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Mossoff on Intellectual Property Rights

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On 3/15/2016 at 0:17 PM, Eiuol said:

I'm not claiming that creation does not -involve- replications or rearrangements. I'm claiming that there is replication and more.

1: Replication is not rearrangement.

These terms are not interchangeable; they mean the difference between my actual argument and the one I've been accused of making (nothing is ever new and there's no such thing as invention); please employ them with a bit more care.

2: More of what?

Cake? Cheese sandwiches? Cocaine? The public good? What thing in your mind is connected to this thought of "more"?!???

 

New Buddha - I need a cigarette; stand by for your very own post.

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The term possibility is an epistemological term. (Responding more generally to this post of Harrison Danneskjold's.)

While tungsten and electricity exist metaphysically, how did they come together to be come a lightbulb. We observe the cycle of water evaporating, water vapor condensing into clouds, and can come to understand why rain is possible. Is the intervention of reason required for that cycle to occur? Do we observe such a cycle involving tungsten, electricity resulting lightbulbs?

I don't think "rearrange" is the essential distinguishing characteristic differentiating "invention" from "reverse engineering", although Edison certainly did his share of rearranging to come up with the lightbulb. So it doesn't really shed light on why an idea can serve as the basis for a property right.

Edited by dream_weaver
Too add a link to the referenced post

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On 3/16/2016 at 1:55 AM, New Buddha said:

Per Objectivism, Property (and Ownership) is a relationship, not solely an object.  This is true for Real, Chattel and Intellectual Property.  And this "relationship" is what is rejected by Marxist Materialists, Logical Positivists and certain Libertarians of the Austrian School as being Subjective (i.e. a posteriori and/or synthetic propositions) and therefore nothing more than a social convention.

I've read Marx and I take great offense at the allegation of being a fan. Not that it has anything to do with anything (since you never said that), but since we're just rattling off trivia - ...

 

I don't see anyone in this thread claiming that property itself is an object, a social convention or any other sort of bugaboo. If that's what the Marxist Materialists say then they must not take Truth very seriously.

I don't see any criteria for distinguishing "obvious" from "novel" nor any attempt to address any other objection to IP raised thus far (except, perhaps, the ones raised by Marx).

I do see that you've quoted Ayn Rand. What I find remarkable, given her propensity to explain how all of her ideas fit together into an integrated whole, is that you've managed to select a passage about "property" which has nothing to do with any of the objections raised thus far.

The first step of refuting me is to stop and think about what I'm saying - and I see that you haven't done that.

 

If you just want to bash the Logical Positivists and Marxist Materialists then that's fine; you've raised some truly excellent points against them; I'll pay attention to whatever applies to me.

 

On 3/16/2016 at 9:16 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

Good point... especially astute of you to mention Marx... I have head murmurings of his ghost in the words of some on this very site...

Are you listing off irrelevant trivia too, now? 

 

On 3/16/2016 at 11:54 AM, Eiuol said:

It's not a straw man, you just disagree that it is relevant (you're not the only anti-IP person, nor is your anti-IP position even the only one, even though it is the implication of anti-IP).

 

As far as I know, there have been two detractors of IP in this thread: Don Athos and myself. Also, as I understand it, we share exactly the same anti-IP position, which we've been trying to advocate by different routes.

 

If it was meant to refer to our position then it is a straw man. If not then it is not relevant; everybody here already agrees that the Logical Positivists and Marxist Materialists are the bad guys.

 

What am I missing, here?

 

 

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On 3/16/2016 at 1:29 PM, dream_weaver said:

Yes, she said it. That, alone, amounts to argumentum ad verecundiam, that is the appeal to authority.

Dream,

Syllogisms [deduction] cannot arrive at NEW knowledge.  Only Induction [from observation] can arrive at new knowledge.  (This ties in to my critique of Thomism and Rand's style of writing in the other post.)

Rand both majored in History and lived in the Soviet Union and the United States.  Her acceptance of Intellectual Property was not "deduced" - it was "induced" -- from her study of history and her own personal experience.  She understood how the concept "property" evolved over time, and how it was brought painfully into existence by various historical events.  She did not "deduce" or "syllogize" the justification of IP from examining the lint pulled from her belly button or from a priori  truths or analytical propositions.

Note that in the above quotes she says, "Concepts of method designate systematic courses of action devised by men for the purpose of achieving certain goals."  Underlined and bolded, lol!

Intellectual Property is ensconced in Law "for the purpose of achieving certain goals".  Meaning, that there is no "theoretical vs. practical" [a priori vs. a posteriori ] dichotomy.  Intellectual Property is moral because it works and it works because it is moral.  See:  Benevolent Universe.

Her argument is not from "Authority" it's from "Experience".  And "Experience" is not "Subjective!"  Only those who accept dialectic reasoning would ever think so.  Understanding this is central to understanding Objectivisim.  This lack of understand lies at the heart of the anti-IP argument and German Idealism, Materialism, Logical Positivism and Libertarianism.

Damn Austrian/Germans.  The last 200 years could have been so different....

Edited by New Buddha

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

While tungsten and electricity exist metaphysically, how did they come together to be come a lightbulb.

By Thomas Edison's hand.

1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

We observe the cycle of water evaporating, water vapor condensing into clouds, and can come to understand why rain is possible. Is the intervention of reason required for that cycle to occur? Do we observe such a cycle involving tungsten, electricity resulting lightbulbs?

No and no.

1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

I don't think "rearrange" is the essential distinguishing characteristic differentiating "invention" from "reverse engineering", although Edison certainly did his share of rearranging to come up with the lightbulb. So it doesn't really shed light on why an idea can serve as the basis for a property right.

 

A man owns what he creates. If I find some virgin forest and turn it into arable farmland, I own it; it's mine.

In order to create something out of other peoples' property, a man must first obtain their permission. If I wish to use my neighbor's eggs to bake a cake, I must first ask his permission to do so.

Since ideas are hierarchal, with more abstract concepts being built out of the more concrete (including ideas about ideas, spacetime and lightbulbs), if anybody can own an idea then nobody may use any antecedent idea without his permission (just like using my neighbor's eggs in my cake).

 

Are you with me, sofar?

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Harrison,

One discrepancy I see here, is that if anybody can own an idea, then nobody may use an antecedent idea without permission.

This run kilter to Rand's point that "The right to intellectual property cannot be exercised in perpetuity."

 

New Buddha,

As to induction, rather than deduction being the source of new knowledge, the question still remains to what is the empirical data that gives rise to the induction(s) that lead to the conclusion that ideas can serve as a basis of property rights?

 

I am still of the mindset that IP rights, in some way override public domain.  Recollecting the moral basis upon which to articulate this is what is being elusive.

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

As to induction, rather than deduction being the source of new knowledge, the question still remains to what is the empirical data that gives rise to the induction(s) that lead to the conclusion that ideas can serve as a basis of property rights?

I am still of the mindset that IP rights, in some way override public domain.  Recollecting the moral basis upon which to articulate this is what is being elusive.

IP has not always existed.  Neither has individual ownership of Real and Chattel Property.  Their conceptions are anything but "givens" or "self-evident".  The idea of property is no more a given then the idea of television or the internet.  Man lived for tens of thousands of years before he learned that economics does not need to be a zero-sum game.  That when one country "wins" it does not necessarily mean that another country has to "lose".  That when one individual prospers that does not mean that another must suffer. (Many still don't grasp that....)

I mean, how do you think the US Constitution came to be?  Did the Founding Fathers just "deduct" it into existence out of thin air?  No.  It came about through their understanding of history.  The English Protestant Reformation.  The overthrow of Charles I and the English Civil War.  The ignoble Stuart Restoration, followed by the Glorious Revolution and the Whig Party's insistence on the formation of a Constitutional Monarchy. The writings of Locke and Montesquieu and others.  The exclusion of the Nonconformist and Dissenters from full Civil Rights and the importance of Property to this minority (which fueled the US Revolution).

Through trial-and-error we have found better ways to live.  Better laws.  And we will continue to improve them.

The knowledge gained painfully by "trial-and-error" IS the "moral basis" which you find elusive.

How may filaments did Edison try before he found the right one for a light bulb?  Will we ever perfect the light bulb?

  

Edited by New Buddha

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The terms Natural RightsInalienable and Self Evident were code words used in a time of religious intolerance. They were used to justify Rights by means other than an appeal to God or the King -- and yet not declare oneself to be irreligious or seditious.  They were claimed to be deductively "Axiomatic" - i.e. true, independent of choice or free will.  They just "were".

This is not something that I believe Mossoff addresses in the papers of his which I read.  He seems to struggle with this, and not understand that Objectivism does not regard complex abstractions as "self evident".  To do so is to unknowingly accept floating abstractions as true without understanding why.

Edited by New Buddha

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3 hours ago, New Buddha said:

The knowledge gained painfully by "trial-and-error" IS the "moral basis" which you find elusive.

Rand does indicate that a "right" to and education or medical care, and by extension an invention, puts the providers of such things in the position of a slave. Education, medical care, and inventions do not grow on the elusive bush Reardon spoke of when his brother insisted Reardon provide him with the job he felt entitled to. (Is it coincidental that Millie's, from Starnesville, last name was Bush?) Here's the exchange between Phillip and Hank.

"It's a moral imperative, universally conceded in our day and age, that every man is entitled to a job." His voice rose: "I'm entitled to it!"

"You are? Go on, then, collect your claim."

"Uh?"

"Collect your job. Pick it off the bush where you think it grows."

"I mean..."

"You mean that it doesn't? You mean that you need it, but can't create it? You mean that you're entitled to a job which I must create for you?"

"Yes!"

"And if I don't?"

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10 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

It's less like adding a fifth piece of furniture to the room and more like realizing that the fifth one had been there, all along.

Okay, so translating that to the topic, -what- was there all along? My analogy is related to concepts, not the matter that exists. I'm saying the fifth piece of furniture is a concept you form and never had before.

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13 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Okay, so translating that to the topic, -what- was there all along? My analogy is related to concepts, not the matter that exists. I'm saying the fifth piece of furniture is a concept you form and never had before.

Exactly. The possibilities were always there, but not our knowledge of them (like Yersinia Pestis).

 

21 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Harrison,

One discrepancy I see here, is that if anybody can own an idea, then nobody may use an antecedent idea without permission.

This run kilter to Rand's point that "The right to intellectual property cannot be exercised in perpetuity."

You're right.

 

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that "property" doesn't apply to the dead (which I'm inclined to agree with, anyway); then nobody could use any antecedent idea without its owner's permission, so long as its owner lives.

 

Yes?

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27 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Exactly. The possibilities were always there, but not our knowledge of them (like Yersinia Pestis)

I don't understand. The possibility to form the concept 'furniture' does not exist until you form prior concepts like 'chair'. I mean, as an analogy it's not possible to make bread without yeast... It is not possible any sooner.  Unless concepts are innate knowledge, and further concepts are just rearrangements of innate knowledge.

Edited by Eiuol

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7 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that "property" doesn't apply to the dead (which I'm inclined to agree with, anyway); then nobody could use any antecedent idea without its owner's permission, so long as its owner lives.

Too broad a generalization for my taste. Apply it specifically to "Intellectual Property", where a material form of the invention has been submitted and objectively certified as qualified. Extending the same referenced quote:

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.

As a moral-legal concept, economic considerations extend beyond the manufacturer. A bank may have backed the manufacturer. Contractual agreements underwritten using the stock market come into play.

Currently a patent's lifespan is 20 years, recently raise from 17 years back in 1995. A proper time-span presupposes the rightful claim.

So to this "Yes?" I would say: No.

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17 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

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.

And if two men spend decades developing the very same invention, either one of them may be ruined by the other's patent.

 

As miss Rand herself observed, there are no guarantees that such possible profits will ever become actual profits; it's a risk that any aspiring innovator, entrepeneur or investor has to take, if they wish to engage in those lines of business.

 

If I accidentally fell down and broke my arm, while I'd be extremely unhappy about it, I couldn't blame anyone else for it (nor demand that anyone else do a damn thing about it); it was an accident. If I lost billions of dollars by misjudging the stock market, that would suck, but it'd be my own burden to bear - regardless of whether I had done everything in my power to avoid it, or not.

 

Nobody has the right to be protected from whatever accidents might happen to befall them.

This applies to our best minds no less than our lousiest.

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2 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

If I accidentally fell down and broke my arm, while I'd be extremely unhappy about it, I couldn't blame anyone else for it (nor demand that anyone else do a damn thing about it); it was an accident. If I lost billions of dollars by misjudging the stock market, that would suck, but it'd be my own burden to bear - regardless of whether I had done everything in my power to avoid it, or not.

One can certainly add insurance to the range of complexity involved. There is unemployment, accidental death and dismemberment, long (and short?) term disabilty to cover the broken arm.

As to judging the stock market, currently there are IP considerations that fall into the mix. The derivative markets, as I loosely understand them, amount to a form of "insurance" or re-distributing risks. On the contractual side of the stock market falls such things as the differentiation in boilerplate terminology LLC, Inc, Ltd, which represent different legal considerations that outline the borrower's side as well as the lender's side of the agreement.

My personal beliefs on these matters is that individuals that have billions of dollars in the market are more savvy on the particulars of these issues than their corresponding philosophical underpinnings.

As an aside, I find Rand's use of Fransisco's San Sebastián Mine fiasco, the contrast between destroying a mining operation and the almost natural deterioration of a precision instrument such as a railroad demonstrative of the aspects she took into consideration developing her novel.

The stories I read about individuals losing a billion or gaining a billion on market moves have substantial stakes, and resonate with her comments about Midas Mullegan's response to an economist who referred to him once as an audacious gambler: "The reason why you'll never get rich is because you think that what I do is gambling." (paralleling what I am perceiving as an extension of referring gain or loss by misjudging as if it were akin to an accidental broken arm.)

 

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And yet, accidents do happen.

 

Case-in-point: my broken Checkers AI. I didn't mean for it to crash my Checkers program, whenever it tries to choose a move, nor was I even remotely careless or negligent about it (in fact, I did several weeks' worth of research before I allowed myself to even begin to contemplate any specific design) - and yet, despite all of my best efforts, it is broken.

 

Now, having nothing to show for all of that time and effort, have my rights been violated in some way?

I think not. I wouldn't call my efforts "wasted", either - they've taught me a good deal about programming. Just as thousands upon thousands of experiments were necessary for Edison to invent the light bulb, so too (I think) was this failure necessary for me to learn how to succeed.

Such experiments are an integral part of succeeding in any human endeavor (indeed; I would say they're necessary for living a successful life).

 

When an employee is given years' worth of free money, for falling down and injuring themselves, they do not learn how to be more careful; they learn how to file lawsuits. When an unemployed youth is given free money, in order to survive, they do not learn how to produce; they learn how to beg. When an investor is shielded from the effects of his own mistakes, he does not learn how to invest more wisely; he learns how to appeal to the public good.

In every such case, regardless of our intentions, all we accomplish is to turn a minor injury into a lifelong handicap (for the providers of such a safety net, in part, but primarily for its recipients). Learning how to excel at begging for alms is not a skill that has ever done anyone much good.

 

If this applies to the unwashed masses of the welfare state, would it not apply equally (if not moreso) to its Elon Musks?

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Rand and Mossoff are arguing the question from the perspective of what is proper position for government. I would extend this what a proper verdict should be in a court testing a case of liability in a reasonably questionable lawsuit regarding workers compensation, or raising minimum wage to the point where automation is cheaper than maintaining and training a workforce.

As Reardon points out in the vestibule at the Wayne-Falkland to the rest of the boys when he is told "You have to make certain sacrifices to the public welfare!" (Their appeal to the 'public good'.)

"I don't see why Orren Boyle is more 'the public' than I am."

On 3/18/2016 at 2:07 AM, New Buddha said:

The knowledge gained painfully by "trial-and-error" IS the "moral basis" which you find elusive.

When an individual files with the patent office, a material form that is objectively identifiable as an invention, is the knowledge gained by mental-physical efforts of "trial-and-error" sufficient to lay claim to the right to the frozen form of living intelligence contained in the machine (or object)?

Or to put it in slightly different terms, does the discovery of a process that leads to a new man-made existent, trump the discovery of a natural law or a newly discovered metaphysical existent?

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Harrison, I am wondering what your thoughts are regarding creation that is conceptual. I imagine you mean that there are a limited number of possibilities of creation in the metaphysical sense, but I'm talking about creation in the now. It's not like a caveman could have invented a computer. While it was always possible to eventually create a computer, it was not possible any earlier than it happened. As a question of invention, it is not sufficient to rearrange concepts, a new concept must be introduced and in fact created.

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18 minutes ago, New Buddha said:

Marxism is a pseudo-science.  Marx believed that History passes thru several distinct ages that would, via Historical Materialism, end in perfect Communism.  To this end, he had to deny the idea of Free Will and individual choice - i.e. he advocated Determinism.  Nothing any individual thinks or say can stave off the future arrival of Communism. 

To Marx, ideas, thoughts, scientific break thru's, values, ethics, etc. were not the product of a individual Man's thinking and reasoning,  but rather were "determined" by one's Class, and it's relationship to the current Age's material means of production.

The idea that the VALUE of a commodity can be measured by the number of hours it takes to produce is pseudo-science.

Be careful. You are coming dangerously close to advocating a basis for intellectual property rights with this.

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