Re: Contract v. Property (was: Private Property and Capitalism)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 23:03:21 -0400

Robin Hanson writes:

>You can have a contract without much property, and a contract can
>agree to pretty much any arrangement imaginable, including ones
>without any property. So contracts seem more general.

I'm not sure that I can imagine a contract totally bereft of any reference to
property, since the capacity to enter into contracts seems to presume a level
of (self-)control sufficient to support (self-)ownership. That is, unless
the contracting parties can make good on their promises, they will of
necessity breach their agreements. Further, if the power to execute promises
does not generally vest in (or through) the contracting parties, the notion
of contract lacks sense.

(My parenthetical hedges mean to reflect the possibility that contracting
parties may in fact act only as agents for principals who, in fact, own and
control the agents. This seems like a rather absurd possibility with regard
to basic self-ownership, but keep in mind that Locke vested in God at least a
majority interest in the titles to humans.)

T.0. Morrow