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  1. Not at all. "Invalid" is term from logic, and refers to an argument where the truth of the premises do not imply the truth of the conclusion. Since the scenario was supposed to act as a premise in an argument about my original two questions, it cannot be the case that any amount of unrealism on the part of the scenario would render the argument invalid, as invalidity is something we talk about after we premises (that is, that the scenario occured) to be true. Also, the term "invalid" does not apply to premises. Premises are true or false. I don't think you want to assume that there would necessarily be an indication of original ownership, as that is clearly not true. Perhaps you think that it is highly likely that there would be such an indication. Perhaps you are right. However, I don't think it matters. I said Do you disagree with this claim? If you do not, then it follows that the scenario, since it is not self-contradictory, is an acceptable test of the principle. In addition, thanks to the helpful discussion we've had here, I've come to question whether or not Charlie's innocence is a fundamental assumption. The real question seems to be, "Does Daniel have a claim to the property?" Unlikelyhoods are not contradictions. Your example was "It cannot be the case that Charlie is innocent, and it must be the case that Charlie is innocent." The first is obviously not true, which is enough to show that there is no contradiction, and I have serious doubts about the second. If I use influence I have with the state to have a state official steal property and give it to me, I am guilty of theft. I don't really understand what you're objecting to here. I disagree. Daniel has a conditional moral claim to the object, which is a real claim. If Alan willfully chose to dispose of the object, that would constitute an implicit revocation of the conditional moral claim. If Alan accidentally lost the object, then unless he revoked the claim somehow, Daniel would still have the conditional claim to the object, only Alan wouldn't be able to have it given to him when the condition was satisfied. If it was ever found, Daniel would still have a moral claim to it. You don't really think that if you lose your walkman, you stop having a right to it, do you? I think confusion may have arisen because you interpreted "dropping in the river" as "means of wilfull disposal," while I interpreted it as "unfortunate accident." I see how I misunderstood this now. I can see now that I made it unnecessarily complicated, and that this led to problems. Okay, but smathy seems to think that I don't just have a moral claim to a piece of property, I have a moral claim to its time value too. If I have a moral claim to its time value, then the innocent recipient has taken that along with the property, and must return it iff he is obligated to return the property itself. Do you disagree? Apart from all that, I'm still curious what responses people have to the second question.
  2. I will take that as agreement. But inheritance is an important part of the problem. When I started this thread, I wrote Now, smathy has answered "What was stolen plus interest" to (1). This is important because, if all of the people who had stuff stolen from them in the distant past were dead, then even if we had good reason to believe that much of the current property was stolen, it wouldn't matter because there would be no reason to give it to anyone else if the answer to (1) was "Nothing." I don't think that any justice is served by taking a thief's stolen goods and giving them to a random person not involved in the theft (who is no more entitled to them than the thief), and there certainly isn't any justice served by doing this to a person who merely bought the stolen goods from the thief. Basically, what (2) is about is whether or not historical injustices should have an effect on whether or not we are entitled to our current goods. If inheritance is not a valid way to transfer moral claims to property, then whether or not such historical injustices occured is irrelevant.
  3. Here's the problem: I claim that the sanction of government of ownership and contracts is irrelevant to their normative force. If Alan has a moral right to his property, but not a legal right, then he is still morally entitled to will or trade it, because when you steal something from me you don't change the fact that I'm entitled to it. It sounds like you might be disputing this, but I can't tell. I concede the point. Now it's just a matter of what could count as pre-bison-shooting labor mixation, which doesn't interest me terribly.
  4. I disagree with your justification. If a principle is a general principle, then it must be applicable to any situation, no matter how unreasonable, so long as the situation is logically possible and relevant to the principle (for instance, if the principle has a conditional form, then the antecedent must be satisfied). I agree that my remarks may have been sarcastic, but that doesn't mean they weren't honest statements of what I believe to be the case. I made a joke about Charlie juggling the stolen property in a carnival, because it is my position that what he was doing with the stolen property to earn money has absolutely no relevance to the issues at hand, in particular whether or not Daniel has a claim to the property. The Edward thing was just a joke, but don't think it was worthy of condemnation. Nonetheless, I will respect the rules of the forum. I agree, but I claim that conditional gifts are real gifts, and give Daniel a real claim when the condition is satisfied. Good point, it may be unclear. So, when Daniel goes to Charlie with his moral claim, Alan is dead, and never changed his will. He also expressed his hope that someday Daniel would be able to recover his property, because Alan wants him to have it.
  5. This might be a good reason to make it animated. Animation lends itself to idealization better than film. I'm curious why so many people think that Kevin Spacey would make such a great Taggart. What makes you say this?
  6. Why you find it necessary to make a hypothetical scenario reasonable is beyond me, but even so, your assumptions are unwarranted. Bob might have stolen the property right out in the open, perhaps by using his friends in Washington and the new eminent domain ruling. Or, he might have secretly given Alan false memories, as in Ghost in the Shell, which caused Alan to believe that Bob deserved the property. So in other words, you are taking the position on my original sticking point that when I will something to you, if I do not change my will, I have not transferred moral ownership of it? You have got to be kidding me. Alan could explicitly claim up to his death that he would never do anything but give the object to Daniel. Why the possibility that he might have dropped it in the river if he had it negates Daniel's moral claim is beyond me. He juggled it in a carnival and collected tips in his hat. Who cares? But as smathy points out, this isn't about whether or not Charlie deserves punishment. Charlie was not entitled to his property in the first place. When I take it away from him, I don't so much punish him as right a wrong. He may feel punished, but that's because of a mistake on his part. You're mistaking civil issues for criminal ones. Yes, Chris is innocent, but that doesn't mean he's entitled to anything. Also, his name should have been Edward or something. The widget was your idea. I assumed it was a bunch of property that Charlie could borrow against and use for business operations. That's because chop saws don't tend to accrue interest.
  7. Remember, this isn't about what Daniel is lawfully entitled to. It's about what he deserves, given his moral claim to Alan's property. There's another question this brings up: is Charlie entitled to the product of his labor using someone else's capital? However, I'm leaning towards "yes," as it's not clear who else would be entitled to it. I think it's incredibly fair to Charlie. Charlie would have had nothing, and in virtue of Bob's theft, he had use of the stolen wealth long enough to make his fortune. Bob's actions were wrong, but they did not wrong Charlie. But it would have been Daniel's property, as a matter of fact, whether or not ownership was demonstrable. If Bob stole it so well that nobody could catch him, it would still be theft. Nonetheless, I agree with the thrust of your argument. No, it makes perfect sense. I agree, except that I don't think that you scaring my bison is fair. If my bison move, and I follow them, then I lose my right to the land. But scaring my bison is damage to my property, which is something you have no right to do. You might offer me some oil in exchange for the right to chase my bison away, but I would have to be in on it.
  8. Okay, but legal claims aside, do you think that Daniel has a moral claim on the property? That is, it could be the case that some degree of mixation of labor is a sufficient condition for owning a piece of property, as a matter of objective fact, but that we live in a country where this is not respected, but instead some other principle is used, such as need-based principles. Whether or not I can feign need sufficiently well to get the government to allow me to steal your property is relevant to the legal issue but not the moral one. That said, it's clear that Alan has a moral claim to the land. Now the question is, does Daniel? If he does, then he is a victim, so the sticking point seems to be whether Alan can, by willing the property to Daniel, transfer his moral claim to the property to Daniel. Do you agree that this is the question? I don't know what the legal status of his claim would be, although I suspect that it would be void. However, I think it's obvious that Daniel no longer has a moral claim, because Alan can no longer choose to give the property to him.
  9. If that is directed at me, then I will, but I don't think it's relevant to the tainted holdings problem, as we're assuming that the holding in question are legit. Okay, I will. I admit to being somewhat unclear on how the legal details of inheritance works, which led me to make ambiguous statements. That's right, except that Alan and Bob are both dead. I was assuming that it didn't matter whether there was a will or whether he was the statutory heir, but that one of them was the case, although I didn't know the name of "statutory heir." Okay, my ignorance of law is made painfully clear, but I think we've resolved the problem. So I would now reply to Felipe No, he was victimized, because he had a legitimate claim to a piece of property, and it was stolen from him.
  10. Another question: why does the government have the right to decide what's done with unowned land? If this is undeveloped land that is basically sitting empty (such as the land Myself referred to in his example), why am I less justified in taking it from my government than we were justified in taking Indian territory? Heck, the government's not even hunting the bison.
  11. Well, technically I did, but I didn't say that Alan would will the property to Daniel. Which he presumably did, as I said he aquired the property by legitimate means. I imagine that you are saying here that the fact that Alan said to Daniel, "Someday, son, this will all be yours" (a speech act?), or that he made up a will promising the property to Daniel does not give Daniel any claim to the property. Is this so? Bison are a resource of a piece of land. Why is hunting bison for food not an example of mixing one's labor with a piece of land, but drilling for oil an example? It seems like you have to say that there is a minimum level of labor mixation, as Myself suggests. Either that, or I can lay claim to a piece of land whose owners have developed it less than I plan to, which is pretty close to the new eminent domain ruling.
  12. I'm afraid that this may butcher the notion of inheritance. If you are arguing that Daniel has no claim because nothing was taken from him (that is, his loss was a loss of potential, which you hold to be non-considerable), why would we condemn a lawyer who stole all the money from a dead man that was to be willed to the descendents? Are we simply mistaken? If you told me on your deathbed that you wanted your son to have your [heirloom] and you gave it to me to give to him, but I stole it and sold it, would I have taken something from him? I think I would have if you could, by your speech act, transfer ownership of your [heirloom] from yourself to him. I claim that this is possible. 1. Does this mean you support Eminent Domain? 2. Why does extracting dead bison to eat not count as a moral basis for land ownership?
  13. Well, sure. That's why it's a hard problem. The structure of the arguments they are making aren't different, but one may be a sound argument and the other not.
  14. The obvious answer is that he would have inherited the property that Bob stole. However, it seems like you might be questioning whether or not this constitutes a claim. Is this so? I'm not completely sure, as I'm paraphrasing an analagous example I came up with some time ago. One reason for him is that if Alan has a claim, but Daniel does not, then there is a pretty simple answer to (2), namely resolve all current claims and get the Objectivist party started. I may have had other reasons for including him, but I dont' remember. I admit I could have made the example more spartan. They could have been two random guys. Pretty much, although I did say that C does not know that it is stolen. I was worried that this might be ambiguous.
  15. From a quote, I understand that Rand takes a Lockean stand on the aquisition of property, and I imagine she would take a Lockean stand on the transfer of property (except for maybe the proviso). If so, then in an Objectivist society, the following problem might come up: suppose Alan is a businessman, and through his legitimate (non-agressive) actions, he comes to own a fair amount of property. Now, say Bob somehow steals all of Alan's property and gets away with it. Bob is no businessman, and Alan's property sees no improvement in value. Bob later has a son, Charlie, and wills all Alan's property to Charlie, concealing the theft from him. Unlike Bob, Charlie is a very talented businessman, and manages to make a great deal of money from Alan's property, but he doesn't have the kind of talent to make money out of nothing, only more money out of existing money, and therefore wouldn't have become rich without Bob's theft. Now Daniel, Alan's son, comes to Charlie and tells him what happened, and that he believes he is entitled to some of the property that Charlie now has. Questions: 1. Is Daniel entitled to *all* of Charlie's property? Just what was stolen? What was stolen plus interest? Nothing? What? 2. If the answer to (1) is not nothing, and we have reason to believe that a good deal of the property now owned has been unfairly taken from someone at some point, how do we rectify this situation? Must we do anything? I call this the problem of redistribution of tainted holdings, mostly because I don't remember what Nozick called it (I know, I know, I'm a Libertarian running-dog). Nozick claimed to have no idea how to answer (2), and I'm not sure how and if he answered (1). Consequently, I'm curious whether Objectivism provides an answer.
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