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Found 9 results

  1. Private Property-Who Does It Belong To Anyway? If you recognize that a person has the right to live their own life then you must out of necessity recognize the right of a person to hold, give away, remove, regulate or sell private property as an owner sees fit. These two principles (the right to life and property) are inseparable. They have been the preeminent trait of American ideals since the founders of the nation signed the document of independence which separated us from the innumerable morose philosophies of the rest of the world. To deny these two principles of rights renders such persons as a meer stewards of the state. You may have bought you home, car, furniture etc. with your own money but the state may dispose of these possessions whenever or wherever it desires (without warning or permission) as is the case of millions of people living under rights denying totalitarian regimes. Let me provide a small example from a fictitious little town located somewhere USA. This town has a project going to replace worn, corroded and leaky sewer pipes within city limits. In order to lay new pipes the town must dig 6~10 to the right a main road intruding on private property. However most of the public would agree that the town has the right of egress to repair, prevent and eliminate public hazards with these limits. What the public would not agree is while performing this project, the city destroys homeowners driveways, expensive fixtures, garden beds and other private outways without a promise to repair any damage performed by the project.The damage stands for months with the public involved asking for but not getting any relief. The most they receive are vague promises that the town administration will deal with the damage caused at a later date...so on and so forth. Here is the problem: does the town own the right to your private property to ignore your requests for relief? If so does the town consider you just a steward in the way of “their” property without said rights? Are your taxes you pay on your property just a way to invade your wallet without care or responsibility? If so then the charter of rights Americans are said to have is just a sham, a trick and a “slight of hand” you.” This is what is called “creeping statism”, the kind when you wake up some time in the near future wondering what happened to you your family your property and your country! If private property turns out to, as it seems today, be but an annex to the state then the whole institution of Americanism falls by the wayside! Somehow we have lost our way and now serve a new principle that we, the people are servants of the government and not the other way around. Is this the kind of America that we and our children have to look forward too! I sincerely hope not, for me, for you, for our small fictitious town and for America!
  2. When discussing money, isn't it correct to say, "Money is (or should be) a form of property obtained by an individual for the purpose of exchange and as a store of value."? Isn't money private property and once in possession of this kind of property, anyone can buy anything, anywhere as long as there is someone on the other side of the exchange who is willing to accept the buyer's property, the buyer's money? And like any property, shouldn't the individual protect it from being taken? Within the context of the proper function of government, shouldn't government enforce this protection? I am asking these questions because I've been sketching out the fundamental characteristics of inflation with an eye toward defining the concept. I am thinking that instances of violation of property rights serves as the CCD. As to isolating the units of the concept, I am thinking that what distinguishes these from other types of violations of property rights is that these are forcible ways to increase the supply of money by means of counterfeiting the supply of money, whether through criminal or legalized activities. From that, I wrote the following definition of the concept. Definition: Inflation is a violation of property rights by forcing increases to the supply of money by private or legalized counterfeiting. With that, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
  3. It dawned on me earlier in the week that the ship of Theseus thought experiment has a great deal of application to intellectual property questions, at least if I modified it a little (turns the modification is like a modification by Thomas Hobbes). A ship is being re-built one piece at a time, and I find that little analysis is needed to conclude that rebuilding the ship in the same way with the same pieces means it is still the same ship. Theseus still owns the ship, it’s the same type of ship, the ship is used for the same purpose, etc. I think that is like Aristotle’s solution to the original problem, at least according to Wikipedia. In addition to all that, it is still property of Theseus. But not because it’s made of the same pieces, therefore, any resulting artifacts will be his! To frame it another way, I’ve seen some people argue against IP by saying “if I build something with materials I own, then I own whatever the resulting artifact is – even if the inventor wants to prevent me from doing so”. My point is that Theseus still owns the ship because of the purpose and particular implementation of an idea still remains, despite the obvious physical transformation. But I want to go through this with a modification of this thought experiment that I came up with: the Piano of Franz. (Yes, that same Franz if you remember an earlier thread, but it’s quite different). Franz has a specific blueprint to build pianos, which are special kinds of pianos with building specifications that Franz developed after figuring out new techniques to bring out important acoustic qualities. His brand of piano is distinct. Right now, he has only built one piano – he needs investors first. Recently, he took the piano apart and will rebuild it, to make sure his blueprints were perfect. The pieces are organized on the floor, and Franz can rebuild it with his blueprints. He goes piece by piece, until it is complete. Does Franz own the piano? This part so far is deliberately simple. I would bet most people say yes, Franz owns the piano. The reasons, though, may vary. As I said, I don’t think it’s just because he owns the individual pieces. The stance I take is that he owns the coupling of an idea with the corresponding physical goods made from that idea. Keep in mind, since property is what one needs to maintain their existence, and by extension, their flourishing. (I’m skipping a lot of inductive steps, I know, I can’t write a book here.) To be able to define what is actually part of maintaining one’s existence (as related to their personal evaluations and decisions), we need to have a reasonable constraint to its range of application. This way, claims to property can be objectively evaluated. A range of application isn’t as simple as saying a physical boundary. That may apply to a basketball, but not an open cattle range - there is no intrinsic boundary to land. Some degree of value is needed as well, otherwise there would be no need to recognize any existents in a special way with regard to individuals. I would argue that the pieces are of no value to Franz anyway, and the value only comes from the fact he knows how to build his brand of piano. Although I’m sure Franz can build other styles of piano that are very old, the pieces are for making a Franz brand piano. So, you couldn’t say “the pieces have infinite uses, why focus on a piano brand?” Building a treehouse is not his intention. In this sense, his pieces are only of value because of what he wants to create. Franz could sell the parts for a price, but since no intrinsic monetary value of goods exist, I can say that relative to him, there is no monetary value. The value is in the potential piano, similar to how value of farmland is potential crops. No actual piano exists, so what I’m getting at is that the property in question is intellectual in nature, not merely concrete existents. Let’s modify this a little bit. Suppose Wolfgang saw Franz’s blueprints, and Franz said nothing special to Wolfgang about building a piano. Unbeknownst to Franz, Wolfgang acquires the necessary pieces to build the piano. Later on, Franz visits his friend Wolfgang’s house after hearing beautiful piano music. When he greeted Wolfgang and saw the piano, he realized it was his own piano that he designed! Franz finds this to be unjust and even as theft, because it was his design and creation. Should Franz have the right to bring Wolfgang to court if he so chooses? In the earlier case, if Wolfgang took a finished piano or even the piano pieces without permission, that is a clear case of theft, and should be taken to court. But where does the difference come in with Wolfgang creating a piano with his own materials? An easy answer is to say that the two pianos are not exactly the same, so inventing a type of piano does not imply owning pianos that Wolfgang (or anyone else) creates. People own what they make, and it follows that what they make is their property, fitting all the standards I mentioned earlier with constraint to range of application. My answer is that there is no difference, except perhaps what the property in question is. The easy answer I find to be too materialistic by ignoring the very means and person that enabled Wolfgang to build the piano. Franz did a lot of research, then took time to develop the specific piano design. He had to figure which wood to use, how to bend the wood, how to set up the curves, etc. The whole value of the piano is in every case dependent upon what Franz developed. Other people even find value in the piano. To the extent that the design is useful to many people, not just the piano itself, there is reason to say Franz should have the right to control the design in any manner he chooses – who can use it, how he wants to profit from it. If anything, the usefulness and value to multiple people makes a design worth recognizing as property, especially since Franz designed it for the reasons anyone would create or seek property. The value a variety of people hold towards the piano is indicative that at least some people find the piano design a contributor to flourishing, even for Franz. In ethical terms, this means Franz has a right to his designs and what people may make from those designs, or to shorten the phrase down, intellectual property. In the same way that rebuilding the ship of Theseus still means the ship is owned by Theseus, rebuilding Franz’s piano still means the piano is owned by Franz, even if the result is more than one tangible Franz brand piano. * Aside: I first thought of all this by watching a but a totally different topic. Spiral theory of knowledge!
  4. IP once more, with feeling

    Intellectual property. So if I go outside and build a mud hut somewhere I own it. It is my hut because I built it; that is, without myself, my idea and my actions it would not exist at all. So if I go and invent the idea of a hut I own it; without myself and my idea, no huts (as such) would ever be invented. . . ? AND if someone goes out and builds a hut without my permission, they are initiating coercive force against me: So, if someone uses my idea at all they are acting as a human photocopier. Thusly, if someone copies my idea without my permission, they are in effect stealing it from my mind; it is theft in the same way and for the same reasons as physical theft. Note the distinction between physical theft and intellectual theft; see what happens if it's removed. Note the implication of MINDLESS AUTOMIZATION inherent in treating potential property (ideas) as if they were actual property. But are human beings capable of being truly mindless, and are ideas (which are POTENTIAL values) synonymous with actual values? 1. An item's creator is its owner 2. The first person to think of an idea is its de facto creator C: Intellectual property I find the minor premise dubious but, even if we accept that, can you own someone's MIND (entailed by owning their ideas)? Note I say 'their' ideas and, even if someone else thought of it first, it would be unintelligible to say that one person owns the ideas in someone else's mind. Finally, I defy you to conceive of an implementation of IP which does not violate individual rights. The prohibition of murder doesn't violate anyone's rights; nor does its implementation. Same for rape and (physical!) theft. So, if one man does have the right to his intellectual property after someone else has VOLITIONALLY learned of it (I'm not disputing the alternative) then his right doesn't have to violate anyone else's rights; does it? My argument, as a syllogism: 1. An item's creator is its owner 2. Ideas of items are potentials; not actuals 3. Whoever takes an idea (from any source) and acts on it owns the consequences
  5. The Morality of Copyrights and Patents

    I'm hesitant to start this thread on oo.net due to several issues I have had with people taking the opposite stance and due to my suspicion that even some Objectivists do not understand the nature of copyrights and patents, and hence oppose them. In a moral society -- one in which it takes man's life as the standard and recognizes individual rights as stemming from the nature of man qua man -- issues such as copyrights and patents are an extension of the fact that the creator of a product has the absolute right to set terms and conditions of using his product. To post this message here, I have to agree to oo.net's Terms and Conditions, and everything I post here is covered by copyright law. Now, I could post some sort of Terms and Conditions of presenting an essay here of my own and say that if you read my posts, you have to agree to my terms and conditions (within the bounds of the T&C of oo.net). But that would be extremely cumbersome if we all had to sign a T&C agreement for everything we partook in or bought in our capitalist society. So, by law, it is recognized that the creator of a product has certain rights that are protected, without him having to get each end user to sign a T&C for every product he makes. Under copyrights and patents, and by buying or using the product, you basically agree not to duplicate the creator's work -- you agree to participate in that transaction without stealing from that producer. And, yes, copying and pasting or downloading without permission and then re-distributing a production digital format is a type of stealing. You are basically taking his product and claiming it as your own without proper compensation agreed to between you and the producer of that product. It's not that copyrights and patents are granted by the government, but rather a proper government recognizes the rights of the producer and defends them. I'm mentioning this because there are some Objectivists who believe that getting huge fines or long jail sentences for copyright and patent infringements should not happen. But if you steal a copyrighted or patented product, the producer has the right to get just compensation or to punish you for stealing his product. So, for a case like Aaron Swartz, who tried to download and then re-distribute the the entire JSTOR data base and then post it to the internet without the owner's permission, deserved to be punished for that infringement. I'm not sure I agree with a fifty year sentence, which the prosecution was aiming for, but when one keeps in mind that JSTOR charges $25 or so for each article, and that he downloaded many hundreds and thousands of such articles without permission, then it can be said that he stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property. And he had to be punished for this action. Now, it turns out that JSTOR is run by academia, which is, in part, paid for and supported by tax dollars taken by force; but not everything is paid for by the taxes, those universities do charge tuition and other fees, and they do their own research and compile them into JSTOR. The muddies the issue to some degree, but does not change the principle that the creator has a right to set terms and conditions of using his product. Universities and academia should not be supported by taxes, but this does not mean that each and every tax payer or former student or MIT Fellow has unlimited access to those files and articles. This is a clear case of the "Tragedy of the Commons" whereby ownership is difficult to establish, but it does not mean that Aaron Swartz himself owned those articles and property. For more information, and to get this thread off to the right start, I highly recommend reading Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and especially Miss Rand's article on Patents and Copyrights: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/patents_and_copyrights.html
  6. Defining Individual Rights

    Recently I've been attempting to define the concept of rights in a way more satisfying than: "A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context."(Ayn Rand Lexiconhttp://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/individual_rights.html) This is what i came up with: "Those values which, if destroyed would render mans life non-existent, unlivable, or in a style contrary to mans life qua man" Critiques and thoughts? P.S. Here are some places to start: >I think I'm missing some areas of thought about the proper way(s)/time(s) to defend such values. >I'm lacking the exact aforementioned values, i know they need to be few and specific, but beyond freedom, life, and self i draw a blank >I'm not sure exactly sure how to exclude "printing press rights"(Ayn Rand) from this definition, or if is even possible to do so
  7. moral justification for corporations

    Corporations are entities with rights normally only humans can possess. These rights are given to them by the state. They are not natural rights. Is there or can there be any justification for such rights? P.S.: I also feel that with corporations shifting the responsibility from leadership to the shareholders often causes people to make risky deals they would have not made otherwise.
  8. Bryan Phillips who blogs at LiveOaks has published a book called Individual Rights and Government Wrongs. Check it out at his book's page here: http://individualrig...mentwrongs.com/
  9. In my country smoking is banned in many public places by the government. This leads me to wonder if there is such a thing as "a right to fresh air and not to suffer from the consequences of second hand smoke". If this is a valid right, then does this not conflict with the right of some others to smoke in public? If it is right to ban smoking, isn't the government doing something for the greater good and isn't it based on a collectivist premise? Can it be also viewed that giving man freedom is also for the ''greater good'' as this promotes affluence and optimal functioning for many people? Am I misapplying some concepts? My governement also fines people for littering.Is it right to say that it is not the government's role to fine people or to ban activities like littering? Do people have rights to a clean environment? Also in my country, there was a recent furor over how some people living in apartments had conflict over a neighbour's pungent cooking, the other party not liking the smell and demanding that the neighbour only cook that dish on days when that party was not at home. Is there a conflict of rights here? Is there such a thing as a right to a ''neutral environment" where there is no cigarette smoke, litter or offensive smell? Is it a right to not be made to suffer harmful or unpleasant consequences of other people's choices?