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John McVey

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  1. Huh? Having the right to freedom MEANS nobody is entitled to enslave another. Rights originate in a moral code, applicable to individuals independent of any connection to others. When that code is applied to the question of dealing with others in the context of a broad society the result is identificiation of certain principles that a society is morally obliged to enshrine in its laws. That is what rights are. We have the right to liberty because it is wrong for man to begin the use of force against others, and this ought to be centre-stage in the laws of a nation. A people discussing the matter and trying to nut it out is no more a collective decision-making than legitimate scientists having a debate at a conference and the audience members drawing their own conclusions and deciding how they will act together in some joint project. The fact remains, for politics and morality just as for the physical sciences, is that what is is, and isn't a matter of opinion. No, slavery is immoral because its practice requires the use of force against someone. In turn, the beginning of the use of force is wrong because it is attempting to wipe out the free exercise of their minds and follow-through of actions upon judgement while simultaneously relying upon that exercise when barking orders. The collective opinion has absolutely nothing to do with these facts. Rights are not a collective whim, and the immorality or otherwise of slavery is no matter of consensus. It came to be known as immoral over the course of time when people began realising there was something wrong with it. Some had a god inkling as to why (though didn't know the full answer), others because it happened to conflict with their religious beliefs (and hence their opposition to slavery was accidental rather than solidly based). Objectivists oppose it because we recognise the facts about why it is wrong and why it wont work. Rights are inalienable, not because of a collective opinion, but because they are bound up with inescapable facts about human beings and the operation of the mind. A man or a society ignores this fact at his and its peril. I recommend you read "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Virtue of Selfishness," and if you're up for it then try "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand." Also, the search function on this forum is very useful. JJM
  2. CD stacker latests: Nightwish - Oceanborn Megadeth - Rust In Peace Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime Def Leppard - Pyromania and Hysteria I've also turned a beady eye towards my brother's Therion collection. JJM
  3. Not quite. It's the shadow-minsterial structure of Liberal Party (as in Classical Liberal, nominally) that has imploded and position of leader of the opposition, held by Malcolm Turnbull, now put in doubt. The Australian Labor Party still holds power, Kevin Rudd, is still PM, and the various actual ministers are still in their positions. What it does mean is that the Liberal members who are no longer shadow-ministers aren't required to follow Turnbull's lead in favour of Labor's ETS legislation. In response, KRudd and Labor are now reportedly considering rushing the vote on the ETS legislation. The legislation just needs six or seven votes from Liberal MPs to add to Labor's own set, and may yet get them (so they hope). Also, what I find curious is that the arguments for the resignations are all pragmatic, revolving around objection to tax hikes and job losses plus a wait-and-see approach to the outcome of what goes on in Copenhagen (this is even Senator Minchin's position, which is annoying). As far as is reported in the media there is no reference either to the CRU scandal nor to general morality as a motive for the resignations. Turnbull is still on record as being adamant that the Liberal Party wont be a haven for AGW skeptics, and over in Victoria the State Liberal MP's are still strong advocates of "carbon pollution" reduction. This is nothing more than a semi-minor setback for the AGW crowd - but it does now mean that an AGW-skeptic wont be seen as a loner freak who isn't supported by anyone. JJM
  4. This is interesting. Wikipedia featured an article on Grover Cleveland on its front page as article of the day, and it included reference to "Bourbon Democrats." They actually looked not too bad, especially compared to modern Democrats, but given that it is wikipedia and this is politics, take it with a large grain of salt. They were not perfect - eg it was Cleveland who signed the ICC into existence - but they appear to be a damn sight better than either Party or faction therein today. One wonders if perhaps the faction should be revived within the Democrat Party and be a force against lunatics? JJM
  5. I disagree. The issue is not yet about man's values and use of reason for his own values but the topic of values as such and what men may think about the origin and nature of values as such and not their own in particular. Thus that discussion comes at just the right time because the identification in the prior sections of how values are generated sets the scene for rejecting two false ideas about the nature of values that many readers are already likely to hold (which is why you were right to note my failure to raise and answer the obvious question). If anything I need to make that point explicitly, that while the main content of what I've written is fine I should only invoke the concepts of intrinsicism and subjectivism themselves gingerly and then deal with the non-applicability of epistemological concepts to non-men even more clearly than I have with the new edit (trivial note: the specific passages you cited are part of the older material). Such is part of the value of independent review and criticism! I think you misunderstand my point, which was about that there is a distinction between whose life is the standard of value being used in an evaluation and who is the one actually performing that evaluation. The two need not be the same being, and I showed a number of upshots of that fact that will turn out to be critical for economics (particularly understanding the actual nature of the entrepreneur; footnote 26 is a cross reference to my work on that topic, which work directly depends on value theory as well as everything else prior to it). Thus a value is related to a specific standard of value. I was then rejecting the popular notion of relativity that values change with change in the identity of the observer performing the evaluation. In fact, your quote from OPAR illustrates my point on the matter nicely. The very fact that anyone can look at these situations and understand why these men have the reactions they do comes from the same root that gives rise to the fact that values but originate in a relationship to an identifiable standard of value with all its intricate details. The fact that emotions have definite causes that can be rationally understood is precisely why Dr Peikoff put that example in! Consider man 5, the physician. He feels pain because the slides mean a good friend of his is seriously ill. Posit a man 7, the oncologist who prepared the tissues shown in the slides. Let us say he that knows of the friendship between the physician and the patient. This oncologist is capable of coming to similar conclusions as the physician, and since he knows of their relationship he knows very well what the physician’s reaction is going to be when he passes the slides on. Any person in the shoes of that oncologist will come to the same conclusion about how the physician is going to react. Another, say that oncologist's lab tech, can likewise identify both how that physician and that oncologist are going to react to the lab findings, and similarly her boyfriend could understand the physician’s potential reaction and understand her boss’s treatment of her that day when she talks about it with him after work, and so on. You could extend that ad infinitum, which works both because men are interchangeable as valuers when they abstract themselves from the standard of value and because the nature of value as being related to an identifiable standard allows this process of abstraction. As to the phenomenon of different men arriving at different values even when men are abstracting themselves from the standard of value used, I did note that the problem lies in the ability of different people to gain the full knowledge required (e.g. how the lab-tech’s boyfriend is far removed from the physician, the patient and his medical history, and the slides). Any differences in estimated values will be traceable back to differences in knowledge (and methodology of interpretation) and not because values are relative to observers. I also need to note that it is only men who are capable of this observation of others’ values (because it is a feat of abstraction). For instance, ants aren't making these kinds of abstract identifications when they gather material to feed to aphids or fungi, but are just doing what they've been instructed to. They do act to gain and keep the fungi food, but no ant actually knows why it needs to do what it is doing. You’re right about the not-relative part not being supported. I did get the ‘relational’ appellation from her in that location, though, so I am keeping the reference, but I will cut the pages referred to back to just 97 and indicate the origin of the term I use more clearly. What she wrote both in that endnote and in other passages in the body of her work in fact mirrors my point about how values are the results of identification and not just the relationships themselves. What values refer to are concrete existents, but they themselves are more abstract (ie they can be mental existents). The fact that they are identifications is what gives rise to the determination of epistemological status of men’s values. I disagree with this. I do need to keep clearer my own distinction between the valuable and the magnitude of its value, but nevertheless values as magnitudes are products of some means of identification, and this either precedes or is contemporary with the action. Similarly, the action cannot be understood except by reference to the value as it stands independent of the action to gain and/or keep the concrete. They do not exist until that relationship is actually connected the standard of value – that is why I identified operation of a mechanism of connection as a prerequisite of value. So, you can have all the referents and relationships in the real world as you please, but no identification -> no magnitude of value. The referents aren’t properly called values until the magnitude has been identified. I then developed the implementation of this mechanism by reference to means (or lack thereof) of awareness and more detail of what values as concretes do for standards of value also as concretes. Epistemological status doesn’t apply to non-men’s values because that mechanism is non-conceptual. By contrast, epistemological status does apply to men’s values (leaving aside things like cellular mechanics) because the mechanism by which values are formed (specifically, the magnitudes determined) is the same one by which concepts are formed. Value-formation for men is a process with many essential features in common with concept-formation, and values do not pre-exist just as concepts do not pre-exist: as with values as entities and magnitudes, the referents are all there, as is their causal connections that allows for conceptualisation, but concepts do not exist until men form them – and likewise men’s values do not exist until they grasp them. It is for this reason that belief about value theory and its consequences for human action go hand in hand the same in regard to concept theory. JJM
  6. I've edited it and reposted it. However, I haven't gotten the hang of GoogleDocs yet so it ended up giving me a different link for the published file. JJM
  7. All of man's labour is mental in origin. The place to look first is in the nature of thought in relation to labour when trying to classify labour. I would think that a more relevant marker of a profession is that professionals either do, or at least expected to be capable of, understanding, formulating and using abstractions at a deeper level than a non-professional. For example, a lawyer ought know about principles of justice in a broader sense as well as particular statutes and cases, an electical engineer ought know something about EMF physics and radio theory as well as be able to decide whether to use shielded or non-shielded cables in a given situation, and so on, as opposed to a policeman who generally follows procedures and protocols or an electrician who mostly engages in installs to conform to designs, and so on. In the real world there is frequently no clear-cut division between who is a professional and who is not. The split between vocational schools and universities do reflect the distinction in focus, but there is nothing inherent in labour itself that mandates such a split. For example, a very experienced and intellectual electrician frequently knows much more of theory and design as well as practice than an electrical engineer fresh out of university with an undergraduate degree. While there are practical reasons behind two different school systems, any further identification of a distinction is elitism at work and not reality-based. However, this split is being artificially widened by the ever increasing encroachment of regulation in our lives. The increasing focus on exams and paperwork is coming at the expense of concern for experience (and in turn of common sense - I read recently of two women who got busted in the UK for "unlicensed childcare facilities"... because they took turns in looking after each others' kids and didn't have the necessary formal training and consequente peices of paper saying they had passed exams). Employment and work is becoming ever more bureacratised, and we're beginning to suffer because of it. JJM
  8. Ah, but is your homework still intact? The concept of epistemological status simply doesn't apply to the values formed by non-conceptual beings. You're right that I am not clear enough, but I do touch on it by noting that these values are pre-conceptual. What I need to do is to include an answer to the obvious question in section 2.5 that arises after I dismiss intrinsic and subjective values, and tie it in with the discussions in chapter 3 on the matter. There are no subjective or intrinsic values ever, but for non-conceptual beings values the question of objective versus non-objective has no application because that question only arises in relation to conceptual methodology. Thus non-sentient creatures' values are just unqualified values, as I explain in the second paragraph of the topic of pre-conceptual values in section 3.4. An intimation of this needs to be put in section 2.5. I also need to adjust that question to ask it specifically of men's values. Yes, technically they are non-objective values, but as I was dealing with non-men I had left the concept of value unqualified in chapter 2, leaving the question of objective versus non-objective specifically for men's values in chapter 3. Now I see that was a mistake. When men don't have functioning conceptual faculties then their values are in the same epistemological boat as those of non-sentient creatures. The difference is that this is an oddity for men whereas it is the norm for non-men. Men's values when pre-conceptual have to be expressly qualified as such because these values are unusual and in a context when one would normally make epistemological judgement. Irrational values are values arising from improper use of the conceptual faculty in their formation. Non-men's values aren't even irrational because they don't have (or are expected to have) a functioning reasoning faculty, but as I said I had previously not identified that. In relation to men, I had attempted to locate men's pre-conceptual values with the fact that a man still has valuation mechanisms that precede his conceptual faculty because of his origin as a non-sentient creature and sharing those mechanisms as part of his heritage. As you've identified, however, that was a bad move and I need to fix this mess JJM
  9. Try this. I've since re-edited my blog to get rid of that long post. JJM
  10. Yah, I noticed I'm looking into it now, and want somewhere to put my Constitution as well. In the meantime I posted C2.1 to my blog. JJM
  11. I covered my thoughts in depth here. What I have written has since been edited, but the essence is unchanged. I identified that values are either objective or non-objective. Objective values are divided into rightly-identified values, mistaken values, and also potential & latent values. Non-objective values are divided into irrational values and pre-conceptual values. It's not that subjective values are bad, but that subjective values do not exist at all. Certainly, irrational values are as close as men can get to subjective values, but they never actually get there because at root there are still causes as to why someone values X over Y (Dr Beuchner formulated this argument, not me, but I do subscribe to it). There are always causes, hence never any subjective values. Don't confuse the source of values with the methodology used to follow through on them. When men's values are irrational, the key to not mistakingly calling them subjective is to identify the fact that there is no such thing as a causeless emotion, that they are not subjective in the proper meaning of the word either. A large part of the problem in considering the word subjective is the switch in its usage from the full philosophic meaning (the wholly uncaused creation of the subject, which you've correctly identified) and the slacker vernacular (that which changes from individual to individual and has causes we may or may not think well of). It pays to stick strictly to the philosophic meaning. Similarly, to the extent that someone's capacity to form abstractions is non-functional their valuations are pre-conceptual. Their values begin to approach those of animals, to whom the entire idea of epistemological status does not apply. They either have values or they don't, where whether the values are helpful or not has no bearing on their status as values or the fact that concept of epistemological status doesn't apply. JJM
  12. Certainly - and in the same vein there is no such thing as subjective value just as there is no such thing as intrinsic value. Invitation accepted JJM
  13. You're not the only one. Dr Beuchner noted this a while back, too, (1995 - Objective Value). He said he was very big on Menger as a result of that. He also noted that it was a tradgedy that other Austrians were translated to English long before Menger was, and that a large part of the idea that Austrian school is inherently subjectivist stems from that lack of translations of Menger. Moreover, von Mises' subjectivism at the level of consumer goods is real subjectivism, not merely labelled as such by the intrinsicists. His view on subjective and objective value matches the view of subjective and objective concepts espoused by Kant: there are core concepts/values that are subjective, and all other values are objectively derived from those at the core. In von Mises, the latter then translates into objectivity in business practice but placed in the service of soverieng consumers whose desires are not to be questioned, and in whose service the entrepreneurs are but servants who make profits by better responding to consumer demands. The result of Misesan subjectivism in values is the conclusion that the entrepreneur is but a jumped up "chiselling arbitrageur" (in Salsman's words) - and after reading Israel Kirzner's book on entrepreneurialism, which expressly equates the entrepreneur with the arbitrageur, it is not just an aberration on von Mises' part or an unfounded slur on Salsman's part. Edit: there is nothing inherently wrong with arbitrage, only that it is of secondary importance and that the entrepreneur is and does much more than that. JJM
  14. Ah, negative assessment. Ditto Wrath's cinema-ticket comment. Orrighty then, I'll give it a miss either permanently or at least until it reaches the $1/week stage at the video store. JJM
  15. It woud be more rational to put medically identifiable limits rather than have zero tolerance. As well as issues of how strongly affected is someone by alcohol and whether it is sufficient for action against it, alcohol consumption also has a hormesis effect attached to it. I recall reading that one's abilities to drive improve with low BAC's, then fall off again and only drop down to parity with zero BAC at a reading of around 0.10, which (supposedly) is the basis behind why laws are at or near (eg 0.08 in other jurisdictions) that figure. I don't think it even necessary to accept public roads to make that point. Obviously a road owner can make whatever rules he wants and people decide whether or not to be customers - but what if the private owner of roads is silent on the matter? That's when it is legitimate - and necessary - for the law to have a say. JJM
  16. I'm blogging again, after a 6 year hiatus. JJM
  17. I'm confused. Is this a positive assessment (eg the happy ending is the visage of people struggling to endure and suceeding in the face of catastrophe), or a negative assessment (eg the happy ending is the visage of an end to man's threat to other planets or whatnot)? JJM
  18. To the extent that the services were legitimate that doesn't translate to a Mafia-style assertion of "we now own your ass and all your property!" Agreeing for one's property to be part of the same legal jurisdiction does not of itself mean that the government of that jurisdiction is the supreme owner of everything within it. A jurisdiction is only a geographcial range of monopoly on force and applicability of a single body of law, neither implying anything else generally nor in justice ought to include anything else. A part of morality as applied to the social context, that of defence and retaliation against the vice of initiation of the use of force. The specific means of doing that are identifying rights and upholding laws to protect them. I'll leave the generation-of-ownership questions to separate threads. Interesting topic, and I don't think there is a One Answer, but again that belongs in another thread. The principles have also (in part anyway) been covered in other threads. (I'll drop the British part because it is broader than history, and the issue will come to the fore again when Mars colonisation plans start getting realistic) Sometimes. It is not as though he can go anywhere he pleases and automatically expect the government of another land to come to his aid when he is well outside their geograhical jurisdiction. There are some cases where the expectaton is valid (including use of gunboat diplomacy, which Dr Peikoff rightly noted should have been the response to the oilfield nationalisations perpetrated by various middle-eastern governments in the 1950s), and others where it isn't (eg if I broke a law while in the US that shouldn't be on the books then while I certainly have the right to good consular help I do not have the right to expect the Australian government to break me out of a US jail or whatnot even if they had the means to do it, because US is an otherwise just country where rule of law still generally prevails - that's not a merely speculative matter, either). Once one goes outside the geographical jurisdiction of a government, ie outside the property of those who authorise that government to act on their behalf, it is a matter of what both oneself and the government has agreed to, plus what precisely one has paid for, plus other relevant matters such as international politics, and possibly plus other issues in philosophy of law I haven't mentioned. This is going outside the scope of your original question - it's fascinating and deserves its own topic, though. Getting back to the original issue, the point is that government is a servant and only comes in to serve its clients at the request of those clients, and those clients are free to terminate the deal when they want. Your HOA idea is trying to posit the primacy of the servant over the client and to generate an unavoidable obligation to stump up cash forever. It extends however far as parties agreed it would extend to, along with due consideration for other matters of politics (eg is a foreign land governed by a properly constituted government with proper rule of law or not?). If citizenship were done properly, a citizen is someone who is both: - taken by other citizens to have delegated their right to use of pro-active retaliatory force to a single professional body empowered to protect all their rights, which body is then accountable to all those citizens who in turn have full authority to control how it is constituted and run, and - has in some way indicated to those other citizens a committment to justice in how they will make use of that ability to control that body. Wandering through and learning about a place isn't working that place. Working the land literally means that - getting one's hands or tools into the ground and actually doing something to it, such as mining or farming or clearing it or a building, etc, and physically producing the value in the land. This is also my argument against what even many other Objectivists have said about Mars exploration. There are those - Dr Binswanger included, IIRC - who have stated that merely getting there and doing a few things should be sufficient to generate ownership of the whole of Mars. I completely disagree with that, even though they may well be pragmatically right about it being a sure-fire means of promoting space-flight research and getting there ASAP and that there's a possibility it would never get done otherwise (which I would dispute). It's as wrong as someone landing on the coast of Virginia in the 1600's and setting up a new town and claiming to have had their property rights violated because someone else landed on the coast of California a few years later and set up a new town over there. For this reason it would be absurd to say that Ferdinand Magellan, his crew and his backers owned the whole of the Earth that wasn't already owned merely because he sailed past and mapped some coastlines. Likewise for Lewis and Clark, or Burke and Wills, or a multitude of other explorers. JJM
  19. Certainly, but that's not what most people care about - and the issue wouldn't even arise until lab-created diamonds were frequently used for jewellery (they're already heavily used in industry for saw blades etc) and there was an express desire for natural as a counterreaction. My point remains that if the jewellery just says "this is X-carat diamond" without saying where the diamond came from then he has done no wrong and the customer has no comeback regarding that diamond's origin. Only if it was expressly stated as being of a certain origin and it actually wasn't does the customer have a case (and our moral estimate of the customer's preferences are a separate matter). No dispute there. In concrete practice, yes, and there are indeed genuine taste and cooking-performance issues on how foods are created (see what Diana and Monica have said on the matter, for instance) - but that's not the moral principle behind it in its mainstream application. And, as far as I can see in many cases the taste benefits are trivial and greatly exaggerated to be but a prop for organicism, with only occasional major differences (others can correct me, but how chickens are raised greatly affects how batter using their eggs performs in the oven). Most organic-foodies I've run across, like vegans, prattle on about morality and environment blah blah blah, deifying the natural and denigrating the human influence because it is human influence. JJM
  20. Sorry, I thought it would be reasonably well known, at least among Objectivists - my bad. General social contract theory tries to create morality by positing that everyone has signed a broad contract to follow certain precepts. The problem is where does the obligation to abide by one's agrement come from? Morality, it is said, doesn't exist until the contract is in place, so in order to generate a moral obligation to abide by one's agreements and retain the social-contract idea there has to be a previous contract that generates that obligation. However, that suffers from the same problem, and so on ad infinitum. Alternatively, if the obligation to abide by agreement exists before any contract is entered then why is there any need for a contract at all? A pre-existing obligation means there is a non-contractual moral code, whereas the point of social-contract theory is to try to generate that moral code from nothing but agreement. It is certainly possible that agreements can create obligations - that is their reason for being! - but they rest upon a pre-existing moral code that stands independent of any agreement. Social contract theory drops that context (and is also one of the theories that asserts that morality is only a social issue). JJM
  21. Would that be Alice, Wally or Asok talking to the pointy-haired boss? You knew that was coming, didn't you? Well anyway... I've been putting Nightwish's last three albums, plus Ayreon's Universal Migrator pair, in the multi-CD player at work. I also caught up on all of Dr Peikoff's podcasts, too. Next up: Diana's RSR! JJM
  22. I'm not all that familiar with that practice in the US. I do know that there are such things as Cooperatives (known as Strata Title holdings here), which as far as I understand it are essentially corporations owning a whole tract or block of apartments and the individual shares of the corporation being stapled to lease agreements for particular plots or apartments. Thus in economic substance (and, IMSM, in actual cooperative / strata-title law) what one pays the large sum for is actually the ownership of the stock and not ownership of the actual dwelling, which one is really holding an indefinite lease for rather than owning. The Body Corporate - would that be the HOA? - under that arrangement is elected by the resident stockholders, controls what the individual resdents can do, and which residents who also pay some sort of rent to the body corporate, which it uses to pay for general services. If that's not the sort of arrangement you had in mind, I do apologise for my ignorance. Assuming that it is, I don't see any problem with this at all, and is in principle no different to how any corporation is run. The morality of each individual set up would depend on the history of each, eg whether someone voluntarily entered a contract to that end or was forced into it by government. No and no. First up, there is no contract entered without expressly and freely doing so on the basis of independent individuals who are the prime unit of concern. Collectives do and create nothing, only individuals act and create. In reference to the history of some countries (including the original colonies of the US), the original royal colony charters of yesteryear are morally void - feudalism is NOT a proper form of government and the bastard children thereof aren't worth taking seriously. The Crown had no right to assert allodial ownership of the new lands, and similarly had no right to posit that they were setting up systems of non-allodial holdings for the subject-colonists who would reside there and pay taxes to the Crown for the privilege. The colonists paid their own way to the new worlds (or, in the case of Australia, were 'transported' for minor crimes then finished their sentences) then did their own work to get the land up and running, so they morally own that previously unowned land free and clear without obligation to pay a thing to anyone for owning it, government and collective needs be damned. Secondly, you're missing the fundamental point of what government is about. Governments exist for a strictly delimited purpose and have no business owning any property for any reason other than that purpose. In fact, governments themselves should not be owning property they don't strictly need to own where they can just as effectively lease it and get the job done. (It was once said that the rot set in for some branch of the UK public service when it moved its offices out of a rented hotel suite and into a building of its own - that's a peice of dark humour, but it has a lot of truth to it when one considers principles.) So, even if we were to posit that the original colony charters or modern equivalents are lawful, a proper examination of what is right for a government to do would see us terminating those contracts forthwith and the holdings revert to unencumbered ownership by the individual residents. Any private HOA or cooperative arrangements that people make are then their own concern. Rounding it out, you're making the error of admixing markets and force. The body-corporate contracts are market-oriented structures that presuppose an existing legal system and cannot be means to creating them or even just backing them up - and indeed, breach of the body-corporate's laws is a civil matter rather than a criminal one, in marked contrast to non-payment of taxes, tariffs and excises. A government having legislators, courts, police and military is not a mere large-scale version of an HOA having residents' boards, arbitrators, doormen and security guards, where instead there is a world of difference in regards to the origin of their respective moral authorities to act. In part this is also a minor version of the infinite-regress problem with all variants of social-contract theory, and falls to the ground for the same reason. JJM
  23. There's more to it than just a monopoly on mining and physical distribution. IMSM there are laws on the books of many nations that effectively make it illegal to market lab-created diamonds as being diamonds, or must somehow include demeaning terms in any advertsing, or something like that. A number of years ago, when I first learned of macro-sized lab-created diamonds I had fun coming up with cool marketing ideas for them. I had wondered why something like what I had thought up hadn't already been used, but it turned out that the reason was that my ideas were illegal under the demeaning laws. In a real free market laws like these would not exist. There is no fraud - lab-created diamonds are still genuine diamonds and do exactly the same thing (both for jewellery and as industrial products). The consumer has no inherent right to know where a particular diamond came from, only that when she says she wants diamond then she gets diamond as she asked for. Bonus points for those who can cross-link the principle behind these laws with the fetish for organic food. JJM
  24. Time muddies issues of who owns what and who owes what to whom, because values aren't static. There are also laws on inheritance to consider, since for all anyone knows A would have prefered his estate have gone to someone else or given to charity rather than inherited by A'. But assuming that A' would inherit the whole of estate A, the principle remains that A' should get either the specific value that A would leave to A' or as close as possible to it with just restitution. The hard part is implementing it in any given case. If A' and B' don't come to some private settlement (eg B' pays A', or admits co-ownership to some percentage, etc) then a judge will have to figure out something. What, I don't know. Like David said, you'd need to know a lot more about the specifics, and in this case it would include specifics about what has been done with the property (particularly regarding land). Extending your point (and thus taking it to the slavery-reparations debate which I imagine this thread was originally intended to lead to), by the time of many generations separation from the original crime the value of the property in the present in most cases has little to do with what it had 100+ years ago at the time of the crime. After that kind of passage of time the 4'th or 5'th generation heir has inherited something whose value has no discernible part originating in the the initial value stolen. Hence while A certainly has full claim against B, and A' has a significant claim against B', 100 years later we generally find that A''''' has no claim against B'''''. The application of the principle, however, will depend on the concretes of the value in question (as well as due consideration for inheritance law in general), as in some cases the original value may well still exist essentially unchanged, eg specific items of jewellery or artworks (see the Nazi stolen art problem, now in its 3rd and 4th generations stage) or other items with very long life-times versus things that require constant oversight and maintenance, such as farmland a building or an amount of cash or stocks or bonds. By 100 years the original value is gone, where what is left behind is mere historical physical connection to that value. It would be unjust for B''''' to be made to pay anything to A'''''. In other words, slavery reparations (whether US chattel slavery or German slave-labour or other past episode of slavery) are unjust, even when "the same corporation" still exists, when the original value cannot objectively be said to still exist. Going back to A' and B', the issue is also part of something broader. Consider this: what is the principle of settling a dispute between two innocent parties regarding the same one value where a third party stole it from one and transferred ownership by lawful means to the other? This case of inheritance is in the same vein as when B steals something from A and who then sells it to C. Consider the trade in stolen cars, for instance. If the court lets C keep the car then A is the unrestituted victim of B's crime, while if A gets the car back the value then C is the unrestituted victim. In some jurisdictions (IIRC, plus IANAL and all that), the law generally says C keeps the car and A remains the original victim. I don't know what the moral outcome should be, though I lean towards agreeing with this on the purely pragmatic grounds of not throwing the entire practice of trade into extreme doubt by overturning what was otherwise a legitimate transaction plus consideration for that A already self-recognises as a victim while C does not. But, precisely because that is mere pragmatism only, I wont hold to that particuarly strongly - indeed, in many of those same jurisdictions the opposite is required to be done by the courts in the case of land, ie A regains possession (the South Australian system of Torrens Title for lands was created to try to deal with injustice in this regard, and has since been copied by a number of jurisdictions around the world). I would be nice if an Objectivist lawyer who also deals with philosophy of law in detail would offer an opinion, and try to tie it back to a broader principle of justice that includes the inheritance application (and others) plus proper consideration for the concrete natures of the values in question. JJM
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