Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

What are the properties of property?

Rate this topic


TuringAI
 Share

Recommended Posts

What are all the attributes that something existing must have for it to be ownable?

So far, I can name some attributes:

1.) You must be able to control it. Others must be able to know when they come across it.

2.) You must have either discovered it or created it.

A.) If created it must be from things that you own or that you have permission to use for the purpoes of creation and ownership of said creation.

B.) If discovered you must know precisely how far your ownership of it extends and only lay claim to that which is within your reach.

3.) There are no limits to what can be owned provided that your ownership of it does not constitute a claim on the rights of another.

Number 1 is so that people won't claim to own the air we breathe naturally. Supposedly in the future we could lay claim to volumes of air that one can section off and sell, but so long as air is abundant this will never happen.

Number 2 is two parts. Part A is something we already understand but it makes sure that you don't get to keep something that you created via means of stealing from or enslaving others. Part B is there to ensure that people don't make ridiculous claims like say the moon, simply because they landed in a single spot.

Number 3 means that you can't own weapons of mass destruction, or indeed anything inappropriate for someone who does not intend to use force.

There is a bit of a problem with intellectual property but that can be resolved simply by applying these rules consistently. I am of the conviction that intellectual property and individual privacy are mutually reinforcing because they are applications of a more general rule. The rule being that information can be owned but you can't force someone to receive it from you nor can you force someone to give it to you. In fact you don't own the information itself, merely the right to control a given flow of information which originates from you. This is to ensure that only the IP which is caused by you is owned by you.

Edited by TuringAI
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your description suggests that once the maker has sold it, the person that buys it doesn't own it since they neither created it nor discovered it. I also don't understand the reason for asking about "the attributes that something existing must have for it to be ownable". Why not more directly ask "what must a person do to own something"?

Your third clause doesn't follow from anything, is unnecessary, and is wrong. Ownership of WMDs does not constitute a claim on the rights of others; their possession can constitute a threat against those rights. Property can also include a contractual right which may impinge on a right of a party to the contract (I own my book which I contractually permit a publisher to copy, which means that he has a right to copy in certain specified ways; you can also have a contractual right, which you own, to someone's professional work, i.e. the fruits of their labor).

The problem with your B clause is "that which is within your reach". I have no idea what that means. For example, you own a 2 acre plot but to 7 feet off the ground, but not the fruits of that tall mango tree?

And I don't understand how you derive IP from a rule that information can be owned. Information can't be owned. You might want to read Rand's essay on patents and copyrights before we get into a tussle over the problem of laying claim to the indestructible, metaphysically given.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2.) You must have either discovered it or created it.

There is a third possibility: you can acquire property by trade, or receive it as a gift.

Other than those omissions, everything looks correct to me, although I am not infallible in making these sorts of determinations. :unsure:

[Added Later] David Odden is correct that owning a weapon is not a claim on the rights of anyone else. See, I said I wasn't infallible. :P

Edited by necrovore
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"3There are no limits to what can be owned provided that your ownership of it does not constitute a claim on the rights of another.

Number 3 means that you can't own weapons of mass destruction, or indeed anything inappropriate for someone who does not intend to use force"

"There are no limits to what can be owned provided that your ownership of it does not constitute a claim on the rights of another" by this I understand almoast exclusively the slavery issue. XIX century paleolibertarians were for the confederation because they thought emancipation constituted a breach of property rights. In this scenario your enunciation of #3 would be useful.

but I don't see a correlation between your number 3 and its latter explanation.

"or indeed anything inappropriate for someone who does not intend to use force" A gun owner might not intend to use it, but even if he does - in self defence - that would still constitute force.

"you can't own weapons of mass destruction" What is a WMD and who determines it? A particle accelerator could be used for private scientific research but the gov could deem it a risk. Does this mean nuclear research should be regulated?

In the future useful life-enhancing nanobots could be turned into weapons of mass destruction, again who determines what that is.

The final issue would be that the concept underlying MASS destruction, is SIZE!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...