Human Rights

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Dotini

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This is a discussion forum. Don't feel obligated to avoid discussion... especially if you're going to drop an opinion.
I don't feel obligated to avoid discussion. I feel my opinion is closer to the widely held views of most of society and law, and is very standard, widely held and respectable. I 'm just not up for argument iat this time. Maybe later. I'm mourning the recent loss of a close family member.
 

Famine

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My version of libertarianism must be different than his.
What's libertarian about a government saying "You can't come to this side of this arbitrary line we're guarding because when you fell out of a womb you were on the other side of it" and turning that into a crime?
 

Dotini

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What's libertarian about a government saying "You can't come to this side of this arbitrary line we're guarding because when you fell out of a womb you were on the other side of it" and turning that into a crime?
My understanding is that libertarians, a tiny minority, could not exist without the sovereign United States, its borders, and its laws. In a world without sovereign states, borders and laws, minorities swiftly become prey to the tyranny of the majority.
 

Danoff

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I don't feel obligated to avoid discussion. I feel my opinion is closer to the widely held views of most of society and law, and is very standard, widely held and respectable. I 'm just not up for argument iat this time. Maybe later. I'm mourning the recent loss of a close family member.

Sorry to hear that.

My understanding is that libertarians, a tiny minority, could not exist without the sovereign United States, its borders, and its laws. In a world without sovereign states, borders and laws, minorities swiftly become prey to the tyranny of the majority.

Depends on the particular libertarian. I think most libertarians are open boarder types. Here's a quote:

www.lp.org
3.4 Free Trade and Migration

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.

That actually seems pretty similar to what I wrote, I just came at it from a human rights perspective. I don't necessarily adopt the libertarian party platform on all issues, so I'm probably not the best spokesperson for the party. But on this issue we seem to be decently aligned.
 

Danoff

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She failed the trolley problem.

'Failure' of the base problem is subjective.

It's not. There is only one answer to the trolley problem in which you commit murder.

To rephrase the question slightly... the question is, should the self-driving car continue on its path killing lots of people, divert to kill fewer people, or divert to kill the passengers. These are the only scenarios. The car has no moral choice here, it's a box of metal, plastic, and bolts. The passengers are similarly amoral, since they don't control the car. The person who controls the car in this scenario is the person who programmed the car in the first place. So what is the moral programming?

The car is on a trajectory headed for an intersection. This is not the programmer's choice, it's just the scenario that the program is faced with. The programmer can insert logic that would have the car intentionally divert from its given trajectory onto a trajectory that it knows will kill people, or the programmer can choose not to do that. Choosing not to divert its course if the diversion would kill people is not a choice to kill the people in its path, it's a choice NOT to decide to kill people by your own actions. The path it's on is an accident (failure of the brakes).

The only scenario in which the programmer chooses not to kill people is the one where the car does not intentionally put itself on a course to kill people. As such, the only moral choice for the programmer is choice A in both cases. This is true regardless of whether you're at the wheel or programming the car.

In scenario 2, if you're the one driving (not in a self-driving car), then you can send your car off the cliff and take your own life (and only your life) to save the others.
 
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TenEightyOne
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It's not. There is only one answer to the trolley problem in which you commit murder.

Only if you assume responsibility for solving the problem. You only do so in certain branches of ethical theory. Using the term "murder" is problematic too - unless you intended to put the people in that position then in many territories you'd be accused of manslaughter rather than murder.

Taking into account the various considerations about the existence (or lack) of moral obligation and the circumstances in which the agent comes into the scenario any definition of their reaction as "wrong" remains subjective.
 

Danoff

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Only if you assume responsibility for solving the problem.

I don't know what you mean here. The only circumstance in which you commit murder in the trolley problem is the one in which you assume responsibility for solving it.
 
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TenEightyOne
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I don't know what you mean here. The only circumstance in which you commit murder in the trolley problem is the one in which you assume responsibility for solving it.

Perhaps you could rephrase your point - I was answering the following:

It's not. There is only one answer to the trolley problem in which you commit murder.

Are there answers in which one doesn't commit murder? I'd say that standing by and not assuming responsibility is an answer and it seems we'd agree that it doesn't constitute murder? I'd go further and say that any intervention doesn't constitute murder, at least not in UK law. That's presuming of course that one didn't put the people in the way of the trolley oneself.
 

Danoff

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Are there answers in which one doesn't commit murder? I'd say that standing by and not assuming responsibility is an answer and it seems we'd agree that it doesn't constitute murder? I'd go further and say that any intervention doesn't constitute murder, at least not in UK law. That's presuming of course that one didn't put the people in the way of the trolley oneself.

Well, there are only 2 answers in the classic trolley problem (flip the switch, don't flip the switch). So when I said "there's only one" it seems like a fairly pointless statement, except that sometimes people present other variants of the problem.

Anyway, the answer in which you don't commit murder in the Trolley problem is to leave the switch alone. This is because you're not responsible for the outcome of actions you do not take. That doesn't absolve you of responsibility for the actions you do take, though. So, like you point out, if you put the people in the way of the Trolley in the first place, while you may not be responsible for the action of pulling the switch (if you leave it alone), you're still responsible for putting them in harm's way.

Attempting to intervene, in the Trolley problem, means flipping the switch (so that it doesn't hit the 5 people, and hits 1 person instead). This is the greater good, the ends justify the means, etc. And that action makes you responsible for killing the one person - who you chose to kill in order to save 5.

Same page? The original context this was presented in was the lady who was happy for some innocent men to lose their jobs (the 1 person gets killed on the track) if it meant that justice was done for other people who were wronged (the 5 people get saved).
 
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TenEightyOne
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Attempting to intervene, in the Trolley problem, means flipping the switch (so that it doesn't hit the 5 people, and hits 1 person instead).

In some ethical schools of thought simply expending energy on the problem (e.g. through actively considering whether or not to physically intervene) is an intervention. Simply walking away or refusing to consider an intervention is an action without any intervention.

Same page? The original context this was presented in was the lady who was happy for some innocent men to lose their jobs (the 1 person gets killed on the track) if it meant that justice was done for other people who were wronged (the 5 people get saved).

I do see your point but I'd argue that the original context creates a situation where nobody need be put on the tracks.
 

Danoff

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In some ethical schools of thought simply expending energy on the problem (e.g. through actively considering whether or not to physically intervene) is an intervention. Simply walking away or refusing to consider an intervention is an action without any intervention.

Those are both encompassed in the "don't throw the switch" option. And neither of those makes you responsible for the outcome. Otherwise your thoughts are retroactively immoral (depending on outcome) in the former scenario, and you're responsible for the infinite number of things you do not (cannot) consider in the latter scenario.

I do see your point but I'd argue that the original context creates a situation where nobody need be put on the tracks.

You mean with regard to the people losing their jobs vs. getting justice done? Yea, I agree, nobody needed to be on the tracks. But her characterization of it was that, assuming they were on the tracks, she'd make the wrong call.
 
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Those are both encompassed in the "don't throw the switch" option. And neither of those makes you responsible for the outcome.

Some schools of thought would say that a considered failure to throw the switch has different moral overtones from simply refusing to be responsible for any consideration of whether or not to throw the switch. Choosing to not-throw the switch carries responsibility in some of those schools. Of course there are also more nuanced scenarios; one of the six people (in various positions/scenarios) is the architect of the situation, one of those on the tracks is a loved one of the agent, and so on.

You mean with regard to the people losing their jobs vs. getting justice done? Yea, I agree, nobody needed to be on the tracks. But her characterization of it was that, assuming they were on the tracks, she'd make the wrong call.

This parallel would fall into the "nuanced scenario" category - we know that the many are innocent and we know the motivation of the one. We also know that the agent has an overarching motive in choosing to sacrifice the many, in this case it's a motive that I think I can say we both disagree with. Given all that extra colouring of the characters/motives I still don't think the trolley problem works properly as a parallel in this case.
 

Danoff

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Some schools of thought would say that a considered failure to throw the switch has different moral overtones from simply refusing to be responsible for any consideration of whether or not to throw the switch.

I don't see a difference. Taking an action has moral overtones. At every moment, you don't take an infinite number of actions (some of which contradict others). You cannot be responsible for them all. Suppose you choose not to enter medical school to become a surgeon to save lives. You're now responsible for not thinking of doing that, and so the lives you'd have saved are now your responsibility. You murdered them by refusing consideration of entering medical school. Of course, now that I brought it up, you've considered it, and so you're now responsible because you considered it. Of course you should consider not going to medical school and instead flying to Africa to feed children. Uh oh! Now you've considered it AND considered the opposite. You're responsible for both! Can't win.

Of course there are also more nuanced scenarios; one of the six people (in various positions/scenarios) is the architect of the situation, one of those on the tracks is a loved one of the agent, and so on.

If you're the architect of the situation, you're responsible for all of it. My favorite nuanced scenario is the one where the 5 people are people of the same blood type that each need a different organ. And the one person is an random person with a healthy one of each of those organs and the same blood type. Throwing the switch in that case is black-bagging that random person and harvesting their organs against their will.


This parallel would fall into the "nuanced scenario" category - we know that the many are innocent and we know the motivation of the one. We also know that the agent has an overarching motive in choosing to sacrifice the many, in this case it's a motive that I think I can say we both disagree with. Given all that extra colouring of the characters/motives I still don't think the trolley problem works properly as a parallel in this case.

The false dilemma she presents us with is not that nuanced. She says she'd sacrifice a few innocent peoples' careers (ie: the one innocent person) if it means sparing others from harassment (ie: the 5 people who are about to be run over). In other words, she's happy to sacrifice the minority for the sake of the majority.
 
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20,678
TenEightyOne
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Rights don't matter if they're observed. They only matter when they're not observed.

They do matter if they're observed - otherwise it's you thinking you have a right to x or y which everybody else is ignoring. The right is not extant or active unless somebody else agrees to observe that right.

If I like the look of the two rabbits you've just skinned and pop you over the head with my knobbly cudgel then tough - you can fight me or not fight me. Likely one of us will die if we're hungry enough.

A clay pot belongs to a native that made it because of labor.

No, me want pot. Watch this cudgel :)
 

Danoff

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They do matter if they're observed - otherwise it's you thinking you have a right to x or y which everybody else is ignoring.

That's a lack of observation. The opposite of what you're trying to show.

If I like the look of the two rabbits you've just skinned and pop you over the head with my knobbly cudgel then tough - you can fight me or not fight me. Likely one of us will die if we're hungry enough.

No, me want pot. Watch this cudgel :)

That's a lack of the observation of rights, which is when they matter.

If you don't fight me for my rabbits, rights don't make a difference.
 
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TenEightyOne
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That's a lack of observation. The opposite of what you're trying to show.

Then perhaps my explanation was poor.

Using your pot example: you think you 'own' the pot. I take the pot. Tough, there's no redress for you other than violence. It takes a group of people around the cave to understand 'owning' and to collectively agree that depriving 'ownership' is not okay for a right to exist. Without that your compulsion to hold onto that pot is nothing but a compulsion that you act upon. It may be that you imbue sentimental, pecuniary, practical or other value to it - that's irrelevant - your wish to keep the pot is simply a feeling with no backup in its protection within your cohort.
 

Danoff

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Then perhaps my explanation was poor.

Using your pot example: you think you 'own' the pot. I take the pot. Tough, there's no redress for you other than violence. It takes a group of people around the cave to understand 'owning' and to collectively agree that depriving 'ownership' is not okay for a right to exist.

No, but it might take that for the right to be enforced.

Without that your compulsion to hold onto that pot is nothing but a compulsion that you act upon. It may be that you imbue sentimental, pecuniary, practical or other value to it - that's irrelevant - your wish to keep the pot is simply a feeling with no backup in its protection within your cohort.

It's not a feeling, it's force being initiated against you. You were forced to give up some part of your life (labor) that was put into that pot against your will, that is a rights violation because it is initiated force. If you resort to violence to get it back, you are behaving according to the values of the person that stole it from you in the first place - might makes right. In otherwords, they initiated force against you, and you will have responded based on the very terms they set. These are different acts by nature.

"Protection" or "backup" or enforcement or whatever you want to call it is way one to respond to the existence of rights. But if your rights are infringed and there is no redress, that does not mean that you had no rights to infringe. It means your rights were infringed.
 
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It's not a feeling, it's force being initiated against you. You were forced to give up some part of your life (labor) that was put into that pot against your will, that is a rights violation because it is initiated force. If you resort to violence to get it back, you are behaving according to the values of the person that stole it from you in the first place - might makes right. In otherwords, they initiated force against you, and you will have responded based on the very terms they set. These are different acts by nature.

So how does one gain property rights to land in this way? One can "own" land with no effort or labour expended, or without having ever seen or set foot on it even. At least in current western society.

I'm with you on the idea of the pot, but I fail to see how land fits that model of ownership.
 

Danoff

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So how does one gain property rights to land in this way? One can "own" land with no effort or labour expended, or without having ever seen or set foot on it even. At least in current western society.

I'm with you on the idea of the pot, but I fail to see how land fits that model of ownership.

Once you start to "work" land, you inseparably mix your labor with it. Just like the pot. You own the earth in the pot. After someone owns it, it can be sold to anyone for any reason.
 
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Once you start to "work" land, you inseparably mix your labor with it. Just like the pot. You own the earth in the pot. After someone owns it, it can be sold to anyone for any reason.

Certainly. And if you don't "work" the land? Does that mean that any claim to ownership of land that hasn't been worked is false? Because like I said, that's absolutely a thing in western society.

As far as what would count as "working" land, I feel that there's a lot of room for more clearly defining this. Stuff like building on land need not necessarily be counted as working land, although our current societies do. Your work goes into the building, and only tangentially into the land to the extent that is required for your house not to fall over. Any claim beyond the foundation of the building would seem unnecessary. On the other hand, it could be interpreted extremely liberally; simply being on a piece of land could in some manner be considered to be "transforming" it. Or at least sticking a flag in it. ;)

And it can get pretty weird pretty fast, at least when you subject it to common intuition. I know that intuition is not a good way to assess logic, but it is a good way to find edge cases and consider whether they are valid. Consider:

1. If I go out and work hard to transform a piece of arid land into a productive, farmable plot adding fertilisers and nutrients, that seems like it should count. I've used my labour and resources to transform the land into something else, and those things are largely inseparable from what the land has now become. It works both by your definition above and by most people's intuition.
2. If I go out and work hard to dump radioactive waste on a piece of arable land and reduce it to a glowing nightmare, that seems like it probably shouldn't. I've used my labour and resources to transform the land into something else, and those things are largely inseparable from what the land has now become. It works by your definition, but I suspect that most people intuitively wouldn't think that dumping waste is a valid way to claim land.

Both are functionally the same, I've used my labour and resources to transform the land. Is this an intended result, that any interaction with land should result in ownership?
 
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2. If I go out and work hard to dump radioactive waste on a piece of arable land and reduce it to a glowing nightmare, that seems like it probably shouldn't. I've used my labour and resources to transform the land into something else, and those things are largely inseparable from what the land has now become. It works by your definition, but I suspect that most people intuitively wouldn't think that dumping waste is a valid way to claim land.

Both are functionally the same, I've used my labour and resources to transform the land. Is this an intended result, that any interaction with land should result in ownership?
I would say in the second case, you've decided to use the area as a garbage dump, or an experiment on radiation, or just some really weird and environmentally unfriendly artwork. I'd think it's a valid claim even if it's not as preferable as the first case. There just isn't a way to objectively define a "good" or "proper" way to use the land, so it basically amounts to first come, first served.
 

Danoff

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1. If I go out and work hard to transform a piece of arid land into a productive, farmable plot adding fertilisers and nutrients, that seems like it should count. I've used my labour and resources to transform the land into something else, and those things are largely inseparable from what the land has now become. It works both by your definition above and by most people's intuition.
2. If I go out and work hard to dump radioactive waste on a piece of arable land and reduce it to a glowing nightmare, that seems like it probably shouldn't. I've used my labour and resources to transform the land into something else, and those things are largely inseparable from what the land has now become. It works by your definition, but I suspect that most people intuitively wouldn't think that dumping waste is a valid way to claim land.

Both are functionally the same, I've used my labour and resources to transform the land. Is this an intended result, that any interaction with land should result in ownership?

I would consider both a valid way to claim unowned land. But that's the key point, it has to be unowned to "claim" it in this way. Once it's ownership has been established, all bets are off. Owners can do whatever they want, including restoring it back to nature, and that doesn't make it unowned.

We're only talking about the edge case where land exists and no one has ever claimed it as property. One day maybe this issue will come up at the bottom of the pacific or something.

There doesn't need to be a high bar for claiming ownership of an unowned piece of natural resources. A fence, a flag, whatever. I would say that one standard should be that it should be clear that ownership is being claimed (so that there is not confusion), and there needs to be some value of labor tied up in it - or the infringed party has no claim to any damage to themselves.
 
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There doesn't need to be a high bar for claiming ownership of an unowned piece of natural resources. A fence, a flag, whatever. I would say that one standard should be that it should be clear that ownership is being claimed (so that there is not confusion), and there needs to be some value of labor tied up in it - or the infringed party has no claim to any damage to themselves.

A fence or a flag is sufficient to establish ownership? I wouldn't say that either of those inseparably mixes the claimants labour or resources with the land. Both can be easily removed without disturbing the land in any meaningful way. You're essentially calling dibs.

And simply calling dibs on a piece of land doesn't seem to derive from other rights, like the ownership of the pot does. You own the pot because you own the labour that you put into it, and the rest of the pot cannot be separated from that labour. That's not at all true of a piece of land if your "labour" is erecting a flagpole.

We're only talking about the edge case where land exists and no one has ever claimed it as property. One day maybe this issue will come up at the bottom of the pacific or something.

We're discussing ownership. Whether this issue comes up any more or not, it's a relevant scenario that any complete system of ownership based on logical principles should be able to deal with. Don't try and handwave this off because it's weird. It's not even that weird, it's a scenario that humans have been through in the not too distant past. If you can't explain this scenario clearly, your philosophy isn't complete.

You've stated that ownership comes from the labour that is put into something. The specific example was a clay pot. That's fine. I understand, and I agree that it makes logical sense.

Now we're looking at how that principle extends to other things, specifically land. What does it mean to add labour to land? I'm on board with the idea that anything transformative counts, whether it be positive or negative. @Exorcet explained it well.

How then do you logically draw the line between what labour counts as ownership and what doesn't? If I sit on a patch of grass and make an origami crane I've performed labour whilst on the land, but I haven't transformed it nor is my labour inseparable from the land. I would have thought pursuing the line of "inseparably transformative" would be productive and fairly well defined, but you're saying that a fence or a flag counts. Those things are neither inseparable from the land nor transformative. They add to what is already there, they do not change it, and they can be separated without damaging either the flag or the land.

Explain to me how you logically justify this idea of "erecting a flag makes it mine". I don't see that as logically consistent at all with the idea of the pot.
 

Danoff

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Is there any way to establish that other than force?

Yup, labor. As is being discussed.

A fence or a flag is sufficient to establish ownership? I wouldn't say that either of those inseparably mixes the claimants labour or resources with the land. Both can be easily removed without disturbing the land in any meaningful way. You're essentially calling dibs.

You've transformed the land by adding a flag or fence to it. It doesn't matter if it's easily removed, you'd be destroying the labor of the person that did it.

I thought of something this morning that has never occurred to me before, but which I find particularly instructive. Intellectual labor can be inseparably mixed with land that hasn't even been touched, and that can establish ownership. If I spend a day (or a million dollars) drawing up blueprints for the log cabin (or housing development) that I'm going to put on a plot of land, I've now invested intellectual labor into a parcel of land. If you claim ownership of the land, it devalues (completely) my labor (that's what I mean by inseparable, not that they can't be forcibly separated). That intellectual labor is sufficient to claim ownership of the land.

Here again, I think it makes sense to have a pragmatic requirement to notify others so that they don't do the same thing. Erect a flag or a billboard or whatever that says "future site of", etc.

And simply calling dibs on a piece of land doesn't seem to derive from other rights, like the ownership of the pot does. You own the pot because you own the labour that you put into it, and the rest of the pot cannot be separated from that labour. That's not at all true of a piece of land if your "labour" is erecting a flagpole.

It is true, it's just farther down the spectrum of labor. Incidentally, it's also farther down the spectrum of "damages" if someone were to steal it from you. If someone stole your flagpole and that land with it, your claim to damage would be the labor that it cost you to erect the flag pole, and possibly the cost of the pole. Again, this is presuming you're the first person to own it. Once it has been sold it's easier to determine the value of the land (price of the sale).


We're discussing ownership. Whether this issue comes up any more or not, it's a relevant scenario that any complete system of ownership based on logical principles should be able to deal with. Don't try and handwave this off because it's weird. It's not even that weird, it's a scenario that humans have been through in the not too distant past. If you can't explain this scenario clearly, your philosophy isn't complete.

You read that the wrong way. I'm not hand waiving it, I'm explaining why the bar is low. We're literally talking about property that nobody in the world claims as their own and has done anything with.

How then do you logically draw the line between what labour counts as ownership and what doesn't? If I sit on a patch of grass and make an origami crane I've performed labour whilst on the land, but I haven't transformed it nor is my labour inseparable from the land.

Exactly, your labor was to produce a crane that isn't tied to (or inseparable) from the land. That product can be owned without also owning the land it was created on.

I would have thought pursuing the line of "inseparably transformative" would be productive and fairly well defined, but you're saying that a fence or a flag counts. Those things are neither inseparable from the land nor transformative. They add to what is already there, they do not change it, and they can be separated without damaging either the flag or the land.

Any transformation of any unowned resources via someone's labor creates ownership. The damages of that ownership being infringed are another matter. And here again, it's much easier to calculate damages once the land has been sold.

Explain to me how you logically justify this idea of "erecting a flag makes it mine". I don't see that as logically consistent at all with the idea of the pot.

Send me your questions based on the above. I love talking about this stuff.
 
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You've transformed the land by adding a flag or fence to it. It doesn't matter if it's easily removed, you'd be destroying the labor of the person that did it.

No. I can purchase a warehouse without purchasing the goods inside it. One could transfer ownership of the land without transferring ownership of the flagpole. One can imagine a world in which ownership of flagpoles and fields are entirely separate, and that doesn't seem to raise any inconsistencies.

Again, because the land and the flagpole are not inseparable, there's no sensible reason to treat ownership of them as inseparable by default. So if you're going to do that, you need to establish an actual logical reason why.

Let's look at it this way. You've put labour into building a flagpole. Congratulations, you own a flagpole. Moving that flagpole doesn't destroy the labour that you put into building it, it simply adds more labour to it.

How would labour be able to be destroyed? You did the work, and nothing I can do undoes that work. You always made a flagpole, the past is immutable.

I can deprive you of ownership of the flagpole, which would be stealing, but we already have systems for that beyond the scope of this discussion. If you trade me ownership of the flagpole for something, then I can do what I like with it. Including move it.

I thought of something this morning that has never occurred to me before, but which I find particularly instructive. Intellectual labor can be inseparably mixed with land that hasn't even been touched, and that can establish ownership. If I spend a day (or a million dollars) drawing up blueprints for the log cabin (or housing development) that I'm going to put on a plot of land, I've now invested intellectual labor into a parcel of land. If you claim ownership of the land, it devalues (completely) my labor (that's what I mean by inseparable, not that they can't be forcibly separated). That intellectual labor is sufficient to claim ownership of the land.

You're :censored:ing me, right? If you make an apple pie, and I come in and make a million better apple pies then I've devalued yours. But that hasn't changed anything about the ownership of the apple pie.

There's nothing that says that one can't devalue another's labour. That's a completely new rule that you're just introducing now. We hadn't even started discussing the value of owning something, and that really doesn't come into the discussion of ownership. The land (or other object) has no value in the market sense unless you can establish that you own it. If you do own it, it has whatever value you can convince someone else to give you for it. Ownership has no dependency on value.

If you design something for a specific piece of land, that's design in it's own right. You put work into it, others may find it of use, with or without that specific piece of land. It does not necessarily require the land, although if you're thinking of trying to sell it I'd imagine that you'll have a fairly limited set of customers unless you happened to include some revolutionary piece of design that they wish to copy. But that's your choice in designing for a piece of land you don't already have exclusive access to.

You read that the wrong way. I'm not hand waiving it, I'm explaining why the bar is low. We're literally talking about property that nobody in the world claims as their own and has done anything with.

Yes. And you've had to bring in this additional idea that your labour can't be devalued. That wasn't necessary with the pot. Why is that necessary with land?

Exactly, your labor was to produce a crane that isn't tied to (or inseparable) from the land. That product can be owned without also owning the land it was created on.

And a flag cannot be owned separately?

The crane is separable because I can literally remove it from the land, yes? It can be placed elsewhere and it functions largely as it did, as does the land without the crane there.

How is the flag different? It can be literally removed from the land. It can be placed elsewhere and it functions largely as it did, as does the land without the flag.

Any transformation of any unowned resources via someone's labor creates ownership.

Yes, we got this bit with the pot. I'm asking you to define transformation for land, because I don't agree that adding a flag counts as transformative. Let's see if we can make a simple example that removes the objects "land" and "flag" to see if that's being confusing.

By the argument you're putting forward, placing an unowned red block on top of an unowned green block counts as inseparably combining it with the green block. I did work lifting that red block on top of that green block, and while I could agree that's a reasonable argument for me therefore owning the red block I'm not so sure it's an argument for owning the green block.

Can this framework be used to explain the situation, or at least to explain why the land situation is not the same? As an assistance, here's some modifications to the scenario that may help to cast further light on it:
1. What if the red block is "attached" to the green block with BluTack? (Damn, I hope you have BluTack. Er, think easily removable adhesive.)
2. What if the red block is attached to the green block with epoxy? Detaching the blocks would require destroying at least one of them.
3. What if the red block is superconductive and the green block is a magnet, such that they never physically touch?
4. What if the red block is suspended above the green block on a thread attached to some unspecified third object?

The damages of that ownership being infringed are another matter. And here again, it's much easier to calculate damages once the land has been sold.

Have you been watching Famine try to school PocketZeven on fundamentals of thought in the America thread? I feel like that's where we are here. I'm asking you about the fundamentals upon which your philosophy is based, you're skipping ahead to damages and market value. I'm not interested in those things. They will be self-explanatory if you can explain ownership.

We started at the beginning. You own yourself. Therefore, you own your labour. Therefore, if there is something unowned and you inseparably combine your labour with it, you own the combination. I'm short cutting a bit, but so far so good and all we've had to use as an axiom is "you own yourself" which seems fine. For objects, it's generally pretty intuitive. See the pot example.

But land is odd. It's less clear what counts as inseparable from land, simply because of the way land is used. You seem to be at an odd point where you've convinced yourself that simply thinking about a piece of land is sufficient to claim ownership, as in your "intellectual property" example above.

Apart from all the practical problems with such a philosophy of ownership, it seems pretty far removed from the rather practical concepts involved with the pot.

What if we try to apply this concept of ownership through intellectual property back to more traditional crafted objects? I came up with a design for a table that requires certain types of lumber, therefore I own those? I'm not sure that follows logically; my ideas are not inseparable from the raw materials. The idea can exist quite happily on it's own, and if it's never used to make a real object then that's the life of an intellectual idea.

(As an aside, my work is R&D and production support, both of which are largely ideas driven. I am paid mostly for the ideas that I have and the solutions to problems that I propose, not any physical actions I might do or physical goods I might make. I also make things and do things, but they're largely incidental to coming up with the ideas.

I naturally own my ideas, but I choose to sell them to my employer in exchange for my salary. My employer believes that a year's worth of my ideas is worth more than my salary. They're not wrong. This is in large part why I find the concept that having an idea would automatically grant you ownership of unowned resources to create that idea rather odd. It doesn't square at all with the way I've been taught to think of idea ownership, and so you'll need to spell that one out very clearly.)


Send me your questions based on the above. I love talking about this stuff.

See above. We're doing just fine here in the thread.
 
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I thought of something this morning that has never occurred to me before, but which I find particularly instructive. Intellectual labor can be inseparably mixed with land that hasn't even been touched, and that can establish ownership. If I spend a day (or a million dollars) drawing up blueprints for the log cabin (or housing development) that I'm going to put on a plot of land, I've now invested intellectual labor into a parcel of land. If you claim ownership of the land, it devalues (completely) my labor (that's what I mean by inseparable, not that they can't be forcibly separated). That intellectual labor is sufficient to claim ownership of the land.
Interesting train of thought. I'd have to wonder if it's contingent on having personally been to that land or not. Is Mars/parts of Mars already rightfully owned?
 

Danoff

Who is John Galt?
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@Imari, I'm going to reorder your post so that the answers to some of these questions flow better. If you think I'm jumping around by talking about the damage incurred by infringing someone's property rights, I apologize. I'm only using it to help explain the concept of claiming unowned property.

Yes, we got this bit with the pot. I'm asking you to define transformation for land, because I don't agree that adding a flag counts as transformative. Let's see if we can make a simple example that removes the objects "land" and "flag" to see if that's being confusing.

By the argument you're putting forward, placing an unowned red block on top of an unowned green block counts as inseparably combining it with the green block. I did work lifting that red block on top of that green block, and while I could agree that's a reasonable argument for me therefore owning the red block I'm not so sure it's an argument for owning the green block.

Can this framework be used to explain the situation, or at least to explain why the land situation is not the same? As an assistance, here's some modifications to the scenario that may help to cast further light on it:
1. What if the red block is "attached" to the green block with BluTack? (Damn, I hope you have BluTack. Er, think easily removable adhesive.)
2. What if the red block is attached to the green block with epoxy? Detaching the blocks would require destroying at least one of them.
3. What if the red block is superconductive and the green block is a magnet, such that they never physically touch?
4. What if the red block is suspended above the green block on a thread attached to some unspecified third object?

All of the above confers ownership assuming that you had to actually lift or move both the red and green block when you placed one on the other. If you left the red block right where you found it and just put a green block on it, you own the green block and not the red block - because you transformed the green block and not the red block. The difference between that and number 1 is that by bonding them with a weak adhesive you made a new object (however tenuous that object is) and the new object belongs to you.

If you're walking through the woods and find a red block (as they occur naturally in nature, not as composed by man), and you pick it up, you have now inseparably mixed labor with the block. Yes, someone could point a gun at you and tell you to put it back, but all they would be doing is destroying what you had made, which was a block which had been transported to a new point in space via your labor. The analogy to this with the clay pot is that someone could smash your clay pot into little bits and perform various processes on it to separate the molecules in it and recombine them back into the mixture that they were originally found. The ability to destroy what someone has created has nothing to do with it. What matters is that they have created something, and we have no way of going back in time and preventing that - removing their labor from the resources they combined it with.

You're :censored:ing me, right? If you make an apple pie, and I come in and make a million better apple pies then I've devalued yours. But that hasn't changed anything about the ownership of the apple pie.

There's nothing that says that one can't devalue another's labour. That's a completely new rule that you're just introducing now. We hadn't even started discussing the value of owning something, and that really doesn't come into the discussion of ownership. The land (or other object) has no value in the market sense unless you can establish that you own it. If you do own it, it has whatever value you can convince someone else to give you for it. Ownership has no dependency on value.

Not the point I was trying to make. If you go build something on land that I spent a lot of time developing plans for, you've destroyed (devalued completely) my product. It doesn't even matter whether it was worth anything to anyone else, it was worth something to me, and now it's not. Same thing with the clay pot, if you destroy it (render it worthless, render it valueless, render it purposeless, whatever) it doesn't matter whether the pot was worth anything to anyone else, it was worth something to me. You've destroyed my labor.

If you go bake a bunch of apple pies, my labor might be worth less in the marketplace, but you haven't forcibly destroyed what I made.

If you design something for a specific piece of land, that's design in it's own right. You put work into it, others may find it of use, with or without that specific piece of land. It does not necessarily require the land, although if you're thinking of trying to sell it I'd imagine that you'll have a fairly limited set of customers unless you happened to include some revolutionary piece of design that they wish to copy. But that's your choice in designing for a piece of land you don't already have exclusive access to.

The design is for something to be built in this case, and let's pretend for a moment that it is specific to the particular plot of land. There's a hill, let's say, and I've put 20 homes along the hill so that they don't interfere with one another and placed a road such that drainage will function properly etc. etc.... a design that would be essentially garbage for any other plot of land. That design is labor, and it is inseparably mixed with that parcel of land. It is no different than any other type of labor with that resource.

Let's back up... why can you own anything? Why can I own the clay pot? You don't go far enough to see it here:

We started at the beginning. You own yourself. Therefore, you own your labour. Therefore, if there is something unowned and you inseparably combine your labour with it, you own the combination. I'm short cutting a bit, but so far so good and all we've had to use as an axiom is "you own yourself" which seems fine. For objects, it's generally pretty intuitive. See the pot example.

There's no reason to take self-ownership as an axiom. Why can't other people own you? Why should you get to say what you do with your body? After all, perhaps it is for the interests of others that you should be made to work, or killed, or something in between. You can't just assume that you own your body.

The reason that you own your body is... human rights. The lion doesn't care whether the gazelle owns it own body, it's going to eat that body (steal it) anyway. Might makes right. Except that might makes right is a value judgement that is subjective - valuing might above all else. We could just as easily have come up with any other arbitrary value judgment, such as smart makes right. The smartest person is deemed correct. Or art makes right, the person who sings the best, or draws the best gets their way. Or perhaps fast makes right. We'll just have a footrace to see who gets their way. There are literally an infinite number of versions of might makes right (not all of them rhyme).

I know of no objective reason why one person's will should supersede another's. The only objective behavior then is to NOT impose your will (initiate force) against others, for any reason, any subjective value system. If someone does it to you, it is only logical that you can play by their own rules. They agreed, after all, that some subjective reason was a good enough one to use force against you - and that is how the lion and gazelle interact. Valuing might. If the gazelle develops a gun (let's say the gazelle is a homo sapien) then the tables have turned.

The reason you can own something is because you have worked to produce it and taking it from you is the forcible deprivation of the results of that labor. So whatever constitutes an initiation of force is what I'm constantly looking for in these examples.

Getting back to the intellectual property example, if the land is not owned by anyone, and you labor to produce plans for it, if someone else takes that land, they're destroying your plans, the results of your labor. It is force against you. If you've done nothing with the land of course there is no way they would know (in the absence of sophisticated technology like an internet and computers). But of course if you let them know, then you've staked your claim.

If you say that's calling dibs, I'm fine with that. We're talking about resources that just exist... nobody owns them.


No. I can purchase a warehouse without purchasing the goods inside it. One could transfer ownership of the land without transferring ownership of the flagpole. One can imagine a world in which ownership of flagpoles and fields are entirely separate, and that doesn't seem to raise any inconsistencies.

Again, because the land and the flagpole are not inseparable, there's no sensible reason to treat ownership of them as inseparable by default. So if you're going to do that, you need to establish an actual logical reason why.

Everything can be forcibly separated. The point is whether you have destroyed someone's creation by separating it. That is what I mean by inseparable... inseparable without the initiation of force.


Let's look at it this way. You've put labour into building a flagpole. Congratulations, you own a flagpole. Moving that flagpole doesn't destroy the labour that you put into building it, it simply adds more labour to it.

You created it at a particular location, presumably upright in a piece of land. Moving it does destroy that particular combination of matter.

How would labour be able to be destroyed? You did the work, and nothing I can do undoes that work. You always made a flagpole, the past is immutable.

That's kinda my point. Laboring with natural resources produces something and the fact that it did is immutable. If you destroy it now, you're forcefully destroying that labor. If you could keep your destruction limited to the original unowned natural resources without affecting what I created with my labor (such as the crane example) then you're not initiating force against me.


But land is odd.

I don't find it any different.

Interesting train of thought. I'd have to wonder if it's contingent on having personally been to that land or not. Is Mars/parts of Mars already rightfully owned?

Well nobody believes they can own it because all of the world governments have declared it so. But to simplify things, let's imagine for a moment that they all changed their mind tomorrow. If I simply say "Mars is mine", I have not created something that must be destroyed for someone else to have Mars. But if I say mars is mine and draw a sketch that involves developing every portion of mars, then I have a claim to it.

But let's say someone else showed up on mars and built a house. I take them to court based on my sketch (which I spent 2 hours on). The court looks at my sketch (which was dated) and realizes that I actually had a legitimate claim to the spot where the house was built. The court then instead of ordering the people who built the house to tear it down and give me my land back (which would be far more valuable than my sketch) orders the house-builders to pay me off for my lost value. They estimate the value of the sketch at $40.

Here's another way it could go. The court looks at my sketch (which was dated) and realizes that I actually had a legitimate claim to the spot where the house was built. However, since i made no effort to inform others of that right, the court decides, based on a purely pragmatic convention to facilitate the market, that I should be paid $0. There is no way the other people could have known that I had any claim to the property. This is fairly analogous to trademark in the US.
 
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