Re: Subject: Anarcho-Capitalism > Agoric Democracy

Tony Hollick (
Sat, 18 Apr 98 04:36 BST-1

Warrl wrote:

>> There is no 'Absolute Foundation' for property rights, and to
>> propose to base an entire society on the illusion that there is, is
>> the sort of crass folly only clever people are capable of.

> Property rights, to everything except raw natural resources
> (inc. land) land, can be directly derived from a right of
> self-ownership. So can freedom of speech, assembly, religion, etc.

> So failure to support property rights is qualified failure to support
> the right of self-ownership, which is a qualified endorsement of
> slavery.

I was referring primarily to rights WRT physical property.

Self-ownership seems at first sight a promising basis for (some)
property rights; I quite like the idea! Alas, it has its problems.

I don't know how 'self-ownership' can be made to work without some kind of
methodological dualism (a 'self' to own the body). I have no problem with
methodological dualism -- I'm an interactionist dualist; but I notice
quite a few people hereabouts who are monists -- they believe the self is
identified with the atoms and molecules of the physical being.

Even if we go with dualism, it is far from clear how an infant acquires
self-ownership from its parents -- who provided the initial and necessary
material basis for the new person in the form of sperm and ovum. Are we
to say that the person is wholly owned by their biological parents unless
or until some form of manumission takes place).

Then there's the problem of title to ingested resources as the person
grows -- does this give another whose (claimed) resources are consumed a
literal right to their 'pound of flesh'?

There is a real problem with ingesting living organisms (or their body
parts) -- do they not also enjoy degrees of self-ownership?

------------------- * * * * * ---------------
Warrl continues:

> Property rights to raw natural resources (inc. land) can be
> developed from the pragmatic need to enforce property rights in other
> things; from concern about the environment; from considerations of
> efficiency. In fact we observe worldwide that natural resources
> which are unowned (not the property of any particular person) in
> their natural state are abused, overexploited, and threatened,
> except in those cases where by government decree they are
> underutilized, and then usually neglected; those which are owned and
> thoroughly under the control of the owner, are comparatively *much*
> better cared for.

Sure! Many different (and often incompatible) schemas of property
rights can be developed on a pragmatic basis, as a means to improved
living standards etc. I have no problem with that. But that's not
what I'm arguing against.

I'm providing counterarguments to the assertion that there are are
Absolute or a priori property rights which can be used as the
primary foundation for an entire human society. No such Utopia has
ever been proposed in which anyone but a madman would want to live; and
there is certainly no working example of such a society for us to
cross-compare with other alternatives.

What's the practical _structural_ difference between (say) Galt's Gulch
and Saudi Arabia? One person asserts ownership of the territory and
their word is absolute law for the inhabitants _simply by reason of
that ownership_.

Are we to enjoy a fine future in our feudal past? >:-}