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

The problem here.

rated by 0 users
This post has 36 Replies | 4 Followers

Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470
mustang191919 Posted: Tue, Aug 7 2012 9:45 PM

Where does property derive from? Property is an extension of the self, and persons who have created a product have made it their property and an extension of their life.

Under most employment contracts, what employees produce is required to be bestowed as property to the employer, and employees in this case have no ownership of what they produce.

Alienating ownership of the self, or an extension of the self, is a form of slavery. Since libertarians generally oppose contracts which permit slavery, it's inconsistent of them to then allow employers to form contracts in which workers must alienate ownership of their product.

  • | Post Points: 95
Top 10 Contributor
Posts 7,105
Points 115,240
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

>>persons are entitled to own what they produce.

Where do you get that from?

Do you think if you walk up uninvited to somebodies block of marble and make a statue out of it, that you are entitled to what you have produced? sounds like vandalism to me.

 

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
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

According to Tannehil, a man has a right to ownership over his life and therefore also his property, because he has invested time (i.e. part of his life) in it and thereby made it an extension of his life.

What one invests part of one's life in, one creates this property as an extension of one's life.

An individual would have ownership of the marble or the statue to the extent that they invested time into it, especially if the original property owner requested construction of the statue.

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

Maybe the thing to question here is whether Tannehil is correct. I think 'owning your time' , is not much more than a metaphor. 

but besides, I don't know what your source says in fulltext;  but here what you write as support to your original statements does not add up to deriving it.

A man invests his time, exchanging his labour time for wages, wages which he then comes to own due to his investment of his time. Just what you specified in your elucidation.

Yet, suddendly, we say he came to own the product too? how so?? the product was made from the capitalists material base, and the labourer had been invited to spend his labour time *interacting* with it and transforming it. The labourer has been paid as per prior agreement, to claim also the capitalists property would surely be a crime. 

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 75 Contributor
Posts 1,288
Points 22,350

It's first ownership - hence why you can't go and carve a picture of a troll in someone's arm and claim that he's your property.  You are arguing that you should be able to do the latter.

The Voluntaryist Reader: http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/ Libertarian forums that actually work: http://voluntaryism.freeforums.org/index.php
  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

It's first ownership - hence why you can't go and carve a picture of a troll in someone's arm and claim that he's your property.  You are arguing that you should be able to do the latter.

The example you gave would not be a consensual transaction. Slavery may not be said to be consensual because it is an illegitimate transaction.

A consensual transaction where a worker produces a product, and then is required to alienate control over it, is identical to alienating control over an extension of the self. Alienating any part of the self is slavery.

For example, a miner, extracting marble from its natural state, has full ownership of the work of his hands (the marble) that cannot be alienated by an employment contract. The same can be said for a wage-employed farmer extracting produce from its natural state. The farmer's employer cannot alienate the work of the farmer's hands in extracting produce from its natural state.

Sect. 27. Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.

Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government

 

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,745
Wheylous replied on Tue, Aug 7 2012 11:02 PM

Let's make this clear.

Bob is a guy. Jake is another guy.

Bob builds himself some capital from unused resources. Now he owns capital.

He tells Jake, who currently isn't employed, "hey, I will let you use my capital and I will give you $X provided I keep the product of your labor."

Jake agrees. Done deal.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

He tells Jake, who currently isn't employed, "hey, I will let you use my capital and I will give you $X provided I keep the product of your labor."

This does not address the point. The product of one's labor is an extension of the self. Your statement is equivalently legitimate to a contract where, in your vulgar prose,

"hey, I will let you use my capital and I will give you $X provided I keep an extension of your self."

or, alternatively,

""hey, I will let you use my capital and I will give you $X provided I keep your self."

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,745
Wheylous replied on Tue, Aug 7 2012 11:07 PM

So gifts are immoral too?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,288
Points 22,350

That transaction is not consensual if the worker does something with the product without the owner's consent, in the same way that carving a troll in someone's arm isn't consensual if the troll carver does it without the owner of the arm's consent.  Thus your point is ridiculous and my original analogy exact.

If I'm a plumber and I'm hired to fix a pipe - do I then own that pipe?  It's exactly the same as the troll carving scenario.

Also, Locke? Seriously?  Hahaha.

The Voluntaryist Reader: http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/ Libertarian forums that actually work: http://voluntaryism.freeforums.org/index.php
  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,745
Wheylous replied on Tue, Aug 7 2012 11:09 PM

Oh, I just noticed the username. Hah. I fell for it.

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

So gifts are immoral too?

Yes, if gifts involve alienating an extension of oneself.

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,288
Points 22,350

Oh, I just noticed the username. Hah. I fell for it.

Took you a while!  Why do you think I brought up troll carvers?

The Voluntaryist Reader: http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/ Libertarian forums that actually work: http://voluntaryism.freeforums.org/index.php
  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

That transaction is not consensual if the worker does something with the product without the owner's consent, in the same way that carving a troll in someone's arm isn't consensual if the troll carver does it without the owner of the arm's consent.  Thus your point is ridiculous and my original analogy exact.

The "product owner" you are referring to does not legitimately become a product owner if they did not apply labor to the product and transform it into an extension of themself.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,288
Points 22,350

Yeah he did.  Why wouldn't he have?

The Voluntaryist Reader: http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/ Libertarian forums that actually work: http://voluntaryism.freeforums.org/index.php
  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

Yeah he did.

In that instance, an object becomes an extension of another's self insofar as the original owner requested that another individual's labor become embodied in the object, transforming the object into an extension of the other individual's self. The original owner would retain self-ownership of their own person, however.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Posts 113
Points 1,685
RagnarD replied on Tue, Aug 7 2012 11:18 PM
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 233
Points 4,440
Cortes replied on Tue, Aug 7 2012 11:19 PM

But, but, guys, extension of the self...!!!

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,288
Points 22,350

Haha no he didn't request it to be embodied in the object at all.  It cannot be given up without his express consent.  Otherwise it's alienation, which is slavery.   It's already owned by the employer, just as his arms are.  That's why he won't let you carve your troll signature into them.  Stop trying to enslave people.

The Voluntaryist Reader: http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/ Libertarian forums that actually work: http://voluntaryism.freeforums.org/index.php
  • | Post Points: 35
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 233
Points 4,440
Cortes replied on Tue, Aug 7 2012 11:22 PM

But that troll is the extension of his self, and the employer is alienating the extension of his labor's self when he denies that I forcibly circumcise his extended member's self in front of his parents selves, denying my right to extend my self's scissors into de-extending his extension of his self 

  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

Stop trying to enslave people.

Legitimately alienating control of one's bodily person is impossible. One is continually investing time in oneself, and no other person is capable of investing time to maintain another's self. Personal slavery is never legitimate.

Haha no he didn't request it to be embodied in the object at all.

This is incorrect. If he requested the worker to apply his time to the object, then the object becomes an extension of the worker's self.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,288
Points 22,350

If he requested the worker to apply his time to the object, then the object becomes an extension of the worker's self.

Nope, I'm assuming the property norm of first use = ownership.  If you're not then I don't care to talk with you any longer, slave master.

The Voluntaryist Reader: http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/ Libertarian forums that actually work: http://voluntaryism.freeforums.org/index.php
  • | Post Points: 20
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

But that troll is the extension of his self, and the employer is alienating the extension of his labor's self when he denies that I forcibly circumcise his extended member's self in front of his parents selves, denying my right to extend my self's scissors into de-extending his extension of his self

The employer cannot alienate an extension of his self. He is continually investing time in maintaining his bodily self, and no other person can invest such an amount of time as to transform the employer's self into an extension of the other's self.

  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

Nope, I'm assuming the property norm of first use = ownership.  If you're not then I don't care to talk with you any longer, slave master.

Under your doctrine, the ownership of the atmosphere resides in the first individual to use it (the first human). However, this contradicts Locke.

Under the first use doctrine, farmers and miners would still have rightful ownership of products extracted from the natural state, regardless of employment contracts.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,987
Points 89,745
Wheylous replied on Tue, Aug 7 2012 11:31 PM

Oh, well, in that case, go read some Walter Block who says voluntary slavery is OK and we're peachy keen.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Posts 1,288
Points 22,350

No one cares about Locke.  Anthony De Jasay has written extensively on how ridiculous Locke's ideas concerning property are.  Go read it.  End of discussion.

The Voluntaryist Reader: http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/ Libertarian forums that actually work: http://voluntaryism.freeforums.org/index.php
  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

That is the necessary conclusion that must be drawn from mainstream libertarianism. Either the product of one's labor, or an object one uses first, is one's property. Property is an extension of oneself, and alienating control of an extension of oneself is a form of slavery. Libertarianism thus approves of slavery of miners and farmers who gain first use of a product which, under libertarianism, never is given to the individual who produced or first used it, but instead must be provided to an employer under employment contracts.

  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

Yet, suddendly, we say he came to own the product too? how so?? the product was made from the capitalists material base, and the labourer had been invited to spend his labour time *interacting* with it and transforming it. The labourer has been paid as per prior agreement, to claim also the capitalists property would surely be a crime.

The capitalist's material base, unless it was produced by the capitalist himself, is ultimately produced by some form of material extraction.

The individuals who performed the material extraction were both the first to apply labor to, and the first to use, the materials, and are the rightful owners. If the capitalist employed miners to establish his material base, then the mine product is rightfully owned by the mine workers who gained first use of the product.

  • | Post Points: 5
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 470

Here is a formal version of the argument.

Proof: Capitalism permits slavery.

Premises:

A. Under capitalism, the first person to use an object gains ownership of it (source: Aristippus).

B. Under capitalism in this example, farmers and miners work for an employer to produce a product ("the product") of vegetables or mined materials.

C. Farmers and miners are the first to use the product.

D. Farmers and miners are obligated to surrender the product to employers under employment contracts.

E. Legitimate property is an extension of the self.

F. An extension of the self is a part of the self.

G. Contractual alienation of ownership of the self or any part of it is slavery.

Conclusions:

1. (A), (B), and (C) grant farmers and miners ownership of their product.

2. By (1) and (E), the product is an extension of the self.

3. By (2) and (F), the product is a part of the self.

4. By (3) and (G), contractual alienation of ownership of the product is slavery.

5. By (D), the ownership of the product is contractually alienated under capitalism.

6. By (4) and (5), capitalism permits slavery.

QED capitalism permits slavery.

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

impala76 bandodging?

not cool. and trolling us with such trash is less cool. 

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
Not Ranked
Posts 16
Points 380

employment contracts are voluntary. When a sulptor works on a block of marble that's not his, (it's either his or not his) it's not his property, so it's vandalism. If he works on it and it's his, is he enslaved to himself? obviously not, it's a contradiction in terms. when a man offers the results of his labour to someone, under an employment contract, the labour is sold by the man AT THE MOMENT IT TAKES PLACE - he owned it, and he sold it. it's now no longer his. When he performs the same action (in the case of the sculptor, hitting his chisel with his hammer) in a field in the air, it's not "labour", it's just him hitting his own chisel with a hammer -but whatever its result, it's still "his" labour. Why should his labour continue to remain HIS when he's sold it? in fact, it would be slavery only if he was not selling it, or not doing it voluntarily, in which case it never belonged to him which WOULD violate your laws about ownership of labour. But since he sells it at the moment of producing it, through a prior voluntary contract, it does not mean that it never was his, but that becasuse of the nature of physical actions, he sold it at the VERY MOMENT of producing it. Is a lawyer or a teacher enslaved by her customers?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Female
Posts 260
Points 4,015

Isn't this argument failing to take into account alienable versus inalienable property?  I mean, capitalism is about the transferring of alienable property, establishment of value, etc., thus making possible a lifestyle that does not require each individual to produce exactly what they consume.  It can't exist at all without accepting that a person can contractually give up property rights in exchange for benefits of his choosing.

I think it would be nonsensical to say that a block of stone is an inalienable portion of a person's property.  Rightly speaking, though, anyone else that attempts to appropriate that item by mixing labor with it must do so under contract with the current owner.  Anything else is a violation of the owner's property right.

Now the worker that mined the stone might or might not have been an owner of it.  The corporation or individual that hired the miner would have agreed to exchange payment for labor, not product for labor.  Even if the mine was worker-owned, the contract between the workers would be for each to obtain the VALUE, not the GOODS, of their labor.  Nobody can eat stone, for goodness' sake.

The basic thing is that property has value and whenever a person so chooses, they can make an exchange that is voluntary, and potentially beneficial, on both sides.  The difference is great between a voluntary contract and a compulsory contract.

I think where the gray area comes in is where the SELF ends and the ordinary property begins.  I mean, one can sell one's kidney without giving away selfhood.  So the question as regards slavery is, can one voluntarily contract away the SELF as one can the kidney? 

Say a person has the ability to sell their brain and body to some medical research project, and in exchange they obtain a benefit they consider to be equal in value, such as lifesaving medical treatment for a family member.  Under some circumstances, this could be considered a worthwhile trade by some people.  If the person voluntarily enters into such a contract, have they committed an act of violence?  Is the contract invalid because it requires a person to trade that which they have no ethical right to trade?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,922
Points 79,590

You really must be bored or something, Ban-Evader.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,922
Points 79,590
Autolykos replied on Wed, Aug 8 2012 10:36 AM

Ban-Evader:
Where does property derive from? Property is an extension of the self, and persons who have created a product have made it their property and an extension of their life.

That doesn't necessarily follow even within libertarian property theory. If a person takes resources that are already owned by someone else and rearranges those resources, how does he necessarily own the rearrangement? In other words, how does allowing a person to rearrange resources you own necessarily equate to giving him ownership of those resources?

Ban-Evader:
Under most employment contracts, what employees produce is required to be bestowed as property to the employer, and employees in this case have no ownership of what they produce.

Alienating ownership of the self, or an extension of the self, is a form of slavery. Since libertarians generally oppose contracts which permit slavery, it's inconsistent of them to then allow employers to form contracts in which workers must alienate ownership of their product.

See above. Aside from that, I differ from most of my libertarian colleagues in that I consider alienation of self-ownership to be legitimate.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

Voluntaryism Forum

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 295
Points 4,255
David B replied on Wed, Aug 8 2012 11:55 AM

mustang191919:

E. Legitimate property is an extension of the self.

F. An extension of the self is a part of the self.

E and F are not givens.  They require support, some basis in logic.  What you are providing with them is propositions for defining legitimate property but you haven't given any facts of reality that make them true; you are stating them as normative propisitions for defining legitimate property.

What I can do, is give you facts about reality which warrant differentiating between two different classes of the "use" of matter, which is the precursor that does exist in reality which all concepts of ownership is built from.

So what is the self?  Is it the mind?  Is it the ego?  Is it the brain?  Is it all of your body or just some of it?  I don't think we have to argue too strongly here, but for the purposes of this discussion, I would argue that the pattern inhabiting the brain, that thinks and provides agency to the physical body is the self.  There is a unique relationship between the mind and the body in that you, and you alone (with current technology) can directly manipulate the body.  Meaning that when you think a thing happening (like forming a fist) it happens directly without anything other than thought.  That's what I will call for these purposes "direct use".  No other matter in reality is used in this way.  Your human body is the only thing which you can use in this way.  You cannot use another human body in this way, nor can another human mind use your body the way you do.

Everything else is "indirect use".  So, I categorically reject your assertions above.   The only matter that I can make into a direct extension of the self is a) food, b) water, c) air.  In case I need to spell it out, by injesting any of these (or any other matter that's brought into your body and metabolized) it becomes a part of the contiguous collection of cells that you have (to some extent) direct control over via the nervous system and your brain.  If you cut your fingernails or your hair, they are no longer part of the body, they can only be used through indirect use.  They cannot be directed any longer by thought alone, this is true of lost limbs, fingers, donated kidneys, etc.  

By attempting to equate direct use and indirect use in the way done above, you muddy the waters, and to specific effect.

The problem domain for politics is conflict.  The goal of a theory of politics is to explain how a social group handles, engages in, resolves, avoids conflict. The solution is property, always.  In such a system the idea of property is a "legitimate claim of use" over matter in reality.  It will have matter, location, and time boundaries.  In other words, the statement of what constitutes a legitimate claim may be generic or even a norm that's unstated but these norms or laws will be about legitimizing the use of specific matter, for a specific period of time (or periods of time) and in a specific location (or locations).

You are attempting to show through a logical reductio ad absurdum that capitalism is illogical in that it concludes that slavery is possible, because if any mixing of labor with matter establishes ownership then ALL mixing of labor must also establish ownership.   That's an illogical conclusion.  "First use = legitimate claim" is not equal to "Any use = legitimate claim"

I don't need to go any further to demonstrate the absurdity of your argument.  

The proper use of Praxeology (Economics and Politics), is to present value-free analysis of the necessary outcomes and consequences of the implementation of specific actions.

So, let's analyze the praxeological results of specific points you make.

For example, in the scenario you describe it becomes obvious very quickly that multiple people (minds) will have "legitimate claims of ownership" to the same property.  Is this problematic for a social group?  Does it lead to more conflict or less conflict?  Does it lead to more conflict resolution or less conflict resolution?

I would assert as an axiom, that individual property rights are beneficial to a social group BECAUSE it reduces disputes overall, and disputes by their nature increases the friction (in this case social) that human action encounters in attaining ends.  Regardless of how an individual property right occurs, individual ownership will be preferred over collective ownership for that simple reason.  By preferred I mean that it's a "fitter" mechanism than alternatives.  

This doesn't mean that a social group might not find ways to construct legitimate collective ownership claims, it simply means that they will have more friction due to the competing ends of various human minds who each have a part of a legitimate claim of ownership over the collectively owned property.  They will adopt mechanisms for managing the competing ends the minds will strive for, those mechanisms will result in specific side effects of their own.

I believe with logical, praxeological analysis that one could demonstrate that a society based on decentralized competing individual property owners will produce a society that produces more goods and services(higher standard of living), creates the "good black swans" at a higher frequency, and is more resilient when faced with the "bad black swans", than a society which focuses on centralization, public ownership, arbitrary criminalization, non-market generated regulation of goods and services, market interference of all types, monopolization of any goods and services, eminent domain laws, etc.

Thank you for the argument though.  These discussions are beneficial because they allow us all to think more deeply about how the world works in practice.  It allows us to discard and clear away ineffective arguments and ineffective categories (definitions) that don't apply to the reality we live in.

 

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 295
Points 4,255
David B replied on Wed, Aug 8 2012 1:06 PM

Lady Saiga:

Isn't this argument failing to take into account alienable versus inalienable property?  I mean, capitalism is about the transferring of alienable property, establishment of value, etc., thus making possible a lifestyle that does not require each individual to produce exactly what they consume.  It can't exist at all without accepting that a person can contractually give up property rights in exchange for benefits of his choosing.

I think it would be nonsensical to say that a block of stone is an inalienable portion of a person's property.  Rightly speaking, though, anyone else that attempts to appropriate that item by mixing labor with it must do so under contract with the current owner.  Anything else is a violation of the owner's property right.

Now the worker that mined the stone might or might not have been an owner of it.  The corporation or individual that hired the miner would have agreed to exchange payment for labor, not product for labor.  Even if the mine was worker-owned, the contract between the workers would be for each to obtain the VALUE, not the GOODS, of their labor.  Nobody can eat stone, for goodness' sake.

I wanted to jump in here and clarify that one could argue that labor is a very specifically constructed set of property exchanges.  For example, if I get paid a fee for mining, the contract might look like this as a logical construct.  I purchase a very short-term and very small scale property right to the mine.  I get to carve rock out of the mine, and then as the completion of the contract, I sell the end product of my mining back to the mine operator and return sell back the short-term property claim to the mine.  That's a way of describing the way in which "legitimate claims of use" are transferred back and forth within the labor agreement between the mine owner and the miner.

The more important outcome of this type of analysis is in realizing the consequences of preventing or "delegitimizing" these types of use interactions.  Explain how a cell phone or a car gets produced when all of the products have to be generated through direct ownership of the means used to produce the various components that make a car?

Just for clarity I'm agreeing with you again Lady Saiga

Lady Saiga:

The basic thing is that property has value and whenever a person so chooses, they can make an exchange that is voluntary, and potentially beneficial, on both sides.  The difference is great between a voluntary contract and a compulsory contract.

I think where the gray area comes in is where the SELF ends and the ordinary property begins.  I mean, one can sell one's kidney without giving away selfhood.  So the question as regards slavery is, can one voluntarily contract away the SELF as one can the kidney? 

I hope my point made in my later post here about how the self is the mind not the body, but the direct use of the body is a qualitatively different category of use than my use of a hammer.  Alienating any part of the body (finger, arm, fingernail, hair, kidney) makes one's interaction with that part an indirect use, as the direct manipulation of that part cannot happen via thought alone, but must involve the use of parts of the body which are manipulated via thought.

Laidy Saiga:

Say a person has the ability to sell their brain and body to some medical research project, and in exchange they obtain a benefit they consider to be equal in value, such as lifesaving medical treatment for a family member.  Under some circumstances, this could be considered a worthwhile trade by some people.  If the person voluntarily enters into such a contract, have they committed an act of violence?  Is the contract invalid because it requires a person to trade that which they have no ethical right to trade?

If I sell my brain voluntarily and it's taken out of my body and the self I think I am dies, then the only dispute to be resolved is the one that is brought by a 3rd party which argues that I was killed against my will, if such a dispute is brought.  From a social point of view, I would expect either a complete rejection of such an argument, OR extremely limited and narrow conditions under which such a contract agreement was honored.  For example, if I'm terminally ill, and I undergo a procedure which has a high likelihood of killing me, but has some exploratory informational value to the rest of society as a whole.   The categorical difference in this kind of contract is the terminal nature of the decision.  There is no self to compensate for a breach of contract or for fraud.

On the other hand, if there is no dispute, meaning no action is brought against the person who kills me, then society has no input or say in the matter.  For example, if I'm a homeless guy with mental issues and someone kidnaps me performs experiments on me, kills me, and then disposes of my body in a way that I can't be found, I'm kind of screwed...  Who even knows anything happened?  But these events are always possible.  This is where social connection is a vital protection for each of us.  Those around the edges who are disconnected and isolated are easy prey for predatory members of the society.  That's always been true.

Increasing social cohesion and connectedness will protect each of us.  Honoring voluntary contracts is beneficial to us all.  I would expect however, that our ethical values would also play out in the way in which we honor contracts, especially labor contracts.  For example, lets say I want to pay your for 5 years of labor on the moon.  But it costs me $100,000 to transport you there and another $100,000 to get you back when it's done, and another $100,000 annually to house you.   At the end of the contract I agree to pay you $200,000.  My total costs as the purchaser of your labor will be $900,000.  $700,000 of overhead and $200,000 for wages.  So, if we amortize the costs across your labor, the rate per year that you are earning would be approximately $180,000, but I'm taking $140,000 to pay for my overhead costs.  Now you're paying off approximately 40,000$ each year to the costs of transportation.

Now, let's say that one year in you figure out that your health is deteriorating rapidly.  You now decide that you don't want to be party to the transaction and insist on breaking the contract and being returned home.

My costs aren't covered.  Do you owe me money?  Do I have to return you home?  If I'm in the court, I would expect the person to be returned home.  The only question in my mind is whether or not the employer is owed money.  In this case I'd probably say no.  It's a risk incurred by the work environment, the employer underestimated his costs.  Meaning that if he can't provide a safe environment or sufficient compensation to keep a person there, then that's a risk he took when he established the contract.  Insisting on keeping a person in a work environment which will kill him, or severly limit his life after the fact, is not the type of behavior we want to support or encourage.  

If the only safe contract is to bring the person up there for one year, then instead of $180k/year, the labor overhead costs are actually higher than the employer originally thought.  In the example above the overhead is $300,000 per annum instead of $140k per annum.  On top of that would be any additional salary the worker would ask for in order to motivate him to go to this environment and work.  Forcing the employee to honor the original contract and having him bear these costs is not acceptable, just to avoid the employer from covering the actual costs of the work is not acceptable.

But what if the health issues don't exist, and he just wants to go home, or he wants to terminate the contract so that he can work for someone else on the moon?  The employer there doesn't have to cover the initial transport cost, and the worker gets a higher wage as a result.  In this case, either the employee breaking the contract or the employer seeking to "scalp" his labor must compensate the original employer for transportation costs (+ some penalty for breaking the contract).  There's a dishonoring of the contract in this case.

None of these issues are simple, but that doesn't mean we can't establish fair principles, and by fair, I mean principles that provide a stability and predictability to the economic behaviors that man engages in.  The world itself (natural world) and other competing actors in the economy provide a sufficiently chaotic environment already.   We don't need chaotic interference from our political/legal systems also.

In fact, the inteference provided by the political/legal institutions as they are enacted in modern states, actually does provide some semblance of  short-term and narrowly-scoped stability.  But it's always for a small subset of a larger social group, and at the expense of increased chaos or friction for the other members of the same social group. 

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Female
Posts 260
Points 4,015

Oh dear, David B, you have a lot of words.  Thanks for the clarification!

Alienating any part of the body (finger, arm, fingernail, hair, kidney) makes one's interaction with that part an indirect use

This helps clarify a point to me.  A body part, one that is initially under the self's direct control and therefore not under anyone ELSE's direct control, is obviously the most direct objective link possible between the commodity (kidney) and the owner.  This is why I suppose you could rank violent acts against the BODY to be of the greatest immorality next to murder itself, whereas violent acts against indirect property such as the block of stone or the kidney once the original owner had sold it, are of a lesser degree of immorality.  The "degree" pertains to the directness of the link with the self.

I'm still not sure what this tells us about the individual's decision to basically commit suicide.  If it is done under contract, is the other guy really liable as a result of the contract being unethical?  Obviously enforcing this would require someone to take up for the dead person, and that wouldn't always be possible.  But even so, is the contract valid, or not?

My initial response is to say yes, and for two reasons. 

First, that noone has a higher claim of ownership over the SELF than the SELF.  So there's nobody who can actually claim to have been injured directly.  Even someone who operates as a 3rd party advocate cannot claim this, and they cannot claim compensation FOR THE INJURED PARTY.  Only for their heirs, which is not quite the same.

Second, nobody argues with an individual's right to make decisions that alienate parts of their property that are under direct control.  This happens for many reasons that might be considered reasonable-amputation to save life, organ donation to save life-AND unreasonable, such as some types of scarification for religious or aesthetic reasons.  If you have the right of direct-control ownership to risk lopping off your finger while fixing your roof, and you have the right of indirect-control ownership to sell that finger once gone, then rationally I cannot justify denying the individual the same level of control over ALL types of property in their possession.

I don't really know where the moon stuff was coming from, but in review of it, I would say that the employee's decision to terminate the contract is the employer's risk in all situations.  It's up to the employer to stipulate terms in the original contract if they want the employee to assume some of the risk.  For example, the employer can expect the employee to cover the costs of transport, housing, etc and pay them accordingly in regular installments.  Thus, when the contract terminates, payment also terminates and it's up to the employee to make arrangements to return to Earth.

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Page 1 of 1 (37 items) | RSS