Re: Coase's Theorem and Intellectual Property

Robin Hanson (
Tue, 22 Dec 1998 20:22:16 -0700

Dick Gray writes:
>>Having the ends justify the means is "principled." Maybe its not a
>>principle you like, but that's another matter.
>If you think it's principled, then proceed to defend the principle.

I didn't claim it was a defended principle (whatever that means), just a principle.

>>If my liberty was reduced, that should show itself in lots of simple
>>familiar consequences. I wouldn't get to eat the things I like,
>>live in the places I like, etc. I could be displeased by that outcome
>>even without adding on an extra "and my liberty was reduced."
>Who said it was offered *in addition* to the simple consequences? It's just
>a summary, in lieu of enumerating all the detailed losses.

In that case, I prefer to stick to other less emotionally-laden summaries of consequences.

>Tell me, does _The Prince_ really inspire your sense of justice?

No. But it doesn't offend it either.

>>>>I accept these features because simple consequential analysis seems
>>>>our best chance for creating broad intellectual consensus on policy
>>>If by an appeal to their material advantage we can persuade the less
>>>principled to support freedom, that's better than nothing, I suppose.
>>There are lots more simple consequences than "material advantage."
>>There's having friends, enjoying conversations, liking music,
>>traveling to interesting places, etc.
>What do these things have to do with market analysis or with Coase's

I was objecting to your appearing to reduce "consequential analysis" to just consideration of "material advantage."

>>>IOW you prefer the _status quo_ of opportunistic power struggles to a
>>>principled discussion of the ethical foundations of a good society.
>>Again, power struggles *are* "principled." And there is no real
>>alternative to participating in them -- "ethical" discussions are just
>>one of many ways to play the power struggle game.
>You're equivocating on the word "power" - a common practice among people
>who - to their credit - don't want to admit to themselves the brute nature
>of what they advocate. Obviously I was addressing the power of compulsion,
>not "personal power" or "economic power". What sort of "principle" can
>justify social order by armed force? "Might makes right"?

I'm not sure what you mean by "justify," and I don't have time now to explore that with you.

I'll be on travel for the next two weeks. Happy Holidays everyone!