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Boundaries of Order - Nature of Private Property

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meambobbo Posted: Thu, Jul 30 2009 1:59 PM

I'm in the process of reading Boundaries of Order, and I have reached an interesting dilemma, perhaps.  Shaffer is obviously pro-private property; however, upon closer inspection, I am not sure what he is advocating, by the way he defines private property.

Because some resource may not be able to put to two different uses at the same time, ownership is required to establish who is entitled to that use of that property.

Next, he explores claims to property.  He dismisses political/legal authority and natural law explanations as non-absolute methods which are simply subjective opinions of their advocates.  His basic premise here seems to be that the viability of private property claims are simply based upon their ability for the claimant to convince a reasonable portion of society that their claims are legitimate, and that it does not matter if arguments resort to legality, philosophy, etc.

The example he gives is that of a group of people being marooned on a desert island.  One person finds the only source of fresh water and wishes to claim it as his property.  Yet, if his intended use is to withhold others from the consumption of the water, his claim will obviously be disregarded.  It may be disregarded regardless of his intended use.  On the other hand, if he can show that he intends to improve the water source and is willing to trade, his claim may be respected.

Given this, I'm kind of confused.  I'm not sure what he's advocating.  If he's saying private property is basically the whims of others, is this no different than our current society?  Is this whole book nothing more than him saying "I feel we should embrace anti-statism and have greater respect towards private property"?

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I don't know him but what you describe is a philosophy in which property is purely conventional. 

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

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