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Mossoff on Intellectual Property Rights

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From Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

It is important to note, in this connection, that a discovery cannot be patented, only an invention. A scientific or philosophical discovery, which identifies a law of nature, a principle or a fact of reality not previously known, cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because: (a) he did not create it, and (b) if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission. He can copyright the book in which he presents his discovery and he can demand that his authorship of the discovery be acknowledged, that no other man appropriate or plagiarize the credit for it—but he cannot copyright theoretical knowledge.

The distinction between discovery and invention is key here.

Intellectual Property comes in two contexts here. There is the discovery of what intellectual property is as a scientific or philosophical discovery, and inventions, be they product that meet guidelines which have been objectively established.

As indicated, a copyright on book presenting a discovery protects the book, but not the discovery. The copyrights on Ayn Rand's books protect the book, not the theoretical knowledge contained therein. The theoretical knowledge contained therein is freely available to anyone who buys or is given the book, providing that the mental effort required to comprehend it is exercised.

In regard to grasping the material, as with all human knowledge, error is possible on behalf of the grasp of the reader, or even in the grasp of the author putting it forth.

Here's a passage from Why Should Business Leaders Care about Intellectual Property? — Ayn Rand’s Radical Argument

Rand could easily explain why one cannot draw a fundamental distinction between a rightful claim to a farm and a rightful claim to an invention. The seeming simple physical transformation of fallow land into a value, a farm is a direct result of the fact that man is a rational animal whose mind is his basic means of survival.

In the case of the farm, it is an individual identification that a particular parcel of land has ideal soil to which to apply his agricultural knowledge for the purpose of growing food. It is only this conceptual identification and the resulting goal directed action that makes the parcel of land of value. It is at this point the land is something that the farmer is acting to gain and/or keep.

Before this conceptually directed action, it was only land, a simple descriptive fact of the world. After the conceptual identification and appropriate physical action by an individual this descriptive fact is converted into a moral value. The land becomes a farm, a source of life sustaining food for the farmer and for the men with which he trades the fruits of his labors.

The same union between conceptual and physical labor that produces a farm in which you can claim a right to property in that land, also produces the mechanized reaper, the cotton gin, and all the other patented inventions used on that farm in the 19th century that were then protected under the patent laws.

It is the fact that both a farm and an invention arise from a valuing rational mind. Both are the rightful property of the man who creates them in order to live.

Rand’s metaphor in Atlas Shrugged of a machine was “the frozen form of a living intelligence”, and “the frozen form of a mind’s ingenuity.”

Note the power of this the metaphor vs. “mixing labor”. There is no confusion here about what makes the machine a machine, the intelligence that is imbued in it.

The farm took the discovery that seeds sprout, that they grow better in a nutrient rich loam than in desert sand, removing weeds allow the crops to grow rather than be choked out and combined them into a moral value. These activities subordinate themselves to Locke's "mixing labor" metaphor. By exploiting discoveries of nature, Locke makes his case that the mixing of man's intellectual knowledge of seeds, soil, weeding, watering, etc., and putting for the physical application of that knowledge converts a tract of land into a form of intellectual property, or moral value, known as a farm, and that it is rightful his by virtue of the facts involved.

Prior to the industrial revolution, activities organized around discoveries such as these gave rise to farming, mining, blacksmiths, and folks who climbed trees to pluck banana's and coconut when they were in season. At that time, these types of activities were what most people had to apply themselves to for basic survival.

In this sense, a farm is not an invention, it is an application of knowledge of discoveries about laws of nature, principles and facts of reality.

 

Gary North asked a question some time back, making the observation that for much of human history, the per capita growth was essentially flat until the 1700's(? of the cuff recollection). From that point forward the per capita growth has progressed at about 3% per annum. He asks why?

Several lectures available from ARI suggest that the rediscovery of Aristotle preceded this change. Rand attributes the industrial revolution to man's mind being unshackled from by the same rediscovery.

Newton identified properties of light and also wrote the Principia. The periodic chart of the elements was organized from discoveries of teh time. While the intellectual property of understanding may have been put forth in proclamations, books, etc., these were not the same form of intellectual property Locke argued for, and Bentham effectively undermined.

Invention, as put into English law at the time, were not things found naturally occurring, i.e., were not discovers about the nature of nature. Over and above the discovery of "what is", and invention is the discovery of "what can be". This is not a discovery that light consists of many wavelengths, that bodies of matter move with the discoveries of mathematical relationships to one another, or the different elements of matter can liquefy or solidify at different temperatures, have different electrical properties, etc., but can be made to serve different moral purposes such as mechanically accurately keeping time to aid in navigation, automatizing the manual weaving the thread into cloth—the production of moral values that as Rand put in Galt's speech, "The standard of living of that blacksmith is all that your muscles are worth; the rest is a gift from Hank Rearden."

The difference between a discovery and an invention is the difference between that which is and that which can be. This is the difference between eking out an existence as a menial laborer and pioneering an industrial concern such as Dow Chemical, Carnegie Steel or Rockefeller Oil.

 

Specialization of labor, brought about by the industrial revolution, also brings into play a role of finance (something distinctively missing from the interplay off-shooting from Bentham's Utilitarianism be it the collectivist ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number, or the minimization of conflict, often played upon).  Drawing upon Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal again:

Since intellectual property rights cannot be exercised in perpetuity, the question of their time limit is an enormously complex issue. If they were restricted to the originator's life-span, it would destroy their value by making long-term contractual agreements impossible: if an inventor died a month after his invention were placed on the market, it could ruin the manufacturer who may have invested a fortune in its production. Under such conditions, investors would be unable to take a long-range risk; the more revolutionary or important an invention, the less would be its chance of finding financial backers. Therefore, the law has to define a period of time which would protect the rights and interests of all those involved.

 

Edited by dream_weaver

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22 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Gary North asked a question some time back, making the observation that for much of human history, the per capita growth was essentially flat until the 1700's(? of the cuff recollection). From that point forward the per capita growth has progressed at about 3% per annum. He asks why?

Several lectures available from ARI suggest that the rediscovery of Aristotle preceded this change. Rand attributes the industrial revolution to man's mind being unshackled from by the same rediscovery.

A bit off topic.... but that never stopped me before :thumbsup:

Aristotle was reintroduced into the West in the 12th and 13th Century.  And the writings of Aristotle should not be equated with Thomism, which was the antithesis of what Aristotle accomplished.  Not much happened between 1200 and 1600.

The birth of science, mechanics, concepts of liberty and property, a constitutional monarchy, etc. resulted, in most ways, by throwing off Medieval Scholasticism, Thomism and the Roman Catholic Church's influence in the Anglican Church by the Puritans in England in the early 1600's, and the birth of British Empiricism.  The majority of the founders of the Royal Society were Puritans.  As I recently quoted in another post, Newtons motto Hypotheses non fingo would have horrified both Thomas and Aristotle.  This represented a move away from Deduction to Induction in science.  Rather than trying to explain "God's Plan" based on Divine Revelation and Holy Texts and deduction from tenuous premises, the Empiricist started with a Blank Slate and started measuring the world around them.

Edit:  To be clear, I'm heading off the Objectivist Reservation with regards to importance/value of Aristotle.  I realize that this is controversial.  

Edited by New Buddha

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I tend to remember sequence of events better than actual dates, hence the portrayal of reintroduction of Aristotle as simply preceding the industrial revolution.

I've not done any extensive study on Thomism proper. Andrew Lewis and Robert Mayhew, associated with ARI, are my principle source of examination of Aristotle's influence on Thomism. While he is an antithesis of Aristotle in one sense, Aristotle's influence on Thomas had to have been profound. Peikoff, in the History of Philosophy lecture, compliments Thomas on having some insights that he considered an improvement over Aristotle. (I would have to listen to the section on it again to identify it more concisely.)

Peikoff, in the same lecture series, identified a cycle in philosophy that oscillated between rationalism and skepticism several times, as if it were a pendulum swung back and forth between a sense of dissatisfaction found within the approaches.  The philosophers he covered in this two part series most predominantly were the same ones that Rand featured in her introductory piece in her book "For The New Intellectuals".

Locke's "Blank Slate" or "Tabula Rasa" looked to the source of knowledge laying a foundation later built upon for individual rights and property rights, both physical and intellectual. He leaned toward an intrinsic sense of value—that value, was somehow "out there".

Bentham's "Utilitarianism", based on the "greatest happiness for the greatest number", as you stated, or as Mossoff put it "the greatest good for the greatest number" can readily transition to "from each according to his ability to each according to his need." Part of this lay in the notion of scarcity, that property rights arise from a notion of scarcity as a means of minimizing conflict.

Rand steps beyond these in what Mossoff identifies as:

Rand is able to go beyond Locke and other philosophers, and legal scholars, who make superficially similar insights into the nature of property and IP. Rand is the first philosopher to identify the fundamental source of all values in human life: Man’s rational mind.

In conclusion, Rand writes “What the patents and copyright laws acknowledge, is the paramount role of mental effort in the production of material values.”

Although she states this point in the context of patents and copyrights, this principle applies to all property claims, whether in land or movable goods like tables and chairs, or cars, or personal property or chattels, whether in oil, water or air rights, all property rights, inventions, books, — since man’s mind is his basic means of survival, it is mans conceptual knowledge and skills that are the source for creating all material values. For this reason, all property is fundamentally intellectual property.

This point could not be made until the path to this conclusion was clear of theoretical debris caused by longstanding confusions concerning value, production, and scarcity, as well as confusion concerning the nature and source and meaning of values in human life. The justification for property rights requires working logically from the concept of value, to the recognition that man’s mind is his basic means of survival, to the virtue of productivity, to the application of these ideas to man’s life, in a society which secures his right to life, liberty and property.

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From The Western Intellectual Tradition: From Leonardo to Hegel

In place of vague "natural rights" or mystical "historical rights," Bentham offered a "new science," the science of law, to justify his proposed changes.  He taught men to govern by the simple rule of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number," which, in practice, could be discovered by a "felicific calculus."  Thus, he sought to establish an external standard, mathematically calculable, whereby to measure the legislator's accomplishment.  His contention was that he had made legislative reform a matter, not of "caprice" or of unenlightened benevolence, but of logic.  

Bentham was a contemporary of Laplace who believed:

"We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes."  — Pierre Simon Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities

In the 1800's, Darwinism and Maxwell's Thermodynamics killed the Newtonian/Laplace conception of God's "Clockwork Universe" and Hegel's "World Spirit".  In their place, Marx drifted into a variant of Materialism -- governed by his conception of Historical Materialism/Determinism, Scientific Socialism, Labor Theory of Value and Centralized Planning.  Rather than believing in a Static Laplace Universe, Marx believed that the future direction of History was Determined, and would inevitably culminate in Perfect Communism, where the State would "wither away".  This, of course, required that he explain away the "illusion" of Free Will, Individualism and creativity.

Marx was conflicted.  He (and others) could accept the death of a Static Universe, but he could not accept that the future was Indeterminate.  As Einstein would later meaninglessly state, "God does not play dice with the Universe".  But Einstein was largely Newtonian/Kantian, and every bit as much conflicted as was Marx.

This post ties in to my other current posts regarding a fundamental misconception of Causality held by Aristotle.  I believer that Rand understood the inherent contradiction in Aristotelian Causality, but did not possess a sufficient scientific background to explain the error.

Edited by New Buddha

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On February 28, 2016 at 0:12 AM, New Buddha said:

 

This post ties in to my other current posts regarding a fundamental misconception of Causality held by Aristotle.  I believer that Rand understood the inherent contradiction in Aristotelian Causality, but did not possess a sufficient scientific background to explain the error.

Another one of those passive aggressive unsupported assertions about the insufficiency of Oism. 

"I believe" that anyone who claims such nonsense doesn't possess sufficient knowledge of philosophy to understand that causality is a general philosophical subject and physics has nothing to say about it. The very claim is a logical contradiction.

 

Why do you go off on these attempts at historical narration in everyones threads when the story has no relevance?

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The Unearned in Matter and Spirit

Francisco spoke of this in regard to money:

Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit.


John Galt pointed out in his speech:

[T]he corollary of the causeless in matter is the unearned in spirit.


While editing her thoughts in her journal, she penned:

The desire for the unearned in matter is only a consequence and an expression of a deeper, more vicious aim: the desire for the unearned in spirit.

And later:

Those who want to seize the material wealth produced by others actually want the virtues of the producers, and they want to obtain them unearned and undeserved: unearned respect, unearned love, unearned admiration.

In the Monument Builders, Rand puts these points this way:

The desire for the unearned has two aspects: the unearned in matter and the unearned in spirit. (By "spirit" I mean: man's consciousness.) These two aspects are necessarily inter-related, but a man's desire may be focused predominantly on one or the other. The desire for the unearned in spirit is the more destructive of the two and the more corrupt. It is a desire for unearned greatness; it is expressed (but not defined) by the foggy murk of the term "prestige."

The seekers of unearned material benefits are merely financial parasites, moochers, looters or criminals, who are too limited in number and in mind to be a threat to civilization, until and unless they are released and legalized by the seekers of unearned greatness.

Unearned greatness is so unreal, so neurotic a concept that the wretch who seeks it cannot identify it even to himself: to identify it, is to make it impossible. He needs the irrational, undefinable slogans of altruism and collectivism to give a semi-plausible form to his nameless urge and anchor it to reality—to support his own self-deception more than to deceive his victims. "The public," "the public interest," "service to the public" are the means, the tools, the swinging pendulums of the power-luster's self-hypnosis.

And finally, in The Objectivist Ethics, excerpted from Rationality,

[O]ne must never seek or grant the unearned and undeserved, neither in matter nor in spirit (which is the virtue of Justice). It means that one must never desire effects without causes, and that one must never enact a cause without assuming full responsibility for its effects[.]

***

Language, in ITOE, is a tool each individual must grasp for themselves. They must learn to create the sounds that are words, create the connections to the percepts they are associated to, develop the chains of abstractions that connect the words which go in two interacting directions: toward more extensive and more intensive knowledge, toward wider integrations and more precise differentiations.

Note the act of creation in this realm is of a spiritual nature. The entities and aspects of entities already exist. The audio-visual symbols a child learns already exist. It is the spiritual connection that the child needs to create between the two referents, an act and choice of consciousness to make, as a matter of policy, when I use this word, it will refer to that aspect of existence.

The formative years are full of discoveries. Identifications of the things which exist, a combination of metaphysical existents as well as the man-made. Note the pride the young learned displays as they point out, demonstrating the new connections they have created between words and objects.

Given paper and crayons, or lego’s, tonka trucks in a sandpile, he goes on to learn how to create in a material sense as well. Drawing a picture, rearranging the lego’s to build a house, or a car, rearranging the dirt in the sandbox to divide it into roads, lots, sand castles, open pit sand mining operations, etc.

The child may also be taught an understanding of property, which things in his environment he can rightly and properly avail himself to, from those he should not.

As he grows up, he may be given chores for an allowance, or get a job in order to acquire money to make purchases at his own discretion. In the material realm, the distinction between the earned and the unearned is fairly straightforward. Shoplifting, burglary, and other forms of acquiring the unearned are rightly emphasized as wrongful doings.

Rand’s Atlas Shrugged develops a strong parallel in the realm of spiritual values as well. The relationship between Reardon and his family, the boys in the room at the Wayne-Falkland, address trading spiritual values on the interpersonal level and where the public is substituted in its stead.

The moral establishment, outlined by Andrew Bernstein in his book Capitalism Unbound on page 85, consists of the government, schools, universities, churches, formulating and propagating men’s moral codes. For nearly two millennia, these entrenched institutions have been relentless urging some form of self-sacrifice.

Rand described the power of morality as the greatest of all intellectual powers. In a difference between the animals and man she points out if a carnivorous pack attacks them, animals perish—man writes the Constitution of the United States. The power of morality has been inverted and used to enslave man for nearly all of human history. It was moral arguments that nearly wiped slavery from the face of the globe.

In conjunction with Individual Rights, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property), this discovery was also implemented with a spiritual counterpart, of Intellectual Property Rights, the recognition of the power of the intellect, to create in spirit, and bring forth in property, new forms of wealth. Since it’s inception, IP Rights have rightly been limited in time. Rand certainly agreed with time limitations (although the determination of an acceptable duration she identified as complex) when she wrote:

The right to intellectual property cannot be exercised in perpetuity. Intellectual property represents a claim, not on material objects, but on the idea they embody, which means: not merely on existing wealth, but on wealth yet to be produced—a claim to payment for the inventor's or author's work.

A proper role of government it to protect individual rights. A worker’s claim to payment for work done, in the material realm, is widely recognized as earned. Is the work of the intellect, of man’s spirit, perhaps research to develop a new drug to cure a disease which was previously incurable, to be tossed into the same realm as learning concepts, or learning an existing labor skill.

It is important to note, in this connection, that a discovery cannot be patented, only an invention. A scientific or philosophical discovery, which identifies a law of nature, a principle or a fact of reality not previously known, cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because: (a) he did not create it, and (b) if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission.

The difference between a discovery and an invention here, is the difference between the metaphysical and the man-made.

Anyone with the equipment and know-how to analyze the chemical composition of an entity can do so, whether it is a metaphysical entity or a man-made one. The essential difference is that a metaphysical discovery is made in the realm of that which already exists. Submitting a new drug to chemical analysis required the drug to have first been created, the mixing of one’s labor, or the new drug is, to borrow a phrase, a frozen form of living intelligence. Does one earn the right to it, simply because one has the equipment, and the know-how to analyze an existing specimen?

The door was not locked, thought Dagny; she felt an unreasoning desire to tear it open and walk in—it was only a few wooden boards and a brass knob, it would require only a small muscular contraction of her arm—but she looked away, knowing that the power of a civilized order and of Ken Danagger's right was more impregnable a barrier than any lock.

Patents were under attack when Rand wrote her article. They are still under attack today. From what I am putting together here, in part, ties the attack into a desire for the unearned in spirit as well.

How drugs are to be administered and utilized is not written in the fine print of a chemical analysis, so user discretion is highly advised. The new drug is here. How did it get here?

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Rand's [scare quote] "defense" of Intellectual Property is really quite simple.  She rejects the right of anyone to tell her that IP cannot be protected by the Government.  She rejects: 1) Real, Chattel and IP rights is granted to individuals by the State 2) is done so for the "greatest good for the greatest number" or 3) can only be enforced by a written, contractual agreement.  She also rejects that the enforcement of IP rights by the Government is any different than the enforcement of Real and Chattel Property rights.  This was not something that she overlooked.  She was very aware of this tired, old argument.

She asserts her right to IP.  Period.  And She demonstrated this in two ways:

1.  Rand left the Soviet Union.  She said, "No thank you" to the prevailing attitude the State had with regards to all forms of Property (i.e.  at the consent of the State).  If the Soviet Government believes that Property is not important, then let them try and form a society without it.  And we all know who got the better of that deal.  Rand (and the US).

2.  John Galt left the US and headed into the mountains of Colorado, where he then proceed to surround himself with others who shared his ideas.  He didn't argue with or try and persuade anyone.  He did not enter into a "contract" with others, nor did he try and reach a consensus.  You either agreed with him or got tossed the hell out.  And he didn't seek your "permission" to toss you out.  He asserted it as his right. You didn't have a "right to copy" because Galt said so.  Period.   This is the source of all Rights. - some standing up and saying so.  If his ideas are irrational, then they won't work.  Rational ideas work, irrational ones don't.  There is no conflict.  The United States did not become free and prosperous in spite of IP.

And rights are not axiomatic, nor are they "Natural" -- they are a matter of choice.  And choice (Individual Spirit) is precisely what is denied by Religion, Marxist Materialism, Anarchism and Libertarianism.

Edited by New Buddha

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Buddha:

 

Quote

2.  John Galt left the US and headed into the mountains of Colorado, where he then proceed to surround himself with others who shared his ideas.  He didn't argue with or try and persuade anyone.  He did not enter into a "contract" with others, nor did he try and reach a consensus.  You either agreed with him or got tossed the hell out.  And he didn't seek your "permission" to toss you out.  He asserted it as his right. You didn't have a "right to copy" because Galt said so.  Period.   This is the source of all Rights. - some standing up and saying so.  If his ideas are irrational, then they won't work.  Rational ideas work, irrational ones don't.  There is no conflict.  The United States did not become free and prosperous in spite of IP.

 

 

Complete nonsense. This is a description of subjectivism. You have no idea what your saying. An Objective defense of rights relates ones actions to mind independent facts not "because I said so". How rediculous.

 

Buddha said:

 

Quote

And rights are not axiomatic, nor are they "Natural" -- they are a matter of choice.  And choice (Individual Spirit) is precisely what is denied by Religion, Marxist Materialism, Anarchism and Libertarianism.

 

More nonsense. The Objectivist view of rights is that they are Objective. Meaning they are not created by mans mind or will. Nature, for Oist is a synonym of existence. Governments are formed to "secure" the identity derived fact of mans nature as a living creature with certain requirements. 

Just think, "I have a right to health care, because I said so"!  Absolute nonsense.

Edited by Plasmatic

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On 3/8/2016 at 5:47 PM, dream_weaver said:

The Unearned in Matter and Spirit

Francisco spoke of this in regard to money:

Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit.


John Galt pointed out in his speech:

[T]he corollary of the causeless in matter is the unearned in spirit.


While editing her thoughts in her journal, she penned:

The desire for the unearned in matter is only a consequence and an expression of a deeper, more vicious aim: the desire for the unearned in spirit.

So then we might ask ourselves: "Self, how does one 'earn' with respect to matter?"

The self ought answer: "By applying the mental and physical labor required to create wealth. That's how."

Building a plow for one's self is neither "the unearned in matter" nor is it, as a corollary, "the unearned in spirit." Performing the mental labor required to understand how to fashion a plow (the mental labor involved in the creation of a plow is more extensive than this, but let's keep it simple) and the physical labor required to build the plow is our means of earning the plow, spiritually and otherwise.

On 3/8/2016 at 5:47 PM, dream_weaver said:

In conjunction with Individual Rights, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property), this discovery was also implemented with a spiritual counterpart, of Intellectual Property Rights, the recognition of the power of the intellect, to create in spirit, and bring forth in property, new forms of wealth.

All material wealth -- which is to say all property -- equally depends upon the power of the intellect "to create in spirit" and then the power of the body to "bring forth in property," just as your child who grasps words and is rightly proud of his success. Neither the man who builds Plow B, and claims it, nor the child who learns language and uses it, is desirous of "the unearned in spirit" or "the unearned in matter." The pride they feel, the property they have created through their efforts and are therefore right to keep, is wholly earned.

But "Intellectual Property Rights" would take that property away from its creator and award it to another who has not earned it, and call the creator a criminal to boot. This is an inversion of justice and a violation of property rights.

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I think I suggested something (other than the plow, which enough unpatented versions exist as to not need create that furrow any longer), a pill which can cure a previously incurable disease.

Could you identify a few differences between the reasoning required for coming up with such a cure, vs the reasoning that might be required to simply replicate an existing pill?

I just re-read The Chain from Atlas Shrugged. I think Rand's description of ten years of Rearden's life, breaking down the sum of his feeling makes a pretty good stab at describing the former.

 

Edited by dream_weaver

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3 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

I think I suggested something (other than the plow, which enough unpatented versions exist as to not need create that furrow any longer), a pill which can cure a previously incurable disease.

Could you identify a few differences between the reasoning required for coming up with such a cure, vs the reasoning that might be required to simply replicate an existing pill?

The pill is but a complicated plow. As to the "differences" between developing a cure and attempting to replicate one (or a plow), I can't say. If we suppose that the former is more difficult than the latter, that doesn't matter to the disposition of property: we account property on account of performing the labor necessary to create some wealth, not how difficult we judge that labor. (And what may be easy for one man might be difficult for another, in reasoning or otherwise, and vice-versa.) None of that matters. What you create is yours.

It is perhaps a curiosity that the Coke formula is not, and never has been, patented. It is instead kept secret. Why don't competitors "simply replicate" the Coke formula? I don't have the answer to that question, and it wouldn't much matter to me if I did (I would still account property to the men who create that property). But in the ancillary reading and research I've done on the topic of IP over the course of several discussions, I've come to mistrust all of the doomsday scenarios those who support IP seem to dream up to defend their position.

If men are smart enough to create medicine, they are smart enough to profit on it, even without patent protection.

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16 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

I just re-read The Chain from Atlas Shrugged. I think Rand's description of ten years of Rearden's life, breaking down the sum of his feeling makes a pretty good stab at describing the former.

It occurs to me further to mention, with regard to this, that if we (truly) care about Rearden and his investment of ten years of his life, that we should want him to be able to enjoy the fruits of it.

Yet according to the arguments laid out by Rand in "Patents and Copyrights," he is not certain to be able to do so. If, in year nine of his labor, some would-be competitor invents what would otherwise be known as "Rearden Metal" and secures a patent to the same, then Hank will be left with nothing at all to show for his efforts.

I believe that Rearden's efforts in creating Rearden Metal should be rewarded, in that he should continue to have his property rights respected, being free to create wealth, and being free to dispose of whatever wealth he creates -- without respect to what others might do in "the market." He should be able to create Rearden Metal bracelets and sell them, or otherwise enter the marketplace... even as a direct competitor to the inventor who would otherwise beat Rearden in the "race" to secure a governmental monopoly.

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17 hours ago, DonAthos said:

The pill is but a complicated plow. As to the "differences" between developing a cure and attempting to replicate one (or a plow), I can't say. If we suppose that the former is more difficult than the latter, that doesn't matter to the disposition of property: we account property on account of performing the labor necessary to create some wealth, not how difficult we judge that labor. (And what may be easy for one man might be difficult for another, in reasoning or otherwise, and vice-versa.) None of that matters. What you create is yours.

 

I would have to say that this is the key issue.

While true, a difference is a matter of difficulty, I don't that that is the essential difference. It might be fruitful to try to isolate and the identify the crucial differences.

Edited by dream_weaver

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2 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

I would have to say that this is the key issue.

While true, the difference is a matter of difficulty...

I believe that there may be a difference in difficulty between "innovation" and "replication" (and I grant that case above for the purpose of exploring it); I do not agree that there is necessarily such a difference, or that replication is necessarily easier, in terms of effort, than any given innovation. It would depend upon the specifics.

2 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

...I don't that that is the essential difference.

Well, it isn't an "essential" difference in any event, as I have attempted to explain: We do not award property on the basis of "degree of difficulty." Effort matters inasmuch as all material wealth requires effort (mental and physical) to be made manifest, qua wealth. The "difficulty" required to create any instance of material wealth -- either "innovation" or "replication" -- is determined by the nature of the entities involved, including the capabilities of the person, both mental and physical; Stephen Hawking, being a genius, may yet have more of a difficult time winning a banana from the tree than any less intelligent rival; yet the difficulty does not change the essential situation, which is that he is entitled to those bananas he manages to get, of his effort, and no others.

(It is the nature of genius, happily, that now Hawking presumably may hire others with greater physical ability to procure his bananas for him.)

A person walking along the river who trips over a (natural, unowned) golden nugget is rich, if he identifies it and picks it up and sells it for some good return. That he was "lucky," that his wealth was (relatively) easily obtained, does not lessen his claim to that wealth.

2 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

It might be fruitful to try to isolate and the identify the crucial differences.

Please feel free to "isolate and identify" any "crucial differences" you observe. Earlier you seemed to relegate "replication" to "the unearned in spirit." Yet within that same post, you described a child coming to learn language, taking pride in her successes -- an example which is more meaningful to me than most, given that I have a young child who is currently learning her language. However many people now, or in history, who have spoken English, my daughter must grasp it all for herself, through her own individual effort. Her success, when it comes, will be hard won. Yet this is "replication," in purest form, and though I doubt you will have made the connection for yourself, this is what I see as being pronounced "the unearned in spirit" in the replication of a plow or a pill. I might as well tell my daughter that she is not to take pride in her success in learning language because it is "merely copying."

But please, if you see some "crucial difference" between "innovation" and "replication," in language or the creation of wealth or elsewhere, such that the former earns (spiritually and otherwise) the pride and rightful use otherwise concomitant with production... but not so the latter (despite equally employing the mind and body to wring wealth from the earth, for the betterment of one's life, harming no other), then do not hesitate to identify it.

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It is the difference in reasoning that should tie into the unearned in spirit. The terms "innovation" and "replication" do not capture it.

My mother enjoyed identifying birds. She kept field-guide books, and would look up the birds she saw, but did not recognize. What do you do when you sight a bird that is not in one of the books? The process of identification becomes different. Perhaps acquiring another guide that covers different birds. What happens when a bird that is spotted is not in any of the books? How does that change the nature of the process of identification?

A child discovering a robin for the first time, learns from others from the common knowledge that exists at the time. This differs from discovering a new specie of bird, whether the new specie was discovered by an avid bird watcher or a child. The active process of identification for existing species differs from the active process of identification of a new specie. One process uses the existing cataloging for identification, the other process alters the catalog for identification.

Vast numbers of college students look up things about the periodic chart of the elements. For the most part, only one name is associated with any particular element. Why aren't all the names of all the people who have looked up hydrogen to discover something about it listed there rather than just Henry Cavendish? Aren't they all exercising reason and physical activity? What made Henry Cavendish's exercise of reason and physical activity so special that his name in the preserved in the annals of history?

PS. Why does Henry Cavendish deserve all the fame and glory (payment) for this discovery? (Note: In IP Rights, the inventor is only offered a specified window of time to potentially profit from his discovery, not the entire enchilada so to speak, and then if and only if he chooses to exercise his option to the protection a patent offers to his propriety in the invention.)

Edited by dream_weaver

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There is a crucial definition between innovation and replication and it is one of the bases upon which property in general rests.

 

Caveman Property - Stuff

Suppose you make a fishing pole (a well known kind of thing) by cutting down a sapling and removing the bark, the extraneous branches and treating its surface.

You set it down on the beach for a moment and head off into the woods, you eat too many hallucinogenic berries and fall asleep for 2 days.  In the meanwhile someone else finds it, picks it up, and uses it.

What makes the fishing pole yours?  Why does your making it have any significance whatsoever?  Its not as if you were going to use it while you were asleep, why does the other person need permission from you to pick up the pole and use it?

Need does not give a positive right to anything, so that it not it.  What about the negative right, to exclude others from using, interfering with what is yours, why?

One crucial factor is that your labor was directed to your life.  You expended time, you expended energy, you expended effort, which although not literally pain, is work.  If someone benefits from your work without your permission they are benefitting from "the fruits of your physical labor".  By doing so without your consent, they are converting your expenditure into their gain, they are making you a slave to the extent you did not choose to give, and they have profited from your labor.

So called "borrowing" absent consent IS a taking because it turns you into a self-sacrifice against your will, giving your work in exchange for nothing.

No proper morality, no proper government, allows any one to turn others into self-sacrificers against their will.

 

Thinking Man's Property - Intellectual Property - specifically Patentable Invention

Suppose you invent something.  TO be clear this is not a mere idea, or a simple discovery of something in nature for all to see, or something which is obvious a priori (not in hindsight).  Such things are not inventions.  Inventions must be new, useful, and unobvious.  What does this mean?

It means that an invention requires not only the pre-requisite knowledge and understanding of nature and all the materials, chemicals, physics, biology that goes into developing something that works and is useful, it requires the expenditure of the mental energy, the mental work, to break through the barrier of what is unobvious, to come up with a solution to a problem.  Inventors spend hours, days, perhaps years thinking about, researching, and testing in order to come up with an invention. 

Those things which are truly obvious or are not new are not inventions.  They require no effort to implement, to apply, to solve the problems which exist.  Identifying a problem and providing a useful solution requires mental effort.  You expended time, you expended energy, you expended effort, which although not literally pain, is work.

Suppose someone perhaps knowing the problem but wanting the solution or perhaps even someone who didn't clue into the problem in the first place, finds out about your invention, your solution, and decides to "cash in" on your efforts.  They start making products embodying your invention, without your consent.  Because perhaps they could not have solved the problem, and more specifically they DIDNT actually solve the problem, or expend all the effort involved, they ARE literally profiting from the fruits of your labor.

By doing so without your consent, they are converting your expenditure into their gain, they are making you a slave to the extent you did not choose to give, and they have profited from your mental labor, which you engaged in for yourself.

So called "replication" absent consent IS a taking because it turns you into a self-sacrifice against your will, giving your work in exchange for nothing.

No proper morality, no proper government, allows any one to turn others into self-sacrificers against their will.

 

Notes: 

It is important to remember, implementation of a proper system to protect rights and the details of that system are irrelevant to the validation of the rights themselves. The rights make the system necessary, the system (hypothetical, previous, current) has nothing to say about the rights for which it is to be formed.

As such, current time limits for patents, rules regarding simultaneous independent invention, or any other detail of the current systems has nothing to do with the validation of IP rights themselves and form no part of the inquiry.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Caveman Property - Stuff

No disagreements in this section.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Thinking Man's Property - Intellectual Property - specifically Patentable Invention

Suppose you invent something.

Apart from the "unobvious" requirement, there are no quibbles as to what constitutes "inventing" or an "invention." All of this is granted, including the fact that innovation requires effort.

And "unobvious" may be granted for the purpose of this discussion -- I don't see how it affects my response, at least -- but more strictly, I'm not certain that what is "obvious" to one man is necessarily obvious to another. If it is new, I am likely to call it "innovative," whether or not we also find it obvious (whatever that means), and whether or not we extend the power of government to "protect" any supposed property right in it.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Suppose someone perhaps knowing the problem but wanting the solution or perhaps even someone who didn't clue into the problem in the first place, finds out about your invention, your solution, and decides to "cash in" on your efforts.

"Cashing in on your efforts" is, of course, one way of describing a thing. Learning from you and applying that learning for the betterment of their own lives is another.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

They start making products embodying your invention, without your consent.

Yes, that's right. My argument is that they do not require your permission to create their own wealth.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Because perhaps they could not have solved the problem, and more specifically they DIDNT actually solve the problem, or expend all the effort involved, they ARE literally profiting from the fruits of your labor.

Here's where we must be careful, I think. My argument rests on this: this second person, this "copier" or "replicator" or "Man B" or "criminal" or whatever you'd like is primarily profiting on the fruits of his own labor. It was his mental labor which apprehended this invention, and his physical labor (in concert with further mental labor) which brought this new property into existence, qua material wealth. Thus I believe that Man B has property rights in this new property accordingly.

Is it also true that Man B benefited by Man A's labor? Has he profited by it? Absolutely.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

By doing so without your consent, they are converting your expenditure into their gain, they are making you a slave to the extent you did not choose to give, and they have profited from your mental labor, which you engaged in for yourself.

I disagree here. You are not enslaved, because someone else profits from your mental labor (or "learns" from you; or "is inspired" by you). If you invent a thing and create that thing, you own it. It is property. To take that property away from you would be "slavery" in this sense, divorcing you from the fruits of your labor, the products of your effort, which are what you depend upon to survive and thrive. It is a literal attack on your life.

But for someone else to build something else entirely -- a wholly separate piece of property -- though without your consent (and possibly even without your knowledge), does not turn you into a "slave," and it is no attack on your life. That you are not master of all of the myriad benefits you might confer upon others through your efforts does not render you into a slave, so long as you are free to act for your own benefit, free from compulsion, and enjoy the fruits of your own labor, which is to say, so long as your property rights are respected (which are the material implementation of your right to life).

That our actions to better our own lives also confer benefits onto others (who are each ends-in-themselves) is a (secondary and derivative) virtue of selfishness, not a problem that requires correction. It certainly does not entail any right to command others that they might not make their own lives better where they can, even when making use of our example, or that they require our permission to do so.

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

So called "replication" absent consent IS a taking because it turns you into a self-sacrifice against your will, giving your work in exchange for nothing.

Your work is in exchange for that thing you've built, that property you own. That is your reward for the time and effort you've employed in creating it. It does not become "self-sacrifice" on your part to have labored for the thing that you now own, because someone else also profits on the fact of your labor, even without your consent.

And no, when someone else creates their own property, nothing is taken from you, not even if you capitalize the word "is."

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

It is important to remember, implementation of a proper system to protect rights and the details of that system are irrelevant to the validation of the rights themselves. The rights make the system necessary, the system (hypothetical, previous, current) has nothing to say about the rights for which it is to be formed.

Except that at some point a demonstration needs be made that such a system can be be implemented objectively, as the very rights we are discussing are equally abrogated if their implementation is not objective. If some system of IP cannot be implemented objectively -- if we cannot even suggest how it might be done, in principle -- then I would take that failure as meaningful with respect to the question of validating IP as a right, as such.

Further, investigation of the system (hypothetical, previous, current) may probe the nature of the rights we are discussing, helping us to understand specifically is being argued for and what is being argued against. For instance, in another thread (where most of the above arguments have been discussed at length; I still do not understand why we have switched threads in the middle of a single discussion), I tried a few times to raise specific examples, including the recent Blurred Lines case. It seems to me that the question of whether or not one may "own" the feeling of a song, say, helps to investigate the nature of what one believes "ownership" to rightly constitute. Or, because you have not here spoken of "ownership" per se, we might ask that when you believe someone else "converts your expenditure" for their own gain, and "enslaves" you, whether that extends to someone else writing a song that shares the "feeling" of a song you had written previously. Is that an example of what you mean when you talk of "slavery"? Is that what it is to be enslaved, in your estimation?

1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

As such, current time limits for patents, rules regarding simultaneous independent invention, or any other detail of the current systems has nothing to do with the validation of IP rights themselves and form no part of the inquiry.

I completely disagree. We must be able to account for the case of independent invention. If you're suggesting that IP is justified because we respect an individual's labor, and cannot allow one man to profit on the labor of another without his consent, then this, even if true, does not give any justification to rob another man who has "copied" no one but has only employed his own efforts. Taking away his property -- the actual material wealth he may have created, which you perhaps described when saying of an invention that it "requires not only the pre-requisite knowledge and understanding of nature and all the materials, chemicals, physics, biology that goes into developing something that works and is useful, it requires the expenditure of the mental energy, the mental work, to break through the barrier of what is unobvious, to come up with a solution to a problem" -- if you mean to take that from a man and leave him nothing, now that's what I would call slavery.

If your proposed system cannot work without respecting the rights of every individual (accounting for error; I mean as a matter of principle), if it requires some few to be sacrificed for the benefit of others, then I cannot agree to your proposed system, or that it has anything to do with "right."

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To discover what makes something property and what particular exclusions it includes, lets go back to caveman example.

Why is it wrong to borrow the fishing pole when the creator is asleep?

Do not say "because its his property" because that would be begging the question.  We need to nail down what gives rise to the particular property right, i.e. what moral basis makes property rights include the particular restriction that others cant borrow without permission.  What is it that makes it unreasonable to use something if someone else is not using it, or isn't even conscious...?

I will refrain from delving into the rest of your comments until you address fundamentals.  I hope you are you willing to analyze the fundamentals of property rights generally before discussing any difference in its application to material objects and other things like songs, inventions, books, etc.

 

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1 minute ago, StrictlyLogical said:

To discover what makes something property and what particular exclusions it includes, lets go back to caveman example.

Why is it wrong to borrow the fishing pole when the creator is asleep?

Do not say "because its his property" because that would be begging the question.

Because the caveman has invested his effort (which is to say: his life) in the creation of that fishing pole. He relies upon it (and generally upon using those things he creates; his material values; his property) to sustain and further that life.

Though he is asleep, he may wake up and wish use of his fishing pole, and if in that instance he cannot use it, he is deprived. His life suffers accordingly. What's more, there is wear and tear on the fishing pole in its usage, potential for loss, etc. It is in recognition of these things that we rightly regard taking his fishing pole without consent as a violation of the caveman's property rights, whether he is awake or asleep.

If the fishing pole is "abandoned" -- which is a different state than not being used temporarily on account of sleep -- it may well be proper to take it, even if this is "making use of another man's labor." It is not benefiting by another man's labor which is "enslavement," or otherwise wrong; it is depriving another man of the fruit of his labor, which is his property, or use of the same, due to the demonstrable destructive effects of such a deprivation. (Bonus points for alliteration, right?)

1 minute ago, StrictlyLogical said:

We need to nail down what gives rise to the particular property right, i.e. what moral basis makes property rights include the particular restriction that others cant borrow without permission.  What is it that makes it unreasonable to use something if someone else is not using it, or isn't even conscious...?

That it is a deprivation; that it commits a demonstrable harm to use someone's fishing pole, even if they are not currently using it (or conscious). That it works to sunder from a man the fruit of his effort, which means to violate his right to life. That's what makes it unreasonable, and that is why we are right to take action to prevent it.

If we were discussing a ghost, or some transdimensional being, who could somehow make use of the fishing pole without depriving the caveman of his use of the selfsame fishing pole in any way, without interfering in the caveman's efforts to sustain/further his own life, then it would not be unreasonable for that being to do so.

It is not unreasonable for a caveman artist to sketch this fishing pole, whether the caveman is asleep or awake.

It is not unreasonable for another man to make use of the fishing pole "as inspiration," and build his own, though that is the central contention of "intellectual property."

None of these harm the caveman, or deprive him of the fruit of his labor (which is the fishing pole he has built, or his use of it) and so it is not unreasonable for a person to do them. It is unreasonable, rather, to insist that they not.

1 minute ago, StrictlyLogical said:

I will refrain from delving into the rest of your comments until you address fundamentals.  I hope you are you willing to analyze the fundamentals of property rights generally before discussing any difference in its application to material objects and other things like songs, inventions, books, etc.

I'm responding to your posts as honestly and as fully as I can, and each of the arguments you've raised in their turn. I would have thought that my previous post does address "fundamentals," or at least insofar as you yourself raised them, not to mention the original thread from which this thread was spun off from. There is much more discussion of "fundamentals" there, I believe, should you wish to avail yourself of it, and I am loathe to retype all of my posts and arguments there, here (however else I feel about "copying").

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I'm trying to be succinct and brief in order to engage in the kind of exchange I think will now be more fruitful:

Suppose a caveman heard you talk about borrowing and how it deprives the sleeping man of something and he responds:

I have not deprived sleeping man of anything.  He was there the pole was here.  He did not have the pole.  I did not touch him.  He was not using the pole.  I did not force and take it from him.  The moment I picked up the pole I had the pole.  He lost the pole because by forgetting it, he let me have it.  I could pick it up, and I did, and once I pick up the pole it is mine.  I can wear and tear it now that pole is mine.  If pole was his he would have it. He says he intended to use it again, but he did not.  I got it first.  He can only wish he did what he intended, I have pole now.

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8 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Suppose a caveman heard you talk about borrowing and how it deprives the sleeping man of something and he responds:

I have not deprived sleeping man of anything.  He was there the pole was here.  He did not have the pole.  I did not touch him.  He was not using the pole.  I did not force and take it from him.  The moment I picked up the pole I had the pole.  He lost the pole because by forgetting it, he let me have it.  I could pick it up, and I did, and once I pick up the pole it is mine.  I can wear and tear it now that pole is mine.  If pole was his he would have it. He says he intended to use it again, but he did not.  I got it first.  He can only wish he did what he intended, I have pole now.

I don't know what you're looking for, or asking, or if there is any argument you're making. You're saying: "what if a caveman disagreed with my argument for property rights and insisted that 'might makes right' or that 'possession equals property right' or that 'there is no such thing as property'" or something? Well then, he disagrees, but my argument remains the same.

He says he has not deprived the sleeping caveman of anything, but I say that he has, and my discussion of not being able to use the fishing pole, wear and tear, etc., is meant to demonstrate the nature of that deprivation. That it is an assault on the caveman's life follows, as my argument was again meant to demonstrate.

If the caveman is unable to follow my argument, I can't say that I'm surprised... but I am somewhat heartened that he knows the word "deprivation."

Please consider that my stance on property rights is identical to the stance that an Objectivist, orthodox with respect to IP, has after whatever term of patent has expired, so far as I am aware. If we set a patent at twenty years (for whatever reasons), then both you and I would regard it as kosher, I presume, for one caveman to "copy" the (innovated) fishing pole of another following that twenty year term. But our treatment of the fishing pole itself would be the very same; no one could yet "borrow" it when the caveman is sleeping, whether in year one or year one-hundred. With patent (or trademark, or copyright, or however you believe IP best expressed) expired, I don't see that we would have any point of difference in how this fishing pole is to be treated, or how it relates to our cavemen, qua "property" or "rights."

Therefore, I do not believe that IP somehow hides in this discussion of "borrowing" actual property, as -- so far as I know -- we treat that case in the exact same manner and for the very same reasons. But if you have a case to make that it does, please don't wait on me to guess what you want me to say, but go ahead and make it.

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From CUI

A man is not forced to apply for a patent or copyright; he may give his idea away, if he so chooses; but if he wishes to exercise his property right, the government will protect it, as it protects all other rights.

If a man places objects out by the curb for trash the shinny-men come by to mine the contents. If things are left out in the yard, they may get stolen, but this differs in respect to the custom of placing objects by the curb for the garbage service. If something is stolen from the yard, the owner, if he so chooses to exercise his property right, can file a claim upon which a proper government will act upon to protect it, as it should do to protect all objectively identified rights.

Fraud, blackmail, embezzlement, hold to this as well. If the individual right on these fronts are violated, the initiation of force on the victim, like IP, are not like seeing someone pick a pocket, or execute a holdup, or breaking into a house. Understanding how these are an initiation of force such as in fraud means to grasp how an individual would have acted had he factual information to go upon. So again, if he so chooses to exercise his property right, a claim must be filed upon which a proper government will act upon to protect it.

 

5 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I still do not understand why we have switched threads in the middle of a single discussion)

My browser indicated 15 pages last time I read a post in there. To me, it reads like a disorganized book. I'm more interested in identifying and clarifying this in my mind.

Peikoff, in his Objective Communications course, addresses the point of identifying the key philosophic point, the point, which will often resolve the tangential issues that arise that turn into "wild goose chases". His description was something along the lines of

Interlocutor brings up a point. You start to explain. Interlocutor brings up two more points in objection. You stop, and try to address the points so that you can get back to the first point, but before you finish, the interlocutor adds several more objections to the pile.

In another lecture, he describes the process of reduction where it sometimes has to be worked from both ends. You take the abstract principle, and break it down as far as you can. If you get stuck, you then identify the trail of induction to build up from.

Many discussions I've listened to in the past were done by Mark Scott on the radio, who fielded callers who called in on both sides of the issues. I remember he would get into Austrian Economics, discussing the Federal Reserve, fleshing out the objectivity of money. When he laid it all out, it made sense, albeit I can't walk someone, especially someone adamantly opposed thru the same process.

Most of my discussion here is trying to tie things back into what I do know about Objectivism, such as if you want to understand reason, understand concepts. If you want to study reason, study concepts. This comes down to the Objective Communications course in identifying the philosophic concepts from the rest of the field, and isolate the to work forward from.

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3 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Suppose a caveman heard you talk about borrowing and how it deprives the sleeping man of something and he responds:

I have not deprived sleeping man of anything.  He was there the pole was here.  He did not have the pole.  I did not touch him.  He was not using the pole.  I did not force and take it from him.  The moment I picked up the pole I had the pole.  He lost the pole because by forgetting it, he let me have it.  I could pick it up, and I did, and once I pick up the pole it is mine.  I can wear and tear it now that pole is mine.  If pole was his he would have it. He says he intended to use it again, but he did not.  I got it first.  He can only wish he did what he intended, I have pole now.

 

... At which point you kill him, take the fishing pole and win.

Potkia assi kasvoissa!

 

8 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Understanding how these are an initiation of force such as in fraud means to grasp how an individual would have acted had he factual information to go upon.

 

OK; I'll bite.

 

What is an "initiation of force" and how can we distinguish it from, say, eating a cheese sandwich?

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3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

What is an "initiation of force" and how can we distinguish it from, say, eating a cheese sandwich?

You might start by trying to imagine that you are the cheese sandwich?

"I want you to save the economy of the country!"
"I don't know how to save it."
"I want you to find a way!"
"I don't know how to find it."
"I want you to think!"
"How will your gun make me do that, Mr. Thompson?"

13 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Suppose someone perhaps knowing the problem but wanting the solution or perhaps even someone who didn't clue into the problem in the first place, finds out about your invention, your solution, and decides to "cash in" on your efforts.  They start making products embodying your invention, without your consent.  Because perhaps they could not have solved the problem, and more specifically they DIDNT actually solve the problem, or expend all the effort involved, they ARE literally profiting from the fruits of your labor.

Discovery of a new specie of bird adds to the list of known species. Discovery of the chemical element Hydrogen is the process of consciousness performing the action of identification, of a new, previously unknown identification.

As Rand properly acknowledges, such a discovery "cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because (a) he did not create it, and (b) if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission." (Patents and Copyrights)

Point (a) falls easily into the metaphysical—if distinguishing between the metaphysical and the man-made.

In the Patents and Copyrights article, Miss Rand selects three aspects that fall into the category of Intellectual Property. In the case of the discovery of a metaphysical fact, she points out this cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer. On the bizarre end, imagine someone laying claim to the whole of existence as their exclusive property. To make property exclusive, takes more than just mere discovery.

Point (b) if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true . . .

This ties into Rand's point that "[a]n idea as such cannot be protected until it has been given a material form. An invention has to be embodied in a physical model before it can be patented; a story has to be written or printed." As Peikoff writes in OPAR, a venerable rule of logic is "the rule that the onus of proof is on him who asserts the positive". A machine is the frozen form of intelligence. It embodies the proof in the form of a physical model that the invention is true.

13 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Inventions must be new, useful, and unobvious.  What does this mean?

What is objectively an invention, under current law, is not easily understood. This gives rise to borderline cases (yes, a reference to borderline cases in concept formation) that are further used in attacks on the validity of patent law (or in the validity of concepts.) One does not resolve the issue of what a reasoning creature is by comparing the most "intelligent" primate to the least intelligent collegiate (yet another Peikoff lecture reference). One first needs to have a clear identification of what a reasoning creature is, and then to analyze the offered extremes in order to discover what category the two specified examples fall within.

I think there are more parallels in the latter portion of point (b) "he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission" but I'm not ready to go into them just yet. I need to see where this settles first.

Edited by dream_weaver

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13 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I'm not certain that what is "obvious" to one man is necessarily obvious to another. If it is new, I am likely to call it "innovative," whether or not we also find it obvious (whatever that means),

 

4 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

What is objectively an invention, under current law, is not easily understood. This gives rise to borderline cases (yes, a reference to borderline cases in concept formation) that are further used in attacks on the validity of patent law (or in the validity of concepts.)

From the AR Lexicon:  Logical Positivism

Logical Positivism declares that “reality,” “identity,” “existence,” “mind” are meaningless terms, that man can be certain of nothing but the sensory perceptions of the immediate moment . . . it declares that the meaning of the proposition: “Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo” is your walk to the library where you read it in a book.

Add "innovative" and "obvious" to Rand's list above.

Are "innovative" and "obvious" also a meaningless terms?  The anti-IP argument is that because "innovation" and "obvious" are not always perceptually "apples and oranges" they can only ever be Subjective, and not Objective.  Men, in politics and law, are incapable of reaching an Objective (i.e. non concrete-bound/non perceptual-bound) definition of "innovative" or "obvious".

Conceptual level thought is non-objective, per the anti-IP position.  Thus: Logical Positivism and Verificationism.

Edited by New Buddha

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