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

What are the Purposes of Allowing Homesteading as You Advocate?

rated by 0 users
This post has 71 Replies | 5 Followers

Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ Posted: Fri, Jul 24 2009 5:16 AM

We have people arguing about when and how homesteading should be allowed, but people rarely ask the crucial question, "For what purpose?" What purposes does allowing a particular type of homesteading accomplish for you? Does it make you feel right? Does it make private property work better? Does it offend your sense of justice less? Does it just make you satisfied that everyone would be doing it the right way? What does is do for you?

Because in the end we are all just consumers, each of us ready to pay for whatever services we want, and if a legal service framework to defend your notion of homesteading is worth it to you, you will pay for it and it will be reflected in common law to that extent. The right system to support is the one you deem will do the most for you, even if part of doing the most for you is making sure innocent strangers do not get thrown off their property - maybe you just have that kind of empathy. For whatever reasons, you support your type homesteading because you believe it will fulfill those needs, and indeed you can evaluate all homesteading proposals in light of how much each would apparently fulfill those needs.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

AJ:
We have people arguing about when and how homesteading should be allowed, but people rarely ask the crucial question, "For what purpose?" What purposes does allowing a particular type of homesteading accomplish for you? Does it make you feel right? Does it make private property work better? Does it offend your sense of justice less? Does it just make you satisfied that everyone would be doing it the right way? What does is do for you?

Well property is a necessary institution for survivial. Property entails the ability to use an item therefore if no one had use then we would all just be standing around dying of hunger or dehydration. Therefore since property is a necesscity we must establish how property usage comes about. Rothbard gives three possibilities to the ownership of property. Self-Ownership [ what libertarians adopt ], A group or class of individuals owning other individuals which is a contradiction for both classes are human. Why is it logical for one class of humans to own another class of humans? The argument is usually that they are sub-human but they are in fact human. The third is communal ownership which is utopian. For an individual needs the consent of 6 billion individuals to do something. If I am a farmer in Idaho I cannot witness and therefore enact my property rights [ however small ] in a steel mill in Pittsburgh, let alone Europe or Asia. A ruling class who take up the title of representatives of the proletariat or workers is empowered to 'ration out' judgement and supplies and therefore you are back to contradiction number two of rulers and ruled. Therefore from logical deduction, self-ownership is the only morally correct institution of property ownership. Now moving on to homesteading. Since we own ourselves, then what we produce is a result of our time and execertion of labor and when we labor we instrinstically implant a part of ourselves onto what we are fashioning. Nature itself is a commons, meaning it has no owner. What changes a commons into a piece of property is this homesteading principle or as Locke stated 'mixing your labor with the soil.'

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 35
Not Ranked
Posts 17
Points 325
Rytz replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 9:50 AM

It is a very theoretical discussion, this homesteading business. This reason why it fills Mises.org and similar communities is that it is central to establishing "rule of law" whilst still denying the rise of a centralist power monopoly (think 'private roads' and the, hence, private establishment of 'rules of use', and so on). I for one happen to think that it is at the same time a worthwhile and completely worthless utopian idea. When Nozick wrote his refinement of Locke's 'appropriation by labor' - his 'Entitlement Theory of Justice' - even he was forced to conclude that since the distribution pattern of ownership was distorted by Kings & Queens in the past, the present distribution of property and goods (even if these come about by just, present distribution in trade or inheritance) is immoral. It is worth a discussion that private ownership can never result in a just distribution of goods (according to Nozick). Perhaps one of you would care to reply.

 

The reason I mention Nozick is for the benefit of A.J. who sought a reply to the question: "For what purpose?" As Anarchist Cain in his referral to John Locke sensibly implied the question is only answered with reference to the theory of morality & justice underpinning any concept of property. I don't promote private ownership, homesteading or property because I find it just; it's the other way round: Justice is defined as the historical unfolding of private enterprise a'la Nozick's Entitlement Theory of Justice.

 

Notice that homesteading as well is not the solution to any problem. Rather it is the beginning of moral deliberation, of moral thought itself. A.J. might as well ask "For what purpose do you promote owning yourself`?" Ownership of myself (freedom) is not the answer to any problems in life; it is the beginning of the only way to address life, to articulate it, to morally deliberate on it.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 634
Points 12,685

Anarchist Cain:

. Rothbard gives three possibilities to the ownership of property. Self-Ownership [ what libertarians adopt ], A group or class of individuals owning other individuals which is a contradiction for both classes are human. Why is it logical for one class of humans to own another class of humans? The argument is usually that they are sub-human but they are in fact human. The third is communal ownership which is utopian.

Cain:

You seem to be familiar with the Rothbardian system.  Maybe you can explain something I have had a hard time understanding.  Regarding the idea of a class of individuals owning other individuals, I understand that in some sense one might hold that it is a logical or theoretical or performative contradiction.  But I would assume that it is in fact a real possibility, and that in fact a class of people may actually own other individuals?  Is that your understanding?

The reason I ask this is, I would think that the Rothbard/Hoppe complaint with contemporary society, and to some extent the libertarian complaint, is that a group of people in fact does own our bodies through threat of coercion, and that we don't like it and are trying to change it, through scholarship, education, activism, whatever...

But in my discussions with Rothbardians, at least so far, I have not seen an explicit mention of whether or not our bodies are in fact owned by a class of people.  In your passage above, you write that it is a contradiction.   But if other people don't own my body, then what is my complaint?    I would have thought that my complaint as a libertarian is that other people do own my body to some extent, in which case there is a sense in which owning someone else's body isn't a contradiction, but something that people can actually do. 

Can people or can they not, own other individuals?

I haven't seen this aspect fully treated by Rothbard or Hoppe.  Instead, I have only seen the contradictory aspect treated.

 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 5,538
Points 93,790
Juan replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 2:16 PM
adam knott:
But I would assume that it is in fact a real possibility, and that in fact a class of people may actually own other individuals?
What is a fact is that people are being coerced, not owned. Since coercion lets you control people up to a point, it looks as if people are 'owned'.

If you want to say "some people are owned", well, fine. The thing is, we are not legitimately owned and furthermore there's no legitimate way for A to own B, just like there's no legitimate way for A to murder B.

However, since you reject (I think) the idea of 'natural' rights, you might not consider what I said a legitimate objection =P
But in my discussions with Rothbardians, at least so far, I have not seen an explicit mention of whether or not our bodies are in fact owned by a class of people.
What sort of fact would that ownership be ? A physical fact ? A moral fact ? A 'fact' in a system based on legal positivism ? Or ?
In your passage above, you write that it is a contradiction. But if other people don't own my body, then what is my complaint? I would have thought that my complaint as a libertarian is that other people do own my body to some extent, in which case there is a sense in which owning someone else's body isn't a contradiction, but something that people can actually do.
So, replace own with coerce and the contradiction goes away. Nobody here denies the existence of coercion I believe.

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 634
Points 12,685

Juan:


If you want to say "some people are owned", well, fine. The thing is, we are not legitimately owned and furthermore there's no legitimate way for A to own B, just like there's no legitimate way for A to murder B.

I took the idea about owning other people from Cain's rendering of Rothbard's analysis:

Anarchist Cain:

". Rothbard gives three possibilities to the ownership of property. Self-Ownership [ what libertarians adopt ], A group or class of individuals owning other individuals which is a contradiction for both classes are human. Why is it logical for one class of humans to own another class of humans? The argument is usually that they are sub-human but they are in fact human. The third is communal ownership which is utopian."

My question was:  can or cannot a group of people (or one individual for that matter) in fact own other individuals or another individual according to Rothbard's system or analysis?

Your answer seems to be:  Yes.  But such ownership is not legitimate.

I'm curious whether Rothbardians would unanimously agree with this.  I don't think they will.  Because then, there is a sense in which ownership of another person isn't contradictory, but simply a fact.

I understand you have your own take on this.  I would be interested in seeing Cain's answer.

 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 5,538
Points 93,790
Juan replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 2:48 PM
adam knott:
Your answer seems to be: Yes. But such ownership is not legitimate.
Actually my answer was "No - they are being coerced, not owned". I partially went along with the idea of ownership of persons only for argument's sake.

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 634
Points 12,685

Juan:
adam knott:
Your answer seems to be: Yes. But such ownership is not legitimate.
Actually my answer was "No - they are being coerced, not owned". I partially went along with the idea of ownership of persons only for argument's sake.

 

Anarchist Cain:

" Rothbard gives three possibilities to the ownership of property. Self-Ownership [ what libertarians adopt ], A group or class of individuals owning other individuals which is a contradiction for both classes are human. Why is it logical for one class of humans to own another class of humans? The argument is usually that they are sub-human but they are in fact human. The third is communal ownership which is utopian."

 

OK   According to your interpretation then, there are not three possibilities as written above.  I assume for the sake of argument we are accepting that people can and do own themselves.  But owning another person is not a possibility on your interpretation.   Then, the above passage, to be correct, would have to be changed to read, perhaps, something like: "There is only one possibility, self ownership....."

I think we're getting off easy, and that this will not be accepted unanimously by Rothbardians.

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 5,538
Points 93,790
Juan replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 3:55 PM
I always understood that argument to be a reductio of sorts. Rothbard presents three possibilities, but only one is not flawed.

1) persons own themselves and only themselves - equal right of self-ownership
2) some persons own other persons - no equal rights - flawed
3) every person owns ALL of the rest of the world's population - not sure if everybody has equal rights in this case, but at any rate all rights conflict with each other - so this is flawed too.

(I personally think that self-ownership is more a metaphor than a moral fact anyways )

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 4,532
Points 84,495
Stranger replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 4:00 PM

The purpose of homesteading law is to ensure that no valuable resource is kept out of the economic system. If people identify an entrepreneurial opportunity but cannot claim the resource because it is either forbidden or unprotected, then the economic benefits of this entrepreneurial opportunity will not be realized.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 634
Points 12,685

Juan:
I always understood that argument to be a reductio of sorts. Rothbard presents three possibilities, but only one is not flawed.

1) persons own themselves and only themselves - equal right of self-ownership
2) some persons own other persons - no equal rights - flawed
3) every person owns ALL of the rest of the world's population - not sure if everybody has equal rights in this case, but at any rate all rights conflict with each other - so this is flawed too.

(I personally think that self-ownership is more a metaphor than a moral fact anyways )

I guess my point would be that if #2 and #3 cannot in fact happen, then there is no need for a libertarian to worry about those.  If it is in fact impossible for another person to own my body, then I don't have to worry about that, or devise a theory to combat that.  Then, as I believe you indicated, the problem with nonlibertarian ethical practices and nonlibertarian legal codes lies elsewhere besides in the problem of other people owning our bodies.  I believe you indicated that the problem lies in coercion. 

If for the sake of argument, we agreed that the problem is coercion, and not ownership of our bodies, then we're saying that what nonlibertarians do, and what we take issue with, is not that they own our bodies, but something else they are doing.  Then it is this something else (coercion, to use your word, or perhaps some other action or activity of theirs....) we would be trying to prevent, through whatever means; political, educational, argumentational, activism, etc...

But again, though you may be willing to grant that others cannot in fact own our bodies, I don't think this will be unanimously agreed with amongst Rothbardians.

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 5,538
Points 93,790
Juan replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 4:27 PM
But again, though you may be willing to grant that others cannot in fact own our bodies, I don't think this will be unanimously agreed with amongst Rothbardians.
Well, I really don't know what other people who may be described as Rothbardians would say. They will have to speak for themselves =]

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 5:48 PM

Stranger:

The purpose of homesteading law is to ensure that no valuable resource is kept out of the economic system. If people identify an entrepreneurial opportunity but cannot claim the resource because it is either forbidden or unprotected, then the economic benefits of this entrepreneurial opportunity will not be realized.

Here we have a definite purpose, I would say it's your purpose (though I'm inclined to agree). I wonder if everyone who says there should be homesteading law has this exact purpose, and only this purpose, in mind.

In any case, when people are talking about homesteading the moon and such, isn't it so much easier (albeit wordier) to say specifically, "Is allowing for homesteading the moon the best way to ensure no valuable resource is kept out of the economic system?" There we have a debatable question. What I am seeing is people trying to debate without making explicit the benefits that their interpretation or style of homesteading would enable, so no one can clear-headedly engage in an argument. They are asking, "How should lunar homesteading work?" but starting with different implications for their respective "shoulds," so we would be very surprised to ever see them agree.

For instance, another speaker may feel that the primary purpose of allowing homesteading is to ensure everyone gets to keep the fruits of their labor, and suppose that is mainly significant for that particular speaker because to have anyone work without compensation would seriously offend their sense of justice.

Two people debating about whether or how the moon should be homesteaded cannot be expected to reach a resolution if their respective "shoulds" refer to entirely different (although sometimes coincidentally harmonious) objectives.

 

The responses from the other posters prompt me back up and ask,

"What is the purpose for making Locke's 'mixing with labor' the standard for designating property?"

In asking this, I do not attempt to contest Locke's notion, but simply to ask - to each individual reader - what their purpose (or set of purposes) is for adopting that standard. Because when we come to debate issues of property, homesteading and beyond, we will need to keep our intended purposes for defining such standards fully explicit if we hope to have mutually meaningful discussions.

[Note: It's a convenience of the English language that we can state a "should" without making the purposes explicit - sometimes leaving the listener to guess, or in order to sum up a hard-to-explain set of mutually assumed purposes, but in debates like these, stating a "should" without clarifying the intended purpose can only lead to confusion. The same goes for all things derived from "shoulds," such as morals, rights, natural law, property, etc. <-- the gentle reader will recognize these concepts as the very ones that incite the most heated debates around here; I propose that people do not disagree so much on the concepts themselves, but on the intended purpose of defining the concepts as each person does.]

We can then reach agreements of the following form, "You seem to think homesteading is needed to accomplish this purpose, so under that assumption I can see why you think it's right/wrong to allow homesteading of the moon, or to homestead it in that specific way. So our disagreement is not about homesteading the moon, but about what the purpose is for allowing homesteading in the first place."

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 634
Points 12,685

AJ:

Stranger:

The purpose of homesteading law is to ensure that no valuable resource is kept out of the economic system. If people identify an entrepreneurial opportunity but cannot claim the resource because it is either forbidden or unprotected, then the economic benefits of this entrepreneurial opportunity will not be realized.

Here we have a definite purpose, I would say it's your purpose (though I'm inclined to agree). I wonder if everyone who says there should be homesteading law has this exact purpose, and only this purpose, in mind.

In any case, when people are talking about homesteading the moon and such, isn't it so much easier (albeit wordier) to say specifically, "Is allowing for homesteading the moon the best way to ensure no valuable resource is kept out of the economic system?" There we have a debatable question. What I am seeing is people trying to debate without making explicit the benefits that their interpretation or style of homesteading would enable, so no one can clear-headedly engage in an argument. They are asking, "How should lunar homesteading work?" but starting with different implications for their respective "shoulds," so we would be very surprised to ever see them agree.

For instance, another speaker may feel that the primary purpose of allowing homesteading is to ensure everyone gets to keep the fruits of their labor, and suppose that is mainly significant for that particular speaker because to have anyone work without compensation would seriously offend their sense of justice.

Two people debating about whether or how the moon should be homesteaded cannot be expected to reach a resolution if their respective "shoulds" refer to entirely different (although sometimes coincidentally harmonious) objectives.

 

The responses from the other posters prompt me back up and ask,

"What is the purpose for making Locke's 'mixing with labor' the standard for designating property?"

In asking this, I do not attempt to contest Locke's notion, but simply to ask - to each individual reader - what their purpose (or set of purposes) is for adopting that standard. Because when we come to debate issues of property, homesteading and beyond, we will need to keep our intended purposes for defining such standards fully explicit if we hope to have mutually meaningful discussions.

[Note: It's a convenience of the English language that we can state a "should" without making the purposes explicit - sometimes leaving the listener to guess, or in order to sum up a hard-to-explain set of mutually assumed purposes, but in debates like these, stating a "should" without clarifying the intended purpose can only lead to confusion. The same goes for all things derived from "shoulds," such as morals, rights, natural law, property, etc. <-- the gentle reader will recognize these concepts as the very ones that incite the most heated debates around here; I propose that people do not disagree so much on the concepts themselves, but on the intended purpose of defining the concepts as each person does.]

We can then reach agreements of the following form, "You seem to think homesteading is needed to accomplish this purpose, so under that assumption I can see why you think it's right/wrong to allow homesteading of the moon, or to homestead it in that specific way. So our disagreement is not about homesteading the moon, but about what the purpose is for allowing homesteading in the first place."

AJ:

Insightful analysis.  I may be able to shed some light here.

If you ask the reader to make explicit their purpose in the context of a discussion of social theory, you may be asking them to state their social questions or social theories in a means/ends format.  For example, in what you write above:

"You seem to think homesteading is needed to accomplish this purpose...."   Homesteading (means) accomplishes this purpose (end).

You may be asking your readers to state their ideas in means/ends format.  Some will consider this "utilitarianism."

But what about the case where a social thinker has previously reached a conclusion that utilitarianism in social theory is to be avoided?   If this is the case, then you can see that your asking them to phrase their social concepts in this form is asking them to do the very thing they are trying to avoid, based on a preconceived idea that the utilitarian approach to social science (means/ends analysis) is defective in important respects.

You write the following:

"in debates like these, stating a "should" without clarifying the intended purpose can only lead to confusion. The same goes for all things derived from "shoulds," such as morals, rights, natural law, property, etc. <-- the gentle reader will recognize these concepts as the very ones that incite the most heated debates around here"

I agree with you.  However, I disagree with what you imply: that this is solely because people neglect the habit of stating an explicit purpose for their means.  I believe that the failure to phrase things in means/ends format is in large measure due to the rejection of utilitarianism.  What you are seeing and sensing isn't from sloppy habits or from a lack of intelligence as to how to structure social discussion towards more clarity.  It is, at least in large part, deriving from the overarching philosophy and leading philosophers who are consciously trying to avoid utilitarianism. 

Stating things in means/ends form introduces utilitarianism, something that many natural law, and natural law related social philosophers are actively trying to overcome.

 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 7:44 PM

adam knott:
Stating things in means/ends form introduces utilitarianism, something that many natural law, and natural law related social philosophers are actively trying to overcome.

I read your post with interest and understand what you are saying. However, the fact that every action and notion has an intended purpose does not imply utilitarianism (greatest good for greatest number) or even consequentialism (as I understand it).

In other words, if in response to someone saying, "You shouldn't steal," I ask, "What purpose would it accomplish if I were to refrain from stealing?" I do not imply anything about ends justifying means. I simply ask what are the intended ends of those means?  In other words, "What ends do you intend the means (avoidance of stealing, or enforcement of that dictum) to achieve?" [Note to new readers of the thread: the ends could be anything at all, including "getting right with God," satisfying one's senses of empathy and justice, creating a peaceful and wealthy society, or whatever the speaker intends them to be.]

On the rare occasions when I was able to state my case clearly enough, so far no one here has interpreted that as utilitarianism, or even as anything that they might disagree with. It's certainly a subtle concept to explain, but I think a crucial one if we are to move past some basic questions that have remained in contention for years merely because of the fundamental imprecision of human language.

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

adam knott:

Stating things in means/ends form introduces utilitarianism, something that many natural law, and natural law related social philosophers are actively trying to overcome.

wrong... utilitarianism isn't that creative.

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 634
Points 12,685

AJ:

adam knott:
Stating things in means/ends form introduces utilitarianism, something that many natural law, and natural law related social philosophers are actively trying to overcome.

In other words, if in response to someone saying, "You shouldn't steal," I ask, "What purpose would it accomplish if I were to refrain from stealing?" I do not imply anything about ends justifying means. I simply ask what are the intended ends of those means?  In other words, "What ends do you intend the means (avoidance of stealing, or enforcement of that dictum) to achieve?"

Thank you AJ.  It is possible that I phrased my intended idea inappropriately.  Maybe utilitarianism isn't the right word.  Maybe it's "instrumentalism."  Or maybe something else.  In reference to your paragraph above, my point was the following:

If in response to someone (A) saying to you: "You shouldn't steal," you were to ask: "What purpose would it accomplish if I were to refrain from stealing?", you might imply, that in contrast to A's "ought" or "should," which A intended as a kind of moral or ethical imperative, that you had instead, moral or ethical freedom to decide on whether to steal, contingent on the purpose A provides you.

Person A says to you:  "You shouldn't do X"  (X intended as a moral or ethical end)

And you answer to A:  "Tell me what is the purpose, Y (end) of refraining from X (means), and I will tell you whether or not I will refrain from doing X."

I'm saying that in the case where A is intending to speak in terms of ethical ends, universal ends, objective ends, etc..., and when you ask A to re-phrase his suggestion in terms of means and ends, that he may avoid doing so (or try to), not due to ignorance or lack of forethought, but on grounds of principle; i.e., the principle that if A does what you ask, he will be transforming what he intends to be ethical ends, into ethical means, thus allowing the individual (you) to "escape" the moral or ethical imperative he had intended to impart.

You are saying that much confusion and argument is due to posters not making explicit the purpose of their "shoulds."  (not making explicit the ends their means are intended to bring about)   My point is that some may be purposely trying to avoid a means/ends (should/purpose) analysis, because they view this as allowing the individual to choose his own individual ethics (that may depart from the universal ethic they desire) by accepting or rejecting the purpose, whereas what they want is to arrive at a universal purpose (end) or number of purposes, that all must accept, based on a universal ethic.

The lack of clarity and the unnecessary argumentation you lament, may be due to some people's desire to find a universal purpose, whereas what you are asking may require them to conceive of purposes as individual and subjective.

Above, I don't use the word "utilitarianism," but I believe I have conveyed my meaning.

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

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

adam knott:

You are saying that much confusion and argument is due to posters not making explicit the purpose of their "shoulds."  (not making explicit the ends their means are intended to bring about)   My point is that some may be purposely trying to avoid a means/ends (should/purpose) analysis,

To not avoid it:  a purpose of natural law of human nature is pursuit of happiness

adam knott:

because they view this as allowing the individual to choose his own individual ethics (that may depart from the universal ethic they desire) by accepting or rejecting the purpose, whereas what they want is to arrive at a universal purpose (end) or number of purposes, that all must accept, based on a universal ethic.

Liberty, freedom from initiated physical aggression, against life and property provides an equal, thus, just potential for each person to achieve the ultimate end happiness.

adam knott:

The lack of clarity and the unnecessary argumentation you lament, may be due to some people's desire to find a universal purpose, whereas what you are asking may require them to conceive of purposes as individual and subjective.

maybe that helped...

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

adam knott:

You seem to be familiar with the Rothbardian system.  Maybe you can explain something I have had a hard time understanding.  Regarding the idea of a class of individuals owning other individuals, I understand that in some sense one might hold that it is a logical or theoretical or performative contradiction.  But I would assume that it is in fact a real possibility, and that in fact a class of people may actually own other individuals?  Is that your understanding?

The contradiction lies in if A can dominate B then why cannot B dominate A? It is how the state operates today. The government [ A ] tells us [ B ] what not to do while at the same time doing it [ murder, stealing, kidnapping ]

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

adam knott:
can or cannot a group of people (or one individual for that matter) in fact own other individuals or another individual according to Rothbard's system or analysis?

No they cannot according to Rothbard's system be owned because Rothbard actually believed in inalienable rights.

' Let us pursue more deeply our argument that mere promises or expectations should not be enforceable. The basic reason is that the only valid transfer of title of ownership in the free society is the case where the property is, in fact and in the nature of man, alienable by man. All physical property owned by a person is alienable, i.e., in natural fact it can be given or transferred to the ownership and control of another party. I can give away or sell to another person my shoes, my house, my car, my money, etc. But there are certain vital things which, in natural fact and in the nature of man, are inalienable, i.e., they cannot in fact be alienated, even voluntarily. Specifically, a person cannot alienate his will, more particularly his control over his own mind and body. Each man has control over his own mind and body. Each man has control over his own will and person, and he is, if you wish, “stuck” with that inherent and inalienable ownership. Since his will and control over his own person are inalienable, then so also are his rights to control that person and will. That is the ground for the famous position of the Declaration of Independence that man’s natural rights are inalienable; that is, they cannot be surrendered, even if the person wishes to do so.

     Or, as Williamson Evers points out, the philosophical defenses of human rights

are founded upon the natural fact that each human is the proprietor of his own will. To take rights like those of property and contractual freedom that are based on a foundation of the absolute self-ownership of the will and then to use those derived rights to destroy their own foundation is philosophically invalid.2

     Hence, the unenforceability, in libertarian theory, of voluntary slave contracts. Suppose that Smith makes the following agreement with the Jones Corporation: Smith, for the rest of his life, will obey all orders, under whatever conditions, that the Jones Corporation wishes to lay down. Now, in libertarian theory there is nothing to prevent Smith from making this agreement, and from serving the Jones Corporation and from obeying the latter’s orders indefinitely. The problem comes when, at some later date, Smith changes his mind and decides to leave. Shall he be held to his former voluntary promise? Our contention—and one that is fortunately upheld under present law—is that Smith’s promise was not a valid (i.e., not an enforceable) contract. There is no transfer of title in Smith’s agreement, because Smith’s control over his own body and will are inalienable. Since that control cannot be alienated, the agreement was not a valid contract, and therefore should not be enforceable. Smith’s agreement was a mere promise, which it might be held he is morally obligated to keep, but which should not be legally obligatory.

     In fact, to enforce the promise would be just as much compulsory slavery as the compulsory marriage considered above. But should Smith at least be required to pay damages to the Jones Corporation, measured by the expectations of his lifelong service which the Jones Corporation had acquired? Again, the answer must be no. Smith is not an implicit thief; he has retained no just property of the Jones Corporation, for he always retains title to his own body and person.'

Ethics of Liberty

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 634
Points 12,685

Cain, I understand that, and I do not necessarily disagree with that.

One problem I had with the Rothbard/Hoppe approach to ethics is that it is unclear to me whether they believe that B can own A's body or not?

They tend to conceive non-libertarian society in terms of self-ownership, and to me this was implying that what is wrong with society today is that we do not have enough self-ownership, i.e., that we are partially owned by others, by the state.

You are writing that B is dominating A.  I don't disagree with that, but I believe this is something different from B owning A, and self-ownership is the concept being employed by Rothbard/Hoppe.   (if domination is the same thing as ownership, we should be able to substitute the word "dominate" or "domination" for "own" and "ownership" in the three possibilities Rothbard provides.)

As someone who is familiar with the Rothbard/Hoppe system, do you believe they intend to mean that it is possible to own other people?  Can person B in fact own person A, as far as the Rothbard/Hoppe conception is concerned?   That isn't clear from the way their theories are presented.

I don't think they come right out and say: "The problem with society is that the state owns our bodies."    It is unclear whether they believe that our bodies are currently owned by the state or not.  What is your take?

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

By the way I am not a Hoppeian nor do I entirely know his system.

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 150 Contributor
Posts 634
Points 12,685
Adam Knott replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 10:50 PM

Thank you for taking the time to provide this.

(the passages from The Ethics of Liberty on self-ownership)

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 5,255
Points 80,815
ForumsAdministrator
Moderator
SystemAdministrator

They certainly don't think it's logically impossible - Hoppe focuses on whether the ownership in question is legitimate, as in logically coherent and rationally justifiable. So it's not so much claims of ownership of one man over another that he claims are impossible but legitimate ones. You are thinking of ownership as in legal/physical control, Hoppe is questioning whether this control can be justified without contradiction. In the case of one person owning another he believes it is not. So yes, person B can claim to own A, but according to Hoppe cannot justify it.

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

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Fri, Jul 24 2009 11:51 PM

adam knott:
My point is that some may be purposely trying to avoid a means/ends (should/purpose) analysis, because they view this as allowing the individual to choose his own individual ethics (that may depart from the universal ethic they desire) by accepting or rejecting the purpose, whereas what they want is to arrive at a universal purpose (end) or number of purposes, that all must accept, based on a universal ethic.

Your careful analysis clarifies this mindset quite well. If they avoid stating any purposes, they will have a hard time convincing everyone to accept their universal "ethics" (meaning laws). Also, the idea of a universal ethic that all must accept is only useful for Statists, because only a monopoly on force could enforce such a "concensus." Finally, if they wish to state a purpose-free moral system that all must follow, then they must be able to say why that is beneficial (and feasible), and we could at least argue that. In my experience, however, the people we are referring to actually do have purposes for their ethics, but of course they don't all agree on the purposes - which is why I propose making these purposes more explicit in cases where ethical systems are in contention.

I think the bigger picture is that there is a large set of "ethical" concepts designed primarily as useful rhetorical tools for advocacy within a Statist context, as ways to influence voting and public policy. In AnCap, there is only the market, and you get the legal system you pay for. There are no universal mandates, even if adherence to the tenets of natural law turns out to be so popular among court system consumers that it reaches practically universal status.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Sat, Jul 25 2009 12:11 AM

I'd still like some input on this:

"What is the purpose for making Locke's 'mixing with labor' the standard for designating property?"

In asking this, I do not attempt to contest Locke's notion, but simply to ask - to each individual reader - what their purpose (or set of purposes) is for adopting that standard. Because when we come to debate issues of property, homesteading and beyond, we will need to keep our intended purposes for defining such standards fully explicit if we hope to have mutually meaningful discussions.

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 10 Contributor
Male
Posts 5,538
Points 93,790
Juan replied on Sat, Jul 25 2009 1:26 AM
AJ:
Whenever you hear a "should," ask "For what purpose?"
Hey AJ, why should I do that ?

February 17 - 1600 - Giordano Bruno is burnt alive by the catholic church.
Aquinas : "much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death."

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Sat, Jul 25 2009 1:36 AM

Because if the underlying purpose is unstated, you might not share the underlying purpose with the speaker. It's just a common problem I've noticed in the debates here recently.

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

AJ:

I'd still like some input on this:

"What is the purpose for making Locke's 'mixing with labor' the standard for designating property?"

In asking this, I do not attempt to contest Locke's notion, but simply to ask - to each individual reader - what their purpose (or set of purposes) is for adopting that standard. Because when we come to debate issues of property, homesteading and beyond, we will need to keep our intended purposes for defining such standards fully explicit if we hope to have mutually meaningful discussions.

Right of property is as natural as right of life (person).  Each person via their individual will power appetitively (act of life; instinctively) and intellectually (by choice) acquires natural and artistic objects to fulfill needs and desires that do not come with the person out of mother's womb.  How's that?

pursue happiness...

"Do not put out the fire of the spirit." 1The 5:19
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

AJ:

"What is the purpose for making Locke's 'mixing with labor' the standard for designating property?"

It is logical and rational. Many debators presuppose that the world values logic and intelligence, that is why we do not address it in every debate. We also need not address that life is better then death and abundance is better then scarcity.

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Sat, Jul 25 2009 1:47 PM

OK, so the purpose is to ensure maximum abundance. The issue is now much clearer: does setting the property standard in terms of "mixing one's labor with it" ensure maximum abundance in all situations? And how can we be sure that that standard is the best one for maximizing abundance (or wilderness's "happiness")?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

AJ:

OK, so the purpose is to ensure maximum abundance. The issue is now much clearer: does setting the property standard in terms of "mixing one's labor with it" ensure maximum abundance in all situations? And how can we be sure that that standard is the best one for maximizing abundance (or wilderness's "happiness")?

No. The purpose is logic and rationality.

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Sat, Jul 25 2009 9:38 PM

Hmm? Read again.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

AJ:

Hmm? Read again.

You seem to think that I advocate the Lockean principle because it ensures abundance. I don't. I advocate it because it is logical and rational.

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Sat, Jul 25 2009 10:39 PM

Anarchist Cain:
You seem to think that I advocate the Lockean principle because it ensures abundance. I don't. I advocate it because it is logical and rational.

I'm not asking why you advocate it, I'm asking the more specific question of what you hope to accomplish by advocating it.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

AJ:

I'm not asking why you advocate it, I'm asking the more specific question of what you hope to accomplish by advocating it.

A logical, rational theory to a life necessity.

 

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Sun, Jul 26 2009 12:13 AM

Anarchist Cain:

AJ:

I'm not asking why you advocate it, I'm asking the more specific question of what you hope to accomplish by advocating it.

A logical, rational theory to a life necessity.

I'm still not getting what you mean. I agree it is good (essential) for a theory to be logical and rational, but can you give what you consider to be the most important benefit(s) that would accrue to you if your preferred rights system were in place and well-enforced?

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

AJ:
I agree it is good (essential) for a theory to be logical and rational, but can you give what you consider to be the most important benefit(s) that would accrue to you if your preferred rights system were in place and well-enforced?

...a theory for a thing that is necesscary for life. That is the most benifical part of the theory, that it explains a mode of operation that allows for our existence. Are you waiting for me to discuss some subjective preference that you can dismiss as being a value only found in myself and not necesscarily an objective truth?

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,552
Points 46,640
AJ replied on Sun, Jul 26 2009 1:46 AM

Anarchist Cain:
Are you waiting for me to discuss some subjective preference that you can dismiss as being a value only found in myself and not necesscarily an objective truth?

I have no intent to dismiss anyone's values. I am simply aiming to establish that rights are formulated with specific aims in mind. Or for those that define rights to be inborn, I aim to establish that those rights are exercised and enforced with certain aims in mind. Or are they?

Bottom line, I would just like someone to come out and say either

A. "I reject the notion of purposes for rights, I believe in the sanctity of natural law for its own sake." (or similar)

or

B. "Here are the specific benefits I hope to gain by defining (and having society enforce) rights in this way."

I have no aim at this time to judge either A or B, just to know where people stand. And to satisfy my curiosity, I would be happy to see argumentation and/or link(s) that support that position.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 4,850
Points 85,810

AJ:

A. "I reject the notion of purposes for rights, I believe in the sanctity of natural law for its own sake." (or similar)

or

B. "Here are the specific benefits I hope to gain by defining (and having society enforce) rights in this way."

So you either want someone who is a pure consequentialist or a pure non-consequentialist?

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

  • | Post Points: 20
Page 1 of 2 (72 items) 1 2 Next > | RSS