Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by smathy

  1. Most trade secrets are protected from associates, employees and ex-employees through NDAs and various other employee agreements. This is the nature of the trade secret that I am referring to. Btw, if Dilbert's boss drops his copy of the secret formula in the street then the person who finds it has the same obligations that they have if they find someone's wallet in the street. The ownership of the property is not lost simply because of an accidental loss of possession. I do. Obviously arbitrarily practised laws are incompatible with any proper capitalist society. With regards to attribution I was thinking of quoting in the media, not the classroom (which I haven't seen for over a decade But you are correct, I have made an error in my comments on copyrights, any use of any passage would need to be done with the permission of the copyright holder. I'm sure that things like the Creative Commons licenses will prevail for such situations where people wish to be quoted. Yes, it's serious, and yes, it is my property. Although I publish it knowing the fair use policy and am happy for people to quote me under that, as you've done. Perhaps I should elaborate on the phrase "as they stand" - patents prior to the US Constitution were quite dissimilar. One could argue that current patents actually stem from the British Statute of Monopolies of 1624 but because for the following reasons I pegged my introduction to the US Constitution: I'm not very familiar with the Statute of Monopolies, I know that there are some significant differences, and the essence of my argument is not affected because it too was based on pragmatism. There's no need to guess, I included my concept of property in the section entitled "The Nature of Property". This is very important: the decay of physical objects is an attribute of their physicality - not of the fact that they're property. So important I'll repeat it, the decay of a physical object is an attribute of it's physicality, not of it being property. An object decays whether it is property or not, ergo the decay is an attribute of its physicality. Specially, decay is an attribute of non-living objects. Nothing to do with whether they're property or not. Even for objects that do decay, one's rights to that object do not decay with the object. A rusted out shell of a car is still my rusted out shell. Ownership does not pass slowly away from me to someone else as the car rusts away. One does not need to do anything to maintain ownership of a physical object. The product of your efforts is yours, by right. That objects in the physical world decay with time does not affect one's ownership of that decaying object. So it is an error to attempt to apply the attribute of decay to property and therefore to seek an analogy to it in intellectual property. The attribute does not belong to the class of entities abstracted as "property" it belongs to the class of entities abstracted as "physical object". Yes it is eternal. Think about another common form of property which does not decay: money. Nothing is closer to the abstraction of "property" than money. It is eternal. You own it, or your heirs do, forever. Again, you're making an error in attempting to apply the attribute of decay to property, it doesn't belong here - it belongs to the concept of "physical object". What principle is that based on? What in reality suggests that only when man's efforts result in physical property does he have a perpetual right to that property? By what principle? If I have an idea for an awesome energy conversion device, some new fusion device, and I work to produce a plan for such a device, by what principle does that plan, that intellectual property suddenly cease to be my property? I'm not sure from your choice of words whether you are referring to this, but you are correct in that I have made an error (although it's easily corrected). Item (2) of Section 106 of the Copyright Act which talks about derivative works has no basis in the principles of property rights. The act is not written well enough for me to understand precisely what they mean, but assuming that this paragraph forbids someone from reading a book, and producing a film based on the story in the book but without using any language or quotes from the book, then yes - that paragraph about derivative works is also incorrect in current Intellectual Property legislation. Thanks if that's what you were pointing out. I don't know how you drew the conclusion that I do not consider invention property. The following comments, amongst others, from my article all speak to my position that inventions are property:
  2. ...and now I have. I am posting this link for those (particularly David Odden) with whom I was discussing this issue many months ago: Intellectual Property
  3. The difference between a brain and a computer is consciousness. A computer is not conscious. The element of consciousness relevant to volition is self-awareness, it's a particularly high level consciousn process and what it means is that thoughts themselves can be taken as further input into the decision process. Some significantly more advanced being than us may be able to observe our own inputs and predict the outputs based on those, there are certainly physical reactions at the core of all thoughts and decisions. I have a hard time imagining another human making this accurate observation because their own thoughts during the observation would affect their own conclusions about the outputs of the subject they're observing. Not to mention the massive effect of the observation itself on the subject (just being hooked up to a machine to read impulse firings will dramatically affect the decisions made). All this adds up to something more complicated than is ever likely to be worked out by man (not necessarily impossible, but maybe it is). Certainly it's pointless to attempt to suggest that there's any meaningful determination in our thoughts when that process is not discoverable in the foreseeable future, and when the self-generated effects on one's own decision making process are such that the process is more meaningfully observed as conscious-guided volition, than physics-guided determination.
  4. Pleasure is never misleading, not in any case. Pleasure always correctly indicates that a certain action benefits your immediate sensational physical being. Such is the nature of sensations, they are immediate, temporary, and their only context is the duration of their effect. For that duration, they are always physically beneficial to the life of the being experiencing them. I hope it's clear how irrelevant the sensation of pleasure is when considering the life of man qua man. We are not primarily physical beings, we must consider the long term effects of an action to the thinking conceptual beings that we are. By that I mean that the positive sensation of pleasure is neither necessarily positive or necessarily negative to one's life. Clearly pleasure cannot be considered innocent (ie. beneficial) unless shown otherwise. The onus is on you to demonstrate that a given action actually benefits your life. You can't assume that it benefits your life unless someone demonstrates that it doesn't - such a demonstration could take years, or your whole life. So, what to do? Well, if pleasure itself is not a guide, then can it be ignored when considering the morality of a given action? Not really, because any action consumes resources, takes energy, takes time, requires you to sacrifice other things to do it. Therefore, seeking pleasure (in and of itself) should be considered immoral unless otherwise proven, not because of some puritanism, but becaue of the reality that it takes an amount of time and consumes resources. In fact all actions should be considered immoral unless shown otherwise. I can't believe that this thread has gone this long without someone pointing out that the immorality in masturbation, the reason why it's immoral if sensational pleasure is all you seek, is becaue of what you're doing in your mind at the time. What you're doing with your thoughts. And in fact, this is the key to understanding when masturbation is moral. Masturbation is moral, ie. it is a value to your life, and contributes to your goals, when you are fantasising about your ideal partner. When done in this way you are experiencing such a vision of clarity and focus as to assist you to both crystalise your view of your ideal partner, and celebrate the love you feel for that person (or the love you will feel if you've not yet met them). In the absence of this, it's an immoral waste of time, and an immoral clouding of your mind in order to experience a sensational pleasure that does not stem from an emotional connection of values originating in the mind. Ie. you've adopted the posture of a dog humping someone's leg to get off.
  5. So, for example, you're suggesting that some particular corporation could spend an enormous amount on the campaign of a particular government official who, in return would select that company's inflated tender over another company's for some government contract or other? Not sure how you think that would escape the attention of a free nation of people. The press would swarm, the checks and balances would start the alarm bells ringing, voluntary contributions to the government may be withdrawn, the opposing government would cry foul. One example way to manage this would be to separate the opex and capex budgets for the government. And for all large capital expenditures of the government to be proposed by the government and then citizens would offer pledges of money towards them. Ie. the government would be prevented from spending out of its operating funds. Obviously if it awarded the contract to someone who was going to charge a lot more than the other tenderers for no gain, then it would not receive the pledges for the expenditure. I'm sure there are many other ways of preventing such a thing from happening. Such is the nature of a government of law, not of men.
  6. I can assure you that if you sold any of those objects that you think you can provide iron-clad proof of ownership of to me then in the simplest case my receipt from you demonstrating that I had paid you for them would demonstrate that you had transferred ownership to me. In the more significant cases (certainly anything of enough value to make it worthwhile) there would be a judicial ownership registration with evidence of transfer (eg. cars, real estate, expensive gems). These mechanisms (receipts and ownership registries) exist specifically for this purpose, of demonstrating transfer of ownership. If you have traded with people who did not demand these mechanisms of transfer, then shame on them. I certainly can produce demonstrable ownership for everything I, my family and my companies own that's not a commodity item. I wasn't aware that people existed who would attempt to operate their lives without utilising such mechanisms, if for no other reason that to ensure valid warranty and tax refund claims (both of which actually just require the same evidence of transfer of ownership on a certain date).
  7. Since Michael's post I've been thinking more about this, I've yet to arrive at a conclusion, but I will. I still maintain that the difficultly involved in creating proper politics around the concept of intellectual property should not lead us to treat it differently than tangible property, and certainly I still maintain that except for the existing concession regarding perpetuality of intellectual property there is no rational argument for non-perpetuality of property. Just quickly to Dave, no, I didn't mean to imply that a declaration was all that is required, I really meant that demonstrable ownership must be shown within the existing context, as perceived by the Oist. In the case of a rusty bush saw, this might consist of a mere declaration, one might perceive that such is said with earnestness and that no apparent contradictions exist, and so you take the declarers word for it. In the case of lands in the middle east, something very much more is required to demonstrate ownership. In fact, in land disputes between nations (ie. in the absence of a jurisdiction) then it's a very complex scenario indeed.
  8. Grr, I just hit Escape accidentally, and it undid all the changes I had made to this post!! I don't have time to redo all the replies I made to the individual points, so here's a summary. What I'm calling pragmaticism is the process whereby you are identifying a complicated area of reality where a principle seems to be in conflict with reality, and therefore you're introducing an exception to that principle that has no grounding (at least none that has been demonstrated) in philosophical axioms. Sure, man's life is the standard, but you can't point at an event in man's life (especially one as complex as the perpetuality of property rights as they pertain to intellectual property) and declare (without tracing it back to philosophical axioms and demonstrating that it is non-contradictory) that it is an exception to an otherwise sound principle. I agree that without further work, the implications seem to be contrary to an abundant life of man, and of progress and development. What I declare is pragmaticism is taking those implications and creating an exception to the principle of property rights in order to resolve the complications without even attempting to produce a principle that's grounded in philosophical axioms. It's like saying, "It's too hard to work out which tree the coconuts that have fallen on the beach have come from, so we will declare that property rights to not apply to fallen coconuts." Yes, intellectual property is a difficult subject, no I'm not prepared to introduce an exception to make resolving the apparent contradicitions simpler. You recognise property rights because a man must have the rights to the results of his efforts. Nothing in that is contradicted by perpetuality of his rights to intellectual property. The only thing that suffers in perpetuality is the progress of his fellow men. Yes, I remember that argument from Rand. I think it's flawed. You assume that the current licensing model is correct, and founded in correct principles. I do not concede this. Agreed. Perhaps what has to give is the licensing model that you (and apparently Rand) take for granted. Take this, off the top of my head, as an example. Perhaps a new patent (say an engine patent) could be registered that paid a single license fee to to the holders of the wheel, ballbearing, gear, etc. patents, because the patent designer of the engine only 'uses' those patents during the development of his design. Subsequently manufacturers of vehicles would pay the engine patent holder, not the wheel, ballbearing, etc. patent holders, because they are using the engine, not the individual components of the engine. In that way patents, like knowledge (which they are meant to represent) would be hierarchical. The user of an engine does not use "wheels", "ballbearings", etc. he uses the engine, and the patent costs should reflect that. The engine patent developer was the one that used the 'antecedent' patents of wheel, gear, ballbearing, etc.. So he pays for their use in developing his idea. But those that wish to use his patent pay only him (or his heirs, or those that he dealt with). Such would resolve all the problems that you have identified with patents. It would also more correctly reward "simple patent" holders a smaller fee for their patents than it would "complex patent" holders for their contributions (rather than the holder of the "nut and bolt" patent earning billions of dollars a day where the patent holder of "the cold fusion machine" earns comparitively little). It also more correctly maps the patent hierarchy over to the hierarchy of human knowledge and concepts. Now, I've only just happened upon this idea now, in the few minutes of writing this response, but already it seems to be both consistent and logical, and in keeping with the principles of property rights. Also, as a corollary, it is pragmatic. There is never, and will never, be a situation where an exception to a principle must be introduced in order to achieve a desirable end, ie. in which to satisfy a pragmatic complexity. These are proper principles, don't make excuses for them, and don't abandon them so easily (although here, since Rand herself abandoned this particular one, I suppose it's understandable). I think your trying to ask a question that relies on information not in evidence. If you know that the scenario is 1 or 2, then you may only take ownership of the saw in (1). If you know only what you perceive (that there's a saw in the fire that appears rusted and abandoned) then that is the context. The context isn't what's actually the case for some omniscient consciousness, the context is what's perceived as the case by your consciousness. Moreover, if you learn more information about it later, eg. that you find the original owner who declares that he never abandoned the saw, then the context changes, and your conclusion may (and does in that case) change accordingly. I think that you think that context means "the actual reality of the situation as known by an omniscient consciousness" that's not what it means. What context means is the situation as perceived by a consciousness. As such, it is right and proper for an uncivilised savage who has never seen an aeroplane to conclude that such a thing is some sort of conscious flying creature despite the fact that it is not in fact that at all. As his experience expands, and he becomes aware that things such as planes exist and are the creation of men, then it is wrong for him to continue to conclude such things when he sees a plane overhead. He was not wrong before, and right now. He was right before, and right now. The two conclusions do not contradict each other, because knowledge is contextual. Likewise, I am right when I conclude that the saw is abandoned and take ownership of it. Then, when the owner appears later and declares that he did not abandon the saw at all, I am right (under the new context) to conclude that actually the saw is not my property, but his, and so I am morally obliged to return it to him.
  9. Umm, I just realised something. Unless Bob is alive, then he can't defend himself at a trial, so the so-called crime of theft is only an allegation. Unless you're willing to try a dead man then there's no way to even decide that this was a crime. Shame on us all. Clerisan should have been pulled up on the first post with "check your premises." So, we can continue the conversation sans the whole issue of the bequeathing of stolen property if you like. Thankfully, despite my silly example of the Empire State Building thief, real estate transfers are a complex process involving many weeks of time, during which solicitors and government registrars are involved, and would be ample witness to any forced handover of deeds by one party to another. Anyway, the process becomes a lot simpler if Bob is alive to be convicted of theft. Assuming he is convicted then his assets would be seized (from the point of his arrest) and the debt will be attached to him and paid out of his assets, and if he can't pay it back from moneys that he is in possession of then he will be sent to prison and begin paying off his debt (see my The Perfect Prison blog for how I think that should work). One other comment, on transferring stolen property. It's important to make a distinction between uniquely identifiable property (cars, real estate, the hope diamond) and commodity property (oranges, gold, oil, even money in 99% of cases where no record of serial numbers is made). In all unique property trades that we perform there are checks involved to confirm ownership, buying a car from someone is not a process of exchanging cash for the physical vehicle and keys. There are ownership checks performed, there's a registration transfer performed, liens are checked, many personal details are taken from each party. This is all done as a recognition that the vehicle itself is unique and if it was stolen at some point then the rightful owner may, at some point, come and repossess the vehicle. They can do that because they can show that they are the rightful owner through their ownership registration documents. When found the property would be repossessed even if the current possessor purchased it unknowingly using morally obtained funds, his error is in not properly confirming the ownership of the property by the person selling it to him. His avenue of justice is in pursuing his own action against that person to reclaim the money he paid. I don't have time to check/edit this, excuse any mistakes.
  10. Glad you're enjoying the significant aspects of this debate
  11. There are really two aspects to this scenario. Let's discuss them separately. 1. Whether Alan maintains ownership of the property despite it being stolen and despite his inaction in pursing its recovery (perpetuality of property rights). 2. Whether Charlie can be held liable for paying back a debt incurred by Bob despite his innocence of the crime (transfer of debt). I say that either of these considered in isolation is a slam dunk. 1. If you steal my car, but I'm too busy to pursue the theft until next week, then I do not relinquish my property rights to the car and can rightfully pursue my ownership of it when my priorities allow. Substitute "next week" for any time period you'd like and the same holds, ie. there's no time decay to property rights, no expiry period, there's no principle for it and if there is then let me know. 2. I can't write a will leaving the Empire State Building to my son, because I don't own it and I cannot demonstrate ownership of it. If I run into the Empire State Building so that I possess it, and then die, that doesn't change the equation. If I steal the deeds to the Empire State Building, then die, that doesn't mean that my son rightly inherits the Empire State Building. The rightful owners could rightly pursue him for its return. Whether he is ignorant of the theft or not does not change the fact that the property was not mine to begin with, I had no right to bequeath it, and the will in which I did bequeath it is invalid in respect to that bequeathing. The only thing needed to add them together is the realisation that bequeathing property is not handing over a physical article, but it is transferring the legal rights of ownership (in full) of an amount of property.
  12. I have read it, and will refresh my memory when I get home (which will not be until Monday). Best not to assume that just because Rand has said something that I will agree with it though, everything is up for grabs as far as I'm concerned, unless you can lock it in with a principle. The perpetuality of IP is something I was thinking about just this morning. Specifically, Rand's comments on patent expiry seem grounded in a pragmaticism that may have no idealogical basis ("may" because I'm still thinking about it I'm nothing if not consistent, so if I'm proposing that ownership of physical property (say a table that I constructed myself) is perpetual, then I will also include intellectual property, property is property. I was thinking about it, but by the end of this post I have decided, I am in fact saying that all property rights are perpetual (including IP) until shown otherwise. I was thinking this through this morning on the bus. I remember being very uncomfortable when I read Rand's comments on patent expiry (which I guess was in CUI), specifically on the arbitrariness of the chosen timeframe (from memory, 50 years after the death of the patent owner). Any arbitrary choice like that raises alarm bells in my head. I'm leaning towards patents being perpetual as well. I don't see any principle by which they would expire. I'm happy to be shown one, and perhaps Chap10,11 of CUI already do that, and I have forgotten, but it's hard for me to imagine such. If a man can take existing plans and make a table and then sell that table to someone else, and if ownership of that table (while that table exists) never expires - then a man can also make a new design for a type of engine and the same moral law applies to that product as to his table. Each is a mixture of both mental and physical effort, the former attaches ownership to the physical article, the second to the physical plan. Even in the absense of a political context, one would first need to create a plan for their mud-hut (even if only in the mind), that is a creation. If he then proceeds to chisel such plans onto a tablet, those plans have a physical presence that is objectively observable. Those plans are his, ownership of and rights to them should never expire. If he sells those plans to his son, then they should now be the property of the son, ad infinitum, without expiry, pragmaticism be damned. First of all natural resources are not property, they are natural resources. They only become property when a man injects his effort into them in some way. Please see my blog article on Land Ownership which details the process by which land (and other natural resources) become property through use, and what that use constitutes both without and with a political context. So, a rock lying on the ground can only enter the following conversation if it is property somehow. On to the lost knife... Let's get explicit, because in reality one does not happen upon a "lost knife", one happens upon an unpossessed knife. To conclude immediately that it was lost is an error. So it is to conclude immediately that it is abandoned. One cannot happen upon unpossessed property and uniformly conclude anything about it other than that it is property (ie. it has or had an owner) and that it is presently unpossessed. I think that the actions of the Objectivist in such a situation would be to use reason to acertain the most likely situation and then act accordingly. Eg. if a tree saw is discovered sitting on the grass in front of someone's house then it would be immoral to conclude that it was abandoned, and take it. Likewise it would be immoral to conclude that it was lost, and hand it in to some lost-property office. The most likely scenario is that the saw has been placed there by its owner for their own purpose and momentarily forgotten. The proper action in that situation is to either leave it there, or at your discretion, to alert the owner to the fact that they have left the saw out where it might be stolen. If, however, you discover a rusty old tree saw in the charcoal remnants of a campfire in the middle of the bush, then you could properly conclude that it had been abandoned by the owner, and (if you wish) you could properly take ownership of it. But the context is key. If it was a car, instead of a saw, then you would be incorrect to conclude that the owner of that car had abandoned their property. You should conclude that the car was stolen, and abandoned by the thieves. It boils down to this. Part of the effort that one must expend in order to make unpossessed property yours is to critically examine the context and honestly seek out the truth. A $10 note on the ground isn't yours just for picking it up. The risk that you take when taking possession of unpossessed property is in being wrong. In drawing the wrong conclusion. As you get ten steps away from the campsite, a man appears from the bush and yells at you because he just left his rusty saw in the fireplace while he went to the toilet. You cannot, now knowing the truth, persist in your claim of ownership. The conclusion that you made, your guess, however well intentioned, was wrong. You must return the man's property to him. I welcome your comments on the above. I am putting a summary of my whole position re this thread in a following post.
  13. Rubbish, wills don't even need to be registered with the government. It is advisable for the reasons that you state (fighting parties at your funeral), but not required. What you do is you register the will contract with the judiciary in order to expedite execution and reduce the likelihood of foul play. Rubbish, if they were not a trade then please, tell me, how does the willer choose which of the 6 billion people on the planet to name as his heir(s)? Why are wills routinely changed in order to remove an heir from that will? Why do some wills stipulate clauses for certain things that the heirs must do in order to be given their inheritence? Agreed, but that's evidence of why you should register the contract between the willer and the heirs. I asked for the principle and you immediately switch to an example showing the impracticality of finding lost property. Demonstrate how? Demonstrate to whom? What is this consciousness that must see me performing some demonstration in order to maintain my moral right to my own property? "People live in the real world" Jennifer? You mean that there's a dichotomy between idealism and pragmaticism? I don't care whether it's impossible to unravel ten years of paper trail, whether it's impossible to trace where my pen went, I care whether if I do find that pen and can demonstrate that it is the same pen that I dropped ten years ago that it is still mine by right. I know precisely that the pragmaticism/idealism (false) dichotomy is why statutes of limitation exist, that doesn't make them right and none of this says anything about the principle behind your time decay of property rights. So, in order to maintain any ownership of any property, I have to always be willing to place the recovery of that property as my highest priority at any time that it is stolen from me or lost? Is that the principle that you're working with? If I can't spare the time currently to report my car as stolen because I have to get home as soon as possible for some other priority, then the thief can now keep my car because I didn't pursue the theft immediately upon learning of it? Or do we again get into some arbitrarily chosen timeframe that I have to report the crime within in order to maintain my moral rights? Again, none of this says anything about the principle. I agree with the choices, I would also not fixate on the lost pen, but if it was something that I could demonstrate ownership of (let's say it had my signature on it) and ten years later I saw someone fish that pen out of a drain, I would still be within my rights to claim it as mine. I don't think I would be bothered doing that, but if it was a gold pen I might. Whether I chose to look for it in-between has no bearing on whether it's mine or not, it was mine, I didn't trade it, I never decided to abandon it, so it's still mine. I'll pardon it, but not entertain it. Again you've looped back onto pragmaticism. I agree, that the most healthy choice is not to spend any extreme amount of effort on it and to get on with your own life. But none of that says anything about the principle by which you claim that property rights can decay over time.
  14. Just because the contract is registered with the government, that doesn't mean that it's a contract with the government. The contract is between the willer and his heirs. Clearly they are the two parties in the contract. Some wills even stipulate specific actions that the heirs must perform in order to attain their inheritence (reach a certain age, marry, have children). The only reason one would need a contract with the government is if by right, the ownership of the property passed to the government upon death, then the will would state that the government agreed to distribute that property to the named heirs. Such a suggestion is anti everything I know to be true about moral governance. I don't know what this means. If you're saying that Daniel has no rights to pursue the stolen property after Alan's death (again) then perhaps this is because you think that a will is a contract between the willer and the government. It's an ordinary contract, between the willer and his heirs. He is trading his property, under certain conditions (at least his death) for the benefit he receives from them during his life (companionship, friendship, whatever). It's a trade, like any other. No he didn't. David said: I remember no such thing. Property rights stem from the effort involved in the creation of that property, not from any effort involved in the continued use of that property. This is not some natural resource, like land, that needs to be continually used in order for ownership to be maintained. This is property, like money, that Alan produced through his effort. He does not need to continue to use that money in order to maintain ownership of it. His rights to that property stem from the fact that it was his effort that produced that property. My comment to you, is the same comment to David:
  15. Only Alan? Daniel's not wronged because the theft affected a death-suriving contract that he had in place with Alan? Agreed, while Alan is alive Daniel has no claim to any of Alan's property (assuming that the will is the only agreement in place). You fall a long way short of demonstrating that Alan gave permission for Bob to keep his property explicitly. If anything is explicitly expressed by Alan's actions it is a moral default on his property rights, ie. through inaction he is allowing another to control and dispose of his property. But to make the link between that immorality and the dissolution of Alan's rights to that property is something that you have not done. Alan can dispose of the property any way he chooses, but he didn't choose to have the property stolen. Until he acts in the positive to declare that he waives his rights to that property then Alan's rights to that property persist indefinitely. They are inalienable. He cannot dispose of his property rights through inaction, this is not some lump of natural resource that he has yet to inject any of his effort into, this is the result of his own efforts, his property, by right - he does not need to do anything in order to maintain that right. That property is still his until he dies, at which time the will transfers those rights over to Daniel, who can certainly choose to then pursue the matter of the theft on his own behalf. The simple fact that Bob possesses Alan's property at the time of Alan's death does not mean that Bob now owns that property. By what principle does such a transfer of rights happen? Let's paint a scenario, say I own the title and deeds to a block of land, I bequeath that property to my son. In a home invasion a thief forces me to sign over that title and deed to them. I decide not to pursue the matter because I'm old and near death, and I'm financially comfortable in my life. I do not sanction the thief's actions in any way, it's just not a priority to pursue that property right now. I still maintain that it's rightfully mine, but I have other priorities at this late stage in my life. Besides, I'm sure that once the will is executed that my son can pursue the matter if he wishes - I have a closed circuit TV system so proving the crime will be a simple matter for him. I die a few weeks later, and you say that the legal and moral ownership of that property is transferred to the thief? Despite the clear evidence of demonstrable ownership, will, and the crime of force? Please tell me what principles you base that on? Your analogy is flawed. I agree that your scenario illustrates the improperness of such a situation as unrepresentational legal proceedings, but that has nothing to do with this situation. Daniel is not Alan's lawyer, AND, Alan is aware of Daniel's existence. Again, by what principle? Where does it say that property rights are rights to the product of man's effort as long as he retains possession or seeks to resume possession of that property if it is stolen?
  16. "As they deserve" is balancing the scales if it is done after an action where someone was not dealt with as they deserved. I was really only talking of justice in the context of it being applied to a wrong-doing, where it is the balancing of the scales. You are correct, that justice exists outside of this context and dealing with others as they deserve is certainly a more general essence of the word. Justice, in the context of post-wrong-doing, is reversing (as much as possible) by force if necessary, the wrong. If someone acts by force and receives more property than they deserved, and the victim therefore now has less property than they deserve, then justice is (as you say) treating each as they deserve, this is a process of balancing the scales, of returning to the victim that which is his by right, and of taking from the other party that which is not his by right, ie. that which he only has as the result of force. My point in this was that usually, that other party is the perpetrator, but that even in this case, where it is not, the role of justice is still valid in taking from Charlie and returning to Daniel (assuming all my assumptions about wills and demonstrable ownership etc.) because Charlie has that property as a result of force.
  17. Certainly I agree that stealing from someone does not alter their moral claim to that property, but you cannot analyse your scenario in the absence of a political context. To illustrate what I'm trying to get at, let me paint a scenario. Assume no political, legal or government environment, the proverbial desert island. You and I (with one son each) are wrecked there. We go about our daily duties, every product of each of our efforts, our food, water, shelter, clothing, is each of our own property by moral right. You are an industrious survivor and work hard to build a bamboo pipeline to channel water from the mountains, you build pens for animals, and farms for vegetables. This is all yours as a result of your property rights, moral context. I am a mindless brute, who performs the same rote actions each day, never building anything beyond my immediate needs. What's yours is yours by right, what's mine (not much) is mine by right. As soon as you wish to trade with your son, to transfer ownership to him, you introduce a political context. I refer you to Tom Lahti's excellent post on politics All Relationships Are Politics. Any trade between two people, any interaction with another introduces a political context. This context, to be just, should be based on the moral concepts of property rights, specifically all trading between men should be voluntary. But the context itself is still political. In your scenario, the theft itself introduces a political context to the discussion, the wills certainly do, and the subsequent contesting of the ownership by Daniel certainly involves a political context. The only just political context is laissez-faire capitalism, ie. voluntary trade between the owners of property (the possessors of the property rights, ie. the original producer of that property). You cannot get the property from the father to the son without introducing a political context. A just legal system only precludes the use of force, ie. it ensures the voluntary participation by possessors of property rights during the trading of that property with each other. You cannot resolve an issue of theft without that legal context (which stems from a just political context of laissez-faire capitalism) because theft is an interaction between two men, hence it introduces the political context and the way to resolve any use of force within that context is to use the prevailing legal system. So, back to your scenario, Bob used force against Alan from that moment on there is an implicit debt owed by Bob to Alan. This debt survives Bob's death (and can only be eliminated by a statute of limitations, something which I'm still undecided about the morality of), and is an implicit debt owed by Bob's estate to Alan's. One last comment, your point about politics not requiring government sanction (and hence legal context) is correct. In the absence of a government, Alan (and Daniel) morally have the right to use retaliatory force to reclaim what is theirs. That has obvious implications for a civilised society in that each man would himself make his own, potentially flawed judgement, and would use what he considered to be necessary force in achieving justice. For this reason I (and I think you'll find virtually anyone else you talk to) will always imply a government/legal context when we talk of political contexts.
  18. As I said in the opening paragraph, Daniel has no moral claim to any of Alan's property without demonstrable ownership by Alan, and rightful will to Daniel. The property of a father is not his son's by right. Only the product of your own efforts is yours by right. The only other way to obtain moral ownership of property is by trade, which is what the will constitutes (a will that would require both a political context and demonstrable ownership). As soon as you introduced the contention between Alan and Bob the context became political (see Tom's excellent post on politics) Charlie is entitled to everything he has once he has paid back Daniel. Well, in your particular scenario it may not be as obvious as if Charlie had created nothing from the property Alan gave to him, gambled it away, was in enormous debt, and then ends up in prison to pay back Daniel. They're not "your" bison unless you penned them or branded them or something. If you have injected your effort somehow into the bison then sure, they're yours. Otherwise they're just bison, yet another natural resource. If I shoot one then it's mine, if you shoot one then that's yours. While they're unowned bison, I certainly can scare them or do whatever I want with them morally as long as it is in the furtherance of my own life. Certainly if I was clearing the bison off land in order to build an oil well, that would be in the furtherance of my own life. The resolution of competing moral claims, as I spend a long time talking about in my blog article, brings in a context of politics. Under that context, sure, ownership may begin prior to you actually shooting the bison, but without that - we each have the same rights to do with those bison anything that furthers our own lives.
  19. I'm assuming you've already read my blog article, if not then this post may not make as much sense as it will once you have. Hunting bison for food is definitely an example of land use, and performing such an action does constitute moral ownership of that land. I would refute anyone's claim to begin mining oil on that land while you're hunting your bison. I think, though, that bison being what they are, a relatively mobile animal, that I could quite easily scare your bison onto some land that I am not interested in mining, at which time you would no longer be using this (pointing at the piece of land previously occupied by bison and hunter) piece of land, and hence your moral claim to it based on your use of that land to further your life, ends. It's now a good-old-fashioned natural resource, owned by no one, and so I begin drilling for oil. Now, an oil drill is a mechanism that is installed on the land, it doesn't scare so easily, and worst of all, the drill itself is property - to which my property rights pertain. So, once your bison are scared off, and I establish my oil drill, this land is morally mine until I stop using it. Therein lies the problem of a nomadic people, once they move off a piece of land, they no longer have a moral claim to that land, I build my home there, and by they time they nomad their way back to it again it's Detroit.
  20. Daniel has no direct moral claim to the property because it was not a product of his own effort. However, if there was a legal will bequeathing the property to Daniel then that constitutes moral ownership for Daniel. A will is just a trade, one party gives their property to another as a demonstration of appreciation and value in that other person. Given the above caveat (that a will existed, which implies legal ownership can be demonstrated by Alan), I propose that justice is most closely approached in such a situation by encumbering Charlie with a debt to Daniel of the amount of the original property stolen, plus market rates for the time value of that property, under my proposed LFC system Charlie would also be required to settle the debt with the government for apprehension and judicial costs (should there be any, see ** below). Now, I can hear the "Reply" buttons being clicked already, but hold your horses. I know that this is "not fair" to Charlie, but the thing to remember is that that's not Daniel's business. Charlie was wronged by the actions of Bob, not by the actions of Daniel. An important aspect that it's easy to trip over here is that in our existing societies justice has come to mean only punishment, for the most part the only form of justice that our legal systems exact is punitive. The essence of justice however, is payback. And that doesn't (or shouldn't) mean that the victim "gets payback on" the criminal, it means simply that the victim is paid back what is owed. Justice is an attempt to balance the scales, to correct an imbalance that was caused by force. Assuming demonstrable ownership by Alan and rightful will to Daniel, then that property still belongs to Daniel, it is still his property. Justice will attempt to restore that situation as close as it can. It doesn't matter if Charlie was unaware of his father's crime. We're not seeking to punish Charlie, we're just paying Daniel back the property that was stolen from him (and yes, stolen from his father when there's a will in place, is being stolen from him). When Charlie accepted property from Bob he engaged in a trade, he bears the responsibility of ensuring that the property was Bob's to trade, as do all traders. ** In all likelihood, such a situation would be settled out of court by Daniel and Charlie's lawyers. Charlie would probably see that his case was unwinnable and negotiate with Daniel who may choose to take only part of what he would get in court in order to receive his owings immediately. Or, for example, if Charlie was a bum and had gambled all Bob's money away, then Daniel may choose to establish some payment plan to be repayed rather than (as would happen under my system) pursuing the matter in court after which Charlie would be sent to prison to work off his debt to Daniel (which may end up taking much longer, depending on Charlie's out-of-prison earning capacity).
  21. It was suggested to me by Felipe that I come in and have a look at this thread and perhaps discuss it. This will be my first post in quite some time, and I don't mind disclosing that part of the reason for my extended absence (after a very short presence) is summed up very well in this post from Hal. Thank you Hal for your comments on property, you are entirely correct, property rights are not a function of use, they have nothing to do with whether you use the property or not, and nothing to do with whether you use that property to further your own life or not. Unfortunately, you seemed to have skimmed my blog article a little too quickly, and you missed this reminder which was directed to the non-Objectivists, and which is quite poignant at this juncture: "(A small clarification for those non-Oists reading this, "property" above refers to that to which property rights pertain, ie. the product of a man's effort.)" Virtually the entire discussion in my blog post (including the two examples that you quoted above) are concerning natural resources and land, not property. Furthermore, the article is in fact specifically addressing the essence of how land and natural resources can be considered as property, what the requirement for them to be considered as such is. And yet here you are, quoting two sections from my blog talking explicitly about land and natural resources, and then applying the stolen concept of property to each and equating my points to the moral or immoral use of a hammer or factory. Nothing in my article applies to anything which is already property (ie. was the product of man's effort). So a hammer, a factory, heroin tools, none of these are relevant (or meaningful) examples to cite in any criticism. Your subsequent claims stacked up on top of these errors are substanceless. Your "tent in the garden of the holidayers" example demonstrates such a massive ignorance of any of the points I covered in my blog post that I struggle to believe that you read any of the article at all, certainly it's clear that you didn't read the many sections of it that already deal with that scenario soundly.
  22. I don't know what happened, but it seems that I have tripped and stumbled my way to nowhere in this thread. Perhaps I should have begun with a statement to this affect because there seems to have been some hefty assumptions made about my position and knowledge of the related history. I have never said that the bombings were immoral, nor do I think that they are. I have little knowledge of the history of the situation so would not be able to draw such a conclusion either way. Prior to coming into contact with Objectivism I had an irrational belief that the bombings were immoral. Since discovering Objectivism I have not revisited that belief saw Oakes's comment as a chance to get some help to begin that process. Thankfully today I had a great conversation with several people in #Objectivist and have some excellent starting points for understanding the morality of war from an Objectivist perspective. So thank you to all those who responded, I shall not be posting to this thread any more.
  23. "Whim" may have been the wrong word, I'm waiting to be shown. A decision was made by America to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and a claim was and is being made that it was a necessary component of America's self-defense (the only way that the action can be claimed to be moral), and yet no rational link between the two has been demonstrated, and that remains my challenge. You stated that it was a moral action, so show it to be moral. The only statements being made are that (1) Japan started the war, so the deaths are on the Emperor's head and (2) that it saved lives because many more would have died than did. Neither are arguments enough required to establish morality in themselves. For (1): Without any additional reasoning, that implies that any action of an attacked nation upon the attacker is justified by the fact that the attacker initiated the war. Any action whatsoever, someone punches me, so I bomb his house and claim the lives are his own responsibility. If that's not the case, then justify the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Show how it was an essential component of America's self-defense. For (2): The claim that fewer lives were lost in the bombing than would have been is invalid (even if we assume the predictive abilities of those involved to be accurate) as a moral defense because it fails to comment on what other options were available. Just because more lives will be saved if I blow up a train hurtling toward a crowd, that doesn't mean that its a moral action if I also have the option of signalling the train to stop.
  24. I read it just fine the first time, what was conspicuously absent was an Objectivist justification for that statement. The statement is hardly axiomatic and must be reduced in order to be acceptable. I find it hard to believe that the Objectivist perspective is that as soon as a war is begun by one nation, that the victim nation can respond with any force it chooses (at its whim) directed at any part of the initiating nation. So what's the rationale? The numbers game, as some have claimed seems to be a cop-out. Killing one man instead of ten may be more practical, but if the killing is immoral, then it's immoral irrespective of numbers. Here comes another quote from The Roots of War, you are free again to substancelessly dismiss it as out of context, but preferrably you will look up the quote - get the context - and show me why it does not apply to this context. "And there is something obsene in the attitude of those who regard horror as a matter of numbers, who are willing to send a small group of youths to die for the tribe, but scream against the danger to the tribe itself - and more: who are willing to condone the slaughter of defenseless victims, but march in protest against wars between the well-armed." Now, I'm not suggesting that you marched, but certainly you seem to be saying that you condone the slaughter of defenseless victims in order to prevent the death of willing (well-armed) soldiers. Morality is not a numbers game. (Edited to correct quotes. Smathy, you can 'preview' to see what the post is going to look like -- before posting. Regards, SoftwareNerd)
  25. Also thanks to softwareNerd for starting this thread for me, but the thread title I would have chosen would have made no distinction on the type of weapon used. Nuclear bomb or club, killing is killing. It is the indiscriminateness of these particular bombings that inarguably killed many innocent civillians that interests me in talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not their nuclearness. As a side note, assuming someone can convince me of the morality of the Hiroshima bombing, then I'm also interested in the morality of the subsequent Nagasaki bombing.
  • Create New...