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walling people into their own property

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Puzzle Peddler
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I think this is the most correct answer...

Either the lile is common to both property owners, or in neither's possession. Unless both owners agree that stepping on the line is trespassing, then property lines appear to provide a legitimate means of avoiding becoming trapped by someone's right to property.

Or the answer to this post? Edited by New Buddha
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I'm reluctant to put words in your mouth, but it appears that you do believe that in an O'ist society, property owner A could show "need" and demand of property owner B that he record an easement on his property?

Property owner A would have to show his individual rights are being infringed upon by property owner B.
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I'm not quite following your argument. Are you saying that easements impose no obligation on a property? and thus by extension, impose no obligation upon a property Owner? And by easements, I don't mean easements that have accrued over time under our current land use laws -- I mean specifically, easements that one might be obligated to provide by an O'ist government, as some appear to be arguing on this post.

I don't see any problem with saying easements do impose positive obligations on property owners and that this is perfectly consistent with Objectivism. To use the example from earlier, suppose Smith purchases Jones' car, and the car sits in Jones' driveway, then Smith's property rights have imposed a positive obligation upon Jones to deliver the car up, or permit access to his property to get the car. The same thing prevails if Smith has a prescriptive easement to cross Jones' property.
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In this thread's scenario, the walled-in property owner has nothing but access to his property. He is on the property and in full possession of it. He is not being denied "access" to it. He is only being denied access to others' property. It really is an act of mental gymnastics to claim that he is being denied access. Why are you making such a blatantly false claim?

Access, like egress, defines ability to come and go, to use or not to. Having access to a computer doesn't mean that one is confined to it, or even uses it. That is the primary dispute between us. Without rehashing my previous post, or your response to it, lets us just say we disagree on definitions. In order to move forward, let's consider the actual definition of property lines... please see post #220

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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If property rights are a derivative of individual rights, then property rights cannot be used to deprive another of their individual rights. An O'ist government that upholds individual rights should be prohibited from promoting property rights over individual rights. If easements, as currently understood provide for this, then why not?

There is no (proper) distinction between "property rights" and "individual rights." Property rights are individual rights. Upholding one person's property rights is not putting anything "over individual rights" -- it is upholding individual rights -- but denying to a person his property rights is an assault on individual rights.

I don't see any problem with saying easements do impose positive obligations on property owners and that this is perfectly consistent with Objectivism. To use the example from earlier, suppose Smith purchases Jones' car, and the car sits in Jones' driveway, then Smith's property rights have imposed a positive obligation upon Jones to deliver the car up, or permit access to his property to get the car. The same thing prevails if Smith has a prescriptive easement to cross Jones' property.

It's not any "mental gymnastics" to claim he's being denied access to his property. If he owns an easement right, he is being denied it if he's being denied access. Seems pretty straightforward.

In both quotes you say "if one has an easement." Well yes, if one has a legitimate easement, then one may use that easement legitimately. But that doesn't answer the question as to whether any or all such easements are proper in the first place.

While you and I have agreed that there are perhaps proper easements based upon a specific history of use predating someone else's claim to that same land -- a species of property right -- or via a voluntary agreement/contract, that doesn't validate everything that has been done, or might be done, under the term "easement." I've made the case that some people in this very thread are also arguing for "easement by necessity," which is a wholly different animal.

So we must not proceed as though there's just this one thing "easement" where, if it's valid in any possible use of the term (i.e. a proper claim based on property right and history of use, or a contractual arrangement) that therefore all easements are valid (i.e. "easement by necessity"). Because what you're responding to, re: "mental gymnastics" and so forth, is at least meant to respond to the positions put forward in this thread that one man's need is a claim to another man's property (easement by necessity).

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There is no (proper) distinction between "property rights" and "individual rights." Property rights are individual rights. Upholding one person's property rights is not putting anything "over individual rights" -- it is upholding individual rights -- but denying to a person his property rights is an assault on individual rights.

In both quotes you say "if one has an easement." Well yes, if one has a legitimate easement, then one may use that easement legitimately. But that doesn't answer the question as to whether any or all such easements are proper in the first place.

While you and I have agreed that there are perhaps proper easements based upon a specific history of use predating someone else's claim to that same land -- a species of property right -- or via a voluntary agreement/contract, that doesn't validate everything that has been done, or might be done, under the term "easement." I've made the case that some people in this very thread are also arguing for "easement by necessity," which is a wholly different animal.

So we must not proceed as though there's just this one thing "easement" where, if it's valid in any possible use of the term (i.e. a proper claim based on property right and history of use, or a contractual arrangement) that therefore all easements are valid (i.e. "easement by necessity"). Because what you're responding to, re: "mental gymnastics" and so forth, is at least meant to respond to the positions put forward in this thread that one man's need is a claim to another man's property (easement by necessity).

Then why not argue against the easement by necessity, instead of saying things like "there can be no positive obligations" and "he's not being denied access" which would be false claims if there are legitimate easements. The converse is true as well, telling us we have no right to access anything but our own property doesn't tell us whether or not any given easement is in fact our property and is in fact legitimate. That makes it sound like you deny there can be any such thing as an easement. I think that's why the other side persists in saying you're wrong. I haven't even seen anyone arguing for easements by necessity. Edited by 2046
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I thought I was, in the sense that the easement 'principle' is necessitated by the nature of the earth.

Oh okay, but I think your position would be more of a Georgist one, I think the issue that are arguing over is whether or not easements are justified on objectivist grounds.
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There is no (proper) distinction between "property rights" and "individual rights." Property rights are individual rights. Upholding one person's property rights is not putting anything "over individual rights" -- it is upholding individual rights -- but denying to a person his property rights is an assault on individual rights.

I'm reading that you are ascribing an existence/identity relationship to property/individual rights?
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Access, like egress, defines ability to come and go, to use or not to. Having access to a computer doesn't mean that one is confined to it, or even uses it.

Ownership of a computer, or any other form of property, does mean that one is confined to it if it is the only property that one owns. The meaning of the concept of private property rights is that one is prohibited from using others' property without their voluntary consent. One has the right to one's property but not to others'.

That is the primary dispute between us. Without rehashing my previous post, or your response to it, lets us just say we disagree on definitions.

Okay, so let's translate your personal language into my language: In using the term "access to one's property," what you mean in my language is that you want "access to others' properties" so that you can "come and go." You're inventing the "right" to "come and go" on others' property, but, in your personal language, you call it the "right to access" your property.

In order to move forward, let's consider the actual definition of property lines... please see post #220

No, in order to move forward, I'd rather you answer the multitude of questions on this thread that you haven't answered, and the challenges to your arguments that you haven't met, and I'd prefer that you present an argument that isn't clearly logically fallacious rather than ask us to consider yet another consequentialist line of argument.

J

Edited by Jonathan13
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No, in order to move forward, I'd rather you answer the multitude of questions on this thread that you haven't answered, and the challenges to your arguments that you haven't met, and I'd prefer that you present an argument that isn't clearly logically fallacious rather than ask us to consider yet another consequentialist line of argument.

I'll be glad to answer any questions I haven't already responded to. Please point to them by post number and I'll give it my best shot...

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what is 'georgist'?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_George Henry George (September 2, 1839 – October 29, 1897) was an American writer, politician and political economist, who was the most influential proponent of the land value tax, also known as the "single tax" on land. He inspired the economic philosophy known as Georgism, whose main tenet is that people should own what they create, but that everything found in nature, most importantly the value of land, belongs equally to all humanity.
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All property ownership is "confinement" in the sense that you'e using the term: I am "confined" to using only my property and that of those who voluntarily consent to allow me to use theirs. I am "confined" from entering others' homes without permission.

All property ownership is possession. What O'ist premise allows your possession to confine others to their possessions? Must others have your permission to leave their possession??

In this thread's scenario, the walled-in property owner has nothing but access to his property. He is on the property and in full possession of it. He is not being denied "access" to it. He is only being denied access to others' property. It really is an act of mental gymnastics to claim that he is being denied access. Why are you making such a blatantly false claim?

I've already addressed this... I can travel along whatever property line is common to us, and I don't require your permission to do it. I can step all over your property line.

Sorry, but I'm not grasping what that sentence means. It appears to me that you might be misusing the word "subsume," or that the sentence is missing a word, or words, that you intended to include. Are you saying that a property owner's right to use his property to sustain his life doesn't include the right to deny other property owners the right to use their property to sustain their lives? If so, then, as I've said repeatedly, the surrounded property owner in our scenario is not being denied his right to use his property to sustain his life. He is on his land and in full possession of it, and he is free to use it to sustain his life.

Your position appears to be that the property owner's life depends not on his productive, self-sustaining use of his property, but on leaving his property and trading with others, and therefore you want to create a "right" of access to others. In effect, you appear to see property as a place where one sleeps and watches television and engages in other non-productive activities, and then leaves his property to engage in productive, life-sustaining activities.

Basically: "But I don't want to or know how to grow a garden, or raise livestock, or mine, or smelt metals, etc. I only know how to work in a cubicle and shop at grocery stores. Since I, personally, don't have the knowledge or competence to directly sustain my life from a plot of land, be it one or one million acres, I am therefore being "confined" and "imprisoned," even on a billion acres, if another landowner is between me and a grocery store and business which will employ me. I need access to the employer and the grocery store in order to survive, and therefore I'm going to claim that I am being denied acces to my property, even though I'm physically on my property and in full possession of it.

This is really too silly to respond to...

Your position is that walling in your neighbor is acceptable if he has threatened your life? Your notion of property rights somehow grants you the right to come up with whatever punishment or act of vigilantism that pops into your head?

No, my notion of property rights grants me the defense of my life and liberty. The moment your aggression threatens the former, I'm justified to kill you; the latter, to confine you.

False. Any definition of a right to property does not presume a buffer zone for egress. Your personal definition of property rights apparently does, but your definition isn't the only possible definition. Ayn Rand's definition of property rights did not include the notion of free egress. She opposed the idea of public streets and highways. She supported private ownership of them. She was quite passionate in her opposition to the idea of eminent domain. It angered her immensely that the party forcefully seizing the private property didn't have to negotiate a price, but could dictate 'fair market value' to the forced "seller." And, as I've mentioned earlier, eminent domain at least offers some compensation for the seizure of the property, where forced easements do not. All they do is seize one person's property, give it to another to use, and pretend that original owner still owns and controls it, thus skirting the need to compensate him at all. Rand would have seen it as outright theft, with insult added to injury.

A property line is the buffer.

You've asserted that one has the "right" to "access" his property. How wide of a strip of the surrounding owner's property is philosophically and legally sufficient to meet the requirement of "access"? Woud a walled-in 16-inch strip suffice? After all, 16 inches is wide enough to accommodate a human and to allow him passage. Or would you assert that he somehow has a "right" to wider access? When forcing the surrounding landowner to give up a piece of his land for another's usage, who gets to decide which strip of the land will be used? Do you think that the surroundee has some sort of "right" to have control or partial control over the decision?

Sufficient for access. The surroudee has a right to liberty.

Does this sufficiently respond to your "multitude of questions"? Here's one for you...

Must an individual in a free market society trade with someone who has confined him to his property?

Edited by Devil's Advocate
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I am not a big sports fan, but I do follow the Yankees. I even have a few items of clothing fastooned with their logo, sports jingoism I suppose. If I awoke, tomorrow, and found my Yankees sweatshirt ( an oft used item this time of year) to be missing I would start on a specific course of action to determine its whereabouts.

If I awoke tomorrow and found that my favorite piece of my backyard were missing, my response would more likely than not be pure amazement.

Edited by tadmjones
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Then why not argue against the easement by necessity,

I have been doing... I think...?

You are describing my socially authorized use of property [...] as being contingent on what my neighbors supposedly "need," and what society permits.

[...]

Your position amounts to a claim that somebody [...] must provide you the means to achieve your ends, and satisfy your "needs"/desire to travel to destinations unknown.

Just as I cannot "imprison" you, so too I cannot starve you. Yet, though you need food (in a far surer sense than your "needing" travel to... somewhere), that doesn't mean that if I have food while you have none that I am forced to share my food with you, or sell it to you. Your need is not a claim to my property.

But Grames proposes that we restrict property rights in the name of a supposedly more fundamental "right to life" -- it is what Rand was referring to when she described (in "The Property Status of the Airwaves") "the fraudulent alternative of 'human rights' versus 'property rights'.” And on what basis? Need.

[...]

The position being expressed here is essentially this: a man needs certain things to survive -- here, travel -- and thus, in accordance with his "right to life," he must be allowed to make use of other men's property, whether they agree to it or not, as dictated by the state.

I do not recognize that A has any right to make use of B's property for any purpose, save for those specific "easements" that we've discussed and agreed upon -- in the first case, where A has a preexisting property right in travel to C, based not simply on his need/desire to travel or on any general claim of "liberty," but on a specific history of use when B was unowned. Or on the basis of a specific ("contractual") agreement.

[...]

Suppose that a person has an easement to travel from A across B to C. This doesn't necessarily mean that he will be welcome in C. It doesn't necessarily mean that he will have similar access across C to D or anywhere else. It doesn't necessarily mean that he will be free to go wherever his "need" takes him.

Are you offering a justification of certain, select easements because villages had already established travel routes through previously common areas? Or is it based upon a "need" that villagers in Village One supposedly have to get to Village Two (or Village Three), regardless of whether there was every any trade route between them?

[...]

You may well need food and travel and even love for your health and your happiness, but I do not see that your need obliges me to put myself, or my property, at your service.

[...]

I believe that a case has been made for a need-based "right to egress," which operates beyond the bounds you've established above of "prescriptive easement" (i.e. a preexisting, long-standing passage) or that which has been established directly through voluntary contract.

instead of saying things like "there can be no positive obligations" and "he's not being denied access" which would be false claims if there are legitimate easements.

Hmm, well... I see the quotes there... and I try to be understanding of such quotes as representing a paraphrase of someone's arguments, but have I said something that amounts to those quotes? Help me to understand what you think I've "said," if you don't mind?

But to answer directly, we're dealing with a person being "walled" into their own property -- i.e. surrounded by property holders who deny trespass. The "trapped man problem," as it has been dubbed, I guess, if it is actually a "problem" of any kind. If you and I agree that there can be legitimate easements -- specifically, easements based on a property right in a history of using some particular "egress," like one's traditional path down a hill to the lake, or based on a specific contractual agreement with a surrounding property -- then we may still engage the "problem" in the spirit it was intended by considering the situation of a person being "walled" just beyond his legitimate easements. Perhaps the "wall" does not confine the property holder to his property, per se, but stands just beyond the lake. Or around the adjacent property with which our property holder has a contractual right of travel.

That makes it sound like you deny there can be any such thing as an easement.

Despite the fact that I have continually agreed with you on the matter of certain kinds of easements? Despite the fact that, near the beginning of my involvement in this thread, I said this?

Please note: I do not consider myself in opposition to "easements" generally -- I don't have a fully formed opinion of them one way or the other, but I would like to have this conversation, and certain questions asked and answered, so that I can come closer to such an opinion.

I think that's why the other side persists in saying you're wrong.

I think...

...it's wrong to put this (as everyone here seemingly does) in terms of "sides." There's one important side: the truth. And this discussion, as all others, ought to be a cooperative effort to explore ideas for the purpose of discovering/promoting what is true. But so many people treat these threads as a middle school debate -- they wish to "score points" and "win." That is not my interest.

...the "other side" has not substantively responded to my posts or my arguments, despite the trouble I've taken to engage their arguments as fully as I can.

...the "other side" is not necessarily united in their view of property or rights. It is not necessarily a "side" at all.

I haven't even seen anyone arguing for easements by necessity.

Haven't you?

I will reconstruct that case as demonstrated (for it is true that some have been loathe to identify it clearly or by name, even in their advocacy) with others' quotes and my commentary, if it is fully necessary, but for now let me provide just this in hopes that it will suffice. Please let me know if it does not:

The correction of [the "trapped man problem"] is an easement by necessity, issued by a court order. It is exactly this situation which justifies the easement.

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DonAthos & Jonathon: 'I shouldn't have to create an easement for the sake of anyone else. I can do what I want on my own property (ie: build a high wall around it even if that traps my neighbor.. but I'm technically not trapping him. He still has the right to travel freely, he just can't travel across my property unless I give him permission.'

2046 & dream_weaver & snerd: 'You are trapping your neighbor if you build a high wall around your property, because he has no way to leave his own property. By trapping him, you are, in essence, holding him prisoner and taking away his liberty. You must create an easement so that he can leave his property.'

DonAthos & Jonathon: 'Why should I do that? It's my property. What you're doing is advocating for public roads.'

2lx8038.jpg

Using this little illustration, it's clear that if you don't allow your neighbor to cross your land, he's trapped. It's clear that your neighbor needs to cross your land to get to the grocery store, his girlfriend's house, etc. If you say 'No one can step foot on my land,' that means your neighbor can't even order pizza, because the pizza guy wouldn't be able to cross your land to get to your neighbor. So what you have done is completely cut your neighbor off from the world outside of his own property. Maybe that wasn't your intention. Maybe you just woke up one day and wanted to build high a wall around your property.. but regardless of the reason, that action has trapped your neighbor. And that's a problem.

So why should you be forced to create an easement on your own land? Simply to avoid the problem above. You can do whatever you want with your own property, but you cannot trap your neighbor and take away his liberty.

In a society where all land is privatized, every land owner would have to create an easement so that person A can get to points B, C, and D. I don't think I saw anyone explain how this is different than public roads. They seem very similar.

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Well obviously I stand corrected as to whether, at least Grames, intended to argue for easement by necessity. But again, as I stated before, I don't think his claim is that need is the basis for the easement, rather it seems, as mdegges points out, that their argument is more "interference" based, than need based. As before, I stated that I don't necessarily agree with that argument, but I sympathize with it.

This is why I think they haven't really responded to your arguments, because they aren't really claiming what you say they are (at least, from their point of view.) (You can, and have, said that their position amounts to that claim, but that is very different than saying that is their claim, and you would still owe them an argument to that effect.) So you end up with people talking past each other.

Here's where you sound like you are denying the legitimacy of easements per se:

Insofar as the "trapped man" is "trapped" due to surrounding property holders denying permission to use their property, the solution is this: the trapped man must trade with his neighbors to secure passage across their land.

But if he has an easement right, one established by the legitimate parameters that we both earlier agreed on, then their simple denial isn't sufficient justification to prevent his access (in fact, it would be an initiation of force.) He isn't required to trade with them at all, because he is under no duty to trade something he owns (money, goods, etc.) in exchange for something that he already owns (a given amount of access.)

You might (and have) object(ed), yes okay, if he has such an easement right, but that doesn't tell us whether such a right is justified. Of course not, one would have to reference such a justification that I made earlier for that. But the point is, once you have made such a justification, saying that the surrounders have denied use is now insufficient to prove the case that he can't go anywhere.

Here are other instances:

But if we're talking about traveling across that property which is mine by right, and if I have not agreed to your travel without coercion, then you have not earned any passage across my property.

Again, the surrounder's agreement is immaterial if one has an easement, since the person would have a right to travel across the property regardless of the other person's wishes.

And thus, even if we grant a "right to egress," it would not include the material implementation of that right by other men -- which here means the granting of either temporary passage or a permanent easement across the property of any other man by State fiat. It would only be the freedom to earn such by one's own effort which, again, means voluntary trade and nothing but.
And nothing but? What about the very thing you agreed with earlier, the prescriptive easement??

Why do I think you go too far in your arguments? Perhaps this is explained by our having differing interpretaions of the question. You state the following:

But to answer directly, we're dealing with a person being "walled" into their own property -- i.e. surrounded by property holders who deny trespass. The "trapped man problem," as it has been dubbed, I guess, if it is actually a "problem" of any kind. If you and I agree that there can be legitimate easements -- specifically, easements based on a property right in a history of using some particular "egress," like one's traditional path down a hill to the lake, or based on a specific contractual agreement with a surrounding property -- then we may still engage the "problem" in the spirit it was intended by considering the situation of a person being "walled" just beyond his legitimate easements.

We may interpret the question in one of two ways:

1. What happens if one person's property is surrounded by another person's property, and the surrounders won't let him off? He'll be trapped!

2. What happens if one person's property is surrounded by another person's property, and the surrounders won't let him off, and he has no prior existing access claim (let's ignore the question of how he got there in the first place), nor has he contracted with anyone for access (let's ignore the implausibility of this), nor did he perform a title search when he bought the property (yes, yes, still ignoring)? He'll be trapped!

It seems, based on the above, you (and maybe Jonathan as well) interpreted the questions as (2), whereas I think most everyone else interpreted it as (1). Well, of course, if you assume away everything, then by the rules of hypothetical "if-then" reasoning, the person is trapped. But this is merely tautological. I think the "spirit" of the question was more a general "how would a free society deal with this situation," in which case responding with the song and dance about easements would seem to me to solve the problem in a manner perfectly consistent with liberty.

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DonAthos & Jonathon: 'I shouldn't have to create an easement for the sake of anyone else. I can do what I want on my own property (ie: build a high wall around it even if that traps my neighbor.. but I'm technically not trapping him. He still has the right to travel freely, he just can't travel across my property unless I give him permission.'

2046 & dream_weaver & snerd: 'You are trapping your neighbor if you build a high wall around your property, because he has no way to leave his own property. By trapping him, you are, in essence, holding him prisoner and taking away his liberty. You must create an easement so that he can leave his property.'

Just a by the way, that isn't my position, I actually agree with the DonAthos & Jonathon position and with the conclusion of the dream_weaver & snerd (and Grames) position. My position includes full agreement with the DA/J premises, but through the homesteading/contracting principle arrives at the functional equivalent of the DW/Snerd position (who hasn't already established access to their property? Everyone, or mostly everyone, already has in my view.) Thus my position represents a rapprochement of the two sides.

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DonAthos & Jonathon: 'I shouldn't have to create an easement for the sake of anyone else. I can do what I want on my own property (ie: build a high wall around it even if that traps my neighbor.. but I'm technically not trapping him. He still has the right to travel freely, he just can't travel across my property unless I give him permission.'

2046 & dream_weaver & snerd: 'You are trapping your neighbor if you build a high wall around your property, because he has no way to leave his own property. By trapping him, you are, in essence, holding him prisoner and taking away his liberty. You must create an easement so that he can leave his property.'

DonAthos & Jonathon: 'Why should I do that? It's my property. What you're doing is advocating for public roads.'

2lx8038.jpg

Using this little illustration, it's clear that if you don't allow your neighbor to cross your land, he's trapped. It's clear that your neighbor needs to cross your land to get to the grocery store, his girlfriend's house, etc. If you say 'No one can step foot on my land,' that means your neighbor can't even order pizza, because the pizza guy wouldn't be able to cross your land to get to your neighbor. So what you have done is completely cut your neighbor off from the world outside of his own property. Maybe that wasn't your intention. Maybe you just woke up one day and wanted to build high a wall around your property.. but regardless of the reason, that action has trapped your neighbor. And that's a problem.

So why should you be forced to create an easement on your own land? Simply to avoid the problem above. You can do whatever you want with your own property, but you cannot trap your neighbor and take away his liberty.

In a society where all land is privatized, every land owner would have to create an easement so that person A can get to points B, C, and D. I don't think I saw anyone explain how this is different than public roads. They seem very similar.

Wonderful. :) (I really, really appreciate your reply -- you have no idea.)

Now... I have to say that I kind of suck with computer graphics, so please forgive me for what I've done here with your illustration, but...

biggerdonut.jpg

Picture the situation -- for the moment -- like this (where all segmented sections, etc., represent someone else's property). Imagine that you and I own property which, in total, surrounds our poor neighbor. Suppose that both you and I deny our neighbor access to our property. He is no less "trapped" than the donut you've provided, correct? No less able to get pizza delivered (assuming that we also deny access to the pizza delivery guy).

So, based on the idea that our neighbor has a right (which you've seemingly referred to as "liberty" in your reply) to... "egress," we will insist that there be an easement. Right?

But an easement across whose property and to where? Is it enough that we run a road across My Land to the Pizza Palace?

Insofar as the Pizza Palace is, itself, private property, the Pizza Palace *should* have the right to refuse service to our neighbor. It should have the right to refuse trespass as well, against any or all. So if we provided this easement for our neighbor to get his pizza, that's no guarantee that he is less "trapped" than he was before; it is still within the power of the sundry surrounding property holders to "wall" our neighbor off from Parts Beyond (which themselves will almost invariably be similarly divided segments of private property, subject to "no trespassing" signs and walls).

And how many easements/roads will our neighbor require? Does he need roads through our lands to A, B, C...?

I understand that an argument is being made that our neighbor's "liberty" somehow requires that he should be allowed to go... wherever he wants to go? (This is not meant rhetorically. I'm sincerely asking.) But I don't yet see this as being based on anything other than an appeal to what my neighbor "needs," as opposed to what he has earned.

And what I mean by that is: let us say that it is such that our neighbor needs to eat pizza to survive. In this situation, he will require the following: access to the Pizza Palace, and trade with the Pizza Palace for pizza. What I think of when I think of liberty is: that should our neighbor earn the right to travel to the Pizza Palace (either across my land, or across yours, his girlfriend's, and Property Holder F) -- which means via voluntary and mutual agreement -- then the government has no authority to prevent him from doing so. It means that if he trades with Pizza Palace for a pizza, where the terms make both parties happy, then they are free to do so without societal interference. (Let us note: it places no obligation on Pizza Palace to make this trade. Theoretically, should they refuse to deal with our neighbor, he will go hungry. He could die.)

What liberty does not mean is that: pizza will be provided to our neighbor, even if Pizza Palace refuses to deal. And specifically with regards to the question of the "trapped man," liberty does not mean that travel across my land -- or your land -- will be provided to our neighbor without our permission, even if he "needs" it.

***

2046: Your replies came up as I was preparing this; I shall respond to them soon-ish (football's on ;) ).

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Well obviously I stand corrected as to whether, at least Grames, intended to argue for easement by necessity. But again, as I stated before, I don't think his claim is that need is the basis for the easement, rather it seems, as mdegges points out, that their argument is more "interference" based, than need based.

We can't stop there. "Interference"? Interference with what? With doing that which, in their opinion, a person needs to do.

There cannot be a right to so greatly interfere with the necessary actions of life man qua man...

"Necessary actions."

Need. Need to do what? To get to Pizza Palace, and etc.

As before, I stated that I don't necessarily agree with that argument, but I sympathize with it.

I have some measure of sympathy for a great many things with which I disagree. I don't begrudge you sympathy, but I do insist that this line of reasoning is wrong. Everything that I may do with my property "interferes" with you, insofar as you might have other plans for that same property. If I eat my apple, that "interferes" with your plans to eat that same apple. Perhaps eating an apple is a "necessary action of life man qua man," and maybe without such an apple, you might starve, but that does not mean that my apples are not mine. It does not make my apples yours. Your need -- and my use of my own property such that it "interferes" with you satisfying your need -- is no better a claim on my property than your need alone... and neither is it ultimately a different claim.

This is why I think they haven't really responded to your arguments, because they aren't really claiming what you say they are (at least, from their point of view.)

I imagine that, from their point of view, many things are possible. And perhaps they believe the same of me and my point of view. This is why I've taken such pains to elaborate my point of view, and to provide examples, and to relate it to theirs, and to tie my point of view into quotes of theirs and Ayn Rand, and to ask questions, and to answer questions posed of me, and etc.

Perhaps I've done it all in error? Perhaps. And I will believe that as soon as it is demonstrated such that it makes sense to me.

(You can, and have, said that their position amounts to that claim, but that is very different than saying that is their claim, and you would still owe them an argument to that effect.) So you end up with people talking past each other.

Even in the same post where I was agreeing with you initially on "prescriptive easements," I was also responding to softwareNerd and scenarios we had been discussing on easements through a property between villages. He had made a case on the basis of a "prescriptive easement" like what you and I have discussed (or at least much like it), and I agreed with him -- but then I asked him about a situation where there was no such "prescriptive easement"; no preexisting path or history of use. His reply put me into doubt as to whether or not "need" would be sufficient justification for an easement in that case, to which I replied/asked:

Well, hang on. The "short-cut" we'd agreed upon previously had its basis in a preexisting travel route through this previously unclaimed land. But your response here seems to appeal to a different justification altogether -- that "people can reach Village Three 'somehow', so no easement is needed through my land."

These are two separate things. Are you offering a justification of certain, select easements because villages had already established travel routes through previously common areas? Or is it based upon a "need" that villagers in Village One supposedly have to get to Village Two (or Village Three), regardless of whether there was every any trade route between them?

To my query he replied:

yes, they are: pre-existing usage, versus homesteading-laws.

[...]

You question how one can use "need" as a basis for such things. Well, I would not use the term "need", but as Rand would put it: "Rights are conditions of existence required by man's nature for his proper survival." (Essay "Man's Rights")

softwareNerd would not advocate for an easement in the scenario I'd provided him because "no easement is needed." Were an easement "needed"? Presumably, he would advocate for it. He recognizes that this is a different thing from the "prescriptive easements" you and I have discussed, based on a history of usage. And softwareNerd "would not use the term 'need'" to describe the basis of his position. But I would use that term, and I do, because I think it more clearly expresses the heart of his position, and also the position of Grames who endorses "easements by necessity," and so on.

If we need to dig further, we can and will. Let me know.

Here's where you sound like you are denying the legitimacy of easements per se:

I do not, neither in this quote nor in the others that you cite, intend to deny the legitimacy of those easements that you and I have previously discussed.

But if he has an easement right, one established by the legitimate parameters that we both earlier agreed on, then their simple denial isn't sufficient justification to prevent his access (in fact, it would be an initiation of force.) He isn't required to trade with them at all, because he is under no duty to trade something he owns (money, goods, etc.) in exchange for something that he already owns (a given amount of access.)

I agree with you. "He is under no duty to trade something he owns...in exchange for something that he already owns," which in this case is a prescriptive easement based on prior use, or a contractual agreement. Just so. But those remarks of mine that you've quoted are meant to be taken with this understanding in mind. When I say "surrounding property holders denying permission to use their property," I mean their property as opposed to that which the surrounded person owns, including such prescriptive easements or contractual arrangements.

It is not my intention to agree with you on one hand -- that there are certain kinds of property rights that a person can have which amount to "an easement" -- and then to turn around and say that no easements are valid, as though you and I hadn't discussed the matter. (Though I guess I've spent enough time on the board to understand why you might think I'd do such a thing...)

You might (and have) object(ed), yes okay, if he has such an easement right, but that doesn't tell us whether such a right is justified. Of course not, one would have to reference such a justification that I made earlier for that. But the point is, once you have made such a justification, saying that the surrounders have denied use is now insufficient to prove the case that he can't go anywhere.

Yes, absolutely. It is neither my intention to "prove the case that [someone] can't go anywhere." The only thing of interest to me is an examination of these claims of "right to egress," "easement by necessity," and etc., to see whether any or all (or none) of them are justified.

The two cases that you've put forward: the prescriptive easement based on prior use and the contractual agreement, I find justified. As to other claims (which either exist in this thread, as I've claimed, or perhaps that I've just imagined), I am not yet convinced.

Why do I think you go too far in your arguments? Perhaps this is explained by our having differing interpretaions of the question. You state the following:

We may interpret the question in one of two ways:

1. What happens if one person's property is surrounded by another person's property, and the surrounders won't let him off? He'll be trapped!

2. What happens if one person's property is surrounded by another person's property, and the surrounders won't let him off, and he has no prior existing access claim (let's ignore the question of how he got there in the first place), nor has he contracted with anyone for access (let's ignore the implausibility of this), nor did he perform a title search when he bought the property (yes, yes, still ignoring)? He'll be trapped!

It seems, based on the above, you (and maybe Jonathan as well) interpreted the questions as (2), whereas I think most everyone else interpreted it as (1).

I agree with you that the positions you've put forward with regard to easements are, as you say, "perfectly consistent with liberty." I do not agree that all of the claims in this thread, and especially those to which I have been responding, have been addressed to #1 as opposed to #2.

If it is the case that contractual agreement and prescriptive easement based on a history of use answer all of the situations we might realistically face in a free society, then they do... and there is no subsequent need for an "easement by necessity."

But when the case is made for such an "easement by necessity," it yet matters to me whether that claim is good and similarly consistent with liberty, or not. As it is further the case that (apparently) "easement by necessity" is a real-world thing that actually happens, as well -- and since it goes by the name "easement" as much as things that you and I find to be proper -- then I think it's worth while to try to suss out the right from the wrong.

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Just a by the way, that isn't my position, I actually agree with the DonAthos & Jonathon position and with the conclusion of the dream_weaver & snerd (and Grames) position. My position includes full agreement with the DA/J premises, but through the homesteading/contracting principle arrives at the functional equivalent of the DW/Snerd position (who hasn't already established access to their property? Everyone, or mostly everyone, already has in my view.) Thus my position represents a rapprochement of the two sides.

Sorry about that, I only skimmed the thread. In the line I bolded above, are you talking about public/private roads leading to properties? Yeah, there are basically roads that go everywhere. But if I own, say, a bunch of private roads, I can choose who uses them and who doesn't. (Why would I care who uses my roads? Well, let's say I find out my husband is cheating on me with another land owner, or something equally unpleasant. If I own the roads leading into (and out of) his property, I might say 'You're no longer able to use my roads' and post a security guard there to enforce my rules.) That leads us to another doughnut problem. (Here's another scenario, one that is a bit more realistic: I own all the roads leading to and from X's property, where X is a poor farmer. I tell X he has to give me 50% of his profits to use my private roads. Without using these roads, there's no way he can load up his truck and sell his goods at the farmers market, meaning he wouldn't be able to make any profits at all. So which is it? He either pays the 50% after he sells his goods, or he doesn't make any money.)

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But an easement across whose property and to where? Is it enough that we run a road across My Land to the Pizza Palace?

No, it's not enough. Our neighbor needs to get the grocery store ('B' in your example), the barber ('G'), the gas station ('H'), etc. There would need to be an easement on everyone's property, to connect each property to it's neighbors.. so that we can all get to these private businesses.

Insofar as the Pizza Palace is, itself, private property, the Pizza Palace *should* have the right to refuse service to our neighbor. It should have the right to refuse trespass as well, against any or all. So if we provided this easement for our neighbor to get his pizza, that's no guarantee that he is less "trapped" than he was before; it is still within the power of the sundry surrounding property holders to "wall" our neighbor off from Parts Beyond (which themselves will almost invariably be similarly divided segments of private property, subject to "no trespassing" signs and walls).

Pizza Palace can definitely refuse service to our neighbor, and send him on his way. If he refuses to leave, he can be arrested for loitering on private property. However.. can Pizza Palace tell this man, 'You can't use our road easements to get through this establishment any longer'?

I understand that an argument is being made that our neighbor's "liberty" somehow requires that he should be allowed to go... wherever he wants to go? (This is not meant rhetorically. I'm sincerely asking.) But I don't yet see this as being based on anything other than an appeal to what my neighbor "needs," as opposed to what he has earned.

So now we need to earn access to get to a grocery store? If our neighbor does something to upset us, you're saying we can both deny him access through our properties to get to the grocery store? There is the doughnut problem again.

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