normative and reality that no human law can make right

I highly recommend The Ethics of Liberty by Murray Rothbard. I do not agree with him regarding natural rights, but the vast majority of what he writes is spot on, as he almost always uses the NAP as his starting point. There is a chapter Children and Rights that should probably answer your questions, but I suggest you read the whole book. It's not that long.

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cab21 replied on Mon, Jul 9 2012 7:17 PM

thanks gotlucky, ill give the book a readthrough

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