Extropianism and Nudism

Perry E. Metzger (perry@piermont.com)
Wed, 7 May 1997 14:18:56 -0400 (EDT)

Robin Hanson wrote:
> ShawnJ99@aol.com wrote:
> > In an Extropian type, anarcho-capitalistic society, clothing would
> > definately be optional.
> "Perry E. Metzger" replied:
> >That seems like a reasonable assessment. Of course, people might
> >contractually agree not to go nude within common areas of a private
> >contractually based community, but that's of course not what you are
> >talking about.
> In an anarcho-capitalistic society, what else is there besides private
> areas and "common areas of a private contractually based community"?

Re-read what I wrote carefully.

An anarchocapitalist society has two kinds of territory: unclaimed and
private. Presumably most territory on the planet would be claimed, so
we can ignore unclaimed for the moment.

Claimed (or private) areas come in many flavors. For example, there
are closely held private areas, such as the interior of a person's
home. There are "cooperative" areas, such as the common areas of a
private gated community, which are often not open to members of the
general public. There are "private areas open to the public", such as
a large park run by a private conservancy organization, which any
member of the public may, generally speaking, enter. There are, of
course, numerous other spaces.

When I noted that one might be contractually oblidged not to go nude
within common areas of a contractual community, I was thinking
specifically of the case of the common areas of a gated private
development or other areas not open to the general public. I was not
thinking of areas such as a private park open to members of the
general public.

While it is possible for the owners of such spaces to obligate those
entering them to wear particular clothing or even specific kinds of
clothing, I am unsure about what societal norms are likely to arise in
such spaces, and thus what sorts of obligations are likely to be
common, and in any case the question is one more of sociology than

> Assuming all land is owned by someone, and all law is by private
> contract, all laws regarding display of nudity would also be by
> private contract.


> I would predict that in most common areas, nudity would be illegal.

I'm not certain that this would be the case, though then again, I'm
not sure it wouldn't be, either. My suspicion is that many areas open
to members of the general public would not prohibit nudity. I base
this suspicion on the notion that since at least some would likely
permit it, social norms sanctioning this behavior would erode with
time. I have no solid evidence for this notion, however.

"Illegal" is a bad word, btw -- contractually forbidden is perhaps

> As Perry indicated, most people find it tasteless, and it is an
> especialy easy to define and enforce tasteless behavior in this area.

I hope you mean "sanction tasteless behavior" rather than enforcing
it. :)

> That is, most people are willing to pay more to have nudity go away
> than the potential nudists are willing to pay to parade around nude.

I'm not sure. I suspect (again, without more than a hunch) that as
people become more exposed to exposed people, the amount they will pay
to be free of them would erode with time. People are happy to have a
social norm enforced if they don't have to pay (at least directly) to
do so, but they are less happy to do so if they would have to pay.

> I would also predict widespread exceptions, accessible from most
> locations, where common nudity is legal.

I would tend to agree, but again, based purely on personal suspicion.