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Jon Southall

Ownership of Metaphysically Givens

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SL,

What you seem to be describing in the first case is the creation of a conservation area. As a conservation area is a man-made fact, it would be private property. 

In the case of airwaves, if someone erects something which prevents communication, one would have to establish if he had violated your rights. I would say on the face of it he has not, so you would have to work around it. What difference would it be if say you cycle to work off track through some woods and one day you find someone is building a home there. You wouldn't have the right to prevent them from building it on the basis it would require you to take a different route.

In the second airwaves case, it sounds as if someone is broadcasting noise on the same frequency as you. As per my response to Don, your channel would be your private property, so you could take action to stop them from producing the noise.

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Ok.  I'm getting your conclusions in regard to concretes, but a little confused re. the basis upon they have been made.  I don't want to go too far up the hierarchy to wider abstractions because the exercise here is to investigate examples of what they are integrated from...

The conservation area, is still an area of land, which happens to have a large tree and outcropping... a simple unthinking view would say "metaphysically given... you cant own the tree and outcropping".  What makes an area a "conservation area"?  Does the purpose of the transformation/changes etc. matter (i.e. conservation) or merely the fact that something was does which was for some purpose (any)?  how much control or modification is required?

As for airwaves, what is the nature of a "property right" to the use of frequencies (the channel) if that use can be interfered with?  Is a property right still a "right" it can be violated under certain circumstances?  Perhaps the question is better put, what in this case is the property right a right to?   

 

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SL,

That's fine, I am happy to explore it with you in whatever way I can to make it clear.

All things of human origin are man-made facts. A conservation area is one example, but what it constitutes is really a matter of how we choose to define what actions it takes to establish and manage one, and in turn that definition allows us to be specific in identifying what man is the cause of and so has rights to. I would say in your scenario, the trees and natural environment in its current form clearly constitutes a material value to the preservationists; the continued existence of the tree etc is a consequence of the actions they are taking, which establishes their property rights. I don't know if you would agree with me but I think this is reasonable.

A property right is a right to action, so in the case of airwaves, if someone owns a broadcasting frequency, it means they get to use the frequency, keep the frequency and dispose of their rights to use that frequency as they choose. The broadcaster might have established their private property rights by being the first to broadcast a radio station on that frequency, or traded with another broadcaster to have it. No-one else would have the right to use your broadcasting frequency, they would have to broadcast on a new frequency instead. Someone who comes along and broadcasts noise on your frequency is violating your rights.

Any right can be interfered with in practice. If you go and pick wild strawberries then you have earned what you have picked - no-one else has a right to use, keep or dispose of them without your unforced permission. This doesn't mean a thief won't violate your rights by stealing them from you, or that an unsupervised child won't come and eat them when you aren't looking. The value of your property right lies in other individuals within your society observing and respecting them, primarily by not using force to take what you are the cause of, and in cases where they don't observe your rights, the police step in. So the possibility of a right being violated under certain circumstances does not for a minute lessen it, it is still your property right.

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4 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

A property right is a right to action, so in the case of airwaves, if someone owns a broadcasting frequency, it means they get to use the frequency, keep the frequency and dispose of their rights to use that frequency as they choose. The broadcaster might have established their private property rights by being the first to broadcast a radio station on that frequency, or traded with another broadcaster to have it. No-one else would have the right to use your broadcasting frequency, they would have to broadcast on a new frequency instead. Someone who comes along and broadcasts noise on your frequency is violating your rights.

In reality the communication "channel" in the airwaves example is integral, it defines a spatiotemporal and frequency "channel".

In view of your statements above can you clarify the difference between erecting something to interfere with the spatial aspect of the channel, rendering it useless, and interfering with the frequency aspect of the channel?

 

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SL,

Do you agree regarding the establishing of rights in the conservation area scenario?

In the broadcasting scenario you are defining the frequency as a spatiotemporal existent. As such it requires space to pass through to achieve the broadcast. The question you are asking me is why, on the one hand, is it a violation of your rights for someone else to produce the same frequency as you, but not for someone to erect a wall within the airways you are using.

The airways are a metaphysically given fact, they are unowned. The airwaves are a man-made fact, produced by a broadcaster and so they are owned.

Each broadcaster requires his own frequency to broadcast on; once he produces his broadcast on a particular frequency, he establishes that it belongs to him because he was the cause of it. No-one else can come along later and use the same frequency because it is already being used by someone who owns it. 

The same principle applies to all property rights. If I build a home, no-one can then occupy it without my consent. If I buy a car, no-one can drive it without my permission. They can't damage my property or interfere with it. 

This I hope makes it clear why one has property rights concerning the airwaves they are producing.

The airways are metaphysically given. We all have to use metaphysically givens in order to live, and we use them on a first come first served basis, the consequence of that use is the creation of man-made facts. If someone wants to build a huge wall, we would have to establish whose rights they were violating in doing so. Does the airways the wall takes up belong to anyone? No. Does someone have a right to build a wall? Yes. So on the face of it he doesn't violate the broadcasters rights.

Perhaps another example might help elucidate this.

You purchase a camera, and go to a busy tourist attraction. The first scenario is that a stranger wants to take and use the same camera you are using, perhaps trying to take it off you ruining the shot you were taking in the process. My reasoning above would conclude that the stranger can't use the same camera because it is already yours and you don't consent to it. He is violating your rights.

The second scenario is that someone tall comes and stands in the way of your shot. Because of this you may be frustrated at the fact you can't use your camera to take the picture you wanted to, even though you were there before him. You could ask him not to stand in your way, but you couldn't force him to move.

I think it would be unreasonable if you said to everyone in view that because your camera requires a line of sight, they are in your way and have to move for you. They would quite fairly say to you to take the picture from a different angle or wait until they have gone etc. They don't have to stop what they are doing for the photographer's sake.

That's why on the face of it I would conclude the wall builder has done nothing wrong even if you can't broadcast in the same way as a result. You'd have to build another broadcasting station somewhere else to get around it, or buy the wall and knock it down...

 

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Quote

Each broadcaster requires his own frequency to broadcast on; once he produces his broadcast on a particular frequency, he establishes that it belongs to him because he was the cause of it. No-one else can come along later and use the same frequency because it is already being used by someone who owns it. 

JS

The frequency spectrum was empty before he filled it with EM communications.  The EM communications have frequency and time and space aspects, in essence they occupy/traverse them when created.  An EM channel cannot occupy frequency without also occupying space and time, and prior to its creation, frequency, space and time are all equally "empty" of the communication.  On what basis do you distinguish them (this is not something one concludes ostensibly) as givens or not?

The channel is EM in nature, the broadcaster is the cause of it but, like matter, the EM channel does not exist outside of space or time (an din the case of EM not outside of frequency).  An EM channel cannot be separated into its aspects.  You seem to say that it gains the status of manmade only because it occupies one dimension of its aspects (frequency) as though it were self evident that THAT particular dimension of occupation by creation conveys status, and at the same time you claim (as though self-evident) that occupation of a different sort of dimension (space) does not convey status.

The signals ARE occupying all of them and prior to the signals they all were empty of it.  What is the differentia you are relying upon?

SL

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SL, thanks

You are making the point, I think, that airwaves are natural - they occupy space and time, the broadcaster didn't create its metaphysical constituents, just as a goldsmith has not created the gold that his new ring is comprised of. The broadcast and the ring depend on these metaphysical givens for their existence. How then do you identify what is actually his property? What can an ownership claim mean if the goldsmith owns the ring but not the gold, or the broadcaster the airwaves but not the airways.

The basis of the distinction is that without the actions of the broadcaster, his communications would not have existed. The distinction is not being made on the basis of what the object is but on who caused it to happen, it's origin. If it was a who, then the entity can be regarded as a man-made fact and subject to property rights. If it occurred (came into being) naturally, then it belongs to no-one. A ring, or a broadcast only exist because of man - and this fact makes both his property. You would not be able to take the gold in the ring from the goldsmith to use in some other form without destroying the ring, without taking the ring from him - the violations of his rights relate to the ring as a man-made fact. Before the ring was made the gold would have been the goldsmith's "wage", he would have earned it in some way (by mining for it, buying it from a trader). Therefore no-one could steal the gold, not because it is his gold in the metaphysical sense, but because the gold is his wage by virtue of his actions in obtaining it. We can apply this principle universally - we could be talking about any material value - what it is specifically wouldn't matter, what really matters is who did what, as that establishes what belongs to whom.

If our broadcaster was a singer, essentially the same principles would apply. When the singer sings, sound waves are produced, and they pass through airways. Both the soundwaves and airways are natural phenomenon viewed independently of the actions which caused them to exist, which might seem that they are not private property (and not public property either, for the avoidance of doubt). However when one identifies what caused each to exist, only the soundwaves came into existence because of the singer, and therefore they are his property whilst the airways are not. If someone did not want to hear him singing (perhaps he is a drunk who sings poorly, or his songs are not to their taste), and they close their window or put ear muffs on, then they are not, by creating this barrier, infringing the singer's rights. They are not using, taking or disposing of his soundwaves without his consent. He can't force them to listen or allow free passage of his sounds. If someone recorded his singing and sold it without his consent, then he might have a claim against them. They would have used the soundwaves he produced and which belong to him, to obtain material values. The crucial point would be deciding whether he implicitly consented or not but I don't want to digress.

I don't know if this helps clarify it further. I don't want to keep repeating myself, so perhaps we would get further if you could explain what it is about the causal distinction that doesn't make sense to you.

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I am asking you to differentiate between the frequency and the space the broadcaster is using to communicate between the two locations.  Your position is that interference in the frequency is a violation of a property right but that interference with the space used by the communication channel is not a violation. 

I am not forwarding a position that unoccupied space, unoccupied time, or unoccupied frequency are natural (although this is true).  I am wondering about your analysis of the EM channel which occupies all three, and why/how you distinguish between space and frequency in regard to creation and validity of property rights in the EM channel created by man.

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32 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Respectfully, you have not.  Perhaps you do not care to.  Which is ok.

Perhaps this is due to a misunderstanding.

The "Airwaves" as you call them do not exist.  Electromagnetic signals, which you can think of as fields, waves, particles, carry energy, have momentum, and possess attributes.  They "occupy" space, time, and frequency, in the sense that these are all aspects of the existent which can be empty in absence of the existent.  Your reference to the "airwaves" being "metaphysically given" is not supportable and you will likely agree.

If by "airwaves" you mean the space, time, and frequency designations when "empty" then you are in fact referring to literally the void, nothing.  None are actually containers or a background which exist absent the entities possessing, occupying, or defining their relationships.  In fact space is just a relationship between entities.  As such empty airwaves is not metaphysically anything, it is nothing.  We agree, of course that sheer nothing cannot owned by anyone.

If by "airwaves" you mean the EM channel formed in space, time, and frequency, then of course it is manmade, this manmade channel is not metaphysically given.  We of course agree that the energy which was converted to create the photons was not generated ex nihilo as that would violate known physics (conservation of energy).

Prior to creation of the EM channel there is nothing.  After creation, the EM channel occupies space, time and frequency.  Why or how do you find frequency to be somehow of prime importance here?

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SL,

2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Electromagnetic signals, which you can think of as fields, waves, particles, carry energy, have momentum, and possess attributes.

We can play with wording here, but if you are defining EM signals to include waves, let's consider airwaves as being contained within this category. I do agree that airwaves are not metaphysically given facts.

I am possibly mistaken in my understanding (I'm not an expert on EM signals) but I do not see the wave, and what it travels through as one and the same thing. The broadcasted airwaves (the ripples of electrical energy) cannot be interfered with, because they are the broadcaster's property. That is why someone who broadcasts on the same frequency violates his rights, because the airwaves he produces clash. It would be like two car drivers trying to fight with one another for the same spot of road and becoming immobile.

The equivalent to the road, the channel, is not owned because no-one has produced it. A road is owned of course, but we would not claim a driver takes ownership of it by using it, even though it is necessary for his journey to be completed; whoever built the road has that claim. If the road owner wanted to destroy the road, provided there is no breach of contract he is free to do so. Even a driver who uses the road everyday has established no right to stop him.

Who is the equivalent of the road builder when it comes to a metaphysically given pathway or channel? There is no-one. That means no-one's rights are violated in its use. Someone who puts up a wall is free to do so, you have no greater right to use the space than he does. You would have to build a higher mast.

If I have misunderstood and the broadcaster creates both the channel and the airwaves which pass through it, then I would have to come to a different conclusion, but I don't think this is right.

 

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Empty and free space has no electrical energy and no magnetic energy.  An electric field of 0 does not mean something at rest but not "waving", it means NO electric field, the absence of it.  The same goes for the magnetic field.  Empty space is not a flat sheet waiting to be waved up and down like a blanket, it is nothing except the potential for relationships between existents.

Please take a look at my previous post again. 

It may help also if you consider there is no pathway per se, there are signals being sent which occupy space and time and frequency, these things being attributes and/or relationships between existents like EM signals, and not things in themselves.  there is no pathway, not in the sense of a thing existing.

[As an aside, no one here has ever argued empty space as such can be owned, as it is nothing]

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I don't think it makes any difference to our scenario.

Whether you define what the waves travel through as a void or a channel, the fact remains its the waves that are produced and owned.

Someone who builds a wall into this void can do so freely even when it means future waves produced by the broadcaster hit his wall rather than travelling on to the receiver. 

Imagine someone fires a bb gun in the wilderness. One day they are firing and a rounds hits a dog walker. Could our shooter say that the dog walker infringed his rights by getting in the way of his BB and stopping it from reaching its intended target? I would say no, as the dog walker has every right to be there. This aspect of the scenario captures the essential principle of it (lets imagine for arguments sake the dog walker is not hurt or affected by the bb). A wave, (or a bb), does not carry with it any right of passage to a particular point.

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That is a strawman argument. 

"Future" waves do not have frequency either, so the noise producer does not interfere with anything... and you have already supported a property right based on creation of EM communication using a band of frequency.

Your out of context examples which moreover presuppose the conclusions regarding property rights which have not yet been established are not helpful and are in fact the opposite.

[I may be mistaken but my impression is you either are unwilling or incapable of responding.]

 

WHEN there is an EM signal, there IS occupation of frequency and occupation of space by the communication.  Interference with EITHER of these makes communication impossible.  You stated the following (for now we can ignore the fact that you presuppose the ownership of broadcasting frequencies, while trying to show there can be ownership/property rights in broadcasting frequencies)

Quote

A property right is a right to action, so in the case of airwaves, if someone owns a broadcasting frequency, it means they get to use the frequency, keep the frequency and dispose of their rights to use that frequency as they choose. The broadcaster might have established their private property rights by being the first to broadcast a radio station on that frequency, or traded with another broadcaster to have it. No-one else would have the right to use your broadcasting frequency, they would have to broadcast on a new frequency instead. Someone who comes along and broadcasts noise on your frequency is violating your rights

What, I ask, gives occupation of "frequency" by something real, a different status in your mind, from occupation of space by something real, and correspondingly what gives interference in "frequency" a different status in your mind from interfering in space?  Both are just as empty when unoccupied, both just as occupied and of value when occupied by the EM signal.

Remember we are investigating the foundation of property or non-property, conclusions about property (which have not been made here yet) cannot simply be injected into this as a reason for distinguishing frequency and space such as simply asserting "Well occupation of frequency is property but occupation of space is not"

Such would be begging the question. 

 

What about frequency or space in your mind is different IN CONTEXT?

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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I clearly am responding to you, I have given much of my time to doing so. In fact we probably need to wrap this one up soon.

The fact you have dismissed the examples given to you to help aid you in understanding the point is a concern to me. There is little to no evidence that you have thought about them. You have not explained why the examples do not illustrate the essential points. You have repeatedly raised the same question, expecting me to give a different answer.

You were trying to say the concept of airwaves was "empty". Airwaves are defined as the radio frequencies used for broadcasting. It is not an empty concept. A frequency is "the rate per second of a vibration constituting a wave, either in a material (as in sound waves), or in an electromagnetic field (as in radio waves and light)" (Oxford Dictionary). They are a "propagation of disturbances from place to place in a regular and organized way".

I make a distinction between the "propagation of disturbances" and the "place to place". The former are man-made. Applying the law of identify applied to action (the law of causality), you can identify that the transmission was caused by the broadcaster and so belongs to him. Somebody else who broadcasts on his frequency will through their transmission interfere with his transmission. The two will clash - like two cars trying to occupy the same stretch of road. The first broadcaster established his rights to transmit on that frequency. The second has to respect that. I don't think we disagree so far.

This is different though from someone building a wall somewhere in world which might interrupt the journey of those waves from "place to place". They are not transmitting on his frequency. They are not interfering with his receiver or his transmitter. They are building a wall in an unowned space. Your right to transmit on that frequency doesn't give you a right to stop everyone in the world from building things which might effect the passage of those waves from place to place. Perhaps your example using the "wall concept" was unsuitable. Perhaps you meant a situation in which someone was deliberately jamming the broadcaster's transmission. Someone jamming his transmission is of course violating his property rights - as the intention of such an action is obviously to interfere with his property.

I don't think you can argue that someone constructing a wall or other property can be treated equally to someone who creates a jammer with the purpose of interfering with your use of your own property. The first case does not interfere with your transmitter, your receiver or the transmission you have broadcasted and there is no malicious intent, it just requires your transmission to pass from place to place via a different route. You seem to disagree, so why do you think it is a breach of the broadcaster's property rights? The consequence would be, if we go with your concepts of rights, that everyone in the world who might affect the broadcast in the minutest of ways, in fact just by living, would be infringing the broadcaster's rights. I can't see any reason or justification for your position.

If I have got you wrong, set out your position clearly. What do you think determines the nature and extent of what is someone's property and what isn't? If you don't want to do that, or can't it's fine.

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On 1/5/2016 at 10:37 AM, Jon Southall said:

Someone who puts up a wall is free to do so, you have no greater right to use the space than he does. You would have to build a higher mast.

I don't intend to comment on "airwaves," which strikes me as the kind of example that better serves to obscure rather than elucidate an argument, but I do have a thought or two on "walls" and how they might relate to property rights.

Suppose a house on a hill overlooking an (unowned) lake. The man who built the house travels daily to the lake to fish for his supper. It is conventional to regard the house as the man's property, and perhaps some surrounding area for personal recreation (i.e. a yard), but we do not suppose that he owns the lake or the hill entire.

Now suppose that someone else erects a wall around the lake and a gate along the route to the lake, and asks for fare from the man living on the hill to journey past. He doesn't mean to claim the lake, as such (which we would not allow, presumably), but only "the wall."

I think it arguable that the man on the hill has a preexisting property right in traveling down to the lake, and that the construction of such a wall is a violation of that right.

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Hi Don,

Excellent example. 

1. We all would regard the house to be the private property of the one who made it, or who bought it. We are all agreed on this.

2. Agreed he doesn't own the lake. Any yard or garden etc that he has created do belong to him too. We are all agreed.

3. The wall builder has made it more difficult for the homeowner to access the metaphysically givens beyond the wall. We are all agreed.

4. The wall man charges a fee to let the homeowner access the resource, so he is not blocking him entirely, the homeowner now just has to pay to do what he was freely doing before. We are all agreed.

5. There is something about the wall man's activity which we all feel is immoral. 

6. The wall man does not own the lake. We are all agreed on that.

A. It is not, in a proper society, custom and practice which establishes ownership but rights and law. The homeowner does not, by custom and practice, establish a right to use the lake.

B. However the homeowner and wall owner have no greater claim to the unowned, and neither therefore has a greater right than the other to restrict its use.

C. By the wall owner restricting access to the lake and establishing a charging system, he asserts in effect greater rights to the lake. This assertion is supported by the priveleged position he has created for himself by walling off the lake.

D. We reject the wall man's claim because he has not earned the lake nor can he.

E. If the wall man allowed free passage to the lake, then we would not consider it a breach of rights. 

F. Contrariwise I apply the same thinking to land, whereas you and SL do not.

G. A land claim is a claim to own metaphysically givens. Landowners charge people to access "their land" like the wall owner charges people to access what is treated as "his lake". 

H. Land is demarcated by a boundary, which in this case is represented by the landspace required to support the wall.

I. I regard this as immoral, the parcelling of land used to charge economic rent, for the same reason you view the wall owner's charging the homeowner to be immoral. 

J. Even if the wall owner built the wall before the homeowner arrived I would still regard his levying of a fee to be immoral. The unowned is the unowned regardless of what goes on around it. The wall owner still has no greater access to the lake than the new homeowner.

K. If I set out the views I get on land:

L. The landowner demarcates the land he wants to use. The boundaries are clearly identified.

M. The landowner can charge whatever he can get for the land.

O. Whatever he is paid he is entitled to it in full.

If we apply this consistently:

P. The wall owner by building the wall necessarily requires the land it is on. So he claims ownership of all the land the wall is situated on, even though it is, like the lake a metaphysically given.. 

Q. The wall owner, also being a land owner, gets to charge someone to walk across his land to get to something valuable. 

R. We all regard this as immoral as what makes this access fee worth paying is the existence of values he is restricting access to and which he has no greater claim to than the homeowner.

S. It is in fact the customs and practice approach that we have to be weary of. Imagine a whole community grows up around the walled off lake, and everyone pays the wall man for valuable access to the lake. It has become customary to pay, and those who pay more get more access or priority access. They think this fair and furthermore if they didn't pay, it would harm the wall owner in someway.

T. Someone tries to point out to them that this is not right, they refuse to consider it because they are completely absorbed by the customs and practices they have gotten used to. None of them would sanction the use of force.

U. The Explainer is not advocating that they use force to destroy the wall. Instead he is advocating that the wall owner has to hand back all the cash he gets paid by citizens to access the lake, to put towards the cost of their government and justice system.

V. They can't comprehend how this could be fair.

Sound familiar to anyone? :)

 

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Distinguish for us the difference in your mind between "land" and a "yard" (your terms).

Is not a "yard" simply a particular kind of "land" in a particular context?  If so, by your own assertions there can be property rights to land.

 

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I have never stumbled across a yard that was formed by nature and not by man? Have you?

Fields, lakes, plains, the wind and the rain - they are all things naturally occurring but if I stumbled upon a yard on my journey. I wouldn't think it came into existence due to nature.

I would think: who built a yard here? The one who built it would own it, by the virtue of his actions. Actions and their consequences belong to the actor,  so the yard belongs to whoever so acted to bring it into existence or to whomever he sold it or gave it to.

A yard does not share the same status as land. It shares the same status as a house, or a car or any other man-made fact you would like to reference to. The distinction of status is what is man-made and what isn't.

Re-read the OP. I can't make the distinction between the metaphysical and the man-made better than Rand did. Do you think she was wrong? 

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There are many people who have yards which are half grass half trees, part field.  Some people have ponds in their yards, some are natural.  Some people take great pains to cultivate their yards or at least the areas of which are lawns, others prefer to leave them to grow according to nature.

Also, even for the areas which are so called yards, they ARE cultivated land.  To claim otherwise is a conceptual fraud. 

You've done something with the land but it is still land.

 

It's like saying animals cannot be property but as soon as you capture one it becomes livestock (subject to property rights)... CEASING to be an animal.

 

 

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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9 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

Hi Don,

Excellent example.

LOL, I'm glad you enjoyed it, but your response has left me even more confused than before! :)

I'd thought that my example was running contrary to some of your claims in this thread... but obviously I'm just not yet at the point where I understand your case. Anyways, I'm going to try to describe a bit about my confusion, in case that helps you to identify the source of my misunderstanding.

Earlier, with respect to "walls" (albeit in a different context), you'd remarked:

23 hours ago, Jon Southall said:

They are building a wall in an unowned space.

And I would have thought you would hold the same to apply to the example I'd proffered. For after all, as I'd expected, you do not recognize the house builder as having any right to the lake, or any right to any portion of the hill apart from what he has "created," i.e. the house itself and the yard (insofar as we regard a yard as "created," as SL has astutely probed).

So I would have thought that you would regard the wall builder as being completely within his rights to build a wall in "unowned space," between the house and the lake, even if this inconveniences the man on the hill, or makes it impossible for him to survive in the manner he had done heretofore.

Edited to add: for isn't that what you've remarked earlier? That should someone put up a wall, it is incumbent on the traveler to find a way around it, if he can?

Quote

A. It is not, in a proper society, custom and practice which establishes ownership but rights and law. The homeowner does not, by custom and practice, establish a right to use the lake.

I don't know whether this serves as any challenge to your position, overall (or at least, I don't mean it that way), but in the interest of exploring fundamentals, I'd like to take a bit of issue with this. I think it entirely possible that practice (here the practice of fishing in a lake, as a means of sustenance) does establish an individual's right to use that lake, such that if some other individual sought to bar this practice, it would be (rightly) received as an initiation of the use of force.

Edited by DonAthos

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Don,

This is what you presented me with:

"Now suppose that someone else erects a wall around the lake and a gate along the route to the lake, and asks for fare from the man living on the hill to journey past. He doesn't mean to claim the lake, as such (which we would not allow, presumably), but only "the wall.""

You said you thought that his doing so would violate the homeowner's rights.

There are really three key actions here though aren't there.

1. Constructing a wall

2. Preventing someone from using a lake

3. Charging someone an access fee 

1. In isolation, someone constructing a wall is doing nothing wrong. If someone constructed a wall on the other side of the lake, for instance, to help prevent his property from getting flooded, it would be a totally different scenario to yours. The act of building the wall is not the problem. You have to bring in something else to make it an issue.

2. Preventing someone from using a lake - a metaphysically given. What would it mean if you acted to prevent me from using metaphysically givens? You and I and all other individuals have no greater claim to the unowned. I have no right to restrict you, and vice versa. Preventing someone from using the lake (or any metaphysically given) is an infringement of their rights - it infringes the most important one in fact - their right to life. The reason why is that one person is asserting more rights than they are entitled to, and in all circumstances where this happens it constitutes an act of aggression.

3. Charging someone an access fee - this is just rubbing salt into the wound. The wound is caused at 2. when the homeowner's rights are infringed by his being blocked from accessing the lake, and then salt rubbed in when he has to give up his wealth in order to be given permission to do what he is entitled to do freely.

Now someone who builds a wall around a lake and refuses access to it unless his terms are met is essentially treating the lake as his property - he is making decisions about it as if it were his property. That is why we need the distinction between the man-made and metaphysical in deriving the rights of parties in such cases. In your scenario although you say the wall builder recognises the lake is unowned, he has essentially stolen it. He stands to gain materially from the theft also by charging the fee so the victims can get back what is already theirs.

I think this last explanation also counts as a response to your final paragraph, but if not please let me know.

Note that if it were possible for the homeowner to walk around the wall (for example in the flood defence scenario), or if he was permitted free access to the lake (e.g. through, over, under the wall), then act 2 has not occurred and I would have no issue with the wall builder's actions. If act 2 has not occurred, act 3 will not occur.

Does that help? I tried to clarify to SL in the airwaves example. I was basically saying I didn't recognise step 1 as entailing step 2 in his scenario. I see it more like the flood defence situation rather than the exclusion zone situation. I did suggest to SL that if he meant the signal was being jammed, then this would change things. It would be a step 2 in nature, and we agreed rights would have been infringed.

With respect to man-made facts, I think the key distinction lies with identification. If you call something a yard, it is distinct from plain land. A yard implies there is human involvement, human activity going on in some way, whether it is to preserve it in its natural state, to lay lawns etc. I am simply saying that in nature, this activity has not gone on, isn't going on so there is no basis to establish an ownership claim.

I think if the homeowner in your scenario wanted to establish a right of access to the lake, perhaps one way to do this would be to build a path from his home to the lake. Others would not be able to interfere with his path without his permission etc.

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2 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

There are many people who have yards which are half grass half trees, part field.  Some people have ponds in their yards, some are natural.  Some people take great pains to cultivate their yards or at least the areas of which are lawns, others prefer to leave them to grow according to nature.

Also, even for the areas which are so called yards, they ARE cultivated land.  To claim otherwise is a conceptual fraud. 

You've done something with the land but it is still land.

 

It's like saying animals cannot be property but as soon as you capture one it becomes livestock (subject to property rights)... CEASING to be an animal.

 

 

Jon:

Care to support how conceptually you arrive at the idea that a yard is not a species or type of land?

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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